Wordless Wednesday: The Bold Heart, by Carmen Caine

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This week’s feature book is Carmen Caine’s latest highland romance, The Bold Heart.

The Bold Heart

 

Scotland, 1488

As Scotland’s greatest warrior and heir to the earldom of Mull, few dared to cross swords with Ewan MacLean.

But the price he paid for his fearsome reputation was a heavy one. To survive, he buried his emotions and became only the warrior, riding from battle to battle with his men to protect Scotland from threats within and without her borders and letting himself feel nothing else.

But when his right-hand man, Alec Montgomery, is caught dallying with a powerful Lord’s daughter, a trap is set. And both Ewan and Alec find themselves in an English prison, their necks headed for the noose.

On the Isle of Skye, the high-spirited Merry MacLeod is no longer troubled by childhood memories of the day the braw lad, Ewan MacLean, rescued her from her husband, the cruel MacDonald. But when she hears this very same Ewan is now confined in an English prison, she disguises herself as a lad and sets out to repay her debt.

After a bold, mysterious youth rescues Ewan and his men from the English, the group swiftly makes their way back to Scotland. But no sooner embarked on their journey home, a young Prince James sounds the call to arms, rises against his father, King James III of Scotland, and plunges Scotland into a dangerous civil war.

But as they journey to join the prince, both Ewan and Alec discover their rescuer’s secret–and both men find themselves falling unexpectedly in love with a raven-haired beauty.

Where to buy it:

And follow Carmen Caine on Twitter @CarmenRomances.

Carmen Caine portraitLike many of us on this planet, Bestselling and Award-Winning author Carmen Caine is from another world. She spends every moment she can scribbling stories on sticky notes that her kids find posted all over the car, house, and barn.

When she is not working as a software engineer, she is busy ferrying her kids to various appointments, writing lyrics for her husband’s songs, taking care of the dog Tigger and his heart condition, attempting to tame her three insane cats, scratching her three Nigerian Dwarf Goats behind the horns or coddling her flock of thirty bizarre chickens from around the world.

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Monday Musings: Writing about sex is not easy

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by Scott Bury

Writing about sex is not easy

sexy It should be. It should be the easiest thing in the world to write about.

Maybe the headline should be: “Writing well about sex is not easy.” If you’re not careful, it’s easy to slip into pornographic depictions of sexual positions, moans and gasps and twitching body parts.

I try to write truthfully, to show readers what I and my characters think and feel in every situation. I try to be original by examining the naked basis of every movement, sensation and intention. Then I have to edit to make sure I’m not over-writing it. Readers are smart; they can figure things out.

Getting into the swing

To prepare for writing my erotic satire, One Shade of Red, I thought I should see how other writers wrote about sex. Not just writers of erotica, because I wanted OSOR to be about sex and other things, too. I turned to an anthology, a compendium of excerpts of the “best erotic writing in modern fiction” called The Good Parts, edited by J.H. Blair.

Among the writers sampled in this anthology are Don DeLillo, described as “a stylist without peer”; Amanda Filipacchi: “uniquely original”; and the “unique voice” of EL Doctorow.

All well known, all excellent writers. But their work all reads as if … as if it were edited by the same person.

Part of the genius of writers like Joyce Carol Oates and John Updike and William Styron, part of Philip Roth’s breakthrough was their ability to depict the most intimate, sensual and human activity honestly, recognizably and enjoyably. Their ability to write descriptions that we can all agree with. Yes, exactly.

And yet, all these serious writers, the cream of the literati, take a similar approach to writing about sex. They often employ a breathless stream of linked, long sentences, and somehow avoid naming the most important body parts involved. Here’s a typical example from Steven Erickson’s “ARC d’X”:

For a moment he was confused, wondering where she was in the dark, until he realized she was on the bed that he stood alongside. Lying at its edge, she unbuttoned his pants and freed him and put him in her mouth. …

Erickson’s stringing of clauses echoes EL Doctorow’s sex scene in Billy Bathgate:

We lay in the dark cellar of dust and ash, and I was passive and on my back and Rebecca lay on top of me and cleaved herself on me letting herself down with a long intake of her breath which I felt as a cool flute of air on my neck, and slowly awkwardly she learned her rhythm upon me as I was patient to allow her to do so.

It seems that the accepted way to describe sexual act in “serious” fiction (as opposed to porn) is either to link those breathless clauses like Doctorow, or just to hint at it, like Joyce Carol Oates in Last Days:

Now she felt the kiss deepen, and a feathery-light sensation ran through her body, her belly, her loins, a sensation familiar enough but always in a way new, and reassuring, and impersonal; and in another second or two the tenor of the kiss would change and become more serious: the man would part her lips, his tongue would prod at hers, his teeth grind lightly against hers, they would still be smiling but the kiss would have become serious, and Marianne’s plans for the rest of day — was this Saturday? — might have to be substantially altered.

Or like Joan Mellen in Natural Tendencies: “she opened herself to him” and Susanna Moore in The Whiteness of Bones: “He opened her gently.”

Using frank language tends to get one relegated to the “erotica” or “porn” categories. But aside from any prurient interest (none of us have that, right?), just from the style, I prefer a writer who can deal honestly with the one subject that unites all of humanity.

Charity Parkerson is an independent author who has written erotica as well as paranormal fiction and stories that are just plain about people. Here’s an example of her writing about sex honestly and openly — I’m just putting a small sample here to preserve this blog’s PG rating:

He moved a step closer, and she allowed her knees to fall open. Running a hand over the smooth planes of her belly, she made a downward descent. She kept her eyes locked on his as she brushed her finger over her own core. Her eyes fell closed on a moan. She never heard him move, but her hand was pushed away as he licked a path through her curls. Taylor’s mind froze at the feel of his strong tongue. By the time her mind thawed enough to recognize that he was no fantasy, his tongue was being replaced by a much larger organ, and she felt herself being stretched wide. She let out a small squeak as she realized this was indeed a real man [not a fantasy-ed] but he covered her mouth with his own, swallowing the sound.

To me, calling a vagina “herself” seems childish, prudish, embarrassed — as if the writer wanted to be explicit but just didn’t have the guts.

That’s why I will write honestly about sex, and try to put the intentions, sensations and movements into as clear terms as I can.

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Friday Focus: Mimi Barbour’s Special Agent Francesca

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This week's Friday Focus comes from the first volume in Mimi Barbour’s new Undercover FBI series, now available!  Sean Collins sat hidden in the opposite, kitty-cornered seat in the four-booth set-up. He’d worked late trying to get a patient … [Continue reading]

Win-A-Book Wednesday: Wicked Hunger by DelSheree Gladden

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Born with an insatiable hunger for pain and suffering, Vanessa and Zander Roth struggle to hide the truth of who they really are. Keeping their secrets becomes even harder when Ivy Guerra arrives and stirs their hunger into a frenzy. Will their need … [Continue reading]

Monday Musings: Your Brain on Fiction–A Validation

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  Some months back the New York Time Sunday Review featured a fascinating article by Annie Murphy Paul about studies on the human brain when people are reading fiction. The studies seem to confirm what I have long believed, the experience of … [Continue reading]

Friday Focus: The End of the Line by Jesi Lea Ryan

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“By any chance is the girl glaring at me like she wants me to spontaneously combust your girlfriend?” I glanced back in the direction of my truck. Lony stood leaning against the side, snapping her gum, her eyes hard with jealousy. I sighed and … [Continue reading]

Win-a-Book Wednesday: Collateral Damage by Frederick Lee Brooke

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This week's contest stakes is an e-copy of Frederick Lee Brooke's bestselling Collateral Damage, the third Annie Ogden novel. To win, leave a comment below answering the question:  In the book, Annie Ogden is 30 years old. Do you think the cover … [Continue reading]

Monday Musings: Seeing An Unseen Dream…

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By Samreen Ahsan  "Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true." -- E.Y. Harburg  I started writing this book in December 2012 and finished the entire series (two books) around … [Continue reading]

Focus Friday: Broken Pieces by Rachel Thompson

This week has a special Focus Friday: three poetic essays  from Rachel Thompson's Broken Pieces. Caged The right answer is to turn and walk away. But his arms are so strong and his words caress her soul. In his heat she abandons her … [Continue reading]

Wordless Wednesday: The Whiskey Bottle in the Wall by Kathleen Valentine

Secrets of Marienstadt A novel told in eleven stories set in Marienstadt, a fictional Pennsylvania Dutch community in the Allegheny Highlands. Meet Oliver, the powerful but reclusive woodsman; Father Nick Bauer; Gretchen, owner of The Calico Cuckoo … [Continue reading]