Shivers and Quivers Abound in Legendary

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Last weekend, my fiancé and I explored a new neighborhood in San Diego. About an hour into our stroll, we popped into a Starbucks so I could get a ginormous iced green tea and use the restroom. After placing my order, I located the bathrooms…and noticed something weird. The lights were off and the door was propped open with nothing but a slim trashcan. A piece of paper taped to the turquoise paint explained everything. The lights weren’t working. They weren’t sure when they’d be back on. They were sorry for the inconvenience.

At that point, I didn’t have a choice. I needed to go. So, I stepped into the dark bathroom, which was cool and quiet and dimly lit with a single sliver of light…and I immediately muttered “Bloody Mary” under my breath three times. And waited. Because that’s what you do.

While nothing happened to me in that Starbucks bathroom last weekend, one thing was unmistakably clear: my book du jour, Pen and Kink’s Legendary anthology, had gotten under my skin. I’m not surprised, because the collection is darkly delightful, and sensuous to boot.

Legendary, edited by Laura Harvey, is a compilation of five stories that retell traditional urban legends—with a romantic twist. Yeah, you heard me. Each dose of horror is tempered with sweetness. And I’m here to tell you, it works.

In “Not Again,” Sara Dobie Bauer tackles “The Hook” with the sensibility of a B horror movie. The result is hilarious, steamy, and campy in all the right ways.

Wendy Sparrow’s “She Wore White” cautions cheating men against picking up women dressed in white along treacherous, winding roads—and follows a couple too stubborn to realize they’re made for each other.

T.R. North’s “Vanishing Point” will take you back to your childhood and high school years—and inspire a soft spot in your heart for hitchhikers holding sunflowers.

A classic South African urban legend involving mirrors and monsters gets an empathic makeover (complete with rosy blush)  in Aisling Phillips “La Via En Rose.”

Legendary rounds out with Michael Leonberger’s “The Hook,” which beautifully tackles disability, young love, and menacing psychopaths.

The aspect of this anthology that impresses me the most is the diversity within its pages. There is variety everywhere you turn—the romantic couplings (they’re not all hetero – hooray!), the styles of the stories, the heat levels, and the voices, which are all so very distinct. There’s a tale for everyone in Legendary.  (And yes, there are two man-with-a-hook retellings, but in this collection, they couldn’t be more different. Reading both was quick succession was a fun experience.)

Lucky for you, dear readers, you can devour every creepy, crawly, sexy twist of Legendary on Friday…the 13th. Hahaha! (Best marketing ever!) Pre-order your Kindle copy for only 99 cents HERE.

Happy humps and hauntings!

Lessons from the Keyboard: Write the Right Thing

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A month and a half ago, I called my friend Sara in a bout of anxiety and depression as deep as the ocean. I’d been working on a manuscript for a magical romance novella since April, and I was absolutely stuck. I’m not talking about writer’s block. For me, writer’s block is pesky and disheartening, but always temporary. This was different. This was artistic paralysis. I dreaded every moment in front of my keyboard. Tears had been shed. And I hated my story, which didn’t make sense. It was a story involving a Victorian circus, a time traveler, and a fortune-teller, all things that rock my world. My characters sucked. I didn’t buy their burgeoning romance, and I was the one writing it. I was averaging 500 words a day, if I was lucky.

To add insult to injury, my assumed deadline for this project was a mere ten days away. But honestly, the thought of turning in my sad manuscript to my editor was almost as bad as the prospect of not turning in anything.

I expected a you-can-do-it pep talk from Sara. I thought she’d tell me that yes, this project was proving difficult, but all I needed to do was push through. She’d tell me she believed in me, that I was stronger than this. I needed to pull myself up by my bootstraps, get my ass in a chair, and write.

Nope. She advised me to stop writing my novella immediately. Burn it, she said. Get it out of my system. Then came the epiphany. “It shouldn’t be this hard. You’re writing the wrong thing.”

And I was. It was the wrong story. It was dark and sad, and I needed something different.

Though the prospect was daunting, I started over. I wrote nearly five pages the first day. It came naturally. It felt lighter. My vocabulary and humor blossomed. I found myself looking forward to writing again.

One week ago, I sent a 90-some-page manuscript to my editor (before its actual due date, September 1), a manuscript I’m proud of, something I’m happy I wrote. And while it’s a first draft and I expect edits from my editor and I know it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea…I finished it, and it’s a story I love. It’s sexy and funny and cheesy at times and creepy, because, I mean, it’s me.

I learned a valuable lesson while working on this project. While I’ve never been a fan of the adage, “Write what you know,” with a little modification, I can get behind, “Write what you love.” While writing is difficult and it’s hard work, if you hate what you’re doing, it’s not worth your time. Take a step back, assess, and write the right thing.

Next year, the novella that almost wasn’t will be published by Pen and Kink Publishing as part of the Enchanted series. And I can’t wait for you to read it.

Here’s the official announcement for the Enchanted series (huge shout outs to my magical romance authors in crime—Sara Dobie Bauer, Anna Kyle, and Wendy Sparrow—and our rockin’ editor Cori Vidae!).

And here’s a little more about my first contribution to Enchanted: Magic Spark:

When Natalie Willoughby discovers a pair of antique, diamond-encrusted shoes beneath the floorboards of the Forbidden Fox nightclub, she’s preternaturally drawn to them. Once they’re on her feet, Natalie’s burlesque alter ego, Jazz Corsette, is imbued with otherworldly sensuality and confidence, traits that lead her into the arms of adoring crowds and shy, down-to-earth Wes Peterson. But when whispers of the past threaten her relationships with Wes and her sisters in sequins, she’s torn. After all, once you’ve walked in someone else’s fabulous shoes, how can you go back to being yourself?

Go Ahead…Bite Somebody!

BiteSomebody_final

What happens when you mix an insecure, novice vampire, balmy Florida nights, a hunky ex-surfer with a penchant for Bob Marley, and a purple-haired, stuck-in-the-80s instigator? You get Sara Dobie Bauer’s novel, Bite Somebody, which has been lauded as the “Pretty in Pink of vampire stories.” Seriously, you need this novel in your life. It’s poignant, hilarious, sexy, and freaky.

I caught up with Sara to talk vampires, rum punch, and writing.

First of all, this is your first published novel. Congratulations! How does it feel? And how are you celebrating?

It feels exciting and terrifying in equal measure. I don’t think it’s quite hit me that my book is a Real Thing. It’s kind of like waking from a dream, disoriented and tangled in my sheets. It’s also a lot of work. When releasing your first book, there’s very little time for bon-bon consumption—but plenty of time for beer, trust me. Speaking of celebrating, I will mark the occasion with a rum punch (or two) since that’s what my characters drink in the beach world of Bite Somebody.

Give me your elevator pitch for Bite Somebody. What’s it about, and why should we add it to our bookshelves?

Celia Merkin is a chubby, insecure newbie vamp in love with the smell of her neighbor. What she needs to do—according to her moody vampire friend Imogene—is just bite somebody. But Celia wants her first bite to be special, and she has yet to meet Mr. Right Bite. Then, Ian moves in next door. Could he be the first bite she’s been waiting for to complete her vampire transformation?

Add Bite Somebody to your bookshelves because not only is it hilarious (think dark comedy), but also it’s sexy and adventurous and, although it’s a vampire book, it sort of pokes fun at the whole genre.

Tell me something funny/freaky/interesting about the process of writing this book that no one else knows.

I wrote the first page at 6 AM while lying in bed in Phoenix, covered in dogs. Call it an epiphany.

Did your characters behave themselves while you were writing Bite Somebody? Or did they go rogue and make decisions you didn’t see coming?

A little of both. I knew where the characters needed to go eventually—they just took some roundabout ways to get there. My characters always do that, but they’re supposed to. If you’ve created a character of depth, he or she will practically become a real person, and real people are unpredictable, yes?

When you think of the setting of your novel, what do you see, smell, taste, hear, and feel?

I think Gulf Coast beach. I see a moonlit ocean. I smell salt water and fruit-juicy rum punches. I hear laughter and waves. I feel happy, because I’d like to live in this place.

There’s a lot of vampire lit out there and thus, a lot of vampire archetypes. Do you have a favorite flavor of vampire?

Vampires with a sick sense of humor. I don’t like moody, pouty vampires. I don’t like angst. I adore characters like Lestat, who’ll giggle while he kills you, or Spike from Buffy with his sly, British sense of humor. I guess my flavor of vampire fits my flavor of friend, too. If you don’t make me laugh, you probably won’t be spending too many happy hours with me. Life’s too short to be taken seriously.

saravamp

Okay, how the heck did you get your dentist to make you vampire teeth in celebration of Bite Somebody? I mean, seriously, how did that conversation even begin?

Ha. Well, she had a picture of Bela Lugosi in her office, and I was amused but, like, “Why?” She explained she made vampire teeth for one of her clients once, to which I replied, “Hmmm?” She knew about my novel and immediately offered to make some for me as a gift for my launch party. Now, I wear them randomly around the house and at bars. Some guys get freaked out; other guys want to buy me a drink. I should probably steer clear of the guys who want to buy me a drink.

If you had to describe Bite Somebody in five words, what would they be?

Insecure immortal learns to love.

(And not just other people.)

Who would play the main characters in a film adaptation of Bite Somebody?

Well, the leads would be Felicia Day and Benedict Cumberbatch, but I actually have a blog post with the entire list HERE.

Fast forward. The film is wildly successful and nominated for an Oscar! What would you wear to the award ceremony?

A skin-tight gothic-inspired Dior gown or maybe even something completely insane by Hirooka Naota. Black patent leather Louboutin stilettos, my lucky skull ring, and my hot husband on my arm in a black Spencer Hart suit.

Bite Somebody has received great reviews from first readers. Any comments that have surprised, delighted, or affected you in a big way?

Well, one of my favorite writers, Christopher Buehlman called it “the Pretty in Pink of vampire stories.” Another reviewer said, imagine “going for midnight swims with Benedict Cumberbatch while listening to David Bowie.” Does it get any better?

Anything else you’d like to add?

You can buy the book now on Amazon or directly from World Weaver Press. If you’d like to chat, visit my website. Feel free to stalk!

About Sara:

Sara-Dobie-Bauer-Author

Sara Dobie Bauer is a writer, model, and mental health advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She spends most days at home in her pajamas as a book nerd and sex-pert for SheKnows.com. Her short story, “Don’t Ball the Boss,” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, inspired by her shameless crush on Benedict Cumberbatch. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is also the author of Wolf Among Sheep, Life Without Harry, and Forever Dead. Read more at SaraDobieBauer.com or find her on Twitter @SaraDobie.

Wolf Among Sheep: Author Spotlight with Sara Dobie Bauer

Sexy Woman in lingerie With Glass Of Wine

“Incendiary, sensual, and wicked, Wolf Among Sheep is a thrilling reminder that the ecstasy of lust can be peppered with dark and sinister desires. With crackling prose and tension aplenty, Dobie Bauer weaves a sumptuous picture of the American South, alight with characters that lure you into their beds … and then won’t let you go.” – Me

Sara Dobie Bauer‘s latest work, Wolf Among Sheep, an erotic novella published by Hot Ink Press, is really, really good. Dark, demanding, and libidinous, Wolf is for readers who crave mystery and kink amidst solid storytelling and beautiful wordplay.

About Wolf Among Sheep:

“What exactly do you deduce we proposed?”
“That I enter into a sexual relationship with a married couple.”

Avery Collins is an ambitious young journalist in early-1900s Charleston, South Carolina, when exotic newcomers Timothy and Vonnie Duke spot him at a fancy gala on the Battery. The Dukes like bringing pretty playthings to their marriage bed, and with a promotion in mind, Avery entertains their advances not knowing lust can quickly turn to love — and love to murder.

I caught up with Sara to talk about her latest workwriting sex scenes, and, of course, wolves.

What inspired Wolf Among Sheep?

Threesomes. Not kidding. People joke about threesomes. Men and women alike include the fantasy on their sexual bucket list. I’ve even been tempted. But what people forget are the unforeseen emotional connections we make in the bedroom. I don’t claim that a fulfilling threesome is impossible (and probably a lot of fun), but what happens when two of the three involved build a connection and leave the “third wheel” floundering, alone, and angry?

If you could pick one song to represent this particular novella depicting lust, deception, and the American South, what would it be?

Who is your favorite character in Wolf Among Sheep, and why?

Timothy Duke. Not only is he a man of the world, but also he’s an animal in the sack. I’d love to give you more reasons … but I don’t want to give things away.

There is quite a bit of sensuality and eroticism in Wolf Among Sheep. For you, what is necessary in a love scene for you to enjoy reading it? And as a writer, how do you implement your personal reading preferences to construct enjoyable and realistic sex scenes?

I have to give a shit about the characters involved. A lot of bad erotica I’ve read is just two people banging, as if a money shot is enough to make the sex scene good. Writers forget about character development and motivation. Why are these characters banging, and what do they have to gain or lose?

In my own writing, I never start with a sex scene. I create characters. I give them names, backstories, and agendas, and they decide to have sex. They decide the how/when/where, and they let me watch.

And don’t forget: sexual tension is almost better than the money shot.

Do you relate more to wolves or sheep? In the metaphorical sense, of course!

Wolves. I relate to their anticipation of the hunt, and honey, you should see me in six-inch heels. I freakin’ prowl.

Lust, ambition, and jealousy are motivators that play distinct roles in Wolf Among Sheep. Which do you feel is the most potent motivator, and why? (And yes, you have to pick one!)

Jealousy is a paralytic and achieves nothing.

Ambition waxes and wanes.

Lust is the strongest motivator. Lust never goes away, whether it’s lust for a person, success, or that three-carat diamond. Lust appeals to our basest instincts, and let’s face it: we’re all animals.

What do you hope readers will experience while reading Wolf Among Sheep?

Well, I want them to be turned on, obviously. (I was turned on writing it.) I also want them to question who they’re rooting for. Since the story is told from three points of view, readers get to know Vonnie, Timothy, and Avery as individuals. The character who seems heroic on page one might not on page twenty, which goes to show—never trust a wolf in sheep’s clothing. If only you recognize the wolf in time.

About Sara:

Sara-Dobie-Bauer-Author

Sara Dobie Bauer is a writer, model, and mental health advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She spends most days at home in her pajamas as a book nerd and sex-pert for SheKnows.com. Her short story, “Don’t Ball the Boss,” was nominated for the 2015 Pushcart Prize, inspired by her shameless crush on Benedict Cumberbatch. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she would really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is the author of Life without Harry and Forever Dead. World Weaver Press will publish her novel, BITE SOMEBODY, summer of 2016.

Read “Something Black” in the Zen of the Dead Anthology by Popcorn Press

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Today, my short story “Something Black” is published in Zen of the Dead, a Halloween-themed anthology by Popcorn Press. And I have to say, this has been the most whirlwind publishing experience I’ve had to date.

The first week in October, I left my regular 9-to-5 at dusk and noticed a single crow sitting atop our building, emitting a lonely barrage of caws into the nearby canyon. On October 20, the solitary crow had turned into a murder of crows, sitting in a neat line in the exact same spot on the roof. It was exceedingly clear they’d conspired and exponentially increased their presence.

A question leaped through my mind. What if that murder continues to grow?

The question sent my head spinning and then inspired a follow-up question. Why would crows flock to a corporate building of all places?

Because something supernatural and sinister is afoot, of course!

During my commute home October 20, I dreamed up a story about mounting frustration, feeling invisible, and a murder (of crows). When I got home, I had an hour to write before my yoga class. I pounded at my keyboard and had a good three pages done before I had to bolt in time to namaste.

Over the next 24 hours, the story begged to be written, and I couldn’t seem to type fast enough. By the following night, I had 17 pages of atmospheric, Hitchcockian horror written, edited, and sent out to first readers.

On average, it takes me at least a couple weeks, if not a month, to write a story and polish it, so the experience was nothing short of exhilarating.

The next morning, the fabulous Sara Dobie Bauer sent me links to a couple calls for submissions – both with super tight deadlines. I would need to send something within the next few days. Did I have anything to send? Strangely enough, I did.

I gave “Something Black” a final read-through, formatted it for the publication, and emailed it to Lester Smith, founder of Popcorn Press, who was seeking horror fiction and poetry for Zen of the Dead. Not four hours later, I got a reply from Lester. “Something Black” had been accepted.

And I didn’t know what to do with myself! Had I really written a story, sent it out for consideration, and been accepted within a span of 72 hours?

To make this experience even more fantastic, Sara also has a story, “Auntie’s Favorite,” in Zen of the Dead. I’ve taken to calling Sara my cross-country writing soulmate, and this simultaneous publication simply affirms our weird, uncanny, wonderful bond. As always, it’s an honor to be published alongside her.

Today, the Zen of the Dead eBook is alive on Amazon and you can order a hard copy of the book via Popcorn Press’s website! I recommend you purchase your preferred form of book, curl up with a fall-inspired ale and a black cat under a bright, foreboding moon, and read some creepy Halloween-inspired fiction and poetry.

I Finished Something!

Photo by flickr user "Drew Coffman."

Photo by flickr user “Drew Coffman.”

My good friend and now cross-country writing soulmate, Sara Dobie Bauer, posted this little gem on Facebook earlier last week:

Scully snip

And I simply went, “Yep.”

Sara and I tend to write and publish serendipitously. It’s like when you hear about girl friends who get their periods the same week each month because they spend so much time together. Sara and I have graced the same publications without telling the other we’d sent in a submission. When one of us finishes a new piece and sends it on to the other for a little first reader love, it’s usually followed with constructive criticism and something like, “Hey, I’m almost done with this new story. I’ll send it your way soon.” And when writer’s block hits or depression takes over or life proves truly crazy and gets in the way of imagination, yeah, we’re usually in synch with that, too.

I sincerely hope that right now Sara isn’t experiencing what I have been the past few months. Although she did post the Scully meme. I wonder how in synch we are at the moment.

Ever since I published Spin: A Novelette on June 5th, my 30th birthday, my inkwell has run dry. Kind of anyway. For the past almost three months, I have been writing. But I’ve also been second guessing my every word. I’ve started a number of projects only to dismiss them less than ten pages in. Usually, when I start a new piece, I’m excited and I can’t wait to write, write, write, but lately it’s felt like a chore. And my work has seemed very blah, very uninspired.

It doesn’t help that I’ve been receiving rejection letter after rejection letter.

I’ve analyzed the situation, and perhaps I should give myself a break. I turned 30, self-published a novelette, left a job, started a new one, moved to California, and threw my back out–all since June 5th. And those are just the highlights. It’s been a lot of change, a lot of adjustment. And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I felt a ton of pressure after publishing Spin. I mean, the reviews were really good. I feel like I broke into an audience with that piece. How could I keep that going? I didn’t want to fall prey to the sophomore slump. I had to keep creating fiction that was on par with my latest success.

It was exhausting and disheartening to sit down with a tumbler of whiskey, a dedicated Pandora station, and great idea…and no desire to hit the keys.

And here’s the thing. When a writer can’t write, it’s hell. Writing isn’t just something we do, it’s a lifestyle. So when that lovely little thing called writer’s block comes knocking, it’s followed by a touch of good old-fashioned identity crisis. Like the meme Sara posted says, we go a little crazy.

So you’ll understand why I’m so excited to say…I FINISHED SOMETHING TODAY! I really did! It’s a new story and I followed through with it and it’s almost 6,000 words and I feel like I’m getting rid of that funk that made my greatest passion close to unbearable.

The new story is a lovely little Christmas-themed horror piece I plan to submit to a charity anthology. And I feel really good about it. Really good. The way I used to.

I’m not sure what changed, but quite frankly, I don’t really care. I feel like I fit in my skin again. I feel like I can call myself a writer again. My muse is back and I can’t wait to keep writing.

 

Photo licenseWriter’s Block II on flickr

My Story Matters

Photo by Rachel Hawkinson. All rights reserved.

Photo by Rachel Hawkinson. All rights reserved.

When my gal pal Sara Dobie Bauer, writing partner in crime and book nerd at SheKnows, asked to interview me for a piece on my dance career and body image, I didn’t hesitate. I said yes. I’ve long been an advocate for positive body image, having conquered an eating disorder in high school amidst high pressure dreams of becoming a professional dancer.

Sara sent me interview questions, I wrote her a novel, clicked send, and then…started to wonder if I’d done the right thing in sharing such a personal story.

Secrets are secrets for a reason. We don’t like to share them. We’re afraid of being judged, receiving unwanted pity, hurting relationships—it all boils down to fear. And I have to admit, I was a little nervous.

How would Sara supplement my interview? I trusted her implicitly, but I also know that writing is all about angles. What would hers be? Would people read this honest, heartfelt interview and judge me because of what I put myself through? Perhaps I should have said a little more about x…and a little less about y.

I was at a Spring training baseball game on Friday when I got the message from Sara that the piece was published on SheKnows. I clicked the link, held my breath…and realized that all of my worry had been completely irrational. My good friend lifted me up and wrote a beautiful piece about my personal journey. She captured the essence of me and my struggle in the story. She’d handled my secret with the utmost care.

The article is perfect. Go read it now!

I thanked Sara profusely and told her that if the article helped one person it would be worth it.

And then another beautiful thing happened. I received an outpouring of love and support and connection on Facebook, where I posted the article on my wall. People said they were inspired and asked to share the story. Friends said they admired me for my courage to be so open and honest about a very dark period of my life. Not a single negative comment.

body image reminder

And it served as a great reminder for me. It’s important to be vulnerable. It’s important to share our stories. Because we’re all in this thing together.

Thank you, interwebs, for the love this week. Sometimes, a girl just needs a good virtual hug to remember that her story matters.