Guest Blogger: Sommer Marsden
With a grain of salt…okay, a bucket.
There are books that are special somehow. Maybe there’s a tad more of me in them. Or I fell super duper hard for my characters. Or they come from a place inside me that’s a little deeper than the rest (hold your sex jokes!). For whatever reason, the releases of certain books are more nerve wracking than others.
Restricted Release is one of those books. First of all, I wrote it two summers ago and just sat on it. I have no idea why. I wasn’t ready to let it go and I wasn’t sure where I wanted it to go. Then when I was assigned an amazing new editor at Ellora’s Cave I thought hmm…After all that time, when I finally made up my mind and decided I wanted to submit it to her in hopes that she would want it, I couldn’t get it out fast enough.
But I was scared. More scared than I’d been about a book in a long time.
When my new editor proclaimed herself a fan and said she’d read and liked my other books, well, damn…that was really nerve wracking. What if she hated it? What if she thought it was horrible and then had to tell me? What if, what if, what if!
And why was I so paranoid about this damn book?
I figured out why one night out of the blue. I realized I’d written Restricted Release for me. Just for me. Which is probably why I sat on it for so long. I had no concrete plans for that book beyond getting it out of my head. That was where the thought processes stopped. And for a long time, I doubted anyone would want it.
While you’re in the process of writing a book just for yourself it’s freeing. While you’re waiting to hear about said book it’s terrifying.
Ellora’s Cave took it (as you can see), and now my fear lies with the reviews. It’s inevitable, really. The book will get reviews. Hopefully, (I think) by review sites. Definitely by people on Goodreads and the like.
I want readers to like it and the mere thought of them not liking it is horrifying. And yet, I must remember to take any criticism (and even praise) with a grain of salt…okay, a bucket. That’s a hard thing to remember at times like this. That’s a hard thing to remember, period, if you’re a writer (I think). When characters I spent an entire summer with are now cavorting around out there without me, it’s hard not to fret. But the point is for my characters to be read, beyond that I should have no expectations. As Shakespeare said, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” So I shouldn’t have any, right? However, that’s much easier to say than to do.
But I’ll start practicing now. Om…
An Excerpt From: RESTRICTED RELEASE
Copyright © SOMMER MARSDEN, 2013
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
We sat in the center of his box-cluttered living room floor on a large blanket. Around us was scattered some leftover takeout, cheese, crackers, a box of lemon cookies, mixed nuts, olives, pickles and a bottle of wine.
“This should be disgusting,” he said, eating a pickle with a piece of cheese on a cracker.
“But it‘s so, so good,” I said, eating my own cracker with cheese. I ate it in small nibbles because my stomach was electric.
“Really?” He cocked his head. “Because you barely seem to be eating.” He touched my leg with his bare foot. He was warm.
“I‘m eating.” I pulled the sweatshirt he‘d draped over me close to my body. Besides his sweatshirt, I wore my white slouchy socks and we‘d located my panties.
He held out a box of cookies. “I’m good,” I said.
Matt studied me. “I‘m not as dumb as I look, you know.”
I ate the rest of my cracker and took a sip of wine. It was nice. It had that whiskey aftertaste I usually hate and yet I didn‘t this time. There was enough of a fruity burst in it to temper the oak. “I don‘t think you look dumb at all. I think you look really smart,” I said.
I hoped he didn‘t hear the mixture of annoyance and anxiety in my voice. I wanted to get past the food thing.
“So tell me, mysterious neighbor. Why do you seem to be a person who sticks very close to home? Why do you seem so…gun-shy? Is that a good description?”
I tried to nod but my head barely moved.
“I know why I‘ve been a monkish man for almost a year. Why have you been Sister Clara Barrett?”
I cleared my throat. “I don‘t know.”
He cocked his head and then cut his eyes away. He tried to make it look nonchalant, but I knew what he was doing. He was giving me a moment to consider the situation.
Matt held up a hand, looking me right in the eye so I felt totally naked. For a crazy moment I felt as if there were no barriers between what was inside of me and what was inside of him. He said, “You were bold enough this morning to straight up tell me you wanted to have sex with me.”
I opened my mouth but he kept that silencing hand up and I shut my mouth with an audible snap. His fingers slipped beneath my sock, circled my ankle and he said very softly, “Please let me finish before you throw up your security fences and barriers.”
My throat was tight. I nodded.
“You were bold enough to watch me in my bathroom. When I probably could have spotted you at any time, and I sorta kind of did at the end there. And…” He squeezed my ankle and the pressure went right to my pussy. “You were bold enough to come over here on a…” He chuckled. “Booty call.”
I made a small noise of protest but then laughed. Our laughter mingled and I felt a rightness I couldn‘t remember feeling. It scared the shit out of me.
“But you won‘t tell me what your history is, Clara?” He didn‘t say it to belittle me. I could tell he wasn‘t angry. It was simply a question to help him understand. And that made me tell him.
I finished my wine in three big gulps and leaned back on my hands, keeping my legs in crisscross-applesauce fashion.
“I was married.” I picked at a loose thread on my sock and then looked at him. His eyes were amazing. Gorgeous and kind and deep—if they were the windows to Matt Millen’s soul, his soul was a wonder of the Universe.
“I‘m going to say this in one big breath and get it over with, okay?” I said, feeling my eyes sting a little. I willed myself not to cry. I could not cry. That would be stupid. That bad part of my life was over. I needed to move past it.
“Okay,” Matt said. His hand stayed around my ankle, loose but comforting. He wasn‘t eating or drinking, but he wasn‘t poking or prodding either. He was waiting. Listening. Paying attention.
“I was married to a man who wasn‘t…nice.” I shrugged but it felt like I was being blasé about something that was anything but. So I stilled my body and went on, willing myself to be strong. “He didn’t beat me or anything. But he carved me up emotionally. My sister Cat once said it would have been better if he had beaten me.” My voice had gotten small. My stomach hurt.
His eyes flashed with anger but he kept his face schooled. “And why is that?”
I blew out a shuddery breath and whispered. “She said that if he‘d left bruises on me—broke bones—I‘d have known that it was wrong. But as it stood, he got inside my head and…” I tapped my temple. “Fucked with me. He played on my biggest fears and weaknesses to control me. It‘s like in those books where you read about demons and possession and Hell,” I laughed. “He infiltrated my brain and he trapped me with my own fear.”
Matt sighed and popped an olive in his mouth. “I‘m going to go out on a limb here, slim lady, and say one of your issues is food and body image?”
My cheeks heated and I nodded, saying nothing at all. I had to fight the urge to cover myself with his sweatshirt. To pull it down over my knees and hide myself in it. It was a war I still waged most days, even thought I was alone about 80 percent of the time.
He watched me. He was waiting.
Clara is the recovering anorexic who’s nearly become a shut-in after the end of her emotionally abusive marriage. Matt is the new boy next door. Graphic artist, nice guy, funny…accepting of Clara. She wants him, he wants her—but Clara is afraid.
Nadia is the stand-in—Matt’s idea, Clara’s challenge to accept. A longtime friend of Matt’s, she’s a sexual surrogate intended to guide Clara until she’s not afraid of Matt’s desire for her or hers for him. Twosomes become threesomes, watching becomes touching and lust becomes love.
When Matt moved in next door, lust was the last thing Clara expected. Two lovers never crossed her mind. And the need to make a choice was something she thought she’d never encounter. But she’s bolder now, healing, and everything has changed. And a choice must be made, no matter how hard.
Inside scoop: Clara’s healing includes a hot woman who wants to show her how desirable she is, as well as f/m/f menagés.
Sommer Marsden’s been called “…one of the top storytellers in the erotica genre” (Violet Blue), “Unapologetic” (Alison Tyler), “…the whirling dervish of erotica” (Craig J. Sorensen),and “Erotica royalty…” (Lucy Felthouse).
Her erotic novels include Restricted Release, Restless Spirit, Boys Next Door, and Learning to Drown. Sommer currently writes erotica and erotic romance for Xcite Books, eXcessica, Ellora’s Cave, Pretty Things Press, Resplendence Publishing and Mischief Books. The wine-swigging, dachshund-owning, wannabe runner author writes work that runs the gamut from bondage to zombies to humor.
Sommer’s short works can be found in well over one hundred (and counting) erotic anthologies. Her short stories have also been included numerous adult and romance magazines–both in print and online.Visit her at Unapologetic Fiction http://sommermarsden.blogspot.com