Goodbye 2012 it was nice knowing you

vbsd0213_ntscWhen the clock ticks over at midnight it will be the third new year I have celebrated as a published author.

For the first two years I was clueless. I moved from publisher to publisher trying to find a writing home, and from genre to genre to find out what fit. I considered chasing the market and even quitting altogether. Sales numbers were not good. Everything felt like shoveling shit uphill.

However, 2012 changed everything.  Sales are still not where I want them but I finally embraced who I am. Romantic comedy is my thing. Dark angst, drama, horror, none of it works for me. Even if I try to write them my characters start cracking jokes. I have no desire to apologise for writing about sex. Erotic romance floats my boat if people don’t like it that’s not my problem. I am what I am. I write what I love and I rejoice in it.

Marketing is not the scary beast I once thought it was. I do what I can and don’t sweat over the things I can’t.

I realised other authors are not me. Someone else’s success is not the guide I should use to measure my own performance. Nathan Bransford once blogged about how writers never celebrate success. They dream of publication but when they get there it’s not enough, now they want to make a best sellers list, or sell like someone else. We are great at turning our successes into failures.

Now I have found my genre and Liquid Silver Books, a publisher who loves what I write, I plan to sit back and take time to smell the roses, enjoy what I have achieved already before worrying about what I still want to achieve.

Writing is a journey not a destination. I hope my travels along the path in 2013, the people I meet, the places I visit, are as wonderful as those on my journey in 2012.

Happy New Year

Guest Blogger – Maria Violante

My Three Part New Year’s Resolution

Maria Violante

When I contacted Robin Danner and was offered this guest spot, it was like a first date with a really hot guy, equal parts thrilled and nervous.  Oooh, I thought.  On one hand, you’re doing the very last post before the New Year.  On the other hand . . . it’s the very last post before the New Year.

I thought a lot about what I wanted to talk about.  My accomplishments as a writer?  The books I have coming out next?  Issues with plot, heroes, heroines?  Social media and marketing?

And then, I did what I always do.  I decided to say screw whatever I was supposed to write about, and just write about what was real.  So, as I always say, it’s about to get real in here.

I broke up with a guy not too long ago.  It was one of those relationships that lasts a really long time, seems to be going somewhere, but isn’t—you know the type—emotionally unavailable guy that wants to have a relationship but can’t because he’s a manchild meets girl with bad boundaries.  It’s a powder-keg that never ends well and causes both a parties a lot of hurt.  One moment, he’s talking marriage; the next, he doesn’t know if he wants anything to do with you because you don’t “meet up to his expectations.”  You start turning into a nag and a harpy, all while feeling like you’ve been walking on eggshells.

It was the kind of relationship where, once it’s over, you wonder why you didn’t break up a long time ago.  The kind of relationship where the sting of solitude is more than made up for by the way your hair doesn’t fall out, your skin has stopped breaking out, and you can breathe again.

Hot on the heels of my breakup, I read a lot.  I read advice books, psychology books, and yes, romance books.  I will go on the record to state that it feels weird to be reading romance books when I was going through a breakup, but hey, it’s my job.

And this is the conclusion I’ve come to, a conclusion that no doubt many of you have come to already, but some of you haven’t, and you need to.  It’s the resolution I want every single woman—or hell, every taken woman that isn’t happy, to make.  I think if every woman on earth made this resolution, the world would be a thousand times better, with a lot less hurt in it.  So welcome to the three-part resolution special.

Ready?  Resolution Part I, repeat after me.

“I deserve my happily-ever-after ending.”

Some of you have already written this post off.  Well, yeah, you say, everybody knows that.  And if that’s how you feel, move on to another site, because this post isn’t for you, except that it still might be, because those of us with big hearts and decent brains can still be masters of denial.

For those of you still here, there are two other parts.  Moving on:

Some of us read/watch/see a lot of romances where love is the end-all, be-all that changes the drinking gambler/dickish alpha-wolf/broken-hearted, widowed firefighter from un-uncommitted flip-flopper to The One.

This doesn’t actually happen. If he values you, he’ll step up.  If he doesn’t, there’s nothing wrong with giving him space until he figures out whatever it is he needs to figure out.

So resolution Part II.  Repeat after me.

“ I deserve my happily-ever-after relationship.

 What does that mean?

That means that you deserve to feel special, day-in, day-out.  That means that once y’all are “established”, you should never ask yourself if he actually cares, if he enjoys hurting you, or if he’s going to be able to “handle” being with someone.

As adequately summed up as I can, he shouldn’t make you cry.  Maybe one day a year, after his dog gets hit by a car, he’s kind of a douche—but he wises up, apologizes, and doesn’t make a pattern out of that behavior.

Remember.  “I deserve my happily-ever-after relationship” means “I will not date men that make me feel shitty.”

This dovetails nicely into Resolution Part III, which is the method.

Resolution Part III, repeat after me.

“I will only date grown-ass men that know how to treat a lady.”

Is he unsure about what he’s doing with his life, and thinking he needs time to go find himself?  Does he point out negative things about you, and tear you down to build his own ego up?  Does he show up late all of the time?  Does he lie to get out of trouble/keep you from finding out things he doesn’t want you to know?  Does he not share well or fight fairly?

All of the above behaviors are indicative of a man that, although he may feels like he loves you with all his heart—is still a boy.  Not a man.  These are infantile behaviors.  I mean it.  I used to work in day care, and all of these things (except for maybe the first one, which is a little more high school/early college) is the crap we starting working with two year olds on.

Assume he’s twenty eight.  He’s had twenty-six years to figure out how it’s okay to treat others in society.  So if he exhibits the above behaviors, he’s still a boy, still figuring it out, and you need to step.

After all, we can’t be dating children.

So once again, my—and hopefully not only my—three part Year’s resolution, in summary.

  1. “I deserve my happily-ever-after ending.”
  2. “I deserve my happily-ever-after relationship.”
  3. “I will only date grown-ass men that know how to treat a lady.”

Have a wonderful 2013.

About Maria:

After a major car accident caused her to seriously re-assess her priorities, Maria Violante quit her job as a desk-jockey and started to pursue one of her longest running dreams—writing.  Her first novel, Honda or Die, is doomed to remain on her hard drive until she can figure out how to bury it.

She writes in several different genres of speculative fiction, from demon-busting urban fantasy, to sci-fi clone romance, to romantic historical westerns–with shapeshifters!  Whew!

She’s a foodie, an inveterate traveler, and a dog lover, and it would probably  make her day if you sent her a tweet @violanteauthor.

Her most recent release, Gambler’s Luck, came out on December 24th of 2012.  You can pick it up here:  http://www.lsbooks.com/gamblers-luck-p735.php.  Her next release, Wit Awakening (http://mariaviolante.com/wit-awakening/), comes out February 4th.

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Guest Blogger Justin Whitfield

Today on the purple crushed velvet couch my special guest is c0-author with Taylor Cole of ‘Take It Off – The Naked Truth About Male Strippers.’

I asked Justin for an author photo and this is what he sent. Now, deep breath ladies.

I believe Justin is the guy in the jeans.

Justin Whitfield has a diverse background, he has graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelor’s in Economics & Finance. He holds a former title of Mr. All-Natural Southwest U.S.A. and is a fitness model with numerous magazines. Justin is also an entrepreneur; owning his own sports bar in Houston called “The End Zone”. He has worked at male review clubs all over the U.S., in a span of twenty years and he is currently a Caveman model for Ellora’s Cave.

Thank you, Justin,  for graciously agreeing to be our guest on Love, Lust and Laptops.

Lillian:  I’ve read, “Take it Off” that you co-authored with Taylor Cole. I did wonder if you would be shy about talking about your life as a male stripper but I am going to guess not after the stories you’ve shared with your readers. I couldn’t put the damn thing down. It certainly is a very funny and educational read. What made you decide to write it, and do you have any plans for a sequel?

 Justin: I had started dancing at a club in Arlington, Tx. For about 3-4 months. I knew Taylor from the gym. I helped him get hired at the club. We both defected to the Dallas club because it was much busier and the better guys worked there. After a few years, I got divorced and decide to move to Houston and dance. Taylor stayed in Dallas. Every once in a while, we would meet up for roadshows and share our stories. We knew that we had a book but just needed a publisher.

We are about to turn in our sequel. Probably within a week. Since we covered all the informative part about how, why and what it takes in the first book. We go straight to the funny mishaps, too damn old jokes and sexcapades.

Lillian: I’m in danger of revealing way too much about myself but I have never seen a Male Stripper, other than my husband when he wants to entertain me. He has a certain rhythm. What he lacks in ability he makes up for with enthusiasm. Fortunately, I have a wonderful imagination. So, in your book you talk about different sorts of clients. How did you deal with a nervous first timer?

Justin: I once danced for a girl who was shaking so badly, it was reminiscent of seeing a kid meet Michael Jackson for the first time. It was too much but she really couldn’t stop shaking. Mostly, though, a nervous newbie is common and you just have  to make a lot of eye contact, smile and seem very down to earth. Take charge, of course. By that, I mean, lead her through the whole dance. Instruct her hands as to what they are allowed to touch. The chest and hips are always allowed to be touched. Most important part, make sure she smiles.

Lillian:  As a woman I am not inclined to find a strange man getting naked particularly titillating unless I have some kind of connection and feel like the performance is just for me. How do you make what you do seem more than just another night taking your clothes off for a bunch of strangers? How do you make it special?

Justin: We make what we do special because of the time and effort we put into our acts, bodies and performance. Women are definitely into their minds more than men. Eye contact is very important. It can make a woman feel special and help to break down that wall women tend to have. Unfortunately, some nights, we are just going through the motions.

Lillian: What attracted you to stripping? And how did you cope with first time nerves? I know if I was getting naked in front of a room of men I would probably throw up, but then they would probably do the same.

Justin: I wanted to be a stripper because I knew I was too shy and that if I stayed shy, I would miss out on so much. The first time I got on stage to tryout, I was 19 and had only been with one girl. First time nerves were pretty bad but I wanted to do it even more than I was worried about looking stupid. I got light headed the first time up and remember Metallica “enter sandman” come on and I started banging my head and made it through.

Lillian:  I hide behind a pen name and only share my real identity with a select group of people.  My Mother- in –law has no idea who the erotic author who keeps hitting on her son on Facebook really is. You don’t seem to be shy about what you did for a living but have you ever had to hide it and how did you do that when anyone could walk into the club and see you?

Justin: When I retired at 32, I opened my bar The End Zone Sports Bar and Grill. I really didn’t tell anyone what I did but this last year with news stories on us, our book, newspaper feature, CNN interview and some other stuff, people now know and I learned how to embrace what I did. I can hold my head up high because I was able to make it a career and move on to much better things. I’ve lived a life worth living and I believe everyone should be able to say the same.

Lillian:  I love how you give advice about diet and exercise, I am sure my personal trainer does too, but the bit I thought was gold was advice on how to attract the attention of a male stripper. No, I am not going to ask if you’re gay.  See I was paying attention. However, you do say don’t be a stalker. I can imagine that for some people the show seems like reality and stalking could be a very real problem. Have you ever been in a situation that made you feel like you were in danger?

Justin: I’ve never been in a situation where I felt in danger. Stalkers do exist. I’ve seen girls get the guys name or moniker tattooed on her. Tell all the other girls she slept with him. Etc…. Stuff like that. Marking of territory stuff.

Lillian: On a similar theme, I am sure sometimes when you are in the audience table and lap dancing some women get too carried away and pull your pants down. What do you do in that situation?

Justin: I’ve been exposed a few times but usually on main stage when I’m on my knee trying to get a tip. I hate it and grab the girls hand in a firm manner and say, “act like a lady!” Once, I had my bottoms cut off on the sides because the girl thought it would be funny. Luckily, I grabbed Them before they fell of.

Lillian: Did it ever become just a job where you got up and said, ‘I suppose I have to go to work and get naked.’ Like I do every Monday. The going to work bit, not the getting naked. There isn’t a big market for naked accountants in Australia.  If it did feel like just a job how did you get your spark back?

Justin: It becomes old to every dancer after time. At that point, we have to change something up in our act or maybe take a few weeks off. It can be mentally draining as well.

Lillian:  This is the question we all want to ask but we are too afraid to so on behalf of all the ladies who want to know, how do you stop yourself getting, I think someone called it happy, but I think she means aroused? And if you do get aroused what the hell do you do because it must stand out like dog balls.

Justin: I mention the aroused part in the next book. It can happen but not usually. You just don’t get aroused while working.

Lillian: You do know I will have to buy the next book now, right? Finally, what was the best and worst thing about being a stripper and now that you have hung up your G-string what do you miss about it?

Justin:  I technically haven’t hung my g string up. I no longer work at the club but book roadshows at big clubs and casinos a few times per year. It gives me my “fix”. It also helps me stay motivated to stay in shape. I’ve been lucky because dancing has given so very much. I met my wife on main stage. My bar was paid for from saving my tips over the years. I have a second book about to come out. I have a degree in economics but dancing has done way more for me in the real world.

When I’m too old to dance, I’ll miss the roar of the girls when I do my act, the camaraderie of the guys and the traveling.

 

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes in a male strip club? Are those guys gay? How do they stay so ripped? Do they stuff their trunks? How did they get into such a business? How much money do they make? Do they have wild sex every night?

This book takes you backstage and into the lives of two successful male strippers over a span of twenty years in the business. From their rookie days to their wild sexcapades and practical jokes, Take It Off! is a laugh-filled, action-packed joyride.

Justin Whitfield and Taylor Cole are the stage names of male exotic dancers who have performed for women in Europe, the Caribbean, South America and Canada, as well as at various casinos, on cruise ships and in hundreds of clubs across the United States. Both have been featured on television and radio, as well as in newspapers, calendars and magazines. Both are also official Ellora’s Caveman cover models.

If you want to know more you can buy the book at. Go on, you won’t be disappointed!

Ellora’s Cave

And at Amazon

Looking forward to a New Year!

As another year winds down, I want to stop for a moment and appreciate all that’s happened in 2012.

As many of you probably know, I took a six year hiatus from writing. I’d just gotten married and soon had three bouncing baby boys…one a year for three years! When the youngest turned two and a half, I decided I was ready to give writing another try. Over Memorial Day weekend, I dusted off some old manuscripts and got ready to send them in to publishers.

June was hectic…several revisions on The Learning Curve (my first contemporary romance that I spiffed up for a possible re-release), but it didn’t click. I set it aside to finish writing The Princes Bound, a novel I’d started after the birth of son #1, but had to put down when son #2 came right after. I submitted Bound in mid-June, crossed my fingers, and started book two. I was finishing up The Princes Determined when another set of revision requests came in…but this R&R was different. The readers at LSB truly seemed excited about my latest work. With the help of Jennifer Hassani, the aquisitions assistant, I worked tirelessly on it (even though I threatened to throw in the towel) and sent it back in. As I waited, I started book 3, The Princes Knighted.

By mid-July, I was offered a contract on The Princes Bound. Contracts for The Princes Determined and The Princes Knighted were signed, sealed, and delivered by mid-August. Quite a whirlwind of a summer!

In the fall, I wrote and contracted Stroke of Midnight with Etopia Press even as I worked on edits for The Princes. One thing about contracting works so close together is you get BOMBARDED with edits! As the stories are linked together and recommended to be read in order, it was nice having each book still fresh in my editors’ mind (and mine!) as we worked on them.

In the meantime, I was also working on a contemporary as Christy Gissendaner. After months and months of waiting, I was offered a contract from Entangled Publishing in October. Happiness ensued and I literally felt I’d finally “made it”.

As a couple of my books released in the fall, I realized I’m not going to skyrocket to the bestseller lists. I got bummed, but kept on trucking. I contracted two more works with LSB as Christy in November, A Hot Mess and A Touch of Sin. They’re coming in February and March, respectively.

So what are we up to…seven? Yep, I contracted seven books since July and I can’t be happier! Well…I suppose I could. I’m still waiting on that coveted spot on the NYT bestsellers list. AND I’m going to get there one day. I’ve learned I just have to be patient, wait my turn, and above all else…keep writing! Despite slow sales. Despite the lack of time to promote. Despite writer’s block. I just repeat my mantra, “Keep writing.”

So what’s next for me, you ask? Quite possibly Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and hopefully lots and lots of more contracts! I’m halfway through writing the fourth Princes book. I’m also finishing up another contemporary work as Christy…this one is a bit different than anything I’ve tried before, but it’s been fun so far! I have several ideas on the back burner, so expect to see more of me in 2013.

And one of these days, I will see my name on that dang list. (raising wine glass) Here’s to 2013!

Happy New Year!

Robin

http://robindanner.webs.com

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It’s New Year’s Eve…what’s a fairy to do? Stroke of Midnight, a short Regency paranormal, now available at Amazon, B&N, and other fine retailers!

The Year of Caleb

20 Hours. As of this writing, that’s how long my power has been out. I can only pray my Internet connection and laptop battery will hold out long enough for me to get this posted.

You see, my state has witnessed its first white Christmas in over 85 years, and what a white Christmas it was too! (If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen some of it). Since I currently do not have access to actual statistics, (no power, remember?), I can only guess at the accumulation, which – from my Colorado-raised perspective – is about 10 inches.

“More snow than I’ve ever seen here,” said my hubs, who has lived here all his life. To which this Colorado girl replied, “Pfft.”

But I digress. I didn’t plan my last Love, Lust and Laptops blog post for 2012 to be about snow, loss of power or the fact that it’s currently a brisk 55 degrees in my house. Oh no. I had planned to talk about something much more dramatic than that.

2013. The Year of Caleb.

We’ve averted yet another apocalypse, so 2013 is already looking good. And for those of you who are counting the days to Caleb’s story…you’ll have to count a few more…but rest assured, there is an end in sight.

2013 will be a big year for Caleb. While working to protect his sister’s best friend, Caleb will be forced to face the demons of his past. Demons that threaten to destroy him, and everyone he holds dear. The Martin family bands together as Caleb embarks on the fight of – and for – his life.

Working with Caleb has been challenging, heart wrenching, and one of the greatest experiences of my life. Here’s hoping he continues to cooperate to the very end! 🙂

2013 is almost upon us and I, for one, am looking forward to a great year! And I look forward to spending it with you! As of right now, I’m scheduled to be at RomCon in June, so if any of you are attending, be sure to look for me! Also, follow/like my blog, Facebook and Twitter to keep up with my schedule!

Happy Year of Caleb! And, as always, happy reading!

~Parker

gently, now… (with a giveaway)

Should the morning after Christmas find you nursing a headache from too much rum-laced eggnog, mulled wine, or other festive drink, I’ll speak quietly… 😉 V

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day seems to be a perfect week for reflection on the past year. There’s always something about the day after Christmas for me, a little nervous energy, a little angst, a little letdown because the party is over but still excited because the new year is right around the corner. I wish there were a good word for the way I feel the day after Christmas, but so far in my endeavors with the English language (and a few others) I haven’t found it.

This time last year found me buried deep in the first draft of United, the second book in my Ushers series. Book one had just gone out on submission: I was an unpublished author sending out my very first queries, filled with excitement and nerves together. A year later, everything and nothing has changed. I’ve got six publication credits under my belt, including United, which released last week,  but I still am filled with nervous energy every time I send a book out on submission, and I am still buried deep in a book which I hope to see published next year.

I am counting my blessings this year, every one–the continued health and happiness of my family, the rewarding adventure that is writing fiction, and a great big giant of a dog asleep at my feet. It’s been a lovely year. To celebrate, I’m going to hold a drawing from the comments on this post–I’ll be giving away a copy of my science-fiction courtroom drama romance (with pirates! and boxing!), Fight or Flight, to one lucky commenter.

To be entered in the drawing, leave a comment telling me something that’s exciting to you about the year to come, or something that changed your life for the better this year! I’ll leave the drawing open until 7am EST on Friday, December 28th, and draw the winner sometime that morning. Good luck!

xoxo,

V

oh… I almost forgot. I promised my fellow LL&L gals a photo of Hank in my next post. So here you have it: the big beast who sleeps on my feet while I write…with my son in the photo for scale. 🙂

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Hank, the English Mastiff, and my son Roe

Merry Christmas!

Oh my! It’s Christmas morning already? Where did the year go? I need to breathe! I’ve been editing and writing non-stop this entire year, and I’ve proclaimed the next two weeks to be “vacation” for me! It’s rare. Writers and editors, we don’t take time off. Something is always on our desk, waiting in our in boxes, demanding our attention. Even if we aren’t sitting at a computer plugging away, those voices in our heads take over and insist on being “heard”.

I chuckle when I read Lynn’s post for yesterday. She has a book coming out today and I had one come out yesterday! You would think we could have coordinated that better. 🙂 In any case, the third book in my Wolf Masters series, Jessica’s Wolves, made its debut yesterday. That series has been the most exciting project I’ve worked on. The fourth in the series, Alyssa’s Wolves, is done and headed to edits. It should be released in April.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful morning ripping through paper, laughing with family, nibbling on tasty Christmas goodies, and just enjoying the company of loved ones. When all the wrapping paper is cleared and the dishes done, I’m looking forward to a deep breath and a long winter nap! Maybe I will get lucky and manage to keep the voices at bay for several days, rest the brain, so to speak. I hope everyone else can take some time to rejuvenate and regroup with me!

Have a wonderful holiday, whatever your religious affiliation may be, and I’ll catch all of you in the new year!

Becca Jameson

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