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Another Dear Sir, I’m Yours Review!

I’ve met so many awesome people on Twitter.  Through Pearl, I’ve connected with several terrific readers associated with Realms on Our Bookshelves. Pearl gave a wonderful, thorough review of Dear Sir, I’m Yours:

The way Joely Sue Burkhart build up the story and characters with their struggles, angst and insecurities did not take away from the intensity or hotness of the love scenes. They were spine tingling and arousing. For me it was erotic romance as it is suppose to be: classy, erotic and emotionally intense.

With DEAR SIR, I’M YOURS, a story of love, sexual discovery and most importantly trust, Joely Sue Burkhart has put herself on my reading map and I am ready for the next story that comes out of her pen (or keyboard).

Read her entire review here.  Thank you so much, Pearl!  I don’t know that Mason will get his own book — right now, I’m concentrating on Conn’s older brother, Victor, but who knows!

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More Dear Sir, I’m Yours Reviews

First, the good, from the Long and Short of It, 4.5 Cherries:

Dear Sir, I’m Yours is a revisit to the sweetness of first love, carnal discovery, and a delicious taste of erotic dom games as Con[n] teaches Rae how to trust enough to let herself fall in love (with him of course).

This is a great story to curl up and enjoy. I will recommend Dear Sir, I’m Yours, to my friends and am looking forward to reading the next book that Ms. Burkhart writes.

Read the entire review here.  Thank you, Zinnia!

Now, the bad and ugly rolled up into one from Joan/SarahF at Dear Author.  I wasn’t going to post a link to it, but everybody’s probably already read it anyway.

I had a lot of professors in college.  Some of them lectured:  e.g. at the board, back to the classroom, writing on the board and never interacting with their students.  They didn’t care whether the students sank or swam.  On the other hand, I also had some wonderful professors who managed to lecture–and TEACH at the same time.  So my use of teach was deliberate to help show what kind of professor Conn really is.

And hey, he only quotes Shakespeare once through the whole book, and Shelley, Byron, and Blake dozens of times.  Hell, even I can quote Shakespeare and I was only an English minor.  I was only a math grad student, but even though my speciality was Applied Math, I could and did teach Trig, Calc I, Calc II, and Calc III.  I should have also been able to solve a differential equation, or my professors would have kicked me out of Geek Hall.  So I think it’s safe to say that Conn could probably quote a little Shakespeare.

Anyway, here’s the best part of the review:

“…you made a blowjob incredibly hot. Conn’s “ultimate act of domination,” “his trigger,” is having Rae give him a blowjob, and when she finally does it, it is, indeed, incredibly hot. In fact, the sex is pretty amazing the whole time.”

Thank you, Joah/SarahF, and I’m sorry the book didn’t work better for you.

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Dear Sir, I’m Yours Review

From Fallen Angel Reviews, 5 Angels:

…this book is a testament to the writing skill of its author. Joely Sue Burkhart takes us deep into the psyches of two people whose relationship is defined by elements of submission and dominance. Fans of character-driven BDSM books will find plenty to like about Ms. Burkhart’s novel.

Read the entire review here.  Thank you, Jazlyn!

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Mrs Giggles Reviews Dear Sir, I’m Yours

I’m thrilled to death with a score of 84!  Mrs. Giggles says:

The most memorable parts of this story are the letters to Conn that Rae had written but never sent to Conn. These notes are a beautiful showcase of Ms Burkhart’s way with words – elegant, heartbreaking, without being too overwrought or melodramatic – as well as a fascinating doorway into Rae’s head. These letters present a clear and often haunting story of Rae’s in the last five years, and through these letters, I get to feel as if Rae is real indeed to me.

You can read the entire review here.  Thank you, Mrs. G!

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News & Thanks

First, thank you to everyone who helped make this a great week for Dear Sir, I’m Yours!  I’m stunned and honored to see Dear Sir in the #1 bestseller slot at My Bookstore & More.  I hope you’re enjoying it!

Second, I have news.  If you were at the Drollerie Press chat last night, you know this already.  The Rose of Shanhasson is coming to PRINT this November, along with Confessions of the Creature and two others (sorry, I can’t remember them off the top of my head — some of our earlier releases).  As we get closer and details are firmed, I’ll update Rose’s page.  I’m so excited I can hardly sit still!

Watch the DP Bookshop for several new releases coming today or this weekend, including Needles & Bones, a fantastic looking anthology I can’t wait to get my hands on.

Lastly, the Drollerie Press blog tour will be this weekend, too.  In honor of Father’s Day, Isabella Thanatos (Beautiful Death) has a few choice words to say about her father (monster! murderer! bastard!)  Oops, maybe she’ll talk about Icarus instead.  He’s the father she wished she had.

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Dear Sir, I’m Yours: Behind the Scenes with Color

“White is virginal innocence, which brings out all my wickedness and debauchery. To a man like me, it’s like waving the white flag of surrender. I see you pure and innocent in white and I can think of nothing else but all the ways I might be able to get that pretty white a bit dirty.” ~ Conn

Maybe it’s just me, but if an author mentions a specific detail about a character in the story, I (as a reader) want it to mean something.  I don’t want to know about their favorite color, what books they read, where they work, etc. if it has no impact on WHO this character is.  So maybe it’s a foible of mine to make color so important to a story.

I’ve always assigned meaning to color.  I carefully select a color theme for each story BEFORE I begin writing.  I have to have a matching notebook for the story.  The pattern or color end up signaling to my brain which story I’m working on. 

For example, there’s a reason the blog is mostly black:  it’s in honor of Johnny Cash’s Man In Black.  But it also stands for the darkness I typically include, whether shadows, old hurts, or dark emotions.  I’ve always been intrigued with the Dark Side. 

In Dear Sir, I’m Yours, colors take on some subtle meanings.  Miss Belle could never have a parasol in any color other than pink.  It would violate her character.  Conn would never have a Mustang in any other color than black, and as you can see from the quote above, he loves to see Rae in white.

When I filled out the questionaire for the cover, I emphasized the importance of white and black.  I never mentioned that Rae’s favorite color is cherry red.  We went through a couple of different design ideas, and then Scott sent this one and I almost fell out of my chair.  All that glorious red.  I hadn’t asked for it, but it couldn’t have been any better for the story.

After all, this story is all about Rae.  Her preferences, her fears, her desires.  Conn would want her to have a red cover.

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Dear Sir, I’m Yours Review

The first review is in!  Soleil says:

Seriously, if there is a cover art fairy, she’s hoarding it. Or maybe just blessed by it. Hell, if I were a cover art fairy I’d hang around Joely too, she writes some of the most emotionally gut-wrenching stories I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

Dear Sir, I’m Yours is a red hot contemporary romance with depth and some wickedly awesome characters. Passionate does not even begin to describe it. You might want to have a fan near by for this one, or schedule in a cold shower afterwards.

You can read the whole review here

*hoards cover art fairy*

Thanks to Scott for an incredible cover, and thank you to Soleil for a terrific review!

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Dear Sir, I’m Yours: Behind the Story

When I write, every story ends up with a theme song, sometimes several.  They help me set the story in my mind, and they definitely make it easier for me to switch mental gears from one story to another, especially when one is “red hot contemporary romance” and the other is “dark fantasy.”  Some characters even end up with their own theme songs, or a particular song will help me write through the dark moment or climax of a story.

For Dear Sir, I’m Yours I had several theme songs on my playlist.

The first and main song is Austin by Blake Shelton.  If you’re not familiar with the song, it’s about a woman who left about a year ago (without leaving her number), but decides to call her old boyfriend.  She listens to this incredibly long voice message, and at the very end, he says “P.S. if this is Austin, I still love you.”  She gives it a few days and calls him again, just to see if it was an old message he forgot about — because surely he couldn’t still love her, couldn’t still be waiting for her after all this time.  She’d left him, with no number, certainly no promises that she’d ever come back.  Sure enough, this is a new message, and at the very end, he says the same thing.  I still love you.

That really really got to me.  If Rae had ever picked up the phone and called Conn, whether a month or a year or several years later, he would have jumped in that Mustang and driven cross country to reach her.  He still loved her that much.  In Rae’s case, she’s been writing him constantly, all these years, even while married to another man.  She loves him, but she can’t pick up the phone.  Surely she couldn’t have loved him that much, just after one semester of poetry.  Surely she hadn’t needed him that much.  It had to be all in her head.  But why can’t she stop writing him?  Why does she still remember his office phone number; why does she still dream about calling him?  (Hint: read the book to find out ha!)

Hello Darlin’ by Conway Twitty started on my playlist but then I quit needing to listen to it once Conn found his voice.

Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy by Big & Rich always gets my blood pumping to write a Connagher.  (Dies, I almost typed “ride” a Connagher.  Talk about a Freudian slip.)

Hell Yeah by Montgomery Gentry, another fun blood pumping country song.  Yeah, I’m showing my country “hick” roots, aren’t I?  Actually, this is the only book I’ve written to country music.  It just fits the down-home atmosphere of Beulah Land and Conn’s Texan upbringing.

Finally, this might seem like an odd song choice, but Before He Cheats by Carrie Underwood ended up on my playlist late in the game.  I couldn’t figure out why.  Conn certainly would never cheat on Rae or vice versa now that they were trying to “make things right”, but my gut insisted this song needed to be there.  By the end (next to last chapter, I believe) you’ll see why my Muse insisted this song had to be on this playlist.  Laughs.  I was totally surprised by that one.

Now you’ve probably got song lyrics stuck in your head!  Next up, I’ll talk about colors in Dear Sir.

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Dear Sir, I’m Yours: Behind the Story

If you’ve read the excerpt or the free read prequel, then you know that “letters” play a huge part in Dear Sir, I’m Yours.  Where did that idea come from, you ask?

Part of my character development process usually involves writing some kind of “first person” letter or snippet in the character’s voice that takes place before the story.  It helps me figure out how this character talks and thinks, as well as explore some of the defining moments that shaped the character right before the story.  Very early in trying to figure out who Rae was and what she needed to accomplish in the story, I stumbled across a comment on fellow Drollerie Press author, Cindy Lynn Speer’s blog.  (Sorry, I can’t find it now–it was probably in 2008)  It was about writing letters, and pouring out hopes and dreams into words, very melancholy and “lost love.”  It made me sad, but touched me, too.

So when I started writing Rae’s character letters, I made a tiny change to my process.  She specifically wrote her letter to Dr. Connagher, the hero of the story.  I never intended to put those letters into the story itself — they were just to help me deepen who she was and what she feared.

However, the letters soon took on a life of their own.  They were so raw, heartfelt, open and honest, very rarely politically correct or “safe.”  I had to decide why Rae would write those letters to him in the first place and why she’d never mail them, even after she left.  Soon those letters were defining HIS character, too, changing my perception of him as a professor and as a man.  Every defining moment in her life, from that dark, erotic day in his office, to leaving campus, to her dating and eventually marrying someone else, only to suffer through an unhappy marriage and divorce…the letters eventually led her back to Conn.

Once I realized how important they were, I had to make the letters play a definite part in the story.  I mean, why include the letters, even as “glimpses” into her past, if they weren’t absolutely crucial to the story and how Conn and Rae would “make things right?”  So the letters went on to affect the plot itself.  In the dark moment, the only thing Conn has left:  her letters that she wrote him.

Five years of letters.  Five years of heartache, anger, grief, need, and yes, love.

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Dear Sir, I’m Yours Releases

Today’s the big day!  Dear Sir, I’m Yours is available at Samhain Publishing here!

So here’s a little “Story Behind the Story” post.

It all started with a photograph of Clive Owen.  My friend and accountability partner, Jenna, sent me a picture.  She was using it as inspiration for a short story she was working on, and she thought I might like it too.  Her story was for a spanking-themed anthology and she said something like, “My heroine hasn’t ever been into spanking, but she looks at him and says, if he asked, why not.”

I took one look at him and recognized him.  Clive Owen didn’t look back at me.  It was Conn.

I’d started a draft back in 2004 with an English professor named Dr. Connagher, but I’d never finished it and had no plans to do so, until I saw that picture.  My entire perception of Conn changed forever.  Because my friend had dropped that little comment about spanking, it was attached to him and his picture, and I couldn’t shake it.  What kind of professor would he be, then?  What kind of heroine did he need?

The rest is history.

So when I personally think of Conn, this is who I see. 

Dr. Connagher