Welcome back to another edition of Thursday Word-Slingers. I’ve got the good fortune today to be hosting Kallypso Masters, author of the Rescue Me BDSM erotic romance series that debuted in August last year. The first three books are out now with plenty more to come. You’ll get a chance to get to know her AND get a look at an excerpt from Nobody’s Hero (book 3). There will be a giveaway so don’t miss out (rumor has it she may make the first book, Masters at Arms available for all commenters PLUS her giveaway – read on to find out). Take it away, Kally!
Probably since I learned to write cursive, but the first romance short story I remember writing (and selling, actually), I wrote as a sophomore in high school. (My younger sister bought it for $2.50 to submit for her 8th-grade writing assignment. Yeah, smack us on the wrists. We were bad. But when her teacher wanted to submit it for publishing in an anthology, I was both ecstatic and terrified. We opted out, for fear of continuing further down that slippery slope—but I was validated and happy.) I still have one of my “high-school” romances—in that box high on the shelf where every romance novel I started from about 1974 to May 2009 are kept. They remind me how long it took me to learn the craft and how long it took me to get brave enough to publish anything. Every one of them helped get me to where I am now, making a very nice living as a full-time published author. I published my first novel, Masters at Arms, in August 2011, followed by Nobody’s Angel in September and Nobody’s Hero in December. That was an insane writing schedule and I since needed to have some “down” time to help care for my sister following cancer surgery, so this year’s publishing schedule will be May, August, and November (I hope).
I’m blessed to have a husband who is retired and takes care of the household chores and two adult children who take care of themselves (for the most part). So, when I’m writing, that’s all I have to do. Occasionally I have to remember to get up from my chair if I’ve been at it 8 or 9 hours. (My goal is to get up every two hours when I hit my stride with the current book.) I do have to remember to schedule time with hubby and family so they don’t feel neglected when I get within a month of a deadline and spend about 15 hours a day working. That time is approaching—so I just came back from a week-long vacation alone with hubby in Georgia and parts south. Am hoping that will tide him over until our month-long road trip this coming June/July.
The book I’m working on now is Nobody’s Perfect, which will be available in May 2012. Originally, this would have been the end of the Rescue Me series. Of course, with a series, an author NEVER says it’s the last book, so I still populated the books with secondary characters who might one day get a story of their own, if readers wanted the series to continue. (They seem to want that—a lot. Music to my ears, because I have no interest in writing anything else at the moment.) But then Marc and Luke in Nobody’s Angel (book 2) derailed my attempts at plotting and at writing a ménage. (I am a wise enough writer after 35 years to know that when characters start telling you the way it should be in THEIR story, you listen—especially when they go all Dominant male on you. I also learned a valuable lesson, though—don’t write to the market. Write the story of your heart. And Angel as it was published last September is definitely that.)
The upcoming Nobody’s Perfect is the story of wounded warrior Damián Orlando and incest-survivor Savi Baker (Savannah Gentry in Section Two of Masters at Arms, the introduction to the series). These two characters are battling inner demons and PTSD, so I knew this would be the hardest of all to write. I was right. I’ve bought lots of research books (Invisible Heroes, The Control Book, Consensual Sadomasochism, to name a few) to help me get these characters right. This book also delves much deeper into BDSM than my earlier ones have. Damián uses sadism and BDSM to help control his demons; Savi is a masochist, having been trained to associate pain with sex since an early age. With so many readers who are new to the BDSM genre, but just fell in love with my characters and want to see them get their happy endings, I am walking a thin line. I don’t enjoy “hardcore” BDSM stories, so I will continue to tell their stories with romance and gentleness—and always in a safe, sane, and consensual manner. But I pride myself in attempting to write about “real” people in the BDSM lifestyle and have many experts who live the lifestyle and have helped me get it right. So, I will also make their exploration into a SM (sadomasochistic) relationship healing and cathartic—as I’ve learned from many in the lifestyle it can be—but far less bloody than some of these relationships can be in real life.
When I was young, back in the 70s, I used to read what were known as the “bodice ripper” romances—Kathleen Woodiwiss, Rosemary Rogers, Johanna Lindsey—until the New York publishers sent the PC (politically correct) police out and told writers they couldn’t write about those overpowering alpha males dominating their submissive heroines. (They didn’t call it BDSM back then, but there were spankings, bondage, and other elements of BDSM in them. Do the math.) Wanting to be published someday, I wrote the stories New York wanted—but despite seven or eight attempts at a novel, could never finish them. I lost interest. Then in March 2009, I went to a workshop of the Kentucky Romance Writers—after about a decade away from romance writing circles—and learned about erotic romances. I went home and started exploring the genre, and the first I purchased was Cherise Sinclair’s Club Shadowlands. Oh.Em.Gee. *That* is what *I* wanted to write about. In May 2009, I wrote Nobody’s Angel in its original form. Then my job and life intruded and I set it aside until I finally became so stressed at the Evil Day Job that I gave my three weeks’ notice and quit last April 15. (I continued to read Cherise’s books in the interim, though.)
After a few weeks of sitting around and recovering from the stress, without a job prospect in sight, I pulled that story out and started editing. Then I learned about how successful some writing friends were at self-publishing (again, at a Kentucky Romance Writers meeting). So, in May of last year, I made the decision to expand Angelinto a series and to write a prequel to the first three romances. (I was told that “New York” says you can’t have a prequel until AFTER you write several books in the series. Huh? Well, now *I* was in control—I’m very Domme about my writing—so I said to heck with that. After a very sad day with my sister at her oncologists appointments, I came home feeling hopeless and sad for her and I plunked Adam in that bus station, two weeks after he lost his wife to cancer, and just let the story begin to unfold. (Writing is cathartic and I can put the worst things in the books and still know my characters will survive and have happy endings.) Mastersis told in vignettes–three separate prequels, one for each of the first romances for Marc, Adam, and Damián, plus an introduction to the series and how these three men formed the bond that would keep them together long after the war ended for them.
I’m not a plotter (even though I occasionally try to do that—to disastrous results, as mentioned above with Angel). I love to let the characters take over—and they always surprise me with things that make me wonder how the heck they’ll get out of the situation. But their solutions always are more compelling than anything I could make up.
I started calling Mastersan “introduction” to the series and priced it at 99 cents—with lots of giveaways along the way because I find that people who read this usually go on to read the following books. It’s important to read my books in order, because they’re written more in serial form than series, so they do not stand alone. Angel might be enjoyable without Masters, mainly because Marc didn’t meet his lady love in the prequel (and Luke wasn’t in the prequel either). But I can’t imagine readers missing all that came before in Adam and Karla’s story, including the very dramatic event at the end of Nobody’s Angel that sets up the opening page of Nobody’s Hero. Similarly, Damián and Savi reunite after eight years apart—in the pages of Nobody’s Hero. I also don’t like to rehash the backstory too much, especially when it’s available to readers already. (My professional editor and my line editors sometimes make me include some backstory for those who don’t reread the series before each new addition, though. )
Then there’s that whole reality thing I am trying to portray. I’ve been married almost 29 years—and I know that Happily Ever After requires maintenance. There are bumps along the way and the couple has to keep working at making the relationship. So, my main characters from earlier romances will come back to work on unresolved issues in later books. Some of my reviews complained that in Nobody’s Angel, Marc and Angelina glossed over “the lie” and that “real” couples in BDSM would “never lie.” Well, one of the things I try to do that differs from other writers in the genre is to have characters who DO screw up. They aren’t perfect or fantasy, they’re as real as I can make them. I am assured by those who live in the lifestyle that people lie, people screw up, and they have to work on these issues, or move on. I choose to make them work on the issues. So, Marc and Angelina will face the repercussions of “the lie” again with an incident in Nobody’s Perfect which shows why they didn’t make it beyond a “Happy For Now” ending in Angel. I don’t know if they’ll get to “Happily Ever After” yet (to me, that means marriage), but they definitely will continue to deal with trust issues, among other things.
Adam and Karla might appear to be living in bliss at the end of Nobody’s Hero—but that stubborn Dom has still got to learn to deal with his abandonment issues, and to learn to communicate better. So, they’ll continue to work on those things in Nobody’s Dream (due out in late August, I hope), and Nobody’s Home(November).
I’m not ready to leave BDSM yet, but am planning a genre shift within the Rescue Me series. For book 8 (due out in late 2013), I plan to write a Western historical erotic romance. It will still have BDSM themes, but will have characters who were “introduced” to readers in Nobody’s Hero—Adam’s great-great-grandparents. They will also have more revealed about them in book 7 with Patrick Gallagher’s story (due out in mid 2013).
Sweet (unfortunately I have the waistline to show it).
Vanilla. (Well, isn’t that ironic, given that I write about sex that is anything BUT vanilla? Only, like Angelina in Nobody’s Angel, I know it’s all about the sprinkles.)
In my modern (and erotic) tribute to those lovely virginal deflowering scenes in books like The Flame and the Flower that I loved as a teenager, here is a short excerpt from Nobody’s Hero with a physically and mentally compromised hero and an exhausted heroine who was tired of sleeping in the chair beside his bed and decided there was plenty or room in that king-sized bed for her to get a little rest while keeping vigil. She also knows she may never get another chance with Adam, who refuses to see her as a grown woman. (They first met when she was 16 and he 41 in Masters at Arms—and she’s been in love with him ever since. But he has been nothing but honorable, her protector and guardian. Until this night.) Enjoy: