Wednesday, April 30, 2008

An answer from RG

Remittance Girl writes:

In first person, or third person limited, dialogue is a very important
tool for revealing not only the personalities of other characters, but
how they relate to your main character. People position themselves in
speech. And subtly, they position themselves in the terms of hierarchy
this way - sometimes in speech that on the surface holds little or no
important content. But this is how we establish comfort, commonality
and cooperation.

The study of this sort of dialogue has been undertaken at MIT for the
purposes of creating realistic AI interactive agents. Paper attached
for interest. (KB: I couldn't figure out to link to this, so you'll have to take RG's word for it, or contact her through her site. Interesting stuff if you're a geek girl like me.)

Obviously fiction requires that the characters get to the point a
little quicker than we do in real like, but it would be a mistake to
dispense with all the "weather talk". Because characters who come to
the point too fast, with strangers, lack realism.

The other thing worth considering is the non-verbal dialogue. Head
movement, body orientation, eye direction all serve to inform us of a
person's orientation towards us.

Dialog and body language is a powerful combination, even more so when
they're in conflict. Find href="">Remittance Girl here. She has some incredible stories, some surreal, all amazing.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Jolie Du Pre chimes in

Jolie said:

Fiction comes to life with well-written dialog. In that respect, even the most minor character will benefit with a bit of dialog. (There's nothing worse than reading chapter upon chapter of prose with no dialog breaks.) The amount of dialog that I use will correspond with how important the character is.

Dialog needs to sound natural in order for it to be convincing. Sometimes that means, depending on what you're writing, that some of your word choices will not be "politically correct."

Literary erotica is intelligent, creative prose. It sells, but it often does not sell as well as some of the other erotica markets, such as erotic romance. To quote Morgan Hawke, "There is very little that is actually creative about writing for profit."

Literary erotica for me, however, is an area of erotica that I love and highly respect. If you want to write well written literary erotica, there's no place for political correctness in dialog. Intelligent prose means that you will write what your character will naturally say. It does not follow a marketing formula.


Jolie du Pre has renewed her commitment to lesbian themes despite the bumps in the road. She is working on a lesbian vampire novel, and although she would love to focus only on her novel and ignore everything else, her mind and body won't let her. Therefore, she has submitted a 13,000 word lesbian short story to Sapphire Blue's "Grab Me" contest; she is working on a 10,000 word short story for Torquere's lesbian "Working Girls" anthology and she is also excited to learn that D.L. King, a talented erotica writer that she highly respects, is editing an urban-centered lesbian erotica anthology. Lesbian erotica just got exciting again.

Jolie du Pre

KB: I've known Jolie almost my entire erotica writing career. Her story in Zane's Purple Panties got a nice mention lately, and the anthology she edited, Iridescence, has been doing very well. I look forward to seeing her in New Orleans in two weeks at the Saints and Sinners Literary Conference. (We share a reading slot)

New About QueerWriters.Com

Jim McDonough of Queerwriters.Com was going to close the site, but for now decided to do this instead:

After a ton of e-mails, I decided to migrate the site over to

Ning is a social network site and it's something that everybody can participate in and will require a whole lot less time for me to manage. If you want you can sign up on there, start blogging, set up an interest group and post stuff which will encourage others to do the same. Right now people are automatically sent from to the ning site.

JL: If you use the site, I suggest you get involved.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Angela Caperton's Answer

Angela writes:

Your dialog question certainly set me to thinking!

As a dialog junkie, my first impulse was to answer, "Yes, of course
dialog is important for secondary characters." I love writing dialog
and I absolutely love reading well written exchanges between
characters. I think dialog can be an essential part of all character
development รข€" including minor characters. Modern writing depends
heavily on the objective portrayal of scenes through description --
probably a result of the effects of movies and television on our
dramatic sensibilities -- so that we are less likely to spend a lot
of words describing internal experiences than, say, Victorian writers
were. I certainly tend to compose a scene based around dialog,
naturalistic descriptions of actions, facial expressions, and the

(A digression -- as a reader of graphic novels and comic books, I
think it's telling that "thought balloons" have almost entirely
disappeared from graphic storytelling -- another indicator I think of
a change in our dramatic tastes.)

But, the more I thought about your question, the less sure I am that
dialog is as important in erotica. So much of what makes an erotic
scene effective is the description of internal states which reflect
purely subjective experiences. Most dialog during actual intercourse
is jarring or repetitious and in my opinion, pretty much unnecessary.
Before and after the act, yes, but "Oooh" and "Fuck me harder" wear
thin pretty fast.

So, I think my short answer to your question is that dialog is
important to the dramatic and narrative framework of an erotic story,
but not so much to the sexual core of it. In that sense, oddly,
erotica may be a throwback to a more Victorian manner of writing.

KB: Angela sent along this info (thank you!)
Angela Caperton currently has three erotic works available, has
several erotic short stories out for consideration, and her short
story, "Caveat Emptor" will appear in a future issue of THANEROS
Online Magazine. She is currently working on an erotic paranormal
novel, and a dark erotic fantasy series.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

New Question: Out of the Mouths of (like, total) Babes

Since the answers have stopped coming in on my last question, I have a new one for you. Chime right in under comments, or send me the answer via e-mail and I'll link to your site and current project.

Out of the Mouths of (Like, Total) Babes:
In first and even limited third person, we have the ability to use internal dialog to reveal our main characters. But what about the other characters? How important is dialog in showing who they are? (Alternately - how do you use that as a tool?)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Haunted Hearths

I got the cover for Haunted Hearths today. I'm really excited about this anthology (and love the company I'm in.) It's gone to the printer, so it should be out soon. This is my first experience with Lethe Press, but they've been coming on strong while most independent publishers have been closing shop.

Where the Girls Are

Dear friend D.L. King (who else would I let flog me in public?) is editing an anthology for Cleis Press. I told her I'd list her call for submissions here. (BTW - If you're an editor with a call, I'll gladly post it.) If you write lesbian eroitca, send her something!

Where The Girls Are: Lesbian Erotic Stories
Edited by D. L. King
To be published by Cleis Press
Deadline: August 15, 2008
Payment: $50 and 2 copies of the anthology

D. L. King is looking for urban-centered lesbian erotica.

Is sex really better in the city?

No matter where you grow up, there's a mystique about the big city.
The girls are different there, right? They have secret ways of making
you scream for more, known only to sophisticated urbanites—don' t they?
They'll see you coming a mile away and they'll be ready and waiting
for you.

Whether coming of age in the city, moving to the city or just
visiting, lust, luck and love could be just around the corner. Look,
here she comes now and she's got her eye on the country mouse getting
off the bus; the girl sitting at the end of the bar; standing in line
for basketball tickets; reading at the table for one; loitering in the
perfume section... Send me stories that are sweet, kinky, sexy,
romantic and/or dangerous but most of all, hot. All characters must
be at least 18.

Stories should be between 2,000 and 4,500 words, double-spaced, 12 pt
Times New Roman or Courier New. Please indent the first line of each
paragraph one-half inch and do not include extra lines between paragraphs.

Send your story as a .doc or .rtf attachment and include the title,
pseudonym (if applicable) and your legal name and mailing address to
girlsantho@yahoo. com. Subject line should read: Submission: TITLE.
Please include a 50 to 75-word bio and direct any questions to the
same address. Original stories only, no reprints please.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Taking Amanda's Advice

A couple posts ago I talked about a story that wasn't working for me. Amanda suggested I try writing out a few paragraphs to see how it feels. I did that last night and was amazed - not that the story got any easier to tell, but how a seemingly small shift can mean such big changes.

The original - Japanese rope bondage demonstration, 3rd person from the audience POV

Current - Japanese rope bondage demonstration, 1st person from the fetish model's POV.

The events of the story have not changed. It begins the same. It ends the same. But between, it's a whole different world. You wouldn't think moving from the audience onto the stage would make such a dramatic shift, but it does. The story moves from voyeurism to exhibitionism. Think about the dynamics of what turns a person on. TV has made voyeurs of us all, so I think most people can relate to being turned on by something they see, but we're all made to feel bad about the way our bodies look and about being sexual beings that most people find the idea of exposing themselves (literally or figuratively) overwhelming - and not in a good way. So the focus of the story goes from something most people can relate to something most people fear. Can you feel the shift? So much changes that even though the "facts" remain the same, the emotional impact of the events is completely different. I'll have to draw the reader into understanding why it's a turn-on. That means getting much deeper into the MC's mindset, which is why I think I have to go to 1st person voice.

Hopefully, this will work, because I promised this story to someone. (Note to self: stop promising something you haven't written yet)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Catherine Lundoff's musing

Catherine says:

I think the point of writing a scene in which one character desires another is entirely about seducing the reader. The reader needs to be drawn in, to identify with the desire to one degree or another. That identification may have little or nothing to do with anything the reader wants to do in real life, but it should be something that creates a fantasy for them.

That said, there are myriad ways to make a character sexy to a reader and not everything that works for you will work for every reader. Personally, I like to see the person who is the object of desire through the protagonist's eyes. I want to know what his/hir/her voice sounds like, how they smell, how they might taste. I want to see the protagonist long for them until I can feel their response to their fantasies.

In order to make that happen, the protagonist also needs to be one that a reader can identify with to some extent. Otherwise, seeing through their eyes is a less effective technique. This is not the same thing as writing the story in first person, something many erotic authors opt to do in order to create that immediacy for the reader. It’s important to remember that immediate to you is not necessarily the same as immediate to anyone else.

Making your point of view character sympathetic can be trickier than doing the same with her/hir/his object of desire. First versus third or second person is not a guarantee. Neither is making that person model/actor gorgeous and indefatigable. Writing the character as a complete human being, warts and all, on the other hand, gives the reader something to relate to. Who hasn’t wondered whether or not their object of desire is interested in them? Giving the character some insecurities and some sort of life apart from their desire goes a long way toward building a good protag.

Erotic writing should, at its best, call forth a strong reaction from the reader, even a negative one. That's its purpose. To merely describe one character wanting another without letting the reader feel that through your words puts the story outside the realm of erotic fiction, for good or bad.

KB: Catherine is the editor of Haunted Hearths and Sapphic Shades: Lesbian Ghost Stories, due out in May, 2008 from Lethe Press. I had the pleasure of meeting her at Saints and Sinners last year.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Why Won't This Work?

Feel free to comment on this if you have an idea.

I'm trying to write a story that will not work for me. This is my third pass through
and it's still not clicking right. The basic story is an audience at a BDSM club watching a Japanese rope bondage demonstration.

First pass - third person POV with the audience treated as a singular character.

Second pass - third person POV concentrating on the reactions of several specific characters in the audience.

Third pass - third person POV concentrating on one specific character in the audience.

At this point, it still feels disconnected. I like voyeurism stories, but this reminds me why I don't write them more often. They are difficult to write well. So I'm wondering if I should switch to first person POV of the fetish model on stage. That way, I have the input of the sensation of the rope and bondage on her mentally and physically. What do you think?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I Have My Reading Slot

I'll be reading Sunday, May 11 at 2:30 PM at Saints and Sinners in New Orleans.

Sunday, May 11
2:30 P.M.
Come hear Festival authors read from their latest works. Join Dale
Chase, Jolie du Pre, Amie M. Evans, Gene Kahn, Jay Lygon, and Jerry Wheeler
as they thrill, entertain, educate, or stimulate the literary mind
with that most powerful instrument: the written word.

know Dale, Jolie, and Amie. It could be that I've met Gene and Jerry,
but their names aren't familiar. 2:30 is probably the last panel slot
before the closing reception. Still no word on how long we have to
read. I'm going to hope for 5 minutes. 10 is a long time to talk
non-stop. No one ever complained about someone running short, so I'm
going to prepare for 5. That gives me just enough time to read the
beginning part of my ghost story and leave off at a good place. (plus I
have to allow time for audience reaction. I didn't at my last reading,
and stuff I only chuckled at got these long breaks of laughter, so I've
learned my lesson.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Roxy Katt talks about sexy characters

Roxy says:

"What makes a character sexy? Is it enough that
another character desires him/her/hir, or should the reader be
seduced too?"

Maybe my tastes are a little crude somehow, but I am
not usually turned on much by a character's arousal to
begin with. As a reader, I guess I want to be seduced
directly. A character who desires a sexy character
may well be important as a fictional device, but no
matter how much the desiring character wants someone I
do not find attractive, the desirer's desire is
unlikely to affect me much.

But as for what makes a character sexy, I like a
combination of strength and vulnerability. I like
women or phallogynes who are basically strong but who
have some kind of Achilles heel. I enjoy the subtle
or not so subtle turn that makes an apparent top
unexpectedly into a bottom.

Straightforward strength or straightforward weakness
are not usually interesting to me.

KB: BTW - feel free to post in the comments if you have something to say about one of these entries, or to e-mail me directly.

trying to think how long I've know Roxy. Maybe two years? She has a story in Best Lesbian Erotica 2008, and one in the Mammoth Book of
Lesbian Erotica 2007. Roxy describes herself: "I am a writer of f/f and
transgender fetish erotica, including a genre I refer to as VHF:
Vaudeville Humiliation Fetishism, or UHF: Unusual Humiliation
Fetishism. This genre of erotica involves women in comically and
erotically humiliating situations." If you read much of my blog musing, you know how much I think about gender and sexuality. There aren't many writers who can transcend hetero fetishism of transgenders, but Roxy does, and for that, I'll always be cheering her on.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Helen Madden chimes in

Helen writes:

Attitude. More than anything else, it's attitude that makes a character sexy and it's the character's attitude that will seduce the reader (and yes, the reader must always be seduced, or where would the fun be in the writing?). But what kind of attitude? I like bad boys who can get away with anything, but I also like shy little minxes who coyly lead their lovers along. The character's attitude shines through in their dialogue, their actions, their motivations. In
fact, I say it is the character. I'm writing a story right now about a main character who has a lot of attitude - spoiled, frustrated, wants way more than his fifteen minutes of fame but he's never earned - and damn if that little strumpet isn't sexy as hell. Makes me want to put him over my knee and spank his bottom.

KB: Helen is the most energetic writer I know. She's into podcasting. She's a features editor for the Erotica Readers and Writers Association. Her first novel - Demon By Day- is coming out soon from Mojo Castle. She makes animated short movies. She designed my Jay Lygon website. She's active at science fiction cons, has a black belt in... remind me Helen..., and she volunteers for EPIC. Whew! And that's only what she does during the day. I think by night she fights crime.

Monday, April 14, 2008

D.L. King's answer

D.L. writes:

What Makes a Character Sexy?

You asked if it was enough that another character desired that character or found him/her/hir sexy, or if the reader must be seduced as well?

First, I think characters must find each other sexy, or at least one must find
the other sexy or seductive in order for the reader to be seduced at
all. But sometimes one character being attracted to anotherisn’t enough for the reader to be seduced.

When I write I’m, in effect, the reader. I tell myself a story. I get
completely wrapped up in it. My characters pretty much do what they
want, go where they want and are attracted to each other for their own
quirky reasons. Sometimes I don’t fully understand their motivations (I
suppose I must subconsciously or Iwouldn’t have written them) or agree with their choices. But then, if the character is well drawn enough, he or she will grow on me.

A good example of this is Susan, who was meant to be a minor character in my first novel, The Melinoe Project. When I wrote her, she scared me. I didn’t find her sexually attractive, I found her dangerous and frightening, but that didn’t
stop me writing her into my main character’s life and he found her
utterly seductive and attractive, even to his extreme detriment at
times. I think it was a combination of his intense attraction to her,
regardless of the consequences and my growing identification with her
that she grew on me and I too began to find her hot. Hot enough that
she became a main character and wound up in the sequel as well.

Does she seduce the reader? I know she seduces some readers. We all have
different attractants, as do our characters. I may not be at all
attracted to the usual hunky alpha male or typical dominant man, but I
may find myself utterly in thrall over the earnestness and dedication
of a characters need to place himself in the service of another.

We (and by that, I mean characters and readers, alike) are all different.
What one finds sexy, another may find revolting. My adage has always
been that if something, or someone, is sexy to me, they will be to
someone else too. We are not islands. We have more in common with each
other than we know.

And I suppose that was a completely round-about way of not answering your question!

KB: D.L. King is the fearless leader of Erotica Revealed. Her interview with the L.A. Times about literary erotica should be out this week, so look for it! Besides running Erotica Revealed, her short stories appear in many anthologies, and her femdomme novels The Melinoe Project and The Art of Melinoe are available from Renaissance E-Books.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ashley Lister

I've tried responding to this question half a dozen times now and then
deleted each response because it wasn't quite right.

I think I find characters in erotic fiction "sexy" purely because of
the way and the circumstances in which they are written. The majority of us
(as characters outside fiction) shroud our sexualness with the mundanity of
civilised repression. The characters in erotic fiction are usually
presented with their souls (and other things) bared for inspection and
examination. This (in my opinion) makes them inherently sexy because
they are showing an aspect of their character that we seldom get to see
except with those whom we have been/are being intimate. By the fact that we
are presented with a character's innermost thoughts and private sexual
aspirations, we (the readers) are also seduced and aroused.

I hope this answer makes sense ;-)


KB: Ashley is another reviewer from Erotica Revealed. Be sure to check out Swingers: True Confessions from Today's Modern Swinging Scene

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Lisabet Sarai has me musing

Lisabet writes:

You ask:

What makes a character sexy? Is it enough that another
character desires him/her/hir, or should the reader be
seduced too?

Here are my thoughts. A character can be sexy as an object or as a
subject. The object case involves a character as the focus of some
other character's desire. We see the "sexy" character through the
second character's eyes, and find him/her attractive because (if) we
can identify with the second character.

One measure of an author's skill is his/her ability to make us
desire (or at least feel the appeal of) a character who would
not traditionally be viewed as sexy. An example that comes to
mind is a wonderful story by Robert Buckley in which
the narrator finds himself drawn to a woman who looks like a young
version of a bag lady, a nerdy, shy person whom everyone ridicules.
(I can never recall the titles of stories! But if you ask Bob,
I'm sure he'll know the one I'm talking about.) She works with him,
in the "morgue" of a newspaper, and one day he happens to catch
a glimpse of her bare abdomen as she's reaching for something on
a shelf. He finds himself fascinated by her, seduced by this
fleeting view of naked flesh.

A character is sexy as a subject when he or she feels attractive and
desirable. My novel Incognito opens with the character of
Miranda hanging around in a club, dressed in her roommate's
suggestive clothes, but not feeling in tune with her costume at
all. Everyone ignores or rejects her.

As the book progresses, she becomes more sexually open and also
more accepting of her own desires. As a result she becomes (I
hope!) a sexy character, though she was not at the start of
the novel.

The prototypical Dom character is sexy because he's sure of
himself, sure of his ability to bring his submissives to ecstasy.
Often, characters who know that they are irresistible, are.

Lisabet Sarai

KB: Lisabet also reviews erotica at Erotica Revealed. She's
written several novels (Raw Silk, Ruby's Rules) and has two collections of short stories out (Fire, and Rough Caress).

When I read this in Lisabet's answer: "One measure of an author's skill is his/her ability to make us desire (or at least feel the appeal of) a character who would not traditionally be viewed as sexy." my thoughts went to comments about the film Notes On A Scandal. Someone said, "Thank goodness the British made this movie, because Hollywood would have cast a 23-year old hunk of god flesh as the 15-year old student, and everyone would be saying, "Yeah, he was hot, totally worth the risk," but by casting someone who could look the part of agangly , pimply teen, the audience was wondering, "What the hell is she thinking," which changes the emotional
impact of the story. I like stories that make inexplicable desire interesting. (which makes me think of Lolita...)

Chloe Devlin offers her opinion

Chloe says:

There's a whole boatload of things that makes a character sexy -- from his appearance to his sense of humor to his intelligence to his gentle touch. If these things are described well and shown during the story then I, as the reader, will find him as sexy as the other character. And that simply makes for a better story.

Chloe Devlin
Short and Sassy Erotica

Friday, April 11, 2008

Remittance Girl's answer

Remittance Girl writes:

"No, it's not enough (that another character finds the character sexy) and I think this is the real flaw in a lot of erotica writing. Being told that a character is sexy, hot, whatever,
doesn't convince me, as a reader, that they are. Having another character think they're hot, sexy, whatever...ditto.

As a reader, I need to be seduced. I need to be shown something, inside
the character, that makes them attractive for me, as a reader. For that, I need flaws."

Remittance Girl's website.

KB: RG, as she's known to us on ERWA,
writes some of my favorite erotica. She's always pushing out on the
artistic edge, challenging both herself and the reader. Take a look at
her website. Most of her stories are there.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Shift In Focus

Lately, I've been thinking about this blog and what I want to do with it. If you read it often, you know that I think a lot about the craft of writing, with an emphasis on erotica. Last month, I had a flash of insight that I should focus on that, but if you know me, you know that I make no move without examining something from every angle - twice.

I don't want to talk about the usual basics. Those are covered lots of places. But beyond that there's a whole lot of nothing to help experienced writers who still want to think about and work on the craft of writing. So I thought I'd transition my blog to a continuing conversation about writing. (I will still probably resort to occasional cat posts. I'm sorry, but cat happens.)

Once I decided it was the right thing to do, I sent out an email to many of the erotica writers I know and asked them to answer a question. When they get back to me - if any do - I'll let them be the guest blogger of the day with their answer. Now - If you didn't get an email, that doesn't mean I don't want your input. It only means that I didn't have a good email address for you in my address book. So if you want to answer, please do.

My question for this month was:

What makes a character sexy? Is it enough that another
character desires him/her/hir, or should the reader be
seduced too?

Hopefully, I'll see some interesting answers.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

For A Dear Friend

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

W.H. Auden

I am so terribly sorry for your loss.

Monday, April 07, 2008


I don't think I'm getting rejected enough.

That sounds very odd, but a friend asked how things were going, and I crowed a bit about my acceptance rate. Then I starting thinking about it. Sure, I've placed everything lately, but that's mostly because people have asked for those stories. They can reject them, but I can see why they they'd feel the pressure to take the story anyway. If you have a perfect record, there's nowhere to go but down. That might seem like a negative viewpoint, but it's also freeing. What do I have to lose? My acceptance rate can't possibly stay this good, unless I quit or never take a risk. Pffft to that.

So all the sudden, I have a lot of energy to focus on submissions, and I'm loving it. For the first time in months, I'm hitting all the sites that list calls and I'm looking for likely suspects. Some of the deadlines are coming up quickly, so I can't think about it too long. I have to jump, and jump now. The pressure is part of the energy I'm feeling.

I don't have many stories in reserve. It's not as if I can dig into my files, blow the virtual dust off something, and send it out. Okay - that worked for one submission only because I wrote a very specific piece for an anthology that never made it to print, and the story was too short for most calls, so it sat, unloved, until I saw this new one with a very low word count limit. A couple of the calls ask for work that's already been published, so I have to see what's been published in the past year (this is where not submitting much last year comes back to haunt me) and decide if it will fit what they're asking for. Those are the easier ones. Then there are the ones I really like to make it into, like the Best Women's Erotica series. That deadline is fast approaching, and even though it's a best of, the editor wants unpublished pieces. I'll have to make a time call here. If I can come up with something in the next few days and if it flows well, then I might make that deadline, but I'm not going to force it. There's always next year for that one. (besides, I seem only submit to it once every three years anyway, and I'm only two years out at this point).

It's not that I want my stories to be rejected, but it won't destroy me to see a thanks-but-no-thanks note, and at least I'll have tried. Better to have submitted and been rejected than never to have submitted at all.

I'm putting my perfect record on notice. I'm not going to protect it.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


This shouldn't have me so excited, but it does.

After finishing Love Runes, I swore I'd take time off to write short stories because I had nothing coming out in anthologies this year. I saw many calls for submission that interested me, but the next thing I know, the books were in my TBR file for reviews. That got depressing. In the past year, I've sold only three short stories, and only because editors asked for them. If they hadn't, the total would be zero. But instead of moving on to shorts in December, I plunged ahead into the great time suck that is writing the first draft of a novel, and three and a half months passed - as did more calls for submission that I would have loved to have written to.

This weekend, I sent off two stories for submission. One was an older story that fit a specific call, so no work there other than reviewing it. I changed maybe five words. The other was one an editor asked for. Then, suddenly, my work time was free. (Sure, I have one story I need to finish that I promised someone, but I need to give that one a few more days to stew in my brain before I finish it.) So for the first time in ages, I looked at all the calls for submission I'd been lamenting over, found something that looked promising, sat down, and wrote a fresh story for it. Man, did that feel good. I have to let it sit a couple days before I go over it again, clean it up, and then that sucker is out the door. Yee-ha! Dance of joy!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Writer Observed Outside His Natural Habitat

Even if the date weren't seared on my soul, I'd know that Saints and Sinners was coming simply for the emails.

Writers are a solitary group. Well, group may not be the right word. Given the choice, I think most of us would either run away to the mountains or hide ourselves in plain sight in huge metropolitans where our cunning day disguises never hint that, "Hey, you wanked over my words last night." So imagine our frisson of terror when it seems we're going to be gathered in one place and have to be - gasp - social.

My sister often points out that we were raised by the two most socially inept people on the planet and grew up socially retarded. Three years of cotillion only put a nice facade over the fact that we have no idea how real people talk to each other, much less make friends. Sure, I have a buttload of gracious manners- when I choose to use them- and I'm never in doubt of which fork to use even if the line-up stretches two feet down the linen-clad table, but a backyard bar-b-que mystifies me.

Now that SNS is approaching, everyone is trying to get into a comfort zone. No one wants to eat dinner alone. I don't blame them. Either do I. Still, I think it's a little funny that so many people are checking in with me, world's most inept social butterfly, to make sure I'll be there so that we can meet up. Maybe they need to know which fork to use. In that case, I'm golden.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Crazy Busy

I guess it's a good thing that I'm looking at my schedule over the next month and it's crazy busy. My biggest priority is Saints and Sinners. No, wait, it's getting my story for the flogger anthology polished way before the due date. Unless it's finishing the first draft of my genderqueer Japanese rope bondage tale. And then there are the readings, the Lammys, starting the rewrite of my novel, following up on another novel submission, getting to work on an anthology, BookExpo America...

This is when my time starts looking like puzzle pieces and I have to try to find a way to make everything interlock and fit. Either that, or take hammer to it and force the issue.

I finally finished my first draft on the flogger story. It took longer than it should have because I had to go back and make the dialog and thoughts fit the narrator's background. I didn't usually have that problem, but I started it off in third person, where I can use my vocabulary, and switched it to first person. That's another thing I don't usually do. Stories come to me in a certain way and they normally work in that voice. This one didn't.

It's hard to explain what makes a story work or not work for me. Words are ideas and ideas have no weight, but on the page, they either feel cumbersome or they have what I call deep edges. When I first sat down to write this, the words stumbled across the page with all the grace of a bear on roller skates. Like the bear, I felt like the words were grumpily going through the routine, but only if I kept prodding them. Switching into first person was like switching from clay wheels on grass to polyurethane on oiled wood (if I'm going to keep the roller skating idea here). Suddenly, it flowed much better. Once I fixed the problem with putting my voice into the character's mouth and let him have his own, it came together like... okay, I'm out of roller skating ideas here. I thought of going back and changing it to ice skating and throwing in a triple lutz, but I'm sure you get the idea.

Oh - I have a reading slot at Saints and Sinners, but I'm not sure which day yet. I am, of course, terrified. Thank the gods that I'll know almost everyone in the room. Oh wait - that might not be a good thing. I was going to read some boy smut, but since Haunted Hearths is coming out soon, I think I'll read from Words Like Candy Conversation Hearts. It lends itself to performance better than my smut pieces do.

I'll also be reading at A Different Light in North Hollywood the same night as the Lammys with some other writers. If you want more details, drop me a private line.