Monday, 26 October 2015

Canada Loves a Good Book - A Guest Post by Giselle Renarde

Since I’m writing this post for the Brit Babes, I’m going to tell you about something uniquely Canadian: CanCon.

Most Canadians are familiar with this term. CanCon refers to Canadian Content regulations broadcasters have to adhere to. They were introduced in the sixties (I think?) to stem the flow of American media infiltrating our airwaves. To this day, television and radio stations are legally required to devote a certain percentage (between 30% and 40% I think?) of broadcast hours to Canadian programming.

As I write this post, I’m watching one of my all-time favourite sitcoms: Corner Gas. Just so happens to be Canadian. Same goes for Murdoch Mysteries, Republic of Doyle, Blackstone. And the radio’s playing some of my favourite Canadian artists and bands: Tanya Tagaq, Mother Mother, Arcade Fire. Canada’s full of talented people.

I’ve often wondered: what if there were CanCon rules regarding books? There aren’t any, as far as I’m aware (and, yes, that would be a tad Big Brother-ish), but the truth is we don’t need anyone advising us to read Canadian fiction.

Canadians are voracious novel-readers, and we can’t get enough of our own writers. That’s not to say Canadians don’t read international fiction—we certainly do—but Canadian fiction also has an international flair. That’s because so many of our incredible authors have personal or ancestral roots beyond our shores. Farzana Doctor, Michael Ondaatje, Rohinton Mistry, Esi Edugyan. Canadian fiction can be set anywhere, because Canadian authors can be from anywhere.

Me? I’m from Toronto and I’m not much of a traveller, so most of my fiction is set here.

When I first started writing, I concealed my settings. Generic streets, generic cities. I thought that would appeal better to an American audience. Toronto has had a booming film industry for as long as I can remember, partly because our streets can stand in for Chicago, New York… as long as you cut the CN Tower out of your shot, you could be anywhere.

So I did that for a while, in my fiction: cut out the CN Tower. My characters could be anywhere.

The first novel I set in Toronto was my MMF menage romance, Anonymous. I can’t remember why I set it here, but it’s full of landmarks: Hannah lives in Bloor West, works in Yorkville, and stalks a man on Church Street. It’s a very “Toronto” book.

My latest, a lesbian novel called The Other Side of Ruth, is also set in Toronto. Ruth lives in a part of the city called The Beach, which has a small-town feel to it. Her much younger girlfriend is an artist who hangs out on Queen Street. Together, they attend Nuit Blanche. They dance Halloween night away on Church Street, Toronto’s Gay Village.

One particular characteristic of Canadian fiction is that the setting becomes a sort of character. The ways in which Ruth and Agnes interact with their surroundings are crucial to the development of the plot.

If you want to give Canadian fiction a go, Toronto certainly plays a role in this book. You’ll see it in every scene.

The Other Side of Ruth is available as an ebook published by eXcessica, and also in print.

Get the paperback at Amazon.com or buy from Createspace and use Coupon Code AN5EWZTX for $5.00 off!

Get the ebook at…

Monday, 19 October 2015

Special Guest: Zenobia Renquist

VIP Room Service (Other Related Duties #1) by Zenobia Renquist

Let me just preface this with a confession—I’m not much for alcohol. I drink it. No issues there. But I don’t drink it often. I prefer juice and might occasionally put a finger of rum (usually Kraken) in it if there is rum in the house. My husband loves rum so there is usually some in the house, but my husband loves rum so it doesn’t stay in the house long.

I don’t drink beer. At all. My husband keeps trying to find a beer I might like and he keeps failing. Before living in California for a few years (my husband is military and we were stationed there), I wasn’t much of a wine drinker either. But California is wine country and it’s hard to walk five feet without tripping over a wine tasting. They even had them in the 7-Elevens, believe it or not.

After a few wine tastings I learned I’m not the stereotypical woman who likes reds. I don’t. I’ve tried all sorts of reds. I don’t like them. I’m a fan of sweet things (actual sweet, not the wine definition of sweet) and reds are definitely not that. I gravitate toward whites and blushes. My favorite is Ice Wine (Eiswein)—a white. It is sweet and delicious and expensive as all get out for that tiny ass bottle, so I don’t drink it often. I can’t justify paying that much for what amounts to a glass and a half of wine.

My alternative, though not always as sweet, is late harvest wines. They don’t cost as much and are easier to find. Unlike me, Mr. Malena from VIP Room Service (Other Related Duties #1) can easily afford any wine he wants and prefers to enjoy his bottle after Lexie has…



A hotel erotica tale hot enough to set the screen on fire.

She offers satisfaction above and beyond what is requested.

Lexie's job as a maid at a five-star hotel doesn't normally include the unique and risqué form of room service that rich guest Mr. Malena has requested, nor the generous tip he's offered. Submission and exhibition and a ménage. Lexie can't resist. What should have been a one-time thing turns into an introduction into the sensual world of customer satisfaction. This is one workplace encounter that could get her fired...or will it?

NOTE: Title previously published as Wine Service (Professional Courtesy 1).


Genre: Contemporary BDSM Erotica, MFM, Exhibitionism/Voyeurism
Publisher: DZRB Books
Length: Novella - 37K (approx. 83 pages)
ISBN: 9781634750004 (ASIN B00V8RE64K)
Price: $2.99

** Buy Links **
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** Read an Excerpt **

Lexie backed up a step.
“Now, now. Don’t be frightened. Nothing untoward. I promise.”
She snorted. “What exactly is your definition of untoward? I just rode a bottle for your wanking pleasure.”
“That’s all part of wine service. As is what comes next.”
“Next?”
“I didn’t bring it up last night because of how skittish you were, but there is more to it than stuffing that beautiful pussy of yours with a five-hundred-dollar bottle of Chardonnay.”
“Five hun—” She choked on the word. She’d been riding a bottle of Chardonnay that cost five hundred dollars. True, she knew nothing about wines or why one cost more than another—beyond age—but hadn’t known a single bottle could cost five hundred dollars.
“Yes. In honor of you and your first night. I thought it appropriate a five-hundred-dollar woman should ride a five-hundred-dollar bottle.” He wiggled his eyebrows. “Does it get you hot to think about it?”
“You’re insane.” She laughed. “You’re also joking.”
“I’m not. Call Franceska if you don’t believe me.” He gestured to the phone.
She looked at the bottle and then at him. “Five hundred dollars?”
“Yes.”
“Wow.” She’d never had anything that pricey between her legs. Her most expensive toy had barely broken the two hundred mark, and here she’d used a five-hundred-dollar bottle of Chardonnay to get off. “So what else is there? Sex, right?”
“If you want, but not what I had in mind right this instance.” He chuckled. “I’m not as spry as I used to be. I need a little more time to regain my stamina.”
“You look plenty spry to me.” She eyed his semi-erect dick. It hadn’t gone limp after he came. A few well-placed licks would probably have it hard again in an instant.
“Bless you, dear girl. You are good for my ego.” He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed the back. “Now then. After riding the bottle comes drinking the wine.”
“I’m on the clock.”
“Not you. Me. And a little shouldn’t hurt your performance.” He gazed into her eyes. “Unless you’re a lightweight.”
“No, but I don’t want someone to smell alcohol on my breath either.”
“True. True. But you won’t be drinking.”
“So why do you need me?”
He kissed her hand again and ran his tongue up to her wrist. “You’re my glass.”

Want more? Read the full first chapter online at DRB1stChp Blog:


** Bio **
Zenobia Renquist is the alter-ego of D. Renee Bagby. Call her Zen or Renee, she answers to both. Air Force brat turned Air Force wife, she was born in Europe, has lived in Japan and in several states of the US, including Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, California, Maryland and Hawaii.

She moved a lot in her younger years and remembers all too well being the new kid in fish-out-of-water situations. But those experiences only made her better able to adapt, as well they gave her a love of travel, preferring road trips over flying.

Turning her favorite pastime into her career, Renee loves to build worlds and torture her characters for the enjoyment of her readers. She can’t fill everyday with writing alone, and also enjoys watching anime, reading manga, crocheting, knitting (yarn and mail), and binging shows on Netflix. She’s a Whovian (David Tennant for the win!), a trekkie (DS9 because Odo rocked), and a fan of pretty much every Marvel live action movie and DCU animated movie.

She has a wacky imagination and tends to write all over the place. In order to keep up, she only asks one thing—Leave Your Reality Behind to Discover Different and Unique Romance & Erotica.

Visit her website: http://zenobiarenquist.com

Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ZenobiaRenquist



Review her on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/zenobiarenquist



Friday, 16 October 2015

Sex Toys and Friends

*Only a day and a half late for my Thursday spot!*
Hi there - it's me Tabitha, your local friendly neighbourhood sex toy inventor ;)
You might not have heard but news has this week been released of my sex aid design - Ruby Glow - 'pleasure for the seated lady' - made by the mighty Rocks Off :)
You can read all about the actual product on my own blog here - Oleander Plume's blog and the current issue of the fabulous Erotic Trade Magazine edited by Dale Bradford (I got a triple page spread...matron!)

found on internet
Now, the reason I'm bringing this up today is that I want to tell you about how amazing my friends are. Can you imagine sidling up to one of your besties and saying, "Listen, I've got a favour to ask... I have designed this sex toy, but I need someone to um.. test it... um, do you fancy giving it a go?"

Would they jump at the chance? Would you be brave enough to ask? After all, a sex toy or orgasm aid is quite a personal thing.

I was pretty nervous about asking, you give quite a lot away about your own sexual habits when you design a toy that suits yourself - what if I was strange 'down there'?


The reason I designed it is because when I'm writing saucy sex scenes I can get in a bit of a sexually frustrated state - I know it's a good and successful erotic scenario if I can turn myself on. I felt sure other authors did the same. I couldn't quite find a sex aid that met the challenge - it had to be hands free - quick and easy to use - just pop-it-on-your-chair-and-away-you-go type of toy. So I had a good think and made a design I thought would suit. It's basically a saddle arrangement that is anchored in place by your pubic bone and you can wriggle about on the vibrating pads until its work is done.

With thanks to Cara Sutra for this photo of the Ruby Glow x
So - you might be wondering who I enlisted to test my very first prototype - well, ladies and gents, lucky me to have a group of 7 erotica authors among my besties! Yes, you've guessed it - I called upon the help of my Brit Babe friends.

The very first version was made from blue dental silicon with small bullet vibrators hidden inside - it wasn't very attractive and I'm not sure blue vibrators are really big sellers but the silicon only comes in blue and I was making them myself in my shed!

Would you sit on this for one of
your best friends? 
I knew erotic author of the year 2014, Ms KD Grace is a deeply sensual woman so she was the first person I approached. To my joy and relief she agreed to be the very first tester.

Now - waiting for the results to come in was a crazy thing - on one hand if it didn't work, I could simply have it for my private use and get on with my life... on the other, what if it worked... uh-oh - I was probably more worried about that!

When the email entitled, 'I've had a moment' arrived I was thrilled and terrified in equal measure. Now I had to send it out to more testers - my friend Andrew who had seen the very first clay sculpture said he'd help me with the research and development side of things - so when I got this first little triumph, that was it - I had to move on and get more ladies' opinions.

yes, Yes, YES!
Enter the rest of the Brit Babes - I cannot overstate how awesome they have been in helping me design and feel confident in this design. They have been amazing! Every bit of feedback has helped form, change, improve each prototype to what it has become under the incredible care that Rocks Off have provided in its manufacture.

So this blog is basically a huge big bonanza of joy and thanks for my friends - not only the Brit Babes but all the ladies who have tried out this little beauty and let me know how they've got on. : KD GraceKay JaybeeLilyHarlemLucy FelthouseVictoria BlisseEmmy Ellis, and Lexie Bay I love you guys - and not just because you bounced around on my blue silicon and bullet ensemble :).

And those with encouraging words and endless enthusiasm - F.leonora, Oleander Plume, Jaye Shields, William Doxy, and more... And more and more!

Even down to this - I had made a logo for the Ruby Glow but it needed a little pizazz - so I handed it over to the talents of Brit Babe, Emmy Ellis who worked her magic - I love it!


Let's hope you like it too - nestled up with your books :) or chatting on Skype to your lover - who needs a reason? It's not just for writers - it's for all the seated ladies of the world - and the standing and lying down ones too ;)

Honestly - if you've got friends as awesome as mine, anything is possible x x x

Monday, 12 October 2015

A Book Hook that Goes Bump in the Night


Since we’re fast approaching Halloween and things that go bump in the night are the order of the day, I thought I’d share a little Book Hook with you today from Body Temperature and Rising, the first novel of my Lakeland Witches Trilogy. Demons witches and ghosts are the order of the day with the Elemental Coven, who specialise in sex magic. This novel had it’s ghostly, withy beginnings at the most haunted pub in England,  Red Lion pub, which is set smack dab in the middle of Avebury Stone Circle. And to add authenticity to the event, we actually did have an encounter with the resident ghost, or at least we think we did. Enjoy the excerpt, then enjoy the trilogy. If you want more free Lakeland sexiness, please be sure to check out Demon Interrupted, a Lakeland Witches novella FREE on my blog. 
 
Blurb: Body Temperature and Rising, Book one of the Lakeland Witches trilogy: 

American transplant to the Lake District, MARIE WARREN, didn’t know she could unleash demons and enflesh ghosts until a voyeuristic encounter on the fells ends in sex with the charming ghost, ANDERSON, and night visits from a demon. To help her cope with her embarrassing and dangerous new abilities, Anderson brings her to the ELEMENTALS, a coven of witches who practice rare sex magic that temporarily allows needy ghosts access to the pleasures of the flesh.
DEACON, the demon Marie has unleashed, holds an ancient grudge against TARA STONE, coven high priestess, and will stop at nothing to destroy all she holds dear. Marie and her landlord, the reluctant young farmer, TIM MERIWETHER, are at the top of his list. Marie and Tim must learn to wield coven magic and the numinous power of their lust to stop Deacon’s bloody rampage before the coven is torn apart and more innocent people die.

Excerpt:

Out of nowhere the clouds descended, blocking the mid-day sun and the view of the Borrowdale Valley below. The path ahead of Marie vanished in a roil of thick mist. She shivered, then squinted at her compass. Damn it! The weather forecast had promised sunshine for the day, unseasonably warm, it had said, just like it had been all week. She reassured herself that there was no real way she could get lost on Maiden Moor and High Spy, so close to civilization. Then why did the mist feel so unsettling?
            
She shifted the pack on her back and tried to remember if this was the rout she had taken with her parents. But that was fifteen years ago, and there had been no fog. 

The world around her fell silent, as she stepped cautiously forward. She heard no bird song, no breeze, and stranger still; she heard no other people on what was a frequently walked path. It was as though she were the only person left in the world. As she followed the flank of the fell around the silence deepened still further until even the sound of her own breath seemed muted in the mist. Goose flesh rose along the back of her neck and she shivered. A few more steps and the sound of a woman’s voice, half whispered in the mist, stopped her in her tracks. 
            
‘Anderson? Are you there?’
            
The knot in her stomach tightened at the possibility of this Anderson being lost to his companion in the fog.
            
‘Anderson?’ The voice came again. It didn’t sound particularly frightened. ‘Anderson, I need you.’ 
            
Marie was about to round an outcropping of rock that obscured the path when, directly in front of her, the mist cleared, and she caught sight of the woman calling for this Anderson guy. Her dark hair was pulled back in a heavy pony tail, and her legs extended forever from underneath kaki walking shorts. 
            
Marie was about to make her presence known when out of the fog, almost as though he had materialized from nowhere, stepped a dark-haired man with a closely trimmed beard. He was broad shouldered, a little taller than the woman, and dressed in a black suite of vintage cut. 
            
Damn tourists, Marie thought, what the hell was he thinking coming onto the fells dressed like that? Her irritation was interrupted by an intense tingling of heat below her navel that flashed hot, took her breath away and nearly drove her to her knees before it cooled to a warm buzz and skittered down low inside her pelvic girdle. Just then the man scooped the woman into his arms and kissed her with an open-mouthed tongue-fondling that left Marie’s insides feeling like warm toffee. Instinctively she stepped back, not wanting to interrupt the reunion. 
            
‘I was worried when you weren’t here,’ the woman spoke between breathless kisses.
            
‘Tara, my love, I came as soon as you called. You must not worry so.’

She released a sigh that was almost a sob. ‘I have good reason.’

‘Of course you do, my darling. But worry will not ease our situation. So we shall do what we must. And I will do whatever it is you ask of me.’
      
There was something in the way the man spoke that was strange. The accent was very British, and yet not. And the way he moved against the woman, the way he protectively pulled her to him, the way his mouth made love to hers banished Marie’s irritation that they’d chosen her path for their reunion. Irritation was replaced by longing that ached down through her torso to mingle with the strange buzz that had migrated to the soft spot between her legs, and the air felt suddenly warmer. The man’s hands joined the reunion. He slid the strap of the woman’s tank top down to spill a bare breast heavily into his waiting palm. He paused to knead it and fondle it as though he had never seen anything more exquisite. Then he took as much of it into his mouth as he could. The woman released a shrill gasp as though cold water had been poured onto her. ‘I can feel it,’ she breathed. ‘We were right.’ Then she held him to her, letting him nurse at her in hungry nibbles and slurps.
      
Marie should have left, and yet she stood riveted to the rock beneath her, feeling heavy and pliant, as though something had suddenly filled her and was moulding her and shaping her from the inside with fiery hands. Her breasts tingled at the rub and tickle of the man’s beard against Tara’s tender flesh, at the tug and pull of pursed lips on swollen nipples almost as though it were her breasts at which he nursed. 
      
Marie clasped her hand over her mouth to hold back a gasp of appreciation as the woman manoeuvred the longest, thickest erection she had ever seen from the man’s trousers. Not that she’d seen that many erections, she reminded herself. When had there been time? She could almost feel the hot stiffened twitch of maleness against the woman’s hand. 
      
As the mist floated around them revealing, concealing and revealing again, he slipped his other hand into Tara’s shorts. She caught her breath and nibbled her bottom lip as he found what he was looking for. Then she squirmed and twisted against him, practically sitting on his hand, as he stroked her. The look on her face was one of deepest concentration.    

For a moment the mist thickened around the couple, and Marie held her breath, listening desperately to hungry grunts that she felt deep in her belly and to little throaty moans that tingled down low, down where she shifted almost unconsciously into the dampening press of her panties.


Buy Body Temperature and Rising Here: 

“I am a huge fan of K.D. Grace’s explicit, well-crafted writing (I’ve selected and published her work in multi-author “Best” collections), and this novel did not disappoint me. It’s the first of a hardcore paranormal trilogy, and many readers think it is her best work to date.” Violet Blue
*****
“Body Temperature and Rising is my favourite of K D Grace’s books so far… So if you’re looking for a well-written, pacy and smokin’ hot paranormal romp, I’d point you towards this book. One warning, though. As soon as you’ve read it, you’ll want to read the next book immediately. I know I do!” 5 out of 5, Erotica For All
*****
“This is powerful, sexy writing from the extremely competent K D Grace. The story contains a compelling narrative. And all of it is set in the most beautiful scenery in the natural world. You really will love this book.” Erotica Readers & Writers Association
*****
“The plot definitely engaged me. It’s a series of one intriguing revelation after another, and one steamy interlude leading into another. Ms. Grace gives the reader a complex story of ghosts, witches and sex magic that I enjoyed and I think you will too.” 4.5 out of 5, Dark Haven Book Reviews
*****
“This well-written, full-length erotic novel comes from the pen of well-established writer K. D. Grace… easily one of the best books I’ve read!” Jade Magazine


Thursday, 8 October 2015

Playing with the Unknown


Hello everyone, it's Kay here. 
With Halloween only weeks away, the year round popularity of paranormal stories is about to peek, and the makers of horror films are rubbing their hands in anticipation of a brief, but steep, rise in profits. But, what is it about tales of ghouls, vampires and ghosts that makes them so popular?

 
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, revolutionary writers, Poe, Lovecraft and M R James all excelled in taking the ordinary and twisting it in such a way that the hair of their readers was standing up on the back of their neck long before anything horrific had happened in the stories. They were skilled at lulling you into imagined terrors slowly- so then, when the horror came- it was all the more horrific for it.

 
So, perhaps it isn’t the fact that in paranormal fiction the characters have the extra dimension of being unworldly to make them more interesting than us mere mortals, but a curious fear of the unknown that makes them popular? Is it the tension of what we don’t understand, and the suspense of what we’ve yet to see, that makes us pick up a book by Stephen King or Adam Nevill?

I get the same goose-pimples on my arms when I explore old buildings that I do when reading a scary book. My imagination is always one step ahead of me. What is around the corner? Why is it so cold? Is it because the building is neglected and damp, or is it because there is something unexplainable lurking...something I don’t understand...?

 
Lack of knowledge can make anything scary. Not knowing what is behind a closed door makes the hidden room beyond a dangerous place- right until you step inside and have your fears allayed – or not. Is there a comfortable bed with a wonderfully warm blanket upon it in the room the odd looking man is ushering you towards, as you are herded up the cobwebbed spiral staircase? Or is there a BDSM dungeon behind the arched wooden door, complete with kinky rack and every variety of paddle and whip you can think of?

Without a readers uncertainty there is no story. I could never have written a word of erotica without being able to play on my audience’s fears. Like my peers who write paranormal or horror, I aim to worry my readers just a little bit. Not too much- because obviously I want them to read on- but enough to pique the curiosity, to make sure they want to know if the man and woman in question will escape from whatever situation I have placed them in with- eventually- a satisfied look upon their faces!

 
The unknown is not just scary, it can be very sexy. One of the joys of my job is to dream up the ‘thing on the other side of the locked door’- to meddle with your imagination as you wait to see if the sound you can hear from the next room is a paddle striking a willingly prone arse...or not...And if it isn’t...then what else could that spanking sound be...and will it turn you on?

When I write my erotica I try and deliberately leave my readers not quite knowing what might happen- which is only fair because I rarely know what is going to happen myself! I never plan an erotic story; I just wait to be as surprised as I hope my readers will be!



Both my erotic physiological mystery, The Voyeur, and the entire Perfect Submissive Trilogy (especially Book 2, The Retreat), were written in this way. The scene in The Retreat’s fairy tale style tower with the tape measure still makes me shiver!! I so didn’t see that coming!

Have a happy October, and spookily "unknown" Halloween!

Kay xx

 

Monday, 5 October 2015

Using Tarot to Develop Your Story by Elizabeth Delisi

            My recent release, PRACTICAL PASSION, is an erotic romance with an underlying theme of the tarot. Tarot has been a steady interest for me for many years, and it’s associated with several of my books. FATAL FORTUNE, my first published novel, features a heroine (Lottie Baldwin) who is psychic and uses the tarot to solve mysteries. Thus, all the Lottie Baldwin mysteries include the tarot and I even commissioned a deck of tarot cards to go with the series. So it was natural to want to include a bit of tarot in PRACTICAL PASSION also.
            So, how can you use tarot to develop a story? There are as many methods as there are writers, but I’ll tell you how it works for me.
            First, a little history of the tarot. No one knows for certain when the cards were developed. We do know they probably originated in Northern Italy between 1420 and 1440, and were used in games as early as the year 1450. Several hundred years later, in the 18th and 19th centuries, the cards were rediscovered by seekers of the occult. These 18th century tarot enthusiasts felt the cards had more meaning than a simple game, connecting the history of the tarot with their own imagined version of ancient Egypt. Secret societies connected the tarot with the Kabbalah and other ancient mysteries and cultures.
            Rumors of the cards’ evil caused some people fear the tarot. Over the years, Hollywood has portrayed the cards as something supernatural. Some claim they represent the Devil, while others say their use is forbidden in the Bible.
But the cards are simply a deck of seventy-eight cards with pictures on them that can be used to tap into your unconscious, to draw conclusions from the cards based on your own unique background, needs and experiences. You invest the cards with meaning, and that meaning is true for you alone. There are fairly standard meanings associated with each card, but individuals are encouraged to look deeper, to trust their instincts and use the meaning that "feels" right, even if it disagrees with tradition. Tarot helps you develop your instincts, your intuition, and learn from yourself. Plus, where else can you get 78 individual works of art that fit in your hand?
            According to Joan Bunning, author of LEARNING THE TAROT (Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach, Maine, 1998), "The power of the tarot comes from this combination of the personal and the universal. You can see each card in your own way, but at the same time, you are supported by understandings that others have found meaningful. The tarot is a mirror that reflects back to you the hidden aspects of your own unique awareness."
So, how do you choose a tarot deck? I recommend you visit Aeclectic Tarot at http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/cards/list.shtml  Do this when you have a good amount of free time...there are hundreds of decks to choose from and you’ll find yourself caught up, looking at all the gorgeous pictures of cards from different decks. One tip: don’t buy a deck that has “pip” cards for the Minor Arcana; i.e., the Minor Arcana cards simply picture four swords or seven cups. These decks require the reader to memorize the meanings of those cards, since it’s not evident from the artwork. Those decks are best suited to advanced readers. I also suggest you not purchase a deck with the meanings printed on the cards. This will limit your interpretation of the cards to what the publisher has printed on each one. You want to let your subconscious have free reign in the interpretation of the cards.
Whichever deck you choose, take time to become familiar with it. Shuffle the cards, and be sure to turn over the cards from left to right rather than bottom to top, so you don’t change the orientation of the cards. Study a particular card; try to imagine what the card expresses. For instance, the Three of Swords often shows a heart pierced with three swords, surrounded by rain and storms. It doesn’t take much effort to imagine this card may mean a broken heart. The Ten of Cups shows a man and woman standing in front of a lovely home and garden, with happy children playing at their feet and a rainbow of cups fanning out above their heads. You might decide this means a happy family life, prosperity, security, or peace.
Now that you’re familiar with your deck and have practiced interpreting the images on the cards, it’s time to use the deck for practice readings. One good way to become familiar with the tarot and with tarot spreads is to choose a daily card to represent the happenings or emotions of the upcoming day, and to record the card and your interpretation of it in a journal. Try to do your daily card reading first thing in the morning, and at the same time of day each day. Write down the card you chose and what you interpret it to mean. Then, at the end of the day, write in whether you feel the card interpretation accurately portrayed your day, and why or why not. As time passes, you’ll find your interpretations become more accurate.
Another practice reading to try is a Past/Present/Future reading. Take an issue you’re concerned about and would like some guidance on. Shuffle your deck, cut the cards, and lay out three cards in a row, left to right. The first card represents the past, the background of the situation; the middle card represents the present, the current situation you find yourself in; and the last card represents the future of your situation. Keep in mind the future isn’t fixed, and what choices you make can affect it. Also, when you’re doing a reading, you can always add an extra card to a particular position if you want to shed more light on that specific subject.
Now that you’re comfortable reading the cards, it’s time to work on your story. There are any number of ways to develop your characters. Some authors use a "character interview," some authors base their characters on real people, while other authors invent the characters as they go along to fit the needs of the story. One of the more interesting ways you can develop a character is to do so using your tarot cards.
It's best to have a few facts already in mind about your character, such as whether the character is male or female, hero or villain, young or old. With this brief idea of the character in mind, shuffle the cards and then cut the deck. Turn over the top card, and use your interpretation of the card as the main personality trait of your newly-created character.
Suppose I want to learn more about my heroine, a young woman in her twenties. I shuffle the cards, cut the deck, and turn over the Two of Swords. This shows a blindfolded young woman sitting on a stool, holding two swords crossed over her chest. I interpret this card to mean my character is indecisive, refusing to accept the truth and look at the facts. She is denying her true feelings, and thus she’s at an emotional impasse. She has the tools in hand she needs to cut through this murkiness, but she refuses to admit she has them, much less use them.
Now I have something that can be the basis of the conflict for the book. But this is hardly enough. What is my heroine refusing to accept? What’s the basis of her indecisiveness? I shuffle again and turn over another card. This time I draw The Lovers. Ah; my heroine is afraid of love. The thought of a committed, one-to-one-forever relationship scares her silly. But why does she feel this way?
The next card I draw is the Ten of Swords. This card depicts a man lying face-down on the ground, ten swords thrust into his back. My heroine has been betrayed by a man before; she's been stabbed in the back. Someone has won her heart, then dumped her and left her for someone else.
Who has done this to her? I turn over another card and get the Knight of Cups. This indicates the young man who broke my heroine's heart was fanciful, temperamental and moody. He was unable to face unpleasantness, and when the going got tough, he bowed out. He was there as long as things were light and fun, but the minute a bit of conflict came up, he was out the door and moving on to his next conquest.
So, this gives me a fairly good idea of my heroine’s main character traits and her difficulties that will tie into the plot of my story.
The example above relies on a single card to answer a single question. You might also turn over three cards in a row, representing the past or history of the main plot problem; the present situation; and the future or possible outcome. You could do a six-card spread, where you choose which six areas of your character you wish to focus on, and turn over one card for each. For example, you might pick family, love life, health, career, financial situation, and fears. The card you draw for each will shed light on that particular area. You can turn over additional cards to shed light on a particular area if you wish.
Now that you’ve had a little experience with your chosen tarot deck, interpreting the cards, and developing characters such as your hero or heroine (or both) and your villain, you’re ready to start using the tarot to work on your plot.
This may feel more difficult, because instead of asking questions about yourself and situations you’re familiar with, or a character who already has a shadowy reality in your mind, you’re starting with a blank slate. So be prepared to give it a little practice, and don’t worry if the first reading you do or first idea you come up with doesn’t pan out.
As before, you can invent your own spread for this exercise. I’ve fooled around with creating a spread on paper, and here’s what I came up with for myself:
X    X    X    X  - Row 4
X   X   X   - Row 3
X   X   - Row 2
X   - Row 1
So basically, it’s an upside down pyramid. Row 1 represents the background of the story. Row 2 represents the major plot line(s). Row 3 represents sub-plots and/or setbacks the characters will face. Row 4 represents the climax and the ending.
You can try my spread if you want to, or you can create one of your own. Just be sure you know in your own mind what each card position represents before you deal the cards.
First, choose the genre of the story you’re coming up with a plot for. That’s crucial, because the cards can be interpreted many ways, and you want your interpretation to mesh with your chosen genre. I’m going to do my exercise for a romantic suspense novel.
Here’s what I drew:
Row 1: Queen of Pentacles
Row 2: King of Pentacles, Nine of Swords
Row 3: Two of Cups, Ten of Wands, Page of Wands
Row 4: Ten of Pentacles, Knight of Pentacles, The Magician, Queen of Swords
And here’s how I interpret the spread:
Row 1: Background. My main character is a loving, generous, down-to-earth type. She’s always there for her friends, her family, her nieces and nephews, pets. You name it, she’s there. Perhaps she has neglected her own needs from “being there” for everyone else. But she’s a big-hearted girl and she would never put herself first. Sometimes she feels she’s being taken advantage of...but no, she’s too trusting to really believe that for long.
Row 2: Into her life comes a man. He’s a terrific businessman, can take any enterprise and make it successful. He too is a giver, but he’s shrewd. He doesn’t let anyone take advantage of him.
The main character has run into some difficulty in her own life. Financial trouble, I’m thinking, since this reading has so many Pentacles cards. ;-) Maybe she’s lost her job, her employer says it’s because she’s taken so much time off work to help others. While she’s always there for others, they are most definitely NOT there for her with a dollar or two in her time of need. She has nightmares about losing her home. And then the phone calls start...people who call her in the middle of the night, and hang up when she answers. She gets threatening letters. Her whole life is becoming a nightmare, and she doesn’t know why.
She goes to the hero for help. At first he doesn’t want to help her, he feels she’s just using him and he’s wary of being used. But eventually he comes to believe she’s sincere and they investigate just what’s going on...
Row 3: What starts out as a partnership blossoms into a romance as the two of them work together. They struggle to solve the mystery...who is after her? Why? Is it connected to her firing? Or maybe to one of the people she’s helped, who turned her down when she was the needy one? Nothing comes easily, they feel they’re taking one step forward and two back. They come to realize they’ve been looking at it all wrong. Nothing is as it seems. A creative approach is needed to catch the bad guy...
Row 4: They doggedly pursue the bad guy, sometimes a little too zealously as they nearly get killed a time or two. But through hard work and perseverance, they finally discover she was fired because one of those people she helped is blackmailing her former employer about shady business practices he’s uncovered, and her employer thought she was in on it, so he fired her. Meanwhile, the blackmailer thought she was in on the shady business practices, and figured he could scare her into coughing up some blackmail money, too. Using the force of her personality, using emotional strength she never knew she had, she manages to talk the bad guy down long enough for the hero to capture him.
Naturally, she and the hero end up together in a permanent, lasting relationship they can build happy lives on. And what has she learned? To not take things at face value; to face the truth, even if it’s unpleasant; to size up a person and uncover their hidden motives before buying into what they say.
Admittedly, this is rough. But it’s the beginning of a story...it’s a place to start. If I decide I want more details, I can lay out more cards for an in-depth look at any part of this. From here, since I’m an outliner, I’d probably start a detailed outline based on this reading. For those of you who don’t like to outline, you can jump in and start writing.

Isn’t it wonderful, how the tarot cards can help you develop your plot and characters? All you need is a deck you connect with, belief in yourself, and practice, practice, practice!

Blurb:
Julie Preston worked hard raising her younger sister Emily after their parents died, and creating a career. She gave up simple pleasures like love and relationships. So when a friend drags her to a singles bar, Julie’s ready for anything. She meets a gorgeous guy and they spend several passionate hours together. There’s real chemistry there, but Julie regretfully sticks to her promise: a one-night stand, no strings.
            When Julie hires a tutor to help Emily pass English, she’s shocked to find he’s the man from the bar. Seeing him in her house makes it hard to keep her hands off him, but he isn’t looking for a long-term relationship since he’s a singles bar patron. Right?
            How many miles can Julie jog before she gives in and jumps him?

Excerpt:
...Julie dropped her purse on a table and her coat over a chair, and looked around the room. Clearly, the hotel got much of its business from the singles bar. Even ignoring the desk clerk’s knowing expression and wink, the room decor said it all. The drapes were red velvet; the bedspread red brocade with gold threads shot through it; and the walls covered in red and gold flocked wallpaper. It was schlocky, like something she expected to see in a honeymoon motel in the Poconos. No doubt there was also a heart-shaped tub in the bathroom. Ooh…maybe she could find some bubble bath? Surely a place like this would have it?
“Anne?”
            Julie jumped at the sound of Stephen’s voice, feeling guilty for her wandering thoughts. “Sorry. Did you say something?”
“Is something wrong? Are you all right?” He frowned, looking concerned.
Julie felt the heat rise up her neck and into her cheeks. Here she was, standing in the middle of the room and zoning out. Or was she focusing on the furnishings because she was nervous about what was about to take place? After all, though she wasn’t a virgin, her experience was limited, and several years in the past. “I’m fine,” she said. “Nothing’s wrong.”
He smiled, a boyish dimple in his right cheek sending an arrow straight to her heart. “Although I hope you haven’t changed your mind, if you’re having second thoughts, it’s not too late to say so. I can take ‘no’ for an answer. I want that to be clear…we can stop at any time if you feel uncomfortable.”
“No, I’m not uncomfortable. Thank you, though. It’s just that I’ve…” Never done anything like this before. But she couldn’t say that. Stephen wouldn’t have come to a singles club to find a girl who didn’t know the ropes, would he? He probably did this every weekend—that thought sent a vicious stab of jealousy through her gut—and he expected she did also.
“I’m fine,” she repeated. “I was just woolgathering. Don’t worry. I haven’t changed my mind.”
“Good.” He stepped close to her and trailed the back of his hand over her cheek. “Because you’re an amazingly beautiful woman, and I don’t know how much longer I can keep my distance when I really want to—”
“Shh.” Julie put her index finger on his lips. His soft, warm, sexy lips. “Don’t say a word. You don’t have to say anything you don’t mean. I don’t expect any promises from you, any commitments. Let’s just be quiet and enjoy each other. After all, that’s why we’re here. Right?”
Stephen raised his eyebrows, opened his mouth as if to speak, then closed it and nodded.
Julie stepped over to the window and drew the drapes shut. Then she turned on the radio, tuning it to a soft jazz station and lowering the volume to create a pleasing whisper of background sound.
She returned to Stephen and spread her hands out on his chest, savoring the feel of his strong pectoral muscles flexing under her fingers. She smiled a bit tremulously, but she knew this was right. It felt right...

Buy links:
Elizabeth Delisi’s website: http://www.elizabethdelisi.com
Elizabeth Delisi’s blog: http://elizabethdelisi.blogspot.com