Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rhythm of My Heart with Kemberlee Shortland

I want to thank Kemberlee Shortland for stopping by today. She's a fantastic author and a good friend and I'm happy to have her guesting. You will want to comment at the end. Why? Kemberlee will be giving away a copy of both A Piece of My Heart and the short story sequel, Constant Craving. How cool is that?

Take it away Kemberlee!!

Hi Wendi. Thanks for having me here today. And thanks for asking what inspired me to write Rhythm of My Heart.

Where do I begin? So many things inspired this story. I think the biggest reason was I received several emails from readers saying how much they enjoyed the intimate scenes in my stories and asking if I wrote erotica, and if I did, where could they find them. At the time*, the answer was no. But their questions were always in the back of my head. One day I thought, “Why don’t I try writing erotica?” The story was meant to be short, maybe novelette or short novella. I came up with what I thought was an interesting scenario . . . a musician and a groupie (I loooove music) . . . and started working on a storyline that would allow my characters to have lots of sex.

Let me back up here and say I don’t like writing sex just for the sake of it. In my stories, sex has to mean something. The sex will be hot-t-t-t-t, but it won’t be gratuitous. That in itself may be the downfall of this particular erotica!

You see, the more I learned about my musician, Kieran Vaughan, the more I wanted to know. Same for Eilis Kennedy, who quickly became a talent scout rather than a groupie. Kieran wasn’t a popular musician. In fact, he was totally unknown and playing blues guitar in a seedy little pub. Eilis hears about him from one of her assistants and goes to hear Kieran play. She returns the next day to talk to him about a career. She believes he could be the next Garth Brooks. Suddenly, I wanted to know why Kieran was playing in such a seedy little dive if he’s so good. Turns out, he had a dishonest business partner who robbed Kieran into financial exhaustion and he’s doing what he can to pay the debts.

And I wanted to know more about Eilis. She wasn’t always a talent scout. She gave up a singing career so that other women could get their music heard and not have to suffer ‘casting couch syndrome’ . . . that ‘I’ll listen to your play your flute but first you have to play mine’ . . . if you know what I mean.

But life at Eireann Records isn’t all roses. Eilis became an important fixture at ER but she still answered to her own boss, Fergus Manley, who thinks he’s a lady’s man. Fergus wants Eilis. Badly. And he’ll do whatever he has to in order to thaw the Ice Queen, as he’s nicknamed Eilis. She’s the only one to say ‘no’ to Fergus, which only makes him want her more. Sounds dangerous, doesn’t he?

After a couple chapters, I looked back and went, ‘Whoa, Nellie! What happened to the sex? I thought Kieran and Eilis would get it on in the backroom after that foot-in-mouth comment she made when they were introduced! And what’s with this Ice Queen thing?’

What happened to the sex was the story got in the way! My characters started talking to me, peppering me with tidbits about their lives, their ups and downs, their desires and dreams. I couldn’t ignore them anymore than I could ignore warm chocolate cake with cold ice cream put in front of me. So I grabbed a fork and dug in.

Don’t get me wrong. There is sex in Rhythm of My Heart. Hot. Emotional. Mind-blowing. S-E-X! Emphasis on the emotional. Like I said, sex has to mean something to me, even in erotica. This story isn’t erotica, but those intimate scenes are still pretty great, if I do say so myself. To me, the best sex starts in the mind and moves through the heart as it makes its way south. By the time Kieran and Eilis discover intimacy with each other, readers will understand why I made my couple hold off. Sex is the ultimate reward, which is why I tend to write it toward the end of my stories. I still spread mind-blowing kisses around the story like confetti, though.

As for other inspirations, since moving to Ireland, most of my stories tend to be set here. I believe Ireland still vastly untapped for great romance and erotica stories. There is so much history and romance in Ireland that it would take a thousand lifetimes to scratch the surface.

And as I said, I love music. All kinds. Some of today’s top musicians have come out of Ireland. So there are three inspirations right there . . . trying to write erotica, wanting to tell a good story, and music. A pretty good combo, I think! I hope readers think so too.

Thanks again for asking me here, Wendi. It’s been fun.

*For anyone interested, I do write erotica now, but as Scarlett Valentine.

And if you want the blurb for Rhythm of My Heart, here you go!:

Artist Representative, Eilis Kennedy, gave up a singing career so that other women could have a fair chance at having their music heard. Having suffered rejection from callous men in the industry, she thought she would get away from ‘casting couch’ mentality. But when she finds herself in the office of Fergus Manley, all bets are off. Disgusted by his continual come-ons and lewd invitations, Eilis is looking for ‘the one’ who will take her career to the next level, getting out from under Fergus’s controlling thumb.

Aspiring blues guitarist, Kieran Vaughan, is looking for his big break. But after suffering near bankruptcy at the hands of an unscrupulous business partner, Kieran is left picking up the pieces. He’s unsure if the debts will ever be paid or if he’ll ever have a chance to do something with his music. At his whit’s end, he’s about ready to throw in the towel and find a full-time job with real hours.

When Eilis discovers Kieran playing in a seedy pub in Dublin’s Northside, she knows he’s the one rare talent she’s been searching for. With her know-how and his talent, Eilis will finally get everything she’s been waiting for. Neither of them count on the powerful attraction from first meeting. Eilis is so rocked by Keiran’s forthright words that it sends her running. Kieran risks being arrested as he chases Eilis across Ireland.

Seeing what’s happening between Eilis and Kieran, anger wells inside Fergus and he steps up his pursuit of Eilis. Refusing to let Kieran get in his way, Fergus vows to add Eilis’s notch to his bedpost, whatever it takes.

Will Kieran be able to protect her?

And now for an excerpt, because you know you want it!

Long ago, Eilis had vowed never to set foot in the Northside again. But if it took this one last visit to get what she needed, it would be worth it.

The taxi pulled around the corner and the now familiar entrance to The Little Man Pub came into view. Nicotine-stained curtains were pulled across windows, reflecting the unkempt street. The fa├žade’s red and black paint was weather-faded to pink and gray. The ‘M’ on the sign hung askew and swung in the breeze, and the ‘P’ was missing altogether. Had she not been here last night she would think the place was shut.

She pulled some money from her purse to hand to the driver. “I’ll wait fer ye, luv,” he said, waving her money away. “Taxis can be hard to come by ‘round here.”

Eilis was suitably taken aback. “Thank you. I won’t be a moment.”

She swallowed hard, then entered the pub.

Her eyes slowly adjusted to the dark room. The few men sitting around the bar turned their gazes in her direction. Understandably. A well-groomed businesswoman in the pub was surely a novelty. These men were long since retired, or long since employed.

Their stubbled faces meant they hadn’t shaved in several days, or possibly weeks. The dim light hid the worst of their unkempt appearances, but nothing could disguise their unwashed clothes. A pong in the room wafted into her nostrils, causing her stomach to lurch again.

Shoulders back, she strode to the bar.

The same man from last night stood behind the counter. He was short and pudgy with missing front teeth. His disheveled appearance made him look like his patrons. Had he not been behind the counter she wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.

His striped brown and white shirt had frayed cuffs and was open to mid-chest, showing a sweat-stained t-shirt underneath. His brown trousers had seen much better days and were held together not with a button or belt, but with a bit of twine looping between his belt loops, his round belly spilling over. The only thing holding up the trousers was his equally round bum. It seemed to push the waistband up in the back as his belly pushed it down in the front. The sight would have been funny if her stomach hadn’t been flip-flopping.

Her voice cracked when she first spoke, but it picked up strength in her determination to make something of this horrid trek. “A-are you the proprietor?” A broad gap-toothed grin creased the man’s face and, loud enough for his patrons to hear, he said, “I’ll be who ever ye want me to be, luv.”

His friends burst into laughter. Eilis felt the flush rise in her cheeks. Not because she was embarrassed, but from frustration. She just wanted to get this meeting over with and she wasn’t in the mood to spar.

She stood her ground. “I’m looking for the man who played guitar here last night. Kieran Vaughan. We have business. Will you please tell me where I can find him?” She looked the man in the eye, much as she could, considering she stood a good half-foot taller than him, even without her heels.

“No, miss, I doubt you have any business with himself. ‘Speshly a fine lass such as yerself. Now, if ye were to come home with a real man like meself, well . . .” He left the rest unsaid, the insinuation hanging in the air.

Her gaze never wavered as she stared the little man in the eye.

“Sir,” she smiled sweetly, honey dripping from her words. She leaned over the bar just enough to give him a glimpse of the swell of her breast through the opening of her blouse. “I doubt you have anything I would be interested in. Besides, you don’t really want me to find out why this place is called The Little Man, do you?”

This earned the publican long oohs and sniggers from the patrons, who were now on the edges of their seats waiting to hear the disagreeable little man's response.

Obviously taken aback by such a brazen retort, the man stood gaping red-faced at her for a moment before he got his wits about him. He winked at the men around the bar. “Oy does like me birds feisty!” That only encouraged more laughter.

Eilis could have enjoyed the banter if only the man wasn’t so repulsive. All she wanted to do was meet Kieran Vaughan and get out of Finglas as quickly as possible.

When the laughing stopped, Eilis’s gaze never wavered as she said, “Well?”

“Well what, loov?” he asked, wiping the tears from his eyes with a dirty bar towel.

“Are you going to tell me where to find Kieran Vaughan?” He was trying her patience, but she did her best to keep the frustration out of her voice.

Then she sensed someone step up behind her and straightened instantly. Somehow she knew it was Kieran. The feral scent of him permeated her senses and quickened her pulse. Butterflies replaced the strange ache in her stomach that had been there just moments before.

She turned slowly and looked up at the most handsome man she’d ever seen in her life. She found herself instantly speechless.

She'd seen him on stage the night before and knew he was handsome. But this close up . . . Never before had she seen such blue eyes. And as she gazed into them, they changed from the light steel blue to the color of storm clouds heavily ringed with gunmetal. That he had dark brows and thick lashes only made his gaze seem more intense.

“Ye’ve found him, loov,” said the little man, taunting her. “Now what are ye goin’ ta do with him?”

The hammering of her heart and the pulsing blood in her temples blocked out the noise in the room as she looked into Kieran Vaughan’s eyes. To her dismay, her knees actually quivered.

Something in the pit of her belly ached. No, something else. It was like warm melting honey running through her marrow. In that moment she longed to touch him, to brush the unruly wave of his dark hair away from his face, to feel his lips against the pads of her fingers, to . . .

When he spoke she almost didn’t hear him.

“Like the man said, now that you’ve found me, what are you going to do with me?” His eyes sparkled with unabashed mischief.

“Anything you want me to,” she heard herself whisper.

And now for a bio, so you can hunt her down!

Kemberlee Shortland was born and raised in Northern California in an area known as America's Salad Bowl. It was home to many authors, including John Steinbeck, and for a while Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson. In 1997, Kemberlee had the opportunity to live in Ireland for six months where she ended up meeting a man who convinced her to stay. Kemberlee is now celebrating her fifteenth year in Ireland and has been lucky to travel the country extensively, picking up a cupla focal along the way—a few Irish words.

Kemberlee has been writing since a very young age and over the years, she has published many travel articles and book reviews, as well as worked some notable authors who’ve set their books in Ireland. 2006 saw the publication of Kemberlee’s first two short stories—Tutti-Frutti Blues and Dude Looks Like a Lady—both part of a themed anthology, the stories of which were based on unbelievable yet real laws from around the world. Kemberlee chose two crazy laws from her hometown of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California—the ban on eating ice cream on the town’s streets and the requiring of a permit to wear high heels. While the ice cream ban was lifted when Clint Eastwood became town mayor, the heels permit is still on the books, though not enforced.

Kemberlee has published a number of short stories since 2006, and in 2010 her first full-length novel was published, the award-winning A Piece of My Heart, part of the Irish Pride series.

Now Kemberlee invites readers to check out Rhythm of My Heart, another book in the Irish Pride series.

Bookmark Kemberlee’s website for information on the release of the next book in the Irish Pride series, Shape of My Heart, coming in the winter 2012.

BUY LINK for Rhythm of My Heart

Find Kemberlee at —

As Scarlett Valentine —


Kemberlee said...

Hey Wendi,

Thanks for having me here today. I've got my Diet Coke in hand and a bowl of fruit beside me. Ready to rock and roll! :-)

Happy Hump Day everyone!

Cathie Dunn said...

Wow, fabulous excerpt! Loved it! It's on my TBR list.

Great post, ladies.

Kemberlee said...

Thanks, Cathie. Eilis really puts her foot in it, doesn't she?! :-) I hope you like the story if you get a chance to read it.

Miriam Newman said...

Kemberlee, this looks great and you know I wish you the best with it. And now I have to ask. Why are high heels prohibited in your town? Too hard on the sidewalks? Noise pollution? You know...clack, clack, clack. That's a strange one!

Kemberlee said...

Hi Miriam,

There is a city ordinance saying that anyone who wants to wear heels over 2" high must obtain a permit. I believe this goes back to the 60s when heels started becoming very popular. The higher the better to some people. My hometown of Carmel-by-the-Sea is a funky little village of a place (though they call themselves a city). It's a place built into the forest. Pine and oak roots grow up through the cobbled and paved sidewalks and roads. As you can guess, a lot of people trip on them. The city thinks wearing heels makes injuries worse. The permit basically removes any blame on the city if the heel-wearer falls and breaks something. Before the ordinance, the city practically went broke with law suits.

I wrote about this law in my novelette, Dude Looks Like A Lady.

Carmel is the same town which once banned eating ice cream on the street. Shop-owners complained about the mess tourists left in their stores, dropped cones on the street then being tracked into shops, kids with sticky fingers ruining high-end merchandise . . . When Clint Eastwood became Mayor, he repealed that law before doing anything else.

I wrote about that ordinance too in Tutti-Frutti Blues :-)

Carmel has a few funky ordinances, many for good reason though, such as it being illegal to put neon signs in your window, not being allowed to cut down trees larger then 4 inches in diameter at any point, and at one point it was illegal to loiter in the town park! It's no wonder the town's people are known as being very eccentric. :-)

Wendi Zwaduk and Megan Slayer said...

Hey Kemberlee! So glad you're here. Come back any time. I can't wait to read this book and like the others, have it on my TBR list. Grin.

Kemberlee said...


You know I love visiting you! Thanks for being a wonderful hostess.

Kristi Ahlers said...

Oh wow! Gonna have to pick up that book after the excerpt! :) I love your process for writing this story. Good luck with sales, sweets!

Isabo Kelly said...

Great post, Kem! And love the excerpt. I remember all that process as this book evolved. Excited about this release. Congratulations!

Kemberlee said...

Hey Kristi,

I have to say, I really love this book. Kieran and Eilis are quite the pair. Now you know why it was such a task staying on track when I wrote Awakening as Scarlett Valentine! ;-)

Kemberlee said...

Hey Isabo,

Yeah, I know. You shared in my hair-pulling. Your advice was always sound! Thanks!!

Cowlady said...

Great Post! Glad to see you "out and about" Kemberlee. I skipped the excerpt as "Rhythm" is next on my TBR pile! :)
Only sad thing, now I have to go and check out your erotica. :)
Have a good day and thanks for having Kemberlee over, Wendi!

Kemberlee said...

Hey Cowlady,

Not sad to pick up Awakening. If you like shteamy, you'll like Awakening. Promise! :-)

I'm sure you'll like Rhythm of My Heart too. I kind of feel sad and lonely since finishing this story. I want to see how they are 'the end'. But then, if you pick up Shape of My Heart in November, you'll find out :-) I just love this couple!!

Anonymous said...

This is a very well put together blog, with beautiful placement and colours. The author you featured today, moreover, is a vivid writer possessed of a definite gift, who spoke to me on a level I found astounding. One quote in particular stood out to me:
"Let me back up here and say I don’t like writing sex just for the sake of it. In my stories, sex has to mean something. The sex will be hot-t-t-t-t, but it won’t be gratuitous. That in itself may be the downfall of this particular erotica!" It spoke to me so much because my first novel, Undisclosed Desires, is classed as erotica. The sex scenes are ALL explicit, but they are not without content; each one serves a purpose to further the storyline and paint pictures for the audience. I didn't do it to shock or tease - I did it because the characters demanded that it be that way. Thank you for hosting Kemberlee on your blog; I will certainly be back to have a look around again.

Anonymous said...

Hee! Good smackdown. I have seen a few examples o' that type in Ireland. Oh yes. Great stuff!

Kemberlee said...

Well, I don't know who you are (long OpenID id), but thank you SO much for your comment. I'm really touched.

I appreciate your desire to also have your intimate scenes mean something. It's so easy today just to write stories about the sex act. We all know what bits go in which other bits. It's all perfunctory. I love the journey of getting to the ultimate contact almost more so than the actual act. And once 'those bits' make contact, it's usually not too long until the scene is over. And who wants great sex to end so quickly?! ;-)

Thank you for sharing your feelings on writing erotica.

Kemberlee said...

Hey CMK,

Thanks for stopping by. I know you know what *some* people can be like in pubs in Ireland. Oh my! Eilis can give it back when so inclined ;-)

Anonymous said...

Great blog, Kem. And you know I love your story.

Kemberlee said...

Thanks Charlene. I hope everyone loves Rhythm of My Heart as much as you did.

Kemberlee said...

Thanks for having me on your blog today. I really enjoyed myself. You are always such a wondeful hostess. I pulled a name to win the copies of A Piece of My Heart and Constant Craving. The winner is . . . Cowlady!!!!! Congratulations!

Thanks again, Wendi. {hugs}