21 February 2014

Love in the dark...

This month's theme is supposed to be about our favorite love scenes from stage, screen or page. Whatever the medium, I tend to prefer those scenes that are more about emotion, than direction. I prefer the fade to black; waking up the next morning after some scorching kisses; even panning out the window to watch fireworks in the night sky -- such a clichĂ©, but Hitchcock made it work. ;)

In my own writing, I've said this before and I'll say it again: I prefer the sizzle over the sex. I prefer to write and read about the tension that leads up to the ultimate act. That tension, that falling-in-love is what the romance is all about. Sex scenes themselves are tricky because, for one thing, too much detail can leave the reader feeling like they're either reading a biology text or wondering: "Is that even physically possible?"

So I like those scenes that deal with the sizzle, the emotion, and gloss over the play-by-play. It's sort of a soft-focus effect, but for me, it works.

My latest story, One Little Slip, hopefully gives the reader just enough sense of heat and passion, without becoming a textbook what-goes-where scene. ;) I hope. You'll have to read it and let me know if I hit the mark.

http://www.amazon.com/Keeper-Heart-Anthology-Meg-Allison-ebook/dp/B00I13WJKC/ref=sr_1_6?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1393002132&sr=1-6&keywords=keeper+of+the+heart (c)2014 Bat Collective

A mysterious invitation. A secret flight. And a beautiful, magical tropical paradise. A place where wishes come true, but not in a way that one might expect…

Freyja’s Eye. Not found on any map, impossible to locate, the island is the realm of the Goddess Freyja. It is a destination for the lovelost—those who have given up hope of ever finding their one, true love…the other half of their soul. It is a place where the deepest desires of every heart are fulfilled…when they are finally acknowledged. The path to love isn’t easy, but boy, romance sure is a delightful fantasy on this island.

One Little Slip
(c)2014 Meg Allison

It’s a recipe for disaster…
Combine a haunted house in paradise, one injured warrior, and a woman hell-bent on standing on her own four-inch heels.
Fiona Reid expected to spend her free vacation at a five-star resort, not in a dilapidated plantation house straight out of the nineteenth century. She certainly didn’t expect the forced close company of one handsome and slightly infuriating security agent.
Julio Alvarez needs to let his wounds heal, and get back to his familiar life. The last thing he needs is a prickly brunette in killer shoes and ghosts that do his bidding.

Meg Allison
Indulge your senses...

17 February 2014

Magnus is a Valentine Surprise

I decided to do something a little different this Valentine's Day. I decided to publish a book. It was a complete surprise to just about everyone, since I hadn't publicized a date in connection with the book ahead of time. I just released it. No fuss. No fanfare.

Why? Well, maybe I'm a little crazy. Maybe I'm a little disorganized. Maybe I just wanted to surprise readers with an unexpected treat. Mostly, it's the last one, but I will admit to a little of the first two as well.

The way I see it, there are a lot of unrealistic expectations built up around holidays. Not just Thanksgiving and Christmas, but Valentine's Day. And a few others where popular culture tells us the day should be spent one way - surrounded by family, or cuddling a loved one, or having a blast at a barbeque with eighty of your closest and most fun-loving friends. Things like that. Things that not everyone can do for one reason or another.

Maybe all your close family is gone and you're spending Thanksgiving with just one or two other people - or your fur babies. Maybe you're single. Maybe you don't have crowds of friends who all like to barbeque and drink heavily. Whatever.

Yet, for some reason, there seems to be all this pressure on us each holiday to have that "good time" - however popular culture is defining it in relation to that particular holiday. It can be stressful. Especially for a quiet person - the kind of person who generally likes to read for recreation. I know I fit into that category.

So I thought this Valentine's Day, why not give those quiet people something to enjoy? Why not surprise a few special people who like my books with something unexpected?

And so, I released Tales of the Were: Magnus, very quietly, on Valentine's Day.

It wasn't the biggest, splashiest release I've ever had. I hadn't told anyone about my plans. But much to my gratification, the people who I intended to surprise, got it. The response from folks who've been asking me for the next book has been awesome, and I'm tickled pink that my little surprise worked out so well.

I'm very much the kind of person who likes to give presents rather than receive them, and this feels a little like that. It's a good feeling. And I hope my book was able to bring a little joy into a long weekend where expectations for Friday, February 14th, were very high, indeed.

If you haven't heard about my surprise release, here's what it's all about...

A tortured vampire, a lonely shifter, and a deadly power struggle of supernatural proportions. Can their forbidden love prevail?

Magnus Redstone is the middle of the five Redstone brothers. He’s the quiet one. The one who keeps to himself more than the others. But he has good reason for his loner status. Two years ago, he met a woman. Not just any woman. This woman made his inner cougar stand up and roar. Even in human form, he purred when she stroked him. She was his mate. And that meant something very serious among shifters. Too bad the lady had fangs...

Following a lead about a very bad man, Mag discovers Miranda being held captive by an evil mage in a cage of silver that burns her. She’s been tortured and bled repeatedly as the monster sought to steal her power for his own. Mag frees her and takes her to his home, nursing her back to health and defying all convention to keep her with him. He doesn’t ever want to let her go again, but he knows the deck is stacked against them.

When a vampire uprising threatens the stability of the Las Vegas scene, Mag and Miranda are right in the middle of it, fighting against evil. More than just their necks are on the line when a group of vampires seek to kill them and overthrow the current Master vampire of the area. But they have powerful allies, and their renewed relationship has made both of them stronger than either would ever be alone. Will they prevail against all odds, and can they stay together forever? Or will the daylight - and their two very different worlds - tear them apart again?

You can buy Magnus now from: Amazon - B&N - Smashwords

16 February 2014

Close to Home

Ricky and meMy favorite love scene is not from a book or movie, it's a true story. For me, the best love scene took place in front of friends and family. No, it wasn't kinky. It was when I married my husband.

It was an amazing day, but my favorite part was when I started down the aisle and saw my handsome fiancé waiting for me. His gorgeous blue eyes looked into mine, and he was the most handsome man I'd ever seen.

When he took my hand in his, my heart took flight and I knew saying yes to him was the best decision I'd ever made. It was—and still is—like living in a romance novel.

Here's hoping all of you have a chance to live out your best and wildest dreams.



08 February 2014

Don't Tell Me You Know; Show Me You Care

I love a good sex--I mean, love scene.

My all time favorite is the scene in Desperado where Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas--two of the most gorgeous creatures in the history of filmdom--worship each other's bodies with laughter. And candles. And spurs. On the top floor of a bookstore, no less.  Seriously, it doesn't get any better than that.

Image courtesy Greg Uchrin
Though I agree with Kimberley, all of Dirty Dancing (ahem) comes darn close.  Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze find themselves and each other in the steps of their movie-long dance. Their bodies say the words their characters dare not speak. Their climactic pas-de-deux becomes a true climax, a rapture in which everyone can share--and it's entirely PG.

But when it comes to romance, I'm a lot pickier.  I consider Romeo and Juliet two of the dumbest dweebs to ever walk the earth.  What did they ever do for each other besides get themselves killed?  So what if it ultimately served a higher purpose?  They didn't plan it.  All they cared about was showing up the grown-ups in their lives.  It's the ultimate "They'll be sorry when I'm gone!"  Yeah, they were.  Unlike R and J, the rest of the folks in Verona actually cared about someone other than themselves.

Han Solo's big "I know" moment?  Sorry, girls.  I don't consider that romantic at all.  It was the most ill-conceived, arrogant, self-serving thing have said following Princess Leia's profession of love.  Those words are all about him.  They give no hint he reciprocates Leia's feeling.  They turn her love into something one-sided and pathetic, offering no comfort or any reason to fight for him.  Frankly, I would've kept him as a coffee table.  It would've been a salutary lesson for my next lover.

To be fair, the endings of Jane Eyre and Rebecca also drive me bonkers.  I understand that in the Victorian worldview, both Mr. Rochester and Maxim de Winter must pay for their sins.  But I resent the way their punishment is visited upon the redoubtable Jane and de Winter's second wife.  The women only get their men when they're too disfigured and damaged to live without them.  That isn't fair in my books.

But, you say, love isn't fair.  Maybe not, but for me, romance has to be both fair and smart.  There's a lot of it around, too, even if it's not in the places you'd expect to find it.

Well, in some of the places you'd expect to find it.  Rick's farewell to Ilsa in Casablanca is one of my touchstones.  So many things happen in that scene.  In the few days since Ilsa reentered his life, he's revisited her betrayal in Paris, rediscovered her and himself, and as a result come to a more complete understanding of the nature of love.  He redeems the jaded, bitter man he'd become by an act of selflessness.  It's dangerous, maybe even quixotic, but it's the right action in terms of the greater good--something which cannot be said Romeo, Juliet or Han. 

Leia actually comes close by this standard.  It took balls to admit she loved Han at that moment.  But I digress.

Another of my big romantic moments happened in Buffy the Vampire Slayer after she unwillingly rises from the dead.  She casually asks her long-time antagonist Spike how long she'd been gone.  He knows the time to the hour.  Knowing her, even if it was mostly fighting with her, changed him so profoundly, the world was altered for the worse by her absence. 

For me, that combination of change and selflessness is key.  Love doesn't change everything about a person, as many a spouse has found to their chagrin.  But it necessarily changes the lover's perspective on the world.
Love is a dance.  Grace and skill are optional, but you can't do it alone.  You need a partner, because that's the whole point.  Love is about putting another person's happiness and well-being ahead of your own.  Ideally that happiness includes you, though in advanced stages (like Rick's) you may have to take a broader view.  But assuming the world doesn't hang in the balance, the only way to ensure the other person's happiness includes you is to embrace what's important to them.

Romeo and Juliet, notwithstanding, Shakespeare got it.  Especially in Much Ado About Nothing.  That's the one that does it for me.

The heroes, Beatrice and Benedict, have a complicated history.  The dialogue implies they've been lovers in the past, but circumstances drove them apart.  Now their conversations read more like confrontations.  Nevertheless, they can't leave each other alone, and their friends, including the young lovers Hero and Claudio, conspire to draw them back together.

It doesn't take a lot.  But their renewed affection is tested when Hero is accused of betraying Claudio on their wedding day.  Beatrice's defense of her friend is immediate and passionate.  She demands Benedict do what she can't: slay his friend and comrade-in-arms Claudio for besmirching Hero's honor.

And after careful consideration, fully understanding all the dreadful consequences of the act, Benedict challenges his blood brother Claudio to a duel.

Being a comedy, it all turns out well.  No one dies.  The virtuous are exonerated and the wicked punished.  But that doesn't mitigate the changes wrought in Benedict's world view or the selflessness of his act.

Which brings us to my latest standard of romance: Sherlock.  Yeah, that guy, the one who calls himself a "high-functioning sociopath".

He's not a sociopath.  He's Pinocchio.  He wants to be a real boy.  The series is about how he does it. 
The way I see it (and believe me, your mileage may vary) Mycroft recognized his (much) younger brother's mental gifts rivaled his own, and decided to use then to his advantage.  He taught him about the Mind Palace (a technique known to the Classical Greeks--really!) and convinced him that the life of the mind was the only life worth living.  He got away with it, too, until Sherlock decided he needed a roomie and met John Watson.

Season One of Sherlock opened Pinocchio's--I mean, Sherlock's eyes to aspects of the world he never considered.  The game afoot is a lot more fun when you have someone to play with.  Fun leads to fondness, and Sherlock starts to think, however fitfully, about how his actions will affect his pet human.

Season Two accelerated the process.  Sherlock began to see himself in context with the people around him.  He is genuinely appalled when his deductions about Molly's Christmas presents expose her crush on him.  He feels bad for her.  That's an enormous step.  Irene takes the process even further, inspiring actual heroics.  Sherlock's response to Moriarty reflected these little epiphanies, epiphanies which had their root and flowered as a result of his continued association with John.

But the series isn't done yet.  In Season Three, after two years ripping through Moriarty's old organization, our boy backslides.  He wasn't fully human when he went away, so he wasn't prepared for his friends' reactions to his loss and his return.  As a result he bombed.  He acted, in Jennie Crusie's immortal words, like the dickwad protagonist.

Of course, he did.  His journey isn't finished.  Screwing up is a necessary detour--and a de rigueur part of the process.  His best man speech for John and Mary Watson was the worst and best best man's speech ever, exactly as series co-creator Steven Moffat intended.  The worst came first.  But once the old mind-over-matter crap was out of the way, it became a moving testament to friendship delivered by a man who recognizes his deficiencies as a person and a friend.  That friendship, that love, is tested to its limit in the season's final ep, "The Last Vow" based on "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton". 

In the original story, Holmes resorts to chicanery and burglary to destroy a blackmailer's hold over others.  He and Watson withhold eyewitness evidence relating to the blackmailer's murder, because they see his death at the hand of one of his victims as entirely just.

Things don't play out quite the same in the updated version penned by Moffat.  The blackmailer is far more dangerous and pernicious than the original, and his fortress of information is well nigh impregnable.  Worse, the information at the blackmailer's disposal represents an immediate threat to the happiness and well-being of the person who has profoundly changed Sherlock's life for the better.  So, fully appreciating the heinous consequences, Sherlock Holmes makes a selfless act.  On Christmas, mirroring and doubling down on his epiphany with Molly those few Christmases ago. 

To my way of thinking, it doesn't get more romantic than that.

Jean Marie Ward

(If you like Greg Uchrin's pastel of Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock, feel free to let him know at his Facebook page or in person at Katsucon, February 14-16. Greg is my dh, and he agrees with me about Han Solo. That's love, folks. :-) )

06 February 2014

Foreplay is the Best

Castle and Beckett's foreplay is all we really need.
Whether to shut the bedroom door or fling it wide open? That's definitely one of the eternal questions of a romance writer. I've written both ways, from complete full-on orgies to a fade to black.

Lately, my own personal preference as a viewer is for closing the door. For example, I don't want to see a full-on sex scene between Beckett and Castle on Castle. Their verbal foreplay is so good that I think the act itself would be disappointing. And the long dialogue scenes between Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday is hotter than any scene between the sheets.

Television and movies are uniquely suited to verbal foreplay, especially if the chemistry between the actors is good. But can books do foreplay just as well?


Here's my favorite foreplay scene from the science fiction romance Hope's Folly by Linnea Sinclair. The hero, Philip Guthrie, and the heroine, Rya Bennton are both weapons experts. The scene is from Philip's point of view.

"What do you think it is?"

"Norlack 473 sniper, modified to handle wide load slash ammo." There was a noticeable reference in her tone. 

He pulled the rifle out, hefting it. She had a good eye. Norlacks weren't common. But recognizing it was modified for illegal and highly destructive charges...Then again, she'd seen it in action. 

"It is," he confirmed, amused now by the expression on her face. It had gone from reverence from almost rapture. 

"That is so totally apex." Her voice was hushed. "May I," and she glanced shyly at him, her eyes bright, spots of color on her cheeks, "fondle it?" 

He stared at her, not sure he heard her correctly. Then he snorted, laughing. Fondle it, indeed. 

He handed it to her. 

She took it, cradling it at first, then running her fingers lovingly down the barrel. 

Sweet holy God. He didn't have enough painkillers in him to stop his body's reaction to the smokiness in her eyes, or the way her lips partly slightly, the edge of her tongue slipping out to moisten them, as her hands slid over the weapon.

Philip and Rya aren't even touching in this scene and it's still smoking hot to this reader.

Have a happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Corrina Lawson is a writer, mom, geek and superhero. She's the author of the Phoenix Institute superhero series and the Content Director at GeekMom.com. You can find out more about her at www.corrina-lawson.com

05 February 2014

Some good news and a bit about author wish fulfillment

152849173-author-j-k-rowling-attends-photocall-ahead-of-herFirst of all, the GOOD NEWS! If you haven't seen my personal blog or tweets, I have something big happening this year. My Steampunk Fairy Tale retelling has been bought by Strange Chemistry books! It will be released in September 2014, so not too long to wait. We had to change the title, so what was once Smoke & Mirrors, is now A Curse of Ash and Iron. 


The other day, I saw an article where J.K. Rowling says she thinks that Hermione and Harry should have ended up together, not Hermione and Ron, and that she may have thought of killing off poor Ron Weasley.

Okkkkayyyy.... I guess I'm glad she said that. Not. I mean, it's her story and all, but first of all, done is done. Secondly, I think the Hermione/Harry matchup wouldn't have worked as well. It was MUCH too obvious. To compare it to Star Wars, Harry was Luke Skywalker and Hermione was Princess Leia. We all know how that worked out. The relationships are similarly based in mutual respect. Likewise, Ron was definitely Han Solo. Not as dashing, but he drove Hermione BONKERS for five books until she realized she loved him, much the same way Han got under Leia's skin.  She wrote Ron and Hermione so that they NEEDED each other. Hermione needed someone to take care of and be smarter than, and Ron needed someone to...well, he needed someone like Hermione.

Ginny was quiet, not an attention-seeker, and unexpected in a way. She was perfect, because by marrying her Harry got to really become a part of the family he was already part of in his heart.

And I don't know how to feel about the revelation. I mean, as authors there are always things we'd go back and do differently, but we don't tell readers, do we? Especially if we have readers who really LIKED what we wrote? Does it take some of the shine off of the diamond, knowing that the author sees it as imperfect?

I don't think I'd tell, even if I had regrets later on. If readers love it the way it is, let them keep their happiness.

03 February 2014

Favorite Love Scenes

I'm a total sap.

I cry at Hallmark commercials, sporting events, when my kids get up on stage...

I've been known to drip tears when a person triumphs against all odds.

I will blubber when a soldier comes home to his waiting family. Seriously, blubber.

It should be no surprise that my favorite loves scenes in the movies or books are those that happen when the couple has fought against great odds to finally, finally love one another. Heart melt.

Want some examples?

Star Wars when Leia admits that she loves Han Solo as he is about to be frozen. And his reply is, "I know."

City of Angels when the angel falls to his death to become a man for the woman he loves and they finally get together. I cried like a baby during that movie.

X Files. Yeah, I know, not your typical love story. But  Scully and Mulder had such a caring, loving, partnership. You knew that they loved each other even if they didn't act on it for like EVER. I miss that show.

Dirty Dancing. Baby and Swazie's character couldn't get involved. He was too old, too poor, (hot! whoops, did I just say that?) and she was young, rich, from the other side of the tracks. But the sparks sizzled when they were together and when they danced...whoa.

Pushing Up Daisies. Did you see that show? What an awesome premise. The hero had loved her since childhood, but there was one thing keeping them apart. Anything he touched died. Yeah, not a great thing. But how they pined after each other, while another character pined after him. Gosh, why did they kill off that show???

Those are some of my favorites. What are yours?