Desire and Deception: The Story Behind the Story

Once upon a time the hallowed halls of medicine were considered stuffy and staid, with occasional doses of reinforcement of this image thrown in by Marcus Welby, MD. In the sixties, sexy Ben Casey began to blow that image away and now we have an abundance of sexy and naughty fictional physicians and nurses with Gray’s Anatomy and House. Having been in higher education for close to two decades, I was always amused by the perception we professors who worked within the ivory tower were staid, pedantic, yes, dull, dull, dull as dirt. While admittedly, there are some who do fit that bill and have died on the job and just don’t know it yet, there are lots of professors who defy that stereotype.

In writing Desire and Deception, I wanted to tell a sexy suspenseful tale about smart, powerful women and the men who love them. I wrote about society’s expectations of what a woman should be versus what a woman wants to be. And since the standing advice to writers is to “write what you know,” I then placed these characters into the setting of a rigidly hierarchical academic world where tenure and promotion are the duo brass rings. With Isabel and Sarah chattering at me the entire time, Desire and Deception is an erotic romantic suspense tale that practically wrote itself.

The only problem I had with the book was getting an agent, editor or publisher to give it a read because–it had “too much sex” in it.

“Seriously?” I asked, “Too much sex?” I couldn’t take it out. The sex was integral to the telling of the tale. Isabel is a man eating sex goddess on the prowl and Sarah is a newlywed trying to get pregnant. Hello? Sex, anyone? I was not taking it out. Then at the suggestion of another romance writer and friend, I attended the Red Sage Publishing session at Romance Writers of America annual meeting in Orlando, FL.

After the session, I introduced myself to Alexandria Kendall, CEO, Red Sage Publishing and said, “I have this book–but everyone tells me it has too much sex.”

Alexandria’s eyes lit up and she said, “Send it to me!”

I am delighted that Red Sage gave my story a chance and that Isabel, Sarah, Sean, Dan and all the other characters finally have a home.  Desire and Deception will be released on April 1, 2011.

I hope readers enjoy the story–and the sex!

News Flash! Three Tea Cups for Kiss of the Silver Wolf!

Whoo-hoo! Claudette said, “The world building is original and intriguing so if you enjoy shifter romances and are looking for something out of the ordinary, then check out this book.” To read the entire review go to http://hea-reviews.blogspot.com/search?q=Kiss+of+the+Silver+Wolf

Ought-To-Be or Naughty-To-Be? That Is The Question!

From my childhood through my young adulthood, my mother wore the mask of the “Perfect Mother, Girl Scout Troop Leader and Sunday School Teacher. But her behavior, when at home, away from the scrutiny of other adults, was anything but perfect (see post on the Allure of High School Reunions).  One of the first short stories for which I received an honorable mention from Spinetingler Magazine (yes, horror!) was called Goody Two Shoes. No spoilers here, but it was my first public foray into exploring the roles women play and the masks we wear.

Similar in heat levels to noir movies like Body Heat and The Postman Always Rings Twice, my forthcoming erotic romantic suspense novel, Desire and Deception differs from these notable noir examples because it ends on an upbeat note. In Desire and Deception, polar opposites sex siren Isabel (Izzy) Ramirez and goody-two-shoes Sarah Wright-Rosen become fast friends and seem destined to be BFFs until Izzy’s terrible secret is unearthed–literally and figuratively. Convinced that she is unworthy of redemption, because she believes she cannot be anything but the “bad girl,” Izzy goes down a take no prisoners’ path, halted only by her younger lover, Sean Richards.

For her part, having been raised by an alcoholic in a “you’re-only-good-if-you-enable-me” paradigm, Sarah discovers shades of gray in her formerly black and white world. She also learns the powers of forgiveness and love can transform not only how she sees the world, but also her own self-image. In the end, Izzy becomes more like “good girl” Sarah–and Sarah becomes more like her “bad girl” friend. Izzy is the larger than life embodiment of all that is forbidden to “good girls”: she embraces her sexuality and desires and takes control of her life and the men in it–and pleases herself. Sarah is “every woman”: she works hard, plays by the rules, collaborates and works by consensus. She believes she can only be “good” one way–by constantly trying to please others.

This binary, yes/no reasoning is faulty, but I believe many women struggle with this duality in our lives. The question is not to be or not to be, but who are we supposed to be versus who do we want to be? Our role models may or may not be good ones, depending on how healthy our parents’ upbringing was. If you come from a dysfunctional household, one with crime spoken daily, can you break out of that mold? Or are you ever going to be able to explode from those constraints? Likewise, if your home appeared to be the epitome of perfection to the outside world, but was hell behind closed doors, can you ever overcome the damages of a self-righteous hypocrite?  Izzy and Sarah discover their true selves through the redemptive power of love and realize that they can be what they want to be–in spite of their pasts.

What do you think, dear readers? Is the die cast with our gender and family roles? Or can we break the mold of Ought-To-Be or Naughty-To-Be?

News Flash! 4 Siren Stones for Bonded for Life from Siren Book Reviews

Attention shoppers! We have a 4 Siren Stone review for Bonded for Life from Mona at Siren Book Reviews! Whoo hoo! Read her wonderful words at http://sirenbookreviews.blogspot.com/search/label/Sharon%20Buchbinder

Ommmm U, a Literary Adventure: Or Why I Write Romance

Well, now my life is complete. A Pulitzer Prize winner has sneered at me. What could be better than that? How did this occur, you say? Let me start at the beginning.

Several years ago, I received a catalogue in the mail for a place I’d never heard of before, a place I will call Ommmm U in upstate New York on acres of bucolic land. Ommmm U offered extensive seminars on a wide range of topics from Aromatherapy to Yoga, and more.

I found the “and more” as I thumbed through the catalog in March and saw a five day writing workshop in the summer with a well known humorist and thought, well, she’s pretty funny and wouldn’t that be cool. There was also an awesome line-up of luminary literati for a weekend in May. It was at the end of final exams and I dithered over it, thinking, “Do I go for five days of non-stop fun, or do I go highbrow?”

I showed the catalog to my husband who said the following wise words: “Maybe you should go for just a weekend to see if you like it, before you spend a whole week there?”

In case you didn’t hear me, honey, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

I began my pre-travel checklist: House and pet sitter? Check! Train tickets? Check! Shuttle reservations? Check!

I re-read the catalog fine print. I needed to reserve a cabin room with a private bath. Call me crazy, but I really don’t like sharing bathrooms with total strangers. Just my little quirky thing, I guessed. I was not alone. When I called (two months in advance), I was told I got the very last one.

Three meals a day were included in the cost of the seminar, I read. Then, something caught my eye. Did that really say all vegetarian? Occasionally fish will be served? As in no meat? Not even chicken? Okay, shoot me, I eat meat. And I’m on a low carb diet, and much of what vegetarians eat is not good for my metabolism–like bread, potatoes, rice, etc. And, to top it all off, I have a list of food allergies that include mushrooms, eggplant and peppers, all the deadly nightshade family members that seem to be in vegetarian dishes. So I emailed Ommmm U to see what was up with that, should I bring protein bars? The answer: “probably not a bad idea.”

Protein bars? Check!

Then I mentioned this place in my writing group. One person had been there. She said, and I quote: “The food’s AWFUL there! It’s health food you know! After I left there, I went to a friend’s house. They asked what I wanted for dinner. I said put on a side of beef and give me a drink!”

Scotch? Check!

So, the time came and I excitedly packed my bag with bug spray, flashlight, shorts, tee shirt, sneakers, sweatshirt, coffee and coffee maker, protein bars, and scotch. I dressed as I would for air travel in a black suit and flat sensible walking shoes. The train ride to New York was fun and the scenery along the Hudson River was breathtaking. I arrived and waited for the shuttle, which bounced a small, but hardy group of us to Ommmm U, out in the middle of the woods.

Friendly, body-pierced, staff with dreadlocks (they were Caucasian) and multi-colored tattoos informed me that I couldn’t get into my cabin for about three hours. Relax, they said, look around. I wandered around a bit in my now very hot black suit and sensible walking shoes with my heavy briefcase containing a manuscript, journals and books, just in case I got bored. I collapsed in a chair in the pay-as-you-go café and found chicken salad on the menu. Well, I thought, should I be dying for meat, I at least knew where to find it; I’d just have to pay extra for it.

Upon sitting down to relax and read, I discovered, to my horror, that it was an alcohol free campus, but it “wasn’t a place for recovery or rehab.” Okay, then why did many of the young staff look like they had intimate knowledge of the drug culture? And why did a number of the older staff look like they were burned out hippies? And what about the young woman with the vacant eyes, walking in around in an apron, chewing on her sleeve? The unopened bottle of single malt scotch in my bag would not be shared with anyone during my stay that was certain.

At last it was time to get into my room, hide my scotch, unpack my stuff, change into my woods woman clothes, and go for a nice four-mile walk around a lake. But before I could do that, I had to make my bed. Rough cotton sheets were in a clear plastic bag on the stripped down bed, waiting for me. As I puttered around, I stepped out on the porch to the cabin.

An attractive, well-dressed blonde, in a blue twin sweater set, khaki Capri pants and pearls popped out of the door from her side of the cabin. She spotted me, put one foot out the door, placed a French-manicured hand on her svelte right hip and tossed her perfectly coifed, shoulder length hair.

“Did they make up your bed?” she asked.

“No, I think we’re supposed to do it.”

“Oh, really?”

She turned and went back into her side. I heard water running while I was making my bed, then nothing. I changed and set out for my walk and noticed that the blonde’s door and windows were wide open, the overhead fan was running, the lights were all on and the key was in the door. She must be relaxing with the door open to get some air, I thought. It is pretty warm.

I went for my walk, and returned to my cabin to get my journal to take notes from the first speaker. The blonde’s door and windows were wide open, the overhead fan was running, the lights were all on and the key was in the door. Odd, I thought, but minded my own business and headed off for the first speaker’s event.

I returned that evening after an inspirational talk from a wonderful, warm, funny delightful Pulitzer Prize winning author and a “hearty” meal of spinach salad. The blonde’s door and windows were still wide open, the overhead fan was running, the lights were all on and the key was in the door. This time, I stuck my head in the door and called, “Hello?” No answer. I stepped inside and found the bed was made up, but nothing and no one was there. She was gone, leaving only a scrap of paper on the desk.

The rest of the weekend was pretty much like a vegetarian Girl Scout Camp/Hippie Rehab. Even one of the authors said “Isn’t this like Rehab?” and he was an expert at it, so I felt validated in my observation.

The next Pulitzer Prize winning author read her thirty-minute talk to us, putting many of us to sleep, myself included. But this was the author I came to hear. She was my hero, my counterpart in academia; she was my role model for my next life as a novelist. When it came time for book signings, I lined up with all the other literary groupies and waited for my special moment. At last, it was my turn.

“I’m an academic and trying to decide what to do after I become a full professor,” I said.

“Oh, why don’t you raise horses?” she said.

“Well, actually, I was thinking of writing a novel,” I responded.

“Unh, yeah, right,” she said and raised her upper lip.

Yeah, that was definitely a Pulitzer Prize winning sneer.

Perhaps it was time for me to leave my cabin door and windows wide open, the overhead fan running, all the lights on and the key in the door?

No, I decided, there was one more luminary I wanted to hear, plus I wanted to spend more time with a bunch of really wonderful people who, like me, were all aspiring writers. So, I stayed through Sunday and called my husband from New York City where I could finally get a signal on my cell phone.

“What do want for dinner?” he said.

“Filet mignon and a bottle of red wine. Oh, and hold the sneer.”

News Flash! Sneak Preview of DESIRE AND DECEPTION

Hot news! My forthcoming novel with Red Sage Publishing was given a guest visit on my friend and fellow RN, Kathleen Grieve’s blog, Keeping a Pulse on Life. Click on over to see what she pried out of me about my soon to be released erotic thriller, Desire and Deception http://kathleengrieve.blogspot.com/2011/02/author-spotlightwelcome-to-featured.html

Oh, check out the cover! The artist is Rae and, whew, is it hot in here or is it me?

Romance Novels: Destroyers of Marriages?

Last summer I attended an athletic competition and brought along a novel, as I always do. My husband was busy with his camera and tripod, taking photos.  When I lifted my nose out of the book to see if my son was on the mat yet, the middle-aged man sitting next to me said, “You’re gonna finish that book.”

I replied that I doubted I would finish it before the end of the meet, I was only on page fifty.

He nodded and became absorbed in the performances–I thought.

“That ain’t one of THEM ROMANCE NOVELS, is it?”

I showed him the cover. “No, it’s a Salman Rushdie novel. A LITERARY novel.” Which was slow-going, not nearly as fast a read as one of THEM ROMANCE NOVELS would be, I thought with regret.

“Aha.”

I wasn’t in the mood to have a verbal joust with this man, so I didn’t reply: I WRITE THEM ROMANCE NOVELS. I continued to read. Slowly.

“Well,” he continued without any encouragement, “the reason I asked if that was one of THEM ROMANCE NOVELS is because I have a FRIEND. His wife starting bringing THEM ROMANCE NOVELS into the house, getting all kinds of ideas about whatnot, and the next thing he knew, my friend’s wife UP AND LEFT HIM.”

At that point, I looked him in the eye and said, “Methinks it had NOTHING to do with the ROMANCE NOVELS. I would venture to guess there were other issues.”

He gave me a sheepish grin and said, “Yeah, maybe.”

When I recounted the incident to my husband, he said, “He was hitting on you.”

Wow. What a great pick up line. Not.

But it did get me wondering. Is there a muttering mob of men out there who truly believe that THEM ROMANCE NOVELS can destroy marriages? Interestingly enough, when I searched on “Do romance novels destroy marriages?” the only hits I got were blogs written by women about how to destroy your marriage. Well, okay, thanks for clearing that up for me. I’ll let my husband know.

So, the next time I go to an athletic competition, I’ll be carrying the one of the biggest, hottest one of THEM ROMANCE NOVELS that I have in the house. You know, one with the half-naked man and woman on the cover.  And if he asks that same question, I’ll reply, “Why yes it IS one of THEM ROMANCE NOVELS–and I like it so much, I write THEM ROMANCE NOVELS, too.”