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The Story Behind Amy Kernahan’s Amazing Travelogue — Orion is Upside Down

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It was my pleasure to be a part of the wonderful Guildford Writer’s Group for several years and getting to know the very talented writer, Amy Kernahan, was one of the highlights of that experience. At the time, Amy was writing her wonderful travelogue, Orion is Upside Down, so once a fortnight the whole group got to experience Amy’s amazing pilgrimage, with her father, to Antarctica. I couldn’t be more pleased to introduce you to Amy and the story behind Orion is Upside Down. Welcome, Amy!

Amy Kernahan Orion is Upside DownAntarctica was once the very essence of inaccessibility.  One of its poles (the Pole of Inaccessibility) is named so.  Did you know that Antarctica is home to more than one pole?  It’s home to more than one Pole as well, assuming Arctowski Base s occupied.  Several years have passed now since I visited, but the Polish research station on King George Island is still going.

The working research station may or may not be on the itinerary, but Antarctica is now firmly on the tourist trail and sojourns there are as common in print as they are becoming in actuality.  So why is my journey, made only shortly after the first so-called ‘cruises’ to the White Continent, and my journaling of it any different? What qualifies me?  To my knowledge, no Antarctic chronicler in print has ever seen their own island home reflected in the islands of the sub-Antarctic.  But for the Gulf Stream, the Outer Hebrides, where I was born and raised, would, like South Georgia, be permanently robed in glaciers.  As it is, they are a twin to the Falklands.  Thus I have an affinity with the land itself.

Antarctica is more than the penguins.

Antarctica is more than history.

The Nordnorge

The Nordnorge

Been and gone is what is called is called the Golden Age.  (But who’s to say the best is not to come?)  Sir Ernest Shackleton, in whose Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition’s wake the bark of my journey sails is an archetypal giant of polar exploration.  But alongside my awe of Shackleton, I have the simple affection of a shared heritage with Thomas MacLeod, Able Seaman on board Endurance, Shackleton’s ship.  Shackleton, known for bestowing nicknames upon his crew called him ‘Stornoway’ after his wee… my wee… our wee home town.

So there are my credentials: Antarctica herself and one of her lesser-sung heroes are a part of what I call ‘home.’

Out of whose womb

Out of whose womb

The Peregrinatio is the ancient Celtic search for one’s true home.  Orion is Upside Down chronicles mine.

Blurb:

This sea story from the bottom of the earth takes the reader on a philosophical voyage through many realms, religious and secular, mathematical and poetic, natural and mechanical. Something akin to a Scottish Bill Bryson, Amy Kernahan, who was born and grew up on the Isle of Lewis, the largest of the chain of islands off the northwest coast of Scotland, sets out with her travelling companion, her father, to journey in the Antarctic and follow her dreams of seeing, and even standing in, the places where Sir Ernest Shackleton had been.

Casting Shackleton in the role of Virgil to her Dante, she follows his trail through the ice fields around the Antarctic Peninsula, a vision here on earth as hellish as the frozen  Lake Cocytus at the centre of Dante’s Inferno. Along the way, the might of the sea, and the glories of the Antarctic set Amy pondering themes of Judeo-Christianity, seeing Antarctica as a remnant of Eden, unpopulated by both mankind and sin. The mathematics of nature reveals itself to her, and she is awed by the prophetic soul of Coleridge and his Ancient Mariner.

Paradise Bay

Paradise Bay

Amy has set out on her journey believing it to be a pilgrimage to Shackleton’s grave, but as she sojourns beneath striking southern skies where even the familiar is alien, she realises that she is on another more spiritual pilgrimage, called by the ancient Christians of her homeland peregrinatio, the search for what they called ‘the place of one’s resurrection’ or true home. The outcome, although perhaps not surprising, is not quite as clear cut as it might have been.

Polarising Filters Kick Butt

Polarising Filters Kick Butt

Excerpt:

We were surrounded by giants.  Nootaikok, the Inuit god of icebergs, and his court.  Tradition describes him as ‘large and very friendly.’  I wondered which space-time continuum that was in.  Certainly not this one.  I had mourned the results of his handiwork since I was six years old.  Nordnorge lay motionless, like one prepared for martyrdom, unarmed before the executioner, yet daring to bring her petition to a god not renowned for mercy, whatever tradition might say.

Shackleton's Grave

Shackleton’s Grave

Of course, the couple of hours of outward inactivity were taken up with the crew’s preparations for landing, out of sight down in the car deck, but standing out on deck beneath the lifeboat that had offered so little shelter as we rounded Cape Horn, in the stillness that seemed to be as much a part of the place as the mountains and the water were, it was easy to imagine that the ship was holding parley with the god of the ice, bargaining for the safety of her passengers.  Nootaikok acquiesced and the landing began, but the little boats, that the previous evening had gambolled around like puppies, seemed subdued.  They waited patiently for their charges under the lee of Nordnorge’s hull, huddling in to the mother-ship for protection.

Be careful, she warned them.  If your propellers hit the ice

Ice littered the bay.  As well as the bergs, many of them level with the ship’s superstructure, the water teemed with brash ice, up to three feet exposed, and the comically named ‘bergy bits’ that filled the taxonomic gap between brash and true bergs, anything over fifteen feet.  And then there were the infamous growlers, barely visible submerged ice that lurked just beneath the surface, like the submarines of some hostile alien power.

South Georgia Rainbow

South Georgia Rainbow

The ice here is glacial, ancient.  I have heard people say of Titanic, ‘How could crashing into ice sink a ship?’ No one would doubt that crashing into a rock could sink a ship.  Glacial ice, the stuff icebergs are made of, is harder than rock.  It is not frozen water, it is compressed snow, the ice at and below the surface the oldest, the hardest, compressed over aeons by the mass of hundreds of feet of snow-becoming-ice above it as it makes its slow, unrelenting journey to the sea, gouging its path out of the rock, tearing away the surface as though it were topsoil.  Anyone who doubts its destructive power need only look at the fjords of Norway, their sheer cliffs dropping to the sea – ice did that.  Destruction that creates.

Stromness Warning

Stromness Warning

Tomas helped us ashore again, but he didn’t need to hold the Polar Cirkle boat’s nose quite as firmly as he had at Deception Island; she was making no attempt to bolt.

‘Welcome to Neko Harbour,’ he called out.  ‘Our first landing on the Antarctic mainland.’

Close to our landing point stood a little wooden hut, painted bright red to make it stand out against the natural white, a white so bright it seemed almost unnatural.  The hut was a refuge erected by the Argentineans in 1949.  And what a refuge it must have been to anyone who had run the gauntlet of ice that guarded the Harbour.  But now, like the crumbling remains of the station at Whalers’ Bay, it was home only to penguins and seals.

Thou rash intruder

Thou rash intruder

The Harbour is named after a Norwegian factory ship which operated there between 1911 and 1924.  Looking out into the bay I tried to picture her (tried because I didn’t really know what a factory ship looked like) lying there surrounded by the ice, which tolerated her with disinterest as it did now another Norwegian vessel.  Nordnorge looked suddenly small, disappearing behind one of the aquatic white mountains that patrolled the bay.

Thou rash intruder on our realm below.[i]

They stood at the gates of Dis, the threshold to the nether-hell, Dante and his guide.  No way to go but onward, for no-one can retreat out of Hell.  You can’t go back the way you’ve come.  If you do, you may leave Hell, but Hell will not leave you.

And as the demons at the gate appraised them with scorn, ‘Thou with us shalt stay,’ they say to Virgil.

No.

But did Shackleton, man of words and eloquence and frustrated poet himself, Virgil now to a reluctant Dante, ever think that perhaps he would?

The guide turns to his charge.

‘Have no fear, no matter what they do to me.  I’ve been here before.’

Top of hill Paradise

Top of hill Paradise

Is that why we journey through Hell?  So that once we’ve been there and know the way, we can guide another through?

The paradox of Antarctica began to manifest itself.  A place that could be Eden, unsullied, un-fallen, could just as easily be Hell.

Or vice versa.

This terrifying place, with its monstrous inhabitants, was equally the last haven of peace and innocence.  But we were banished from Eden.

This is the ice’s world, and we really have no business being here.

About Amy Kernahan

Amy was born and brought up on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, but she’s now an ‘economic migrant’ to the South East of England, where she work as an assembly, integration and test engineer for a company building small satellites in Guildford, Surrey.  That’s the ones up in space, not the dishes on the sides of buildings.

A fascination with technology led her to choose a career path that she believed would bring her to its cutting edge, gaining along the way a Masters in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Glasgow and studying for a time at the prestigious Ecole Nationale Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace in Toulouse. But the reality is somewhat different and whoever said the space industry is glamorous has never worked in it!

When she’s not writing or hidden away in a big white scrupulously clean laboratory wearing a silly hat and static-deflecting overalls, Amy does milage.  She is now saying ‘never again’ to another marathon, but her year wouldn’t be complete without her trips to Cardiff and Liverpool to run in those cities’ half-marathons.  And she likes to trek the long-distance paths of around a hundred miles, five to six days walking.  In a world where we can hop on a plane and be almost anywhere within twenty-four hours, Amy likes to travel in the most primal, human way she can.  Ironic, perhaps, for someone who spent four years of her life learning to design aeroplanes.

But Amy’s first love has always been the sea.  You don’t get much more primal than that.

Find Amy Here:  www.amykernahan.co.uk

Get your Copy of Orion is Upside Down Here:

Links to Amazon:

Paperback:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Orion-Upside-Down-Amy-Kernahan/dp/1906791759/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386766072&sr=8-1&keywords=orion+is+upside+down

http://www.amazon.com/Orion-Upside-Down-Amy-Kernahan/dp/1906791759/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1387056219&sr=1-1

Kindle:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Orion-Upside-Down-Amy-Kernahan-ebook/dp/B0063I5P2Q/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1386766072&sr=8-1&keywords=orion+is+upside+down

http://www.amazon.com/Orion-Upside-Down-Amy-Kernahan-ebook/dp/B0063I5P2Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1387056219&sr=1-1&keywords=Orion+Upside+Down+Amy+Kernahan

Waterstones:

http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/amy+kernahan/orion+is+upside+down/8613945/

 


[i] Dante, Inferno VIII, 90 tr Dorothy L. Sayers

 

The Story Behind Elsie Hepner’s latest release — A Little Slap and Tickle

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The first time a flicker of my new release, A Little Slap and Tickle, tripped a writing wire in my brain, my husband was fondly admiring a hand-tooled leather armor set in one of the wooden booths at our yearly visit to the Maryland Renaissance Faire. Meanwhile, I had my eye on the leather, sheep-lined four cuff set and leather paddles. My kind of instruments. Next my eyes drifted over the super smoking leather worker who was manning the booth—and a book was born.

I knew the second I got home that Flynn was going to disfigured, sarcastic, and self-confident while Eliza was going to have her whole life shot to hell. For a normally all together person, Eliza was royally panicking—which worked to our hero’s advantage. Flynn opened her up, sent her spinning in a million different directions, and proved that chaos can be a happy state too, if only you let someone else take the reins. What once had been a sexy idea born of a hot guy and some leather cuffs I couldn’t afford morphed into an exhibitionist freak show wonderland where one floundering woman relearns how to find herself again.

Frankly, it was fun making the faire sexy when every time I go I witness all sorts of luscious, seductive costumes. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen some woman leading a man on an leather o-ring leash or a goth couple letting their freak flag fly high. More than anything I wanted my characters to embrace their setting, embrace all the little things that might make them flawed and freaky. Celebrate their uniqueness during epic, no-holds-barred sex that leaves both of them vulnerable.

While Eliza is a BDSM newbie, she’s not immune to the delicious ache that Flynn twines around her body and into her bones. What once seemed clandestine and off limits becomes a way of coping, a method of release. Until Eliza has no choice but to accept what she enjoys without looking back.

Elsie Hepner Slap and TickleBlurb:

Eliza’s stuck in a lacklustre, dead-end slump after coming home with her graduate degree to a slippery job market and her brother’s fold out couch. Unable to circle newspaper ads for another second and desperately crawling into sexual fantasy to escape her dismal reality—Eliza takes her escapism a step further when she agrees to go to the Renaissance Faire with her best friend, Dru.

Her whole world shifts when Eliza meets Hunter, a quirky, mysterious leather worker who runs a booth at the faire. He’s been a platonic friend of Dru’s for ages and supplies her with homemade BDSM bedroom toys—toys that he’s more than willing to demonstrate with Eliza once the faire closes. But can Eliza give up control in order to trust that one of her biggest fantasies will live up to her expectations?

Hunter’s skills as a dominant force Eliza to trust herself again and Hunter finds himself with a feisty submissive that pushes more of his buttons than he ever thought possible. Together they push themselves farther than any fantasy, until their lives are never the same again.

Excerpt:

“I can’t say I’ve ever…participated…in an event like this one before, Dru.”

“Is that a bad thing? Don’t you think you should expand your boundaries outside of your brother’s fold-out couch and a newspaper full of wanted ads? Come on, have a little fun, Eliza.”

Eliza glanced sideways at her best friend’s elfin, petite face speckled with sunlight from the gorgeous afternoon in the woods. Dru’s light blond eyebrows were raised in question, rose lips pursed. The dare for Eliza to question her hung unsaid in the air. A wisp of wind picked up Dru’s red, cork-screw curls and pushed them across her face. But Eliza only cleared her throat—unfocused on Dru’s warm, whisky colored eyes, and refocused onto the crowd in front of them amidst the trees.

At least she wouldn’t feel out of place in her Indian maiden leather get up straight out of some weird S&M store that she’d borrowed from Dru. The skirt brushed mid-thigh with leather tassels that didn’t exactly cover—anything. While the corseted halter top ended at an abrupt triangle showing the whole world that it’d been awhile since she’d hit a gym. What topped the whole ensemble off were more tassels threaded beneath her breasts in a weird attempt at an Empire waist effect. The outfit was an experience unto itself, even without everything to see and do unraveling before her eyes.

For a second it was hard for Eliza to think of their little adventure into unwashed bodies, crowds, and medieval costumes as fun per se. But damn if the food wasn’t out of this world. And her best friend was right. Her status as Master’s degree holding, library science geek hadn’t earned her points on any of her less than minimum wage job interviews this week. Most people in their small town were snug as a bug in their day jobs and there wasn’t much room for more work with positions being pre-filled by family and friends.

She’d been away too long at college. Long enough to lose favor when it came down to a townie and a girl with too much school experience. No matter where she looked, she was overqualified. Facts were facts—libraries were closing like mad. Not to mention they only had one in the area filled with employees who held onto their positions with their last dying breath.

There was proving to be no room for Eliza here. But there weren’t any options in the outside world with no savings and no one to lean on if she continued on her job losing streak. Until she got lucky, she was beholden to her big brother and a nine-to-five job pursuit. Better to get out of the house for a little while. Besides, she’d worn out her traditional red pen circling the newspaper ads in the back of the paper and couldn’t afford to buy another one until Monday.

Two months of moping was enough to fry anyone’s brain and she needed to leave her problems behind. So this trip back in time better offer up merriment and wonder soon. Or at least some free booze. Just because she was out of college didn’t mean she couldn’t indulge in a pint or two.

“At least it’s free exercise,” Eliza chimed in with an easy smile.

Okay, so all the men in kilts and shiny chainmail were a bit distracting and she hadn’t seen this many boobs since Christmas at her sister Cheri’s divorce celebration. But the atmosphere wasn’t that bad. As they circled all the vendor booths with creative, painted signs and traveled beneath the charming forest of old oaks, Eliza could almost forget about, well, everything. Her complete lack of independent direction and purpose in life. As well as the fact that her dreams of an easy life were more than dashed. But this was nice—a swell of happiness.

A light breeze shifted through her A-line, brunette bob and she took a long, deep breath of carboliciousness. Her mouth watered and she continued following close behind Dru.

“Whoa, did you see that?”

“What? Oh, the woman holding the man on a leash in full bondage gear? They’re here every year. That’s old news, honey. People come to this place to let their freak flag fly high and for the most part no one gives a shit.”

She shifted her gaze away from the treacherous roots embedded into the earthen floor and watched Dru’s retreating—and fully corseted—back. Where was she going?  What could be so important that they needed to rush through the crowds? Eliza was positive she’d brushed up against her hundredth stranger in only a half hour of being in the gates.

Several people must have gotten an up-close and personal brush of her bra-less breasts in her confining, leather get-up. Dru had lent Eliza her costume from last year and as they struggled through the crush of the food court crowds she wished there was a little more of it. Not only was her outfit tiny and skin tight, but the mid-summer air kept wafting up the skirt until Eliza was positive she was flashing the whole park.

“Um, could you—”

Before Eliza could finish the sentence, she glanced up and Dru had alighted two wooden steps into an open air shop front. She was talking to a man in a long leather duster with delicious abs similar to the covers of the romance novels Eliza was so fond of reading in her spare—alone—time. He wore a wide brimmed leather black cowboy hat that obscured his face and matching black leather pants.

Was Dru seriously waving her over there to talk to him?

No, there had to be some mistake. There was no way she was prepared for any kind of social interaction, let alone a handsome stranger. Christ, they hadn’t even hit the bar yet. Not one drop of liquid courage had passed her chapped lips and her stomach plummeted down to her feet faster than when she’d been stood up by her date right before prom pictures. But Dru frantically waved her over and laughed with her head back so her red curls cascaded down her back in a manner Eliza imagined was seductive.

Well, no turning back now. Where exactly would she go? It wasn’t as though she knew the lay of the land. Besides, the minute the man shed his long leather duster to point to a tattoo on his bicep, smiling down at Dru, there was no longer a choice. She had to see him closer. Her mouth watered at the expanse of all that beautiful, almost naked, man flesh.

There was more to him than an intimidating, tight physique. His every movement exuded thinly veiled grace while his smile lit up his sharply masculine face. A contrast of good cheer mixed with a concentration on whatever subject interested him. Until he became riveted, obsessed, with a possessive awareness of his subject. As she got closer, she sensed his gaze snap to her face, expression unchanged. But in that split second Eliza sensed his acute judgment.

He measured her with his shadowed stare while his small quirk of a smile never wavered.

The friends continued to talk but their voices were drowned out by the heavy pulse at Eliza’s temples. All of her flesh seized with goose bumps. This stranger stood as if all the world was his to explore, with a brightness in his eyes that dared nature to defy his dominant curiosity over what he claimed was his by right. He looked as if the whole world would bow down to him. And he wouldn’t be surprised. But nothing about him screamed arrogance—only a self-certainty and a quiet sense of inner peace.

Weird that she should read someone so quickly, but he was an open book. Both hands on his hips, lean muscles stretched in his arms and back until her knees were weak. Dru spoke and he laughed, head tipped forward while one strong hand rubbed the center of his chest. The dark shadow from his hat brim obscured everything but the clean, model-esque lines of his face so she couldn’t see his joy.

But his bark of gravelly laughter hit her as a punch in the gut while her chest tightened. There were enough trees in this place that she should have never lost oxygen. There wasn’t enough air in the world right at that moment. As Eliza fought for composure she focused only on his tattoo.

Yield to life—there is only threat of tomorrow.

His tattoo was inked in thin filigree with woven rope knots all around the words. One breath. Another. Each one became easier even as she grew closer, knowing she had to hide all her ruffled feathers. There wasn’t a single nuance Dru wouldn’t pick up on and exploit.

One step after another landed her front and center next to Dru as her best friend slung her arm around Eliza’s waist.

“Took you long enough,” Dru whispered in mock chastisement.

Before she could get a good look at the man, he turned and rummaged behind his counter, giving them both an all-access pass to perfect ass land. Eliza knew she should keep her eyes closed, but they were glued to the tight, sculpted muscles on the wicked stranger. The faire didn’t seem that bad anymore.

Dru squeezed Eliza’s torso until she met her best friend’s shining eyes, lit up with nothing but pure mischief. These were moments Dru lived for—any opportunity to tease. But it never bothered Eliza, it was all in good fun and her best friend meant well. She remained oddly silent. Despite the fact that Eliza all but flinched while she waited for whatever whispered barb her best friend would deliver on behalf of her less than subtle reaction to the intriguing man.

How could she not have a reaction when his damn presence practically demanded one?

“Ah, here it is.”

His voice rushed over her tingling down her back and she had to stop herself from taking an automatic step back. Irish, too? Oh, no. No, no, no. He was more than perfect and she hadn’t even said a thing to him yet. Why was she even there? So Dru could lord this man over her head—the perfect romance hero—or so they could be set up together for an awkward date and never see each other again?

Hell, maybe she was taking this whole thing too seriously, but their history of set-ups was long and varied. Even throughout college Dru wasn’t satisfied until they each had at least two dates a week.

This had to be some kind of evil set-up because clearly Dru knew the guy. They must be pulling this to screw with her head because poor little Eliza hadn’t been on a date in forever and who knows if there are cobwebs down there. This guy was some actor from Dru’s troop of players for sure. She’d done theater every summer for as long as Eliza could remember.

He came back up from his crouch behind the counter and turned back to them with something hidden behind his back. One long finger tipped up his hat. Eliza got her first straight on look at the man that she suspiciously regarded with every ounce of her petite frame.

His nose was slightly crooked. An old wound that hadn’t been set, maybe? A five o’clock shadow roughened the strong, square jaw and lips that were better suited on a female than the masculine portrait that acted as if he had nothing to hide. It took every last ounce of her will to gaze up below the brim of his hat.

He wore an eye patch. Whether or not it was for the faire or an actual problem, she couldn’t resist the edge of danger. His good eye—light brown with amber flecks—was bright with unreadable heat fixed solely on her face. She swallowed despite the lump in her throat. Nothing he did betrayed anything of how he was feeling or thinking—only the sharp look that pinned her to the floor.

And whatever he held behind his back.

For a long blink it was hard for Eliza to even remember that Dru’s hand rested around her waist. All she could focus on was the knowing twist of the stranger’s lips. The unwelcome and unexpected blush that seared against her skin when they hadn’t even spoken to each other made her fingers twitch at her side.

How could she resist him when he fit the caricature of an ideal man she’d been reading about in romances all her life? She was only stupidly comparing him to a man that didn’t exist. A string of perfections that couldn’t be real in one man. Left in the dust of her overwhelming horniness, well, she was being an idiot.

There wasn’t any other explanation for the way her hormones were skyrocketing off into different directions. He looked down into her eyes and she couldn’t help it—she giggled. That broke whatever fake connection she nursed in her mind. He plunked an item down onto the counter and shrugged back into his leather duster that had lain on the counter.

Without thinking, she blurted out the first sentence that flew across her scattered brain. An old habit that refused to die. And often led her to want to be buried in the same grave, instead of suffering the mortifying consequences.

“An eye patch, really? Aren’t you mixing genres with a cowboy and a pirate?”

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Little-Slap-Tickle-Erotic-Novella-ebook/dp/B00H3LBBUW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386556736&sr=8-1&keywords=Elise+Hepner

Amazon.co.uk:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Slap-Tickle-Erotic-Novella-ebook/dp/B00H3LBBUW/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1386937714&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=Elsie+Hepner+A+little+Slap+and+Tickle

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-little-slap-and-tickle-elise-hepner/1116379648?ean=9781783751976

Xcite: http://www.xcitebooks.com/Book/10204/A-Little-Slap-and-Tickle.html

Bio:

Elise Hepner lives with her husband and two eccentric cats in Maryland. She spends the majority of her free time in her basement office concocting smutty characters and sinful situations that leaves readers satisfied. When not writing, she researches everything from automatons in the 18th century to gladiatorial rules in Ancient Rome. She prides herself on being an avid information hound as well as a blog reading addict–which is her favorite way to procrastinate. Her previous publications include books and stories with Excessica, Xcite, Ellora’s Cave, Secret Cravings Publishing and Cleis Press.

Author Links:

Website: www.elisehepner.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/EHepner

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elise-Hepner-Writing/311925106401

 

 

One Flesh by Annabeth Leong

One FleshBlurb:

Leticia and Rosalie are planning their wedding, wanting very much to make their special day one to remember, but Rosalie has something else weighing on her mind, one more thing she wants to make as special and as memorable as the ceremony itself—their wedding night. Rosalie wants to be with Leticia in a way that neither of them had ever been with anyone else. But finding something that would be a first time for both of them turns out to be harder than expected.

As it turns out, there is one thing Leticia has wanted to do but has never trusted anyone enough to allow herself to overcome the fear of it. And it’s something that Rosalie has never done either.

The women discuss the idea of fisting as a means of connecting and forming an intimate bond with each other, one that they’ve never formed with anyone else. They’ve never loved or trusted anyone else they way the love and trust each other, and they are determined to find a way to make it work.

Excerpt:

“I’ll call tomorrow to tell the church how many flowers we want to order,” Leticia said, sighing and folding her notebook closed. No matter how many neat lists she made with her favorite purple pen, the sheer quantity of wedding-related details was overwhelming. “Can you call the caterer back, Rosalie? I still feel like they sneaked a charge in somewhere, but I can’t get a straight answer out of them about it.”

Her fiancée smiled indulgently. “Better yet. I’ll go in person on my lunch break, and they won’t know what hit them.”

“Great.” Leticia rubbed her temples and closed her eyes. She’d wanted to go to bed early, but another evening of wedding planning had made that completely impossible. She was excited to be marrying her one true love and all, but it was easy to lose track of that when she had fourteen phone calls to make and her mother demanded an e-mailed progress report every single night. “That’s got to be enough for now.”

Leticia stole a quick glance at Rosalie. She’d changed into a cute pair of pajamas when she got home from work, the childish pattern an odd contrast with her sophisticated coppery makeup. Leticia briefly fantasized about peeling the clothing away, revealing her lover’s curves and smooth brown skin. Unfortunately, at that very same moment, she had to stifle a yawn. She was so damn sleepy. They would need to get to bed immediately if she was going to give Rosalie proper attention.

“We can’t quit planning yet,” Rosalie said. “We haven’t discussed the most important thing, and it’s coming up soon.”

Leticia groaned. She flipped her notebook open again and paged through her color-coded, highlighted lists. “We’ve talked about everything I had listed for the day, and we even went over things that have deadlines coming up in the next few days. I don’t see what we’re—”

“The wedding night,” Rosalie purred. “We haven’t discussed that at all.”

There was no mistaking the sparkle in her eyes. Leticia actually blushed, the way she had at Rosalie’s makeup counter the first time they met, when the other woman’s soft words of praise, roughened by the obvious desire in her voice, had gotten Leticia so hot and flushed it had been impossible to identify the correct shade of foundation for her skin tone. She’d been forced to come back later, not that she’d minded.

Now that she’d figured out what Rosalie was hinting at, Leticia played innocent. For all her lover’s passion, her Catholic upbringing had left her with an adorable aversion to using direct language. Leticia loved to watch Rosalie get flustered while trying to explain her naughty desires. She batted her eyelashes and focused on her notes again. “We’ve reserved our hotel room the night of. We’ve got our plane tickets to Puerto Rico for the honeymoon a couple days after that. Everything appears to be in order.”

“The wedding night,” Rosalie said, apparently oblivious to Leticia’s teasing. She rolled her hands through the air, one over the other, the gesture an invitation to take the word “night” and run with it. “The whole reason I wanted an afternoon wedding was so we could have plenty of time together. Afterward. In the hotel.”

“You mean to take a good, long nap? I’m sure we’ll be tired after dealing with all the guests, and coming down from pre-wedding nerves, too.” Leticia couldn’t resist continuing the act.

“Not a nap. But I am talking about what we might do in bed.” Now Rosalie colored, a deep red undertone becoming visible beneath the screen of her makeup.

Leticia composed her face as much as she could manage and shrugged. “Oh, are you talking about sex?” A giggle threatened to slip through at Rosalie’s incredulous, exasperated expression. “I don’t know. I’ve read tons of articles about how people get so exhausted from all the things leading up to a wedding that they don’t even really want to have sex by the time the day is done. We’ll have plenty of time for that later in the honeymoon, won’t we?”

“Don’t even really want to have sex,” Rosalie repeated slowly, as if the phrase was a math problem and she couldn’t quite work it out. Her forehead wrinkled in utter puzzlement. A snort burst from Leticia. Realization dawned on Rosalie’s face. She grabbed a tissue from the box on the table and tossed it at her. They’d both collapsed in giggles by the time the thin paper floated airily to the floor beside Leticia.

Leticia allowed the force of her laughter to pull her off the chair. She crawled the short space to Rosalie’s chair and raised one brown foot to her lips. Leticia did enjoy a little foot worship now and then, but her current mood was far from reverent. Slowly, carefully, she slipped her mouth over Rosalie’s polished big toe. She licked until Rosalie’s breathing changed, confused between laughter and moaning. Then Leticia lifted off the toe and pressed her mouth to the sole of Rosalie’s foot. She inhaled, gripped the ankle tightly, and blew a powerful raspberry.

Rosalie squealed and tried to get away. Leticia smiled but kept up the wet, ticklish vibrations. Rosalie’s foot jerked in her hands. Leticia kept hold easily. She had plenty of practice restraining patients, which happened to have fun applications at home.

Rosalie writhed as she laughed. Leticia drew breath for another raspberry, but cut her eyes up as much as she dared. She didn’t want to miss the sight of her lover, breasts bouncing under her shirt as her rib cage shook, hips rolling as she struggled to get away, face squeezed tight as if to ward off the unbearable sensation of being tickled. Effectively, this previewed Rosalie’s orgasm. Warm arousal spread through Leticia’s body as she forced Rosalie to stay in this state, and as she looked forward to seeing the real thing very soon.

Rosalie rained playful blows onto Leticia’s head. “Why the hell am I marrying you?” It took forever for her to get the sentence out, as she had to gasp each word between shrieking laughs.

Leticia grinned and tugged at her lower legs. Her lover took the hint and rolled out of the chair to join her on the floor. Leticia wrapped her arms around Rosalie, who felt small and hot and curvy. She slipped one hand down to tickle between her ribs, rewarded by another delicious howl. Rosalie shoved at her chest. “You are evil, I swear.”

“I’m sorry,” Leticia said softly, managing to sound sincerely regretful. She kissed Rosalie’s temples with great tenderness, until her lover relaxed and stopped wriggling. Leticia murmured more soothing words, rubbing Rosalie’s back… then licked the side of her face.

Buy Links:
All Romance eBooks
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
Storm Moon Press

 

Bio:

Annabeth Leong has written erotica of many flavors—dark, romantic, kinky, vanilla, straight, lesbian, bi, and menage. Her lesbian stories have appeared in the Lambda Literary Award-nominated Lesbian Cops, Circlet Press’s love-spell anthology Like Hearts Enchanted, Lovecraftian erotica book Whispers In Darkness, and others. When not writing erotica, she is frequently reading it. She has lived in six states in various parts of the United States, and traveled to most of the others. Annabeth believes passionately in freedom of speech, rights for people of all sexual orientations, and the need for compassionate religion. She loves shoes, stockings, cooking, and excellent bass lines.

 

Yolanda Shoshana Talks about the Use of Scent in Erotica

I’m very excited to welcome Yolanda Shoshana to A Hopeful Romantic. Those of us with sensitive noses, who find scent a major part of our lives will especially appreciate Yolanda’s work. And what would erotica be without the use of that fabulously sexy sense of smell?

Yolanda Shoshona 2unnamedThanks so much for having me as a guest KD! Now let’s get down to the sexy stuff…

There is something that is exciting about the smell of sex in the air. I’m not talking about the funky smell of ass and feet but magickal smells of passion mixed with notes like musk, vanilla, chocolate or rosewood.

When scent-inspired words like musk or sandalwood are added as description during a scene it gives the reader a sensual experience that is unique to them. Everyone has a relationship with smell, which is why using smell in erotica can be a surefire turn on. Scent conjures up memories and emotions as well as thoughts. Even when a scent is simply mentioned, it starts to get people’s senses involved. Using the power of smell in erotica is also perfect when it comes to setting the tone. If the sex scenes are light and playful, the scents in the scene might be a powdery musk with touches of sweet smells. Whereas, S&M, kink, and darker sex scenes might suggest more earthy smells like ouds, opium, and patchouli.

For my magickal novelette series, The Courtesan Chronicles, I created a line of aphrodisiac perfumes based on the central characters in the book. All of the scents have deep notes known for their arousal factors. The book follows a coven of witches in New York City who bring back the art and magick of the courtesans so it was important for them all to have scents that scream triple X sexy but have elegance. For example, one of the witches in my novelette is named Bast, after the Egyptian goddess of the cats and keeper of the sacred courtesans. One of the notes in the perfume, Courtesan Bast, is jasmine which Cleopatra (the inventor of seduction) used as a scent to seduce her lovers. In my second book for the series, Magickal  Desires (due out in December 2013), besides perfume potions and magickal aromatherapy,  I am using aphrodisiac notes in the smell of food, especially chocolate. If you start to notice gourmand scents are becoming extremely popular due to the connection of food, smells, and sex. What smells turn you on?
Yolanda Shoshona imageunnamedExcept from Magickal Desires, book 2 of The Courtesan Chronicles

As Lola sauntered to the kitchen Kinky followed her, no way was that cat going to miss out on witches performing kitchen magick session. A few meows here and there got her the best snacks.
Opening up the steel refrigerator, Lola pulled out the grocery bags with excitement. The smell of cilantro immediately filled the air once it was released from the refrigerator. Her Latin roots gave her a love for the magickal attributes of cilantro which included love, health and healing. Lola loved to cook especially for the sake of conjuring more love in her life, in her mind she was like the main character, in the book, Like Water For Chocolate, but far less tragic.

Today she was going to whip up her famous magickal mole sauce. The ingredients in the sauce were filled with herbs and spices perfect for kitchen magick including cinnamon sticks, cumin, and Mexican chocolate. It was a recipe that had been handed down from her great grandmother who swore that the mole sauce was the way that she won her great grandfather’s heart. However,  Lola thought that the Santeria love spell said over the mole sauce was what really left her grandfather spellbound.

Buy Magickal Desires Here:

http://www.yolandashoshana.com/books.html

About Yolanda Shoshana:yolanda shoshona 1unnamed

Yolanda Shoshana is a Minister of Magick, Courtesan Curator, Clairvoyant, Witch, and Seduction Alchemist that helps women have amazing love, toe curling sex, and release their magick. For more about her work and magkical aromatherapy: http: www.yolandshsohana.com. Check out her new magickal novelette series, Coven of the Courtesan which is Charmed meets Sex and the City.

 

 

 

A.M. Hartnett Asks the Burning Question: Why Write Erotica?

It’s my pleasure to welcome A.M. Hartnett to A Hopeful Romantic to ask that burning question, why write erotica? And to talk about her novella, Here for a Good Time.

It always give me a chuckle when I see writing blogs tackling the big erotica debate. Not how to write erotica or how to write great sex scenes, but simply whether or not to write erotica at all. Depending on the blog’s audience, it either devolves into an orgy of clutching pearls or high-brow snobbery about those books. Of course, the arrival of The Book That Shall Not Be Named and its sisters has given birth to countless (and, in my opinion, pointless) articles about why women are reading these types of books and why women are writing them.

AM HarnetIf you were to ask me point blank why I write erotica, I’d be completely stumped. Why erotica specifically? I dunno. Somewhere along the way I just gravitated towards the smuttier side of things. Any genre I attempted ended up with explicit sex. Coming of age drama set in the 1920s? Threesome. Small town horror? Ghost sex. Cat and mouse game between a crime boss and a retired policewoman? Yeeeep, rough sex in the attic.

When I finished university and decided to dabble in writing, I discovered the market for erotica. After that, there was never any question as to what I was going to write. So needless to say when I started selling stories in 2006 and found out I was actually good at it, it was a bit of a relief, because it was pretty clear I couldn’t write anything else without filthy sex.

That’s not to say all the rules of storytelling go out the window when things get wet and dirty on paper. You still need to know how to write balanced scenes, even if the end result is an orgasm. You still need believable dialogue. You still need to set the mood. In other words, don’t believe the articles that tell you that you can make a quick buck writing erotica — you still need to know how to write and tell a story.

I tried explaining this to Arts Guy. AG is an online date I once had. We had similar backgrounds — degrees in English and love of books that spawned the need to write. He had seemed thrilled when he discovered I was a published writer, then snorted when he found out what I wrote. AG could come down on my smut all he wanted, but at the end of the day I could walk into my local bookstore and find a book that had my name in it, while he could go home and moan about how the university press wouldn’t recognize him as the next Robertson Davies and publish his angst-ridden shorts all because what he thought storytelling should be.

I may not be able to tell you why I write erotica, but I’m glad that’s the pins and needles path that sprang up in front of me. It’s fun, I’m good at it, and I like to think I don’t waste a reader’s time when they finish something I’ve written. My latest release is Here For A Good Time from Xcite Books. I love the chemistry between my characters Alexis and Chris, and I had a ball writing about the things they got up to when no one was looking. If I decided way back when that I was too good to write erotica, I would have missed out on a lot.

Here for a Good Time Blurb

When Alexis booked her work retreat at The Deveaux, the most she had to look forward to was a bit of spa time on the company dime, but flashy salesman Chris Kendrick has an even better suggestion. For years they’ve had a hot and cold working relationship with a bit of flirting mixed in, and now is the perfect time to get that spark out of their systems.

Three days hopping in and out of beds (and other convenient places) shows Alexis that Kendrick’s smooth demeanour is more than just talk, and that aromatherapy and soft-tissue massages have nothing on Kendrick’s firm hand.

Here for a Good Time Excerpt

‘Excited?’ he asked softly. His tie whisked out of his collar with a low hiss.

‘Unbelievably.’

‘Give me your hands.’

Once more she did as he asked, and nothing in her life to that point had turned her on more than watching him bind her wrists with his tie.

He studied her as he tightened the knot, his brow crooked. ‘You ever been done like this?’

‘A time or two,’ she admitted in a puff of air. Three times to be exact, but she couldn’t recall being this hot the last time she put herself at the mercy of a lover.

‘Colour me surprised.’ He made a loop at the end, and then guided her arms up and hooked her.

‘After the way I pounded you this morning, I figured you liked a bit of rough stuff.’

Standing so close, his every movement made his clothes rustle against her, teasing her nipples into hard peaks while he unzipped himself. The moment she looked down, he caught her under the chin.

‘Eyes forward.’

The tip of his cock, slick with precome, brushed her belly. Alexis itched to get her hands on him, to wrap her lips around that thickness and suck him until he gave her something to swallow, but she’d allowed herself to be putty in his hands and there was nothing to do but relent.

It was easy to do. She could practically feel the hum of energy in her blood as he ran his hands all over her body. His gaze never left hers. It was as though he was daring her to give him a reason to rebuke her.

Buy Here for a Good Time here:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Find A.M. Hartnett Here

Web: www.amhartnett.com 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/amhartnett

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annemarie.hartnett

About A.M. Hartnett

A.M. Hartnett began writing in 2006 and has published more than thirty short stories. Her work has appeared in more than a dozen anthologies, including Cleis Press’s Sudden Sex: 69 Sultry Short Stories (Ed. Alison Tyler), and The Big Book of Orgasm: 69 Sexy Stories (Ed. Rachel Kramer Bussel). She has also written three novellas and a novel as Annemarie Hartnett. For more information on her publications, please visit www.amhartnett.com 

 

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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