They actually said you couldn’t write?
What a wonderful lesson in the “if you don’t keep at it, you’re not getting published” department. You are a role model--and an awesome writer.
I love it that you don’t censor “Lacey”. That is hard not to do. I am very much looking forward to reading HER, too
Loved you over at Fanlit, love you still. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.
I already knew Toni, enjoyed her books - “Swept Away” is my favorite “Toni” book - and when I found out she also wrote as Lacey I was thrilled because I loved her LA books - I was already a fan. They are more erotic romance than pure erotica (which I don’t really care for) and they are fabulous. The thing that really makes the Lacey books work is the level of emotional connection between the characters. That’s what makes them super hot and really, really awesome.
(I have both “Voyeur” & “Tempt Me Tonight” and I can’t wait to read them. Sorry, I have to brag - it’s not often I can LOL.)
The cool thing is, both personas give women the chance to indulge in a little, or a lot of fantasy. They are smart, sexy, hot books that let women know it’s okay to fantasize, say, about Russell Crowe or Gerard Butler or whoever, and enjoy where it takes you
Thanx Toni, for writing these books. I think they are wonderful, and I think they are very positive about exploring a woman’s sexuality without being preachy or condescending. You keep writing, and I’ll keep buying
I am always impressed when authors can switch or double-up genres. Good for you! I think having “two” of you is terrific. I’ll be on the lookout for either one (or both) of you. I hope your previous publisher is happy eating crow!
I think it is great that you have “come out.” There is room for all kinds of books and erotica certainly is popular, especially when it is in the hands of a good writer. Do you really consider it porn? When I think of that I don’t imagine much story or characters or really any kind of emotional connection. It sounds like Lacey Alexander includes those things.
I’m also curious about your book Swept Away. It has the same title as the Madonna movie and they both take place on an deserted island. Any connection? Your book sounds a lot better than that movie.
Love your Toni Blake book Swept Away. Have not read Lacey yet, but I will.
Oh Toni, how exciting! A secret revelation right here on Squawk Radio! (And it’s SO much better than Kitty’s revelations about those torrid Vegas nights with Ed McMahon!)
I happen to know you’re a fabulous writer and I’m sure you could write just about anything you set your clever little mind to.
In a similar note, every editor who ever rejected me back when I first started out is no longer working in the business
Hi Toni! Glad your secret is out! Enjoy the success. It’s so well deserved for all of your hard work.
Wow, color me excited to sign on and find this warm welcome : ) HUGE thanks to the Squawk ladies for having me back, and for allowing me to use their wonderful venue to “out” myself ; )
Now to get into answering these great comments!
Hi Gillian! You’re such a sweetheart to say such nice stuff about me! Bless you! I loved hanging out at the Fanlit boards!
And yeah, sad but true, my editor at that previous publisher was very blunt and she just didn’t GET me. (I should add that it wasn’t her choice to buy my stuff in the first place - I was passed on to her by another editor.) There were a couple of times when she very distinctly told me I just wasn’t a very good writer, which leaves one sitting on the other end of the phone dying inside and not knowing WHAT the heck to say ; )
(Ack, when I submit, I’m seeing there’s a word limit, so ... to be continued)
(Part 2 of my first response ; ) )
I will admit that I hovered on that precipice of sort of believing her for a while - but deep down thinking, REALLY? Am I really THAT bad at the thing I’ve wanted to do since I was ten years old?
And for me, giving up just wasn’t really an option. Some people call that obsession ; ) So there’s a fine line on how healthy one’s determination is - but when it comes to writing, I think I’ll be doing it until I’m in the grave, whether or not there’s a career attached ; )
And about not censoring Lacey, that part IS hard. Now that I’m “out” I’ll be curious to see if I can continue in that vein. There is definitely a pronounced FREEDOM in having no one know who you are - makes it a lot easier to put really “out there” things on the page ; ) As long as the books continue to be well-recieved, though, hopefully that will inspire my continued non-censorship ; )
I’ll sign off this comment for now just to keep it from being a mile long but will be right back to answer more : ) (If my modem behaves. Darn thing just kicked me offline. But if you’re seeing this, it’s a good sign! ; ) )
Hey Stacy! You’re probably off to work by now, but thanks tons for stopping by early. Have I mentioned lately that you rock? (For the curious, Stacy is on a reader loop I take part in, and she really DOES rock : ) )
As we’ve discussed before, you and I SO see eye to eye on the fantasy thing. My goal as Lacey, in particular, is to encourage women to embrace their fantasies. Which, of course, does not mean go out and LIVE them ; ) but DOES mean accept that it’s okay to think about things that may seem very forbidden.
(Darn - word limit got me again. To be continued ...)
Still in response to Stacy’s comment:
Oh, and I also wanted to talk about erotic romance vs. erotica - the terms, I mean. I’ve determined that one woman’s erotica IS another woman’s erotic romance. Stacy is right - my Lacey books have plenty of emotion in them. I’d be bored to tears otherwise, I suspect ; ) But the reason I call it erotica is this: Whereas a Toni Blake book is primarily about romance (you could take the sex out and still have a story), the Lacey books are primarily about sex (if you took the sex out, you really WOULDN’T have a story - or at least not much of one anyway ; ) ) But I’m perfectly happy with whatever anyone wants to call the Lacey stuff : )
Thanks a TON for the nice words about SWEPT AWAY *and* the Lacey books, Stacy. Hmm, Lacey, Stacy - that rhymes ; )
[waves] hi toni!
I found out a couple weeks ago about your secret identity...to say I’m excited is an understatement...and I remember once a long time ago saying...I don’t read contemp...HAHAHA...and then it’s No. Elloras. Cave...cause frankly I know the financial damage that will do to me if I start...BUT DAMN! I’m gonna have to get me some of those Lacey books!
And can I say that (okay I haven’t read your erotica yet) but you do a non-erotic romance really really well! Usually there is always that undertone of crossing boundaries when a writer contributes to both genres, but not with your books! What a talent! You know I’m in awe of your writing!
And Only one month away from Tempt me Tonight! [coughs] I’ve pre-ordered it...LOL!
PS: I bet those people that said you couldn’t write are kickin’ themselves good and hard…
I don’t know what your editor was reading, it certainly couldn’t have been your work. Since I bought Swept Away it’s been so creased from my re-reading, it looks like it could permanently bend backwards. I love your style. I can’t wait for Tempt Me to come out. Betrayed lovers are so hard to read, but usually the most rewarding.
Thanks so much for continuing to write. And I don’t read erotica but since you write it I better check it out.
Hi Maggie - thanks so much for stopping by! Thanks, too, for keeping an eye out for my books - that’s mucho appreciated - along with your support for my “coming out” as Lacey ; )
And hello Avery : ) To answer your question, no, I don’t really think of it as porn - that was actually our intrepid Kitty’s word ; ) I DO, in many cases, though, think of it as “hard-core erotica.” The stuff that happens in the Lacey books is truly quite extreme at times ; )
Oh, and about the movie, Swept Away. Actually, I’ve never seen it, but my agent was telling me something about it because, like you, the setting of my book made her think of the movie (although I think there was an Italian pre-Madonna [not to be confused with prima donna ; )] version that she was actually thinking of). And when she said the title, it really hit home as being PERFECT for my book on so many levels, sot I decided to “borrow” it : )
More to come ... : )
More thoughts spurred from Avery’s comment:
I personally think the difference between porn and erotica is that porn lacks emotion. And as I’ve already touched upon, Lacey’s work is really VERY grounded in emotion : ) I think it’s Sylvia Day who has written out her own definitions of all the various terms at her website - erotic romance, erotica, porn, etc. - and it’s worth a look : )
Oh, and for anyone here who may have access to the Romance Writers of America’s magazine, the Romance Writers Report, it so happens that I have an article in the June issue about this very topic - the terms, what they mean to various people, why it matters, etc. : )
Thank you so much for stopping by to comment, Avery! I appreciate it!
Estella - thank you SO much for the kind words about SWEPT AWAY : ) I will admit that book was near and dear to me, so I’m always thrilled to hear someone enjoyed it : ) And thanks, too, for checking out Lacey : )
And Kay, thank you for stopping by and commenting : ) I appreciate the kudos : ) And, indeed, I’ve pretty much had to work my butt off to get where I am, but hey, MOST of us in this business can say that ; )
Thanks again, ladies : )
Hey Terri! Thanks for stopping in, and by the way, that’s a nice picture of you! : )
I am quite honored to have you say such lovely things about my writing, so thank you, thank you, thank you : )
Funny you should mention about those editors who rejected you. The editor who thought I couldn’t write ... recently left the biz. She may come back, I don’t know, but as of right now, I don’t believe she’s still editing.
And you know, I might add, on a strictly personal level, she and I got along fine. It was just professionally that we could NOT see eye to eye, and she simply did NOT get anything about my writing. I spent 4 years working with her and it was ... stressful. Looking back now, I think of it like Boot Camp. But it was a looonnnngggg Boot Camp ; )
Hey Tiffina! <waving hi back>
Thank you so much for the nice words about my work, and I appreciate you checking out the Lacey stuff. For what it’s worth, for anyone wanting to “dabble” in Lacey to see if it’s your cup of tea, I think VOYEUR is a good place to start. Or FRENCH QUARTER. Anyway, they’re my two personal fave Lacey books so far. Particularly in VOYEUR, I think the heroine is very “relatable” - as in, just an average chick like most of us ... who soon finds herself wrapped up in an erotic whirlwind of events she never expected : )
And thank you SO much for pre-ordering TEMPT ME TONIGHT. I’m quite excited about its release and I hope it will live up to the anticipation : )
So glad you gave contemporaries a chance : ) : )
Appleblossom, reading your message got me a little verklempt ; ) Seriously. To hear I’ve written a book worthy of re-reading ... <sigh> such are the things an author dreams of hearing : ) You totally made my day and I thank you : ) : ) And I hope you like TEMPT ME TONIGHT just as well : )
Happy “coming out”, Toni! I remember reading what was possibly your very first book (under a different Toni pseudonym), and I was blown away by the depth of characterization. Congratulations on your success as both Lacey and Toni--you deserve it!
I can’t wait to read that article in the June RWR, Toni! It’s always a fascinating debate and I know it brings out heated emotions in people but I love that we can discuss it openly.
Hey Heather - thanks for stopping by, and what a nice thing to say about one of my old Toni Blair books : ) Ah, I miss that pseudonym!
Which of course, brings up a story ; ) For those who don’t know my history, when I first sold in 1998, I chose the name Toni Blair to write under because Blair is my husband’s name. Sweet, right? ; ) But when I sold to Harlequin, they wouldn’t let me keep the name because by then, Tony Blair the Prime Minister had come along and been much more in the forefront of news, etc. So Toni Blair died and Toni Blake was born ; )
Thanks again for the nice comment, Heather : ) And I remember when YOU first e-mailed me about having written a book and I told you to come to our Ohio Valley RWA meeting - and look at you now : )
Terri, the article was really fun to write. I talked to a ton of authors and a few industry-related folks like Michelle Buonfiglio, John Charles of Booklist, and a couple of librarians, etc., and I got quite a cross section of interesting opinions. I also “outed” myself as Lacey in the article, too, since it was hard to express my opinions well without explaining why I thought I knew so much about it ; )
Just an FYI, gang - turns out I’m going to have to dash out for a couple of hours later this morning due to an emergency doctor appointment for my mom. (No worries, nothing tragic - just something unexpected and she needs me to drive her.) But I will return to the Squawk helm as soon as I can, hopefully by early this afternoon (EST.) And I’m not quite gone yet, so will be around a bit longer before I go : )
Hi Toni, congrats on Cosmo excerpting your book!
Hey Jenny! Thank you! I’m quite thrilled about that! That said, I’m not sure if the excerpt is truly representative of my writing, because it’s VERY condensed. But it’s FABULOUS exposure, and one of things I still can’t quite believe - that little ole me is going to be in Cosmo! : )
Well Toni, you really got me…not easy to do let me tell yah. But my mouth fell open in shock when I read:
“My editor had told me two devastating things, that I didn’t write sex well and that I just wasn’t a very good writer, period. (True story.)”
And then this:
“thee days after submitting the novel to EC, they bought it”
Congratulations Toni! What a great Roll Model you are for every writer who has been told “you don’t have what it takes.”
Hey Julie - thanks for your comment, and hey, glad I could inspire a good jaw drop ; ) And I have OTHER nightmarish tales of my early career that I haven’t even shared here, too ; )
So thank you, and yeah, I probably COULD be the poster child for perseverance in the publishing industry ; ) Although Role Model does have a nicer ring to it, so thank you for that : )
I always do preach perseverance for aspiring authors. Because when it comes down to it, most people give up. So if you don’t, your odds get a lot better : )
Thank you again : ) : )
Off to take my mom to the doctor now, but will return ...
Hi again Toni,
I have read your book Something Wild which I really enjoyed. I will definitely check out your Lacey books. As long as I care about the characters which means the emotions are there and there is a real story to tell I am interested. I guess it is off to the bookstore today.
I am relieved that the book and the movie are two separate things considering how bad that movie was. I’m really glad you stopped by today.
A coming out right here on Squawk Radio! Cool!
We’re so pleased to have you, Toni, and I’m grinning about your ex-editor—doncha love making her eat her words?
Your books sound wonderful—I’ll definitely be looking for them. Thanks so much for enduring Kitty and her...well…
I’ve said before and I’ll say again how much I enjoyed “Swept Away”. It was on my list of Christmas books that I wanted, so my husband, sweetie that he is, got ‘em all… and then proceeded to tease me no end that when he asked at the book store for it, he was told it was shelved under Erotica. I was pretty sure that, while it may be very sexy, it wasn’t what I would term erotica… nice to know that I was right… especially after having read it.
But I have to admit that my curiosity is aroused by what you’ve said about your Lacey Alexader titles… Now I’ll tell him I’ve got some books that I want for either Mother’s Day or my birthday! LOL
Does the old publisher still have a job?
I love your books and I’m looking forward to reading Lacey Alexander’s books too!
Hooray! Toni’s here! And she’s spilling secrets! Life just doesn’t get much better than that.
Welcome back, Toni!
Congrats on having the courage to come out and tell everyone about your different pseudonyms...that takes a lot of courage!
It’s good to hear that you are continuing writing even after your editor said those mean things to you...I love a good “subtle revenge” story!
I haven’t read any of your books, but I’m salivating to get my hands on a couple, now that I’ve heard about them! Good luck with these next few releases!
Wow, I have read some of your titles under Lacey Alexander and they were HOT! Congratulations on both of your stellar careers (well, it’s actually one, but you know what I mean).
Alright, I got half way through reading these and had to jump down to respond. Did you say Ohio Valley Chapter? I grew up in the Ohio Valley! How about that?
I had never read anything in this genre until I picked up a Lora Leigh this weekend and I’m thinking I might be hooked. I’m so glad now I have a go-to author to search for. Well, two or three now with Lora and now Toni and Lacey… I do believe there will be another trip to the bookstore this weekend.
Whoohoo! Now I am going to have to check out this Ellora’s Cave I keep hearing so much about.
I love your writing! Swept Away and The Red Diary are two of my favorite books! You are right, in that your books as Toni are very sensual and emotionally compelling. I’ve read some of your work as Lacey Alexander, and I had no idea that was you. I’m even more impressed if that’s possible. I can’t wait for Tempt Me Tonight to be released. Lucky Stacy, I’m so jealous lol!
Hey ladies : ) Thanks for your patience while I was away. Turned into a three and a half hour thing, but I’m just glad to be home : )
So back to the comments.
Thanks to everyone who has said such nice things about my books : ) You guys are just making my day, I tell you : )
And an additional thanks to everyone who’s so kindly said they’re going to look for books by one or both of me ; )
Christina, I couldn’t think of a better place to do my coming out than at Squawk, and I SO appreciate you guys having me back for that : )
And as for Kitty, Eloisa, well ... let’s just say I’m speechless ; )
Hi Kathy K : ) I had to let out a big sigh when I reached the part about SWEPT AWAY being shelved in erotica. I mean, I think now we all know I have NOTHING against erotica, but my Toni books SO don’t belong there, and I’m glad you agree : )
In Part 2 of the interview, which I think will probably get posted pretty soon, I sort of lightly allude to that situation, which, after TEMPT ME TONIGHT, will be rectified, I’m happy to say : )
Glad your husband didn’t mind venturing into the erotica shelves to find my Toni book. And hey, guess it was good training for him since it sounds like he might have to go back there hunting for Lacey books now, too ; )
Although ... last night in my local Borders VOYEUR was in romance. So ... who knows? ; )
Either way, thank you VERY much for putting my books on your gift lists : ) : )
Hey Avery - thanks for checking back in. Nope, no relation between that movie and my book other than the nice title : )
And thanks for the nice words about SOMETHING WILD. Nice to hear since that was written in the days when I was being told what a bad writer I was ; )
Susan C - hi : )
Does the old editor have a job? I actually have no idea, but I have not heard about her re-entering the publishing industry. That said, it could still happen ; )
Thank you so much for the nice comment about my books, and also for your interest in checking out a Lacey book : ) : ) Mucho appreciated : )
And hey, there’s my buddy Elizabeth Bevarly peeking her head in! Despite all the bad things Kitty told me about Liz, I happen to know she’s really quite a peach : )
Hi Kay, and thanks a bunch for stopping in to comment : ) I really appreciate your statement about it taking courage to “come out,” because you know what? It actually really DID take some courage.
It’s gone so well that in a way I now feel silly for worrying over it and having put it off, but having a “secret identity” did sort of build a little safe wall around my Lacey books. For instance, if Lacey got a bad review, I could shake it off easier for some reason, because no one knew who she was and she seemed sort of ... not real in a way, you know? But now that she’s me, that makes her a lot more real - and it’s a change in mindset for me as I move forward with the Lacey work.
(comment to be continued - ran out of room)
(cont. from my last post.)
And as an aside, Lacey (and Toni, too) has a MySpace page. Lacey’s age on the MySpace page is 28. Now, I’m not REALLY 28, but because Lacey has always been sort of fictitious feeling to me, I decided she could be whatever age she wanted to be - and 28 was a good year, as I recall ; )
But now that I’m “out” I’m feeling as I should change the age listing, as if it looks to anyone who knows the real me like I’m trying to pull a fast one ; )
Oh, and that reminds me, anyone who has a MySpace page and would like to friend one or both of me, please do : )
Kay, I also wanted to thank you in advance for checking out some of my books : ) : )
And lilyfleur, thanks, too - it’s so fun to hear you’ve already been reading some Lacey titles : )
Terrri O - thank you so much, as well, for making me a go-to author - just like that : ) I sincerely appreciate you trying my books on for size.
And yep, Ohio Valley! I actually living in northern K-Y, but I’m just about 5 minutes from the river, so I consider myself both a Kentuckian AND a Cincinnatian ; )
Hi Zara! What a NICE message : ) Thank you so much!!
And it’s nice to hear that, having read both of me, you’re surprised about it. I’ve always wondered if my same general “voice” is noticable in both sets of work, and it’s kind of fun to hear that maybe it’s not : )
And thanks a TON for looking forward to TEMPT ME TONIGHT : ) : )
Stacy actually won an ARC from me on that reader loop I mentioned she and I both on. And she’s such a sweetie, she even popped the cover up on her blog to help me “advertise” a little : )
Thank you for stopping by, and again, thanks for your lovely message : )
Hi Toni, I started looking for your books when Julie Anne Long recommended you in her web site. I’ve enjoyed every single one. I’m so glad you’ve got some new titles coming . By the way my Borders also has VOYEUR with the Romance novels. That’s fine with me, makes it easier to find!
Toni, Congrats on the new Lacey novel that launched today. I have to go check it out. It sounds like a good book.
And oh, the stalkers...yeah, when I posted something on Literotica.com the feedback I got was from some very interesting men to say the least. Luckily, I don’t use my personal email for feedback on the website. I created a different account from that. Basically I can tell from one feedback email if it’s worth replying or not.
Hey ivonegg : ) Thanks for stopping by. Ah, my dear Julie recommended me : ) I’ll have to thank her for that! And I’m so glad you felt the recommendation paid off : )
And really, I don’t mind at all the Lacey books being in romance. As long as they don’t shock any mild-mannered romance readers too much. But, at least in the case of VOYEUR, I’m thinking the title and cover should tip people off to some degree ; )
The cover, by the way, will - I think - be posted with the second half of the interview for the curious. It’s pretty hot : )
Hey Mrs. U : ) Didn’t I just chat with you on Running With Quills the other day? : ) Thanks much for the congrats and I appreciate you checking out VOYEUR!
And thanks for sharing my worries over stalkers. Lacey has only gotten weird e-mails from creepy men a few times, but it was a few too many, if ya know what I’m sayin’ ; ) Plus I had a stalker or two in my youth - not the threatening kind, but the kind that really did scare me by following me around and finding me no matter WHERE I went - and it’s pretty freaky. Not an event I ever hope to repeat ; )
Thanks for visiting with me today : )
Congrats on your new release. Loved swept away and look forward to reading your new Lacey novel.
Hey Ellie - thanks for stopping in, and so glad to hear you enjoyed SWEPT AWAY : ) : ) I appreciate you checking out the new book : )
Hey Toni! Welcome to the hen house! Sounds like you are getting great reactions from your Lacey books. I love the Toni Blake books and been reading them for a while now but going to buy my first Lacey book soon. I’ve been checking out your Lacey Alexander site and keep going back to the Santa book. Yum. Put him under my tree anytime.
Enjoy your time here at the hen house. As you know the girls here are awesome!
Hey Deb! Always good to bump into online - or in person, too : ) Thanks in advance for checking out the Lacey stuff - I’ll be curious to hear what you think ; )
And awesome is a totally appropriate adjective for the ladies here!
As for the Santa book, that was my very first release at EC, way back in December 2003! Ah, feeling a little sentimental now ; ) Actually, I wrote FRENCH QUARTER first and sold it, and they invited me to write a holiday “quickie,” as we ECers like to call our shorter projects ; )
Toni, I just want to say that it is a real joy to see you here at Squawk Radio! I read IN YOUR WILDEST DREAMS a couple of years back and it was one of the most poignant and best written contemporary romances I have ever read. I think it has a special meaning, too, having captured the spirit of New Orleans as it once was (and will be again someday.) Anyway, I hope you know that in addition to your legions of female fans you have at least one male fan too!
Hi Larry - wow, thanks for stopping by. I will admit I seldom hear from male readers, so this is cool!
Thank you so much for the kind words about IN YOUR WILDEST DREAMS. Although I had visited New Orleans a number of times before writing the book, I went there specifically for research in 2004, and the book was released in July ‘05, just weeks before Katrina. It was strange, as a visitor who had come to feel pretty connected with the place, to watch what was happening on TV. And I was in touch with a tour guide and boat captain with deep roots in the area who had helped with my research, and they both e-mailed to tell me they’d lost almost everything. It was so sad just from a distance that it’s hard to imagine having been a direct part of it all.
I’m so pleased to hear you feel my book “captured the spirit” of the city. I will admit that the book has a special place in my heart : )
Thanks again for stopping by and sharing such a nice compliment : )