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Stay Sexy: Emma Lai shares her story

If you follow author/publisher Emma Lai at all – and I do – you know she’s come through some tough times that have helped shape the power and depth of her stories. What I did not know, until I ran across it on Facebook a few weeks ago, was this:

“Want to know my life goal? Help 10 people become better, healthier people. Will I ever succeed? I don’t know, but I keep trying.”

I just knew there was a story there, and I’m pleased she’s willing to share it as part of our occasional Stay Sexy column, where my husband and I focus helping others stay vibrant, healthy, excited and sexy across the life cycle.

Adriana: For starters, could you tell us how long this has been your goal?

Emma: The day I wrote that was a couple of days after I had the thought, but if you ask my dad, it’s been my lifelong goal to make everyone around me happy. He was always telling me while I was growing up that I couldn’t please everyone. On its face, that statement could be read to mean that I wanted people to like me so I’d bend over backwards; but for as long as I can remember, I just wanted everyone around me to be as happy as I am (for the most part. I have my bad days, too.).

Adriana: And of course the next question is how it got started – what happened that made you take up this cause?

Emma: I’m a very empathic person, as opposed to just sympathetic. Sympathetic means you feel bad for other’s misfortunes. Empathic means you feel as if those misfortunes are your own as much as the other person’s. So being prone to mild depression, it behooves me to keep those I care about as healthy as possible because I can’t help but adopt their woes, which could send me deeper into depression—a place I prefer not to be.

Adriana: I’m assuming since you want to help others be “better, healthier people” that you have the same goal in your own life. What’s the story there – when, why?

Emma: I’m just now coming to terms with this, but I suffered from PTSD from traumatic delivery and postpartum depression for years. My son, who is four now, didn’t sleep much as an infant and toddler and then around 18 months went through a development reversal. (And yeah, people obviously thought autism, but it’s way more complicated a story than slapping so simple a label on it.) Anyway, my depression didn’t cause me to not want to take care of him, but rather I was hyper-aware of him and only him and doing whatever was necessary to help him overcome his obstacles. Needless to say, I had no thought for myself. I hardly slept; I ate junk; I didn’t exercise; and I ended up weighing as much as I did right before I gave birth to him—that’s an extra fifteen pounds of weight I didn’t need.

By the time he turned three, I was thirty-eight and got winded walking up one flight of stairs. My arrhythmia was making itself known. Anxiety and panic attacks were becoming my constant companions. I realized if I didn’t start taking care of myself I might not be around to fight for my son anymore. (Think I’m overreacting? Look up heart attacks for women.) Not to mention I didn’t relish the thought of leaving my wonderful, kind, caring husband to be a single parent.

So I decided to start taking care of myself. No one could do that for me. I had to realize that. I had to love myself as much as I loved everyone else.

Adriana: Wow. That’s a profound awareness – and no, not overreacting one iota.

Could you share the components of your own health regimen – exercise? Diet? Meditation? What’s key for you?

Emma: All of it is key. It’s not just enough to eat right or exercise or be self-aware. We are complex creatures and for balance, we need both physical and mental exercise, and it needs to be fueled with good food.

I started by cutting out any foods with high fructose corn syrup and sodas—that stuff is super-addictive and changes the entire way my taste buds functioned—and got out and walked (which is also when I would think about myself and how I was feeling and what I wanted out of life, etc) and started doing 10 minutes of Pilates every other day—two things I enjoy. That’s key—finding things to do you enjoy because it’s hard enough to stay motivated.

Nowadays, I try to eat fresh as often as possible, but I do allow myself indulgences. Perfection isn’t the goal, but rather feeling better. I can run a 5K. I still do Pilates, though it’s up to a 30- or 40-minute routine, and I lift weights.

Adriana: You started exactly where I did – cutting out the sugar, walking, and identifying which higher-energy aerobic activities you would enjoy. I agree. All of it is key.

I’m always looking for the bottom line – what keeps you motivated? What’s the one thing that keeps you going when you don’t feel like staying on top of your regimen?

Emma: This is a real tough one. (I just had a conversation with my sister’s boyfriend about this a couple of days ago. He’s in his mid-twenties and works out every day.) Even knowing my health is on the line and that my family needs me healthy sometimes aren’t enough.

Nike’s slogan fits well here: Just Do It. Even when I don’t feel like it, just starting the process kicks in the body’s muscle memory and once I get started I can’t stop until I reach the end. Though I’ll freely admit to reducing sets or time if my body’s not feeling it. (I listen to my body. It reduces the risk of injury. If something doesn’t feel right, I stop.)

Adriana: I’m with you, though my slogan is slightly different: Just start. Just begin. I have a warm-up and stretch routine that begins with simply standing in place and swinging my arms. Once you’ve started moving, it’s so much easier to keep going.

If you had one single piece of advice for others who struggle with this, what would it be?

Emma: Stop thinking of all the reasons you can’t do something and find the reasons that you can. Loving yourself enough to realize you can and should come first isn’t being selfish, it’s being smart–only you can do what needs to be done to get yourself healthy.

Adriana: Have you written a character who faces any of these same issues? Tell us about him or her.

Emma: I haven’t written any characters as complex as what I feel like I’ve been through because like I said, I’m just now coming to grips with all my issues. Maybe as time goes on and there’s a little more distance between me and the rawness of those emotions, I’ll be able to capture it in a story and do the character justice.

For now, most of my heroines are sexually self-aware and self-confident to a degree (much how I recall myself pre-pregnancy), but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their insecurities. People often don’t act the way they feel. We live in our heads a lot. I love writing because it gives me a chance to show others that people shouldn’t always be judged on the face of their actions; if you really want to know someone, you have to delve deeper than the surface.

AT Least Once MoreAnnabelle from At Least Once More was one of my favorite heroines to write. She’s coming into her own and brave enough to admit her attraction to an ineligible man, inexperienced enough to not know how to fight it, and smart enough to realize when the right man comes along. Some readers have hated her, calling her a slut, but to me, she’s so very real.

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Adriana: And of course our readers would love a brief bio and your web links.

Emma: I like nothing more than a challenge. I’ve been an engineer in the oil services industry, worked in education at a military boarding school for high school and junior college students, owned an engineering consulting company, and now run a small digital press.

I write because it keeps me sane. I hear voices and if I don’t purge them, they nag me. The characters are very insistent about me remaining faithful to their individual adventures, and as a result, I write a range of genres and levels of heat.

send email to EmmaLai@emmalaiwrites.com
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And here’s my question to readers: how do you know when whatever you’re doing is enough? I never think I’m doing enough, but that’s a lot of pressure to be under all the time. That’s my latest project brought about by my endeavor to be self-aware, realizing when I’ve done enough.


Guest Interview ~ Mamie Center

Today we’re thrilled to welcome Mamie Center, here with an interview and a sizzling excerpt from her debut erotica novel, Hollywood Hook, released in December at Simon & Schuster.

Why don’t you start by telling us about yourself (Where are you from? What do you write/do in the publishing world? What do you do when you’re not writing — your “day” job, hobbies, obsessions, etc.?) I’m from a tiny town that even I haven’t heard of, in the middle of nowhere. I moved to Los Angeles when I was still jailbait so technically I am from LA. When I’m not writing, I’m traveling, having sex and wine tasting.

If you were stranded on a desert island with only five books and five CDs, what would they be? (We’ll just imagine you can play the CDs – after all, this is fiction!)

Janis Joplin, Etta James, Madonna, Donna Summer and Adele

The Story of O, Venus in Furs,  You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again, Adventures in the Screen Trade, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock ‘N’ Roll Generation Saved Hollywood

Tell us one thing about yourself people would be surprised to learn. I don’t dare.

Tell us about your writing: How long have you been writing? What genre(s) do you write in? What have you written (short stories, novels, etc.)? What works are currently for sale? Where?  I’ve been writing since I could talk, but this is my first book because most of the main players are finally dead so I can tell their stories without repercussions. Hollywood Hook is my first book and it’s only available digitally because it’s too hot for print.

What made you chose to write erotic literature in particular? Is there any other genre you’d like to write? And if so, why? I think erotica literature is the most freeing of genres. You don’t have to dance around the sex, you can embrace it. Plus, the classic idiom is ‘write what you know’ and I most certainly “know” my subject matter.

Any advice for those who want to write? Just do it. Writing is 90% discipline. Sit down at the chair and face your fears. If you do that enough days and months and years in a row (and have the passion and talent and determination to back it up) then you can call yourself a writer.

What’s the most useful book on writing you’ve ever read? I am working on a screenplay right now and I think Blake Snyder’s “Save the Cat” is genius.

What’s the sexiest feature on a man to you? And on a woman? Why? Lips. There is nothing more intimate than a man or woman’s full lips and imagining what they can do to me.

Who are your latest crushes (celebrity, book character, or otherwise)? Do you ever keep those people in your mind when writing your own works? Angelina Jolie. She is completely open about her sexuality, had extraordinary lips, is incredibly powerful, unapologetically passionate and to top it all off…a great humanitarian. I think she would make a wonderful Magali.

If you could pick anyone in the world to be the cover model(s) on your latest release, who would it be?  Jessica Chastain. She is powerfully sexual while retaining a lovely vulnerability.

Are you a book hoarder? Yes. I don’t know any writer who isn’t.

Do you have a favorite character out of all the ones you’ve written? If so, who is it and why is s/he your favorite? I love Magali in Hollywood Hook. She’s gorgeous, smart, passionate and flawed. There is also a great deal of mystery surrounding her…making you want to know her better. I love that in a character. She is going to have a much bigger role in the sequel.

Is there a way for fans and others to contact you? (email, social networking links, etc.) They can find me on twitter and on pinterest



Tell us about your latest release – we’d love an excerpt, too!

Buy Links:
Amazon   Barnes & Noble
Simon & Schuster


An erotic debut novel featuring a young actress who makes a deal with a hotshot Hollywood producer: in exchange for stardom, she’ll do whatever he tells her—including fulfilling his darkest desires.When promising young actress Jessica Barry moves to Hollywood in search of stardom, she gets more than she bargained for. Jacob, a Hollywood producer who knows everyone, assures Jessica that he will help her rise to the top of the business, as long as she does “exactly what he tells her.” She soon discovers this involves following every one of his sexually sadistic rules—including obeying his second in command, Magali, a gorgeous Frenchwoman who toys with Jessica, sexually teasing and tormenting her. In exchange for stardom, Jessica must seduce Hollywood superstar Thomas Mansell. Using the newfound powers taught to her by Magali, Jessica wins Thomas’s heart. But when Jessica actually falls in love with Thomas, Jacob cruelly reminds her that he owns her—body and mind.

Erotic and sensual, this is the side of Hollywood that no one dares to talk about.



Jake toasted the monitor with a glass of champagne. “I’m impressed.”

Jessica’s naked, writhing body was displayed in full Technicolor HD with surround sound on a series of monitors that adorned the wall of Jake’s inner sanctum. A state-of-the-art security/voyeur system with several flat-screen monitors gave Jake access to each one of his private cabins.

“Keep going and you will soon hold the house record, my dear.” Jake smiled as he watched the monitor, which was connected to a hidden camera in the ceiling fan directly above Jessica’s bed. “C’mon, little Jessie, give us a seventh . . .”

On the screen, Jessica rolled over onto her back and looked up at the ceiling, staring directly at the invisible camera. Her left hand moved slowly now between her legs, disappearing into her flesh, while her right gently massaged her breast. She shuddered, back arching, belly and groin thrusting upwards.

“Seven.” Jake applauded and turned his attention from the bay of monitors to look at Magali, who was standing behind his left shoulder, staring intently at the screen. “She’s even better than I had hoped: young, passionate, and determined to get what she wants. Imagine the potential.”

“She is special, Jacob. We cannot toy with her,” Magali whispered demurely. “We shouldn’t.”

“No one is that special. We’re all just an illusion. And Jessica will have her fifteen minutes of fame . . . but she’s going to work for me in order to get it.” Jacob’s voice was harsh and businesslike. “She won’t need to train as long as the others. She’ll be ready soon, I can feel it. And my instincts are never wrong.” His left hand reached out, pushed under Magali’s open robe and cupped her buttocks. He squeezed gently, almost tenderly. “I wasn’t wrong with you, was I?”

Magali moved almost imperceptibly, shifting away from his kneading fingers.

Jake pushed a button, causing the monitor to zoom in on Jessica’s breathless, albeit still frustrated face. Her eyes, pupils huge and dilated with lust, filled the screen. “Oh, yes. I am guessing that our little Jessie will do whatever it takes to get to the top. She simply needs some nurturing.”

Jake reached into the drawer of his large oak desk and pulled out a wad of cash. He peeled off ten hundred dollar bills, then stood and pushed them into Magali’s limp fingers. He then kissed her gently on each cheek. “No personal attachments. You know the rules. Now, go. Vouz feriez mieux d’aller. Il est tard. Have fun, your work today is finished.”

A sobbing moan trembled through the speakers, and both Jake and Magali turned back to the monitor. “Eight,” Magali murmured in admiration.

Jake grinned. He brought his face close to the screen and stared into Jessica’s hooded eyes. “That’s right, little Jessie. Take care of your own needs for the moment. That’s a good girl. Soon we’ll take care of them for you.”


Where to find Adriana

Find me two places today! Wicked After Dark Bloghop is at this LINK, now through November 1, and today I’m over at Romance Lives Forever, answering Kayelle’s wonderful interview questions and offering a contest!
Romance Lives Forever

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