Monday, January 16, 2012

Special Guest - Tori St.Claire

First, let's find out a little about Tori St.Claire.

She grew up writing. Hobby quickly turned into passion, and when she discovered the world of romance as a teen, poems and short stories gave way to full length novels with sexy heroes and heroines waiting to be swept off their feet. She wrote her first romance novel at seventeen.

While that manuscript gathered dust-bunnies beneath the bed, she went on to establish herself as a contemporary, historical, and paranormal author under the pen name, Claire Ashgrove. Her writing, however, skirted a fine line between hot and steamy, and motivated by authors she admired, she pushed her boundaries and made the leap into erotica, using the darker side of human nature and on-the-edge suspense to drive grittier, sexier, stories.

Her erotic romantic suspense novels are searingly sensual experiences that unite passion with true emotion, and the all-consuming tie that binds -- love.

Tori can be found at:
Twitter: @claireashgrove

Tori, why don't you give us a writing tip?

Keep An Open Mind

When I wrote what was to become, STRIPPED, my vision for the book was nowhere near the way life played out.  At that time, I was happily writing hot and steamy romance as Claire Ashgrove, and my one endeavor with erotica turned into a blush-fest at the first chapter.  I tried, Lord knows I tried, but when I passed the opening to a seasoned erotica author for comments, she grinned, handed it back to me and said, “It’s good.  But it’s not erotic.”

So I shelved the thought, finished the book as I felt comfortable, and decided there were just some words that wouldn’t come off my fingers.  I maintained that point of view until I went to a conference and grilled some brilliant minds about the erotic genre.

I left the conference thinking, “Well, maybe I’ll try this again when I finish the novella I’m writing.”

By this point, my agent was already shopping STRIPPED.  It had finaled in a couple contests, I knew it pushed some boundaries for straight romantic suspense, but it seemed to be going over pretty well.

And then, she called.

We had an offer contingent on the current book being revised to fit the erotic line.  I skipped past the panic, rambled on about my decision to give erotica a go anyway, and leapt at opportunity.  And here we are.  What was once Lead Me to Innocence, then Untrustable, is now STRIPPED.

Revisions actually proved quite easy.  Surprisingly so.  Writing the second book, LIE TO ME, was much much easier.  I didn’t blush, and amazingly, those words could come off my fingers!

My point in telling you this story is that not once had I considered converting my “romantic suspense” into erotica until someone else saw something inside the manuscript that I was blind to.  I had it firmly locked in my head that I couldn’t do something (even if I was content with not doing), and shut that door, never to look at the handle again.

If you’re writing and someone says, “Hey, you know, have you considered…” and your instinct is to say, “No way,” stop before you answer.  Other people can see strengths in your writing that aren’t obvious to you.  It’s worth the time to give the suggestion a little thought.

If you are toying with an idea – take the leap, go for it.  It might be completely outside your comfort zone, but don’t convince yourself that just because you haven’t, that you can’t.  I have an author friend who struggled with this not so long ago.  She had an idea she thought was fantastic.  Others warded her off, warned her it was too risky, too non-standard.  She threw all the opinions to the wayside, followed what her gut was saying she should do, and she’s doing quite well with the product.  People are biting on this “project that fell outside the boundaries.”

Even more so, if you’re writing and you’re hitting that place where no one’s biting on your story, then take a step back.  Look and see if you can keep your story, but alter it enough to create opportunity for it.

Now, I’m a big proponent of knowing when to stop editing your manuscript and when to move on to the next story.  So I’m not saying rewrite your novel five times because it might go five different ways.  You’d probably have better luck applying that effort to something new.  But that’s an entirely different discussion.

My point – keep an open mind. There is no one, concrete, way for a novel to work.  No one method or genre that’s the end-all be all.  Opportunity exists, it’s always there somewhere.

The more open you are to considering options, --both with your own writing and the industry as a whole-- the more likely your efforts will be rewarded.

And maybe, like I did, you’ll find a second comfort zone and a new passion to occupy your time.


The Blurb.

Body of secrets…

As a member of the CIA’s elite, Black Opals, Natalya Trubachev must live a lie, working undercover as the lover of Dmitri, a Russian mob boss. His business is trafficking vulnerable Las Vegas strippers overseas for twisted sex games. Natalya’s business is to blow the ring wide open and bring down Dmitri and his American contacts. But the stakes are raised when she learns that the next target is her own sister Kate, a dancer in the famed club Fantasia. Only now does Natalya realize how personal her mission has become, and how far she’s willing to go to complete it.

Body of lies…

The manager of Fantasia is Brandon Moretti, an undercover detective who keeps a close eye on his girls, and an even closer one on his sinfully sensual hire. For Natalya, working the club could be the break she’s been waiting for. But for Moretti, Natalya is a possible link to a killer. Only he never counted on her being so lethally seductive or so dangerous to get close to.  As every forbidden pleasure between them is stripped away, his own secrets threaten their security, but it’s Natalya’s that could destroy them both.


“Tell me what you want, beautiful.” His breath rasped over her cheek. Featherlight kisses accompanied the whisper, trailing across her skin in a taunting path toward her mouth.

Kiss me. She turned her head in search of lips she instinctively knew would be warm, the words on the tip of her tongue. Kiss me until I don’t care whether I live or die.

Honesty. Just once.

He caught her lower lip with his teeth, the nip nowhere near gentle. But the lazy stroke of his tongue soothed the stinging bite. She parted her lips, dipped her tongue out to touch his.

Brandon’s body tightened like a whip. The pressure in her lower back increased as his fingers curled into her skin. Their breaths mingled. The tips of their tongues met in a slow, sensual dance. As another spasm of ecstasy threatened to send her tumbling into his solid chest, she braced her hands on his shoulders.

And then Brandon was gone, the magic of his fingers disappearing as he stepped back and set both hands on her waist. His gaze scorched in to flood her body with tingles. He waited, his question unspoken, but hanging between them.

Tell me what you want.

Clearly he intended to make her admit she wanted to feel him deep inside her. Wanted to experience the slide of his bare skin against hers. And God, how she wanted to kiss him. To taste the desire that burned in his gaze and the indescribable flavor of hot, aroused man.

Confessing might lead her to an early grave, but for once, her conscious would be clear. She swallowed hard and dug deep for the courage that had kept her alive these last three years. His gaze followed the sweep of her tongue as she moistened her lips.

 “Kiss me.” Her senses honed in on her whisper, amplifying it and the ragged fall of their mutual breathing. She became aware of every minuscule sound as she waited for Brandon to either dip his head and honor her request, or shove her aside with a wicked sneer.

He took a step closer, bringing their bodies in contact from chest to toes. One arm wrapped around her waist, then slid up her back to offer support between her shoulder blades. The other tangled in her hair, tipping her head back. Putting her where he wanted her—subtle dominance that thrilled her in places she hadn’t known existed. Her womb clamped hard, sending another rush of moisture through her pussy.

His mouth descended. Warm lips played against hers, drawing her into the spell his body wove. Pulling her in so deep she struggled for air.

The sudden, brassy ring of her cell phone jolted her out of hazy desire. She froze. With Kate and Sergei due to arrive at Fantasia any minute, there could only be one other person calling at this time of day—Dmitri. It would be almost one in the morning in Moscow. The time Dmitri put aside his work and crawled into bed. He’d want to talk before he slept.

“Don’t answer that,” Brandon whispered against her mouth.

Damn if those lips weren’t compelling. She’d had his mouth on her breast, knew the incredible magic his tongue could create there, but had yet to experience the tantalizing slide of his tongue against hers. The need to feel his mouth on hers, to get lost in his potent masculinity pressed her to ignore the ringing tones.

Duty, however, rose up screaming. If she didn’t answer, Dmitri would get suspicious. “I have to.”

Thanks Tori for stopping by.

Also remember to follow her tour. She is giving away a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour and to the host with the most comments,the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:


  1. I think you have done well with your story. You are right, there comes a time when you have to leave it alone. Your story sounds great.

  2. Thanks Tori for stopping by.

    Best of luck with your book.

  3. Thanks for an informative post today. When you set out to write this particular story, was erotica your intent or did it just evolve? Also, cover choices for a book covering erotic romantic suspense has got to be difficult and could go in any number of directions. What were the factors in choosing the cover we see today? Did you have input or did you just accept what the publisher put there?

  4. There is definitely a skill to knowing just where and when to advance a storyline, and it looks like you've nailed it in Stripped.

    caity_mack at yahoo dot com

  5. Though I'm not a writer, I enjoyed reading the writing tip. Then you topped it off with another great excerpt, Tori!

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  6. Evening folks! Glad you enjoyed the tip. I do think it's somewhat applicable to everyday life, not just writing. But that's a philosophy discussion my brain is too tired to have tonight.

    Karen -- no, the erotic romance came about as a contingency to the offer. As to the cover, I was asked what I liked, what I might have visions of, but I long ago learned that for me, I'm more satisfied with the less input I give. So I listed a couple things, passed along a couple covers that I thought were awesome. The current cover was nowhere in line with any of my comments, but I was ELATED when I saw it.

  7. Keeping an open mind opens up a world of possibilities. New ideas & areas to explore. That has to be great for a writer.


  8. Every time I open my mind I get all kinds of wild images and new ideas...and sometimes the hubby get a little nervous. LOL
    I can't wait to read this book!
    musicalfrog at