Confessions of a Clueless NewbieBy Lisabet Sarai

Let me begin by making my title clear. I’ve been writing since I was six or seven years old. I’ve been publishing for more than a decade. So I’m not a clueless newbie as an author. No, the areawhere I’m sadly clueless is the romance genre.

From reading author interviews, I get the impression that most romance writers started out as romance readers. Not me, I’m afraid. Before I began submitting to romance publishers, my ideaof “romantic” fiction was Wuthering Heights, Gone with the Wind and Romeo and Juliet. Stories like these tore at my heartstrings, but you’ll note that none of them has a happy ending. I readmy first mainstream romance (some title by Danielle Steele) in my forties and to be honest, I didn’t think much of it.

My earlier publications were basically erotica. I entered the romance world only half a dozen years ago, when the owner of Total-E-Bound contacted me about six months before the companylaunched to ask if I’d be interested in submitting something. I offered them two of my erotic novels that had gone out of print. The books really weren’t traditional romancein both cases theheroine has encounters with several individuals beside the herobut they did both end with the hero and heroine getting together, and they were sexually intense, something TEB was seeking.

Since then I’ve penned more than a dozen new tales specifically targeted for the romance market. But it has been tough. I’ve had to learn new narrative conventions. For instance, much of my previous work was written in the first person, but my publisher made it pretty clear that she preferred third person. I wasn’t used to providing detailed descriptions of my characters, but I came to understand that many romance readers want this. I’ve learned that I can give reign to my sexual imaginationthe days of the closed bedroom door are overbut only if I keep thespotlight on the protagonists. I can’t have the sexual subplots and the side scenarios that I used to include. 

One of the most difficult issues for me has been the apparent dislike that readers of M/M fiction have for including any female-oriented sexuality of any sort. I’ve also had to accept the relative unpopularity of F/F stories, even though I enjoy writing them.

Finally, one of the biggest adjustments for me has been always delivering a happy ending. I know that most of you will find this strange. It’s clear from the polls that I’ve conducted that romance readers insist on things turning out well for the hero and heroine (or hero and hero). But personally, I prefer more ambiguous resolutions to a story’s conflicts. The problem with guaranteed happy endings (from an authorial perspective) is that they make it really hard to create any kind of suspense. No matter how impossible the obstacles dividing the protagonists,readers always know that everything will work out in the end. How do you make the reader care about the conflictshow do you make the problems believable? –when a HEA is a foregone conclusion?

I’m still struggling with this issue. I’ve been reading my colleagues’ work, trying to understand the dynamics of romancewhat makes it work. I think I’m improving, but like I said, I stillconsider myself something of a clueless newbie. I hope that my readers will take that into account and be gentle!
My latest release is a M/F paranormal called Hot Spell. 

Here’s the blurb:The flames of passion are more than a metaphorThe city swelters in the grip of an unseasonable heat wave. Sylvie endures her solitary urban existence for the sake of her career, but the prospect of a hot, lonely three day weekend proves unbearable and she flees east to the pine-shrouded mountains. Far more at home in nature than in the city, Sylvie doesn’t mind being alone in the wilderness, but she’s not the only being haunting the glades and the trails.

Aidan is fiercely attracted to the voluptuous beauty he finds sun bathing nude in a high meadow, but he must resist his overwhelming desire for the sake of her safety. The sun-bronzed man with the red-gold hair is cursed with power he knows will destroy her if they give full rein to their passion. Can Sylvie refrain from tempting him? Or will she risk being being literally consumed by love?

Want an excerpt? Of course you do!****Her muscles ached from the strenuous hike. Her hair was in knots and a sticky film of perspiration coated her skin. None of that mattered. Peace enfolded her, along with a profound sense of well-being. The breeze whispered to her. The creek babbled and laughed.

Water. A bath. Relaxed, lazy, and sated though she was, the notion still held an irresistible appeal. Sylvie checked the remains of the fire to assure herself that there was no chance it would escape the rocks encircling it. Then she dug a towel out of her pack and headed down the forested slope to the creek.The gurgle of water tumbling over stone grew louder as she approached. The very sound was refreshing. A few feet from the edge, she stripped off her clothes, draping them and her towel over a convenient boulder. She was about to step out of the woods, when an unexpected movement caught her eye.There was something splashing in the creek, a bit downstream from where she stood – something, or someone. Sylvie shrank back into the shadow of the trees.

Directly opposite her, the stream rushed over river-polished rocks, flecked with white froth. To her right, though, it widened into a calm pool, black as the sky above. The unexpected noise came from there.

She peered into the night. All she could see at first was a round, furry mass that seemed to float upon the surface. Ripples stirred as a figure rose from water. At the same time, the half moon climbed above the crest of the trees. Its pale rays revealed the form of a naked man.

Sylvie caught her breath. His back was to her, a gleaming, sculpted expanse that swept down to a narrow waist, then flared into taut buttocks. A wet curtain of golden hair clung to his neckand shoulders. He took a step forward, water swirling around his lean thighs. The grace and power revealed by that small motion made Sylvie ache inside. She’d never encountered such beauty in a man.He turned then, and the ache deepened to an agony of want. Sleek skin stretched over his muscled chest and abdomen, strewn with glittering drops of moonlight. 

He turned his face to the skyand Sylvie caught a glimpse of features that seemed carved from marble: soaring brow, chiselled jaw, sharp cheekbones, and a broad, resolute mouth. The man’s eyes were closed, as if he were praying to the moon.

Then she noticed his hands, clasped below his belly in a firm grip around his erect cock. His luscious penis reared up from a matted tangle at his groin, hard and smooth as the rest of his body. Her nipples snapped into tight peaks as she watched the stranger knead his rampant flesh. Slow and deliberate at first, then with a quickening pace, he stroked from the glistening bulb down to the root. His cock grew longer and fatter as he worked it, hand over hand. His full lips drew back and his brow furrowed as the pressure and the pleasure built. He kept his eyes shut.

Sylvie licked her lips. Dampness painted her inner thighs. Her clit tingled and throbbed, crying out to be touched. Her empty pussy hungered to be filled. In a flash of memory, her dream returned – not the details, just the fevered arousal. Her body was on fire again.She sank to her knees on the mossy ground and plunged her fingers into her wetness. There was no conscious decision. She simply couldn’t help it. Her folds felt slippery and burning hot.

She cupped her hand, four fingers deep in her cleft while she rubbed the back of her thumb over her clit. Pleasure shuddered through her. The swollen nub was hard as a pebble, so sensitive that she could scarcely bear to touch it. When she backed off, though, it screamed for more stimulation.With her other hand, she massaged her breasts, cradling the lovely weight in her palm. She flicked her nipple, striking sparks, then pinched it with all the force she could muster. Her pussy clenched in response. Waves of sensation fanned out from her centre.

A low moan dragged her attention back to the stranger in the stream. With one hand he jerked his cock, fast and rough. The other was hidden behind him, moving in the same jagged rhythm.From his spread thighs and straining muscles, Sylvie guessed he had at least one finger pumping his rear hole. The lewd notion made her own anus twitch and tingle.

He was obviously close to coming. The realization sizzled through her, pushing her to the edge herself. She dug in, mashing her clit against the heel of her hand and rocking back and forth,keeping her eyes on the gorgeous man jacking off barely a dozen feet away. His biceps corded with tension, his teeth bared in a feral snarl, he clawed his way toward orgasm. Sylvie climbed with him, matching him breath for breath, groan for groan.****Hot Spell is available now from Total-E-Bound.

You’ll find information on my other work as well as lots of free stories on my website.