All posts by michelezurloauthor

I’m Michele Zurlo, author of over 20 romance novels. During the day, I teach English, and in the evenings, romantic tales flow from my fingertips.

Authors Wanted at Exquisite Quills!

eqpicExquisite Quills, a blog I participate in with some of my writer friends, is getting ready to launch a brand-spanking-new bimonthly Saturday series of author interviews. If you’re an author and you’d like to be interviewed, please contact Michele Zurlo at michelezurloauthor AT yahoo.com to schedule a date.

Visit Exquisite Quills at http://exquisitequills.blogspot.com/

See you there!

Blog Takeover–with Drew Snow

Hi. I’m Drew Snow, host of the hit cooking show Sensual Secrets. Michele has graciously allowed me to take over her blog writing task today to write about anything I want. Of course I chose the sexiest topic I know–food.

The first step to creating a sexy dish is making sure it tastes good. If not, skip the food and get straight to the naked chemistry portion of the date. Always play to your strengths. Since I’m equally good at food and sex, I never skip the food. There’s something about sharing an intimate meal, finding mutual pleasure in a succulent mouthful, that ends up being great foreplay for the main event. Today I’m going to share a sexy recipe with you–Sweet Potato Soup. It’s feel-good food, guaranteed to make your lover swoon. Just be there to catch her/him.

Begin with a third or a half of a sweet onion, depending on how oniony you want it to end up. Dice the onion, two small sweet potatoes (or medium, if you want more sweetness), and one regular carrot. Heat some extra virgin olive oil in a pan. I  like to put in a dash of nutmeg and about a quarter teaspoon of ginger. It gives an extra burst of flavor that seduces the palate. Add the onion and carrots to the hot oil. When they’re caramelized, add the sweet potatoes in and let that heat up for a couple of minutes.

Then add about a cup of water. You might need more as it reduces. Don’t let it reduce too much. I like to throw in a teaspoon of Better than Bullion Vegetarian seasoning, and I let it simmer for about fifteen minutes. Add a can of cannelloni beans (drained) and cook until everything’s done. Puree it in a blender.

I put a dollop of plain Greek yogurt in the center of the bowl. It looks good, and it cuts the heat a bit. Light some candles, dim the lights, and serve it naked to someone you love (who is hopefully also naked.) It’s a sweet, sexy dish that’s also healthy, filling, vegetarian, and gluten free.

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TRR Top Pick for Surreal Neal

I absolutely LOVED waking up to this wonderful review from Delta at The Romance Reviews!

trrtoppicks

“All of the characters are well written and have a depth not often found in erotic romance. As a frequent reader of ménage stories, I appreciated that each of the three main characters had an equal stake in the relationship. There is a LOT of sex–wicked, playful, sensual, loving, erotic sex. And it’s GOOOOOD. Ms Zurlo makes the reader feel the intensity of a scene, whether kinky or vanilla. If you like erotic romance that takes you into a relationship and makes you feel like a participant or a voyeur, then you’ll love HANGING ON 2: SURREAL NEAL. I wholeheartedly recommend picking up all of the Awakenings books too, as they’re just as well done as this one.”

Buy it today from Amazon or your favorite eBook distributor: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FJ6V8V0/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00FJ6V8V0&linkCode=as2&tag=thstro0e-20

Websites and Censorship

I recently had a run-in with the forces of censorship. The provider for my website noticed (after 4 years) that I have adult content. They also objected to this photo, which I found Banned Photorunning around on Facebook. I thought it was sweet. You’ll notice that there’s no showing of the “uh-oh” body parts. After trying in vain to contact my web provider, I realized that my efforts were futile. I lost track of the number of times I tried to contact Webs before I gave up.

So I bought a new domain name–you’ll now have to visit me at www.michelezurloauthor.com–and spend the weekend designing a completely new website. It’s better than the old one, so I don’t regret that, and it has more features and cool stuff. This blog has to be run separately, but it’s also much better–and I can run the feed on one of my website’s pages. It has features I’ve always wanted, like the ability to embed pictures with text. And WordPress isn’t as glitchy. I’ve had posts at my old place where the spaces between words disappear. That’s in the past now. I’m going to look to the future.

So change your bookmarks. Update your links. Visit my brand-new website, and let me know what you think.

Love, Michele

 

Creating Neal

mz-a-surrealneal3

In a romance novel, the characters are the plot. Their foibles and flaws, wants and needs, drive the action and the way the plot unfolds. For Surreal Neal, I had to come up with a man who was handsome enough to catch Drew and Sophia’s eyes, intriguing enough to keep their interest, and kinky enough to bring something to the table that had been missing.

The other challenge I faced was in making sure neither Drew nor Sophia felt like their relationship was deficient. I wanted the addition of Neal to improve upon what they already had. This is part of the journey Sophia and Drew take as they fall for this imperfect hero.

Neal had to be submissive and a bit of a masochist because Sophia is a Domme and a bit of a sadist. He also needed to be strong because Drew is attracted to strong personalities. He makes the pair work to earn his trust, his submission, and ultimately his heart. He is the first man with whom Sophia voluntarily shares the details of her violent past. He’s a mirror, someone who can help her view her own life through a new viewpoint. Ultimately, he takes her further in the healing process.

Neal is the also first man who awakens Drew’s inner Dom. Until now, Drew had been content to sit back and let Sophia handle the role of Dominant. As he explores this new part of himself, he also gets a chance to see his life and his actions through an alternate lens.

In bringing perspective to both Sophia and Drew, Neal helps them become better people. In turn, they show him that he can learn to trust and love again. That part of his life isn’t over. It’s just beginning.

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The Right Ingredients

One of the questions readers ask is how I come up with a particular storyline. As I read through Surreal Neal, working through edits after having put the manuscript aside for two months, I wondered the same thing. The story flowed, the characters leapt from the page, and some of the wording was quite beautiful–yet I didn’t remember writing it. I remember outlining the chapters. I remember relentlessly revising the outline as characters said and did things that revealed themselves in different ways than I’d originally planned. I remember making tea to sip while I wrote.

The journey of putting together a story at times becomes surreal. Getting into the characters takes the creative process to a new level. I started Surreal Neal months ago. I wrote 20,000 words and deleted most of them. Twice. It wasn’t working for me. Then I realized the problem: The characters needed to speak through me. I had to write the story in first person. Once I made that change, then the process became transformative. I became a vessel for Sophia, Neal, and Drew as I wrote each chapter.

I knew early on that I needed to add a permanent third to Sophia and Drew’s relationship. It seemed sad to continue on the path of having sex with a meaningless parade of people. Both of them deserved more. When I met Neal, I knew he was the man to take them to the next level. He was exactly who Sophia needed to help finalize her healing process, and he was the person who made Drew realize himself more fully as a Dominant. That twist surprised me too.

I had originally planned to continue inserting chapters from other Awakenings characters, but it detracted from the story, so I deleted the single one I ended up writing. It’s chapter 6.5, and it’s available for free download on my website.

Lastly, I had to move the subplot about Elysium along. Sophia, Neal, and Drew each needed to put their stamp on it, otherwise it wouldn’t quite be theirs.

Writing Surreal Neal was a joyful process, and I hope you very much enjoy this leg of their journey.

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Fun Facts about Sureal Neal

1. I took the title from a friend’s fake Neil Diamond cover band. (Funny story there: I was at work talking to another teacher. She commented on the fact that she hadn’t known our friend was a Neil Diamond fan. I said we both were huge fans–I’d skipped classes in college to score concert tickets, and he was in a Neil Diamond cover band. Later my friend came by laughing, said he’d corroborated my story by telling her the band was called Surreal Neil. The other teacher still doesn’t know it wasn’t true.)

2. Neal created himself. I originally had him there as a temporary fling character, but he turned out to be so much more.

3. The scene where Neal meets someone from his past and comes to terms with it was inserted when my beta readers demanded the topic be addressed. They really gave great advice.

4. Hanging On was originally written in 1st person, and I liked it a lot better that way. When I get the rights back, I’ll probably rewrite it back into 1st person before I re-release it. Surreal Neal only worked when I wrote in 1st person. When I submitted Surreal Neal to Siren, I put a note on it that said I wasn’t willing to change it to 3rd person, and that I’d understand if they didn’t want to publish it. They wanted it anyway.

5. The epilogue overlaps with the timeline where the Two Masters for Samantha sequel begins. In Their Hearts is due out from Siren in December 2013. Stay tuned–it’s very different from the first one.

6. While Sophia is loosely based on somebody I know, and Drew is an amalgam of Food Network chefs, Neal is completely my creation. Except his name–that came up in a Yahoo search. I didn’t read the article, but I liked the name, so I used it. I don’t remember what I was searching for…

7. I finally reached a point where I had to create a notebook to hold information on Awakenings characters. I officially have too many characters to keep in my head. It was getting a little crowded in there. (Surreal Neal is book #20 for me, but I’ve written 21, 22, and 23.)

Visit my new Website: http://www.michelezurloauthor.com

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