Chatting with the Pros: Interview with contemporary romance author Amy Cecil

Chatting with the Pros

My author guest this month on “Chatting with the Pros” is a talented romance author of both historical and contemporary romance novels. Her Knights of Silence MC series tells the story of the sometimes violent and brutal world of motorcycle club life with characters who feel very human and vulnerable at times. The series is a tale of love and loyalty, and yes, there’s some tastefully written, but quite erotic sex scenes. (You can see my review of Sainte, the last book in the MC series.)  I also had the pleasure of  reviewing Ripper, which was one of the most cleverly crafted romances I’ve ever read. To turn a Jack the Ripper tale into an erotic romance takes some talent. Erotic romance author Amy Cecil did with a well crafted hand. I’m so pleased to be able to chat with her today. Please join me in welcoming her.


Amy Cecil - Erotic Romance Author

Kaye: Why do you write in the romance genre?  Why not science fiction, or fantasy or mystery?

Amy: I initially chose romance because that is what I have always read. I do not read science fiction and doubt that I could even write in that genre. As I wrote more books, I have intertwined other genres into them such as fantasy, romantic suspense and ever mystery. So even though I started with romance, I’ve always been open to other genres that interest me.

Kaye: What is the most difficult part of writing romance for you?  What is the most fun?

Amy: I would have to say the most difficult thing with romance for me is finding a relationship scenario that isn’t over saturated in the market. For all of us romance readers, we are always looking for something fresh. We want that happily ever after, but finding the angst to get to that point can be difficult.

And, the most fun part of romance for me is the banter between the couples. I love to bring snarky attitudes together and have a battle of the wits, so to speak.

Kaye: Your Knights of Silence MC series chronicles a motorcycle club over the course of several years.  As you read the series you get better acquainted with each of the members, which have well developed backstories that make the whole of the story seem very real and believable.  What drew you to these stories with these characters?

Amy: That’s a great question. And actually pretty funny how the series got to where it is now.  When I started, my focus was on Ice and Emma, childhood sweethearts that great apart who found each other again. It was gonna be one book.  When I got to about half way through the book, my PA at the time suggested that I release it, even though it has this huge cliffy. So I did, which then created book 2. That was supposed to be the end. But as I was writing these characters and their story lines grew, I realized I had more to say.  Never in a million years at the beginning did I think that Honey would be such a pivotal character in the series to warrant he own book. So the draw was Ice and Emma and the continuing development came with each book released from my mind.

Kaye: You recently released the last book in the Knights of Silence MC series, Sainte.  Can you talk a little about Sainte’s part of the Story?  Why was he chosen for the central focus character in the final book?

Amy: When the series started to lean toward Honey, I realized that male character that I had intended for her was completely wrong for her. She needed a saint, literally to save her from herself. And while Hawk was the most beloved character in the series, he did not have the mental strength to get Honey through.  And I just couldn’t let him sit around and watch her with another man. So, Hawk had to die and make room for Sainte. Sainte is a former mafia hit man who knew Ice when he was a kid. He is Emma’s cousin, which she didn’t know about. So he had a reason to stay with the MC from the beginning.  When he met Honey, he realizes quickly, she is the woman for him and he decides to stay and leave the mafia world. (Not that it is all that different. LOL). Sainte brings the story full circle, bringing the club the peace it has been wanting for a long time.

Kaye: As I mention in my review of Sainte, your characters are well developed with rich, believable backstories.  Where do you draw your characters?  How do you create with their stories?

Amy: As noted in questions 3 and 4 above, their stories come to me as I write them. I keep referring back to Honey, but she is a perfect example. When the series started, she was nothing, but the jealous ex-girlfriend. By the time we get to the third book, her story line develops and the reader sees she is the most complex character in the whole series.  She’s a recovering coke addict, struggling with her addiction every day. She wants love so bad she can taste it, but is terrified to grab the bull by the horns and take it when it’s offered to her. As the story grows, my characters grow and develop stories of their own.

Kaye: Although the series focuses on the male members, their “old ladies” play important roles as well, offering an abundance of strong, if flawed, female characters.  Why do the ladies play such an important role within the framework of your stories?

Amy: Well, you know the old saying, “there is a strong woman behind every man.” I wanted my female characters to be as strong as their male counterparts. Because these women are connected to the MC, they are surrounded by violence. They have to be strong to survive. Emma comes to the MC in ICE a very naïve young woman. By the end, she gives new meaning to the term “old lady” and could definitely have a patch of her own.

Kaye: Who is your favorite MC Character and why?

Amy: At first, I would have to say Caden/ICE all the way. And don’t get me wrong, I love him because he is the heart of the MC. He’s strong and protective and the kind of guy that when he holds you in his arms you feel safe. But then, Sainte came along. Sainte is everything that Ice is, but Sainte has that snarky personality that I love. He’s not afraid to tell it like it is and if he’s hated for it, he will just smile and walk away. Yes, definitely Sainte.

Kaye: The MC world is often dangerous and violent.  As a result, throughout the series several characters have had to die.  Is it difficult for you to kill off your darlings? Who was the hardest for you?

Amy: Several minor or past characters have died and frankly, I didn’t even bat an eye. When the realization hit me that I had to kill Hawk, that one was difficult. He was a major player in the story line and very much loved character by my readers. And believe me, I thought of several ways to keep him, but I just couldn’t get it to work with how I wanted the story to go. So he died. It was hard, but it would have been so much harder to kill Ice or Sainte, or even one of the girls.

Kaye: You also write historical romance.  Are those stories a bit tamer than you contemporary romances?

Amy: Yes, definitely.  My historical romances are Jane Austen FanFic and I think the hard core Jane Austen fans would have heart attacks if I made them as steamy as my contemporary romances.

Kaye: Your erotic scenes are done tastefully and in context for the story, yet you turn up the heat just enough to make them sizzle. How do you know how far to take your sex scenes?  How hot is too hot?

Amy: That’s an easy question. I think about what I like to read and go from there. I have read several books where every other page is a sex scene and that is just ridiculous. Many authors think sex is what sells your book, but I disagree. Readers want a story that they can sink their teeth into. They want to relate to their characters and that is really hard to do if they are screwing like bunnies the entire time.

I also believe that you want to leave the reader wanting for more in a particular scene. We all have an imagination and I believe that sometimes it is best to let the readers mind take over and make the sex in the book what they want.

Kaye: You are finished with the Knights of Silence.  What is next for Amy Cecil?  Is there a new series in the works?

Amy: Currently, I am working on a sequel to On Stranger Prides, which is a Pride and Prejudice variation titled On Familiar Prides. After that, I have a short story I wrote last year in an anthology about a WWI spy that I would like to develop into a full-length novel. As far as the Knights series goes, I definitely plan to expand on it. I currently have one spin-off series published, the Enemy Duet, but I also see others as well as a next generation series. I know for a fact, I can not stay away from my biker boys for very long, so definitely expect more in the future. I’m also working on making all my books available on audio, so that has kept me pretty busy as well.

Kaye: You are an award winning romance author.  What do you feel is your biggest writing accomplishment to date?

Amy: Wow, you really save the toughest for last. I always thought that my writing was measured by the number of reviews, or the awards won, or even that pretty “bestseller” orange banner you get from Amazon. And yes, I have lots of reviews, awards and have had a couple orange banners and I am thankful for every one of them. But when I really think about accomplishments in my writing, none of these apply. Sure, they are great and all, but what I am most proud of is my readers. And it’s not just because they read my books, but because of the people and the friendships I have developed with them. I have met some amazing people through this journey and I can say, it’s not the awards, or the reviews or the “bestseller” banners that keep me writing, it’s the readers.


I want to thank Amy for taking the time to share today on Writing to be Read.  Romance comes in many different shapes and sizes. In her Knights of Silence MC series, it comes in the form of big, tough bikers and their girls. Her characters are well developed and feel very realistic and relate-able so readers come to care about them, and her sex scenes have just the right amount of heat to make them erotic, but not feel over the top. It has been a pleasure chatting with her here and getting a glimpse into the workings of contemporary erotic romance series. Join us next month, when the theme will be the western genre and my “Chatting with the Pros” author guest will be Cherokee Parks.


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Interview with erotic romance author Nicky F. Grant

Nicky F. Grant

My author guest today is a woman who knows who she is and what she wants out of life, and she goes after it with gusto. She writes sizzling hot erotic romance about love, sex, power and control. In 2019, she received a Stiletto Award in the erotic/BDSM category, from the Contemporary Romance Writers of America for her first novel, Beyond the Masks. She loves life and she loves what she does. It is my pleasure to have her with us today. Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Nicky F. Grant.

Kaye: Can you tell us briefly about your own author’s journey?

Nicky: It happened by accident, actually. I was (and still am) a huge reader of romance. I’d devour an erotic romance book every two days and it got to a point where they became the same. Different character names, but the similar formula. My husband and I were kicking back with a few drinks and came up with a plot idea for Beyond the Masks. One where it focused on a strong CEO heroine and her professional and personal challenges with two alpha men. An angsty, love triangle. It was supposed to be something to tinker with, but I soon found myself swept up in the story. Now, I can’t get enough.

Kaye: Why do you write in the romance genre? What draws you to the power world of your Beyond Surrender Romance series?

Nicky: Erotic romance seems to have a bad rap in the “real world”, unfortunately. And some books with BDSM can come off a little over the top, in my opinion. Fun to read, but unrealistic.

My passion for this genre comes from a deep understanding of the emotional connections to love, sex, and BDSM. My goal is show each reader that there’s a profound connection between these things well beyond floggers and obedience that’s usually present in these books. BDSM exists in my world of Beyond Surrender, but as a “third character” between the heroes and heroines. It’s catalyst to spark their inner desires and understand why it’s okay to feel what they do.

Also, I want my readers to relate to my powerful female characters. I try to lift up women in all capacities and having fun in the bedroom while owning one’s sexual prowess is one of them.

Kaye: What is the biggest challenge to writing romance for you? What is your favorite part?

Nicky: A huge challenge is starting a new book. It takes me time to let go of past characters after I’ve written their Happily Ever After. Also, my confidence wavers with the thought of a new story. What if I don’t do it justice? What if readers don’t understand my twisted brain? It’s nerve-wracking!

On the flip side, my favorite part comes about halfway through writing a new book. It’s the moment where I truly understand the characters, their bond, emotional limits, chemistry, pasts, and futures. This does cause a whole re-write of the first half of the book, but it’s my process and I’m learning to embrace that!

Kaye: Your romance novels are about power “in the boardroom and the bedroom” and they contain erotic sex scenes. How do you know how high to turn up the heat?

Nicky: I’m chuckling at this question, because I’m a touch embarrassed. Man, I love a good “peel the paint of the wall” sexy scene! My scenes are explicit, which I still can’t believe my mother has read. Anyway, I let the characters tell me how high the heat should be. Usually, it’s scorching, but sometimes I may “fade to black”.

As the author, I’m very aware that each love scene must serve a purpose. It must bring the Hero and Heroine closer together or cause a ripple in the love story. Trust me, I’ve had to cut out scenes that lacked in moving the plot forward. It hurts to cut those darlings… but my duty as an erotic romance author, is to help the story along. I hate to admit it, but I get exhausted with my characters falling all over each other. 😉

Kaye: How do you develop a female character who is strong and confident, but still make her feel human?

Nicky: Great question. I take from my own experiences and that of other strong women in my life. I feel fortunate to be a woman with strong views in business, life, and sex. But the true beauty reveals itself when I embrace my own vulnerability.

My heroines are a reflection of that. For example, Shane Vaughn in Beyond the Masks is a female CEO in the music industry. Even though she’s challenged by the men in the field, she’s still vulnerable. She’s open and honest with her past flame, current lover, friends, and family. Somehow, she’s not jaded by keeping up a tough exterior. She’s human with real emotions. I strive to be her in ways, maybe that’s why her story found me. Swoon….

Kaye: In 2019, Beyond The Masks was a finalist for the Contemporary Romance Writers of America‘s Stiletto award in the erotic/BDSM category. Tell us a little about book 1 in the Beyond Surrender series and what receiving such a prestigious award means to you?

Nicky: I was with an author friend when I got the email. There was a shriek, a smile, and tears. Later, I did accept the Stiletto for best erotic romance in New York City. Dreamy, right?

I was incredibly moved to have experienced this among my incredibly talented peers. Especially when I pretty much drop-kicked my entry on the last day to enter! I never thought I stood a chance. That evening put my dreams into reality.

Kaye: What techniques do you use to draw your readers into the story and immerse them in it?

Nicky: Not sure if I have any specific techniques…but I’m attracted to angst, secrets, suspense, and alpha men. So, my stories have elements of these throughout. The one thing I keep on top of mind is, if I’m not enthralled in the story then my readers won’t be.

Kaye: What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

Nicky: Wow, there has been so much! The romance community is incredible when it comes to helping others.  If I were to pass along any wisdom to a new author, I would tell them to find their voice. Don’t compare yourself to every other author on the market and don’t get wrapped up in, “I should be doing what they’re doing!”

Writing is a personal journey. All the voices in our heads (yes, there are voices) are rare and unique. If you write without fear, the muse will find you. And your characters will tell you their story when we listen.

Kaye: What is your favorite part of the story, beginning, middle or end? Why?

Nicky: I love the middle! This is where all the “fun and games” happen! The sexy times are heating up, the characters are falling in lust, and a “romp in the sheets” make for a happy writer. But the middle is where things really start rolling. Secrets are revealed, the antagonist works their evil, and the characters doubt themselves. Also makes for a happy writer…I’m a bit of a sadist when it comes to causing them misery, just to fall in love. It’s a tough job. 😉

Kaye: What is your favorite time of day to write? Why?

Nicky: First thing in the morning. My brain is fresh. Also, anything I’d been working through (tough plot points, etc) have a way of working themselves out as I sleep. I can spring out of bed with a hot cup of joe and tap out some words for an hour or two. It’s a strange meditation for me.

Kaye: What is next for Nicky F. Grant? Are you working on anything now?

Nicky: I have two books lined up this year. Hers to Protect, a part of the Girl Power Romance Collection and Dirty Talker, a book for Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward’s Cocky Hero Club series!

Link to Hers to Protect: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50656136-hers-to-protect

Link for Dirty Talker: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51008222-dirty-talker

Also, Beyond the Masks is coming to audiobook late February/early March! More on that at www.nickyfgrant.com. Readers can also sign up for my VIP newsletter with all the upcoming news on my website.


I want to thank Nicky F. Grant for sharing with us here on Writing to be Read. I love how enthusiastic she is about what she writes. It’s been a fun interview, Nicky, and I really enjoyed having you as my guest. Readers can learn more about Nicky and her books on her Amazon Author page, or at her website, above.


Like this post? Let me know in the comments. You can be sure not to miss any of Writing to be Read’s great content by subscribe to e-mail or following on WordPress. If you found this content helpful or entertaining, please share.Like this post? Let me know in the comments. You can be sure not to miss any of Writing to be Read’s great content by subscribe to e-mail or following on WordPress. If you found this content helpful or entertaining, please share.


February: Turning Up the Heat with Erotic Romance

Romance

Why is Saint Valentine’s Day in February? Where I live, February is a cold month, not associated with love and warmth. So, Writing to be Read is turning up the heat this month by taking a look at erotic romance. Now, I’m not talking about erotica, which in my opinion is just sex for the sake of sex with no real story line and love has nothing to do with it, nor do plots. These stories can be rank and raunchy and downright smutty, but they are not erotic romance. (For more about the differences between romance, erotic romance and erotica see this article on The Productive Indie Fiction Writer.) I enjoy sex scenes like the best of them, but I’m also a sucker for the happily ever after.

Erotic romance features both romance and sex, and ranges in temperature from steamy to hot to sizzling. The romance story line usually carries the story, but the sexual elements keep the pages turning. This month we’re going to meet some erotic romance authors and take a look at some of their works. My “Chatting with the Pros” author guest will be romance author Amy Cecil, whose contemporary romance stories get pretty steamy, and guests for the supporting interviews are erotic romance authors Nicky F. Grant and Jade C. Jamison. I’ll also be reviewing Sainte, the last book in Amy Cecil’s Knights of Silence MC series, and Heat book 1, a prequel short to Heat: The Complete Series, by Jade C. Jamison.

Just as authors each have their different heat levels in which they like to write, as readers we all have our own temperature preferences, too. Let me know how hot you like it, to read or to write, in the comments. Then, join me as we turn up the heat and start warming things up with a look at erotic romance in February on Writing to be Read!


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On “Writing to be Read”: Romance is in the air in April

romance

Romance is one of the most popular genres around, not because everyone is reading them, but because romance readers read a lot. Romance comes in a wide variety of sub-genres: contemporary romance, historical romance, paranormal romance, fantasy romance, western romance, Christian romance, adventure romance, dark romance, and of course, erotic romance, just to name a few. Each type of romance can be very different, because they are after all different types of stories, and there are romantic elements in many types of storiest a romantic subplot has strong emphasis, such as romantic thrillers, romantic mysteries, romantic fantasies, or romantic time travel novels.

So, why is romance so popular? I think it is due in part to the fact that romance is such a vital part of life. Most people have experienced romantic relationships, and if they haven’t, they are searching for such a relationship, because we all need to give love and feel loved. But, romance readers aren’t just love starved singles whose dreams lay just beyond their reach, they also include plenty of happily married people, (mostly women, both married or single), who just like to relive those positive feeling they get from a good love story. Romance is something we all can relate to in one way or another. Romance novels offer a way for us to satisfy our inner longings viscareally or relate and relive our own experiences.

Every romance story or subplot has three things in common: two flawed main characters and a happily ever after, or at least a happily for now. In between, the characters must overcome many obstacles and conflicts. Sometimes these are external, such as others trying to keep them apart, but often they are internal, trying to convince themselves that they should be together, because they won’t admit that this is what they want, even to themselves. In the past the two characters were a boy and a girl, or a man and a woman, but in these changing times it is acceptable, perhaps even desirable, to write or read LBGT romances, where the characters may be of the same sex, or even questionable gender. Today romances may also be rated by the how much and how graphic the sex scenes are, from sweet to steamy to downright hot, and everything in between.

Romance is the genre theme for April, with interviews with “Chatting with the Pros” guest author historical romance author, Maya Rodale, and paranormal romance author Chris Barili (A.K.A. B.T. Clearwater). This month also featured reviews of an historical erotic romance, Ripper, by Amy Cecil, and a science fiction time travel romance, The Christmas Cruise, by Tammy Tate. As a special bonus, Jordan Elizabeth talked about writing her paranormal western romance, Treasure Darkly on her segment of “Writing for a Y.A. Audience“. Two reviews is hardly enough to be examples of all of the wide variety of forms and sub-genres which romance takes, so below you will find links to other past reviews of the romance genre, both good and not so good,  to allow you to explore a wider variety of romance. As you can see from the varied selection, even though each contains the basic romance elements, all romances are not alike.

For my reviews of contemporary romance novels: Destiny’s Detour, by Mari Brown; Freedom’s Mercy, by A.K. Lawrence; Leave a Mark, by Stephanie Fournet; Ice on Fire, by Amy Cecil;

For my reviews of inspirational romance: Once – Ask Me Anything, Not Love, by Mian Mohsin Zia; Wrinkles, by Mian Mohsin Zia

For my reviews of an historical romance novel: Blind Fortune, by Joanna Waugh

For my reviews of a science fiction romance novel: Ethereal Lives, by Gem Stone

For my review of a LBGT science fiction romance novel: The Hands We’re GivenThe Hands We’re Given, by O.E. Tearmann

For my reviews of YA romances: Rotham Race, by Jordan Elizabeth (dystopian, apocalyptic); Runners & Riders, by Jordan Elizabeth (steampunk); Bottled, by Carol Riggs (romance fantasy); Treasure Darkly, by Jordan Elizabeth (dark western steampunk fantasy romance)

For my reviews of paranormal romances: Love Me Tender, by Mimi Barbour; Smothered, by B.T. Clearwater; Don’t Wake Me Up, by M.E. Rhines; The Demon is in the Details, by Harris Channing

For my review of a science fantasy romance: Gyre, by Jessica Gunn

For my review of supernatural romances: Bait, by Kasi Blake; Wolves for the Holiday 1.1, by Josette Reuel

For my interview of a comedy crime romance: Bailin’, by Linton Robinson

For my review of a contemporary sports romance: A Slapshot Prequel Box Set (Slapshot Prequel Trilogy Book 4), by Heather C. Myers

For my reviews of contemporary erotic romance: Bullet, by Jade C. Jamison; Everything Undone, by Westeria Wilde; Tangled Web, by Jade C. Jamison

For my review of romantic comedies: Behind Frenemy Lines, by Chelle Pederson Smith; Dream Job: Wacky Adventures of an H.R. Manager, by Janet Garbor

For my review of a romantic thriller: Freedom’s Song, by A.K. Lawrence

I hope you enjoyed our exploration of romance this month, and I hope you will join me in May for a closer look at Westerns. My “Chatting with the Pros” guest will be western author Juliette Douglas, with a supporting interview with Patricia PacJac Carroll, who writes Christian western romances. My book reviews will be on Chance Damnation, by DeAnna Knippling and Not Just Any Man, by Loretta Miles Tollefson. I’m looking forward to it, and I hope you are, too.

In April, we also had a special Saturday bonus interview with Shiju Pallithazheth to celebrate the release of his new book of magical realism stories, Katashi Tales. We also talk about the work he is doing to aknowledge contributors to world literature. We need more stories which spread love and acceptance of one another. I hope you’ll drop by to catch that one, too.

Remember, tomorrow is the deadline for the WordCrafter paranormal story entries. So, submit your paranormal short now, before it’s too late. I’ve already received some good ones, but there’s room for more. Winner gets a spot in the WordCrafter paranormal anthology and a $25 Amazon gift card. Other qualifying entries may get invitations to the anthology, as well. It’s only $5 to enter, so you really can’t go wrong. Full submission details here.) Send me your story while there’s still time. Hurry!


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“Everything Undone”:

Everything Undone

Everything Undone, by Wysteria Wilde is an erotic romance with just the right amount of each. So many times the erotica is overbearing, often to the point you can’t seem to find the underlying story line, but Wilde does a wonderful job of sprinkling the erotic scenes tastefully throughout a well-structured romance plot that keeps the tension ratcheted on high.

 

When Annabelle LaFrance met Nick Bignanni there was every reason in the world why the two of them should never become a couple. But, their feelings told them both different, driving them toward one another. By the time they realize their feelings are mutual, it’s too late to stop the romance already set in motion, but there is more at stake than their love, and Nick must figure out how to transform from the person he was to the person he now wants to be without causing collateral damage. Annabelle is in danger, and the only way to save her is to betray her. And when Annabelle learns the truth, will she still want him?

The one problem I had is that I couldn’t buy in to Annabelle not knowing the true orientation of her bff, Brooks. I loved Brooks as a character. He talks and acts so stereotypically gay that it’s almost cliché, and I loved that Wilde threw in a relationship for him as a subplot. However, as close as they are, I couldn’t believe Brooks would keep his secret from Annabelle, even if he chose not to tell anyone else, and her reaction to the revelation wasn’t enough to convince me. Her acceptance of him for who he is unquestionable and I think he’d know that, given the nature of their relationship. It was a minor detail, hardly enough to stop me from enjoying the rest of this well-crafted romance.

The characters are well developed and likeable, the story filled with conflict, and the erotica tastefully done. I give Everything Undone four quills.

four-quills3

 

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.