Saturday, 31 December 2011

oh what a year... and a bit

And really the title says it all.

Oh what a year and a bit I've had.

This time last year and a bit ago, I was off work, with a dodgy shoulder and arm, which meant I couldn't lift and carry much. And I was bored rigid.

This time this year, I'm still off work, with a dodgy shoulder and arm, which means I can't lift and carry much. But no way am I bored rigid. I don't have the time.

So those 14 or so months ago, I was playing on the net and saw a competition to write a romance novel. Submit a first chapter. so I did. It was abysmal. But I joined the newbies facebook group, and found some great friends.

 I duly (and luckily) went on holiday to get back to be told I was in a newly formed crit group—Up and Coming Writers. The best thing that could have happened!

We wrote a book together, and I really must re-read it,  (The brilliant Awakening by Doris O'Connor came from it) and it really gave us all the push to write and write and write.

I made a decision. I would be published before my big '0' birthday in December, and I would write as I could, not as I thought I should. And with the encouragement, nagging, pushing, shoving, and shouting from UCW, I did and I sent off Wallflowers Don't Wilt. The lovely Jackie at Breathless Press saw its potential, and it was released in the autumn.

It seems to be a long while ago now, but I haven't been slacking, and am in the lucky position of have 5 books out in the first half of 2012 and three shorts in antho's. Lucky or what?

Truly, I feel blessed. This is my dream, and I've realized it! And I still am realizing it. Yes, It's been hard at times, yes I've had to persevere and yes I've had negative responses from people very close to me. But I know I can't please all of the people all of the time.

LIkewise with reviews, I know what I write isn't for every one, Too risque, too tame, too short, too long, there will always be something that doesn't suit someone. (Be it an editor or a reader.) My skin has got a lot thicker I can tell you. Perhaps the only thing that does annoy me is getting negative comments from someone I know hasn't read my books. how do you KNOW you don't like it?

Thank's to all of you who have been with me on this incredible journey, please join me in 2012 as well.
I hope you all have had a good year and 2012 gets even better.

As the late, great, Dave Allen said, may your Gods go with you.

All the best Raven xxx

Friday, 23 December 2011

I love christmas..BUT... this is not a Christmas Blog

I LOVE christmas. Definitely, irrevocably, deeply.

But this is not about Christmas.

 It's about baths!

Yup baths, those ceramic, porcelain or plastic, longish thin or not so thinnish troughs you can, if you so desire, wallow in.

To me if you need to get clean—you shower.

If you need to wallow, ponder, plot or dream, you have a bath.

It's the preparation. Which potion, lotion, or bubbles. Which CD, or ipod track to put on. Which book to read, by which candlelight. And which dream to follow.........

Then the long, slow, sink into much too hot water, to lie, and wallow, and sip, and sigh, and wonder. should I do this? or that?

I think this started when my children were little. The bath was the only place to get peace. MY time, my relax, and my dream-time. Then as they got older, my time to plot. I confess some of my best ideas happen in the bath. Not just about my writing, about clothes, holidays, even what to cook for dinner.

But I confess, yes it's those ohh yes, wow, must remember this, moments for whatever I'm wrIting on—or hadn't even known I was going to be writing on, that are the best.

I always say, I have no idea where my ideas come from. Strictly that is still true. I don't know WHERE they come from, just that a long, hot, lingering bath seems to release the best things in my mind. (not the wine, honestly)

SO, as a little teaser, here's one of my 'in the bath moments'. Taken from To Please A Lady, From Breathless Press on Jan 6th. Happy Reading ...

Her maid dismissed, Hermione removed the long plain nightrail she had been so recently helped into, and slipped her arms into a sheer silk covering. Or, non covering she thought, amused as tying the first of the silken ribbons that held its two sides together, she caught sight of her image in the mirror. Rosy nipples showed through the material, their darkened surrounds providing a guide to their presence. Lower, the shadow of dark curls hid her pussy, or was it that they showed the way to where it waited, impatient to feel the hard, usually impatient cocks that it welcomed? Oh the joy of having no pretense, being able to be honest and open about her enjoyment of the act of lovemaking, these last months had been so satisfying; those to come promised to be even more so. Tying the lowest set of ribbons, barely inches below those curls, Hermione could not control her compunction to sooth the throbbing concealed within. Her hand slipped beneath the ribbons, and touched. She closed her eyes to feel with her senses. Ah that first swirl through her curls and then, the sheer pleasure of touching her now wet lips, finding her fingers coated with the evidence of her desire. The intensity of her feelings shot through her like lightening and she gasped. Not from her arousal, however.
Dark velvet covered her eyes.
As she caught her breath, soft hands feathered across her nape as the covering was fastened. Then her hair was pushed to one side, and she experienced the press of lips, kissing where the ribbons from the knot of velvet brushed her back.
"My Love, you started without me? For shame. How shall I punish you?"
Her breath quickened. Her punishment had started! Knowing what those elegant hands were capable of, and unable to see how they explored and excited her to ever more passion was punishment enough. As her tormentor well knew.
"You were late My Lord, the play started on time, alas without your attendance."
A soft laugh greeted her remark. "Ah Mione-mine. I would be lost without you in my life. Shall I begin act two?"
Oh if it so pleases you, and three, four and five. However, never would she allow her eagerness to show.
"As you wish my Lord. Does it please you to leave me so hampered, that I cannot observe?"
She could almost hear his pondering, before... "Ah, I think so. Perchance you imagine and feel my Love."
 She pouted although her heart thundered and her arousal increased with thoughts of further intimacies to be experienced. A taut male clothed body was tight up against her back, a rock hard cock pressed tight against her rear. Hermione had to curb her impatience to wriggle ever closer to that exciting appendage. She knew her control would excite him even further. As it did. She held her hands loosely by her sides, not moving them behind her to touch and caress as she desired to do with ever increasing intent.
"Ah Mione-mine." It was a growl of frustration. "You so do arouse me to such a degree I fear I may not be able to hold back to give you the satisfaction you deserve."
"Say you so, My Lord? That is something I cannot believe, your control is legendary, your stamina ever more so. I cannot believe you have ever come without intending to." She felt his frustration and rejoiced.
A sudden hard slap on her rear added to her jubilation. The sting, the soothing hand that followed, the way it swept aside the silk covering of her gown, before elegant fingers traced around her anus, made her draw breath. She heard the soft sibilated, "Ah, yes." As she was spun around full circle, hands caressing as they spun her, her nipples, her breasts, her pussy, all fondled as they were skimmed and swept over. She could feel the brush of fingers on her sensitized skin as the ties across her front were loosened. Regardless, her arse was caressed, her silks slithering gently over her sensitized body.
A thought drifted into her mind, took hold and made her act. How could one man’s hands be in so many places at once? Impossible! Firmly she took hold of the two hands at her ties, and held fast, still feeling those that were softly stroking her arse. How dare she be used so.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Guest Author Renee Vickers

Please join me in welcoming Renee Vickers to my blog today.

Every writer has their own methods and techniques for their craft. Authors of old scribed on parchment, more recent word crafters banged their ideas out on typewriters and scribbled in notebooks. The progress of modern technology has provided writers with more options than ever before at our fingertips.  And with all of these options it could take days months or years to find just the right mix. So I’d like to talk today about some of the things that have worked for me.
Back in my day (wow, I sound like I’m old, don’t I) the PC was new, slow and difficult to get. So when I first began writing I used a lined notebook like everyone else. This was fine for me when I was writing as a whimsical hobby, but was totally insufficient when I got the notion to be serious about this craft. Yeah, I still tote a notebook around when I go off the grid or when I’m away from my computer, but just to jot down ideas and thoughts and not to write a story. (Napkins, paper towels, and yes toilet paper has been known to be kidnapped at the hands of my muse before when nothing else was available.)
Jotting notes aside, I utilize several programs to keep me happy and somewhat sane. Here’s a rundown:
Microsoft OneNote ( from Microsoft Office. Here is a digital notebook to drool over. I’ve tried other programs, both free and paid, but this one works the best for me. It’s set up like a note book, with sections and tabs to keep everything all neat and organized, but it goes even further than just that. Not only am I able to write down story notes, scenes, character sketches, and ramblings, but I can pull all of my internet research in by pasting it and it notes the website and date where it was pulled, and it allows me to pull in pictures that I can use for my stories. And because it’s a MS Office program I can pull in tables and graphs and a bevy of other compatible features available through MS Office. As a side note, my pops, who’s a techno-geek and knows about programs well before I do, went wild for this when I showed him. It says a lot to me when he’s impressed. This program is included in the Microsoft Office 2007 suite and later but you can also purchase it individually.
Microsoft Word, of course, but that’s a given.
Write or Die ( by Dr. Wicked is a great program for those of us who have a nasty affliction of editing while writing. When they say it “puts the prod in productivity” they’re not kidding. This program has various settings to kick your butt in high gear to get your numbers up. Anything from a gentle reminder should you go too long thinking about what to say (or being distracted by whatnots) to Kamekazi mode which comes out and does everything but bitch slaps you for slacking. This program is very inexpensive at $10 for the desktop version, and even offers a free online version.
The last one that I want to talk about is AutoCrit ( which is an editing tool that, though I’ve only been recently introduced to it, I don’t know how I lived without it before. This program is one that I think every writer should consider. It allows you to paste up to 8,000 words at a time. Once you put in what you’d like it analyzes your work for things like repetition and redundancy, word usage, cliché’s, and many, many others. Seriously worth every penny if you ask me.
These are just my favorites. I’ve tried out lots of programs, especially free and inexpensive ones, to find the ones that work for me. What are your favorite programs or software? What gets you working well and keeps you on track?

Raven, thank you so much for hosting me today!

You're most welcome Renee :-)

 I’d like to leave you and your readers an excerpt on my debut release Sly’s Surrender 

Jake had been waiting on his barstool for an hour already and had started to lose patience with his date. Oh, he knew she’d come eventually, she always did. Even with knowing Sly’s usual M.O., he never failed to show up on time, because he knew the one time he decided to be late would be the one time she’d be on time. He sighed and checked his watch again. How much longer would he have to wait?

He called Tony over with a hasty jerk of his hand. The bartender rolled his eyes and shook his head. Tony was a man in his mid-fifties with gray hair—what was left of it. He wore a white dress shirt under a black vest. The only thing he was missing was the black armband reminiscent of the style at the turn of the twentieth century. Sly told him once that Tony had been tending bar there for thirty years, which could explain his gruff attitude. Jake never had any problems with the old man but thought he had a funny way of treating paying customers. After a minute or two, Tony begrudgingly set a fresh glass of soda on a clean little napkin and sternly eyed his teetotaler.

“Hope she’s worth it, boy,” he said with a grunt and a little too much emphasis on boy, as far as Jake was concerned. Jake watched the back of the bartender’s shiny head as he turned to tend to his more lucrative patrons.

He sighed again and glanced at the door. Still no Sly. Yeah, she was worth it, but it didn’t mean he had to enjoy complying with all her demands. Abstaining from drink was one of them. He had to admit that her reasoning was sound; how could she be in control if he was drunk? And, of course, waiting for her late ass all the time was another.

The more Jake thought about her controlling nature, the more agitated he grew. Why the hell did he subject himself to this . . . this . . . her control? It’s not right that she makes me jump through all of these ridiculous hoops, he thought as he glanced at Tony, who, simultaneously, gave him another disgusted look and shook his head. Jake’s blood boiled. That’s it, Jake thought, I’m not going to take this anymore.

“Hey, sexy.” Sly’s smooth voice purred behind Jake, just as her fingertip caressed from his chin to his jaw in one long motion, ending up just behind his ear. Shivers ant-marched down Jake’s body. In that instant, Jake knew. This is why. All the anger, indignation, and embarrassment fled his mind as she wrapped an arm over his shoulder and down his chest. As her hot breath caressed his neck, her honeyed voice flooded his mind. “I hope you haven’t been waiting too long.”

It took everything he had not to swallow, to show no outward reaction to what she was doing to him with these miniscule teases. This was just another game to her. She’d make him wait until he’d be ready to walk out, until he was so mad he couldn’t stand it, and then she’d show up, making him switch gears. Just like that. He shot a quick glance at Tony, who watched this dance out of the corner of his eyes, pretending like he was too busy toweling off a pristine glass to notice.

When Sly’s tongue flicked Jake’s thick, silver-hoop earring, he lost what small shred of control he had, albeit for a fraction of a second. He could feel her smile as her cheek rested against his neck. A prickling flash of anger growled in some dark recess of his mind.

She moved to half-lean, half-sit on the vacant stool next to him, and he had to strangle a threatening gasp. If he hadn’t, his body would have given away just how badly he wanted her. This was a high-stakes game, and so far, the house was winning.

Sly wore a tight black corset. Though no doubt made of the finest and most sturdy materials, the bone-rib garment threatened to break under the flood pressure of her ample bosom. It must have been a custom piece because it slithered down her slim waist with precision. No department wares could hope to cope with a curvy form such as hers. He noticed the striking color contrast as the thick, black material lay against her flawless, smooth, ivory-colored skin.

As his sight drew down, he soaked in just how short her layered black and burgundy diaphanous skirt was. She couldn’t sit down without flashing her all to the world. Jake gulped, carelessly abandoning any desire to restrain himself. Seeing his reaction, Sly barked a throaty laugh. He refused to look up until he saw his favorite pair of strappy, black, four-inch stiletto heels. When he came up for breath he found her glossy crimson-colored lips snaking a Cheshire pattern across her gleaming teeth and humor glistening in her hazel eyes. Oh, how she loves this game.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

self promotion, or over promotion?

A while ago I read an article about self promotion. Now for the life of me I can't remember who wrote it or where it was. but the author was posing the question when does self promotion became over promotion, irritating and ultimately self-defeating?

It set me wondering. I am not the world's best at promoting my books, I know that. Perhaps I'm too laid back, and don't 'blow my own trumpet enough'? Or have I got it just right? i've no idea.

However, thinking about that article, can you over promote? Do you wonder as the author did, that if someone goes on and on about their work, they either doubt themselves, or it's not good enough to stand up on it's own merit?

Or is it the other side of the coin, the author is so proud they want everyone to know about their work, and are making sure they do?

How do you feel? Do you groan and think oh no not again when, a post, blog or tweet is about the same book, over and over again? Make you not want to go there? Or is it the opposite and it encourages you to go and find the book, buy it and read it?

I suspect there's no right or wrong answer here. It's all down to personal preference.


Friday, 9 December 2011

my offering...This Weekend's Dirty Dozen

From Wallflower's don't Wilt...

"So now," Bella finished. ""


"Exactly." Bella giggled. "I found it most amusing when Ivo thought nothing of how we make each other feel." 

She was excited and apprehensive regarding the rest of the day, and knew Serena felt the same. At that moment, though, nothing worried her except being held by Serena, mouths fusing, tongues meeting, feeling their hands on each other's bodies, using fingers to explore, entering and dancing.

Serena lifted her head. "Undress for me, Bel. Take your night rail off, show yourself to me. Let me feast my eyes one more time before we are able to do so together, in our own home."

Arabella nodded, pulling the thin shift over her head. Her breasts stood proud, their dark, dusky tips alert, begging for attention. Serena licked and tweaked each in turn.

 "Oh, so good, my love."

Monday, 5 December 2011

NINE FOR THE WEEK. with Xandra James

The (nearly) Naughty Nine with Xandra James
So today, we welcome Xandra to nine for he week.  And start the week with a paranormal twist!
Hi Xandra, Welcome to Raven's Nine for the Weekend. Glad you could drop by.
Q        We'll get this one over first, tell us a little bit about yourself.
A         Hi Raven, thanks for having me here today! A bit about me, okay… I'm 33, married with cats, and have boxes and boxes of books that I hope one day to get bookshelves for (the boxes are normal, right?). I dislike celery and beef hula-hoop crisps intensely and will try every excuse under the moon to get out of doing the housework… just ask my long suffering hubby! I write paranormal romance and urban fantasy, and my first ever release – a novella called Reluctant Revenge -- is out with Pink Petal Books on December 1st 

Q Thanks, now we can probe a bit more. What are you writing at the moment? Going to share any of it with us? (I know that's really two questions, but hey we will call it a and b)
A         Well I've just finished writing a paranormal short story that had me pulling my hair out. I love writing novellas but this was my first foray into short stories and it was like giving me a huge box of chocolates and then telling me I could only eat three. It was hard. Thankfully, my muse (okay, it was the coffee) helped me get through it and I finished the first draft a few days ago.
The draft is pretty rough and it'll make me cringe if I share so I'll wet your appetite with a short excerpt from my upcoming release, Reluctant Revenge. I told you it was out soon, right? December 1st… ;)

The cracking of his neck was the only sound he made in the darkness as he reined in his natural impulses and took another deep breath, calm spreading slow and easy through his mind but not his body. No, his body was on high alert and waiting.
Minutes ticked by as he watched the door, his patience at an all time low. The creature he was waiting for finally walked back out thirty minutes later and moved across to the small undercover smoking pit. Alone, the Strix lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply. A habit most creatures relished, given their life expectancy and moon healing abilities. Jeremiah – the self professed lady killer Strix – stood silently, unaware he was being watched.
This would be Nash’s only opportunity. Time had run out for this little punk and he was sick of looking at Jeremiah's pretty face.
He stepped out of the shadows, keeping his head bent low but his eyes sharp, Jeremiah his constant target. As a trained Enforcer he would use any advantage he had, and right now the hybrid blood running through his veins helped him to stealthily approach and subdue.
The cigarette was left to burn on the ground, the only sign someone had been there as Nash retreated back to his hiding place with his prey.
Shadow covered him once more with the wriggling Strix silently choking under the strain of his hold. The Strix was no match for Nash's unusual hybrid blood, his strength and power over-powering the young creature.
Nash watched the club door and the close vicinity. No one had seen him and no one was looking for the person in his arms. Part one of his mission was complete.
Jeremiah strained against the hold as he was lowered to the ground, Nash’s bicep squeezed at its throat.  The fight was leaving the creature as it used its remaining energy on scraping and scratching at his arm with its extended nails, but Nash didn’t release his hold until the body sagged some more. Dropping it the last few feet to ground, Nash kicked him, then followed him down with a knee resting on his chest, hand at his throat.
"You picked up the wrong woman this time my friend." Nash pulled the sharpened stake out of the messenger bag tucked around his neck and shoulder and held it against Strix flesh. Its eyes widened as realisation finally struck. He obviously wasn’t the quickest flesh-eater in town.
"I was under instructions. I have no interest … you can have her--"
The stake smashed down into Jeremiah’s chest with a mortal wound six inches deep. Nash wasn’t sure whether his lightning quick reaction was more that the Strix's breath had stunk to high hell or the fact that he’d been so quick to give the woman away. He hoped it was the latter.

Oh wow, on my to buy list! So…
Q        How long have you been writing?
A         Forever. I've always loved books – especially romance books, and I've always 'known' I was going to be a writer, even though it took me until I was 25 to actually finish writing a story! I am the Queen of first chapters it seems and my poor laptop and notebooks are full of them. I actually started writing fiction 'seriously' a little over a year ago. I think time finally caught up with me and I realized it was now or never so I entered New Voices 2010 (the mills & boon competition) and didn't place at all in it. I did meet some of the nicest writers ever though and I guess the rest is history. J

Q        What is your favorite genre? To write or read.
A         I'll read most romance genre's but I love a fun contemporary author like Janet Evanovich, a quick Mills & Boon read in most any of their lines but mostly I adore reading paranormals full of humour and hot heroes. Kerrelyn Sparks is a must buy author for me.

I love writing paranormal romance most of all I think at the moment. I relish being able to make a character just a little bit weird and wonderful but still make them bow down to that very human emotion of  falling in love.

Q        Where do you prefer to write? What do you wear? And eat? (OK, I know this is cheating as well, but we need all the gen in our naughty nine)
A         I would love to say I have a lovely office, full of books and top of line technology. In reality I usually write on my old laptop, sitting in my lounge, trying to balance my coffee and usually a cat or two. Most often I'll wear a t-shirt and shorts or track-suit bottoms as I don't like to feel restricted. Of course, when I have visitors, I have to actually do my make-up and hair so they don't think I'm a complete slob. And I'm not a big eater when I write. The most important thing to me is having a constant supply of coffee. When I'm in the writing zone, I'll very often forget about everything, including my lovely hot drink…

Q        So three things you love
A         My family, my books and sweet things J

Q        Three you don't
A         My family, no wait… okay, err. Bullies, arrogance and spiders.

Q        Three things you would like to happen in the next three years? Feel free to add to the three things you don't,
A         To keep getting published and to actually improve as a writer, to win the lottery (I can hope, right?) and to be happy and healthy surrounded by those I love. What I don't want to happen, well, the opposite of those things I've just said! Lol.

That's it painless eh? Thanks for dropping by and giving us a peek into your life. Feel free to add any links to blogs websites etc so we can all find out what you are up to.

You can find me on Twitter @xandrajames, Facebook and at my website or at (where I love to promote fantastic romance books and their authors!).

Friday, 2 December 2011

on life and chocolate

It's cold. It's been sleeting and raining, I've shut the curtains on the dark, and I've been editing (sort of)
I'm in the lucky position of having one M/S at the proofers. To Please A Lady, to be released by Breathless Press on January 6th
 Her'e a wee tease:-

Her tea cup raised to her lips she was about to take her first sip, when Berry, the leader it seemed in all things, Her tea cup raised to her lips she was about to take her first sip, when Berry, the leader it seemed in all things, enquired in a conversational tone, "My, love, what know you of ménages? Where more than two persons indulge and delight in all things arousing together?"
Her reply had been to spray tea across the dainty table, and require her back patted to stop her choking cough!
Eyes streaming she had eventually composed herself well enough to regard both men, with wary eyes.
"Elucidate." She had managed briefly. She had watched as they looked at each other, before back to her. Again it was Berry, the man in grey who spoke.
"We have a capacity of love here, between we three, that is much greater than it’s sum."  Hermione was not conversant with the meaning of his statement, therefore waited, one eyebrow raised for him to continue. His shoulders under their form fitting dark grey jacket moved slightly.
"As you know, Ran and I are committed to each other, and will continue to be so. Equally each of us is committed to you, and will also continue to be so. Unless we are mistaken that commitment for you is equaled by a commitment from you?"
"Foresooth, my Lord," She had spoken in a mocking tone, somewhat perturbed by his admissions. "I fear you talk in riddles."
Ran had laughed. "You fear no such thing my Lady, you are fully cognizant with what is being asked of you. However to be specific?"
"Oh" Hermione had purred. "If it so pleases you my Lords, do so with my blessing." She had waited to see how they would phrase their request.
Simply and crudely.
"An it please you Hermione, it would please us for all three to fuck together, in a myriad of ways, discovering all we can do for each other an we do it. What say you?"
To see what she says you'll need to buy the book.

Regarding chocolate? Well I'm editing my next Regency Erotica.
 ALMOST ENTENTE CORDIALE is due our in March, also from Breathless Press, and to edit you need chocolate. Also an hourly dose of a certain friends new, very hot story is also guaranteed to spur me on. 
Although I'd forgotten just how hot AEC is. I maybe didn't need to light the fire lol.
And to cap it all I have two contemporary novels due out in the new year. So, on a roll and enjoying it!
 Back to get more chocolate! and check for my next red hot installment!