Friday, May 18, 2012

Four Days with Jack - a look back at my first gay romance







Hi everyone,
Today I’m taking a look back at my first Amber Allure romance, Four Days with Jack. I always knew that one day I’d write a gay romance, and I’ve been batting ideas around in my head for a while. I was in between books and had just finished editing A Perfect Match when I heard about the Amber Allure “Postcards from Paradise” line, and I knew I had my next project.

A lot of people cringe when they learn that I write erotica – “You mean porn?” No. I write hot love stories that don’t skimp on details. Then when people find out that I write GAY erotic romances – that really freaks them out. “But why would you do that? You’re not a man or gay.” So? I wrote a Bigfoot romance, and I’ve never seen Bigfoot. 

As a writer, I approach a same-sex love scene (m/m or f/f) the same way I would if I was writing about a hetero couple. For me, it’s not about the gender or the anatomy of the characters – it’s about creating a believable, intimate scene where two people express their love for each other.

Four Days with Jack is one of the very few books I wrote without an outline. I think not having an outline let the characters write their own story (so to speak), and took the book in new directions. As I wrote, David quickly revealed a major conflict – inner turmoil.

David has kept his true desires a secret from himself and everyone else. He is afraid of what people will think about him if they know (or even suspect) that he’s gay. How will they react? Will they judge him? If so, how will his life change?

These aren’t the typical types of questions that my straight characters have to deal with in their romances. And this line of thinking really got me wondering about what it’s like for people to come out in real life. Will they be shunned by friends and family? Should they tell anyone? Live a lie? Move to a new state? What if they live in a state that’s more traditional and not gay-friendly? What will their coworkers think? Is their preference really anybody’s business?

I picked up on this theme of “what will people think?” and ran with it. In the book, David points out that Jack’s family (and some friends) disowned him when he came out, and David doesn’t want to go through the same type of heartache. Jack’s reply is pretty much: “So? They’ll get over it.” 

As I was writing this story, I considered “what people would think” about this book. How can a woman write a gay romance? What will people think about the m/m love scenes? Then I reminded myself that I’m a writer, and I create the characters and scenes that make up the book. Basically, the story needs to be told, and I’m the one telling it. I’ve made up all sorts of things: an erotic Bigfoot story, detailed ménage m/m/f scenes, a first-person vampire love story, and coming soon even a m/m werewolf romance.

Writers need to turn off their internal editors and forge ahead with the story as it should be (and needs to be) told. If we constantly worried about what grandma would think about our writing, or if we were afraid to open up and let the characters and story take us into the bedroom, we’d never write anything except G-rated bedtime fables. And if a friend/relative/whoever has a problem with the subject matter, Jack’s right: they’ll get over it.

Recently I read a blog where a woman was “confessing” to writing an erotic romance, even though she couldn’t tell anyone about it and wouldn’t “dare” put her real name on the story. I got to wondering…why? Why hide your writing? And if you’re “ashamed” to be writing in a particular genre, why invest the time in something you’re not going to stand behind?

Some people are offended by gay romances and consider them “icky” or immoral. My philosophy is pretty simple when it comes to that:  it’s a free country, so read whatever you want – but don’t expect me to censor what I write because you have a problem with it. 

If you don’t want to read gay romance, then don’t. But I’ll still write them. And if you want to read about centuries-old vampires hanging out at high school dances – that’s fine for you – but it’s not for me. Everyone has different tastes, preferences, and beliefs, and everyone should be entitled to live life to the fullest without the fear of being picked on, teased, ashamed, spied on, or otherwise bullied into thinking they’re not good enough and shouldn’t do this or that based on other peoples’ standards.

Four Days with Jack deals with issues of homophobia, self-doubt, and self-acceptance. I’m proud that I wrote it, and I’ll be proud of the next gay romances I write. Why? Because I’m a romance writer – and in my books, everyone deserves to be in love and live happily-ever-after.

I’m pleased to say that Four Days with Jack has received great reviews. Here’s a snippet from one:

“...I thought that (Kelli) Wilkins did a very good job portraying the confused David and the wary, but hopeful, Jack. David’s inner turmoil and fears about outing himself were so heartbreaking. I definitely felt for him. A strong romance with very likeable characters. I’m quite glad that I went ahead and read this story. I learned that as a romance fan I can definitely appreciate and enjoy those that feature two male heroes. An emotional, yet sexy coming-out story about two men finally opening themselves up to the possibility of a great love. It was an excellent introduction into the world of M/M romance.”--Jennifer, Romance Novel News

The book blurb and a tame excerpt are below. Check out a HOT excerpt on the book’s page: http://amberquill.com/AmberAllure/FourDaysWithJack.html

FOUR DAYS WITH JACK


When David invited his best friend along on vacation, he never expected them to fall in love…

Spending four days in a tropical paradise with Jack is a dream come true. For years, David lived a lie and denied his attraction to Jack. Now that they’re together in an isolated Caribbean resort, he finally sheds his denial and admits what he really wants—to be Jack’s lover.

Jack is more than willing to introduce David to the life he has always fantasized about. Their sizzling nighttime encounters confirm David’s long-hidden desires. But what will happen when they leave the resort? Will David sacrifice everything to start a new life with Jack? Or will he go back to his old ways and risk losing the best friend he ever had?

The Excerpt:
David popped open the champagne and poured them each a glass. "A toast. To us. To our new beginning."
"To us," he said, clinking David's glass and taking a sip of champagne. The bubbles tickled his nose. "This is excellent, nice and sweet."
"Like you." David set his glass on the cart and gathered him into his arms. "I want to prove how much I love you. How much I've always loved you."
Jack closed his eyes as David kissed him. It was gentle, tender, and made his skin tingle. David really did love him, and he was thrilled that he was opening up about it. David kissed him a few more times, then picked up the bowl of strawberries. "Hungry?"
He opened his mouth as David fed him the sweet fruit. His taste buds came alive, and he sucked on David's fingertips as he pulled away.
"My turn," David said. He took a strawberry and ran it along David's lips. David's tongue darted out and licked a droplet of juice off the end of the strawberry. He wrapped his lips around it and sucked it from his fingers.
Jack grinned. "Lovely."
They took turns feeding each other the tangy fruit and washing it down with champagne. After their third glass, his head started to buzz. "I think I'm getting drunk."
"Good," David said, drawing him into his arms for a kiss.
They kissed tenderly at first, then gave in to their passion. He groaned and kissed David deeper, aching and yearning for more. David's hot mouth tasted like strawberries and champagne.
David bent his head and kissed the soft spot on the side of his neck. "Tell me what you like," he said, grinding his erection against him. "Let me know it's right."
"You're doing fine," he replied, yanking David closer. He kissed him hard and plunged his tongue into his mouth. Kissing was fine, but he wanted more.
"Why don't we go to bed?"
"No. Not yet." David stepped back. "Tonight will be different. Tonight I plan on seducing you."
He closed his eyes. "Go right ahead. I'm all yours."
***
On May 17, 2012 the Amber Quill Press author blog took part in the "Hop Against Homophobia" blog hop. To find out more about the event, you can visit this link: http://hopagainsthomophobia.blogspot.com/2012/05/purpose-of-this-hop.html

I hope you’ll check it out. Next week, I'll share a bit about my summer romance, A Perfect Match.

Happy Reading!
Kelli A. Wilkins

See all of Kelli’s romances here:
Amber Quill Press Author Page: http://amberquill.com/AmberHeat/bio_Wilkins.html


and visit her site: www.KelliWilkins.com


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hot Summer Romances - Trust with Hearts





Hi everyone!
Here's part two of our look at my hot and steamy summer romances. Trust with Hearts was my 10th romance with Amber Quill Press, and it was a lot of fun to write. It's a sultry romance that takes place in West Virginia. The hero is a sexy, cowboy-like country singer who wears incredibly tight jeans. This novel is available in paperback and various electronic formats.




I had an idea for a mini-sequel, so if you've read it and would like to read more about Curtis, Sherrie, and Dave, post a comment or send me an email.


Here's a summary, a tame excerpt, and a few reviews:



The premise:
After a bitter breakup, Sherrie Parker seeks refuge at her cousin Dave’s house in rural West Virginia. Early one morning, she runs into Dave’s other houseguest, a singer named Curtis Taylor. The last thing Sherrie wants is to share living quarters with a country music crooner – even if he is sexy, in a cowboy sort of way.
 
Thrown together by circumstances, Sherrie and Curtis get off to a rocky start, but soon discover they have more in common than they ever imagined. Unable to fight their growing attraction, they give in to their desires and start a sizzling summer romance.
 
Everything is perfect between them until Sherrie discovers that Curtis is keeping secrets from her – and his biggest secret of all will change everything. Can their newfound love survive, or will destiny keep them apart forever? 
 
 An Excerpt from Trust with Hearts
Sherrie relaxed and closed her eyes. Would Curtis see it as a sign of submission and kiss her? Although she tried to deny it, she had a crush on him. His deep voice and mesmerizing blue eyes stirred feelings in her she thought were long dead and buried.

Her wish came true as Curtis’s kissed her. A low moan escaped her throat as his warm lips moved against hers, tender and slow. A tingling sensation built inside her, and she responded to his gentle embrace. Her lower body flared with a growing need.

Curtis slid his wide hand across her belly and up to her chest. He squeezed her left breast lightly, then slipped his tongue into her mouth. She wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him closer. Now more than ever, she wanted him to touch her, to kiss her, to take her right here. She’d only known Curtis a few days, and yet she wanted him in a way she’d never wanted Rick.

(Hot & spicy excerpts are on the book's page at the Amber Quill Press site!)


Reviews for Trust with Hearts

"Trust With Hearts is a must read. You will laugh, cry, and in the end, you will totally fall in love with the story, characters and all. Trust With Hearts is typical Kelli A. Wilkins work. It is character rich, and full of drama along with some sizzling scenes to spice it up. The relationship with her characters helps us see that Curtis and Sherrie may not make it, but then, as the drama unfolds, and she shows us their hearts, we realize there just may be more there than meets the eye. This book will remain on my favourites shelf for a long while, and it is a definitely recommended read from this reviewer.” - Rose, Reviewer, Romance at Heart.com “

"4.5 stars! Trust With Hearts is beautifully written. You struggle with Sherrie as she tries to regain her footing, and Curtis’s charm is intoxicating as it flows off the pages. I am always thrilled when I get the chance to discover a new-to-me author who I can’t wait to read more from.” - Emily, Reviewer, SingleTitles.com


You can see all my writings on my Amazon author page

- or visit my site: www.KelliWilkins.com


Next week, I'll be sharing a peek at another hot summer romance!
Happy Reading,
Kelli