Writing Literary…When You’re NOT

With Dusk off my desk and on the shelves, and Soulbearer marinating slowly in the background, I’m now in the middle of a marathon run to finish an experiment with the working title Tripping Over Someone Else’s Shoelaces. What started this off was a need for an Honors thesis, coupled with a conversation I had with a friend of mine last semester. He was telling me about one of his professors and how this instructor assigned the students to write 50k words in six weeks.

I said, “Seriously? ONLY 50k in 6 weeks?”

“Yeah, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. You can’t have a plot.”

“Eh?” What the actual hell does that mean?

“Nope. No plot. You have a character and the whole thing is an experiment in ‘what happens next.’”

So of course, being the Manuscript Mage I am, I decided writing a full-length “literary” novel was the way to go. Not only is that not usually (read: almost never) done by undergrads, but I thought, “How hard can that possibly be?”

So I started with a name and a basic scenario: Wake up in the morning. What happens? Oops. There are people in his living room. What does he do? And so it went.

There are a number of problems with writing this way, from the genre author’s perspective. One, there’s almost ALWAYS a plot. If you don’t have a plot, how do you know where the characters are going? Two, the characters are always at least somewhat fleshed out before you start. You have a pretty good idea of what they like, dislike, want, love, and hate. Three, there’s usually at least some idea of what the character(s) is/are working toward.

The thing I’m learning from this, quite aside from the problem of what exactly constitutes “literary” fiction (ask ten people; you’ll get twenty answers), is that writing without a plot isn’t easy. It gives you as a writer a lot more freedom, but it’s a lot easier to get stuck wondering what to do next. You can’t have your character nap all the way through the book; that would get boring FAST. Your character cannot and must not be a Mary Sue, Little Mary Sunshine, or Mary Mary Quite Contrary; all of these character archetypes are a surefire recipe for a lame book. But where do you linger on the prosaic details of a person’s life, and when do you advance forward into the action?  Does it even matter in literary fiction?

I found this definition of what literary fiction is on LitReactor.com, taken from Wikipedia. While I don’t care for the definition as given, the analysis Richard Thomas gives of this definition is well worth a look.

“Literary fiction is a term principally used for certain fictional works that are claimed to hold literary merit…To be considered literary, a work usually must be “critically acclaimed” and “serious.” In practice, works of literary fiction often are “complex, literate, multilayered novels that wrestle with universal dilemmas”.

This definition’s about as explicative as saying “Oh, it’s over there” and gesturing vaguely to describe the distance from New York to LA. The implication is that there is no catch-all definition that really summarizes literary fiction, since the word “serious” in some connotations means “dealing with important, urgent, or crucial matters” such as life, death, God, the role of sex in the human makeup, etc. and in others means “devoid of levity, fun, enjoyment, or pleasure.”

In short, this definition is as useless as a dick-flavored lollipop if we take it literally. I’ve read (and even suspect somewhere along the line I might have written some) literary romance, fantasy, and sci-fi…but the cognoscenti disregard these tales as “proper” literature, despite the fact that by the very criteria stated above, they more rightly deserve the title than much of the literary fiction we see on the shelves.

After reading this definition, I did a personal inventory:

1) Deals with serious matters? Check. It doesn’t get much more serious than death.

2) Complex? Check. Good characters should be complex, as should the things they face.

3) Literate? Check. I would damned well hope so, because otherwise I’m in the wrong line of work.

4) Multi-layered? How the hell should I know? *shrug* Check.

5) Critically acclaimed? Well, all things in time.

From this we can establish that this book is at least 60, maybe more like 80% literary. I know it doesn’t fall into any of my usual wheelhouses: no romance, no sci-fi, no fantasy. The character’s totally different, and considerably more warty personality wise, than most of mine. Which raises a question.

If this thing gets off the ground, will I consider myself a “literary” author?

Not on your life, Bucky. I’m a genre hack all day long, and I’m perfectly happy being a genre hack. However, if I should just so happen to find myself in that class next semester, and the professor says everyone has six weeks to write fifty thousand words, while everyone else is losing their shit,

I’ll be giving him a broad smile.

And thinking, “Bring it.”

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne

 

Release Day: Dusk: How Much Is TOO Much?

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There’s a weird dichotomy in the romance genre. On one hand, readers (and yes, I count myself in this category) want believable stories, or at least stories that make sense in the context of the world or time in which they’re set. We want people who act like people, not cardboard cut-out sex toys that move from one erotic encounter to the next with nary a thought in their heads except “Nookie!”

On the other hand, there’s a school of thought that if you get too many things happening at one time in a romance novel, you risk losing the reader. I’ve never had this problem, because I grew up reading sweeping epics with casts of thousands (Lord of the Rings, Sword of Truth, etc.) and learned to appreciate how the people in these stories helped shape their world, for good or ill. I know a lot of other people who feel the same way.

Being an aficionado of the epic, I like the idea of people from different worlds coming together and/or working against one another. Take Dusk, for example. The default setting is “erotic romance,” because…well, because there’s an MFM menage relationship. No big mystery there. But filing it in that pigeonhole ignores so much about this series and what it brings to the table. So let’s look at what Dusk has to offer other readers, readers who may not necessarily like romance but who have other things they groove on.

  1. It’s sci-fi. Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, H.G. Wells, Diane Duane, D.C. Fontana, Star Wars, and the authors of the old-school Star Trek novels informed my reading sensibilities from the time I was old enough to understand that spaceships and aliens had their own genre. So I understand the theoretical concepts behind faster-than-light travel, the notional concepts of how a particle-beam weapon might work, the problems of containing plasma in a shaped field, and the issues of interstellar navigation.
  2. It’s a military story. David Drake (yes, I know he’s sci-fi and fantasy, too), W.E.B. Griffin,  Tim O’Brien, Stephen Coonts, and too many others to recall, coupled with my own service experience and opinions about combat and war, helped shape my ideas about what a good and honorable soldier of any stripe looks like, and how the powers that be may try to corrupt such a person to their own ends.
  3. It’s a suspense novel. Tom Clancy, Dean Koontz, John Sanford, et al taught me the psychology of a novel and how to hold off for the “big reveal” until the right moment. Thus there is political intrigue, murder, and an attempted assassination.
  4. It’s a fantasy novel. J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Goodkind, George R.R. Martin, Mercedes Lackey…I could go on for days in this category. Magick and science are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and so the challenge of incorporating real, functioning magick into a sci-fi novel isn’t quite as ludicrous as it might first sound. I just had to give it a scientific underpinning, which worked out better than one might think.
  5. It’s a story about human beings. No matter where you go, even on another planet, people are people are people. Jim Butcher, Nora Ephron, Alice Munro, Alice Walker, Anton Chekhov and Toni Collette are just a few authors I can name who wrote excellent stories and prose pieces about human interactions. Understanding how people think, act, and work for or against a common goal is important to creating characters that seem real to the reader, and so I drew heavily on these authors for inspiration and to make sure I was on the right track with their conversations, interactions, and (when appropriate) intercourse.
  6. It’s an erotic story, yes. I could give you a whole laundry list of authors, many of whom have graced this very blog with their presence in the past, who showed me how to write sex better and more believably. Of course, science being what it is, it was inevitable that some sci-fi would make its way into the characters’ desire for one another, but I think that just makes the story a little richer and more enjoyable. (Imagine having a condom that works from the inside and you’ve got the basic idea.)

The trouble with aliens is that it’s hard to come up with something that hasn’t been done in some form before. They have to be able to get around on their own, breathe some form of an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere, and subsist on the things available in a carbon-based biosphere, which really limited how cute I could get with them. Unfortunately for me, God already took the duck-billed platypus as a fuck-you to Darwin, so that shot that idea all to hell. (I was thinking about including tentacles in a nod to Zenobia Renquist, but given this story largely occurs on dry land, that would have been a stone bitch to get to fly.) Even so, I like the two species of aliens involved in this story. I’ll be curious to see if anyone can guess what inspired the T’riskin and the Raebteews…

So, yeah, there’s a LOT happening in Dusk. I wanted to make it romantic enough for the softies to enjoy (yeah, I’m one too), but exciting enough for the bloodthirsty, hot enough for the pervs (again, I’m one too), and science-y enough for the geeks to appreciate (and we’re four for four). If I say so myself, I think I did a pretty damn good job…but you tell me, hmm?

So my question for this Release Day is:

Do you like a big cast of characters with different shadings of “humanity” and lots of chances for misunderstanding, confusion, and mayhem, or do you favor a more limited and controlled story arc? I’m always curious to see what people think about this, and I anticipate a rather lively debate on the topic!

Be sure to follow my author page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JSWayneRomanceNovelist for more Release Day goodies, special extras, and maybe even some cool prizes. I look forward to seeing you there!

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne

9 Things You Didn’t Know About Dusk

Since Dusk debuts next week, I thought it would be a fun time to talk about some things that inspired the book and the people and beings that inhabit this alien world on the galactic rim in the Perseus Arm of the Milky Way. So, with that in mind, there will be no Friday Night Flings tonight, so we have time to do this! You can find all of the pertinent references in the first chapter of Dusk, available as a free read at http://changelingpress.com/content.php?utype=note&uid=6860

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1) Olivia Gunnarson’s everyday attire was inspired by a comic book heroine.

This probably won’t surprise many people who know me, but when I started assembling the planet’s characteristics in the deep freeze known as early January in southern Utah, I made it at the far upper end of human tolerance temperature-wise. Because of this, I had a choice to make: let everyone roam around naked, which was my first choice but not entirely practical, or give them the absolute minimum clothing available. After some thought, I revisited my boyhood for the perfect outfit for Olivia, with some fairly radical modifications from the original design.

“Psylocke” by Erulian (DeviantArt.com) erulian.deviantart.com

2) “Dudley” memorializes a bamboo plant I managed to kill once.

My ex-wife brought home a bamboo plant. When I saw it, I was skeptical and told her as much. No one has ever had a browner thumb than I do. Sometimes I think just to be in my presence results in plants wasting away to nothing. But she insisted bamboo was easy to keep alive. After some spirited discussion, we agreed to give it a try, and in a fit of whimsy, I named it Dudley.

Three months later, Dudley was dead. I haven’t owned a houseplant  since.

3) The visual appearance of Dusk was inspired by Dante’s Inferno.

To us, our world looks like…home. But how would another world look to human beings who’ve lived there their entire lives and don’t know anything BUT that other world? I wanted Dusk to look as menacing to my terrestrial character as it does soothing to my alien-born couple, and so I had to go back to classic literature to find exactly the right look for it. It didn’t take me long to find the perfect depiction of Hell to use as a template, drawing on an old woodcut and a few images from the Playstation game based upon this hellish tale.

4) Olivia was named for Olivia Newton-John.

So, I needed a name for my main female character. I had an eighties playlist on, just for a change of pace, and “Magic” came on. I thought about it for a second and said, “Of COURSE! No one’s using Olivia right now…let’s go with that.” Naturally, the next time I came up for breath and dipped into social media, I saw a half-dozen authors pimping novels whose heroines had that name. Could’ve been a headdesk moment, but I decided to let it ride.

Image courtesy of Fanpop.com

5) An Interesting, Slightly Eerie Coincidence

Okay, I admit it: I used to be a total Star Trek dork. I started losing interest around Deep Space Nine, which was also around the time I entered high school and discovered the magnificent world of boobs. (This is not nearly as atypical as you might think, incidentally.) So, when I needed a name for Olivia’s love interest, I settled on Captain R.M. Merrick, from the old-school Star Trek episode “Bread and Circuses” (number 43, if you care). Unbeknownst to me, Kase J. Reed, who had the winning idea for Dusk and who is also an author, had a character named Merrick in one of her books! I only learned this when doing the author/character interview with her earlier this week.

6) “Hui Sin Ling” means nothing.

According to four different translation programs, the DDC diplomat with the exotic name who teases Ambassador Trelawney, “Hui” means nothing. “Sin” means “first” or “line,” depending on if one is using the Pinyin or Cantonese dialect respectively. “Ling” apparently means “zero.” I cannot vouch for the accuracy of these translations personally, so if you happen to know someone who can, I’d love to hear from them. So “Hui Sin Ling” means “*nothing* First Zero” or “*nothing* Line Zero.” Not sure what to make of that, but it’s a fun tidbit, no?

7) The tiara Olivia wears is based loosely upon Elrond’s diadem in Lord of the Rings.

‘Nuff said? All righty, then! But, just for a goof:

8)  Dudley’s scent was brought about by dinner.

My girlfriend was making Mexican food one night. As it was getting late, I was hungry. She made herself some cinnamon toast to nibble on, and I wound up working the two scents together as an olfactory indication of Dudley’s contentment. (You really don’t want to be within a mile of Dudley when he’s angry. Start with a garbage dump, let it get less savory from there, and you’ve got the idea.)

9) The name of Dusk’s primary polar city, Galacia, was taken from an old Eastern European country.

I liked the play on words of “Galacia” and its similarity to the word “galaxy,” but I thought maybe I’d heard it somewhere before. When I did a little digging, it turns out I had. The old kingdom of Galicia (note the slight difference in spelling) today is located in western Ukraine.

Special Author/Character Interview: Kase J. Reed!

I like to do special things for my readers sometimes, and Kase (pronounced like Cassie) J. Reed offered me a prime opportunity to do just that when her idea won my contest at the end of December! In addition to taking the story concept she suggested and running with it, I also gave her the option of being a character in my upcoming novel, Dusk. 

It takes a lot of faith in an author’s ability to be willing to serve as a character in someone else’s story, but when I sent Kase the original, unedited manuscript for Dusk, she was very pleased by it. This, of course, made me extremely happy, because writing a real person into a fictional story is always a delicate balancing act. So, as she’s an author in her own right, as well as graciously agreeing to serve as one of the characters, I thought it would be fun to do an interview with both Kase the author and Kase the character. I hope you all enjoy it…we sure did!

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Author/Character Interview: Kase J. Reed

Kase the character

What is your character’s name?  Kase Reed

Does the character have a nickname? When she was little and her parents had just realized her magick, her father would call her his little mind reader. After she grew older he didn’t do it as much.

What is your characters hair color? Medium brown with copper highlights

Eye color? Hazel

Does your character have a birthmark? She has two.

Where is it? There are three small dots or points that are arranged in a triangle at the front of her left shoulder, and a larger one on her inner left thigh.

What about scars? Small scar on left cheek, one at the base of her right thumb, and another on the outside metatarsal of her left foot.

How did she get them? When she was ten she got the small scar on her left cheek from one of the small cat-sized flying lizards that made their home on her father’s plantation. She’d been after one for a pet for days, and when she finally caught one it scratched her. The other two scars she received when a young man’s inappropriate thoughts about her made her trip and fall into the rocks while she was running with her friends along the beach. Her foot required sixteen stitches, and her thumb was cut so badly she had to have corrective surgery to repair the tendon so she could use it again. She was so angry with herself for allowing the boys thoughts to invade her head.

Who are the people your character is closest to? She’s closest to her best friend Olivia.

Who does she wish she were closest to? Kase would love to be closer to Merrick, who is Olivia’s lover. She has a huge crush on him.

Where was your character born? Kase was born at home on her father’s plantation. There was no time for them to get to the hospital in Galacia.

Where has she lived since then?  Kase lived with her parents until she turned eighteen. After that she went to Galacia to live and go to school. She’s lived there ever since.

Where does she call home? A nice apartment near Olivia.

Where does your character go when she’s angry? She has a place on the beach where can hide among the rocks in a sandy cove. She can sit and brood quietly.

Does she have a secret? She puts on a brave face, but it’s hard for her to be psychic because certain people look at her like she’s a monster, like she’d steal their dreams, money, and maybe even their souls.

What makes your character laugh out loud? Going out and having fun with Olivia and Merrick.

When has your character been in love? Had a broken heart? She hasn’t yet found the right person to be in love with. Her heart broke when her father passed away, leaving only her and a mother estranged from her.

What is in your characters refrigerator right now? She keeps a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables, fish, wine, and some chocolate for those really rough days when it’s tough to be her.

On her bedroom floor? Yesterday’s clothes and shoes.

On her nightstand? Her book reader, a glass half full of water, and her alarm clock

In her garbage can? A few take out packages and old mail

What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? The day she caught the flying lizard that scratched her face.

Why is it so powerful and lasting? It stuck with her because she wanted on of them so badly for a pet. She’d read about Earth kids having pets and she wanted one. It wasn’t but two weeks and her father had brought her one that he’d caught and tamed for her.

Your character is getting ready for a night out. Where is she going? Usually to the club where Olivia and Merrick go unless they’ve run off to have a tryst on the beach.

What does she wear? She tries to dress sexy, but can’t bring herself to follow Olivia’s scantily clad ways so she covers up a bit more.

Who will she be with? Once in a while she has a date, but most of the time she meets Olivia there.

Kase the author

What do you consider your greatest achievement? My greatest achievement in life was my two boys. They are gone now, but they were the best thing I ever did. In writing, I’m not sure I’ve found it yet.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Having family and friends that love me, being able to stay home and write, and not to have too many worries.

What is your current state of mind? Right now, I’m a bit melancholy. It’s ten days (March 4) before my younger son, Patrick’s birthday (March 14). He’s been gone for four years this year.

What is your favorite occupation? Writer. I love being a writer myself. All the characters and worlds I have living in my head need a way to get out so I can share them with other people and being a writer allows me to do that.

When and where were you the happiest? I’m happiest at home, anytime.

What is it that you most dislike? I dislike fake people. You know the kind that pretend to be someone they aren’t. I also dislike liars and showoffs.

What is your greatest fear? Honestly, my greatest fear is being alone. Now don’t get me wrong I like time alone, but I don’t ever want to be left alone without anyone that cares about me.

Which talent would you most like to have? I wish I could draw. I’ve thought about taking lessons, but haven’t. Still not sure I have the talent inside me to do this.

What is the quality you most like in a man? Honesty, loyalty, someone who likes me for me.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Same as a man. At this point in life, I’m sure not looking for anyone for anything but friendship. I’m happily married.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? My temper and mood swings

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Lying, showing off just to rub something in someone’s face, and being fake.

What do you most value in your friends? Their friendship.

Whose are your heroes in real life? My son, Patrick is my real life hero. He went through so much pain and other stuff in his short life, but never lost his smile and love of life.

Which living person do you most admire? At this point in time, I’d have to say my hubby. He goes out and works his butt off to provide for us even though he’s working through his own issues as well as continuing his journey through grief at losing our sons.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Ambition, because it doesn’t seem to mean what it once did. These days it seems to mean running over the other guy to get where you’re going.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Oh, wow. Well, non-cussing would be you know. I curse too much.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? The one thing I’d change about myself is hanging on to stuff that happens. I have to gnash the crap out of an issue if it’s something that bugs me. I wish I could quit doing that.

What are your favorite names? I love different names. Teagan, Kaidan, Merrick (I have a Merrick in one of my books),  Kade. If it is different and unique, I love them.

Thank you so much for coming by and hanging out today, Kase! Be sure to look for Dusk, coming March 27th from Changeling Press…

 

Friday Night Fling EP4: Sock It To Me

I’m late this week, and that’s my fault. Between computer difficulties, car problems, and Spring Break…well, I won’t bore you with the details. Here’s a spicy excerpt from Sock It To Me!

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New York City Homicide Detective “Dutch” Grunhauer and his partner Grace Mendoza have been working a case for the last thirty-six hours straight. All Dutch wants when he finally gets home is a minimum six hours sleep. But that plan flies out the window when he spots an intruder under his bed. The seriously ugly creature isn’t human… and it has a seriously sexy, practically naked green-haired accomplice. With wings.

The Faerie and her pet — which appears to be the unholy offspring of a crocodile and a dingo — are looking for lost socks. Because they got caught, the Faerie has to grant Dutch one wish. But, as with all such wishes, there’s a rather large catch. Dutch has three days to decide what he wants. Otherwise he, most of the people who share his Upper East Side walk-up, and the building itself could cease to exist.

Dutch knows Grace will never believe he’s seeing Faeries in his apartment… And as if things aren’t complicated enough, the Faerie’s presence is doing uncomfortable things to his sense of professional boundaries. After three years, he’s finally noticed his partner’s a woman — and one of the hottest women in the department. Dutch knows he’d better be careful what — or who — he wishes for!

 

She broke the kiss and pulled back, pressing back against the refrigerator in a pinup pose.

If I’d thought she was stunning before, the sight of her nude was a heartstopper. Her breasts were that perfect size, big enough to cup and suckle without too much of a good thing, with outsized nipples and aureoles that puckered and tautened under my stare. I’d have never pegged Mendoza for the piercing type, but she had a discreet little ring with a silver pendant of some kind of black stone, maybe onyx, hanging from her pert little belly button. Beneath that, the apex of her thighs was neatly trimmed into a little triangle of soft-looking fur pointing the way down to her sex.

The words were off my lips and hanging fire in the air before I realized I was speaking. “You’re beautiful.”

http://changelingpress.com/product.php?&upt=book&ubid=2098

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne

Special Guest: Tina Donahue!

Today’s guest at the bar is a prolific and really good author, Tina Donahue! She’s got a new book coming available, and so I invited her to drop by to give y’all a taste. Grab a drink from Boris at the bar and then settle in for a hot one!

STOLEN DESIRE

BOOK FOUR – OUTLAWED REALM SERIES

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EROTIC PARANORMAL

 

Blurb:

 

Her freedom depends on one man. A criminal to his realm…

 

Outlawed Realm, Book 4

 

One minute, Paige Ross is outside a Seattle bar, grieving a failed engagement. The next, she jerks awake in a weird, candlelit room with velvet walls, black silk sheets, and a man who motions for silence.

 

Paige has little choice but to trust the powerful stranger who promises a way out of what looks like Satan’s brothel. And pray his promise to keep her safe is as real as the heat burning in his eyes.

Banished from E2’s ruling elite for supposed crimes against the realm, Zekin risks everything to rescue those brought to E5 for the guards’ carnal pleasure. Paige will be leaving this inhospitable realm of fire and ice—if he can somehow forget the way her trembling body melts in his arms.

 

Safe—temporarily—in an underwater world populated by strange creatures, Paige’s sexual awakening explodes into an unquenchable need that consumes them both. But the guards will be looking for her. And Zekin’s plan to send her home is a dangerous journey she cannot—will not—take without him.

 

Warning: Scorching-hot sex and loads of aching tenderness between a drool-worthy hunk who’s determined to do the right thing and a woman who’s not about to give him up.

 

 

Excerpt:

 

Thick gray clouds rolled above them, heavy with more snow. A sliver of bluish-white light poured through a gap in the cloud cover, as though the moon were trying to bleed through. Its rays swept across the land, which shimmered in the frail glow, sparkling like thousands of diamonds. The effect lasted only a moment, and then the light receded, with shadows once again taking over the hostile terrain.

As though that worried him, Zekin increased his already fast pace, pausing only once to shove her clothing into a snowdrift, burying it.

Why?

Paige wasn’t able to ask. She struggled to keep up, gulping air. It should have been icy, hurting her throat, but wasn’t. The transparent mask no doubt heated it. How was that possible? Desperate for answers, she cried out, “Where are we going?”

Zekin looked over. “A colony where you’ll be safe.”

Paige dug her fingers into his hand. “Where are we? What is this place?”

“E5.”

What in the hell was that? A government installation where scientists conducted classified studies and had pleasure slaves on the side? That made absolutely no—

Wait a sec. Suddenly, Paige recalled Zekin mentioning E1 when he’d first come into her room.

“I’ll do all I can to bring you back to E1,” he’d promised her then.

Instinctively, she held back. Just as quickly, Zekin yanked her forward.

“Don’t fight me,” he warned, “or you’ll end up like the others you saw outside the guards’ outpost.”

Paige shivered so badly, her voice shook. “Did those bastards throw the bodies out there after they murdered those people?”

“Only some. The others they pushed out there to die.”

Why?

“They weren’t useful any longer.” Again, he glanced over. “When one of the guards found you and brought you here, they got rid of the other woman. That’s what they do when they tire of females from your realm, or the pleasure slaves they haven’t already killed.”

Paige was about to pepper him with more questions. Instead, her mind snagged on one word—realm.

“You mean country?” Maybe she’d been wrong about his nationality. It wasn’t Greek or Middle-Eastern but Russian. Could be this was Siberia. In a weird sort of way, that made sense. “Is that what you meant—my country? The USA? America?”

He regarded the landscape past her. “We have to hurry before the other guards return and see us.”

Paige couldn’t imagine how that was possible. The material covering them was the same tint as their surroundings, making them virtually invisible…unless the guards had some kind of special eyewear, like night-vision goggles, that allowed them to see what the naked eye couldn’t. “How far is the colony?”

“Past that body of water.” He gestured toward what appeared to be an enormous frozen lake ringed by drifts.

As Paige scanned the area beyond it, searching for some sort of building, a flock of birds flew over the lake. At least she thought they were birds. Their thick feathers were an ashy white, their wingspans enormous, like nothing she’d ever seen.

They flew in an odd formation, not the usual V pattern, but in a perfect circle. Paige couldn’t help but stare at the phenomenon. How in the world did they do—

A thunderous crackling sound interrupted her thoughts, and the again screeching wind.

She flinched. Zekin released her hand and moved in front, his body pushing hers back, shielding Paige as something shattered the ice from beneath the center of the lake. Within seconds, a creature pushed through, hurling its milky body upward. The waves that followed it froze instantly in the raw air, the ends of the water curled over like a fine crystal sculpture. As massive as a blue whale, the creature surged from the lake, a horn protruding from its snout, no doubt what pierced the ice. With blinding speed, it penetrated the circle made by the birdlike creatures.

Shrieking wildly, they scattered, but it did no good. The whale-like thing swung its monstrous head back and forth, gulping several of the creatures before gravity pulled it back down to the water. A thin sheet of ice formed instantly, hiding its exit. Harsh winds toppled the frozen waves as easily as if they’d been a house of cards, then pushed them against the snowdrifts, returning the scene to the relative calm of a few minutes before as though none of the carnage had occurred.

Paige continued to hyperventilate. What kind of fucking nightmare had she stumbled into? Was it possible she’d been drugged and was hallucinating? If not… Aw crap, she didn’t want to think about that.

“There’s nothing to fear,” Zekin assured. “The thing has had its fill for the moment. It won’t harm—”

Her embrace stopped him. She clung to Zekin, her face pressed against his back, praying he wouldn’t push her away. “Don’t leave me, please,” she begged.

Her fiancé, Johnny, had done that, calling off their wedding after she’d worked so hard on the plans and getting him to want her. He never apologized. He’d just told her the score, saying they could still live together. As if she’d want that. Before he’d bugged out on her, her mother and then eventually her father had also left. She’d had no one for too long and by God, right now, Paige needed the warmth of Zekin’s body, the security and comfort of his size to preserve her sanity. To give her hope that they’d both get through this.

“Please,” she repeated.

“I won’t,” he murmured. “It’s all right.” With his hands on her wrists, Zekin gently pulled her arms from him but didn’t step away.

If he had, Paige would have followed. Out here, she had no shame, no pride, just an unbearable need to be close.

He turned to face her, then hesitated only a moment before wrapping his arms around her in a sheltering caress. She couldn’t stop shaking. As he ran his hand down her back, he whispered, “You’re safe.”

No, she wasn’t. Neither was he. Not out here in arctic-land. Deep inside, Paige was terrified they weren’t on Earth any longer. It was crazy to even consider that, but how else to explain all of this? How could either of them survive? Why had he even risked his life to rescue her? Who was he? Where had he come from?

She pressed her cheek against his shoulder. The transparent material covering her face was exactly like skin, letting her feel his solid frame, his heat. She snuggled, unable to stop herself, indulging in this small, welcome intimacy as the world went crazy around them.

The wind died for a moment, then picked up again, slamming against her body as it screamed past. Clouds continued to sink, weighted with snow.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

His hand stalled on her back. “For what?”

Being scared and being a burden, asking too many questions, not knowing how to make this better. All her life, Paige had done whatever she could so people wouldn’t leave her. Didn’t work. They always had.

“Getting you into this,” she finally said.

If she hadn’t had those stupid drinks at Rozie’s, if she hadn’t gotten involved with Johnny—a damn fool who couldn’t commit to marriage much less save her ass out here—none of this would have happened.

“You had nothing to do with this,” Zekin said. “It was my choice to come.”

 

Available for preorder from: Samhain - Amazon - B&N  

Release: March 11

 

Other books in the Outlawed Realm series:

 

Unending Desire – Book One

Illicit Desire – Book Two

Shameless Desire – Book Three

 

 

 

About Tina:

 

Tina Donahue is an award-winning, bestselling novelist in erotic, paranormal, contemporary and historical romance for Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, and Kensington. Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised her work. Three of her erotic romances (Adored, Lush Velvet Nights, and Deep, Dark, Delicious) were named finalists in the 2011 EPIC competition. The French review site, Blue Moon reviews, chose her erotic romance Sensual Stranger as their Book of the Year 2010 (erotic category). The Golden Nib Award at Miz Love Loves Books was created specifically for Lush Velvet Nights, and two of her titles (The Yearning and Deep, Dark, Delicious) received an Award of Merit in the RWA Holt Medallion competition (2011 and 2012). Take Me Away and Adored both won second place in the NEC RWA contest (different years). Tina is featured in the 2012 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. She was the editor of an award–winning Midwestern newspaper and worked in Story Direction for a Hollywood production company.

 

Email: tina@tinadonahue.com

Website: http://www.tinadonahue.com/

Blog: http://www.tinadonahue.com/blog/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/tinadonahue

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tina.donahue.75

FB Fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/TinaDonahueBooks

Triberr: http://triberr.com/tinadonahue

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/authortina/my-books/

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/tinadonahue

My page at TRR: http://erotic.theromancereviews.com/mypageprofile.php?location=tinadonahue

 

 

CONTEST DETAILS:

 

Tina will choose one commenter as her winner. Winner gets her choice of one of Tina’s award-winning, bestselling ebooks from this list:

 

1. Adored – RWA award-winning; EPIC 2011 Finalist; 4 Stars RT

2. Deep, Dark, Delicious – EPIC 2011 Finalist; Holt Medallion Award of Merit

3. Lush Velvet Nights – EPIC 2011 Finalist; Golden Nib Award

4. In His Arms – SIX 5 Star Reviews; 4 Stars RT

5. Sensual Stranger – 2010 Book of the Year (erotic); 4 Stars RT

6. The Yearning – Top Ten Bestseller

7. Take Me Away – #1 Pick, Miz Love Loves Books

8. Unending Desire – Best Book Rating LASR

9. SiNN – Nominated for Book of the Week LASR

10. Sinfully Wicked – Magnificent – Romancing the Book

11.  Claiming Magique – Top Pick – NOR

12. Illicit Desire – Four Stars Romantic Times

13. Come Fill Me – Five Stars – Guilty Pleasures

 

 

Friday Night Fling EP3: Danni Price’s Haunted

It’s another Friday night, and we’ve got a special guest here at the bar with a steamy excerpt! Please welcome Danni Price, author of Haunted, available now from Changeling Press!

Passionate couple

 

“You’re such a dinosaur.” Daphne dug into the pocket of her white Capri pants and pulled out a bright pink thumb drive. The small piece of plastic dangled from her thumb and forefinger. Virginia snaked out a hand to grab the drive, but Daphne pulled back at the last moment. “No way. Not until you tell me why you need books about sex magick.”

Quinn’s head jerked up.

“Shh.” Virginia lifted a hand and gripped her friend’s elbow to lead her out of the room.

Daphne’s heels dug into the worn blue carpeting. “Are you trying to live out your teenage wet dreams for Quinn? Because no matter how erect and mammoth, ghost penis is kinda creepy.”

The horny ghost in question floated between them with a near manic expression. “I can have sex?” Eyes heavenward, Virginia groaned.
WEBSITE: www.danniprice.com
BUY LINK: all the links are here http://www.danniprice.com/available-now.html

Musings, Ramblings, and Rants

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