Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Adventures in Storyland

...And now, for something different!

I have a special treat today to celebrate the fifth day of Inn on the Edge. A romantic holiday letter, from Angie to Josh (the main characters of the novel), six months after their breathless escape from the Inn on the Edge Hotel and from the sex demon who held them captive there. Enjoy!

My Dearest Josh,

I've been in my studio trying to paint all morning, but I couldn't get anything done because I kept thinking about you. I miss you so much! I know you had to go to this training conference for your new job - but it's crazy hard to have you gone for two weeks. 

How can they DO this to people, scheduling the conference just before Christmas? Don't they know we're newlyweds and that this is our first Christmas together? Are they heartless?

Anyway, I wanted to tell you what I was daydreaming about when I should have been painting.

It's the Storybuilder. You never got to experience the magic Storybuilder necklaces with me when we were still at the Inn on the Edge, which breaks my heart. I know you've been reluctant to use them, but Josh - it's been months and months since we escaped the demon. We're safe now. We took care of Mr. Abiba! He's gone! We can play with the Storybuilder now. I know we can!

Still need convincing? Then let me tell you about my daydream.

Close the door to your office, my dear. Lower the lights, sit back in your swivel chair and make yourself comfortable ... prepare yourself for adventure!

First, we'll undress each other. We put Storybuilder Pendants over one another's shoulders. You arrange mine so that it falls perfectly between my breasts, and then you lean over and kiss me. (Like it so far?)

We say the magic words and the Storybuilder turns on. Colorful speckles of light scatter over our faces, our bodies, looking for all the world like miniature Christmas lights. Admiring the effect the light show has on our nakedness, we nestle closer to each other. Before long I'm settled on your lap. We kiss again, even though kissing isn't part of the formal script that activates the magic. (Now I KNOW you're liking it!)

The sparkling lights die down, signaling that the magic is ready. It's time to take turns building our Storyland. Quivering with anticipation - this is so fun! - I choose the setting: we're in a castle, a deserted castle in the middle of a dense forest.

We watch, wide-eyed, as real world of our bedroom fades away and is replaced with magic. Rough stone walls materialize around us. The ceiling is made of wide, hand-hewed beams. The flagstone floor is covered with a hand-knotted carpet. Amazingly, impossibly, we're inside a drafty, cool castle. It even smells old. (Did you expect it to look so REAL, Josh? I didn't, the first time!)

I decide the place should be decorated for Christmas, and more things appear: a fifteen-foot Christmas tree in the corner of the room, fat aromatic candles burning in a wide circle around us, bunting draped from the ceiling and doorways, and, permeating the air, the smell of cloves and cinnamon and eggnog. (Yes, that'll do nicely.)

Now it's your turn, Josh. You get to choose the characters we'll portray in our own private Story Land. You think about it for a moment while I gaze at your handsome flushed face - see? You're getting into this! - and then you smile and tell me that you are the Lord of the Forest, a rich and powerful man, who has had this charming wilderness castle built for one purpose only - to share with his secret love...the parlor maid.

(So I'm to be a PARLOR MAID? You funny, funny man.)

We watch as we're magically draped in rich velvets and supple leather (for the Lord of the Forest), and in a thin, ill-fitting frock (for the parlor maid.)

(Thank you very much, Josh. Would it have been so bad to let me have a ball gown?)

Then it's my turn to add to the Story again. I declare that we need a banquet table heaped with the best food and drink, fresh and savory and ready to eat. Because we're going to get hungry, after all I have planned for us.

Arching your eyebrow, you quickly add an enormous four-poster bed, complete with satin sheets and comforters and plenty of pillows.

I add a mirror over the bed. Why not?

You add a box of sex toys. Again, why not?

And there you have it, Josh. The beginning of a Story. The rest will have to wait until you are here, until we're together again. Until then, I'll be thinking of nothing else.

With all my love,

Your Little Parlor Maid

Thursday, December 5, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop...and RELEASE DAY for Inn on the Edge!

Blog Hop: 12 Days of Christmas
Event Date: December 1 through December 12, 2013

~~~ Recipe ~~~

Mr. Abiba's Favorite Divinity Cookies

(from Inn on the Edge)

2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 heaping cup shortening or butter (do not use margarine)
2 cups cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Mix together confectioners' sugar and shortening. Add remaining ingredients and blend well using a mixer to form dough the consistency of stiff putty. Don’t over-blend. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Roll dough into 1 1/2 -inch balls and place on baking sheet about one inch apart. Flatten balls to about 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle with extra chopped pecans if desired.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes or until sides become slightly golden. Do not brown.

Makes about 24 cookies.

Release day!

Now Available!

Inn on the Edge
Erotic Horror by Gail Bridges
     Angela and her brand-new husband Josh have just arrived at their honeymoon destination, a romantic bed-and-breakfast hotel on the breath-taking Washington coast—the Inn on the Edge.

     But everything isn’t as it seems. The lessons that come free with the room aren’t for painting the lovely coastal scenery—the lessons are for better sex. Angie and Josh, shocked and titillated, immerse themselves in every sensual offering.

     It doesn’t take long for things to go horribly wrong. They discover that the old man running the place is a sex demon, who has been stealing their sensual energy. Worse, he’s dangerously in love with Angie and he has plans for her—plans involving an heirloom wedding ring.

Inside Scoop:  This book contains scenes of unbridled demon-inspired passion—girls with girls, boys with boys, twosomes, threesomes and more! A Romantica erotic horror romance from Ellora’s Cave.

~~~~  ~~~~  ~~~~  ~~~~  ~~~~  ~~~~

Grand Prize: $150 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
First Prize: One (1) eBook from Every Participating Author 

For more Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes & Giveaways - Hop along the 12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop!

12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop

Monday, December 2, 2013

You're Writing WHAT?

How I Came to Write Inn on the Edge,
an Erotic Horror Novel

     Not long ago, a friend asked about my new novel, Inn on the Edge. She wanted to know: Why erotic horror? Good question! It made me sit down and think about the genesis of my story, way back when the idea was nothing but wisps of unformed ideas, insubstantial yet demanding attention. My friend had good timing - this is a great time to talk about the very beginnings of the book, since the release date of December 6 is finally within shouting distance.

     It goes like this: 

     Just over a year ago, not long after my first erotic work was published, I had a conversation with Carrie Jackson, a lovely editor from Ellora's Cave, my publisher. I'd been lucky enough to meet her at the Emerald City Writer's Conference in Bellevue, Washington, and although she is not my own Ellora's Cave editor, she took the time to share with me what the publisher most wanted to see - at the top of the list: erotic horror.
     Apparently, erotic horror is devilishly difficult to write. Carrie told me that authors are daunted at the prospect. Ellora's Cave doesn't get nearly the submissions they would like in the genre. "How about you write one?" she said, leaning forward.

     Indeed. As if that would happen.

     But I couldn't stop thinking about what Carrie had told me. Erotic Horror? What a difficult, wonderful combination! How to combine  two such opposite-seeming things in the same story? In a romance story, no less? How could I create a scenario where the main characters are scared shitless, fearing for their lives ... and yet have plenty of time for hot, wild sex?  How could I write such a story and make it realistic?

     I had to try.

     First, I needed a great setting. It didn't take long to think of the wonderful old lodge on the Washington Coast where, long ago, I'd spent a romantic weekend. Such a place would be the ideal atmospheric setting for a horror novel.

Lake Quinault Lodge

The Perfect Place for a Long, Lazy Afternoon...or to be trapped by a Demon

     Once I had the setting, the story came together piece by piece. I'd populate the Lodge (re-cast as a Bed-and-Breakfast Inn) with eager, bright-eyed newlywed couples. My story would be rife with erotic, passionate undercurrents - who better to get things going than four couples gathering together just after their weddings?

     Next, I needed a bad guy. He'd be horrible and likable at the same time, a demon who would lure my unsuspecting main characters to his Inn and keep them captive. My antagonist slowly took form in my mind: he'd be a new kind of sex demon, scary, charming, charismatic, yet unable to touch his captives. But now I had a new problem - who was this demon who would play such a large part in my novel?

     It took a while to find my demon. My bad guy didn't take shape until about a month later when my husband, my grown daughter, and I were eating take-out Thai food. I mentioned my Demon-in-the-Inn idea.

     "Sounds interesting," said my daughter.

     "But I'm having a problem getting a handle on the demon character," I said around a mouthful of noodles.

     "What's his name?" asked my husband, "Start with a name."

     I just stared at him blankly.

     "It ought to be something foreign-sounding!" said my daughter.

     "Yeah - like this..." said my husband, shoving the Pad Thai container toward me.

     My daughter shook her head. "Pad Thai? Are you kidding?"

     "Okay, okay. Forget it." He thought for a moment, then grinned. "What was the name of that Ethiopian place we ate lunch at last week? That sounded foreign!"

     We looked it up. Adey Abeba.


     Adey Abeba. The words had such a nice ring to them. They rolled off the tongue in such a deliciously foreign way.  I'd found my demon's name - I knew immediately, no looking back. We went back to the restaurant the next day - how could we not? - and I asked the waitress what the words meant. 

     "Two things," she told us, looking like she thought it was the oddest question she'd ever heard in her life. "It is the name of the capitol of Ethiopia ... you know, Adis Abiba."

     "Oh," I said, nodding.

     "It is also ... this." She picked up a menu, and jabbed at a grainy image of charming yellow flowers. "This flower, it grows all over the hills near my city."


     I changed the spelling: Adi Abiba. He was now Mr. Adi Abiba, proprietor of the unique Bed-and-Breakfast destination Inn on the Edge. I could see my demon clearly, so very clearly! He was tall and imposing and he wore flowing robes. He had an infectious laugh and a gaze that could skewer you. It took only a moment for Mr. Abiba to became a fully-formed character.

     So there you have it. I was off to the races. I had everything I needed for my erotic horror novel. All I had to do was buckle down and write it.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Inn on the Edge - Only Two Weeks Left

In honor of the release of Inn on the Edge two weeks from today, I am sharing an exclusive interview with Angie Taylor, the main character from the novel. Get to know her and see how she's coping today, six months after her life-altering experience with a demon...

Captured by a Demon:
An Interview with Angela Taylor

(The main character of Gail Bridge's erotic horror novel, Inn on the Edge)

- A note from the Interviewer, Gail Bridges:

This is a very special interview with a young woman who has been through a grueling, life-threatening experience with the darker side of the paranormal world. Angela Taylor has agreed to talk with me about her experiences from the Spring of 2013, when she had a shocking encounter with a demon while on her honeymoon at the Inn on the Edge hotel in Washington State. Angela now feels ready to share what happened on her aborted honeymoon, which was simultaneously terrifying and - surprisingly - magnificent in ways she has promised to discuss with me. Angela has been understandably hesitant to speak about what happened those four days last April, and I am honored that she has agreed to speak with me.

- The Interview -

Gail Bridges: Let me know if this is too much for you, Angela, and we'll quit. Okay?

Angela Taylor: Call me Angie. I'll be fine.

Gail: If a question makes you uncomfortable...or if anything gets too personal, you'll let me know?

Angie: Sure. (She laughs.) It takes a lot to make me uncomfortable these days, after what Josh and I went through!

Gail: (Checking her paperwork.) Josh. Your husband. May we talk about him for a second? He chose the place you went for your honeymoon, if I recall?

Angie: He did. The Inn on the Edge. It seemed like such a great choice! He was so proud to have found it. A romantic bed-and-breakfast Inn on the Washington Coast - it had it all. Scenery, the ocean, a cute little tourist town within walking distance. And the food - oh, the food was wonderful. The Inn had everything: free meals, free lessons, friendly employees, other guests to hang out with. Ha! What's not to like?

Gail: Sounds like Club Med.

Angie: (Snorts) Not at all like Club Med.

Gail: Oh? Sorry. Go on.

Angie: It wasn't...(Takes a deep breath)... what we thought it was. (Falls silent.)

Gail: How so?

(No answer.)

Gail again: Are you talking about the Demon? Mr. Abiba?

Angie: (Sighing) Yes. We met Mr. Abiba right away, when we checked in, but we had no idea who - or what - he was. He took a shine to Josh and me pretty soon after we got there, but we didn't know that either! Or else we would have left immediately. We would have been out of there so fast!

Gail: A demon. Wow. You've met a real-live demon.

Angie: (With a far-away look) Yes.

Gail: He must have been awful.

Angie: You're right. He was! (Falls silent, then speaks in a whisper.) And ... he wasn't.

Gail: What? I'm sorry, I didn't catch that.

Angie: He was wonderful, Gail. When Mr. Abiba wasn't being cruel ... being a monster, he... he... (She clears her throat.) May I have a drink of water? (Drinks.) Thanks. When he wasn't being the scariest thing you've ever imagined, he would be amazing, generous, kind. He gave us gifts! Thoughtful gifts. He gave me a set of imported brushes for my artwork. He gave Josh an antique guitar. Mr. Abiba could be absolutely marvelous when he wanted to. (She shifts in her seat.)

Gail: How so, Angie?

Angie: You already know this. I already told you about the sex.

Gail: Tell me again?

Angie: Mr. Abiba needed it. He was into sensual energy. Really into it. (She turns thoughtful.) But it was more than that. He loved everything about sex, and he wanted Josh and me and the other guests to love everything about it, too. He wanted us to be free, to share our sexual bounty with each other, all of us. Share freely and generously - that was his mantra.

Gail: Did you? Share?

Angie: We did.

Gail: You had sex with people you'd just met? On your honeymoon?

Angie: We were manipulated. But we did have sex with the others. And we liked it.

Gail: Umm...I can imagine! You had sex with the demon too? Was he a good lover, then?

Angie: No! I never had sex with him. None of us did. (She clears her throat again.) Well, not that way anyway. He didn't participate in the constant sex, at least not physically. He had helpers for that.

Gail: Then, what? How was Mr. Abiba so amazing?

Angie: (Puts her hand to her throat.) See this pendant I'm wearing? It was his. He conceived of it, he made it, he infused it with magic. And he gave it to me, at the end, before everything fell apart. Here, do you want to see it? (She hands me the pendant and its golden chain.) Pretty, isn't it?

Gail: Yes.

Angie: He called it a Tool. They were for his guests to experiment with, to play with. There were a lot of different Tools, each better than the next - you can't imagine! They were kept in special Toolboxes. (She puts the chain around her neck again.) This one is called the Storybuilder Tool. It was amazing, Gail. There's no way you could understand unless you experienced it.

Gail: Oh?

Angie: Mr. Abiba's Tools made everything better, brighter, more exciting. Magic.

Gail: (Leaning forward.) Did the Tools make sex better, too?

Angie: What do you think?

(Interviewer and Interviewee, laughing.)

Gail: So you had plenty of good sex. Exciting, magic sex, hmmm?

Angie: You could say that. (She tugs on her hair.) But not all of it was good. Toward the end there were times when the sex was so intense it was ... scary. Yeah. (She looks at her lap and bites her lip.) Really scary.

Gail: I'm so sorry, Angie. It must have been horrible. Can you talk about when things went bad, when they fell apart?

Angie: (After a long silence.) I'm not sure I want to talk about that. I'm sorry. I thought I could.

Gail: (Trying not to sound disappointed.) It's okay. What matters is that you got out alive, that you and Josh escaped.

Angie: Yes.

Gail: And that you and Josh helped each other through the aftermath.

Angie: That, too. Yes.

Gail: And that the Demon is gone now.

Angie: (Jerking upright, looking over her shoulder.) Is he? What happened to Mr. Abiba, really? I thought he was gone for good ... I thought we'd taken care of him, but now I wonder. (She shivers so violently she shakes her chair.) You know, sometimes I hear things at night. Sometimes I feel a cold breeze and I smell cinnamon - he always smelled like cinnamon, did I tell you that? - and then I'm all terrified again. Terrified ... but at the same time I'm longing to be back there, yearning for those four days at the Inn. Hell! I can't do this, Gail. Do you mind? Can we stop now?

Gail: Of course we can. Of course we can.

- End of Interview -

It is now an hour later. The interview is over. Angela Taylor has left my office, and I'm alone, wondering about everything she told me. I re-read my notes. I listen to the recording I made. I ponder Angie's astounding story, the likes of which I've never before encountered: a hotel by the ocean. A Demon. Magic-infused sex Tools. Wild, wonderful, mind-blowing sex. A demon, destroyed. Wow. What happened in that Inn, anyway?

Holy shit, what a story Angela Taylor has. I stare out of my window.

I admit it: I wish I had been there.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

America's Darlings goes on Tour

I'm proud and delighted to announce my first promotional Book Tour. Today, my novel America's Darlings begins a two-week-long grand tour of book review sites, reader blogs, and other internet destinations. Bon Voyage, my Darlings!

Want a chance to win a fantastic America's Darlings-themed prize, chosen by yours truly? Please visit the following link to see the very cool things I've selected, and to sign up for the giveaway. Oh, and to join the tour!

If you're in the mood, why not give me a shout-out on Twitter @GailWBridges, and a "Like" on my Facebook page?

A huge thank you to everyone! I love you guys.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Remembering to Breathe - Classical Guitar In the Recording Studio

Introducing: The Arvey-Francis Classical Guitar Duo

As many of you know, for more than four years I've been playing in a classical guitar duo with my great friend Mark Francis. It's been wonderful. I've loved every moment of it.

Our first gig - a lovely event in a beautiful island setting

Our goals from the beginning have been to:

  1. Enjoy ourselves
  2. Enjoy the music
  3. Play to the best of our ability
  4. Take lessons towards that goal - individually and as a duo (mostly as a duo)
  5. Not rush to play pieces in public that "aren't quite ready yet"
  6. Get out into the world and play for other people - open mics, recitals, masterclasses, etc.
  7. Record pieces once they're deemed ready by our teacher - who has a very high standard
  8. Put our recordings (live videos) on YouTube
  9. And...make a CD eventually!
I'm proud to say we've followed the path we set out for ourselves. Mark and I have been committed to our music and kept our duo going strong even when life tried to get into the way. We've encouraged each other to go further than we ever thought we could - and we have the YouTube videos to remind us what hard work can achieve. It's taken a while, but we've attained every one of our goals except for the last: making a CD. 

And that goal is closing in fast! One more recording - one more! - and we'll have enough to make our first CD. The time has now come to pull it all together - we have that last piece: the final movement of a delightful Vivaldi concerto. All we have to do is get a good recording of it.

In The Studio

Three days ago, on a windy, rainy Wednesday evening, Mark and I drove to West Seattle to work on doing just that. Kevin Callahan, our teacher, is a gifted mentor and it's safe to say that the Arvey-Francis Duo would never have gotten where we are without him. 

Kevin Callahan with his beloved late kitty, Pounder

Kevin is multi-talented: he is a composer and a software coder as well as a guitar teacher. He also has a great studio. This is where Mark and I headed, hoping we'd come out with a good recording.

It doesn't always happen. It's very hard. The week before, Mark and I had tried to get a live recording: we played the Vivaldi piece over and over and over - but something always went wrong. Twenty-one times something went wrong...twenty-one takes! By the end, we'd exhausted ourselves and just couldn't get it together. So we went back again to West Seattle the next week to give it another go.

Mark and I let ourselves in to Kevin's outer studio, the small room we call the "ante-chamber". We took out our guitars to let them acclimatize to the inside temperature, and began to warm our fingers - which is my way of saying that the Vivaldi piece (concerto for two Mandolins 532) goes at LIGHTENING SPEED and there is no way of playing those bursts of triplets if your fingers aren't at tip-top condition. We ran through the Vivaldi piece several times. After a while, Kevin ushered us into the studio proper.

We sat down in front of a dark cloth. Kevin rolled the camera into position front of us. He turned on the flood lights. And the microphones. He shifted my seat to the right. He adjusted the microphones. And did it again. Then something happened.

"Oh oh," Kevin said.

Mark and I looked at each other. Oh-oh didn't sound good, not at all.

Kevin frowned and poked at something on his computer keyboard. "Hmmm. This isn't right. It's the ______(fill in the blank) on the ______, and it's not doing _____like it should. I'll have to do a work-around with a______and if that doesn't work, I'll try again with the other ______. Damn it all!"

Obviously, I'm not terribly computer literate.

Mark and I waited as Kevin fiddled with the recording stuff. I tried to keep my fingers supple as Kevin downloaded a patch (or something) to repair the sound card (or something). 

 Keeping our fingers supple in the studio

Finally, the faulty programs were repaired. Kevin adjusted the microphones one last time and did several sound checks. He sat down at his console and nodded. Mark and I held our guitars up at the ready and took deep breaths. Kevin raised his right hand - his signal to start playing.

We did. We played six whole measures. Then we came to a screeching halt.

"Sorry about that," I said. "My finger missed the note."

"That's okay," said Mark.

"Start over," said Kevin.

We did. We started over. Over and over and over. Nothing new there. Each time we'd get partway through, make a mistake, then have to give up. In a live video recording such as this, there is no going back later and "fixing" bad notes. What you play is what you get. With every mistake, we had to go back to the beginning and try again. We'd shrug our mistakes off - or try to - and start over with a fresh start, doing our best each time to capture the energy and life that Vivaldi requires. 

Good thing we'd stopped at our favorite cafe, the C&P in West Seattle, for tall full-caffeine mochas right before our session, even though it was 7:30 at night. We needed all the help we could get.

Recording - you can see the miniature Arvey-Francis Duo on the camera screen.

And Finally - Success!

Mark and I played our hearts out. It was take number eleven, and this time we got further...and further...and further into the piece without mishaps. I fairly stopped breathing, it was intense. Would we get all the way to the second-to-last measure, and then screw it up? Would we get through the difficult passage near the end? Would I remember to breathe?

With a slightly-too-enthusiastic final chord, we played the Vivaldi all the way through! We'd done it. We were ecstatic. Speaking for myself, at least. All you have to do is look at the grin on my face at the end of the video to know how pleased and relieved we were to have achieved it.

The YouTube Video 
Vivaldi Mandolin Concerto, movement 3, arranged by Mark Francis 

Our next project: to gather all our recordings, tweak them so that they sound great as a set (with Kevin's help), and make them into a CD. We hope to have it ready for the Holidays.

An apology to Kevin: I know I have the recording scene terminology all wrong. Forgive me?

A bonus: The C&P is the world's greatest coffee shop, in a wonderful old house in West Seattle. If you're ever in the area, stop in and say "hi" to the owner, Pete. Tell him the Arvey-Francis Duo sent you!

A final note: you may have noticed Mark and I are wearing different clothes in the pictures than we are in the video. That's because I took the pictures on the week we didn't manage to get a recording. Bummer!

As always - thank you for reading my blog. I hope you enjoy the music! If you would like more, here is our duo website:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Ultrasounds and Orgasms - An Erotica Writer on the Loose

“Jonah’s cool hand rests on the small of Vanessa’s naked back. His fingers trace the long lines of her spine, languorously, gently, making her gasp, making her own fingers curl in anticipation…”

I stop typing. I lift my hands from my laptop keyboard, squinting, re-reading the lines I’ve just written. I am in a coffee shop in the lobby of a large hospital, doing what I love best while I wait for a friend’s appointment to be over. I shift in my seat, tearing myself from my story – my erotic, soon to be very explicit story.

A child has caught my attention. She’s two, perhaps three years old. She’s got a hundred tiny braids all over her head. She’s wearing a yellow dress and orange tights with fat pumpkins on them, and pink rubber boots. She’s currently dashing in wild circles around a chair she’s dragged between tables. She’s adorable.

“TaVette!” hollers a gray-haired woman. Her grandmother, I assume. “You’re bothering the lady! Stop it!”

“No, no,” I protest, waving my hands and smiling, “she’s fine. Let her be.”

I take up my stub of a pencil and write in my notebook: TaVette? Tahvet? Tavitt? Eyeing the still-spinning child, I force myself back to my story, thinking: she’s not paying a whit of attention to what you’re doing. Don’t be silly! Stop thinking everyone is watching you! Make those characters DO THE WHOOPIE!

I take a sip of my Starbuck’s Mocha. This particular coffee shop, where a never-ending human drama passes by the too-small tables, can be rather challenging. I’m used to it. I kind of like it, even. Writing in this location is a nice change of routine. But sometimes – like right now – it’s hard to write erotica. Damn hard.

I put my hands back to the keyboard. I pull myself back to my characters, who are about to get some. It takes several deep breaths, but I’m soon back in a world where the getting some is beautiful, breathtaking, perfect. Better than real life. That’s what I do. I’m an erotica writer. I intend to deliver. Oh, yes. I know exactly what’s coming next. All I have to do is write it.

“Turn over, Vanessa,” Jonah says, his voice so thick, so quiet she barely hears it. Vanessa turns over, then gazes up at him. Funny how the mattress seems to have expanded. She swears it’s doubled in size, while the rest of the world has shrunk in on her and her new love, on the passion brewing between them. A tremble passes through her as he puts his mouth to her breast –”

I’m abruptly torn from my love scene.

“Mama!” shrieks the little girl. “Mama!” Streaking by my wobbly little table, TaVette throws her arms around the legs of a heavily pregnant woman. “Let me see! Let me see! I want to see the baby picture!”

My concentration broken – and dang it, it’s at the very moment Vanessa’s love scene is heating up nicely – I watch TaVette’s mother pull a fuzzy ultrasound picture from a mustard-yellow envelope. She shows it to the child, and then the grandmother. I hear their laughter, their joyous voices.

How nice for them, I think, what a sweet moment. Maybe I can use it in a story sometime. Now – back to work. Do it!

I take a deep breath. Put my fingers to the keyboard. Picture Vanessa and Jonah in their bed. Imagine what they’re doing to each other. I begin to type again.

“…his hand slides up her thigh. It lingers. His lips, his tongue, the bristles of his beard, what they do to her! How they make her back arch! How they make her skin sing! His fingers begin a slow walk over her trembling skin. His weight presses the length of her body. She can’t help but gasp as he –”

“What are you doing, Lady?”

It’s the little girl.

Horrified, I slam the cover of my laptop closed. “Um, I’m writing.”

“TaVette! Always poking your nose where it doesn’t belong!” The mother ushers the child away by a thin shoulder. “Sorry!” she calls over her shoulder. Child, mother, grandmother and ultrasound disappear through the lobby’s glass doors.

I let out a long sigh.

They’re gone now, but I can’t write any more. The spell is broken. Vanessa and Jonah will have to wait until my next writing session to consummate their love, poor things. This time, it was a hyper-active little girl that did them in. Last time, it was a young Asian man, his handsome face wracked with despair, an obvious new quadriplegic. The time before, it was a chatty group of physicians sitting one table over, discussing their chief of staff. Who will it be next time?

I slurp the dregs from my mocha, thinking. Writing in such a place must affect my writing. It has to, doesn’t it? I pack my laptop, turn off the mouse, wipe the table, throw away my cup and napkin, still contemplating the little scene I’d just been part of. These hospital lobby dramas are life. The good parts of life, the bad parts – all of it. The scary, the horrific, the wonderful. People loving one another. People helping one another through difficult times. People celebrating a new pregnancy. These things affect me, surely they must affect my writing.

So I’ll be back. For I – the erotica writer – am part of the hospital lobby too.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Delicious Recipe and a Finished Purse

I have two things for you today.

First, a lip-smacking recipe: Dutch Babies! In my family, we've made these delectable pancakes for special occasions for as long as I can remember, birthdays and holidays and sometimes just to brighten a person's day. Dutch Babies never fail to impress with their unique fluffy texture and their extravagant, over-the-top looks. But never fear! Although these Dutch Babies look like they'd keep you from eating for a week or two, they're surprisingly light - I always fill the oven and make one per person. There's never any left over.

 Dutch Babies, hot from the oven. Serve with lemons, butter, and powdered sugar.

Dutch Babies
(One recipe per person, one recipe per pan)

2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
3 Eggs
½ Cup flour
½ Cup milk
¼ Teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the butter in a ten-inch pie pan, then place the pan in heated oven for five minutes, until butter melts.

Place two or three pie pans in the oven on the middle shelf, or how many fit at a time.

Meanwhile, for the batter, in a medium bowl (one bowl per recipe) use a wire whisk to beat the eggs until combined.  Add flour, milk, and salt; beat until mixture is smooth.  Immediately pour batter into the hot skillet.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and well browned.

Slide whole Dutch Babies onto plates. Serve with lemon wedges, butter, and powdered sugar.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Second, I've completed the crocheted-and-leather purse. Two months and thousands of stitches later, not to mention several missteps and an infusion of free leather (none of which went into this particular purse) ... it's hereby done!

Side One

Side Two

Writing and more ...

In other news, I have come up with an idea for my next novel. After brainstorming (with daughter Sarah's amazingly spot-on input) I've decided upon a plot framework for - gasp! - A THREE-BOOK SERIES! Taking a clue from the marvelous J.K. Rowlings, I sat down and plotted each book (for me) in painstaking detail, covering character traits and plot arcs and subplots and world-building. Whew. A lot of work goes into this stuff!

I then wrote up said plots in proposal form for my editor at Ellora's Cave. Now, a day later, I'm sitting on my thumbs, waiting for her go-ahead which may not come for a couple of weeks. It remains to be seen if the go-ahead I'm hoping for is more like a go-back-to-the-drawing-table...

Hey - I almost forgot - the first pass of edits for Inn on the Edge are on their way from my editor! I should be seeing them early next week. The book is one step closer to publication, and I am thrilled. It's my favorite novel so far, although, like a parent, I'm probably not supposed to say such a thing.

But it's true!

One more thing. On Wednesday, my classical guitar duo partner and I will (hopefully) record the last piece destined to go onto our first CD. I say "hopefully" because sometimes it takes a few weeks to get a good recording. Vivaldi can be a devil to play! You can bet I'll blog about it and post links if we're successful.

That's all for now, I promise! As always, thanks for reading my blog. I love you guys.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Conference Made in Heaven

The Emerald City Writer's Conference is over now. It's a bittersweet feeling - I loved every minute of it, but by Sunday afternoon I was exhausted and ready to be done with crowds and excitement for this year. Here are the highlights:

Hanging out with my buddy from last year, Anna Kearie

Winning not one- but TWO - raffle prizes at lunch on Saturday! The board is for a beautiful, artist-designed book cover for a future book. I may self-publish my memoir at some point, so I was thrilled to win this one!

Hanging out with the Firemen. These hunky guys generously hosted a coffee-and donut breakfast on Saturday and happily posed for pictures with conference attendees.

My display for the Book Fair was exactly perfect. I was delighted with the swag choices I made. I gave away about 2/3 of the pens, and about 3/4 of the Rack Cards. Sitting at a table behind posters of my books, talking about them to strangers and to friends, was a fabulous experience. It didn't take long for me to come up with a couple of catch-phrases: "America's Darlings is about - wait for it - SEX in the Olympics! How FUN and ridiculous is that?" And this one: "They have coaches, and they have to practice just like any other athlete ... and they get POINTS TAKEN OFF for mistakes during performances!" (Wink, wink,wink!) And another: "And, oh, yeah - there's a love story, too."

Participating in the Book Fair for the first time

Getting to know my fellow Ellora's Cave authors

One of my favorite parts of this conference is the wide variety of great workshops and classes they offer. I took as many as I could, with enticing titles such as: Taming Twitter, The Busy Author's Guide to Social Media, and Reviews and Publicity - Where are the Readers? As you can see, I was giving myself a crash course in social media and in marketing. It turns out that even though I have a long way to go, I'm on the right path and I'm already doing a lot of things I should be doing to market my books. So - yeah me!

I have come away with a year's worth of inspiration. Spending time with other writers is crucial to my development as an author, and I am so grateful that this wonderful conference is right at my back door. I can't wait until next year.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Romance Writer's Conference, Here I Come

Only two more days!

Before I know it, I'll be heading over to Bellevue Washington for the Emerald City Writer's Conference. In my last post, I spoke of putting together promotional materials to give away at the Book Fair and at other times. I designed and ordered posters, business cards, rack cards, and pens. At the time, only the posters had arrived. Now I have everything - and I'm very pleased!

The Posters

The Rack Cards (both sides) and the Business Cards

The Pens - all 250 of them

I've already started giving away pens and the cards. Last night, for instance, I was at a board meeting of the Seattle Classical Guitar Society, where I'm the secretary. I brought a handful of pens and Rack Cards. I set them out before the meeting at everyone's seat. The Treasurer came in a few minutes late and missed my (rather excited) explanation.

She sat down at the table. She gave a long look at my "Inn on the Edge" Rack Card. Looking baffled, she shuffled through her treasurer's papers, fished something out of her purse, exchanged pleasantries with the President of the Board. She picked up the pen and read the inscription. Then she read most if not all of the book blurb on the Rack Card, trying to appear to be paying attention to the meeting.

"What is all this?" she whispered in my direction.

"It's me! I'm Gail Bridges! I have a pen name. I wrote these books..."

"Oh!" Her eyes grew large. I noticed for the first time how very gray they were.

"I write erotica," I said under my breath, "so they may not be to your taste - but I thought I'd share these things with all of you because I'm so dang excited! I have a new book coming out!"

"Cool." She tucked the pen into her purse. "Thanks."

So there you have it: I'm doing my part. Even if most people won't be interested in my work, I'm committed to networking, to promoting, to marketing my books. At least a little. They say word-of-mouth is best, right? And, who knows? If I continue to share my excitement with friends and acquaintances, to give out cards and pens and cards, I may find a reader sometime, somewhere. Giving out my swag last night may not have resulted in a sale, but it was fun. It's good practice to talk about my work, to answer questions, and to find ways around the - gasp! - erotica thing.

Come Visit me! I'd love to see you.

I hope to take notes and impressions of the upcoming conference. Maybe even a photo or two. I'd like to share my experiences in a future blog post. Until then, adios amigos!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Romance Conference Time!

...And now, for a change of pace - no leather at all, not even the tiniest scrap!

I'm gearing up for the Emerald City Writer's Conference (ECWC), which is put on by the Seattle chapter of the Romance Writers of America. It's just two and a half weeks away! On October 17, I'll put away my leather punch and abandon my various art projects. I'll don my writing cap. I'll sharpen up my adverbs and brush off my prepositions. I'll set off across the floating bridge and head for Bellevue Washington to attend the biggest, most wonderful Conference around.

I attended the ECWC last year, dipping my toes into the waters of the world of Romance books and Romance authors and Romance publishers - but, truth be told, I didn't have a clue what I was doing at this particular Conference. Although I was beside myself with excitement, I didn't yet feel like a bona-fide author, especially a Romance author. I had a shiny new contract for my first erotica book, Paint Job, with Ellora's Cave, but publication was still three very long months away. My second book, America's Darlings, was in its infant stage, written but not yet revised or polished. And my third, Inn on the Edge wasn't anywhere on the horizon yet. 

I sound like I'm talking about my children, don't I? 

The Conference was an eye-opener. I loved it. For one thing, it had a much friendlier feel than the other Conference I'd attended earlier in the summer, the enormous all-genre Pacific Northwest Writers Association. Why was the Romance Conference better? It took me completely by surprise. Are Romance writers nicer people? Was it because the attendees were 90% women? Or what? I still haven't figured it out, but the Romance event was just plain FUN.  Games. Raffles. Welcomes for new attendees. Sign-ups for special dinners out. Theme parties. Gift baskets. Prizes. Did I mention that everyone was friendly?

I remember going up a long, long elevator to the third floor to where the Conference was based. At the top, in front of me, was a table bursting with goodies: pens, and hot-from-the-press books, little wrapped candies, lip balm and tiny vanity mirrors, and more, so much more. I stared at the table in wonder, thinking, Who are all these things for? Certainly not for me?

"Go ahead," said a lady with a wide red smile who walked right up to me, "take some! These are people's promotional items for their books. See?" She picked up a purple pen. "This one is nice, isn't it? It has the author's name and website on it." She held it out to me. "Here, put it into your bag! Take more!" She rifled through the piles of give-aways. "Hey. This is a sweet pad of Post-it notes! You need Post-it notes, don't you? Of course you do."

I did. Very much so. More than any other moment of my life.

"Go on," she said again, tossing one into her own shoulder bag as she walked away, "take one of everything!"

Reading the lettering on each item, noting the clever titles, looking at pictures on the more elaborate items, I imagined the day I would have such things of my own to promote my own future books. Feeling like the world might actually welcome a new author like myself, I carefully collected one of each item. And I learned a new word: swag. This stuff is called swag by insiders. Cool.

A few of the promotional pens from last year. The one on the left has a USB!

Just a sampling of the many non-pen items I collected.
The "Jane Porter" oval thing is a nail file!

Last year, of course, I went to the Conference with nothing but an open mind. This year, I intend to be prepared. I want to add my own contributions to the piles of swag.

A few weeks ago, I set to work designing and ordering my promotional materials. I had no idea there were so many online-businesses specializing in conference swag! Choosing what to get and where to get it took as long as the designing. I finally settled on what I hoped would cover all my Conference needs: Posters for the Book Fair. Rack cards with images of my book covers and blurbs. Business cards. And, of course, pens. Yesterday, the first item showed up on my front porch - the posters. I was thrilled. 

I'll adhere these posters to stiff backings and set them on stands for the Book Fair. 
I love them!

I'll continue posting about my swag items as they appear. And I'll be sure to take notes and pictures at the Conference itself, and write about how this year differs from last year. Because it will. After all, I'm now a bona-fide author.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Oh, The Joy! Free Leather!

ZeroLandfill Seattle - finally!

The day I've been waiting for! At last. I barely slept last night, I was so excited. I'd cleared my schedule so I'd have the morning free, made plans to meet with my daughter, Sarah, and prayed to the Scavenger Gods On High to have plenty of leather samples for one and all (but mostly for me). I have plans, you see. I want to make more handmade leather purses, and free is good.

I drove through a ferocious rainstorm and joined a long line. Sarah came a few minutes later, dripping wet. We stood in line, waiting for 11:00 with the others, all of us comparing what we hoped to find at the event: buttons, fabrics, paper, tiles. Sarah said she wasn't sure what she wanted for her middle-school class (she's a teacher), but that she'd know it when she saw it. I said I wanted leather. And more leather.

"Leather?" said the lady in front of me, "Hey! I saw these gorgeous purses on the website that someone made last year! Did you see those?"

"Um..." I said, trying to seem modest when really, I'm not. "Those were mine!"

"Seriously? Cool! I loved them." The lady promised to call out "Leather!" if she saw any - If I'd call out "Buttons!" for her. We made a deal, laughing.

Then another lady, a perky-looking artistic type, admitted she was looking for leather also.

Oh, oh. Not good.

"You're looking for the same thing? Hah!" said the Button Lady's husband, grinning, "No fighting, now. Remember to be civil, Ladies!"

The line began moving. We shuffled forward, dragging bags and roll-on suitcases and backpacks in which to stow our loot. I hoped I'd brought enough: a Costco bag, one of those big green-and yellowish ones; two Amazon shipping bags from two years ago, when they were shipping items in large brown waxed paper bags in the Seattle area as a marketing experiment; and a coated plastic bag that I'd been awarded from Smithsonian for being a good customer. It ought to be enough.

"Look," said Sarah, "there's no place to put full bags!"

Last year, there'd been space to stow loot instead of having to man-handle it all over the room. "Mmm," I said, already picturing myself man-handling heavy bags all over the room. Not a nice picture.

The line moved nearer the entry. "It's each of us on our own, like last year," I said to Sarah as we moved into the gymnasium. "Meet up in an hour?" She looked at me over her shoulder, nodding. Then she was gone, toward the far wall where stones and tiles were laid out.

It was a free-for-all. I pawed through box after box full of textile samples of all descriptions...on a mission...for leather! Nothing would do but the real thing! None of that wretched vinyl stuff. I'd find a piece of leather - score! - and another one! - score! - and throw them into my bag before anyone else could get their hot little hands on them. A couple dozen four-by-four inch pieces, reds, browns, blacks, grays, all clipped together, fresh from some business's showroom caught my eye. Score! Into my Costco bag it went. I snatched and grabbed and pawed through stuff with the best of them.

What hard work, searching for free leather! My heart was beating too fast. I was dizzy from bending over. I was overloaded from crowds and noise (music blasting over the sound system...why?) and from raw excitement. And I was rapidly becoming too hot. Maybe an hour had passed? I checked my watch. But no, only twenty minutes had passed. Amazing. I pushed my current box aside and grabbed another. Leather! There had to be leather in there somewhere!

"Evelyn?" A light touch on my arm.

I took my nose out of the box I was scouring, having a hard time focusing. It was the woman I'd met last week at the TV show taping, the very nice one whose name I never quite caught, the one who I'd photographed standing next to the weird-but-wonderful dress.

"I have something for you..." she said.

It was an entire bag full of leather samples. I could have hugged her, I was so touched.

Sarah found me eventually. She lugged three of my (full) bags to her car, braving the rain. Her trunk was already full of stone pieces, she informed me, lovely rocks and granite samples that would make an amazing pathway in her backyard. She glowed with happiness and potential.

We left. If there were any more leather samples in those boxes, they would have to be gathered up by someone else - the other leather lady, perhaps.

Sarah and I regrouped over lunch, a lovely meal at a favorite cafe, the Volunteer Park Cafe in Seattle. We agreed we'd been much better scavengers this time around - not gathering everything that caught our eye, but being careful to take things we'd actually use. We hoped.

 At the Cafe, after the ZeroLandfill event. We're tired, but happy.

After lunch, I hefted all four of my goody bags into the house, braving the rain again. I sat down on the couch and pulled them to me. And then, I spent the next two hours as happy as anything, pulling out each piece of leather one at a time and exclaiming over it - and it seems like I like the red pieces best, because they elicited the loudest admiration. The best part? Digging through the surprise bag of leather that my friend from the TV show had gathered for me. I must have sounded like a child opening birthday presents!

Sorting leather, as Linky the cat watches

I figured it was a couple hundred dollars worth of leather samples. The stuff is expensive - I'd purchased a bit of it from ebay last year and had been shocked at how much it cost.

So now - I get to admire my leather, and dream of new projects. My idea of heaven...