Hey everyone! I’m excited to tell you that I have a short story out this week in an anthology that’s slipped its way into the world a touch early—hurray! On Fire: Erotic Romance Stories is out now on ebook with the paperback version available in just a few days. This lovely collection from Cleis Press houses both the sexy and the sweet, and since it’s edited by the fabulous Rachel Kramer Bussel, you know you’re in for something great!
I’m so pleased to share that a tender little old story of mine, “Paradise,” is included in this anthology. The story centers around Justin and Anna, a couple who are rekindling a long lost romance on Anna’s trip to Justin’s now island home of sunny Puerto Rico. This story is particularly dear to my heart, and I’d love to tell you why. See, I started this one quite a long time ago, after my own real life love affair with a man I’ll call G., who was in the military (and who very much inspired Justin’s character). I didn’t get far in my writing because I was more invested in the real life romance, which, sadly, didn’t last all that long after G. moved away. While we did attempt—and fail—at our own rekindling on a trip I took to Puerto Rico years later, we fortunately had a charming run-in years after that in San Francisco. 😉
Now, in real life, G. and I realized we would never work long term, though we both looked fondly on our earlier romance and all the intensity that comes from distance, oh so much distance…and that tension struck me as the sweetest basis for an erotic romance story when I saw Rachel’s call all those years later. So, I pulled out the two or three pages I’d written a decade before, added some details of my actual trip to Puerto Rico—because holy moly, that place is beautiful—and imagined what would happen if the couple was, say, more meant to be than G. and I were. The story found its way into Rachel’s hands a while back, and now I’m delighted to share it with you!
To celebrate On Fire’s release, I’ve got a little piece of “Paradise” for you to read below. And, to set the tone, two of my favorite pictures from my trip to Puerto Rico. One is from the island of Culebra, a short boat ride from the main island, and the other a splash of all the greenery you can find on the island itself. I hope you enjoy both pictures, and also the following story excerpt…
I admired the view while Justin stroked his fingers over my hand. The water beyond the sand glistened like polished glass, a topaz field of wetness beckoning us to swim in it.
“It’s beautiful,” I said. It was this same vast ocean that had kept us apart for so long, and I frowned. Justin stepped closer, his flip-flops slapping on the tile until his chest hovered a couple inches away. Against the cherry-colored walls of the room, he looked out of place—a southern gentleman turned beach-boy who yanked me hard enough that I collided into him.
“No, you’re beautiful,” he said. He slid his hands to my hips before lowering his mouth to mine again. I felt numb, content to be with him, here, but my vision clouded over as delighted tears rushed into my eyes. Justin noticed and swiped his fingers in long, tender strokes beneath my eyelashes. “Hey now, sweetheart. What are the tears for?” He said it softly, his twang making me giddy. His own eyes glistened and I laughed, shuddering as more tears, happy tears, fell to my chin.
“I’ve just…missed you,” I said.
Justin shook his head, then kissed my cheeks. He whispered, “No tears. We’re here, together now. No more waiting or wondering.”
I nodded. “I know.”
He snaked his arms around me, both of us hobbling back and forth while he nudged me toward the glass doors. His lips grazed my ear as he looked between my face and the ocean outside.
“You know, for three years, I’ve been out here thinking of you, Anna. I’ve been in the water, on the beach, living in this beautiful place, but…” He ran his fingertips through the hair at my brow, then used his other hand to pull me close enough to feel the hard bulge in his shorts. “None of it compared to seeing someone as beautiful as you.”
My knees grew weak. Those words, those sweet sentiments—the firm wedge of his cock rising to meet me—God how I’d missed them.
“Kiss me,” I said.
This time, the kiss was heavier—less desperate to close the distance, only eager to rekindle our fire. I melted into his lips, heat coiling through my body and sending tingles along my limbs as he plundered my mouth and took my tongue into his. When I nibbled his lip, he paused. He swooped me up and I gasped, mesmerized by the man who cradled me in his arms and carried me to the couch.
“Do you know how many nights I’ve dreamed of you?” he said. I laid my head back on the cushions as he sat beside me on the floor, then trailed his lips over my hands. “I should offer you a meal. A shower. More to make you comfortable, Anna, but all I can think about is making love to you.”
He grazed my neck with his fingertips, his roughened skin sending trembles through my body again, and I swallowed.
Justin grinned. He climbed beside me on the couch, sinking his hip against my thigh and running his hand along my leg beneath my shorts. He traced his fingertips over my knees, then down to slide off my sandals.
“I’ve always loved how blatant you are, darlin’.” He circled my ankles with his hands, caressing them like he used to, like every inch of me was a temple he worshipped. I reminded myself to breathe, the longing to feel him after such an extended time taking over my senses. He folded over me, sneaking his hands across my belly, then under my halter top, and when he slid them over the cups of my bra, our lips locked tight.
“Justin…” I muttered, loving the way his tongue moved so aggressively in my mouth while his hands made the gentlest of strokes over my breasts. He skimmed his fingers over my nipples, rubbing the tender peaks until I moaned. When he slid his lips to my neckline, he spread slow, soft pecks between the panels of my shirt, flicking his tongue in quick lashes over my skin. A blush filled my cheeks at the touch, a reminder of the way he used to kiss my sex for hours before ever driving into me.
“God, I’ve wanted this, wanted you…” he said. He unhooked the few buttons holding my shirt closed, our kisses growing more frenzied as he laid himself over me. Our hips were together instantly, both of us grinding against one other as I grabbed the hem of his shirt and yanked it over his head. He kissed me harder, his pelvis crashing against mine as he dragged his hands straight into my hair, then gathered it behind my head and yanked it tight just like I loved. I mewled.
“I want you too, Justin. I’ve missed you.”
“Oh…” He pulled back to look over me, keeping his fist in my hair, using his other hand to tease my nipples through my bra. His gaze was lost, hungry, lustful, his hands over me desperate and skilled. He pinched my nipples and I arched against him, ready for the wait to end.
“Please,” I growled.
There you have it! Some of your own “Paradise” to enjoy before you get your hands on On Fire, a delicious new erotic romance anthology available now. Pick up your copy on Amazon or at any of the buy links below…
Ladies and gentlemen, I am so excited to share a visit with a very special guest today. As you are likely aware, the lovely Malin James and I are the best of friends—which is why I’m pleased as punch to have her here! If you have been under a rock, and somehow aren’t aware of Malin’s work, then please know you are definitely missing something. Fortunately, I’m going to let you in on her amazingness right here and now. See, here’s Malin in a nutshell: her words are extraordinary, her style is exquisite, and most importantly, her mind is brilliant! Her stories range from erotic to literary, always exploring people, their place, culture, and, well, life and its many expressions, ins, and outs. No matter what Malin’s written, it often gives you pause to think and reflect, think and reflect… It’s fairly impossible for her work to not evoke something from deep within yourself. It’s just that good.
So, with all that in mind, today I am tickled to have her answering some questions about her writing as well as her brand new anthology, Roadhouse Blues! The book came out yesterday from Go Deeper Press, and I assure you, you’re not going to want to miss it.
Before you order up this anthology (if you haven’t already), please enjoy the clever mind of Malin James as she answers some burning questions I had about both Roadhouse Blues and her writing life…
An Interview with Malin James
Welcome Malin! I’m thrilled to have you here, so I’m going to dive right in… When you started Roadhouse Blues, did you have a particular vision in mind for where you wanted to go with it, or did it fall into place once you wrote a few stories?
The collection came together pretty organically. The first few stories set a tone, but the themes emerged slowly as the world developed. When I started, the only thing I knew for sure was that the stories would all be connected in some way. Having that relatively flexible structure as a foundation gave me a lot of room to explore.
What is your favorite story in the bunch and why?
That’s hard…. I’ve been sitting with a few of these stories for over a decade, while others were immediate emotional catalysts, so there’s a lot of feeling attached to all of them. That said, I think the two I feel closest to are “Krystal’s Revenge Fuck” and “Marlboro Man.” “Krystal” is audacious, angry and funny. It was so much fun to write. On the other side of the spectrum, “Marlboro Man” is the only story that has ever made me cry the keyboard. Both resonated with me in a very instinctual way. Writing them was like having a conversation with the characters.
Which story was the hardest for you to write? Can you give us a little insight into why you think this might be?
“Good Love” and “The Waitress” were definitely the hardest. “The Waitress” is about a woman confronting her abusive ex, and I drew on a lot of my own experiences for that. “Good Love” was even harder though—it’s about starting to heal after sexual trauma. It came from a very personal place, and it took a long time and a lot of drafts to get right.
Of all the characters in this anthology, who would you most want to hang out with in person? Why?
I think I’d want to hang out with Sam from “Good Love.” She has a deep well of compassion and quiet joy. I have a feeling that hanging out with her would be a really lovely experience. Also, Tom from “Marlboro Man.” He’s all kinds of tragic, but he has a really solid, good core. He strikes me as a great guy to grab a drink with. Plus, he’s sexy. Tragically sexy.
You’ve written numerous short stories over the years, so I’m not surprised that we now get the joy of an entire collection of your work. (Squee!) How was it putting together an entire anthology rather than a short for various different anthologies? What’s your preference? Was it challenging to keep them tonally and/or thematically connected?
I really enjoy contributing to anthologies—it’s a wonderful, collaborative experience. That said, putting together my own collection has been amazing. It’s given me a chance to following narrative threads and possibilities that you just can’t in a single story.
As for keeping them tonally and thematically connected, I was lucky in that the setting provided a contextual link that united the themes in a very natural way. Same with the narrative tone, which is very different from my own. It’s almost as if the Styx (the town the collection is set in) has its own voice, and that voice told each story.
What was your biggest challenge in writing this anthology?
Finding balance. Some of the stories are light and even funny, while others are darker and more serious, sometimes even challenging. It took me a while to balance the light and the dark so that each story stands on its own, while contributing to a larger whole. That’s something that I was really conscious of—portraying a wide spectrum of kinks, sexualities and emotional contexts in a way that felt right and honest for each individual story, but also knit the stories together, even when one is about joyful sex in the back of a Camaro, and others are about everything from mortality and revenge to finding unexpected love.
You and I have talked a bit about craft. Would you share a little with readers how you develop a character, and then how you go about writing their tale?
I love our conversations about craft! This won’t come as any kind of surprise, but, for me, it’s all about the characters. I was formally trained as an actor and spent the better part of my twenties on stage, so every story starts with a character and something the character needs. Whether they’re male or female, straight or gay, the characters I write generally come to me like big blobs of clay. I have a general idea about shape and size, but I find out more as they take me through the story, so the story and the characters form each other, and I refine them both through revision. For me, drafting is a necessary first step, but the real writing happens in revision when the characters start coming to life.
Say one of your stories is auctioned off for a movie deal. Which one do you pick, and who are your lead actors to carry the roles?
Oh…that’s a great question. Let me think…okay, I’m going to go with “Marlboro Man,” only because it’s the one I have the biggest soft spot for. There’s a lot that gets implied but never quite said in that story, and I’d love to see how a film director went about unpacking it. Plus, I’d kind of love to see a young Paul Newman or Matthew McConaughey play Tom, and an actress like Emily Blunt play Maybelline. There’s so much interiority to both of them. It would be amazing to watch good actors bring that interiority to life.
I have the privilege of knowing that a bonus story was added to this collection, late in your work. Can you explain more about this story and why it was important to you to add it in?
Absolutely. The story is called “Good Love” and it’s the one I struggled with the most. It’s about a woman named Leigh who experienced trauma in her childhood and her relationship to her childhood best friend (and first love) Sam. There were two challenging elements in this story. The first is that Sam is a trans woman, which took me out of my immediate experience, so it felt especially important that I get her right. Luckily, Lana Fox and Jake Traveres at Go Deeper were incredibly helpful and supportive as I worked through finding and portraying her.
The second challenge was far more personal. Leigh’s struggle draws on my own experiences with trauma and recovery, so writing her was, at times, incredibly painful. In fact, I stopped more than once because of that. In the end though, it felt too important to leave out, so I made one last big push. Luckily, it worked and was able to go in.
Pick a line, any line…yes, one line that you really love from any story. Please share what it is and why you picked it!
Agh! That’s hard! Not because I’m in love with my own prose (because gah), but because the stories have been whittled down to the point where each line feels like a little brick in a large wall…. Okay. Let’s see. One line…. All right, this is the one that popped into my head. It’s from “Love in the Time of War,” which is about two women grieving the same man. Carly tells Sarah, her boyfriend’s widow, that she was always the pretty one, and Sarah responds by saying,
“There’s no pretty one, honey. Not between us.”
That line says everything I wanted to say about how lovely sex between two women can be. There’s a deep cultural emphasis on jealousy and possession in romantic relationships. Sarah’s response to Carly’s shy compliment subverts any notion of competition between them, and sets up the healing, comforting, meaningful sexual connection they then go on to make.
Any chance we’ll see an offshoot book and/or short in the future with any of these stories/characters involved?
There’s definitely a possibility. If nothing else, I love the setting so much that I could easily see writing something else set in that town. And just between you and me, I feel like Sam (from “Good Love”) and I still have quite a lot to do.
All right…inquiring minds want to know. What’s your favorite time of day to write and where?
My desk! I love my desk. I love my desk so much. As for my favorite time to write, it’s late at night, when the house is asleep, but having a 6-year-old makes being a night owl pretty impossible, so I write after I drop her off in the mornings, until I pick her up in the early afternoons.
What’s next for you?
It probably sounds boring, but the next thing for me is a little break. I put so much into writing this collection that it’ll feel good to rest a bit and do something completely different for a while. I’ll probably work on essays and stories in a different genre for a bit. Not that I’m closing the door on erotica. Erotica has been very good to me, and I’m definitely leaving that door open.
Wonderful! A giant thank you to Malin James for joining me today! Be sure to pick up your copy of Roadhouse Blues at one of the buy links below!
About Roadhouse Blues:
Welcome to Styx—a blue-collar, American town where people can do whatever they like, so long as they don’t advertise. From a 1950s diner to the back of a rocking Camaro, the stories in Roadhouse Blues reveal sex that is by turns romantic, raw, triumphant, and desperate. Meet two women grieving the same man, a bartender looking for anything but love, and a hot, brash newlywed who knows she married a cheat. The local garage is run by a kick-ass woman who gives as fierce as she gets, and the strip club is a place full of whiskey and smoke, where memories are exposed as easily as skin.
“In the end,” writes author Malin James, “sex is about people, and people have motivations, and sometimes those motivations surprise them.”
This is Roadhouse Blues. Surprise is just the beginning.
About Malin James:
Malin James is an essayist, blogger, and short story writer. Her work has appeared in Electric Literature, Bust, MUTHA, Queen Mob’s Tea House and Medium, as well as in podcasts and anthologies for Cleis Press, Sweetmeats Press and Stupid Fish Productions. Her first collection, Roadhouse Blues, releases this summer with Go Deeper Press.
Find a longer biography at malinjames.com.
Buy Roadhouse Blues at:
Wow, am I excited. I’ve been waiting a long time for this one—the third and final book in my Lessons In Control series—and I bet you have, too!
In honor of the book’s release, Carina Press is still offering some killer deals on book one, The Assignment, and book two, The Discipline. You can pick up The Assignment on Amazon for only $0.99, and The Discipline here for only $1.99! The Reward is available at the low release price of $3.99, so you can get all three for less than the price of lunch. Yes!
I will be visiting a couple other sites this week with some final series goodness, so you’ll want to follow along for our mini tour… Wednesday I’ll be visiting F. Dot Leonora with a few things to say about her lovely nod to the Lessons In Control series, then Thursday and Friday you can catch sexy excerpts of The Reward with Malin James and Rachel Kramer Bussel. After that, you won’t want to miss a series closing interview with the fabulous Rose Caraway. Woo hoo!
And of course, we can’t very well end the series without one final bang (heh) here on my site, right? So here’s your chance! Leave a comment below with your name and email address as well as why you’d like to win not one book but two—a free ebook copy of both The Assignment and The Discipline, the first two books of the Lessons In Control series—and you’ll be entered to win them! Only one entry per person and you’ll want to act fast; your comment must be entered by 11:59 pm PST tomorrow (June 13, 2017). The winner will be notified this week with their free copies. Easy giveaway, right? So please do enter.
But don’t forget—all this goodness is in celebration of the release of The Reward, out today. I hope you’ll pick up your copy at any of the following eretailers:
Thanks so much for joining me and happy reading!
Oh, have I got exciting news for you as of today! As you may know, my Lessons In Control series is almost complete… Book 1, The Assignment, came out back in December, while book 2, The Discipline, made its way into the world in March. I am now eagerly awaiting June 12th, when you will be able to get your hands on book 3,
The Reward. Yes!
But, I know, I know. Sometimes it’s hard to wait. Maybe you bought book 1 but decided to hold on buying book 2 so that you could read it and book 3 all in one fell swoop. Or, maybe you’ve just been incredibly patient, and you’re waiting to buy all three books at once so you can spend a whole weekend reading the series.If you’re one of these people, have I got killer news for you!
As of today, and in celebration of the soon-to-be released book 3, Carina Press is offering a price deal on the first two books of my Lessons In Control series. That’s right—The Assignment is available on vendor sites for a mere $0.99, and The Discipline is available on sites for $1.99. Whoa! The Reward, which you can preorder right now on Amazon, is $3.99—so you can basically buy all three books for under seven dollars. Holy smokes. That’s three books for less than the price of lunch!What a deal!
So, I do hope you’ll take advantage of it and check out my series at this awesome price break while the deal lasts (and it won’t last long!). Head over to my Lessons In Control page for all vendor purchase links, or simply pick up The Assignment on Amazon, The Discipline on Amazon, and preorder The Reward on Amazon, too. I am super excited for you to get to read the whole series at such a great price!
And, if you haven’t signed up my newsletter yet, please be sure to do so. All subscribers will be getting exclusive access to a free preview chapter of The Reward in a very short time, so you can be sure that yes indeed, you want this cheaper-than-lunch deal! 🙂 Sign up right here for news sent to your email inbox no more than once a month.
Thanks so much for joining me, and happy ordering and reading!
Hi everyone! It’s been awhile, but I have lots of news I wanted to share today, both about the Lessons In Control series and a new mini-project I’m embarking on! Woo hoo!
I’ll start with Lessons In Control, specifically book one—I am delighted to share that The Assignment is a finalist for the Pauline Reage Novel award from the National Leather Association – International (NLA-I). Holy cow! The NLA-I is a leading organization for activists in the pansexual SM/leather/fetish community. Their annual awards are named after activists and writers to recognize excellence in writing and publishing about Leather, SM, bondage and fetishes. Whoa! This was some majorly happy news, and I’m thrilled to be a finalist. In the past, the award has been given in various categories to some seriously awesome authors. Here are this year’s finalists for the Pauline Reage category:
Risk Aware by Amelia C Gromley (Riptide Publishing)
Heart’s Master by Elizabeth Schechter (Circlet Press)
The Viscountess Interrogates: A Dominion Erotic Mystery by Cameron Quintain (Circlet Press)
Skyscraper by Scott Alexander Hess (Unzipped Books, an imprint of Lethe Press)
The Gambler’s Lady by Angela Hamm (Blushing Books)
The Assignment by Jade A. Waters (Carina Press)
I cannot express how honored I am to be on this list! The winners will be announced at the National Leather Association – International’s Annual General Meeting on April 23rd. Fingers crossed!
Okay, next up: book two, The Discipline. Wow, do I have a lot to say about The Discipline! First, there have been a few excerpts from the book if you haven’t checked them out. One happened right here, another over visited Lady Smut a couple weeks ago, and finally, one appeared just yesterday over at F. Leonora Solomon’s place. I was so happy to get to tour the book around at these stops!
Now for some extra fun—if you’re in the mood for a LIVE excerpt from The Discipline and happen to be the in LA area, then I hope you’ll join me next Sunday, April 9th, at Lady Jane’s Salon OC. The event takes place at The Ripped Bodice, 3806 Main Street in Culver City, from 4 to 6 pm. I’ll be reading along with Pamela DuMond, Sabrina Sol, and Allison Morse. The entry fee is one gently used romance novel or $5, and in exchange you’ll hear some sweet and sexy excerpts. Please come out and say hi! I’ll have all sorts of series swag to giveaway there, too.
If you want to find out more about The Discipline, or even the overall series and my writing process, I wanted to point out an interview over at Lady Smut that happened a little bit ago—the fabulous Rachel Kramer Bussel interviewed me about my writing over there, and I had a good time answering her questions. Check it out if you missed it! Also, on a related note—I will forever celebrate my connection to Rachel since she is the very reason I ever got published in the first place. That said, I encourage you to check out her newest calls for submission. She is always on the lookout for new work!
All right, I can’t very well talk about Lessons In Control without mentioning book three, The Reward. I’ve got to say, I thought at first that book one was my favorite. Then book two was such a bear to write, I thought I liked it most. But…after all the editing of book three, I can officially say it is my favorite. I’m happy to report that it’s not only available for pre-order (out June 12th!), but that we have official back cover copy! Check it out:
It’s been a year since Dean Sova turned Maya Clery’s world inside out. There isn’t a secret fantasy that Maya and Dean haven’t explored—each one more tantalizing and mind-blowing than the last. But while their relationship may be stronger than ever, taking the next step pushes boundaries neither one of them is prepared to face.
Dean couldn’t care less about Maya’s background—all her choices made her the woman he wants to tie to his bed and never let go. But not even a Dom as strong as Dean can keep the past at bay. When a threat from Maya’s old life surfaces, she’ll have to choose once and for all: fight for freedom under Dean’s command, or lose the reward she’s worked so hard for—the chance to be happy with the man she loves.
Book three of Lessons in Control
This book is approximately 89,000 words
One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise! Find out more at CarinaPress.com/RomancePromise.
Oh, wow. I’m so pumped for you to read this one, guys! Be sure to pre-order your copy at any of the following places:
So…that’s all on the series. Now, I have just a little ditty to share about a new mini-project I’ve taken on. To be honest, life has decided to throw some pretty big tragedies my way at the moment…and writing has become tricky with all of it going on. But, I caught a very light wind the other day, and I wanted to run with it. You see, April is the official month for the Blogging A to Z Challenge, and I’ve long wanted to take advantage of this on my poetry site. It sort of clicked the other night that I could spin some of the rockiness I’m feeling and poetry together, and still take part in this challenge through a poem every day (excluding Sunday)—except with a twist: each poem will be part of one continuous, month-long poem. I hope you’ll join me on this adventure, which is titled “A Love Affair, From A to Z.” It’s a bittersweet thing that I’m hoping to be able to continue (without tearing my eyeballs out), so if you’d like to read along, be sure to start with today’s “A – Always.”
News, news, news—and I think that’s all of it! Happy weekend and reading to all!
PS Have you signed up for my newsletter? Subscribers will be getting a free preview of book three, The Reward, before it’s released. Don’t miss out!