Two For One

Two For ONe

I really enjoyed this short but sweet and erotic story by Ms. Ava Sterling. She is an extremely talented writer and she has the skill of reeling me in and enrapturing me with her realistic characters and unique storylines. Two For One was no exception and I found myself loving every word. I love Angela, Jake, and Simon. The three of them have an amazing chemistry together and I only wish that I could read more of them because I found them to be so down to earth and sexy. 5/5 stars.

Interview With Esma Ashraf, Writer of Shamma: The Dancing Flame

Esme

Interview With Esma Ashraf, Writer of Shamma: The Dancing Flame

A.R.: What is the most significant difference between writing poetry in English and Urdu?

Esma: Urdu is more expressive and romantic. Since it’s my mother tongue, so I am able to write easily as words flow naturally. The Urdu language is vast; one word can have multiple meanings. However, I did enjoy writing poems in English. I wanted to test my capability in the language as well. My love for expressing in English is growing more and more.

A.R.: I found your poems full of spirituality and so much passion, which is rare for me to find in other forms of media and in the world in general. Do you consider yourself a spiritual person and how do you think spirituality played a role in the writing process?

Esma: Yes, I am a spiritual person, also very emotional. I firmly believe that we are all connected with each other. I live in the spiritual realm, in imagination; not so much in the physical world. I completely believe in soul connection. Nature is another best way to extend the relationship with your soul. With Shamma, I definitely regard it as a spiritual book. The sensuality aspect of the book also branches out towards soul power. We tend to always look for something to quench our thirst and my journey of poetry is to fulfill one part of that desire.

 

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A.R.: You mention that you are very in tune with your emotions. It seems that most (if not all) artists of all types are extremely intuitive and in touch with their emotions. Do you see your writing as a separate entity or an extension of yourself?

Esma: Writing is me; it’s my personal experience. Every single word I have written, I have lived it. It’s my whole existence, from head to toe. Whether it is about inner conflicts, girl empowerment, passionate romance or loss; are reflected in my poems..

A.R.: As someone who suffers from severe depression, I always appreciate it when a writer is courageous enough to be completely honest. There are some poems here that deal with some darker elements, such as sadness, grief. Do you find it easy to write about these difficult topics?

Esma: Nothing is easy, as struggling through depression or fear can build up those roads to drive once you have no choice. I find that my pen dances on the paper when passion weaves out from my heart. I find it easy to write down my thoughts, feelings, and my ability to express so much sadness and grief. Everyone at some point suffers from depression and I myself am a victim of this. However, I find this a painful process to collect my thoughts together, but once I start, it is a relief as venting out is very important.

 

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A.R.: Living in the Hudson Valley can be a great source of inspiration for us writers. What else besides spirituality inspires your work?

Esma: I’m a profoundly romantic person. I definitely believe in love, which influences my work for sure. Several people who have I have met along through my journey, have also inspired me to write. Nature is always a constant fountain of inspiration. I actually started writing my poetry in London in 1999. When the sky there changed colors and rain kissed the roses outside my backyard, it gave me an incentive to write. I found so much beauty in that transition. It was a huge source of inspiration for me. Depression also triggered me to write. When you spend a lot of time alone, it often develops a connection between you and yourself.. I find that spirituality comes more with age as well, but not necessarily. Because of the depression that blossomed from the loss of my mother, I became more spiritual and began to write more often. My experiences with other people, which were often risky, are also a source of inspiration as well. Pain, tears, crying, loneliness, loss: they all make you. I love the whole notion of love so I find myself suffering a lot.

A.R.: Personally, I find it much more organic to write by hand. The words seem to flow better. What is your preferred way to write?

Esme: I used to write a lot by hand. Now, I find myself writing my poems on my phone as I am constantly writing whether I am outside or home, so it’s more realistic for me. I do not want to lose my chain of thoughts as raw feelings are very important in a poetic world. Then, I correct them and upload them on my website. I prefer to write on the phone now due to convenience and easy access. Words are always flowing through me, coming out and spilling out through my fingers.

 

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A.R.: You mentioned that you are preparing for a new publication. Can you tell us more about the themes and subjects in your next work?

Esma: They are a collection of short stories about certain events related to my culture that I yearn to share with Westerners. The stories are lush with food and cultural events. I am much more detailed about experiences and people in the short stories. I also describe how love is portrayed in our society today, which has a lot to do with social obligations. The writing courses at the local college helped my pen to explore more and assisted me well to write short stories. I also want to experience different genres/styles.

A.R.: A few years ago I read the amazing book ‘Women Without Men’. It is still one of my most favorite novels ever. To have a woman write such a profound, searing, yet beautiful story immersed in Indian culture really inspired me and still does to this day. Which women writers do you identify most with?

Esma: I am a huge fan of Rupi Kaur; she inspired me to write. Her poems have deeper understanding of internal and external issues. Jhumpa Lahiri is another source of influence for me. Her cultural and social understanding that reflects in her short stories inspires me to write. I also am a huge fan of Atticus. His poems have a meaningful way of expression. I’m not as experienced to identify myself with other women writers as I am still new in the writing world. They are like stars and I am standing on the ground looking from down to above. I have a lot of admiration for all the writers; whether they are women or men.

 

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A.R.: Alcoholism, depression, and writing sadly seem to go in hand, unfortunately. As someone who suffers from these afflictions, it makes me very sad and concerned to be reminded of the deaths of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and Hunter S. Thompson. What would be your advice to writers that struggle with these demons?

Esma: The emotional pain of depression destroys you from the inside; that’s what artists go through. Depression makes you an artist if you recognize that artist in you. Personally, I think that writing and wine have a sisterhood relationship. Although, everything needs to be balanced; whether our drink or food intake. Artists struggle immensely. There is so much inner battle every day, every single minute. Writers have an eccentric mind who are full of beauty and passion. There is so much to live for. I find myself concerned for people with suicidal ideation since they suffer from so much inner struggle as well. We have this affinity with words, music, brush or any type of art, and we should not waste this power. It’s difficult for sure, but we have so much to offer to the world through our skills. The artists’ struggle is what creates their art. If you fall in love with yourself, life will be beautiful. If you make yourself your own best friend, you will be at peace.

A.R.: As a fellow nature lover, I find it hard to choose between the mountains, the desert, the ocean, and the woods. If you had to choose one element in nature, which one would it be and why?

Esma: (laughs) I love them all but the ocean is by far my favorite. It’s so deep and mysterious; I have such a huge fascination with it: its vast depth, the waves, how they intertwine and make love to each other. I find myself comparing the eyes of a lover to the ocean. You find yourself drowning deeper and deeper into them. When you kiss your lover, it’s just like the ocean, pulling you in. The color of the sky reflected on the surface of the ocean is amazing, heavenly. The sound of the waves whispering to you is so sensual and romantic. I find it very powerful; it just wants to sweep you away. My fascination with water is definitely reflected in my poems.

 

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Esma’s Homepage

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All photographs are the property of the writer, Esma, and shared with her permission.

Going for Gold (Deep Desires, Book 3)

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Going for Gold is the third installment in the highly erotic, expertly written Deep Desires series by Jane Caleb-Wood. I have to say that this was my favorite installment by far for its otherworldly eroticism and delicious setup. Gang bangs are one of my favorite subjects to read (and write) about in erotica but sadly, I don’t see it very often among my favorite erotic writers. So I was so ecstatic and extremely excited to read Taylor have a sumptuously erotic and divine night with seven men at the same time. Even though the story was definitely erotic, it was also extremely sensual, which is a hard feat to attain with erotica. (It’s also extremely difficult to keep track of all the sexy guys with no names in a gang bang scenario, so I have profound respect for Ms. Caleb-Wood for that.) If you haven’t read this series or any of Ms. Jane Caleb-Wood’s works, please do! And make sure to check out the lovely interview I had with her earlier this week.

5/5 stars.

 

I Find You in the Darkness: Hope and Resilience Among the Shadows

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I will never get used to how the right books will find me during the darkest of times. Reading I Find You in the Darkness by Alfa Holden was like reading one of my journal entries; a close dissection of my soul without any shame or remorse. It’s rare to find a writer that is brave enough to expose those parts that are too dark or scary to talk about: despair, shame, hopelessness, self-loathing. All subjects that plague my life along with millions of others around the world. But what is truly beautiful about Ms. Holden’s work is that she doesn’t condemn you for your emotions or thoughts like the rest of the world does; instead, she reminds you that it’s okay to feel. And most importantly, that you are never, never alone. I found myself on the verge of tears reading most of these poems and to me, they were like beacons of light among the thick, pervasive darkness that wants to claim my soul. Thank you, Ms. Alfa Holden, for sharing your beautiful, evocative poetry with us.

5/5 well deserved stars.

Interview With Erotic Writer Jane Caleb-Wood

Living for Gold

Interview With Erotic Writer Jane Caleb-Wood

Upon the advent of the notorious (infamous to some) 50 Shades of Grey series, erotica has become a bestseller among women and men. It is quite clear (and completely normal) that most of us harbor secret desires and fantasies. Whether one is a fan of the 50 Shades series or not, there is no denying that Ms. E.L. James has paved the way for sensuality, eroticism, and kink to become more acceptable in fiction. 

Unfortunately, one negative consequence of this shift toward erotica is the sheer amount of poorly written erotic fiction that is floating around on the internet. As an avid, passionate reader, I have read my fair share of both excellent and quite not so great erotica. I feel privileged and lucky that I came across Ms. Jane Caleb-Wood’s excellently written erotica that thrums with genuine passion and reflects real life. I am very excited and happy to share this interview with her on my blog and of course, make sure to check out her writing! I will be including all her links after the interview questions. 

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Raven: First of all, thank you so much Ms. Caleb-Wood for allowing me to interview such an amazing and talented writer! It’s truly an honor to have you on my blog.

Jane: Thank you so much for having me! It’s an honor to be featured here!

Raven: I have so many questions for you but I have to start off with this one: What inspired you to write? Was it a writer, a certain book, etc.?

Jane: I started writing pretty early; it was something my fourth-grade teacher encouraged me to do because she knew I enjoyed it. The book that made me want to be a writer is the young adult novel Zel by Donna Jo Napoli. It’s a YA book, but has adult themes that I didn’t fully understand or appreciate at that age. It’s still the most beautifully written book I’ve ever read. The Great Gatsby is another inspiration, I love Fitzgerald’s ability to describe a scene.

Raven: Do you find it easy to write erotica? Or difficult? I find your stories extremely well-written, believable, and quite superb. A hard feat to achieve now that the fiction world is inundated with lovely smut.

Jane: Thank you so much! At first, it was difficult for me to get started because I’d been writing YA fiction for so long and it was a pretty extreme shift. But I had so much fun writing my first erotica story that now I just enjoy the process and the story. If I’m having fun writing a story, then it’s much easier to get the words on the page. 

Raven: Why do you think the romance and erotic genres receive such a bad rep? 

Jane: The majority of these books are written by women for women, which I think contributes to that contempt for the genre. There’s that feeling even among a lot of readers that it’s a guilty pleasure or even something to be ashamed of, especially with erotica. 

Raven: I hate to say it, but I see a trend of bad erotica that ends up gaining massive popularity. Why do you think this is?

Jane: A lot of books in this genre gain a following through word of mouth. Readers like something and share it with others and then it becomes something they can talk about together. It might be a bit of jumping on the bandwagon too, wanting to see what all the fuss is about. Romance and erotica readers want a sexy story with larger than life characters, so well-written smut isn’t always at the top of the list. 

Raven: What fountain of inspiration do you draw from to concoct your sexy, tantalizing stories?

Jane: I start with stories or situations that appeal to me, fantasies I have. I write what I want to read. For the sexiest bits, I draw from my own experiences and my fantasies as well.

Raven: What do you find to be the biggest obstacle when you write erotica?

Jane: I’m an underwriter, so going back over my first draft and adding to it is the hardest part for me. You don’t really want to leave too much to the imagination when your purpose is to get the reader off. I want to be descriptive and varied in my word choice but there are also only so many synonyms for penis, and most of them make me cringe.

Raven: What advice would you give to any novice writers, regardless of genre?

Jane: Take your time finding your unique voice. You might want to write like your favorite author, but finding your own style is important and will make writing easier and more enjoyable. Also, don’t be afraid to get the words on the page. The first draft won’t be perfect by any means but it’s much better than staring at a blank page. 

Raven: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and grace my blog with your sexy, beautiful self! I am truly honored.

Jane: Thank you! It means so much to me to be part of this incredibly supportive community. You’re amazing for supporting other authors!

You can find Jane and her lush erotica on the following sites: 

Homepage

Amazon

Instagram

Goodreads

Living for Gold (Deep Desires, Book 2)

Living for Gold

Living for Gold, the second installment in the Deep Desires Series by Jane Caleb-Wood, is another scintillating, sumptuous, and enthralling short story by this talented, amazing writer. While it’s a rather short read, it’s an excellently written erotica, pulsating with realistic characters and genuine passion. Reading about Taylor and Cara’s delicious, intoxicating encounter made me feel as if I were there present, watching; there are so many lush details about their visceral connection and I found myself completely enthralled. If you enjoy well-written erotica that will satiate your desire to read a good plot that is not just straight out smut, then you will definitely enjoy this series.

5/5 stars.

Cover Reveal of Nomad’s Island by Derek Keeling

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Hello, my lovelies. I am honored to share Derek Keeling’s second book cover titled Nomad’s Island. Derek is an amazing, talented writer whose debut novel, The Umbras, can be found on Amazon. Check out the blurb to his second novel below and make sure to purchase it on March 2nd.

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What was lost, has been found.
For Damon, his grand adventure is being alone on an island. His plan was simple: fly to a deserted island for a month, hone his survival skills, and return home. Unfortunately, on the way, his plane crashes and leaves him alone on an island with no chance of help or rescue. Damon must use his skills to survive, but something watching him from the jungle’s edge seems to enjoy his failures.
Damon’s fight for survival doesn’t come easy in this action-packed adventure that will leave you breathless. With twists and turns that will keep you guessing, take a trip with Damon to a ruthless place where life struggles to survive and eyes stalk your every move.

Will Damon adapt? Or will the unknown entity in the jungle become his biggest threat?
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Make sure to follow Derek on Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.