The 51st Shade – Gray Interviewed by Chris McC

I was offered this opportunity to interview one of my characters…any of them, really.  Quite unique to interview your own creation, really…in a sense it is like interviewing your own child, just a bit wackier.

So, I first picked the coffee shop where I would do it.  I picked a quaint little place…no, not a chain…in an area of Toronto called Yorkdale.  Better I do it somewhere very public in case things go south.

The next part was whom I would invite to join me.  So many to choose from, and yet I knew immediately whom it had to be.  Having killed him off, it could only be Gray…

When he walked into the place, his hair and whiskers were their usual salt and pepper but a bit longer and scruffier.  His Levis were black and his black tee-shirt was tight enough to show off his muscular frame.  He sat down across the table from me and scanned around the room with concern to see if anyone was watching.  His blue eyes finally rested on me with a glare that would have cut through bricks…

Gray – Why could you not have chosen one of the women?  Dude, this is awkward.

Me – Nice to see you, too.  I figured you and I had not talked in a long time.  It has been more than a year now.  How have you been?

Gray – Dead, thanks to you.  How are you?

Me – I am good.  Still writing.

Gray – That is great to hear.  So why did you kill me off?  Now, don’t get me wrong, you killed me off while I was getting laid, and I can appreciate that…but why?

Me – It just seemed a good time for you to go.

Gray – And it was, but I didn’t want to go.

Me – So what have you been doing?

Gray – What do you think I’ve been doing?  I’ve been trying to figure a way out for you to resurrect me.

Me – Now why would I want to do that?

Gray – Dude, it’s me.

Me – What? Are you like Han Solo or something?

Gray – Yeah, only better.   I wish you’d send me back to Australia.  That was an awesome trip.

Me – That was the trip that you accidentally slept with the sister of the woman you traveled there to meet.

Gray – There’s no accidents, I tell ya.  Alex, my twin brother…you remember Alex, right?

Me – Of course.

Gray – He was so pissed off when he realized I got the wrong twin.  He was even more upset when he found out I got both of them.

Me – I bet.  What about the photo session?

Gray – Oh, man, I forgot about that one.  Takes some kind of lady’s man to get two gorgeous women to do a shoot like that.

Me – That or a wad of cash.

Gray – I just wish the blasted camera had worked…and that they hadn’t both left before I got undressed.

Me – Lady’s man?

Gray – Hey, I had a lot of gorgeous women.

Me – Yeah, I recall a blonde you met when you lost the bet.

Gray – She was envious, man.  She got one look at this naked physique and she wanted it.

Me – Even with the shrivel factor of sub-freezing temperatures.

Gray – I should have killed Grace for that.  That was bloody cold and unfair.

Me – Why did you not end up with Grace?

Gray – You killed me, remember?  She was awesome, though.  She really was not the type I ever expected to be with.  She always reminded me of Bailey from WKRP.  Was that who you had in mind for her?

Me – Not initially but she evolved that way.  She was missing the glasses, though.

Gray – Yeah, Bailey and Jennifer on that show were like an 80s version of Marianne and Ginger.  Grace was not the statuesque blonde I figured I should be with…but I did love her.  Just never realized it until…

Me – Until?

Gray – I guess I just didn’t see the end coming.  I was so busy thinking with my little head and ego that I missed the bigger picture.  Then you go all Joss Whedon on my ass and kill off a main character…you bastard.

Me – So if I were to resurrect you, what would you do differently this time?

Gray – For one, I would finish university.  Truth is picking up garbage might be great for the physique, but it really doesn’t do much for the image.  I always wanted to get into film production.

Me – That would be fantastic.

Gray – Yeah, like that other character you had.  Always wish you did a cross over story with me and that guy Director Jake.  I thought he was brilliant.

Me – Oh, so by film you mean…

Gray – I would love to shoot porn.

Me – Of course you would.  What would Grace think?

Gray – She’d never let me.  Truth is, I’d love it if you’d write her and I into a real romantic erotic piece.  That would be perfect.

Me – She’s really not the erotic type leading lady, though.

Gray – Dude, who are you kidding?  All your characters are flawed, and she would fit that perfectly.

Me – Perhaps she would.

Gray – Do me a favour though.

Me – What’s that?

Gray – If you do bring me back, don’t put me in any more stories with that chump Cliff.  He scares me with his dreams.

Me – No promises.

Gray – Is it odd that I have a Duncan Sheik tune in my head?

Me – Which one?

Gray – I’m not sure.  There is this line in it that goes: “We won’t say anything, we are ghosts, we just sing…”

Me – Great song, that one.  “Take a Bow” from his last album…oddly appropriate for you, speaking of flawed heroes.

Grey – Hero?  Not sure I’ve ever thought of myself that way.  I suppose if all of this has taught me anything it is that I should love…I should sing…

Me – That’s another line from the song, you dolt.

Grey – Oh, sorry…damn, this coffee is cold.  They don’t serve beer here, do they?


About the Author

“Stranded in Toronto” is a pen name used by Chris McC.  Chris is a third generation Canadian originally from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  For the last 27 years, he has been living in the far west end of the Greater Toronto Area, known as Peel Region (go Steelheads!).  He is a divorced father of two daughters.  His job of selling wood (literally) is only meant to fund his nasty writing habit.  He has published short stories in erotica, science fiction and humour; as well as writing a weekly column on celebrity atheists.  Outside of the writing, his spare time is spent reading, playing with the daughters on PS3, and wandering the Twitterverse.  He also has an obscene music collection that centers on the works of Rush and the Foo Fighters which is usually turned up REALLY LOUD while the writing process is underway.

Connect with Chris online:



The Gray Series:

Passionate Cook Sharon Kleve Shares a Romantic Menu

Besides writing, cooking is my passion and I spend a lot of time in my kitchen. A few years ago we remodeled it and now I have a large kitchen that inspires me to do even more.

A couple weeks before our sixteenth year wedding anniversary this year instead of going out I created a romantic dinner for two. We drank a couple glasses of chardonnay and looked longing into each other eyes. My husband says that’s cheaper than an upgrade on a diamond ring. Ha ah!

I thought I share the rest of the dinner menu, minus the looking into each other eyes; you’re on your own with that one.

Lip Smacking Pork Roulade is a main dish in the Passionate Cooks cook book. Below are the two side dishes I served with it.

New Red Potatoes with Parsley


  • 1 (1-pound) new red potatoes
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Wash and cut the new potatoes into quarters and dry.
  3. Put the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and new potatoes in a bowl and toss.
  4. Add salt and pepper and toss again.
  5. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread the potatoes in a single layer.
  6. Chop the bunch of parsley and set aside
  7. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until tender.
  8. Put alongside the Pork on a pretty platter and top with the parsley.

Sautéed Garlic Broccoli


  • 1 (1-pound) fresh, washed and dried broccoli
  • 4 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon of butter
  • 4 large finely chopped cloves of garlic
  • 1 lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  1. Preheat the olive oil and butter in a large non-stick pan
  2. Add the garlic and slowly soften it, but don’t burn it.
  3. Add the broccoli and sauté until tender.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Cut the lime into quarters.

Put alongside the Pork on a pretty platter and top with lime juice.

Find out more about Sharon Klev and the The Corny Myers Series on her website at

Book One, FLAMINGO BLUES, Available Now!

Book Two, BE MINE, Available Now!

Book Three, KLUTZY LOVE, Available Now!

Interview with Hephaestus by D. X. Luc

I quickly rush down to the hardware store, where our hero Hephaestus, waits for me. I’m hoping he doesn’t mind I’m a little late. Once inside, I realize I’m not dressed for a place filled with sawdust, holding back a sneeze. With a brush down of my dress, I look around and see a giant of a man waiting by one of the workbenches. He looks up and smiles, his lava colored eyes twinkling and he beckons me over.

 He offers me a handshake, goggles, and goes back to work. I clear my throat and hope he’s paying attention to my questions.

Me: So, hello Hephaestus.

Heph: *Doesn’t look up* Please, call me Heph.

Me: Okay then. Let’s begin with this first question. How did you like the way I told your story?

Heph: I have to say, I’m very pleased that the world now sees me as more than the “lame one”.

Me: I’m a handy gal myself and really do understand the value of working with my hands. Which, would you say, is your favorite tool?

Heph: Well of course, my Blacksmith’s hammer is my favorite. It is my symbol of power. But like you, I enjoy working with my hands. I’m very good with my hands.

Me:  * Blinks and swallows*Right then. I’m going to be honest here, you are huge. I have never seen such mass. What’s your secret?

Heph: No secret really. I’m just big. There is a need for largeness when working with heavy tools in the forge. Also, as the god of volcanoes, I’m usually bigger than the mountains I rule over. Makes sense. Do you think I’m proportionate?

Me: Oh yeah! You’re perfect. So, as the god of blacksmiths, who would you say was your favorite mortal to possess your skills?

Heph: Hmmm, there is only one that I can recall. Daedalus. I met him once, nice guy. A bit fixated on flying though.

Me: What’s your favorite cuss word?

Heph: I would have to say poutanas gie. That means son of a mother to keep it nice.

Me: Ah, I totally get it. Okay, so back to the story again. What was the most difficult part about seeing your life being placed on paper?

Heph: My life has not been the best, so I feared the world knowing the abuse I suffered for years. That and I didn’t know what the gods would do to me for letting such information out.

Me: What was the best?

Heph: Vanessa. She is my true perfection.

Me: That’s very sweet. Final question. Is there anything you’d wish to add for all of us to know about you that many might not?

Heph: Ares is over in the toilets aisle as we speak and I just stuck a scorpion in the one he’s about to open. * hears a shrillish girl’s scream * Yep, there it is!

Me: * laughing* That’s awesome. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me today, Heph.

Heph: Not a problem. Stay and I’ll show you how to construct a birdhouse.

Get your copy of Touch of the Gods: The Wager from Amazon:



Find out more about Author D. X. Luc from her blog:

Val Reads – The Wicked Wager

As a writer, I hate ranked reviews. And in that vein, I will give you a review of  a thoroughly enjoyable and funny Regency style novel I recently read – The Wicked Wager by Anya Wylde.

Ms. Wylde’s story is a wonderful one that continues to draw me to this genre of controlled manners. The lengths the characters go through in which to both maintain and thwart the conventions of their society is often outlandish and in the hands of a good writer – totally believable! I flutter my fan to Ms. Wylde!

From the moment of meeting the heroine, Emma, in the garden as she exclaims an “inspired curse” I was hooked! And the sneaky author kept me enthralled the whole way through with plot twists and turns and those “hold your breath” moments when you silently scream to the characters – Don’t do it!

Loved it from beginning to end!

Highly recommended for fans of Regency romances and cozy mysteries.

Get your copy here:

*The author of this blog received a free copy of this work but the opinions expressed within this post are her own*

Elodie Parkes and The Horoscope Writer

All About Elodie Parkes

  • Where are you from?  I live in Canterbury, United Kingdom. It’s famous for the Cathedral, Chaucer, and there is a UNESCO world heritage site, which includes the ancient ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church. There is also a ruined castle. It’s a pretty place too and the coast nearby is great.

I work in an antiques shop and write. I have two dogs that keep me fit with their need for walks.

I write romance, contemporary and erotic with a twist of mystery now and then. I like to make the story unusual in some way, by a quirk in the tale.

  •  What is your favorite quality about yourself?  Kindness, I am unfailingly kind, it just happens.
  •  What is your least favorite quality about yourself?  I’m a bit of a perfectionist and hard on myself.
  •  What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?  I saw one on a facebook page the other day and I have to say it replaced everything I thought I liked before, “I don’t think that anything happens by coincidence… No one is here by accident… Everyone who crosses our path has a message for us. Otherwise they would have taken another path, or left earlier or later. The fact that these people are here means that they are here for some reason…” -James Redfield
  • What is your favorite color?  Green, all greens, like emerald, lime, viridian, apple, grass, sea-green
  • What is your favorite food?  Pancakes and maple syrup
  • What’s your favorite place in the entire world?  I can’t choose, because there are places in the world I would like to see ad who knows they might take that accolade when I see them.

Elodie’s Journey into Writing

  •  When and why did you begin writing?  I started writing when I was seventeen. I never did anything like submitting to publishers etc. until I was about twenty five and then queried to no avail.  I started writing again seriously a couple of years ago because I had so many stories in my head.
  • How long have you been writing?  Seriously? Maybe three years.
  • What inspires you to write and why?  People and emotions inspires me. The complexity of life spurs me to write.
  • What genre are you most comfortable writing?  Romance, contemporary and erotic.
  • What do you consider most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?  I honestly think its marketing the book.
  • Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?  ‘The Horoscope Writer’ taught me to go with my heart in my writing, and stop being so academic.
  • Do you intend to make writing a career?  If it will let me
  • What is your greatest strength as a writer?  I think it’s the joy I get from writing and so I put it back into the work.
  • Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?  I haven’t had writers block but I have chosen to stop writing a couple of projects and deleted them, I just stopped liking their concepts.

The Horoscope Writer

 ‘The Horoscope Writer’ is about a man, Dominic, who is a writer and has lots of different writing jobs for magazines amongst which is that of horoscope writing. He is a lonely soul, living in the country on a funny country lane where a few artisan’s workshops are. Fortunately he has a friend there too, Jeremy, who has a workshop, design studio there on the lane.

Dominic is lonely. His last relationship broke up a couple of years prior to the opening of the story and he really wants love.

There is a workshop to let on the lane and Cassie comes along to rent it.

Dominic is instantly attracted to her when he sees her in Jeremy’s office and she finds Dominic irresistible.

There is a mild paranormal streak running through what is an erotic romance because Dominic has been influenced by his great uncle who was also a horoscope writer.

This is a love story, erotic and enticing.

  • How did you come up with the title?  The character Dominic gave it to me. (smiles)
  • Can you tell us about your main character?  Cassie needs to be loved. She’s kind, generous, and affectionate. She is talented and works hard.

Dominic is a darling who lives with a strange secret, and he needs love too, but doesn’t think he will ever have it until he meets Cassie.

They both have a sensual streak and ignite it within each other.

  • What was the hardest part about writing this book?  Marketing

 The Horoscope Writer can be purchased through Amazon:

Amazon US –
Amazon UK –

Elodie’s Writing Life

  • Can we expect any more books from you in the future?  This is my third book.  I have a book in the pipeline right now, called ‘The Last Time’, it’s due to be published mid-December
  • How do you deal with bad reviews?  I don’t read reviews.
  • What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out?  Computers, editing suites, the WWW.
  • What contributes to making a writer successful?  Believing in books and reading.
  • Do you have any advice for writers?  Just believe in yourself and give it all you’ve got.
  • Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers?  Thank you for reading my books. I write from my heart and hope you feel the love in the books.

The Silly Question

  • Karaoke Night, what are you singing and are you any good?  ‘Strong Enough’ from Sheryl Crow and yes I can sing.

Find Elodie online:

Excerpt from The Horoscope Writer

(Copyright Elodie Parkes 2012 all rights reserved.)

 “Do you like to be called Cassandra or Cassie?” he asked her, and his lovely eyes had Cassie staring at him almost unable to speak. She truly had not seen a man quite as attractive as Dominic in a long time, not in real life, not in the flesh. His looks belonged in the pages of movie magazines or on romance novel covers.

Why was he single she asked herself?

She finally answered him when she saw that he was waiting patiently for her.

“I don’t mind either. If you want to call me Cassie you can”.

Dominic smiled again; he was thinking ‘I’d like to call you darling as I kiss you all over’.

He said, “Okay I’ll call you Cassie for the time being”.

Cassie wondered what that meant but decided against asking. Dominic was pouring coffee and offered her milk and sugar. Cassie took her coffee black and Dominic saluted her for it. “I can’t take it black I have to dilute it with milk”, he told her.

They were standing quite close to each other as he handed her the cup and Dominic took the opportunity to gaze into her eyes. Cassie was immediately intimidated and he felt it.

“Cassie you have beautiful eyes, such an unusual color”, Dominic said, and then quickly followed with, “I hope you don’t mind me saying so?”

Cassie saw the sincerity in his expression and responded.

“No it’s nice”, she said softly.

Dominic’s gaze softened as he looked at her. He wanted to trace his finger down her cheek and over her bottom lip. He wanted to hold her face in his hands and lick her lips until she opened them to his tongue. His eyes darkened at Cassie and she could feel the air of desire that Dominic exuded. She didn’t move back from him, but she drank some coffee, and the mug seemed to shield her from him.

Dominic really wanted her. He had not felt desire like this in a long time, and then he realized he had never felt desire like this. Not even for Jenny. He registered surprise in his eyes when that thought came to mind and Cassie saw it.

She had no idea what to say next and so she simply stood there, and sipped at her coffee.

Dominic drank some of his coffee and then tried to talk about ordinary things to Cassie.

“What will you be doing in the workshop or studio as Jeremy calls it?”

Cassie felt on familiar ground and answered happily. “Pottery, ceramics, sculpture and stuff. I’m an artist; well I like to think so”.

Dominic moved very slightly closer to her and then leaned over a little to put his cup on the table. As he stood up it brought their faces close together.

Cassie at first froze. She was caught in the delicious gaze of Dominic’s sexy blue eyes, and he was wondering how he could possibly kiss her without scaring her, when Cassie astounding herself, moved to him closing her eyes and offering her mouth to be kissed.

Dominic held her head gently and kissed her slowly. He made the kiss last as long as he could. It was hard to stop kissing her because she moved towards his lips wanting more when he did ease back. Dominic was enchanted. He moved his hands from her face to hold her close with one arm and pick up a handful of her hair with the other. He savored the feel of her hair in his hand and kissed her more.

Cassie felt melted from the inside out. She felt as if her body craved the touch of this gorgeous man. She felt sleepy with desire.

She had not been with a man for more than two years, and even then it had not been very satisfactory. It was a quick encounter with an old university friend, when in a mood of despair she had gone to his hotel with him after meeting him in town.

They had known each other the whole four years as they studied the same course. He had girlfriends the whole time. Two years after graduation he had left the county but was back for work, and they had met at an art exhibition. Cassie pushed herself to have sex with him out of sheer annoyance at her own continued single status. It had been okay and she had needed what little comfort it gave her. He had left the next day and she had not heard from him again.

Now Cassie was clinging to Dominic and in some part of her heart a seed of hope sprang up. Dominic was kissing her and holding her with care. He wanted her, she could tell. His lips worked magic on her shyness and she put her arms around his waist to press him close to her.

Dominic sighed with pleasure, stopped kissing her lips, and held her against his body. He molded her to him and sighed with his face in her hair, as he made sure she felt the shape of his desire through their clothes.

Cassie savored his embrace. It felt good to be held against this man. It felt safe, even though she didn’t know him, and this behavior was unprecedented in her opinion and experience. She was a grown woman, an independent woman, and anyway she had been to self-defense classes and knew that if he did anything she did not want she could immobilize him in seconds. Cassie was quite proud of that fact and that she had been the star pupil in the class. Her instructors had said she was a natural, and attempted to recruit her to their academy, but she had resisted. She stilled in his arms.

Dominic was breathing her in. Her hair had a vague herbal fragrance, something sweet and familiar like rosemary he thought. He held her gently but with possession as if he couldn’t let her go. He was surprised by her kiss and the way she stayed within the circle of his arms.

“I hope you are not afraid of me. I wouldn’t normally be so affectionate so soon, but I find you so very lovely”, he said softly, as he moved his lips in a delicate caress across her face to her lips. The barely there kisses made Cassie shiver and move her mouth to his with a need to kiss his lips, touch her tongue to his, and she pressed her hips against him.

Dominic ran his hands over her shoulders and down her back wanting to take the thick sweater she wore off her.

It was right then that the doorbell rang. Dominic smiled at Cassie and with an apologetic murmur went to answer it.

Find samples of  other works by Elodie including ‘Millie Reinvented’, ‘Two of Them’ and ‘The Horoscope Writer’ on the blog:

Also available from:


Cooking with Passion

I was excited to learn that my recipe was included in the Passionate Cooks cookbook which will be available as a free download from AllRomance /Omni Lit. In a few weeks, you can get your copy and try out some dishes by your favorite romance authors. (I’ve had a sneak peek and the recipes are great.)

My entry is Second Chance Tortillas. This is a hearty breakfast that can carry you through a busy morning of errands and your shift as mommy chauffeur without having to refuel until a late lunch. Usually though as I’m gathering my ingredients, my mind is far from the grocery store and the cleaners.

The romantic in me is envisioning a couple waking up late on a chilly morning. Maybe he would pull out that never worn pair of green plaid pajamas that had lain in the drawer for months. Bottoms for him and top for her.

Just something she’d bought when the weather had turned cold one day. Was it last year? Already?

“Are you hungry?” He would ask.

She would only nod, not yet ready to test the strength of her voice.

“I’ll make something.” He would scramble out to the kitchen, thankful that she hadn’t looked at him for too long. What would he say?

She would follow close behind while he assembled his items and tackled the chore of cooking like he was preparing for battle. She would bite back the urge to tell him how to do it right and concentrate on the empty pitcher before her.

Perhaps, she would reach for the rest of the champagne from last night and a bottle of orange juice. Brush against him as he reached for the lone pepper.

“Oh, sorry.” They would chime in unison.

“I thought we could have mimosas like we did when went to San Francisco. Remember?”

He would smile, nodding. He remembered.

There would be a sip of the libation and then he would swipe a crumb from her mouth.

Her hand would meet his as she helped. “Is it gone?” Their fingers would stay intertwined.

And it’s game over for these two. No matter how they lost sight of what was important, they’ve ended up where they began.

But that’s just me…

Happy Reading, Writing and Cooking this week!