There's a shiver that runs up my spine on release day. I wonder if people will buy my book. I wonder if they will like it. I wonder if I've made any huge travesties and will shortly be pelted with tomatoes and other rotting fruit.
Because the more I write, the greater the chances I’m going to make mistakes.
Now I know, Leah has both writers and readers who stop by, so here’s the significance of that comment to both sides. I’m currently working on my 20th story. Some of them have been short, but with every manuscript I complete, I HOPE my actual writing is getting stronger. I know I’m learning a lot from my editors—they beat grammar facts in pretty damn well after a while. :) I’ve learned from my critique partners. I’ve learned from reading books with the eyes of a writer now instead of as a reader. It makes a difference. So as a reader what you see should start to fade away into the background and the actual words shouldn’t distract you.
That means you’ll have more energy to find oopsies in the facts.
They say to write what you know. Well, I’ve written about cross-country skiing into the wilderness. About canning peaches on sultry fall days. About sailing and canoeing and hiking and… At some point it appears I have to write about something I don’t know. That’s very scary.
Research? Did I hear you say research? **shivers** Well, yes, there is that. Even the areas I know relatively well, like backcountry adventuring, I do try to check my facts and make sure I’m using the right words, and the right procedures and data. But it’s far simpler when my editor asks ‘are those the proper temperatures for the Yukon in February’ when I’ve experienced it. I KNOW I can find facts to back me up.
Here’s the point of this whole essay. My latest release from Samhain is a contemporary romance called Turn It On. The heroine comes from a large family, with multiple uncles and aunts and cousins and has just inherited the wonderful memory-filled family home. I can cover her with personal experience, up to a point. The hero-- he’s harder to get a bearing on, but I didn’t spend much time on the technical parts of his job that I’m not up on.
It’s the hero’s brother who concerns me. You see, when I was growing up I met a little boy like Carl. He was sweet, intelligent, and just…Carl.
How do I write about a special needs person who I knew, not intimately, but knew, without digging for details? Trying to find out exactly what his syndrome was called. What caused it? What treatment they used and…
Somewhere in the middle of researching for my writing I realized that wasn’t the story I was trying to tell. Just as we aren’t the sum and total of our jobs or our families, Carl wasn’t important because of his condition, but because he was Carl. Family. Someone to be loved and cared for. I knew how he acted from experience. Maybe ‘my’ Carl isn’t typical in his reactions to every situation, but I don’t react according to some written rulebook all the time either.
So there’s a part of me that wonders if I got it ‘wrong’ at some point in this story. If I’m going to have social workers, or psychologists, correcting me. And yet…Carl is Carl. One of the most important catalysts to the development of the hero.
So the shivers are there, but I can honestly say that the concept of what family really means—the root of the whole story—is stronger because Carl is a part of it.
Turn It On
Pushing the sensual limits can set off all kinds of alarms…
Turner Twins, Book 1
Inheriting her grandmother’s home is a dream come true for web designer Maxine Turner. She’s looking forward to a little freedom from the constant demands of her beloved, crazy mob of a family. When vandals expose just how vulnerable she is living alone, she seeks help.
Ryan Claymore’s well-thought-out life was wrenched out from under him when responsibility for his special-needs step-brother landed on his shoulders. Going from military man to business man hasn’t been easy. He counts himself lucky he’s found Maxine to trade his security-system knowledge for her web site expertise.
The red-hot chemistry that sizzles between them comes from out of the blue, and they both fight a losing battle to resist. Even the secret Ryan hides isn’t enough to keep Maxine from working her way into his heart—and his bed.
But something else might tear them apart. Whoever seems determined to destroy her home, and her sanity along with it.
Warning: Realistic multiple orgasm sex scenes, men getting in touch with their emotions, brothers being—well—brothers, and a very tempting back porch swing…you have been warned.
Don't click off before you reach the end of the excerpt -- not only will you find links to Viv's webpage and Twitter account, but there are details about how you can win a copy of Viv's Turn It On. (Go on, now you have to read the rest, right?)
He slowly removed the cork from the wine, using the time to breathe deeply and calm his overactive body and mind. Spending the whole evening in Maxine’s presence triggered the desire to do much more than simply sit on the giant porch swing and share a glass of wine as they admired the view of the lake. Ryan was pretty sure the wine would taste far better if he got to lap it off her skin, especially the warm scoop of her belly. And lower.
The dinner invitation had been an impulse. He’d puzzled over it as he walked away from her earlier. Yeah, she was hot enough to ignite a missile, but the timing sucked. Maybe after they’d finished working for each other, maybe after shit settled with his brother, he’d arrange to meet on a nonprofessional basis. But with her taste still in his mouth, the look in her big eyes egging him on, he’d spoken without thinking.
He’d considered the situation the whole drive to the nursing home before coming to a decision. Fine. They’d go out, have a simple meal together. He’d drop her off at the end of the evening and that would be all—at least for now.
Sometime during the visit with his brother, he’d changed his mind. There in the small room, with a relative he barely knew, the message of the past months smashed into him with the weight of an anvil. Life was short. There was no reason for him not to reach out and clasp hold of something special.
Maxine Turner was something very special.
She sat curled up in the corner of the swing leaning on a pillow. She had her long legs tucked under her while she focused on the lake. Her rich auburn hair draped over her shoulders and her eyes sparkled. His body tightened and he longed to stroke her skin to see if it was as soft as it looked. After handing her a glass of wine, he settled in the opposite corner to admire her better.
“The view is spectacular, isn’t it?” Max spoke quietly.
He sat mesmerized by the sight of her. The arousal pounding through his blood shouted for him to hurry up, while his instincts warned him to move with caution. They both fell silent, sipping their wine and staring at the dark lake reflecting twinkling lights from a distant house.
“When I was little I always wanted to sleep on the swing. We’d come for family dinners, and there would be major chaos, with the cousins and aunts and uncles everywhere. I’d get tired of the noise after a bit and come here and curl up with a book. In my imagination I was on a pirate ship and this was my hammock, but no matter how much I begged at the end of the evening, Mom and Dad always insisted it was time to come home and sleep in my proper bed.”
She played with a curl as she spoke, seeming not very much older than the child she would have been all those years ago. She took a deep breath, and his gaze was riveted by the sight of one open button too many, the curve of her breast visible under the light fabric of her blouse. He was suddenly very aware she was no child, and his body tightened with desire.
He put his wine glass away and took hers from her fingers. She stared at him, puzzled, until he reached for her and pulled her into his arms. He cradled her, nestling her body into his and adjusting until they were half-reclining, half-leaning on each other. Her head rested against his chest, the warmth of her body sizzling into him but he kept his touch gentle.
The swing swayed and she sighed, a long, low sound of pleasure. Her body relaxed against his and he stroked her arm slowly until her breathing settled as well.
Small noises in the air created a lullaby. The wind stirred the trees, leaves rustling, branches rubbing on each other. The sound of cars and the city faded to nothing, and the quiet of the country surrounded them. They lay quietly and Ryan realized it was a long time since he’d known peace like this.
Maxine stirred in his arms, rolling to face him. Her eyes were bright and she snuggled closer, her torso melting into his as she wrapped her arms around his neck and drew their mouths together.
The kiss started gentle yet the desire was there underneath. Tongues caressed, lips and teeth feasting on skin soon heated to boiling. Ryan loved how she tasted, loved how she felt under his hands that had taken a life of their own and now explored the full curves of her body. He stroked the swell of her breasts and she moaned, pressing into his touch. He didn’t stop, continuing the journey down her waist, over her hip, circling the flesh of her ass before returning up her body once more. All the while he kissed her, feasting on the flavor and softness of her mouth.
She combed her fingers through his hair and tugged, wiggling upward until his lips met her neck. She dropped her head back, offering him a clear path down the pale skin, the pulse in her throat beating time with the pulse in his body. He rolled her, pleased to find the swing had an extra-wide seat to allow the room they needed. Ryan nibbled and licked his way down her throat, pressing her sweater and blouse to the side to allow him access to her collarbone. He unhooked one button after another, slowly revealing the creamy swells of her breasts above the pale yellow of her bra. She quivered under him, a small whimper escaping her throat that made his blood race. He dropped kisses over her heart, enjoying the scorching heat of her skin under his lips.
Ryan lowered his face to the valley between her breasts and breathed deeply. As much as he wanted to consume her completely, as much as he wanted to continue nibbling the length of her whole body, he needed to proceed carefully. She’d responded enthusiastically to his touch, to his kiss, but from hints she’d let slip during their dinner conversation, and her current full-body blush, he knew she wasn’t very experienced. She needed more than a rush to the bedroom.
Yet he had no intention of letting her get away. He knew how to take his time, make it good for both of them. He rose over her, staring into her passion-darkened eyes. “I want you, Maxine.” He kissed her lips tenderly. Her tongue teased his and the pressure built.
Damn, if he was inside her in ten seconds it wouldn’t be soon enough.
Pulling away, his desire reflected back from her eyes. “I’m going to make love to you, Maxine. I’m going to remove every stitch of your clothing and touch every inch of your skin. I’m going to spend hours learning what your body needs, learning what you enjoy and then hours more giving it to you.”
Her eyes widened, her face flushed crimson, her mouth open in a circle of awe as he spoke. Her tongue slipped out to moisten her bottom lip, and he nipped at the plump wet surface, the burst of her flavor sending his arousal even higher. He lowered his torso on top of her slowly, his rigid cock pressing against her yielding body. Their lips were mere inches apart and she continued to stare at him, her eyes showing desire and panic in equal proportions.
The porch boards creaked to their left. “Maxy? Are you out here?”
If you're interested in Vivian's Turn it On, you can buy it now through Samhain's My Bookstore and More, on your Amazon Kindle, and other ebook providers. Don't forget to check out Viv's website for her other books (cowboys and werewolves and mermaids, oh my!) or follow her on Twitter. I'm giving away a copy of Viv's Turn It On to one lucky commenter -- but you have to tell me what you'd write if you had to "write what you know".