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Today I’m hosting an excerpt from Lynne Connolly‘s Dilemma in Yellow Silk, one of the books you can win when you enter the March Mayhem giveaway, hosted by author/artist/all around talented lady Joanne Renaud. Click the banner above for the details.

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lynne_Dilemma-in-Yellow-SilkConcentrating on her music, Viola nearly jumped out of her skin when a large body plumped down on the stool next to her. She shrieked, spun around, and closed her eyes. “You!”

“Why, weren’t you expecting me?”

His expression of innocence did not fool her for a minute.

“Not here, not like this. Did you run from the last staging post?” she demanded. She should not talk to the Earl of Malton like this. Right now he was less the earl and more Marcus, the boy she’d known so long ago. “Oh, my lord, sir, I’m sorry!”

She should recall her place, but she was finding the task difficult when he was wearing the same mischievous grin he’d used at nine years old.

“I couldn’t resist. Do you know what you were playing?”

The heat rushed to her face. “Yes.” No sense dissimulating. Of course she knew.

“And if you don’t stop ‘my lord’ and ‘sir’ing me, I’ll have you sent home forthwith. When we’re alone, it’s still Marcus.”

What had happened to him? Marcus had slowly moved away from her, gone from a childhood friend to a dignified, proper aristocrat. She understood the move, because he would have responsibilities to take care of, but sometimes she missed him. He’d remained a distant figure ever since, growing more pompous every time she saw him. Now he seemed to have cast all that off.

“I thought—that’s not right.”

Sighing, he shook his head. “And I’ve stopped you playing. A pity—I was enjoying that. Carry on.”

“Is that an order—sir?”

He growled deep in his throat, such a small sound she’d have missed it if he were not sitting so close to her. “Stop it. I’ll be Malton in about an hour.” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’ve spent the last three days in a closed carriage with my father, and I want to forget the stateliness. He would, given the chance. But with outriders and men riding ahead to warn innkeepers we were on our way, we had little chance.”

“So they commit the great crime of ensuring the best bedrooms are free. The cook is bursting from his waistcoat, trying to cook the best meal he’s capable of making. If only my journeys were so tedious!”

His laugh rang around the room. “Exactly. But we’re welcomed with ‘Good evening, my lord,’ and ‘How can I serve you, my lord?’”

“You poor thing.” She should guard her tongue, but she delighted in reacquainting herself with the man she used to know.

He rewarded her with another laugh. “I know. It’s such a hardship.” Lifting his feet, he spun around on the bench so he faced the keyboard, as she did. “You got a phrase wrong. The tune is based on the traditional one, but it’s varied in the last line of each verse. Slightly different each time. Like this.”

When he demonstrated, Viola understood exactly what he meant. But with the amusement, her heart ached. She had missed him so much. At the delicate age of nine, two years after his breeching, Marcus had begun his training, and since then, he’d become engrossed in his life’s work. Before then, the laughing boy had had no cares, and they’d played together.

Until someone remembered their different stations in life, and she did not think it was Marcus.

“Your turn.” (more…)

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Angeline TrevenaHi guys!  Today I’m featuring a guest post by poet, journalist and short story author Angeline Trevena, whose short story “Being Superhuman” appears in the upcoming zombie erotica anthology Fifty Shades of Decay available just in time for Valentine’s Day.  (I know, right?  “Zombie erotica.”  I never even thought there’d be call to type those words, or even think them.  Well here we are, 2013!)  Read what she has to say about creating her short story for the anthology, and then go see if some zombie erotica might be just the thing you’ve been missing.  😀

 

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Essentially, I’m a horror writer. I have always found fun in things that frighten me, from roller coasters to the scariest of horror movies. But not spiders. They are just scary. I also write fantasy and love the melting pot between the two. So when a call for zombie erotica stories hit my radar, the concept seemed so bizarre, so unique, so disgusting, that I just had to write something to submit.

50 Shades of Decay coverThe submissions call challenged us to find what was sexy about zombies. I have to admit, that really stumped me. I scoured the internet for pictures of sexy zombies, but found little more than the cliché zombie cheerleader. I made a few false starts until after Christmas, with the December 31st deadline looming, when I finally did what I should have done from the beginning. I turned the whole idea on its head.

I had been so wrapped up, and overwhelmed, with my lack of knowledge and experience when it came to writing erotica: I was setting myself up to fail. So I wrote what I knew. I wrote a strong female main character. I wrote dark and gothic. I wrote horror. And then I added the sex.

My story, ‘Being Superhuman’, follows Carmilla and her boyfriend Jones as they leave their home in the wake of a zombie apocalypse, setting off to find a safe encampment they find out about. They make it there, but they don’t both make it there alive.

One of the challenges of this story was the extremely narrow word limit of just two thousand words. In the world of storytelling, that’s not a lot to play with. In my first draft, I found myself at 1,500 words and only one third of the way through the plot. So then I had to start cutting. Writing within a small word limit forces you to make the most of every single word. If a word or a sentence isn’t bringing something important to the story, it has to go. Out with physical descriptions of the characters, out with unnecessary dialogue tags, out with characters walking from here to there. Every word had to be vital, and everything had to be expressed in the simplest of terms, the most streamlined way.

I love editing short stories. It’s like tidying up a messy room, or organising a bookshelf. I take something chaotic, something overstuffed, and I smooth it out, control it, and pull it into line.

The 50 Shades of Decay anthology is due for release on Valentine’s Day, published by Angelic Knight Press. It contains 50 zombie erotica stories; the perfect flesh-eating romantic night in.

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Check out Angeline’s blog for more updates and writerly thinky-thoughts.  Thanks for joining us today, Angeline!

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