Tuesday, December 31, 2013

... Happy Days?


Hope you've all had a wonderful holiday! Enjoy your evening, be safe, and remember to tell those you love how you feel.

In that light, I want to thank everyone who's bought, read, and reviewed THE ART OF APPRECIATION. Y'all made my month!

I have an urge to share an outtake from near the end of the story :) Enjoy "Abby's Dream", & come back next week for more outtakes (Wanna know just how serious things between Abby and Jason got? *fans self*) and a few giveaways.

ABBY'S DREAM:



Pounding startled Abby from her thin sleep. She bolted upright, sending her phone and the remote skittering across the floor, and looked wildly around the room. Her eyes jerked to the front door as the racket started again.
“What the hell…” She shoved aside the afghan that was cutting the October coolness. She swung her feet to the floor as the pounding recommenced.  “I’m coming, damn it,” she barked, stomping to the door and only realizing when it was swinging open that she’d not even checked the peephole.
Her sleepy brain had only time enough to register the size and shape of a man before she was swept up in strong arms. The door crashed shut as a booted foot kicked the wood.
“Pretty…”
Matt’s sigh into her hair was warm and familiar against the top of her head, and Abby didn’t hesitate to wrap her arms around him, clutching the thin material of his Hawaiian shirt in her fisted hands as she buried her face in his chest.  “Matt?” she whispered, trying to wrap her mind around the thought that he was here, in her living room, in her arms.  “What-? I thought… Christmas-”
Matt loosened his hold on her, but moved back only enough to gently tip her head back with the knuckle of his forefinger. “Sshh…,” he murmured. His eyes gleamed as he smiled down at her. “We can talk later.” His smooth hand glided down the rough wool of her sweater, tracing the lines of her body beneath. “I’ve missed you.”
She moved away from him with a gasp, gulping air as his lips traced a path from her mouth to the hollow of her throat.  Her fingers frantically tugged at the buttons of his shirt, laying it open so she could feel his skin beneath her palms. Matt lowered her feet to the floor so he could tug her sweater over her head.
She pushed the bright cloth off of his shoulders and they stood looking at each other. Abby felt tears rise to film her vision. “I’ve missed you so much, Matt.” Her voice quavered, and the bright shine of desire in his eyes softened. “Why didn’t you tell me you were coming? We have so much to talk about--”
“Later,” Matt said. He lifted her up and groaned with pleasure as she buried her hands in his auburn hair. “We have forever to talk.” He buried his face in her hair at her neck.
A faint warning bell rang in Abby’s mind. She pushed ineffectually against his shoulders. “Wait-” She gasped when one of his hands slid beneath the waistband of her flannel pants and cupped her bum. “Matt—what about Baker’s statues? Are you finished?”
“Doesn’t matter,” Matt said. His hand slid lower, between her legs. “What matters is this.” He kissed her fiercely. “And this.” He cupped her breast and squeezed the tender tip. “And this. This is what matters.”
Giving in to the temptation he offered, Abby jerked him toward her and pressed her mouth to his, tracing the breadth of his shoulders and the smooth skin of his chest with her fingertips.  Matt responded in kind, his hands and mouth alternately rough and eager.
Abby didn’t realize that they’d left the living room until she felt the springiness of mattress beneath her body. She felt the warm weight of the backs of his fingers as he ran them from her shoulder to her thigh, lingering at the curves of breast and hip.
"This..." he murmured, his voice rough, "...this is what I've been waiting for."
Abby lost herself in the sensation of skin on skin, feeling each touch as if an electric current was running directly to her nerves. The sensation was exquisite when she lowered herself on to him as he knelt on the bed.  Matt gripped her hips tightly, resting his head against her chest as he concentrated on raising himself up to meet her slow grind. Abby opened her eyes and smiled down at his wavy red hair…
Wait.
What?
The warning chimes in her head became sirens; she cupped his face, trying to raise his eyes to hers. “Matt?”
“Wait, Pretty,” he growled. “You’re almost there.”
Abby’s body stopped its headlong rush toward ecstasy. “Matt? Why won’t you look at me?”
“It doesn’t matter, Pretty. This is what you really want.”
Abby shoved at his shoulders, shuddering at their pallor. “Abby. Call me Abby,” she said. He laughed softly.
She heard banging in the next room, and cried out when it was Conor’s face that looked up from between her breasts at the sound. “Pretty is good enough for me,” he said.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Monday, December 16, 2013

THE ART OF APPRECIATION 12/17! Book Tour starts today!

... THE ART OF APPRECIATION?!!


So, it's been a while since I posted, but it's only because I've been getting ready for tomorrow. 

Oh, and getting ready for this. I'M TOTALLY FINISHED (Totally not. I'm such a a liar).
My second full-length novel, The Art Of Appreciation, will be available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and by order from your local book seller in 12/17--TOMORROW!

Wouldn't this look GREAT when someone unwraps it this Christmas?


Can't you see yourself on the beach this Christmas, laying back with a cool, fruity drink and ogling surfers and other sand and surf lovers? Sure you can! 

That's totally me (It's totally not. But *sigh*)



The lovely ladies of Literati Author Services will be hosting a book tour from today through the December 22nd, so drop on by and take a look at their website or Facebook page. And keep an eye out later today on my Facebook and Twitter (@AutumnMarkus) for pictures of a Christmas swag pack YOU can win!

Also, hurry over to Goodreads for your last chance to enter to win a free copy :)

To get you in the mood, here's a synopsis. Let me know what you think!

Synopsis:

Abby Reynolds is burned out.

Since clawing her way into a great position at a Boston museum, she’s been saddled with a scheming intern and a nagging boss. She’s scuttled her own painting dreams, her cat refuses to be box trained, and now the most boring man on the eastern seaboard just told her, “It’s not you, it’s me."

Her bestie Sarah offers a much-needed escape: a summer of sand, sea, and younger men in Santa Cruz...

Hot young bike racer Jason is sexy, unattached, and completely ready to spend a summer in uncomplicated flirtation. Since Abby has decided love is off the table, he seems like the perfect match.

Then she meets Matt. Sculptor, surfer (and age appropriate), he’s everything she gave up wanting and then some. He’s a grown-ass man with his own life issues: does he want to sculpt for love or for profit? What about that twentysomething model who's always clinging to him? Is he ready to let a woman invade his Fortress of Solitude?

Abby has to decide whether she’s satisfied with leaving behind the idea of Mr. Right and settling for Mr. Right Now.


Grown up love. It’s complicated.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

... HORROR AND ATTRACTION?
First things first: congrats to those going on to the next round of the Men of Omnific Book Boyfriend Smackdown, and thanks to all of those who voted for Nicholas and Matt. Hey, we knew they were lovers, not fighters, right?
And we like the lovers,don't we, ladies?

Next round voting starts today at Love Between The Sheets.











NOW TO THE GOOD STUFF!

It's October, home of my favorite holiday. Y'all know how much I loves zombies and all things scary and geeky. So let's talk about horror and romance (or at least attraction).

Horror in books and films has always been heavily about sex. Whether it's the teens getting slashed because they dared to take their clothes off :
Even Kevin Bacon bought it because he got nekkid

Don't exactly inspire an 'O' face, do they?

or Dracula's Weird Sisters going down on Jonathan Harker (Don't remember that? Well, it was totally implied--look it up!),

sex infuses many horror stories.














Right now, we're having a run on Zombie Romance (HUGE PLUG: Take a look at Tara Shanley's new one, LOVE IN THE TIME OF THE DEAD!)


But nowhere are sex and death so intertwined than in vampire fiction. I'm not talking just sparking, moony vamps (though, do we ever love them, apparently) , but real, "I DON'T LOVE YOU AT ALL. I JUST WANT TO KILL YOU" vampires.

Post-Twilight, there's been a run of paranormal vampire romances. If I had to choose a horse in this race, J.R. Ward's BLACK DAGGER BROTHERHOOD fellas would win, hands down.

My Zsadist. SSH! Going to my Happy Place...

But when I was a teen (and dinosaurs roamed the earth), the absolute pinnacle of the sexy vamp was Chris Sarandon in Fright Night. He was handsome, smooth, GQ-d out
I still get the vapours over him
I couldn't do the bat thing. JUST. COULDN'T.

(when he wasn't that freaky bat thing)...


 I gotta tell you, for girls in 1985, he was the shit.
 

I would have let him bite me. Anywhere. Anytime.

So, do you have a favorite movie or book that had you fanning yourself, even as it creeped you out?



Monday, September 30, 2013

...WINNING?!

HERE IT IS! The one you were waiting for...


ALRIGHTY, FOLKS! Let's get to smacking down!  First round begins TODAY!

In this corner, fighting in the category "Smart Ass and Enigmatic":
Nicholas Cooper (Cocktails & Dreams)


This 27 year old med student at UC Davis is a wild card. Calm, cool, and collected most of the time, but you never know what might set him off--he's a fighter! He left a job as an EMT to return to med school, is fiercely loyal to his friends, and passionate about the woman he loves. Can you ask for anything more? Nick is repped by Just Booked--visit them to enter to win an e-book, then go to Love Between the Sheets to vote! 









In this corner, fighting in the category "Swoony and Sensitive":
Matt Clarke (The Art of Appreciation--coming soon!)

Matt's a grown-ass man; he's 38, a successful sculptor and passionate surfer. He's laid-back, confident, and strong. He's self-protective, though...a loss in his past has made him wary of commitment; his Fortress of Solitude remains inviolate...until someone starts breaking down those walls we all build around our hearts as we get older.What does it take to bring Superman low? You'll have to go to All Romance Reviews to find out and enter to win an e-book! Then go to Love Between the Sheets to vote!







What's in it for you?
-A chance to win e-books every time you vote
-one Grand Prize: a $200 Amazon gift card
-bragging rights when your boy wins!
 It's a win/win situation!  

  My boys need your votes! They're lovers AND fighters, though, and don't mind being underdogs :) First round voting: 9/30-10/2

ENOUGH TALKING NOW!


**DING! DING!**

LET THE SMACKDOWN BEGIN! 

Friday, September 27, 2013

...BlogFest 2013?

It's that time of year again!
 

A Journey Of Books is once again hosting BlogFest. There isn't a better time to explore new blogs than this one, because it comes with lots of potential goodies attached--YAY! Each of the hundreds of blogs participating has an awesome prize on offer: will you win a book? Jewelery? Gift cards, or bookmarks, or note pads, or... well, the sky's the limit on this swag! 

I'm a writer of romantic, smoochy books, an unrepentant geek, and a thoroughly nice fellow. 

This year, I'm offering two raffles: first, a digital copy of my book, Cocktails & Dreams.


 It's a story of a guy, a girl, a wild night, and a question: Does a modern romance stand a chance when it started somewhere in the middle?














My next book, The Art of Appreciation, won't be out until December, but I'm so excited that I want to raffle something for it, too!


When her two-year relationship fizzles out, Abby DeSmet is done with love. She takes advantage of her vacation to escape to Santa Cruz California with her best friend. They're determined to do new things, eat new foods, meet new people, do new people... And then she meets Matt. Sculptor, surfer, and fellow veteran of the Relationship Wars, he's easy, breezy, and not looking for forever. And maybe that's okay, because twentysomething Jason is ready for anything. Throw in bikers, models, and fortune tellers, and there's no telling what might happen!

I love this story so much that I can't wait to share it! Until then, I can share a necklace: silver seashell, anyone?
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now, take a look at a few other of the great blogs in BlogFest2013!
Felicia Rogers
Dianne Hartsock
Gemma Parkes Living and Loving
Diva's Bookcase
Bibliophilia, Please

Thursday, September 19, 2013

...SMACKDOWNS?


So, you know how you heard from EVERYONE that women are the fairer, shyer sex?
*photo courtesy of Lacetoleather*



And wasn't it a total SHOCK when "that nasty book" became a HUGE hit?
Never actually read it, but I'm assuming :)



Or maybe you heard about how women are gentle and loving, and think it's what's inside that counts?
He's so sweet! And good with the kids!


PFFFT! As if!



For your delight and edumacation, two lovely ladies of Omnific, Jennifer DeLucy and Lisa Sanchez, have dreamed up the blog challenge of the season: THE MEN OF OMNIFIC BOOK BOYFRIEND SMACKDOWN!  With the generous help of Love Between the Sheets, IT IS ON.

Imma tell y'all how this is gonna work:  

Starting September 30, each Man of Omnific who was signed up by their author will be sponsored by a different blog. Each Man will complete at the beginning in his own 'weight class' (Do you like your men Alpha and Protective? Smart-assed and Enigmatic? Broody and Broken? Swoony and Sensitive?). The man with the most votes in his class will move on up, until there is one man standing on October 14 :

THE ULTIMATE BOOK BOYFRIEND!

Participants will be eligible to win e-books from each blog, and there's a gigantic Omnific Swag Pack, including a $200 Amazon gift card, just waiting for the ultimate fan. Can it get better?

I'll be fielding two contenders: Nicholas Cooper, from Cocktails & Dreams:  
Isn't he pretty? He's Smart-assed and enigmatic, too ;)



And Matt Clarke, from my upcoming book, The Art of Appreciation:
Swoony, yes? Smart and funny, too!
 These are my boys! Real smart, pretty funny, a little moody (well, Nicholas is), and ready to take on all competition. Look out, Lance Cummings (All American Girl-Justine Dell) and Grant Madsen (The CONduct series-Jennifer Lane)--WE'RE COMING FOR YOU FIRST!



 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

SUGAR, SPICE, & SASS: BEING A ROMANCE HEROINE




 
I'm the tough parent.

(This seems off topic, I know, but bear with me.)

I love my kids and they love me (and their dad), but when it comes to pushing boundaries their sense of self-preservation kicks in beautifully. Some nonsense cannot be borne. Mr. Author is far more easy going (and as a result once had his forehead impulsively sandpapered--don't ask--as his reward).

This is why I bust a gut laughing when oh-so-superior critics suggest (hell, most come right out and say it) that romance heroines are thinly veiled dopplegangers of their creators. Mine certainly aren't. They might share some interests and I've given them some of my experiences, but they aren't me.

Take Jena, the female lead of Cocktails and Dreams. She shares rowing and my love of comic books and movies (and that wet T-shirt thing ;D), but she puts up with WAY more emo bullshit from the gorgeous Nicholas than I ever would. She's kind, a bit naive, and forgiving to a fault. I'd like her as a friend (and kind of want to mother her, now that I think of it). But I'm more of a Hold-a-Grudgy Mc Grudgerson (and always have been) than she would ever be.

Abby, the heroine of my upcoming book (*SQUEE!*), The Art of Appreciation, is closer to my age and temperament than Jena. She's not overly tied to parents, has lived a bit, and has a kick ass friend who I love (I see me and my Hetero Life Mate in some of their exchanges-Hi Sandy!). She shares my sense of humor (and also a couple of experiences)... but still not me. Besides the fact that I've never had an affair with an artist/surfer (ENVY), I am a lot more forthright than Abby is. Handwringing over what to do isn't my style (that would be staring at the ceiling at 3am, plotting. But that's another blogpost.)
 
Let's admit it: not many of we women are half as forgiving and willing to put up with bull as the average female lead in a romance novel. In our real lives, we don't have the time or energy to laboriously deconstruct the nuances of every relationship we have. Even when we have questions about "what THAT meant" in a conversation, we often don't have the leisure to stop dead in the water and ruminate, stew and anguish. Most women I know will flat out ASK, or decide to let it go. Or they'll walk away. If a romance novel was real life, most would end within the first chapter or two.

Here's my theory: women read (and write) romance novels to have the ability to stew, fret, muse, deconstruct (where's that thesaurus?), and generally marinate in the dramas we can't abide in our every day lives. Romance novels (and romance novel heroines) are BIGGER than real life. Romance heroines (even those that are 'realistic') aren't supposed to be real. They say and do things we WISH we had the time, energy, or sass to say or do. They allow us to live in a way that's not in sync with real life, and the best of them can do it while holding down a job (come on--don't you sometimes wonder why the hell their bosses put up with their absences/drama?). Even the most real-life based stories aren't REAL, amirite? 

As a writer, I'm most comfortable writing within the realm of the possible and the believable, but let's be honest: if real life was all a reader wanted, no one would read 'women's literature' (or much of anything else). So I'll keep on letting my 'realistic' heroines stew, fret, forgive, sass. and bear nonsense in a way that I often can't. I'll live vicariously through them. The reward is a happy ending that I can rely on.

 

 


Monday, July 29, 2013

...SEX, BABY?

It's ridiculous  that I haven't posted in so long! While I work up something new, here's a re-post from my languishing Tumblr. Still something I'm thinking about.

SEX.

That got your attention, didn’t it? And that’s with good reason: humans are sexual beings. Sex is used to titillate and to condemn us, to judge our character and to sell us everything from soap to cars. We’re stupid on the stuff. America has a particularly schizoid relationship with sex, particularly in regards to women. The American ‘Angel/Whore’ complex is fascinating—women in the national spotlight are either Ann Romney-pure or Madonna-sexual, and the great masses of us that fall between these poles are mostly ignored. There seems to be a national understanding that nice women tend toward the latter… which is hilarious, given the predilection for sex in women’s fiction (not to mention the craze for that questionable bondage book and its successors).

As fun as it would be to jump into that debate (not), what I really want to talk about here is writing sex. You’d think that, given how much thought we give to sex each day and how completely it permeates our culture, that it would be a no-brainer to write. Not so. Writing a good sex scene is a challenge for the best authors, for a lot of reasons: there are physical realities that get in the way, the challenge of POV and where our minds go (or disappear to), and the overriding challenge of keeping it interesting. Be honest: haven’t you read a book/story where the sex gets so damn repetitive that you start picking it apart? It becomes a sex manual: “Wow, that’s interesting. I’ve tried/never tried that." When it gets to that point, where the reader is thinking outside the story, the sex is bad, no matter how often it’s happening.

We’re all grownups here, right? By a certain point of your adult life, you understand that Tab A fits into Slot B (or C for the more adventurous) the same for every one. Reading repetitive series of, “He put his *whistle* into her (or his) *horn*" is just… repetitive. (Obviously, I’m leaving out lesbian sex here. I don’t know much about it, frankly, but I suspect that penetration isn’t as big an issue as in hetero/male homosexual writing. I could be wrong. *shrugs*). What is different from person to person and experience to experience is what happens before the ‘big event’, what happens after, the thoughts (or lack thereof) during, and sensation. Those details are the things that make a unique and sensual event from an everyday (we wish) event.

Unless a writer is intending on writing porn, those are the details that enhance a story about emotional or sexual relationships, and it’s a balancing act to decide how much is too much, where the sexual aspect begins to dominate and perhaps hijack any story you’re trying to tell. A writer has to decide where that line is crossed and make the appropriate decision of where to stop.

In it’s initial form, Cocktails and Dreams had a lot more sexual content than it ended up having in the end. It was fitting, I thought: I’m not giving away anything when I say that sex and its place in the primary relationship of the novel is the core of the story. The sex flowed naturally in the course of the narrative. However, when it came to shaping the story to publishable form, I had a decision to make about what I saw as the core of the story: was this a book about sex, or people? Where was my focus?  It had to be the people (I write good sex, but bad porn—I tried that once, and couldn’t do it. Story kept creeping in and taking over my trash). I’m not crazy, you understand: this story starts in bed, for God’s sake. Still… people are paramount.

The next time you’re reading sex, note what gets your strongest reaction. Was it a stroke by stroke detailing of the act, or something more subtle? Here’s something to think about: the most erotic thing I’ve ever read had no penetration at all (thanks, Sin).

That, my friends, is talent.

What do you like or dislike in sex scenes? Are they necessary to your enjoyment of a book?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

...LM Alcott, Stephen King, and Me?

So, a while back, the writer Joe Hill was talking on Twitter about things that are foundational in your life. By that, he meant things that set your tastes. They might not be your favorites, but they set the tone of what you really like. He was talking about music, but this thinking could be applied to books, movies--anything, really, that takes a certain taste to enjoy.

Music was easy for me--my parents' love of Otis Redding made me love soul music, and worshipping anything my teenaged aunts liked gave me the Eagles and James Taylor (Particularly 'Fire and Rain'). To this day, though I love music in general and will give a listen to anything, my heart belongs to soul, blues, and the singer/songwriter genre. They were hardwired into my soul, so to speak.

Books, though... they were harder. I've read so many and started so young that I had to think hard about those. I finally decided that my foundational author was Louisa May Alcott. I loved (and still love) her stories. I was talking about all this to my mom, and she observed that she thought I'd choose Stephen King. During my many years at home she never had to read any of his books, because she heard each and every plot detail from me. I had to admit that she had a point--those late 70s early 80s books of his were lifesblood to me. I had to give that some thought.

What I discovered, though, is that Louisa and my beloved Mr. King co-exist in my heart because their writing styles aren't that different.

Stay with me here.

Both are straight-forward writers. They use plain language--nothing flowery about either one. They both have a knack for seeing people just as they are: not angels, not devils. Human. Their characters have faults aplenty, no matter how 'good' they might be, and not all of the people we root for make it to the end, or even conquer their own faults (I STILL get weepy over Dan in Jo's Boys). Maybe most importantly, they are both such moral writers, without moralizing. Their characters might have faults aplenty, as I've noted before, but damn if they don't keep on trying to do the right thing (People who've only seen Kubrick's The Shining and haven't read the book miss so much about Jack. The hotel might have conquered him at the end, but he kept fighting, and it was he who saved his family. *sniff*). They both tussle with God--Alcott eventually comes down on the side of God, but her churchgoing seems lukewarm. King's more ambivalent in tone but his stories clearly indicate a belief in God, if not in organized religion.

I look at this list and realize that writing like that is exactly what my soul craves. I can appreciate a clever book, a snarky tome, a sharp-witted, analytical treatise...but what I really want is someone who sits down and says, "Let me tell you a story..." and does it with heart and passion. And I also realize that is the kind of writing I'm passionate about producing: stories about real people, where many things in life ultimately turn out okay (because things do tend to do that), but not necessarily all things are perfect. Because life is like that, too.

What are your foundational books/writers/songs?

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF!

Friday May 31st, some of the writers of Omnific are having a Twitter Party! That's right, from 7-9pm EST (you can work out the time difference for your area, right?) many of Omnific's resident artistes will be on Twitter-hand to talk our books, other books you like, and just about anything else. There will be prizes, a scavenger hunt, and so much more! Our hashtag will be #OMNILICIOUS. I'm looking forward to 'meeting' some of you there!



Follow the links to the Authors blogs and collect the numbered letters for the secret word. As soon as you’ve worked out the word, enter the word and your twitter handle into the form. Entries are open from the day before the party and close at the end of the party when winners will be announced. 

My letter is:
 




Use the form below to let us know when you've identified the Scavenger Hunt word, and you can win one of four e-book packs--GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY HUNTING!