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On TWISTED SUMMER


posted by Lucy V Morgan

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I get a lot of the same comments about TWISTED SUMMER, time and time again. I've wanted to respond to them for a while, and recently I went back in and re-read the manuscript, figuring that while the answers were fresh, I'd get them down.

(I know, I know. It's over a year since the book was released so this is probably quite late. A little reflection time works wonders, however, and you lovely bunch of readers are still buying the book. Thank you a thousand times for this).

People say...

Gabe is kind of creepy. 


People have called Gabe predatory. He made a lot of readers quite uncomfortable with the way he came on to Danni. I can't tell you that he's a nice man who did what he thought was right. He absolutely was predatory; at one point, Danni yells to him through a door, "stop grooming me!" because that is precisely what he's doing.

But I wanted this ambiguity for him. Truth be told, it was all part of the taboo of the story. He is forbidden fruit of the highest order. I don't think Danni was ever alone in lusting after an older man she couldn't have, but lusting after somebody who played the role of a family member--now that's fairly uncommon. Danni had never really "met" him before so that removed a bit of the yuck factor where she was concerned, but she was still very aware that she was in his guardianship. On a dark level, she liked that.

If Danni hadn't returned Gabe's affections, this would have been a very different book. Part of me wonders how far he'd have gone to seduce her; pretty far, probably. He was frightened of the way she made him feel--physically and emotionally--and it made him cruel. He was addicted to it, too. Addiction does strange things to people. Addiction made him brave and stupid. That doesn't excuse the way he came on to somebody he shouldn't have; nothing really does. But it explains it.

I didn't realise Danni was going to be gay.

You know, when I was gearing up to release TS, I worried people would laugh at the whole "lesbian converted by cock" idea that was vaguely present within the story. (Danni is actually bi, but still). So when there was more of a negative reaction just to the f/f stuff in the book, I was surprised. Danni's "girlfriend" is mentioned in the blurb; I'm English, so "girlfriend" means sexual partner. Of course, in the US, it just means good friend...I hadn't noticed this, and it most likely added to the confusion.

There was, in contrast, also a lot of praise for the f/f element of the book, which was lovely to see--not just because it was celebrating diversity, but purely because it was different. I write "different" books, and I've learned that different is a very sharp double-edged sword. Frankly, I often forget how different they are, so any kind of mention of this always fascinates me.

It was too short! Where's the sequel?

I never imagined when I wrote TS that people would want a sequel. Really. I thought perhaps they'd read it and think they'd been through enough! Will there ever be a sequel? I honestly don't know. My schedule is stuffed. I don't know how I'd give people a sequel to TS that was quite as striking as the first; Gabe and Danni have done the hardest part of their journey already and I'd hate to over-stretch them. Of course, never say never...

Length...well. My novels are usually long. I can't help it. TS, however, was originally written as two novellas, so the structure was different from the beginning. I wrote them exactly the way I wanted to because a) I knew no publisher would take a pseudo-incest story and b) I didn't fancy self-publishing at the time. When I came to turn the two pieces into one longer story, I felt like adding anything else would be "filler." And God, I hate filler. There were ways I could have made the book longer, absolutely...I just didn't like any of them, and so the result was something of a mongrel. If it felt incomplete then I understand why.

It really was twisted.

I know the cover was kinda cutesy in a pretty way (it's still my favourite, of all my book covers). I can see why some people were shocked by the contents of a book with that cover. TS is made up of layers of light and dark, of normality and perversion. It was meant to subvert. Danni's desire for Gabe was dark and the way she used Esme was dark, but she had a bright, peppy sense of humour and the story took place in beautiful sun-drenched locations. That juxtaposition is difficult to quantify; twisted felt like a nice middle ground. Dark is almost a genre term these days--a very overused one, and a watered down one at that. Thus, as readers, we all have our own version of dark...but maybe not so much our own twisted. I think TS hit a nerve in that regard. I'm kind of proud of that.

As for my own definitions?

A dark book, to me, holds little promise of redemption for certain characters. We are forced to accept those characters exactly as they are--a struggle we feel subjected to, rather than something we actively enjoy. But nonetheless...it titillates us. 

That's the darkest thing of all.





New cover reveal for TAINTED TOUCH & Sale


posted by Lucy V Morgan

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Boom!


Isn't it pretty? There's a bit of a story behind this new cover.

When I started to write Tainted Touch, I thought it would be another smutfest like Twisted Summer. But it didn't work out that way. (Not that there isn't smut in the book, but it's one of many elements, rather than an overarching theme). The book ended up a bit more in the chick lit/women's fiction/contemporary vein. I really wasn't sure how to market that, but when the book went out to reviewers, it was obvious--in a positive way--that they felt it was more suited to these genres.

And so...here we are. In truth, I think this cover tells readers more about my personal style. I don't write cookie cutter coupley romances; there's nothing wrong with them at all, but I wouldn't want a reader to expect one thing and get another when they buy my book. That's not really fair. I write with a bit of darkness and a lot of quirk; I write with unusual narrative arcs, at times. They're more into the contemporary fiction or women's fiction veins. I was worried that would be a bad thing.

I'm not worried any more ;)

(And yes, that is a blurb from the amazeballs Kristen Callihan, who has some gorgeous new covers herself. Her Darkest London series will be in UK bookshops soon, so keep an eye out).

To celebrate the new cover, TAINTED TOUCH is on sale for $1.49 (or £0.81 in the UK) at all vendors. It won't be at that price for long, so tell your friends!



Rejected cover designs for TAINTED TOUCH


posted by Lucy V Morgan

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My cover designer puts up with a lot. ("Can we try a gnome of self pity in the corner? Yeah. Really." [Three hours of blood, sweat and tears later] "Oh. You're right. That looks like a bag of dicks, huh.")

So when I realised that I wanted a new cover for Tainted Touch, but I frankly had no idea what I wanted, I decided I'd save the poor bastard the hassle and just do it myself.

The new cover will be revealed on Tuesday 1st July (along with a 50% off sale, because I'm nice like that). But in the meantime, here are some of the many cover mock-ups I vetoed in the end, along with a little commentary--Lucy style.


1) Floating Dead-Eyed Cait


For: The Waves, right?

Against: nothing about this one really says "moments of genuine hilarity."

No, what I needed was something edgier...










2) The Misery Porn Edition


For: pretty water/waves relevance. EMOTIONAL TURMOIL

Against: it's all a bit "capture fantasy kink." Which is okay if the book involves capture fantasy kink, but this book doth not.

Perhaps I needed more than random body parts. I needed a concept cover...









3) Attack of the Flying Cupcakes


For: cute! Modern! Just a bit foreboding!

Against: "Lucy. It looks like udders." (Christa Desir, voice of reason)

Screw you, concept cover. What I really needed was...









4) Headless New Adult Ocean Smut Bonanza


For: screams "I'm a beach read. BEACH ME AT ONCE."

Against: bargain basement Okay Creations rip-off

Perhaps sexy covers are not my forte. You know, unless they're more subtle. Like...









5) Headless Cliche New Adult Subtext Blandtasy


For: pretty colours. Porkage obviously imminent, so subtext win.

Against: more forgettable than J-Lo's recent efforts.

Yeah. None of this was going so well. I gave up for a while.









After that lot, I imagine you have no clue what the new cover will actually look like. Funnily enough, at that point...neither did I. But I did figure it out, and while you can't see it until July 1st, here's just a teeny sneak peek...


This is nothing like any of my other covers. I can't wait to share it!

TAINTED TOUCH is getting a new cover...


posted by Lucy V Morgan

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...in about ten days. I've seen it; it's rather lush, if I do say so myself, and also very different from my previous covers. I love the Cait and Art original cover, but I'd like the book to stand out a little more with something unique.

So...see you soon with a new work of Art ;)

Shailene Woodley, Feminism, and the Leila Vaughn Problem


posted by Lucy V Morgan

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"I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance," Shailene Woodley, a twenty-two year old actress (and star of Divergent), told TIME magazine this week. "I don’t know how we as women expect men to respect us because we don’t even seem to respect each other. There’s so much jealousy, so much comparison and envy."

I write a lot about the culture of platonic female relationships.The underbelly of them, if you will. Leila Vaughn (of Breaking Leila), who saw success lead to her undoing at the hands of female colleagues, is one example of this. Every now and then, something crops up to remind me that beyond all our discussion of feminism, it's never going to gain the traction it needs if we're not able to confront the issues within female relationships that tend to hinder a call to arms.

Shailene Woodley is, in her own words, not a feminist--apparently because the idea of women aiming to be above men in the social hierarchy is distasteful and illogical to her. This is, of course, not what feminism is; feminism is the belief that women are equal to men, and are entitled to equal choice, opportunity and privilege. Woodley's assumed misinterpretation of feminist principle has caused uproar on Twitter and other social media outlets in the past twenty-four hours, and no doubt will continue to do so.

Do I wish that a person held up as a role model had a more uplifting or technically correct message to offer her audience? Yes. Absolutely. But let us take this opportunity to examine exactly what is going on here. Let's learn (if I can say that without sounding like a patronising toad).

We all do questionable stuff when we're young (some of my younger characters will certainly attest to this). We don't teach feminist principles or theory in schools (or at least, we don't here in Britain. Which is a damn shame), so I'm not entirely sure why we expect all young women to understand a fundamentally complex set of ideas. The media feeds young girls a steady diet of "girl power," a dumbed-down concept that sounds more like a call for supremacy than equality, and the fact that feminist literature is not readily available to all is a basic feminist problem in itself. But what is far more shocking to me than Woodley's unfortunate misinterpretation of feminist values is the amount of vitriol she has received....from women.

The response I've seen on Twitter is very sad. The cheap jokes, the looking-down-the-nose comments, the patronising tone of people's response to Woodley's quotes; it smacks of hierarchal coterie within feminism, which is intimidating and unpleasant. We're all entitled to our opinions, but there is a problem with feminism if some of those who seek to spread its message on social media are preaching one moment, and then bashing a young woman the next.

In Breaking Joseph, my female protagonist, Leila, states: "Women rule each other. They say that behind every great man, there's a great woman, and they may well be right, but behind that woman is a not-so-great one, bawling her eyes out. She's not crying because she didn't meet the man's standards; she's crying because the other woman made them too high." And she's not really talking about competing for men. She's talking about competing for success and opportunity. For privilege. Men are quite often gateways or lubricants to such things, right or wrong as that is; Woodley, a product of a similarly competitive environment, touches on similar subjects. None of this is to say that patriarchal society is absolved of any influence--of course it is there. But as a gender, we are sometimes blindly participating. And we must stop.

"I don’t know how we as women expect men to respect us because we don’t even seem to respect each other. There’s so much jealousy, so much comparison and envy," Woodley is quoted as saying. Men aside-- I want people to respect me, not genders--this whole debacle lies in the shadow of a great irony because Woodley is now the butt of many a woman's joke. We do indeed lack equality between our sexes, and countless injustices affect women every day that would not affect men, but this doesn't take away from the fact that sometimes, women are fucking horrible to each other. And this is a case in point. No, not everyone's response has been awful. Some have been understanding. But I have been troubled by the chorus of those who are not.

We're now talking to a whole new generation of young girls about feminism, but we're also just starting to emerge from an era where perfection is everything (see: every reality TV show made in the past ten years, the earlier and earlier sexualisation of young girls, and the increased acceptance of sex sold as commodity on television/the Internet. Then see increased career opportunities for women but without the safety net of Old Boys networks). This is an era where another woman is seen as competition--not for a man, but for success, in whatever form it may take. And success is, at its core, survival. This is primal stuff. To ignore it would be to do ourselves a grave injustice.

If feminism is off-putting to this generation of young women, and if it is misinterpreted by them as a result, we'd do well to ask ourselves why...and to stop proving their suspicions by taking the piss out of them. That would be a start.







Cover reveal: MAKE IT COUNT by Megan Erickson


posted by Lucy V Morgan

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I have known Megan via Twitter now for a while, and am delighted to share with you the cover from her upcoming NA romance. It sounds hot and funny--two of my very favourite things (besides Channing Tatum and cheesecake. Maybe they'll be in the next book in the series...?) Drumrooooll, please...


 
Kat Caruso wishes her brain had a return policy, or at least a complaint hot-line. The defective organ is constantly distracted, terrible at statistics, and absolutely flooded with inappropriate thoughts about her boyfriend's gorgeous best friend, Alec...who just so happens to be her brand new college math tutor. Who knew nerd was so hot?
 
Kat usually goes through tutors like she does boyfriends--both always seem to bail when they realize how hopeless she is. It's safer for her heart to keep everyone at arm's reach. But Alec is always stepping just a little too close.
Alec Stone should not be fantasizing about Kat. She's adorable, unbelievably witty, and completely off limits. He'd never stab his best friend in the back...
But when secrets are revealed, the lines of loyalty are blurred. To MAKE IT COUNT, Alec must learn messy human emotions can't be solved like a trigonometry function. And Kat has to trust Alec may be the first guy to want her for who she is, and not in spite of it.


 

Chapter One excerpt


Kat gathered her books and stuffed them into her plaid Burberry messenger bag, then headed toward the front doors, smoothie from the library snack shop in hand. Head bent, fiddling with the clasp of her bag, she stumbled into a wall of human on the pavement outside.
“Oh, I’m sorry—” Her voice dropped out when she realized the solid flesh belonged to Alec, Max’s best friend.
She’d only met him once or twice before he’d moved in with Max this semester and every time, he cocked his eyebrow with a half frown like he knew something she didn’t. Which he actually did, since he had brainy superpowers. Smarter than a speeding Einstein. Able to leap over C-minus students like her in a single bound.
She didn’t trust people that smart. And she didn’t trust a guy who didn’t ogle her ass or leer at her boobs like every other member of the straight male species on the planet.
Right now, that raised-eyebrow frown pinned her where she stood. His pale green eyes behind thick black frames roamed over her shoulder to the library and then back to her. With his pin-stripe button-down, dark jeans with Converse shoes and hair styled in a short, messy pompadour, he looked like a nerdy Elvis.
His frown morphed into a smile when he spotted the smoothie in her hand, and she definitely didn’t notice his full lips. “You know, you don’t have to venture into the forbidden zone just to get a smoothie.”
Oooh. The jerk. She glanced around surreptitiously, then leaned in and spoke in a low voice. “Just play it cool. Don’t let it slip someone like me snuck in the library.” She gripped his forearm and whispered. “Password today is rosebud.”
His face blanked and he looked at her like he’d never seen her before. Kat debated whether or not that was an improvement over his other look.
But then those intelligent eyes narrowed and a smirk curled his lips. “I know. We nerds get an e-mail every morning.”
See? He always needed the last word. She propped a hand on her hip and leaned in. “Well, sounds like you have a mole. Might want to look into that.”
He opened his mouth but she cut him off. “Just looking out for you guys. Anyway, see ya around!”
Before he could shoot back a snarky comeback, Kat skirted around him and bounded down the stairs. She chalked that up as Kat 1, Alec 0.
  

***



MEGAN ERICKSON grew up in a family that averages 5’3” on a good day and started writing to create characters who could reach the top kitchen shelf.
She’s got a couple of tattoos, has a thing for gladiators and has been called a crazy cat lady. After working as a journalist for years, she decided she liked creating her own endings better and switched back to fiction.
She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. And no, she still can’t reach the stupid top shelf.

Find Megan on Facebook, Twitter, or at her website

Coming August 2014: VIOLETTA


posted by Lucy V Morgan

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"May the best man sin."

My name is Hugo de Grint.

I'm the man in the expensive suit who steals your breath in the elevator. The banker. The one they call Filth in the boardrooms and bars. I am many questionable things, but a bad big brother is not one of them.

When Tomas wanted the manor we grew up in for his beautiful young wife-to-be? I said yes. When he wanted to remortgage to finance his ailing business? I said yes.

And then, days before they married, I met her.

Violetta, from nowhere. Like the sun shot her out and she landed next to me, wispy edges still smoking. I am her friend and confidante...but I ache to be more. Though I have run from my obsession, her skin haunts me.

I tell myself I am a good brother--as boys, I took on his horrors; as we grew, I took on his debts. But Tomas is too much like our father, and not the good husband he should be.

I can fight it no longer.

I am going to take his wife.

VIOLETTA is a dark and erotic contemporary romance, told from Hugo and Violetta's points of view.