Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Holidays and Good Riddance 2008!

It’s the end of the year and a time of reflection, and my overriding thought is, THANK GOD 2008 IS ALMOST OVER!!!

For those of you whom I haven’t bored to tears with my tale of woe, 2008 has sucked pond water for my family. In June, my youngest daughter was diagnosed with leukemia and my entire world changed in the matter of a half hour. I went from getting ready to go on vacation for two weeks to spending a week in the hospital while my six year old underwent an operation and several painful treatments.

And that was just the start.

The last six months have been a blur of hospital stays, chemotherapy, and constant worry. Oh, and I started a full time job which essentially put my writing career on hold for the time being.

But, there is good news!!! As of last week, my daughter has finished the worst of her chemotherapy and will be on much lower doses of chemo for the next two years. Her hair is starting to grow back and she shouldn’t miss much more school. I’m on vacation until January 5th, and I have a book coming out in print in January. So bring on 2009 and let’s hope it’s better than 2008.

Have a safe and happy New Year


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merry Christmas!

So here we are on the 21st of December, the shortest day of the year here in the UK and 4 days from Christmas. Are you ready yet? Done all your shopping, wrapping and preparing? I have (well almost). I don't have much choice since I'm working over Christmas. Unfortunately babies are still born on Christmas day (I myself am living proof of that) so I am doing a twelve hour day shift on Christmas Eve and 3 nightshifts after that. And it really sucks to work on Christmas Day AND your birthday.

In view of that I thought in this blog I would ask you all to spare a thought for the millions of people who are working over the festive period. Nurses, Doctors, Police officers, Firefighters and all the rest who are keeping you and your family safe and healthy while you enjoy your holiday celebrations. Perhaps even take a minute to drop in a card or some biscuits or sweets or something similar to your local emergency room, fire station, police station. I know it helps to see that people are thinking of you and are grateful.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Oh, For The Love Of Freaking Shopping

With the holidays looming ever closer, I recently made that dreaded trip to Wallyworld. You might want to click on over and read this week’s resulting “The Vultures Are Circling” post at the Samhain Blog, which sort of goes along with this topic here. But not quite. Over there, I went into my unique “method” of shopping and emphasized my shopping pet peeves. Here, I’m just going to…how shall I put it?…muse (heehee) about my feelings on shopping in general. Strong feelings. Really strong feelings. :D

Okay, I am woman hear me roar, but I must confess… I totally. Completely. Despise. Shopping.

Any kind of shopping.


There, I said it. And yes, for the second time, I’m definitely a woman if you can believe it. But somehow, I didn’t inherit the OMG-I-lurve-shopping gene.

Food? *groan* I’d rather throw it in a food fight than shop for it. Shoes? Uck. Just give me my worn out old sneakers or hiking boots, thank you very much. Jewelry? Love it, but I just don’t have the patience to shop for rings and necklaces and baubles and such. (Most of the jewelry I wear, hubby, bless his sweet heart, gave me as gifts.) Clothes? Eeeek, I’d rather be yanking splinters out of my gums than spending my day trying on shirt after jeans after dress (even eeckier!) after hat after panties after…well, you get my drift.

And worst of all? Shopping at the mall—the Mall of America (near where I live), no less! *shakes uncontrollably with anxiety* Whoever invented that city-in-itself-madness-under-one-roof concept should be jailed. I go there maybe (kicking and screaming in protest) once a year, and it takes me two to recover.

*sigh* If only there was some way to make items I need magically appear in my house without having to drive hours, go price-compare, color-code, fashion-coordinate, coupon-clip, stand in looong lines, or make use of the chaotic fitting rooms.

Oh, wait…

There is a way: The Internet! Squeeeeeee!

Ah, now there’s a concept. Surf around, sip coffee in jammies, a few clicks here, nibble on a cookie there, a few credit card numbers entered here, and baby, do you ever have me at “Let’s go shopping!” Mmm, yeah, here I am in the privacy of my own quiet home, and voila! The next thing I know the loot’s sitting on my doorstep. Awesome. Amazing. Stress-free. Oh yeah, this kind of shopping I can definitely hang with.

Now, wait! Please hold the hate mail. I’m not a bah-humbugish Scrooge kinda gal, really, I’m not. In fact, I LOVE the holidays! If I could go to the mall and *just* stroll leisurely around gazing at all the gorgeous decorations and listening to the fun and cheery holiday music over the speakers (well, okay, throwing in a glass of wine wouldn’t hurt either), I’d be one happy camper. I adore the feel-fuzzy-inside kinda holiday movies, listening to the 24-hour Christmas music radio stations, baking yummy cookies and fattening candies, family and friends get-togethers, snow and a cozy fire roaring, yes, all of the above. It’s just that dang shopping part that gets my nerves all in a bunch.

So what about you? Did you inherit the love-to-shop-at-the-crazy-malls gene? Do you prefer Internet shopping instead? Or like me, would you rather just have a root canal than go shopping, period? LOL

Titania Ladley is a multi-published, best-selling erotic romance author. Her newest release, KABANA HEAT (Samhain Publishing), is a contemporary ménage set in Hawaii. Don’t miss this HOT love story! Mrs. Giggles on Kabana Heat: 90 and a Keeper, “…most charming naughty romp.” Please visit Titania at for more.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Are you a Twit?

The Social Network Pick-Up
Setting: present day bar

Him: Hey, babe – what’s your SN?
Her: I’m a Facebook gal, so if you’re on MySpace, don’t even talk to me.
Him: It’s cool, I’m more a Twit, myself.
Her: Oooh…Twits are fun – buy me a drink?

Twitter anyone? How about Facebook? MySpace? IMVU? What’s your social networking choice?

For better or worse, online networking is here to stay. And it doesn’t matter what age group you fall into, either. Baby boomers have embraced the technology, perhaps more slowly than their younger counterparts, but they are making it all their own. Want to meet up with other people your age? Talk about grandkids and swap pictures? Check out the Grandparent’s Network based in Australia. Social networking isn’t just a young person’s game anymore, it’s a way of life.

There is a limit, however, as to how many sites one can actually keep up with. I keep a MySpace page, that, admittedly, I don’t do much with. Most of the networking there seems to be focused on the blog and, as many of you already know, I’m not much of a blogger. I prefer commenting on other’s blogs over writing a post of my own. So my MySpace page sort of just…sits. While I accept friendship with nearly everyone who asks, I rarely go out and search for others.

I like to Twit now and again – sound bites are easy to write. But then I have to ask – who cares if I just did the laundry? Isn’t there such a thing as too much information? Don’t I run the risk of becoming…mundane? And so I try to post everyday so people know I’m alive but not so often that people grow tired of my little bon mots.

Facebook is cool – I have an account there under my real name (sorry to disillusion you, but I’m afraid “Diana Hunter” is a nom de plume) and I do like all the applications one can get. My daughter and I are currently embroiled in a snowball fight (she’s winning), we talk like pirates just because its fun and I’ve caught up with people I haven’t seen in years. I’ve been thinking Diana needs an account there. Of course, then I’d run into the danger of spending time playing on Facebook instead of writing books!

IMVU is a new place I’ve just recently tried. A reader sent me an invite and I checked it out yesterday. It’s as if they took IM technologies, borrowed the social networking concept and then made it look like Second Life. You create an avatar that you can customize, but mostly all you do is visit people and have chats. I talked with a 20-year old yesterday who told me I shouldn’t lie about my age on my profile. I told her I hadn’t lied, I really am 51 years old. She told me I didn’t talk like any 51-year-old she knew and that old people don’t really get into this like I do. I took it as a compliment.

Web 2.0 will morph into something else in another five years and several of the sites I mentioned will either die or evolve. What will be fun to watch is how each one is used and whether everything blends together to become one huge social network. I’m of mixed feelings about having just one over having many, I have to admit. While there are too many now to keep up with, I’m also not sure I’d like a monopoly. Nor would I like networks divided into age or interest groups. Right now it’s sort of a wild west atmosphere out here in Social Network Land – and I for one, enjoy it.

After all, we don’t want our poor hero to have to develop a new pick-up line!

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I thought about doing a Thanksgiving theme...even though I'm Canadian and our Thanksgiving was in the sensible month of October. ;-)....but then I thought EVERYBODY does a Thanksgiving theme at this time of year. So maybe I should do something different...

A little while ago I posted a story about an incident that occurred to me with a Shuttle-Bus driver. How my candid approach to discussing my writing...was misinterpreted and got me into trouble. But...there is a flip side to that.

There's the innate trust that seems to come along with the knowledge that I write about things like m/m sex, anal toys and threesomes. It seems that along with that knowledge comes that assumption that they are talking to someone who is open to...just about anything. Who won't judge. Who will listen without prejudice or condemnation. Perhaps that's a big assumption to make, but in my case...for the most's true! And thanks to that I have been trusted with some very privileged and deeply intimate information. For the most part I am honored by that trust, and I do my best to do it justice.

In the last few years I've been entrusted with secrets ranging from tales of childhood sexual abuse, to dabbling in the BDSM scene, to a young man's struggle with his own leanings toward homosexuality. It always amazes--and thrills--me how candid the conversation can become, and how people are so eager to share their deepest secrets. When they know it's safe to do so.

I don't take that responsibility lightly. I keep their secrets, and I'm as understanding and supportive as my own experience allows me to be. I've made some wonderful friends because of it. And I hope to make many more.

I'm curious if other erotica authors have had similar experiences...and how YOU feel about it?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Capsized coming Friday!

I'm so excited to announce my new book from Ellora's Cave, Capsized, will be released this Friday, November 28th.

Here's a little taste. This scene comes after Lance has admitted to Chris that he's bisexual.

* * * * *

Thoughts of Lance and sex didn't make any sense. He'd never thought of his friend in that way. Sure, he'd seen Lance naked, lots of times. He'd looked at his friend's body, sometimes longer than he probably should have. That didn't mean he'd thought of him sexually.

Well, maybe he'd been a little curious. Maybe he'd looked at Lance's full lips and wondered how they'd feel against his. Maybe he'd looked at Lance's dick and wondered how big it got when hard.

"Shit," he muttered.

He wished Lance hadn't said anything about his bisexuality. Chris could've gone the rest of his life without these weird feelings tightening his gut.

He loved Joni. There wasn't a doubt in his mind about that. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. And yet...

Yet he couldn't get the picture of him in bed with Lance out of his mind.

Ignoring his rapidly-growing hard-on, Chris undressed and slid between the sheets. He lay on his back, his hands beneath his head to keep from touching himself. He closed his eyes and pictured Joni sitting across from him at the kitchen table. They had a dining room in their house, but preferred the intimacy and comfort of the kitchen when they ate. She loved to cook, and especially loved to try new recipes. She'd spend hours surfing websites for unique dishes. Everything she prepared was delicious. Chris always showed his gratitude for her hard work...usually in the bedroom.

He and Joni had such a special relationship, the kind he'd always wanted. It didn't make sense for him to have fantasies about anyone else in his life or in his bed.

Especially his best friend.

* * * * *

I hope you fall in love with Chris and Lance, just as I did.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Decaf in a Caffeinated World

So, a little over a week ago, I implemented the decision to stop drinking caffeine and all forms of diet soda. I’m not a coffee drinker but I do drink a lot (a lot) of soda so this was all part of a slow effort to make myself a little healthier.

I’ve learned a few things in the last week…

1) My body loves its caffeine and protests vehemently when I take it away. The headache only lasted for a day but I’ve discovered how much I relied on the false pick me up caffeine provides. One morning this week, I woke up at 8:15 and went back to bed at 10:30 (also in the morning). I was exhausted and couldn’t focus. The little nap helped but I was groggy all day.

2) It’s difficult to be uncaffeinated. Drinks are either caffeinated, filled with sugar, or filled with artificial sweetners (also part of the sacrificed list at the moment). I know water is the healthiest choice, but sometimes, I need flavor.

3) Caffeine has become such a part of our culture that people find it strange if you decide to remove it from your diet. The most common question asked when I’ve mentioned I’ve given up caffeine is “why?” Admittedly, in the realm of unhealthy addictions, it’s not the most likely to kill me, but in the quantities I was consuming, it couldn’t have been a good thing. And, when my 13-year old niece is drinking caramel lattes, I think we should consider our culture a little too caffeinated. There’s got to be a conspiracy theory here—something about caffeine keeping us so wired we can’t think—but you know, my brain is just too tired to think how it might work.

So, I’m moving a little slower than the rest of the world, not twitching quite as much and sleeping a lot better. Still, I feel a little out of sync, just a beat behind. Eventually, I know my body will rebound from its caffeine addiction but (yawn), right now, I need a nap.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Let's Step Back From The Madness

It’s been a wild past week here in the United States. Well, maybe the word ‘wild’ doesn’t even begin to cover it. Frenetic? Extreme? Passionate? For me? I’M SO DANG GLAD THE ELECTION IS OVER! It’s back to our regularly scheduled programs and that’s ALL I’m going to say as far as politics.

Instead I thought I’d dedicate my blogging to softer, less passionate subjects. Just some musings, simply some thoughts that run through my mind when I climb into bed at the end of the day.

The holiday season is upon us and because of my busy lifestyle, I have to say I’m sooo looking forward to even the one day of the Thanksgiving weekend to spend with my entire extended family. The computer will be shut down, our business will be closed for the day so hopefully the interruptions of my usually fast paced days will be put on the back burner (along with the boiling potatoes).

Our family ‘get-togethers’ whether official holidays or a stolen afternoon to share one another’s company are often loud and joyful. No matter whose house we are at, there is always a room for the kids to play in with toy boxes and cardboard boxes hauled up from the basement. It’s wonderful to see where the younger members’ imagination will take them. They build forts, they form musical bands and march through the living room, they pretend they’re on a wild safari in Africa, sometimes even becoming the wild herds of zebras or giraffes. Sometimes they play school, each taking on the revolving role as instructor. And there’s always dress-up time, which I think is the most fun for them. Old adult shoes, draping jewelry and big floppy hats. Wherever it is or whatever persona they’ve taken up for the moment, they’re comfortable and happy and the smiles are wide. We as adults should learn from them. They’re never told to be quiet or to stay in the playroom because they’re allowed just as much say in the day as an adult has. It’s their holiday or their day off, too, so we all want them to enjoy the time as much as we ‘elders’ do. I hope you’re not imagining the perfect Norman Rockwell setting because family days with my group is so far off that mark! We’re loud and rambunctious and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

I’ve got another anniversary of sorts coming up on November 28th. For you animal lovers, it’s the first anniversary of my Kaydee’s passing. She was a great dog, a yellow Labrador retriever with velvet ears and eyes that would encompass your soul. We were fortunate enough to have her with us thirteen years. Man, I miss her and so does everyone else. She was such a clown, had a huge personality and was such an integral part of our family. In the boat, in the car, camping trips, hunting trips, trips to the dairy queen, special treats for her birthday…she was included in on everything. My kids grew up with Kaydee and hardly a visit passed from them (when they came to visit as adults) that they didn’t get down on the floor and wrestle with her. And when the granddaughters entered the picture she would just about turn inside out with joy when they came through the door. Her mantra was the more humans around, the happier she was. Kaydee was that once in a lifetime family pet that any animal lover would have loved to have. And as silly as it sounds, there will be a candle burning on the 28th in her memory.

Winter is right around the corner here in Minnesota. In fact I’m watching big fluffy flakes falling outside my office window as I type. We’ve done all the necessary steps to get ready for Ma Nature at her worst. The yard is raked and ready to be hidden beneath a blanket of snow. The snowplow is ready to be mounted on the truck to keep the driveway clear. Water hoses are wrapped and stored away, gardens have been cleaned out. And as those chores were being completed without too much complaint because they’re things that need to be done, we looked forward to those coming cold wintry nights when we can snuggle up nice and warm against the elements, to sipping on a hot toddy and disregard the eventual ‘sound of winter’ as it rattles the window panes. And yes, we’ll talk about the tasks of the coming spring and know that when the melt starts, we’ll be filled with the smug satisfaction that we made it through another cold winter without too much wear and tear on our bodies (or our livers. LOL)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one more thing that I’m thankful for in this season of gratitude. My family has weathered one of the most horrific storms of our lives. My mother, who sits at our family’s center, has made it through her chemotherapy. Not so much with flying colors because that ‘rat poison’ just about did her in, yet she mustered her battle with extreme courage and her typical sense of aplomb that is so a part of her disposition. So far, it looks like she came out the victor. She’s definitely the first thing on my list of prayers. Mom is a trouper and has set an example for all of us to follow once more. And it is with great hope on my part that she’ll be here for many more family riots (what else can I call our get-togethers????). Go Mom! You’re my hero.

In closing, as I grow older I’ve learned to not sweat the little stuff. I know that sometimes in the moment, a certain event can seem insurmountable but it’s amazing how age grows wisdom. Life is life. Simple as that.

So. There’s some Ruby Storm musings for you to ponder. We didn’t talk books here today, we didn’t discuss erotica. And thank god we put politics back there with the boiling potatoes. Have a wonderful week and enjoy your holiday season. I know I’m going to—as long as I don’t get caught in a snow drift. Toodles!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Perfectly imperfect

Two weeks ago I blogged about the Tortured Hero and it reminded me of another sub-genre of books which seems to have gained in popularity.
The Hurt Hero.
The heroes of these books have been injured in some way or have some kind of 'imperfection', whether it be scarring, visually or hearing impaired or in a wheelchair. Sometimes they are healed by the end of the book, sometimes not and not all of them are tortured. So what is the appeal of this kind of hero? In my search for the tortured hero I've read many of these books and the appeal, to me at least, is their vulnerability and ultimately their strength in dealing with whatever cards have been dealt to them. It does however take a very talented author to write it well. The first book I read in this genre and still my favorite is A Man Like Mac by Fay Robinson.
It seems that many publishers are still not sure of the reception of a hero who is less than perfect and if the book even makes it to print, many times the book blurb will make no mention of it and certainly not the cover art. Yet, I know I am not alone in their appeal since all you need do is search Amazon or Google to find other people's lists of books which fit the theme. So how do you feel about hurt heroes?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ever Changing Seasons & Characters

Have you ever noticed that a character's moods change with the seasons?
Is this because, we as writers shift with the seasons as well?
When writing in the summer, the character is almost always on a beach half-naked and
they are either angry, or having a hot 'n' steamy affair. In the winter, they're bundled up
brooding or shacked up in a snowed in mountain cabin. The spring brings them out for long
walks and hot sex in the woods or open flower filled fields. But fall, they tend to slow to a sensual
pace with the turning of the leaves. It then becomes hot cider (spiked of course!), raking leaves then tumbling in them like a couple of kids or a stroll through the countryside, soaking in the changing of the colors. Romantic, the changing of the colors.
Why is it that the fall tends to soften the character's moods?
They tend to reminisce about pleasant memories or create new ones with the love interest in the story.
I think our characters are a part of every writer's soul and takes a little piece with them when they exit to live on a page for all the world to see.
Character's moods are guided by the mood of the writer. Or are our moods guided by the moods of our Characters?
I truly can't decide.
Lost in New Jersey,
Tara Nina

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Tortured heroes... love em or hate em they are playing just as large a role in romance novels today as the were 20 yrs ago. In fact, it may even be more common. Whether their torture has been physical (Acheron of Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jacques from Dark Desires by Christine Feehan) or mental (Vinh of Into The Fire by Suzanne Brockmann or Gabriel of Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair) or even both, they are as popular ever. What has changed though is the way they deal with their issues. The eighties tortured hero was more likely to be the strong silent be a bastard to the heroine type with maybe a little forced seduction thrown into the mix. In today's version there is still an element of that but they are more likely to get an ass kicking from the heroine and a 'get thee to a shrink or don't come back near me' ultimatum.
Is this a reflection of how women and society in general feels? Or is it just another victim of political correctness?
Personally, I think it's a little of both. Either way I still love a good tortured hero and yes, I own a lot of those eighties book with men who are bastards as slightly guilty pleasures. They are a bit like chocolate though, one or two leave you wanting more but too many will make you sick.

What about you? Do you love, or hate a tortured hero? Who are your favorites?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Kicking Down the Publishing Door

Reading frightened me. I trembled in front of the chalkboard as my first-grade teacher demanded I read “a” and “an” out loud to the class. *shudder* Even after months of “learning” those small words, the comprehension just wasn’t there; the pathways in my brain weren’t connecting. Those seemingly big words were just odd shapes that I couldn’t commit to my tiny memory. I wanted to read, desperately so, but for some unknown reason, I couldn’t grasp the written correlation to the spoken words.

After years of struggling, the powers that be at school finally forced me to attend remedial reading classes. Mortified, I cut class and ducked into the bathroom everyday, huddling there in a stall, feet drawn up, praying they’d never find me. But one day, my fourth-grade teacher (my first hero!) took pity on me. Instead of forcing me to return to those classes, he tutored me during recess using his own secrets and shortcuts to help me achieve better comprehension. But to me, it seemed he’d set his magic hand on my little head and healed the broken connections deep inside my brain.

Then smart speed-reader Katy moved to town, one of those kids who didn’t just read books, she devoured them. To my surprise, she befriended me, and that was the beginning of a summer vacation that changed my life forever, that in a sense brought me here to the publication path...

One hot, humid day, Katy’s mother took us to our small-town church turned library. I can vividly recall climbing the stoop to that whitewashed building, stepping inside the dusty, sunlit room, and the old wooden boards creaking beneath my small sandaled feet. The scent of aged wood and leather-bound books hung heavy in the air, while rickety bookshelves soared up to the beamed ceiling. It was cool and pin-drop quiet in there with a gray-headed woman seated where the church altar had once been. She wore bifocals perched on her nose, and she often frowned and pressed a gnarly finger to her lips. “Shhh…” she’d repeatedly scold then busy herself with stamping library cards.

That was the day Katy introduced me to Nancy Drew. Using the reading methods my teacher had taught me, I went home, curled up with one of those yellow, hardbound mysteries, and at last embraced the joys of reading. So went the summer. Katy and I lived at that library, hauling out stacks of Nancy Drew books, Hardy Boys, and finally, graduating to Judy Blume. Dare I say I never once accrued past-due fines?

By the age of 13, I’d moved on to Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, rest her talented soul. Then came the day in high school I got caught with The Wolf and the Dove disguised behind the open pages of my biology book. Yeah, I got into major doo-doo, as I’d already been chastised one too many times for reading in lieu of working on class projects. The livid teacher kicked me out of her class, but the principal enrolled me in an alternate one that sometimes allowed free reading time. :D

Now and then, I wonder what that teacher—or even Katy—would think if she read my depraved version of the infamous bandit Robin Hood in A Wanton’s Thief and A Gypsy’s Thief (Ellora’s Cave). Or Moonlite Mirage based on my research trip to the HBO-featured BunnyRanch bordello in Carson City, Nevada. I hope my biology teacher realizes her efforts were secretly appreciated, and that I gained a knowledge of anatomy and physiology that later came in very handy, not only in obtaining my nursing degree but in writing erotic romances. ;)

I don’t know where I’d be today without the love of reading and writing, or without those influences in my childhood. Thanks to all my teachers, to Katy, and to the kick-ass sleuth Nancy Drew, all of whom took part in leading a vulnerable little girl from the terrifying world of incomprehension in reading, all the way to published author.

So what sort of things inspired you to read or write? Whatever they might be, remember, if you still can’t seem to get your foot in the publishing door, don’t go hide in a bathroom stall. Keep persevering, keep reading, keep writing, and kick that door down. Because I’m proof anyone can attain their goals if they persist and truly want it. :)

Oh, btw, I hope you’ll head on over to Myspace at and befriend me…just like Katy did all those years ago.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thoughts that keep a writer up nights...

With apologies to Will:

To write or not to write, that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous critics
Or to take pen against a sea of reviews
And by opposing, end them. To dream, to mark,
No more. And by ‘to mark’ we mean to end
The heart-ache of the thousand critical words
That books are heir to, ‘tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To dream, to write
To write perhaps to glory! Ay, there’s the rub!
For in that glorious writing what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mid-list coil
Must give us pause: where’s the respect
That makes us glorious for so long life?
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time
The reviewer’s wrongs, the proud reader’s incredulity,
The pangs of despised love, the royalty delays,
The insolence of booksellers and the spurns
That writers of their books must take
When she herself might her quietus make
With a sharp-tongued quip? Why would authors bear,
To grunt and sweat with weary fingers
But for the dread of fixed obscurity,
The too-familiar country from whose bourn
No writer returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather write within the lines
Than fly to genres that we know not of.
Thus paychecks do make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought
And great novels of pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It isn't just "smut" anymore!

The Power of Smut

Many people—particularly people in the publishing world—tend to view erotica or erotic romance as a…shall we say….less than worthy literary pursuit. Whether you’re reading it or writing it, it’s viewed as empty, mindless, titillating entertainment for the masses. And, granted…I do believe there is some erotica and porn that falls into that category. However, to slot all erotica and erotic romance into that category is a gross misjudgment.

I firmly believe that literature—ANY literature—has the power to have a huge impact on the reader. Whenever you lose yourself in another world, in another character or set of characters…you are, in effect, taking on their experiences. Living their life. Sharing in their struggle. And that can have profound implications.

I know it did for me! I grew up in a very devout, and in some ways, strict home environment. Particularly when it came to matters of sexuality, I had allll kinds of hang-ups over what was right, acceptable, good or sinful. There were words that, all on their own, seemed to have the power to consign me to hell! Imagine that. A mere set of 4 letters that, if uttered aloud, had the power to land me among fire and brimstone for eternity. Many of these issues and fears spilled over into my marriage, making my sexual life…a challenge, to say the least. But then, for a variety of reasons, I started to expand my reading horizons. I began reading romance…and then I began writing it. And THEN I began to read and write EROTIC romance. And the doors began to swing open.

Those “evil” words began to lose their power over me. I began to see and accept that there wasn’t just ONE way to interact sexually. I began to expand my own sexual horizong (much to my hubby's approval! lol) And the more I read, and the more I wrote, and the more I EXPERIENCED other sexualities—even if it was vicariously—I began to identify with these “people”. I began to realize that sexuality in ALL its forms is good and fun, and that what any one person—or group of people—do consensually behind closed doors in the privacy of their own home, or their own club, or their own community for that matter, is perfectly acceptable! And it’s none of my damn business! In fact, I attended a Gay Pride parade this year for the first time, and it was an absolute blast! A celebration of sexual diversity and acceptance that I found refreshing and exciting.

Whether or not they’re going to hell for it? Well, I don’t believe in that anymore, but that’s a topic for another blog.

My point is that it isn’t “just smut” anymore. Whether it’s tales of homosexual or bisexual exploration, of the BDSM community or even of transgender adventures…the more stories of “deviant” sexuality that we read about, the more REAL these people and their issues become. And the less likely we are to judge and be afraid of them. It’s much harder to hate Josh, a twenty-seven-year-old rock star who loves music and kids and is struggling to accept his own attraction to another man, than it is to hate a group of faceless, formless, “homos”.

Not only is erotica a way for women to validate and explore their OWN sexuality…But I firmly believe it can be a way to promote tolerance and understanding for people of all sexual persuasions and in all walks of life.

Has anyone else found their views and/or opinions affected or changed through books? Not even necessarily erotica, but through any form of fiction? If so, I’d love to hear about it!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Calling On Your Life Experiences

Real life can sometimes be the pits. There are schedules, telephone calls, emails, bosses, co-workers, relatives, kids. Wow. So much to do, so little time.

All those things that make you holler out, "Calgon, take me away!" can also be gems when it comes to your writing. Have a boss you can't stand? Make him the villain in your book and kill him. Is your sister a nag? Give her monster kids who destroy whatever they touch. Do you have a friend who always brags about everything she has? Have her invest all her money in a company that goes under. Ah, yes, revenge is sweet.

Too mean, you say? Okay, how about the special friend who can't seem to get a fair break? Give her the hero and let her live happily ever after. Do you have the best brother in the world? Let him find his dream job. Are your parents wonderful? They bought the winning lottery ticket!

Do I use real experience in my books, you ask? Of course. I doubt if there's an author who hasn't drawn on something from her/his life and used it in a book. Do I use real people? Yes and no. I borrow from a person's life, but rarely pattern a character exactly after a real person. I want to keep my friends. :-)

You can add the good in with the bad. It's your book, your story. Call on all your life experiences, or those of the people close to you, and use them. Add your own personal touch. Real life may be stranger than fiction, but it can also be glorious.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Writers Write

How many times have we heard it? Writers write. Every day.

When you go to conferences or read “how-to” books, this phrase appears and is repeated and enunciated as if this is the missing line from the Sermon on the Mount.

A huge part of my soul rebels when I hear this. Lawyers don’t try cases every day. They get weekends. Teachers (some of the hardest working people I know) get holidays and summers away from students.

What is it about writers that we don’t get a day off?

When we read tales of other famous writers and how they accomplished their greatness, it seems inevitable that the words “he wrote every day, including holidays” crop up. Arrgh. What happened to the lazy (but successful) writers in this world?

I’ve come to the conclusion that very few exist.

So after years of thinking I’m never going to follow in the footsteps of the great and prolific, I had a little revelation. I don’t physically plant my backside in the chair every day. I can’t. I have a day job and a life that sometimes takes precedence. That’s the way it works. But even when I’m at my most stressed and busy (or maybe because I’m at my most stressed and busy) my mind is working…crafting stories, fine-tuning dialogue or just wandering to create the next wickedly hot sex scene I need to write.

But—and this is a huge but—having said this, we can’t use this as an excuse not to actually put the words on paper. I know dozens of “writers” who’ve never actually written a word. They research or craft plot lines or take classes on how to write. They like to say they are writers but getting the words to fill the screen can be hard work, and it’s not for the faint hearted.

So, while I’m not convinced that writers have to write every day, I do believe we have to write. That’s the compulsion in our brains that drives us to share our stories. When I’m particularly stressed, I find spending thirty minutes at my computer, working on my next werewolf tale, gives me a little peace.

And it reminds me what I really love…and that’s to write.

Have you found a particular schedule that works for you?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Keeper Trilogy - a series close to my heart.

I'm going to be taking a short vacation soon and I can feel my excitement building. Why? Because I'm heading to the Black Hills in South Dakota. I've wanted to return for a long time and the reason is because the beautiful backdrop of the rolling mountains' spiritual vista was the reason my western romantic Keeper Series became a series in the first place.

The very first story I'd ever written was Keeper of the Spirit, a western romance story about Tyler Wilkins, a man who thought he'd lost everything until a young woman named Emma Sanders whirled into his life and made him realize that deep abiding love can happen twice in a lifetime. The mysticism of an old Indian brave...a forgotten evil that lurks in Emma's tragic hour in their lives, will all combine to lead them to a future filled with trust and understanding, and the discovery of peace and love that a man and woman can share.

You know, when I wrote Keeper of the Spirit it wasn't because I had visions of getting this "story of my heart" into publication. Emma and Tyler's story was embedded in my brain and simply needed to be put on paper. I come from a long, long line of readers and most of them love sweet western romances. So I wrote the story not just for myself but for my mom and my sister. It was their steady brow-beating to try and publish Spirit that started my career as an author. In restrospect, it's very honest to say my sucess is due to them and their never ending support! Keeper of the Spirit ended up garnering great reviews and awards. It's received Recommended Reads, 5-Star Reviews and even won the 2006 Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award!

Okay, so now I've got a book published but I had no clue in what direction I would go next. That was only until we'd taken a family vacation to the Black Hills. Once there, something came over me. Who would have guessed that the Sioux's Paha Sapas (Lakota for Black Hills), the Crazy Horse Memorial, and the teeming herds of buffalo would touch my heart in such an unforgettable way? I think Cole Wilkins' story (Tyler's youngest brother) was already forming somewhere deep inside me and I didn't even realize it. I remember walking through a gift shop at Crazy Horse and paging through reference books. In that short thirty minutes I'd come across a fact not once but twice. It was a reference to a rumor that Crazy Horse himself might have fathered a daughter that he never recognized. As in the famous words of Emeril... BAMM! Shortly after, I found myself sitting on the deck, looking out at the partially carved Crazy Horse memorial and the words and sentences started flying through my brain. Why not try writing a sequel? After all, Tyler had two brothers, one of which never wanted to leave the ranch in northern Minnesota. What would it take to get this guy a life? Ah, I knew then. It would be a beautiful Sioux maiden who he would love to eternity. Needless to say I couldn't get home fast enough.

Once home I sunk my teeth into Keeper of the Dream and I couldn't let go. Hours of research went into Cole and August Moon's story. As I delved deeper and deeper, I felt indelibly drawn to the Sioux's plight at the end of the nineteenth century. Real life characters such as Chiefs Crazy Horse, Big Foot, and Sitting Bull grew larger in my mind. They were good men who were unfortunate enough to be caught up in the final battles of the great Plains people, misunderstood because their one goal was to continue to live as their forefathers had. Actual events that took place in their lives were woven into Keeper of the Dream and once again I was a published author with accolades attached to this story.

Ah, Cole Wilkins. Quiet and brooding, loyal to a fault, yet suddenly filled with an unamed urge to discover something more in his life. He leaves the family ranch in northern Minnesota and meets a young Indian woman—one who tries to steal from him, who tests his patience to the extreme. A woman who is the mysterious figure that haunts his darkest dreams. Cole finds himself not only in the midst of a nationwide battle to assimilate her people, but also discovers love as he begins to understand his fateful dream.

August Moon leads a small group of fugitive Sioux, the last holdouts of a dying nation. She fights her growing love for Cole, but not because of ancestry. Instead, a fated vision from her childhood, her loyalty to the Sioux way and the misunderstandings of two diverse cultures prevent her from seeking a life with the man who has touched her very soul. But destiny cannot be altered. No one person from her past, nor anyone she would ever meet, would have such a profound impact on her life.

So now I began to think about Trevor Wilkins, the middle brother. Shouldn't he have a story also? Plus, I really found that I was having a hard time letting go of this entire family. Afterall, it was like they'd moved into my home, occupying my days and walking through my dreams at night. I began to formulate a story in my mind, one that was a bit different from the others. Let's fast forward a few years and think about Trevor, a confirmed bachelor who loves his women (and there are many) and who also discovers that though he loves his family to a fault, he much prefers the city life, being single, and responsible for no one but himself. Well you can bet I decided to mess with him a bit! And not with his normal style of preening women who were born with silver spoons in their mouths. Nope, I wasn't going to do it. How about a slightly weathered widow with five children. Yup, I figured it would be great fun to see how I was going to work this all out and still have Trevor retain his sanity.

So at times with tongue in cheek, a little humor and of course some tears, Keeper of the Heart, was born. I'm so very proud of this last story in the Keeper Series. It was nominated for the 2007 Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Small Press Romance, Honorable Mention Winner of the 2007 Best Western Romance by Loves Western Romances Review Site, and has received numerous 5 Star awards. My confirmed bachelor at the age of thirty-nine, Trevor Wilkins had everything he needed or desired—a lavish lifestyle with only himself to answer to, easy money at his disposal and an exciting life racing the Wilkins family horses. He will leave married life to his two brothers. That is until Claire Holcomb and her five wonderfully impish children blindside him.
Claire will never trust another man and never give her heart away again. Her ogre of a husband is finally gone. Penniless and widowed with five hungry children, she is determined to meet life on her own terms no matter how hard the journey becomes. Beside, she is past the age where any man would look twice at her.Trevor doesn't think so. And when she runs he will follow her because suddenly a life with Claire and her five urchins is the only thing to make his world complete.
Okay, okay. So you're thinking, "What about Ruby Storm and these sweet romances? I thought she wrote erotic romance?" Well, everyone, I do. I surrrrrreeee do because I like to diversify and come on, let's face it, erotic romance is fun!
But I have to say, these three brothers and the loves of their lives will always, always hold a special place in my heart. I think it's because historical western romance has always been my favorite genre to read. I cut my teeth on it. And it's probably safe to say that Tyler, Cole and Trevor are as partially responsible for me and my writing career and my mom and my sister were. Well...I guess I'll never forsake them. And as strange as it sounds, those three books sit on my nightstand and everynight I pick one of them up simply to say goodnight!
So who knows? I can feel the excitement building, I can't sleep because my mind is churning with new ideas. How much do you want to bet that something is going to happen to me in a few weeks? Whether it's visiting a museum or simply looking out over the beautiful landscape of the Black Hills, I'm really thinking I'll be working hard on a story when I get back.
Happy Labor Day to all of you! To all those on the Gulf Coast, please be safe over the next few days. My prayers are with you all!
Hugs, Ruby

Sunday, August 10, 2008


What’s the most creative sex scene you’ve ever written or read? I’m wondering because I was recently mulling over all the different sex scenes in my new contemporary ménage, KABANA HEAT, which just released at Samhain Publishing on August 5th. There’s sex on a Hawaiian beach, swimming pool sex, standard bed sex, Jacuzzi sex, lagoon sex, car sex, and even sunroof sex. Yeah, can you picture that? Sunroof sex. Sooo in addition to the ones in KABANA HEAT, I’ve started a list with places my characters have had sex, but I thought it would be fun to see just how many more creative sex scenes/books we can come up with. Here’s some from my backlist to get it rolling…

Watching/being watched through a one-way mirror
On a mechanical bull
While floating in a cloud
On a levitating bed
While eating a hot fudge sundae
Using a banana/food/M&Ms
While riding on a horse
In a cave
In a cabin
In a lighthouse
In a hot spring
On a boulder
In a hot tub
Against the wall
On a park bench
On a bed of roses
On stairs
On the floor
In a meadow
Under the stars while sprawled over a log
In a jail cell while handcuffed to the bars
In a barn
In a tree-house
In a boxer ring
On another planet
In a ghost town
On a lounge chair
On/in a tanning-bed-like structure
Against/up in a tree

Tell us about some of the most creative sex locations in books you’ve written and/or read. What’s the title(s), and who’s the author? As many as you can think of, any author, any publisher, any genre. Let’s see just how much creative sex we can, I mean, come up with. ;)

Titania Ladley is a multi-published author writing for Ellora’s Cave, Samhain, and Red Sage. Her newest book, KABANA HEAT (Samhain), a contemporary ménage set in Hawaii, released August 5, 2008. Don’t miss this HOT love story! Please visit her at or ( her other naughty half) for more.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Musical Inspiration... or Silence Is Golden?

Have you ever noticed how many authors are inspired by music? As a reader I love hearing what goes on in the heads of my favorite writers when they create the books I love. Does silence let the characters voices be heard? Or does the muse need music to soothe the savage soul? Does the story need rock n roll? The clash of heavy metal? Classical or celtic? Or perhaps even rap?
As a writer I've discovered that each story has different needs and sometimes changes dramatically along the way to reflect the way the story is progressing. I've discovered that silence rarely works for me - I need the background noise to tune out everyday distractions. As to the music well, Believe In The Magic was written primarily to the haunting sounds of Enya and Clannad. Finding The Magic was totally different and was written to Daniel Powter and James Blunt. My work in progress, the 3rd of the Shifting Magic series is being written to Coldplay's Viva La Vida.
Something else I've discovered? It has to be LOUD. Yes, I think my family hates me :)
Do you enjoy hearing what inspires your favorite authors? Are you a writer who has found inspiration in music? Or is silence golden? Whether a writer or a reader, have you ever been surprised as to what music has made a story flow?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

HEAR YE, HEAR YE! Come One, Come All!


Exciting news! The first-ever Ellora’s Cave Convention is in the works for 2009. It’s tentatively planned to take place in Akron, Ohio on one of the following Friday-Sunday weekends. Readers, book sellers, authors, authors-to-be, reviewers, press, eye candy, anyone is welcome!

Sept. 18th - 20th

Sept. 25th - 27th

Oct. 2nd - 4th

So here’s the deal… Ellora’s Cave is hoping to get an estimate of possible attendees in order to plan the number of rooms needed. If you’re interested in attending this convention (more information below about the schedule of events), please respond with your name, address and phone number (optional) via email to:

Here’s a tentative outline of the schedule:

Friday Night – EC/CP/TLC Celebration Party

Saturday Morning – Continental Breakfast

Saturday Afternoon – Workshops

Saturday Night – Awards Banquet
**The city is also working on some optional fun things for attendees to do after the Awards Banquet.**

Sunday Morning – Continental Breakfast

Sunday Afternoon – Book Fair

Sunday Evening – An author-sponsored farewell gathering of some undetermined kind such as movie night, etc.
So make your plans now and shoot off an email to Ellora’s Cave. Include your information as listed above, and a note stating your possible interest in attending the convention. Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

Titania Ladley is a multi-published author writing for Ellora’s Cave, Red Sage and Samhain. Her upcoming book, KABANA HEAT (Samhain), a contemporary ménage set in Hawaii, releases August 5, 2008. Don’t miss this HOT love story! Please visit her at or ( her other naughty half) to view her backlist, read smoking excerpts, join her newsletter featuring members-only prizes, or to learn how to receive freebies.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Today I thought I'd share a little story...a little glimpse into the--always exciting, at times disturbing--adventures of the romantica author that is Nikki Soarde. lol

This particular incident happened to's going on two years ago now, but it remains etched into my brain like it was branded there. A vivid reminder mouth is waaaaay too big!

I had been invited to give my erotic romance workshop for a very enthusiastic author's group in Edmonton, Alberta. I was thrilled and honoured beyond belief, especially since this very generous group had offered to, not only pay me for my time, but also to pay all expenses involved in the rather lengthy trip out there from my home region of Southern Ontario. Thanks to their generosity I was able to treat myself to a limo service...well, okay, so it was just a big, comfy van...ride to the airport from my front door.

I was picked up mid-morning, and was surprised to find myself the only passenger for the entire one-hour trip to the airport. The driver, a pleasant semi-retired gentleman, asked me politely about the nature of my trip and I, being so excited about my adventure, was of course eager to share! His interest in my writing piqued very quickly, and he was soon asking me all nature of questions about my work. I have never been shy about discussing what I write and I spoke very candidly about which genres sell and which didn't, the writing process, etc. Eventually the conversation seemed to come to a logical conclusion and after giving him one of my business cards I settled down to watch the scenery for a time.

Abruptly however, he struck up the conversation again with this question: "Where do you get your ideas?" The question is common enough, so I thought little of it, except for the fact that I could have sworn I had already answered that question. Being polite, however, I told him yet again that basically my ideas are sparks that can come from anywhere--the most obscure incident can set off a new story. He wasn't satisfied with this answer, however, and continued by asking me, "Would you like to hear a story that might inspire you?"

I should have said no. Why, oh why oh WHY didn't I say NO? But being polite and, I'll admit, mildly curious, I said..."Uh. Sure." And, unfortunately, he proceeded to tell me...

To tell me about the affair he'd had thirty years ago with another woman....about the night that she'd brought along a friend and about....well....let's just say this was NOT the kind of discussion one would have in front of the grandkids.

As detailed and personal as his account was, it failed to shock me, and I told him so. I thanked him for sharing, however as fascinating as it was, it was nothing I hadn't heard before. I'm not sure if he was disappointed or not, as from that point I moved back to my seat and attempted to keep my attention directed to the passing scenery. Thankfully we arrived at the airport very shortly after that.

My ordeal was not over, however. Not by a long shot.

Upon removing my luggage from the van, this mild-mannered with the burgeoning paunch and the full head of silver hair, extended to me a slip of paper....with his phone number on it!! Perhaps I could use him for "research" sometime. He's into just about anything, you see.

Absolutely stunned and unsure WHAT to do, I accepted the paper with a very vague, "Uh...I'll keep it in mind."

Needless to say that slip of paper found its way into the very first trash receptacle I came across.

By the time I got on the airplane I was actually chuckling over the incident, and filing it away under the "lessons learned" section of my authorly-type experiences. I went to Edmonton, had a fabulous time entertaining and being entertained by this very talented group of authors...and then I came home. Thankfully, it was my husband who picked me up from the airport, and I was spared any new adventures! I thought.

Two weeks later I was at home, just about to head out the front door to take my 12-year-old son back to school after a medical appointment when....the doorbell rang. INtrigued, as always, by the notion of some stranger ringing my bell (no innuendo intended. lol) I opened the door to find....Guess WHO standing on my front porch. Hat in hand, so to speak, lamenting the fact that he'd "lost my card."

I was, once again, stunned beyond words. So stunned that I actually considered running upstairs to find a card for a moment! But that lasted only a moment. My heart pounding in my throat I calmly told him that I was "Uncomfortable with this," and thankfully he, apparently now stricken with the inappropriateness of the situation, turned tail and ran.

I took my son to school, but I'm not ashamed to admit that, by the time I got home I was a nervous wreck. A phone call to my husband (during which I burst into tears) and speaking to a couple of good friends eased my mind, but I wasn't truly satisfied until I had contacted the owners of the limo service to inform them of their driver's behaviour.

I had every intention of letting the indiscretion of his story in the van pass. And even the passing of the phone number. He was an older gentleman who apparently completely misinterpreted my candidness for sexual interest. I accepted some responsibility for that and intended to learn my lession. use his knowledge of my home address and then drive their on his OWN TIME to pursue...whatever it was he intended to pursue, was COMPLETELY out of line, and warranted action.

The company wrote back to me, passing on the driver's apologies and assuring me that "appropriate action" had been taken. I have no idea what that action was and it doesn't matter. My part in it is done.

So....that's my tale of woe. A lesson for me to rein in my mouth and be a LITTLE more careful who I go touting tales of erotic diversions and sexual hyjinx to!

Than sure made a great story!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

For those of you who don’t already know, I live in a theatrical family. Not only do I hold a Bachelor’s in Theatre Arts, but my husband has an MFA in Acting and Directing and directs five shows a year. My daughter plans to major in Theatre Arts in the fall as she starts college (THAT apple didn’t fall far from the tree!). The only one in the house who isn’t “into” theatre is my 16-year-old son who is in his rebellion phase and wants nothing to do with activities his parents enjoy.

This weekend, my husband’s production of Little Shop of Horrors went up; my daughter choreographed and is stage managing it. My son actually went to his obligatory one performance and has asked if he could go a second time because he really enjoyed this one (wonders never cease!). Me? I go to every performance and hold down the fort while trying to keep everyone fed in between writing very hot sex scenes for my newest book.

Little Shop of Horrors began life as a Roger Corman film (1960) with a very young Jack Nicholson in the role of Wilbur Force, the masochistic patient of sadistic dentist Orin Scrivello. When Howard Ashman and Alen Menken rewrote the film as a musical in 1982, it opened off Broadway without that character, but keeping the pain-loving dentist. And when the musical was turned into a movie, another famous face, Steve Martin, made Orin’s sadistic streak famous.

I sat and watched another talented performer play the part these past few nights and let me tell you, Orin is a downright mean, nasty and abusive brute of a man. As he hollered at Audrey (the heroine) and pushed her around, I’m afraid I lost a bit of the comedy. Not because of the acting or the directing, but because of what I write.

You see, I write erotic romance with very strong BDSM themes with a heavy concentration on male Dominance and female submission. And as I watched, I saw a character who crossed the very thin line that separates BDSM activities from those of abusive ones. The jokes about the handcuffs and bruises were cute, until he raised a hand to her and called her a slut in front of other characters on the stage. At that point I stopped smiling and instead, wanted to punch the guy’s lights out. And I know I wasn’t alone.

While I laughed at some of the antics of Orin Scrivello, DDS, there was also a part of me cringing to see the stereotype once more reinforced: all Masters are bastards and all women who submit are dishrags with no self esteem. But in reality, that’s not BDSM, that’s abuse. Unfortunately, too many in the audience will never know the difference. And that’s where this blog post comes in.

As a writer of BDSM erotic romance, I have a duty – a responsibility –to remind people of the line between consensual activities and abuse. The mantra of “Safe, Sane and Consensual” is a good one, although communication is needed to determine the definitions of those terms. “Safe” is pretty easy, but depending on the level of expertise, something one Dom can do with ease, another would be dangerous trying. “Sane” is a word like “normal.” Who defines it? What is insane to one couple is very sane to another. Probably the only word of the three most people can agree on is “consensual.” If both parties agree to it and no force is used in the agreeing, then what they do is their business and no one else’s. Theoretically, anyway.

The problem is, the line is in a different place for each couple. What one man and woman not only tolerate but expect from each other, is very different from what another couple will accept. And that’s why communication is so incredibly important in all BDSM activities. Communication before the scene (so both parties have an idea where the limits are), communication during the scene (you’ll notice my characters often use the traffic signal as a way for the sub to let the Dom know what’s going on in her head; see note 1 below), and communication after the scene (what did both of them enjoy…what will they never do again?).

The language used by those participating in BDSM activities also helps to set the boundaries. “The term "play" is used along with another word to describe the sexual act with all the trimmings: a "scene." Both these terms, derived from the theatre, denote a setting-apart...a definite movement of the action out of real life and into a realm of fantasy” (see note 2). So communication and knowing the vocabulary are vital to keeping the action honest…and not crossing the line into abuse.

If you suspect you’re in an abusive relationship, GET OUT. Stay with a friend, go to a women’s shelter or better yet, pay a visit to your friendly neighborhood police station. But do NOT stay. Abuse and BDSM are not synonymous. The key word, consensual, is missing from an abusive situation. If you don’t like what he is doing, tell him. And if he becomes violent or doesn’t listen, LEAVE. And if you’re afraid of him…then that’s a dead ringer for an abusive situation and again, tell the grocery clerk or the movie usher…tell someone and have them help you get away until the police can be called.

The mainstream media feeds on lurid tales of BDSM activities gone awry or involving celebrities. But the reality is far more mundane. Lifestylers keep their activities quiet lest they be seen as abusers and prey; those truly abused often stay in their relationships far longer than they should.

And Little Shop of Horrors will go on entertaining audiences…and I will go on cringing every time Orin Scrivello, DDS takes the stage….

Play safe!

(NOTE 1 on the traffic signals: “Green” means “keep on what you’re doing,” “yellow” means “hand on, I need to pause the scene for a moment,” and “red” means “stop right now, don’t go one iota further and get me the heck out of these ropes!” Use them in good health!)
(NOTE 2: Yes, I'm quoting myself. Took that sentence from a previous blog post on my own blog. Scroll to second post of that week. Seemed to sum up what I wanted to say here, too!)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Do You Really Do What You Write About?

I love Cafe Press. There are so many goodies there. I'm on their mailing list, so when I received an email a couple of weeks ago for Garfield T-shirts, I had to take a peek. One click led to another (as is often the case with me on the Internet) and I typed in a search for "writing." Wow. Do you know how many T-shirts CP has with neat writing sayings on them? One in particular caught my eye: "My wife writes romance novels. I benefit. Big time."

It's cute. I chuckled when I read it. Then I thought about how people treat me when they find out I write erotic romance. Suddenly, I've become Dr. Ruth. I have to know everything about sex since I write about it. Surely I couldn't write about something if I've never experienced it.

Yes, I can.

It's called research. Imagination. Reading what interests me. Learning from some of my favorite authors. I haven't called two male friends and taken them to bed so I could describe a menage correctly. (Although that might be fun...)

Most of the erotic romance authors I know are in a committed relationship with their own personal hero. They've been married for years. A menage is in their minds, not their beds.

I'm amazed at how many people believe we writers actually DO all the stuff we write about. Thriller and mystery writers don't find dead bodies buried in their backyards. Horror writers don't slash people's throats or stab them twenty-seven times. Paranormal writers don't hang around with vampires and werewolves.

We lose ourselves in our stories the same way you do. We create characters we hope you'll love as much as we do. Most of our adventures are created in front of our computers, not in the bedroom.

If I ever do find those two male friends to help with my research, I'll let you know...


Monday, June 30, 2008

Kill Your Television

There are bumper stickers that exist with the wise words “Kill Your Television”. While I might agree in theory, I suck at it in practice.

Now, I don't watch a lot of TV. I know lots of people say that, usually trying to sound sophisticated and intellectual. Me? I really “try” not to watch a lot of TV. Couple of, it takes away time when I should be writing. Two, because I can't do two things at once. If the TV is on, I'm watching it. Can't carry on a conversation, can't write, can barely knit because I can’t count stitches and watch at the same time. I'm fascinated by moving pictures and sound.

But those aren’t the real reasons I limit my television viewing.

Mainly I don't watch TV because I get sucked in. Really sucked in. Even though I know these people aren't real (and even in reality TV, we know they aren't real), I worry about them. It's like characters in a book. I get so wrapped up in these characters that I get stressed when something bad happens to them. I had to stop watching soap operas because I got so upset that there was never a happy ending for my favorite characters. (Anyone remember “Passions”? Used to wake up worried about these people. Arrgh.)

My current TV addiction is whatever (and I mean whatever) is on Bravo from 9-10 CT on Wednesday night. It rotates from Project Runway to Top Chef to (currently) Shear Genius (which if you couldn’t guess from the catchy title is a reality show about hair stylists). Yes, I was actually distressed that I’d missed the first episode of Shear Genius. Don’t worry, it’s been repeated so I’m back up to speed.

How weird is this? I'm intelligent. I’m educated. I have “real” friends (as opposed to our TV Friends we visit with sometimes). Why am I so fascinated by the encapsulated lives of people who cut hair for a living? I don't get it, I’m not proud of it, but still, you'll find my ass on the couch every Wednesday night.

It’s embarrassing (somehow an addiction to crack seems less mortifying) and I’m going to change my ways. Really.

But ooh, Project Runway Season 5 starts up in July. Can’t wait!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

That Special Person In My Life

I am a writer of the sometimes sweet and sometimes erotic romance. No matter the genre, let’s not forget that there is always an alpha male present, whether hard-nosed and overbearing or one who hides his sensitive side. As a reader of romance I expect the “happily ever after” all due to the devilishly handsome hero. I mean, if it weren’t for those muscle-bound, heart throbbing, turn-me-to-putty walking orgasms with a great tush, reading romance just wouldn’t cut it.

So, it’s a little bit crazy that what I wanted to shed some insight on how I feel about a particular woman in my life, one of those special ladies who always give me my ‘happily ever after’ no matter what the situation. I’m so extremely fortunate to have my mom. Being fifty-two years old, I couldn’t have imagined myself getting to this point without her. I have shared laughter with her—laughter that makes the muscles of your face hurt. I have shared tears of sorrow so devastating that I never thought I would get to my feet again. But I did and it was because of her undying faith in me no matter what.

My mom.

Maybe this dialogue should have been posted on Mother’s Day, a day more fitting since I am speaking from my heart about her, but on that day I was preparing my mom’s favorite meal because you see, she was kind of down and out. Only three weeks earlier she’d had surgery, the very first time she’d ever been in a hospital (at the age of 72 mind you) other than when she gave birth to myself and my sisters.

Mom had a bad winter. Her energy was gone—this from the woman who always laughed and told me I better kick myself in the butt and try to keep up to her. She used to literally run circles around me with her enthusiasm for life, her efforts to ‘catch the dust’ coming in the door so those damn particles wouldn’t land on her end tables, and the fact that she had numerous tasks to do in a day.

I remember how upset I was with the fact that suddenly my mom slowed down just before Christmas. What? No way. She was the one who always lit the fire under me. I remember her words, laced with a slight bit of unease that she just didn’t feel right, that something was wrong. Trips to the doctor. Tests. Questions asked to medical professionals that weren’t being answered. More tests. My mothers seemingly losing her quick wit along with her zest for each waking moment. And then finally when mom was beginnning to think she was losing her mind, a simple standard test that we all should take seriously, and it came back suspicious.

And I remember the bolt of pure panic that seared my insides when she came out of surgery and the doctor sat us down. Stage III colon cancer. I wasn’t ready for this. Why? Because up to that terrifying moment I’d never really ever faced the possibility of life without mom. An ignorant and immature emotion for sure, (especially at my age) because this was the woman who was ALWAYS there for me with her words of encouragement, her sense of extreme pride in anything I’d accomplished in my life, her wonderful laugh and her even funnier sense of humor. The shopping trips, the special holiday treats she always created, the sly winks when she knew she had one up on my dad. Suddenly I wondered if I’d always taken those things for granted. She is the mother that everyone should have because she not only played the parental role with wonderful finesse, but at sometime during my life she stepped into the ‘best friend mode’ and I know I couldn’t have been any luckier than I was to have her there.

The eight days following her surgery were a blur as she recuperated in the hospital. Man that was tough. She’d always been such a go-getter and now I visited with this woman who looked old beyond her years. And it wasn’t just worrying about her. My father (who slept on a cot beside her bed every night during her hospital convalescence) also looked twenty years older. And suddenly the natural role of parent-taking-care-of-child was reversed. My sisters and I were suddenly the caretakers—mentally and phyically. And we happily stepped into those positions because it was time for us to give back for all the wonderful parenting we’d received our entire lives.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all experienced how shock throws us into a state of disbelief because don’t bad things only happen to other people? But then you pull yourself up by the bootstraps and though you’ve always blatantly stated how thankful you are for the things in your life, those issued statements dig into your brain, take root and you realize just how cherished each and every minute of the day is.

The doctors are being quietly optimistic for her recovery. Mom is handling chemo like a champ. It’s still going to be a long haul to the end of this year though. She’s got lots of treatments yet to undergo but she tells me she’s going to be around next year to haunt me in person. Ah, that humor of hers nearly brings me to tears because even though it’s back, I now find myself quietly storing everything mom says in a special place inside me. Vibrant pictures of her as she goes about her days with an aplomb I knew she possessed are inscribed inside my brain. We’ve exchanged so many special thoughts over the last few months. Some are echos of past conversations through the years, but most are more cherished reiterations of laughter and love we’ve shared. Oh, and I’m now experiencing her finger pointing at me because I haven’t been writing. She’s pissed because she knows I’ve shelved my stories for a bit and she doesn’t want to be the reason. She just told me the other day to get back on the horse and GET BUSY! Guess I better listen or she said she’d give me a spanking. I told her me being fifty-two years old, her brand of spanking wasn’t the kind I needed. We laughed our asses off.

So Mom, I just wanted you to know that even though I haven’t received that spanking yet, I’m writing about it. LOL. And yes, I promise not to let Dad know.
I love you. It’s nice to know you’re always watching my back. I think I’m the luckiest daughter in the world.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Caging the Muse

Caging the Muse

Ever wonder where ideas for novels come from?
I do all the time. At different events I've attended, I've been asked
How did you come up with that idea for your book? I simply shrug and
say "The voices in my head told me to write it." How else can it be

I think there'd be less insane people in this world if they'd just
write down what the voices tell them to do rather than act upon them.
That's what I do :)

But there are times when the charaters stop talking and no amount of
wine can loosen their lips. What do you do then? I'd like to hear your
ideas on how to kick start the creativity.

Me- I clean house. My husband loves it when the voices stop...the
houswork gets done. Sometimes this doesn't work and it can be days
before the juices are flowing again (since I write erotic, that's a bad
thing---can't have dry scenes)LOL.

Looking forward to hearing everyone's ideas on how to cage the muse and
kick start it's elusive butt.

Tara Nina

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Authors and Their Work Habits

A couple of years ago, I interviewed a dozen award-winning romance authors about their work habits when writing. This was used to create an article for an RWA presentation at my local Minnesota RWA chapter, Midwest Fiction Writers.

They were candid about what worked for them and what doesn’t—and most of all, they happily shared what they thought were the most important things a new writer should know in order to succeed in the writing business.

I asked if they wrote an outline or synopsis before they started work on their stories. Here is what they said--most of the authors didn’t like writing an outline or synopsis. When they did write one, it was because they needed to sell their story or because someone like an editor made them do it. Most were only able to give an accurate synopsis if they wrote it after the final draft. If the synopsis was written before the story, very often it had only a vague resemblance to the final product. The few authors who did stay fairly close to the synopsis were those whose story relied heavily on research or had complex plots. Even then deviations occurred on minor levels.

One thing I wondered about was how easy it was for them to write the first draft verses revisions. The response was all over the board. Most authors tended to write and revise as they went along but many said that the first draft was the hardest to write and that revisions were much easier. A few found the first draft very easy but struggled with revisions.

The coolest responses though were the ones to my question, "What advice would you like to share with new writers?"

Below were their responses:

Michele Hauf - Write. Always.

Judy Mays - Never, never, never quit no matter how down you get.

Helen Brenna - It's all about perseverance.

Margaret L. Carter - Read widely, both inside and outside your chosen genre. Find a reliable critique group or partner to comment on your work. Never give up.

Jade Taylor - Read the books you're trying to write. You can't compare them with your own until you do. Your writing must progress. Don't do book planning and research for six months. Give it a few weeks then get busy with the story. Every day needs to be about how far you've come on your journey.

Tracy Cooper-Posey - Don’t get hung up on which commas go where. Get the story written. In the early stages, story is more important than getting the grammar right. And getting the first manuscript written, anyway you can, is more important than obsessing about if the story suits this market or that market. Think Nike, if you must.

Sally Painter - There are a lot of well-intentioned people who have inadvertently derailed good writers. It requires strength and a belief in self to stand up to to these people and decide to write your book your way. I think it is a kind of rite of passage in the learning process. So my advice is to trust your voice, your vision and don't write someone else's vision of you.

Heather Holland - The best advice anyone can give or get is to just WRITE. If you sit and think about writing, you’re a wannabe, if you sit down and WRITE, you are a writer. The more you write, the better you’ll get. Write a little everyday be it a paragraph or a whole chapter. Any progress is better than none, and above all else, just keep trying. Rejections are a part of the business, but if writing is really what you want to do, you can’t give up. Just keep plugging away at that keyboard, getting your words down, and keep submitting. Support from the family and friends are also very important. There’s been a few times where I’ve thought about just throwing in the towel, and my husband picked me up, dusted me off, and told me that I’d better not. Not only would I have been miserable, but he knew he would have been, too. Writing is a passion and it’s too strong to ignore. So, put those fingers to the keyboard, that pen or pencil to the paper and let those words fly.

Karen McCullough - Persistence, persistence, persistence. Keep writing even when the story doesn't seem to be flowing, even if every sentence you write seems like drivel to you. Give yourself permission to write crap. Bad writing can be fixed. Then keep writing and submitting when the rejections start to come back. It's all about persistence and refusing to give in to all the negative stuff.

Cait London - Get a regimen and stick with it. I talk a lot about this--scheduling, working with a growing family, making that space. Here are my three best tips:
1. Make time for writing, DON'T find it. That says you are assertively/actively preparing to work, not just wondering around hoping to "find" time. Block out at least 2 consecutive hours and hold that schedule.
2. The first time you think, "I don't feel like writing," sit your bottom down and write something, even if it's dreck.
3. Speaking of dreck: I've written columns on the importance of writing dreck and writing the clog. They serve their purpose, releasing the true story beneath, getting us in the creative mode, and they can always be corrected/edited later. *More Writers Tips at my first blog, Daily or Not, located at , including Using Fear as Motivation and what Solitaire Teaches Us. Two really good info-bits.

Shelley Munro - Read as much as you can, make a habit of writing every day even if it’s just a few hundred words. Although it might not be many words, over the course of the year they add up. And finally, make a habit of finishing writing the book. Writing lots of partials won’t help much when you need a full manuscript to have a chance at selling.

Allyson James and Jennifer Ashley - Keep going! Persistence is much, much more important than talent. Rejection means "we don't want this ms. RIGHT NOW," and has nothing to do with your talent or skills. It just means it doesn't match what the publisher think it can sell at that moment. Another editor might disagree.
Writers get published when an opportunity matches what ms. you have on hand. To increase your luck, research the market thoroughly, don't just believe what everyone says is the "trend," really research! There's more to it than "paranormal is hot" and "hot books are hot". Figure out WHY they are popular and how you can incorporate that into stories that will be sellable at any time. And then write, write, write! Don't get stuck thinking one book is your "masterpiece" and lavish all your attention on it. Finish it, send it out, move on to the next book.
As for writing methods: Find the way that works best for you and stick with it. Don't let anyone tell you you're wrong! There is no one "right" way to write. The editor is interested only in the finished product, not how you got there.

I appreciated very much the wisdom these authors imparted to me and it seems to me all of this still holds true years later as I continue writing. I'd love to hear from other authors what they've learned works for them and what advice they'd love to share.

Hugs and have a great Memorial Day weekend!


Monday, May 19, 2008

A Day late and a brain short. . .

I just got home from a trip to my sister's for the weekend. I went alone (without the husband and children) and had a great time, but boy am I paying for it. I'm not 20 anymore. . .

Saturday night my sister threw a huge retirement party for herself. There were close to a 100 people there and nearly that many cases of beer. The music was great, the company was fantastic, and I crawled into bed around 3 am.

Ten (okay, more like twenty) years ago, getting up to clean up the yard after four hours of sleep and far too much to drink would have been painful, but no big deal. Unfortunately, it's not twenty years ago and I'm a hurting unit. My legs and back ache from dancing all night, my head and stomach ache from drinking all night, and I'm so tired I need to prop my eyes open with toothpicks. The only thing that makes me feel better is to see my 20 year old niece hurting almost as badly. The fact that she'll recover in half the time it takes me still bites, but at least she wasn't going for a jog when it was all I could do to clean up the yard.

A part of me wonders if getting that stupid the night before is a waste. The other part of me had such a good time, I don't mind the waste. I suppose I should be more mature now that I'm in my thirties, and maybe act my age, but isn't age just a number? I had someone ask me if I was in college recently. When I told them my age and that I had three kids, they were very surprised. I'm a little afraid that if I start acting "mature" I will start looking more mature too.

I'd rather have the hangover.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Romantic Times Convention 2008

Okay, here goes... I am about to talk about a dangerous subject...
*ducks behind cover and checks for incoming fire*
The Romantic Times Convention 2008.

So I've read a lot of the blogs and heard all the arguments surrounding the RT Convention this year and you know what? I don't really want to go over it all again and if you're anything like me I bet you don't want to hear it either. I do however want to share my experiences; the things that keep me travelling over 5000 miles across the ocean to attend every year.

Getting a chance to meet my favorite authors or hear them speak - especially if they give away spoilers, lol! - is wonderful but not the reason I keep coming back.
RT for me is a place where I can be among people who love the same thing I do - books. It is the one place I can go alone and know I won't be lonely. It's a place where I can sit down next to a stranger in the bar, bond over 'what are you reading?' and leave with a new friend. It's a place where you can wear pink bunny ears on your head, carry flashing doohickies, dress up as a slave girl or wear a mardi gras mask and talk about how hot vampires and shapeshifters are and no one thinks you're weird. It gives me a chance to meet face to face with friends I talk to all year online and make new friends whom I look forward to seeing again next year.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear your favorite RT experiences and if you have a link to share your favorite photos please feel free to share those too. In the spirit of the immortal phrase 'a picture is worth a thousand words' here are mine:

I for one can't wait to go to Orlando next year for another Romantic Times Convention and I hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

What’s The Story On Storyboarding?

Although I’m sometimes a fly-by-the-seat writer, I’m also one to need structure and organization in a lot of things in my life. I make lists and cross tasks off as I go, I record all sorts of things on the calendar, and I slap Post-It notes up all over the house to help me remember things.

So given my obsession with Post-Its, it was with great interest that I learned of storyboarding a year or so back.

What is storyboarding, you ask? I define it as a sort of visual, colorful way of organizing ideas, scenes, action, and plot elements, or a different way of writing a synopsis or an outline if you choose. Now, let me reiterate I’m sometimes a fly-by-the-seat writer—but at times I’m not. So the use of storyboarding allows me the flexibility to build my books as the mood strikes me. Yet I can also organize, reorganize, shuffle around, delete, insert, or just leave the whole shebang alone if I want, and all at a glance without having a gazillion documents open at once on my puter.

Now from what I understand, each author has their own way of doing it, but I combined a lot of methods and came up with my own recipe that I find works for me…


1) Post-It (or generic) notepads of at least 5 different distinguishable colors

2) One of the following: A dry-erase board, a chalkboard, the side of a wide shelf or file cabinet, a clear wall, or whatever flat surface is nearby your work area and easily seen and accessible

3) Dry-erase pens (good if you’re using a dry-erase board and like to jot ideas next to your Post-It notes)

4) Colored regular markers


In my storyboarding world, I can make each aspect of my story whatever color I like. (I often change the “key” to prevent boredom—LOL.) Some authors color-code the point of view only, or other elements in different ways. It’s whatever works for you. But for the sake of example, let’s do it like this…

Pink = romance and/or sex

Blue = main plot

Green = main subplot

Yellow = secondary plot

Orange = minor subplot

Now, let’s say you have a one-paragraph blurb or short synopsis already written up or in your head, but you need to expand on it. Using one sheet and color per scene, ask yourself what’s going on in the opening scene? Is it mostly sex and romance? Cool, I like getting right to the heat. (evil grin) So then grab that pink Post-It pad and jot down a sentence or two to describe the scene. What’s the major action and change that will occur in this scene? Got it figured out? Good. Now slap that pink baby up on the board. This represents your first scene of chapter 1. For more examples and details, read on…

Scene #1: Whose point of view will this first scene be in? The heroine’s? Okay, pick a colored regular marker to represent your heroine’s point of view and make a pretty little heart (or dot or X or whatever—it’s your creation!) up in one corner of that first pink Post-It paper. This allows you to later tell at a quick glance which character the scene’s POV is driven from, and overall how many POV scenes each character has throughout the book.

Scene #2: The villain bursts in and starts shooting the hero, you say? Ah, being the creator, only you know for sure, but I just bet that’s related to the main plot. Blue. Grab the blue note pad and jot down the plot’s action and change you plan for this scene. Stick it up on the board next to the pink note (scene #1). Oh, and it’s in the hero’s POV? Yep, pick a regular marker color (distinguishable from the heroine’s) to represent the hero’s POV and add a little symbol in the upper corner of this blue Post-It.

Scene #3: Whoa, in burst the heroine’s best friend. She has an entire past with the shooter, and you plan to eventually unravel and weave it into the h/h’s plot and conflict. Since you know it’s going to have a strong influence on the main plot, that’s probably green. Jot the best friend’s actions and scene changes/events on the green dude, and up it goes on the board next to the blue dude (scene #2). Wait, whose POV are we in? The friend’s? Then pick yet another colored regular marker and make yourself a little symbol in the corner of the little green sheet that will represent Miss Friend’s point of view from now on. Later on, you might see with just a quick count that she has 10 POV scenes to every 5 of the heroine’s. See how that works? Now you know you’ve got to either quit giving Miss Friend so much stage time and change some POVs in those scenes, or it needs to be her book instead of the heroine’s. LOL

Scene #4: And so on it goes as the plot deepens.

Hopefully, that all made sense. Once you’ve got the whole story on Post-Its and synopsed (I think that’s a new form of the word synopsis I just made up – grin), step back and take a look at your artwork. Now suppose that in one glimpse, you suddenly realize the whole damn board is freakin’ pink. WTF? Are they screwing like rabbits? Isn’t there any plot other than sex? Gee, it sure didn’t seem that way when you were writing the short blurb, did it? So here’s where you pull a Titania: You shuffle, move, reorganize scenes, delete or add scenes, rip up Post-Its, rewrite some of the notes…or start all over.

Another thing you can do is get out the dry-erase markers (if you’ve used a dry erase board, that is) and, next to or below/above each Post-It, identify the date, time, or location of that scene, or do extra little things like find your black moment and mark it with a special star so you can work up to that scene while keeping up your pacing.

There are many at-a-glance advantages to developing your own storyboarding methods such as “seeing” your pacing, being more aware of the number of POV scenes each character is allotted, getting a better feel for book length/time/day of the scene, where the focus is in that particular scene (i.e. the main plot, subplots, etc.), if you have too much or not enough of something such as too much romance and not enough plot, things in the wrong order, or whatever. You can begin combining scenes (and thus Post-Its) to tighten it up, or adding more to expand, or rewriting a scene in a different character’s POV, etc. Another advantage is that you can skip around easier than with a regular document and write your scenes in different orders, piece them together later, and yet not get confused because your visual board is keeping you on track with one sweeping glance.

Whoa, and believe me, I need all the help I can get to keep from getting confused!

So what do you think? Gonna give it a try? Have you ever used the storyboarding method to outline or plot a book? If so, how do you do it? If not, and if you plan to give it a try, please come back and let us know how it goes!

Titania Ladley (aka Roxana Blaze) is a multi-published erotic romance author writing for Ellora’s Cave, Red Sage Publishing, and Samhain. Please visit her websites for hot excerpts of her two new April releases, FIRES WITHIN and BREATHLESS.
Burning bedroom doors right off the hinges!