Monday, February 25, 2008

The Bloodchained Sequel is Underway!

An update for fans of my fiction: This week I started writing the sequel to my novel Bloodchained! The book has been selling so well these past couple of months and has gotten more fantastic reviews, and meanwhile several fans were asking if there would be another BC book. Therefore it was pretty clear to me it was time to start writing BC2.

Don’t want to put in too much here about what may happen in the new novel, lest I spoil the first one for those who haven’t read it yet. But rest assured, your favorite vampiric villain has arisen again to use his seductive ways to gain power and threaten the Roican and mortal races. Meanwhile, the “good guys” of Bloodchained have their work cut out for them as they struggle not only with their battle to keep evil in check, but also with some internal strife (there’s a nifty forbidden love plot in the works, for one thing).

And if you’re wondering about some of those bits of foreshadowing in Bloodchained, well, all will be revealed, including the ultimate fate of the Temple and of Gilder’s Inn. You’ll meet some characters mentioned before, as well as intriguing new ones. And of course, the book will emulate its predecessor and be chock-full of suspense, romance, vampire-style spiciness and shocking surprises.

Yikes, I’ve got my work cut out for me making good on all those promises! I also have to try to live up to the reviews the original Bloodchained has been getting:

The Romance Studio: 5 hearts - “I loved this story. It truly has it all...and has become one of my favorite stories.”

Fallen Angel Reviews: 5 angels - “Like no other book...a tale that comes together brilliantly...pure delight.”

Sime~Gen: 5 stars - “Not many books are able to capture me completely the way this wonderful book did...a superb love story that touched my heart...a phenomenal read!"

Romance Junkies: 4 1/2 blue ribbons - “A story that will thrill paranormal and historical romance lovers alike...Grab a copy of this superb book...”

As you may know, Bloodchained owes much of its success to the 63 reader/partners who worked with me on the creation and writing of the story. I have often been asked if I would write another book in that fashion. Well, to answer that: Because the storyline has been largely established by the first book, I won’t be using the general surveys and such this time, but I do hope to recruit some members of the Bloodchained Readers Club who will be willing to read and critique the manuscript like was done with the original. Help from readers always makes for a better book!

[And if I’ve wet your whistle for getting your own copy of Bloodchained, the paperback is available online from
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s Books. You can get it in Kindle from Amazon or in mobi format from Mobipocket, or go to Powell’s for the pdf and lit versions.]

Enough of the infomercial, we now return you to your regularly scheduled blog…

Saturday, February 23, 2008

My Favorite Dracula

Is Frank Langella.

I'm not sure why, but as I recovered my health recently and with it my libido, the first attraction to come back to me was Frank Langella from the 1979 version of "Dracula." His portrayal inspired my first lust for a vampire figure (I was barely past puberty at that time) and in the nearly 30 years since then, no one has taken his place. (Not even my own characters Anders, Mr. Wellsley, and the gang from Bloodchained, LOL.)

What are the keys to Frank's charms? I suppose at the heart of it is his slow, painfully graceful, exquisitely elegant manner. More accurately, the way he is able to convey danger, seductiveness, and pure dominance in such a slow, graceful, elegant manner. He is literally the perfect gentleman, and yet so compelling and captivating that one is terrified by one's immediate and intense desire for him.

It's the voice, the eyes, the mouth, that slow and secret gesture of the's the way power is cloaked in refinement when he's the way he stands in a window or the way he sheds his cape. In my opinion there was never an actor so born for this role, with the perfect manner of speaking, the perfect comportment, to convey a creature so wicked and yet so impossible to resist.

If you don't believe me, here are four minutes from the film that may convince you.

[It doesn't hurt, may I add, that Frank has the support of a John Williams score. Now that man was born to write music that expresses deadly danger and romantic lust rolled into one overpowering force.]

Frank Langella's interpretation of Dracula, for me, personified the sexy vampire, and I'm sure I'm completely unable to write a vampire character without harking back to him. He taught 13-year-old me to understand what it means to be irresistibly drawn to something hurtful, and how overpowering the interplay between dominance and submission can be. In that way this character did more than illustrate the vampire archetype. He demonstrated principles about sexual desire that totally transcend that theme.

By that token, I have to give credit to Frank Langella and that film for doing more than giving me my favorite vampire character ever. I owe them also for playing a key part in my sexual awakening and my understanding of the essential roles of the male and female in the most commonplace of erotic relationships: dominance and submission. So in a way, "Dracula" is among the most basic underpinnings of much of the erotic and romantic fiction I write today.

I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised after all that it was Frank's Dracula that visited me in my recovery. Needless to say, I was very glad to see him again.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sexy Killers

Please understand that in real life, murderers are very difficult to find attractive. But in fantasy, when tragedy is extricated from the equation, it's amazing how sexy killers can be. This past week I watched two very different films that made this point quite clearly.

"Mr. Brooks," with Kevin Costner in the title role, is the story of a schizophrenic serial killer addicted to murder and making an effort to beat his addiction. He doesn't fare too well at that, but in spite of myself I found the guy really attractive. It's not that his gruesome habit turned me on, but the fact that he exercised it with such cool cunning. Earl Brooks has ice water in his veins and is painstakingly clever about his little hobby. You can't help but admire his precision, as well as his complete objectivity, as he plots and executes the crimes.

In order to better showcase Earl's "good qualities," the story involves his acquring a novice accomplice equally turned on by the idea of killing, but otherwise a completely different sort of guy. Mr. Smith (Dane Cook) is careless, hotheaded, cowardly, vicious, and without remorse. Earl wouldn't have anything to do with this lout except for the fact that Mr. Smith observed one of Earl's killings and is blackmailing him so he can get in on the murderous fun.

Juxtaposed with the repugnant Mr. Smith, Earl comes across as truly admirable. I asked myself why I reacted this way to a man who gets off on killing strangers. My best answer was that Earl executes his fetish in a manner that, were it any other hobby, would demonstrate that he possesses many exemplary masculine traits.

Above all, Earl is successful at what he does--he is an expert, an artist. He is intelligent, clever, resourceful, determined, and even brave. Up until the actual moment of the crime, when the rush hits, he acts with that kind of manly coolness that never fails to impress. Meanwhile, for all his desire to emulate his mentor, Mr. Smith is half the man Earl Brooks is. He is cowardly, mean, and petty. His lust for murder is unchecked by any kind of intelligence, patience, or caution.

It also helps that Earl does care as passionately about his wife and daughter as he does about killing, and that his more disturbing personality traits have been relegated to his imaginary alter ego (William Hurt). And he really does want to stop murdering people. Funny thing is, he does it so well, half the time you find yourself not rooting as much for his recovery as for his success at crime. And certainly were he to express his talents in some more productive way, he would be a model of masculine appeal.

Even sexier than Mr. Brooks, there is the outlaw Ben Wade, played by Russell Crowe in "3:10 to Yuma." Ben is a dastardly outlaw of the Old West, who has unrepentantly dedicated his entire life to robbery and the requisite killing that enables it. Nevertheless, he is more or less the hero of the film and certainly a completely sympathetic figure. One could attribute this to the charm of the character or the sex appeal of Russell Crowe, but I think there's more to it than that.

In an early scene, Ben hooks up with a barmaid. At this point in the film I really didn't know him well enough to be tickled by this. I mean, it was all well and good that he had a way with words and a gentlemanly allure, but the guy had already been responsible for a whole lot of killing by this point. I had to defer on my judgment for a bit.

Ben began to win me over when he dealt surprisingly fairly with Dan Evans (Christian Bale), the down-and-out rancher whose cattle accidentally got involved in a stagecoach robbery. Ben was certainly under no obligation to reimburse Dan for his dead cattle or his time dealing with them, and yet he handed over the money like the most respectable of businessmen. And as the story progressed, more and more of Ben's good qualities came to the fore, traits almost unreconciliable with his total lack of respect for life and property.

Again, the script used the device of surrounding Ben with weaker men who made him look good by contrast. Greedy businessmen, cowardly lawmen, unfair institutions, liars and cheats of all kinds are at every hand. And then there is Dan, who although sympathetic by virtue of his love for his family and determination to do the right thing, has led a life of failure. His ineffectiveness at providing for his family and earning their faith and admiration is constantly contrasted with Ben's success and ability to command others' devotion. Moral issues aside, Ben is strong and Dan is weak, and your random barmaid will see this a mile off and be attracted to Ben as the better mate.

And it's interesting how hard it was for me, as a female hard-wired to lust after men who are accomplished and successful, to begrudge the fact that Ben's field of expertise was thievery and murder. Likewise, any guy watching this movie is going to admire and envy Ben more than Dan. (The moral side of things is addressed in the film, by the way, but I won't spoil it for you by telling any more of the story concerning the two men's character development.)

The point is, when you're talking fantasy, the fact that a man's forte is killing is not necessarily a strike against him. Murder--especially getting away with it as Mr. Brooks and Ben Wade do--is a tough gig, akin to any great challenge like mountain climbing or building a billion dollar company. Guys who pull it off with aplomb and grace are going to inspire a woman's admiration in spite of ethics.

We just can't help it, any more than guys will be attracted to hot women even if they are emptyheaded and useless. Come to think of it, I guess having the hots for Ben Wade is no more shameful than lusting after, say, Pamela Anderson....

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Home Improvement Hotties

I posted awhile back about my favorite guys on the Discovery Channel, and now it’s time to turn to another genre of cable TV: home improvement shows. You’ll note too that I’m not going for any of the obvious choices of sexy carpenters (Ty Pennington, Carter Oosterhouse, Andrew Dan Jumbo, Eric Strommer, etc.)...that’s too easy. My picks:

David Bromstad – Colorsplash (HGTV)

David earned his show by winning “HGTV’s Next Design Star” a couple years ago. On that show, he was known for appearing shirtless whenever possible, but in retrospect I think that was the producer’s idea more than his own. The guy is really sweet as well as really serious about his work, so he’s not the kind who would need to sell himself through sex. On the other hand, the “if you got it, flaunt it” rule does kind of apply.

At any rate, it’s not David’s cute face or buff body that makes me like him. He’s just a decorating genius, and one who executes his craft with humility and good-natured humor. He’s never done a bad design, and the original paintings he creates for each room are gorgeous too. Few people this talented are this sweet, either. If I were gay I’d probably be hot for him, but as it is, I’d just love to go shopping with the guy!

Clive Pearse – Designed to Sell (HGTV)

The show’s pretty good, Lisa LaPorta’s a cutie and a talented designer, but I watch DTS for Clive. He’s the quintessential charming, funny Brit, with a low key, quirky, elegant sense of humor. And he’s got one of those voices that make him automatically handsome regardless of his physical appearance.

I just love when Clive hosts the open houses of participants on the show. He turns on his unique charm and just about every visitor seems ready to make an offer just to please him. Sure, the makeovers help—but Clive could sell castles to cave dwellers. It’s funny how Clive is one of the few home improvement show cast members who doesn’t really do anything but occasionally open a paint can, but it doesn’t matter a whit...he makes the show.

Had he been born earlier, Clive would have made a great member of Monty Python. I’d date any of those guys too.

George Gray – What’s With That House? (HGTV)

Speaking of zany guys, no one tops George Gray. Is it his white hair, goatee, trendy glasses and wacky bowling shirts? Is it his crazy questioning of weird homeowners and their neighbors, or the way he cuts up as he explores these bizarre homes? Is it the faces, the impressions, the jokes?

I’m always a sucker for a guy who’s funny, but beyond the antics, you get the sense that George is just a warm, nice guy who enjoys people, no matter how eccentric. And that takes him to a whole new level. Heck, on his web site ( he calls his fan club “People Who Don’t Think I Suck.” Also to his credit, he’s devoted to his cat Stinky.

I would watch George Gray host anything and am even sorry I missed his stint on “The Weakest Link.” Not only do I not think he sucks, I think he’s damn hot. What a great companion for a tour of homes.

Richard Davis – The Real Estate Pros (TLC)

Richard Davis, self-made real estate magnate and founder of Trademark Properties, is not on this list because I want to date him. I simply really, really admire the man. He embodies my ideal entrepreneur: he’s a man unswervingly devoted to the principle that he who is smart and works hard should make money, but is also dedicated to sharing his hard-earned success with others.

Richard has put his own profit in jeopardy many a time in order to give a chance to someone I myself would consider a bad risk. Whether it be a drug addict or a lazy employee, Richard sees potential where others either look away or throw money at a problem. By the example of himself and his protégés, he teaches the down and out to apply themselves, make smart choices, and turn their lives around. And all while making money himself!

Is that the American Dream or what?

While not so much a romantic hero as say, your Les Stroud or your Mike Rowe, Richard is nevertheless very much a hero. Watching him get things done, make lives better, turn trash into treasure, and accomplish what others wouldn’t even attempt, never ceases to brighten my life and inspire me.

Ah, cable reality TV...what an endless source of interesting males. And I haven’t even touched upon the hotties of Bravo and the History Channel yet. As the saying goes, stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Sex Education

Hey, I'm back...the convalenscence continues, and I'm beginning to think one day I'll be myself again. But seeing as I haven't really been myself lately, I don't have a lot of current erotic adventures (real or fantastical) to relate.

Therefore I thought I'd post about erotic adventures of the past! Well, not exactly adventures. Still, I think you may find it interesting to hear about the sex education of Diana Laurence, right?

I came of age in the middle of the sexual revolution. My childhood was marked by exposure to rather exotic things that didn't necessarily make sense to someone reared on "Leave It to Beaver." I remember feeling shock, discomfort and fear hearing hippies talk about "free love" and seeing things like a photo of Charlie Manson being serviced by one of his followers. On the one hand, I had the romantic values you'd expect of a little girl who listened to a lot of Rodgers and Hammerstein soundtracks. But on the other, I watched "Laugh-In" and heard about "Barbarella" and "Last Tango in Paris." It was a confusing time to go through puberty.

One of the things about me that I guarantee influenced who I am today as a writer was the fact that I was blessed with a quality sex education. Not in school...there all you got was information on your anatomy and how to use tampons. No, it was--what a concept!--my parents. When I was a young teen they provided me with excellent books that discussed everything from masturbation to blue balls to wet dreams. And it was a good thing too; I was such an innocent at that time that I didn't know erections happened much less that boys in my classes were enduring them in my presence!

Both my mom and dad talked to me about what I read and created an environment where if I had questions at any time, I was comfortable asking. And believe me, my parents were not avant garde types by any stretch. They were private, and a little awkward about the subject, just like any parent would be. It was just that they believed it was crucial for their daughter to know about sex. They didn't want me to get VD, or pregnant, or even to get in a situation where I was confused or scared by what was happening to me.

The fact that my parents would talk about sex with me also conveyed to me that it was a natural, wholesome thing that needn't bring embarrassment or shame. Consequently, alongside my incurably romantic streak born of "The Music Man" and "Oklahoma!", I developed an appreciation for the erotic as something that could be good and beautiful and operate in perfect harmony with romance.

I have always been an outspoken proponent of sex education, both in schools and better yet, at home. Not only does it help kids be safer and wiser, it passes on a positive attitude and good mental health concerning sex.

So parents reading this, if you love your kids, don't neglect this area of parenting. Explain things so your children know their feelings are normal. Teach them about the sexuality of the opposite sex. Tell them the pitfalls and dangers, but also let them know you understand what it's like to be a sexual being. Share the advantages of abstinence in a non-critical way that respects their intelligence. Provide an environment that encourages their questions and responds to their natural curiosity. If this sounds intimidating, remember--keeping a sense of humor is key. There is a lot to smile and laugh about concerning sex, and there's nothing wrong with all parties acknowledging their shyness and embarrassment.

The point is to make sure your kids are informed. Sure, you can leave it to the less than adequate information they get in school. Sure, you can hope they find the right websites with sex information rather than the wrong ones. But the benefits of them learning these key life lessons from someone who loves them--you--cannot be overestimated.

One of the things I've always been most grateful for concerning my parents is that they cared enough to teach me about sex. I did the same for my own daughters, and it's something I will never forget.