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Renee Swindle’s “Shake Down The Stars” – A Review

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Not so recently, I was the lucky winner of the latest novel of Renee Swindle, A Pinch of Ooh La La. I was happily surprised by this win as I had tried for it on a whim and had just finished Ms. Swindle’s second novel, Shake Down The Stars. For years and years I waited for another Renee Swindle book as I loved  her first, Please Please Please so very much.

Now, before I begin this review I must tell you that I’m forgetful. Let’s just…put that out there. I say and do things on the fly. I hoard notebooks. I write myself notes on an app on my phone. It’s how I live. I’m saying all that to say that I immediately wrote a review for Shake Down The Stars which I fully intended to post here and upload to Amazon. Who knows how that went awry, but in one of my cleaning frenzies yesterday, I uncovered the abandoned review, and well, better late than never…right?

In this ultimate comeback novel, the main character Piper won me over from page one. You see, hooking and reeling me in the beginning is important as I have the attention span of a… wait… what was I saying?

Oh, right. Piper. What a mess! But quite frankly, I need for my characters to be a bit of a mess, so I know they’re real. Fortunately, Renee Swindle shared my sentiment in this brilliantly crafted and tightly written novel where she presents readers with a character who immediately resonates. Be it Piper’s alcoholism, (whether she acknowledges it or not), family turmoil or unimaginable loss, there is a little part of this character we can all relate to.

It is all these parts of Piper that made me ask the question over and over: Who will love you at your worst?

Though Piper isn’t overtly in search or love, or any one thing in particular, it’s a question she seems to want the answer to herself. While dealing with the unthinkable in the only way she knows how, drinking until she can no longer think nor feel, engaging in reckless and promiscuous behavior and clinging to an unhealthy back and forth relationship with her ex husband, Piper often looks for answers in the stars. Star gazing is a passion of hers, and after hitting rock bottom, the stars, it seems, are all she can hold on to.

It takes the chance meeting of a perfect stranger to bring Piper’s starry gaze into focus and force her to confront her demons and, once and for all, decide who she really is, and if the real Piper is worth loving at all.

Since her breakout novel Please Please Please, I’ve found Renee Swindle to be synonymous with creating shockingly real and relatable characters and terribly realistic stories. Her much anticipated follow up proves consistent in presenting readers with a complex and flawed character that we have all at one point either known, seen or been. 

Filled with detailed descriptions, familiar settings and sharp, snappy dialogue, Shake Down The Stars is an engaging and compelling read that I highly recommend.

Now…on to A Pinch of Ooh La La!
 

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So you edited your first anthology…now what?

I have a problem. No, a habit, of letting things define me. It’s never intentional, but it happens. Years ago, I was published for the first time in two major anthologies simultaneously. All of a sudden I was the girl who wrote erotica. I proudly took this on as my little niche in writing, a place where I could make a name and hopefully, someday, maybe…a living.

I published plenty. I crossed off a lot of goals on my “to be published by” list. And then I had the opportunity to achieve a major goal of mine: editing my first anthology.

As you know, it came to be Can’t Get Enough and it was a whirlwind experience.

Of course, the book wasn’t even out yet before ideas for more and more anthologies were taking over. I jotted them down. I eventually wrote them up. I decided that if this book did well, this was my chance. I could establish something. This would be my first in a heaping pile of anthologies edited by yours truly.

*Insert belly laughs here*

Though I’ve come across many wonderful people in this community of ours, several of whom turned out to be great mentors of mine, there was never anyone I really spoke to about how this really works. That nothing happens as quickly as you want it to, or does as ridiculously well as you’d dreamed it would and that, well, you do more watching and waiting than anything for a really long time.Suffice it to say, I don’t have any new calls for submissions to list and be excited about, and honestly, I don’t know if I ever will again. I know that’s the opposite of positive thinking, but I have to be real with myself if no one else.

And yes, I drafted a novel in the meanwhile and have started countless other projects. But, what have I done to really push myself forward? To really capitalize from the momentum of Can’t Get Enough’s release?

Editing the project while working a full-time job, moving to another state and caring for twins was enough in and of itself. To keep writing and submitting short stories at the same time sounded crazy.

But, that was where it all began. That was what I was known for. And apparently, I must have taken heed at some point (in my sleep maybe) because I received word a little while back that the amazing Alison Tyler will be publishing three of my shorts in two of her upcoming anthologies.

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In Bondage Bites (due out in August), I have Minute to Minute and Anything But Loose, and in Hard At Work (release date TBA), I have A Hard Sell.

 

Boundaries

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This is going to get personal, like, really personal. But that’s what we do here. Chat lightly, things get heavy, we promote a little.

I would categorize this one as a vent, except I’m not angry, and quite frankly, that worries me.

I may or may not have spoken here about boundaries. Specifically boundaries in a relationship. And sure, everyone has their own, whether expressed or unspoken.

Mine, however, have been blatantly expressed in the past, but now I find myself dealing with the same issue.

Specifically, I’m talking boundaries when it comes to being in contact with people other than your spouse/partner.

Where do you draw the line? At texting? At calling? At hanging out?

And to catch you up. The spouse is mine, the contact is via text (as far as I know) and he sort of told me as an afterthought.

The texter is a coworker. Remember those simultaneous dreams he and I had where I dreamed he was having an affair with a coworker and he dreamed I was having an affair with the neighbor? Weird, right? Well, the neighbor moved.

And his coworker, not someone he works closely with or even physically comes in contact with on a daily basis, texted him yesterday to “check on him.”

He’s on vacation. He’s not sick.

He’s simply not at work. And if he’s not at work, then guess what? He’s at home or somewhere with his wife, who would be doing the checking on if need be.

I didn’t say anything at first.

Because I try to be a cool, modern wife, you know. But the thing is, I wear my emotions on my sleeve, and at some point, I started to boil over.

He thinks it’s jealousy. I think it’s boundaries, plain and simple. If I’ve not met, formed any type of friendship with this woman, she does not get to have a part in our marriage that’s exclusive to only him, especially when I was here first.

But, maybe that’s just me.

In the end I gave my opinion and honestly, he seemed sort of sad, like I had taken away a favorite toy or something. He even told me to find a guy to text after I asked how he’d feel if he were in my shoes. WTF, right?

Now, mama didn’t raise no fool. I didn’t come out and say “stop this or else” because if he wanted to stop he would and if I told him to stop and he didn’t want to, guess what? He’d continue, only behind my back which would make it definitely look like something even if it’s nothing.

So what did I do? What any sane woman would do, of course. I friended her on Facebook. I’ve got the bitch on my radar and I’m watching the situation closely. That’s all I’m saying.

 

 

Easy like…

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…feel free to take it from there, but let me tell you, nothing about this Sunday is easy, not for me anyway. I knew it had been a few days since I updated here, but a whole week?! Wow, I had no idea. And in the meantime, so many readers, blogger and reviewers were happily participating in the Can’t Get Enough blog tour, including the Trollop With A Laptop herself, Alison Tyler, who posted this colorful interview with me on her blog yesterday, while I was busy shuttling the twin to the sitter, driving to a book signing…

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…signing one (tee hee) book and driving back, picking up twins, picking up dinner then coming home where it began storming and the power went out.

And that was just yesterday. Today I planned to stay in bed all day and rest because I was bold, no foolish enough to wear heels yesterday, and apparently I must atone for that today. However, instead of resting and recovering peacefully, I’m having to deal with the difficult tenant I’ve been avoiding mentioning to much over the past year (because I’m such a fucking lady) because after avoiding being served with a notice of eviction, she finally got served, then tells me that she needs more than ten days. Not because she doesn’t have anywhere to go, mind you, but because she doesn’t feel like moving her stuff.

Really, she doesn’t feel like it? Well, you know what I don’t feel like? Paying mortgage on a home that I’m not living in and not being reimbursed for it and having it torn all to hell to boot. So, yeah, that’s going on right now, but I’m trying to put my energy elsewhere.

Like this creative spurt I’m going through right now. While the power was out yesterday evening, I entertained my husband by reading him the beginnings of some things I’m working on. One story is a comedy in addition to being erotic, and the first paragraph made him laugh out loud. That was cool.

But speaking of Alison Tyler, one of several things I did on Friday (indcluding having tires changed, ugh!) was visit the Atlanta bookstore Charis Books where I spotted her Dark Secret Love on display on the shelf. I couldn’t resist snapping this picture and tweeting and tagging her.

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She wrote about it on her blog today.

I know this is a super long post, but I had a lot of catching up to do. I haven’t even mentioned that Rose Caraway announced the winners of her give away on Friday! And she did it in such a unique and clever way!

Thanks, Rose, thank everyone, and thanks if you made it through this post!

The Story That Made Everyone L.O.L.

Here I am again, playing catch up. Always a day behind. Forgetting something or someone. But, here I am at the writing table, wrapping up guest blogs, an article and an exciting questionnaire that I hope to be able to share details about really soon.

Yesterday’s stop on the Can’t Get Enough blog tour (see, how I so casually stopped counting the days? That’s because I’ve lost count!) was at Tamsin Flowers’ place where she posted a steaming hot excerpt from her contribution to the book, Those Damned Cobbles.

I’m so glad Tamsin chose to excerpt her story, because as I may have mentioned, hers was one of the stories that I read from at Charis Books in Atlanta last Thursday, and there were two women in the audience that whispered how much they could relate, and let me tell you, the last two sentences of her story provoked a huge LOL and a confession from one or two women in the crowd about bike riding.

Read her lovely summary of the collection and her hot excerpt here.

Today’s scheduled stop is at Rose Caraway’s place and I’ll be sure to edit this post with links as soon as it goes live.

Also, I joined Facebook again.

I’ll just give you a minute to let that sink in.

Ask Yourself…What do You Want? By Alison Tyler

Ultimately, I’m simply a girl on a quest. And what I’m trying to discover, what I’m always working to uncover is this:
Why do I need what I need? Why do I want what I want?
I ask those questions every day.

—From the Intro of Dark Secret Love

We’re taught to want certain things. Clean clothes. (Just watch the commercials. Clean clothes are apparently essential for a happy life.) A dishwasher full of sparkling wine glasses. A big mug of coffee early in the morning. Particularly if you live on a farm.

The world wants us to want certain things.

And I never did. (Okay, I want the coffee—but not the farm.) I always felt as if I ought to want what the rest of the world seemed to want, or as if I might someday, if Mr. Right came along. If the right situation presented itself. Suddenly, I’d understand what the other girls were talking about. I’d go on a date with a perfectly nice man, lean in for a kiss, and feel flickers of desire working through my body.

But honestly, I either was faking—or playing make-believe. You can blend in for a long time…and then one day you realize you’ve become a shell. Fragile. Delicate. Easily broken.

The world wants you to want the handsome man with the bouquet of red roses who takes you to dinner and a movie. The world wants you to giggle and titter and blush when he kisses you on the doorstep as moths beat their wings around your safety light. Nothing out there tells you that it’s okay if what you really want is for him to put down a twenty at the bar, take you out back in the alley and tell you to drop your trousers and assume the position.

What was that?

That’s not in the script they hand you when you become an adult. That doesn’t account for the picket fence and the whitewashed Colonial and the Volvo…

What if what you want is for a man to press up against you, push you into the bricks and says, “Count them off for me. Twenty. Mean. Blows. You’re going to feel these, I assure you.”

What if the whisper of his belt pulling free from the loops of his slacks makes you wetter than any sparkling glass on the planet?

We’re taught to want certain things.

Dark Secret Love is about what happens to a girl who wants something else.

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Alison Tyler is the author of 25 erotic novels, including the soon-to-be-published The Delicious Torment (Cleis Press). She has written a handful of novellas including Tied Up & Twisted (Harlequin), Those Girls (Go Deeper Press), and Banging Rebecca (Pretty Things Press). Visit her at alisontyler.blogspot.com where she promises never to have a cover charge.

Zombie Erotoclypse by Tamsin Flowers

Thanks for inviting me over today to give you a taster from my new release, Zombie Erotoclypse. Perfect for reading in the run up to Halloween, these zombies are hot for your body – and not because they want to suck up your brains!

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Blurb:
Have you ever wondered whether zombies have sex? Fall in love? Lust after humans? The five stories in this red hot collection of zombie erotica will answer all these questions and more. If you thought it was tough being a teenage virgin, try it zombie style or why not take a visit to the club where humans get to have their wicked way with hot young zombies – for a price… Meet the Peeping Zom, who develops an obsession with a hot human blonde. Who looks after new zombies and teaches them the art of zombie love-making? And how would you react if the love of your life came home one evening with a zombie bite?

That final question is answered in the final story in the collection, Bar the Door, and here’s an excerpt:

Bar the Door

Emma and Galen take every necessary precaution against the zombie threat, so what happens when one of them is compromised? Galen returns to their safe house having been bitten by a zombie. They know they have only hours left before he transitions into a full-blown zombie – for Emma it’s a last chance to be with the man she loves…

I pulled down my pants and launched myself forward onto the bed between his legs. He smelt fresh and clean from the shower and he seemed to positively gleam with good health. I could hardly believe that he must have already started rotting inside, however microscopically. I slid up his body, sweeping his stomach and chest with my breasts until I was close enough to kiss him on the mouth.

Same old mouth. Same old taste. And always the best kisser. I pushed away the thought that bubbled under the surface. Zombie mouth. Zombie biter. But not yet. We still had a few more hours of being Emma and Galen. He responded to my kiss with a less familiar urgency. His usual languid exploration of my mouth was replaced with a pushing, searching tongue and as I slipped my tongue between his lips, he sucked hard and his back arched up so he could press himself against the length of my body.

I ran my hands up and down his torso, feeling the swell of his erection against me. God, how I loved this man’s cock. I reached my hand down to it and he let out an appreciative moan as I enveloped it with my fingers. It was fully erect, hard as a glass dildo beneath its covering of soft skin. I ran my index finger up and down the shaft and he bucked underneath me. Then I stretched down to cup his balls, holding them as gently as bird’s eggs, working them a little against each other while I whispered in his ear. He turned his head and caught my earlobe with his teeth, nibbling gently until I giggled and pulled away.

I shuffled back down the bed until I was in a position to take his cock in my mouth. But before I sucked it in, I showered it with a flurry of little kisses, up and down, still holding his balls but now tugging a little. Galen groaned and his cock grew hot, the head pulsing under the touch of my lips. I pushed the tip of my tongue out between them and let it make contact with the soft skin at the apex of the head. I felt the tiny slit and tasted the salty pre-cum that leaked out of it and then I opened my lips and drew him into the warm cavern of my mouth.

My hand moved up from his balls to grip the base of his shaft, angling his cock so he could push deeper into my mouth. I started to slide up and down, letting him work in and out, my wet lips slipping across his skin trailed by the hard scrape of my teeth. Galen moaned and I tightened my hand around him, working my mouth harder, massaging with tongue, sucking, blowing, biting. My other hand raked through his chest hairs in search of a nipple and when I found it, I pinched hard, making him yelp and pull against the restraints.

He was almost ready to come but I wanted more. I needed to feel Galen inside me one last time and I knew we wouldn’t have time for a second attempt. With a feeling of profound sadness I raised my head to let his cock fall free from my mouth.

“Babe?” he said. “Don’t stop…”

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Tamsin Flowers loves to write light-hearted erotica, often with a twist in the tail/tale and a sense of fun. In the words of one reviewer, ‘Ms Flowers has a way of describing sexual tension that forces itself upon your own body.’ Her stories have appeared in a wide variety of anthologies , for publishers including Cleis Press, Xcite Books and Go Deeper Press. She is now graduating to novellas with the intention of penning her magnum opus in the very near future. In the meantime, like most erotica writers, she finds herself working on at least ten stories at once: while she figures out whose leg belongs in which story, you can find out more about her at Tamsin’s Superotica or Tamsin Flowers.

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