How much sex should there be in a romance novel? Are you a less is more or give me all the nitty gritty?
If you are a romance writer, you have heard the debate over the term “clean” romances. For those who aren’t familiar with the name, it’s about romances with no sex what-so-ever, usually Christian romances. Now I’m not knocking the Christian romance genre or even the choice to have no sex in the story, I love Hallmark movies and they barely even kiss. I like everything from chaste romances to the more erotic motorcycle club romances.
My biggest problem with clean romances, other than the name, is that they take out the sexual tension. Even the squeaky-clean movies of the 1950s had a little tension in them. I just don’t think it’s believable to have a romance with no sexual tension. Even Christians planning to abstain from sex until marriage should desire their person. To do honor to their vows of chastity, we should see their struggle. What do they do to ensure they remain celibate? Do they employ a chaperone to avoid temptation? Do the abstain from touching one another? What is their reaction when they do touch? Do they blush or jump apart when someone comes around? Innocent touches, holding hands, and longing glances show their desire. I believe you can honor the genre and give respect to the real people who are trying to remain chaste by showing honestly the effort to battle “the desires of the flesh.”
But romance isn’t just about sex, it’s about falling in love. While sexual tension is a big part of romance, it is also those tender scenes where the couple is getting to know each other. It’s that ah-ha moment when they realize this is their person, and learning their true heart. It is the emotional and well as the sensual that makes a believable romance.
So, whether you’re reading or writing a chaste romance or something a little dirtier showing the journey to falling in love is an important part of the process. For me, I like to see the couple becoming friends or learning to respect each other, and I definitely want to know their hot for each other. What is most important part of the romance story for you? Do you want sexy, sexually tense or chaste romances?
Roxanne Harrell is the youngest of the Harrell family sisters. She is spoiled, self-centered and a bit of a screw-up, at least that’s the way her family sees her. When Roxy meets the niece she didn’t even know she had while working on a cruise ship, she is determined to do whatever it takes to keep her safe, even if it means betraying her family. Jorge Claudio is thankful to be exonerated of murder charges. He agrees to chase his lawyer, Remington Harrell’s sister to Savannah to keep her from causing more trouble when they learn Remy’s ex is trying to take over the leaderless Bryant Family crime syndicate. There is only one problem, whenever Jorge is around Roxanne, he forgets about everything except his need to be inside her.
Lush Money by Angelina Lopez, Narrated by Scarlette Hayes
I didn’t expect to like this book much less love it, but I do. I have never been a fan of billionaire romances but after listening to an interview with Angelina Lopez on Reese Ryan’s YouTube channel “The Story Behind the Story” and attending a presentation at the Romance Writers of America’s virtual conference, Writing Alpha Heroines I had to check it out.
Too often strong women are portrayed as masculine or as evil bitches, but Angelina Lopez created a heroine who is strong, independent and still feminine. Roxanne Medina, a billionaire CEO is not what she seems when Prince Mateo Ferdinand Juan Carlos de Esperanza y Santos is first ordered to her office. The handsome winegrower is stunned by the bargain the woman is offering, a marriage with three-nights a month in her bed, a pregnancy followed by a divorce. After which she will pay off debts and help him save his small kingdom, a Spanish principality on the verge of bankruptcy due to his parents’ outrageous behavior. Although he is attracted to the beautiful, sensuous woman, he is angry that he is being treated as little more than a stud.
Roxanne doesn’t have time for a relationship, but she yearns for a child, one she can give everything she never had as a child. Marrying her prince is part of her fairytale. When Prince Mateo begins making demands of his own the two discover they have more in common than they realized, and their bargain turns into something neither of them expected.
Angelina Lopez did a fabulous job of showing readers a woman who is both strong and fragile, powerful and vulnerable, a woman who has built an enterprise but has no one she trusts that she doesn’t pay. Prince Mateo is her perfect counterpart, he just needs to face losing everything to find out what really matters. This was such a feel-good book with a lot of heat and plenty of twists and turns to keep you holding onto the oh shit strap.
I can only give it 5 stars but I think it deserves at least 7!
I belong to several on-line groups both on Facebook and Instagram, through these groups I’ve been exposed to new authors. Some authors’ books have been suggested by fellow members of the group and others are members of the groups themselves. I found Clara Winter while we were both participating in a writers’ loop. In the loop we follow each other, check out each other’s posts, social media, etc. I liked her posts and found myself intrigued by her books.
King of Kings is the third book in her Immortal
Kindred Series, and I know, starting a series with the third book can be
difficult at best and complete chaos at worst. Clara Winter did an excellent
job of making King of Kings stand on its own. While now I want to go
back and read the first two books, I didn’t feel as if I missed anything with
starting with this third book.
King of Kings was more than I thought it would be.
From the very beginning it was a very “sexy” book. Not sexual, but sensual. Even
before the sex/lovemaking begins, there is a sexiness to this book that pulls
you in. It starts with action, and while this action is in the past, it doesn’t
cause the story to lag. You get Alexandre’s backstory while being a part of it
in interesting glimpses and heart-pounding action.
Alexandre is difficult to like but I fell in love with him
from the beginning. He is a bit insolent but he’s deeper than he allows people
to see at first. When he is contacted by the very tough Irish woman, Bria, you
know that sparks are going to fly. While I didn’t see a romance blooming, I
definitely saw some fun moments of clashing wills and personalities.
The history, mythology, action, adventure and fantasy that
make up this book is worth the price of admission. I could see this as a movie.
I want to see it on the big screen!
If you haven’t discovered Clara Winter yet, you are missing
out. This book isn’t just about vampires, it’s a whole lot more. I cannot
believe this is only her third novel, she writes like she’s been doing this all
of her life. I am in awe and green with envy. Excellent book.
If you like action, adventure, monsters, mythology, history,
vampires, romance, relationships, strong characters, women who kick-a$$ and
take names, then check out this book. I’ve got to get a bigger book allowance!
Hello Lila Mina, it is so nice to have you here at my Creekside
Lila: Its lovely to be here! I
wish we could meet for real in a place like this.
Sherri: Oh, me too, if I ever win
the lottery! Until then, I love meeting writers and readers here in my virtual
I love your name, Lila Mina. Where does it come from? Do you know
what it means?
Lila: Thank you! I love the first name ‘Lila’, it reminds me
of lily flowers. In Swedish, it means ‘purple’, and it’s a perfect match
because it’s my favorite color. My logo is actually a purple lily. Mina is also
a reference to Swedish, it means ‘mine’. Yes, I’ve got Swedish roots!
Sherri: Tell me a little about yourself,
where are you from. Where do you call home?
Lila: I am from a
French-speaking country in Europe, and live now in the south-western island of
Kyushu, in Japan, where I moved with my family ten years ago.
Sherri: How interesting, then I’m
sure you are a coffee and wine drinker, or do you go in for more Asian tastes?
Lila: Italian espresso, Japanese green tea and red wine, in no particular order of preference.
Sherri: One of my daughters-in-law
is Asian, she is Cambodian. She has exposed me to so many other cultures from
food and drink to customs and beliefs. I love herbal teas especially ginger tea
and chai, but coffee, and especially espresso will always be a favorite.
beats espresso, that’s for sure. So nice to hear you’ve got ties with Asia, too!
Sherri: Do you speak Japanese or
any other languages? I would love to learn other languages. I took high school
French and learned Spanish while working in the crab house. I’ve picked up a
few words of other languages from reading, movies and friends.
not English, is my mother tongue. I’ve got various levels of fluency in other
languages. I grew up reading books in French, English and German, I love
Japanese literature… but I read translations! I’m not fluent enough in Japanese
to read whole books, I’m afraid.
Do you travel much. I’ve only been to the United States and Mexico.
Have you ever been to North
Carolina, or the East Coast?
Lila: No, never to North
Carolina, unfortunately, but when I was a teenager, my parents took me and my
brother to a couple of trips to the US, and we visited New York and Miami.
Because our plane got grounded due to terrible weather in New York, we received
free roundtrip tickets as compensation. This gave us the incredible chance to
travel all the way from Europe to Hawaii!
Sherri: That was quite a
compensation. I’m working on a historical novella that takes place during World
War Two, the bombing of Pearl Harbor is what finally launched us into the war.
I would love to visit Hawaii.
The novella will be my first published historical. Historicals are
my first love but I started writing contemporary romance and then drifted into
What genre do you
Lila: Of the very sexy kind! I
don’t write erotica per se (hmm well, ok, now and then I might indulge in a
short PWP), but I believe in sex positivity and how intimate scenes help build
characters and plot even in a thriller or horror story. I love pushing my characters’
limits, and it includes sending them on a path of self-discovery through mutual
exploration. My Temper trilogy is a dark LGBTQ and interracial
paranormal romance. I love blending genres and don’t believe much in
Sherri: My own novels have been
difficult to categorize. They don’t fit the traditional romance format yet
there is a strong romantic element. Mine, fall somewhere between women’s
fiction, suspense and fiction. I don’t know. It’s frustrating. It must be even
more so for you, with English not your native language.
Lila: Japanese literature and reading
books in French, English and German, all of this influenced my style and the
way I tell my stories. I have also a strong dislike for the way the ‘market’ is
supposed to dictate what people need to write and read. Writing is art and
creation, and shouldn’t be reduced to a commodity. So categories and rules
should be broken now and then. This is why I’m so glad self-publishing exists
On top of that, for the past five years or so, I’ve decided to
write stories featuring only women my age and older, so in their late thirties
and forties. Like the hit comedy ‘Grace and Frankie’ reminds us, women don’t
turn into stone after they hit 35, so it’s important for me to show that we are
still very much passionate – maybe even more than when we were younger, because
we are more in tune with ourselves. But of course, this makes my stories harder
Sherri: There are people who need
your stories told your way, don’t let the dictates of the marketing derail your
goals. This is also what I tell myself.
I am reading more older-characters, characters of mixed race or of
different races. I have discovered that a good story is a good story no matter
if the characters are different than me, maybe better because they are
different. It is one of the reasons I make my own characters biracial and with
challenges different than my own. I like to explore those differences and
similarities. My world, even in my tiny part of it, is filled with a variety of
people in a rainbow of colors, religions and sexual preferences, so too should
Has your career influenced your stories?
Lila: I’ve got an extensive
background in law (I’ve got a PhD in international law and passed the bar exam in
my home country). This had a very bad impact on my creative writing. In fact,
although I used to write hundreds of pages every year in my teens, my creative
well dried up during my law years and ‘sterilized’ my thoughts. I became an
entrepreneur when we moved to Japan and finally, my mojo came back. I still use
what I learned in my stories, though, either for my plots or characters.
Sherri: Do you write full time now, or hold down another job as well as write?
Lila: I’ve got two business on
top of writing, so no, unfortunately it’s not my full-time job!
Sherri: How long have you been writing?
Lila: Since I was ten, I think.
Along with reading, it’s been my major emotional outlet all my life – that’s
why I became nearly depressed when I couldn’t find the time or inspiration any
more during my twenties and early thirties.
Sherri: People who are not
creative do not understand what it is like to not be able to create. Like you,
I started writing at around ten years old. Different tragedies in life have
staunched my creative flow, losing our home to a fire is another reason I write
a darker, contemporary suspense. I believe it is my way of working through the
Lila: Oh wow, yes, I can entirely relate to that. We were in Tokyo in
2011 when the huge earthquake struck the northern region of Japan. In a blink,
our lives changed and we had to start again everything, in another city.
Writing clearly helped process my emotions and fears.
Sherri: What new project do you
have going on?
Lila: This year, I published my
Temper saga (three books, about 240k total), and I am currently working
on the sequel, called Vindicta. Temper introduces my three heroes: Lana,
37, an Italian businesswoman, Honda, 57, her martial arts instructor and Yuki,
42, Honda’s wife. It’s set in Japan.
When Lana accepts the Hondas’ red-hot proposal in Tokyo, she
stumbles into a dark rabbit hole. The Veil of Reality crumbles under her eyes.
To her horror, she realizes she is the solution to Honda’s spiraling madness,
but the enemy within has awaken and is slowly burning her alive, too. Vindicta
takes place in Italy a few years later, where Lana and her family go back to
find answers (and much more) after the tragic events of Temper.
I also plan to release a novella (40k), Platinum Nights, in
early 2020. It’s a contemporary and interracial romance set between LA and
Japan. I’ve got a few other novella-length stories (some contemporary, some
paranormal) that I want to flesh out.
Sherri: You sound busy. I like to
juggle multiple projects but sometimes it can also be overwhelming.
What do you love about
Lila: Seeing my characters come
to life, listening to them whisper their story in my ear, rousing powerful
emotions in my readers, introducing people to other places and cultures.
Exploring my own fears and aspirations, too!
Sherri: I can relate about
exploring my own fears and issues, I think writing and reading are forms of
therapy. My friend and the former leader of the Pamlico Writers’ Group once
said all artists, including writers, are broken. It is through that broken part
that we view the world and give it light.
What is your least favorite
thing about writing?
Lila: The long days where
nothing works, the hours spent staring at a blank page when everything seemed
so clear under the shower. Editing and formatting kill me! Maybe one day I’ll
be able to hire someone for doing all of the dirty work, ahahaha.
Sherri: With all that you have
going on do you have any hobbies or interests besides writing? Do these show up
in your writing?
Lila: Martial arts, in
particular aikido, are the way I release my tension and stress. And yes, most
of my characters (men and women) practice one!
Sherri: What do you feel are your
writing strengths and weaknesses? What comes easily for you, and what do you
have to work harder to get?
Lila: My readers enjoy my
descriptive and immersive style, the way I make them experience so many
feelings, how I spirit them away to Japan and lead them to more tolerance and
open-mindedness. They also praise the quality of the steamy scenes I write, how
mutual respect and consent are always keys, even in some very scorching and
disturbing moments, and this is important to me. Bestsellers like 50 Shades of
Grey have done a lot of damage with readers, beyond the world of BDSM, and it’s
crucial that romance stops glorifying abuse, in my opinion.
My weakness is that as a non-native English speaker, aside from
language mistakes now and then, I cannot pass for an American writer, either in
style or the way my characters act. This is off-putting to some. I’m also a
pantser, not an outliner, so sometimes I get stuck – chapters 1, 13 and 22 are
done, and I wonder how to connect all of this!
Sherri: I’m southern so there are
those who would swear English is not my native language either, it’s the
accent. It does make looking up words difficult and using proper language more
time consuming, but I believe who we are and where we are from can also be an
asset to our writing. It gives a unique voice.
I sympathize with being a pantser, I don’t outline either. I have
learned to make note of things I want to go into the story. My first draft is
rather lean and I go back and fill in, flesh out and tie everything together
during the rewrite.
Well, it seems our time is running out. I have enjoyed visiting
with you today. I hope someday we can meet in person.
If you have enjoyed my chat with Lila Mina, please check out her
links below. Visit her social media and follow the links to her books. I know I
Have a great day. Y’all come back to Creekside Café and set a
spell, we’ll talk about books, life and the sexy new waiter. Shh, don’t tell my
Lila Mina’s bio:
Readers will find behind the pen name Lila Mina
a European woman in her early forties who has been living in Japan for a decade
with her husband and son. After nearly twenty years of using her writing skills
for drafting legal briefs and business reports, she went back to her first
love: fiction. These days, when she is not running behind deadlines or wrapping
tea for overseas customers, you can find her practicing aikido, writing or
editing her manuscripts while sipping delicious green tea.
Inspired by the rich and complex Japanese culture and folklore,
her stories feature strong and mature female protagonists facing their inner
demons or ruthless enemies, and who are never shy to embrace their desires.
trilogy is her first major published work of fiction. Made of Deference,
Dread and Deliverance, Temper is a dark and interracial LGBTQ
paranormal romance featuring a seasoned trio of heroes: two bisexual ladies (37
and 42) and their pan partner (57).
Cast from society with nothing but his title, the Marquess
of Bourne has become partner in the most exclusive gaming hell in London. Cold
and ruthless, he’ll stop at nothing to reclaim his inheritance, even compromise
his childhood friend, Penelope Marbury, forcing her to marry him.
A wager lost him everything, another might win him more than
he ever imagined possible, if he is willing to take a chance on love.
A second chance romance, redeeming a rake, Sarah MacLean
loves her bad boys. She makes them bad enough to be interesting but with those
honorable qualities that make a reader swoon. Bourne is definitely swoon
worthy, but he is not to be out done, Penelope Marbury is more than a match for
MacLean tosses us into the gaming hells of London, bringing
to life a world on the edge of society and the daring, often desperate people
who patronize the clubs. This is a book for all of your senses. If you want to
be truly immersed in a story, you won’t want to pass this one up.
I’d like to welcome my new friend, author Miranda Jameson to Creekside Café. I started doing these interviews to help cross-promote my own books as well as introduce other authors to my friends and readers. Thank you for joining us here at my virtual café.
Miranda: Absolutely, Sherri! It’s all about networking. I’m Indie published. It’s not an easy choice, but for most newish authors, trad publishing isn’t an easy choice either. These days, no one does your marketing and networking for you unless you’re an established name.
Michael Anderle, a highly successful Indie author, advises Indies to ‘Patterson the s@** out of your career’ – referencing James Patterson’s excellent marketing skills! Now, I might not be Pattersoning (haha – invented a new word) but for better or worse, I have control over my own publishing journey.
Sherri: I think most of us who are indie published or as you say, traditionally published but not yet a big name, have learned to get creative to let readers know we’re here. So, what interesting things have you tried to promote and market your books? Anything you want to share with our readers?
Miranda: It isn’t easy being Indie. It’s a24/7job. I made many mistakes, learned a LOT, and became part of the awesome Indie writing community. I received a tonne of help and guidance and try to pay that forward. This year, I plan to boost my marketing beyond organic growth. I have enough books out for a better return on investment. It’s daunting, but doable.
Sherri: Miranda and I met through the New Romance Café readers and writers’ Facebook group. It’s great to have a supportive and fun online group.
Miranda: Yes, we met in the Romance Café, of course! It’s a friendly, virtual place where the virtual cake and coffee have 0 calories. Working on our joint project has been great fun.
Sherri: I’m so excited about the anthology. You and Andi have put in so much work to see this project come to fruition. What are you plans for the future?
Miranda: I have four books planned this year. The first two – Zephyr and Deimos – will complete my Empaths of Venice trilogy. The third one will loop back to before my Warriors’ Council trilogy – and hopefully lead new readers to those books. This story will be set on the Western Front during WW1, so there’s a fair bit of research to do. Its hero and heroine are the two characters in my Love in Bloom story. Henri and Ysabeau appear as supporting characters in all my books. My readers love them and wanted their story. This is another good thing about being an Indie – having direct conversations with readers.
I like mixing history into my paranormal romances; after all, if you live hundreds of years, you’ve witnessed seismic world events. The last book this year – London Symphony – will be part of my spin-off PNR series set in the 1940s. All my books can be read as standalones, but the stories, events and characters are connected. Readers love cameo appearances by their favourite characters from the other books.
Sherri: History with the paranormal, that makes sense to me and makes me want to read your books. I too, love history, something I shared with my father. What or who has influenced your writing?
Miranda: Well, I was born in England,grew up in India immersed in stories of gods, goddesses, elephant-riding princes and bejeweled princesses. Istudied in both countries, and now live permanently in England. My home is in North Yorkshire, a beautiful part of England steeped in history (which I love).
Like any writer who has read thousands of books, my writing must be an amalgam of all of them – good, and bad. I would encourage every writer to read. You always learn new ways to tell a story better.
Sherri: Have you always been a writer?
Miranda: Yes, always, but never with any serious intent. It tended to be a clandestine thing. I’m quite a private person and putting my work out there makes me feel exposed and rather vulnerable. After all, writing is a window into a writer’s head. Good reviews take me by surprise because I secretly think my writing is crap! Imposter syndrome – moi?
Sherri: We share the same affliction. It’s exciting when someone likes your work but it’s also a bit surprising and terrifying. I suffer from what if the next book isn’t as good. I try to quiet the voices in my head with creating characters who are more confident, stronger and smarter. Writing is a way for me to speak my mind. I could no more stop writing as stop breathing. What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
Miranda: Creating worlds. Sounds grandiose, doesn’t it, but that’s what writers do. It’s as close to magic as it’s possible to get. Writing is my solution for coping with life’s challenges. It’s also about control. My stories are one place whereIget to decide what does or doesn’t happen. Characters become real. Their stories clamour to be told. When I finish writing a novel, I get a real slump because I miss my people!
Sherri: That’s why I write sequels or if you prefer, series. I like bringing characters back for an ovation. Unfortunately, there are also the not so fun things about being a writer. When you start working towards getting something published or sending it to a contest, you are no longer writing for your own pleasure, you are writing for an audience and there are certain expectations between a reader and writer. I suffer the bobble head syndrome. I mean really, how many times can someone nod their head before it rolls off into oblivion. And I reuse the same words and phrases…
Miranda: Oooh! Those gluey glue words. ‘Just’ – why does it pop up everywhere? And what’s with the ‘really’? Delete. Delete! Repeat phrases are something I have to keep my eye on. Thankfully, they get banished during editing. I’m a loose plotter. I have a direction the story has to go and I know the end. I plan plot points and pinch points, but things may change and it’s usually for the better.
Sherri: You mentioned this earlier and I say it to beginning writers all the time, if you want to be a good writer you must first be a reader. Learning what works and what doesn’t by reading other people’s work, developing good techniques and learning the craft of writing, these are important skills that take time to build. What do you think is your greatest strength as a writer?
Miranda: As for strengths, that’s hard to say. I’ve learned to trust my gut and perhaps that’s a bonus. If my gut tells me a scene isn’t working, it isn’t. I dump it and begin again. I try to create pictures in readers’ minds without miring them in long paragraphs of description. Sight, scent, sound – all those things add layers and make the scene immersive. One reviewer said she felt she was really living in the alternate reality I’d created. Another loves the ‘feels’ in my stories. I like my romances to be romantic. My characters struggle internally, however confident they appear on the outside. Their happily ever afters come with meeting someone who makes them feel right, whatever their flaws. It’s not about feeling ‘completed’, it’s about finding a person who encourages you to be yourself, and loves you despite everything.
Sherri: Yes, anyone can love the beautiful, perfect character but show me the person who loves the recovering addict, the person who is scarred whether inside or out by life’s trials, the person no one else has bothered to really see, that’s real romance. I can’t wait to read your books.
Who are some of your favorite authors or your favorite genres?
Miranda: I prefer historical and paranormal romances. Probably because I love history, and I love the possibility of powerful, magical beings living alongside us. For historical, I’ve recently discovered Sarah McClean and, through the Romance Café, Lara Temple and Tabetha Waite. As for paranormal, I’ve read all the usual suspects – Larissa Ione, Nalini Singh, J R Ward, and recently, I.T. Lucas. And let’s not forget Anne Rice. Apart from reading romance, I’m a huge fan of mysteries, and historical whodunnits. I blame an early addiction to Agatha Christie. My list of favourite authors is unbelievably long, but if I ended up on a desert island with only two books, I’d want a poetry collection (including Keats and Elliot), and the complete works of Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
Sherri: Wow, the time has just flown by. I hate to bring this visit to an end but I should get back to work on my novel and it sounds like you have a schedule to keep. If you ever get to North Carolina, please look me up.
Miranda: I have never visited the United States. Can you believe it? It’s a big gap in my travels I hope to fill in the future. Especially since most of my current readers reside in North America. I’d love to see the famous autumn (fall) colours, and I’ve always wanted to visit San Francisco. I’m also a fan of Ina Garten’s cooking shows and enjoy her visits to California’s Napa Valley. Ideally, I’d hire one of those huge RVs and tour around.
Sherri: Now that sounds like an adventure. Let me know when you go visit Ina Garten, I’d love to tag along.
For those of you who’d like to know more about Miranda or buy her books, here are the links to do just that.
Miranda Jameson grew up in India immersed in stories of gods, goddesses, elephant-riding princes and bejewelled princesses. She firmly believes there is magic all around us if we only take a minute to look.
She now lives in North Yorkshire, England, where she translates her passion for art, history, mythology and travel, into writing action-packed paranormal romances with all the ‘feels’.
She loves honourable badass heroes with undiscovered depths, and smart dauntless heroines who can save themselves.
When not clicking away on her laptop, she runs mum’s taxi service and the bank of mum. In other words, she’s got kids. Coffee, gin, and good friends, keep her sane.
Today I’d like to welcome contemporary romance author, Rachell Nichole to Creekside Café.
Welcome Rachell, is this your first time in eastern North Carolina?
Rachell:Thanks for having me. No, I’m from the East Coast, so I’ve been up and down the area. Never spent a lot of time in the Carolinas, but a day here and there. We had a stop in Charleston, South Carolina on the honeymoon cruise we took.
Sherri: Ah yes, you’re still honeymooning.
Rachell: Yup, Mr. Nichole and I have been married just over two years now. So we’re still newlyweds.
Sherri: We’re getting ready to celebrate twenty-eight years and my husband says we’re still honeymooning. We’re a little more sedate about it now that we’re older. You describe your books as contemporary with a little kink. That sounds interesting.
Rachell: Wow, that’s an amazing run! 28 years. Congratulations. I have some books that I consider Kink Lite, but some are really quite kinky. Right now, I’m focusing on some heavier kinky books. I’ve also got several different flavors of books that don’t have kink. I have F/F and menage, and multicultural books out as well. All of it is steamy. I’ve also written paranormal and romantic suspense as well, but those are not published yet.
Sherri: I read the excerpt on your blog,A Love Affair in Las Vegasit’s very heart warming. I felt a connection with Barnaby. Like Sylvia Day, you weave real life and emotions with steamy sex.
What are you working on now?
Rachell: Aw, that’s so sweet. I can’t believe I was just compared to Syl Day! That is one of the best compliments ever! Thank you. And yes, I love Barnaby. He’s such a sweetheart. Right now I’m working on Bound by Submission the second in the ABCs of Submission series, which is connected to the K Club series, that is in this anthology. I also just got ideas for the next two books directly in the K Club series, so I’m simmering those right now and trying to not get pulled into the brand new shiny projects.
Sherri: We met through The New Romance Café and theLove in Bloomanthology. Tell us about your story for the anthology.
Rachell: Yes, I love that group. It’s such a great place for romance readers and writers to connect. I’m so glad to have met folks just like you there. So, for this story, I really found it hard to fit Syenca and Jensen’s piece into only 10,000 words, but I also really really loved writing it. I titled itBlooming for Sir because it serves as a prequel story toTo Sir, and starts out in the K Club, where the rest of the books in the series really take place. It’s also just got a touch of kink in it, and is about Syneca kind of trying this whole kinky thing out. Syneca and Jensen are both from old money New York families from the Hamptons, and Syneca was arranged from an early age to marry Jensen’s older brother, Jackson. She and Jensen shared a friendship as kids and a few kisses in their youth, but then Syenca broke things off with Jackson and moved away. The story starts out in The K Club during an auction to raise money for Syneca’s foundation to help LGBTQ homeless youth who have been disowned by their families. Jensen offers to buy her for the night, even though he knows she’s not for sale. I love love loved writing this short piece and I can’t wait to share it with the world. Here is the official blurb:
It’s springtime in Spartan Nevada, and that means it’s time for the K Club’s 2nd annual fetish ball to raise money for a good cause. This year, one of the club’s owners has chosen a cause close to his heart – the Madison Foundation that helped him when he was a homeless LGBT youth. Syneca Madison Lexington is delighted Dusty wants to help her foundation, particularly since she’s quickly running out of the trust fund money she could still access when her own parents disowned her for being bisexual. But a submissive auction? She doesn’t know if that’s something she can get behind or not. When Jensen Elmwood enters the K Club, intent on purchasing himself a submissive for the night, the last thing he expects is to run into the one woman he’s loved since he was a kid, the same woman who’s been engaged to his brother since high school. When the sparks reignite between them, can a springtime romance bloom into something more? Or will their past hurts and old family influences tear them apart?
Sherri:Well, I can’t wait to see what happens with Syneca and Jensen. I’m sure things are going to heat up.
You’ve been a published author for several years now. Are you traditionally published or indie?
Rachell: A bit of both, actually. I have been published now for 7 years. I started with a small press, and indie pubbed a few titles, but the small house I was with closed in 2018, so I’ve since republished my backlist all on my own, with the help of my writer-editor husband. So, with those titles all republished, and with three new titles I wrote and published last year along with the relaunch, I currently have 12 titles out. The story in the anthology will be lucky number 13.
I’ve been writing for as long as I could string sentences together, and I was writing romance fanfic in high school but didn’t start my first original paranormal romance novel until I was 18. I got my first novel publishing contract at 21, which is really early for so many people, and I feel so lucky to have started my career out that way, with the help and support of the editors, cover artists, and the rest of the team at Loose Id.
Sherri: You hold several degrees, do you use these in your writing?
Rachell:All the time, actually. Two of my degrees are in writing. So I feel like I use things I learned in those degree programs every day. The other degree in French is something I pull from in a lot of different ways. I’ve set books in France, and French culture and language end up in several of my books.
Sherri: Do your hobbies and interests show up in your writing?
Rachell: Languages and travel definitely make it into my writing, as does my love affair with food. My characters are eating quite a bit, or cooking for each other, or talking about food. I guess “food” isn’t really a hobby, but I really love cooking, and I think that bleeds into my writing in a lot of pieces.
Sherri: Do you write full-time or do you hold down another job as well?
Rachell: Hah! There isn’t a job I’ve encountered I haven’t also worked! Currently, in addition to writing, I work a normal 9-5 (though those aren’t my exact hours) four days a week at a law firm and I teach writing for an online college. I also do some tutoring on the side, but not very steadily, just in between things.
Sherri: Oh wow, and I thought I was busy. When do you find time to write? You must really enjoy writing to be able to do it as well as work two, sometimes three other jobs.
Rachell: Sometimes, it’s really hard to balance, but right now, I block my writing time, usually on Fridays-Sundays when I’m not at the firm, and then i work my teaching around those 6-10 hour blocks of time where I’m writing. I’m fortunate that I can work on a piece for multiple hours without a lot of breaks. I love the excitement of a new project rattling around in my head begging to be let out. I also love talking to people about my stories. These characters are so real to me so when I talk to others about them like they’re also real people, the feeling is amazing.
Sherri: Oh yes, I feel that way too, especially when writing a series, you feel like they’re part of your family. Is there anything you don’t like about writing?
Rachell: Writing. Hahaha. I mean, I love it, but I hate it all at the same time. My very least favorite is the final edits and doing the formatting on a book.
Sherri: You’ve been writing several years and have a dozen books out. What do you feel your writing strengths and weaknesses are?
Rachell: I write cleanly. This comes back to my work as a writer and training, but also the fact that I learned to type when I was 9 and I can type by feel entirely. This makes typos less likely. I write what I call a dirty draft, where I can kick out 50,000 wordsin three weeks, and then dig in and revise it which I’m only able to do because I can type so quickly and without having to stare at either the screen or the keyboard. As to weaknesses, I overuse the shit out of words and I repeat things. So I have themes and names and things that crop up in each manuscript that I then have to revise out.
Sherri: I think we all have our pet words that show up in our writing. Even some of the more famous authors have said they have to go on a search and destroy mission from time to time. Who are your favorite authors or your go to genres?
Rachell:Hah, pet words. that’s a great way to describe it. As to my favorite authors… that’s really hard. Right now I’m obsessed with Roan Parish, Stephanie Julian, Priscilla Oliveras, and Alyssa Cole, in romance and Juliet Blackwell, who writes mysteries and general fiction. I read almost exclusively romance, but am sometimes looking to branch out. These are insta-buy authors for me right now. That list used to include a lot of other names, but I’m rather irate with a particular author who shall remain unnamed for killing off the heroine in the last book of hers I read. She was an author I always always loved, and I don’t know that I’ll ever read her again.
Sherri: I feel that way about a certain author. He writes beautifully, great characters you just fall in love with and then he kills them off or leaves them in a state of flux.NO!I want my happy ending. Life is hard enough without killing off the characters I love.
Before you go, give us a little insight into you as a person and as a writer.
Rachell: Well, my husband would say I’m perfect… hahaha, okay, that’s a total lie, but he would say that I’m worth it! He is the second biggest fan of my writing (my mom still holds the first spot) and he tells me all the time how talented he thinks I am which just means so much. As a writer, I like to think I’m a lot like I am as a real person. As to my overall personality, I’m loud, and crass and constantly busy. I flit from project to project, and have an inability to sit still.
Sherri:Rachell, it has been lovely to have you at my virtual café, maybe someday I can make it a reality and you can come back for a real visit. I look forward to reading your story in the anthology and hope to do more projects with you.
Rachell: That would be so much fun, Sherri. I’m definitely game. Thanks for inviting me.
Here are all of Rachell’s links. If you enjoyed our chat and her excerpt for the anthology, “Love in Bloom,” you buy your copy with just a click.https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07P6FHS1R