New cover: Dark Clouds



New cover Dark Clouds

I have updated Dark Clouds, Part 1: The Mandrake Ruse, complete with a new cover. I’m excited about it. I have to thank Quebec graphic designer Daniel Dufour for invaluable advice on typography and colours.

Original cover - Dark CloudsThe original cover wasn’t bad. I took the photograph in Venice, and while it’s a good image of dark clouds, when cropped and blown up to an image usable as a cover, the resolution was too low. Dots and artefacts were visible.

original Photo-clouds over Venice

In designing a new cover for my latest story, Palm Trees & Snowflakes (a Lei Crime short story), I bought some credits from a stock photo agency, and I had a few left over. So I found a really good image and reformatted the cover of Dark Clouds.

I also took the opportunity to revise the text itself. I took to heart a review that claimed there were some grammatical errors. I didn’t find any actual grammatical errors, but there were some typographical issues.

It’s interesting—I don’t think I’m the only writer who cringes over some of the sentences I wrote after a few years. I found some awkward or confusing passages in Dark Clouds, and fixed them. I then went on to fix up the second part of Dark Clouds: What Made Me Love You?, along with a new cover for it, too.

So let me know what you think. And if you want to buy a new copy, you can find it on:

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What do authors like about writing? Three very different bestsellers spill



You would find it hard to find three excellent writers who are more different than Seb Kirby, Lisa Jay Davis and Charity Parkerson. Seb writes thrillers and science fiction; Lisa published a bestselling memoir of her time as an event producer in Hollywood; and Charity writes erotica, romance and fantasy.

But you’ll be surprised at the things they agree on.

Which element of a book is most important to you as a writer:

  • plot
  • characterization
  • setting
  • getting the little details right, such as the weapons your characters use, the science involved, or the historical aspects of the time period your book is set in
  • action
  • sex, or
  • other?

Charity Parkerson: Since I write erotica and spicy romance, I have to say the sex.

SebKirbyLargerSeb Kirby: The first two interest me most. Story arc and character arc and how these interact is something that I’m working hard at developing in my writing. Think Walter White in Breaking Bad as a supreme example of how this is done well. In addition to that I think that giving a story a real sense of place is very important. Much of the rest flows from this.

Lisa Jey Davis: Considering I have only written non-fiction thus, far, I’ll have to answer from that perspective… I’d have to say characterization and humor.

What part of writing do you spend the most time on: research, writing, editing, making coffee or cleaning your work space?

Charity Parkerson: Writing. I’m focused.

Seb Kirby: What’s missing here is promotion. I spend about as much time on that as I do on writing. Research comes lower down the list, but when that involves traveling to new places, my interest spikes.

Lisa Jey Davis: Editing number 1, writing number 2.

Which of these do you enjoy most?

Charity Parkerson: Making coffee, lol.CharityParketon2015

Seb Kirby: Of course, it’s the writing. In the end it’s what makes the whole thing tick.

Lisa Jey Davis: Writing.

What do you wish you had to do less?

Charity Parkerson: Cleaning.

Seb Kirby: Books that don’t get promoted don’t get read. So, there is little point in writing them. Which means that every author needs to be a promoter. That can be fun and you can meet some wonderful people. But the real currency is in the writing. So, less promotion and more time for writing would be top of my list.

Lisa Jey Davis: Editing.

What part of writing or publishing do you think you could help other writers with?

Charity Parkerson: I’m pretty good at marketing.

Seb Kirby: I’ve been self-published now since December 2010. In this digital world we now live in, that’s equivalent to saying sometime in the Cretaceous Period. Which is a way of saying that I think I could help best with advice on self-publishing. How we all write, well, I think much of that is down to personal choice.

Lisa Jey Davis: Marketing! Lol.LisaJey2

Which of your books or other works are you personally happiest with? Why?

Charity Parkerson: Every time I start a new book, I’m happier with it than any other. It’s like a new love affair.

Seb Kirby: Like most authors, it has to be the most recent one! I guess the hope is that you learn a little more with each book you write. The reality, perhaps, is that you never know whether that might be the last. So, the answer here is Each Day I Wake. It’s my first psychological thriller. I found the challenge of getting deeper into the mind of my main character was really stimulating.

Lisa Jey Davis: My memoir, Ms. Cheevious in Hollywood: My Zany Years Spent Working in Tinsel Town. It’s a book that people read, as opposed to my other book, Ahhhhhh … Haaaaaa Moments With Ms. Cheevious: A Yoga Routine for All Levels, which is primarily a guide to  following along to photos.

Thank you all!

About these bestselling authors

Charity Parkerson is an award-winning and multi-published author with Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Indie Publishing House LLC, and Punk & Sissy Publications. Born with no filter from her brain to her mouth, she decided to take this odd quirk and insert it in her characters.

  • 2015 Readers’ Favorite Award Winner
  • Winner of 2, 2014 Readers’ Favorite Awards
  • 2015 RWA Passionate Plume Award Finalist
  • 2013 Readers’ Favorite Award Winner
  • 2013 Reviewers’ Choice Award Winner
  • 2012 ARRA Finalist for Favorite Paranormal Romance
  • Five-time winner of The Mistress of the Darkpath

You can find Charity Parkerson online

Seb Kirby is the author of the James Blake Thriller series (Take No More, Regret No More and Forgive No More), the Raymond Bridges sci fi thriller series (Double Bind) and now the psychological thriller Each Day I Wake. An avid reader from an early age—his grandfather ran a mobile lending library in Birmingham – he was hooked from the first moment he discovered the treasure trove of books left to his parents. He was a university academic for many years, latterly at University of Liverpool. Now, as a full-time writer, his goal is to add to the magic of the wonderful words and stories he discovered back then. He lives in the Wirral, UK

Seb Kirby’s books:

Find Seb Kirby online:

 

Ms. Cheevious in Hollywood

Humourous memoir by Lisa Jey Davis

Lisa Jey Davis is an award-winning writer, an author, and a former television production talent manager who worked with musicians, fashionistas, celebrities and other characters for shows produced by MTV, CBS, the NFL and many more. She is the editor in [Mis]Chief at MsCheevious.com where she “brings the funny” about life and love. Also a fitness and health nut, Lisa Jey has made appearances on The Doctors TV show and the CW in Los Angeles (among others), talking women’s health issues. She is a health and fitness contributor for LiveStrong.com and blogs for the Huffington Post. Lisa Jey is also a certified Pilates instructor, Lagree Method trainer and yoga instructor. When she is not speaking at seminars and events, she offers personal fitness and weight management sessions and teaches fitness classes around the Los Angeles area. Lisa Jey resides in Santa Monica and enjoys every single moment.

Lisa Jey’s books:

Ms. Cheevious in Hollywood: My Zany Years Spent Working in Tinsel Town

Ahhhhhh … Haaaaaa Moments With Ms. Cheevious: A Yoga Routine for All Levels

Follow Lisa Jey and her alter ego Ms. Cheevious:

Websites

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

 

 

Sex in a book — how much is too much?



That’s what Russell Blake, author of Geronimo Beach and other action novels, asked in his guest blog post on the World Literary Café.

When is everyone’s favourite passtime in page form too much, whatever that is? I’ll admit I don’t read bodice rippers or erotica, so that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m asking the open question: when does spice stop being seasoning, and instead overpower the main dish in general fiction?
As you can imagine, the post sparked a debate. At the same time, a controversy  erupted in my home town, Ottawa over Sex: A Tell-All Exhibition at the Museum of Science and Technology.
The exhibit was designed by the Science Centre in Montreal, where it ran to great success but no controversy. It had also been shown in Regina, Saskatchewan, again without eliciting a lot of opposition.
And now, of course, there’s the controversy about the updated health curriculum in Ontario public schools. A loud minority of parents are protesting against their children being educated about human anatomy and sex. And it’s the same argument: learning facts about the human body and certain of its functions will somehow harm children.
The museum “Sex Tell-All” exhibition elicited opposition even before it opened.  The federal (Conservative) Heritage Minister, James Moore said it was “insulting” to taxpayers. In an email to the museum’s director, Moore’s assistant quoted the Minister as saying it was “inappropriate for young children.”
The Museum of Science and Technology described the exhibit this way:

It is an award-winning educational exhibition that answers the main questions young people have about sexuality. It imparts what science has to say on the topic, conveys a positive image of sexuality and, ultimately, helps young people hone their judgment skills so they can make responsible and informed decisions.

The vast majority of comments about it, on the Museum’s website, in the mainstream media and elsewhere, were in favour of the exhibit. There are very few opposed to it. Yet the museum caved into the pressure, removing a section on masturbation and raising the age at which children can visit without a parent from 12 to 16.
The trouble with the latter change is that children whose parents will not take them to the exhibit at age 14 are exactly the ones who need accurate, unbiased information the most.

Discouraging opposition

The opposition to the exhibit is, unfortunately, easily predictable. Before you read some of the comments I gleaned from some easily accessible websites, try to imagine what they might be.
From Peter Baklinski, commenting on the Museum’s website:
I must inform you that me and my four children will not visit the museum again while the sex exhibition is running. The sex exhibition is a travesty to the majority of Canadians who believe that sexual activity is reserved for spouses within the context of marriage.
Thank you for telling all of us how to have sex, Peter.
From Ken Quick on Sun Media’s web page:
Perversion masquerading as “science” and “education”. Your tax dollar at work.
The only reason I give more attention to idiotic comments like Quick’s is that we need to understand the full range of opinion.
I stress that the overwhelming majority of comments on all media (except maybe for Sun Media’s website—but remember that fora like these are moderated, so the published comments do not necessarily reflect the range of comments submitted) are positive. People in Ottawa generally support the exhibit.
From Cathy Payne, who commented on the CBC’s website:
The “insult to taxpayers” argument was rejected as an “attack on freedom” when the Heritage issue was championing the sport where two men go into a cage and try to kick one another to death.
That level of violence had no opponents from the “family values” champions. But while viewing an inanimate art exhibition they see vile sex.
Well said, Ms. Payne!

Your turn to weigh in:

What do you think? How should we talk about sex? From my point of view, sex is a complete normal, and wonderful thing. However, we learned very early that we’re supposed to be embarrassed by it. It’s something kept behind closed doors, under covers — literally. “Wheresmycountry,” a commenter on CBC’s web page, put it perfectly:
The more taboo and forbidden a subject is, the more fascinating it becomes. If you want to foster increased interest about sex among curious young minds, tell them it is something they are too young to know about. Works every time!
Please readers, share your thoughts. How can we talk about sex, write about sex, teach children about it so they don’t have shame, guilt and deeper problems with it? Write whatever you want. However, I will give you one warning: I will have no hesitation in tearing apart the argument that “sex education should be left to parents.” The empirical evidence is incontrovertible: that strategy has never worked.

 

Think of the children: what will happen if they learn sex exists?



Photo courtesy cbc.ca

News item: Ontario sex ed: Protesters disrupt school meeting

Protesters turned out in force at a Scarborough school Thursday night, disrupting efforts by two local MPPs to discuss Ontario’s new sex ed curriculum. 

The information session at Agincourt Collegiate Institute was cut short when demonstrators moved inside — chanting “We say no” at MPPs Soo Wong and Bas Balkissoon. 
 
The new curriculum has drawn criticism from some parents and religious groups who say it is too explicit for young children. 
A group of loud parents protested against the new Ontario health and physical education curriculum at a public meeting in Toronto this past week. They carried signs that bore phrases like:

“Too early, too soon”

“Our children, our choice”

The ruckus drew media attention, of course. One of the protesting parents asked: “Can you justify to me why a Grade Six needs to know about masturbation? Can you answer that?”

Today on a newsstand near you

Some of the cover headlines on the current edition of Cosmopolitan:
 

63 Secrets to Better Orgams—Get Over the Edge!I Like High-End Sex Parties—and I’m Not a Weirdo.

Last issue: 
 
Cover lines: 

How I solved our sex issueHow to touch a naked man: 16 Naughty Strokes That Will Send Him Over the Edge.

Apparently, an orgasm is like falling off a cliff at Cosmopolitan.
From the current issue of Women’s Health magazine: 
 
“The positions men prefer most”—a how-to guide.
Unlike porn magazines, which are, at least where I live, out of reach and sight of children, these magazines are all the most popular, biggest-selling women’s magazines. Most are regularly displayed in racks beside the check-outs of grocery and drugstores.
Kids see them all the time, and whether or not they ask Mom “What’s an orgasm?” they’re going to wonder.
And they’re going to get the information somewhere.

The connected generation

Kids today get most of their information today not from parents or school, but from the Internet, and they’re accessing it through mobile devices.
Cover line: “The best hour for
amazing sex”
In other words, when they have questions, they go for answers to the Internet first. And they probably won’t look up Cosmo or Women’s Health. They’re more likely to get misinformation from irresponsible like soft porn sites or, worse, the Centre for Canadian Values.
It’s the same argument that led to sex ed in schools in the 70s: kids are getting bad information about sex from uninformed sources—the “kids in the schoolyard” argument. That’s why it’s important to give children correct information based on facts before they hear misinformation and outright lies.

The big lie succeeds

The Big Lie technique is simple: if you want a large number of people to believe something that’s not true, make it as big, as ridiculous as you can, and keep repeating it. Political opponents of the Ontario government are using it in the pointless sex-ed debate have floated the phrase that under the new Health and Physical Education curriculum, Grade 6 students will the “taught masturbation.”
That’s the phrase used by a former reporter from the defunct Sun News TV channel on an online rant against the curriculum. “Taught masturbation.” Not “taught about masturbation” or “taught the definition of masturbation.”
Phrasing it this way is clearly meant to evoke the idea of a teacher showing students how to masturbate. But the curriculum says that among the physical and health education concepts Grade 6 students will learn, is:

“Things like wet dreams or vaginal lubrication are normal and happen as a result of physical changes with puberty. Exploring one’s body by touching or masturbating is something that many people do and find pleasurable. It is common and is not harmful and is one way of learning about your body.”

Why should a Grade 6 student learn that?

News item:

Woman, 33, watching 50 Shades of Grey arrested for masturbating at movie theater in Mexico during S&M-filled drama

Because the word comes up in mass media, in social media and in the schoolyard. Because in a year, that 12-year-old will be 13 and masturbation will move from a word on a screen to reality.
Cover line: “Is Everyone Sexting
Without Me?

 

If schools cannot teach facts that children will need in their life, then where will they learn it?

(Mis)Information is everywhere

A lot of parents, understandably, want to control the information their children get. The trouble is, that’s a futile effort. Kids are getting more information than ever before, all the time. The only thing we as parents can do is make sure that we give them correct information about the most important things in their lives.
What do you think about this? What do you think about teaching children about sex—not how to do it, but that it exists. 
 
And I would be interested to hear from those who oppose the sex education parts of the health and physical education curriculum: what do you think will happen if a young child learns about sex?

The anti-sex brigade lies again, hurrah, hurrah — the Ontario sex ed curriculum



Last week, the Ontario government published its revised health and physical education curriculum, which includes updated sexual education content.
Image courtesy energeticcity.ca
The update is actually titled The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1–8: Health and Physical Education. There is a separate curriculum for high school, grades 9 to 12. It covers much more than sex, in fact, all forms of health, including safety, physical activity and hygiene. 
The sexual component elicited opposition from the usual groups. The most prominent groups in this opposition use the Big Lie strategy to get more attention and rope uninformed people into joining their side.
For example, Charles McVety of the Institute for Canadian Values call the curriculum “nothing more than an indoctrination vehicle to teach children a new way of thinking about gender.”
Campaign Life—whose main goal is to stop abortion—is worried about teaching grade 1 students the proper names of body parts. This is what it says on its website as a problem with the curriculum, which is not all that different from the draft brought out in 2010:

Below are some shocking excerpts from the 2010 curriculum that the Education Ministry had posted online…Graphic lesson on sexual body parts including ‘penis’, ‘testicles’, ‘vagina’, ‘vulva’ and more.”

This is what the curriculum actually says: 

Specific expectationsC1. Understanding Health ConceptsBy the end of Grade 1, students will: …Human Development and Sexual HealthC1.3 identify body parts, including genitalia (e.g., penis, testicles, vagina, vulva), using correct terminology [PS]Teacher prompt: “We talk about all body parts with respect. Why is it important to know about your own body, and use correct names for the parts of your body?”Student: “All parts of my body are a part of me, and I need to know how to take care of and talk about my own body. If I’m urt or need help, and I know the right words, other people will know what I’m talking about.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t see a problem with that. And “penis” and “vagina” are words we can hear regularly on prime-time TV today.
Campaign Life are also concerned that the curriculum 

Will normalize homosexual family structures and homosexual ‘marriage’ in the minds of 8-year-olds, without regard for the religious/moral beliefs of families.”

This is what the curriculum actually says about homosexual relationships for grade 3 students, who are 8 or 9 years old:

By the end of Grade 3, students will: …C1.3 identify the characteristics of health relationships (e.g. accepting differences, being inclusive, communicating openly, listening, showing mutual respect and caring, being honest) and describe ways of overcoming challenges (e.g. bullying, exclusion, peer pressure, abuse) in a relationship [IS] Teacher prompt: “Consider different types of relationships — with friends, siblings, parents, other adults — and think about the kinds of behavior that help to make those relationships healthier. What can you do if you are having problems with a relationship?”

Importantly, in Grade 1, the curriculum also aims to teach kids this concept:

demonstrate the ability to recognize caring behaviours (e.g., listening with respect, giving positive reinforcement, being helpful) and exploitive behaviours (e.g., inappropriate touching, verbal or physical abuse, bullying), and describe the feelings associated with each [IS]

Let’s look at the curriculum:

C3.3 describe how visible differences (e.g., skin, hair, and eye colour, facial features, body size and shape, physical aids or different physical abilities, clothing, possessions) and invisible differences (e.g., learning abilities, skills and talents, personal or cultural values and beliefs, gender identity, sexual orientation, family background, personal preferences, allergies and sensitivities) make each person unique, and identify ways of showing respect for differences in others [PS, IS]

Campaign Life says that part of the curriculum means Ontario schools 

will teach the disputed theory of ‘gender identity’ as if it were fact. This is the notion that whether you’re a boy or a girl does not necessarily relate to your physical anatomy. It is merely a ‘social construct’. Gender is ‘fluid’ according to this theory, and any little boy can decide that he is actually a girl, if that’s the way he feels in his mind, or vice-versa.  

Note: The potential for causing serious sexual confusion in the minds of children is very real with this teaching.”

Of course, Campaign Life does not point out that there is no evidence for the theory that teaching children the theory of fluid gender identity harms them in any way.
Another thing that this organizations do not point out in their protests against the curriculum is their own agenda. They’re very conservative, stridently anti-gay and against any sexual content in any education. In fact, reading their material, I get the strong sense they’d be happier if no one ever talked about sex, ever.
Another big lie: no parents were consulted on the development of the new curriculum. In fact, consultations with parents, students, teachers, faculties of education, universities, colleges and other groups started in 2007. Granted, most of that was prior to the 2010 draft, but there isn’t much difference. And there have been consultations since.
Parents have had a lot of opportunity to weigh in on the issue. And in the meantime, the world has moved on and become even more sexually explicit.
Here’s another big lie: Brian Lilley of the conservative website TheRebel says that “in grade 6, they want to start teaching masturbation.” Those were Lilley’s words: “they want to start teaching masturbation.” Not “about masturbation.”
Lie.
Lilley deliberately constructed his sentence that way. He is trying to create an image in his audience’s minds of a teacher teaching grade 6 students, 11- and 12-year-olds, how to masturbate.
Don’t worry. They already know how. And so do you, Lilley.
The concept of masturbation occurs once in the curriculum. This is what the Grade 6 curriculum says about it:

“Things like wet dreams or vaginal lubrication are normal and happen as a result of physical changes with puberty. Exploring one’s body by touching or masturbating is something that many people do and find pleasurable. It is common and is not harmful and is one way of learning about your body.”

Have a problem with that, Lilley?
Big lies. Expect the anti-sex brigade to keep repeating them, because we all know the Big Lie strategy works.

Even in this sexually explicit age, we’re still squeamish about sex.

“I know sex is either boring or dirty.”

— I’m An Adult Now, The Pursuit of Happiness, 1986

Sex’s dirtiness and the shame imposed on my generation around sex — and earlier generations, too — fuels the titillation, fascination and explicitness over sex. Despite the sexual revolution of decades past, we’re still squeamish about it. Especially religious communities, who cannot get away from telling people about the kind of sex they should have.
By the way, as a parent, I really resent groups like the Institute of Canadian Values presuming to dictate to my kids whom they can marry. As far as values go, I think these are Canadian values: accepting differences, being inclusive, communicating openly, listening, showing mutual respect and caring, being honest. Where did I see those? Oh, yes — in the Ontario Health and Physical Education Curriculum for Grade 1.

What age is appropriate?

With every other topic, we teach people information before they start the activity, so they know what to expect and can take the right steps to protect themselves against inadvertent harm. We teach kids safe behavior near water before we teach them to swim. We teach teens the rules of the road in a classroom before we let them get behind the wheel of a car. So why should we not teach facts about sex before they’re of an age to be sexually active?
 
I remember when my kids came home from their first sex-education classes, in grade 3 or 4 — I can’t remember, offhand, which it was. Their reaction? “Gross!”
No danger that they were going to indulge in premature sexual activity in school.
The biggest lie is that, without sexual education in school, parents can “protect” their children against harm by keeping ideas and expressions about sex away from them. The reality is that our society is awash in sexual messages. The biggest movie is Fifty Shades of Gray, based on the book that broke all kinds of sales records of its own. Every time I go to the grocery store, the magazines at the check-outs invariably bear at least one headline about having “mind-blowing sex.”
And kids in school have all sorts of wrong ideas about sex, ideas that can be harmful. Many high school-age people believe that by having only oral and anal sex, they’ll remain virgins. Some believe that oral sex cannot expose you to sexually transmitted diseases. We owe our kids clear, correct information about health, which, despite anyone’s squeamishness, includes sex.
 

I don’t think children are harmed by facts.

 
They’re harmed when facts are hidden from them. For centuries, abusers have gotten away with sexually exploiting children partly because the shame that their victims felt prevented them from talking about it, from reporting it.
If we can talk openly and honestly about sex, without shame, the same way we talk about any other health topic — the way we talk about healthy food, for example — then maybe the next generation will have fewer sexual problems and healthier lives.
Denying facts won’t help that.
What do you think?

The countdown begins



P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }A.western:link { }A.ctl:lMy second novel, One Shade of Red,launches TOMORROW, April 2, on Amazon, Smashwordsand other e-book retailers.

I’m very excited about this. As you can see in the previous posts, I have done much more publicity in advance this time around: I posted excerpts over the past few months on this blog; I’ve been interviewed on other sites; and over the past week and continuing for another week following the official release, I’ve posted excerpts from the final version on 12different blogs.


I have to take another moment to thank the writing, blogging and reading community for all the enthusiastic support. And I have to say a special thank you to Independent Authors International for making the iAi cooperative publishing model work so well, especially Gary Henry, Roxanne Bury, Cinta Garcia de la Rosa, Bruce Blake and Benjamin Wretlind. Also, a big shout-out to the inimitable David C. Cassidy for such a great cover!


A different direction

Some people who read my first novel, The Bones of the Earth,were surprised to learn that my second novel is a frankly sexual parody of a mildly erotic bestseller. I have to admit, One Shade of Red is pretty graphic.

My readers know that description is my thing. I like to make a scene real, describing what things look, sound, feel and taste like. A number of the reviews of The Bones of the Earth mentioned the description and detail.

What prompted this particular parody was that it was just irresistible.

About a year ago, the only book you ever heard about was Fifty Shades of Grey. Serious radio stations had phone-in programs about it. Reviews were inescapable in newspapers, magazines and the Web.

Only after I bought a copy as a gift for my wife did I start to notice how many reviews were negative. I am sure some of that reaction was sour grapes: Fifty Shades is not the only book about spanking and sex, but it is the best-selling book of the decade, if not longer. I heard once that it was outselling the Bible!

Then I got the most important review: my wife did not like it. She had no patience with the emails or the long contracts. (How long would the book be without that filler?)

She did not like the hero, Christian Grey. She found him completely unbelievable. “He’s a creep,” she says. “If he weren’t so rich and so good looking, everyone would think he’s just a pervert.”

The heroine and narrator, Anastasia, is also unbelievable — as well as annoying, Roxanne says.


I read the book last fall, and I decided to have some fun with the idea of a book that’s about nothing but sex.


I turned Fifty Shades on its head. I decided to make the protagonist/narrator of One Shade of Red a young man; a virgin, like Anastasia Steel. Now, how could I explain a 20-year-old healthy virgin in North American society in the 21st century? Right — give him an uptight girlfriend, the girl next door. He faces the expectation from his family and hers to be her boyfriend, but she won’t have sex before marriage.

The mentor figure: where Christian Grey is the ideal man — young, beautiful, rich and powerful with a deep flaw that only the heroine can fix — Alexis Rosse is the idea woman (to a 20-year-old man): beautiful (come on, I can get away with a beautiful female character in a novel and still make it believable!), independently wealthy, smart, vivacious and unabashedly horny. In fact, sexually voracious.


Now, to make her believable: she’s rich because she’s the widow of a wealthy man. It doesn’t matter exactly how Charles Rosse made his money, but I decided it was the old-fashioned way: he inherited it.

At 30, Alexis is young, but she’s now confident in her talents, her body, her beauty and her sexuality.


She’s smart, because the sexiest part of any woman is her brain. I made her a bit of a financial prodigy, someone who excelled in business school and turned that talent into reality when she got her hands on some capital.


In other words, she’s perfect — nothing to fix! I think that I’m like most men in that I have enough stuff to fix in my life without having to fix my partner. When you find perfection, why would you change it?


It comes down to a story

This is primarily a coming-of-age story, a rite of passage: learning how to make love to someone. Alexis teaches Damian the language of love. He matures a lot. His relationship with Alexis gives him the confidence to deal like an adult with his parents, his girlfriend, his friends, his work colleagues. Damian is not the same at the end as he was at the beginning of the story.


In writing the story, though, I found it easy to get carried away. My first couple of drafts had much more graphic, detailed and long descriptions of the sex scenes. I did some research into erotic writing (boy, research can be tough) by “serious” writers. Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, EL Doctorow, John Updike, Pearl Buck and many others have written about sex and not been lumped into the “porn” category.


And then I thought about all the action books I’ve read. In the past year, I’ve read at least three descriptions by three different authors about what a bullet does after it enters a human brain. Why is that considered appropriate for serious literature, but not descriptions of what people have always done and always will as soon as they can?

Okay, enough ranting. Enough rationalizing. The only legitimate judges are you, dear readers.


Did I succeed? Crash and burn? Let me know. You can read excerpts for free on the blogs that are participating in the blog tour. Or you can go to Amazonor Smashwordstomorrow and read the whole book.


Let me know what you think.


Get One Shade of Red at:


A sexy excerpt from ONE SHADE OF RED



My second novel, One Shade of Red, launches April 2. What’s it about?

With this novel, I turned Fifty Shades of Grey   currently the fastest-selling book ever   on its head. And then, I added more sex.

To give you a little taste, here’s an encounter between the two main characters: Damian, the naive twenty-year-old virgin, and the only client of his pool-cleaning business, the slightly older Alexis Rosse. This starts in a slightly run-down tavern on the Danforth in Toronto. 

Chapter 3: Emergency pick-up

Tyler stabbed a button and held the phone to his ear. I realized he had pressed “Call.”


“Who are you calling?” I asked, alarmed.

“Your girlfrien’,” he answered, grinning. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the phone out of his grasp. Kristen answered on what I figured must have been the third ring. “Hey, baby, it’s me, Damian,” Tyler said, trying to impersonate me. It didn’t convince me, but it seemed to convince Kristen. “Listen, you and me been wasting enough time, already. It’s time to get naked and get it together! I’m comin’ over for some booty, right now.”

“Are you crazy?” I yelled, hoping my voice could overcome the noise in the bar and make it through the cell phone, somehow, to tell Kristen it wasn’t me. She was going to be so mad.

I grabbed at my phone again, but Tyler twisted away. Patrick came around the table and grabbed my hands as Tyler said “I’m at the bar with my best buds, Tyler and Patrick. Don’t pretend you don’t know who we — they are.

“At the bar,” he continued. “The Red Fox. Yah, that’s the one.” Another pause. “No, no, I’ll … awright, awright, come on over! Yah, it’s on the Danforth. You been there! Okay, see ya.” He handed me the phone. “Good news, buddy: she’s comin’ to get you.”

“What?” Patrick and I said simultaneously. “Kristen is coming to pick you up for a booty call? Oh man, I never even had that much luck!” Patrick added.

Luck had nothing to do with it, I thought. At least not good luck. “Shit, shit, shit,” I said. “Kristen hates it when I’m drinking.”

“How many beers you had?” Patrick asked.

I had to think about it. “Three. Maybe four,” I answered. “Shit.”

“Like I said, more of a wife than a girlfriend,” Tyler said and drank more beer.

I stood to brush peanut crumbs off my clothes and headed for the door. It would be better, a little, to meet Kristen outside than in the bar.

It wasn’t such a bad place. The Red Fox was also a restaurant that catered to families at suppertime. But Kristen felt — I knew this because she told me several times — that sitting in a bar drinking beer with my “dumb buddies” was a waste of time and money, something done by low-lives only. Not by respectable university students who hoped one day to be respectable professional members of the community.

I could hear her voice telling me this as I stood on the curb, looking eastward for her car. Or actually, her father’s car. One part of my brain could not believe she would actually agree to come and get me at — I felt shocked when I looked at my watch — quarter past midnight. Her father let her come out this late?

Another part of my brain kept predicting what she would say. I could hear her clipped voice in my head: the way she bit off her words when she was pissed, the way she would emphasize every sentence with a “Hmmm?” that was more of an accusation than a question.

And there was yet another part of my brain that kept asking pesky questions. “Why does she need her father’s permission to go out late at night when she’s over 18?” “Why does she get to dictate when and how often I go out with my friends?”

“Just why does she get to decide what ‘respectable’ professionals do in their own time? Or what constitutes ‘respectability’?”

And “Why is it taking her so long to get down to the Danforth from her house? She should have been here a long time ago.”

“Dude, you owe me thirty bucks,” said someone beside me. I jumped, literally jumped, before I saw it was just Patrick. Tyler was behind him. “You left without paying for your beer. The waitress was pissed — she thought you had burned her. So I hadda pay her.”

“Can I get you tomorrow?” I asked. I really didn’t want Kristen to see me giving Patrick money. She’d have something else to lecture me about: “Given how little money you make, should you be paying your dumb buddy for beer from a bar? And what if someone had seen you handing over money on the street like that? They’d think you were buying drugs! Yes, Patrick does look like a drug dealer.”

I looked down the street, expecting to see Kristen’s father’s car any minute, but even though traffic was light, I couldn’t see the familiar shape of the minivan anywhere. When headlights lit up the asphalt at my feet from behind me, I was confused.

A grey Jaguar pulled up the curb, pointing the wrong way. The driver’s window slid down silently and a musical voice said “Well, do you want booty, or not?”

I bent down to see the long wavy hair and deep brown eyes of my employer. My only customer. I looked at my friends, and they were staring at me and the car with their jaws hanging loose. “Mrs. Rosse? What are you doing here?”

“You called me, remember? You wanted to get naked. What’s a girl supposed to do when she gets a call like that? Now get in.”

I flashed my friends a grin as I walked around the car to get into the passenger seat. They still had their mouths open. Mrs. Rosse gunned the engine, cutting off a hatchback coming the other way — the right way down the Danforth. Before I could say anything, she said “Boy, you have dumb friends.”

“I was just going to say, that wasn’t me. That was Tyler,” I stammered. “He thinks he’s funny.”

“I know what your voice sounds like, Damian. We have spoken on the phone.”

“Sorry if he offended you.”

Mrs. Rosse laughed. “Offended me? Maybe disappointed me!”

“How?”

“That it wasn’t actually you making that phone call.” She looked at me and I swear I saw her eye sparkle.

“Where are we going?”

“My place. You said you wanted to get naked with me. Or your friend said it, but anyway, I’m turned on now.”

I decided not to bother trying to explain that both Tyler and I thought he had dialled Kristen’s number. I was so glad he had made a mistake.

My mouth suddenly was very dry. Did she really say she was turned on? “So, uh, sorry to drag you out this late.”

She laughed again. I was really starting to love that laugh. I squirmed in my seat, hoping to hide my sudden erection. “I wasn’t doing anything, just reading a really bad book and feeling horny. Your friend’s call was the excuse I needed to get out and scare up some action.”

I was sure she could hear my heart pounding, because that’s all I could hear at that point. I hadn’t noticed what she was wearing when I got in the car. As we passed under streetlamps, I could see that she was wearing a pink jogging jacket, but her legs were bare.

She noticed me looking at her. “That’s right, Damian. This jacket is all I have on.”

With that, she swung the car into her driveway. I sat there, staring as she walked, bare-assed, to her front door, the flip-flops of her sandals echoing down the street. She turned to me from the step, smiled and pulled off the jacket. She posed for a second, nude, and tossed the jacket into the house, then stepped inside.


Like that? You can find out what happened to Damian on April 2, when One Shade of Red goes on sale on Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes iBookstore and other quality e-book retailers!

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