Monday, September 7, 2015

A Letter to our Readers

Dear Reader,

We hope that you enjoyed Sculpting Anna. Some readers have written to ask us about the future for Lexy, Anna, Jennifer, and Andy. Well, there might just be a sequel in the works. So, stay tuned! 

Our next project, due to be published by Bella Books in the summer of 2016, is a romantic thriller, called Ruthless. Ruthless is the story of Jacks, an ex-cop private investigator, hired to track down a missing Southampton heiress, Cassandra “Cassie” Wainright. Mix in a sexy, horse-riding, knife-throwing womanizer named Sahar, a corrupt pharmaceutical company, a lot of twists and turns, and of course a steamy romance, and that's the book in a nutshell.

We love to hear from readers! In fact, we’re thinking of you when we develop our characters, plan our plots, and craft our stories. So, please tell us what you liked, what you loved, and even what you hated. We’d love to hear from you! You can write us at and/or visit us on the web at

Lastly, we’d like to ask you for a favor. If you’re so inclined, we’d love a review of Sculpting Anna. As you may have gleaned from the lesbian romance novels for sale on Amazon, reviews can be tough to come by, which is disappointing since honest reviews can really help other readers find the books that will speak to them—books that will satisfy or entertain them. 

To post a review of Sculpting Anna on Amazon, go to the book page, scroll down to the Customer Reviews section, and select “Write a customer review.” You don't need to have purchased the book through Amazon to write a review. You just need an Amazon account.

To post a review on Goodreads, navigate to the book page and select the number of stars you would like to assign as your rating. Then, you'll be given the option to write a review.

Thank you so very much for reading Sculpting Anna and for spending time with our characters and with us!

In gratitude,

Venus Reising

Sitting at the Adult Table

D and I read Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series and loved the fact that there were several different relationships and plotlines--a bouquet of mini subplots--that shared little in common except for the fact that they all originated in Mrs. Madrigal's house at 28 Barbary Lane. So before we'd even typed a word of Sculpting Anna, we decided that we'd try to do something similar--weave together multiple plots that share the same soil and perhaps a bit of sun but little else--each having a life of its own. And yes, we knew that this was dangerous territory we were entering. We wouldn't be, as lesbian novelist Cari Hunter so eloquently said, "toeing the lesfic line." Many of the heavy hitters in the world of lesbian romance have ventured into the murky waters of unconventional plots, and quite a few of them have been successful at it. But let's face it, we weren't heavy hitters. We were guppies. No, we were tadpoles praying that we didn't get sucked into the pool filter (a little Florida humor). And this book was our very first conversation with readers.

Can you remember the first time you were granted the privilege of sitting at the adult table on Thanksgiving? Like me, you were probably told to "be quiet and polite and pick your silverware--salad fork, dessert fork, etc.-- by watching what everyone else does." Well, D and I didn't do that. We just wrote a story that we think we'd enjoy and fervently prayed that we're not the only ones.

Sculpting is out there now on people's nightstands--the place their owner's eyes closed marked with a napkin, a torn magazine page, or, if they're like me, some random receipt they found in the pocket of their jeans while separating the laundry. And we're anxiously waiting to hear what those readers think and whether they'll invite us back to the adult table next year, even if we might use the wrong spoon for the soup, laugh a little too loudly, and drop some gravy on our blouse or mashed potato on the floor. I mean, the dog will get it, right?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Magical "Bufferfly"

So I'm sitting in the Toyota service waiting area for the beginning of *apparently* a two-hour marathon of annoying commercials singing the praises of the newer model cars that I don't have but find that I suddenly want as I wait for my airbag to be repaired so that it doesn' me. And I can't help but watch as countless technicians with their Toyota-branded red polos tucked neatly into their pressed chinos tell unsuspecting customers that the x, y, and z in their vehicles need to be replaced for a *gulp* obscene amount of money. And if they don't sign on the dotted line and hand over their plastic, the smiling, neatly tucked technician explains, they will likely get stranded in the middle of the highway, be subsequently run over by some semi tractor trailer, and have to be scraped off the pavement like a salted slug. 

Thirty eight minutes and I'm growing anxious ... worried that every red and tan clone with a name tag is coming to tell me that my 84,000-mile hunk of junk needs repairs that will require a second...or even a third mortgage. "B...but..." I imagine myself saying through a quivering lip and chin. "I just came in for the recall."

"It's imperative," he will say, his voice confident, his brow furrowed in fatherly concern, "for your safety." And whatever defenses I have will crumble faster than a sand castle in a tornado.

-----twenty minutes later----

Miguel, the clone assigned to me, just left. The diagnosis? A cracked drive belt, a leaking water pump, a dying battery... And what little I had (or expected to have) in my bank account has magically vanished. <poof> Did you know there were live magic shows in the Toyota dealership waiting room? Me neither. After the disappearing bank account trick, perhaps Miguel will pull a rabbit out of the fly of his chinos or turn a Camry into a flock of canaries.

Alas...I am defeated. Broke, tired, and hating Miguel. Of course I realize that my anger is misdirected, but I hate him and his rabbit filled chinos nonetheless. I'm not proud.

And here I sit drinking complimentary coffee and suppressing the urge to pull a Michael Douglas in Falling Down when this little girl -- imagine pigtails, sun freckles, and a Hello Kitty Band-Aid on her tiny sandaled foot -- seated two seats to my right suddenly says, "Did you see my bufferfly?" She holds up a crayon drawing with more colors than I remember existing in the largest box -- the one with the sharpener on the back.

"That's beautiful!" I say, and she flashes me an impressive toothy grin that instantly melts my anger and fills me with joy.

Like magic.  

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Enter for a Chance to Win an Autographed Copy of Sculpting Anna!

Halloween Book Giveaway

Enter this Goodreads book giveaway contest for a chance to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Sculpting Anna!

The giveaway will open on August 16 and close on October 31. The winner will be selected by Goodreads at random. Good luck!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Sculpting Anna by Venus Reising

Sculpting Anna

by Venus Reising

Giveaway ends October 31, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Riding the Roller Coaster toward Book Release

So it's book release month...

The thought that people will soon be reading Sculpting Anna is at once exhilarating and absolutely terrifying. As soon as I flipped the calendar page to August, my stomach filled with that roller coaster feeling of slowly chugging along toward what you suspect is the drop off, although you can't know when the floor is actually going to be yanked out from under you or even see what is on the other side. All you can see is blue sky up ahead. So each day, my cart inches toward the precipice at a painfully slow and agonizing rate, and my fingers tighten around the safety bar.

D's in the cart with me, of course, but, unlike me, she's got her hands up in the air, her seat belt unlatched, and a wide and silly grin plastered on her face. She's ready to fly. She's fearless. And I'm just slightly, perhaps manically, panicked. Yes, I'm that rider. You know the one--with her eyes shut tightly, her knuckles white from squeezing the bar, and her brain racing with questions like When was the last safety inspection of this coaster? or Will being flown from the seat and falling seven stories to my death meet the life insurance company's criteria for accidental death benefits?

But, regardless, we can't stop it now. There's no getting off. We just have to wait for gravity to do her thing.

Look at what was waiting for me when I arrived home from work today!

And we're off...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Oh, so not a real book? Not a real college?

Not a real college?

I feel fortunate to work at a community college, where the majority of my colleagues not only consider themselves teachers, but announce that fact proudly. Ask a university professor what she/he does for a living, and she/he will invariably say "I'm a biologist," "chemist," "architect", etc. But not a teacher. 

Contrary to popular belief, the community college is not the step-child of higher education. Teaching at a community college wasn't my consolation prize for failing to have made it into the Ivory Tower. Like many of my colleagues, I was called to the community college because I believe in its democratizing mission--the notion that all individuals "should have the opportunity to rise to their greatest potential" (Cohen and Brawer, 2003, p. 10), that education should be made available to anyone who has the desire to learn. And to that end, community colleges remove their doors from the hinges and invite everyone in.

Yet, whenever I travel to conferences and answer the question of where I work, my university brethren give me that look--that "Oh, so not a real college" look.

It struck me this past weekend as I studied the slightly down-turned mouth of a Boston University professor who, with a hint of disdain, asked, "Is that a junior college?" -- that it's the very same look I face when I tell people that we wrote a lesbian romantic thriller.

"Oh, so not a real book," they say.

Not a real book?

The publishers of lesbian fiction give voice to the historically ignored. For decades, they have challenged the media's distorted portrayal of gays and lesbians as ungodly, sick, and perverted monsters. They have spun a new narrative of lesbians and of lesbian relationships that is positive and healthy.

When I was eighteen, I worked in a bookstore, in which the gay and lesbian section (notably one shelf at the time) was positioned just next to the Women's Studies section. Those shelves were mighty orderly during my tenure at the bookstore as I spent a whole lot of time there--pretending to peruse the Women's Studies books while surreptitiously reading the back covers of the lesbian novels when no one was looking. Like many small town lesbians in the early nineties, I was terrified to be gay because there were no images of happy, well-adjusted lesbians in loving relationships on television, in the movies, on the radio, or in mainstream books. In fact, gays and lesbians were regularly paraded on talk shows as freaks and given cameos in movies as demented, obsessed, killer roommates. So when I found those lesbian novels on that shelf, I cherished them. They gave me hope and they encouraged me to be who I was--no matter the consequences.

So, yeah, I write lesbian books.

I'm proud to be a writer of lesbian novels. In fact, it is as much a source of pride as being a teacher at a community college.

So, to you Mr. Stuffy Boston University Professor with the elbow patches, I say, community colleges are not only real colleges but they are vehicles for social change, and they are, in my opinion, staffed by the best damn teachers in higher education. They are colleges with heart--colleges with a conscience.

And to you Literature Elitists, I say, lesbian romances, thrillers, and mysteries are real books -- real books that have inspired and will continue to inspire social change, equity, and pride in one's community.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Book from Start to (almost) Finish

Imagine D and me floating in the pool, some fruity mixed drinks in our hands. I'm rattling on about some great lesbian suspense novel I recently read and D is only half-listening to me and playing with our pup, Maddie (AKA Maddie Bear, Pumpkin, Bear-bear)--holding her ring just out of reach so that she has to leap out of the water, Jaws-style, to grab it in her teeth.


And then D nonchalantly says, "Why don't we write one?" She just threw the question out there as if it were some comment about the weather or sunblock or needing an oil change.

And the idea was born.

Fast forward two months and D and I are plotting faster than I can type, shouting things like "Wouldn't it be great if...!" After a few months of some feverish writing, we have a complete draft.

We send it out to a very small press publisher and we get back a two-page email rejection--one of those really great rejections that encourage the author to fix some things and send it back. At the time, I didn't realize that there were different levels of rejections, so I just threw that one in the drawer with all of the poetry rejections I'd received through the years, thinking that our dream of publishing was a no-go.

So, life went on. I finished my doctorate, which kept me really busy with boring academic "scholarly" stuff, and D returned to school to pursue medicine (even more boring academic scholarly stuff--but with chemistry). And we forgot about the manuscript.

A couple years later, I unearthed that really great rejection. And having some time on my hands--post doctorate, I went to work on the manuscript, revising it in the ways that the publisher requested. By the time I was ready to send the now much-improved manuscript out again, though, the publishing house had closed. Damn!

So, as I was preparing to send it to the really small presses (you know the ones in the back of someone's van), D stopped me. "The publisher you most respect, send it to that one," she said. "And then work your way down the list." Occasionally, she can be very Spock-like logical, despite her artsy, creative self. The publisher was a no-brainer as my bookshelves were overflowing with Bella Books authors. My absolute favorites were (and still are) Karin Kallmaker, KG MacGregor, and Gerri Hill.

Following the Bella Books submission guidelines, D and I made some more revisions, adjusted the formatting of the manuscript, and sent it out (with fingers crossed). Then we waited. And we waited some more--for what we thought was going to be a "Thank you for your submission but your manuscript doesn't meet our present needs" or something equally devastating. Only it wasn't. We got another one of those fantastic rejections, telling us that they liked our story and would be happy to reconsider it after some revisions. And guess whose name was on the letter? Karin Kallmaker, the editorial director of Bella Books. I almost fainted on the spot. Well, we weren't going to make the same mistake twice so we immediately went to work on the revisions and turned it around in less than a week. And then we waited some more.

Fast forward three months and there's an email in my inbox from Karin Kallmaker (dear god!) asking if she could contact me by phone to discuss the manuscript. I, of course, had to be revived with paddles (it's a good thing D's studying medicine).

A few days later, the Karin Kallmaker called me (on my cell)! And I tried very hard to not sound like a giggling teenager completely infatuated with the woman on the other end of the line. Perhaps one day she'll tell me if I succeeded. :)

'So where are we now?' you ask. Well, we've worked with a fabulous editor--knowledgeable, experienced, smart, funny, and as nice as can be--the magical Medora MacDougall--who helped us to smooth out some of our rough edges and beautify the manuscript for Bella and the readers. And here we sit--with an August book release date looming large on the horizon.

The moral of this story is if you're floating in a pool right now talking excitedly about a book you just read and someone casually says, "You should write one," you should listen. Seriously. Write one. Write a good one. And send it out into the world.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Now Available for Pre-Order

Sculpting Anna (Bella Books, August 2015)

We couldn't be more excited to announce that our first book, Sculpting Anna, is available for pre-order on various bookseller sites online. Thanks to the very talented Bella Books marketing department, we have a tantalizing book description and cover:

She had to say no the first time…

After enduring a soul-crushing loss, professor Lexy Strayer might be ready to love again, but it will not be one of her students. When sexy, flirtatious Anna Stevens proves too appealing, Lexy has no choice but to firmly rebuff her advances.

Novelist Jennifer Gardiner warned Lexy—students are trouble. She’d distract her friend, but she’s far too busy with the delicious Andrea Cole, who proves to be very quick at mastering private lessons.

When Jennifer’s exes start to turn up dead in ways that copy her novels, Lexy is shocked by what she discovers about her friend…and her new lover. Was she crazy to turn away the promise that Anna offered? Can they find a second chance?