What I Learned About Hot Romance from Jet Mykles!

Hi everyone–

Today, my friend Jet Mykles released her fourth book in the Leashed Series called Tangled Leashes. This is one of my favorite series from one of my favorite writers–the woman who turned me on to the joys of writing MM. Surprisingly, the Leashed series is a MMF menage and paranormal too. Shifters and witches, baby. You can find the book at Loose Id.  

A little over a year ago, when i had my first book, Genetic Attraction, published by Loose Id, i wrote a variation of this blog post and Jet was kind enough to post it on her site. Then i posted this variation on Fiction With Friction. In honor of the new release of Leashed 4, i want to post it again here —

For years, people told me I should write a book, but I couldn’t imagine what I wanted to write about. Then I started reading Jet Mykles, and less than three years later, I’m a published author with nine published novels and the tenth, Beach Balls, to be released on May 4th from Etopia Press and another new book coming in July. Reading Jet’s books was better than all the fiction-writing classes (although I did those too), because through Jet I discovered my passion for passion. For the first time, I found something so fun and exciting it would write itself (hmmm. Not quite that easy but certainly a lot of FUN). (Jet can now put “muse” on her resume.)
Here’s what Jet taught me:

  • ·         It’s impossible for heroes to be too beautiful – Don’t tell me my heroes Roan Black in The Scientist and the Supermodel or Hunter Fallon in Fire Balls couldn’t exist in real life. Erotic romance fiction isn’t real life. The likes of Johnny in Heaven and Shasertai in Sursein Judgementare compelling to me and lots of other readers.
  • ·         Characters benefit from being a little (or a lot) over the top – Many writers concentrate on “real people”, but I find I best remember the ones that stand out from the crowd. Have you ever met anyone quite like Jet’s Hell? My artist hero in Fire Balls is flamboyant and wild and a black belt in karate. My kind of guy.
  • ·         It’s possible to write great conflict without unspeakable angst – When conflict gets too intense in books, I often feel like closing the cover and walking away. (I avoid the Russian authors and love Jane Austen) Jet makes her readers wonder how the characters will ever get out of their mess – while being totally confident that it will happen.
  • ·         Relationships between people are diverse, wondrous and mysterious — Jet’s books avoid labels and categories. She has straight men falling in love with other men, gay men falling in love with women, all  with a minimum of chest-pounding. Is this real life? Who cares? It’s great fiction. I’ve tried to carry on some of this tradition in my books too.
  • ·         Once your characters grab ahold of you, they don’t let go – Jet’s book are almost always part of series. I never intended it, but I’ve published nine books as of now and seven of them are part of series. My book, Spell Cat, is the first in The Aloysius Tales, Beach Balls will be the third book in the Balls to the Wall series, and Sinders and Ash could also become the first book in a contemporary fairy tale romance series. Jet just has to tell me how to find time to write them all!

The bottom line is — thank you, Jet. You have always been generous with your help, and, above all, a huge inspiration to many writers like me. I’ve learned great lessons from your fiction and, hopefully, have put it to work in my books. Oh yes, I forgot to mention. We both love Adam Lambert. 
Beach Balls, as i mentioned, is coming May 4th. Watch for the blog tour starting soon. Check in at Beautiful Boys Books for all the details. Meanwhile, you can join my enewsletter and get updates on blog tours, hops and contests, just by joining at the top of the right hand column. Plus, i love blog followers! Thank you for stopping by.  : )

What Kinds of Stories are “Out”?

Hi everyone–
Whew. It’s been a wild few days with the success of Fire Balls! So how about a complete change of pace. 
I was at a meeting of a bunch of romance writers the other day and the conversation turned to what kinds of stories are new and what are passe’. It got me thinking about what you, as a reader, would say to that question, because, after all, you are the only one who has a say in the final decision about what does and does not sell. Here are some of my thoughts.
The big question is always “are vampires finally out?” I’d say vampires have never been and will never be out – for the right vampire, that is. Yes, we get tired of the same old bloodsuckers. We got bored with the “can’t go in the sunlight, can’t be seen in mirrors, yada, yada”. What did we get? Sparkly vampires in high school. Bingo, not boring — for awhile anyway. We didn’t like the “Count from Transylvania” image anymore. How about some huge, alpha males in shitkickers that mate with human females and only fight against really bad guys who smell like baby powder. We’re still not tired of them. Good writers continue to make vamps exciting – like Z A Maxfield’s Noturno and S J Frost’s Natural Instinct s and the new Enduring Instincts. The vamps are sensational and so are the stories and that’s what counts.
When the world thought vamps might be out, shifters came in. Wolves were the biggie (and still kind of are). But in the last few years, authors have turned humans into everything including dragons.My friend, Selena Illyria has done a sensational job with dragons in Dragons at Midnight. While some books feel like you’ve read them a dozen times, others are so clever you never want them to end. Try Jet Mykles Leashed series and the terrific anthology, Shifting Sands, that turns men into the animals of the Chinese zodiac. What a great idea and one that makes you feel like you’ve never read shifters before.
It may seem like historical novels have been done to death and you can’t stand one more Regency gown and then Jianne Carlo comes along with a series about Vikings or Lynn Lorenz sets a gay romance in medieval times. You decide you like historicals real quick. Contemporary stories never go “out” in the hands of Sloan Parker, Ethan Day, Johnny Miles and Josh Lanyon. Who would have dreamed a little novella called Fire Balls would hit number one on the Amazon Gay Romance list? But readers love firefighters in new stories and pairings and this one is a bit different!
So I think the bottom line is simple. Yes, when certain types of stories are hot, it may be easier to sell a mediocre book in that genre, but really good books make the genres hot. That’s why we follow our favorite authors no matter where they lead. We know, no matter what, they’ll make them good.
So you probably read more than I do. Tell me what type of story you think will be the next big thing. Have you read anything new and fresh that will have everyone copying it six months from now?
Remember to enter to win Fire Balls and a $10. Amazon GC in the Fire Balls Blog Tour. Go HERE and leave a comment and email and follow all the directions.  LOL  :  ) 

RT Wrap-Up and Offer to Book Clubs

I’m baaaaaaaccccck from RT11 and i had a blast. What a fun week. I attended a bunch of great workshops like one on writing romantic suspense, and one on increasing heat in urban fantasy. I got to sit in on a terrific editors panel, and listen to experts talk about the best way to write powerful fight scenes. But the place i learned the very most was from the wonderful writers i met who shared information and friendship generously. One evening i literally “sat at the feet” (at a cocktail party with too few chairs) of the great erotic romance writer, Lynn Lorenz, and listened to her talk about setting up your spreadsheets to keep track of your books and their success. I heard about the power of gender fluidity in paranormal worlds from Belinda McBride, the use of graphics from Lex Valentine, and writing BDSM from Cherise Sinclair. Z A Maxfield talked about writing her first vampire story, the fantastic Notturno, which was the best-selling ebook at MLR Press for 2010 and one of my all time favorite vampire novels. And then i walked up to my idol and mentor, Jet Mykles, to introduce myself and she said, “Hi Tara, i’m reading Genetic Attraction“. Talk about your highpoints!! I would have gone to RT just for that!. 

Everyone was so nice to me and i had so much fun, i wish you all could have been there. But i would like to share. I have a bunch of Genetic Attraction bookcover postcards left over from the show and also some magnets. If you have a book club, reader’s group or even casual group like of fellow college students who enjoy erotic romance and you would like some of these to share, let me know and i will mail them to you. You can email me at tara@taralain.com and give me your snailmail address.  Or, of course, you can leave a comment here. 

Also, if there’s anything you would like to know about RT, just leave a comment and i’ll try to answer. :  )

My Beautiful Boys — Writing Heroes

All writers, especially those who write in romance genres, tend to specialize in either heroines or heroes. My friend Suzanne Forster is famous for her plucky, quirky females. Not to say that she doesn’t write great guys, she does. But her women sing! With names like Kate, Trish, Augusta Featherstone and the perfect Edwina Moody, Suzanne’s heroines are the catalysts of her stories. I’ve never asked her, but i’ll bet she thinks of them first and then finds a hero to offset these great woman. 

Not me. For me it’s all about the boys. I guess that’s why i’m a m/m and menage writer. But even when i dream up m/f stories, the heroine remains a bit a of a cipher until i flesh out the hero. What does he look like? I describe him in loving detail. (When you read Genetic Attraction in February pay attention to the way i describe Roan Black when Em first meets him. Yes, a definite wet dream.) What does he do for a living? Is he tough, sensitive, gentle? Once i have him with lots of flesh on his bones, i think about the heroine or maybe the other hero or both that will best suit him. It has to be someone who can cause some sparks and has the potential for conflict, otherwise there’s no story. But it can’t be so much conflict  that it can never be resolved, after all romance has to end happily. Think of a story we all know, Pride and Prejudice. When we first meet Mr Darcy he seems so unpleasant that he’s beyond redemption. Aside from being handsome, he has very little to recommend him. For the rest of the book, Lizzie learns more and more things about Mr. Darcy that redeems him in her (and our) eyes so that we are hyperventilating at the idea they may not end up married.

Some of my favorite EROM writers create the BEST heroes. Well, as m/m writers that is their stock in trade. Take a look at the wonderful Edward in Lynn Lorenz’ Edward Unconditionally, Johnny in Jet Mykles’ Heaven, Matthew in Sloan Parker’s More and the fabulous Adin in Z.A.Maxfield’s Notturno and now, the sequel, Vigil. Each of these men is completely unique such that they stand out in your mind in a sea of heroes. And i bet they haunt the dreams of their writers. I know my boys do.

If you write, who do you see first? Hero or heroine? And when you read, is the hero or the heroine the most important in making the book memorable? Share.

Lions and Leopards and Wolves — Oh, My.

I don’t read as many shape-shifter stories as i read vamps, i guess, because i found i had a few passionate favorites but not so much variety. Regardless, i do love some seriously great shifters. Here’s my list. What’s your?

Michael and Rudy from Jet Mykles Leashed series –– You already know that i love Jet’s books, but the Leashed stories are particularly terrific. A menage series centered on a powerful but untrained witch, the books feature two lovely shape-shifters, Michael, the dominant werepanther who is also a talented witch, and his yummy young lover, Rudy, the werewolf. The series also has a new shifter to drool over — Logan, the werelion. I’d suggest you head to Jet’s website (see link in my blog roll below) and look at her delicious computer drawings of these men. Smiles all around.
Nathaniel from Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series — The reason so many people read Hamilton’s books even when her writing degrades shamelessly as it does in some of the later stories, is because she creates truly great characters. One of her best is Nathaniel, the young wereleopard, who worms his way into the heart of Anita Blake until she has to love him. A stripper by profession with lavender eyes and knee-length auburn hair, Nathaniel is to my taste the best of her shifters. Submissive and loving but full of surprises, he even exceeds the enchanting Micah (with the huge cock) in sheer enchantment. And, of course, both of them surpass Hamilton’s werewolf, Richard, who is just too whiny for words.
Doyle from Hamilton’s Meredith Gentry series — Admittedly, Doyle is primarily a great sidhe warrior, but in Hamilton’s later Meredith Gentry books he’s revealed to also be a powerful shape-shifter. Doyle (pronounced Dole) is a wonderful creation. Black as darkness which is his nickname, he is mysterious, honorable and dangerous.
Okay, okay, i know you’re asking “where is Alcide?” In fact, while Alcide is one impressive werewolf in Trueblood, in the Sookie Stackhouse books he starts out terrific and ends up a bit disappointing. Same can be said for Charlaine Harris’s terrific Quinn, the weretiger. He’s even more of a let down in the end, so i can’t really put either of them on my list.
A Twitter friend recommended The Red Rock Pass series by Moira Rogers for great shifters. I’m half way through the first book and like it, but so far i can’t put these weres on the list. Tune in later. Angela Knight does some great shifters, too but not quite the top for me. I do like them pretty. So that’s my list for now. Enjoy.

Cool Your Jets!

Just a quick post to let you know that Jet Mykles new book, Squire, the first of her new Indigo Knights series, is coming out in about a week at Loose Id. To read a blurb from the book (YUMMY i assure you) look below at my blog list and click on the link. As you know, Jet is a huge favorite of mine and the person who got me to say yes, i can write fiction. So go to the blog list or to http://www.computerotika.com Enjoy!

On Jet, Steampunk and Inspiration

People ask how i got interested in writing erotic romance. The answer is simple. Jet Mykles. Somehow, about two years ago, i found one of her Dark Elves books on Amazon and was hooked. But the real turning point for me was when i ordered Heaven Sent. I had never read a m/m (that’s male/male for the uninitiated) romance and was actually quite nervous about it which makes me laugh now. But, oh my, one venture into Jet’s “over-the-top” guys and i was a goner. I read everything she’d written and continue to wait with all her fans for the next book or story.

If you’re an EROM reader chances are you’ve already delved into some of Jet’s popular series so i’d like to tell you about one of her books that maybe, just maybe, you missed. It’s called Sursein Judgment and so far it’s a stand alone book although Jet says she has plans for at least one more in the series. Sursein Judgment is a steampunk (or she might say steampunkish) m/m romance which takes place in a world where there are judges ordained by the god of justice who can hear truth. I won’t describe the plot since there is a link here and you can check it out for yourself. I will say that the depth of these characters is amazing even for Jet who really explores character in all her books, deeply felt and hugely involving. For me, it captured so many of the kinds of love that one man can have for another.
If you’ve never read m/m erotic romance, i’d say start with the Heaven Sent series. But if you’re already a devoted m/m reader and you’ve missed Sursein Judgment, then dive in!

I‘ve never said thank you to Jet for her inspiration, so here it is. Thank you. I’m a fan and as long as you keep writing, i’ll keep reading.