Author Spotlight no.129 – Elizabeth Cage

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and twenty-ninth, is of Elizabeth Cage.

Elizabeth Cage is a writer, speaker and fundraiser. Her stories, poems and articles have appeared in numerous magazines including Scarlet, Desire, Forum, For Women, In the Buff, The Hotspot, and the International Journal of Erotica, as well as The Mammoth Book of Lesbian Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica 2010 (Cleis) and her fiction regularly appears in the fiction anthologies and e-books from Xcite.  Her collection, Kissing Velvet, was published in 2003 by Chimera.  She also does guest blogs, author talks, interviews, events and workshops.

And now from the author herself:

Talking Dirty

I write what some people call erotica.  I don’t label it myself.  I can’t think of a label because whenever I do, it involves someone else’s value judgement, which in turn relates to how we perceive language.  I write other stuff too.  I’ve been a published writer for 35 years, but started writing erotica around 1999.  I kind of stumbled into it, but that’s another story.

I’m one of those people who uses swear words in everyday life so it’s the norm for me. When folk debate the difference between erotica and porn, what are referred to as sexual swear words often seem to find a way into the argument. Does the language we use define the genre?  Is it that simple?  Do euphemisms make it erotica and swear words mean it’s porn?  Does it actually matter?

When we write for publishers, some editorial briefs are very specific about what kind of language they want (or don’t want).  Since I naturally tend to use certain expressions when I write about sex, it can be an interesting challenge for me to write an erotic story without using particular nouns.  Language can be as subjective as any other art form and provoke a range of emotional reactions. The most exciting thing about it is choosing and arranging  words to create imaginary landscapes.

I’ve always been fascinated by language, the fact that some words are banned, or frowned upon, yet it is the context they are used in, surely, that can create disharmony?  And who decides which words are good or bad?  How do you define a swear word?  Like the rest of language, they change and evolve.

From a writer’s viewpoint, erotica is a particular challenge with regard to finding new and different ways of describing sex, and even if the sheer variety and scope of the   encounters our characters experience is as infinite as the imagination, the actual craft of describing this without becoming hackneyed and repetitive is quite a feat.  When I re-read some of my work, I find that I have sometimes over-used certain  phrases to the detriment, perhaps, of the reader experience.

One of the great joys of being a writer is exploring language, playing with words and pushing boundaries.  I never set out to offend.  In the end it is about being true to oneself, writing with authenticity and integrity and hoping that we give pleasure in the process.  Whatever kind of language that entails.

You can find more about Elizabeth and her writing via… http://elizabeth-cage.blogspot.co.uk and http://www.elizabethcage.com.

And now a taster of her books…

Second Helpings: Surely everyone deserves a second chance? Three sexy stories. Quirky, romantic erotica with a twist. Available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Crimson Kisses: An exploration of the darker side of love… Available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Love Bites: Passionate encounters in unexpected places. Three sensual, quirky, erotic tales. Available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

    

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The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with historical novelist Jenny Barden – the five hundred and twenty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Author Spotlight no.41 – Charmaine Gordon

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the forty-first, of romantic suspense (occasionally with a touch of paranormal or mystery) writer Charmaine Gordon.

Charmaine Gordon is the author of To Be Continued (romantic suspense); Starting Over (romantic suspense); Now What? (romantic suspense with a touch of paranormal); Reconstructing Charlie, (romantic suspense and a secret); and Haven (a novella with romance, suspense, and mystery). All of the books are published by Vanilla Heart Publishing, USA.

Charmaine likes to say she tap danced out of her mother at birth into a world of men where women were subservient, expected to be good daughters, wives and mothers. She didn’t blossom until marriage to her high school sweetie and she began life as an Air Force wife, where she had many children while writing sketches and performing for the Officer’s Club on Sunday nights. After Air Force days came to a close and civilian life began, more blossoming took place: raising children, becoming a partner in business with her husband, and performing in community theater. When her happy doubles life became single upon the sudden loss of her husband, she turned to New York City and worked on daytime drama, stage, and movies. This she calls “the sweet time”. While finishing the run of an Off-Broadway play, The Fourth Commandment, she had an idea for a story. When the play ended, she began to write.

And now from the author herself:

Looking back, I think my one-track mind begins like this: some people sleep walk. I sleep write. A story comes unbidden in the night. Beginning and end. In the morning I write. For instance, Reconstructing Charlie starts briefly in a small town in Minnesota, a state I know nothing about. I always write about mature women. Uh uh. Not this time. The girl I see in my sleep is fifteen, gutsy, strong, and fiercely loyal to her mother. I see a drunken father, trouble, the girl’s mother packing a suitcase and writing a letter to unknown relatives in Chicago on Lake Shore Drive. She tells the daughter to run for the last bus. I wake and think, Chicago, my hometown. Lake Shore Drive not too familiar, but there’s always the Internet for research.

Little did I know the next few months, as I held my head in despair over this girl, that I would almost give up. But no. That’s not my style. So I wrote at least a thousand words a day, every day, and when I typed The End, I cried.

To all writers, I encourage them to never give up. There is a solitary joy in writing. Do you have a story to tell? Lift the curtain of memories you hide behind and write.

Thank you, Morgen, for inviting me to share my thoughts today.

You’re very welcome Charmaine, thank you for sharing them. 🙂

You can find more about Charmaine and her work via… http://www.vanillaheartbooksandauthors.com/Charmaine_Gordon.html and her books are available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Omnilit PDF, Kindle, Smashwords Multiformat.

      

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with short story author and blog tour co-ordinator Jaidis Shaw – the two hundred and twenty-first of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. My eBooks are available at Smashwords.

Guest post: ‘Switching from fantasy to urban fantasy’ by Phoebe Matthews

Tonight’s guest blog post, of the fantasy genre, is brought to you by novelist and short story author of fantasy, paranormal, YA, romance and historical novellas (does that leave much? :)) Phoebe Matthews.

‘Switching from Fantasy to Urban Fantasy’

The first hardcover I ever wrote was a fantasy titled Cast Down the Stars, for Holt Rinehart Winston. That was many years ago when the fantasy market was thin and so my agent sent me off in the direction of romance, Regency and YA. It wasn’t what I wanted to write but I like to think my writing skills improved with those dozen agent-driven novels sold to major publishers.

With the market in its current upheaval and NY publishers’ decisions filtered through agents and taking forever and my patience shortened with age, I recently decided it was time for a change. The first change was to start writing books that were fun for me to write, which meant switching to urban fantasy, my favorite reading choice.

Cast Down the Stars was pure fantasy, based in an invented world. At its core was a teenage astrologer who taught in the local school and was heavily involved with her community. I always liked that girl. With her in mind, I came up with a new protagonist, a young woman in her early twenties who lives in Seattle and works two jobs to pay the bills. One job is part-time tutoring at a community center in her neighborhood, called Mudflat by the residents. Here old magic runs through the local families and is inherited in weak doses.

This was the start of a series and I wasn’t sure anyone would like it beyond the publisher and editor who were both enthusiastic. About the time my confidence hit bottom, the first Mudflat book, titled Tarbaby Trouble, won an EPPIE for Best Fantasy of 2009 and so I kept going and have loved every minute of writing this series. I am now working on the sixth book.

Urban fantasy differs from straight fantasy in that it is contemporary and set in the real world. Characters can wander in and out of fantasy worlds in their adventures, but their lives are grounded in a real place. Some of the protagonists have powerful magical abilities that can affect many lives, like Harry Potter and his friends. Some, like Lori Devoti’s heroine in Demon High, have strong magic limited to a narrow situation. Some are more like Sookie Stackhouse who has no magic other than an ability to read minds and that skill causes her more problems than it solves.

No one approach is better than any other. I enjoy reading all types. But when I write, I like women who have no magic and must use their smarts. They have to figure their way through personal and local disasters. They aren’t Buffy. They can’t save the world with amazing strength or magic.

This possibly makes them easy for readers to relate to, because most women have to use their wits to survive and be happy. The difference between these protagonists and their readers is that the protagonists face fantasy enemies and situations. The similarity is that both the fictional protagonists and readers grind their teeth in frustration and then charge in and find solutions to their own problems.

This is my formula for the Mudflat series and for the Sunspinner series. Both have non-magic heroines. Claire lives in a rundown Seattle neighborhood called Mudflat. Claire’s fortunetelling skills are accurate enough to attract danger, but she has no magic with which to protect herself other than her wits. Across town in a wealthy neighborhood Elaine fronts for a household of paranormals who are being threatened by a demon invasion. Elaine is smart but hey, we’re talking demons here. So those are my typical non-magic heroines.

On the other hand, rules are made to be stretched. And so I veered off into creating a protagonist who is not your normal lady next door. She is a vampire in the Turning Vampire series. What she has in common with my other heroines is that she keeps stumbling into situations she doesn’t know how to control. Like the Claire and Elaine, Georgia has to depend on her wits rather than her physical strength or magic abilities. Unlike them, she greatest battle is to maintain self control. If she loses it, she will become the villain and end up with a dead boyfriend.

Urban fantasy series are a bit like mystery series, tied together by the same protagonists continuing through the stories. Romances aren’t always HEA or monogamous. The romance is often secondary to the main plot of suspense or adventure. What urban fantasy and pure fantasy have in common is tension, suspense, excitement, and a chance to let the reader escape the humdrum and stand on the cliff edge of magic.

Thank you Phoebe!

Phoebe Matthews has a backlist of books published by Avon, Dell, Holt, Putnam, Silhouette and others. Most of her out of print titles are now available again as ebooks. She is currently writing three urban fantasy series:

Mudflat series, BookStrand, first book is Tarbaby Trouble, winner of the 2009 EPIC Award for Best Fantasy. Available from Amazon.com.

Turning Vampire series, Dark Quest Books, first book is Vampire Career. Also available from Amazon.

Sunspinner series, LostLoves Books, first book is Demonspell. Also available from Amazon.

All are set in the Pacific Northwest where she lives. Her historic Chicago 1890s series occurs in the neighborhood where she spent childhood holidays with her grandparents. Phoebe’s website is http://phoebematthews.com.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).