#FallinLove with Fairytales, Day One!

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Welcome to the Fall in Love with Fairytales blog tour!

If you would like to win an enormous grand prize consisting of a Kindle, gift certificates, and author swag, visit each day’s post(s) and follow Rafflecopter instructions for prize entries. For more information, please visit:

How do you like your fairy tales? I enjoy mine slightly scrambled.

I was first introduced to re-envisioning fairy tales with Politically Correct Bedtime Tales and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. At first, I wasn’t sure how to take the books. The first one was clearly satire, but was it mean-spirited? Three Little Pigs felt like (to be melodramatic) an attempted murderer making excuses. I admired the wit and humor, but it felt wrong.

Later, Wicked became an international sensation. I never saw the musical, except for clips I could find on Youtube, but I read the book. While I could have done without the bestiality, I was captivated by an adolescent Elphaba struggling to gain acceptance despite her green skin and inability to bathe.

And when Once Upon a Time appeared, I was amazed at a grown-up television show focusing on fairy tales. All of my old favorites appeared in a new form. While I didn’t agree with some of the portrayals, they gave new life to fairy tales many adults considered childish.

However, my dearest wish has not yet materialized: a retelling of Rapunzel’s story from Mother Gothel’s point of view. I love Tangled and couldn’t wait to write Mother Gothel taming Rapunzel with the famous hairbrush. I was disappointed to receive “Our Lady’s Child” instead, but I found immense pleasure in re-writing the Virgin Mary as a queen kinkster. (I assume I’ll have a nice, toasty afterlife.) When I received The Snow Queen for my second fairy tale, I couldn’t wait to incorporate elements of Frozen with the original story. Isn’t everything better with flying icicle magic?

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Taliasman, my first Beyond Fairytale, is the story of a downtrodden girl who has been taught she has no value. Her constant refrain is, “If I had been born a boy.” Its sequel, Taliaschild, will debut with a sneak peek at Sci Spanks June 12-14. You’ll find quite a few Beyond Fairytales authors joining the Sci Spanks fun, so please come and join us!

In the next two weeks, you will find posts from the authors behind the Beyond Fairytales series. We have spaceships, cowboys, owls, princesses, princes, and geese. If you like M/F, M/M, F/F, or ménage, you’ll find at least one of each. Each one is unique and indescribably naughty.

If you’ve gobbled up all of the collections already, be sure to check out the Beyond Fairytales blog for new releases and additional books.

Tomorrow, please look for posts from V.s. Morgan and Melissa Shirley.

For your convenience, here is a handy-dandy worksheet with daily schedule, blog stops, and space to keep track of surprise words.

Or you can use this plain text version if it is better for you.

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Best of all, Taliasman is now available as an audiobook on Audible and Amazon! It will be on iTunes very soon.

Here is the surprise word for today:

Ana button May 23

(I’m assuming there are amazing spanking androids on these spaceships. Jessica Subject promises me this is so. She will share her androids but not her aliens.)

To earn entries toward a FABULOUS grand prize, follow this link to use Rafflecopter.

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Red Book of Grown-Up Fairytales

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Blue Book of Grown-Up Fairytales

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Green Book of Grown-Up Fairytales

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Gold Book of Grown-Up Fairytales (Recommended Read on ARe!)

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Announcing the #FallinLove with Fairytales blog tour!

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Announcing the Fall in Love with Fairytales blog tour!

Decadent Publishing has gone crazy. Instead of the typical price of $2.99 to $4.99 per Beyond Fairytales book, they are now offering box sets of 4-5 books for 99 cents. For the entire set!

Have you picked your jaw off the floor yet? I haven’t. :D

To celebrate, the authors of these books are offering a two-week blog tour. If you like F/F, M/F, M/M, or ménage, you’ll find a little bit of everything! Genres range from sci fi to contemporary to western to fantasy. If you like stories of love, you’ll enjoy your trip through the magical world of fairy tales.

This is a cascading word search tour, which means there will be one (or more) post per day on different blogs. You’ll visit each author to learn more about her work and earn prize entries. Each day’s post will contain a banner with a word or phrase unique to that blog. Then you will combine the daily words to find a secret message at the end.

Handy-dandy worksheet with daily schedule, blog stops, and space to keep track of surprise words

Or you can use this plain text version if it is better for you.

Along the way, you’ll pick up entries toward a HUGE grand prize filled with author swag, gift certificates, and more! The grand prize includes gifts from the following donors:

Decadent Publishing: KINDLE!

Anastasia Vitsky: Spank Me button and wooden spoon (What, you didn’t expect that?)

V.s Morgan: Author swag

Desiree Holt: $10 Amazon gift certificate

Tara Quan: $15 Amazon gift certificate

N.D. Wylders: Author swag

Vicki Ballante: Author swag

TL Reeve: Book charms

Jennah Scott: Once Upon a Time necklace and author swag

Jessica E. Subject: Author swag (assuming something alien-related!)

Linnea Alexis: $15 Amazon gift certificate

The participating authors include:

Are you ready for some fun? Let’s hear a hip, hip, hooray for fairy tales retold!

The Red, Blue, and Green books are now available on all major book seller sites. The Gold book is available at Amazon and ARe, and more links should be ready soon.

Join us on Facebook!

Twitter hashtag: #FallinLove

Red Book of Grown-Up Fairytales

Blue Book of Grown-Up Fairytales

Green Book of Grown-Up Fairytales

Gold Book of Grown-Up Fairytales

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#IDAHO and #HAHABT: Stop the bigotry! (No, I mean YOU)

Welcome to the Hop Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia!

Last year, I posted a discussion on bullying and same-sex domestic violence rebutting the myth that women can’t abuse each other. Same-sex domestic violence is serious and deserves as much consideration as all types of domestic violence.

This year, I have a message for everyone who is part of the LGBTTQQIA (or whatever letters you prefer) community, including straight allies:

Stop being a bigot.

Yes, you.

I can hear gasps in the background. “I’m not a bigot! I’m open to everyone. If people are nice to me, I’m nice to them.”

If that’s our goal, why do we need HAHAT and IDAHO? Just be nice to the people who are nice to us…right? Problem solved.

No. As people who have experienced marginalization, discrimination, and perhaps even violence, the bar is set higher for us. Too often, we see one marginalized group fight for acceptance at the expense of another. The Puritans escaped religious persecution and came to the US to burn women as witches. Early Americans fought for independence but imported and enslaved untold numbers of Africans. White women fought for the right to vote but excluded women of color. The list goes on and on.

One of the sites I have come to love is Everyday Feminism. (Give it a look!) The articles are well-written, well-thought-out, and represent a broad spectrum of experiences, ideas, and identities. It uses intersectionality, a term that means speaking from more than one identity or perspective at a time.

How often does “LGBT” really mean “G” for Gay men?

How many “Rainbow” or “LGBT” review sites actively promote, solicit, and welcome anything besides gay and m/m literature?

In a “queer” group recently, someone asked about tropes in F/F literature. This was the response (paraphrased):

F/F tropes? Is there even enough F/F to have tropes? Just saying…

Wow.

I’m not sure I can address this kind of ignorance in a constructive way, but let me give it a try.

I’m not familiar with the Fae world or Fae literature. I have seen a few references in books and movies, but I haven’t actively sought it out. Because I will write a character who is half-fairy (in my book world, “fairy” will be related to but not the same as Fae), I asked some questions. I was not familiar with any resources on Fae or stories on Fae.

However, I assumed that my ignorance, rather than lack of Fae literature’s existence, explained my unfamiliarity with the genre.

There are some people who can’t even recognize that F/F means “female-female” rather than, say, Fan Fiction or Future Fantasy. Then we have the same people claiming there is no lesbian fiction…how does this make sense?

We (rightly) talk about bi-erasure (not to mention biphobia). We talk about transphobia. We talk about sexism, racism, classism, and all of the alienating “isms” that define our community more than we want to admit. The prejudice against bi and trans is jaw-dropping, and it doesn’t only go one way.

Recently, in beta reading a trans story written in honor of Leelah Alcorn, I asked approximately ten trans women and men to give feedback whether the story honored their experience. The story depicts conflict between a transphobic lesbian and a trans woman fighting for acceptance. For the most part, I received (and was grateful for) helpful information.

One individual, however, felt compelled to share her opinion that anyone transphobic deserved to be raped and probably had it coming to her.

Yes.

Since when does fighting for acceptance mean tearing others down? For the “mainstream” folk who fit into easy definitions, the expectations are not there. For groups that should know better, the disappointment is almost unbearable. Emily, the main character in the story, explains this fundamental hypocrisy as she confronts her own bigotry:

Isn’t this what I’ve said to the straight white girls all along, that they can’t take feminism as a one-dimensional enterprise? I understand my privilege as an able-bodied woman who doesn’t need a wheelchair, crutches, or cane. I don’t have a chronic illness. Feminism is about human rights, not women’s rights…and it must be intersectional. We can’t pick one aspect of feminism over the other.

What about the concept of privilege provokes our defenses in a way that nothing else can? I told the feminist girls that they don’t see straight privilege because they’re conditioned not to. Humans aren’t designed to recognize what we can do or what we have, but to get what we don’t have.

There are those who will say, “But M/M is the majority! We’re all m/m authors/readers/publishers.”

Really? Last time I checked, M/F was the majority. Not M/M. Just saying…

To fight for acceptance while silencing others is ignorant at best and shameful at worst.

I support the LGBT community, but I do not support erasure of literature by and about women. Lesfic does exist. You just haven’t been looking hard enough. (Check out this introductory post by Nancy Heredia for Ana’s Advent Calendar 2014.)

Isn’t it time to stop the bigotry?

Please comment by listing the publishers, authors, and books of F/F that you have read or want to read. If you have not read any yet, please look through the list and pick out one or more. F/F ONLY, please!

Here are a few to get you started!

Publishers that don’t specialize in F/F fiction (meaning they publish other pairings as well) but give it equal consideration and promotion:

Prizes include a copy of Love’s Reprise, First Lady Love (a F/F anthology that will be published next month), and books from my backlist. Number of prizes awarded will depend on number of commenters.

Edited to add: If you’d like to see the whopping 160 F/F books Lynn read last year, here is the link to her Goodreads shelf. Wow! She cautions that not all of them are wonderful, but it’s a good start.

Merda, the evil one (#BeyondFairytales)

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Who loves a fairy tale retold? Decadent Publishing is offering a Beyond Fairytales bloghop with lots of neat prizes. If you’ve enjoyed Anastasia Vitsky events in the past, you’ll recognize quite a few names. Plus, you’ll earn Rafflecopter entries toward some lovely prizes!

For one lucky participant on my blog, I will offer an exciting prize: a free audiobook of Taliasman! Hollie Jackson has done a wonderful job with the narration, and she brings Talia and Vina to life. It’s been amazing to hear my words read aloud, especially to hear slightly different interpretations and inflections than I’d intended. Listening to Taliasman is like getting to know Talia and Vina all over again.

In most fairy tales, the evil character is as interesting as the good ones. For Taliaschild, the upcoming sequel to Taliasman, we see how the character of Merda has descended (or ascended, depending on perspective) to evilness in the form of the Snow Queen (the fairy tale upon which Taliaschild is based).

In Frozen, Disney’s retelling of The Snow Queen, the evil ice queen becomes the alienated, misunderstood older sister. Evil is transferred to the false suitor who pretends love in order to win control of a kingdom.

How do you respond to evil characters in stories? Do you enjoy them? Do you wish you knew more about them, or do you find the heroes and heroines more interesting?

I hope you find Merda interesting, because you’ll learn more about her story in the prequel to Taliaschild, premiering exclusively for Sci Spanks!

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Born to a destitute woodworker who wanted a son to carry on the family business, Talia grew up with one phrase on her lips: “If I had been born a boy.” If she had been born a boy, she would have been cherished, supported, and launched into the world with her father’s legacy. As only a worthless girl, she toils all day long to earn her handful of inferior grain.

Far away in the heavenly palace, Queen Vina receives a mysterious coin necklace from Nicodemus, teller of stories. Compelled by the throbbing heartbeat, she scours the earth to come across Talia, enslaved to a family who never wanted her. Rather than admit her motives, Vina purchases the girl with a sack full of gold. Furious, betrayed, and homesick, Talia endeavors to share her misery with the entire palace. Vina, afraid to confess her love, allows herself to become trapped in the role of brutal slave owner.

Talia, bred to expect nothing but misery, faces the first choice of her life. Will she accept love, even if it comes from an unlikely source? Or will she reject the one who offers her everything?

A Beyond Fairytales Adaptation of Our Lady’s Child

Ooh, look! Taliasman is now part of a 5-book box set for only 99 cents! Wow!

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Amazon: http://amzn.to/1B9hdY1

ARe: http://bit.ly/1Hr7FPH

Bookstrand: http://bit.ly/1Ac9H41

How to earn entries:

1. Follow @AnastasiaVitsky on Twitter

2. Like Anastasia Vitsky on Facebook

3. Leave a comment, including saying that you have done #1 and #2.

My Love Affair with Reunion Stories

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By Sara Daniel

Half of the books I’ve written are reunion stories in one form or another. The One Night with the Bridal Party series kicks off by reuniting two lovers in One Night with the Bride. Caroline plans to grit her teeth and marry a guy she feels nothing for, but when given the chance to check out the only man she’s ever loved… well, she’s only going to look and satisfy her curiosity, not dump her fiancé for her true love. Uh huh. I’m already cheering for the past lovers to get back together.

Oh, and don’t worry about that guy she feels nothing for that she’d been planning to marry. He’s been emotionally unavailable for fifteen years since he and his high school love went their separate ways after a heartbreaking tragedy. He gets a reunion story too in One Night with the Groom.

Reunion stories of past lovers work because they’re so powerful. The story has inherent conflict. The couple either left each other for a reason or were torn apart in the past. Those unresolved issues don’t fix themselves. They remain and often grow bigger over time because the past conflicts become magnified by the hurt and pain of their years apart. But the characters are still wildly attracted to each other and long to relive the intimacy they’d once shared.

My latest release in the bridal party series is One Night with her Husband. As the title suggests, the two characters have a history and a connection and are looking for one last chance to either make their relationship work or split apart forever. Their angst, emotion and vulnerability are sky high. Because I want them to have a happily ever after and I know they won’t achieve it without each other, I’m rooting every step of the way for them to reunite in an everlasting love.

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One Night with her Husband

She walked away from her marriage seven years ago…

Marcia Johnson always assumed her husband would follow her eventually. She’d achieve success while she waited and prove her decision the right one. But when he finally turns up, she’s not ready. Her career hangs in the balance, and her weight has skyrocketed. How can she face the man she loves and show him she made the right choice? Especially when he’s matured from a decent-looking college student into the sexiest man she’s ever seen.

 

He’s waited seven years for his wife to finally need him…

If Adrian Torres can save her business, maybe he’ll have a shot at saving their marriage. But the woman he finds is too competent and independent to ask him for help. She even shrugs off his touch instead of reacting with the desire he hoped to ignite. Have the embers of their marriage finally died? Is it time to end their relationship and move forward?

He wants a divorce…

Her world ripped apart, Marcia turns to 1Night Stand to give her one more night before she lets Adrian go. She dares not hope for more. Even Madame Eve couldn’t have the magic to save their neglected disaster of a relationship…could she?

Excerpt:

For better or worse, he would not live the rest of his life in a suspended, married-but-not-married state.

“I’m sorry I shocked you with my presence.” He wasn’t sorry for surprising her, but he regretted how unwelcome his surprise had been.

She swiped at her eyes and began rummaging in the glove compartment. “You have my phone number. You could have warned me you were coming.”

His chest tightened. “Those stiff, formal calls don’t change anything, except suck away my soul. I needed to shake things up.”

“So you decided to burst in during the biggest business crisis I’ve ever faced?” She extracted a pack of tissues from the compartment and mopped her beautiful face. “I hope you have a better strategy to save my company, or we’re doomed.”

With the pressure to convince her to believe in him more intense than during his meeting with Mr. Gladstone, he crouched next to her seat. “While we work together to fix Sunburst’s crisis, we have a chance to bridge the distance between us, too.”

Mouth gaping, she met his gaze again. “Your idea of bridging the distance is to ambush me in my own conference room and then introduce yourself like we’re freaking strangers?”

Failure tasted metallic and bitter in his mouth. In his plans, he’d skipped straight to wowing her with his marketing prowess. He hadn’t considered he’d upset her so much she wouldn’t stick around to listen to his spiel. “No, I played my ace card. You put your trust in Gladstone PR. I made myself the face of Gladstone so we’d have enough common business interests that you wouldn’t immediately kick me out of your personal life.”

Marcia squeezed the steering wheel until her knuckles turned white. “I don’t have time to think about anything personal right now, and I certainly can’t let my employees see me as an emotional wreck. They’re counting on me to lead them with a solid plan.”

Business and her career didn’t just come first in her heart. They owned her whole heart. Adrian had been a fool to lose sight of that. Burying his own hurt and frustration, he said, “I have a beautiful plan for the company. We’ll put it in action together.” Afterward, he’d have to decide if he could handle coming in a distant second place with her for the rest of his life. “Trust me.”

She stared at the steering wheel for a long time before turning to him. “I have to. You’re my only hope.”

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Sara Daniel writes what she loves to read—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She battles a serious NASCAR addiction, was once a landlord of two uninvited squirrels, and loses her car keys several times a day. One Night with her Husband is the latest book in her One Night with the Bridal Party series. Subscribe to Sara’s newsletter: http://eepurl.com/rx_AL Visit her website: http://www.SaraDaniel.com

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Blog: http://saradanielromance.blogspot.com

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(Click here: Rafflecopter link for the $20 gift certificate.)

Mother-in-love

(This story will later be posted on Kat-Sitting, the blog for free additional stories to Kat and Natalie. If you are new to Kat and Natalie, you can find out more about them in The Way Home, “Tomorrow” in Coming to Terms, and Lighting the Way.)

Find more Immerse Yourself blog entries here.

This story is dedicated to all who have lost their mothers, have become estranged from their mothers, wish to become a mother but cannot, have lost a child, have mothered or received mothering from someone besides a mother, or for whom Mother’s Day is a complicated affair. This is for you, with all my love.

“Kat, hurry up!”

Natalie, the girl I met so many years ago as my college roommate, stands at the foot of our stairway. She’s called up various instructions and updates as she unplugs electronics, takes out the garbage, and gives all of the surfaces a wipe down. I give a shiver, trying not to image the Ping Pong paddle in her hand. Maybe she taps it as she waits.

I haven’t packed my shoes, or put my toothbrush in its holder, or gathered anything to keep me busy on the plane. We’re visiting her parents for Mother’s Day weekend, and I try not to think of the implications. It’s never been an easy day around here.

“Stop stalling, and let’s get this over with.” Natalie taps the paddle against the wall in a hollow thump signaling her impatience.

“Wait!” Should I bring a book? One of my classmates recommended an Anatomy and Physiology study guide, and goodness knows I need all the help I can get. On the other hand, I can’t concentrate while calculating how high we fly above ground and the likelihood of surviving a crash.

“C’mon, Kat!” Ever since Natalie went through counseling, she’s alternated between ultra-patient and ultra-strict. I guess I don’t help matters by taking advantage of her patient days. “The sooner you come down, the sooner we get it over with. You know you’ll get upset otherwise.”

“I’m not upset!” I yell back, shoving a long-sleeved shirt into my suitcase and pushing down on the cover. “Why would I be?” Do I have enough skirts? Mama Jane prefers to cook for us, but we’ll take her out to brunch on–

Step. Step. “If I get to your room before you come out…” Natalie doesn’t finish her sentence, but the warning is clear.

Mama Jane. I’ve tried so hard not to think of her, and I almost succeeded. Classes have been awful, even harder than first semester. Natalie won’t stop pressuring me to quit my job at Tracy’s, and cutting back on my schedule isn’t good enough. But Mama Jane…

A glimpse of leather catches my eye, and I stare at the braided leather belt hanging on the wall. Natalie hung it ages ago when she promised never to use it again.

“Last chance, Kat.” Natalie’s voice comes from the top of the stairs.

But when it’s the last chance, she doesn’t say it. I have at least one more warning, considering her good mood, before she’ll take action. I try for a diversion. “Is my new blue shirt good enough for brunch?”

She’ll tell me to choose the pink instead, the one she bought for me. I’ll say I look good in other colors, too, and she’ll say how she loves me in pink. If she’s feeling playful, I’ll ask whether she doesn’t love me in other colors.

“Kat!”

It’s still not “Katherine” or, worse, “Katherine Elizabeth,” so I’m safe. Where are my tissues? I hate sniffling while trapped in a window seat, and she won’t let me sit in the aisle.

Smack! A crack of the paddle makes me yelp, and I turn around to glare at Natalie who glares right back. “What was that for?”

“Do you want a punishment instead of a reminder?” She surveys the half-empty toiletry bag, pile of unpacked books and papers next to my carry-on bag, and a suitcase that’s popped open and spewed contents on the floor. “That may be a rhetorical question.” She takes my arm and pulls me toward the bed.

“No! We’ll be late!” I duck away and stuff clothes back into my suitcase, zipping halfway before getting the teeth stuck on my new blouse.

“That’s what I said!”

“I don’t want these anymore!” I yank at the zipper and delicate fabric, but with no luck. Whenever we go on a trip, Natalie insists on what she calls “reminders,” or a spanking to make me settle down. She got tired of my nerves and worries about traveling. Now that school and new friends have made me more confident, I shouldn’t need an outdated ritual. At least that’s what I say, but she won’t listen. “Why can’t we skip this and get on the plane like two normal adults?”

Natalie takes the blouse away and eases it out of the zipper grip. She sets the paddle on the bed before re-folding my clothes, arranging them with maximum speed and efficiency, and zipping the case shut. “Why can’t you accept that this is what you need?”

“Pain? Tears? Don’t you think we’ve had enough of both already?” It never gets easier, no matter how many years we’ve been together. In my heart, I know Natalie is right…but I wish she could give me a kiss or a hug instead. She will take me places I don’t want to go, and she’ll make me say and think things I’d rather leave alone. Sometimes I rail at her for being too strict, and other times I wish she’d take over so I wouldn’t have to think. It’s an impossible mess of contradictions, giving my life to something I hate.

Someone I love, but something I hate.

“C’mon,” she says, standing the suitcase on end and clearing off my bed. “You’ll feel better afterward.”

That’s the worst part. I will. If I could convince myself otherwise, I would. Instead, I stand in helpless confusion, shaking my head. “I don’t want to.”

“And that’s exactly why you need to.” She pulls me across her lap, picks up the paddle, and spanks hard and fast.

No warm-up, no coaxing, and no tender sweet words to ease the pain. I push against her, but she holds me close. The spanks build up into a hot, hot mass of agony even though my jeans, and I struggle to get away. “No!”

“Yes, Kat.” Natalie’s spanks are relentless, and she times each new one with perfection.

I can’t catch my breath, I can’t zone out, and I can’t get traction to resist her. It’s not fair, but I know better than to say so. She never spanks this hard for a reminder, and last year she let me off with a gentle hand spanking before we boarded the plane. Last year, I visited my mother’s grave and saw my brother and sister-in-law for the first time in almost ten years. Last year, Natalie stroked my back and let me cry, swatting just hard enough to help me feel centered and relaxed.

“Natty! Stop it!” Since she’s gone through counseling, she’s become much more distinct about rules and punishments. I get more warnings, more discussions about what I think would work, and more chances to solve disagreements without spankings. On the travel issue, though, she won’t budge. I’ve tried to persuade her in every way I know how, but even going two whole months without a punishment hasn’t been enough. At the end of the day, Natalie decides–and I love and hate her for it.

When she stops, I gasp in relief. That is, until she lifts me up to unzip my jeans and tug them down to my knees. Panties are next, and it’s my sore, bare bottom exposed for more pain.

“No!”

“If you get stubborn, I’ll make sure you can’t sit down the whole weekend. I’m tired of the power struggles, Kat.” Natalie holds me down and ignores my derisive snort. If I could breathe, I’d ask her what power she thinks I have. Who’s going to arrive red-eyed at the airport scanners, Natty or I? At least I’m holding out in that department today.

And then, as suddenly as she began, she stops. Instead of rubber-coated wood against skin, her soft hand rests against the throbbing, burning ache. She squeezes, pats my back with her other hand when I yelp, and rubs some more. “Let it out.”

“Let what out?” I’m careful to make my tone as respectful as possible, rather than the belligerence I wish I could use. I might know better than to provoke more spanking, but she hasn’t changed me on the inside. I didn’t do anything wrong to deserve such a harsh punishment, even if she won’t admit it.

“You tell me. And if it takes too long, I might decide you need more encouragement.”

She was the one rushing me to get to the plane, and now she’s taking more time. I squirm in an attempt to slide off her lap, but a quick slap changes my mind. She always asks me questions I don’t want to answer. But when I remember how hard we’ve fought to stay together, I swallow my resentment and offer a suggestion. “You think I’m going to go off the rails because it’s Mother’s Day weekend and I’ll get upset about missing my mom and jealous because you have a mom who wants to spend time with you and I don’t?”

I meant to sound calm and politely incredulous, but my voice breaks on the last word. Stupid Natalie. Stupid, stupid, Natalie.

“Yes.” She pats again before spanking with her hand this time. It’s unusual, mostly because Natalie doesn’t believe in doing what I wish she would…at least as far as discipline goes. “Last year was a big year for you. For both of us, really, and you’re pushing yourself too hard. Katya,” she says, and her voice grows so soft I have to strain to hear. “I’m sorry your mom isn’t still alive, and I’m sorry she didn’t love you more when she was. I’m sorry I get jealous sometimes because you have a special connection with my mom that I don’t. I’m sorry, because I had a whole childhood of a mom loving me and you didn’t.”

She stops spanking, and I crawl off her lap. Too stunned to put thoughts into words, I put my arms around her neck. She’s good at words, not me. She’s good at reading people and responding to them.

“I love you,” I say, because for my selfless and amazing Natalie I have no other words. “I don’t know what I did to deserve you.”

She holds me tight, and she lets me brush the tears out of her eyes before giving her a kiss. “She’s yours,” she says. “She’s your mother-in-love.”

The-Way-Home

Natalie always wanted a little sister. Kat didn’t know she was allowed to want anything…or anyone.

Kat, a shy farmgirl, arrives at her freshman dorm with a backpack, a suitcase, and her mother’s wish for Kat to attend college “at least until you get married”. Her roommate Natalie, a confident and fun-loving social butterfly, decides sight unseen that Kat will become her best friend for life. Natalie teaches Kat about college life, academics, and friendship by taking Kat under her wing…and over her knee.

Then their lives fall apart one fateful night on campus, and for the rest of the decade Kat and Natalie struggle to find their way back to each other. Their way home.

Lighting-the-Way

College roommates, best friends, and family. Can Kat and Natalie find a way to stay together…without killing each other?

Kat Astra knows one thing: everything is her fault. A dead-end job. A fear of confrontation. An inability to speak up when necessary. Desertion of her best friend in her time of need.

Natalie Mestecom knows one thing too: everything Kat does is Natalie’s fault. The relationship rule is simple; Kat has problems, and Natalie fixes them. But what worked in adolescence becomes more complicated with adulthood, and new developments in their relationship challenge these roles. Kat is no longer sure whether she is willing to be disciplined according to Natalie’s rules, and Natalie is no longer sure whether she is worthy of Kat’s trust.

Can Natalie allow herself to be vulnerable? Can Kat believe in her own strength? Can Natalie believe in Kat’s strength? How will they, each in their own way, learn to move beyond guilt and blame in order to forge a new relationship together? In order to make peace with themselves and each other, Kat and Natalie reconnect with family, re-visit memories of their past, and make plans for taking steps forward in the future. To light their way home.

Lighting the Way is the sequel to The Way Home and second in the Kat & Natalie series.

I will give away a top-secret Anastasia Vitsky personalized swag bag to one random commenter on this post.

Fabulous Spring: Vacation Memories

 As part of the Fabulous Spring Giveaway, each blogger is sharing some favorite vacation memories. One of favorite vacation memories is visiting the Royal Opera House in London, which I wrote about here.

I said to my friends and family afterward, “Everyone should have a night like this before dying.” At intermission in the Crush Room, I thought I might burst with happiness. I’d gotten to do something I’d dreamed about ever since I was little, and I’d never expected it to actually happen. More than that, I was only lucky enough to do it because of a series of coincidences that gave me a night to remember for the rest of my life.

Talking about the night with my friend made me appreciate (once more) the glory of realizing that dream. I’ve had many dreams come true (I am blessed in many ways), but there’s something special about a lifelong dream.

For many of my characters, taking a vacation is an important way to get through a difficult period, celebrate success, or affirm commitment to one another. Kat and Natalie (from The Way Home, Coming to Terms, and Lighting the Way) use a dream-come-true trip to a theme park to find connection during a rocky part of their relationship.
What about you? What has been your most memorable vacation?

Spring is here and it’s time for a big giveaway from Laughing Vixen Lounge. 11 shops have come together to create one amazing Prize Pack ($280+) full of Jewelry, Perfume, Clothing, Vintage and much more! Many of the shops offer items perfect for any book lover along with lots of other unique, handcrafted and custom designs.

The Fabulous Spring Giveaway is open worldwide. 1 winner will win the Prize Pack. You can enter via the Rafflecopter below. Please visit the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog and the Main Giveaway Post HERE to see the full prize list, participating shops and daily features during the giveaway.

Since Summer is right around the corner the giveaway theme is Vacation Memories. Each of our participating shops, and many of our blog sponsors, will be sharing some of their favorite vacation photos with you.

Giveaway runs May 4th – 18th. Laughing Vixen Lounge is responsible for all giveaway details. See full details HERE.

a Rafflecopter giveaway