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Inspiration and Hero-Worship in Bath

It’s been ages since I was last in Bath, and upon our return Wednesday afternoon I very quickly remembered why I love the place so much. For this visit to Bath, we had Raymond’s sister, brother-in-law and niece with us. It was their first time.

We had a plan. Raymond would play tour guide while I wrote. I was feeling a bit panicked for having had a week with very little writing — lots of fun with the rels, but very little writing — so I promised I’d write at least part of the time then reward myself with a bit of Bath on the side.

So, being the well- behaved writer that I am, Wednesday afternoon, I bade everyone a fond farewell as they all headed  off to take the open-bus tour. Then I hung out in the hotel gardens and lounge drinking tea and writing like a crazy woman. I joined the happy gathering in the evening for fisherman’s pie and a pint of Abby Ale at Sam Weller’s Pub. I figured I’d earned it after finishing off 3K on the WIP for my day’s efforts. In fact I was pleased enough that I went on the tour of the Roman Baths with the rest of the gang the next morning. I love the Roman Baths. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen them, and every time I do they excite me and inspire me.  How amazing is it that something as simple as water can so powerfully draw for so many people to one tiny place for so many centuries?  It’s taken the water that now fills those ancient Roman baths ten thousand years from the time it fell as rainwater in the Mendip Hills and percolated down through the layers of rock to make its way back up to the hot springs below the baths. That’s some seriously vintage water!

After a picnic lunch near the River Avon, complete with fresh cherries and French school children having a water fight, I said good-bye to my compadres and headed back to the Lansdown Grove Hotel for another close encounter with Stacie and Harris and another two thousand words written on The Exhibition. That evening I joined the crew in front of the Pump Room to listen to a little opera from the street buskers, which got us all in the mood for a nice Italian dinner later.

Friday, before we took the train home, we visited the Jane Austen Centre a little bit of a pilgrimage, for me, to honour one of the literary goddesses of all time and definitely one of my heroines.

The Jane Austen Centre is a quiet little place off Queen’s Square, not far from where Jane stayed when she was in Bath. What I remember most about the visit was hearing that Jane delighted in Bath when she went there as a young woman, and out of that delight came Northanger Abby. But later when she returned in her late twenties she found the place shallow and depressing, as evidenced in Persuasion.

Though much of Bath looks like it might have looked in Jane’s day, things have changed considerably since then. Now it’s easy for me to find inspiration walking the streets between the honeyed sandstone buildings of Georgean Bath. It’s easy to be inspired painlessly and happily in the far-less stratified hodge-podge of tourists and locals scurrying about in the bright June sunlight. And, for me,  it’s impossible to walk where Jane Austen walked and not be awed by the stunning creative force that came from one small, seemingly powerless woman, whose novels didn’t even bare the name of their author until after her death.

KD Grace proudly puts her claim to authorship front and centre on everything she’s ever written, as does Grace Marshall. My name, my creativity, my essence. I wrote it! I claim it! I can’t imagine what it would be like to have been such a creative person as Jane Austen was in a time in which women had very little control over their own destinies.  I’m only saying that it’s good to be reminded that nothing comes without a price, and that price is no less dear because I wasn’t the one who had to pay it. Having said that, I’m pretty sure every writer suffers for her art. I believe that whole-heartedly. Most of us suffer in ways that mean nothing to anyone but us, in ways that are quite often neurotic and unnecessary (at least I do).

I hope at this point, you’ll pardon my groupie-ism and hero-worship, but really, how could I go to Bath and not be at least a little bit star struck.

Thank you, Miss Jane Austen for writing the human heart in such a moving way in a time when it wasn’t cool to do so, and especially in a time when it wasn’t cool for a woman to do so. My efforts to write the human heart often feel bumbling and less then eloquent, but they’re sincere and full of hope, hope your words helped inspire.

On a less serious note. Near the end of our tour at the Jane Austen Centre there was a place with regency costumes for visitors to try on and take piccies in. I have to say, Raymond makes a far more striking Darcy than I do Elizabeth.

 

Sharazade Talks About Her Story, ‘Flaws,’ and the Train Journey that Inspired It

It’s my pleasure to welcome international woman of mystery and Queen of Travel Erotica,  Sharazade, to share with us the story behind her moving, sexy train story, Flaws.

It’s always fun to hear from readers which story in a collection was a favorite. You never get the same answers from everybody, of course, but if we go by the majority, the short story “Flaws” from Transported: Erotic Travel Tales is the most popular. It’s a story told in the first person, from the point of view of a young woman traveling across the US by train, who lacks confidence in her attractiveness because of what she views as her body’s “flaws”—the sorts of things that the reader can see a lover probably wouldn’t even notice, let alone care about, but that can drive the owner to distraction—a scar, unusually large nipples, a few hairs out of place, a belly that isn’t flat.

I’m often asked if any of those flaws are mine. Well—that you don’t get to know. But the real “flaw,” of being hyper-critical of myself, that is sometimes mine and it sometimes isn’t. Like the character in the story, I’m quite aware that confidence is sexy; but like that character, I know how hard it is sometimes to pull yourself up when you’re not feeling confident. It takes more to feel good about yourself than just giving yourself a stern talking to. I confess I get a little impatient sometimes with websites (and people) who say that you should never base your feelings of confidence or self-worth on someone else’s perception or evaluation, but only on your own. Of course there’s truth to that, but come on. What if you’re feeling very down about yourself? Or what if you’re feeling very confident, but … no one else seems to agree with you? Hey, it happens.

So in the story, I let the woman gain some confidence from the unexpected (well, to her, anyway!) advances of an attractive man. His obvious attraction to her and her body is the boost she needs to pull herself out of her low spot. Is she going to base her future sense of self-worth on a fleeting encounter with a guy (or… two guys…) on a train? Of course not. But she sure steps off that train feeling good; and then the cycle can work its way up, instead of down. When you feel good, you look good, and when you look good, you feel good, and so on. Enthusiastic appreciation and lust from a partner contribute to one’s self-image—a good reminder that we should express our own appreciation and lust for our partners in very obvious ways.

On a more personal note, I also like “Flaws” because a lot of the plot line is autobiographical—I have taken that train trip, and I was reading “To the Lighthouse,” and I did get a free sleeper car from the conductor for the second half of the trip. And the rest? Well, I’ll leave that to the readers’ imaginations.

Excerpt:

His compartment is small, and I accidentally brush against him as I enter the room. (I was right, he is well-muscled.) The bed is actually a bunk, with a lower and upper berth. There’s a full-length mirror on one wall, and a little doorway on the other side that must go to the bathroom area. I notice he has two suitcases, which seems a bit extravagant. Perhaps one needs a wealth of material to describe the deeds of Herbert Hoover, or maybe he’s just a clothes horse. Some men are. Now that I’m in his room, I feel a bit awkward. How exactly am I going to take a shower? Surely he’d have to leave for a while? But he makes no move to go, and I feel to shy to ask him to. To cover my nervousness, I lean over the bottom bunk and look out the window. Of course, it’s dark, so I can’t see a thing, so now I must look like a complete idiot. Maybe he’ll think I can see the stars, or something.

Suddenly I feel his hand on me, on my side. Startled, I jump up and back into him, there being nowhere else in the little room to go, and now both of his arms are around me, turning me around. He looks at me without speaking, and brushes a lock of my hair out of my face with his hand. Oh. My. OK, I didn’t know this was on his mind, I didn’t suspect this at all. I’m so naïve. Or just dumb. I don’t know what to do. I make a sort of a half move to go, but his arms are firm and keep me there.

And then he kisses me. Oh god. It feels so, so good. I haven’t been kissed in so long. His kisses are gentle, but firm, and… confident. Unbelievably sexy. I give in and kiss him back. I can’t believe this. I can’t believe he’d want to kiss me, but he does. Our kisses grow more passionate, and now his hands are traveling around my body, caressing my back, squeezing my ass, pulling me to him. I think again that I have to get out of here before it goes any further… and then I think, well, why not stay? Why not? I’m young, I’m single, I’m on a train, I’m here with an absolute dream of a guy who wants me. Who cares if it’s only because he couldn’t find somebody better? He’s with me now, and it feels amazing. And with some new confidence that surprises me, I slip my hands under his shirt to feel his body.

He takes this as a sign to remove his shirt. I was right—he has an amazing body, smooth and strong. And now his hands are at my shirt too, lifting it over my head. Oh god. Oh no. I’ve just remembered. It’s not a flaw, exactly, because it’s something I can fix, but … I also have just a few hairs that grow on my nipples, at the edges of my areolas. They’re not normally a problem, I just pluck them out, but I haven’t checked in several days, and I don’t know if they’re there now or not. The light in the cabin is certainly strong enough that he’d see them if he looked down. What can I do? I consider breaking away and saying I need to go to the bathroom, and then I can check for hairs and try to pull them out with my fingers if I need to, but won’t it look weird to just leap out of his arms like that?

While I’m trying to decide whether I’d look worse if I bolted into the bathroom or if he noticed some nipple hairs, I’ve lost my chance—he’s got my shirt off and is unhooking my bra and it’s too late. Each hand is caressing a breast now. I don’t dare look down, and just close my eyes. His hands feel heavenly, touching me with firm, sensuous strokes, his fingers pinching my nipples. I feel a rush of warmth between my legs.

He bends down to kiss my breasts. At least I don’t need to worry about sagging nipples now, because they’re taut and erect, aching for his kisses and light bites. And then… he stands back up, just a little away from me. I open my eyes to see what he’s doing. He’s looking at me. He’s looking right at my chest, touching me while he examines me. He traces my scar with his forefinger. I look at his face, to see what he’s thinking, but I can’t really tell. He runs his finger back and forth over my scar, and then bends and kisses it.

Buy Links:

Amazon US print: http://www.amazon.com/Transported-Erotic-Travel-Tales-Sharazade/dp/1603814655/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1313764337&sr=8-1
Amazon US Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Transported-Erotic-Travel-Tales-ebook/dp/B003N2PZUW/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&qid=1313764337&sr=8-1

Amazon UK print: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transported-Erotic-Travel-Tales-Sharazade/dp/1603814655/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1313764375&sr=8-1
Amazon UK Kindle:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transported-Erotic-Travel-Tales-ebook/dp/B003N2PZUW/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=A3TVV12T0I6NSM&qid=1313764375&sr=8-1

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/14974

Barnes & Noble print:http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/transported-sharazade/1100074487?ean=9781603814652&itm=1&product.urlkeywords=transported%2fsharazade&usri=sharazade
Barnes & Noble Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/transported-sharazade/1100074487?ean=2940011051951&itm=1&product.urlkeywords=transported%2fsharazade&usri=sharazade

Bio:
Sharazade is professional writer, editor, and consultant with more than 20 books published under another name. She divides her time among Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the U.S. Not surprisingly, her stories tend to feature some aspect of travel–modes of transportation or exotic locales. She enjoys stories that are realistic enough that they might have happened and fanciful enough that they might not have. She values communication, adventure, exploration, passion, and love. Find her on her blog at http://www.sharazade.fannypress.com.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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