Is there such a thing as too much angst?

pain  How much pain is too much? Do you search out books from authors that you know write characters who have dark, painful pasts? Or do you avoid them like the plague?

Authors, is it difficult for you to put your protagonists through hell and back again?

There are some writers who thrive writing these kind of characters. They enjoy digging in deep to the bones and stripping someone bare. Exposing every thing, shame, humiliation, pain, abuse, anger. Everything a person can go through. Everything they can feel.

I’ve written a few pretty intense books, usually with my writing partner VJ Summers and let me tell you by the end I’m emotionally drained. You feel as though you’ve lived a small part of what your characters have and for me it’s an exhausting journey.

I enjoy stories that are on the dark side, but I find that I do have a point that I just can’t cross. Not because the books aren’t well written. Not because the stories are great, but because with my imagination the story will stick with me. I will think about it and it will haunt me.

Millions have read VC Andrews. I did the Flowers in the Attic series and then I read Heaven. After that I had to stop.  Not because the stories didn’t entertain me. I just couldn’t deal with the suffering her characters had to go through. I wanted to reach into the books and shout “Run…and don’t look back.”

If I wrote nothing but stories like that I’m pretty sure my DH would have to pull me off the ceiling. My heart just couldn’t take it. I mean I once read a book from a well-known author (I’m not sure if he’s considered thriller or horror) but  after I invested my time reading the book (it was so good I read it in two days) he killed the hero at the end. I threw the book across the room as hard as I could and I’ve never read anything by this person again. Which is a shame because he’s a very talented man but I was so upset by what I considered an unnecessary death of the hero (he’d gone through so much) that to this day (I read the book over 20 yrs ago) I still haven’t forgiven him.

I’ve had the same reaction to a movie on a couple of occasions. I was watching a movie ( I can’ t remember the title) with my friend Amy and the freaking hero who was trying to find out who was responsible for killing a man in a ritual in the end gets killed in the same fucking ritual. So here we are knowing that all through the movie he’s going in at the last-minute to save a woman he thinks is being abused and sacrificed only to find out that she’s in on it the whole fucking time. O.M.G- yeah if it had been my movie it would have been in pieces on the floor but it belonged to Blockbuster so instead we both kind of paced around the room, yelling and bitching about it.

Now though, I’ve lived long enough to know what my limits are. I know how far I can go when I write until I say okay that’s enough. I’m lucky in that I have a writing partner who is very apt when it come to the harder emotional stuff. She helps lead the way for me.

My question to the readers is- How much angst do you like in your books?

Authors- How difficult is it for you to write a character who is really damaged?

 

 

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A lesson for ourselves and our daughters!

          I saw this video on facebook last night and it blew me away! As an author I always try to portray my characters as confidant, smart, strong and beautiful. Why then as women in real life are we not encouraging the same thing in each other or more importantly why aren’t we teaching these things to out daughters?

 

Over the past year or so, I’ve realized that even though women have come a long way-we still have an even longer way to go. I was never a huge bra burning feminist. I was too young to have been part of that movement and of course far removed from the 50’s and 60’s housewife. My mom stayed home for part of my childhood and worked when my brother and I got older.

I always thought I couldn’t be a feminist unless I was a militant about it. I’ve reached the point though that I ‘m tired of society pitting women against each other. And by society I mean men. Not real men who are secure in who they are and respect women as their partners. No, I’m referring to the insecure, brutish, controlling, misogynistic ones who can’t stand to see a woman as CEO of a company, and definitely don’t want to see one in the White House.

These people set stay at home moms and working women at odds with each other. You know the argument -You can’t be a good mom if you work full time or that staying at home isn’t really a job. They love to stand back and watch us fight over this while they can work behind the scenes to take away our rights or refuse to pass legislation that would help working mothers.

Then we have the media, who perpetuate the Hollywood ideal of beauty. Have you ever seen these women in real life. They are itty, bitty, scary skinny. Botoxed,photoshopped, hair extensions, spray tanned, they have personal make-up artists, plastic surgery, it’s a place full of eating disorders and fragile egos and yet we the people buy into what they’re selling us.

As a group women don’t fight back against these things-we end up fighting each other. We feel the need to be in competition with every female around us, especially when we are younger. We are jealous, we are vengeful and we only ever end up hurting ourselves.

We need to teach our daughter’s a better way. There should be new rules when it comes to raising your daughters, things they should and should never do.

NEVER

Call a woman a slut or a whore or talk about her bedroom habits. Men aren’t called that and sex is supposed to be enjoyable. Your supposed to have a very healthy sexual appetite.

SHOULD

We should be talking instead about her safety. Personal and sexual. We should be giving our girls the tools they need to make good decisions, not by using fear but straight up facts. She should understand that if she ever feels pressured to do or try anything she can and should say no. Teach her to kick ass not be a victim. Show real her that real strength isn’t in your fist but it’s in your mind and in your spirit.

NEVER

Fight over a man-never, ever, ever. I can’t stress that enough. Don’t be THAT desperate girl. If a man is allowing 2 women to fight over him, he is totally NOT worth it. He allows it because it makes him feel good about himself. What could feel better then to have women fighting over you? (It’s why I hate The Bachelor) He doesn’t really care anything about either of you if he’s letting it continue. If he’s leading one of you on. It’s a trap. The we can be friends line is just another way of saying “I don’t want you right now but just in case this doesn’t work out, you’ll be waiting in the wings.” Teach your girls never to be someone’s 2nd choice. There are too many worthy men out there to fight over one!

SHOULD

Teach her that a man doesn’t define who she is. A man is supposed to be her partner. They should lift each other up. Be there for each other when things are tough. Treat each other with the utmost respect. They should have separate interests. They should always have laughter together. They should be able to share their deepest secrets without judgement…Period…To me if you can’t tell your partner everything because you’re afraid of how they’ll react, you’re in the wrong relationship and it either be a lonely, shallow one or it won’t last. She should never be in a rush when it comes to making the big commitment-if they are meant to be, it won’t matter if they wait a few years before they exchange rings. Going into a life together , I think it’s the most important thing that she and her partner have the big issues (life goals, life styles, parenting styles, sexual desires, interests…etc) should be known. It’s not fair to anyone once the ring goes on for one of these things to rear its ugly head and you discover that you’re aren’t on the same page. And where you may get along on most everything else, if one of these things are off it will be like a giant black cloud looming over your head for the rest of your life.

NEVER

Criticize how she looks and don’t allow her to criticize how other girls look either. Our girls need to be confident with themselves but NOT at the expense of another female. Never compare her to another girl. She’s not anyone else so don’t do it. Even small comments have a lasting impact. I once asked my daughter why she didn’t wear make-up and the hurt on her face made me feel like the WORST mother on the planet.

SHOULD

Praise her beauty because EVERY girl is beautiful. Teach her to be healthy by example. Teach her to love herself no matter what size she is. I get really tired of people assuming that if you’re a plus-size woman, you must be lazy or eat 3000 calories a day….I know plenty of people who exercise and eat normally and are still curvy. We need to keep in mind that there are indeed things like genetics, chemicals & hormones in our foods, medications that play havoc with our body system functions, chronic diseases, jobs, stress and a myriad of other things that affect our lives in a pretty big way and we may not even be aware of it.

I’m lucky, my daughter has a pretty easy-going personality and doesn’t let much get to her. She’s a curvy girl and has no issue with it.  She walks 3 or 4 miles a day. She loves her red hair-which I’m thrilled about because when I was younger gingers were teased all the time-and she is one of the kindest girls I’ve ever known. She’s taught me more about acceptance of myself and about caring for others than anyone else in my life. She’s still innocent in so many ways, life hasn’t knocked her around and its nice to see things through her eyes on a daily basis. Take time to spend with your girls. Don’t treat them like your friend because you’re not. Do show them and tell them how proud you are of them, how strong they are, how smart and beautiful they are.

 

In the end we are the biggest influence in our daughters lives. We are there as they grow. They do pull away once the teens hit but don’t lose faith. If you’ve given them the tools they need when they were younger they might surprise you. They will stumble and they may even fall. You will be the bad guy when you have to give them consequences(don’t ever be afraid to do this, too many people now don’t want their kids to be mad, or hurt or to hate them and you aren’t doing them any favors by giving in) They will say they hate you and other mean things that make you want to cry-I’ve been through it. You just take a deep breath and know that it won’t always be that way.

I loved the message of the video above. Trying to live up to a ridiculous ideal is insane. No amount of make-up will cover up a flawed personality. Perfect hair, perfect clothes, perfect bodies, perfect homes don’t hide a selfish, self-serving, self-centered person. Beauty fades, bodies sag. Perfect homes don’t really impress anyone (Most people gush to your face and then SHRED you behind your back about your need to be a show off )

Have your daughter look in the mirror with no make-up and tell you what she likes about her face. What is beautiful and unique to her-don’t let her tell you nothing. If you have to, go first and do the same thing. I know for some it might not be easy but try. The more you do it, the more you believe it and soon enough whenever you look in the mirror you won’t be seeing the flaws, only the perfections. I’ve done this and it was hard at first. I’m not a fresh-faced 20 yr old anymore. The wrinkles are getting more pronounced and that can be a little hard to take…lol..but I like my eyes. I used to always wish I had blue eyes like my brother. He was a tall, blonde haired, blue-eyed, thin guy and it pissed me off that I was round, brown hair and brown-eyed. I died my hair every shade from bleach blonde to dark purple and now I’ve finally reached a place where I like my dark hair and eyes and pale skin. My eyes are a little larger, flecked with a bit of green and I’m lucky to have long lashes. So that’s what I like about me….What do you like about you?

We need to teach our girls that as women we need to support each other, be there for each other not compete, not sabotage, not damage each other. We need to inspire our girls to run away from women who will run over anyone or anything to get what they want. Who have no regard for others. Who love to hurt, humiliate and put down other women. Who think they’re better, somehow superior or better than other women. Who revel in the pain of others and find joy in it. I’ve known some twisted females like this and all I can say is that they have reaped what they’ve sewn and will continue to until the day they die. We can do better!!!!!!!!!!

Our girls need to learn to express themselves and feel good about it. Know that she’s beautiful no matter what. If she has a purple mohawk and wears combat boots, if she’s a jeans and t-shirt girl, if she’s a band geek, if she’s into sports, or academics. If she’s tall or short. Big or small. If her skin is dark or very pale, if she has acne or freckles. If her hair is curly or straight. If she’s tattooed or pierced. If she’s gay or straight. If she works or stays at home. WHATEVER she is, celebrate her!!!! Be proud of her!!!

Our daughters need to know they can achieve anything they set their mind to with a little hard work they can make things happen. They should know they don’t NEED a man to be a complete person, to be secure, to be wealthy, to be special, to be needed, to have a purpose, to be beautiful, to be confident, to make a difference, to make the world a better place, to own a home, to travel the world to do or be anything they want to be.

 

Let’s give our daughters what we may never have had. To be confident, to be proud and to feel beautiful not because other people made them feel that way but because THEY FEEL THAT WAY ABOUT THEMSELVES. Make-up, clothes and hair DO NOT make the woman!!!

 

Sierra

 

 

 

 

 

Writing about Love and Sex Part 2

Do soul mates really exist or is it just between the pages of a book? Soul mates, I think most people have thought about it at one time or another. Wondering if there is such a thing as someone who accepts, understands and knows you so well that it’s almost like magic.
Soul mates-Where you can tell exactly what your mate is thinking or if you can’t, you at least know there is something going on with them. Someone who when you met for the very first time you felt as if you’ve known them your whole life. A person who you can be totally honest with. Where you can tell them any and everything.
Where your heart skips a beat the second they walk through the door. Is it possible to look into your partner’s eyes and see all the love and joy reflected back at you? Where the slightest touch makes you tremble no matter how long you’ve been together.
The kind of person that when you make love you are in total sync. Where they instinctively know where and how to touch you and when they only want to give you pleasure they will ask you without embarrassment from either of you. The type of person who can make you laugh, love and maybe make you angrier than anyone else.
Do all these things mean they’re your soul mate, does it go beyond just loving them? It’s an interesting question to ponder.
When I write, labeling a couple as soul mates is pretty simple. Paranormal books are ripe with the idea of a perfect mate. The one and only, end all, be all. Werewolf’s and shifters usually discover their love interest this way. Done well it makes you long for that kind of feeling and intimacy.
I look at the question of soul mates this way. In books at least one half of the couple know they are destined to be together. Often described as an overwhelming need to be with that person. They don’t feel quite right whenever their mate is gone. Even before the words I love you enter the picture, the feelings are so intense, so unlike anything they’ve ever experienced before. They can’t fight it for long, they can’t explain it away. Sometimes it doesn’t even make sense, because one or both of the mated couple wouldn’t necessarily ever cross paths. But then they have a “meant to be scenario”.
It works in books because real life doesn’t get in the way. In real life people come together for a lot of reasons and love doesn’t necessarily play a major role. They may appear to fight it, they may try to deny it but deep down they know it’s true and it’s just a matter of time before they embrace it.
So the question remains-do I believe there is such a thing as a soul mate? Could I write about it if I didn’t believe it?  We’ve all known couples who have the things I described above and yet are no longer together. If they were indeed soul mates then why aren’t they still together? Does it mean if you experienced all that wonderful stuff with one person, will you find it with another?
Personally I think you can. I mean how fucking unfair would it be if you only got one shot at that kind of relationship and know that you will never have it again. It’s a pretty depressing thought. Is it really possible that with the billions of people on the planet that you are truly meant for one person and one person only? Is the idea of a soul mate nothing more than a highly romanticized ideal? A goal which can never be reached. Is it too ridiculous to really believe your are met for one particular person and that any other relationship will never rise to that level.

 

I do believe that you can have a crazy instant connection when you meet someone for the first time. That in that second when you’re face to face for the first time something magical happens. A real chemical reaction that sets every nerve ending on fire. It goes beyond sexual attraction. It’s a feeling of both excitement and coming home all wrapped into one. A certainty that nothing will ever be the same again.  It’s feeling instantly comfortable and knowing without a doubt that you can trust this person with anything you say or do because they will hoard all that you share, all that you mean to them. They would never intentionally harm you or cause you pain. Your pain becomes their pain. Your sadness becomes their sadness, and your joy and pleasure and dreams become theirs as well. And you do the same for them without thinking about it or questioning it.
Having said all that my answer to the question of whether I believe soul mates is a real or not is that I can honestly say anything is possible. Depending where we’re at in our lives, we may go back and forth on this issue. I generally side on the positive but in this area I just don’t know. My life experiences haven’t lent themselves to dream too much about the question. If you’ve ever been hurt, or betrayed to the point that it feels like a crushing blow it becomes almost impossible to be so optimistic.
Still the possibility is there and so I’m able to write about couples who are soul mates. The characters don’t have to think about whether or not they believe it because at the end of the story they always come to know it’s true. In books they vacillate between belief and non-belief but before the end they have come together and acknowledged they indeed have always known they were meant to be with their partner and there is no doubt about it.
When all is said and done, my personal belief about this question is irrelevant, because as I am writing the book about 2 people falling in love. I believe no matter how brief a time, soul mates can exist and they always have. When I write a romance there is one (or 3 in the case of ménage) soul mates. I love writing about this aspect of falling in love with someone. I want it to be believable, I want to give readers the hope that maybe it could happen to them or they may realize they already have it but had never put a label on it.
Do I believe soul mates really exist? If I’m being completely honest than I would answer YES. And in the world of the romance writer and reader it’s important to have faith that anything is possible within the realm of love. That everything we see, hear and experience, hopefully will help us grow and recognize when those “Soul Mates” enter our lives.

Inspriration…I sure do love all things male!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chris Martin         Jimmy Here                 Via Andrea Boykin Vikings (tv-series) Vikings Promo • Ragnar LothbrokBerserker Game of thrones TV series Khal HD Wallpaperlord of the rings Pictures, Photos & Images

Vikings (tv-series) =VIKINGS=

In case there is any explanation needed, I’ll keep it short- Coldplay, 30 Seconds to Mars, The Originals, Supernatural, Vikings (Oh yes!),Game of Thrones,and Lord of the Rings…I’ll let you discover these beautiful men all on your own…but they are a wonderful source of inspiration and great examples of near perfection.

Music to live by…

I love music. Anyone who knows me will attest to that fact. I’d rather listen to music than watch t.v. I listen when I write. Thank the universe for 30 Seconds to Mars and Shinedown. I’ve found a new one- Coldplay. Now I’ve always liked Coldplay well enough but when I heard the song Magic I was smitten-that and the incredibly hot Chris Martin left  from his snobby wife (not that it ever mattered one way or another) but it made him more attractive. I used to assign songs/music to people in real life.

Don’t do it! I can’t tell you how many great songs/bands I can no longer stand to listen to because the reminders are sometimes(when the mood is just right) I can’t stomach it. The melody, the lyrics. To not over think situations and to take things on face value, not mull over each and every word spoken to me. My therapist calls it growth. I suppose it is. But I know that I’m not special in this fucked-up world we call life. That what I feel isn’t uncommon or even unique. I may deal with it differently now, only because my choices are limited. The old ways didn’t work. Like many before and many after me, i had to hit rock bottom and deal with what was wrong with me. But enough of my story. I bitch and moan on here merely as an outlet for things that are on my mind on any given day and this is my pulpit. I get it out and move on..lol…I’ve been on a tear this weekend…and it feels good.

But I digress, back to the music. Music has the power to bring you joy, to make you feel pain, to remind you of things best left in the past. I haven’t been able to listen to Pearl Jam in 25 yrs because of something that happened years ago. Some people say that’s ridiculous and my only answer to that is they have no soul….period….

Others I can’t listen to- Incubus, especially the song “Dig” I can’t go there.- Snow Patrol-forget it…any country music…won’t touch the shit…The SMITHS- ONE of my FAVORITES of the 80’s….ruined forever,,.all of this music gone from my world…and it still pisses me off.

Adele- she has a beautiful voice for sure, but I can’t stomach the whole “I wish nothing but the best for you.”  because I sure as hell don’t or “We could have had it all.”  Yeah, I don’t think so….What I’d really like to do is give her a throat punch….you didn’t misread it….A THROAT PUNCH…

Amazing- Bruno Mars…makes me want to vomit…. Sappy love songs that promise undying forever kind of love-that’s only for the characters in my book.

Allanis Morrisette was really onto something…especially when she said “…and every time I scratch my nails nails down someone else’s back I hope you feel it…” AM I bitter?…..lol…..No, I’m just a hell of a lot smarter…

SO when you make the sound track to your life..make it about you and only you- not someone else…you only have one life to lead and it is supposed to be a happy one…take the time to be a little bit selfish and surround yourself with the music that makes you happy and your soul sore high.

Introducing Ember Frost!

Ember Frost is the pen name I’m using for some specific types of books. First for my Encounter books. Encounters will be a series, telling the story of Allison Parks and her sexual awakening. I love the idea of her journey of self- discovery, where she learns about sex and all its glorious variety. Encounters is a peak into her life and the men she meets. Men who show her how spectacular sex can be. She learns how to express what she likes and learns what men like. It’s fun and sexy and very explicit. It’s not a romance in the traditional sense. Will she find her other half by the end of the series? That I’m not sure of but it will be fun to find out.

The next series by Ember will be The Gods of Kink. These are dark romances that ride on the edge of sexual boundries. These hero’s won’t except the vanilla, Saturday night special with traditional positions and an unsatisfying end. No, they push their chosen lover’s, daring them to go further than they’ve ever gone before. The Gods of Kink are just that-Kinky. Their lover’s learn how to be sensual, sexual, they learn that there are more places on the body to touch than tits and between the legs. Toys and handcuffs, endless teasing, and the hottest sex ever known to man. These men will teach their chosen lover’s to crave things they didn’t know they even wanted. These books are very explicit, contain various forms of BDSM, some instances of forced seduction, kidnapping, some will have multiple partners, every position imaginable, exploring every fantasy out there.

I’ve started the first one- Hades Captive- and am so excited to see what the god of the underworld has planned for his little mortal.

Sierra Summers hasn’t gone away. She will still write contemporary and paranormal romances. Sweet and intense romances but as I stated the darker side of sex is all Ember’s to play with. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do writing it.

Encounters- A New Book

I’m passing along the first chapter in the new book I’m working on. It’s told in first person by a 30 yr old women who has been on a journey to learn all she can about herself and sex. After a break up with a long term boyfriend, Allison Parker decided she needed more out of her life and in the process she will grow in all parts of her world and become the woman she never dreamed she could be.

 

Encounters
Chapter 1
The Beginning

When I decided to sit down and write my story, I wanted to do three things. I wanted to talk about the good, the bad and the OMG, I don’t think I will ever walk again, stories.
If you haven’t guessed I’m talking about sex. Yes, S-E-X and a lot of it.
Let’s get something straight right away- I’m not a nymphomaniac. I don’t go around grabbing crotches and humping anything that’s over eighteen and walks on two legs.
What I am is a thirty-year old, single, independent woman. I don’t have any children. I’m happy and financially set in my chosen profession and I’m drug and disease free. Before you ask-yes, I’m absolutely sane.
My current path in life was born out of heartache. When I was twenty, I met my soul mate.
I can laugh at that statement now but ten years ago I had no doubt he was the man I was destined to grow old with. He was my first lover and I thought we’d had a wonderful and adventurous sex life.
I was an English major determined to become the modern day Jane Austin. The many books I started all had star-crossed lovers who were always driven apart by some misunderstanding or another until a miracle saved them in the last chapter where one or both realized they couldn’t live without each other.
Sweet, charming, romances that modern day audiences really weren’t buying into anymore. Mainstream romance readers wanted more bite from their protagonists, more heat, and even more sex.
My critique group never failed to school me on the fact that what I wrote appealed to the seventy and over crowd but I was unfazed. As far as I was concerned they’d never experienced real love the way I had.
They didn’t believe in Prince Charming or chivalry or any of the wonderful things that love could be.
All I heard was “Allison, you’re delusion or girl, you’re in for a rude awakening.”
Man, had I been stupid.
I didn’t hit upon that particular epiphany until I was twenty-five. Two weeks before mine and Mike’s five year anniversary. We were on the phone and I heard it in his voice. A distance that hadn’t been there before. I refused to acknowledge it, remaining cheerful as we discussed plans for our five year celebration dinner.
Finally, he stopped me mid-sentence. “Allison, I can’t do this anymore.”
My stomach seized and my mouth went dry. I couldn’t feel my feet and I squeezed my eyes shut- this wasn’t actually happening.
“No, Mike.” I cringe as I think about how small and weak I sounded in that moment.
“Yes. It’s over.” I’d never heard that tone in his voice. It bordered on annoyed as though he didn’t have time for my breakdown.
“How can you say this? Where did this come from? Is there someone else?”
“I have to work on myself. I need to be alone.”
Fuck! Those words still have an effect on me ten years later. What could I say to that? How could I be selfish? If he needed to better himself, I couldn’t stand in his way.
The truth emerged months later. He hadn’t needed to work on himself-he’d found someone else and was giving her the life I always thought I’d have with him.
I questioned everything about myself. Why wasn’t I good enough? What did I do wrong? I sifted through every word he’d spoken to me that I could remember and wondered how many of them were lies.
In the end I gave up. After months of tears and too many gallons of pralinse and cream ice-cream, I looked at my expanding waist size and said “Fuck you.”
Actually I screamed. “Fuck you, I hope you’re dick falls off and you balls shrivel back up inside you!”
There was plenty more where that came from but you get the picture. After my shouting fit, I cried, harder and longer than even I dreamed was possible until there were no mores to tears to be had. No more runny nose, nothing but complete exhaustion and a pounding headache.
Two happy pain pills and fourteen hours of sleep later, I woke up determined to start my story over again.
Little did I realize that not only would I forget Mike but I would learn that what we had was nothing more than an idealized notion of what really went on between a man and a woman.
That it’s possible to connect with another human being in a profound way even for a short bit and it can be more memorable than five years with a selfish prick. That really great sex can happen once and you can walk away with a wave and a smile and not feel guilty or slutty.
The things I’ve learned now would drive my ex crazy but he’ll never have that chance to experience what I’ve been so generously been taught and what I’ve discovered about myself from lovers who were open and honest about what they wanted and what they needed.
This is a story of sexual discovery, of sexual exploration, of sexual liberation. It is also the story of finding myself outside the confines of a relationship. Of believing that I am worthy of admiration and attention.
This is my story but it could be any woman’s story, if she chooses it to be.
Love,
Allison Parker