Tag Archives: Las Vegas

Thinking About Vegas Again

Five Things I Love About Vegas

After my first visit to Vegas in 2011, I knew I’d be back, and I knew I wanted to set a novel there. In fact, I’ve set several there now, the last being Buried Pleasures, with another one in the works for the Medusa Consortium series. The first novel that I set in Vegas, however, was Fulfilling the Contract way back in the day. Fulfilling the Contract is the follow-on to The Initiation of Ms Holly, and the second novel in The Mount Series.


As I begin to think about writing the next Medusa novel set in Vegas, I don’t think it’s at all surprising that I’m feeling a bit of longing for Sin City. I never thought I’d like Vegas. I expected to hate the place, and I totally fell in love. So what I’d like to do is share with you five things that totally intrigue me about Las Vegas.



Las Vegas juts up out of the Mojave Desert like so many gigantic glass and concrete erections. It’s just so brazen, sky scrapers and lights and swimming pools in the most desolate place one can imagine all surrounded by high mountains and desert. It has OTT written all over it. Bright lights and decadence are all thrust up right smack dab in the middle of exquisite emptiness.



Vegas and the surrounding area is a visual feast second to none. From my hotel room on the 22ndfloor of the Elara, I could see mountains and desert beyond the compact city. I never knew there were so many shades of kaki and gold and beige all hemmed in by the blue of the mountains. And then there were the Vegas lights. All night long, there’s always a riot of colour and sparkle, glass and steel, neon and fountains. A simple walk on the Strip – even in daylight is a people-watcher’s paradise. I never wanted to blink, never wanted to look away, and often found myself wishing my vision was 360 degrees.



As an introvert, you’d think Vegas would be the last place I’d want to hang out, but the thing about Vegas is that it’s a place where everyone is friendly and yet everyone is anonymous. One of the things I loved most was walking the streets amid the crowd and feeling exactly like one of the voyeurs I planned to write about in FTC. Because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, it was easy to be anonymous in a crowd of people who were all anonymous, which leads me to my next observation.



When I say recreation, I don’t mean gambling, swimming, hooking up. Yes all of those things are happening. It’s all happening in Vegas. What I mean is that in Vegas there’s a sense that anyone can be whoever they want to be for the time they’re playing tourist, and no one, no matter how bizarre, seems out of place. There’s something almost magical about being able to go somewhere and be someone else for a few days. for a writer, being able to go someplace and watch everyone being someone else and wonder who they are when they’re not in Vegas is like a gift from the Muse.


The Feeling of Permission Granted

Strangely, though prostitution is legal in the state of Nevada, it’s not in the city of Vegas, and yet Vegas feels, at its very core, like a city waiting to give permission for almost anything. I suppose to some degree any time one goes on holiday and does the touristy-thing, one is set apart, out of one’s own context, able to act differently, feel differently, breathe differently. But Vegas has with it that extra adrenaline boost of permission. Go ahead, be naughty, gamble, drink, have sex with strangers, dance naked in the fountains, and in the morning, no one will be the wiser. At the core of the city, the Strip, the casinos, the hotels, there’s a libertine feeling, and yet one only has to walk a few blocks in any direction to discover normal Las Vegans simply going on with their lives.


All of those feelings, those observations, those experiences helped to inspire and shape Fulfilling the Contract and made the voyeuristic and BDSM play feel somehow a little more set apart to me, a little more secretive and naughty, and of course, outrageously fun. And since I’m waxing nostalgic and missing Vegas, I thought I’d share a little excerpt, a blast from the past from Fulfilling the Contract. Enjoy!


Fulfilling the Contract Blurb:

Limo driver, NICK CHASE’s bad night gets worse when he picks up TANYA POVIC at a bar only to discover the explosive sex they share lands her in breach of her very strange contract. Blaming himself that Tanya will lose the large completion bonus earmarked for her mother’s surgery, Nick negotiates with her boss, the tough and mysterious ELSA CRANE, to allow him to fulfill Tanya’s contract and secure her bonus.


Elsa runs Mount Vegas, which offers voyeuristic pleasures for a price. Nick’s job, with Elsa and her quirky team, is to give clients something worth watching through the plate glass windows of Vegas’s luxury hotels and beyond. The learning curve is steep and kinky. As Nick and Elsa’s relationship sizzles and ignites more than hotel room rendezvouses are exposed. In this sequel to The Initiation of Ms Holly things get positively dangerous as Rita Holly and her team are called in from London to lend a helping hand. Bets are being placed. Will Nick fulfill the contract? Will he and Elsa take the gamble? And will they find a way to win at the high stakes, double or nothing, game of hearts?


Fulfilling the Contract Excerpt:

‘Surely you can give Tanya one more chance,’ Nick said. ‘And really, it was my fault. I’d had a bad day and I wasn’t on my best behaviour.’

Elsa tossed the headset back onto the dressing table and rubbed the back of her neck. ‘Mr Chase, unless you want to fulfil Tanya’s contract for her, this conversation is over. It’s been a long day, and I’ve had enough. Pagan will escort the two of you back downstairs and since Tanya no longer works for me, I don’t care if you fuck her brains out. Now if you’d –’

‘Alright,’ Nick interrupted. ‘I will.’

Suddenly all eyes were on him. ‘Tell me what to do and I’ll fulfil the contract for her.

After all, it’s my fault she’s in breach.’

Tanya gave a little yelp that sounded like a kitten in distress and Elsa laughed out loud. ‘Mr Chase, you don’t even know what Tanya’s contract involves.’

‘I assume it has something to do with what’s going on in room 2031. It’s not prostitution is it?’

‘No! No, is not prostitution,’ Tanya said, the excitement nearly vibration through her voice. ‘Is nothing like that.’

‘Well actually it’s something like that,’ Elsa corrected. ‘My people get paid for sex.’

‘I don’t understand,’ Nick said.’

She nodded him over to one of the scopes set up at the bedroom window. When he balked, she nodded again. ‘Go ahead; check out what’s going on in room 2031.’

Nick nearly knocked the scope out of focus at his first view of the naked ass of a man pistoning his cock into a woman bent over a big bed. Her head was buried between the legs of another woman, who was pinching her own nipples for all she was worth and writhing beneath the serious tongue action.

‘Then they are prostitutes.’ Nick’s voice was suddenly a whisper, as though he feared he might disturb the people he viewed through the scope.

‘No.’ Elsa leaned close to him as though she could see over his shoulder. ‘They all work for me, and they get paid a lot of money to have sex with each other while someone else watches.’

With difficulty, Nick took his eyes off what was going on in the scope. He suddenly felt dizzy. ‘Let me get this straight, these people –’ he nodded around the room ‘– All of these people and those –’ he pointed to the scope ‘—have sex with each other and people pay money to watch.’

Elsa nodded ‘A lot of money.’

‘And that’s what Tanya was doing? That’s what the contract’s about, having sex and letting people watch?’

‘That’s what the contract’s about,’ Elsa said. With a smirk, she pulled Tanya’s red panties out of Nick’s pocket where he’d forgotten he’d stuffed after he’d picked them up from the parking lot at the Mango. She handed them back to Tanya and replaced them with a black business card, briskly patting his pocket as she did so. ‘I know how much you loath your job, Mr Chase, and I can almost guarantee you’d find what Tanya does a lot more satisfying. But –’ she ran a hand down and gave his crotch a quick grope ‘– It takes some serious balls.’

He elbowed her away and shoved past Tanya and Pagan. ‘You people are all crazy if you think I would … if you think I might …’

Elsa offered him a smile that he felt, much to his discomfort, right down between his legs. Then she lifted an eyebrow and gave a shrug that made the dark gloss of her hair shimmer in the subdued lighting. ‘You asked.’

Morphine Dreams

Most of you know by now that I just had surgery on both knees a month ago. You probably saw the ghastly picture I P1010644posted on Facebook while under the influence of some seriously yummy pain meds. Sorry about that. Lots of strange things happen under the influence of strong pain meds, including bizarre dreams. And the thing is that sometimes I wasn’t actually, really asleep … I don’t think. I remember plummeting slo-mo down a water slide in the sunshine, though my husband assures me I never left the hospital bed. I’ve always liked water slides.

In addition to the waking dreams, I had some very strange sleeping dreams as well. I dreamed of walking the Strip in Vegas with both my knees still wrapped and my hospital gown gaping at the back – a thing that fortunately no one noticed in dreams. Not that I’m sure anyone would notice in Vegas anyway. I certainly saw some pretty strange stuff when I was there last spring.

When I was there last spring I was way more jetlagged than I can ever remember being, and there were several occasions when I woke up in the middle of my bed not knowing where I was or how I got there. Of course the disorientation passed quickly and by the time I got to my sisters in Oregon five days later, I was back to sleeping normally. But I don’t recall ever being affected quite so strongly by jet lag.

Vegas is a strange place at the best of times, but seeing it through a haze of jet lag or dreaming it through a haze of pain meds makes it really hard to sort the reality from the dream. I’m bringing up Vegas now, almost a year after the fact because the drugged dreamscape kept taking me back there and kept reminding me of things that happened in my jetlagged state … or at least I think they happened. It’s like the meds sort of nudged me, jogged my memory, bringing back things that I honestly don’t remember. But it was all so clear from my drugged state. I recall every detail, the sun beating down, the smell of dust and sweat and rubbish, the push and shove of people on the strip. And I awoke in my hospital bed as though I had just been there.

One day while I was there, I succumbed to the double-decker bus tour. Not one of my wisest tourist choices. Honestly with the traffic in Vegas, I really do think I could probably have walked the tour route faster. It was still too early in the year to be hot yet, so I sat up in the open upper deck of the bus and listened to the tour guide yammer on about all the glitz and glam and all the misbehaving stars and the conspicuous consumerism while intermittently dozing as we sat in traffic waiting … and waiting. It was when we’d finished the tour of the Strip and were heading in past the wedding chapels to begin the downtown tour, crawling through traffic at a snail’s pace that I startled awake to find myself staring into a vacant lot. The houses all around were hard-done-by adobe, most well past their sell-by date. In another part of town where there was more money, they might have been renovated to be quaint and retro, but here they just looked tired. The empty lot was, no doubt, the garden and yard of such an adobe, with only a stoic adobe wall still fencing in the lot and serving as a bit of shade and shelter from the elements for a half a dozen homeless people.

S6304353While the tour guide answered questions about the filming of the reality television show Pawn Stars, which is filmed in Vegas, my attention was on the vacant lot and one homeless man in particular. Well actually my attention was on the dog that was with him – one of the biggest dogs I’ve ever seen. Surely he was a wolf dog mix, but wow, he was humungous. I noticed all the other people gave the dog and the man a wide berth. And with good reason. The man looked … well in all honesty, he gave me goose bumps. He was tall, broad shouldered. His hair was dark and, like everyone else’s, in need of a cut. He wore fatigues and what looked like biker boots, and I could swear both he and the dog were looking right at me, almost like they were challenging me. Then just as the bus crawled through the green light, he gave me a nod of his head and raised his fingers in what was either half a salute or an attempt at a wave. That I didn’t notice so much as I noticed his smile that made me feel like I was prey, like the dog had just bared his teeth at me. Then, I jerked awake and nearly fell of the seat just as we turned the corner and I craned my neck to see if I’d really seen what I thought I’d seen or if I’d just imagined it.

The tour went on forever. I finally got off and walked a good two miles back down from the north end of the strip and then over to my suite at the Elara. It was late afternoon when I got back to the room. I ordered a sandwich up from room service and sprawled on the bed thinking I’d read for awhile and then go down to do a bit of shopping on the Miracle Mile. I fell asleep almost instantly. It was dusk when I opened my eyes to discover that I couldn’t move. At first I thought room service had come to deliver my sandwich. You know those kinds of dreams where the doorbell rings and you’re on the bed and no matter how hard you try you can’t move. You know that it’s someone important, someone you need to let in and you try to call out to them, try to let them know that you hear them, but you can’t speak, can’t cry out, can’t move. Well that was me.

Finally the knocking at the door went away, and as I lay there in the gloom unable to move, I had that sudden feeling I wasn’t alone. I opened my eyes to find the man with the dog standing at the foot of my bed, but they weren’t alone, There was a woman with them, and though the room was in deep gloom by now, she wore a pair of sunglasses. The dog sniffed my hand, still clutching my Kindle to my chest. God he was a big dog! And I still couldn’t move, or cry out, and it was strange because for the moment at least, I was sure I was dreaming.

‘I don’t want her snooping about,’ the man said. His voice was a deep rumble I could feel down in my belly.

‘She won’t be snooping about. She won’t know the difference and neither will you,’ the woman replied. She had the most amazing hair. It was long and hung in waves and curls down her shoulders and back.

The dog was now licking my hand, and his muzzle was soft. He smelled like the desert.

‘I already know the difference,’ the man said. He snapped his fingers and the dog moved away from the bed back to stand next to him.

For a long time the woman was silent, then she sighed. ‘The choice is not yours to make Jon.’

‘But why me? Why now? Don’t think I don’t know what you did you did in England in the Lake District.’

‘I have my reasons. And I don’t care what you know.’ She came to the side of the bed, took the Kindle out of my hand and laid it on the nightstand. ‘I have my reasons,’ she said again. Than she leaned down and kissed me on the mouth, and her hair fell over my face like a veil, and I think I reached up to stroke it. It was so soft and heavy against my fingers.

When I woke up, it was four in the morning and I was starving. Surely what had happened had only been a dream. I made myself some toast and checked email. Then I worked on the manuscript I was editing. Finally I gave up trying to go back to sleep and went down to the gym for a workout. It was only after I’d showered and was dressing that I noticed a long strand of hair on my pillow. My hair’s long, and I would have thought nothing of it, but it was too long for my hair, and my hair’s straight. Besides the colour was wrong. The colour was like burnished bronze catching the light of the lamp on the bedside table. Surely it had to have belonged to one of the cleaning staff. Surely it had been there when I fell asleep, but I just didn’t notice it.

S6304352Thing is, I remembered only bits and pieces of that last trip to Vegas and that strange jet lagged stupor. I know that when a person’s sleep patterns are messed up, the results can be … well a bit crazy. A lot of what happened I didn’t remember at all until I was given the pain meds after my knee surgery. And now what I remember … well I’m not sure that I want to remember, actually.

I ask that as I share with you the events of that strange time in Vegas over the next few blog episodes that you don’t judge me, that you try to keep an open mind. Certainly I’m trying to. If it was just an interruption in my sleep patterns, then it’s something I hope I don’t experience again. But if it’s something more, then I feel like I really have to know, and frankly writing about it makes me feel a little less crazy and a little more in control. I kept the strand of hair. I don’t know why. And the dog … well I really liked the dog. The man, Jon, and the strange woman in the sunglasses though, they were really scary, even though they didn’t threaten me. I don’t even think they knew I was aware of their presence. Maybe best that way. God! And here’s me blogging about the whole incident. Maybe they won’t notice. Maybe it won’t matter.

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.

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.

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.