Tuesday, August 30, 2005


How small is my world?

Long Suffering Traveling Companion and I are "ride the bus with the locals, eat street food," level tourists. Gringo First Class requires way too much wardrobe, and my ideal vacation fits into a single carry-on luggage. We broke that rule when we were in New Orleans for the Saints and Sinners GBLT writer's conference though when we wandered into Irene's Cuisine.

We were miles from home, in a restaurant chosen at random, and eating at a level far beyond our usual fare. And who was our waiter? The brother of my best friend from high school.

I had no idea. I thought he still lived in Palm Springs.

After the initial shock and bouncy hugs, I was reminded of the one reason why I miss the South, the jaw-dropping hospitality. He hadn't seen me in years, but the third thing out of his mouth was "check out of that hotel room right this minute and come stay over at my place." He dug into his pocket for keys to hand us. I was tempted to introduce Long Suffering Traveling Companion as a serial waiter murderer just to remind K that it probably wasn't a safe thing to do-- trusting us like that. But I know how the manners game is played, so I thanked him profusely as I reminded him that our BnB wouldn't be able to rent out our room on that late notice, so it wasn't fair to the owners. I promised that for next year's SNS, I'd be the first to claim his couch though.

Watching the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I might not be able to keep my promise. The French Quarter still stands, but it's going to be a long time before it recovers. The magnitude of the hurricane's damage is numbing. To make it real and keep a sharp edge to tweak my conscious, I have to pull down the scope to a personal level. To me, this is all about how K is getting along.

I know that he didn't evacuate. He had neither the means nor a place to run to. I know that he has no phone service. His sister keeps me up to date on the lack of news. The water is rising. That's the sum of what I know.

The unknowns drive me nuts, but I feel as if it's so trite for me to say that, because I'm sitting a thousand miles away. My entire world isn't under water. Except for K, I know where everyone I love or love by proxy is, and that they have food, shelter, and drinkable water. Many people on the gulf coast can't say that with certainty about themselves, their loved ones, or their acquaintances.

It's going to be a long, rough autumn this year.

I believe that K will ultimately be okay. He might be worse for wear, his possessions might be waterlogged, and his job may be in jeopardy, but he's got a few people pulling for him, and we won't ebb away with the flood waters. Now that we've reconnected, I'll be keeping him in my heart.

Besides, I have a free couch coming to me. I just hope that it's dried out by then.

If there's any city that can live to party another day, it has to be New Orleans. Let the good times tread water!

(And YES, I do take pictures of cemeteries everywhere I go, especially when I see stuff like this. How could I pass up Mardi Gras beads for the afterlife reveler?)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Voyeurism and Exhibitionists

I was tempted to title this post "Where the Dark Things Crawl."

My counter on this site tells me by server, not account, who visits my site. I like seeing that I get hits from Saudi Arabia and Iceland. Don't know why, but I do. I was a little less pleased that the Department of Justice stopped by for a look-see.

My first job out of college was with the government. If conspiracy theorists knew how much of a cluster fuck was going on behind the curtain, they'd sleep soundly. Since I've experienced it first hand, I have a hard time getting worked up enough to be paranoid. Still, seeing that DOJ server gave me a bit of a frission. Maybe because the link they followed was from a fellow erotica writer's blog.

Maybe I like being watched.

I wouldn't consider myself to be an exhibitionist, but I do write porn. I can't decide if that makes me a literary exhibitionist. In small ways, I sometimes catch my private lifestyle seeping into my public life. We can't help being who we are, after all. If I notice I'm giving myself away though, I wonder if people around me catch those clues before I sweep them out of sight. I really don't like feeling that my private life is showing, so I guess that makes me definitely not an exhibitionist.

My relationship to voyeurism is a little more complex.

Watching television or movies is an inherently voyeuristic activity. Through shows, we peer into people's lives. Even if the characters aren't real, or they're the pseudo-real cast of reality TV, we like to peel back the facade and see what's underneath. Most dramas are slow-motion train wrecks. The viewers can see it coming, but we don't look away, because the coming calamity thrills us.

Once, while stopped in traffic, I spied two grizzled day laborers eating lunch at a McDonalds in West Hollywood. Above the table: two guys eating burgers after a hard day of work. Under the table: a brief, but extremely erotic, squeeze of a muscular thigh by a dark, rough hand. That was probably the hottest thing I'd ever seen. I wanted to park. I wished I had binoculars to watch them. I wanted to see them kiss. I would have peeked through the curtains of their hotel room. Didn't wanting to make me a voyeur? The thrill I got out of seeing that surreptitious grope was definitely a voyeur's high.

Yet I watch very little porn.

It would be fashionable to say that porn doesn't do anything for me, but the real truth is that I rarely need it. When I do, it works for me. I don't use sex toys all that often either. I have no problem with anyone who uses visual or physical stimulants to get off though.

So I'm not all that comfortable with exhibitionism, but I am with voyeurism. They are opposite sides of the same coin. Hard to have one without the other.

I can't get over the uncomfortable feeling that DOJ flyby gave me, even though I have complete sympathy for their voyeuristic tendencies.

My blog is out there for anyone to read. Why do I care who reads it? Maybe it was a DOJ employee screwing off at work. In that case, I'm a tax payer too. Get back to work! But what if checking out my blog is his/her work? Thinking that makes me want to draw my virtual curtains. I won't though. After all, it's still a free country. Don't mind me. I'll be sitting here in the dark, working up a conspiracy theory.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Patience is a necessary virtue for writers.

No one warned me about that.

I'm currently suffering from cabinfever-level impatience which has me flipping through websites, blogs, and Craig's List forums like an internet Flying Dutchman. It's my alternative to pacing. Why? Because I'm fretting over my submissions and can't do anything about them.

I have eight short stories out on submission. The -- how shall I put this-- most finely aged submission celebrated its first anniversary in the hands of one editor way back in June.

Novelist chuckle. A year! A mere year and she's losing it?

Yeah, well, the short story market is a little different from the novel market.

Editors may have just cause to grumble about clueless writers. Somehow the concepts of being an artist and acting professionally can't co-exist in the brains of many writers. The horror stories I hear while talking to editors are funny to me because I don't have to deal with it.

The guilt by association isn't fair though. Some of us read submission guidelines and even follow them. We restrict our artsy-fartsy side to writing stories. If I ever submit something in violet, cursive type on scented paper, it's going to be to an editor I know very, very well and who will appreciate the joke. I also won't expect that story to be accepted.

Editors aren't the only ones who are subjected to iffy manners. Writers have some reasons to get grumpy too.

Even though he rejected my story, Sean Meriwether from Velvet Mafia is my ideal editor. I wish everyone I submitted to was as good at communication as he is. He sent an e-mail acknowledging my submission. He sent another e-mail telling me when he expected to make his decision. He sent a kind rejection.

It doesn't sound like much, but I really appreciated it. I e-mailed a note thanking him for that. (Not for the rejection. I'm not a literary masochist. I thanked him for keeping me informed.)

Unfortunately, since then, I haven't had a story that I felt met his needs. Sure, I have a hot vampire story waiting for the right publisher, but Sean actually flinched when I told him about it. Oh, it was a small cringe, a tiny twitch of his eyelid, but I saw it. Won't be submitting that tale to him any time soon! When I do have a story that's right, he'll be the first person to see it though, because he's the god of good manners.

I won't name names on the other end of the spectrum. The anti-Seans. I won't trash a reputation simply because I felt the need to pull a story. What if it was simply a personality clash? Or maybe I was being the difficult one. (No. That couldn't be it. I'm a frickin' saint.) Whatever the reason, my bad experience might be your wonderful one, and there's nothing to be gained by catty sniping.

To be fair, most editors I deal with are very professional. However, I choose my submissions carefully. If an editor writes, I've read their work. If they've edited an anthology, chances are I've read it, and that I know a writer with a story in it. I ask. I do my homework. I'd rather not submit than deal with an unprofessional amateur.

As for my impatience, I have, twice in the past, sent polite e-mails inquiring about submissions that I assumed the editor had in hand. Assumed because there was no communication acknowledging the submission. In both cases, I waited six months after the deadline for submissions to inquire about the status. In both cases, my story was eventually rejected. As a writer, it's very irritating to have a story tied up that long and have nothing to show for it. So even though it would nice if the editor would drop me a line telling me how things are going, I'm not going to ask about the submission that's been out for 14 months-- just in case past results are any indication of future outcomes.

In the meantime, I suppose I could read something. If only Mike Kimera's new book would get in the bookstores. I waiting to review it. Impatiently, of course.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Black Swan Events

In its day, this was the epitome of mathematics and engineering. It was more than a rich man's toy though. It was a study tool. Meticulous mathematics was applied to the gear ratios and the movements so that the model mimicked, as best it could given the scale, the observed workings of the cosmos. This was applied technology. The cutting edge of science.

Beyond that, look at the artistic detail the craftsmen put into their work. The marriage of Art and Science. Absolutely beautiful.

And a huge, murky load of codswollop.

How could I help loving something so exquisitely wrong? So tragically failed? It is pathos, schadenfreude.

Of course it's easy for us to look back and snigger. Circular orbits. What were they thinking? But those people weren't idiots. They observed, they pondered, they crunched their numbers with amazing accuracy without computers or calculators. Their only mistake was that they didn't question every little assumption that they used as their basis for their higher theories.

Then Copernicus dropped a black swan event on them. I'm sure that their brains were blown away.

A black swan event is an outlier - something so far out of imaginable circumstances that you fail to work the possibility that it might happen into your theories. And why would you? It's SO far outside the realm of the imaginable that you can't imagine it. That's the point.

For those mathematicians and astronomers, elliptical orbits were a black swan event. For us, it's built into our expectations. We think we can afford to look smug. But think about this. When did you learn about dinosaurs? In the 1970s? Guess what. Half or more of what you learned has since been completely refuted. Dinosaurs were warm blooded. Some raised their offspring. There's no such thing as a Brontosaurus...

So what does this have to do with writing, you ask?


If you're looking for a story to tell, how about placing your character in their equivalent of a pre-Copernican universe. Everything moves in order. Everything is predictable. They may not be happy, but they understand their world and they've carved out a place in it. Then throw in a black swan event. Shake up that world like a snowglobe and set expectations on ear. Make your character have to face every given in life and question how valid it is.

Examples: Gone with the Wind. Alice in Wonderland. The Color Purple. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Interview With the Vampire. Topping From Below.

It works in every genre. Almost every murder mystery involves a black swan event. Who really thinks that they're going to die? I mean now? That person isn't going to pull the trigger. That one little lump of lead can't be enough to kill me. This isn't really happening, is it?

Many BDSM novels follow this path. I can't believe I'm doing what that person told me to. Am I really going to obey that order? Am I getting turned on by this?

One note of caution though. Like Copernicus, you better be able to back up your tale with some believable patter. We're as invested in our version of reality as those astronomers were. If you're going to destroy our comfort zone, you have to replace it with something equally real. Not only does your protangonist have to finally accept or endure topsy-turvy, your readers have to willingly follow you. Make things as dire, dark, or absurd as you wish, just make sure we have a reason to buy into it. Black swans we might be willing to accept, but purple crocoducks?

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Next Big Thing

Forget vampires. Forget shapeshifters. Forget wizards.

I've had a vision, and it tells me that the next big public obsession will be sun signs.

Brace yourself now for the cheesy bar pick-up lines you know are coming. Oh, they'll probably be updated with a hint of Japanese culture, like a wasabi stinger, but underneath, they'll be the same pathetic attempts at conversation. Repeat after me in your best unctuous swinger's voice: "Hey baby, I'm a Libra, Type A. What's your sign and blood type?"

Back when people were very into the zodiac and the Age of Aquarius, I read the book House of Scorpio. I don't remember much about the story other than it was a mystery, and in that world, everyone typified their sign. I thought it was so cool. I'd love to read it now and see just how trashy it really was. (Apparently I'm not the only person who remembers this novel and would like to reread it. I found a discussion forum, believe it or not.)

I think zodiacs and horoscopes will catch on again and be the next really big thing, so dust off your charts, align Uranus with a pert Moon, get laid at the House of the Rising Sun, and pound out a novel about Leos ascending and Virgos in flagrante delicto.

Trust me on this one, darlings. Would a Capricorn lie to you? Only if there was a profit to be made.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A Smut Writer's Bookshelf

So what does a smut writer keep close as she writes?
That's what you were thinking, right?

Reading off the spines straight across the top shelf near my computer:

Roget's Thesaurus. Open to 41.1 REDNESS. I was looking for a word for red that also had a musical connotation. Didn't find one. I frequently work layers of meaning into stories by choosing words that can pull double duty. Sometimes it's refreshing to have red simply mean red though. The thesaurus rests on top of the other books because I got tired of pulling it off the shelf. Now it's at the perfect height to stand in front of as I flip through pages.

Great World Atlas. Maps fascinate me. I pour over this when I'm doing research. Geography influences culture.

Merriam Webster Dictionary. Sanity check for spellchecker.

Outbursts - A.D. Peterkin. So I can teach my spellchecker dirty words.

The Art of Seduction - Robert Greene. While you can't watch Casanova at work, at least you can get a good overview of his technique. When you write short stories, you can get away with physical attraction as the driver for the plot. Once you get into a novel length work though, you need to show seduction. Learn from the masters.

Leatherman's Handbook - Larry Townsend. This is aimed at a queer audience, but he's so at ease with the subject, knowledgeable, and very readable. Can't beat that combination. Even though he probably doesn't mean to present a history lesson, he shares interesting insights into the changes in queer culture over the past thirty years or so.

Slang and Euphemism - Richard Spears - When I want to make sure my improper English is proper. No better or worse than any other slang dictionary. Not essential.

Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice To All Creation - Olivia Judson. If you write speculative fiction, and you want to create truly alien beings, this is the source. Transexual fish, multi-sex fungi, cannibalism, genital mutilation, you name it. Your backyard never looked so scary. This book is a font of inspiration for your imagination. If biology had been presented like this in school, I would have been a science major.

The Browsers Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases - Mary Varchaver and Frank Ledlie Moore. A great way to find out you've been using some French word the wrong way for years. I use this a lot.

Moist - the last issue printed. I hope Liam is able to get it going again.

Auden's Collected Poems - WH Auden. You probably know his poem Funeral Blues, which was read in the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral. I like Lullaby too. I'm not into poetry. I think I once told someone it was like masturbation -- do it if you have the itch but don't make me watch. My opinion since has completely reversed. Go ahead and show me what you've got. Just don't make me read your poetry.

Black Tulip - Dumas. Combines Dumas, one of my favorite writers, with my passion for stock market history and Tulip Mania. (Okay, you have your hobbies, I have mine. I'm also hooked on Victorian age machinery, clocks, varacolici, steampunk, Baroque models of the universe, and the before mentioned maps. Get your Freudian out and interpret that list.)

Zen philosophy, Zen Practice - Thich Thien-An. I swear I'm going to read this some day.

Be Here Now - Ram Dass. A spiritual picture book. Acid poured down like rain in monsoon season while he created this text (not a guess. He admits it), and I think maybe recreational drugs are required to slog through it on the, "Wow dude! That's, like, wow," level. A Buddhist friend suggested this book to me. I think he's still smirking, the little rat. Or should I say the tall, thin Bob-like rat? You know who you are, Bob. You'll never achieve Samsara like this. Buddhavista, my ass.

The World of Zen - Nancy Wilson Ross. I always find something in this. The section on Zen esthetics in visual art makes me think about the use of silence and space in writing. Hemingway could do that. Read his short story The Hills Like White Elephants. I'll bet you never thought of Hemingway as Zen before.

The Wisdom of Insecurity - Alan Watts. Deceptively approachable. Has it's massive bullshit moments, but there exist those occasional passages that are like a whiff of spiritual smelling salts. Just so you don't get any ideas - I'd make a lousy Buddhist. But damn, I love that philosophy.

Elements of style - Strunk and White. A different belief system. Am I the only one who suspects that the Strunk wore polka-dot bow ties?

Self-Editing For Fiction Writers - Renni Browne and Dave King if I had to pick only one book to keep, this would be it. When I hear that someone wants to write, I buy this for them. I read it at least twice a year, and always find something to cringe about in my work.

Elements of Arousal - Lars Eighner. This is second only to Self-editing for fiction Writers. Written for writers of gay smut, this is universally applicable.

Eats, Shoots, and Leaves - Lynne Truss. This won't simply be reshelved; it's going in the giant plastic bin of exile in my garage. I hate her tone.

latest issues of Mental Floss magazine and Other magazine.

My composition books. I take notes at writer's workshops. Many notes. Mainlining caffeine through an IV drip helps.

Green Man - William Anderson. I keep meaning to write a greenman story. I love a myth that hasn't been castrated.

World Mythology - William Doty. Honesty, I'm not happy with this book. It isn't bad, but I always feel as if the mickey was knocked out of these stories to make them acceptable to Baptist spinsters. I want the hot, natsy originals. If anyone knows a source of unbowdlerized mythology, please share.

Rip-Off, A Writer's Guide to Crimes of Deception - Fay Faron.
Deadly Doses, A Writer's guide to poisons - Serita Deborah Stevens
The Casebook of Forensic Detection - Colin Evans. I lump these together. You might notice a trend. I love mysteries, but I can't seem to write them. Whole different set of talents. So I never use these books, but I can't get past the idea that I just might some day.

A Story is a Promise - Bill Johnson. This is about screenplays, but most is applicable to novels. If you want to chart out your plot, this is a great source.

Cowboy Bebop - volume II. How embarrassing! How did this get there? (I want to be Faye Valentine in another life. Or Spike. Do you think Jet is doing them both?)

Living Wicca - Scott Cunningham. I hang with a lot of wiccans. It's always good to know what kind of wine to bring for Samhain celebrations, or proper guest etiquette for jumping the broom.

latest issue of Asimov's science fiction

Masks of the Gods - Joseph Campbell. Well, if he inspired Lucas to such scintillating dialog and heavy-handed plotting, he must be great. Okay, admission time. I try to read this. Really. I do. Any night I can't get to sleep, I whip this baby out and Zzzzzz.

So, what do you reach for while you're writing smut?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Lisabet Sarai's Fire

Lisabet Sarai is one of my favorite erotica writers. From the anthology Sacred Exchanges to Raw Silk , her stories have that dream quality that makes the rest of the world go away. As I read, I become aware of my body. Aware of my breathing. Arousing stuff.

Although Lisabet often bemoans that her characters feel too similar to her, as a reader, I found a wide range of voices in her newest collection: Fire.

I'll ignore the easy puns about the title story, Fire. The hardest thing to convey in a fetish story is the sexual connection, but Lisabet brings you inside the mind of a man with a fire fetish and lets you feel the attraction. Creepy? Yeah. Enjoy the chills.

Butterfly is one of those stories where you ache for the character. He denies himself happiness because he can't get past the one flaw of his seemingly perfect lover. While the end was realistic, I wanted to shake him.

Perception is a great domination and submission story that doesn't rely on any of the trope usually associated with power play. Hot, fun, and refreshing.

Thieve's Honor is about a pickpocket who gets caught in the act by a mysterious man with a proposition. Never mind all that. This is one where you just have to go along for the ride. The train sex had me squirming in my seat. Lots of sassy bravado from the main character, and more hot sex.

I could go on about many of the stories in this collection. Wednesday Night at Rocky's Ace Hardware Store is what you wish your Wednesday nights were like. Vows is spiritually steamy. Detente - well- let's say that those domestic arrangements would suit me just fine, if I were David. So pick up a copy and enjoy. When Lisabet takes you along, you simply have to trust that you're in the hands of a master.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Stories that Die

Since I read the call for submissions back in April, I struggled to create a story for the Garden of the Perverse anthology.

The story had to be like a fairy tale with some kind of moral. I immediately thought of a good moral. I tried to work back from it to fill in the story. And tried. And tried.

I had characters, setting, moral, but couldn't make those elements align like cherries across the screen of a slot machine. No pay-off. Sigh.

By mid-May, since nothing else worked, I told myself that I couldn't work on it for three weeks. Usually when I self-impose a writing ban, by the time it elapses, I'm more than ready to get back to it. I may say that I'm not working on a story, but that doesn't stop me from thinking about it. Besides, in Mid-May, I went to Saints and Sinners writer's conference and expected to come back to my computer energized and ready to write. (If you're a GBLT writer, go next year. I had an incredible time.)

End of May-- no story.

I write every day. Meaning physically typing. I put in at least two hours a day, seven days a week in front of my computer, and usually more on the weekends. So I was writing, but editing my novel, not on the submission for Garden of the Perverse.

End of June-- no story.

I tried. It simply wouldn't come to me.

I finally had to admit that the story would not work. Damn. I loved that moral. I loved the characters. But the more I forced it, the worse the crap that I wrote. I finally had to face the horrible truth. I had to let it go.

Death of a story. Copious weeping and gnashing of teeth. Ashes and sackcloth.

Mid-July -- every day, I go to Wikipedia and pull up about ten random pages. As I'm flipping through, the subject on a page catches my eye as a great title. I read the article. By the time I'm at the end of the entry, I have my story. (Different moral, different characters, different setting.)

Some stories have to be sacrificed. They have to be set aside, shunned, ignored, and allowed to die. It isn't easy. I still have hopes that one day at least my characters will be revived. I was very fond of them. I invested a lot of imagination in that tale, but it was DOA, and letting go was the right decision, even though it wasn't easy.


Monday, August 01, 2005

Micromanaging Your Characters

I was in the National Gallery in Washington D.C. a couple years ago. As I walked into a large, open gallery, I looked at the nearest painting. I saw smears of muted browns and thought, "What an ungodly mess."

I moved on to look at the other paintings. For a time, I sat on the benches in the center of the room and refreshed my eyes by staring at the stark white of the walls. Then I walked around the gallery again. Across the room, I looked back at the "ungodly mess," saw Monet's Waterloo Bridge at Sunset, and was smitten.

Feeling like an idiot, I moved closer. I stood directly in front of the painting, at arm's length as Monet must have while he painted, and the subtle brushstroke by brushstroke changes in color were even more awesome, because the artist didn't have the luxury of painting his canvas from across a gallery where the distinctions were clear. He had to be right up against the "ungodly mess" and make sense of it.

In a way, writers need to be able to do the same thing. Many of us "see" our stories like movies in our minds, and we try to translate that visual into words. The problem comes in the translation. Many beginning writers (I will not except myself from this. I am guilty, or was.) feel the need to take the reader by the hand and show every small detail of the scene.

What they deliver is the engineer's blueprint for Waterloo Bridge. Technically detailed, but souless.

I don't need to read:

"He unlocked the door to his hotel room and opened it. The blue door swung into the room. She swept past him into the room. He followed her into the room, closed the door behind him, locked it, and bolted it. With his left hand, he flicked on the switch for the small brass lamp that sat on the small cherry desk with the graceful cabriolet legs. They kissed, at first lightly, and then with more passion. His left hand pressed at the small of her back, pulling her tight against him as his right hand tangled into her long blonde mane of curls. She (I'm so tempted to write "whilst, and at the same time" since I'm writing bad on purpose.) gazed deep into his sapphire blue eyes that dominated her and kicked off her shoes, using her toes to pull down the heelstraps. He took glasses from the sink in the bathroom to the small honor bar. He opened the black refrigerator. Inside, he found an airplane sized bottle of his favorite scotch-- a brand that showed he was a man of wealth and taste. Twisting the cap off using his right hand, he poured the amber fire (I'm having too much fun here) into the glasses. He carried the glasses in one hand as he crossed the room to her with a predatory prowl. He handed her one glass with his left hand. She took it with her right. Her pink tongue snaked over the rim of the glass, tasting the liqueur that burned in her mouth. She set her empty glass down on the dresser between a pile of loose change and his hotel room key, where he'd tossed it. They moved onto the bed. He pulled down the covers with both hands as she threw the pillows into the narrow space between the Cal-King sized bed and the wall to the bathroom with an impertinent toss of her head."

Still with me? Do you even care what they do after this mind-numbing entrance?

Damn, I forget to mention her blazing emerald eyes and 36DDs.

Characters who are micromanaged through every move soon have readers scanning. Honestly, did you suffer through my entire paragraph? Or did your brain shut down? Detail clutters the picture and obscures the meaning of the scene. Details pull the reader out of the story, because the exact measures you put in don't fit the reader's imagination. Besides - they're dull.

What we should aim for is an impression of the scene. Highlight the important aspects such as emotion, arousal, etc., and cut away everything else. Think nuanced brushstrokes, not technical diagrams. Sure, anchor the reader in the scene by giving them some details of setting, but don't explain the carpet color or every step of every move. If you're resorting to right or left hand descriptions, you're micromanaging. Prime the pump of your reader's imagination and then trust them to fill in the details. Their hotel room won't look like yours, but if it doesn't change the plot, who cares?

Think of it this way- if a reader invests their imagination in your story, they're much more willing to stay with it because they've internalized it. They are part of the story. They participate in the fantasy. If you give them everything, they won't appreciate it.

So set down your pen, or keyboard, and step back from your work. Get some distance. Maybe refresh your brain before looking at your work again. Then try to see with a reader's eyes. You might be amazed to see what develops.