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What Happened in Vegas: Part 2

Friday morning, I arrive at registration for the Erotic Authors Association Conference to find Nan Andrews, DL King and Kathleen Bradean working the table. I’m in awe. My heroes are giving me a swag bag and a name tag! If that’s not enough, my name tag has a red ribbon that tells everyone I’m a panelist. That’s right, me. I’m a panelist!

Breakfast is a bit like Christmas morning. We’re all pawing through our goody bags when Hazel Cushion, my publisher from Xcite Books, arrives followed closely by the lovely Sharazade — at long last we meet face to face!

There’s barely time for greetings and to ask how everyone’s trip was before the publisher’s panel begins. Hazel, representing Xcite Books along with M Christian from Renaissance E Books, Brenda Knight from Cleis Press, Lori Perkins from Ravenous Romance, and Cecilia Tan from Circlet Press are all on the panel.

I take notes fast and furiously and there is no shortage of questions about ePublishing vs print as well as the future of self-publishing in the age of the eBook. Everyone agrees that in spite of all the upheaval eBooks have brought into the world of publishing and in spite of all the changes, it’s a very good time to be a writer. Now there are more possibilities than there have ever been before.

I’m on the Erotic Romance panel with Shawn Clements and Lorna Hinson from Torquere Press and Sascha Illyvich from Renaissance E Books. Talking romance, whether erotic or not, is always a chemistry lesson, and one of my favourite topics, so the hour goes fast.

As one who has a deep appreciation of the beauty and symmetry of grammar, the next session could have been tailor-made for me. I hurry off to Sexy, Sexy Grammar, taught by Jean Roberta and Sharazade. Grammar has never been so hot, nor so much fun!

For every session I attend, there are two I miss, along with a group of fabulous readings, and the readings are sizzling! I need clones of myself!

I have lunch in the darkly paneled, stained glass gloom of The Victorian Café in Bill’s Gambling Hall. What starts out as lunch with Sharazade and Katie Salidas ends up being a party when I. G. Frederick invites us to a huge round table where Jean Roberta, Jolie Du Pre, Zetta Brown, friends, partners and a totally cool waitress are all squeezed together talking promo, inspiration and lunch. It is then I realize I have fifteen minutes to finish my general’s chicken and get back to the Flamingo for my reading. Of course I’m in the middle of the big round booth, so everyone slides and I make a dash for it.

I feel a little nervous reading opposite M J Williamz, Cecilia Tan and Kate Dominic with Remittance Girl in the audience, but sex on a Harley from The Initiation of Ms Holly, I’m comfortable with, and everyone else seems to enjoy. We all end up laughing and talking after.

When the last session of the day is over, we are all invited up to Cecilia Tan’s suite for a wine, cheese, and chocolate party. Even without the wine, cheese and chocolate, who could resist a chance to chat with the fabulous Cecilia Tan! I don’t remember the wine and cheese, but I do remember being in a sun drenched pink and white sixties-style suite with the buzz of erotic writer-talk all around Cecilia Tan, who is seated on the sofa and Lori Perkins, who is standing by the door. Wow! Who needs wine?

The big event of the day is ‘One Very Steamy Las Vegas Evening’ at The Erotic Heritage Museum. Susana Mayer has brought ‘The Erotic Literary Salon’ on tour. There is an open mic and more readers than there is time for. There are at least twenty people, each with only five minutes to read. Rachel Kramer Bussel Kicks off the reading, Hazel Cushion make a rare reading appearance, Emerald, Jolie Du Pre, I. G. Frederick, Cecilia Tan, Laura Antoniou,  just to name a few, are all reading stories from the many facets of erotica.

Sadly, I didn’t know about the event in time to get signed up. Happily, in spite of a full house, enough people don’t show up that there is room for me and several others to read. Sadly,(and stupidly) I don’t have Holly with me. Happily (and smartly) Hazel is sitting next to me with a huge bag full of Xcite anthologies, one of which just happens to be Dark Desires: Love that’s Out of This World, which contains my story, ‘Flaws.’ Sadly, I’ve never practiced reading any of this story for an audience. Happily that doesn’t stop me.

In the end, I read about a sexy love spell gone awry. I do this while standing between two giant velvet draped beds and a plethora of white marble penises taller than I am. Oh yes, a good time was had by all!

Back at the Flamingo, Hazel, Sharazade, and a friend of hers, and I buy beer and peanuts at the hotel shop and find a quiet table outside the casino in the gardens next to the habitat where the flamingos stand sleeping with their heads tucked under their wings. Writerly people love to talk, and casino bars are not good places to talk. Sleeping flamingos, however, are the perfect ambiance for conversations about publishing and editing and story, and I realize that though Las Vegas wouldn’t normally be my cup of tea, a quiet table in the desert heat with other writers is certainly my bottle of beer.

The next day begins with a full house for the editor’s panel, with Miranda Forbes, D. L. King, Kelli Collins and Rachel Kramer Bussel. I attend two reading sessions, finally getting to hear the ever so hot and talented Sharazade read steamy tales of travel sex from her book, Transported: Erotic Travel Tales. I love the fabulous Blake C. Aarens’s John Malkovich fantasy and Emerald’s amazing tale of first-time rope bondage to the music of Pink Floyd is not only erotic, but moving. I find myself wishing I could attend all the readings. Listening to what other writers write, allowing myself to be pulled into their stories, is one of the best ways to learn to be a better writer. I know I can read all those stories, and that’s good too, but experiencing the tale aurally adds more depth, more sensuality to the experience.

Graydancer’s hands-on kink session is one of the highlights of the day. His basic introduction to BDSM and kink for erotica writers who want to make sure they get the kink right is invaluable. In fact, the rope bondage demo spills over into the cocktail party afterwards with the leotard-clad Sharazade volunteering to be bound, and volunteering yours truly to take photos.

As Sharazade sheds her bonds and leotard for the beads and sparkles of her evening gown, Aisling Weaver announces the party will continue over at her suite in the Cosmopolitan. She and her lovely partner even go so far as to shoo us all into a yummy stretch limo for the short, but luxurious drive to the Cosmo, where we all enjoy the views of the Bologgio Fountains and the Eifel Tower from their balcony. There are more readings from iPads and Blackberries as people come and go.

Eventually Hazel, Sharazade, Jolie, and I opt for one last photo session along the Strip, and I am once again back amid the holiday making crowds and the women in wedding gowns taking photo ops in front of the Bologgio fountains and the Saturday night revelers. We make it as far as The Venetian before the rain starts, then we hurry back to the Flamingo drenched and giggling, pushing and shoving our way through the press of people in the deluge.

Back in my room, I fall into bed and slept like the dead.

I end my adventure in Vegas over breakfast with Hazel and Sharazade back in the dark Victorian. After good-byes all around, I catch the shuttle to the airport. The Sunday morning shuttle riders are more subdued than those I arrived with three days ago, and it’s nice to stare  out the window at the city, now quiet and pale in the desert sun, and reflect on the adventure I had in Vegas, the things I learned, the new friends I made, and the intimations already being whispered about next year’s Erotic Author’s Association Conference.

 

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What Happens in Vegas Part 1

I’m not a Vegas sort of person. I went for the Erotic Authors Association Conference, not for the gambling, not for the bright lights. I wasn’t there to be impressed. And yet…

We flew over the Sierra Nevada Mountains just before we landed in Las Vegas.  We all crane our necks for a look at impossibly jagged peaks already covered with snow, even as we were about to land in 97 degree temperatures. But on the ground, it was desert heat and more shades of brown and tan and olive than I would have thought possible, all set off in stunning relief against a baby blue sky puffed with clouds that were clearly only there for looks rather than business. Very appropriate for Vegas.

The woman behind me on the shuttle talked loudly on her cell phone in a Midwestern accent to whoever was taking care of her geriatric dog back home. When the conversation finally ended with her satisfied that the pooch was in good hands, we all turned our attention to the shuttle driver, a man who was a driving history book of Las Vegas. While he delivered us to our respective hotels, he regaled us with stories of Bugsy Segal and the mob history of Las Vegas. The Flamingo is the original resort hotel that Bugsy Segal built in the middle of the desert.

My room was on the 14th floor, with views of the mountains in between the towers of Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas. Once I got settled, I explored the hotel grounds, lingering in the gardens to see the habitat for flamingos, sacred ibis, and black swans. I was planning to meet Sharazade for dinner, but I’d gotten a message from her saying she’s coming in on a later flight, so I decided to check out The Strip on my own.

Las Vegas is in your face, like an arid version of New Orleans on steroids and all tarted up with neon and fountains. It’s like Disneyland for adults, Sharazade observed, when we finally connect the next day. Just as it was getting dark I wandered about with my mouth open and my eyes bugging because there was so much to see. I’ve been to Paris, so Paris Las Vegas shouldn’t impress me, but when it rises up all truncated and neon in the middle of the desert it does. I realized as I walked amid the tourists who are as bug-eyed as I am that though I’m hearing lots of different languages, a lot of the people who are here will never get any closer to Paris or Venice or the Forum in Rome than Las Vegas, and the tarted-up versions can’t fail to impress.

As I stopped to watch the volcano erupt in front of Treasure Island, along with the rest of the enthralled crowd, I realize that as much as I’d like to stick my nose in the air and be unimpressed, the spirit of the place is contagious, and it would be really hard to walk among the holiday makers and the lovers there to elope and the neon and the noise and the resorts that are several city blocks in size and not get caught up in the atmosphere.

I ended up shivering in an overly air conditioned food court having Mexican food, my first since arriving in the US. I ate and people-watched. The city was awash in spandex and suicide stilettos, and I find that, in spite of myself, I was loving every minute of it.

Outside again, I was happy to leave the air conditioning and get warm. It was a dry delicious 87 degrees, and that alone, after leaving the rainy damp of south England, was enough to make me feel festive. I walked along stopping here and there to watch people and take in the giddy gaudiness of it all. In some places Hispanic men and women lined the streets handing out cards for peep shows and escort services, and I squirmed at the contrast of people working a hard, uncomfortable job in order to put food on the table while they watch a party going on all around them in which they never get to participate.

I watched the incredible dancing fountains in front of the Bologgio amid the crowd and press of others doing the same, and I wandered along the street where tourists were having their pictures taken with Elvis impersonators and show girls decked out in brightly coloured feathers. A man who had too much to drink was propositioning every woman who walked by. I found myself lost and turned around in the maze of stylized bridges that crisscross the heavily trafficked street that runs through the strip. The bridges cross into resorts and come down alongside towers of glass and flashing lights opening onto the streets like gaping mouths exhaling the overly air conditioned breath of the casinos into the warm the night.

 I was caught up and carried along on a wave of sensory overload that smelled of restaurants and cigarette smoke and perfume and sweaty bodies and excitement; and looked like a city all dressed up for a costume ball. I let it all settle around me and flow through me until the heat and the noise and the jet lag of too many time zones passed through too quickly began to take a toll. Sharazade still hadn’t arrived, and I was fading fast. I made my way back to the Flamingo through the sparkle and the kaching of the slots to the elevator banks. I managed to make it back to the room and whip of an email to Sharazade that I’d see her in the morning. Then I slept.

I woke in the night and looked out at the dazzle of the lights from the 14th floor and I drift back to sleep with after images of the rich blue lights of the towers of the Cosmopolitan fading behind my eyelids. The next time I woke up, the mountains between the towers of the casinos were just blushing pink, and I was struck by the contrast of the rugged wilderness, jagged and overwhelming held at bay by towers of glass and steel and lights. Even Las Vegas seems small and demure next to such vastness.

As I looked over the schedule for the first day of the Erotic Authors Association conference, the butterflies woke up in my stomach. When I thought about the day ahead, the introvert in my cowered for a second, wanting to run away to the mountains beyond. But this would be the day I got to be on my first panel ever, and this would be the day I got to read from Holly in front of a new audience, and this would be the day I got to meet the people who I already knew would be my friends, the fabulous smutters on the US side of the pond. It would be good. I knew it would.

Stay tuned for the next installment of What Happens in Vegas.

 

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Previews of Autumn Heat

Inspiration in Blog-sized Doses

My feet have nearly recovered from the 192 mile walk across England, and I’ve blogged my way through the whole fabulous Coast to Coast. I can’t begin to say how inspiring the experience was for me, nor how much it stretched me and forced me to move beyond my comfort zone – always something I struggle with. The walk has convinced me to add a new Inspiration page to my website. It’s been in the back of my mind for awhile, and will now be a regular part of my blogging. In it you will find my Coast to Coast blog posts all together for easy reading for those of you who may have missed out on it.

I plan to use this new section of my blog to share those experiences that stir my imagination and inspire me to write. My hope is that whether you’re a writer, a reader or a house painter, you’ll maybe find inspiration in those experiences as well. And let’s face it, we all love to share the things that inspire us.

What Happens in Vegas

While what happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas most of the time, I plan to tell you every yummy detail when I head to Sin City for the Erotic Authors Association Conference at the fabulous Flamingo Hotel on September 9th and 10th. I’ll be doing some readings, visiting the Erotic Heritage museum and participating in an erotic romance panel. Plus I’ll be taking advantage of all the other great talks and events that are happening throughout the weekend. And best of all, I’ll get the chance to meet some of my fabulous American erotica writing friends who, until now, I’ve only known through social media.

Vincent’s Oregon

From Las Vegas, I’ll fly back to Portland, Oregon to meet my sister, with whom I’ll spend the next ten days tromping around the exquisite Oregon countryside visiting some of Vincent’s favourite haunts from The Pet Shop.  I’m very excited to be photographing and blogging about the Oregon Vincent loves so much because I’ll be getting in the spirit of things for the party to end all parties, The Pet Shop launch in London!

The Pet Shop Launch

Between the walking and the polishing of the first book of the Lakeland Heatwave trilogy, I’ve had plenty to keep me focused as I’ve waited impatiently for the print release of The Pet Shop. Most of you know, The Pet Shop is already out in eBook formats and has been getting fab reviews, but October 14th is the date I’ve been waiting for with bated breath.

And, as you may have guessed, the big launch bash for the print premier of Pets will be at one of my favourite places on the planet, Sh! Women’s Erotic Emporium  Hoxton!  There’ll be pink fizz, yummy delectables, readings, book signings and the whole titillating two floors of the Sh! store to explore and shop through. If that’s not enough to make for a hot party, some of the hottest names in erotica are going to be there to help me celebrate. And the celebration will be two-fold because the 14th is also the delicious Mr Grace’s birthday, so we’ll slap a candle in his cupcake and all party together. If you’ll be in the neighbourhood 14th of October, be sure to put it on your calendar and stop in for the fun. I’ll be giving more details as time gets closer. Needless to say, I’m very excited, and looking forward to turning my misbehaving Pets loose on London and the rest of the UK — in print. Once they’ve done their misbehaving best in the UK, they’ll arrive in the States in print in January just in time to celebrate the New Year.

Lakeland Heatwave on the Way

Most of you know I came home from the Coast to Coast walk and went right to work on the final polishing of Lakeland Heatwave: Body Temperature and Rising. I had the chance to pick Brian and Von Spencer’s wonderful brains for more Lakeland and Mountain Rescue information while I was on the Lake District leg of the Coast to Coast walk. As always, their help has been invaluable in making sure I get the details right. Once back home, getting the final draft ready to go out the door was priority one, and inspiration from the walk and from Brian and Vron’s helpful observations made it a pleasure rather than a chore.

Lakeland Heatwave: Body Temperature and Rising is the first novel of my paranormal erotic romance trilogy set in the Lake District, and will be published in February 2012. It’s intense, dark and hotter than hot. I’ll be working on the second novel by the New Year, if not before.

A Hopeful Romantic in Autumn

Besides the new Inspiration page on A Hopeful Romantic, there will be intriguing new additions of The Story Behind the Story and there will be some fabulous guests and interviews and field trips coming up as 2011winds down, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, what happens in Vegas will NOT be staying in Vegas, as my next update on all the latest will be coming to you straight from The Erotica Authors Association Conference in Sin City.

 

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Where’s Holly?

Nothing says summer better than a hot novel, whether it’s on the beach with the sunburnt masses or in the break room over your sandwich and cuppa, or trying to read on the tube with an elbow in your ribs and an armpit in your face — a place where a little escapism is needed if ever there was one!

Doing laundry? On the train? In a coach? Under the duvet with your sweetie? Where do you read The Initiation of Ms Holly? Show me yours and I’ll show you mine.

Throughout the month of August, I want you to show me where you read Holly. Send me a photo of where your copy of The Initiation of Ms Holly is – ebook, or print, it doesn’t matter – and you’ll be entered into the contest to win a $50 gift card from Amazon (or the equivalent thereof. Worldwide entries welcome) First place winner will also receive a copy of my sexy new novel, The Pet Shop, signed by the ever-loving author herself, just as soon as it’s released in print.

And since I’m dying to spread the love, 2nd place will also get a gift card from Amazon for the equivalent of $15.

Holly, The Pet Shop, Amazon – the possibilities are endless. Enter to win. Go ahead. You know you want to.

How To Enter:
Simply snap a photo of The Initiation of Ms Holly in print or eBook form and send it to hollycompetition@gmail.com with the subject line “Where’s Holly Competition”

By sending your photo, you acknowledge that we have the right to post these photos to K D Grace’s website, Facebook and Twitter pages for promotional purposes.

Competition runs from 1st – 31st August. Winners will be drawn and notified by mid-September. Gift card winners can expect to receive their prizes in September. The lucky winner of The Pet Shop will have to hang on just a little longer until I receive my author copies in October, then while they’re still hot off the press, I’ll sign one and get it in the post to you.

Be sure and check in regularly during the month of August. My own copy of Holly will be doing a bit of traveling, and I promise pics along with all the skinny.

 

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Lakeland Heatwave Is On Its Way!

I can now share the fabulous cover of my work in progress, Lakeland Heatwave! February’s not that far away. And it’s pretty much a given it’ll be cold and dreary, and everyone will have already read The Initiation of Ms Holly and The Pet Shop to keep them warm through the harsh winter months, but in February, everyone will be wanting their own private heatwave to cheer them up. Viola! Lakeland Heatwave, the first book of my new paranormal erotic romance set in the timeless, mysterious beauty of the Lake District will be making it’s debut just in time to warm you.

Many of you have read the blog posts about my research, and oh, such a hardship it is doing research in the Lake District! I LOVE my job!   Lakeland Heatwave will not only keep you very warm, but will also keep you on the edge of your seat with witches and ghosts and a demon with a sinister plan. Here’s just a taste of what you can expect.

Blurb:

American transplant to the Lake District, MARIE WARREN, didn’t know she could unleash demons and enflesh ghosts until a voyeuristic encounter on the fells ends in sex with the charming ghost, ANDERSON, and night visits from a demon. To help her cope with her embarrassing and dangerous new abilities, Anderson brings her to the ELEMENTALS, a coven of witches who practice rare sex magic that temporarily allows needy ghosts access to the pleasures of the flesh.

DEACON, the demon Marie has unleashed, holds an ancient grudge against TARA STONE, coven high priestess, and will stop at nothing to destroy all she holds dear. Marie and her landlord, the reluctant young farmer, TIM MERIWETHER, are at the top of his list. Marie and Tim must learn to wield coven magic and the numinous power of their lust to stop Deacon’s bloody rampage before the coven is torn apart and more innocent people die.

 

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© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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