Thursday, April 24, 2014

In the Hot Seat with Author Kris Ashton

Kris Ashton has been a journalist and editor for the past 15 years, starting out in trade magazines and then moving into more interesting fields like film, motoring and travel. He published his first work of fiction in 2005. His second novel, Hollywood Hearts Ablaze, was recently released as an e-book through Steam eReads.   

Q:  Can you tell our readers a little about your writing? What genres do you enjoy writing?
I primarily write speculative fiction, which is a catch-all term for sci-fi, fantasy and horror. Of those three, I tend towards horror the most. But over the years I’ve made little side trips into mainstream and romantic fiction. The first (and until now, only) novel I published was a paranormal romance. It might seem strange, a horror writer moonlighting in romantic fiction, but when you get down to the engine room the two genres aren’t so different. Good writing, character development, dramatic tension and an entertaining plot are essential to both.  
Q:  Do you write on a schedule or when the Muse decides?
I’m not a big believer in a muse – probably because in the world of journalism waiting for your muse is not an indulgence you can afford. When I get an idea I write to a schedule, which is usually every weekday. It used to be during my morning and afternoon train commute (which was perfect – no distractions and nothing better to do) but now I have to drive to work so I write early in the morning. Occasionally I will knock out some extra words on the weekend, but the older I get, the less time I seem to have for that. 
Q: Can you tell us about your writing process, for example, do you write an outline first?
I generally scribble down a list of plot points. These sit at the bottom of a Word document as a reminder of what’s coming next, but they’re a guide rather than an outline. Some writers have an entire novel laid out in sticky notes before they begin, but for me that would kill the magic. I find ideas spring up organically during composition and an outline is usually not flexible enough to accommodate them. It does mean I have to go back and stitch up the odd plot hole later on, but I can’t imagine discovering an interesting tangent and thinking, “Well, that’s a good idea but I can’t really pursue it because Martha has to develop cancer in chapter ten.” I want to follow my nose.
Q:  What qualities do you instil in your heroes?
To be honest, I don’t dwell much on my characters’ qualities. Character development has always come to me instinctively and I have never written so much as a single ‘character note’. Looking back over my published stories, however, it seems like I specialise in making unlikeable characters likeable (or at least sympathetic). Gina Hall, my heroine in Hollywood Hearts Ablaze, is a perfect example. She’s a man-eater who abuses her position of power, but from the first we also see she is lonely and capable of self-doubt.    
Q. Coffee or tea?
Coffee! I started the habit fairly late, in my early twenties, and while I don’t drink a lot of coffee - only one or two cups a day - I feel out of sorts if I don’t have a good espresso in the morning. Back in 2009 I did the Darling River Run through outback NSW. The only coffee on offer for the best part of a week was International Roast, which might as well have been bilge water. I didn’t cope well. I’ve since been to the outback several times and the coffee situation has improved, but it’s surprising how often you can get stranded in a remote area where instant coffee is the only option.
Q. Beach or countryside?
I love them both. I grew up around surf culture and spent most of my first twenty summers at the beach, but I also love the quietude and beauty of rural Australia. I’ve been lucky, as a sometime travel writer, to see plenty of coast and country.  
Q. Do you write about the places you know or prefer to take your readers to exotic places?
Again, a little of both. I’ve set some stories in plain old suburbia (because that’s what I know best), while Hollywood Hearts Ablaze is, as the title suggests, is set amid the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. I’ve returned more than once to the Australian outback and I began setting stories there long before I had been there myself. There is something romantic and haunting about it that makes a good backdrop for just about any tale.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
I believe the tendency to get ideas and turn them into stories is a genetic character trait, like blue eyes or red hair. I’m forever running ‘what if’ scenarios through my head, which is usually where inspiration arises.  
Q: Would you change anything in your life to make writing easier?
I loathe - and I mean loathe - writing synopses. It’s the one part of the publishing process I find utterly joyless. Like all authors, I could also use some more free time. But in the end, writing is like exercise – you either make time for it or you don’t, and anything else is just an excuse. “I wish I could find the time to write,” is a common refrain from wannabe authors... yet they somehow find the time to watch four hours of television every night. 
Q: We have all suffered submission rejections. How do you cope? Do you have any advice to other writers on coping with rejection?
A habit I’ve developed over the years is to scan the first paragraph of the email, and if I see any of those familiar yet ominous phrases that indicate a rejection, I stop reading and go do something else while my disappointment is at its rawest.
Within an hour or two, I’ve usually become more philosophical about the rejection (unless it’s a shortlist rejection - those take longer to get over) and can bring myself read precisely why the editor or slush reader nixed it. More often than not, these days, it’s an unenlightening form response. Occasionally the remark will expose the reader/editor as a nitwit who missed the point of the story entirely. But now and then, you’ll get some advice as to what was wrong with your story. This advice is golden. I can think of at least one story of mine, ‘Trouble With the Locals’, that became publishable when I accepted a slush reader’s critique that it was way too long.
Q: What do you like to read and who are your favourite authors?
I’ve been a Stephen King fan ever since I was old enough to read adult books. I started with Pet Sematary and have now read everything he has ever written (except for his Dark Tower fantasy series, which I’ve never been able to get into). John O’Grady, who famously wrote They’re a Weird Mob, is another author who influenced my work. I’ve read his books to pieces. The English science fiction author John Wyndham (Day of the Triffids) is probably my third key influence. Beyond that, my tastes are eclectic indeed. Mark Twain, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens are three of my favourite ‘classic’ authors. Even though I’m the ‘wrong’ sex, I quite enjoy the work of Aussie chick-lit author Liane Moriarty. And I recently finished reading Junky by William S. Burroughs.
Q: Do you write one novel at a time or do you move between works in progress?
I usually only write one novel at a time, but I have been known to stop work on a novel for a week or two if a juicy short story idea pops into my head.
Q: Do you have times when the Muse is away on holiday?
I can sometimes go three or four months without a story idea. I used to get stressed when that happened, but I learned over the years that another idea would turn up sooner or later. I go through fertile periods as well, where I’ll get three story ideas in three weeks. 
Q. What motivates you to write?
I’m a high concept guy. That’s what gets me started, the sense of possibility and anticipation that comes from, “What if such-and-such happened?” Once I’m underway, I just enjoy writing. It’s as simple as that. Sure, I have off days, when the words refuse to emerge and I feel like I’m turning a silk purse into a sow’s ear, but usually I close my laptop on a high.
Q. What advice would you give to unpublished authors approaching an e publisher?
Writing a novel is the easy part. It’s all the tedious stuff that comes later – the editing, the presentation of your manuscript, the (goddamned) synopsis – that will attract a publisher’s attention. Also, get a feel for what sort of fiction the publisher wants. Sending a paranormal romance novel to a publisher that only does mainstream romance is not only a waste of your time, it also makes you look like a novice and a fool. 
Q: Is there anything you would like to share with us about upcoming releases?
If anyone wants to try some of my horror writing, ‘The Devils of Cain Island’ was recently published in issue #31 of Dark Eclipse. It’s a little unusual, in that it switches perspective between the 18th century and today. It’s historical horror!
Q: Can you tell us a little about your current novel? What inspired you to write this story?
A few years ago I was trying to sell a horror novel without success. Around the same time, I visited my local Borders – back when Borders still existed – and was appalled to discover the horror section had been lumped in with science fiction and amounted to one shelf of Stephen King books and a few miscellaneous authors. I was bemoaning this situation to my mother-in-law and she said, “Well, why don’t you write something popular, like romance?”
I was doubtful, but I mulled it over for a while and eventually decided good writing was good writing, no matter the genre. Besides, it wasn’t like I had no knowledge of romance. I’d read everything by Jane Austen and my wife had force-fed me a steady diet of romantic comedies over the years, so I began to try and cook up an idea.
I spent many years as a film critic and entertainment journalist, so Hollywood and its internal workings were familiar. I also knew the area from a couple of trips to California, so I decided to set it there. Then one day I got thinking about Hollywood’s infamous ‘casting couch’ and wondered, “What would happen if the traditional gender roles were reversed?” That was the high concept I needed and the story grew from there. I was surprised how much fun it was to write. As well as a torrid romance yarn, it’s a redemption story for the post-feminist era: rather than finding the strength to overcome adversity in a patriarchal world, my heroine starts out powerful and has to find the courage to be vulnerable if she’s to have any hope of happiness.  
Gina Hall is a beautiful and ruthless Hollywood executive who uses her power and influence to get what she wants from up-and-coming actors. Her ‘auditions’ usually involve the casting couch.

But while she is strong, independent and hard working, Gina is also 32 years old and lives alone in a penthouse apartment with her cat. One day, a handsome actor, Jack Triton, refuses to submit to one of her auditions and storms out of her office. Gina begins to re-evaluate her life... and the man who stood up to her.

She asks to meet with Jack to apologise, and during lunch Jack sees the sweet California girl behind the man-eater façade. The pair begin a tentative relationship that quickly blossoms into a steamy love affair.

But old habits die hard and Gina finds her icy business persona and the woman Jack loves coming into conflict. When Gina and Jack’s hot new relationship becomes fodder the paparazzi, things begin to look shaky. Will this Hollywood glamour couple survive, or will Gina’s unscrupulous past tear them apart?

“I’m sure you’re a wonderful actor,” Gina said. “But how much do you want this part?”
“I want it more than anything!” Tony said, sitting bolt upright. “This is my first feature film, it’s what I’ve dreamed of since I was--”
“No, Tony,” Gina said, getting up from her plush office chair. She walked around to him, her high heels silent on the thick carpet. She ran a finger down his smooth cheek and along the defined line of his jaw, then placed her hand on his chest, feeling the hard chasm where his pectorals met. “How much do you want this part?”
His eyes showed an exhilarated terror. “I want it very bad. As bad as you can imagine.”
“Show me, Tony. Show me how much you want to be the star of Dark Flowers.”
His eyes darted to the door. “Here?” he said.
Gina squeezed his arm, her heart fluttering at its solid shape, and lifted him to his feet. “We won’t be disturbed. Grant knows better than to bother me during a casting session.”
She led him to an enormous futon-style lounge that sat beneath a window with distant views of the coast. She stroked his chest and let her hands run over the hard ridges of his stomach. She continued on and discovered that, intimidated or not, Tony Cantori liked what he saw.
He liked it a lot.
He gave a small grunt at her touch and then tucked his thumbs under the lapels of her business jacket, sliding it off her slender shoulders. Their lips met, a furtive brush to begin with, but then they opened up and she savored his taste.
They broke the kiss and began to strip off one another’s clothes. He fumbled with Gina’s bra hook, but he looked upon her exposed chest with such wide-eyed appreciation that she could forgive him. When they were naked they kissed again, his hardness slipping and straining against her.
Tony tried to push her down on the lounge but she resisted and said “Uh-uh” and swivelled him around. He lay back obediently and she straddled him.
Gina had to hold back a moan as he entered her--he was like a good meal, filling, satisfying. His hands found her breasts and cupped them, his fingers twitching her nipples. She looked down and saw his face harden.
“Not yet,” she said sternly. “This audition isn’t over yet.”
Tony stopped thrusting but it was too late. His face screwed up and he gasped--one part pleasure, one part despair.
Gina crossed her arms and let out a huff.
“I’m sorry!” Tony blathered. “We can go again! Just give me a few minutes and I’m sure next time--”
“This audition is over,” Gina said, stepping off. She felt dirty and sticky and her labia were outraged. Half the blood in her body seemed to be pulsing and pounding in her loins.
“Ms Hall, please, just let me--”
“Get dressed,” she said.
He looked at her with hurt puppy dog eyes.
“And stop staring at me,” she said.
Tony put his clothes on in a hurry. Gina stood by, naked and impatient, her arms still folded under her chest.
When he was dressed, Tony looked at her sideways, not quite daring to meet her eyes. “Do I ... have I got...”
“Don’t call me, I’ll call you,” Gina said.
Tony scuttled out of the office. When he was gone, Gina sighed and padded into the ensuite bathroom to take a shower.

Buy Link:

Author’s links:
Twitter: KrisAshtonWrite

Monday, April 7, 2014

Feeling rejected?

Okay, so I've been crowing about my contracts this year....and yes, after 50 published books, I still happy dance because a contract for me is a validation that I have worth as a writer.
Yes, I get rejections and I know all authors have faced rejection at least once in their writing career.

For me, a rejection doesn't mean my life is over. Yes, it is depressing especially when I want my story published by a particular publisher. I'm just like everyone else, I want to have a great agent and see my books out there in the local book store or even better on the NY Times Bestseller List....I mean who wouldn't?

But it's horses for courses, some stories are not a fit for certain publishers that doesn't mean another publisher won't fall in love with your story. When I first started, I sent my YA to all the wrong publishers and those ten 80K+ stories about witches and warlocks are gathering dust because I gave up.
I had no feedback and no idea  how to improve or who to send my work to.

One day I guess I'll get time to read the old M/S again- they are very funny, I remember crying with laughter writing them and so did my BETA reader. Ah those were the days :-)

How do you handle rejections?

What upsets you the most?

We've all had them from JK Rowling  to Stephen King  from the form rejection letter to the one liner....declined.

What upsets you the most?

Me, well  I'd prefer a " thank you for submitting but your story isn't right for us." form letter than one that is condescending.

The best comes from a publisher who actually gives a little feedback.

Feedback...good or bad is valuable.

So what do I do if I receive a rejection letter? I feel rejected LOL....then I submit it to another publisher and write  another story.....NEVER GIVE UP  :-)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

How to prevent "word blindness" during editing by H.C. Brown

Many of us  suffer from what I call "word blindness". The brain is a wonderful part of our bodies and it's function is to get the correct information to us at speed. This is why when we see  a jumble of words on a page so long as the first and last letter are correct our brain makes up the middle.

For example:

In a perxect woxld we woxld axl be rxch

In a perfect world we would all be rich.

Okay, so when we are reading through our manuscripts our brain tells us it's perfect.

I have found a simple solution to this. Most editors will tell you to put the M/S away for a few weeks and then go back to it. Or, print it out and read it.

So what if we haven't got three weeks to spare?

The solution  came to me by accident. I posted a critique on my critique group wall and it came up in a different format. I noticed errors straight away.
So the solution is:
Copy your m/s into another  document to keep it safe.
Every time you sit down to edit, select all and change the font to a significantly different one.
Or change the background color of your page.

At the end of your polishing  it is easy to revert back to the original font.

Common problems:

 Learning how to show and not tell a story.

Telling: She felt hot. She blushed.- Wrong.
Showing: Her face grew hot.  Heat rushed into her cheeks.- Correct.

Telling: She felt cold.- Wrong.
Showing : An icy breeze brushed her skin.- Correct.

Putting the re-action before the action is a frequent error.

She screamed as her feet caught fire- incorrect.
Her feet caught fire and she screamed in agony. - Correct.

Head hoping- how to keep POV.

  By adding adjectives to the  second character you can easily keep the main character's POV.

Lucy lifted her chin and gazed into John's blue eyes. ( Lucy's POV- why? Because she can see his blue eyes) John took her shoulders and bent to kiss her succulent lips. ( John's POV...why? Because he can see her succulent lips)
This is head hoping so we need to keep  Lucy's POV.

Lucy lifted her chin and gazed into John's blue eyes. John 's expression became intent, he took her shoulders in his large hands and bent to kiss her. ---- Here we can see John through Lucy's POV.

I hope this helps.

H.C. Brown

Monday, March 17, 2014

How to show not tell by H.C. Brown

Showing and telling is like a switch in your head...okay. We just have to turn it on. I've  sat in lectures/workshops but over the years I've taught and tutored I've come to the conclusion that our brains can only absorb so much information and then we get confused. So I've picked out a few things you need and set them up in a  way to turn on your lights :-) If I am correct  print this up and keep it close by as a reference when you are writing,  it will help a lot.

Telling: She felt hot
Showing: Her face grew hot.

Telling : She felt cold/ she knew it was cold

Showing: An icy chill seeped through her blouse.

Telling: He realized he'd hit his head/ he banged his head.

Showing: Pain shot through his temple.

 So go through your manuscript and do a search for she/he felt, knew, thought, was.....these are usually signs of telling unless in dialogue.

Reaction before Action. On the whole using "as" is a lazy way of writing and it's the way we speak which makes it even more confusing. So do not to use ‘as”  to join two actions that are happening in a sentence out of sequence. Remember an action is followed by  a reaction.
 She screamed as the house caught fire.
He flinched as the door burst open.

Flames licked under the door and a curls of acrid smoke burned a path into her lungs. "Help!"
The door flung open and smashed against the wall. Hairs rose on the back of his neck at the sight of the demon.

Dialogue Tags:
These are unnecessary and, he, said , he replied etc are redundant. If two people are in a conversation, if one speaks then the other is replying. The reader doesn't need to be told this. Every publishing house I've been with have insisted they be removed.

Using Action Tags,  you set the mood of the scene so  think about this:

"How dare you," John said angrily.
"I'll  do whatever I please," she replied.

What  image does the above dialogue give the reader....not much.
So by removing the dialogue tags and adding action you create the mood of the characters.

John slammed one large fist into the table overturning the bud vase. His hard gaze lashed her face."How dare you."

Jane couldn't face him and her attention went to  the trail of water spilling across the desk. She gathered her courage and lifted her chin. "I'll do whatever I please."

Can you see the mood of both the characters?

Using the action tags with the dialogue adds what I call ambience....the mood, feel, scent of a scene.

Keeping POV.

In the scene above, can you tell who is the POV character and why? It's Jane because she sees his "One large fist." and we have her inner thought "Jane couldn't face him." Always add an adjective to the other character to keep POV. Remember only the POV can see, eye colour, a twisted smile, large hands, brown hair etc.

Pause and EM-Dash.
In dialogue when a person pauses in conversation you use the three dots . . .
Am EM-Dash is when speech is cut off  by an interruption of another person or action:

“Oh darling . . . please don’t go.”  (Pause in speech.)
“John I —”        ( Interrupted )
“Don’t say another word—” He threw the papers in her face. “—just look at these.” (Interrupted)

 Hope this helps :-)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Club Flogger's Collections 1 & 2 Available now!

Three of H.C. Brown's bestselling Club Floggers  books in each volume

                                                 Buy Link
 Buy Link

New Release :  Club Floggers Book #9 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

New Release- Roll Play- Club Floggers 9

Buy Link

H.C. Brown's Best selling Club Flogger's Series continues with some crazy antics from rockstar Seth and his Dom, Kall. Seth, drummer of the famous rock band, Cold Heat, enjoys a little role-play and Kall takes his pup on a hot ride over the edge.


"Don't look at me, keep your mouth shut. I’m gonna let go of your hands. Pull up your pants and hold them but leave that hot cock exposed for all to see. Good boy, now walk back to the studio." He shoved Seth in the back.
How does he know about the studio? It’s the biggest kept secret since Roswell. Freezing air cut into his skin and his balls ached. The man’s cold hand rested on the bare skin of his back. With every step Seth glanced around the empty street, surely, someone would come.

"Stop. Turn around and put out your hands." He pushed Seth against a tree surrounded in shadows.
Seth complied. The frozen bark scratched his back. The stranger grasped his wrists in his large hand and lifted them high in the air. Fear strangled the cry in his throat.

“Move and I’ll cut off your balls. Understand boy?”

Seth gripped the tree behind him. “Yes, Sir.”

The man gazed at his shrunken shaft, his breathing ragged. The knife pressed against Seth’s belly the man dropped to his knees and lifted the edge of his balaclava. He had full, luscious lips, and dark stubble dusted his chin. Seth swallowed. He resembled his Dom, had his lips, his chin, but not his voice. Could this be Kall acting out his wildest fantasy?

"Ask me to suck you, boy."

Seth trembled. Dear God what was happening? The knife pressed against his flesh. “Please suck me, Sir.”

The stranger lowered his head and groaned.

So damned good, Seth shuddered with the thrill of forbidden excitement. His captor’s tongue flicked out like a snake, circling the tip. Then his warm mouth surrounded him suckling and tugging him into erection. The stranger growled in appreciation and bobbed his head.
Seth panicked. He shouldn’t be enjoying this. . .fuck! "Please . . . I can't . . . I can't do this."

"You are and you’re loving it. I can taste how much you want me." The stranger ignored Seth's pleas, and suckled harder.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Tamsin Baker's New Release from Escape Publishing!

Too Busy for Love
By Tamsin Baker

He needed a job — he never expected to need his boss.

Thomas's life can be pared down to one principle: Be as successful as possible by being as single-minded as possible. But his commitment to his goal is tested upon returning home to his mansion and finding his gorgeous new gardener in his library.

Luke is a student, and his new job is perfect: decent income and a place to study that's quiet, peaceful, and stocked with useful resources. The last thing he expects to find there is a stunning man who offers to open up all the doors that Luke has yet to be brave enough to peek behind.

Thomas is happy to wait for Luke to come to him, but when he does, Thomas has no intention of holding back...

I’m studying architecture and you have some pretty awesome textbooks. I was just making some notes.”
Thomas nodded mechanically and sat down in the chair opposite Luke. This was not what he needed— to find out his gorgeous, young gardener was intelligent too. Crap.
Talk! Just talk to him. “How long have you got to go?” He choked out.
Luke groaned theatrically and rolled his eyes. “Two long years. But I’ll get there.”
Thomas smiled at the artless way Luke had of moving and talking. But the question was, was he gay?  Were his smiles a come-on, or the act of a guileless young man?
Luke’s blue eyes sparkled. “You’re home late, sir.”
Thomas opened his mouth and said something he had never murmured to a staff member before, “You can call me Thomas if you like.”
Luke cocked his head in an adorable way, his blue eyes showing surprise and pleasure.
Thomas couldn’t stop the moan that escaped his lips at the sound of such a nickname from this gorgeous young man.  A name he had banned all previous lovers and friends from using. He didn’t like the sound of it, it sounded common. Well, it used to.
“I don’t usually let people call me that.”
Luke stood up and smiled. “Really? Why not?”
Thomas stood up also and moved forward so that they almost nose to nose. His need to touch this guy was an almost painful yearning. Luke’s eyes widened in surprise but the pupils dilated in arousal also. Thomas followed his instincts and pushed forward.
“Because it sounds like something my lover would call me.”
Luke blinked several times but didn’t move back.
Thomas took that as assent and lifted his hands to cup Luke’s jaw. His skin was soft, with the faintest feeling of bristles against his palm. He brought his face a scant inch closer.
He felt Luke’s gasp against his lips but pressed forward and moaned as their skin met. Luke’s lips were soft, juicy and full of potential. He stepped closer so that their bodies were touching, Thomas’ cock hardened as it rubbed against the younger man. He groaned again and coaxed Luke’s lips open.
            Luke opened to him slowly and Thomas took advantage, tasting and licking the inside of Luke’s mouth. Enjoying the softness, the way Luke’s tongue hesitantly met his.
The soft moan Luke emitted caused Thomas’s body to harden unbearably, and then Luke was pushing him back with a gentle hand.
Thomas’ head was swimming as though he was drunk and he staggered back a few steps so that he was in the centre of the room again. He was dizzy with pleasure and was throwing caution to the wind. He knew he should have spoken to the head gardener first to find out what sort of employee Luke was. He should have talked to his lawyer, but he didn’t. He just opened his mouth and said what he wanted.
“I’m gonna have a bath. Wanna join me?”
Luke’s mouth fell open as his eyes scanned down Thomas’ body. Thomas knew his erection would be obvious in the dress pants he wore. It was hard and uncomfortable, but he didn’t care. Luke needed to see what was on offer.
He reached up and pulled his tie down, part of his seriously lust-fogged brain wondering if he was about to be sued for sexual harassment.
“Well?” He raised an eyebrow at the beautiful boy still staring at him.
He threw his silk tie down onto the chair, shrugged off his jacket and began unbuttoning his shirt. His stomach tightened in excitement as he waited for Luke to make the next move.

                                                      About the Author:
Tamsin Baker is an Aussie girl who only discovered erotic romance twelve months ago. Before that she read sexy romance, skipping the plot and looking for the ‘good bits.’ Since then she has written and obtained twenty contracts of varying lengths for her erotic romance and erotica novels. She absolutely LOVES reading and writing it! She has two other jobs, kids and a hubby too – but writing is a passion that she has to indulge for fear of insanity.
M/M is a passion of hers so even when she writes ménage, there is always an M/M story. She particularly enjoys writing Female dommes, but she loves experimenting in all genres. She is learning to write and read more, one step at a time. Soon, she’ll have stories published in every sub-genre of erotic romance – well that’s her aim anyway.

Author Links:

Buy Links:



Escape Publishing: