Flaws

(from the archives)

I’m thinking about flaws today, which is not unusual, since I’m smack-dab in the middle of the final rewrites of Blind-
Sided and In The Flesh. In one, the main character lives with a demon 24/7, in the other, the hero is homeless and living in the storm tunnels of Vega. Both novels are filled with the most deliciously neurotic group of characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with – father issues, inferiority complexes, jealousy, obsessions with work, obsessions with revenge. Oh my! I’m excited just thinking about them. I’m thinking about flaws rather than nice arses or the size of the package or the pertness of the tits, because the more I uncover of my characters’ flaws, the better I like them. The more I uncover my characters’ flaws, the better I know them – the better my readers will know them.

 

I’m not saying that I don’t want a strong hero, or a heroine who is bad-ass. Of course I do. I want strong, sexy, intelligent. I want it all! But I’m saying that there’s something about the stuff that both the hero and the heroine keep hidden, the stuff that they don’t really want me, or my readers, to see that makes me want to embrace them and love them, that makes me remember them long after the novel is over.

 

I suppose it’s the need to identify as much as anything. I mean, lets face it, we all put ourselves in the story as we read it. We all become in some way, the characters we read about. And if we do it as readers, I promise that we writers do it even more. Living vicariously is the name of the game for us, whether we’re reading or whether we’re writing. That means that I need to be able to identify with those characters and, to be honest, perfection is not very relatable.

 

Of course we want our heroes to be larger than life, to live beyond what our everyday work-a-day world offers, to have adventures and mad, passionate, filthy sex, and in the end to win the day and get the love they deserve. I’m speaking of romance here, of course, because that’s what I write. I need to have romance in any story I’m writing because I’m a romantic to the core and I need to believe that love will prevail.

 

But I also need to believe that love will prevail in spite of our flaws, that it isn’t our beauty that makes us loveable, but something much deeper, something that struggling to live with those flaws creates – the oyster making the irritating grain of sand into a pearl, if you will. The flaws in characters are a touchstone to their humanity and to their relatability as well as an opportunity for them to do battle with themselves, an opportunity to overcome. Those flaws are also the opportunity to answer the big question in all romance – is the hero worthy of unconditional love, and can the heroine give it to him and facilitate either the healing he needs or the acceptance he needs to come to grips with those flaws and except them as a part of who he or she is, to live large in spite of those flaws.

 

Flaws make stories multi-dimensional in a way an external battle alone never can. Granted, an external battle is a fantastic way to bring character flaws to the surface, and Susan and Reese, and Samantha and Jon have mind-blowing external battles to deal with, but in a story or in real life, it’s how those flaws are dealt with in the external battles that keep readers (and writers) on the edge of their seats and reading or writing until the transformation happens. And sometimes the transformation is simply the acceptance of self. In fact more often than not, the internal battles are characters’ struggle to move beyond denial and accept who they are. Often that involves coming to the understanding that someone else, someone they have come to care about, has also accepted them and values them for who they are.

 

Here’s a little scene from In The Flesh, book 1 of the Medusa’s Consortium series. in which Susan discovers that some of Michael’s flaws are real doozies. Enjoy.

 

In The Flesh Blurb:

When Susan Innes comes to visit her friend, Annie Rivers, in Chapel House, the deconsecrated church that Annie is
renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend changed, reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover whom she claims is god. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human, and even worse, he’s turned his wandering eye on Susan, and he won’t be denied his prize. If Susan is to fight an inhuman stalker intent on having her as his own, she’ll need a little inhuman help.

 

“You’re an angel. The sculpture in the garden at Chapel House, it’s you, isn’t it?” The fact that the question sounded totally insane seemed irrelevant considering the way the weekend had gone so far.

He shrugged and I watched as a blush climbed his throat spread across the tightening of his jaw and up his cheeks. “I’m retired,” he replied without looking at me. Then he added quickly, “The sculpture’s old. A friend of mine did it a long time ago, taking the piss really — especially by putting it there in that particular garden.” He ran a large hand through the fall of damp hair. “It’s her way of reminding me that I’m grounded now, tied to the earth just like every other mortal. No matter what I was, at the end of the day, I’m dust, and I’ll return to dust, if I’m lucky.”

“Wait a minute, angels can retire?’

He shot me a quick glance. “Well, it’s all a matter of semantics, isn’t it?”

“Then you’re not a builder?”

“Oh I’m a builder alright, and a damn good one,’ then he added as an afterthought, “Jesus was a carpenter, after all.”

I squinted hard in the fading light studying the lines of his face, the plane and slope of his strong upper body, the slow, deep rise and fall of his chest as he took in and released each breath. But I could find no distinction, nothing that would give away the fact that he was an angel and not an ordinary man. Oh he was nice to look at, he was interesting to look at, but he wasn’t beautiful, as I thought an angel would be. Obviously the nose had been broken since the sculpture was made, and he seemed thicker through the shoulders and chest. Perhaps that was all down to hard physical labor in lieu of playing a harp and mooching his way around the pearly gates. There were several white puckered scars just below his ribs. Two looked to be puncture wounds of some kind. The other was an angry gash that surely must have all but eviscerated him. Without thinking I reached out and traced the long pale arc of scar tissue that followed the shape of his lower left rib and disappeared in the shadow under his arm. He tensed beneath my touch and the skin along the path of my finger goose fleshed. “I had to force the issue of my retirement.” His words were barely more than a whisper, and his gaze was locked on the logs in the fireplace, laid, yet unlit.

“Christ,” I whispered. “Why? I mean why the hell would you give up immortality to be one of us?’

He covered my hand with his and held it against his side. At last he raised his gaze to meet mine. “I would have done anything to get away, and at that point, I didn’t care if I lived or died. It felt like it was all the same.”

“Are you a fallen angel then?”

This time he laughed out loud. “Stupid term, fallen angel. Truth be told, gods are bastards – all of them, any religion, any mythology, they’re all arrogant, megalomaniacal bastards. They want control, and when they don’t get it, well, they’re even worse bastards. The woman who made the sculpture, she knows that at least as well as I do.”

“Is she an angel too?”

He shook his head and looked away again, the smile slipping slightly from his face. “No angel, a pawn really. At least she started out that way.” His eyes flashed bright in the fading light and the smile returned. “But sometimes even the pawns thumb their noses at the gods and get away with it. It cost her. It cost her dearly, but no one controls her now.”

“So what, she was a sculptor, and the gods didn’t like her work, was that it?”

He released my hand and knelt to light the fire. With the sun setting the chill of evening came on fast. “Oh she’s not actually a sculptor. That’s just a part of her cover. She’s a thief, stealing back things the gods have taken that don’t belong to them.”

Every question he answered raised a dozen more. That what we were discussing sounded totally nuts wasn’t lost on me either, and yet neither was the fact that it was all either very real or I was still asleep dreaming in my bed, a cherished possibility diminishing with each passing moment. We both watched as the logs caught fire from the kindling, and flame blossomed turning shadows of ordinary things into ghouls and ghosts that writhed and dance on the walls. Once he was sure of the flame, he stood to close the balcony doors. “I work for her sometimes. When she needs me. She uses me when what I do as a builder dovetails with whatever job she’s on at the moment.”

I shifted in my seat to look up at him as he returned to settle back on the chair arm. “So you’re trying to steal something from Chapel House? What is it, a flaming sword?”

He laughed. “Not anything that obvious. Chapel House and I have a long history, as you might have guessed from the sculpture.”

“Annie really did hire you to do the renovations at Chapel House?”

He nodded. “All a part of the plan.”

“It must have thrown a monkey wrench into your scheming when she fell in love with a demon, or whatever he
is, and told you to bugger off.”

He shrugged, raising one well-muscled shoulder. “Doesn’t matter. I seldom let something like that stop me.” He pulled a shirt from a peg next to the door and slipped into it. “I’ve brought your things in, and I would imagine you’d like a shower. Then we’ll see what we can scrounge for dinner. If that’s alright.”

 

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BLURB:

In Palm Springs for a conference, James expects little more than long meetings, hot days and lonely nights. He’s prepared to get through the boredom one day at a time—right up until the moment he runs into Sofia, a former flame he’s never been able to forget.

Hot to rekindle the physical side of their relationship and enthusiastically okay with some no-strings-attached sex, Sofia joins James during his off time—in his hotel room, between meetings, for sexy dinners and even on the sky tram.

With every illicit whisper and each delicious encounter hotter than the last, James finds himself wishing this business trip would never end.

 

Excerpt:

“What about you? If I remember correctly, you didn’t like the heat much. Here with friends?” She was suddenly close and played with the hem of his shirt, her index finger slipping beneath the material and sliding across his bare, flat stomach. He sucked it in, but didn’t move away. Instead, he took a step even closer.

“No friends. No girlfriend. I’m here all by myself. It’s a work conference.”

“Shame.” She met his eyes, lingering on the visual connection. “Well, if you get lonely here’s my card with my number,” she paused. “I may be able to help you out.”

She pushed the card into his front pocket, brushing her fingertips against his bulge, and this time he jumped backward. The combination of her words and actions made him think “booty call,” but she couldn’t mean that, could she? She’d dumped him for keeping it superficial.

With a slight smile, Sofia sashayed away. Tongue-tied, he didn’t say anything. The clerk cleared his throat, and slid the room key across the counter. “If you don’t tap that, man, can I have her number?”

James couldn’t be absolutely sure, but he thought he might have growled at the guy.

 

 

About Louisa Bacio:

 

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

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

 

Social Links:

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Going Underground: Creeping Ourselves Out for Fun and Fiction

 

What is it about tunnels and caves and mines that fascinates us so much? I for one, have loved going through tunnels
and into caves since I was a little girl. And yet the thought of caving, going into tight, dark places terrifies me. I can’t even sleep in a totally dark room. I have to have enough light so that I know I’m not trapped in a tight space. Abandoned tunnels and scary dark spaces are a recurring theme in my writing. Perhaps it is because I can put my characters into the places that terrify me and enjoy that frisson of fear without actually putting myself at risk. One of the best things about reading fiction, after all, is that ability it gives us to live vicariously.

 

I’ve been in caves and mines in Colorado, Japan, Poland, the Lake District. I’ve even been in a few that I probably shouldn’t have been in, and that little touch of fear that raises my pulse rate and makes my stomach flutter is always there. Then there was the time I was stranded on a train in the Eurostar tunnel beneath the English Channel … but you already know that tale and what it inspired.  While I may keep myself out of places that are too scary, my characters, well, I give them the full down deep and dark scare-the-bajezus-out-of-me treatment because they can handle it.

 

 

If you’ve been enjoying the Medusa’s Consortium stories, then you know that there are crypts in deconsecrated chapels, there are slate quarries and hidden tunnels. Vampires gotta have ‘em, after all. And what demon doesn’t love crypts and scary-assed abandoned churches?

 

Morlocks, Mole people, monsters – underground is the place for more than a few of our nightmares. If it’s dark and
deserted and underground, it’s a fiction writer’s wet dream. Remember the Horta from The Devil in the Dark episode of the original Star Trek series. If you’re too young to remember, check it out. While the effects may seem hokey in the age of green screens and CGI, and the plot a little corny – scary shit when I was a little girl, and definitely some serious psychological parallels in the telling. My favorite scary abandoned underground place has to be The Mines of Moria from Lord of the Rings. Two thumbs up for scary! But you get the idea. Digging too deep — DO NOT DO IT!

 

 

Fun Fact: Did you know Fleetwith Pike in the Lake District is actually a hollow mountain. It’s true. The inside is riddled
with slate mines from the extraction of the gorgeous green Honister slate. The whole Fleetwith and Honister Pass area figures prominently in my Lakeland Witches series because of those mines and quarries and the tales attached to them. I have done a bit of exploring there myself and hope to do more.

 

 

How many horror movies have subway tunnels in them? And abandon New York City tunnels and stations are a favorite. They figure prominently into Blind-Sided. Fun fact: Did you know the oldest subway tunnel in NYC is the Cobble Hill tunnel, which runs nearly the entire length of Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue? It was built in 1844, but abandoned in 1861 – mostly due to some corrupt politics. Can you imagine such a thing?

 

 

Buried Pleasures, book three of Medusa’s Consortium, was inspired by the storm tunnels under Las Vegas, which have become the default shelter for Sin City’s homeless, along with the hang-out for a good bit of the scorpion population. Oh, and of course it’s been the hide-out for a dangerous criminal or two.

 

The storm tunnels in Vegas were constructed as flood control in the seventies. Vegas is built on bedrock in the center of a huge basin surrounded by mountains. A flash flood would funnel all of that water right into the Strip, the financial heart of the city. The original plan was for a thousand miles of tunnels beneath the city all draining into Lake Mead thirty miles away. The project was never finished, but there are roughly six hundred miles of channels and tunnels in the Las Vegas Valley, with several of the tunnels running right beneath the strip. While an estimated three to four hundred people live in these tunnels, they were built for flood prevention. In heavy rains the tunnels can fill up at a foot per minute with currents of up to twenty-five to thirty miles per hour. Home can be washed away in a matter of minutes.

 

These are just a few of the really fascinating underground places that have inspired me. But why they fascinate us is at least as fascinating as the places themselves. I’ll talk about that in Part II of Going Underground.

 

 

Musings from the Dentist Chair

I had a post all lined out for you lot. It was nearly done – all about creepy underground places and why they appeal to us. In fact I was thinking of that post and how those places are a recurring motif in my stories as I sat in the dentist chair this morning. Distraction, much? That’s when it hit me. There must be a bazillion BDSM stories that use the dentist chair for fun and games. The one and only real BDSM dungeon I’ve ever been in had one – black, leather, sinister-looking. Oh, and let’s not forget all the great torture scenes that involve dentist chairs and tools. I shiver at the though. In fact I shivered at the thought while I sat in the dentist chair this morning with the threatening whirr of the drill going at it against my numbed molar, me white-knuckling the chair arms, every muscle tight enough I could have been one Medusa’s statues.

 

The creepy underground post was a great distraction. I relaxed a bit as I began writing it in my head. It took my mind off the general unpleasantness of my circumstances. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a weeny when it comes to pain and, even though there was relatively little in the minor procedure I had done this morning, I still wouldn’t call it pleasant — certainly not meditative. Because I was thinking about all the times I’ve used abandoned underground places in my novels, about more yet to come as Magda Gardener’s world unfolds in my head, I closed my eyes. I might have even relaxed my suicide grip on the chair just a teeny bit. That’s when I noticed that my Muse, with her big stick, was standing right next to the dental assistant who wielded a mean suction tube and wore a storm-trooper face shield lest one of my teeth exploded or I had a general Aliens moment.

 

It’s a strange place to be inspired, when someone has your mouth pried open and sharp electric instruments whirring around in tender places. But lets face it, with the suction tube, the little water squirter-thingy and a drill all stuck in my mouth at once, I was happy for whatever distraction I could get. As the dentist excavated, I thought frantically about creepy underground places and their psychological associations. By the time she finally got around to scaling and cleaning my teeth within an inch of their lives, I thought about all the great horror films set in underground places, all the fantastic thrillers. Her face was up close and personal to my own version of a dark cave complete with stalactites and stalagmites. Okay, poor analogy, but you get the picture. And all of a sudden I was totally intrigued with what has just happened in my head, in my imagination, while I’d been Dr. Veena’s captive audience.

 

As the litmus paper went into my mouth and I bit and tapped, as the dentist ground all the uneven bits away, I thought about dental scenes in films, in books, in cartoons – everything from outrageous comedy to nail-biting thrillers and all
stops in between. Like the creepy underground, the dental chair also has psychological connections to the scary parts of us – to the scared witless parts of us, to exposure and vulnerability and torture and sex. That delicious sense of vulnerability, that fear of pain, that fear of what we can’t see – even if the dentist can — is always going to titillate and make our hearts race a bit.

The whole procedure took less than thirty minutes, and then I was rinsing and carefully probing my numb mouth while being pronounced of sound dental health once again. My mouth is still a bit numb as I write this post, but I’m still
smiling, albeit a bit lopsidedly, at the strange and wondrous places from whence inspiration comes.

 

Oh, and the creepy underground post? You’ll get that on Friday, bigger and better and much improved thanks to a little inspiration in the dentist’s chair.

 

Binge Reading at Thirty Thousand Feet

I can’t sleep on planes. Believe me I’ve tried. Even when I have a whole row of seats to spread out in, I still can’t sleep. I tried Melatonin. It just made me twitch. I’ve tried sleep aids. They made me twitch even more. Meditation bores me. Alcohol makes my lips numb and if I press the issue, I get a headache. For Mr. Grace you just have to say the word airplane and he falls asleep. But then he spends a lot more time on them than I do. Still, I do my fair share of crossing the pond. But no joy in Sleepy Town for me — at least not at thirty thousand feet. My solution on any long flight — I either write a good book (well a part of one, anyway) or I read a good book. Sometimes I do a bit of both.

 

I simply pretend the flight is a slumber party,  in which as you might expect, NO slumber happens. While all the ‘grown-ups’ are asleep, I’m awake being totally decadent.I f I have snacks, I graze. In fact I usually make sure there’s good grazing available for a long flight. And I make sure the attendants keep the water and Diet Coke coming. (I limit the alcohol because who need numb lips, right?) Then, oh how I indulge. For me a nine-hour binge read is a gift from the gods! It just never happens unless I’m on a long flight. So for that alone, I’m thankful for flights across the pond.

 

The thing about those long flights, as I’ve mentioned before, is there’s something magical about being quite literally outside time, as you silently, stealthily cross time zone after time zone. How can that not be inspiring? Long-haul flights are a place where you’re not really any place at all. It sometimes feels like you could open those little window shades and glance out into all times and all places at once. Or you might just open the shade and spot a horrible monster straight from Twilight Zone on the wing glaring at you. …Though said monster might actually be glaring at William Shatner.

 

Still … what better place to let the imagine run wild? I’ve been inspired, I’ve been entertained, and I’ve imagined worlds
I doubt I could have thought of in a different environment. Some of my best writing has come on long-haul flights. And some of my best reading.

 

Wherever you like to binge read — and summer is such a great time for a good book binge — eReaders are the best. I love having a whole series right at my fingertips. The only thing I love even better is having several series just waiting for the click of my finger. It’s never been a better time to be a reader.

 

 

 

 

July Binge Reading Freebies and Giveaways. 

 

 

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British Bad Boys Blurb:

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In Training Blurb:

Getting fit on reality TV is PR guru, Lauren Michael’s, brainchild for gym equipment and fitness company Physicality, Inc. The brilliant PR stunt involves one brave volunteer who wants to be fit badly enough to submit to the not so tender training techniques of personal trainer, Wolf Jennings, whose successful, but non-conventional, methods would make a drill sergeant look like a fluff ball. But when CEO and owner of Physicality, Inc, Claire Amos, decides her PR ace in the hole needs to walk the talk , Lauren finds herself between a kettle bell and a hard place … er a hard trainer. That’s nightmare enough, but for six weeks, 24/7 the explosive chemistry between the two will be sweated out live on camera for the whole world to see. What could possibly go wrong?

 

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FREE BOOKS forJuly and a NEW GIVEAWAY!

Win a Brand New Kindle Fire HD 8!

 

 

 

 

Who doesn’t love free books? That being the case, Romancing the Dragon has partnered with some amazing authors to bring you free books! All you have to do to claim your copies is click on link below, and then click on the images of the books to download some fab reads.

And, don’t forget to enter the huge giveaway! All participating authors have pitched in to give away a BRAND NEW Kindle Fire HD 8! You can enter this amazing giveaway by clicking on this link!

My novella, Landscapes, is one of the fab freebies in this amazing giveaway, so do make sure you saunter right on over and nab those freebies and get yourself entered for the Romancing the Dragon Giveaway!

Landscapes is one of the prequel stories to the Medusa’s Consortium series.

I didn’t know this until I started writing In The Flesh, book one of the Medusa novels, only to discover that Alonso and Reese are right there in the thick of it. If you’ve not read In The Flesh, be sure to before Blind-Sided comes out. I wouldn’t want you to miss any of the fun.

 

 

 

 

Here’s the blurb for Landscapes:

 

Alonso Darlington has a disturbing method of keeping landscaper, Reese Chambers, both safe from and oblivious to his dangerous lust for the man. But Reese isn’t easy to keep secrets from, and Alonso wants way more than to admire the man from afar. Can he risk a real relationship without risking Reese’s life?

Note: Landscapes has been previously released as part of the Brit Boys: On Boys boxed set.

 

 

Beach Reads Giveaway

 

 

 

 

 

AAAND! The sizzling summer reading just gets better with more chances to win more freebies, including my paranormal romance, In The Flesh, book one of the Medusa’s Consortium Series. Follow The Link to enter. https://authorsxp.com/giveaways/giveaway

 

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In the Flesh Blurb:

When Susan Innes comes to visit her friend, Annie Rivers, in Chapel House, the deconsecrated church that Annie is renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend changed, reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover whom she claims is god. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human, and even worse, he’s turned his wandering eye on Susan, and he won’t be denied his prize. If Susan is to fight an inhuman stalker intent on having her as his own, she’ll need a little inhuman help.

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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