Thursday, July 12, 2012

ROCK STARS—The Quintessential Bad Boys of Romance

My guest is erotic romance author, Olivia Cunning. She's here, today, to talk about bad boys and making them hero material. We all love them, or at least, we love to read about them. Olivia is also introducing her new series, One Night With Sole Regret 

As an author (and a woman), I never really questioned the appeal of dating a bad boy. Romance with a bad boy is never dull. It’s fun. Dramatic. Hard on the heart. At first, the excitement fuels the romance—what is he going to do today?—but usually that excitement wears off and you realize he’s not a bad boy, he’s just a jerk. That’s a fine line to toe when you’re writing a romance novel. Readers love the bad boy hero—it’s fun to fantasize dating one—but no one likes a jerk.

So how do I take a man who has thoughts like this
Gabe caught movement out of the corner of his eye, and he turned his gaze on the sweet piece of ass beside him at the bar. Long, brown curls fell to the middle of her back, and her jeans clung to her curvy backside in a most distracting fashion. High-heeled sandals accentuated her long legs, which would look perfect wrapped around his hips. If the front of her looked half as spectacular as the back, he was definitely interested in hanging around a while longer. He wasn’t that exhausted. 
and turn him into someone the heroine and the reader can fall in love with?


Introduce him to the right woman and turn his world upside down.

The ultimate bad boy fantasy is not to turn him into a good boy, but for him to show his hidden good side to one very special woman. He won’t change for her (that never works), but he will find all that’s good in himself because of her. At least, that’s my bad boy fantasy, so that’s what tends to happen in my rock star erotic romances.

It’s even more interesting when you start with a heroine who is not attracted to the bad boy type and he has to win her over. In my most recent novella, Try Me, that’s what happens when Melanie meets Gabe. She doesn’t realize that she’s talking to the drummer of a famous rock band.

Melanie relaxed into the sofa cushions, glad she’d found a normal person to talk to. She’d thought she’d have to spend the entire night pretending to be invisible. “Melanie Anderson.


He laughed. “You really aren’t enamored with the band, are you, Melanie?”

What did that have to do with telling her his name? “I like their music, but they’re not my favorite band or anything. A bit too heavy for my tastes. Nikki is the one obsessed with them. She dragged me here against my will.”

“ I’m Gabriel Banner.” He grinned at her and suddenly overwarm, she wondered if someone had switched off the AC. “Call me Gabe.”

A totally normal name for a totally normal guy. She would have felt uncomfortable talking to any of the other men in the room—tattooed, pierced, strange haircuts, chains and leather—but Gabe looked as normal as she did. She smiled and offered her free hand in greeting. His hand slid into hers. Though he clasped her hand with a gentle grip, she could feel the strength in those long fingers. Her heart fluttered when his fingers brushed the back of her hand. “Nice to meet you, Gabe. How did a normal-looking guy like you end up backstage with all these, erm, interesting folks?”

He hesitated and then laughed as if he thought she was joking. “They’re great, aren’t they? Are you from Tulsa?”

She shook her head. “Kansas. Nikki wanted to meet Shade so badly that she made me drive here with her. She couldn’t get backstage last night. I guess she got what she wanted tonight though. Where are you from?”


She did recognize a hint of a drawl in his speech, but she wouldn’t have pegged him as a Texan—his jeans weren't tight enough to cut off the circulation to his balls. She supposed the Rangers ball cap should have given her a clue. “Did you drive all the way from Austin just to see Sole Regret?”

He laughed again and tugged on one earlobe. He was certainly easy to amuse. And the deep, rich sound of his amusement had her considering clown school to keep him laughing regularly.

“Yeah, I guess you could say that,” he said.

Gabe took the final draw of his beer, extended the empty bottle, and gave it a little shake. Within twenty seconds it had been replaced with a fresh brew.

Sipping her water, she wondered why the bartender was so eager to do Gabe’s bidding.
“So, do you know the band?”

He smiled again and Melanie feared she’d melt. She was very interested in putting a permanent smile on his handsome face.

“We’ve met…

When she does figure it out, that’s not what attracts her to him. What attracts her is all of those parts of him that he hides from the world because they don’t fit his bad boy image.

“Tell me something else that makes you less cool,” Melanie said.

“Gee, Mel, do you have all night? Don’t you know that most rock stars began life as outcasts who didn’t want to be weird but found a bunch of kindred outcasts to make music with? A few of us somehow manage to make a living off it. Most of us have to supplement our music habit by delivering pizzas.” 

"But being an outcast makes you normal."

He shook his head in confusion. “If you say so.”

“What were you like in high school?”

He groaned inwardly and considered making shit up. He’d been a walking disaster. “Braces.”

“That explains your perfect smile.”

She thought his smile was perfect? Maybe all those painful visits to the orthodontist had been worth it.

“What else?” she pressed.

“Tall and skinny.” Was she trying to talk herself out of sleeping with him or what?
She lifted the hem of his shirt to flash his belly. “Not an ounce of fat on those abs, but not skinny. Fit. And you are tall. I suppose that’s a benefit for a drummer.”

“I was so not attractive, Mel, I didn’t touch my first boob until I was twenty.”

“And how many boobs have you touched since?”

He grinned. “I don’t grope and tell.”

I love to dig deep into my rock star characters’ pasts and show that there is more to them than what the public is exposed to. Take a rock god and make him human. Take a bad boy and let him be bad, but have him treat his woman oh-so good.


TRY ME by Olivia Cunning

For the five sexy rock gods of Sole Regret, finding love is easy, keeping it is hard.

Melanie has no desire to meet the members of the rock band, Sole Regret, but her groupie of a best friend gets them both backstage and then rushes off with the band’s lead singer. Left alone at an after party with a bunch of scary tattooed and pierced metal-heads, sheltered Melanie is relieved when the only normal-looking guy in the room insists on keeping her company.

By the time Melanie discovers that Gabe is the band’s drummer and not as normal as she assumed, she has already made a complete fool of herself. She can’t help but be interested in him, not as a rock star, but as the sexiest man she’s ever encountered. Strangely attracted to his hidden tattoos and body piercing, she wonders what it would be like to spend a night with a bad boy.

Gabe is more than willing to show sweet Melanie there’s more to him than meets the eye. All she has to do is try him. Will they only share a single night of passion? Or will their hearts entangle as quickly as their bodies?

Try Me is the first erotic novella in Olivia Cunning’s One Night with Sole Regret series.
Contains explicit sex, graphic language, and a hot rock star with a naughty and inventive mind. 

Available in ebook format only

Combining her love for romantic fiction and rock 'n roll, Olivia Cunning writes erotic romance centered around rock musicians. She also writes romantic fantasy under the pen name Olivia Downing.

Raised on hard rock music from the cradle, she attended her first Styx concert at age six and fell instantly in love with live music. She's been known to travel over a thousand miles just to see a favorite band in concert. As a teen, she discovered her second love, romantic fiction—first, voraciously reading steamy romance novels and then penning her own. For more information visit

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I believe our attitude towards a task colors how well we do it. It also determines how easy or difficult it is and how we feel when a task is done. Part of attitude is how we view life. Optimism and pessimism also play into the equation.

I’ve observed, over the years, that positive people find solutions to problems quicker. That could be because they don’t allow negatives to define them or shoot them down before they start. They realize that a negative attitude makes the task twice as hard to solve.  The positive person knows there is a solution. It might not be exactly what they would want the outcome to be, but the solution is there if they take the time to look for pieces and follow the threads. They don’t give up easily. Perhaps it’s that very persistence that yields success.

The past few months I had been analyzing myself and doing quite a bit of reading on craft and motivation. What was I doing different now than before. How could I turn on my creativity again and work through my negatives.

I belong to a fabulous writing group made up of successful professionals from all walks of life and at different levels of writing success. We regularly discuss all sorts of writing issues. One of the topics under discussion was regaining writing momentum. I had asked:
  • If you've taken a break, what’s drawn you back to writing? 
  • What keeps you putting one word in front of the other, even when discouraged, tired, or busy?
  • What excites you about what you're working on now?

Most of my group work, have families, and write. We also have quite a few published authors. We have to juggle life and our writing, so as you can imagine, there were quite a few good points made—good answers. There was a definite pattern emerging and one I had seen for myself. One of our NYT bestsellers made a comment that brought it all into focus.

“When it's [the writing] hard, I think about the fact that it is a job that I've committed to…the first rule of a job is, you show up, whether you feel like it or not.”

Bingo! There it was. Attitude. It wasn’t about waiting for the muse to show up, or writing when the mood strikes. It was about the perception that writing was a job. You write. You have a routine you employ to do the job of writing. You sit in the chair and write whether it’s coming easy or hard. You are a writer. You choose to be a professional, not an amateur—or at least, if you wish to be a published author you do. If you want to succeed at any artistic endeavor to show up and go to work.

I needed to rethink my writing. What was my goal with my writing? Had it changed? Was I a professional or an amateur? Amateurs can afford to procrastinate; professionals don’t have that luxury if they want to do their job and meet their commitments.

I don’t have the stamina I had. I can’t write the hours I did, yet. It’s just as someone trains for a marathon. If you’ve never run or haven’t done it for years you aren’t going to fare well if you decide to run in tomorrow’s race. You have to build up to it and in smaller doable steps. Build up resilience and strength. You have to have determination and the desire to finish the race. That is what gets you to the daily practice no matter how you feel or what the weather is. It’s what keeps you at the sprints to build stamina, or the set of stairs you run up and down. You push through the resistance from your mind and body. You work through the sore muscles.

So I’ve set smaller goals (sometimes I can do a whole chapter and other times it’s only a few hundred words) and celebrate when I reach my goal. I’m setting up a workable routine. In the beginning it was a matter of setting a timer. When the timer goes off, I’m done. If the words are hard, I push through the resistance. Sometimes it means going to a different scene and coming back to the one that’s giving me fits. I’m not angsting over how it looks or over some of the word choices (sometimes that is the hardest part for me because I want it just so), I know I can edit it later—but I can’t edit what I don’t have down. As a good friend of mine says, looking at your writing as a job helps one depersonalize the process of creating—a way of distancing yourself from the process. Getting the words down is the job.

Honestly, for me it’s work in progress. I’m not ready to run the marathon but I show up and work. The amateur talks about it and does it haphazardly or not at all. I’ve determined that I’m a professional and I’m firm in my commitment to win—one chunk of words at a time.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

MONDAY MUSINGS: Overcoming My Resistance

What do you do when you want to write but resistance fights you tooth and nail?

Any break we take from our regular writing routine can make it difficult to find the rhythm we once had—the longer the break the harder the recovery. This is the biggest problem I’ve faced since my recuperation from playing catch with my personal crash and burn comet.

I mentioned last month (Insecure Writers) that I have two different attitudes toward writing.  I’m very focused and disciplined when it comes to my professional writing. Even being sick I managed to get my blog up every week and on time. Granted it might not have been as stellar as pre-comet but it was done. The funny thing is? I never considered pulling back or letting the blog go fallow.

I wasn’t writing much fiction at all and what I did write, sucked, in my opinion. Part of that is how fiction and storytelling is different from non-fiction. For me, that is. I can’t speak for other writers. I paint scenes and emotion with words. There is an ebb and flow to it. You know when your creative gates are open. You also know when persistence will open the gates to your creative well. When you can’t find the words or the words you do find, in misty fog of your personal creative pool, aren’t working and aren’t connecting, it’s frustrating. For me it was like trying to play a musical piece I knew by heart and had played many times, and forgetting whole sections or fumbling over well known notes—like I had never played it before. No matter how hard I tried it wouldn’t come out smooth. I walked away. It was easier than facing my dissatisfaction with my performance.

It had gotten to the point that anytime I would consider the work of writing there was resistance to the whole idea. That became a pattern. One I didn’t like because I need to write. I need to get the words out. Whether they change the world or merely finish the damn story, I don’t care. It’s something inside of me that needs to be expressed. If it isn’t expressed it dims my joy in life. I’m a creative person and while I can find other things to occupy my creative spirit, it isn’t as satisfying because it’s a substitute for what I really want to do. 

My reality, at the height of my illness, was I couldn’t write. I couldn’t connect. But I also knew it was temporary. So, I appeased my inner writer by saying when I’m better and able to think clearly again, I’ll resume writing fiction. And that, ladies and gents, became a piece of fiction in itself.


Because as my mind cleared and I was again able to draw the words and emotions from my creative well I still found resistance to writing. Say what? Yeah. The pattern of quitting when I got frustrated or it became hard was pretty much entrenched. Yikes.

The writer that tells you that the words always flow and the stories are easy is either lying or living in an alternate universe. We all hit spots that required discipline and yes, work. Even when we get the essence of the scene down, the editing of the word choices, the phrasing and descriptions, and the action and emotion, is work. Hard work. You strive for painting the scene as clearly as you can and giving it the most impact. That may take several revisions. Revisions and editing are not easy. Or at least they aren’t in my world.

When faced with things that go wrong in my life I’m an analyzer. I have to find the problem and then ways to fix it. In my experience, there is a gap between identifying the root of a problem and adjusting that root so the problem grows a solution. Even when I see the solution I still must make the adjustments and that takes, groan, persistent effort and a strong desire to change. We don’t change unless we want to. No one can do it for us. We have to be self-motivating. We have to want it badly enough to modify our actions and create or recreate the correct pattern.

The question became: how do I get my creative mind to stay on and not shut off at the first sign of trouble? 

I now know the root cause of my inability to stick to my creative writing.


My attitude changed towards my creative writing. I was treating it as if it was an option instead of a job I enjoyed. Let me backtrack here a bit and say that while some of my writing has been a mood thing—poetry, experiments in other genres—my main storytelling work has always had a strict routine. I did it everyday. I had a set time to do it. I worked until that time was up. So while it was for pleasure there was a very proscribed routine attached. I looked at my routine, and excuse me while I laugh my ass off at using that word. Ahem. I made another discovery. I didn’t have a routine anymore. I also didn’t have the stamina to write in as long a session as I did before. I lost my energy and endurance.

I’m happy to report I am writing again and I’m rebuilding my routine. I’m feeling good at what I’ve accomplished. I’m not where I was two years ago. But I’m taking the correct steps. It’s coming.

I’ll share a bit more about that on Wednesday.