Monday, March 31, 2014

American Rose--Gypsy Rose Lee and Writing About Burlesque

I am a huge fan of burlesque. It constantly amazes me that people think burlesque is all about taking off your clothes. Granted, that is part of it, but burlesque is about "artfully" stripping down. Believe me, it's not the straight strip you get in a Gentlemen's Club.

As an erotic fiction writer, I've always wanted to write a burlesque tale set in the 1940's. Think Gypsy Rose Lee and the steamy side of some back alley club and you've got the location for my tawdry tale! If ever there was an artist that could inspire fiction writers, it was the one and only Gypsy Rose Lee.

When I was a young child, I saw the movie version of Gypsy and I have to say that the "Let Me Entertain You" number certainly put all kinds of ideas into my head! I was surprised to learn that most of the movie is not accurate though. Sure, Gypsy had a pushy stage mother and a talented sister who went on to do other things, but her childhood and her rise as a star were certainly not the glossy exterior that the movie painted.

Where did I get this information? From the biography written about her called American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee by Karen Abbott. The author points out that Gypsy Rose Lee was enigma and no one really knew her. She created a persona that was at once all consuming and very untouchable. By jumping back and forth to different points in Gypsy's life, as well as, in the lives of the Minsky brothers (they basically founded burlesque in New York), you get a sense that Gypsy was just a character--not a real person at all. And that seems to be exactly the way she wanted it!

The book inspired me to think about my book premise involving 1940s burlesque. Could such a topic be interesting in the world of erotic fiction? I think so!

And that's how my latest novel, Carousel Ride was born. I won't go into all the details, but let's just say that burlesque has never looked so sexy! I hope to share it with you soon! In the meantime, drop by Amazon to check out my latest releases in my naughty Shakespeare series: Ophelia's Lessons and Ravishing Rosaline. Drop a review while your at it! Ravishing Rosaline will be free the next two days!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Naughty Shakespeare Series--Literotica

Well, I've finally got my first two books in the Naughty Shakespeare series up and running! I'm pleased to announce that Ophelia's Lessons and Ravishing Rosaline are both available now. I'm absolutely thrilled and hope that you'll drop by and check them out. Ophelia's Lessons will be available for free today and tomorrow and Ravishing Rosaline will be free on Sunday and Monday. I love being able to offer freebies, but I would appreciate it if you wouldn't mind dropping a short review of either one at Amazon. After all darlings, that's how us writers find out what our readers desire and need!

Tempt you into my erotic world  of prequels to the Bard's most famous works, I've included a synopsis of both tales and their Amazon link! Enjoy!

Sweet, innocent Ophelia--she wants nothing more than to marry Hamlet Elsinore. But what does a simple virgin know about pleasing a man like the sophisticated and charming Hamlet? Not a whole lot, but when her seductive roommate, Portia, learns of Ophelia’s interest, she gets Horatio to “teach” the innocent girl everything she’ll need to know to seduce his best friend, Hamlet. 

Horatio is a hot, experienced lover who claims virgins are his specialty. He explains she has what every man wants--an innocent look, but the potential to be a whore in the bedroom. Hamlet has particular tastes and likes his women to be submissive and sexually open--something Ophelia, due to a lack of experience, is not. While she doesn’t completely understand what he means, Ophelia’s confusion is swept aside when her virginity is taken by Horatio’s expert skills, and her world is opened up to a whole new way of thinking. 

Set in modern day, this prequel to Hamlet is steamy enough to have even the Bard blushing! Enjoy this first book of literotica in the Naughty Shakespeare series. 

Ophelia's Lessons

Ravishing Rosaline...Romeo's first love or so the story of Romeo and Juliet tells us. But who was she really? In this sizzling erotic tale, we are invited in to Rosaline's world--a place where women are expected to be chaste and submissive. But Rosaline isn't like that. Her pleasures know no bounds, her need for revenge against a former lover consumes her. She will do whatever it takes to get her desires met--even if it means taking Romeo away from Juliet. 

Once again, Esmae Browder delivers a modern day prequel to one of Shakespeare's most timeless romances. Ravishing Rosaline is Book 2 in her literotica Naughty Shakespeare series.

Ravishing Rosaline

Turn learn more about me visit my website at

Monday, March 24, 2014

Reckless by Jessi Gage--Review

So as many of you know, I'm a big fan of Jessi Gage, author of Wishing for A Highlander. Jessi has dropped by All Things Writing several times and shared her fabulous wisdom and knowledge. I recently got to read one of her latest works, Reckless. This is not part of her Highlander series, but belongs with another series she is writing called the Blue Collar Boyfriends. I couldn't wait to start reading it, and as I predicted, it was a fast paced, fun read with a paranormal twist.

Here is the publisher's blurb:

Sometimes it takes a miracle to find forgiveness. 

Divorced construction worker Derek has anger management issues. Acting rashly on the freeway, he causes an accident. His truck escapes unscathed, but he can’t say the same for his conscience. Visions of the wreck haunt his dreams, but they’re always followed by the sweet caresses and soothing words of a beautiful woman who calls to everything male in him. 

Cami assumes she is dead. With no memory of her past, all she knows is endless fog and the occasional visit to a darkened bedroom where she comforts a man battling nightmares. When she wakes in a hospital bed and regains her memory, she assumes the ruggedly-handsome Derek was no more than a figment of her concussed mind. 

As Cami recovers, she learns that Derek is not only real but also the driver charged with causing her accident. She should be furious with him, but their inexplicable nights together showed her a tender side beneath his rough exterior. Will she let one reckless mistake drive them apart, or will forgiveness have the right of way?

Intriguing concept, right? Derek is one of those great male characters you want to shake and cuddle with all at the same time. He's clearly insecure, but hides it under a gruff exterior. Whenever he interacts with his daughter, that's when we can see that tender person underneath who has never really known what true love feels like. When he meets Cami, he starts to change.

Cami is sort of like a ghost at first--which is fitting. Before the accident and the coma that allows her to mysteriously appear in Derek's bed (convenient for him), she was a nice person, but really timid. She comes across as being somewhat afraid of her own shadow and feels bad about herself. A long time ago, she and her father were involved in a car accident. Cami was driving and her dad was killed. She's never stopped blaming herself.

When she and Derek connect, the sparks fly and they have great chemistry, bringing out the best in each other. You can't help but root for them to finally get together even though it's obvious that Derek is responsible for Cami's accident. It would be easy to dislike Derek because of this, but the author does a great job of creating believable, flawed characters who just want to make things right. I found myself not wanting the book to end because I wanted to go on the next leg of the journey with Derek and Cami.

This was a quick read and held my interest. The sex scenes were nice and steamy, putting you in the moment and furthering the relationship between characters. I look forward to reading more in this series! Here's the purchase link at Amazon: Reckless

Monday, March 17, 2014

Theatre Junkie Press--a small press for theatre education

I'm always interested in helping out the small press. They fight so hard to be seen by readers and it's even more difficult for educational presses to get attention. When Theatre Junkie Press approached me about doing some writing for them, I jumped on board. Using their services, I've written several theatre books for the elementary classroom teacher. I promised to highlight them on All Things Writing, but haven't had a chance to do so up until this point! If you are a teacher looking for different approaches to teaching reading skills or develop an awareness of theatre arts, check out this press! Here is their mission statement:

theatre junkie press is committed to providing educational materials to both the elementary theatre arts teacher and the regular classroom teacher. Fine Arts education is incredibly important and having the resources to teach it are crucial. While there are many excellent texts and websites out there for middle school and high school drama teachers, when it comes to elementary theatre, the pickings are slim.  Our mission is to change that and publish a wide variety of materials suitable for Kindergarten-Fifth grade.

Here are a few of their titles as well!

The Day Our Teacher Lost Her Mind: A Reader's Theatre for Grades 2-3.
A charming Reader's Theatre for grades 2-3, The Day Our Teacher Lost Her Mind helps students remember the classroom rules while developing reading fluency. Included in this book are theatre games, the narrative, the script, and extension activities designed to take the tale a step further.
How  Do I Get Out of This Mirror?

Are your kids stuck in creative problem solving rut? Does thinking outside the box seem impossible for some students? Not anymore! How Do I Get Out of This Mirror takes you into the world of improvisation and theatre arts, getting students to think about difficult situations in a new way.  With fun games and warm ups, your students will be problem solving champs in no time! Suitable for grades 3-5, How Do I Get Out of This Mirror provides seven lessons that will challenge your students to work in collaborative groups, use every day materials to create props, and allow them to see that there can be more than one answer to a problem.

I'm Going to Tell My Mother: A Reader's Theatre for Grades 2-5
I'm going to tell my mother!" Everyone is sick of Alan using that phrase. It's how he always manages to get his way. When he tries to use it on his second grade teacher, Alan discovers that his words can have a powerful affect--and not necessarily in a way that benefits him! This engaging story is presented as a narrative and a reader's theatre. With easy to follow instructions on how to conduct rehearsals, you'll soon be on your way to presenting an amazing performance with your students. Use the games and warm ups provided to bring your shy friends out of their shell.

I encourage you to spread the word about this unique publishing company! Check out their website at theatre junkie press

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

5 Tips for Writing Children's Books

I'm typically a young adult and adult fiction writer. However, I work with kids in Kindergarten-Fifth grade. Often, I 'm asked why I don't write for that age bracket.

Because it's hard people. Very hard.

Young kids are tough critics and they like what they like. There is no predicting what will tickle their fancy.

On the other hand, kids are always up for a well told story! Recently, I did attempt a children's book with some success. Here are a few things I learned along the way when it comes to writing for kids around the ages of 4-8.

1. Your story has to have a beginning, middle, and end. Yeah. I know. Seems like a no brainer right? But have you read a some of the books floating out there for 4-8 year olds? Some of these stories wander around with cute ideas and characters, but never seem to really go anywhere with the action. Stick to the basics people! BME!

2. Good must triumph over evil. Bad guys don't win. Sorry to burst your bubble on that one, but for young kids, that's what they want. It may not be real life, but that's not what most kids (or parents) are looking for when they pick up a  kid's book.

3. You can teach a lesson, but it better be told without a lecture. Don't preach. Write your story in a way that entertains and gets your point across without making your young reader feel they are being yelled out.

4. Potty talk is what it is. Disney always pulls this trick in their movies and the kids love it. Something about poop and vulgar sounds is always good for a laugh. Yeah, it may be annoying for us adults, but the kids...well, they're kids!

5. Keep your story fast paced with quick transitions. Children aren't looking for you to be the William Faulkner of children's fiction. They want the story to progress. That doesn't mean you should leave out details, but saying "the grass is green" instead of "the grass was a light shade of hunter green with just a touch of speckled pollinated dust on it" is probably just fine. Save your longer descriptions for the stuff that really matters to the story. Unless, of course, your story is about grass.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How to Become a Better Writer

I've been writing a long time, and while I'm not the greatest writer in the world, I know that I've improved over the last few years. A friend and I were chatting about what makes a writer better, what makes us feel that we are getting anywhere in the literary world? Is it getting an agent? Is it publishing that first book or finding a home for a short story?

Any of those prove you are getting better as a writer, but how do you even get good enough to accomplish the above things? What steps should you take to put you on a writing path that gives you everything you want?

I think the answers are simple.

1. Set goals. They don't have to be complicated or extreme. A writing goal is personal and should be something that is attainable whether in the short or long term. In fact, I think it's good to set both kinds of goals. Having a mission helps keep you focused.

2. Manage your time wisely. Family, work, writing, social. That's the order of importance for me. When I write, I like to make sure everyone knows that it's my time to be creative and I don't want to be interrupted. Email, Facebook, and surfing the web do not count as managing my time. I try not to do any of those things when I'm working on a story or manuscript.

3.Read. Yes, it may seem like a no brainer, but even as a writer, you should be reading. I think you should read all genres--don't just get stuck in the one you writer. Open yourself up to new experiences and you might discover a new trend in your own writing.

4. Check your ego at the door and let someone critique your work. Writing is a lonely business and often we don't get immediate feedback. Form a group of trusted readers who will be honest with you about your work and how good/bad it is. No matter what the feedback, consider it. Mull it over. Even if you receive negative reviews on a work, challenge yourself to see if the reviewer has a point.

5. Keep a list of ideas. I use a notebook and write down character ideas or plot outlines. Sometimes I forget about them and then re-discover them later. I have several friends who use various programs on their phones to keep track of their ideas.

6. Try to write as often as you can. Yes, I know that writers are supposed to write every day, but sometimes that just doesn't happen. Don't beat yourself up about it. Just try again the next day.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Developing An Outline for Your Short Story

Spring time is approaching and that always makes me think of short story writing for some reason! I'm re-posting this piece by Clive West on how to use an outline to develop your short story!---Mary Ann

They might not take as long to complete as an epic novel. You won’t, in most instances, be putting in weeks, months or even years of research. But if anybody ever told you that writing short stories was easy, they were very wrong. And the hardest part of all is getting started.

Your ideas are there, and some are very strong, but they’re jumbled. Characters are coming to life in your mind. You think your story could be great, and you’re desperate to get in on paper.

Stop there. When writing fiction, planning is everything. Here are a few tips on how to write the perfect short story outline.

Your characters

Get those characters right
Your characters will drive your situations, further your plot and take up a lot of space in your mind until you get your story finished! They’re important, yes? So invest plenty of time in them! Make a list, a template if you like, for them, from the basics of their name and age, through to their fears and key life experiences. Go so far as to list ‘facts’ about them that, although may drive their actions in your story, you will not reveal to the reader. Make them as realistic, well rounded and as human as you can. Wooden or forgettable characters will make your story about as riveting as watching grass grow, no matter how solid or inventive your plot is.

Note down and play around with your dialogue

You may have snippets of conversation between characters in your head, or just single lines of dialogue you want to fit in but are not sure what to do with yet. That’s fine; just get them all written down. Say them aloud. They may appear very different in both instances than they initially did in your head – you might decide you no longer want to keep them at all! And that’s fine. Change and adjust accordingly. Don’t be afraid of a little experimentation – no harm will come from it!

Now write that outline!

It’s time to get your beginning, middle and end down onto paper. Be detailed – don’t just make quick notes, use full sentences. Note down when the dialogue you have written and planned will be used and who by.  Don’t just rely on your memory, get those tiny but important details in there too. You’ll be surprised how easily they might slip your mind when it comes to drafting, and one little slip could ruin your entire piece. Don’t write it like a synopsis; think of your story in chunks. How big or small these chunks are is up to you, but use a bullet point to describe what is going to unfold in each one. Make sure everything is in order.

Polish and modify

One day, one day.
Your outline needs the tender love of your inner editor as well. Before you even think about starting that first draft, read through the outline. Does everything make sense? Are there things that you might like, but don’t need in terms of furthering the plot? Are some moments in the story weaker or less interesting than others? Spot and solve these early problems. Don’t leave it until you start writing; the more you prepare with your outline, the easier drafting will be.

All done? You’re ready to go. Good luck!

Sometime in the near future, when your short story is completed, edited and ready for anything, you might be thinking about trying to get it seen by a publisher. Why not give Any Subject Books a try? They always welcome new talent, and if they see true potential in your work you might find yourself on their list of authors very soon indeed!  Their submission process and guidelines are simple to follow and can be found on their 'Writers Wanted' page.