Friday, July 29, 2011

Excerpt from TABLE FOR FOUR

TABLE FOR FOUR is now available for the Kindle! And the Nook. And every other ebook platform you could possibly want.

This novel, my second ever published, has recently come back to me. You can still order print copies from Ellora's Cave while they have them in stock, but once they're gone, I'll put it up at Createspace (as soon as I figure out their formatting rules!) for those who prefer a hard copy.

The re-release of TABLE FOR FOUR has a different cover (for those of you reading in a reader, click through to see the new cover in the sidebar) I designed myself. I'd love feedback on it, as I'm really a writer, not a visual artist. Drop me a line or put your critique in the comments section below.

Need a reminder of this book? An excerpt to jog your memory or whet your appetite? Read on!

David and Lissa Patterson have the perfect marriage, as long as one isn’t talking about their sex life. David prefers to snuggle, enjoying the slow and sensuous approach to intimacy; Lissa longs for a dominant alpha male when it comes to sex. She wants to be tied, taken, and left breathless. The two settle on a compromise that leaves neither of them totally satisfied.

Until one night, when a tall Gypsy King and his Beautiful Lady walk into their lives…

from Chapter One
A small diner just down the street and around the corner from their modest house tended to be one of their habitual eating spots. Their usual booth by the front picture window was available and Lissa and David slid in along the maroon vinyl seats facing each other across the matching maroon table.

They ordered and David told her what he’d accomplished while she was ‘busy’ elsewhere. He was very careful not to refer to her private fetish in public—to do so would violate another taboo. Lissa, however, was grateful for his discretion, it had taken her a long time to tell the person she most loved in all the world; there was no way she wanted anyone else to know.

Indeed, part of the arousal of the afternoon was listening to the life teeming around her; life that had no idea what little secret lay behind the open balcony door just above their heads.

The diner filled quickly and when the little bell over the door rang again, David looked up as something or someone caught his eye—and stared. Lissa frowned and nudged his foot under the table, but it seemed to have no effect. Turning her head slightly, she saw what held his fascination.

A man and a woman had entered and were making their way down the aisle toward them. With her straight, long blonde hair and svelte figure, the woman was a walking goddess. Her dark heels were at least six inches high – which just about matched the length of her navy blue skirt.

But while Lissa acknowledged the beauty of the woman, it was the man who followed that held her eye. Even though the woman’s heels made her tall, the male behind her still towered a full head above her, his broad chest and commanding bearing daring Lissa to look away. His neatly trimmed wavy black hair fell in small curls just long enough to give a girl something to run her fingers through. His round face sported a small goatee and neatly trimmed mustache. The very image of a Gypsy king come to life.

The diner was full and every eye watched the couple as they made their way along the narrow aisle. No seats were left and when the waitress apologized and told them they’d have to wait, the gentleman, without turning his gaze from Lissa, told the server in a smooth voice, “That won’t be necessary. I’m sure this nice couple will share their booth with us, will you not?”  

There was a faint accent in his quiet, baritone voice, but Lissa could not place it. She tore her eyes away to signal ‘no!’ to David, but he was already moving over and letting the woman slide in next to him. The blonde made an odd little movement, then settled next to Lissa’s husband and smiled across the table at her. Lissa smiled weakly in return, while glaring at her husband. What was he doing?

“Please, by all means … we are happy to share the table.” David tore his eyes away from the blonde beauty just long enough to dismiss the waitress. But anything further was cut off as he watched the goddess flip up her short skirt and place her naked rear end on the vinyl seat cover. He knew was ogling, but he just couldn’t stop. It wasn’t every day that a beautiful woman just walked into your life and showed you her ass.

David’s entranced absorption of the blonde goddess’ actions made her male companion smile. He watched his partner and when her soft blue eyes met his and she nodded, he knew she wanted to play. While he spoke English extremely well, he let his rich baritone affect more of an accent than usual as he made his apologies to the couple whose booth they had invaded.

“Thank you, sir, you have saved my lovely Adora from having to stand so long in her shoes. They make her sexy, do they not?” He put out his left hand and Lissa caught sight of a large gold signet ring on his forefinger—but no wedding band a little further along. The woman he called Adora smiled at him and placed her hand in his. The image of her slender and delicate hand in his larger and rougher one made Lissa’s heart skip a beat as she recognized their poetic contrast: he was night; she was day.

David’s mouth was dry and he hurriedly sipped from his water glass to cover the fact that this man’s girlfriend had given him a hard on—an amazing accomplishment, considering he just had sex with his wife not an hour before. “Yes,” he finally managed. “Yes, her shoes, I mean, your shoes are very sexy.” He tried not to look down, but the woman’s tight shirt barely covered her bosom and her cleavage just cried out to for a quick glance.

“Oh, David, really!” scolded Lissa, totally embarrassed by her husband’s obvious fascination with the blonde, but more embarrassed by her own internal reactions to the man beside her. Her panties were soaked and her pussy was open and aching, right there in the restaurant. For crying out loud, she was a married woman!

“Methinks my Adora likes your husband’s attentions, even as you are not sure you appreciate mine, my dear woman. Permit me to introduce myself. I am Master Richard.”

If the man were not sitting so close to her and so obviously exuding sex appeal all over the place, Lissa might have laughed at the Hollywood movie tone the man affected. And what was up with the ‘Master’ title? All the man needed was an opera cape with red satin lining and the picture would be complete. He already was dressed in the suit. All right, so he wasn’t wearing a white tie and tails, but a nice three-piece, well-cut, black, very sexy suit.

His left hand occupied with Adora, Richard now held out his right to Lissa, palm up in a gesture of peace. He noted how the woman beside him shrank away, careful to not touch him with any part of her body, and waited until she extended her own hand, noting she was unable, or unwilling, to meet his eyes. Master Richard gently took her hand in his, turning it and bringing it to his lips. The kiss on the back of her hand intentionally put her off balance.

Lissa knew she should not sit here and hold hands with a perfect stranger, no matter how sexy he was. Even knowing she should pull her hand away, she remained still, letting him touch her.

“Pleased to meet you,” she murmured, more out of habit than real pleasure.

Richard decided to let the pretty dark-haired woman off the hook, turning to the gentleman across from her. “Sir, you have met Adora, my beloved. And I have introduced myself. Is it not the custom for you to now introduce your wife and yourself?” There was a hint of amusement in his voice, since the man was still entranced with his companion.

“Oh! Erm, yes, of course.” David cleared his throat and shook his head, trying desperately to bring his mind back under control and focus on something other than the extremely sexy woman beside him. “I’m David Patterson – this is my wife, Lissa.”

“Enchanted.” Richard released Adora’s hand, but still held Lissa’s; he turned it over to place a tender kiss on her palm. His eyes held hers, never leaving her face; Lissa felt her soul was open to the man’s inspection. An absurd thought ran through her head that perhaps the man really was the King of the Gypsies and she smiled at the absurdity.

“Ah! Your lady smiles and the world is lighted with happiness."

That's it! The ebook is available here from the Kindle, here from the Nook, and here for all ebook formats (including the Kindle and the Nook!).


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Today was not a wasted day.

I have to keep telling myself that. I didn't write a single word, I didn't write anything down on paper or type anything into the computer. I did only a single load of laundry and I did run the dishwasher.

And then I sat in the air conditioning of my study and played solitaire on the computer for several hours, going over my current work in progress, trying out plot points in my head, exploring characters by taking them down this path, then backing up and trying another. Playing solitaire keeps my hands and one part of my brain busy, allowing the creative side of my brain to daydream plots to my heart's content.

Since Sunday afternoon I've written over seven thousand words on a brand-new story. I only wrote 600 words yesterday because I could feel it veering off track. But I didn't know how or where it had gone astray. I thought about opening the file and giving it a go today, but now I'm glad I didn't. In all my "daydreaming" today, I think I have it figured out and tomorrow I will hack and slash, rewrite and wrestle this puppy onto the right track.

So today was not a wasted day. Really.

Play safe,

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

WARNING: long and serious blog post alert!

What is the relationship between inspiration and research? Does inspiration move us to learn? Or does our learning inform our inspiration? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

I’ve been thinking about the relationship between the two concepts quite a bit lately. In fact, I’m writing this sitting in Gracie O’Malley’s Pub in Toronto, Canada, just a block behind the Princess of Wales Theatre where, in another hour, I’m going to go see Hugh Jackman’s one-man concert. I’m sipping a Guinness, eating teriyaki chicken wings and debating the heavier questions of creativity.

Asking the questions may be moot – in the long run, does it really matter? As long as creation takes place, who cares about the details? And yet I can’t help chasing down some stray thoughts as I look down the street to the stage door and know inspiration awaits on just the other side.

Toni Morrison once said, “I don’t wait to be struck by lightning and I don’t need certain slants of light to write.” That, more than any other philosophy, has guided my own beliefs about creating a novel. If I waited for the flash of inspiration all the time, I’d never get anything written.

In that way, being an author isn’t that much different from being an electrician. We each learn our trade and how to use the tools, then we go on to use our knowledge and skills to create light (or enlightenment). Sometimes we even create art.

But what about the Muses? The ancient Greeks definitely saw inspiration—that sudden flash of insight or brilliant idea—as coming from the outside. It wasn’t controllable. Either the Muses visited you—or they didn’t. It wasn’t YOU who held brilliance, it was the gods who gave it to you when and if they saw fit.

So where does that leave me?

(Imagine a long pause to sip stout and eat a wing or two as I gaze out the window and down to the stage door. Is he already inside warming up? What might those preparations look like? Will he be as  an incredible performer as I want him to be? I finish the wings, clean my fingers and take up my pen again.)

I tend to think of inspiration as internal. The talent to do something with the inspiration is a gift from God (I can be inspired to paint, but I haven’t the talent. As a result the best, most wonderful painting I can ever paint is a blank canvas because I look at that whiteness and see the painting in my head. Every detail, every line, every color. But the moment I put brush to canvas and make the very first stroke, it’s wrong and the painting is ruined. It’s okay. I’m not a painter. Or at least, not one with canvas. I paint with words. That’s my gift.).

But talent isn’t inspiration. I can also have all the talent in the world and never do anything with it. I can be a great singer who decides to keep my mouth shut, to hide my light, as it were.

To me, inspiration is a way of looking. It’s a way of seeing the world, of being open to possibilities that lead to those insights or ideas. If you aren’t looking, how will you see it when it does occur?

Thomas Edison considered it a wasted day if he didn’t invent at least one new thing while at work. He didn’t wait around for a bolt from the blue to point him in the right direction. He looked at the research he’d done, thought about where it could go next—and invented.

And that brings me back to my original question: What is the relationship between inspiration and research? If I’m researching bondage positions on the web and see a picture of a position I find intriguing, then use that position in a scene I’m writing, can I honestly say I’ve been inspired? My methods are methodical, precise and analytical in both the research and in writing the description. There was no flash, no gestalt moment of understanding. There was cold research and hot writing. Moving from one to the other is the talent, the art.

When I watch Mr. Jackman’s concert tonight and decide my next hero will fit the character sketch of him that I will draw, is that inspiration? Or is going to this concert research? Can I convince the IRS I should be able to deduct the price of the ticket because I’m here in a professional capacity? I suspect my attendance is a little of both.

In the end, the area between inspiration and hard research is several shades of gray. It exists both inside me and outside in the pictures I see, in the people I watch. For me, there are very few flashes of lightning because I’m inspired by so much.

It’s a great way to make a living.

Play safe!

PS. I’m including a pic I took after the show. Yes, I stood outside at the stage door. Yes, I got an autograph. Yes, I gave into indulgence and let myself be a stage-struck dork. After the pic is the character sketch I wrote. Who knows? Maybe you’ll see him soon in a yet-to-be-written novel!

Short character sketch of Hugh Jackman; entitled “Public Perceptions”
(some of the following is also based on the episode of “Punk’d” where he was set up)

Eyes wide, the corners crinkle almost closed in laughter and
            cheeks ripple into dimples

A new soul
wants to learn
hungry to do more

Slow to anger; it shows in his hands first.
Hands that hold a child, comfort a friend, make a fist.

A dichotomy, a puzzle
            A man’s man – won’t throw the first punch but will follow with a wicked left
            A woman’s man—the alpha male with a caring heart

Breaks classification. Defies tradition and stays out of the box.
Pushes his limits, tries new ideas.
Mr. Jackman

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Timeless Love excerpts

Now available -- Timeless Love, a collection of four sweet romance short stories by me, Diana Hunter :) Long-time readers of the blog probably figured out I had ulterior motives in asking about ebook pricing and genre-hopping -- you were right!

From meeting to dating, from marriage to the end of life, the four couples in these four short stories show us that love truly is timeless. Timeless Love contains the following short pieces:

Love at Third Sight—Is it possible to fall in love at first sight? How about second? For Diana, the third time she saw Steve, she knew he was the man she was destined to marry.

Secret Signs This short piece began life as a scene in Secret Submission that ended up being cut. Here it is now, developed into its own little romantic story.

Gorilla Love—Inspired by a trip to the zoo, this very short story captures a tiny slice of married life.

One Last Dance—True love lives forever, even as our bodies age and fail. 

Secret Signs has never been published; the other three were available briefly at Scribd. Here they are now in one volume for one low price. I thought about selling each individually, but ultimately decided to bundle them together because Secret Signs and Gorilla Love are pretty short. The other two make up for it, though!

Timeless Love is available at Amazon and at Smashwords for all ebook platforms. 

WARNING: Timeless Love is a sweet romance! If you're looking for Diana's kinkier, erotic romance, please visit her site at for hot excerpts and purchasing information.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

First of all, thank you to all who participated in the survey over at the Sizzling Scribes. That poll is now closed and here are the results:

What is the highest you'll pay for a short story?

You’re all over the board on this one. 9% say you’ll pay nothing; you want it free. 9% say the top you’ll pay is $.49, which is almost free. I'd lump them together and say 18% really don't want to pay anything for a short story. NOTE: I did not define any set length in the definition of "short story."

27% say you’ll pay up to $1.99, but the majority -- 55% -- weighed in at $.99 being the top dollar for a short story.

What is the highest price you'll pay for a novella?

27% said $1.99
46% said $2.99
18% said $3.99
9%   said $4.99

Looks like the $1.99-2.99 range has it for a novella.

What is the highest price you'll pay for a full-length novel?

This was evenly split between $4.99 (5 votes) and $9.99 (6 votes). NO ONE voted for less money ($9.99 was the highest price I listed)

What ebook format do you prefer?

Kindle won, hands down. 73%
next came .pdf at 37%
the Nook got one vote

Since several of us Scribes are in the process of moving some of our older works into the self-published realm, your feedback is greatly appreciated!

Play safe,