Author Seeking Complex Readers

 

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Greetings from the world of the living! It’s been a while, but I hope you’ve all been well. I’ve been writing my little heart out the last month trying to finish up my upcoming release from Little Red Hen Romance. It’s a charming little #Sherlock Holmes #mystery entitled “Chasing the Dragon.” It’s a bit longer than the regular LRH release, coming in at just under 30K. But the 30K are well worth it in my humble opinion. As I was talking to my editor about it this morning, we inevitably veered the conversation into that deep, dark pit– how to sell more books? It’s a question that is always on the minds of writers these days. Many of my colleagues have gone from selling enough books to make their car payment to barely selling enough to warrant a check. There are so many layers to this question that we can’t even begin to examine all of them, but I wanted to focus this blog post on the most important one:  YOU, dear reader.

Picture it, Facebook: 2016. A beautiful young writer is browsing the author groups and reading blogs. She is puzzled, as she keeps seeing words like “BESTSELLER” and “5 STARS.” The problem is, all the books that had been tagged as “BESTSELLER” or “5 STARS” seemed to be carbon copies of one another. And they certainly weren’t the kinds of books that the young writer was churning out at light speed. Romances that weren’t even remotely romantic that featured predatory relationships, unreal situations, no high-stakes conflict, increasingly whacked-out scenarios– the list goes on. And apparently readers are lapping it up like milk and honey.

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Something about this just doesn’t gel.

I know readers, particularly romance readers, are smarter than this. I know they want complex stories that aren’t just about the sicky-sweet love and the increasingly disturbing sex. And how these two things exist in the same story still escapes me.

Here’s what I want in a reader: 

Someone who believes in love. I often get the impression that the people writing 50 Shades knock-offs think that love is a joke. That the fairy tale stuff doesn’t exist so we may as well make it a humiliating experience that no one will enjoy. Love ISN’T perfect, but it is out there. Sometimes hiding in the most unlikely of places.

Not a hopeless romantic, but a hopeful one.

Someone who wants adventure and a complex storyline in their romance. It doesn’t have to be all about the romance. There should be more at stake than an old boyfriend blowing back into town. Romance CAN exist in the midst of an international incident. Or on an interplanetary mission to save the sun. Or between a dragon and the slayer sent to kill him on behalf of the government. Romance novels don’t HAVE to be Hallmark Channel movies of the week.

Someone who isn’t just reading from one sex scene to the next to get off. That’s what Penthouse Letters are for.


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So where can you find these amazing feats of literary fitness? Well look no further than Little Red Hen Romance. It’s co-op of authors, Lucy Blue and yours truly, work tirelessly to bring meaty love stories to the complex reader. That reader that wants to lose themselves in the magic and adventure of a damn good story and feel the heart flutter as they witness two people falling in love.

I know you’re out there.

NEW RELEASE!! Strange Bedfellows: Dead Sexy

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Click me to buy!

Good afternoon, friends!  I’m so happy to be here pimping my own book for a change.  I know, it doesn’t happen often.  I’ll try not to let it go to my head.  Anyway, you know how I’ve been writing that series for Mocha Memoirs Press, Strange Bedfellows?  Well, I finally managed to finish the third installment!  Cali and sexy vampires Andre and Leo are up to more shenanigans in this one.  There’s a walk through Hell, a zombie speed dating party and evil attack spiders with baby faces.  A new character is also introduced, Seth, a fallen angel that is in desperate need of Cali’s help to save his soul.  It was a total surprise to me when he showed up, but my muse seems to want to be in everything these days (ahem… paging #BenedictCumberbatch).  Anyway, here’s a little excerpt since y’all are my friends…

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“Hello,” she said softly.  Her voice wavered a little but strangely she found that she wasn’t afraid.  Not like before.  Perhaps she was bewitched, but her mind was quiet.  “Who’s there?”  No one spoke, but she could feel the warmth of a body close by.  She knew he was male, she could smell him.  A light scent of leather, cool mint and a light musk permeated the air and Cali couldn’t help but shiver.  She wanted him to come closer, but she was afraid to ask.  She should be frightened.  Panicking that some stranger was watching her, taking in every naked inch of her flesh, but she wasn’t.  She wanted him to look and in fact, could feel herself arching slightly and thrusting her breasts into view.  “Is it you, Necromancer?” she hissed.  “Standing there in the dark, wanting me but afraid to touch?  I can smell you, you know.  The scent of your desire is pungent, Sir.”  Cali inhaled deeply, a seductive smile crossing her ruby lips as she took in the masculine aroma.  She shuddered, her body responding almost involuntarily.  He hadn’t even touched her and already she could feel the dewy pearls of wetness forming at her center.  “Has it been so long? So long since you felt the touch of a warm, living body that hasn’t been poisoned by your obsession?”

Her visitor still did not speak, but she could feel him coming closer.  The bed bounced lightly as he sat down beside her, still just staring.  She could hear him breathe, slow and even, trying to hide any note of his own arousal, but it was too practiced.  Cali grinned, knowing that she was having some effect.  The stranger reached down, his arm lightly touching hers as he leaned forward.  This time Cali did gasp, as the sound she heard at first was unrecognizable.  Then it dawned on her that there was water being poured from some vessel into a bowl.  A heavy, liquid sound that was just beside her ear.  She would have expected it to be cold, but she could feel some kind of warmth emanating from whatever basin the liquid was being poured into.  The pouring ended in a slow dripping and the basin was brought across and laid by her side on the bed.  She could hear it sloshing around and she tried not to move.  If she spilled the contents, her strange host might be angry and in her current predicament, that could be exceptionally bad.

The light scent of lavender and cherry bark wafted through the room on a still breeze.  Slow dripping, warm water over hot flesh.  Cali gasped as the drops hit one by one across her chest.  Almost deliberately they beaded just over the curve of each breast and then slid down lazily to heavenly valleys below her sternum.  A single bead alighted on the rose point of each nipple.  They hardened immediately, as if reaching out for the source of the wet heat.  Cali wanted to moan, but she bit down on her lip hard enough to bring blood, afraid that if she made a sound that this delicious sensation would end.  Whoever was with her had perfect control and knew just how high to place the drops so that the warm, scented liquid kissed each erogenous zone as he continued this gradual, sweet Chinese water torture.  A dotted path led the way down the curve of her belly to the subtle dip of her navel.  Her captor dribbled more of the warm water into the tiny cup until it spilled over and began to gently flow down the slope and into the nest of fine, downy curls that hid her femininity.  This time she gasped. She couldn’t help it.  She pulled at her bonds, lost in the delayed pleasure and frantic desire.  “Touch me,” she rasped, but still he did not speak.  Only the sound of the basin being moved aside would answer her command.

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Wasn’t that just hotter than summer in Calcutta?  Yeah, I thought so too.  So now, here’s the good news— if you haven’t read the first two stories, you can get them separately for #99cents on Kindle until July 20th.  BUT, to get all three stories, including the newest installment, “Dead Sexy,” you can get all three collected for just $4.99!  The collection is also available in #paperback for those of you that want something to take on the beach.  Don’t forget to read, review, tweet and share with your friends!  That’s right… pimp it!!

Here’s that link again…  http://www.amazon.com/Strange-Bedfellows-Behind-Red-Door/dp/1500407895/ref=la_B009QU3UD4_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405618183&sr=1-2

Writing a Sex Scene to Remember

I’m sure it’s a huge surprise to all of you, my dearest readers, but I write romance novels. 

I know, usually on here I’m talking about a television show or #BenedictCumberbatch ‘s thighs, but today I decided to be different and actually talk about my process.  This came to mind earlier in the week when I was trying to write a sex scene and failing miserably.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write it, I just felt like I was retreading the same soil over and over.  I mean, how many times can you write “put tab A into slot B”?  Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.  In case you didn’t know– this is a SERIOUS handicap for an author of erotic romance. 

So how can you make your sex scenes properly smoldering?  I’ve compiled a short list—

1.  The sex must be essential to moving the plot forward.  The difference between a romance novel and any other sort of book is that the center of the plot hinges on the relationship between your protagonists.  External factors must contribute to the growth of their relationship.  Sex is one of those external factors.  Think about it this way– compare Titanic with Debbie Does Dallas.  In Titanic, when Jack and Rose are gettin’ busy in the car, it’s sealing their relationship and essentially setting us all up for a good cry when Jack dies at the end (sorry… spoilers for all you people that have been living under a rock for the last 15 years).  That relationship changes Rose’s life by giving her the strength to follow her dreams.  In Debbie Does Dallas, there is no relationship.  The main characters’ impetus for having sex is well… to drive them toward the next sex scene.  Remember, if you want to write a memorable sex scene, go for Titanic, not Debbie Does Dallas.  There has to be something at stake.

2.  Vocabulary.  In my sex scenes, I tend to have a lot of inner dialogue from my POV character.  It’s not all about describing the act itself, though that’s part of it.  Taking a cue from Anais Nin, I always find that using decadent language sparingly adds some heat without having to say a lot.  No purple prose, mind you, but words and phrases that tumble from the tongue.  I always have the gravelly baritone of my muse reading aloud in my ear as I write.  If it doesn’t sound good to my ear, I rephrase. 

3.  Coarse language should be used sparingly.  Consider the mood you’re wanting to project.  You want your readers to be titillated, enticed and wishing that they were the characters in the story having this magnificent experience.  At no time have I ever wanted my lover to say “show me your dripping wet love hole.”  Eeeewwwww…. Sex and love is beautiful, not gross.  No gaping maws of love or meat daggers, please. 

4.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that erotica is the same thing as pornography.  They can have the same affect, but they are NOT the same thing.  So here’s the Jeff Foxworthy portion of the blog post. Presenting: You might be pornography…

*  If “butt blasting” is in the title of your story, you might be pornography.

* If your characters’ names are Daddy, Mom, or First Cousin, you might be pornography.

*  If your book has a woman in a leash sucking a riding crop on the cover, you might be pornography.

*  If your heroine is pursued, captured and ravaged by a dinosaur, you might be pornography.

Just some food for thought, kids!  Happy writing!

Fanfiction: Masterclass for Baby Writers or Root of All Evil?

me and amy (2)OK, admit it, when you saw the FANFICTION at the beginning of this blog post, you thought, “Has The Belle finally taken leave of her senses?”  And the answer is: no more than usual.  Let me begin by saying that I’m very positive on fanfiction.  Like many of my colleagues, “fic” was my introduction to building a story.  Yes, kittens, beneath this cool exterior beats the heart of a true fangirl.  If you’ve seen my Pinterest page, you know that already.  I’ve always been a movie person and had that little obsessive streak.  I still do. I’m hugely inspired by movies, music, television, actors and actresses. Therefore, fanfiction has been crucial to my development as a writer.

The first complete short story I ever wrote was a fanfiction.  It was 1996, I was in college and I was obsessed with the TV show, Forever Knight.  If you’ve never seen the show, its the predecessor to all the sympathetic vampire shows we know and love now.  Anyway, I joined a mailing list (remember those?!) full of other Forever Knight fangirls and I was introduced to the fic phenomenon.  The story was called “First Kill” and it was a shortish, angsty piece about Nick Knight and his first involuntary vampire murder.  I’m sure if I came across it now, I’d cringe at how awful it was.  However, it helped me craft a complete story without having to worry about building a world and a lot of original characters.  I also got lots of encouragement from other people that  liked the story and liked my writing style.  They also told me things that I could do better.  I started to think, “Hmm… I might be able to do this.”  Fast forward about 5 years and found a new mailing list dedicated to “Moulin Rouge.”  That’s where I really took off and started writing A LOT.  I actually gained a following (hi out there to any former Cleo followers) and learned how to add details, description and plot twists. Oh and did I mention explicit sex scenes?  I also had the remarkable experience of meeting some of my best friends IN THE WORLD on those lists.

The point of this story:  writing fanfiction is like training wheels for authors.

Now, the dark side.  Fanfiction is technically copyright infringement.  Wait, wait… don’t jump on me yet.  When you write fanfiction, you have to keep in mind that your fingers are playing in someone else’s pie.  And if you’re going to play with their worlds, then you have to respect their rules.  Some authors/ screenwriters/ filmmakers/ actors are very positive on fanfiction and even encourage their fans to have fun with their universes as long as said fans aren’t making money off of it.   Authors such as Neil Gaiman, Arthur Conan Doyle, J.K. Rowling, E.L. James, Stephanie Meyer, Terry Pratchett, Jim Butcher and many others give their full blessings to fan fiction writers as long as no profit is being made (the exception being Conan Doyle who is, in fact, dead– of course his estate is a different matter for a different blog post).  They realize that their works have inspired others to write and their creativity might lead future authors to realize their potential.  Others are VERY MUCH against it. Marion Zimmer Bradley, Orson Scott Card, Diana Gabaldon, Laurell K. Hamilton, George R. R. Martin, Anne Rice, and J. R. R. Tolkien are pretty adamant that their works NOT be borrowed or played with.  And that’s just a small sample.  So keep that in mind before hitting that PUBLISH button on Fanfiction.net.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVRDQacBVh0

The thing I don’t like about fanfiction is that some folks have taken it too far.  The “rules” have become way more stringent than in my day and flaming seems to be the rule of the day.  When I was writing fic regularly, it was a very supportive environment where aspiring writers tried to encourage other aspiring writers.  Now it can be like a warzone.  Fic authors are afraid to write Original Female Characters (OFCs) because they’ll be accused of doing a “Mary Sue.”  If you don’t know what that is, a “Mary Sue” is the author inserting herself into a story in order to engage in sexual situations with the objects of their desire.  I was actually reading a story on fanfiction.net the other day (yeah, I went snooping before writing this post) and in the author’s note the poor girl had actually apologized for her OFC.  This disturbed me because 1– you should never apologize for creativity and 2– if you never create an original character, then you’ll never move beyond fanfiction into your own stories.  I wanted to write this poor girl a note and tell her to take that apology back.  It was obvious to me that this girl was very young and very new to writing, and I’d hate to think that some fandom battleax would crush her because she’d dared to have an original idea.  I’ve also heard that for some fandoms, if someone dares to write a “hetfic” (meaning that the pairings are heterosexual rather than slash) that they’re almost guaranteed to be flamed off the list.  This disturbs me.  If two male characters aren’t gay in their fandom’s canon, why do we insist on forcing them into a sexual relationship in fanfiction?  Don’t get me wrong, if you want to write that– awesome.  Have at it.  However, don’t flame someone else who isn’t into that.  Personally, if I’m writing fanfiction about a heterosexual character, then its more satisfying to me to keep them in character (I’m lookin’ at you JohnLock!ers… ;P).

Now, the answer you’ve all been waiting for:  Do I, Alexandra Christian, Southern Belle, erotic author and part-time pinup girl, write fanfiction?  Yes.  I do.  Do I publish it anywhere?  No.  It’s something I write for myself for my hard drive for my eyes.  Fanfiction is now how I break through blocks, give my brain a rest and work through writing issues that I might be having.  I share it with a few friends every now and then, but for the most part I keep it to myself.

Mostly so George Lucas doesn’t kill my dog.

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ingenue_new lineCOMING FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1ST!!– Not a fanfiction…LOL

Never fall in love with a hoofer. That’s the advice given to Stefan—advice he immediately ignores when he falls head-over-heels in love with burlesque dancer Rose, the shimmying, corseted star of the Footlight Theatre. But wicked, wounded Rose is far out of the humble stagehand’s reach.

Rose has stars in her eyes—and bruises on her face. As she suffers abuse at the hands of a cruel patron, she dreams of the day when she’ll find her way out of her nightmare and into the arms of the passionate, protective Stefan.

Inside scoop:  This book contains scenes of domestic violence before the heroine fights back and finds her true hero.

A Romantica® historical erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

 

Toil and Trouble: American Horror Story, Coven

american-horror-story-coven-2So last night was the most eagerly anticipated season premiere in my house this year–at least until Sherlock S3 begins– American Horror Story: Coven.  And you guys just knew I’d be here today to blab about it.  I’ll try not to give to many spoilers, but be warned– there might be some.  If you have no idea what’s going on, let me explain.  No, there is too much– let me sum up:  Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson are a mother-daughter witch team that have a school for teenage witches in New Orleans.  Kathy Bates, seen in flashbacks and in other instances I can’t talk about without spoiling, is the infamous antebellum murderess Madame Delphine LaLaurie.  If you don’t know her– look her up.  Truth is stranger than fiction, babies.  Angela Basett is of course, Marie Laveau, the baddest witch in town with a whole bag of gris-gris to unleash on those who would cross her.

Let me start by saying that they really couldn’t lose this season with their casting.  In addition to our favorites from previous seasons, adding Bates and Basset was no less than a stroke of genius on the parts of Murphy and Falchuk.  They prove in the first installment that it is possible to make a character that is truly evil the coolest cat in the room.  As “the southern belle from Hell” I can also say, with authority, that Kathy Bates does an excellent southern accent.  Lily Rabe’s “Misty Day” pales frightfully in comparison.  But I can overlook it, I suppose.  Emma Roberts playing Lindsay Lohan is mildly entertaining, but I do hope that she can handle the acting chops its going to take to stand alongside Taissa Farmiga, Gabourey Sidibe and Jamie Brewer (her witch sisters).

Most of you know me as a writer of erotic fiction– romantic, paranormal and horror.  Sex is my trade.  So that should give you some sense of the gravity of my next statement.  I, personally, am done with the shocking sex scene for shocking sex scene’s sake with AHS.  Yeah, we get it.  We’re showing explicit sexual content at 10pm on a regular cable network.  Ain’t we cool, ain’t we edgy?  Yeah.  You were.  In 2011.  Now it’s just getting tired.  I’m all for showing explicit sex whenever and wherever you want as long as its integral to the plot.  Seeing how many ugly ways we can do it in how many weird scenarios is just boring at this point.  There was one scene in particular, that I won’t mention because I don’t want to give spoilers and have people yelling at me in the comments, that I just felt was unnecessary.  The plot could have moved on without it and we had already seen the power of Zoe’s Black Magic Pussy in the first scene.  I actually prefer the explicit violence to unnecessary sex scenes that are put in there just to make us titter and say “oh no she din’t!”

Now that the criticisms are out of the way, I will say that I love it!  This is no surprise to anyone.  I’m a huge fan of the twisted, hardcore horror that AHS offers.  The scripts are well written, smart and positively wicked.  As I’ve always said, the strength of a good horror story is the characters.  Coven, like the previous two seasons, is rich in really interesting characters.  Even the most evil are amazing to watch.  I want to know more about them and even though I’m watching them commit these twisted acts of cruelty, I want to keep watching to see what’s going to happen next.  Yep, I’m lookin’ at you, Ms. Bates.  Also, the fact that Southern Gothic is becoming a big deal is awesome!!  But that’s a whole blog by itself.  Stay tuned.

Like Jerry Springer with his “Final Thought,” let me leave you with a wrap up entitled “Lexxx’s Favorite Things About Episode 1, in no particular order:”

1.  I love watching rapists get burned up in buses.  Little bastards deserved it.

2.  Jessica Lange’s dance number that ends in her sucking the life out of the doctor. Now that’s my kind of witch.

3.  Kathy Bates. Kathy Bates. Kathy Bates. Oh wait… does that count as three things?

4.  The “Coming Soon” montage at the end.  This season is going to be amazing.  I can’t wait ’til next Wednesday!!!

Alright, kids.  Now it’s time for your two cents.  Feel free to disagree with me if you like.  Just remember, we’re raised mean in the south….

Fun and Fetishes with Lexxx

CLICK me to buy the book!

CLICK me to buy the book!

Greetings, faithful readers!  I’m back once again, coming to you from the very hot, wet South.  It’s been a long, hot summer so far but I can assure you that I’ve been busy.  AND you’ll be seeing lots more of me in the coming weeks as I crawl out of obscurity to promote my newest release from Ellora’s Cave— “One Hundred Strokes.”  It’s the first in a series of short things I’ve been writing about fetishes.  Now don’t think “oh yay, another book about whips and chains.  It’s much better than that!  I decided that I wanted to do some stories about fetishes that aren’t so common.  In case you didn’t know,  fetish can be any object or action that habitually incites a sexual response.  Whips, chains and latex are just the tip of the iceberg.

In “One Hundred Strokes” I wanted to explore one of my favorite fetishes: spanking.  Before the question comes to my inbox– you know the question:  “So Lexxx, do you get your ideas based on your own fetishes?”, let me go ahead and clear up the rumors:  sometimes.  Spanking IS on my menu of adult play.  I’m a receiver, not a giver.  There.  The elephant in the room is out.  But I don’t always write about my own fetishes.  I enjoy creating characters that are nothing like me, but of course there will always be something of myself lurking under the surface.  Anywho, so “One Hundred Strokes” is the story of a couple, Julian and Selene, whose relationship has gotten pretty stale.  Through an accident, Julian manages to discover that his girl has a little kink that he didn’t know about.

It was very important to me to show a loving couple engaging in fetish play.  I’ve heard so many people talk about guilt and embarrassment when it comes to discussing what they like in bed.  It’s as if they think the Sex Police are going to break down their door and carry them off to jail.  Selene and Julian are successful, regular folk who need some spice.  Just like the rest of us.

So go check it out.  Read it with your mate.  Read it by yourself.  Read it to the dog.  Just go forth and read.  And stay tuned over the next few weeks for more blogs on this subject as I pimp the book all over the place.

New Book! His Phantom Caress

HisPhantomCaress_72dpiCan ghost stories be sexy?  Believe it or not its a big contraversy.  My husband, author Tally Johnson, is a ghost hunter of much reknown.  In fact, one of these days he’ll be on TV exposing the masses to his southern accent and wit, but I digress.  He says that a ghostly erotic romance is unrealistic because it would be like “making love to a warm summer breeze.”  Yes, that was a direct quote.  Knowing how he feels about this topic, I was very cautious when constructing the new installment of the Strange Bedfellows series.

In the book, Cali and the Oubliette gang are trying to reunite a grieving widow, Elizabeth, with her dead husband, Rhys.  They had the perfect life and were about to start a family together.  That is, until Rhys died suddenly. leaving Elizabeth questioning her sanity and desperate for closure.  She turns to Cali for help, but bringing someone back from the dead isn’t easy.  Enter a mysterious necromancer named Salazar who seems to be the answer to their prayers.  But accepting his help means accepting an ominous proposition.

Rhys Grayson is, essentially, a ghost.  In a very Patrick Swayze/ Demi Moore ghostly kind of way.  Ultimately, the goal of this story was to allow the husband and wife one more night of passion before he crosses over.  But every time I sat down to write it, I could hear Tally and his “warm summer breeze” comment.  I  had to come up with a way to make Rhys more substantial.  To add a bit more realism to the story.  Now, I know that sounds insane.  It’s a paranormal romance, screw the realism.  But there are a lot more folks that believe in ghosts than don’t.  And I didn’t want to insult those folks’ intelligence by having a sloppy story.  So what started out as 10,000 words turned into 20,000 words.  But I think the length is worth it.

Blurb:

What would you give for one more night?

Rhys and Elizabeth Grayson had a charmed life.  A beautiful house, a passionate marriage and a bright future ahead, until one day, their dreams were shattered when Rhys suddenly died.  Alone and drowning in grief, Elizabeth has nowhere to turn until she stumbles across Cali Barrows and The Oubliette.  The otherworldly talents of Cali and her vampire lovers, André and Leo, are Elizabeth’s only hope for being reunited with her beloved.  But the journey into the ethereal is a dangerous one and lost souls are not easily found. How far is Elizabeth willing to go to say goodbye?  How far to feel the warmth of his phantom caress?

Check out this next installment in the series, available NOW.

If I’ve piqued your interest or if you just want to come point and laugh, I can be found at the following locales:

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My books can be found  at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance eBooks and anywhere quality eBooks are sold.