Under a Perfect Sun Excerpt

Any zombie fan can imagine loving a zombie. Who didn't cry when Carl had to shoot Laurie in The Walking Dead, even though we all hated her? But Lust? For a zombie? Uh. No. No matter what. I've never read a book or seen a movie or TV show where I had even a fleeting attraction to any zombie character (and I've read and seen them all because, like so many people, I love a good zombie story). So writing a zombie tale where someone was hot for the undead was a writing challenge, pure and simple. Could I come up with a concept that even I would buy into? One that wasn't funny (because that would be easy). One that was romantic even, but bittersweet.

I think the answer is . . . yes. Under a Perfect Sun is more sci-fi than erotica. More apocalyptic than horror. I haven't checked out the other stories in the collection yet, but knowing Mitzi Szereto, they are unique, well-written, and each one its own treasure.

Here's a wee sneak peek of mine, taken from Part Two:

Five Years later

Tesla died today.

I said before that no one ever went out, and that’s almost true. I went out once. I’ll never do it again.

The others—that’s what we called the people like the driver, and Michael now—had taken down the people who came to the Biosphere. I guess everyone in Tucson knew about the place. They came in droves at first, and we watched through the heavy-duty glass of the dome as they were taken down, eaten, turned into others.

After the people stopped coming, the others hunted javelina, mice, and stray dogs and cats.

The cat had wedged herself against one of the outer doors. I saw her from the cornfield, a ball of red fur jumping onto an electrical cable attached to the outside of the building. The others saw her too. They’d turned from the path above the dome, and a pack had started down the steps.

The door was a few feet away. The others at least thirty feet from the cat. I couldn’t watch. Not again. I had the cold bar of the bolt lock under my fingers before I could think it through. Yanking open the heavy steel door, I lurched to the side, scooped up the cat, all teeth and claws then. She shot out of my arms. I went after her. At the corner, she stopped, cowering against the concrete, her back arched and her hair standing on end.

“Here, puss, puss. Come on, baby. It’s okay.”

The others were ten feet away. Tears blinded me. I would have no choice soon but to leave the cat and save myself, and my friends—I’d left the door wide open.

I lunged into the corner and grabbed for its fur. Catching it at the neck, I yanked it up and away from me. It hissed, and the others moved faster as the sounds of something alive and struggling reached them.

“Jesus Christ, Sam!” Richard shouted from the open doorway. “Drop the fucking cat and run! Now!”

I ran, but I didn’t drop the cat. I named her Tesla.

She wasn’t young. She wasn’t old. She lived for a long, and seemingly happy, time with us. Still, her death—from old age by all appearances—took us all by surprise. We buried her in what used to be the rainforest dome. Everyone cried. We hadn’t seen a cat, a dog, or another person except others outside the glass in a long, long time.

After, we opened the jars of wine we’d put up with grapes from an unusually good crop. We’d been saving it for a special occasion, and this seemed as good a one as any.

We drank until dawn. In the middle of it, just for a fleeting few minutes, I was happy. Content to sit in the kitchen and drink homemade wine, and reminisce about a cat.

“Have you thought anymore about what Richard talked to you about? About Michael?” Christina asked.

Everyone else had gone to bed. We were alone in the kitchen. A candle burned between us on the table. I was drunk. Christina blurred when I looked at her.

I closed my eyes, resting my head on the back of the hard metal chair. “Yes. I think about it all the time. About him, all the time.”

“You love him.”

I nodded, without opening my eyes. “Yes. I do.”

“You know, he loved you too.”

A hot surge of anger flared in my chest. Opening my eyes, I found my eyes still blurred and my tongue quick. “You don’t know anything about him. About us!”

“Look. It was no secret I had a crush on Michael. He was smart, gorgeous, and funny. Who wouldn’t be attracted to that? But he loved you. I admit it. I flirted with him. A little. Just enough, you know, to know maybe he thought I was cute too. I didn’t mean any harm, and he wouldn’t have any of it. All he talked about was you. He loved you.”

“Stop talking about him like he’s gone! You want me to do this thing, but you’re talking about him like he’s not even here!”

“He’d want this, Sam. He’d want to be a part of something bigger than just keeping him alive because you‘re too chickenshit to end his suffering.”

I stood up, knocking my chair over. It clanged on the tiles, bouncing off my shin so hard it would make a mark I would not find until later. “You don’t know what he’d want!” This time, it was tears blurring my eyes as I ran away.

Alone in my apartment, I cried on my cot.

I had no pictures there to remind me of Michael—I hadn’t realized when I packed that I would need them—but he was all I thought about. His smile was becoming hazy in my memory. Did it tilt to the left or right? Were his eyes more sky blue or robin’s egg? The thing in the cage in the basement was Michael now. I’d come to accept it, and thought of him now like that—restrained, tested, drugged, bathed, fed, and always growling, always mindless, always staring with those vacant eyes.

What would Michael want? Would he have wanted to be studied the way I finally had allowed? They were gentle, kind, and did nothing to hurt him, but still...would he have wanted to be a lab rat? Would he want all this to mean something? Would he just want to be dead?

Would he feel me, if I went to him? If he was drugged but aware, still, and unable to hurt me, would my touch reach him in a way nothing else had? Would it be that flash fire, hot, quickening that came over both of us like a fever; sudden, and only cooled when we fucked, the world dwindling away to nothing, every problem I ever had gone when he touched me?

I’d never needed a man the way I had Michael. I’d never let down my guard so much, trusted as intensely or loved as fiercely. He’d returned it all and then some.

I owed him. I needed to do what he would want if he were able to tell me.

Why didn’t he write that down in those fucking notes he took before he turned into one of them? Why hadn’t he told me what to do? Had he not realized this might be it? The end? No hope of rescue, of a cure, the human race facing extinction.


Love, Lust and Zombies Cover Art

The paperback version is now available for pre-sale on Amazon, though it won't ship until September 2015. Mitzi Szereto is, hands down, my favorite editor, so I know this one will include some killer stories.

"Let’s face it: zombies are hot, and baby, they’re getting hotter. Although not the most traditional of sex symbols, zombies are truly coming into their own, even landing on the silver screen in romantic roles, not to mention ambling and shambling across the pages of novels and television screens. Gone are those one-dimensional scary characters from George Romero’s grim and gruesome flick Night of the Living Dead. Zombies now have a lot more to offer to the non-zombie world.

From the bestselling novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to the hit TV series The Walking Dead, zombies are taking over as a source of entertainment. So isn’t it about time they had their more...err...romantic and sexy sides showcased?"

I've written before about my inspiration for the story I submitted, Under a Perfect Sun, and I was thrilled to hear it was called "literary and ambitious, sci-fi" by the publishing company. I was also honored to learn that it had been picked to anchor the book. Pretty good for a story that started as a writing challenge for me, and with a question . . . could I write a story that involved zombies and sex that also provided a logical explanation for the deed? 

The Edge - Zander Vyne Has Jumped Off

I started this blog in 2008 with a post about the state of erotica, and my concerns over where things were headed with publishers and editors jumping on the porno bandwagon. Though most of my fears were realized in the last couple of years, a few editors remain who consistently put out strong collections of short, erotic fiction. Lovers of literary erotica (and just fine writing) should follow Mitzi Szereto, Remittance Girl, Maxim Jakubowski, and Cole Riley as they are still fighting the good fight and putting out quality work. Rose Caraway is also a powerhouse the likes of which I have never seen. She's one to watch as is Cleis Press, one of the few publishers left who still puts out unique, daring erotic fiction.

As for me, I'm turning my attention to other things. Many of you may not know that I also run a successful editing business and publish novels under another name. Though my passion no longer fits what the “erotica” genre has become, when I see a call for submissions that gets under my skin and sparks a story idea; when I see a call by one of the people mentioned above, I will send in a story . . . my kind of story. There's also a deal in the works that would allow me to co-edit an anthology collection of erotic horror. So, though I may not be around as much, Zander Vyne has too much in her to slink off into the shadows never to be heard from again.

Next up, you can read “Red House” in Darker Edge of Desire, edited by Mitzi Szereto (pre-order from any of the fine retailers listed on this linked page). Also coming soon, in Love, Lust, and Zombies, is Under a Perfect Sun, a story that was chosen as the final piece in the collection, and called “Ambitious, literary, sci-fi” by the publisher and advance reviewers. I'm proud of both of these stories, and hope you love them too.

If someday, dear reader, you read something I wrote and you shiver, you'll know I am still with you in that place where you keep the dark, scary things that cannot stand the light of day, holding your hand.

Darker Edge of Desire Excerpts

Love, passion and sex…it’s all here in Darker Edge of Desire. Gothic literature has always possessed a dark attraction ripe with the promise of the forbidden and the sensual. In Darker Edge of Desire, Mitzi Szereto takes the sexualized Gothic and ratchets it up a few notches into the danger zone, opening a door into the darker side of lust and love that only the courageous dare to venture through. Venturing even farther into the world of mystery and romance than she did in the critically acclaimed Red Velvet and Absinthe, Szereto creates an atmosphere with a distinct Gothic flavor where we explore our more forbidden desires. In these tales, love and lust (and kink!) know no boundaries, and all nature of beings—vampires, werewolves, shape shifters, ghosts, and succubae—abound. Tread carefully, danger and desire lie ahead! Includes a special foreword from bestselling author Kate Douglas and a special afterward from bestselling author Rachel Caine and my erotic horror story, "Red House", about a mysterious vampire with a bone to pick with an old priest.

Check out excerpts like this one of "Red House", here.

“Red House” by Zander Vyne

His feet made scuffing sounds on the linoleum as he shuffled from the small galley kitchen back into what served as his living room. The church provided meager lodgings, but free was better rent than many paid, and he did not require much room. He had managed to save most of his salary over the years and looked forward to retiring to a warmer clime, perhaps near an ocean where he could afford a large house and a maid to clean it.

The television cast shadows along the walls and ceiling. No other light shined, not even a candle. John liked it dark at night, after being under the bright fluorescents of the church office all day. Even the stained-glass windows tourists gasped over grew tiresome after long enough, the sun making the red glass stab his eyes like knives, causing terrible headaches.

At first, he thought the dark shape in his reclining chair was a shadow. It had to be a shadow. Then, it spoke.

“Thank you for inviting me into your home.”

“Who are you? How dare you? What do you want? Get out!” John shouted, blurting every thought in his head in his panic.

The man did not move. “Please, sit,” he said, pointing toward the small chintz-covered chair John reserved for his rare guests.

It was the Englishman, the one who had disappeared from the confessional. The one John had thought of several times since the incident. The one he’d dreamed of, much to his dismay.

“You must leave at once or I shall call the police,” John said. It never served to let anyone see your fears, or know your weaknesses. But, he had grown old, and it was harder than it once was to hide behind the mask of priesthood, especially here in his ratty old robe and dirty slippers. He shifted from one foot to the other, alarmed to find his hand shaking as he tried to point commandingly to the door.

“You will do no such thing,” the man told him in a voice so deep, and so genuinely commanding, it caused John to stand up straighter, a frisson of energy crackling down his spine. “Sit. We have much to discuss, you and I.”

John did as asked, his voice fainter as he offered one last protest. “You’ve no right to be in my private chambers.” Clamping his mouth closed, he swallowed thoughts about making an appointment, about the lateness of the hour, about custom and ritual, about the church. The strange man’s posture, tone, and very presence told him he’d have none of it.

Wearing a dark suit, white collar and black tie, his shoes shined so that John saw reflections from the television, the man looked like an attorney, or an undertaker. His features, even masked in half shadow, were arresting. Strong, angular jawbones met to form a firm, wide chin; long blade-like nose and lips managed to be sensual though they were thin.

“You’ve dreamed of me,” the man said. His expression held no animosity, yet his brown eyes glittered with fierce intensity.

A ripple of fear coursed through John’s middle. It would do no good to lie.


Listen to Paganini's Muse

I am fanning myself over this lush, audio version of my short story Paganini’s Muse featured on the Sexy Librarian's "Kiss me Quick's" podcast (and check out that hot artwork done by Dayv Caraway!). It's truly amazing what an impact the addition of that sexy voice, the sound effects, and some music did for this story about a musician who gives up everything for his muse.

Give it a listen and then click over to the Sexy Librarian's website for more free erotica, interviews with erotica writers and editors, and book release news. Not only is she sexy as hell, but my favorite librarian also has her finger on the pulse of everything worth knowing in the world of erotica. If you're a fan and haven't visited . . . what are you waiting for?

Cover Reveal - Darker Edge of Desire: Gothic Tales of Romance

I'm loving the classy looking art the publisher picked for Darker Edge of Desire, the Mitzi Szereto anthology that will include my story, Red House, an edgy tale involving a vampire and a priest.

I'll post a sneak peak soon. In the meantime, check out the pre-order page on Amazon for more details or to reserve your copy now.

Review: Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray: A Novel

Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray: A Novel
Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray: A Novel by Mitzi Szereto

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Like the author, I read Oscar Wilde’s classic novel The Picture of Dorian Gray as a precocious child. Also like the author, I picked up on the erotic content so skillfully buried and hinted at in the prose. Later, I read that Mr. Wilde had been forced to edit the story, and I wondered how he would have written had he lived in a different age and had been free to share more of his wildly exuberant intellect and varied proclivities. Reading Mitzi Szereto’s Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray, I was pleased to be in the hands of a writer who respected and admired Mr. Wilde and his work as much as I do. I was pleased we live in a time where Dorian Gray’s story could come to its logical and more satisfying conclusion. I was delighted every step of the way because, as horrific as some of his actions were to read, they were logical and right. Ms. Szereto pulls no punches, and I applaud her for it. If you’re after a sweet romance, look elsewhere. This is the story of a man’s slide into his own personal hell, made more awful because it starts out being his idea of heaven on earth and made more beautiful by the lyrical writing that fans of Mr. Wilde’s writing will treasure.

The premise is simple. Dorian Gray (he who vowed to live a life of unapologetic decadence and depravity, somehow gaining eternal youth while his portrait aged and decayed) did not die as he had to during Oscar Wilde’s time, a time when this final punishment was demanded to offset the rest of the titillating story. Instead, it’s explained, his death was faked so he could go on delving ever deeper into his twisted desires. Few things are left out here as Dorian revels in his freedom to be just as bad as he wants to be. Some of it turned me on. Some of it turned my stomach. But, like all truly great erotica, everything contributed to the story, and it all had a purpose. It all fit. Where the original book had the cadence of a carriage ride through the countryside, this one was more like a ride on the Orient Express, a ride where the devil took the wheel a few times.
The settings are lush and varied. Paris. New Orleans. Marrakesh. Peru. Again, this plays into the sense of diving headfirst into something strange and exotic, a foreign place for most of us where anything can happen next, and nothing is off limits. There’s a lack of control for the reader that plays into the experiences had by Dorian. And then, Dorian meets creatures even more depraved and soulless than he has become and the story offers hope as it seems Dorian (who started off in Oscar’s tale as such a likable chap, don’t forget) might still redeem himself.
I won’t give away the ending, but will say that it was perfect. Exactly what needed to happen to this great literary character. Oscar Wilde would raise a glass to Ms. Szereto for penning such a fine continuation to his classic story.

View all my reviews

Review - Beautiful Losers

I'm a big fan of Remittance Girl. She writes more than just sex scenes. I'm not sure where the story took place. If it was mentioned, I missed it. The culture and place take a backseat and the focus is almost entirely on the micro world the main characters create for themselves.

In this one, she offers a story about a threesome (a triad, as it's called when three people enter into a relationship) between two "gay" men and a woman.

She does a great job creating distinct character voices, and making her gay/bi people more human and unique and not the typical stereotype. A few minor characters do fall into this trap, but it's not grating since they appear so briefly and are used as a contrast to the main characters.

The sex scenes are also thoughtful, and no two are alike. As important as the sex, are the emotions felt by all the characters, though the primary voice and storytelling is from the female involved.

There's a sense of doom throughout, and I liked the fact that I didn't see what was coming in the end despite an impending sense that something horrible was going to happen. This is not a romance or a feel good story, despite its nice message about humanity at the very end.


My only real issue with this book, aside from some editing mistakes (which are always irritating when you purchase something from a publisher and expect more), is that it ended too soon. I would have liked to find out more about what happened after the funeral, who killed Sebastian, and how it affected his lovers. To leave things where they were felt very unfinished. So much so that I thought something was wrong with my reader and had to go to Amazon and get a page count check. Maybe there will be a sequel to wrap up the loose ends.

Despite the editing issues, and lack of a satisfying and complete ending, I'm giving this one 4 stars because of the quality of writing and the very real-feeling glimpse into a poly triad relationship.

Review - I, Zombie

I've never read a book about zombies from the zombie perspective, and I have to admit I was nervous about this one. I loved Hugh Howey's WOOL series, and I adore a good zombie book or movie, but the marketing for this one had convinced me that I, Zombie would focus on the gore to an extreme I wasn't sure I could stomach. However, I read a review that convinced me to give it a read anyway, and I am so glad I did.

Yes, I, Zombie is a gore-fest - those who are seriously squeamish or sensitive may wish to skip it. However, I don't know how you could write a zombie book from the zombie's point of view without going there...all the way there. So, kudos to Mr. Howey for doing so and still finding a way to give us the human side of his zombie's stories.

I, Zombie is a story told from several perspectives. Though all of the characters are zombies, they are all people first. Trapped in their new bodies, dealing with what is happening to them, they reflect on the people they once were, the mistakes they made, and regrets they have while dealing with their new reality.

As a mom, I was horrified by several scenes dealing with mothers, babies and children, even as I admire Mr. Howey for not pulling any punches. One of these scenes actually brought me to tears. That's something I've never experienced reading any zombie book or watching any zombie movie. Was it hard to read? Absolutely. Was it worth it, in the end? Without a doubt.

This book is not so much about zombies, as it is about our collective human experience. It's about life in a big city. It's about going through the motions. It's about making excuses for living a life full of regret. It's about loss and about so much more than the stories it contains. It's a book I will read again someday, because it's a book that made me think about my own life, my own regrets, my own failings, my own "zombieness". This is something many books aspire to, but so few achieve. It is certainly not something I expected in a horror novel about zombies. 5-Stars. 

Review - Solstice

Yay! Something different for zombie genre lovers. And, it's well written, and error free. Kudos to the author, Donna Burgess.

This was a free download. I've been on a quest to download, read, and review as many free e-books as possible. I only download items in genres I regularly read that sound interesting.

Solstice reads like the well-edited work of someone who's been at this a while. The ideas are reigned in, given direction and focus, and the characters are relatable and likable. That's key, in a story like this, to keep it from becoming just another survivors-on-the-run-from-zombies story. I'd say this one is similar to The Walking Dead in that respect - the character stories only add to the zombie story.

I had no issue with the way people become infected (the author calls people who've turned ragers), though some reviewers indicated they did. Like the best horror plots, this one doesn't spend a lot of time on "why" things happened. It just gets right into the here and now, with enough details to make it plausible. Burgess changes up the zombie mythology too - her zombies can think and talk, and this adds some really good moments and a whole new wrinkle.

The ending leaves things open for more. I hope the author delivers. I think this would make a fun movie too. 4-stars.

Review - Coming Together Presents Remittance Girl

Remittance Girl writes erotica in the grand, literary tradition of masters like Henry Miller and Anais Nin. You won't find cookie-cutter characters, tired plots, or porno being labeled erotica here. No inner goddesses, lip biting, or overused clich├ęs either. Instead, this collection offers readers a trip into other worlds and illuminates the private lives of strong women not afraid to explore themselves and the world around them. It shares other cultures and doesn't shy away from taboos, BDSM, and sexuality. No one needs any excuses for their behavior here. These stories are thought-provoking, real, AND sexy. Many are a slow burn, wiggling their way under your skin and tapping into themes other writers often shy away from. 

If you're a fan of FSOG, this may not be for you. But, if you'd like to take a trip into the world of literary erotica, holding the hand of a skilled storyteller and writer, you are in for a treat. Though each story is completely unique, the voice of Remittance Girl is strong and sure. 

Favorites - It's hard to pick from such an amazing collection. So many of these stories transported me into other worlds so well it was like taking a trip of the mind. But, these are my standouts:

Dark Garden - Delves into the mind of a woman who is both sickened and excited by her own sexual needs.

River Mother - Haunting, beautiful tale of an infertile girl in a culture that prizes motherhood above all else.

The Pipe of Thorns - Gorgeous, historical piece that perfectly captures another place and time in a fairy tale worthy of a grown-up Grimm.

The Baptism - Erotic horror incorporating religion and vampires. Scary, hot, and squirm-inducing.

As an added bonus, proceeds from the sale of this book benefit the ACLU.

*Note - I was given a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am happy to give the collection a five-star review. It deserves every star.

Review - Limited Partnerships Omnibus

I was lucky enough to serve as a Beta Reader during the editing phases for this series. I say lucky because this was one of the best stories I've read in a long time, written by an experienced author who has a gift for adding those little touches that make her characters and plots come to life. You won't find cardboard characters here, or thin plots framing gratuitous sex scenes. You also won't find editing mistakes (always a plus!).

The Omnibus collection includes all four books in the series tied together by a few central characters. I liked all of the stories, but Charlie's was my favorite. His story kicks off the series with a bang. He's sexy in a real way, so I identified with him as someone I might actually meet (and lust after). He's no billionaire with issues who inexplicably falls for some damsel in distress. He's strong, capable and knows exactly what he's doing until his job as an escort puts him into close contact with a woman from his past. And the woman in question isn't an insecure virgin who doubts her every move. She's strong, and capable, and knows exactly what she wants . . . the unattainable Charlie. The way their story plays out has all the best elements of good erotica and romance novels. There's a real conflict, emotion, heart, and plenty of sex that's not just there for shock or show. I appreciated the way the sex scenes were full of dynamics that added to the story, instead of BEING the story.

I can't wait to read more from Louise Kokesh. 5 stars for this one. 

Review - Army Heat: The Boys of Bravo

Army Heat, by Denise Johnson, is hot! I'm new to this genre category, and found the mix of military situations, uniforms, Army lingo and the control dynamic between the Training Instructor and the soldier in training to be very realistic. And that's huge. So many books now try to hop onto the FSOG bandwagon with BDSM stuff that totally misses the mark. This book is not one of those (and it isn't BDSM at all - I don't want you to get the wrong idea). But Army Heat does craftily add D/s elements to the story because that's just how Basic Training works.

Staff Sergeant Jake Moore, the instructor, is a man in charge, in control (with good reason) so his attraction to one of the recruits is a no-no, but one he has a difficult time fighting. This adds a lovely tension throughout the story.

Candidate Little is likable and tough (another welcome change - she's not a girl who bites her lip and twists her hair and thinks she's not good enough). She's strong, capable and has a plan for her life that her attraction to Jake Moore threatens.

I'm giving the story four stars because it's short, and because I think we could have had more story about both characters to round out the story. The ending seemed a bit abrupt. I'd love to read a part two. 

Review - Mistress of the Dancing Bones


I read a lot of books (self-published and not), and I was impressed with the overall professional "feel" of the book. I spotted very few of the types of mistakes that often plague indie novels.

Thomas Alexander's rich descriptive passages added to the overall mood of the book. The varied elements made me think, at different points in the story, of Anne Rice, J.R.R. Tolkein, and George R.R. Martin.

Kick-ass heroine who doesn't need a man to save her, or one to fall in love with.

Vampires who weren't bad guys for a change.


While I enjoyed the mixing of creatures, I have a hard time with books where everyone, thing and place has a strange and unfamiliar name. I know a lot of people (especially fans of Sci-fi and fantasy) are into that. I just find it difficult to get through, and end up skimming over names a lot. In a book like this - with a huge cast of characters - this meant some of the time I had no idea who was who.

While there was a lot going on, tons of people, descriptions of a bunch of stuff, I never really felt I knew this world.


Yes! It's rare to find someone with an imagination this strong and the writing ability to back it up. I think he's going to get better and better with every book. This one earns a solid 4 star rating.

Review - The Princess and the Outlaw

Wow. Jean Roberta's bio says she's an English instructor at a university, and it really shows here (in a good way!). It's no wonder her stories have been published in over 100 publications either - they are that good. Whether the stories center on Amazon warriors and their secret admirers, or medieval princesses; no matter if they are set in ancient Greece or witch-hunter Salem, MA . . . there's an edge to the writing that harkens back to another era. These stories seem like classics, fables, and fairy tales.

I found myself drawn right into the familiar framework of the stories that made the erotic content all the more interesting and powerful.

Favorites? Hubris, the tale of an Amazon warrior and the girl whose fascination turns into a way of life that is so eloquently explained that I wondered how Jean managed to immerse herself in the ancient, fantasy world so deeply that her words read like they came from a real diary. Sister Mary Agnes because I've always had a hot spot for erotica that toys with the church. In this one, we meet a nun and a convent full of women harboring secrets that prove to be the undoing for some, and the salvation for others. Soul Search for its language and for taking on a disturbing era in American history and making it hot. The World Turned Upside Down for its mystery and character development and surprise ending. One of the things I admire most about what's presented here is how none of the stories are preachy, yet most share a good message about acceptance and freedom to be the sexual beings we are. The writing is clean and crisp and a pleasure to read.

I'm thrilled I was given a copy for review and happy to give this my highest rating.

Amaranthine Rain has Been Released!

In eighteen new and previously published short stories, Zander Vyne twists the formulas—finishing dangerously kinky sex with unexpected happy endings, abandoning distressed damsels in knight-in-shining-armor tales to their own devices, and leading readers down unexpected paths, where chaos hovers just under the surface of normality. 

Featuring characters that traverse the edges of sexuality, seemingly mild plots that sink into deep horror, passions that lead from commuter trains to vampire lairs, dragon caves to hotel bars, book stores to fortuneteller’s tents, each setting is as distinct as the people we meet inside. Whether we are voyeurs with an all access pass, inside the twisted brain of a cold killer, or a broken woman finding new strength, each story extends the limits of erotic fiction. 

Choices are made with irrevocable and surprising consequences. Disaster is courted or barely skirted. Amoral protagonists and antagonists swap roles, then fluidly swap back. The lush layering that gives Zander Vyne's work such a strong sense of life is particularly apparent in the title story, which opens with a man waking in a lush garden, vines gripping him in possessive caresses. Flashing before his eyes is a storm of memories of his wife and his life, intertwined with love, sins, regrets, death and eventually redemption. Or . . . not. 

These stories are freaks, much like the characters who inhabit them are misfits. They purposefully leave us with unanswered questions. Some of these stories are held together with a stone foundation of love. Others have had love—and any notions of happily ever after—surgically excised, leaving the reader raw and excited, if not aroused.

Amaranthine Rain an Anthology by Zander Vyne - Cover Reveal

Amaranthine Rain and Anthology by Zander Vyne

In eighteen new and previously published short stories, Zander Vyne twists the formulas—finishing dangerously kinky sex with unexpected happy endings, abandoning damsels in distress to their own devices, leading readers through twisted labyrinths where chaos hovers under the surface of normality. Featuring characters that traverse the edges of sexuality, in humorous or darkly erotic settings, from noir to horror, each story extends the limits of erotic fiction.

You Won't Find Zander Vyne Blog Hopping (I Promise)

I turned down opportunities for blog hops today. I was comfortable with my refusal when I said no. But now there’s a pesky little voice in my head saying I should do whatever it takes to sell books, and the plethora of posts on social media about everyone else's blog hopping is troubling me.

See, when I was a kid, I thought writing would be the perfect job for an introvert like me. I pictured long hours writing in a peaceful office, or maybe curled up in a hammock by myself. But the world of writing has changed. Writers do book tours, and manage their own social media campaigns. They actively seek out other authors to gang up to mass-market together.

To be a writer today, do I really have to blog hop? I don't want to participate in one. I don't even want to attend one, or click on a link that might suck me into some merry-go-round author hop around the internet. No offense, fellow writers. I like you. I like your books. But I don’t want to follow you around the ‘net or beg people to buy your books (or mine) every five seconds on every social media outlet the way many of you seem to do. God help me if I start feeling like I have to post those "What YOU can do to help your author friends" memes.

Do I have to become someone I am not (i.e. extroverted and pushy)? I'm more of a behind the scenes person. I like doing blog posts for other writers, and would do them again if asked by someone I know. I'm really good one on one. I like people in small doses, and they usually like me. I hope people read my books because they like the stories I tell, not because they've been beaten into submission because of my constant sales efforts. I hope they find me on Facebook or Twitter or comment here on my blog because they, like me, like talking about their favorite books.

So I'm making a deal with myself (and you); I'll just be me, and you be you and if you'd like to read my stuff that'd be nifty. If you like it enough to tell a friend about it, cool. But, I won't push you and you won't push me. You’re welcome to come into my safe, quiet little world and relax. I'll make you some tea. We can read together. It will be nice. I promise.

Paris is For Lovers (and Vampire Hunters)

I'm wrapping up final edits for IMMORAL: Tales of a Vampire Hunter, and spent the morning pinning pictures of the settings on Pinterest. Each photo I found seemed more haunting than the last, and I found myself longing to go there again, remembering all the things I love about the city I've visited more than any other.

This love affair has prompted me to set many stories in the City of Light, I realized. After a bit of rummaging around my collection of writing ideas and unfinished work, I came across this unfinished story. Sometimes, it's very clear why I never completed a particular piece, why I abandoned those words in favor of others. But, sometimes, I come across things I don't even remember writing, things that seem like they should have gone somewhere other than cold storage.
Like this one.

I Love Paris

What was I doing?

This was insane, heading down an alley in Paris with a man I didn't know like he was a trusted lover, his hand riding my ass like he owned it, like he wasn’t just some French fuck I’d picked up in a bar two minutes ago.

My week had been weird all around; I’d been traveling with my best friend, Lila, and my boyfriend, Scott, who bailed on me after a fight in Barcelona that started over the best train to take to London and ended with them confessing to a drunken fuck the night before. They are probably back in Portland now, two days early, fucking each other just like before we left, even though they denied it. Lying mother-fuckers.

I’d ended up at Harry's Bar because Scott had wanted to see it; the idea that F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemmingway had frequented the place in the '20s and '30s apparently had given wannabe writer Scott a hard-on.

Tonight, the last night of my trip, I’d gone to spite him, feeling powerfully and happily alone. The bar was all right I guess, more knock-off French than “Casablanca”, but it was dark and the drinks were reasonable in a city where most tourist places were a total rip-off. After several glasses of house red and a few chanteuse songs I was sad and drunk as I wove a somewhat wobbly path toward the door.

Getting laid had been the last thing on my mind.

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Mitzi Szereto Says I'm Original and Literary

Zander Vyne Media
In the "better late than never" category, here's a lovely mention in Mslexia (a UK magazine for writers). If you're blind without glasses, like I am, click on the picture for a larger view.