Sunday, July 27, 2008

HEAR YE, HEAR YE! Come One, Come All!


Exciting news! The first-ever Ellora’s Cave Convention is in the works for 2009. It’s tentatively planned to take place in Akron, Ohio on one of the following Friday-Sunday weekends. Readers, book sellers, authors, authors-to-be, reviewers, press, eye candy, anyone is welcome!

Sept. 18th - 20th

Sept. 25th - 27th

Oct. 2nd - 4th

So here’s the deal… Ellora’s Cave is hoping to get an estimate of possible attendees in order to plan the number of rooms needed. If you’re interested in attending this convention (more information below about the schedule of events), please respond with your name, address and phone number (optional) via email to:

Here’s a tentative outline of the schedule:

Friday Night – EC/CP/TLC Celebration Party

Saturday Morning – Continental Breakfast

Saturday Afternoon – Workshops

Saturday Night – Awards Banquet
**The city is also working on some optional fun things for attendees to do after the Awards Banquet.**

Sunday Morning – Continental Breakfast

Sunday Afternoon – Book Fair

Sunday Evening – An author-sponsored farewell gathering of some undetermined kind such as movie night, etc.
So make your plans now and shoot off an email to Ellora’s Cave. Include your information as listed above, and a note stating your possible interest in attending the convention. Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

Titania Ladley is a multi-published author writing for Ellora’s Cave, Red Sage and Samhain. Her upcoming book, KABANA HEAT (Samhain), a contemporary ménage set in Hawaii, releases August 5, 2008. Don’t miss this HOT love story! Please visit her at or ( her other naughty half) to view her backlist, read smoking excerpts, join her newsletter featuring members-only prizes, or to learn how to receive freebies.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Today I thought I'd share a little story...a little glimpse into the--always exciting, at times disturbing--adventures of the romantica author that is Nikki Soarde. lol

This particular incident happened to's going on two years ago now, but it remains etched into my brain like it was branded there. A vivid reminder mouth is waaaaay too big!

I had been invited to give my erotic romance workshop for a very enthusiastic author's group in Edmonton, Alberta. I was thrilled and honoured beyond belief, especially since this very generous group had offered to, not only pay me for my time, but also to pay all expenses involved in the rather lengthy trip out there from my home region of Southern Ontario. Thanks to their generosity I was able to treat myself to a limo service...well, okay, so it was just a big, comfy van...ride to the airport from my front door.

I was picked up mid-morning, and was surprised to find myself the only passenger for the entire one-hour trip to the airport. The driver, a pleasant semi-retired gentleman, asked me politely about the nature of my trip and I, being so excited about my adventure, was of course eager to share! His interest in my writing piqued very quickly, and he was soon asking me all nature of questions about my work. I have never been shy about discussing what I write and I spoke very candidly about which genres sell and which didn't, the writing process, etc. Eventually the conversation seemed to come to a logical conclusion and after giving him one of my business cards I settled down to watch the scenery for a time.

Abruptly however, he struck up the conversation again with this question: "Where do you get your ideas?" The question is common enough, so I thought little of it, except for the fact that I could have sworn I had already answered that question. Being polite, however, I told him yet again that basically my ideas are sparks that can come from anywhere--the most obscure incident can set off a new story. He wasn't satisfied with this answer, however, and continued by asking me, "Would you like to hear a story that might inspire you?"

I should have said no. Why, oh why oh WHY didn't I say NO? But being polite and, I'll admit, mildly curious, I said..."Uh. Sure." And, unfortunately, he proceeded to tell me...

To tell me about the affair he'd had thirty years ago with another woman....about the night that she'd brought along a friend and about....well....let's just say this was NOT the kind of discussion one would have in front of the grandkids.

As detailed and personal as his account was, it failed to shock me, and I told him so. I thanked him for sharing, however as fascinating as it was, it was nothing I hadn't heard before. I'm not sure if he was disappointed or not, as from that point I moved back to my seat and attempted to keep my attention directed to the passing scenery. Thankfully we arrived at the airport very shortly after that.

My ordeal was not over, however. Not by a long shot.

Upon removing my luggage from the van, this mild-mannered with the burgeoning paunch and the full head of silver hair, extended to me a slip of paper....with his phone number on it!! Perhaps I could use him for "research" sometime. He's into just about anything, you see.

Absolutely stunned and unsure WHAT to do, I accepted the paper with a very vague, "Uh...I'll keep it in mind."

Needless to say that slip of paper found its way into the very first trash receptacle I came across.

By the time I got on the airplane I was actually chuckling over the incident, and filing it away under the "lessons learned" section of my authorly-type experiences. I went to Edmonton, had a fabulous time entertaining and being entertained by this very talented group of authors...and then I came home. Thankfully, it was my husband who picked me up from the airport, and I was spared any new adventures! I thought.

Two weeks later I was at home, just about to head out the front door to take my 12-year-old son back to school after a medical appointment when....the doorbell rang. INtrigued, as always, by the notion of some stranger ringing my bell (no innuendo intended. lol) I opened the door to find....Guess WHO standing on my front porch. Hat in hand, so to speak, lamenting the fact that he'd "lost my card."

I was, once again, stunned beyond words. So stunned that I actually considered running upstairs to find a card for a moment! But that lasted only a moment. My heart pounding in my throat I calmly told him that I was "Uncomfortable with this," and thankfully he, apparently now stricken with the inappropriateness of the situation, turned tail and ran.

I took my son to school, but I'm not ashamed to admit that, by the time I got home I was a nervous wreck. A phone call to my husband (during which I burst into tears) and speaking to a couple of good friends eased my mind, but I wasn't truly satisfied until I had contacted the owners of the limo service to inform them of their driver's behaviour.

I had every intention of letting the indiscretion of his story in the van pass. And even the passing of the phone number. He was an older gentleman who apparently completely misinterpreted my candidness for sexual interest. I accepted some responsibility for that and intended to learn my lession. use his knowledge of my home address and then drive their on his OWN TIME to pursue...whatever it was he intended to pursue, was COMPLETELY out of line, and warranted action.

The company wrote back to me, passing on the driver's apologies and assuring me that "appropriate action" had been taken. I have no idea what that action was and it doesn't matter. My part in it is done.

So....that's my tale of woe. A lesson for me to rein in my mouth and be a LITTLE more careful who I go touting tales of erotic diversions and sexual hyjinx to!

Than sure made a great story!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

For those of you who don’t already know, I live in a theatrical family. Not only do I hold a Bachelor’s in Theatre Arts, but my husband has an MFA in Acting and Directing and directs five shows a year. My daughter plans to major in Theatre Arts in the fall as she starts college (THAT apple didn’t fall far from the tree!). The only one in the house who isn’t “into” theatre is my 16-year-old son who is in his rebellion phase and wants nothing to do with activities his parents enjoy.

This weekend, my husband’s production of Little Shop of Horrors went up; my daughter choreographed and is stage managing it. My son actually went to his obligatory one performance and has asked if he could go a second time because he really enjoyed this one (wonders never cease!). Me? I go to every performance and hold down the fort while trying to keep everyone fed in between writing very hot sex scenes for my newest book.

Little Shop of Horrors began life as a Roger Corman film (1960) with a very young Jack Nicholson in the role of Wilbur Force, the masochistic patient of sadistic dentist Orin Scrivello. When Howard Ashman and Alen Menken rewrote the film as a musical in 1982, it opened off Broadway without that character, but keeping the pain-loving dentist. And when the musical was turned into a movie, another famous face, Steve Martin, made Orin’s sadistic streak famous.

I sat and watched another talented performer play the part these past few nights and let me tell you, Orin is a downright mean, nasty and abusive brute of a man. As he hollered at Audrey (the heroine) and pushed her around, I’m afraid I lost a bit of the comedy. Not because of the acting or the directing, but because of what I write.

You see, I write erotic romance with very strong BDSM themes with a heavy concentration on male Dominance and female submission. And as I watched, I saw a character who crossed the very thin line that separates BDSM activities from those of abusive ones. The jokes about the handcuffs and bruises were cute, until he raised a hand to her and called her a slut in front of other characters on the stage. At that point I stopped smiling and instead, wanted to punch the guy’s lights out. And I know I wasn’t alone.

While I laughed at some of the antics of Orin Scrivello, DDS, there was also a part of me cringing to see the stereotype once more reinforced: all Masters are bastards and all women who submit are dishrags with no self esteem. But in reality, that’s not BDSM, that’s abuse. Unfortunately, too many in the audience will never know the difference. And that’s where this blog post comes in.

As a writer of BDSM erotic romance, I have a duty – a responsibility –to remind people of the line between consensual activities and abuse. The mantra of “Safe, Sane and Consensual” is a good one, although communication is needed to determine the definitions of those terms. “Safe” is pretty easy, but depending on the level of expertise, something one Dom can do with ease, another would be dangerous trying. “Sane” is a word like “normal.” Who defines it? What is insane to one couple is very sane to another. Probably the only word of the three most people can agree on is “consensual.” If both parties agree to it and no force is used in the agreeing, then what they do is their business and no one else’s. Theoretically, anyway.

The problem is, the line is in a different place for each couple. What one man and woman not only tolerate but expect from each other, is very different from what another couple will accept. And that’s why communication is so incredibly important in all BDSM activities. Communication before the scene (so both parties have an idea where the limits are), communication during the scene (you’ll notice my characters often use the traffic signal as a way for the sub to let the Dom know what’s going on in her head; see note 1 below), and communication after the scene (what did both of them enjoy…what will they never do again?).

The language used by those participating in BDSM activities also helps to set the boundaries. “The term "play" is used along with another word to describe the sexual act with all the trimmings: a "scene." Both these terms, derived from the theatre, denote a setting-apart...a definite movement of the action out of real life and into a realm of fantasy” (see note 2). So communication and knowing the vocabulary are vital to keeping the action honest…and not crossing the line into abuse.

If you suspect you’re in an abusive relationship, GET OUT. Stay with a friend, go to a women’s shelter or better yet, pay a visit to your friendly neighborhood police station. But do NOT stay. Abuse and BDSM are not synonymous. The key word, consensual, is missing from an abusive situation. If you don’t like what he is doing, tell him. And if he becomes violent or doesn’t listen, LEAVE. And if you’re afraid of him…then that’s a dead ringer for an abusive situation and again, tell the grocery clerk or the movie usher…tell someone and have them help you get away until the police can be called.

The mainstream media feeds on lurid tales of BDSM activities gone awry or involving celebrities. But the reality is far more mundane. Lifestylers keep their activities quiet lest they be seen as abusers and prey; those truly abused often stay in their relationships far longer than they should.

And Little Shop of Horrors will go on entertaining audiences…and I will go on cringing every time Orin Scrivello, DDS takes the stage….

Play safe!

(NOTE 1 on the traffic signals: “Green” means “keep on what you’re doing,” “yellow” means “hand on, I need to pause the scene for a moment,” and “red” means “stop right now, don’t go one iota further and get me the heck out of these ropes!” Use them in good health!)
(NOTE 2: Yes, I'm quoting myself. Took that sentence from a previous blog post on my own blog. Scroll to second post of that week. Seemed to sum up what I wanted to say here, too!)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Do You Really Do What You Write About?

I love Cafe Press. There are so many goodies there. I'm on their mailing list, so when I received an email a couple of weeks ago for Garfield T-shirts, I had to take a peek. One click led to another (as is often the case with me on the Internet) and I typed in a search for "writing." Wow. Do you know how many T-shirts CP has with neat writing sayings on them? One in particular caught my eye: "My wife writes romance novels. I benefit. Big time."

It's cute. I chuckled when I read it. Then I thought about how people treat me when they find out I write erotic romance. Suddenly, I've become Dr. Ruth. I have to know everything about sex since I write about it. Surely I couldn't write about something if I've never experienced it.

Yes, I can.

It's called research. Imagination. Reading what interests me. Learning from some of my favorite authors. I haven't called two male friends and taken them to bed so I could describe a menage correctly. (Although that might be fun...)

Most of the erotic romance authors I know are in a committed relationship with their own personal hero. They've been married for years. A menage is in their minds, not their beds.

I'm amazed at how many people believe we writers actually DO all the stuff we write about. Thriller and mystery writers don't find dead bodies buried in their backyards. Horror writers don't slash people's throats or stab them twenty-seven times. Paranormal writers don't hang around with vampires and werewolves.

We lose ourselves in our stories the same way you do. We create characters we hope you'll love as much as we do. Most of our adventures are created in front of our computers, not in the bedroom.

If I ever do find those two male friends to help with my research, I'll let you know...