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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Guest Interview - Juniper Bell

Give a warm welcome to my special guest Juniper Bell~


How did you start your writing career?

First of all, thanks so much for having me here, Amber! As to my writing career, when I was nine I wrote a profoundly insightful analysis of the difference between punching, hitting and slapping. It’s still unpublished, believe it or not. But it got me started, and hey, everyone has a few manuscripts under their bed, right?

Tell us about your favorite character from your books.

I know you’re supposed to love all your children equally. But sorry, characters, you’re not my children and I love Dana Arthur the best. (Please ignore the outraged screams in the background.) Dana is the heroine of my Receptionist books and I can’t get enough of her sassy attitude. She’s like the me I never was, or the wild child I never had, or something. I adore her.

Tell us about your current release.

Restraining the Receptionist comes out on June 14 and it’s the second in the Receptionist series about Dana and her two sexy bosses. The first book in the series was Training the Receptionist, and if you’d like a sample of the books, I have a Free Ebook on Smashwords called Thanking the Receptionist. Download here.

Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?

I had a mentor early on, a friend of my family. He’s a successful children’s book author. He gave me a very important piece of advice, which was to learn how to manage yourself psychologically as a writer – what you can handle, what you can’t, how to protect your psyche from the ups and downs. He also told me to remember to brush my teeth. I’m still working on that part.

What is the hardest part of writing your books?

To me the hardest moment of the entire process is when I re-read my first draft and realize what a load of crap it is. Then I put on my big girl panties and start my first rewrite. The magic of writing, for me, is in the rewriting. I spew my first drafts like I’m drunk on tequila. Then I whip them into shape. The best moment is when I see a book come alive the way it was in my head.

What does your family think of your writing career?

My family loves the fact that I have a writing career, while living in deliberate denial of the nature of my subject matter. Although recently my mother told me her Seniors Tai Chi class loves my books -- I wasn’t sure what to make of that. My sister told me flat-out she can’t read my stuff. It’s too embarrassing because her sister wrote it. But they all loyally purchase every book I release and I’m very grateful for that.

Do you hear from your readers? What kinds of questions do they ask?

I do hear from readers, which is always a fantastic experience, with a dash of bizarreness. I appreciate compliments as much as the next person, but it also gives me a nervous feeling. I have to write as if no one’s watching or reading. I have to block out other voices so I can hear what the story and the characters are telling me. But once the book is out, it’s not mine anymore. It belongs to the readers. Each reader will have their own particular, personal experience with it. Which is exactly how it should be! But it’s a strange feeling to hear about it.

What do you think makes a good story?

First of all, a good story has to make you care about the main character. Then it has to turn their life upside down and put them through hell before they figure things out. When you can’t wait to find out what happens next, when you want the characters to be okay, when you feel like you want to step into the book and shake them or hug them or tell them they’re being idiots – then you know it’s a good story. A good story makes you feel you’ve experienced something even though you were just lying on the couch reading while those poor characters had their lives torn apart.

What book are you reading now?

I’m on a historical romance kick right now. I just finished Lisa Kleypas’ Hathaway family series and Laura Kinsale’s Lessons in French, and the always wonderful Eloisa James is up next.

Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?

Keep writing. And don’t be in too much of a hurry. The art of writing is what’s most important. Stay true to that, develop your skill and voice, and the publishing how’s and when’s and where’s will come. Most of all, just keep at it.



Blurb:
Every deal has a loophole.

…the Receptionist, Book 2

Dana Arthur’s new job with the firm of Cowell & Dirk is going well. Translation: the occasionally kinky ménage with her two bosses, Ethan and Simon, has been several months of politically incorrect bliss.

Except the relationship feels unbalanced. While Ethan is the undisputed master, the partners’ iron-clad agreement stipulates that Simon must be present as she performs her “duties”. And she senses there’s a subtle, powerful tug-of-war developing for more than just her body.

Simon had agreed to share the firm’s fiery, sensually daring receptionist…to a point. With Simon out of town, Ethan plans a feast of erotic temptations designed to have Dana begging him to break the deal. He didn’t realize his heart would be a casualty.

Once she surrenders to his wicked demands, Dana realizes there’s no going back. It’s time for a three-way renegotiation…this time, all or nothing.

Product Warnings
NSFW!! Do Not Try This at Your Job. Contains highly inappropriate workplace behavior including m/f/m, m/m, bondage, creative use of office space and a high-stakes trip to Atlantic City.

Every deal has a loophole.

Restraining the Receptionist
© 2011 Juniper Bell

…the Receptionist, Book 2

Dana Arthur’s new job with the firm of Cowell & Dirk is going well. Translation: the occasionally kinky ménage with her two bosses, Ethan and Simon, has been several months of politically incorrect bliss.
Except the relationship feels unbalanced. While Ethan is the undisputed master, the partners’ iron-clad agreement stipulates that Simon must be present as she performs her “duties”. And she senses there’s a subtle, powerful tug-of-war developing for more than just her body.
Simon had agreed to share the firm’s fiery, sensually daring receptionist…to a point. With Simon out of town, Ethan plans a feast of erotic temptations designed to have Dana begging him to break the deal. He didn’t realize his heart would be a casualty.
Once she surrenders to his wicked demands, Dana realizes there’s no going back. It’s time for a three-way renegotiation…this time, all or nothing.
Warning: NSFW!! Do Not Try This at Your Job. Contains highly inappropriate workplace behavior including m/f/m, m/m, bondage, creative use of office space and a high-stakes trip to Atlantic City.

Enjoy the following excerpt for Restraining the Receptionist:

My unpredictable number one boss showed up in a new mood the next day. I’d never seen him light-hearted before. Now that I had an idea about his history, not a big surprise. But that’s exactly how he seemed when he breezed into the office. He wore casual clothes, blue jeans and a light blue open-collared shirt that made his eyes look like summer without the smog.
“I’ve got no pesky clients today, luv,” he told me, without pausing by my desk to check my outfit, which he usually did. “I’d like you to order us a picnic lunch.”
“Huh?”
“Picnic. You have those in America, right? Or are they banned in the great state of New York?”
“We have them, but you can’t even spread out a blanket without kicking aside a stray used needle or two.” As soon as I said it I remembered the heroin. “I…I’m sorry,” I stammered.
But my thoughtless reference didn’t make him miss a beat. “A little local color will add to the experience, I’m sure. Handle the details and we’ll go around noon.”
Did a picnic violate the terms of our deal? Ethan and I would be doing something outside of work, just the two of us, something intimate. Almost like a date. But he hadn’t suggested anything physical. It was lunch. We both had to eat, right? It seemed perfectly harmless.
Since I was working from the company petty cash fund, I called up the neighborhood yuppie café where they served giant organic sandwiches. On my budget, I would have gone for a Subway footlong. But Ethan would no doubt demand something better.
We held our picnic on a concrete bench in a sweltering park a few blocks away from the office. Dog walkers and stroller-pushers, listless from the heat, wandered by now and then, but otherwise we were alone. The humid heat pressed on us like a steam iron. My hair stuck to my cheeks as I bit into my upscale sandwich.
Ethan didn’t comment on the slabs of free-range chicken that had probably been hand-raised and read bedtime stories before being slaughtered and inserted into a sandwich. He did remove the unruly mound of bean sprouts and toss it to a nearby pigeon. The pigeon pecked at the stuff, clucked scornfully and waddled the other direction.
I couldn’t help giggling at Ethan’s wounded expression. “I wouldn’t take it personally,” I told him. “He’s a New York pigeon. He’s used to eating dog crap.”
He chuckled. “Have you lived here your whole life, Dana?”
The sheer ordinariness of the question unnerved me. “Well, except for that semester abroad in Paris, and the year I spent in Fiji with the Peace Corps. I’m joking,” I added, when he didn’t laugh.
“Oh. Well, I’m certainly familiar with your sense of humor, but I confess I don’t understand the joke. You could have done those things.”
I let out a spurt of laughter that startled the pigeon. “I had other things to do.”
“Like what?”
“Like dodge my father’s fists after a drinking binge.”
“Ah.” Ethan didn’t show sympathy or disapproval or anything else. He chewed on his stack of multi-grain goodness. “And your mother?”
“No clue. My father always said she ran away, but for all I know he has her body dismembered in a freezer somewhere.”
That earned me a sharp taste of Blue Fury.
“I’m kidding. I have a dark sense of humor. My father’s not that bad. And my stepmother would have gone for poison instead.”
A crack of laughter from Ethan. “You really are something, you know that? You fascinate me.”
I filled my mouth with sandwich so I didn’t have to answer that. I was very much afraid the fascination was mutual. We settled into a munching, digesting kind of silence. He had one ankle crossed over the opposite knee, and occasionally his bent leg would brush against mine. Every time it happened, a little jolt of awareness zinged straight to my groin. Did he know it was happening? Was he doing it deliberately?
“Your knee keeps touching me.”
“Does it?” He didn’t move away.
“That’s against the rules.”
“So sorry.” But he didn’t look sorry. He looked entirely unconcerned, even though he moved his knee away. “One of these days we must write these rules down. For instance, is all physical contact forbidden while Simon is away, or only that of a sexual nature?”
Lord, why did he have to say “sexual” with that spark in his eyes and that slant of his eyebrow? It wasn’t fair, damn it.
“Another example. I’ve been longing to tell you how delicious you look today and how the shadow of your nipples through the fabric of your blouse keeps drawing my eyes. But is verbal praise also off-limits, since I’d be unable to keep it G-rated, I’m afraid?”
“You can’t see my nipples through my blouse!” I looked down to make sure.
“Oh, yes, I can. I know what they’re doing right now. They’re just beginning to stir to life. You’re probably feeling a pleasant prickling as they become engorged. I’ve realized something about you, you know. The sound of my voice has a powerful effect on you.”
So right he was. I tried to block out his voice. Might as well try to stop the Hudson River.
“In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if I could bring you to orgasm just with my voice. I wouldn’t have to touch you at all. All I’d have to do is tell you what I wanted to do to you. I’d tell you how much I want to bend you over this bench and take you in the open air. Or how much I’d like to tie you to that birch tree over there, open your blouse and bring you to orgasm with my fist up your cunt. Sure, someone might see. For instance, those three fellows playing Frisbee over there. It’s entirely possible they’d start to notice when I tied your hands behind the tree and ripped off your blouse. Maybe they’d even come running to your rescue.”
His gravelly voice hypnotized me so I could practically picture the scene. My body melted into a shivery puddle of craving.
“And then, of course, I’d have no choice but to invite them to join us, either as witnesses or participants. They look like red-blooded, able-bodied, clean-cut gentlemen, nothing to fear. I’d have to convince them you were willing. More than willing. Eager. I’d have to show them how wet you already were, just from having your breasts exposed. You like being exposed, don’t you?”
“Stop,” I murmured. This was going into an area we’d never touched. Other men had had no place in our games so far.
As soon as I told him to stop, he did. And as soon as he did, I wanted him to start again. After all, what was the harm? He was going there in imagination only.
“Well…” I cleared my throat. “Would you let them touch my breasts?”
“I’d give them a chance, see how they behaved. Not just anyone gets to touch my Dana. Our Dana, I should say.”
I winced at the reminder of the absent Simon. But I was too caught up in Ethan’s hypothetical scenario to be bothered for long.
“Our Dana’s luscious nipples deserve nothing other than sweet tender care. Long, lingering suckles. Perhaps a man to each nipple, and one to jerk himself off as he watches. That should get you started, I’d say. You’d be making those adorable little whimpering sounds. But perhaps I’d begin to sense that you want more, that you need the grip of cold metal on your flesh.”
The image made my belly clench with need. My nipples were as hard as the bench we sat on. I thought I would suffocate if this went on much longer. I turned a pleading look on him. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of nipple clamps.
This was way over the line, totally against our rules, but I banished that thought from my mind. I nodded, biting my lip. I didn’t care who watched as he reached inside my blouse and fastened the silver clips to my nipples. The sweet pain of it made me sag against him and sigh. Exquisite relief flooded me. I leaned against him as if he were a boulder. When I looked down, the clips were clearly visible through my blouse. But I didn’t care. Ethan would take care of me.

6 comments:

  1. Juniper,

    Your book sounds great! I have to agree with you about how important characters are to a story. If I don't care what happens next, why finish the book? Somehow I don't think that will happen with "Restraining the Receptionist"!

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  2. What a cool title and I love the cover. :)
    May you have many happy sales.

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  3. Loved the excerpt and the cover is super hot! Great interview, Amber.

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  4. Great interview and good luck with your new release, Juniper. I'm sure it'll be a hit. It sounds awesome.

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  5. Thanks for stopping by, everyone! My Internet was out all day and I'm just finally getting online.

    Paris - I know what you mean, why finish the book when you don't care about the characters? I appreciate the vote of confidence about my Receptionist!

    Tina - Thank you! I love the cover too. Makes me want to roll around on red satin sheets, LOL.

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  6. Marie Rose - Thank you so much, and I agree -- Amber's a fantastic interviewer!

    Kathy - Thank you!! I'm starting to get nervous now ... am I the only one who still gets release jitters? LOL

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