Some French Kissing News

French Kissing: Episode FourI’ll start with the bad(ish) news: Episode Four will not be ready for release on April 14th. When I planned the publication date, I hadn’t taken last week’s jet lag into account. You’d think I’d know better after a few years of travelling from west to east (the worst) every six months, but well, I had figured I’d just get back to it after twenty-four hours on the road without much sleep and a seven hour time difference. This did not happen. Apart from watching Breaking Bad, I hardly remember what I did last week (except lie awake at night and be quite cranky during the day.) ;-)

I’m working very hard to catch up this week, though. Episode Four should be on Amazon the week of April 21st (depending on how quickly our distributor can get it on around the Easter weekend.)

This brings me to the good news. If you’ve bought the first four episodes of French Kissing and can send me some sort of proof of purchase via e-mail (harperbliss at gmail dot com), I will send you the boxed set for free (via e-mail, e-book only). This way, you’ll get Episode Five and Six for free. For your information, Episode Five is scheduled for release around May 12th and Episode Six around June 2nd. The boxed set will be available around the same time as Episode Six, so the wait won’t be much longer.

(Also, even after several rounds of editing Episode Four, it still makes me cry. Be warned. ;-p)

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April = LGBT Month

LGBT Month Not that I need a special month for it, because I’m gay all year round (;-)), but Fighting Dreamer and Laura Plus Books are hosting LGBT Month this April to celebrate LGBT readers, authors and books.

To participate you don’t need to be a blogger. You can have a Youtube channel, or you can track your progress on GoodReads and/or Twitter using the hashtag #LGBTApril.

All you need to do is post one thing about LGBT+ in April (whichever way you want) (e.g. read and then review one of my books on GoodReads ;-)) (*) and you’re qualified to win the prizes. At the beginning of each week, let Laura or Cayce know via the Linky they’ll post on their blog, and you’ll be in the running to win some great LGBT reads.

Meanwhile, you may discover some new authors and books… and, perhaps, someone with completely misconceived perceptions about us may change his or her mind a little bit.

(*) If you do happen to (honestly!) review any LGBT+ book on GoodReads or Amazon (NOT necessarily one of mine!) this month (and thus help spread awareness and acceptance), let me know and I’ll send you a treat.

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Paris

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have already seen these pictures. If not, here’s the photographic evidence of my search for the French Kissing characters in Paris. ;-)

ParisThe arty (and pricey) neighbourhood where Margot lives.

Paris1The spot on le Champ de Mars where Margot and Claire kissed for the first time. (The shoes belong to neither one of them.)

Paris2The Palais Bourbon, where députée Dominique Laroche regularly summons Steph.

Paris3Just to remind you that Paris is gorgeous. ;-)

Paris4The Métro station closest to where Nadia & Juliette and Claire live. They never take the Métro though. (I do.)

Paris5If they feel like walking to the Barbier & Cyr office (located on a side street of the Champs-Élysées), this would be a common sight for Claire and Juliette.

We only had three days and I didn’t have time to snap pictures of Steph’s neighbourhood (Père Lachaise is a bit out of the way.) I did, erm, find the location of Nadia and Margot’s hospital, but don’t have pictures of that. ;-) The plan is to go back this summer (because we have to go to Belgium anyway to meet the newest member of our family), so I’ll be sure to take some more shots then.

It was so much fun to be back in Paris. We drank a lot of wine, ate a lot of food and walked until I couldn’t feel my feet anymore. Now, we’re back in Hong Kong, battling jet lag. (If the sentences in this blog post are not very well formed, it’s because my brain still thinks it’s the middle of the night and I never write after dark.) I’m giving myself a few more days to find my bearings, but as of next week, it will be full speed ahead.

I have two short stories to write. One for a Sex at Work mini-anthology I’m putting together and another so I can finally submit to Cheyenne Blue. (Authors, the deadline for Forbidden Fruit is 15 May!) I have to whip French Kissing: Episode Four into shape and get cracking on the remaining two episodes of the season. (Just an early disclaimer, as of Episode Four it’s a good idea to have tissues nearby.) ;-) Then there’s an idea for a novel that’s been stuck in my mind for weeks that I have to deal with. (I Still Remember meets Summer’s End but longer and even more dramatic.)

It’s good to be back. Loads to do. Jet lag be gone already!

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French Kissing: Episode Three

French Kissing: Episode ThreeJust popping in quickly to let you know that French Kissing: Episode Three is now available from most retailers.

Here’s the short blurb (click through below for a more detailed one containing mild spoilers):

In Episode Three of French Kissing, everything seems to have fallen to pieces. Can the ladies restore their faith in each other and keep their personal and working relationships on track?

For the full blurb, go here >>

Episode Three is available from these retailers:
Direct from author
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon DE
All Romance
Smashwords

Add it to your GoodReads shelf here >>

Sorry for being so brief, I’m still recovering from jet lag and a welcome home party that got slightly out of hand. ;-)

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NEW RELEASE: French Kissing: Episode Two

French Kissing: Episode TwoThrough nobody’s fault but my own (I screwed up the ISBN when sending it to the distributor), French Kissing: Episode Two appeared on Amazon a week later than I had promised, but at last, all is right in my (French Kissing-obsessed) universe again.

I won’t be giving too much information on the separate episodes as they are released to avoid spoilers. For the same reason, I won’t copy the full blurb, I will only say this:

In Episode Two of French Kissing some things are not what they seem, secrets come out and new players emerge, causing more trouble and drama for the ladies of Barbier & Cyr and their loved ones.

For the full blurb, go here >>

I’m about to wrap up the first draft of Episode Four, which is shaping up to be quite dramatic as well, but not as dramatic on all fronts as Episode Two is. ;-) Episode Three, which will be available from most retailers in two weeks’ time, will offer a bit more breathing room (but not that much.) ;-)

At the end of this week, I’m going to Belgium for two weeks for a family visit and this will push back the release of Episode Four to mid April. And, of course, just to remind you, all episodes will be available as a boxed set in June. It may make for a good beach read if you prefer to binge on all six episodes at once.

Meanwhile, French Kissing: Episode Two is available from these retailers:
Direct from author
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon DE
All Romance
Smashwords

Add it to your GoodReads shelf here >>

Enjoy!

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Writing Process Meme

The insanely talented Laila Blake tagged me for the Writing Process Meme (yes, capitals), and I will happily oblige.

1) What am I working on?
French Kissing Episode Four. When I’m finished with this one I’m going on holiday though, I need a break. ;-)

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I’m not sure it differs, but I have pondered this question quite a bit and I think, in a nutshell, that what I write is lesbian enough (because how can it not be? ;-)) to appeal to lesbians while also being mainstream enough to attract a broader audience. Plus, most lesbian fiction is not nearly as explicit as mine.

3) Why do I write what I do?
Because I love lesbian erotica and romance probably more than anything else in the world. ;-) In a world where we are largely underrepresented in all media, my heart always skips a beat when I encounter a strong, out and proud, sexy lesbian character going about her every day business. Because I can’t get enough of characters like that, I just create more and more and more…

4) How does my writing process work?
I used to be such a big pantser, but now that I’m knee-deep into a serial, I have no choice but to plot. I’m beginning to think that I’m slowly turning from the world’s biggest pantser into a full-on plotter. These days, my wife and I actually have ‘meetings’ in which we discuss plot points and map out the various characters’ paths. I write every weekday morning from 9 a.m. until noon (three 45 minute sessions), then e-mail what I wrote to the wife so we can talk that day’s word count (between 2000 and 2500 words, for those of you equally obsessed) over during lunch. I hardly ever work on different stories at once, except when I have a looming deadline (but I make sure I don’t have too many of those.) My brain can only handle so much drama at a time.

I’m tagging my idol Cheyenne Blue because I want to know how she does it… ;-)

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Review: Best Lesbian Erotica 2014

Best Lesbian Erotica 2014Here are six reasons why I enjoyed Best Lesbian Erotica 2014 (i.e. my 6 favourite stories). ;-)

1. Run, Jo, Run by Cheyenne Blue
I loved this story the first time I read it in Girls Who Score and it blew me away all over again here. Cheyenne Blue is that good. Seriously, Cheyenne’s contribution packs a lifetime into a short story and ends on a very sensual and romantic note (my favourite). Additionally, the whole tale is written in the steady foot-fall rhythm of a run. It’s brilliance.

2. Tongue in Cheek by Amal Arabi
A story does not get more lesbian than this. I really had to chuckle at how the constant processing of the narrator stood in the way of her actually getting any action. Cheeky indeed.

3. Big Lesbo Cupcakery by D.L. King
Lesbians and cupcakes are made for each other and this story shows why in a very original way. I also want to try all the cupcake flavours mentioned in it.

4. Imaging by Sharon Wachsler
Honestly, when I started reading this story I groaned, Oh god, another butch/femme one. But I soon changed my mind because I found myself snickering gleefully through this tale of a woman having to undergo an MRI scan operated by a bunch of lesbians of which one is her ex (with whom it ended badly). Also, full marks for the twist at the end!

5. A Good Workout by Sinclair Sexsmith
Sinclair is such a gifted, organic writer. I’m right there with the narrator when she finishes her work-out and ends up in the steam room. Also, gym locker rooms and steam rooms are what most of my fantasies are made of.

6. Reunion at St. Mary’s by Catherine Lundoff
I’m guessing this will be most people’s favourite story… ;-) It’s completely over the top, but in a good way. It features a high school reunion, memories of spanking nuns, dressing up in habits and a full-on lesbian orgy. Things can hardly get wetter.

As with all anthologies, because of personal taste, I liked some stories more than others, but if you like your erotica truly (and I really mean truly, as opposed to straight girls getting it on for show) lesbian, I can only recommend it.

Best Lesbian Erotica 2014 is published by Cleis Press and edited by Kathleen Warnock

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French Kissing: Why Paris?

French KissingThe short answer is because I wanted a big city I knew well enough to set an entire (hopefully long-running) serial in. The long answer may turn into a love letter to Paris. ;-) I ♥ Paris and when I lived in Belgium it was only a three-hour drive away (and we had easy access to some digs), so we drove to Paris once every two months, which easily makes it the city I visited most in my life.

If a city is going to play a large part in a story, I need to have been there. Not because I want to indulge in descriptions, but because I appreciate knowing a bit of its geography, the distance between certain places and the general vibe. In the background, it helps me that I can actually picture where my characters are going. I know many authors can pull this off with Google Maps and internet research, but for someone with zero sense of orientation (i.e. someone like me), it’s important to have been there and to have walked the streets myself.

Additionally, no city is more ‘our city’ (our = my wife’s and mine) than Paris. To me, Paris equals romance. When I met my wife (a long, long time ago) I was a twenty-two year old who’d barely crossed the Belgian country borders. The first trip we took together was to Paris. We weren’t an item yet (she was still playing hard to get), but something was definitely blooming and I vividly remember staying up late, talking and joking until deep into the night, the guy who hit on her when we queued for the ferris wheel at the Place de la Concorde… (We officially got together a few weeks later, because no one can resist the romance of Paris. ;-0)

When writing this, I’m about to start on the last act of Episode Three and it has become very clear to me that French Kissing is deeply romantic. It’s all about love, the quest for it, losing it, fighting for it, not understanding it, the pain of it. ‘My ladies’ (that’s how I call them now) suffer for love, but they also revel in it (and have hot first-time, make-up and break-up sex because of it) and they desperately crave it, too. Because of all of this love, I couldn’t imagine any other city being the backdrop for my dramatic lesbian romance opus.

And now all I want to do is go back to Paris myself (but a thirteen-hour flight is a bit more of an obstacle than a three-hour drive.) So, in the end, I’m glad I at least get to write about it (and when I go home for my bi-annual family visit in March, I will, for the sake of research, make a small detour.)

P.S. ARCs of French Kissing: Episode Two will be available in a few days. E-mail me (harperbliss at gmail dot com) if you want one in return for an honest review.

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French Kissing: Preview (Juliette) (2)

This is the last part of a 5 part preview of French Kissing: Episode One. You can find part 1 herepart 2 herepart 3 here and part 4 here.

French Kissing: Episode One
Preview
Copyright © Harper Bliss 2014

JULIETTE

Sybille, the girl Juliette was interviewing for the position of her new PA, was the spitting image of Nadia ten years ago. Big brown eyes, that North-African complexion that made Juliette’s knees go weak, a feistiness brimming under the polite tone of her voice. Maybe it was wrong to base her decision on the turmoil her personal life was going through, but she couldn’t possibly hire her. Or maybe a constant reminder of how it used to be was exactly what she needed.

Suddenly she didn’t feel like asking Sybille about her strengths and weaknesses anymore—a question the girl would no doubt answer capably and even with a bit of wit thrown in. She was definitely over-qualified and surely ambitious, exactly the overachiever Juliette was looking for.

“You know what, Sybille?” She locked eyes with her and saw Nadia again. Nadia on their first date wearing that white blouse that contrasted so gloriously with her skin, it made Juliette’s mouth water. “You’re hired. Please see Fabio in the office next door for details. We use the standard two-month trial period. Please start as soon as possible.” She stood up to shake hands. Sybille seemed undeterred, as if she’d had this in the bag from the moment she walked in. As if she’d seen it in Juliette’s eyes. The guilt, the eagerness, the desperation to, for once, say yes.

“Merci beaucoup, Madame Barbier.” She stood tall, no trace of nervous sweat on her fingers when their hands met. “You won’t regret it.”

We’ll see about that. Juliette’s success in business was due to a good combination of gut instinct, profound analysis and a complete lack of emotion. If she didn’t deal with her crumbling relationship soon, she’d be doing more than hiring assistants who looked like her wife on a whim. She’d be harming her and Claire’s life’s work.

After showing Sybille out, she reached for her phone and called Nadia.

“Have lunch with me,” she said as soon as she heard Nadia’s matter-of-fact greeting on the other end of the line.

“What? Today?” The lack of eagerness and spontaneity in Nadia’s voice gripped her around the heart like a cold fist. “I can’t, babe. I’m up to my ears.” The same excuse Juliette had used for years, meaning she had no defence against it.

“Please. We need to talk.” If neither one of them ever insisted, how could they ever work it out? If all they did about their current impasse was instigate half-hearted conversations after too much wine—usually resulting in a flaming fight because they both couldn’t control their temper very well when under the influence—how could they possibly find a way out?

“I know, but can’t it wait? The most I could possibly spare you for lunch is half an hour.” Nadia sighed. “We deserve more than that.”

Juliette could hardly argue with that. “Tonight?”

“I’ll be home at eight. I promise.” A sweetness had crept into Nadia’s voice. Juliette didn’t want to hang up now.

“I’ll cook.” She realised she’d been overcompensating in the kitchen of late.

“Why don’t you relax. Open a nice bottle of wine. I’ll take care of dinner.”

“Sounds perfect, babe. I love you.” It was so easy to say, and certainly no lie, but what if it wasn’t enough? What if their love had developed into something different over the years. Something more pragmatic and less romantic.

“Love you too. Got to run.”

Juliette sagged against the leather back rest of her chair. They’d had all weekend to talk, but Nadia had had a nasty hangover to nurse on Saturday and Juliette had been so angry, so frustrated and utterly unwilling to talk anything through. On Saturday evening Juliette had attended a ghastly play with Claire courtesy of a good client—attendance not optional.

On Sunday, just like every Sunday for the past six months it seemed, Nadia had had to deal with an emergency at the hospital, keeping her away from home for the better part of the day. Juliette had been so tired, so emotionally exhausted, she’d barely made it out of bed at all. Resentment was a heavy burden to bear, not just resentment for Nadia’s job which had transformed her into someone Juliette wasn’t sure she particularly liked—possibly because that new person emerging reminded her a bit too much of herself for comfort—but, mostly, resentment for how the whole situation made her feel so helpless, so dependent on someone else’s availability and time for her.

Juliette wasn’t used to playing second fiddle, but Claire was right. Maybe it was Nadia’s time to shine professionally. But where did that leave her, if not in the shadows?

[END OF PREVIEW]

I hope you enjoyed the preview. If so, you can buy Episode One for $0.99 here. Episode Two should be available by the end of next week (if all goes well…)

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French Kissing: Preview (Claire)

This is part 4 of a 5 part preview of French Kissing: Episode One. You can find part 1 herepart 2 here and part 3 here.

French Kissing: Episode One
Preview
Copyright © Harper Bliss 2014

CLAIRE

Claire high-fived Steph, not a gesture she often partook in, but Steph had just landed Barbier & Cyr its first politician as a client in its fourteen-year existence. Claire had always known politics and PR were a match made in heaven, but for the first time, she would reap the rewards.

Steph had been outstanding in the meeting with Dominique Laroche, sweeping her off her feet with her boyish charm as well as with deep knowledge of the smallest events in the rising députée’s career. A winning combination.

“Impressive,” she said as she ushered Steph and Juliette into her office for a debriefing. “She’s all yours now.” Claire liked to believe that she’d taught Steph all she knew, but their once intern and now co-worker was plenty savvy herself. She simply had the instinct. And she could seduce like no other.

A sly grin on Steph’s face said it all. It was the same crooked smile Claire had briefly fallen for ten years ago, in a moment of weakness. Despite scolding herself for that misstep many times, she could still see how it had come about. Glancing at Juliette, her other, more serious ex, she wondered how the three of them had made it work so well.

“I hope you’re ready to work around the clock,” Juliette said. “When you’re on a politician’s payroll, you’re always on standby.”

“She’ll be fine.” Claire didn’t want Juliette to ruin Steph’s moment of glory just because she’d been suffering from a skewed work-life balance the past fourteen years or, to be more precise, because Nadia was starting to show signs of being fed up with it. “Steph? Are you up for it?”

She sat up in the chair she’d been slouching in in typical Steph fashion. “Can’t wait.”

“This woman is ambitious.” Adrenalin surged in Claire’s blood. “We want to be around when it really happens for her. You have to build a relationship with her based on trust. That’s the most important thing. But before you do, you’ll have to dig up all her dirty laundry.”

“Consider it done.” Steph cleared her throat. “Speaking of which and in the spirit of full disclosure… last Friday I made a bit of a pass on Margot when we were saying our goodbyes. She blew me off. We went our separate ways.”

Claire shook her head. “Quelle surprise.”

“I know she was meant for you—”

“She wasn’t meant for Claire,” Juliette interjected. “For heaven’s sake.”

“It’s all good, ladies. Please.” Claire raised her hands in a conciliatory gesture. There were many perks to working with your best friends, but this was one of the downsides. “Steph, I wasn’t expecting anything else from you.” She turned to Juliette, who’d been in a foul mood since arriving at the office, despite their big meeting. “Please thank Nadia for introducing me to Margot. She’s certainly intriguing, but it was hardly love at first sight. On either side.”

“If you want to thank Nadia, you can do it yourself.” Juliette brought a hand to her mouth as soon as she said it. “Sorry. I shouldn’t bring my personal life to work. I will fix things at home. Let’s move on.”

Claire gave her a slight nod of the head before turning her attention back to Steph. “She blew you off? That must have stung?”

“Maybe I’ve peaked and the time has come to settle down.”

“And pigs will fly,” Claire said absent-mindedly, thinking back to last Friday when she’d found a tight-lipped, square-jawed trauma surgeon in leather pants in Juliette and Nadia’s sofa. Margot had looked as ready to slice through someone’s skin as to kick someone’s ass. A vibe that had, admittedly, put Claire off from the start. She had to agree with Juliette on this, as on most things, that Nadia might have made an error of judgement. And she’d had no doubt in her mind that Steph would have tried something with the inconnue at the dinner party.

“I’m interviewing a potential new assistant in five minutes.” Juliette tapped her watch. “Can we get on with it, please?”

“I hope she’s good and intuitive and brings you a better mood to be in,” Claire said. “I have lunch with Renson at Le Georges. I’ll give him your love.”

“I’ll start digging into Laroche.” Steph raised her eyebrows twice in quick succession and pushed herself out of her chair.

When they’d both left her office, before shifting her focus to work, Claire closed her eyes for a minute and wondered when was the last time she’d spent some time cultivating her own love life instead of discussing that of her friends.

TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW…

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