Excerpt from “His Dark Obsession”

Available September 26th!

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Pierce swung Sarah around till her back connected with the wall, cushioned only slightly by a thick tapestry.

She had only a moment to glance around before his broad frame blocked her sight. They were in the library. The dark, unoccupied library.

Running his hand down her arm, Pierce closed his hand around Sarah’s delicate wrist, lifting it high over her head.

Pinning it against the wall. Feeling the power of his height and strength, she was trapped. Sensing the danger she was in, Sarah watched the muscular swells of his chest beneath his thin linen shirt expand with each labored breath as he fought for control.

“Look at me,” he demanded soft and low.

Sarah kept her eyes trained on his waistcoat buttons. Her humiliation from him not kissing her and her jealousy of that woman had gotten the better of her and now she was going to pay the price. Despite the trappings of wealth and respectability there was something primal and uncivilized about Lord Warrington.

“Now,” he barked.

Startled, Sarah looked up at him. Her bright green eyes close to tears.

“Little girls who are used to boys shouldn’t try their games on men. Do you understand me?”

Sarah could only nod.

Pierce palmed one thick ringlet of her hair. Slowly gliding his hand down the long, silky length, pulling the curl straight. Gripping the end tightly, he gave it a sharp tug before allowing the curl to spring back in place. Her hair fascinated him. It was raven’s wing black. The color rich and deep. So long and thick, a man could wrap his hand around a silken lock twice. A vision of her head forced back as he fisted her hair before driving deeply into her small, tight body with his cock flashed before his eyes.

Sarah opened her lips on a gasp from the small sting of pain from the sudden tug on her hair. Watching his strong hand grasp the delicate tendril somehow heightened her awareness of his physical brawn compared to her diminutive size. She couldn’t help but feel the hum of restrained energy, as if he was forcing himself to only lightly touch her. What would happen if his restraint snapped?

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Cover Reveal!!!

“His Dark Obsession” out on September 26th.

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Here is the beautiful cover for my next book out this Monday. It is a Victorian Erotic Murder Mystery.  It also has a fun twist. The Hero is an aristocrat with an interest in photography. (Photography was a growing medium in the Victorian era.) He uses his art to ensnare the Heroine in a web of dark erotic games.

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Writing Resources

I have no intentions of ever trying to write the “great American novel”. I really like writing erotica. It’s fun and makes people happy…very happy if I’m doing my job correctly! Just because I’m writing in a fun genre doesn’t mean I don’t do my research. If I’m going to write erotica it is going to be the best damn erotica I can write!

Here are a few of my “go to” resources.

Thesauruses

I simply adore thesauruses! They are such a useful writing tool. I always stare in wonder when other writers tell me they use the “computer thesaurus”. There are 32mil books in print/ebook around the world right now. At any given time there are 4mil books on Amazon. This does not include those who are writing with the hope of being published.

Now think about most of those people using the limited number of options offered by the computer thesaurus. Boom! You’re all using the same damn six synonym options for “anger”. Where is the originality? The unique voice?

Here are a few of my favorites. For links, etc. Go to my Goodreads Author page. www.goodreads.com

Roget’s Super Thesaurus by Marc McCutcheon – This is my main one. It not only gives different word options but phrases as well. I tend to highlight the common words I often look to replace for easy reference. For example: command, gentle, force, beautiful.

These next few are amazing! The authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have several different versions.

The Emotion Thesaurus – For each emotion it gives a definition, physical and internal signs and plot actions as well as writing tips. Excellent resource!

The Rural Setting Thesaurus/ The Urban Setting Thesaurus – For each setting they give a detailed description and then cover all the senses – sights, smells, tastes, touch, sound.

Romance Writer’s Phrase Book by Jean Kent. So I bought this book back when writing a romance novel was just a twinkle in my eye and bodice rippers were in vogue. Admittedly the phrases are a bit stilted but I usually just flip through and draw inspiration from the individual words. For example, I might see “his eyes lowered on a fierce scowl” and only pull “scowl” from it.

Thinking Like a Romance Writer by Dahlia Evans – I bought this recently to see if I could get some updated inspiration. I don’t really use most of the book think “swollen masterpiece” as an example of what to call a cock but I do like the word lists for feelings, facial expressions and different words for “said” (I try to use said as little as possible in my writing because it is not descriptive enough).

Banish Boring Words! by Leilen Shelton – This is a kid’s thesaurus and it is awesome! Quick and simple lists of character traits, colors, shapes, sensory words, emotions, action verbs. I love this book! haha

Victorian Research

For anyone who reads my books, you know I like to sprinkle in lots of historical details. I don’t just say the heroine is wearing a pretty blue dress, I describe the style, fabric, etc. I am also a fan of dropping in daily life details you may not even notice but I know makes for a richer reading experience.

Here are a few of my favorite resources if you write in the Victorian genre.

Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England by Judith Flanders

How to Be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman

A Royal Cookbook: Seasonal Recipes from Buckingham Palace by Mark Flanagan, Edward Griffiths

Murder Mystery Research

My upcoming book out October 7th, “His Dark Obsession”, is a Victorian murder mystery so here are the books I used to research poisons, the criminal element and the legal process.

The Arsenic Century: How Victorian Britain Was Poisoned at Home, Work, and Play by James C. Whorton

King of Poisons: A History of Arsenic by John Parascandola

The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock by Lucy Worsley

Did She Kill Him?: A Victorian Tale of Deception, Adultery, and Arsenic by Kate Colquhoun

Western Research

The book I’m currently working on is a Western. I am doing allot of research. I want to avoid the “Hollywood” version of the West and capture the real details.

Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West by Candy Moulton

Western Words: A Dictionary of the Old West by Ramon Adams. This is a great resource but you have to read through it since it is alphabetical by the old west terms not the term you are looking to replace with a more authentic vibe.

How the West was Worn by Chris Enss – Awesome wardrobe resource. Has all the details you would need.

Hiker’s Guide – If you are writing a book that takes place in the outdoors, like most Westerns, I recommend picking up a hiker’s guide. It will tell you about the flora, fauna, general atmosphere, weather. I have one for the action area of my current work in progress.

I hope this helps! Happy Writing!

🙂 ZB

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Fan Girl Moment – My Gilmore Girls’ Trip!

This is not my typical blog post but I thought it would be fun to share anyway. In the interest of full disclosure for those die-hard lovers…I’m a Netflix fan. While I loved catching the occasional episode when it was on T.V., it wasn’t until Netflix ran the whole series that I was able to sit down and watch all the episodes in a row.

Quirky. Cozy. Fun. Charming. Sweet. Romantic.

There are hundreds of reasons why people love Gilmore Girls. For me, like many others, the initial appeal was the town, Stars Hollow. Living in a big, impersonal city, I just loved the warm, friendly atmosphere it embodied. The off-beat festivals. The informal town hall meetings…although Taylor would object to the word “informal”! The quirky residents. It is all so engaging.

Next it was the idea of creating your own family. So many programs focus on family as the all-important unit. Blood is thicker than water. Family is everything. Not all of us are close to our families. The idea that a family can be a group of unrelated people who genuinely care for one another really spoke to me.

So when Blushing hosted a very fun writer’s retreat in New Hampshire recently, I jumped at the chance to pop on down to Washington Depot, CT. The town that inspired Stars Hollow and Gilmore Girls.

Here is my trip!

Tip #1 – By all accounts, this sleepy little town is not enamored of its claim to fame. With the interest generated by the upcoming new episodes, that is only going to get worse. Your best bet is to keep your true purpose for visiting on the down low.

Okay – Let’s get this part over with it. There is no gazebo in the town center. I know. I know. Disappointing but almost every other cute, little town you pass on your way to Washington Depot will have a gazebo so you will still get your fill of that charming town staple.

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Here is their Town Hall. A great deal more impressive than Ms. Patty’s School of Ballet but personally I prefer her cozy wood-paneled studio! Check out the awesome sports car which was parked right outside. Lorelai is that you?!😉

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Speaking of Ms. Patty. Here is the closest counter-part to her studio.

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This adorable grocery store is I believe a very good substitute for Doose’s Market.

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I also swung by the Post Office right next store to mail a quick letter. I got a true Stars Hollow experience. The guy behind the counter was so friendly! During the time I was in there three separate residents came by and were all greeted by name. I know this is a small thing but when you live in a city where the Post Office is cold and impersonal, it made an impression.

I spent over an hour wandering the aisles of this adorable bookshop. Don’t you just love the name! While they do have souvenir t-shirts and hats, etc. that say Washington Depot…sadly none with the Gilmore Girls. Ah well…maybe one day!

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Tip #2 – Washington Depot doesn’t really have many boutique shops so don’t plan on spending half the afternoon wandering from store to store. Personally, the bookshop was the only one which appealed to me.

No visit would be complete without a visit to “Luke’s Diner”! From what I could tell, this is the closest you will get. Be warned. This is a very nice place with a stellar culinary reputation of their own. In other words, don’t go in there calling it “Luke’s”, they won’t appreciate it!

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This place is beyond adorable! It has a fairyland, rustic vibe. The food is fantastic. They have an amazing menu filled with fresh, local products. Everything from a basic sandwich to high-end creative dishes.

I decided to go with what I thought would be a Lorelai inspired meal. Pineapple soda and a big, juicy cheeseburger!

Tip #3 – Hidden Valley Eatery is actually a few miles outside of town. Basically when you get off the highway and see a sign that says Washington Depot to the left…you take a right. It’s totally worth it because there is nothing to compare restaurant-wise in town.

And now for the main event…the Inn that inspired it all. The Mayflower Hotel.

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The grounds are stunning! The hotel is beautiful! And by the way, surrounded by what looked like laurel trees…laurel…Lorelai…laurel. Hmmm…

Tip #4 – The Mayflower Hotel is in the next town over, Washington, CT. They are both right next to one another and most maps just list Washington but it can lead to confusion for us fan girls. Also, it is up on an isolated hill on basically private grounds which means you will stick out like a sore thumb! I tried to stroll around and look like I belonged but to be honest, I didn’t linger!

Here are some photos of around the town. I even captured what I think is the town Christmas tree!

Final Tip – While it was great fun wandering around and experiencing this town, it really only took up about two and half hours and that included my lunch and close to an hour in the bookshop. Basically, I would plan an afternoon of it. I think if you set aside an entire “Gilmore Girls” weekend you will get bored. The good news is there are so many lovely country roads and other towns to explore in the area! The Mayflower Hotel is a bit pricey for most of us but I did notice a spa on the property so if you wanted to linger I can’t think of anything more Lorelai than a fun mani-pedi!

Cheers!

ZB

 

 

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The Pen Name Dilemma

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A pen name is a very personal thing. For some, it is a name they have always liked. For others, it is a cool sounding name. For others still, it has symbolism. And for some, it sounded good for marketing reasons.

My name? Is a combination of those things. I’ve always loved the name Zoe. It calls to mind a French femme fatale with black hair, fishnet stockings and red lipstick. Blake is the name of one of my favorite poets, William Blake.

I love my pen name and fortunately it has brought me luck. I have eight #1 best selling books and a USA Today best seller with that name.

Now I am at a crossroads. I am currently writing a book I like very much. It is a Victorian Erotic Murder Mystery. A Classic WhoDunIt with a BDSM twist if you will. It is shaping up to be a great book with wonderful character detail.

So what is the problem? I’m not sure if it is a “Zoe Blake” book. **sigh**

For starters, it is not an historical age play. That is not a huge problem, neither was my homage to a pirate bodice-ripper “Captive of Chance”  or my contemporary military novella “Worth Fighting For” and my readers seemed to like them alright.

But this book is different. The emphasis is more on a sensual build up, on character development and on the story. Of course there will be my signature, extremely descriptive erotic scenes but they won’t be as prolific as in my other books.

Basically sex will be part of the story not the story. Hence my dilemma.

Do I publish this under Zoe Blake or create a new pen name?

Zoe Blake has the name recognition and fan base but I run the risk of annoying and possibly disappointing my readers by not giving them what they’ve come to expect, which is why lots of authors routinely publish under different pen names when they “shake things up”.

But to be honest, I’ve always questioned that practice, shouldn’t the readers be given the choice? I mean, they are perfectly capable of deciding if a particular book from a particular author is not going to be their cup of tea!

As reader myself, I’ve always felt a bit cheated when I’ve found out a favorite author writes under a different pen name I wasn’t aware of; always wishing they just stayed with the same name and let me decide if I liked their writing style enough to try the different genre or topic they were exploring.

My dilemma is…am I alone in that feeling? I mean obviously allot of authors have different pen names for different genres so there must be something to the practice. I’m just loath to publish under anything other than Zoe! I’ve grown very fond of her!😉

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“Worth Fighting For” excerpt

Here is an excerpt from my first contemporary short story, “Worth Fighting For” found in the “Hero to Obey” anthology.

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“What do you want?” Sage asked, exasperated. Conner raised his eyebrow suggestively as he swiveled his hips forward, brushing her stomach with his painfully aroused shaft. “Not that!” she blushed.

“How about a kiss?”

“A kiss?”

“I believe that is the customary tribute for a knight in shining armor when they rescue a damsel in distress.”

“I was not in distress, you…” Her argument was cut off by his finger across her lips.

“Do you want me to release you or not?”

Sage sighed. “Fine.” She tilted her head back and screwed her lips tightly in a rather uninviting purse.

Conner laughed. She really was an adorably, feisty little thing…

Without warning, he reached into the low neckline of the t-shirt that had been teasing him all afternoon. Grasping a warm handful of soft breast, feeling the graze of her nipple along the center of his roughened palm, he squeezed…hard.

Shocked, Sage opened her mouth in a gasp.

Conner attacked.

His other hand, which had been securing her waist, swept up Sage’s back to cradle her head, gripping her hair. Pulling down, her head fell back, giving him access to her vulnerable mouth. His full lips descended on her small pink ones, overwhelming her. His tongue swept in, taking possession of her mouth. Playfully swirling his tongue around her own, he tasted like mint with a hint of whiskey. Taking her lower lip between his teeth he gently bit before moving to lick down her neck, wanting to see if she tasted like sweet oranges. Pressing his lips to her skin, he murmured, “Kiss me back, Spitfire.”

“I…I can’t,” she whimpered. Christ! It was too much. Digging her nails into his strong chest muscles, Sage barely clung to her sanity. His hand guiding her head. His mouth on hers. His other hand gripping her breast. It was all too much. He didn’t just take control of her. He took complete possession of her every sense. Suddenly frightened of her response, Sage tried to push away, he only tightened his grip.

Hero to Obey on Amazon

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Papa’s Little Pain Princess” Excerpt

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“You owe me a punishment,” his voice pitched dark and low.

“A…punishment?” she squeaked.

“Yes, you were a very naughty girl. You need to be punished. By me.” He smiled.

Winnie occupied herself by straightening a display of ribbons. “Come here, Winnie.”

She thought about pretending not to hear him. “I wouldn’t,” he stated flatly.

Winnie started. It was like he read her mind. With slow determined steps, she approached him but stopped a few feet away. “Closer,” Archer ordered as he uncrossed his legs and opened his knees wide.

Winnie took another step so the hem of her flimsy dress brushed the tops of his polished boots.

Archer steepled his fingers in front of his chest. “Closer.”

“There’s no room,” Winnie said hesitantly, blushing as she glimpsed the unmistakable ridge outlined along his thigh. The light buff trousers concealing nothing.

Ignoring her objection, Archer merely raised an eyebrow as his gaze remained fixed on her face. Chewing her bottom lip in indecision, Winnie finally slid her slippered right foot along the carpeted floor before slowly joining it with her left. She was now standing between his outstretched legs.

Winnie closed her arms tight about her as if she could make her body smaller, lowering her head, refusing to meet his intense gaze. Amused, Archer pressed his legs together till his inner thighs brushed against her skirts. Winnie’s mouth fell open in shock. Her dress was so thin, she could feel the heat from his skin through her dress and petticoats. She tried to back away but his legs tightened, trapping her.

“Please, my lord. Madame could return at any moment,” she pleaded.

“Then you had better do as I say without prevarication,” he warned darkly. “Did you touch that sweet, little cunny of yours dreaming of me forcing my cock on you?”

Winnie felt lightheaded with shame and guilt. Should she even try to deny it? It seemed pointless since this enigmatic man seemed to have the power to read her innermost, wicked thoughts!

Winnie covered her face in mortification. “Please don’t, my lord,” she muttered.

Archer rubbed his thigh against her own. Winnie could feel the press of his arousal. “Answer me, Winnie.”

All she could muster was a small shake of her head…yes.

Archer smiled. She was the perfect combination of seductive innocence. Her existence in the East End ensured she was not completely sheltered as to the ways between a man and a woman. Yet, her blushes confirmed she was undoubtedly still untouched.

“Unbutton your dress.”

All Winnie could do was stare at him over the tips of her fingers.

“Unbutton. Your. Dress.”

Her mind spun. He couldn’t possibly mean to…to…not…here…in the salon…during the day…with her…um…ah…

“My dear, there will be time for that later, after your punishment. For now, I want you to unbutton the front of your dress.”

Once again, he knew her thoughts before she had even fully formed them. Not feeling as if she had a choice and trusting in the safety of the daylight and open setting, Winnie forced her numb fingers to unhook the tiny buttons that ran down the front of her dress. Slowly the threadbare, white chemise and top of her whalebone corset were revealed as the flaps of her dress fell open.

She was so tiny, her beautiful breasts were at his eye level. Archer leaned forward. Placing his index finger between her generous cleavage, he pressed on the top of the corset till it shifted down a few inches, just enough for her breasts to peek out over the top. He could see the cute, pink nipples through the practically sheer chemise.

Tearing his gaze from the stunning vision before him, Archer glanced up to see Winnie’s eyes tightly close, her mouth slightly open, her cheeks flushed, her breaths coming in short gasps. He smiled. He breathed deeply, taking in the warm, fresh scent of her skin. No perfume. Just the clean scent of lemon verbena soap and her. Knowing his time was short. Knowing if he gave into the impulse to taste her flesh he would not be able to stop there, Archer decided to test Winnie’s pleasure impulses.

He gently flicked her right nipple, watching as it became even more erect. She started but kept her eyes closed. Archer then lightly rolled both nipples between his index finger and thumb. Winnie shifted on her feet, a soft moan escaping her open lips. Instinctively, her body leaned in closer to his.

Without warning, he clamped down hard on her nipples. Pinching and twisting the delicate bunch of nerves. Archer tightened his thighs around Winnie as she bucked, trying to escape the pain. Locking her against him. Pressing her harder against his erection. “Keep quiet, my dove. You don’t want Madame to hear and come running,” he whispered harshly as he kept up the pressure on her nipples, oblivious to her distress.

Winnie bit down on her lower lip till she tasted blood. Quelling her own cries.

The moment he released her tortured flesh, there was this euphoric rush. As if the pain turned the absence of pain into pleasure. Her whole body felt warm and sensitive, especially the secret place between her legs. Without thought, she collapsed onto his lap. Archer kissed her forehead, as he gingerly re-buttoned her dress.

“Was that my punishment, my lord?” she asked, still in a daze.

Her gray eyes still dark and stormy with confused desire. “No, my dear. That was just a test. Your punishment is still to come.”

“Papa’s Little Pain Princess” on Amazon

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