Monday, August 30, 2010

Author Interview ~ Laura Tolomei

Hey, everyone. It's Monday, and we're doin' pretty darned good. And to add to it, we have author, Laura Tolomei on our couch hanging out with me and Megan here at The Menagerie today. Let's all give her a warm welcome.

Welcome to The Menagerie, Laura. I hope you have as much fun here as we do. :-D I'll let Megan get the ball rolling.

We’re a nosy group of girls here and we want to know everything. We like geography, so where are you from?

I’m from Italy, a beautiful country full of history, art, nature, sun, sea and friendly people with the exception of the current government. But to be honest, I don’t feel much like an Italian, maybe because I grew up in other countries, mostly Nigeria, the US and India, then continued to travel around for business and personal enjoyment until I feel like I’m a citizen of the world, rather than of a single country, belonging everywhere and nowhere in particular.

Wow, you are the globetrotter. Then again, Italy sounds like the romance capital of the world—I want to go there. **Le sigh** Someday.

LOL, I have to agree with Megan, I think we should plan a trip there... someday. So, can you tell us your latest news?

My latest news is all over the net, the Virtus Saga with its three books already released and more yet to come. What is the Virtus Saga? It’s an ambitious and complex work spanning time and space on the planet Sendar where Prince Duncan Caldwell, his lover Lord Christopher Templeton and his woman Ylianor Meyer are the only ones who can shed light on the mysterious device controlling their world and their lives. Mostly, it’s about relationships, people, trust, love, friendship, discovery, truth, power, life and death. And last, but certainly not least, it’s about sex and its power not just to create connections, but also to defuse aggressive impulses

The World
Sex, sex and more sex without limits or boundaries—not in numbers, not in gender, whether it’s the phase, the pledge or the heat—such is Sendar’s very foundation, an apparently peaceful planet, without the usual pestilences associated with mankind, wars, hunger, violence. But is it really so?

The Characters
Lost while returning home, Duncan Caldwell, only son and heir of Prince Charles Caldwell, finds shelter in Ylianor Meyer’s rundown shack. The beautiful woman has a very familiar air, but for the life of him, he cannot remember who she is or resist the attraction he feels, despite his aristocratic tastes. So he offers her a job as Black Rose’s stable keeper, only to find out she’s the daughter of his father’s mistress. But will this stop the fatal pull drawing him to her bed?

Lord Christopher Templeton is fiercely in love with Duncan Caldwell, a love started before either was old enough to know what love is, which continues until Duncan decides it’s time for him to find a woman. But Chris is determined to hold on to his prince no matter what it takes, even if he has to face the hated rival he had already driven away from his lover’s side, once, so long ago.

Ylianor Meyer has been in love with Duncan Caldwell since the very beginning, growing up with him on the green hills and cliffs of Black Rose. Banned by Prince Charles’s mate, she hasn’t seen Duncan for over 10 years, but when he walks in her rundown shack, she knows she still loves him as passionately as when she was merely nine-years-old. So she follows him, no matter what the consequences, no matter what his despicable lover will do to drive her away…again.

Lord Arthur Fairchild, leader of the High Council, knows time is slipping away from his grasp and Sendar will be condemned if his hero doesn’t come forth soon. So he summons him—not just him, but also the ones he’s connected to by lifetimes of bonding love and feelings so strong they’ve transcended time and space. And the uncontrollable power, the Virt, the energy running wild on Sendar only complicate matters.

The pyramid
Three-sided like the three lovers full of power and explosive feelings, Virtus controls Sendar in ways they have yet to discover and if they can, change.

The story
Unknown to most, powerful forces dominate Sendar’s feudal-like society, the ability to wield destructive energy so strong in some people, it’s threatening to devastate their world. But to reach a new balance you have to learn, grow, blend with the world from which you come, then go beyond it before the world collapses into chaos. And that’s what Duncan, Chris and Ylianor must learn to do if sex, power, magic, passion and jealousy won’t stand in their way.

The Books
Book 1 The Sex – available now

Book 2 The Game – available now

Book 3 The Festival – available now

Book 4 The Leader – later 2010
Book 5 The Pledge
Book 6 The Heat
Book 7 The Trace
Book 8 The Keeper

The story begins in Book 1 The Sex with Duncan lost while returning home from a neighboring town. Before night falls though, he finds shelter in Ylianor’s rundown shack. The beautiful woman has a very familiar air, but for the life of him, he cannot remember who she is or resist the attraction he feels, despite his aristocratic tastes. So he offers her a job at Black Rose, his family’s estate, only to discover she’s the daughter of his father’s mistress. And his lover, Chris, isn’t too happy about her either, being fiercely determined to hold on to his prince against the hated rival he had already driven away from his lover’s side. But since life has the strange habit of surprising people, the lovers will be forced to take her along with them on a journey that will test their limits, particularly in Book 2 The Game where they’ll have to play masters or slaves in a vortex of sexual commands and passionate submissions. And even if with Duncan, Chris and Ylianor it’s easy to guess who will play what, the far reaching consequences of their game will change their lives, and that of their world, forever. Then in Book 3 The Festival everything comes together, the responsibilities and the relationships finally falling into place thanks to their new awareness of what their world is all about. And if the secret is to be as one whilst still remaining three…well, it’s something they’ll have to explore further in Book 4 The Leader, coming later 2010, with more exciting developments, twists and turns in and out of bed.

That’s a lot of information on some interesting books. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Late in life, after my 40s, but let me start at the beginning. I started early, in high school, even if I didn’t have the slightest idea I wanted to become a writer, only reached that conclusion until almost 30 years later. My very first beginning was to publish a short story, Nostalgia, in the high school’s journal, born out of my longing for my country. Then I continued in college, writing articles for Emory U’s Journal, The Phoenix, but when I returned to Rome, Italy, I concentrated on more “serious matters” like graduating, finding a job, blah, blah. Well, I had to live life for a long time, rather than write about it until I had to give voice to an experience that had tormented me since my American days. It came out as a novel, “Piccolo Crocevia a Cinque” (loosely translated “Little Five Points”). This set me right back on the writing track, although again it wasn’t a continuous commitment. I had to wait until about five years ago when I came to a turning point in my life, in order to decide to become a WRITER, expanding my work in English, too. But it wasn’t until after I published my first two/three books that I considered myself an AUTHOR, or rather, I think it was after I received the 2010 EPIC nomination for Sacrificial Sex. That, more than anything else, told me I was getting somewhere…finally!

An award; always nice. Gotta love those. But starting later in life isn’t always bad. My vamps didn’t really live til 200 years into their existences.

This is true. How awesome that you finally had the chance to do what you love so much. How did you come up with the title?

I didn’t. My mate, now husband, did, like he did for most of my books. He has the rare gift of synthesizing in a word or two what takes me a whole book to explain. And he’s so insightful. He only needs a sketch of the story to come up with just the right tile. Take Re-Scue - However you lived your past, today you’re the key to changing your future - a horror/paranormal novel soon to be released by Romance Divine. The story is very complex and deals with to two souls tied by a passionate, bloody game of sex and knives that chase one another, like a hunter and a prey, through several lifetimes before they can reach some sort of balance. And the title says it all, not just in the sense of “rescuing” one or both souls, which it is in a way, but mostly of repeating something by using the hyphen between “re” and “scue”. He’s a genius! He also came up with the title for its sequel, Tasting Leon’s Mark, where the last two incarnations, Leon and Sean, raise their game on a higher level, not as bloody, yet even more excitingly than before. And of course, I have to thank him for Divinitas, probably the best title so far, because in a word, it tells a potential reader the book is an erotic tale with a deep, spiritual meaning. Oh, and the list could go on to include the titles of the Virtus Saga, though the saga itself derives its name from a brain storming between the two of us. Yeah, sometimes I come up with titles, too, and the two I’m most proud of are Spying The Alcove and To Seduce A Soul Mate, great titles that fit both stories to a tee.

Those are awesome, and you gotta love a partner who is so into helping you.

Those do sound like great titles. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes, definitely, there is. The reason I write, and in the romance genre in particular, is because I want to tell people there are alternatives to certain destructive mechanisms that seem to dominate relationships nowadays. Sometimes, we deliberately hurt ourselves by behaving according to a social custom we don’t really feel right and those close to us suffer the consequences. What I’m trying to say is that we should always make a choice between our instincts and society’s guidelines to overcome dangerous prejudices that get in the way of our freedom and happiness. Yes, choice is the key to avoid trapping people into convenient categories, going beyond their gender, race or sexual preferences to value them as individuals, not the expression of a “group”. And when we discover the individual…well, things are a lot easier, wouldn’t you agree?

I love individualism. Probably why I have blue hair and tats. Speaking of being a character, what is your favorite character you’ve written (published or not)? Why?

It’s, and this is a recent discovery for me, to win Christopher Templeton. As to why, it must be because he’s got such a complicated personality, and unlike any of my other characters, he talks though his sexual life. It may sound horny, but I just realized while I was finishing the edits to The Game, due out May 15, Chris expresses not just his feelings, but his opinions about a person from the way he has sex with them. If he doesn’t give a damn about them, he’ll be open and available, almost submissive in his apparent lack of interest in what they’ll do to him while deeply enjoying it. If he cares about someone though, it’ll be a totally different sex scene, like all the ones he has with Duncan when they’re alone. And then there’s Ylianor. You already know he hates her at the beginning and treats her like he’s out for revenge, being cruel and hurtful on purpose yet when things start to change, there’s a definite shift in their sex, too. And his moods, rapidly shifting from up to down, reflect this roller coaster behaviour he keeps in bed. Really, I didn’t think I had it in me to create such a complex character, but in the end, he’s surprising even me, his author LOL

He sounds like a great character to have in your head. It's always great to find your character grows and becomes someone you like as their story progresses.

Surprises are great. And he sounds...intense, just like I like them. What books have influenced your life most?

Too many to list all, but I’ll select examples from the two main categories that had a definite impact on my life: the strong male-heroes books on one hand, the strong female-heroine ones on the other. The former attracted me from the earliest childhood, starting with Emilio Salgari’s Pirate Cycle, where the two main heroes, Sandokan and Yanez, simply fascinated me. Then growing up, I came across Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers and couldn’t get enough of it to the point I learned French to read the original version. In high school, I discovered Evelyn Waugh’s masterpiece Brideshead Revisited and again fell in love with a book, couldn’t help it, not with a fascinating character like Sebastian. Only later, much later in life, did I connect this early passion with my writing in the M/M genre because, these books’ all center on strong men who share an equally strong connection to other men, the same thing I’ve tried repeating in my own limited way, even if my tales also include sex in their relationship.

But I also read a lot about women and there are at least three books that have influenced my life deeply. In the order in which I read them, the first is Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, then The Women’s Room by Marylin French, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon and last, but certainly not least, Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates. Here, too, different settings, times and places, yet they all focus on strong female characters, survivors in worlds that change unexpectedly. Against all odds, they manage to adapt and even ride the same tide that would have overwhelmed them had they been weaker or less sure of themselves. And that to me, says it all about their worth and gives the measure of how much they’ve inspired my heroines, too.

Lastly, and just for fun, here’s a brief closing list of books that one way or another have influenced me, but I’ll let you see if you remember the authors: The Thorn Birds, Wuthering Heights, The Lord of Rings, Heart of Darkness, The Lord of Flies, Fahrenheit 451, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?…and the list could go on forever.

Fahrenheit 451 was the oddest book when I read it in high school, but when I went back in college was the coolest. What did I know?

Oh, you knew enough, lol. I can't say that I have any idea who wrote that last one... I guess I could look it up, lol. What book are you reading now?

The Persian Boy, a 1972 historical novel by Mary Renault, an English writer who died in 1983. Narrated by a young Persian from an aristocratic family captured by his father's enemies and castrated, he’s sold as a slave to the king Darius III, who makes him his favorite. Eventually he becomes the lover and most faithful servant of Alexander the Great who overthrew Darius and captured the Persian Empire. It’s very inspiring both for its historical contents and for the unique characters, though for me it’s a bit too unemotional to get really into it, but that’s probably my limit.

It sounds interesting! What are your current projects?

After releasing The Festival, Book 3 serial—where Duncan Caldwell will have to carry out his legacy and return the stolen pyramid to its rightful place—I’m now working on the final edits of Re-Scue - However you lived your past, today you’re the key to changing your future -, to be released second half 2010 @ Romance Divine, the bloody and passionate prequel to Tasting Leon’s Mark, the beginning of a connection that spans time and space as two souls, the hunter and his prey, chase each other from one lifetime to another to fulfill a dark desire neither can or want to control. Then I’ll plunge right back into the Virtus Saga, where I’m about done with The Leader, Book 4, and The Pledge, Book 5, again to be released between the end of 2010 and beginning 2011 @ eXtasy Books, so be sure not to miss either.

You have a lot going on. But let’s go to some fun questions.

Yup, it's that time... time for the "absolutely-nothing-to-do-with-writing" questions: What animal do you think makes the best pet and why?

Definitely cats because they’re intelligent, self-sufficient, elegant, noiseless, beautiful, cuddly—thankfully not as much as dogs—and generally great fun without the dog’s excessivenesses. I ought to know. I started my life from day one with dogs, loving them a lot, even if at times, to take them out walking every day proved tasking. Then York entered my life, an amazing Alaskan Malamute, and changed my perception of pets radically. To call him beautiful was an understatement—if you’ve ever seen one, you know exactly what I mean!—but what fascinated me was his independent stance, so unlike any dog I’d known previously, and his strong will to do as he pleased. He had a mind of his own and was never afraid to use it, always telling you where he wanted to go, never the other way around, and if one didn’t obey, he’d simply refuse to move. And since his weight allowed him to get his way, he always won in the end. Yet, he never failed his duties as a dog, protecting the family against any outsider, even from our own guests, which he’d keep a close watch on from the second they entered the house to the second they left. And he never, ever barked, just growled, which was his only warning before he attacked. I must admit, York spoiled me, for any dog that came after was never at his level, so I switched to cats. Well, part of the reason was also because in the meantime I’d started to live with my mate, so dogs were harder to handle on my limited time budget. But to be honest, had I had time in abundance, I’d still have gone for cats, because I discovered I relate much better to their independent spirit than I do to dog’s friendlier approaches. And after having convinced my mate—he was neither for one nor for the other, but he’d never had a pet in his life—now I live with four of them.

I don't have any cats, but I do have a dog.

Cats rock, but then I have a couple dogs and cats, so I guess I’m not too partial. What were you doing at midnight last night?

Having sex. I’d just written a very hot scene from my upcoming novel, The Leader Book 4 Virtus Saga, and since my husband was still around—not too sleepy either, probably because he had sensed my mood—so even if he was tired after a hard day’s work, he immediately agreed to it. And well…believe it or not, the sex turned out even better than what I had just written!

ROTFL, yanno... most people might consider that WAY too much information... I'm sure you're not surprised at all to find that WE DON'T. LOL And what a wonderful Research Assistant you have helping you figure out an even better love scene to use at a later date. LOL

Well, at least we know you research. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

I ate a snake in China, during one of my business trips, but what impressed me, wasn’t the eating part, rather seeing it propped up on the dish. I swear! It looked alive, maybe because its head was still on, ready to move and slither off the table. Instead, the cook had coiled it around a pole and sliced it into pieces, which could easily be taken off without ruining its shape, until there were so many holes, it gave me the impression of vanishing like Alice’s Cheshire cat, piece by painful piece.

Oh... my... gosh... I think my stomach just turned over. How brave of you, much braver than I will ever be! Hold on while I go shudder and rock myself in a corner...

Interesting description, even if I’d never eat it. What is your favorite animal?

Any of the many feline species roaming the Earth. I spend hours watching documentaries on lions, tigers, panthers, leopards, cheetahs, wild cats and just anything endowed with as much beauty, elegance and intelligence. Recently, I heard that Buddhist monks have a natural reserve in India where they train tigers not to attack men by feeding them only cooked meat. Apparently, the systematic use of this diet makes them lose their taste for raw meat and for the hunt altogether. And since they’re not as dangerous as in wild life, or so the Buddhist claim, people can visit the reserve and actually cuddle a giant tiger as if it were a domestic cat. I’ve seen a documentary about it and have to admit, I’m tempted to buy a plane ticket and fly over there right now!

Kealie, she likes the tigers, lions, and such almost as much as you.

Oh, I dunno... probably at least as much as you do, if not more. I love them, think they're just so gorgeous and so elegant in their movements. I might be on that plane next to you! What is your heritage?

A long and noble one. My last name is Tolomei, which in Italy is very famous, mostly because Dante in his Comedy, writes of Pia de’ Tolomei, an unfortunate noblewoman, or “gentil donna” in Italian, who lived in XIII Century Siena, a beautiful city in Tuscany. As legend has it, she was charged with infidelity and though innocent, on the order of her powerful husband, the Lord in Maremma Nello d'Inghiramo Pannocchieschi, thrown from a window of her home, Castel de Pietra, so that he could marry his lover, Margherita Aldobrandeschi, Contessa of Sovana and Pitigliano. Here are Dante’s exact verses, first the original Italian ones, then the English translation:

"Deh, quando tu sarai tornato al mondo,
e riposato de la lunga via,
seguitò 'l terzo spirito al secondo,
Ricorditi di me, che son la Pia;
Siena mi fé, disfecemi Maremma:
salsi colui che 'nnanellata pria
disposando m'avea con la sua gemma"

and in English...

Ah, when you have returned to the world,
and rested from the long journey,
followed the third spirit after the second,
remember me, the one who is Pia;
Siena made me, Maremma undid me:
he knows it, the one who first encircled
my finger with his jewel, when he married me."

Safe to say, in modern day Siena, everything’s still named after the Tolomei family: squares, streets, roads and palaces in the center of the old city. Tolomei palace, now a bank’s headquarters, is near the square where every year runs the famous Palio di Siena, a sometimes brutal horse ride that takes place every August 16th. There’s even Piazza Odoardo Tolomei, which is my father’s name, and a very uncommon one for it’s an ancient form of Eduard.

But my heritage goes even further back, way back to Greek times and it’s inextricably tied with Alexander the Great. In the ancient Greek language, Ptolemaios, Ptolemy or Ptolemaeu means “warlike” and the most famous representatives of all are the Greek-Egyptian astronomer Claudius Ptolemaeus and the Macedonian founder and ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom in Egypt, Ptolemy I Soter who just happened to be Alexander the Great’s half brother. The Ptolemaic dynasty ruled for centuries over Egypt, but guess who’s the most famous of its descendents? Cleopatra, supposedly the most beautiful and intelligent woman during the I Century AD. In the end, I come right down from Cleopatra’s lineage and boy, am I proud of it!

Wow, I'd be proud of it too. That's just fascinating!

Huh, that’s a long line to be connected to. What is your favorite pizza?

Hey, I’m Italian and even if we didn’t invent pizza, as I recently discovered surfing the net, we’re still the ones who made it famous. Apparently, the early Greeks were the first to bake large, round and flat breads anointed with oil, herbs, spices and dates, but of course, without tomatoes, for they became known in Europe only after 1492 when Christopher Columbus, another very famous Italian, discovered America.

In 8th Century Italy, flat breads were sold without toppings on Naples’s streets and markets mostly to the poor since they were relatively cheap, tasty and filling. Then on the occasion of Queen Margherita’s visit to the city, Naples honored her by creating a special pizza, Pizza Margherita, which combined tomato and mozzarella cheese, still a classic in today’s Italy and it was the birth of modern-day pizza.
Still today, Italians use very few toppings on their pizza, even if many have imported the American custom. Personally, I still prefer the Pizza Margherita, tomato, oil, mozzarella and basil without any added extras.

Okay, remind me never to place Trivial Pursuit with you. I thought I knew lots of stuff... And now I know even more.

Unfortunately, it's not time to bring this interview to an end. Thank you so much for joining us here on the couch today, Laura. It was great fun getting to know you better, and learning a few new things in the process! Don't be a stranger. Make sure you let us know when you've got new stuff goin' on in your world.

Thanks to everyone for stopping in and hanging out with us today!

Born 1965 in Rome, Italy, I grew up in Nigeria, US and India, returning to Rome to complete my studies and start a working career. In 2008 I published my first short story in eXtasy’s Anthology Atlantis Allure and have been writing and publishing since then in both Italian and English. Still a fairly new author, I have already published several full length novels and short stories at eXtasy Books, with more yet to come also on Whiskey Creek Torrid and Romance Divine.

You can keep up with Laura on the Web:

GoodReads Author Page

Amazon Author Page

Authors Island

Whiskey Torrid Publishing Author Page

Coffee Time Romance feature page

Goodreads Friendship requests

The Festival
Virtus Book 3 by Laura Tolomei

Prisoner of their whims, it was impossible to resist them further. With a shock of pleasure, she realized they were her masters—not just one, but both—to which she surrendered herself, body first, juggled upward and sideways, until she had no choice but to ride their tide, swept along with their passion, swelling uncontrollably as they drove her into bliss, her convulsions sucking them to the balls and squeezing them dry.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Take It Off!!!!

You saw that right. Take it off!

What? You might be asking yourself as you read this post, what does she want me to take off?

It's up to you. Reading email or blog posts in the buff is kinda fun. For all you know, I could be sitting here in my fluffiest, dowdiest jammies, or I could be stark nekkid. I'll let you use your imagination.

My point?

They're all in the other room, dead to the world.

Oh, wait! You mean my blog post point. Yeah, that...

You see, I happened to be watching LOGO with my pal was one of those summer movie fests. Anyway, the hotties in the movies were wearing very little (we found out later that if you get the movie on one of those dvd services, you see a whole lot more. Kinda funny to see me and Bret drooling over pecs and asses and other bits...)

But in between the movies were music videos. Kinda reminded me of when MTV just played music... Anyway, they played "Take It Off" by Ke$ha. I was perplexed and a tad inspired. Bret, well, he just got up and yanked me to my feet to dance. Before we knew it, it was dark out and the boys were around to play. You don't need me to tell you we had a great time.

So the next time I see the video or think of glitter, I'll think of that night. **Sighs** I think I need to call Bret and have movie night again.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Somewhere In Time

I posted a flash fiction story a couple weeks ago and the characters wouldn't let me go, so here's the next part of River's story. I hope you like it. He's thrilled. *Wink*

I hung my head in shame. My mistress, the woman who made me burn, wanted someone else. Three days prior she told me she wasn't in love with me.

I felt abandoned.

I sat on the couch with a bottle of beer, hoping to drown my sorrows in a football game or maybe a MMA fight. No luck.

As I pouted--and no, I don't like to admit I pout--Tory walked in. Tossing his bag on the floor behind the sofa, he headed to the kitchen. I know his routine as if it were my own. I've lived with the guy for three years. For a while I thought Mistress might be the one to make me move out. The one to offer my heart. Fat lot of good that did. She stomped on my still-beating heart with her stiletto heel and laughed. "You'll find someone who can love you the way you need. I found mine."

I fisted my hand around the bottle. Dwelling on the past wasn't doing me any good.

"You watchin' that? Or you just rubbin' one off?"

I closed my eyes. Trust Tory to think I'd been jacking off to damn fight. Sure, I liked to see sweaty guys beating the shit out of each other. Even better when it ended in bed, but that was beside the point.

"So what's the verdict?" Tory plopped down next to me, tapping his bottle of suds against mine. "To hell with women?"

I stared at him a moment. Tory McClellan wasn't the type of guy to swear off chicks. Hell, women practically fell at his feet. As he appraised me with his amber eyes, I swore my body temperature kicked up a thousand degrees. His lips parted as he brought the bottle to his mouth. What did he taste like? I glanced down at the bulge in his jeans. I'd seen him stroll out of the shower plenty enough to know he wasn't lacking. He made me look small. I wanted to lick his abs. Just follow the solid curves until I ended up at the pleasure trial of hair leading to his cock. Was he top? Or did he like to share? Hell, would he freak if I made an advance?


Jerked from my more than a bit too personal appraisal of his body, I stared at him. "Huh?"

"I've waited a long time for my turn." He closed the gap between us until our noses touched. "It's hard to hold back. Ask me. I'll tell you anything you want to know."

I opened my mouth to reply. To tell him I had no idea what he wanted me to say. Instead, I fused my lips to his. The guttural moan erupting from his throat spurred me on. His hand fisted in the sleeve of my T-shirt. I scooted closed until his knee bumped mine. Holy fuck.

The more I tasted him, the more I wanted from him. I cupped his jaw, the rough stubble prickling my palm.

Tory broke the kiss long enough to click off the television. "Take off my shirt."

I didn't think. I acted. We'd talked once or twice about my need to be dominated. Apparently, he'd listened. I yanked the hem of his shirt up over his head and tossed the discarded clothing into the hallway. His nipples beaded. Cold air? Or my heated gaze? I wasn't sure.

"Taste me."

Yes, sir. I feathered kisses over his jaw, rubbing my chest against his. With a gentle, but firm nudge, he directed me to his pecs. I loved the firm texture of male nipples. Women are soft and forgiving. Men's are more sensitive and need more care. His fingers twined into my hair, tugging the strands. Yes, I needed the pleasure pain. To know I was responsible for his enjoyment.

"Fuck...want to fuck you."

I smiled up at him as I unbuttoned his jeans. I'd dreamt of swallowing his cock, taking him deep in my mouth and loving him until he lost control. I worked his jeans and boxers down his hips, relishing the dick before me. Talk about endowment. If he modeled nude, he'd be a millionaire. I licked my lips.

"No more teasing."

I grinned again and took him as far as I could into my mouth. The man tasted like velvet covered steel. I groaned and stroked his sac, searching for his asshole. Oh yeah, I wanted him to remember my name.

I pumped his cock, taking him deep and using suction as I withdrew. His hips bucked under my ministrations. I released his cock long enough to spit on my fingers. I had no idea if he'd the double action, but hey, never said I wasn't up for a challenge. I eased one slick digit into the pucker of his ass, stroking the tense ring of muscle as I mouth fucked his cock.

"River!" Tory slammed into me, pushing me to take him to my limit. A tiny part of me wanted to back away, to say this is my best friend and not a fly-by-night boyfriend.

His panted breath blotted out my rational thought. I needed to have him.

"Fuck, River." His eyes closed and he jerked forward. Hot seed spilled onto my tongue and down my throat. Salty and a little sweet. Pure heaven. Tory added a couple extra thrusts and released his grip on my head.

I sucked on my bottom lip, licking every last drop of him. I wasn't sure what to do next. With Mistress, I'd still be in shackles. With other men, they'd fall asleep. The hunger burning in Tory's eyes didn't hint to slumber.

"What do we do now?" The confidence I'd demonstrated not five minutes earlier evaporated. If he told me to get the fuck out, I probably would. I sat back on my haunches waiting his answer.

"She's gone?"

I nodded. "Left me for another man."

"Good. I couldn't hold back for much longer." He held open his arms, inviting me onto his lap. "You're a special man, River. I've wanted you since the moment I saw you. I hoped, somewhere in time, you'd see I wanted more than the friendship. I wanted to love you--just you."

I swayed on his thighs, shocked by his confession and comforted. The attraction was mutual. I wasn't sure what I felt was bone-deep love, but in many ways, yeah, I loved Tory more than I could imagine.

He caressed my cheek, smoothing circles along my temple. "You're going to stay?"

"As long as you want me."

"Then plan on forever."

Who needed mistresses anyway?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Author Interview ~ Lisabet Sarai

Yay, I’m back and we have an interview! This day couldn’t get much better, at least in our opinion. Today on our couch we are pleased to have author, Lisabet Sarai here with us.

Welcome to the Menagerie, Lisabet. I hope our Cabana Boys have taken good care of you this morning; bringing refreshments, fanning palm fronds, yanno, those sorts of things. Make sure they take even better care of you later.

We also have, Megan here on the couch with us.

:::Megan waves:::

We are so happy to have you here at the Menagerie. I have to add, I am a major fan girl and have read many of your books. So let’s get down to you. When and why did you begin writing?

I've been writing creatively ever since I learned how to form the letters. I think I wrote my first story at six and my first poem at seven. In elementary school I wrote a romantic fantasy play about the Beatles and a satirical drama about the 1964 presidential election. All through high school and college I wrote intense, angst-filled poetry, mostly about unrequited love. I also dabbled in short stories. However, other than work which appeared in my school paper, and a feminist treatise that I wrote with my aunt, I didn't try publishing anything until quite late.

I've done a lot of writing for professional reasons as well, including user manuals, marketing brochures, research papers, and a 500 page doctoral dissertation.

Holy moly. I’ll bet your hard drive is full of stuff.

I would have to agree. At least you know your muse is in there and working away. What inspired you to write your first book?

I started several novels—what I now recognize was a “sweet” romance and a romantic ghost story—earlier in my life, but I never got past the third chapter. In the late nineties, however, I was in Istanbul with my husband and picked up a copy of Portia da Costa's erotic classic Gemini Heat from the book swap shelf in our hotel. This book, published by the ground-breaking Black Lace imprint, knocked my socks off. It was incredibly sexy, diverse, intelligent and provocative. I absolutely loved it. Then I began to think, "I'll bet that I could write something like that."

When I got home from our vacation, I started writing Raw Silk, BDSM-flavored erotica set in Bangkok, Thailand, and based very loosely on my own experiences working there in the eighties. When I had three chapters, I sent them off with a synopsis to the editor of the Black Lace series. Within two weeks I received a form letter acknowledging my submission and warning me that due to the large number of manuscripts they received, I shouldn't expect to hear from them for several months.

I shrugged and filed the letter. Two days later I got an enthusiastic email from the Black Lace editor, offering me a contract and asking when I could get the book finished! Only then did I realize what I'd gotten myself into!

How cool. Things really went fast, but I’ll bet you were excited.

That really is pretty darned cool! Color me jealous! So, how much of the book is realistic?

From an emotional perspective, quite a lot. Like most beginning authors, I used my own erotic fantasies extensively in my first novel. And as I mentioned above, the setting borrowed greatly from my earlier experiences as an expat. However, the characters and the plot don't have much connection with reality, although little details here and there are borrowed from personal experience. I've never, for instance, had three men competing for my sexual favors!

As I've become more experienced, I've worked hard to broaden my writing beyond my own personal kinks. After all, nobody wants to read the same scenes again and again, no matter how hot they are! I've experimented with a variety of genres including paranormal, historical and thriller, and written pretty much every combination of genders: M/F, M/M, F/F, M/M/F, M/F/M, and so on.

Experimentation is the spice of life...right after BDSM. **Snicker**

ROTFL, yeah, that’s our philosophy here in The Menagerie. What is your favorite character you’ve written (published or not)? Why?

Most authors are rather in love with their characters, aren't they? My favorite heroine, I think, is Stella Xanathakeos from my erotic thriller Exposure. She's a stripper who loves her work, a working class gal who's tough and street smart. When she gets involved, through no fault of her own, in a double murder, she doesn't give up until she has unmasked the truth. I'd love to be as strong and sexy as she is. (There is a bit of me in her, though. I've always loved to dance, and I did work semi-professionally as a belly dancer for about a year.)

My favorite hero might be Mark in Incognito. He's not an alpha male, but he's the type of guy I personally find attractive: intelligent, perceptive, and sexually adventurous. I like his looks, too, casually studious, with thick dark hair, deep brown eyes, a compact body and glasses. I have a thing for nerds! Mark isn't exactly in that category, but his intellect and his quiet self-confidence are a huge turn-on for me.

Ah, another dark and handsome.... they are the best.

Absolutely, and tall and stocky, and broad and funny… but dark and handsome are usually the best. Can you share a little of your current work with us?

My next scheduled release is a vampire menage set in Jamaica, called Fire in the Blood. It's due out from Total-E-Bound in mid-August. I originally wrote the story (it's a 20K word novella) for a Halloween collection but the publisher asked if I would mind adding some additional scenes and releasing it later as a stand-alone title. The hero in this tale (the vampire) is a 150 year old ex-slave who lives on a ruined plantation in the mountains above Montego Bay. The story has a bit of a gothic aura despite its contemporary setting.

I recently submitted a M/F BDSM tale and a M/M/F Christmas menage, but I haven't heard yet about any acceptances.

At the moment, I'm a few chapters into a M/M science fiction tale called Quarantine, which is likely to grow into a novella or maybe even a novel. It's set in the near-future, where, because of a terrible Plague blamed on gay men, everyone with a genetic predisposition toward homosexuality has been forced into internment camps--rather like the Japanese-Americans in World War II. The story focuses on the relationship between a camp guard and one of the inmates. I'm finding the writing process particularly involving because I believe that such a scenario isn't particularly far-fetched.

Wow. That’s some deep stuff. But I’m really interested in reading it. You have me hooked.

You and me both, can’t wait to see it. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

It's difficult to know how to count. I've published six novels and two collections of short stories, but since I began writing romance I also have quite a few shorter books available. I've also contributed short stories, mostly erotica, to more than two dozen print collections. Interested readers can find my full publishing history at The website also has information on all my books that are currently available, as well as my back list.

As for my favorite--well, that's like asking a mother to choose her favorite child, isn't it? From the perspective of writing quality, I'm probably most proud of Ruby's Rules and Exposure. Both are quite different from the typical erotic romance. For one thing, both are written in the first person. I really enjoy writing first person POV, even though some publishers won't look at it. I feel that it increases the emotional intensity of the work.

I know it’s hard to pick one, but you look like you picked a great one! And now it’s time for our “absolutely-nothing-to-do-with-writing” questions: What animal do you think makes the best pet and why?

As anyone who checks my website will soon realize, I'm a huge cat lover. This dates from the time I met my husband; he had two cats when we moved in together and I was soon their willing slave. I've had a number of furry masters and mistresses since, and I've been honored to serve them all!

Cats have complex, distinctive personalities that continue to change throughout their lives, just like people. If well-cared for and kept inside, they can live as long as twenty years, long enough to develop a deep relationship. Of course, even the most avid dog-lover would have to admit that cats are aesthetically superior. Their elegance and grace, their cleanliness, the fact that they do not need to be taken out and walked--well, I don't want to antagonize any dog-worshipping readers, so I'll just stop there!

See? That’s why I like cats. They come with few issues other than that you are the slave and they rule. But hey, sounds like some men and women I know.

Megan knows why I have a dog, lol. So, we won’t go into that conversation. What is your strangest habit?

Strange habits? I couldn't think of any. I had to ask my husband! He had lots of suggestions, for example, the fact that I always wash the dishes in the same order (I tell him there's a logical system behind this, but he doesn't believe me!) and the fact that I get out my clothing for work the night before. The latter habit dates back to when I was a little girl. My mother always made me pick my clothesfor the next day before I went to bed, so I wouldn't be late to school because I couldn't decide.

Now I don't think this is strange at all. Do you?

Hey, I’m OCD girl. I have to have everything figured out (and since I’m a complete calendar mess....if it isn’t on the calendar, it’s forgotten), I think you are fine.

Hey, I’m OCD too, so yeah, you’re just fine. LOL Have you ever eaten a crayon?

Not that I remember. However, when I was a child I used to eat soap. My mom would tell a story about wheeling her cart around the grocery store, with me in the seat in front. She left me for a moment to get something off the shelves. As she returned, another shopper pointed out that I had unwrapped a bar of Ivory Soap and was happily munching away at it.

That’s a new one. I ate soap but it wasn’t out of choice. Hey, I’ve been a hellraiser for a long time. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Assuming that you're talking about food...? Well, I've done quite a bit of international traveling, and I'm always interested in sampling the local cuisine. One dish I remember, in Thailand, was baked turtle eggs. They had little taste but a most unpleasant gluey texture. Then there was that time in Korea last year. In general, ordering food there was a challenge since we didn't speak Korean. They had sometimes pictures but the images weren't always very illuminating. So we picked out this dish in a seafood place, from its picture, not knowing what it contained--it looked tasty. It turned out to be a heap of baby octopus, each one about an inch in diameter, complete with little nests of tentacles. Very anatomical! Actually they were pretty tasty, but tough as shoe leather.

Sounds...different. I’m not much into octopus so I think that’s something I just won’t order.

I wouldn’t try octopus on a dare… and ask Megan and Mysti, I’ll try just about anything on a dare. What is one thing scientists should invent?

A self-cleaning cat litter box that really works! Actually I have some ideas for this myself. Not only would it be a boon to humanity, I think it would make me rich!

Hee hee. Rich is good and since I have the cat litter issue—there is no nice smelling clean litter and once it’s used... well, you know. Hey, you figure out how to make it so I don’t have to clean it and I’ll be thrilled. If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for?

World peace. I know that it's a cliche but I'm serious. So much human potential is wasted in violence. So many lives are torn apart by war. I actually believe that peace begins with each one of us. If we treat our fellow human beings with consideration and compassion, recognizing that even people who are different are in some sense members of our family, we build a peaceful world, one life at a time.

Absolutely nothing wrong with want world peace. I think we should all want it.

Now, it’s time to say good-bye to all our company….. Thank you so vey much for hanging out with us here at the Menagerie with us today. Get relaxed and hopefully we’ll more people pop in to say, “Hi, how ya doin?” Thanks to everyone who’s dropped in and read the interview. Let us know what you think, ask Lisabet any questions, or just hang out with her.

When asked, Lisabet supplied us with this author bio:

I was born more than half a century ago in Wisconsin, but grew up mostly in New England, in a series of suburban towns. I was always the egghead, the girl with the thick glasses at the top of her class. As I went on to university and graduate school, I acquired more degrees than anyone sensible would ever need. It wasn't until I was working on my second masters degree that I realized intelligence was sexy.

I became addicted to words at an early age. I began reading when I was four. I wrote my first story at five years old and my first poem at seven. Since then, I've written plays, tutorials, marketing brochures, software specifications, self-help books, press releases, a five-hundred page dissertation, and of course, erotica and erotic romance

My lifelong interests in sex and the written word became serenditipitously entwined a decade ago when I read my first Black Lace book by Portia da Costa. Her work inspired me to take my fantasies out of the closet (and the private email files) and expose them to the world. The rest, as they say, is history (although granted, no more than a minor footnote!)

I've been married for more than twenty eight years, much to my surprise; I never expected to find a lifelong partner. Still, I've had my share of erotic adventures, some of which my husband and I have shared.

I've always loved traveling; my husband seduced me in a Burmese restaurant by telling me tales of his foreign adventures. Since then I have visited every continent except Australia, although I still have a long travel wish list. Currently I live with him and our two exceptional felines in Southeast Asia, where I pursue an alternative career that is completely unrelated to my creative writing.

Fire In The Blood by Lisabet Sarai

Maddy and Troy hope that a carefree vacation in tropical Jamaica will re-ignite the passion in their five year relationship. On a scenic mountain trail ride, Maddy's horse bolts and carries her deep into the jungle. Injured and lost, she is saved by a seductive giant of a man whose mere presence kindles unbearable lust. By the time she understands his dark nature, it is far too late for her to escape.

Bitter and alone, Etienne de Rémorcy haunts the forest around the ruined plantation of Fin d'Espoir. He has sworn to never again taste taste human blood, but when slender, raven-haired Madeleine begs him to take her, he cannot resist.

Troy is hugely relieved when Maddy makes her way back to their hotel after her ordeal in the mountains. But he finds her greatly changedõfiercely passionate in bed, restless and disturbed at other times. The tall, elegant stranger he meets on the beach holds the key to her transformationõand soon has seduced Troy as well. Even Etienne's most potent magic can't extinguish the fire in Troy's and Madeleine's blood.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Book Commercial ~ Necessary Madness by Lisabet Sarai

Necessary Madness by Lisabet Sarai
Power and love can both lead to madness.

Nineteen-year-old Kyle sees visions of disasters, visions that tear his world apart. Everyone assumes he is schizophrenic, but Rob, the cop who picks him up off the street, knows better. Rob's own experience has taught him that psychic powers are real, and potentially devastating. Since his telepathic sister's brutal murder, Rob wants nothing to do with 'gifted' individuals like Kyle. Yet he can't deny his attraction to the beautiful, tortured young man - an attraction that appears to be mutual.

When a brilliant, sadistic practitioner of the black arts lures Kyle into his clutches, Rob faces the possibility that once again he may lose the person he loves most to the forces of darkness.

Reader Advisory: The book does include a small amount of M/F BDSM.


Want to see your book commercial here? Email us at to find out how!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Why Can Men But Women...Shouldn't?

I happened to be watching television a week or so ago and happened on a movie about a couple of gay men. I stopped on the channel because I caught a glimpse of one of the guys. He was cute--a bit young for me--but cute nonetheless. I continued watching the movie and found the scenes where the guys kissed, touched and so forth....interesting. I mean, the guys were hot and totally into what they were doing. The confidence and desire was sexier than just looking an nicely built guys.

It got me thinking.

If a guy can be turned on by "two girls going at it" then what's to say I can't find two men engaged in an--how shall I put this--amorous entanglement sexy?

From my time reading and working in the romance genre, I can tell you that many women write M/M romance and the biggest readership for M/M romance? Women.

Piqued, I asked the boys. I mean, they are my partners and they don't get into getting it on with each other, so I figured they'd be honest with me. Funny thought, that.

All three turned a beautiful shade of crimson and stumbled all over their words. Confused me greatly. They liked to watch girls who may or may not be lesbian have sex. Two girls and one guy? Even better. Hell, the boys all play with me when we play, so I'd think that M/F/M/M shouldn't bother them.

Apparently when it's just guys, it bothers them.

So my question, and yes I want to know what you think, is why is it perfectly fine for men to watch and lust after two women having sex in front of them, but if its the reverse--a woman watching lustfully as two men go at it, it's considered 'wrong on so many levels'?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New Cover!!

I got my cover for "Blue Light Special"! One step closer to release. YAY!

What do you think?

Now to finish final edits....