Thursday, November 10, 2011

Scarlett Valentine's Awakening Here Today!

Today the fantastic Scarlett Valentine is here and talking about her book, Awakening. Thanks for joining us and if you want to continue following the tour, click here! You could win a $25 GC if you comment. Oh, and there's always the chance of suprise prizes. Comment to get your name in the house.

But let's get started!! What was your favorite scene to write in Awakening?

The courtyard scene was probably my most favorite because Ysbail really shows her mettle. She’s a spirited woman who exhibits her defiance to her new husband right from the beginning. But in the courtyard scene, she proves she’s the lady of the keep and not a woman to be trifled with.

What was the inspiration behind Awakening?
I love Wales and wanted to set a story there. After researching a bit of early Medieval Welsh history, a plot came to me and used real characters and situations from that time period to create Ysbail and Bedwyr. I’m really pleased with the results and hope readers will be too.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve done in the name of research?
Probably the most interesting (more likely the scariest because of my fear of heights) was traveling by narrow-gauge train to Snowdonia’s summit. It’s not the highest mountain in Great Britain or even Europe, but it is the highest in Wales. From the summit, on a clear day and in the right atmospheric conditions, the view is exactly as I wrote it in Awakening. From up there, the World appears at one’s feet. I know this sounds corny, but looking out across the expanse of the landscape and sea, I felt . . . for just a moment . . . if I spread my arms and leaned into the wind that I could fly! My knees shook the whole time I was up there, but I loved every moment of it and can’t wait to return.

What do you consider as the most frustrating side of becoming a published author and what has been the most rewarding?
The most frustrating for me is coming up with the first line of the first chapter. When readers open my books, I want the first line to grab them by the lapels and yank them into the story. If I’m not yanked in by the opening line then neither will my readers. Having a gripping first line is the key that unlocks the door to the rest of the story.

I could say the most rewarding part of being a published author is hearing from readers, about how much they enjoyed my story. We all like our egos stroked. But really, passing on what I’ve learned to new writers is probably the most rewarding. I was given a special gift from authors who published before me so it’s only right to pass that gift along. Education is a gift that must be shared and not kept to oneself. Pay it forward!

What accent inspires you to do naughty things?
My husband is Irish, born and raised in Cork City. When he speaks his native language . . . {fanning self} . . . ‘nuff said!

Name something readers would be surprised to learn about you?
My husband and I married twice — once in Ireland with his family and again in California with my family. He likes to call me his second wife. When he talks about his ‘former’ wife I ask him if he wants one or two divorces. The ‘four of us’ just celebrated our twelfth wedding anniversary, and fifteen years together.

If you could ask the readers one question what would it be?
What do you look for when choosing the erotica you read — time period, fetish or kink level, balance of story vs sex, cover art, plotline . . . etc?

What’s your writing process like?
The only process I have is doing my research as thoroughly as possible. And I continue checking facts as I’m writing. Once I have something resembling an outline, character names and a direction the writing comes quickly. Once the first draft is done, I’ll read and reread the book, editing as I go until I’m happy the book is ready for submission. My favorite quote is from Dermot Bloger, an Irish novelist, who said "Write with passion in your heart; edit with ice in your veins." No truer words!

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?
The best thing is being able to roll out of bed in the morning, slip into my Crocs and go to work. Working from home is the best.

The worst thing is being able to roll out of bed in the morning, slip into my Crocs and go to work. Once my computer is on, everything else falls away. Thank goodness I have dogs or I’d never leave the chair once I’m planted on it.

What is your method of breaking through writer’s block?
I don’t believe in writer’s block. A ‘block’ means I haven’t done enough research, haven’t plotted thoroughly, or allowed myself to get distracted.

I view writing like taking a car journey. I have a starting point (chapter one) and a destination (The End). The middle is a route of twisting roads, forks and dead-ends. Sometimes, while I’m traveling along with the story I’ll need to back up and chose another route, or if an unforeseen obstacle drops in the road I have to be more creative to get around it. It’s the twisty-turny bits that make the story more interesting. Who wants to get in the car and drive a straight road for several hours with nothing interesting to see along the way? If my plot starts looking too straight, I’ll check the map (outline) again for a more interesting route and see where it leads.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?
Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, writing was a personal thing. Writing is one of the greatest forms of expression, and for an ultra shy girl (yeah, I know, me shy?), it was my way of letting my inner thoughts come out . . . to say the things I couldn’t verbally. I’m still a shy adult, but I’ve learned to share my work with others, and it makes me feel good when people enjoy my stories. But deep inside, I still write for me. Ask any author out there and he/she will tell you writing is part of who they are.

Can you tell us a bit about what book(s) you have coming out next and what you’re working on now?
Awakening is the first book in The ABCs of S-E-X: Love by the Letter series. I’m following the alphabet so next up is Beguiler, book two. This is the story of a ghost hunter who grew up reading tales of The Woman in the Wall. His investigations lead him to an ancient castle in Ireland which is steeped in its own legends.

When you get a chance to read, what books do you love to read?
Erotica of course, but also traditional romance, some thrillers, bios . . . pretty much anything if it has an interesting plot, likable characters and is well-written. I enjoy unique voices, too.

What bores you as a reader?
I’ll get slated for saying this and I apologize in advance to all the Scotophiles out there, but I’m bored to tears of stories set in Scotland. Until recently, I hadn’t read a Scottish set book in probably fifteen years. I used to understand the fascination with men in kilts, but it’s been so overdone over the years that I now bypass any story with a kilted hero on the cover. There’s a whole World out there to choose from.

What is your favorite feature on a person?
Sincerity. Honestly, while I write hunky heroes, I do it because readers expect it. But every personality trait of every hero I write are the kind of man I prefer — sincere, honest, noble, honorable . . . OK, and I like eyes. They eyes tell a lot, especially about a person’s sincerity.

What is your favorite time of day?
Sex o’clock! {yeah, I know, a real groaner}

What music gets you dancing?
Oh no! You’re outing me. I’m a retro girl all the way. I love music from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Even as I type this, and while doing everything else except writing, I listen to over the internet. I’m originally from Northern California and grew up listing to this station. I still prefer this kind of music over most of the modern stuff out there. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy modern music, I do. But classic rock gets me moving. I do kettlebell workouts and love traditional rock beats to keep time.

Aliens have landed on the planet. What are the three things you would tell them that are great about this planet?
Hmm . . . let’s assume they’re good aliens and don’t want to take over. Not necessarily in this order — diverse cultures, variety of incredible foods, and sex!

You have been locked in a mall and told you can get anything you want and when they open in the morning you won’t have to pay a single cent. What stores would you hit? Better question how would you haul away all your loot?
Yarn. I’m a yarnaholic. I need YA. Desperately. To haul it away, I’d knit a magic Santa sack to put it all into. Hey, you’ve seen how many toys he can fit in that sack. My yarnie loot would easily fit.

If you could share one major writing tip, to help other writers in their quest for publication, what would it be?
Have fun with it. If you aren’t having fun, what’s the point?

If you could write in any other genre what would it be, and why?
I love writing romance and erotica, but I’d like to write thrillers/PI/detective stories. I’ve tried but I keep getting caught up in romantic relationships. And frankly, death freaks me out. Because of that, I rarely kill off characters.

Thanks for having me here and being part of my launch party.

~ Scarlett
“What’s a little bondage between friends?”

Ysbail of Ellesmere is a pawn in her guardian's war. For decades there has been unrest between the marcher lords and Owain Gwynedd ap Gruffydd, King of Gwynedd. The most recent war had been the bloodiest she could remember in her eighteen years. Madog ap Maredudd, Prince of Powys, and his allies lost untold numbers of men at the hands of Owain's soldiers. When a settlement of truce is presented to Madog, it's at Ysbail's expense. She is to marry Bedwyr ap Owain, one of King Owain’s bastard sons, and his most notorious henchman. If all the rumors and stories she's heard are true, she knows her marriage will be rife with horror and fear.

Since proving himself worthy with his sword, Bedwyr fights at his king's side. He's shed oceans of blood and sent untold numbers of men to their graves. He's become what his name foretold—the grave-knower. He's afraid of nothing, least of all death. All men fear him, including those who fight at his side, and sometimes even his own king. Terror of him lives within women's hearts; only the bravest of whores accept him into their beds. And children weave their own tales of the monster they hear him to be, embellishing the details to their own gruesome degrees.

When King Owain informs Bedwyr that he's to marry Ysbail of Ellesmere as part of a peace settlement with Madog, Bedwyr is furious. A man such as Bedwyr can only survive on the battlefield. For without love, hatred will send a man like him to the edge of insanity. Then push him over. But when Bedwyr sees Ysbail for the first time, blood-thirst turns to blood-lust, and he vows to show her that she should have no fear of him.

“Take it off, Ysbail.”

She stood her ground, shoulders back, gazing into her husband’s black eyes, daring him to make her.

Their marriage was still fresh in her mind, as was the humiliating bedding that followed. He had granted her some respect in the task by ushering would-be witnesses from the chamber, but he had done no more than that before laying her on the bed, lifting her gown, and taking her most precious possession. While he had apologized for what must be done, she still had not liked it. His taking of her had been swift and every bit as horrible as she had heard it would be.

Her father, Alun ap Wnffre of Ellesmere, had been the governor and close friend of Madog ap Maredudd, Prince of Powys. Her mother had died in childbirth, and Ysbail had barely been out of swaddling when her father was killed fifteen years previously during one of the frequent border wars. Madog had promised to raise her until she was of marriageable age. With the rapidity of the event, she felt Madog could not wait to be free from his responsibility. So afraid she might bolt, he had waited until her arrival in Oswestry from her home at Ellesmere to tell her of her betrothal.

He was right to worry, for she was to marry Bedwyr ap Owain, one of King Owain Gwynedd’s bastard sons, and his most notorious henchman. Legends preceded Bedwyr. She grew up hearing tales of his bloodlust and the carnage left in his wake. He was what his name foretold, for Bedwyr meant grave-knower.

Here's a great bio about Scarlett!
Scarlett Valentine is the alter ego of award-winning romance author, Kemberlee Shortland. Together they write Erotomance -- Erotic Romance.

Originally from Northern California, Scarlett has spent the last fourteen years living in Ireland. She's traveled extensively through Ireland and Wales. When she's not writing, she can often be found castle hunting.

Scarlett's stories cross subgenres to explore hetero, gay and bisexual relationships in a series of stories that include time periods from historicals and contemporaries, futuristics and science fiction, paranormal and suspense, and more.

Awakening is the first book in The ABCs of S-E-X: Love by the Letter series and is available 2 November 2011 though Tirgearr Publishing.


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting today!

Karen H said...

Hi Scarlett,

Another interesting post today. I was struck by your comment about the first line of the first chapter. You said: "If I’m not yanked in by the opening line then neither will my readers. Having a gripping first line is the key that unlocks the door to the rest of the story". And I agree with you 100% but are you the best judge of your own 1st line? Sometimes what doesn't hit you as good will hit me as fantastic. So how do you judge what is good opening line and what isn't?

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen,

I totally understand what you're saying. Not everyone will agree on what makes the best opening lines.

When I wrote Awakening, I started the story several different ways. Originally, Ysbail was brought to Oswestry to Madog's hall to get the news she was the be wed immediately. Bedwyr was there with his father's witness. The original opening line was --

"Terror gripped Ysbail’s heart the moment the words slipped from Madog’s lips. How could he do this to her?"

Then the chapter went on about who she was and how she came to be in Madog's great hall, and who Bedwyr was and the broder wars. It was a huge info-dump.

When I was rewriting and editing I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong. Then I read the story without the first chapter, which starts with them in their chamber in Rhyd Ddu and the whole last two weeks have already happened. I incorporated some of the first chapter facts into the final version so it wasn't such an info-dump in chapter one.

I felt it was a great opening for Bedwyr to tell Ysbail to take her clothes off and head right into their first time together and all the emotions behind that rather than slogging through a chapter-load of facts.

That doesn't mean I didn't like chapter one as it was originally written. It just means I felt there was too much narration in the beginning . . . the info-dump. That information was slowly revealed on an as-needed basis in the final story.

My reading tastes have changed over the year, and so has my writing style. Originally I would have written Awakening and left chapter one as it was, but nowadays, I love a story that gets right into it, has good dialog and reveals facts as we need to know them.

And no, sometimes I'm not the best judge of my own work. I would never write a story and just put it out there. I edit several times before I'm happy to let someone else see it. And of course, the editor will want their own edits before publication. Everyone who reads a story, no matter how well written or edited will have an opinion on how it should have been done.

And if I'm unsure about an opening line, I'll come up with a few that sounds reasonably interesting, then ask some writing friends or even my husband what they think.

What do you think? Are you happy with the way Awakening turned out over what it could have been?

Thanks for stopping in. Loving all your interesting questions. Can't wait to see what you come up with tomorrow :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Wendi,

Thanks for hosting me today. I love your site and am really glad you offered me a spot.

Wendi Zwaduk and Megan Slayer said...

I'm so glad you were here. It's been great reading about the book. Need to get me a copy. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks again for hosting me today. I'm sorry it wasn't any busier, but I'll check in again in the morning (midnight here now) to see if there have been any other questions or comments while I've been sleeping ;-)

Mary Preston said...

Another great post. In answer to the question for readers - I look at the plot line, the period in history & of course the cover. I tend to also read the first page if possible. It's not just the first line, though that does come in to it, that needs to grab my attention. Book blog tours are an EXCELLENT way to find great books & authors. I love them.


Anonymous said...


I'm like you when it comes to finding a good story. But even if the cover blurb sounds exciting, there's a good cover and I like the timeline, if the first page doesn't grab me, I'm not sure I'll have the patience to see if the rest of the story works out. Usually if the first line grabs me, or even as much as the first 2-3 pages, I'm assured the rest of the book will hold my interest. Not always, but usually. That's why I try to make sure I not only have a hook, but also that I keep the same tension through the story to keep readers interested. A book is an investment . . . money, time, energy, interest, etc. And as investments go, I want to see a return . . . enjoyment, satisfaction, interest, etc.