Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Plotter or pantser? The eternal question! (@TanithDavenport #Norway #giveaway #pnr)

Echoes of Love cover


By Tanith Davenport (Guest Blogger)

Everyone has their own opinion on it, and it comes up in every interview - are we plotters or pantsers? It's a question I've always struggled with, because my own writing technique often seems to fall between the lines. So I gave it some thought while I was working on Echoes of Love.

With my first book I had absolutely no idea about planning, so I did what seemed to come naturally. As I was working with two POVs, I needed to keep track of who was doing what at any given moment, so I worked with timelines to make sure everything stayed straight. The actual plot was planned out using general plot points but without detailing what strung them together, and these were revised as I went. So with that book I suppose I was more of a plotter.

With another, I had already sold the book to my editor based on a detailed synopsis, so that one was more closely planned and only altered slightly. It did, however, feel a little constricting for my usual tastes. I've worked this way a few times since and, to be honest, I prefer to write the synopsis at the end rather than the beginning, since there have been many times when the story has developed in a way that messed up what I had planned. So there's definitely a degree of pants-ing to my writing.

And I always need to be able to call a halt and say "You know what, this isn't working." The most difficult story I ever wrote was one where I had a deadline at the end of the month and the whole thing seemed to be collapsing around me. It worked out in the end, but for this reason I hate working to deadlines. There's always the possibility that something won't be working, that characters won't behave, and I don't want to risk letting people down because the story won't flow.

For Echoes of Love I only half-planned the story. I planned out the encounters with the vardoger, since that was the main hook of the story. However, it wasn't until later that I decided to introduce elements such as the ouija board and the illness of one of the characters. Those elements changed how the story flowed and also meant a slight reworking of the ending, so I went back a few times, altered the timeline and reshuffled a few points to include these sections. Plotter? In this instance, I would say not.

So I guess I'm no further along as to whether I'm a plotter or a pantser. The simple answer seems to be that I'm a bit of both. On longer novels I like to plot, but I always need the freedom to be able to switch things around, change characters, move timelines and throw in twists. I'll never be the kind of person who can work straight from a synopsis and have all the points in place before I start.

I'm giving away one copy of Echoes of Love to one lucky person who leaves a comment. Let me know what you think! (And don't forget to include your email address so I can fine you!)


Blurb

Paranormal writer Kala Westenra, staying with her best friend Vika in Norway, is hunting for a new subject for an article, and finds it when she hears footsteps in the hall twenty minutes before Vika's hot brother Tor Viitanen arrives home. This, Vika tells her, is the vardoger - a Norwegian ghost, a future echo which always precedes a person's arrival.

Kala plans to stake out the hallway to catch the vardoger in the act - and is shocked when, on its arrival, it kisses her. Her feelings for Tor have been hidden ever since she first met him two years ago; could it be that the vardoger is acting on Tor's secret desire for her?

As Kala and Tor work together to understand what is happening with the spirit, their longing for each other begins to overtake them - but the vardoger has more to show them than they expected...

Excerpt

Tor reached over the arm of the sofa, pulled up a cushion and threw it at her. Vika threw it back, knocking over her wineglass at the same time.

Here, let me get you a refill.” Kala reached for the bottle, but it was empty. Vika stood and made for the door, picking up her jacket from the hook on the back on her way past.

I’ll run out and get another one. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

Kala launched the cushion after her, hitting the door instead.
I can see why you and my sister get on so well.” Tor raised an eyebrow. “You’re both drunks.”

Oh, shut up. I’m still technically a student. I can drink if I like.”

Soon to be a writer and they drink a lot, too, I’ve heard.”

Kala laughed. “I don’t know about journalists, though. Although I’d quite like to be a writer, too—novels or something. I don’t know what kind yet.”

I’ll keep my eyes open for your hot new release.”

Ooh.

Kala held his gaze, her insides stirring strangely. Maybe it was the alcohol, but there was something in the words hot release that made a rush of heat flow through her body, her skin tingling.

After a long moment, Tor spoke again. “So, Vika thinks you need a man.”

I don’t need a man. I may want a man.”

Oh, yeah?” Something flickered across Tor’s face, his eyes glowing. He shifted onto his knees, leaning over the arm of the sofa, his face close to hers. “What sort of man do you want?”

Oh, you know. We hotshot journalists don’t like to be tied down.” Kala gave him a taunting look, leaning closer to him so that their faces were almost touching. “Tall, dark, commitment-phobic. That’ll do me.”

I can help you there.”

A sudden rush of movement and Tor’s mouth was on hers.

This is a bad idea. He’s Vika’s brother.

But somehow she no longer cared and Tor was right here and he was moving, moving over the arm of the sofa as they were still kissing, then his body was pressing down onto hers and they were still

To hell with it, she thought and arched up against him, tangling her fingers in his hair.
She felt his hard cock through his jeans as it brushed against her leg, sending a dart of wet heat straight to her cunt. His hands ran down, caressing her neck, her shoulders, cupping her breasts and rolling his thumbs over her nipples through her bra.

Oh, God—

Then the sound of the lock clicking.

Immediately, Tor rolled off her and onto the floor, twisting round to position himself back at the side of the sofa. Kala sat up and ran a hand through her hair.
Shit, that was close.

Here's the wine,” Vika announced as she came through the door, shopping bag in hand. “I got back as fast as I could.”

About the Author


Tanith Davenport began writing erotica at the age of 27 by way of the Romantic Novelists' Association New Writers' Scheme. Her debut novel "The Hand He Dealt" was released by Total-e-Bound in June 2011 and was shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award for 2012.

Tanith has had short stories published by Naughty Nights Press and House of Erotica. 
She loves to travel and dreams of one day taking a driving tour of the United States, preferably in a classic 1950s pink Cadillac Eldorado.

Tanith's idea of heaven is an Indian head massage with a Mojito at her side.




Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Fantasy has no limits at Noble House... (@sara_brookes #bdsm #menage #newrelease)

Get Off Easy cover

Out NowGet Off Easy by Sara Brookes

Blurb

At Noble House, fantasy has no limits. Log on and enter a world of your most secret desires. And remember, there is nothing more noble than the pursuit of passion…

I shouldn’t be watching, but I can’t look away.

It’s been years since I’ve seen Ford “Saint” Templar or Boyce Denali in person—although the gorgeous men have haunted too many of my fantasies to count. But now they’re here, right on my screen. Together. It’s the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen.

And I want in.

Noble House is the kingdom of geek kink, where the thrill comes from knowing that someone is always watching. All I have to do is be brave enough to turn off the screen, walk through the door and ask Saint and Boyce to take me back.

We used to be so good together, but we’re different people now. Will Saint’s commands still bring me to my knees with desire? Will the anticipation of Boyce’s touch still drive me wild? Will I be able to survive the pleasure of having them both?

It’s time to stop watching. I need this. I need them. And just maybe, they need me, too.

Buy Links








Excerpt

Darkness surrounded Grae. In her life. In her mind. And even in her office as she leaned back in her overstuffed, overpriced chair and yawned. The creature comforts weren’t enough to keep her interested in the image flickering on her computer screen. Not that well-chiseled abs didn’t do it for her. They totally did. But considering the fact she’d been the one to draw, define, and enhance each one of those tongue-licking indentions, the final product had lost its appeal hours ago.

As long as the female audience members went wild, she would keep plodding along. Not to mention, if she didn’t deliver, she wouldn’t be paid her hard-earned check. As tempting as it was to continue, she desperately needed a break.

A quick glance at her trusty desktop clock showed she hadn’t stopped for over thirty-six hours. Since she was on a deadline, her director’s schedule won out over sleep and basic hygiene. Especially because she was under contract. If she wanted another shot at working with this director, she needed to have this guy’s abs painted on and swoon-worthy in the next three hours.

One hell of a reward awaited her after she completed her work, too.

As she made her way to the kitchen to refill her carafe, she tapped the reminder postcard that arrived two days ago against her chin. Fresh coffee would get her through. At least it had to. She’d worked under tighter deadlines, and on less sleep, than this project.

Thirty-six hours with no sleep was kid’s stuff.

Her reward, however, was not child appropriate.

No way. No how.

Kochran Duke was throwing one of his famous parties tonight. The events, where participation was allowed by members both at the club and online, were not low-key and always the highlight of the month. It also meant there was a distinct possibility Saint and Boyce would attend. They never missed a party at the converted armory. No telling what they’d be doing, though.

It was always a surprise when it came to those two.

She shoved a fresh filter into the brew basket, dumped in beans and water, and realized she didn’t care. They could sit and read nursery rhymes to one another, and she’d still get off. Wasn’t as though she’d joined Kochran’s exclusive website only to watch the pretty boys play with their toys.

Okay, well, it wasn’t the only reason.

There was a touch of practicality to why she chose to spend her night watching porn.

And it had nothing to do with satisfying her voyeuristic tendencies.

Her former Master recommended the online dungeon when it became obvious she had all the desire and drive to submit, but none of the time. Noble House offered several levels of membership depending on participation or observation. The fees were steep, but it was a small price to pay for satisfying a guilty indulgence from the privacy of her home office.

Once she’d discovered two of her closest friends from college were Dominants at Noble House, her interest in the private club increased tenfold. Thanks to alumni updates from the university, she’d known they’d continued to date after they graduated. Even knew where they lived because of an article published six months ago in the yearly alumni newsletter about the building they’d saved from the wrecking ball and turned into an apartment complex. Knowing they were still together, and trying to change the world, warmed her heart.

And a few other strategic lady bits.

Someday she would visit Noble House. Though the idea of taking a vacation long enough to visit Northern California sounded absurd. With the constant trail of work following her wherever she went, taking a break was unheard of. Visiting friends she hadn’t seen in more than a decade was even more ludicrous. As was confessing she’d seen every one of their broadcasted scenes since she’d become a member.

And hunted through the archives.

Several times over.

The coffeepot chimed. She dumped the contents into the carafe, then grabbed the French vanilla creamer. As she made her way back to her spacious office, her eyes slowly adjusted to the permanent darkness she’d created thanks to heavy light-blocking blinds. Day or night, the lighting in the room never changed. When she’d decided to leave the guaranteed contract with the big-budget movie studio behind and become a freelancer, she’d invested in all the bells and whistles. No sense working from home without the proper equipment.

Six monitors wasn’t too much, right?

A quick check of the emails she’d been ignoring for the past few hours indicated the director was getting aggravated. Time to buckle down and turn out this masterpiece. Armed with a fresh cup of coffee, Grae leaned back to watch the fight sequence she’d been working on for the past week. She noted a few minor inconsistencies she could smooth over while she waited to see if she had approval. No need to waste her time if the director wanted to ditch the segment.

Task completed, she zipped the file, then dropped it onto her secure server. An email containing the link to the director was next and meant her part was complete. She flipped a switch to change over to her personal computer tower and waited for it to boot. When it finally beeped in greeting, she directed the browser window to Noble House’s main site. A few keystrokes, and the splash page for tonight’s event flashed onto the huge screen she’d mounted on the wall.

Two very familiar faces stared back at her.

Boyce Denali, the one on the left, wore heavy-duty leathers. Too bulky for working inside the club. These were the kind used for protection should he take a spill. Though she doubted he would ever be so careless. Boyce was the kind of man the pavement moved for. Dark blond, piercing blues, muscles to die for, and a chiseled bone structure even the most formidable Viking would find intimidating.

Ford Templar, on the other hand, was all dark and mysterious. Nicknamed Saint at the club, Ford was broody. Sulky. Dark hair. Olive skin. Lean muscles. The dark to Boyce’s light. Except his eyes. Those eyes. Eerily colored, they reminded her of glass Coke bottles. Rumor had it his gaze could pierce right through to someone’s soul. While Boyce held a commanding air that demanded to be heard, Saint wore his power subtly but was still all dominant authority.

Seemingly connected at the hip, the two men scened together every week. Much to her delight. Grae didn’t think she’d ever seen them work with a submissive alone. Not that the choice to only carry out ménage scenes affected their standing at the club. Not in the least. Every time they worked together, their scenes had been nothing short of spectacular.

Let’s see what you’re up to tonight, boys.”

About the Author

Sara Brookes has always been fascinated by the strange, the unusual, the twisted and the lost (tortured heroes are her personal favorite). She is an action movie junkie, addicted to coffee and has been known to stay up until the wee hours of the morning playing RPG video games. Despite all this geekiness, she is a romantic at heart and is always a sucker for an excellent love story.

Links:

New release announcement list: http://eepurl.com/mbG31



Release blitz organized by Writer Marketing Services.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Be Seduced! (#anthology #erotic #giveaway)

Summer of Seduction banner


These fabulous authors are offering wonderful giveaways. There are Amazon Gift Cert's, ebooks, and a print book of Summer of Seduction up for Grabs. Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. You may increase your chances of wining by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here

About the Book

Avoid the burn, but savor the heat of the season! Kick back in the shade with your copy of summer sizzle!

“Sugar’s Salvation” by Candi Fox 

“Dry Heat” by Louisa Bacio

“A Summer Tryst” by Bobbi Romans

"Windows and Doors" By Monica Corwin

“Primal Heat” by Audra Hart

“GFE Interrupted” by Shakir Rashaan

“Summer Fever in a Tent” by A.M. Halford

“Mikhail's American Adventure” by Sheri Velarde

“Kassie’s Seduction” by Izzy Szyn


Featuring an exotic array of genres to tempt even the pickiest of palates! Come, join the erotic adventure of A Summer of Seduction.


 


About the Authors

 
Candi Fox

Candi Fox, co-host of the wildly popular radio show Candi and Company with over 900 thousand listeners began her venture in the paranormal at the tender age of two, when she witnessed her first apparition. From that moment on the paranormal seemed to follow her. No matter where she moved, the house she lived in the house next door, or the house down the street always seemed to be haunted. 
 

She often wondered if she drew the spirits to her. Little did she know that she was indeed a magnet of sorts. It wasn't until she was in her late twenties that she found people who could not only explain her gifts, but would also help her hone them. Armed with this new knowledge she began to openly explore hauntings and other paranormal phenomena. 
 

Growing up in Indiana lent her the opportunity to explore many famous haunted places including the Hannah House, which was once part of the Underground Railroad. A little over two years ago she moved to Tulsa, OK and has began to explore the haunted landscape in a new state. 
 

Candi lives with her husband, and furry children in Tulsa. She is passionate about the occult, saving and rehabilitating horses, horseback riding, magic, all things mystical and has her Reiki Mastery. 
She uses her own paranormal experiences as well as her own life traumas to write from a grounded and realistic perspective about subjects that are hard to talk about and even harder to feel for yourself.


Social Links:  Facebook | Amazon |Website | Facebook | Blog | Twitter | Instagram 

Louisa Bacio

A Southern California native, Louisa Bacio can’t imagine living far away from the ocean. The multi-published author of erotic romance enjoys writing within all realms – from short stories to full-length novels.

Bacio shares her household with a supportive husband, two daughters growing “too fast,” and a multitude pet craziness: Two dogs, five fish tanks, an aviary, hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs and geckos. In her other life, she teaches college classes in English, journalism and popular culture.

Social Links:  Website  | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter 

Bobbi Romans

She's a Mom, BamMaw, Aunt and loves to write, cook, and be both crafty and thrifty. Oddities include, marring people and moons ago, being on a talk show. *wink* Bobbi writes a little bit of everything to find her available books, check out her Amazon page. To read reviews of her stories, check out her Goodreads page. To find Bobbi herself she's on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, and had her blog located at, Bobbi Roman's Yakpad! She loves to hear from readers so feel free to drop her a line.

Monica Corwin

Monica Corwin is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author. She is an outspoken writer attempting to make romance accessible to everyone, no matter their preferences. As a Northern Ohioian, Monica enjoys snow drifts, three seasons of weather, and a dislike of Michigan football. Monica owns more books about King Arthur than should be strictly necessary. Also typewriters...lots and lots of typewriters.

You can find her on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/monicacorwin, on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/monica_corwin, on the web at: http://www.monicacorwin.com. Monica Corwin is also on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/rosetyper9.

If you want up to date information on releases be sure to follow her here on Amazon or you can join her newsletter: http://madmimi.com/signups/267423/join


Audra Hart

Audra Hart is a southern gal with plenty of life experience, which has lent itself to a colorful and somewhat naughty imagination. An avid reader from a very young age who enjoys a wide array of genres, Audra truly loves to read and write sexy paranormal romance novels and strives to write romantic tales which are so exciting, so hot and so moving that her readers can gleefully escape their daily concerns while immersed in her fictional universe. As a lifelong fan of the Happily Ever After, Audra strives to give her readers true moments of joy within the pages of her books. The heroines in these stories are always strong and sensual survivors who find themselves bonded to powerful and sexy alpha-male heroes.

If you enjoy paranormal romance loaded with tons of action, in and out of the bedroom, as well as a fresh twist on mythology and folklore, then Audra Hart is the author for you. If you enjoy well developed characters, intricate plots and surprising twists... check out these stories! All of Audra's novels are written to be enjoyed by adults only. 

You can always find Audra on FB at: https://www.facebook.com/AudraHartWritesRomance?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
Shakir Rashaan

Shakir Rashaan is the bestselling author of In Service to the  Senator, the Nubian Underworld series and the Kink, P.I. Series. His other projects include upcoming releases Unthinkable, The Devil's All-American, and SAMOIS: Book four/ Chronicles of the Nubian Underworld. Other Projects are in development for later publication under P.K. Rashaan. If you want to read more, visit ShakirRashaan.com
 
A.M. Halford

A.M. Halford lives in Southern Oregon and enjoys spending as much time outside as she possibly can. She and her partner often find themselves hiking with their two dogs when the weather permits it. Fishing, camping, and photography are also activities she greatly enjoys. If the weather doesn’t permit going outside she likes to curl up with a sketch book and draw whatever comes to mind.

A.M. Halford got into writing as an outlet for personal therapy and has since expanded that into a hobby and profession that she enjoys. She often writes down anything that comes to mind, combing through the ideas and expanding on plots that sound the most interesting. She likes to write believable relations between people overcoming unfair hardships set before them. She always loves a happy ending and no matter the hell her characters go through they’ll always get their forever person.

Social Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads | Bookstrand | Amazon
 
Sheri Velarde
 
Sheri Velarde lives in New Mexico with her husband and their two dogs

Being an avid reader since an early age, she has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. She has been writing all her life, but only recently started to actually try to pursue her dream of writing for a living. She specializes in all things paranormal and that go bump in the night. Her heart truly lies in exploring unknown worlds or adding the supernatural to our world. If it goes bump in the night or has magical connotations, Sheri writes about it. She writes everything from sweet romances to horror stories sure to scare you.

She is constantly putting out new material with various publishers, so it is best to keep up with her on her website www.authorsherivelarde.weebly.com.

In her spare time Sheri is an artist, jewelry designer, independent comic writer/artist and freelance non-fiction writer. Hiking in the mountains, going to live concerts, art openings, museums, watching movies, playing games, and hosting intimate dinner parties.

Social Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

Izzy Szyn

New York Times Bestselling Author Izzy Szyn was born in May of 2014 when a friend dared her to write. Born and raised in Detroit, Izzy now lives in Oklahoma City with her furchild Misty, the friendliest Chihuahua/Terrier you will ever meet. Currently works in a call center, where she writes in between phone calls. 

Izzy loves to keep in touch with her readers. Email her at izzyszy [at] gmail [dot]com.
 
Social Links: Facebook  | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads | Google Plus link



Sunday, July 23, 2017

I’m Back... (#SmutSunday #reviews #masturbation)

Smut Sunday button

You might have noticed I was pretty scarce last week. Actually, I had an accident that required emergency surgery, and spent the time in the hospital. Don’t want to think about that now, though... I’m home working on recovering, and it’s Smut Sunday!

First, I want to thank everyone who left comments on my Charity Sunday post, July 9th. If you haven’t had the chance to read or comment, there’s still time to do so. I will donate $1 for each comment I receive to my charity of the month, Rosie’s Place. The post will be open for comment until the second Sunday in August (Charity Sunday #3).

Speaking of Rosie’s Place, I got a personal email from them thanking me for doing the promotion. I was blown away. I’ve done quite a bit of altruistic erotica over the years. My impression has been that charities are happy to take money from smutmongers like me, but they don’t like to acknowledge it. Rosie’s definitely has class!

In other news, I just got another five star Amazon review for Damned If You Do. Moondancer called it a “sweetly-hot read with a great story”. Funny that she thought the BDSM was “not overly graphic and heavy”. I’m not sure I’d agree, but you know, different strokes and all...!


Finally, for my Smut Sunday offering, I’d like to send you over to the Unbound Box Magazine, to read my brand new erotic short “Watch Me”. Here’s the first few paragraphs.

Watch me.”

She stretches out on the cool cotton sheets, back arched, arms above her head, fingers extended toward the headboard. Her spine lengthens and her muscles shift, tightening her belly, raising her breasts. The movement draws his attention—with her head thrown back she can’t see him, but she knows him well enough to predict his responses. Better, perhaps, than he knows her. Her nipples, always prominent, harden into rigid beads that ache for stimulation.

Unlike him, she knows how to wait.

She holds the pose for long moments, giving him the chance to appreciate her taut nakedness, before letting go and sinking back into the mattress. Then she turns toward him, toward the chair next to the bed where he sits, equally naked. As she’d guessed, he’s focused on the lush hills and valleys of her body—but not completely. Though his eyes devour her, his hands are busy elsewhere, stroking the fat, eager erection that rears up from his lap.

Stop that, darling. I want your full attention. Concentrate on what I’m doing. Imagine what I’m feeling.”

You look so hot, I can’t help it,” he protests, though he releases his cock, at least for the moment. It’s a beautiful cock, smooth and straight, with a rosy crown that’s already slick with his anticipation. She wants to swallow it, to straddle it, to feel its solid bulk slide into her and fill her. Not yet, though.

Read the rest of the story here: https://unboundbox.com/blogs/magazine/watch-me

And when you’re done, head back to Smut Sunday central for more lovely, sexy posts!


Saturday, July 15, 2017

My Favorite Kind of Research (#travel #research #amwriting)

research

When it comes to research, I'm a bit lazy. Occasionally I'll get bitten by the research bug and spend a bunch of money on books – I dropped nearly a hundred bucks on material about Mayan mythology and culture when I was working on Serpent's Kiss – but usually I'm content with relatively superficial visits to Google or Wikipedia to answer my factual questions. It helps that I don't tend to write much historical fiction. My few attempts in that genre have confirmed my expectations that it would be a lot of work! No, I have to admit, I'll coast if I can, trusting my imagination and my intuitions when a more scrupulous author would be hitting the reference department.

There's one area, though, where I'm willing to do almost unlimited explorations in the interest of verisimilitude – preferably going to the original source – and that's my settings.

Anyone who's read much of my fiction (all three of you!) knows I often set my stories in foreign destinations. That's merely a symptom of the fact that travel is quite my literally passion. I've probably already shared the story of how my husband seduced me with tales of his adventures in Paris, Instanbul and Bali. Sex, love and travel totally intermix in my mind and my memories. So perhaps it's not surprising that I get story ideas when I'm on one of our international jaunts.

My very first published short story, “Glass House”, draws heavily on my experiences in Prague a few years before I wrote it. Even now, a decade later, rereading it brings back the weird, almost absurd beauty of that venerable city, the edgy, offbeat magic that infects its cobblestone streets and stone bridges, soaring cathedrals and basement pubs.

*****

Let us walk down to the river,” he says, bringing me back to the present. “It is nearly sunset. And there is something that I would like to show you.”

We make our way westward toward the Vltava, in companionable silence. I am struck by the fact that, after all, I do trust Lukaš. For all his swaggering and sexual innuendo, he has treated me with respect. I know how easily he could have taken advantage of me; he probably knows it, too. Somehow, though I have told him nothing, he also senses my conflicts. He knows without being told that I am not free.

Clouds stained by the sunset heap high over the water, which flows gray and smooth like molten lead. Vermilion, ocher, coral, azure: ordinary color names do not apply to these flowing, burning shapes.
Against this multicolored background the spires and towers of Prague Castle on its crag across the river are fairytale silhouettes. For a long time, I simply stare, as the forms merge and change in the dying light. When I finally remember Lukaš, I see he is grinning again, as if he could take credit for this spectacular display.

Is this what you wanted to show me? It is wonderful!”

Not exactly. Look across the street.”

The first thing I see is a massive rococo building of yellow stucco, dripping with ornamentation and topped by an onion dome. Then I see the building beside it, and stop short.

It is totally fantastic, whimsical, and bizarre. It began as an ordinary, modern office building, with square windows and a flat roof, facing the river across Smetanova Street. But grafted onto this edifice is a second building, all of glass, shaped like an asymmetric egg timer and leaning at a crazy angle against the staid office block. The sunset colors reflect in its multifaceted façade, so that the building seems to shift and move.


Then there's Amsterdam. I've been there several times, but six or seven years ago we spent an entire week in a tiny guesthouse just around the corner from the train station. Something kept drawing me back to the red light district – maybe the fact my previous visits were prior to my rebirth as an erotica author. I found myself fascinated by the women in the narrow, rose-lit windows, wondering what their lives might be like. The experience ultimately produced my BDSM tale “Shades of Red”.

*****

I've been obsessed ever since last night, when Jane and I wandered through the red light district, staring at the women who waited behind the glass in their rose-tinted rooms. We wove our way through clumps of nervous, intoxicated men who were all staring, too. I could smell their sweat, underneath the beer and the pot smoke. I could feel their lust. It infected me.

They barely noticed us, two teenagers in jeans, although the tight denim in my crotch was so wet, I half-expected they'd catch my scent and turn to me. They had eyes only for the bodies displayed in the rows of windows lining the canals.

Some of the women were ripe, blond, Slavic-looking, their breasts exploding out of their lace brassieres. Others were slight, deliberately child-like in Gidget-inspired bikinis or brief plaid kilts. There was a Brazilian beauty with golden skin and coffee-colored eyes; a voluptuous African princess with strings of ruby-hued beads dangling in her ebony cleavage; a serious-looking brunette wearing dark-framed glasses who sat, shapely legs crossed, like a secretary waiting to take dictation.

Some of the women posed. Others danced suggestively, or made lewd gestures at their prospective customers. There were masked women in leather, snapping riding crops against their boots. There were women whose pierced nipples and labia showed clearly through their translucent garments.

Men clustered around the dimly-lit windows like moths hovering by a candle. Mostly they'd just look, inflamed by the mere thought of all this available flesh. Sometimes I'd see a hushed conversation through a half open glass door. Such conversations might end with the man turning away, disappointed, rejected, or perhaps simply unwilling to pay the asking price. Other times the door would open wider, just enough to admit the supplicant. Then it would close and the red velvet curtains would be drawn, hiding the rest of the dance.

Those curtained windows drew me. I couldn't stop imagining what might be going on behind them. I knew it was a straight commercial transaction in most cases, a workman-like blowjob, or a quick, bored fuck. Still, I imagined occasional revelations, epiphanies, ecstasies -- meetings of strangers pre-destined to be lovers, brief but unbearably intense conflagrations of lust, lewd and mystical connections that would live in his memory, or hers, long after the curtains were flung open again.

I'm nineteen. I've had enjoyable but ultimately frustrating sex with two boys my age. I know that, practical as I am, I'm a bit of a romantic. Otherwise, I would not have continued to roam the red-lit alleys long after Jane gave up and went back to the hotel in disgust. As the Oude Kerk chimed two AM, I wandered up Molensteeg and down Monnikenstraat like some horny ghost. The crowds had thinned. The curtains were mostly drawn. Some of open windows were empty. Next to them were the signs: KAMERS TE HUUR. Windows for rent.

*****

I remember those church bells, ringing through the damp, mostly deserted Amsterdam streets. I just had to capture them in a story.

Then of course there's Bangkok, familiar and yet ever strange after two years of living there and many visits since. I was there not long ago. The city's changing – there are more skyscrapers now, and everyone including the beggars has a cell phone – but the description I wrote nearly two decades ago, in “Butterfly” is still pretty accurate. Except for their piercings and tattoos, the bar girls haven't changed much...



One of my mates, Charlie, knew the city well. He checked us into a comfortable, ridiculously cheap hotel in the middle of the tourist district. Bewildered and dazzled, I followed him along sidewalks crammed with vendors hawking watches, tee shirts and toys, trying to avoid tripping on the broken pavement.

Beggars with shriveled limbs extended their bowls in silent entreaty. Blond, ragged-haired tourists in shorts and sandals, slender Thai women in tight jeans and silk blouses, monks draped in saffron, policemen standing stiffly at corners, their revolvers prominently displayed: it seemed that the whole of the Bangkok was here on this one street. Meanwhile, an endless line of vehicles crawled by us: tint-windowed Mercedes, sooty trucks, and rickety buses with people hanging out the doors. The air was heavy with diesel fumes, frying garlic, and jasmine. We dined at a quiet restaurant on a side lane, where the young waitress giggled every time we spoke to her. Then Charlie took me off to see what he called "the real Bangkok" - the go-go bars and sex clubs.

We sauntered into the "entertainment plaza". Three stories of indoor bars and clubs surrounded a central court, which was crowded with open-air bars and stalls selling skewers of grilled chicken, fresh fruit, and fried locusts. As we walked along the second-level balcony, bikini-clad girls tried to lure us inside their establishments.

"Come inside," they crooned. "One beer fifty baht. No cover charge." Briefly, the woman would hold back the dark cloth draping the door, offering a tantalizing glimpse of flickering lights and bare flesh. "Take a look, no charge, come inside."

The more energetic of these young marketeers would grab us by the hand, and laughing the whole while, try to pull us in. It was all good-natured, though. We'd extricate ourselves from her strong fingers and thank her. "Not now," we'd say. "Maybe later."

"Why not now?" she'd say, stamping her foot in mock anger. "Don't you like me?"

*****

I've been lots of places I haven't written yet. There are stories inside me set in Instanbul, in Tokyo, in Lisbon. I'm sure they'll find their way out eventually. Of course, sometimes I'll want to set one of my tales somewhere I haven't traveled (at least not yet). Then I do have to do some research – but it's a pleasure.

For instance, a few years ago I wrote a short story that takes place in Varanasi (Benares), India. My one trip to India didn't take me anywhere near that ancient, sacred center. I spent delightful hours pouring over websites, gazing at maps, trying to grasp a sense of the place. I don't know how successful I was, but I had a wonderful time doing the research.

You can read that story (Naked in Varanasi) in my paranormal collection Fourth World (which is currently 50% off on Smashwords). Meanwhile, I've added the place to my (all too long) travel wish list!