Best Women’s Erotica Reading Live – Tonight!

Hi everyone! I hope you were able to join us last week at the Dirty Old Women Read Erotica Event in Oakland. It was great fun! But if you weren’t, and you happen to be in the L.A. area tonight, then I have fantastic news—I’ll be reading live once more! Yes!

This evening, Skylight Books and Rachel Kramer Bussel are hosting a reading to celebrate the recent release of Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 2. You’ll be hearing readings from both volumes—I’ll be reading an excerpt from “Ophelia the Second,” my contribution to Volume 1, and you’ll get to hear Jocelyn Bringas, Melina Greenport, and Rachel Kramer Bussel herself read contributions from both volumes. So fun!Cover of Best Women's Erotica of the Year

“Ophelia” is a story I’m still quite fond of; I took advantage of my theatre past to write a little Shakespeare inspired erotic romance, and I’m tickled to get to share it with you again live. And, even though I’m reading something entirely different, I’ll be bringing along some swag for The Assignment if you’d like to grab it!

All of this is free to you—especially the best part: a live, sexy reading! We do so hope you’ll join us. Skylight Books is located at 1818 North Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, California, and the reading starts at 7:30 pm. Please come on out and say hi!

Can’t wait to see you there!

XX,
Jade

Sexy Live Reading—Tonight!

Want to hear a sexy reading—live?

Good news if you do! Tonight is the Dirty Old Women Read Erotica event in Oakland, California. I’m thrilled to be one of two featured readers tonight, alongside fabulous Zoe Kat, and, bonus—to be reading you not one but two excerpts from The Assignment! Oh, it’s going to be hot, hot, hot, and I do hope you’ll join us!

One of many swag items for you!

The event starts at 7:30 pm with an open mic at The Octopus Literary Salon, located at 2101 Webster Street at 22nd Street in Uptown Oakland. After the delicious open mic session, Zoe Kat and I will be reading our stories to you from 8 to 9 pm. I’ve got all sorts of swag for The Assignment to give you, too. So, please make sure to grab some goodies after listening to a couple of sexy stories!

The Dirty Old Women Read Erotica event is totally free, and we hope you’ll come out and say hi. Feel free to visit the Facebook event page for more info, or to mark yourself as attending.

See you there!

XX,
Jade

Official cover of The Discipline by Jade A Waters

New Year, Fun News!

Happy 2017, everyone!

It’s a new year, which means all sorts of fun new things are happening. Woo hoo! As you may have heard, my debut erotic romance novel, The Assignment, released back in December—it’s been very exciting! But, thankfully, the wild release ride isn’t over yet. I’m thrilled to share not only that Lessons in Control book two, The Discipline, is out in a couple short months on March 13th and ready to pre-order now, but that we have an official back cover blurb to go with its sexy ass front cover. Score!Official cover of The Discipline by Jade A Waters

In just a moment, you’ll find some enticing information about what’s ahead in book two for dear Maya Clery and her romantic lead, Dean Sova…but don’t forget to read on after, since I have some nifty events to remind you of, too.

For now, let me introduce you to The Discipline…

How far would you go to fulfill a fantasy? 

Maya Clery has taken risks before. Her relationship with Dean Sova started out as a risk—a series of sexual assignments, each hotter, wilder, more intense than the last. Exploring her submissive side with a powerful, trustworthy Dominant has been everything she hoped for, everything she needed.

Dean pushes Maya to her limits—it’s one of the things she loves most about him. But as they push the boundaries outside their sex life, meeting friends and family members, Maya realizes there’s still much she doesn’t know about the man with whom she’s sharing her bed.

And when a fantasy simmering between them becomes their latest challenge, past secrets begin to reveal weaknesses in their relationship that neither is ready to face.

Book two of Lessons in Control  

This book is approximately 78,000 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, man-o. Are you excited? I’m excited. I have had so much fun writing Maya and Dean’s journey, so I can’t wait for the second installment of their story to make its way into your hands. And, though you can preorder the book now, there’s still a little time to kill before you’ll have it delivered. Fortunately, I have two sexy and free reading events I hope you’ll join me at this month to tide you over!

The first is just around the corner on January 24th, in Oakland, California. It’s the Dirty Old Women Read Erotica event at Octopus Literary Salon at 2101 Webster Street (at 22nd). I’m delighted to be one of the two featured readers there that night! The event starts at 7:30 p.m. with an open mic, and then both Zoe Kat and I will be reading some sexiness to you from 8 to 9. I’ll be reading a smoking hot excerpt from The Assignment, and I’ll also have some swag from the book for those who attend. I sure hope you join us!

Swag for The Assignment

I’ve got swag!

Then, one week later on January 31st, I’ll be down in L.A. with the fabulous Rachel Kramer Bussel as well as authors Jocelyn Bringas and Melina Greenport to celebrate the just released Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 2. We’ll be reading at Skylight Books L.A. at 1818 N. Vermont Avenue starting at 7:30 pm, with excerpts from both volumes out so far. I’ll be taking you on an erotic, romantic, Shakespearean inspired journey with a snippet from my contribution to Volume 1, “Ophelia the Second.” This story is one that’s still quite dear to me, so I do hope you’ll make it out to visit and enjoy the free reading. And if you miss the earlier Dirty Old Women reading, don’t worry—I’ll have some swag from The Assignment for you to grab there, as well. I look forward to seeing you at both events, so please come out, hear some sexy words, and say hi!

Until these awesome readings, please be sure to pick up your copy of The Assignment if you haven’t already done so, and also pre-order your copy of The Discipline today. The final book, The Reward, will be out not all that far away in June…so you’ll want to be read up and ready for when that time arrives!

Please check out the Lessons In Control page for all buy links and info for The Assignment, and you can pre-order your copy of The Discipline at:

Amazon US   Amazon UK   Carina Press   Barnes & Noble   Google Play   iBooks   Kobo

Thanks so much for joining in and reading, and I look forward to seeing you in Oakland and L.A. soon!

XX,
Jade

Cover of The Assignment by Jade A. Waters

The Assignment Blog Tour Begins—In an Interview with Rose Caraway!

Oh my goodness, everyone, I’m so excited. Today it begins—the official blog tour for The Assignment! Yessss! I could not be more thrilled not only for this tour to start, but for The Assignment to be in your hands in eight short days when it’s released on December 12th. Woo hoo!

And, on top of that, I am over the moon to get to launch the tour in such a marvelous way today: with one of my favorite people, the incredible Rose Caraway!Cover of The Assignment by Jade A. Waters

You may recall Rose Caraway interviewing me on The Sexy Librarian’s Podcast before, and she’s even narrated some of my short stories…but now, she’s paid me the honor of launching the tour with an interview in her studio! We shared such a fun time at her place yesterday, starting with Rose surprising me with treats and wine to celebrate the book’s forthcoming release—such a sweetheart!—and then moving us into our in-studio interview. Rose asked all sorts of questions about The Assignment and the Lessons in Control series as a whole, and I am so glad you get to listen in on it. Plus, Rose’s stop is extra special because she gave me the opportunity to record a sexy snippet of The Assignment, right there in-studio! That’s right—you’ll get to hear our interview as well as me reading a scene from the book. I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed participating!

To listen, please hop on over to The Sexy Librarian’s Podcast. And, as we continue the tour through December 23rd, filled with back info and details on the book, interviews, guest posts, excerpts, reviews, and giveaways, please keep checking back to the Official Tour Page to find each stop along the way.

For now, enjoy stop one—an interview between the fabulous Rose Caraway and me about The Assignment! I hope you enjoy it!

Be sure to pick up your copy of The Assignment, available for pre-order at…

Amazon US     Amazon UK      Barnes & Noble      Google Play      iBooks      Kobo

Happy reading!

XX,

Jade

Cover for Ophelia the Second by Dayv Caraway

“Ophelia the Second” – Featured on the Kiss Me Quick’s!

Cover for Ophelia the Second by Dayv Caraway

Cover art by Dayv Caraway

There is something extraordinary about hearing one’s own stories read aloud. It’s an opportunity not just to know that your story has been read and heard, but to understand how a reader might translate what you’ve written. In grasping that—for just a second—you can almost relax into your words, listening to them as though they’re not your own, potentially savoring them in a different way than what was experienced when you had the pleasure of writing them.

That’s why today, I’m tickled to share that the fabulous Rose Caraway has once again honored me with a narration of one of my stories. This time, she’s featured “Ophelia the Second” on The Kiss Me Quick’s Erotica Podcast, and she does a tremendous job of it, too. This particular story is part of Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1—and while I had the opportunity to read it live myself back in January, hearing it performed by the incredible Rose has made it twice as special for me. Extra bonus: Big Daddy’s sexy ass intro totally made me blush. 🙂

So, I invite you to please hop on over to The Kiss Me Quick’s to listen to “Ophelia the Second” with your own ears. It’s a sweet little erotic romance that’s got a lot of my theatre background worked in, and it still makes me smile. If you’d like to know more about the spark that ignited “Ophelia the Second,” please feel free to check out my Q&A with our incredibly talented editor, Rachel Kramer Bussel. You can also grab your copy of Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 right here.

Cover of Best Women's Erotica of the YearAnd finally—since I know you’ll love Rose’s rendition of this story—please indulge yourself in more of her fantastic readings of my work. Rose has honored me with previous readings of “The Doll,” “The Flogger,” and “Soundscapes”—an exclusive for The Kiss Me Quick’s Podcast.

Oh, and that delicious podcast? It’s something you should regularly indulge yourself in, too. 😉

Happy listening!

XX,
Jade

 

Cover of Coming Together: In Verse

Poetry for a Cause!

I have always loved writing poetry. It’s been a part of my life since I was young, and in the last few years, I’ve grown so fond of it I knew I needed to launch a secondary site to house all my poetic words. So, when the fabulous poet Ashley Lister put out a call for Coming Together: In Verse—a collection of erotic poetry to benefit Hope for Paws—I knew I simply had to take part.Cover of Coming Together: In Verse

Coming Together: In Verse is a sexy new anthology out today, filled entirely with erotic poetry and risqué verse—be it sultry, comedic, romantic, or filthy. On top of that, the poets involved are ones who will surely rock your world, and sales proceeds go to support a cause that’s dear to me, too—animal rescue! I’m thrilled to have three brand new poems in this anthology—”Colours,” “Farther,” and “Longing”—and to whet your appetite, I have some special surprises for you, too.

First, I’m revealing “Longing” over on my poetry site—it’s the shorter of my three poems included in Coming Together: In Verse. But then, I’m reading you “Longing,” too…because of course, poetry is meant to be heard. 😉 You can find the audio either on YouTube or on my poetry site.

Once you’re finished with both of these book release treats, I hope you’ll really make me purrrrr…by heading over to Amazon to grab your copy of this gorgeous new anthology. Sexy poetry, good cause—how can you pass it up?

I very much hope you enjoy “Longing,” and thank you for your support!

XX,
Jade

Image for "The Lucky One" curtains with "Welcome to the Night Show. No regrets."

“The Lucky One” is Part of Libidinous Zombie – Out for Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Today, I am thrilled to announce the official release of Libidinous Zombie—a phenomenal new erotic horror anthology edited and narrated by the brilliant Rose Caraway!

For those of you who haven’t caught on to Rose’s incredibly enthusiastic promotion of this book through #LZ and #8authors all over Facebook and Twitter, the project is more than just a concoction of sex and gore. Rose and Big Daddy had a vision with this one—and it’s all aboLibidinous Zombie Coverut the darkness within each of us. I think Remittance Girl nailed it with her post about the release of Libidinous Zombie, in which she said, “Both erotic and horrific, the libidinous zombie that lives inside all of us is only really addressed at the intersection of horror and eroticism.” That’s the real kernel in this awesome new release, and it’s why Rose has said again and again that this is her special dream project.

And I am honored to be a part of this spectacular, spooky dream!

So, to celebrate release day (and Halloween), today I’m going to tell you about my story, “The Lucky One,” and I’m giving you a snippet of the story itself. I’d also like to encourage you to check out The Sexy Librarian’s Blog-Cast, where Rose has already started interviewing each of the authors included in this anthology. There, you can hear more about them, their writing, and their thoughts on the marriage of erotica and horror! (I’ll post a link to mine when it comes up, soon!)

For now, let’s start with a little back-story. “The Lucky One” ventures into my past…when a long time ago, I wrote a story about a stripper werewolf that was so titillating I realized that what I really longed to write was erotica. See, when Rose sent out her call for this anthology, I knew that story—that freakish, dark carnival ground, and the roguish werewolf I’d once envisioned thriving there—needed to come back to life. Except this time, the tale belonged to someone else, an adventurous young woman named Claudia, who snuck in to a special night show she should never have seen.

Because from that night on, her life would never be the same…

Excerpt from “The Lucky One”:

I swiped at a bead of sweat rolling down my cheek, surprised that what should have been such a ridiculouWelcome to the Night Show.s act was so clearly turning me on. But then, nothing in this show had been what it seemed—it kept swinging from one extreme to another so fast, like that moment when the rollercoaster’s about to drop—a blend of excitement and shit, get me off this ride.

The music’s tempo changed again, and the dancers cruised off the stage, each of them picking an audience member to dance with. The buxom woman headed straight for Rusty. I’d never seen him beam so bright. He shot me a delirious grin once she drew him up from his chair, and as I cheered in encouragement, she led him onto the stage. I couldn’t stop giggling as she laid him down and crawled all over him, sniffing at his neck, his chest, and his crotch like the wolf woman she was supposed to be. The whole audience was hollering and cheering, and clothes actually started coming off—not just with the dancers and their respective partners, but from random people in the audience. It was like the heat in the tent had made everyone crazy, or maybe it was the scent of the mist raining down on us.

I glanced up, curious, but a hand slipped under my chin.

“Hi there,” Sergi said. His warm fingers and husky voice sent a pulse up my spine. I swallowed hard, because this close, I smelled on him what I’d noted earlier, but stronger. It was the scent of man, of sex.

Of desire.

I was fangirling. Hard.

“What’s your name?” he said.

“Claudia,” I whispered. Sergi straddled my knees, and the rollercoaster began again, trapping me between arousal and shock. The most delicious smile crossed his lips as he dragged his fingertips over his hips, then trailed them to the button of his leather pants and snapped them open.

I heard a groan from the stage and looked past Sergi’s pelvis, spotting Rusty fully naked with the woman grinding all over him. Sergi steered my gaze back to him with the grasp he still had on my chin, and then he bent down so his face lined up with mine. “I wouldn’t worry about him, Claudia.” I tried to breathe, and he continued. “You’re a pretty little thing, aren’t you?”

He slid his hand into my hair, tugging it slightly, bringing a moan to my lips. When I cocked my head he flashed his smile again, and all I knew right then was him.

I’ve told you, I wish I could explain all this better. The way, out of nowhere, his body made me ache, or how the look in his eyes grabbed ahold of me, yanking something up from inside. Sergi leaned closer, tipping his lips toward mine, and my heart thumped in my chest.

“May I kiss you, Claudia?” he asked.

That voice filled my head, swimming in my thoughts, consuming every logical answer and leaving me with the one I muttered then.

“Yes.”

Sergi ran his fingers down my neck and pressed his mouth to mine. Our kiss was deep and so hot, our lips parting wide as our tongues tangled. I gasped when he slipped his hand down and cupped my breast, but when he lifted me out of my chair I fell into him, feeling the steel of his chest, and the hardness of his cock through his pants. He scooped me into his arms and I didn’t even protest, letting him carry me onto the stage not ten feet from Rusty and the other dancer, where they fucked hard and loud. It was strange to see Rusty like that, but my nipples tightened at the view, at the sounds, before Sergi laid me down and kissed me again. His hands ripped open my shirt. I touched his face as he gazed into my eyes, and tingles shot through my arms and legs.

I wanted him like I’d never wanted anyone in my life.

“This isn’t a strip show,” I murmured.

Sergi slid his hands between my thighs. He strummed me through the fabric, his words hot against my face.

“This isn’t a strip show, no. Much, much better.”

***

Libidinous Zombie features every horror you can imagine merged with sultry, erotic storytelling that is sure to terrify you and turn you on. With tales by Allen DuskRemittance Girl, Malin James, Tamsin Flowers, Raziel Moore, Janine Ashbless, Rose Caraway herself, and me, I’ve no doubt you will find yourself looking inside to the deepest, darkest corners of your soul…where pure primal fear meets intense, heart-pounding lust.

Now the question is—are you brave enough to join us?

XX,
JadeList of Authors

 

Cover of The Sexy Librarian's Dirty 30 Cover

Interviewed on Inside the Erotica Author’s Studio!

The most exciting thing happened earlier this week—the lovely Rose Caraway of The Kiss Me Quick’s Erotica Podcast had me up to her studio to record an interview! Wow!Cover of Rose Caraway's Dirty 30 Audiobook

Rose Caraway is the editor of The Sexy Librarian’s Dirty 30, a collection in which I am lucky enough to have two stories, “The Bells” and “The Doll.” To celebrate the release of this book, Rose has been interviewing the contributors on her “Inside the Erotica Author’s Studio” series. The whole idea is to introduce you to each of us while finding out more about us and our stories. I could not be more thrilled to be a part of this book, and now to have had the privilege of talking with Rose in her actual studio—well, let’s just say the whole experience has completely boggled my mind.

We had such a great conversation about all sorts of things—you’ll find out about my tendency to try just about anything, how I write, thoughts on my stories, my experience with having an agent, and even an interesting date accident I almost had. Rose is positively one of the sweetest people on the planet, as is the amazing Big Daddy, so this interview made me feel right at home in their studio!

If you’d like to check it out, you can do so right here with the player below. Or, if you’d like to read Rose’s show notes alongside the interview, you can click on over to The KMQ’s. Either way, I hope you enjoy listening to us as much as I enjoyed my time hanging at The KMQ’s!

Also, don’t forget to check out The Sexy Librarian’s Dirty 30 in audiobook or ebook format. And if you’d like to hear some of my previous work narrated on The Kiss Me Quick’s, check out my story “Soundscapes,” or a poem, “Owned.” It’s been a privilege working with The KMQ’s, and now to be interviewed by them!

Thanks so much for joining us!

XX,
Jade

N.B. You can now listen to “The Doll” narrated by the fabulous Rose Caraway right here!

Cover of The Sexy Librarian's Dirty 30 Cover

The Sexy Librarian’s Dirty 30 (Part Two) – “The Doll”!

Yesterday, I told you a bit about “The Bells”—the first of my two stories in Rose Caraway’s freshly released The Sexy Librarian’s Dirty 30As promised, today I’m back to talk about “The Doll,” a piece that is dear to my heart in a far different way than my fascination with famous queens and historical torture methods.

The Other Dirty 30 Cover

The alternate (and possibly temporary) Dirty 30 ebook cover

This one is much more personal.

I’ve had many relationships in my life, and I’m sure I’m not alone in saying some have definitely left me more wobbly than expected once they ended. “The Doll” is a play off something I said after one such relationship—a fairly complicated affair that, in truth, both opened my mind and turned me completely inside out. It’s a love I’ve come back to a lot in my head, one that’s inspired several things and that will undoubtedly continue to do so for a long time to come.

While I’ve since healed from this relationship, the period after it ended required a ton of strength to wash it all out of my system. Over and over, I told those close to me I felt broken afterwards. I likened the experience to having finally come alive, but said that afterward I felt like a crumpled up, abandoned marionette that was no longer able to dance.

And it was from that analogy that “The Doll” was born.

I scribbled a few notes after I said all this to a friend one day, and I guess it turned out that—devastated or not—my writer brain was still working, turned on in ways I couldn’t even begin to comprehend as hurt as I was. Somewhere in my subconscious, I was crafting an image of what the experience really felt like to me.

It took a long while for me to sit down and write this story because it was so close to me, but once I did, it morphed into something I hadn’t expected. It was no longer just a story about a doll coming to life, and somehow it went from literary erotic spec fic to allegory in a matter of pages. Like “The Bells,” it came to me in a single sitting—but when it was over, I exhaled a different kind of sigh than I had for the other piece. This story was more personal, more tender, and in so many ways, incredibly healing for me to put to page.

So…there you have it: my story behind “The Doll,” one of my most favorite pieces written to date.

To celebrate its release into the world, I’d love to share an excerpt with you.

From “The Doll”:

When Asif’s ex-wife swung by to drop off his alimony check, she’d pointed at the marionette with a frown.

“You’ve got to be kidding. Another doll to add to this crap?” She’d waved her hands about the apartment lined with shelf upon shelf of handmade dolls. “You’re obsessed with fixing the fucking dolls, and you don’t make any money with them. Plus, this one’s broken.” She’d lifted the doll’s leg, quick to point out the broken strings that barely kept her right foot hinged to her ankle. “You’re ridiculous, Asif,” she’d said, and then the door had snapped shut behind her.

But Asif knew she was wrong with this one, and when he turned his focus back to the doll, he spoke to her in hushed tones.

“You’re beautiful. These breaks are what give you character.”

She seemed to nod at him, confirming what Asif already knew in his many days of watching her—she was his darling to tend to, to cherish, and to love.

In the coming weeks, Asif discovered more of Henrietta: the chips of two fingernails, ruined beyond repair, and the space above her ear where a lock of hair had been violently removed, leaving the wood beneath ragged and raw. Asif tried to heal these wounds, and when he couldn’t, he’d prop her beside him at the table and speak to her with tender words meant to coax her from inside her wooden casing. Because—despite the nails and the missing strand of hair, and the broken string that left her right foot flailing when he tried to dance her around his flat—he loved her.

“You’re real beneath that shell,” he said one night, his voice a lonely whisper as he dipped his paintbrush, and then in a painstakingly slow manner, drew the paint in delicate sweeps to fix the liner smudged beneath her eye. “I can see it, Henrietta. I can feel it. I just wish you’d know how safe you are with me.”

The marionette’s eyes struck Asif as brighter, two brown stars against her pale wooden face. He set down the brush and took her slim fingers into his, stroking them, smiling at them, and then bobbed his head with conviction.

“I believe you’re more, my love,” he said.

A rustling came through the open window then, stirring a lock of her hair, and Asif caught it in his fingers. He fondled the wisp from root to tip as though it was real. As though she was real. And when Henrietta gazed back at him, Asif heard her silent plea for more.

Quietly, he lifted his fingertips to her brow. He traced several strands of her hair, from the knots binding it into her wooden scalp and down through to the ends, and as he did her hair began to lighten and silken. Moved by this, Asif slid his entire hand into her hair. He twined his fingers with the strands and brushed them back from her face, and each ringlet followed the course of the first—the flaxen coarseness becoming shiny and free, like the satiny strands of a woman’s hair. Even the knots on her scalp loosened, the hair springing quite naturally from her head.

“You are, aren’t you?” he whispered.

The doll’s eyes sparkled.

*

Intrigued?

I hope so. And I also hope you’ll pick up a copy of The Sexy Librarian’s Dirty 30. It’s a collection I’m so thrilled to be a part of, and with the roster of exceptional authors in here, I’m absolutely positive you’re going to love it.

Please pick up your copy on either Amazon or Audible, and in the meantime, thank you so much for joining me on this two-post series!

Happy reading and listening!

XX,
Jade

Cover of The Sexy Librarian's Dirty 30 Cover

The Sexy Librarian’s Dirty 30 (Part One) – “The Bells”!

Every once in a while, we as writers create something we’re extraordinarily excited about. It could be that the piece was a challenge to write, or that it reflected a personal moment that’s stuck with us a long time. It might be a new idea we never thought to brave before, or, it could simply be that something about the story tickled us to the core. Either way, baring the part of our souls that made it important to us is why it ends up being so much more exciting when other people finally see it, too.

That’s why today’s news feels super enthralling. Just a little bit ago, The Sexy Librarian’s Dirty 30 came out, and now it’s officially available in audio, too. What makes this collection special (besides an all-star lineup) is not just that it includes one of those dear stories I described above—and I can’t even believe how lucky I am to say this—but it has two!

Since I have so much to say about both pieces in this fantastic new collection from the lovely Rose Caraway, I’ve decided to split this post into a two-part series. Today, I’ll talk about and give an excerpt for “The Bells,” which is a dark alternate history piece. Tomorrow, I’ll focus in on “The Doll,” a story that thrills me in a hugely different, more personal way. I hope you’ll join me for both posts, as I can honestly say these stories are two of my very favorites.

So, let’s see, before I say anything more about “The Bells,” let’s have a look-see at the ridiculously sexy audiobook cover:

Cover of The Sexy Librarian's Dirty 30 Cover

Hot, right? I’m still dancing over here because I love it so! There’s been a slight (and possibly temporary) tweak to the ebook cover, but I’ll show you that one tomorrow.

For now, I’d like to tell you a bit about “The Bells”…

I have to start with a confession on this one: I am not a history buff, and it was my absolute worst subject in school. However, there are certain themes and topics that have surprised me along the way. For example, I’ve always been fascinated by powerful female leaders (or pseudo-leaders, anyway). My first glimpse of this was in reading The King’s Way by Françoise Chandernagor as a teen, and then a few years later, getting sucked into Philippa Gregory’s The Virgin Lover. It seemed to me these ladies were flexing a LOT of power despite being the historically underrated female, and so in the back of my mind I thought playing with that might be fun in a story one day.

Let’s cut to another historical topic that captivated me: Henry VIII and his herd of wives. I know it’s history and that was understandable for the time, but this one feisty man getting all the ladies and cutting off a third of their heads just because of a little adultery never quite sat right with me. It’s a crime against love and loins, dude, not a threat to your throne.

It’s this tidbit that actually leads to the third historical topic that revved my engines—the punishment methods of our past. I’ve always been bizarrely fascinated by this stuff, but in college, I stumbled upon a course called The History of Crime and Punishment. I promptly enrolled in it, obsessed over it, and aced it like a champ. I got so into this course, in fact, that my boyfriend at the time grew unnecessarily worried over how often I wanted to watch scary old late night documentaries depicting means of torture and really cruel things we did to one another in the name of justice. But, I mean—drawing and quartering? Wheel breaking? The Judas Cradle? Ducking stools? Loss of ears? What the hell is wrong with us that we came up with these things?!

So put all that background on simmer, and many years later, along comes Rose Caraway’s Dirty 30 call. She’d already bowled me over by putting Soundscapes on her tremendous Kiss Me Quick’s podcast, so I knew the plot could get way out there if I so wished it. I didn’t know what to write, but for some reason I kept having this persistent image of bells ringing. It was outdoors, in a dusty arena, and they just kept clang clang clanging.

As I was toying with what to do with this image, randomly, a certain unfortunate Queen I’d once learned about popped into my head.

I guess it was the perfect storm; the merging of all these ideas had me at the computer the next day in full trance-style—hyper-focused, phone off, fingers flying over the keyboard. The image grew darker and darker, because I kept wondering what if, what if, what if it had gone this way instead?

Annnnnddddd…that’s where I have to pull the brakes on my back story, because my intention is not to blow the plot for you—that wouldn’t be fun for any of us. Fortunately, I do have an excerpt to whet your appetite.

From “The Bells”:

Catherine remained still. The bells she wore about her ankles were permanent instruments, but it was the rest of the adornments that paled poor Helen’s face as she worked, her lips pursed tight when she drew the box from beneath Catherine’s bed and focused on the entirety of her lady’s body.

First, she circled her wrists with multiple strands of bells, creating bracelet upon bracelet of noise. The next strand she fastened around Catherine’s bare waist, the bells resting against her alabaster skin and jingling as Helen checked each one in turn. After came the clamps, which she held in the air with a wince before securing them to Catherine’s nipples. Immediately, Catherine felt the burn, the sting of teeth gripping her as Helen did what she’d been instructed to do every week prior—flicking them to ensure they made their respective and appropriate sounds.

Catherine closed her eyes. The clamps drove her mad, sending heat through her breasts and into her belly. Her heart pounded in ways neither Helen nor the King could possibly have anticipated—for they had all assumed after he walked in on her, catching her in her treachery, that this sort of ceremony would bring her the ultimate shame.

“Are you all right, my lady?”

Catherine opened her eyes with a nod.

“Continue.”

The first time Helen had adorned Catherine, she’d spoken her instructions aloud. Her voice had quavered in the bitter tears of youth as she affixed the many bells to Catherine’s naked form. But Catherine had found irony in soothing the girl, finally cupping her cheeks in her palms and silencing her with the same sentiment she’d boldly pronounced at her sentencing.

“This is the fate I have chosen for my crimes, because I would never choose to die.”

Catherine knew the girl had found some solace despite the sorrow wrinkling her brow. But even now, knowing Catherine’s choice, knowing her fate, Helen held her face in the stubborn conviction of a girl foolishly protecting her former Queen.

“Well? Hurry on, then,” Catherine said.

Helen scooped the last of the adornments from the box: a single bell on a chain that Catherine was to wear as a necklace. This lone bell would make the most noise throughout the ceremony, but at this moment it rested, quiet and benign, aligned with the rising throb of her clamped nipples.

Helen gave Catherine her final inspection, then nodded in the grave way she usually did before calling for the guard.

“She is ready.”

Catherine held her head high when he arrived. The man opened the cell with a leer behind his mask, and yet he made no comment, no move to take advantage of her state. Instead he merely stepped back, careful of her bare feet as Helen took her hand and escorted her down the winding hall. The bells on Catherine’s body chimed with every step, the reminder of her crime and the next round of punishment to come. Her cheeks burned, but the weight of the clamps and the sound of the bells sent her heart clattering in wild bursts.

When they arrived on the platform, Helen arranged Catherine behind the curtains as she’d been trained to do: her arms and legs splayed, fastened to the far corners of the proscenium by long cords of bells that attached to her bracelets. This was temporary—because beyond those thick, velvet sheets, loud shrieks beckoned for a show. Theirs was a kingdom of eager viewers, crazed with a hungry fervor that sent chills through Catherine’s arms as Helen shifted her about. Her body vibrated with the energy of the arena, and her legs shook beneath her when Helen nudged her torso forward. The pitch of her chest allowed the bells to dangle from her neck and nipples so they would trill with each movement she’d make.

“Good luck, my lady,” Helen said.

And then she was gone.

*

I have not yet had the opportunity to hear the amazing Rose Caraway read either of the stories I’ve got in this collection, but I have no doubt she’s going to completely rock my world, and hopefully yours too! The book is available on Audible right here, or if you prefer it, on Amazon right here.

Either way, I do hope you’ll please come back tomorrow, when I share some back story and an excerpt for my other story in this collection, “The Doll.”

Until then, thanks so much for reading!

XX,
Jade

N.B. You can now read about “The Doll” right here.