BECOMING FABULOUS – Read the first chapter here NOW!

 

I know this novel has been a long time coming. A VERY long time, in fact.

For someone who is used to writing short sexy stories, writing my first novel has been an enormous learning curve, and it has not been plain sailing. Not even close.

A combination of personal circumstances, the agony of rewriting and general self-doubt about my value as a writer have all contributed to the delays and anxiety I have struggled through to get this far.

However, I have an army of support behind me: friends, family and fellow authors have all been cheering me on (some probably don’t even realise how they’ve done this, but they have), and I am thrilled to be able to announce that the finish line is in sight.

However, I really didn’t want to keep you guys waiting any longer for a quick excerpt, so here is my first chapter. Feedback is very important to me, so I would be very grateful if you could leave your comments below.

I do hope you like it…

Much love,

Kitty xx

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CHAPTER ONE

In The Beginning

 

“There you go, four pounds and thirty-one pence change, your receipt and your money-off coupons. Have a nice day.”

Leah Bennett faked a smile for the supermarket cashier and shoved the coins and all the slips of paper into her purse. When did people start saying that? “Have a nice day!” How could a complete stranger know whether or not it was an appropriate thing to say to someone? As it happens, I’m having a fucking awful day, thanks very much, she felt like saying.

It wasn’t the girl’s fault. She was eighteen, maybe nineteen, probably just working a few shifts to pay for college tuition fees. She had her whole life ahead of her. She found herself hoping that the girl wouldn’t make the same mistakes she had. Mumbling something to herself about trying not to become too bitter and twisted, she picked up the bags of shopping and made for the automatic doors but something stopped her in her tracks.

A little girl, perhaps four years old, stood alone, looking dazed and bewildered. Commuters on their way home from work, in a hurry to collect convenience fayre, likely hadn’t even the time to register her presence.

The girl turned, apparently unaware of Leah standing and staring at her. Her blonde curls bounced and her wide eyes were questioning. A finger went up to her open mouth and the other reached an eye, almost a reflex action before the inevitable onset of tears.

Still, Leah stood and stared, transfixed to the spot by this angelic illusion. Her pretty, innocent face dissolved into a flood of sobbing. The busy customers continued to bustle past until eventually an elderly lady, not a great deal taller than the child herself, stopped and took her hand.

“Have you lost your mummy, sweetheart?”

The spell was broken and Leah hurried back to her car, the image haunting her all the way home. All those selfish people, too engrossed in their own lives, too busy to see a small child in need, possibly even in danger.

What about me? Leah thought, driving home. I saw her but did nothing. Surely that makes me just as bad. She knew all too well what that little girl was feeling. Lost.

She closed the front door behind her, put the bags in the kitchen, and, kicking off her shoes, dashed upstairs and flung herself on the bed. Some sort of social restraint prevented her from breaking down in public but now the tears came thick and fast, just like that little girl. Thank god she had managed to hold it all in and retreat somewhere private to unleash her emotions.

Leah envied the child her limited abandonment. The old lady would no doubt have ensured that her parent or guardian had been summoned and all would be forgotten soon enough. Problems are like that are easily solved for children; not so for adults.

It was only a few days since Simon had packed his bags and left. Leah felt she had been torn in two and the human half was missing. When she saw that little girl at the supermarket, it was as if she were looking at the personification of how she felt. Utterly and totally bereft.

They had been so happy and been through so much together. So many memories. Their wedding day had been packed with glorious sunshine – something of a rarity in Northern England. The Italian honeymoon had been blissful and romantic. She remembered choosing sofas together, bouncing round on different ones in the shop until they found the ones which felt just right, in true Goldilocks fashion. Their life had been just like a fairytale. Or so she thought.

Simon had been her soulmate, her best friend. In times when she was down, he was her anchor, her harbour in a storm. And she was his. Leah thought she had found her Happy Ever After.

But, life isn’t like that. It doesn’t come packaged with glittering bows and the Walt Disney logo on the side. It’s grey and overcast at times, often dark and downright dismal. Frankly, at times, it sucks.

She knew all this, but being a romantic at heart, and having overdosed on saccharin Hollywood rom-coms in her formative years, she thought that when she found love, it would withstand anything.

When she thought she could cry no more, and dehydration giving her a headache, she dragged herself off the bed and shuffled downstairs. She hung up her coat, cast off during the rush, placed her shoes on the rack and picked up a trusty old pair of slippers. The shopping carefully stacked away in the cupboard and fridge, she switched on the gas fire and settled on the sofa with a book.

It seemed like your average chick lit thing about some woman’s love life. Enough distraction for Leah for the time being – she was in no mood to embrace the classics. She hadn’t had sex with anyone in months, and the desire to use her toys had long gone, so she figured that by reading about someone else’s exploits, it might just arouse her enough for the odd battery-operated play session. If nothing else, maybe she would get a decent night’s sleep after a good healthy orgasm.

The main character was portrayed as experiencing many of the same emotions Leah was feeling. She, too, felt rudderless after a marriage breakup. But she certainly wasn’t moping at home in a scruffy pair of slippers. She was assertively going round different websites looking for fun. She was on a mission to get laid by as many men as she could handle. She had turned into a fuck machine, and as she turned the pages, Leah began to envy the woman’s boldness and straightforward approach. She didn’t want or need a relationship any more, just like her, but she was seeking no-strings attached liaisons and finding at least some comfort from her endeavours. A small seed of an idea began to germinate in her mind.

She finished the chapter and took herself off to bed, thrusting the idea out of her thoughts, although her mind remained full of the images skilfully woven into the pages. Usually, she slept naked, although this was more about habit than anything remotely sexual. She and Simon had slept in separate rooms for the last couple of years of their marriage. She parted her legs at the sound of the vibrator’s buzzing, musing at the Pavlovian conditioning. She was wet already.

Her fantasies were always the same lately: girls. She couldn’t even picture herself with a man right now, let alone be turned on by one. The images that crept into her mind, caressing her libido, were always girls. Scantily-clad, porn-star style girls with fake breasts, fake tan and fake acting. They were the only girls she had ever seen having sex together and she had memorised scenes from porn films of years before. They played over and over until her orgasm overwhelmed and washed over her body. She lay breathless and panting, the sheets soaked with sweat and stickiness. The intensity of the release brought tears to her eyes and she hugged the cool pillow on the other side of the bed until sleep finally came.

***

Heath McCullough watched the thick brown liquid dripping into his mug in tantalising fashion. He tried to remember the last time he had drunk instant coffee, and how his passionate move to The Real Stuff had made his life so much better.

The stainless steel and copper contraption he had purchased many years previously, when his company had made its first million pounds, was a marvel to behold. As a proud Scotsman, it pained him to admit that coffee wasn’t something that they did very well. Thank god for the whisky. He also thanked Providence for the fact that, even at such a young age, he had had the intelligence to purchase his house outright, this designer coffee maker, and some other luxury items, before it all collapsed around his ears. Very few people could say they could afford to pay cash for a house; fewer still for their very first property.

Yes, on reflection, he did have some things to be thankful for, after all, and not just material possessions. Being packed off to boarding school from a young age made boys grow up more quickly, his father had said, perhaps to excuse the fact that he hadn’t really wanted children at all. In truth, Heath had an old head on his shoulders from a relatively young age and this had enabled him to be wary of women who would seek his wealth over his affections. It was partly the reason he chose to wear vintage or period clothes so often. It made it much more difficult for others to judge his status if he rocked up to a party wearing an outfit which looked to have come from the seventeenth century.

He drained his coffee cup and pondered the merits of washing his hair as he went to take a shower. His long, black, lustrous locks were unruly at the best of times, which added to his eccentricity, but today he was off to visit his lawyer. It would pay to appear smart, even though the guy was an old university chum. He wanted to make sure he had the best possible start to the day; there was a possibility things could descend into chaos.

***

Grant Foster tapped his pen on the desk.

“You’re stalling, mate,” Heath said. “All this reminiscing is all very well, but just tell me the current status. For fuck’s sake, let’s get it over with.”

He sat back and waited for his learned lawyer friend to spill the beans. He knew it was bad, from the way Grant couldn’t now meet his gaze across the imposing mahogany desk. This was a plush office and no mistake. Since their university days, since Heath went out with Grant and their friends, partly to make sure they all got home in one piece rather than end up sleeping in street gutters, Grant had really cleaned up his act. Who knew he would now be one of the most notable criminal lawyers in the country?

“She wants her day in court, my friend. She wants her pound of flesh.”

“Fuck.”

Heath rose out of the large leather chair and went over to the window, staring at the view.. From the outside, this particular tower block didn’t look anything special. The top two floors were dedicated to the firm in which Grant had now become a senior partner, and the vista across the greener areas of the UK’s second city was impressive.

“She didn’t accept the offer?”

“Her counsel informs me that she didn’t even read the letter, but instead relished the drama of tearing it up, still in the envelope, right in from of him. I have no reason to disbelieve him; he’s an old friend.”

Heath turned back to Grant.

“So, what now?”

“Your best bet, by some way, is to let her have her moment. Any reticence on your part could sway a jury against you. You have to be seen to be amenable in every way to everything she wants.”

“How long could this take?”

“It’s up to her to apply for a date, but I get the impression she wants to move quickly.”

Heath let out a low whistle, as if he had been holding his breath for some considerable time. This would mean yet another obstacle to letting go of the past, something he was keen to do as soon as possible, but if this was the only way to do it, he had to trust in Grant’s legal expertise.

“Fair enough. Let’s give her what she wants. What do you need from me?”

“Well, I know you’ve already told me everything that happened, but let’s go over it one more time, in as much detail as you can remember.”

***

Life trudged on over the next few days. Leah rose in the mornings and went to work, throwing herself into into the tasks in hand. Her boss knew what had happened and made sure she had plenty to keep her occupied. Piles of administrative tasks had come her way, nothing too taxing but distracting enough for her to immerse herself and forget her heartbreak for a good few hours each day. On the evenings she was hungry enough to eat, she grabbed a takeaway and often a bottle of wine on the way home. It was a desperate existence and she knew it but she was getting by. At the moment, she couldn’t expect more of herself that that.

Dragging herself to bed hours later, she would pick up the book and turn it over, daring herself to read more but, in truth, she felt uneasy. There was something about the story within those pages which haunted her. Perhaps it was uncovering emotions and desires inside of her that she wasn’t yet ready to face.

It was on an evening such as this that she received a surprise message from Alex, an old lover from before she was married. She was stunned that he had kept her number, especially as he had married around the same time that Simon and she did.

Hello stranger.

She couldn’t believe her eyes. A smile crossed her face, and her heart beat just a little faster, perhaps the first genuine sign of anything approaching happiness in many weeks.

How long had it been since she’d last seen him? At least a few years, surely, although every time they met it was just like they were back at university again. She smiled as she recalled his rugged charm and his public school accent. For a brief moment, Leah wondered about Alex’s relationship with his wife, but then pushed her out of her head. She’d long made peace with it. It was his conscience carrying the burden, not hers.

She’d stopped seeing him when she married Simon, of course. At least one of them should take their marriage vows seriously. But now she felt her heart lift slightly. Perhaps Alex was just what she needed. She just had to respond immediately.

Hey yourself. How are you?

It turned out he was very well indeed, thank you, and so they arranged to meet up for a catch up drink at a pub near to where Leah was working. She hoped the next few days would fly by.

***

Despite trying not to appear too keen, she turned up early and sat nursing a lemonade until he marched in through the door and spied her.

“Well, look at you!” he exclaimed, folding his arms around her in an affectionate bear hug.

She studied the man in front of her. A little less hair, a few laughter lines appearing around the eyes and mouth and perhaps, just the hint of a little excess weight around the midriff, but he was the same old Alex. She sighed with relief. It was heartening to know that some things in her life hadn’t changed. Seeing him again after a gap of nearly eight years – she’d sat down and worked it out, to her amazement –  brought a lump to her throat. He reminded her of a time when she was carefree; broke, but happy.

As they reminisced about the days of their youth, the people they used to know and the drunken escapades they used to get themselves into, Leah felt a warm, cosy feeling drifting through her body. Just being in the pub with Alex felt familiar and safe.

As it turned out, his marriage wasn’t going so well either, and he had been thinking about her. Well, that, and he had a milestone birthday on the horizon so wanted to get in touch with old friends. She found herself smiling with him, pleased for the opportunity to forget her own troubles, if only just for a little while.

Memories flooded back of some of the times they had spent together. Alex had been such good fun, a good-looking guy with a great sense of humour, and an even greater ability to bring her to orgasm. The sudden memory made her smile and blush slightly.

“What’s the smirk for?!” Alex looked taken aback.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Leah replied. “I wasn’t really listening. I was, you know… Remembering.”

Now it was Alex’s turn to grin.

“Care to elaborate?” He made a point of sliding along the couch so their arms were now touching. Leah blushed and averted her eyes, unsure whether she was ready for such an obviously flirtatious step. It had been so long since she had received such attention.

Luckily, Alex took the hint and steered the conversation back to safe and more comfortable territory. She was glad he wasn’t the type to want to delve into her emotional state. Alex was a great guy on many levels, but he was rubbish at listening to problems. Inevitably, however, the questions came.

“How is it you haven’t aged in all these years?” he said, taking a large gulp from his pint of Guinness.

“Well, I haven’t started drinking shit like that, for a start!” She nudged him playfully.

“I guess married life must suit you better than me,” he mused.

“Well, no, actually.” Leah paused as she tried to collect her thoughts. She was in public, yet again, and she didn’t want to become overwhelmed, like the experience in the supermarket.

She struggled to compose herself. Time stood still. “He’s moved out.”

In his unforgettable style, Alex gently laid a hand on her arm and then removed it, just as suddenly. That was the sum total of any sympathy he ever showed about anything.

After a quiet shrug of the shoulders, he said, “Well, you need a bloody good night out! And, I would be honoured if you’d let me take you somewhere and we can both get drunk and forget everything together.”

She sat for a moment and took in his flamboyant suggestion. Maybe it was exactly what she needed. Alex sure knew how to party at any rate, and she had spent far too many nights home alone, indulging her feelings of hopelessness.

“Okay. You’re on.”

“Good.” He glanced at his watch. “I have to shoot off, squash club beckons.”

“My god! Squash?” Leah gaped at him. He had definitely joined the conventional middle class set. Part of her envied his lifestyle but another part of her despised it. All those expectations, an unhappy marriage but staying together for the sake of his son and whole ‘keeping up appearances’ thing. Her marriage may have failed and Simon had broken her heart but at least she wasn’t living a lie.

It was then she made a decision – there and then. Whatever she did, wherever life might take her, she would always be true to her heart. Leah Bennett would never be stuck in a relationship where she was unhappy. Either she would sort it out or she would leave.

It took her around an hour to drive home from the pub. She smiled and giggled the whole way. Alex had brought her out of the doldrums and back into a bright, more colourful colourful world. He still desired her, that much was certain, and she hadn’t had that for a very long time.

Tumbling into bed a little while later, she picked up the erotic novel again and continued reading. A spark had been reignited inside and the story held a new relevance that she hadn’t seen before.

Sensual writing that isn’t erotica? Let’s meet author Jim Crace…

There a number books in my house that don’t really belong to me. That is to say, I didn’t purchase or otherwise acquire them myself. Instead they were left behind when my ex-partner moved out and he told me I could have them.

Devil's LarderNo two people have the same taste in books, it would seem, and a lot of these books I gave away to charity; I simply had no interest in many of them. But some did intrigue me. While not being the kind I would have picked myself, I was interested in widening my reading experience, so I kept them.

Among this latter pile were a couple of small books by Jim Crace, and I’m now very glad I kept them. They have proved to be an extraordinary literary complement to my collection.

The first one I picked, The Devil’s Larder, is a gorgeous collection of short stories. Now then, there’s nothing kinky about these whatsoever, but the writing is beautifully decadent, as though the writer crafted each tale lying naked on a purple velvet chaise longue, being waited upon by a young castrated slave bringing endless goblets of wine to wash down sumptuous fruits.

But then, reading this tremendous work of Crace’s brings out these kinds of thoughts. It’s the kind of book which brings guilt trips upon the sensitive soul, for how could us mere mortals be deserving of even a moderate-sized portion of this rare treat?

If you get the opportunity to taste this amuse-bouche of literature, please do take a decisive bite. Chew it carefully and at a leisurely pace, preparing your literary taste buds for what is about to suppress the appetite of your mind.

 

 

 

Interview with Jo B. Hayve

I adore social media at times. It was all down to a chance connection on my Twitter feed that I connected with Jo B. Hayve, author of the amazing novel, Inside Charlotte. You can read my own review of this book here.

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Snappy book cover for Inside Charlotte!

She has been very kind and agreed to do an interview for me, which is very exciting. Read on to find out more about this enigmatic lady…

 How long have you been writing generally, and in the erotica genre in particular?

Apparently I’ve always been a story teller. Even in first grade, I’ve been told, I would make up elaborate tales for the class. I’ve been actually writing stuff down since the fourth grade, when I tried to write a play from an old fable–I think it had an elephant and an ant. I used to write, at least in my head, sequels to movies I liked, and sometimes to movies I hated, to fix them. But I was never good at rewriting, and hated the whole submissions process, so I never tried to make a living at it. And I was never satisfied with what I wrote–I always felt like I was trying to write to other people’s standards rather than my own. Then about three and a half years ago I was deep in a long writer’s block, like seven years long, and couldn’t write more than a sentence or two. So one day I was visiting my parents, and they had left me in the car while they delivered pet medicine to a friend of theirs (yes, just like the opening scene in Charlotte), and I pulled out my IPad and started writing a story I’d had in mind a long time, about a twelve year old named Charlotte, who had magical powers. Within a sentence or two she had transformed into a 37 year old going through a sexual identity crisis, and I kept writing, happy that I could write anything. The story turned into the whole Charlotte saga. I had never even read erotica before, and I think that helped motivate me, because I wasn’t all tied up over how it was supposed to be written. I was just enjoying what I was writing. So I just started brainstorming. Then for a while, I wrote this story in every spare moment I had, until finally I just ran out of story and left it. A year later I reread it, liked it, and decided to self-publish it. By the time I had finished rewriting it I had other stories in mind. So I’ve been writing erotica ever since. Basically about a year now.

 What inspires you to write your stories, and about feminism especially?

Feminism I’ve long been inspired about. All forms of equality have always inspired me. I think that comes from growing up in the US South, in Mississippi, and watching how people were. Both sides, really. I could see how frightened some people were of changing, and how that fear came out as hate, or as a need to control the people they were afraid of. Right now in the US Muslims and Latino immigrants are bearing that burden. So a big part of why I’ve always wanted to write was to correct inequality, to make people understand differences and not be afraid of them. Erotica lets me do that in a playful, hopefully sometimes touching, way. The specific stories, I don’t know what inspires them. I just come up with an idea, and sometimes daydream it out, and other times just start writing and let the story come as I write it. I’m into the idea now that sex is the root of sexism, and attitudes towards sexual propriety and morals are the way women are controlled by the system. So my stories tend to be about breaking the taboos of the system. I don’t mean the big taboos, like incest or bestiality. I mean the more general taboos about sexually active women, monogamy, affairs within a marriage. And of course homosexuality. Although when I started writing Charlotte, that was a bigger taboo than now. It’s astounding and amazingly hopeful how much that one issue changed in just a few years.

 What kind of research, if any, do you do for your work?

Oh, the usual. I try things out when I can. When that isn’t enough, I ask other people, or just listen to them. When that fails I use the Internet. I have a fear that a crime will happen one day and my computer will be seized, and my search history will be used to demonstrate how obsessed with sex I am. Oh yeah, and porn helps. That will be used against me, too. Porn is a problematic resource. Some of it is so horrifically sexist and objectifying that I can’t stomach it. Some is fun, though.

What is your daily writing routine like? Do you have any rituals?

No, I have no routine, or ritual. If I get a moment, I write. I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes, grab my laptop, and hide out in the bathroom to write. Sometimes I let my writing override my other responsibilities, but that catches up with me, and I have to leave writing alone for a while. I’d like to get to where I write all day long, but so far life doesn’t allow that.

 Pen and paper, or straight-to-keyboard writing?

Keyboard. Now and then I find paper useful. I’m such a slow writer that it helps me write tighter, because I don’t want to waste extra pen strokes. But that is rarer and rarer. I hate transcribing back to the computer, too. On a keyboard I can fly.

 Why did you choose to self-publish?

It’s quicker, and easier, and no one can tell me what to publish. I can finish a story to say what I want it to say, put it online, and move on. That just fits the way my mind works better.

 Do you believe there is still a place for traditional publishing these days?

Probably. They are good marketers and distributors. They can provide huge advances to free a writer up to write and rewrite. I think people still trust traditional publishers to turn out consistently high-quality stuff, too. A lot of Indie work is rife with bad writing and typos, so readers are cautious with a new Indie writer. On the other hand, Indie writers can go against the trends, take risks, avoid constricting editorial standards, and generally be more innovative and impulsive. Also, we can charge less because we have fewer expenses. So, I think readers with time constraints might favor traditional publishers, because they expect a generally higher consistency for the limited number of books they can read, but readers with voracious habits do better with Indies, because they can read a lot of stories for less, and because they can hear different voices without the identity-stealing filter of editors and publishers.

 Fifteen Fabulous Favourites:
1. Colour

Blue

2. Food

Don’t know, but I’m vegetarian, so it isn’t bacon.

3. Fruit

Blueberries

4. Day of the week

Whatever day it is. I don’t always pay attention.

5. Film

Amadeus

6. Erotica author

Anais Nin.

7. Restaurant

It’s in Austin. El Naranjo. It’s a Oaxacan cuisine.

8. Drink – non-alcoholic

Coke, sadly.

9. Drink – alcoholic

Sazerac

10. Celebrity

Willie Nelson.

11. Holiday destination

The beach. Especially a Caribbean beach. Puerto Rico, maybe.

12. Biscuits

Too much of an oceanic language barrier there for me to answer that. Here a biscuit is a specific food, not a type. 🙂

*after a helpful hint…*

Peanut butter cookies are my favourite.

13. Car

Prius. Used to be Saab, but they stopped making them.

14. Fictional Heroine

Lisbeth Salander

15. Fictional Hero

Jean Valjean.

 What ís next for you, writing-wise?

A couple of ideas. I have a series going now that I like, called Complex Erotica. There are a few more stories there to work with, though they are shorter fiction (about 12,000 words a story). The other is a sequel to Charlotte, based on the character of Bridget (who shows up first in Into Charlotte), a few years after the Charlotte series.

List your social media links here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jobhayve/?ref=hl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoBHayve

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13987175.Jo_B_Hayve

And my own web page: http://jobhayve.com/

Review: Inside Charlotte by Jo B. Hayve

I adore reading about strong female characters, women who take charge of their own destiny rather than expecting their men to forge a path for them to follow.

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In Charlotte Bannon, Jo B. Hayve has created just such a woman who craves freedom from what she considers the conventional norms of marriage.

Inside Charlotte explores how Charlotte turns from a happily-married thirty-something mum into a sexual animal, checking out almost every human being she lays eyes on.

Her exploits are well written: the erotic elements of the story are fantastically horny and really turned me on.

I loved the way the author explores Charlotte’s sexuality too, like a flower gently unfolding her petals towards the sunlight. (Yes, that is very much an intended euphemism!)

Her awakenings will resonate with many female readers who may have wondered what it’s like to sleep with another woman and whether or not it feels different than sleeping with a man.

I shall certainly be reading the next book in the series soon!

Oh, and stay tuned for an interview with the author appearing RIGHT HERE shortly…

 

2016 is well under way, and Kitty has lots of plans!

Is it too late to be saying Happy New Year?

Oh, what the heck, I’m saying it anyway. I hope you had a wonderful relaxing end to 2015 and have made a good start to 2016. Have you made any plans for the coming year? Are you on target to reach your goals?

I must admit, I’m not usually one for making resolutions in the New Year. But, since I started writing seriously three years ago, I have used this time of year as an opportunity to think ahead and make plans which give me the best chance of reaching those mid- to long-term goals.

plan

I am conducting this exercise as you read this, and I am excited to share with you some of what I’ll be getting up to this year 🙂

  • Becoming Fabulous, my first novel, is my main area of concentration at the moment. If you’ve read any of the Fierce & Fabulous short stories, you will have met my beautiful heroine, Leah Bennett. This is the full story of how she became such a horny little minx, and eventually gets her heart’s desire. Don’t miss it! There is a book cover due imminently, and a release date will be made available shortly. This is very exciting stuff, stay tuned for news of offers and giveaways…
  • I shall be attending the 68th Swanwick Writers Summer School in August for a week, and catching up with my gorgeous, inspiring writing family. If you’ve never heard of Swanwick, then YOU, my friends, are missing out. It’s the longest running residential writing conference in the world, famous for it’s magical feeling and the friendliness of its delegates who return year after year to share their successes and encourage each other.
  • Just after Swanwick, I’ll be heading over to Manchester for my very first signing event. If you’ve never been to one of these, I highly recommend coming along. It’s a fantastic opportunity to get to meet some of your favourite authors in person, grab copies of their books (often cheaper than paperback copies from Amazon) and pick up goodies. It’s not uncommon to go home with bags full of key rings, bookmarks, postcards, wrist bands, sweets, chocolates… You name it! You can find the Facebook page here for more details.
  • September sees the second signing event of the year in Cardiff. They have a Facebook page too – click here to find out more about this one. It’s been a long long time since I ventured into Wales and I’ve never been to Cardiff before either, so I’m really looking forward to the weekend, and to meeting some more readers.

So, it’s going to be a busy year of writing and promotion. My challenge will be to make sure it all comes together. On that note, I have some editing to do…

Book Review: Forfeit by Caroline Batten – awesome read!

I met Caroline Batten when I appeared at the Peterborough Author Signing Event in March 2015 so, quite frankly, I’m ashamed to admit it’s taken me this long to finish reading her amazing book.

Now, I’m not a fan of chick lit, but let me tell you, this is not it. If that’s the case, then clearly I have been missing out. Hugely. For me, this sits well and truly in the romance genre, but think not of rose petals and rainbows when you read this book. It has the kind of edge you could file your nails with.

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The cover is one of the most striking you’ll ever see, with its luminous green background and pink silhouetted legs.

The themes are bang up-to-date, even to the use of a hashtag in the title, but it’s not for the squeamish. The copious use of alcohol as a crutch for several of the characters, and the almost ubiquitous usage of cocaine by more than one mean I wouldn’t personally recommend this for the under 18 age group.

Daisy is our heroine. Broken-hearted after the split from her celebrity husband, she wants to find solace in the Lake District. Instead, she finds anything but, as the blackmail of the game threatens to destroy the only thing she has pinned her hopes on: Xander.

But her insecurities about him, in particular the number of girls he has slept with, makes her nervous. How special could she ever be, when she’s competing with all that experience? It is for this reason that I have a little soft spot for Daisy. I would be exactly the same in her position.

This book is easy to read and the writing style is superb. I loved the twists and turns in the plot and I wasn’t sure until almost the very last page whether or not Xander would finally win Daisy over.

Certainly, you could never accuse the author or being predictable. This is one of the most original romances I have ever read. I haven’t yet purchased the follow-up, Nearly Almost Somebody, but it’s on my wish list for Christmas!

Well done Caroline!

Why read erotic fiction?

So, today we’re trying to get to the bottom of you, the readers…. In the sense that I’ve been looking for research behind the mahoosive explosion in this genre over recent years. Why are we all so interested in reading sexy stories?

Writing about sex is nothing new. Some of Chaucer’s work in the Canterbury Tales is filthy (14th century), and Shakespeare doesn’t exactly shy away from it either.

More recently, D.H.Lawrence spoke eloquently of it in his classic, Lady Chatterley’s Lover:

“His body was urgent against her, and she didn’t have the heart anymore to fight…He too had bared the front part of his body and she felt his naked flesh against her as he came into her. For a moment he was still inside her, turgid there and quivering. Then as he began to move, in the sudden helpless orgasm, there awoke in her new strange thrills rippling inside her. Rippling, rippling, rippling, like a flapping overlapping of soft flames, soft as feathers, running to points of brilliance, exquisite and melting her all molten inside… She clung to him unconscious in passion, and he never quite slipped from her, and she felt the soft bud of him within her stirring, and strange rhythms flushing up into her with a strange rhythmic growing motion, swelling and swelling til it filled all her cleaving consciousness, and then began again the unspeakable motion that was not really motion, but pure deepening whirlpools of sensation swirling deeper and deeper through all her tissue and consciousness, til she was one perfect concentric fluid of feeling, and she lay there crying in unconscious inarticulate cries.”

Ahhhh….. Beautiful.

But back in the days when I started buying erotic fiction, you had to walk right to the back of the bookshop (yes, this was pre-Kindle territory), right among the LGBT literature, to find anything juicy. Nowadays, you can see it atop the bestsellers, right at the front of the shop. When did that happen?

Obviously, there has been a huge cultural shift towards liberalism, starting in the 1960s and continuing today. Thankfully, we can now no longer be ashamed, as women, of being sexual creatures. We can grab that book from the bookshelf and proudly march to the cashier and say, “I’ll have this please,” without blushing from head to toe and trying to hide our choice under The Times Book of Crosswords: Volume 132.

But there’s another reason too. Let’s talk about escapism.

I found a great blog post by Lexi Maxxwell (see here) which discusses the honesty of erotic language. Readers want to read about their sexual fantasies, the things they wish they could do but can’t because of work commitments, children, and the general banality of Life.

More and more these days, women are expected to be everything. We have more equality in the workplace than ever before, but we still have to be the main child rearer at home, as well as provide food and a clean, tidy house. If you’re not part of the clique that’s into entertaining friends as well, consider yourself lucky.

Erotica allows us, just for a few pleasurable, mind-blowing- earth-moving moments, to be the version of ourselves that we really want to be.

As usual, I welcome your comments.

Effrenata Lifestyle Festival – Kitty reads aloud to a live audience!

And now for something completely different, as they say…

A trusted friend called me up one evening with a proposal.

“I’ve got a massive opportunity for you!”

I’d never heard of Effrenata before and I was intrigued. A lifestyle festival, you say? Outdoors in rural Warwickshire? To read aloud to a load of kinksters…?

Oh, go on then! what’s the worst that can happen?

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Photo by Kash-R Photography. Stunning landscape. Luckily, the horse seemed unperturbed by the goings-on!

 

 

As the event drew nearer, I began to get nervous. When I first picked up my pen and wrote my stories all those months ago, I did not think for a second that I would ever be reading them ALOUD!

Vince&Sarah
Funky fancy dress!

I worried that I would stammer over my words, that people would be able to tell how nervous I was, and they wouldn’t like my chosen story. Maybe they would heckle and boo me off the stage! My nightmares involved me forgetting my bring my story to read from, becoming panic-stricken and bursting into tears.

Luckily, none of these things happened. It was a fabulous weekend and I really hope I get to do it again. Let me tell you more…

It was a line-up which packed some punch. Vince Vega  and Danny Rampling brought the marquee tent down (almost) with pumping tunes on the Friday and Saturday nights. An impeccable bar service was provided by the charismatic Scott Hawkins and his Artisan Bar Events throughout the weekend.

During the day, there were fetish demonstrations by wonderland, including some intriguing work involving stapling a lady’s back and threading ribbons through them to create the look of a corset woven into her skin. Utterly and magnificently beautiful in a strange way. I almost went for it myself!

Then, of course, there was little old me, with my story, reading to an exclusive audience of kinksters. I very pleased to say it went very well. I did not stammer my words. I did not panic and run screaming from the stage. Most of all, no one booed or heckled! After I had finished, there was a short question and answer session and then my audience gave me a most welcome round of applause, and I got myself a well-earned drink!

All in all, a fantastic weekend, and something which I am considering doing again in the future. It was great to connect with readers directly, and have them listening intently to my work. I was even lucky enough to be approached by some of them to ask for advice on how to start writing.

Well, I guess now that Autumn is well and truly upon us, the festival season is over for another year. However, come 2016, look out for me in a marquee near you. Stay tuned to my Facebook page and Twitter feed for more up-to-the-minute news about public appearances!

Interview: Charlotte E Hart (The White Trilogy)

Welcome, One and All!

This is the very first in a new series of posts where I interview some of my favourite erotic authors and learn more about what makes ’em tick.

First up is the delightfully smutty Charlotte E Hart, who I met in person at a  signing event in Peterborough, UK, back in March 2015.

Charlotte is a lady who breezes into any room and smiles from deep inside her heart at everyone present. She is a truly gorgeous person, and it’s evident in her writing. I am thrilled she has agreed to answer my questions, so without further ado…

How long have you been writing generally, and in the erotica genre in particular?

I’ve been writing a little over two years now in any really sense of the word. Poetry I’ve toyed with on and off for a long time, but proper actual writing, novels etc, two years.

What inspires you to write your stories, and The White Trilogy especially?

In all truth, my life changed. A small person came along, with the help of some extra-curricular activities, and it changed the way I had to live my life somewhat. Who knew, right?

Worlds turn upside down when that happens and I needed an outlet for all the information in my brain, which was driving me stark raving mad most of the time. I started writing poetry again, just for me really, but from there a certain voice started talking to me.

He was very insistent, and still is most of the time. His ‘friends’ started joining the party a short time later and before I knew I’d written my first three chapters. Ta-da! I hadn’t got a clue where it was going but he just kept talking, quite explicitly, so I kept writing.

What kind of research, if any, do you do for your work?

None. Not of any consequence anyway. I’m lucky enough to have lived a *coughs* well-rounded lifestyle, and I have plenty of experience in my chosen genre, so that part’s reasonably easy.

I did need some Italian help from a very good friend, and I also like to visit stately homes, so I suppose you could call that research for all the beautiful homes in The White Triogy.

Can I call all my city visits research too? I travel a lot, so yes, let’s call that research shall we? Apart from that, very little really.

What is your daily writing routine like? Do you have any rituals?

Oh My! Do people have those? Some kind of structure, you mean? Lordy, I wish I had the time to put some kind of timetable down for my writing. I’m aiming towards it, somehow, and at some point I will I’m sure, but at the moment it’s simply not possible for me to commit blocked hours to it. I just snatch and grab as and when I can. It’s very confusing, but the story manages to stay inside my head most of the time so I can pick up reasonably quickly again.

Pen and paper, or straight-to-keyboard writing?

Poetry is scribbled on paper, it hangs around for a few days and then I piece it all together when the right word finds the right hole, so to speak. Actual writing is always straight to laptop, unless I happen to get a sudden urge and then I’ll grab a napkin or something.

Why did you choose to self-publish?

I didn’t think I’d get anywhere to be honest. I had a few valued friends read Seeing White, one of which is deeply entrenched in this community, and all they all said, go for it. I had reservations but they kept pushing so eventually I just thought I’d have a crack at it.

It never even occured to me to contact an actual publisher, the thought would have scared me to death. Amazon makes it very easy to ‘have a go’.

Do you believe there is still a place for traditional publishing these days?

who knows? The self-publishing route certainly shows us that it is possible to get your work out there without the need for a publishing house to be involved. That being said, I probably wouldn’t have made the mistakes I did if I’d had a publisher.

Funnily enough, I wouldn’t change that fact. I firmly believe skills are honed and improved by our failures, so I’m actually quite pleased I went down the route I did. Also, I could have spent years searching for one who’d accept me.

Fifteen Fabulous Favourites:
1. Colour
Black
2. Food
Italian
3. Fruit
Hate it all
4. Day of the week
Sundays
5. Film
A few good men
6. Erotica author
Its not possible for me to narrow that down to one, sorry.
7. Restaurant
I’m not one for eating out, but if pushed I’d say Hibiscous in Mayfair, London.
8. Drink – non-alcoholic
Orange juice, smooth, dont like bits at all.
9. Drink – alcoholic
Brandy or gin
10. Celebrity
Jack Nicholson
11. Holiday destination
New York
12. Biscuits
Hobnobs
13. Car
I want my Aston …. Grrrrr
14. Fictional Heroine
Wonder woman
15. Fictional Hero
Batman

What’s next for you, writing-wise?

I have one more to come out of this trilogy. How big it’ll be I don’t know, but he desrves his own story, and I already have Post-Its dotted everywhere with his constant yattering. Some lovely peeps are also calling for a Belle and Conner book, who knows? I also have a ‘thing’ going on in the background which is going to be very exciting if it comes off. There’s also the poetry to publish at some point.

You can catch up with Charlotte on social media here:
https://www.facebook.com/CharlotteEHart.author
https://twitter.com/CharlotteEHart1

Sexpectations: How Often Is Enough?

sex-relationships

A number of friends have recently approached me to ask if I have a few moments for a chat.

Nothing unusual about that, you might say. But what if I told you that these friends are male, and they all want to talk about their sex life (or lack of same)? What, then?

The question is always the same. “Kitty,” they plead. “I’m at the end of my tether. If I don’t have sex with her soon, I’m going to lose my mind. What can I do?”

The ‘her’ to which they refer is their wife or long-term girlfriend. It seems their Significant Others have decided, en masse, to refuse to have sex with their partners, and the men are going crazy about it. I can’t say I blame them.

In some cases, this has been going on for months, even years.

One poor soul told me his wife confessed on their wedding night that she just wasn’t into sex that much. He was devastated. He loves his wife dearly and can’t understand why she feels this way. She is beautiful, has a figure to die for, the perfect sense of humour, blah blah blah. In short, she sounds perfect in every way. Except one small thing. She hasn’t had sex with her husband in over six years.

This is an extreme case, among my friends. But I hear of women refusing their husbands for six months or more on a regular basis. I hear stories of holidays abroad with the children when the wife asks for twin beds on arrival at the hotel. I am told tales of them being accused of being a “sex-pest”, or “always wanting it”.

Now, I should point out here that a large majority of my friends are male. A forum thread I found while researching this post confirm that some women feel it too: read here.

But nevertheless, I am plagued by a nagging curiosity. What the hell is going on in these relationships? And, how many times per week/month is ‘normal’ anyway?

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Relate, the marriage counselling service, offers some advice on the matter. For all sorts of reasons (becoming parents, stress, mental health issues, etc) it is perfectly normal for a person’s libido, whether male or female, to fluctuate throughout their lives. The key thing is, when you’re in a relationship with someone else, it affects them too, and communication is absolutely critical.

When I asked my friends “and have you talked to her about how you feel?”, invariably the answer is, “Well, erm… No, actually,” or “I can’t seem to find the right time.” At which point, I raise my eyes towards the ceiling and groan.

“What are you telling me for then? You’re not married to me, you fool!” tends to be my stock answer.

Which leads me to suspect that these particular guys are frustrated more with themselves, just for being rubbish at communication in their relationships. Perhaps if they worked on improving that, there wouldn’t be a sex issue at all.

I know to my cost how not communicating properly in a relationship can lead to all sorts of problems, and I also know how external issues and how we feel about ourselves can have a massive impact on how sexy we feel. If we don’t feel sexy, we’re not going to want any sex.

Sex counsellor Robert Weiss writes in the Huffington Post “As long as both partners in a relationship are open about their feelings and physical needs and both are satisfied with the frequency and quality of their sexuality, the couple can not only survive, but thrive.”

I’ve known for some years now that I have a fairly high libido compared to many women of my age (over 40). However, I am also the only one of my female friends who is single right now. In past relationships, I remember frantic periods of fucking like rabbits, followed by periods of relative calm.

I watched a documentary a few months ago on people who identify as asexual. By definition, this means they have no interest in sex and do not feel sexual attraction. In a society that increasingly places so much importance on sexuality, this seems like the last taboo. But these people can continue to have fulfilling, meaningful relationships.

So, how much is ‘not enough’ to you? Are you fulfilled? And, if not, what do you plan to do about it?