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Slightly Outrageous by Jan Irving

I was thinking this morning that doing anything out of the ordinary requires a certain learning curve in embracing not only your own creativity but also in becoming slightly outrageous.

When I meet people in real life, they are always fascinated by what I do—writing romance novels. It’s interesting the different preconceptions people bring to this, some think it must bring me a real sexual high, others think it’s romantic, still others are mystified.

One thing you have to become comfortable with—you do stand out at a cocktail party with accountants, sales people and computer people.

I remember when my first book came out, that mixture of ‘I did it!’ and wanting to take it and hide it back on my hard drive. At times, I am still learning to embrace that ‘stand out in a crowd’ factor that comes from doing something creative that a lot of people see and pass judgment on. It is not easy. You have to banish that ghost when you sit down to lose yourself in writing.

I’ve found that because I am also artistic in other areas of my life this helps me to own my writing voice. Recently I learned to weave and as usual I shared pictures of my first budding creations on my blog as well as twittering and face booking about them. Last year I got to the point that I acknowledged I had become an artist as well as a writer after many of years of pursuing studies, particularly in fabric arts. This year sometime I’ll be selling some of my creations.

Last week I had an art day with an artist friend. We spent most of it setting it up so she could paint a floral silk scarf. I mixed the dyes for her, helped her set up the frame and gave technical advice as she went to it. Watching that creative experience unfold was curiously like being a beta and reading someone’s work. It was very satisfying. Can’t wait to see her for coffee and give her the scarf which I steamed for her. Likely like me, she’ll want to paint a second coat. While she was over, I showed her a piece on Etsy that I fell in love with by an Australian fabric artist who uses recycled sari to create scarves and bags. This woman has a grasp of color that reminds me of Van Gogh.

I bought a piece shown above and I thought would be fun—and slightly outrageous—to wear at a book signing some day. If you want to find more of Plumfish’s work, you can find her here on Etsy:

And speaking of being outrageous, that is a word for my heroine Dharma in the book I’m currently writing called His Forbidden Woman, a story that follows another fireman from my new series Men of Station 57 just introduced in Forbidden Fire. Here’s a taste of what happens when straight-laced Fred finds Dharma working in a topless bar…

Dharma Munroe bent close to Fred James, smiling the same smile she greeted him with every morning at Coffee Dreams, the San Diego coffee shop where she worked for her best friend Sian as a barista. But this wasn’t the coffee house and she sure as fuck wasn’t wearing the green t-shirt with the shop logo she sported there.

Instead she was dressed in a hot pink thong.

And nothing else.

Fred couldn’t keep from staring at Dharma’s bare breasts. They were generous and lush, the nipples large and dark coloured. Not the nipples of a twiggy little girl but an earth mother.

He swallowed and then jerked his gaze up to meet her slanted brown eyes, colour heating his cheeks. He shoved a hand through his hair, the mirror opposite at the bar catching the silver streaks in the dark blond.

As if he needed a reminder that he was in his mid forties and this girl—and he could use the word very deliberately since Dharma was in her early twenties—was half his age.

And he lusted for her.

“What can I get you, Fred?” she asked in her usual chipper tone.

“Jesus, Dharma,” he growled.

“Sorry?” She blinked, as if she couldn’t figure out what his problem was.

Just then Fred caught a man at the bar eyeing Dharma’s shapely body, the olive toned skin she’d inherited from her Italian mother and the long, long killer legs. Rage burned through him like brush fire.

He got up from his chair and took Dharma’s arm firmly but with his usual gentle care with women.

“Fred!” She dragged her feet in her high scarlet heels but he led her inexorably to the exit at the back. He hit the door and they were suddenly facing a red sun sinking like an island beyond the deserted beach.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing, young lady?” Fred demanded as soon as the door slammed shut behind them.

Dharma blinked and then pushed some of her long brown hair out of her eyes. “Working.”

“Working,” Fred repeated flatly. “Is that what you call it, walking around in your underwear?”

Dharma looked down at her body and shrugged. “Well, one piece anyway.”
“Don’t think I didn’t notice.”

Her eyes heated. “Yeah, I saw that.”

He blushed again, hoping she hadn’t guessed his first reaction at seeing her beautiful naked breasts. He’d wanted to reach out and cup them, since she seemed to be offering them to any man who sat down in the seedy bar.

“Fred, will you relax?” she said, punching his shoulder in a friendly manner. He couldn’t help but notice how the movement made her breasts jiggle. It was going to be interesting to see just how far his control would hold while he talked to the woman who’d intrigued him for months while she was half naked.

“Does Sian know you work here?” he demanded. He wanted to take off his t-shirt and cover her up. She looked so untouched and lovely, like a long legged Venus.

“What?” She laughed. “Why would she care?”

His jaw tightened on the words he wanted to shout at Dharma. But he wasn’t the reckless firefighter he’d once been, chasing fire. He’d been leading his people for a long time as a battalion chief. He’d learned to control his temper. “She would care because she’s your friend,” he said. “Surely she wouldn’t approve of you working in this place?”

Now her brown eyes snapped at him. “It’s not her business to ‘approve’ of what I do. Or yours.”

“Of course it’s not.”

She looked surprised at his easily capitulation.

“But that doesn’t mean anyone who cares about you and respects you, wouldn’t worry about you displaying yourself for men.”

“I serve drinks, same as I do at the coffee shop,” she said flatly. “But the tips here go a long way on my student loan. If men—or women—want to look at what the goddess gave me then let them look. It’s No. Big. Deal.”

He looked away, studying some gulls hovering over the water.

“It’s a big deal to me.” The words were out before he could hold them back. Forbidden words. Words he’d promised he’d never say to her.

You can meet Fred and Dharma for the first time as secondary characters in the first book in the series, Forbidden Fire, it’s here.

You can find me at and twitter as jan irving. I also blog on live journal as jan irving and jan revealed.

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