In an odd way, I was lucky to grow up where I did – a resort town with a university. Time changed it, but it has been a wonderful background for some of my stories – all but the first book of The Millersburg Quartet were set there, and it was the setting for The Last Resort. In a way the town of ‘Millersburg’ becomes a character in itself. Of course, I changed the name to protect both the innocent and the guilty. (Although an old high school friend reconnected on Facebook, and she told me she recognized it.) Time has changed it, though. Most of the resorts that formed the basis for The Last Resort no longer exist. It was a real pleasure then to find an article in my local paper about some of my favorite places back ‘home’.
The farmer’s market on Main Street where Cam bought the supplies for her Saturday morning breakfasts as described in Dirty Politics and Director’s Cut was real at one time, as were the resorts where Carrie worked in The Last Resort. The Inn at Pocono Manor, where Carrie and Drew danced, still exists. (Although I did change a few pertinent details as well as the name.)
My favorite town, Jim Thorpe, was featured in two of those books, as well. A wonderful little town with Victorian accents, it was full of great shops, wonderful little restaurants, quaint little B&Bs and one of the best lounges at the Harry Packer house. I loved visiting there at Christmas when the whole town would be decorated for the holidays.
There’s no season that isn’t good there, if you want a long weekend it’s a great place to go. Some people go just for the fall colors. Winter snow turns it picturesque, and there’s plenty of skiing nearby. Spring is a great time to visit, the number of visitors is smaller so you can enjoy wandering through some of the shops. How do I know all this? Like Molly, I worked – briefly – for the Vacation Bureau.
Dirty Politics – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005318DNW
Director’s Cut – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0058KRLVS
The Last Resort – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0052UX3V6 Read More »
I grew up in first in the suburbs and then in the mountains, but in both I played the kind of outdoor games kids used to play. (And maybe still do in some places.) We took on the roles of characters from movies, played spies and cowboys, built forts and fought imaginary battles. Then, as now, I objected to being relegated to the ‘women’s roles’. And if you think that in this ‘year of the woman’ that there aren’t some people who want women to ‘assume the position’, then you haven’t been watching politics. Or you missed the meme with the girl with the gun walking into a rundown location with the caption – ‘she’d die if she went in there’. Would a man? What were they trying to say?
When I wrote Nike’s Wings I already knew that women were taking a more active role in the C.I.A. After all, Valerie Plame was plastered all over the headlines at the time. So it wasn’t that much of a stretch for me to imagine Nike. By then there was also Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft and Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, too, and we’ve been seeing other kick-ass women. The one thing I did object to was the emotional distance in many of those women – it seemed as if they were really just men in women’s clothing.
I wrote Nike for a number of reasons, but primarily because I wanted to illustrate that some of the dangers this country – and other countries around the world – face come from a new kind of enemy. An enemy that doesn’t have a country but an ideology – like Al Qaeda – or only greed – as in the Mexican cartels and other crime syndicates like it. It was born of something I’d read about how terrorists could enter the country via known drug routes. I wanted to illustrate that danger.
Oh, and of course, I also wanted to write a great and entertaining story…
Yes, there’s a certain amount of politics involved in it – that was inevitable. We live in times that are far more political than ideological, and in ways with which I wasn’t always comfortable.
It took the opening sequence to a James Bond movie – and I wanted Nike to be a little like Bond without the martinis and elegant clothes, but more grounded in reality – to give me Nike’s capabilities. That’s where I really noticed parkour for the first time. A little research was all that was needed, and I knew that at one time I might have been able to do some of those stunts.
From all of that Nike Tallent was born – a woman highly trained in parkour, martial arts and assassination. I also wanted her to be well-rounded and realistic, to watch her grow from the distance her circumstances and career had forced her to maintain.
I took a few hits from people – particularly and surprisingly from women ( a few men objected to the politics) – about Nike and her abilities. (Others – both women and men – cheered.)
So I was exceptionally pleased, and more than a little vindicated, to see Zero Dark Thirty hit the movie theaters to such acclaim, featuring a female CIA operative in a prominent role. Not to mention that the director of the movie was also female. It was great to see Jessica Chastain take the Golden Globe award for her role in the film.
Despite everything else, though, Nike’s Wings was a fun and challenging book to write, I hope more people get the chance to meet her.
Amazon US – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005GHE94K
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Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005GHE94K
Smashwords – http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/79960
Today as an erotica author (among other genres) who has published on Smashwords site (since moved), I received an e-mail from Mark Coker, informing me that they are modifying their Terms of Service regarding erotic fiction that contains bestiality, rape and incest because the website Paypal would not support such fiction. I have the utmost respect for Mr. Coker for what he created with Smashwords, and I’m glad he’s made the decision. (I’m a little surprised his vetters didn’t bring up concerns regarding ‘rape’ stories, but that’s just me.) However I’m a little uncomfortable with the links provided justifying some of the content.
Now, most people who know me know I’m no supporter of banning books or censorship, but this is neither, for two reasons.
First, while Paypal is the largest secure on-line service for payment, it’s not their only option – Visa and Mastercard are hardly likely to care, and the sites themselves could develop their own on-line secure purchasing platform. Many do. For example, Diesel E-books has their own secure ordering site, but some of these sites simply don’t want to invest the money in doing something similar just to cover erotica. Paypal is simply more convenient. It’s also much easier to slam them for censorship.
And if you look on Diesel E-books you’ll find they still have erotica books listed – including bondage and (Step)Daddy does Debbie. In fact, they wisely spun off their erotic titles as a separate entity. Something I – an erotica writer – suggested to Smashwords months ago when I noticed that the listings were disproportionately weighted with titles that were going beyond erotica (generally erotic romance), into erotic fiction and verging into porn, much of the type that Paypal found objectionable – particularly rape and incest.
Why? Because in reality they’re illegal and send a terrible message to both women and men. As with the difference in freedom of speech from yelling fire in a theater because there is one, to yelling fire in a crowded theater for fun causing a panic that threatens lives, it’s a matter of common sense.
Again, most people who know me or have read any of my books know that I’m a firm believer that if you can show violence in a book you should be able to show people making love.
That’s a far different thing from making rape and incest look appealing.
Some would even argue that most of the incest that takes place in some of these books is ‘okay’ because it’s step-father/step-child, no direct blood relation. They forget the uproar around Woody Allen when he admitted he was shagging his step-daughter by Mia Farrow. No blood relation there, either, and Soon-Yi was also adopted. But as with any relationship where one individual has a position of power, influence and trust, taking advantage of that position is a minefield of psychological dangers. Where it might actually result in a healthy relationship for someone like Woody Allen, giving tacit acceptance to it by putting it in an open forum it may send the wrong message to someone else. And that’s a scary thought.
Such content also belittles the victims of rape and incest, who know how devastating it can be, by making their pain a source of titillation, and fuels stupid comments by sports figures and politicians. (Do you think they don’t read it? Really?)
So, am I advocating censorship? Isn’t that what Paypal is doing? And how is that different from say Barack Obama requiring churches to provide contraceptives?
Well, first Paypal isn’t saying all erotica, just the really objectionable and illegal stuff.
Secondly because it’s not censorship, there are alternatives. Some would argue women have alternatives, too, they don’t have to work for some Christian organizations. But that, again, is pushing someone else’s views on individuals and it’s wrong. As its wrong to push the view that rape and incest are ‘okay’ under certain circumstances.
All is should have taken was simple common sense to look at some of the covers and the blurbs during the vetting process and recognize that these books pushed the envelope. A decision could have been made, as Diesel did, to move those titles to a separate branch, giving those who wanted to read them the ability to do so. After all, you don’t recommend putting those titles on the shelves of your local bookstore or supermarket, and in the bad old days of video rental stores you had to go into a separate room for those videos. In terms of bestiality you may not want to walk down an aisle to see Donkey doing Dallas or a ‘rape’ scene where the victim is clearly tied down and appears terrified. For the same reason, separating erotic romance into one category (story centers around the relationship with more graphic language) from erotica and porn (where the sex is the primary focus and the language is all hard core), isn’t book banning or censorship, it’s common sense.
We have a responsibility as authors for what we write. I make no bones about the fact that I write for adults whether as Valerie Douglas or V. J. Devereaux. I firmly believe that the act of making love is one of the most beautiful and sometimes the most fun things two adults can do, and that if you can show someone blowing away a couple dozen people with a gun, showing two people loving each other should be just as acceptable. But I don’t write for children or YA. Where given the option, I make clear on my book pages and elsewhere that my content is for those 18 years or older. While I could wish our attitudes about sex and violence were more evolved and that all human beings could treat each other with respect, we’re not there yet. If you doubt me, just read the headlines lately.
Until then, we have to rely on common sense. And I’m just putting in my own two…
Here is the link to what Mark Coker actually said https://www.smashwords.com/press/release/27 Read More »
I’m told I really shouldn’t use my blog just for talking about my stories, and I was going to do that, but then something strange happened….
Setting Boundaries has always been one of my favorite stories but no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t find a place for it, a home. As much as I loved it, I couldn’t seem to find an audience for it so I just let it languish.
Oh, it has action and adventure in it to be sure, but at its heart it’s a simple tale of friendship, of forging strong bonds between three people who have ample reason not to trust each other. But I didn’t want to write the standard story of mistrust and distrust either.
Ever since writing The Coming Storm I’d always wanted to write the story of how Elon, Colath and Jareth met and became friends. As many times as I tried, though, they were all too dark, too cold, they didn’t match the warmth of the original story. And that’s what I wanted, that warmth, because so much of that is missing these days.
There’s so much baggage that goes into such relationships these days. I didn’t want readers to think they were gay – as if there was something wrong with that or gay people couldn’t be friends with straight people. But that also wasn’t the story I wanted to tell.
I wanted to tell the story of that friendship. But that came with baggage, too. As with so much of our interpersonal relationships these days, male friendships have become an object of fun. Our society gives them silly names like bromance or man-date, reducing it to a poor reflection of reality. It’s even worse for women. Or consider marriage – everyone points out that half of all marriages end in divorce, rather than saying Half of all marriages succeed! Its no wonder so many of us are on anti-depressants, we’re so afraid of being open with another human being for fear of looking silly or being made fun of.
Ask anyone who’s fought side by side with his buddies, though, and you’ll find out what such friendships can truly be. That was the story I wanted to tell. I’d been making it too complicated. So, that was the story I wrote.
It’s a good story but although it received a great review within days of posting, it never seemed to take off. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t seem to draw attention to it. No one seemed to want to read that kind of story anymore.
So when I first saw the numbers for Setting Boundaries on Amazon.com I honestly thought it was a fluke, a mistake they would soon correct. I mean, that couldn’t be right – 1500+ copies? And they’d been having problems with reporting, so I just chalked it up to that. But the numbers didn’t go away, they went up. It still seemed strange and I kept waiting for it to be corrected. Then, at some point, it began to dawn on me that they were real. Because those numbers kept going up. I couldn’t believe it. Then someone told me Setting Boundaries was on the top 100 list of free fantasy novels on Amazon. Last night I looked and it was #23. 1800 copies. In the world of traditional publishing its a drop in the bucket. And, it’s free. But still. For me? I’m breathless. Could it crack 2000? Has it already? I can’t imagine it. If it does, if it did… wow…
A feline scream drew Jareth out of sleep with a rush. For a moment, he could only stare in breathless astonishment…and in wonder.
He’d never seen anything so swift, so strangely beautiful or so very deadly as watching Elon of Aerilann fight off firbolg and boggins alone in the moonlight.
The Elf moved like water, smoothly, gracefully, his swords swirling around him almost as if they, too, were fluid, as if the steel bent like reeds in the flow of his movement. Yet where they touched, blood flew. There was no sound save for the cries of the firbolg and boggins. Bodies littered the ground around him as steel flashed like lightning in the thin moonlight. Every movement was graceful and sure as he wove a web of steel around himself, denying entrance as Colath took up his swords and went to join him.
There was no pause, Colath simply stepped into the flow of Elon’s movement and became part of it. It was as if they were one person, extensions of each other, one stepping in where the other wasn’t.
It was a wonder to watch.
Jareth saw the firbolg leap and scramble to the rocks above him and them and fired a mage-bolt, sending it spinning out into the night as he rolled to his feet, calling up power. Energy flared around him, gathered in his hands.
A boggart leaped to one of the rocks and then toward Colath. Jareth picked it out of the air.
It wasn’t his first firefight but he felt the same mixture of terror and exhilaration as he spun and turned in response to the motion he saw at the edges of his vision as Elon and Colath defended the entrance to their little shelter. Read More »
If you love my books and there’s that fantasy or romance series you’ve just been dying to buy, this is the month to buy them. If it’s epic fantasy you’re looking for you’ll love The Coming Storm series with it’s Elves and Dark Wizards. Or perhaps you’d like the thrill of The Heart of the Gods as an archaeologist unearths an ancient tomb and resurrects more than he bargained for. Maybe you’d love the heroic fantasy of Song of the Fairy Queen when Fairy join with men to restore a King to his throne.
If it’s romance you’re looking for, try The Millersburg Quartet – Irish Fling, Dirty Politics, Director’s Cut and Two Up – about four women who were the geeks in high school. Now they’re all grown up and finding the right one.
Then there’s The Last Resort, where troubleshooter Carrie Anderson just might be coed Gwen Smith’s only hope.
Oh, and did I mention… Cooking Class… a hot and sweet little erotica, about a hot-tempered chef and the woman who heats him up.
Fantasy, romance and excitement, it’s all right here – http://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=Valerie+Douglas. And all for 50% off. Just use the code SSW50 when you make your purchase.
And while you’re visiting, take a look at all the other great books featured there. Read More »
Writing The Last Resort was such a strange and wonderful experience. It’s very loosely based on real events and some real people (names changed to protect the guilty). A part of me is curious if readers will be able to tell which is which, some of the characters definitely felt as real to me as their living counterparts.
It’s also the only one of my books written in the first person and of all my characters, Carrie is the closest to me as a person. And, strangely, it’s been a bridge between the past and the present – the description of the character of Drew, based on a real person I never met, closely resembles my husband in a lot of ways. Who I didn’t meet until after I wrote it.
A mix of thriller, mystery and romance, despite that at its core it has a lighter heart than many of my other books. A missing coed, a group of people dedicated to helping people escape domestic violence, and a budding romance between two people who haven’t have much luck at love. All that’s about to change.
The Last Resort
When Jack Spencer, the Head of Security for Fairview Mountain Resort calls to ask her to find a missing coed, computer tech and sometimes troubleshooter Carrie Anderson answers. The last thing the resort needs is bad publicity. Jack knows that on the side, Carrie is part of a team that help domestic violence victims escape their homes and abusers. Complicating things is the handsome new attorney that just joined the team.
What she finds though will test all her skills at making people disappear and put all their lives in danger.
(My name is Carrie Anderson and this was a helluva first rescue for Drew…)
There was banging on the doors above us.
“Can you hear him?” I asked the 911 operator.
“Yes, ma’am. I heard that. Officers are on their way.” “How long?”
In rural areas like ours, it could be as short as twenty minutes – too long – or even longer, before help arrived.
She hesitated. “They’re coming as quickly as they can.”
In other words, too long. Okay. Back to Plan A.
I peeked out the window. He was standing out there pacing in agitation, pulling on his hair. He kicked the door, pulled something big, shiny, and metallic out of his pocket, and pointed it at the door. He thought about it. Now I could clearly see it. Definitely a gun. Abruptly, he turned and started across the parking lot. I hit mute.
“Everyone up the stairs,” I said.
I led the way. “I go first. If I yell ‘back’, get back inside the door, lock it, and go back downstairs into the bathroom. Okay? Don’t argue, don’t stop, just go. Got it?”
They nodded. Sandy looked very shaky.
“Don’t fall apart on me now,” I cautioned. “Remember the children.”
Her eyes widened, but she seemed to steady.
No window in the door. Take a chance, unlock it, and look? I had to.
Easing back the lock, I pulled open the door a crack and peeked out.
He was standing at the edge of the parking lot by the road, irresolutely. He glanced back and I prayed he couldn’t tell the door was ajar. I held up a hand to the others. Wait.
Turning, he looked both ways and trotted down the road with determination. It made sense. If no one was here, the most likely place the Pastor would have taken them would have been the parsonage. His home. I wanted Miller on the porch. The parsonage was an old forties style two-story, with a wide porch that wrapped around one side. Two windows overlooked the porch and the door into the house was along the side. For thirty seconds or so we’d be out of view. Please.
The wait seemed interminable. I kept praying for sirens, but I didn’t hear them yet. Come on, come on. Down the road, Miller was trotting now, in a hurry. If he heard sirens, he’d turn around, make a run for his car. In his state of mind, he’d be almost sure they were coming for him. I wasn’t sure which to root for. Go, just please go.
He was up on the porch. Please let the Pastor’s wife be gone, or let him be on good behavior. Then he was around the corner.
“Now.” I sprinted out the door and hit the remote lock release on my car. “Drew, front seat. Pastor and Sandy, back. Dog and kids on the floor.”
Doors flew open as I rammed the key into the ignition and started the car. Doors slammed.
“Seatbelts,” I shouted, ramming mine into place before throwing the car in gear. My eyes were glued to the rearview mirror.
The slamming doors on a quiet Thursday afternoon had gotten his attention. I could see his tiny figure come flying off the porch at a dead run.
I hit the gas and shot the car toward the dirt road. Dust plumed behind us. I heard a noise, a bang, something. Please let it be too far away. Drew had a hand braced on the dashboard of the car, the other cradling a child’s head against his knee to keep it from bouncing off the bottom of the dash. Good man. The child looked up at me with wide, frightened eyes.
The Last Resort – available through Smashwords http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/62262,
Barnes & Noble http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Last-Resort/Valerie-Douglas/e/2940012614605
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