Well it’s a week since launching The Painted Heart and a few reviews have come in:
“Officially the best book yet!! – Best book by Elsa Holland so far! I love how she can create a world that sucks you in instantly and never lets you go. I found myself reading this at every opportunity, and thinking about it when I wasn’t.” Amazon Reviewer
“Oh my! This book is so good that you just don’t want to leave the world that Elsa Holland creates. Its my favourite book so far, and I say so far because I think this author is going to keep surprising me and I can’t wait. Overall the book is a sublime mix of gothic, sensual and clandestine overtones – it’s a must read.” Amazon Reviewer
“This is a marvelous addition to the Velvet Basement Series. Each story captures your attention and the sensual journey to a happy ending makes these books a pleasure to read again and again. Enjoy!” Amazon Reviewer
“This is easily the best book of this series. The world of the Velvet Basement explores different areas of sexual interest. This book includes living canvases, living art – full body tattoos – that are owned and shown off to other wealthy collectors. The Painted Heart is the first book with a plot that extends outside the kink and the couple and the first book to include a mystery. Both are wonderful.” Amazon Reviewer
I have had a promotion for The Bound Heart running which is doing well and generating interest in both The Veiled Heart and The Painted Heart which is great. Best rankings so far have been:
The Bound Heart:
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5 Free in Kindle Store
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Gothic ❤
The Painted Heart:
#16 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Gothic
#17 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Gothic
#21 in Books > Romance > Gothic
I think many readers felt here was a big difference in story type and focus between The Veiled Heart and The Bound Heart, with the release of The Painted Heart I think that distance has been narrowed and the three come together as a more cohesive group as we re-visit The Velvet Basement, the world of The Collectors and re-meet characters again.
The Painted Heart also launches the world of The Painted Sisters and is a prequel for my second series The Painted Sisters. It will be 4 possibly 5 books to be read in order with a touch more thriller / mystery than The Velvet Basement. I am excited to already be a long way through Painted Trust, Edith’s story as she flees the dangers of a fledgling Skinner and places herself in danger in order to uncover the members of the resurrected outlawed sect of Collectors. I have Pinterest boards that give a mood and feel of what’s to come in that series.
For those of you who have read The Painted Heart. The leather wolf mask Blackburn and Evie are looking at in The Velvet Basement belongs to our hero in the next book in the series called The Fur Heart . The next three in The Velvet Basement series as sinking a little deeper and darker into the world of human needs and desires. The stories I think show that we are beautiful in our complexities and broken-ness, in our secret wants and needs. We are infinitely more beautiful and whole with them as a part of our lives than pretending they are not a part of us.
A big thank you to those of you who read my work and support me. The creative process demands that we release what we create into the world to have a life of its own, to have it witnessed. It is a very rewarding process to get reviews and emails about the books, thank you!
I am having a great couple of weeks putting writing first. The best thing about dodgy internet is that all those pressures to stay on-top of your regular responsibilities are forcibly removed.
I make it to a cafe every now and again with excellent internet like Clear – pictures below. ( Clear was burnt down a couple of years ago, no insurance and all the cash money in the safe was also burnt. They set up somewhere else as they saved money and prepped the site to build the new Clear cafe below. The fire also took out a Balanese family home behind the restaurant and I understand the owner of Clear rebuilt the family’s home before the restaurant. They have a motto, ‘what’s good for people is good for business’ it’s a tough call living that kind of mission statement as a business AND I am confident it works.)
My lovely man… has been taking care of logistics for me – bringing back food and drinks so I can skip group dinners as well as heading out so I have time to write in peace & quiet.
We went for a drive on the motorbike the other day and he showed me a secret track he’d found around the back of the Monkey Forest in Ubud. But before that, he stopped in front of a statue he found and loved; he wanted me to see it. (note the wonderful way the monkey is gazing at his woman and where his right hand is)
Love is an amazing thing. I find I write in a genre that is highly under-rated and often scoffed at, but at the heart of it, has assumptions that romantic love heals and gives hope and direction in peoples lives.
Sensuality and sexuality is not something I think can be taken out of that equation when writing about romantic love. The process of joining with another person when your feelings are deeply engaged rattles the cage of things deep under the surface.
I once read that ‘love brings up everything unlike itself in order to be healed.’ Over the years I have seen that unfold time and time again. It’s as if, when someone loves you there is a part of you that says ‘let me show you why I’m unlovable’ and ‘suff’ that is not easy for people to live with comes out. If they leave it just proves the point ‘I’m unloveable’ but if they stay….. if they stay and you have nothing left to throw at them to prove your unlovability, I think you enter a ‘state of grace.’ A place where you can trust at a deep enough level to simply be who you really are.
I like to write about that ❤
Michelle Augello, writes creative fiction, erotica and is also an editor for Siren. For those of you that want to publish edgier work go have a look at what Siren does.
Her blog is here https://michelleaugellopage.wordpress.com/
Michelle has some works available and come article links.
I chose the poem below from her blog to share. I am slowly working on a series of erotic shorts around a circus and one is of a knife thrower, the poem reminded me of it. Part of my process writing is that as I start to connect with a story as the mood and ‘swell’ of it starts to come through, I collect things like a crow that relate to what that swell feels like. A collection of symbolic moods and visuals that wraps around the story idea and modd like a caterpillars chrysalis.
This is one of those shinny things my inner crow collected.
I love you like a woman
pinned to a carnival wheel
blindfolded, I spin
taut against splintered wood
my body is a temporal thing
skin, blood, bone
you throw knives
at the negative spaces
between my fingers, along
the line of neck and jaw
I hold my breath. I do not
speak. I don’t want to break
and risk a slip in direction
the sweat on your brow
is glistening in the hot sun.
“July” is one of the poems in My Mother’s Daughter, a collection of poems I wrote between 1998-2002 and published in 2012.
All the writers I hang out with have a muse of sorts. When writers describe their muse it ranges from a distinct presence to a form of inspiration or internal guidance. Some relay a sense of communication from within and others that it is somehow greater than them and more connected to something universal.
No matter what form they take, writers agree Muses are all demanding and moody task masters.
I experience my muse as a sensation. We communicate through a link, a golden thread connected to my belly that sinks deep down until it gets to very dark waters and dangles into it. Communications come as a swell that travels through the thread and back into my gut, creating a kind of fullness that needs to be transmuted into pictures, words and feelings which then take shape on the page as characters and story. By the time they are taking shape on the page they are quite formed. I don’t consciously create and ‘make up’ the characters and dynamics. I also don’t feel that I ‘make up’ the story, rather that they are all given to me. My job is to express it and if I fail to write it, someone else will.
Having said that, I do think there is a ‘simpatico’ between my personal life themes and the stories I am given. As if by the very fact I have the resonance of those themes I call to me stories with a similar vibration and frequency, if that makes sense.
I’m a pretty amicable sort but I regularly manage to upset my muses. For something so anciently archetypal they are pretty thin skinned, or maybe just inflexible task masters. Generally this ‘falling-out’ happens when I want to take the lead in the story and say something like “no, no we aren’t going to go that way, this is much more interesting… or this is closer to genre” well they dig their heels in and the swell stops and that great idea I had sucks and the swell that feeds me is gone. Eventually I head back to that awful idea the muses’ had and start it up again and wham, in comes the swell. I feel like I’m the typewriter and they are the fingers…
I asked some writer buddies to express some of their experiences and grumbles about their muse.
So, when I started writing I didn’t realize I was getting into a relationship with this motherfucker called Muse, and I say that with affection. Well, some affection. You see my muse and I have been at war since August last year. Mother. Fucker. Just once I’d like my muse to be easy but he/she never has.
Most of the time I think of my muse as a he—there is an abruptness to him, he comes when he comes and when he wants, he stays away. There is no cajoling him, no bartering, no demanding. It’s his rules. When he does show up, he likes to express himself in visuals, like watching a movie scene with the sound off but I can feel the characters emotions—joy, lust, pain, as if I waked in their skin, living inside them. Sometimes my muse does talk, not a voice but still in visuals. I see the words, like white lines on black, just dialogue with nothing to anchor it to a scene or place in the book. All of what my muse gives me is just seconds. Flashes. Random. A spark because he really has no interest in doing the heavy lifting, getting involved in the writing. He feeds me crumbs and the writer in me tries to fill up on it. And I can’t. The truth is writing is craft and mastery; the greats have unwavering discipline and my muse … my muse is all whim. He has moved on before I can even sketch what he’s shown me. Before I finish the book. Before I even germinate the story—the crumbs in my mouth turning to ash.
When I started writing I thought my muse and I were dancing. I didn’t see that we were not courting, or the battleground we were drawing. I didn’t understand that my muse is not my lover—someone I could call with a touch of my hand or still with my company. In some ways my muse will always resist. Always be an adversary. Always be a wonderfully, wild thing.
You can find more about Nicci HERE. She writes HOT BDSM and is working on a Anne Rice type Vampire series that I gobble up when ever she shares scenes of.Follow her on Tumblr if you like to blush while checking your phone.
My muse as writers call what gives them story, has lived inside my head, taking me to wild worlds all my life. A mysterious creature, she cannot be found at a whim. She has no address, no phone number, no Facebook account or email.
She’s one of those friends who float in and out of your life when it suits them. The crazy friend who is fun and wild, and a tad whimsical, a little dark inside. She’s that friend who plants a goofy smile on your face and leaves your heart fuller as they waltz out the door, leaving you wondering or in this case—writing, until they once more return.
My fey mysterious friend often arrives when I’m writing a different story, urging me to change what I’m writing. She’s the one that whispers in my ear, no don’t write that, write this.
She throws open my door and waltzes in, wafting scents and images of other worlds.
It’s the images I write from. Pictures and flashes of scenes that play in my mind – as she urges me, write this down right now.
She’s like your favourite song, dragging you back to the dance floor even though you have blisters on your feet, or need to go home—or finish the story you’re writing.
She’s the reason I have several dozen partially written stories, just to get her images out of my head, the ideas down. But after messing up my routine, showing me alternative tales I try to ignore, she leaves.
I rarely disagree with her ways, though sometimes I have to dilute her dark side. I do however consider that a little dark makes the light seem brighter.
Cassandra Shaw writes Urban Fantasy, Shifters and Time-slip Romance. I love her writers voice, its versatile and strong. You can find more about Cassandra HERE.
Cathrine Winther Poetess and dark, dark writer shared this on troublesome Muses.
This is a very personal, reflective piece about my process with my muse. It is not a generalization to how other people experience writing or their muse.
My muse is a bastard. I love him but he is a bastard. That said, I wouldn’t change a thing about him. He is what he is and he does what he does very well. He feeds my creative drive. However, he largely does it on his own terms and in his own time.
I am not someone who sits around waiting for inspiration to strike. I write when I want to write, and if I have done the hard work, inspiration and my muse usually turn up. However, I am often writing blind. I tend to have a vague idea of where I am headed but many vital details are hidden from me until the moment comes that I have to write the details of that particular scene or character. This would be fine except for the fact that I co-write a lot of my books. My co-author (Leon) places a lot of trust in me that I will pull a rabbit out of the hat at the last minute when we write. In our latest novel I had to assure Leon that the villain of our piece would be fully fleshed out and present when it came time for me to write him… even though I had no idea who he was or what he was like right up until the day came and I had to put pen to paper. But, true to form, my muse pulled through and Malick, our villain hit the page running.
However, probably my longest ongoing ‘dispute’ with my muse is power. My muse doesn’t do things by halves. He loves writing very dark, powerful, dominant males. Although I value all characters equally, for me, there is something far more intense happening when I write these edgier characters. While this is exciting it is also incredibly mentally and physically draining. I tend to compare it to the idea of sprinting for two hours instead of slow jogging for two hours. After writing one of my typically dark and dominant males for two hours I feel like I have just done a two-hour sprint. As an ex, semi-pro sprinter I can confirm that sprinting for two hours is just about impossible.
Working through this issue is an ongoing, very conscious compromise between my muse and myself. I find it all too easy to sit down and start writing and before I know it, two hours have gone by and I have spent the whole time in the headspace of a dark, dominant male. More recently I have found ways to manage this better through routine and goal setting, but it is a battle because I am fighting instinct and emotion to keep my muse in check and take care of myself and my stamina. And in short, my muse is quite wild and doesn’t want to be controlled. Part of me loves that about him, the other part of me just rolls my eyes… Just like an old married couple.
You can find more about Cat HERE. I love her pomegranate banner image, the seeds that kept Persephone in the underworld with Hades.
Jason Silva in his stream of consciousness style, talks of a kiss… “a Kiss is to be touched, touched in the most erotic and intimate of ways….” I have to admit, a kiss is my all time favorite of things to do.
Luckily, I am broken. I have been broken for most of my adult life.
They say your life runs in 3 and 7 year cycles, well I had a 7 year cycle from 15 – 22yrs which broke me three times. Breaks that each irrevocably shattered a chamber of my heart. I have written about a bit of that process HERE (there are three parts the links at the bottom of each post)
I have perhaps been overly protective of the forth chamber ever since. And having glimpsed people who have had the four chamber broken, I am not sure I am brave enough to walk that path.
Instead, much like the art of Kintsugi I have held the cracks and fissures together with gold. Valuing and allowing the beauty of those marks to shine as part of me.
When I run my hand over the past, over the raised scars, it still hurts. Yet that pain has brought with it some of the deepest wisdom and compassion to my character and life. It has given me a personal well to draw on, one that informs my life. And even more so my creativity. Ironically we don’t often write from the lighter happier experiences, more often we write from aches. We reach out into the collective unconscious and find the collective experience of that ache and work with it.
I don’t think I would write what I do without those breaks. I don’t think I would live with so much optimism while still seeing the darkness. The interesting thing is as veterans of these kind of wounds, you empathise with the wounds of others that are different. You can somehow step more readily into their shoes and feel with them their break.
Poets and artists have long known the windfall of damaged souls. This damage propels you into a landscape of shared humanity, of a shared vulnerability. As strange as it sounds, you start to worry the pain will leave and you will be left in a state of numb pleasantness that is the death to creativity.
‘Kintsugi is a Japanese craft that both repairs and beautifies broken objects using gold leaf. By accentuating the break rather than hiding it, kintsugi honors the history of the object.’ more HERE
This is taken from the beginning of the book where Elspeth / Miss James our heroine, has suddenly agreed to sign the contract Blackburn, our hero, has to make her his Painted Sister. A coveted prize to help him progress up the ranks of highly influential people called The Collectors
At the study they stopped.
“It’s not too late to head home. Pack your suitcase and scurry away.”
Her eyes narrowed, his mocking tone he knew would generate a rise out of her. “I don’t make my decisions lightly, Mr. Blackburn.”
A hum of satisfaction sat in his chest as he replied. “I’m pleased to hear it.” And he was. There were a few hurdles yet to be completed tonight that she would need some backbone for.
Leaning forward he opened the door. “After you.”
His beauty walked through with all the pride and poise of the aristocracy.
Blackburn followed her through, then closed and locked the door behind him. A quick glance confirmed the contract lay on his desk along with a pen. The contract which for all intents and purposes, would make Miss Elspeth James his.
This is taken from near the middle of the book where Blackburn, our hero, is having Elspeth / Miss James our heroine, sketched and measured in preparation for designs to be made to tattoo her body. Blackburn is entering the room after giving Elspeth time to get started and to display some sensitivity that Miss James may find it uncomfortable to pose naked if two men are in the room straight from the onset.
Blackburn gave them forty minutes before heading up himself. More than enough time for them to be well underway into the life drawing and for Elspeth’s nerves to have settled.
As he neared he heard her laugh. A relaxed sound that fluttered around him like a promise of happiness. A sound she never made for him.
His jaw tightened. He braced, like he had always braced when facing the realities of the world and they were usually that he wold never be given, if he wanted he would have to take.
Outside his upstairs parlor he stood at the door and listened, his heart, oddly beating faster than it should.
“Adam, you’re tickling me.”
Adam? His body stiffened.
And then that laugh again. A rich sensual ripple of… enjoyment.
Blackburn pushed the door open to find Mr. Patterson to be exceptionally handsome and with this hands around Elspeth’s waist, his cheek pressed against her soft white belly and a tape measure somewhere in the mix.
Mr. Patterson was now laughing, Elspeth had her hand on his head grinning.
Everything inside Blackburn stilled. The confirmation of her virtue not days past stopped him from doing anything dramatic. Years of training stopped him from doing what any other man from where he was born would have done. After all he was a tactician.
“Am I interrupting?” His voice was artic. “It seems I am in the wrong room for a rendering of my Canvas.”
Mr. Patterson hurriedly disentangled himself from Elspeth and stepped away.
Elspeth’s hand fluttered to her waist and then dropped. The softness in her face from just moments before replaced by a strained, tight look. The look she saved for him.
His brows drew together and tension pulled across his shoulders.
“Adam… Mr. Patterson was measuring me,” her voice challenged him to find the wrong in it. He had after all arranged for her to be sketched naked and measured by said Mr Patterson.
Mr. Patterson was at the rendering he’d done and began walking it over to him.
All Blackburn saw was her too fast breathing, the flush over her skin, the distended nipples. That soft line of her scar in the blond thatch at the apex of her thighs. Cold fury at the idea that Mr. Patterson now knew of that small scar pulsed behind his temples.
Blackburn looked at the rendering.
Elspeth shone off the page. And, it was complete, front, back and sides. An impossible task in the time they had just spent together.
“That was fast.”
“Well I took the liberty of starting at home. I know Elspeth… Miss James so felt confident to start the drawing without her.” It was clear that the young Mr Patterson was an idiot and was perhaps looking to be maimed. The thought of them as a possible couple, that Elspeth had wondered what it would be like to be the focus of Mr Patterson’s affections was again oddly flammable to his equilibrium.
“You were confident you could draw her naked from memory?” Blackburn stalked towards the young man. This was not about love or affection, this had to do with ownership and sexual access. Blackburn understood very clearly that had he and Elspeth established their sexual relationship these odd feeling would be less likely. Being possessive of his sexual partners had never been an issue for him but not having what he wanted and seeing someone else closer to getting it had always irked him.
“Oh for God’s sake.” Elspeth stepped down from the pedestal and grabbed a robe from the nearby chair. “You are being ridiculous.”
“Am I?” Blackburn watched as she covered up her skin, which by the way was his now. Every square inch of it.
He looked at Mr. Patterson who was scarlet. Elspeth, it seemed, was impervious of Mr. Patterson’s wayward thoughts. Or the implication of it.
“I just need the measurements and I am done,” Mr Patterson said.
Blackburn raised an eyebrow and shot Mr. Patterson a look that had the man stepping back. There were men in London, who for very little would break a mans fingers at every bone.
“Perhaps you could take the measurements?” Mr. Patterson hurriedly suggested.
“Perhaps you are done?” Blackburn took another threatening step towards the soft spined fop and the apparently not so brave Mr Patterson moved quickly to collect his things.
Elspeth huffed from behind him as if he was the oaf in the room and not the pandering Mr. Patterson. Well, she would be making very different sounds in a moment.
I am a great believer in the role of beauty to shift consciousness.
The impact of a breathtaking vista, the perfection of a fern frond as it unfolds, the prisms of light as they shine for the smallest moment through a drop of rain. Beauty acts on us like displays of the human spirt; which are profoundly moving, inspiring and highly charged. Beauty I feel, hits us as hard but deep under the surface. It’s like when you are in the presence of perfect form, when the mathematics align and the whole is at the same time so perfectly natural, something inside you aligns with it and starts to shift to that frequency.
Karin Weber writes:
Amid so many insecurities in the world today, Małgorzata Chodakowska uses the uncompromising nature of her works to arrive at a sense of a security. Her medium is wood. usually from uprooted trees. The wood grains from the tree trunks of basswood, pear. cherry and oak come alive and follow her as she removes layers of wood to reveal larger-than-life sized ﬁgures. neo-realistic nude ﬁgures. clad ﬁgures, and busts – a process whereby the wood seems to shed its skin. the wood itself appears to be turned inside out. The ﬁgures are a continuation of the growth of the trees themselves. sprouting ﬁrst from the earth and then ﬁnding themselves rooted within the artist and her dreams, expectations and demands. her self image and her personal experiences. Behind the daily passions which remain hidden for most of us. the artist reveals what really moves people. as she exposes the timeless beauty of the creation of a human being
Her works are a romantic phenomenon in our present time. a time in which countless artists reject beauty in the name of modernity and denounce it as a “bad habit”. And what a great mistake that is! After all, beauty is a most basic need for all of us. read more here
Naturally given what I write, I think love is a form of beauty and the body a form of art. In The Painted Heart and in the subsequent series of The Painted Sisters, the body as a canvas and a form of living art is explored. In The Bound Heart I touch on the dichotomy between nudity in art and in life, the grey zone of porn and eroticism. Chodakowska uses the human form often naked or clad in ‘the wet look’ to fully show form and shape. There is a deep seated sensuality that comes from nature, through the wood, and often encased in metal. Elemental as it shifts us into our own natures.
Tutt Arts writes:
Chodakowska lifts her craftsmanship in wood and bronze to the magical world of experience in which the balance between beauty and perfection delivers the most beautiful tension. Her angelic figures radiate an paradise type authority, intriguing and most irresistibly attractive. The suggestion of perfection, the challenging energy of an equally powerful as subdued seduction. Her work is obviously highly respected in nowadays top sculpture art market.
Chodakowska studied sculpture art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (1985). She continued her study at the Art Academy in Vienna (1988). In 1991, Chodakowska completed her dissertation in Vienna (Bruno Gironkoli). She has been honored with the highly selective granted ‘Masterclass Award ☞’. Read more here.