Friday, July 21, 2006

Hunkalicious Inspiration!


Have you ever noticed as you’re browsing romance authors’ websites, specifically erotic romance authors’ websites, how many of them have a page dedicated to gorgeous, hunky, half-nude men?

As it happens, I don’t have a page of hunks on my site. But I admit, I’m considering adding one. I mean, erotic romance is all about pleasure, right? And if you’re reading it, then why not get a visual along with it? I’ve been extremely lucky to have some truly mouthwatering covers on my erotic stories, so I always feel blessed—and more than a little excited—when I see an email from the Amber Heat art director, Trace Zaber, with the words “Your cover for ____” in the title. Because I know chances are very high I’m about to get a little (okay, or maybe a big) thrill. It’s hard to pick faves because I love them all, but to date, the ones I most enjoy looking at are the covers from The Bodyguard, Night Shadows, Take It On Faith, and my upcoming September release, The Professor’s Secret Passion. The epitome of hot hunks, all of them.



So the cover does, in my humble opinion, definitely add to the pleasure quotient for readers. At least it does for me as a reader.

But back to those pages on author sites devoted to the half-nude men. Okay, drool-worthy cover art is a must. So what’s with these other guys?

Here’s the way I see it. Most writers, as we write, get a picture in our head of our characters. We describe them on the page for readers, give them heights, hair and eye color, sensuous muscles, and big co...er...manly appendages. :) But many of us also tend to visualize our characters, the heroes in particular, as specific people--maybe famous actors or cover models we’ve seen. Or, if there’s no perfect actor or celebrity, we might go out on the net and do some browsing around until we find a picture and go, “OMG, that’s my hero!!” Then we save the pic and put it in a file somewhere so as we write we can ogle the beautiful creature.

I’m guilty of this. I admit it. I don’t do it for every story, but many of them. For example, as I was writing Masks, my Phantom of the Opera book, I had Gerard Butler in mind the entire time as my hero. What was *really* weird is that I wrote the story before I ever even knew they were making a phantom movie and Gerard Butler was starring in it. How’s that for a woo-woo moment? Okay, so that’s my example of celebrity inspiration. But for my September release, The Professor’s Secret Passion, I actually came across pics on the internet that gave me OMG! moments. I have two heroes in this story (double the pleasure!), Aidan (dark hair) and Nate (blond hair). Here are the pics I looked at as I was writing:

So tell me, authors, who are your fave hunky hero inspirations as you write? And readers, do you ever visualize specific people as you read a story. Or do you picture the hunky hero on the cover art (if there is a hunk on the cover) as you read? And...be honest here, folks...how many of you have pics of hot hunks on your website? On your blog? Hanging on the corkboard in your office or cubicle?

By the way...the last pic here? Purely eye candy. Enjoy!

M.L. Rhodes
Hot Night. Hot Heroes. Hot Reads.
www.mlrhodeswriting.com

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sizzling new cover and blurb

Check out the cover for my upcoming contemporary gay erotica! Is that hot or what?! Once again Trace Zaber has created a cover that's not only sexy, but classy as well. Don't those guys look supremely intimate? I LOVE it!!!

And while I'm posting new stuff, I also now have a blurb for this story. Here ya go:

The Professor's Secret Passion

Professor Aidan Sheridan has secretly fantasized about his grad student, Nathan Turner, for two long years. And now Nathan is hinting he’d like to move beyond their professional association to something on a deeper, more intimate level. Although Aidan longs to claim the sexy, younger man as a lover, he doesn’t dare admit that he, too, burns for more. Not if he intends to protect Nate from a bitter event in his own past that still haunts him.

When Nate suspects Aidan is hiding his real feelings, he takes matters into his own hands. The long-pent-up passion between them explodes into a night of erotic and emotional intensity neither man can forget. But in the light of day, will Nate’s love be enough to heal Aidan, or will the professor’s fears tear them apart?

The Professor's Secret Passion is tentatively scheduled for release from Amber Heat (the erotica imprint of Amber Quill Press) in September 2006. Check my website late in the summer for a specific date.

ML :)

M.L. Rhodes
Hot Night. Hot Heroes. Hot Reads.
Bestselling erotic fiction
www.mlrhodeswriting.com

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Why are m/m stories so delicious?

In the world of heterosexual erotic romance, the hero, who in many cases is a strong alpha male type, finds lust and love with an equally strong heroine, while the reader keeps a glass of ice water on hand (or perhaps a willing partner) to cool down her own fire, which the author hopes has been ignited due to petting, foreplay, and sex between the hero and heroine.

Sound familiar?

I read tons of erotica--and I'm not using that word lightly, I mean tons. Not only do I write it, I truly enjoy reading it. I'd venture to say I gobble up an average of four or five erotica shorts/novellas/novels every week. Sometimes more. And I read widely, across all the sub-genres. The scenario I described above is the norm for probably 80% of the erotic romance on the market. (That's a guesstimate on my part, which I'm freely admitting, so don't yell at me if you know specific facts and figures.) Now, the heat and sensuality level varies widely. On one end of the spectrum we have erotica that's very similar to steamy "regular" romance. On the other end, we have erotica that pushes the envelope and contains extremely explicit language and situations that would probably make dear old Mom pass out in a dead faint. And then there's every heat level in between. But I think it's good that the sensuality levels cover a wide range of material. They should. Not every reader is the same, and it's important to have diverse material that appeals to a diverse audience.

So what's up with the other guesstimated 20% of the erotica? What I see making up that other 20% are stories that most publishers label as menage and same sex. It's this 20% that I've been thinking about lately.

My Amber Heat colleague, Adrianna Dane, posed a question on the Amber Heat Readers list last week, asking if readers like menage and m/m stories. The response was an overwhelming YES!! It seems these two sub-genres of erotica (menage and same sex) are building a huge following and are the newest "hot" trend for readers. These sub-genres have been around forever, and have always had devotees, but in the past year or so, they seem to have taken off like crazy, no longer appealing just to the niche readers, but to average erotic romance readers as well. The average erotic romance readers, mind you, are heterosexual women.

Okay, so hetero women like to read about strong, hunky men having fabulous sweaty sex with the woman they're going to fall in love with. This makes complete sense since finding the perfect sexual and life partner is many hetero women's fantasy. And...it then follows that hetero women might also be turned on by reading about a m/f/m menage. I mean, two hunks to pleasure her? Yeah, baby! Again, another fabulous fantasy. Women like to imagine themselves in these positions--either with the studly one man or with several studly men.

So then, what about m/m stories and m/m/f menages? And yes, there is a difference between m/f/m and m/m/f groups. In m/f/m menage, two men do the bumpy with the woman, but don't necessarily engage in intimate touching with each other. It's hetero sex all the way. In m/m/f, not only do the two men have an intimate relationship with the woman, but they also are intimate with one another. (The same follows for f/m/f and f/f/m menages, but since that's not quite as common in the erotic romance market, I'm not addressing them in this post). Okay, for a woman reader, it's easy to project herself into the menage story and become the heroine. But for the m/m action, the female reader becomes the observer rather than the participant. When two men are engaging in intimate play with one another, all the woman can do is look on. She's not involved.

So my question is...what's the appeal? Reading about m/m intimacy is a passive act for the female reader. She can "watch" the action, but can't insert herself into the play like she can in a m/f story or a menage. Why then is reading (or watching) m/m so arousing? Why did women across the US (the world?) flock to see Brokeback Mountain? Yeah, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal are hotties, no doubt, but why did they seem even hotter when they were portraying gay lovers? Why did the love scenes, which certainly weren't explicit, make women squirm in their panties?

A male writer friend of my mine mentioned recently, in relation to this erotica trend where hetero women are enjoying reading about two men getting in on, that with all the buzz about how "hot" these m/m couplings are, women darn well better not give men any more shit about liking to watch women. And it's the truth. One of the most common hetero male fantasies has always been watching women get it on together. There's no big secret about it, it's a fact. And if you ask a man why they like the idea of watching women touch each other, you'll usually get a simple response such as, "It's hot!" Yes, but why's it hot? "It just is!"

So have women always been secretly turned on at the thought of seeing or reading about men touching each other? Or is this is a fairly new thing? In either case, clearly today's modern woman is realizing what men have known for years: watching members of the opposite sex pleasure each other is a turn-on.

Is there a specific reason? Is this new trend perhaps based on the fact that with m/f erotic stories becoming more mainstream and more easily accessible--with a few clicks of the mouse online, a reader can buy enough erotica to keep her busy for a year--women are starting to get a little bored with the usual pairings and situations and they're looking outward, searching for something different to titillate them? Something...more? This could also explain why certain other trends have been hot in the past--vampires, for example, a sub-genre that added a dark and dangerous twist to the erotic stories.

Or is it as simple as what men have been saying for years? "It's just hot."

I'd love to hear your thoughts, so post a comment here or drop me an email if you'd rather at ml@mlrhodeswriting.com

ML :)

M.L. Rhodes
Hot Night. Hot Heroes. Hot Reads.
www.mlrhodeswriting.com

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A hot new m/m story!

Current music: the new Bon Jovi CD
Current mood: energized!


ML's been a busy, busy girl this past week. I'm still percolating on my vamp erotica, Souls Deep, so no new action there. But this past Tuesday night I had a dream about a teacher and a student and...er...some erotic stuff that happened. When I woke up on Wednesday, I couldn't remember details about the dream, but I was left with a burning need (hehehe) to write an erotic teacher story. Something fast and hot. But I wanted to do something a bit different from other AQP teacher stories that have already been published. So I decided to write a male/male story. I mean, how could I resist the pull of two hot hunks together, I ask you? Rwwoar! I started it Wednesday night, and now I'm almost done with it. LOL! I'm tentatively calling it The Professor's Secret Passion, but that might change. I don't have a blurb done for it yet, but as soon as I do I'll post it to my main site. Along with an excerpt. So stay tuned! I hope to get this one turned in to my editor at AQP some time over the next couple of weeks.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

New Faith Review!

Current music: Keith Urban
Current mood: Psyched!


Got another review in for Take It On Faith this past week! Cassidy at Joyfully Reviewed had this to say:

"Take It On Faith is hot, Hot, HOT! Strong characters, steamy and erotic sex, and a fascinating, suspenseful storyline kept me glued to the story and turning pages as fast as I could! The sex scenes are so hot (did I say they were hot yet?), be prepared for many, many cold showers, or a willing partner close at hand. I would definitely recommend this book if you like your books (and your romance) hot, hard, and achingly erotic! Miguel can drag me off any time."

Thanks so much, Cassidy!!! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

ML