Thursday, December 27, 2007

Submissive Men

I've had a lot of private comments on my post about women and BDSM - and some public ones too. I was a little surprised because that was a bit of a rant - just me expressing my frustration with men who can not accept that a rational woman might choose to have rough sex. Apparently a number of other people are fed up with it too.

In that rant I mentioned how men who don't approve of women enjoying BDSM sex tend to completely ignore the idea of submissive men, and then I went on to ignore them in my rant. The specific conversations that pissed me off were about women, so that's where my mind was at, but it seems only fair to give equal time to the guys.

I only know two submissive men. So any conclusions I have here are based on a very limited sample size and colored by my perceptions, but... Submissive men aren't all that different from submissive women. Don't think for a second that means I find them less than masculine. Submissive men, including the gay ones, are still men. The similarities between submissive men and women are that they're educated (sometimes advanced degrees), have a good sense of humor, are mature in their sense of sexuality, and have above average intelligence.

Again, this is based on a small sample of the population, but it seems to me that men who embrace their submissive side must have a very secure sense of their masculinity. They don't seem to feel that it's threatened by the act of submission. If you're a submissive male, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Best Christmas Present Ever!

Got the contract for my novel Chaos Magic II: Love Runes in the mail yesterday, and a contract for Chaos Magic and Love Runes to go to print!!!!!! Happy happy joy joy!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I'm in an 80's Christmas mood.

Bear with me. The videos suck, but I love the songs.

Christmas Wrapping

Father Christmas

and Love is Around Us. (okay, this video isn't 80's, but I crack up at the Robert Palmer girls - which was an 80's vid - in the beginning, because they look a bit like vampires, and of course, that actor played Victor, the head vampire in Underworld. And yes, weird associations like that make me laugh.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Micro Managing My Characters

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know how I feel about micro-managed characters. If the author is playing Twister (He picked up the red coffee mug with his left hand while his right hand rested on the knee of his blue pants.) then the character is micro-managed. Writing a scene isn't like drafting a technical schematic. It's more like an impressionist painting. Capture only enough to get the idea across and move on.

Advice is so very easy to give, isn't it? Not so easy to follow, especially when it's your own.

I was working on a scene that was running like a movie in my head. I could see every detail of the room and what the characters were doing. And I caught myself transcribing everything I saw from my imagination onto the page. Wrong, wrong , wrong. I only need enough detail to anchor the reader into the scene. The rest is getting the characters from point A (where they were when the scene opens) to point B (where they are emotionally, physically, etc when it ends). The only things that should be happening in that scene are things that move the characters from A to B. That's it. I know that. So why am I looking at a scene I've just written and thinking "left foot, green?"

Thursday, December 06, 2007

BDSM and Women

Several groups I belong to have recently had discussions about BDSM. Many people will never understand the dynamics of a power exchange relationship. That's fine, but not understanding and willfully misunderstanding are two different things.

Those conversations usually center around submissive women. For some reason, the subject of submissive men is ignored, as if they are either figments of literary imagination or somehow beneath notice.

One of the most frustrating things to me is the tone of the discussion. Some men purport to love and worship women, and can't understand why women "let themselves be abused," because that man would "never hit a woman." The submissive (and some dominant) women on the discussion group then explain the vast difference between abuse and BDSM in well thought out replies - which are ignored. Why? The reason seems to be that the men feel that those submissive women are deluded and have bought into the idea that there's a difference, but there isn't, and the men are there to help them realize the error of their ways. So what those men are saying is that while they'd never "hit a woman," they are more than willing to tell a woman that she isn't smart enough or mentally stable enough to make a decision about her own body. Now that, to me, is abusive. The message is that women can't be trusted with their sexuality and that women can't possibly be turned on by that sort of thing because women are fragile and require kid glove handling.

Bullshit, guys. Stop the patronizing attitude. Loving and adoring women means treating them like rational adults, not coddling them.

The women I know who are submissive in BDSM relationships are not poor deluded mental cases. They are intelligent. Many hold advanced degrees. Many have careers that pay well. They are competent. And they are perfectly able to distinguish between sex that turns them on - which they seek - and abuse - which they would not tolerate. Submissive does not mean weak. Submissive does not mean stupid.

I wish I knew the magic words that would make the light bulb go off over those men's heads during those discussions. Unfortunately, their minds are so tightly closed that I doubt any of that light would get through to them.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Writing Rules

There are tons of writing rules, all of which are passionately debated on writer's lists. The problem with rules is that some writer breaks one, and does it so well that suddenly everyone sees the rule was merely a guideline.

The rules I'm having problem with right now are personal writing rules. I like to tell a story in a linear direction and not loop back in time with extended flashbacks and scenes. That seems pretty straightforward, right? Except that it's in direct conflict with another personal rule, and that is that the major conflict is foreshadowed or shown in the first chapter. So which one to break? Well, they are just personal guidelines, and I think it's more important to show the conflict, so I'm writing it out of sequence and then quickly getting back on the linear track. It can work. It better work. *sigh*

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Holy Hannah, It's December!

I swear that someone stole half a month from me while I wasn't looking. One day it was mid-November, and suddenly it's December. (I actually suspect that a couple months were swiped out from under me, but can't prove it.)

I never knew handing someone a plate of cookies was such a dangerous thing, but what was once a little gesture has turned into a tradition. Bah! Humbug! I swear that when the police come by with their Santa Float for the neighborhood kids, they park in front of our hovel because they know we'll come out with a plate of Charlene's Favorites, Nutmeg Logs and Toffee Squares. This year I even made pralines (with a healthy dose of Maker's Mark). And the cooking frenzy isn't over yet, because we're hosting for Hanukkah this year, so I'm on latke duty.

Tradition is a weird thing. Every year for Thanksgiving, I get assigned (among other dishes) the dreaded canberry pineapple jello mold. Even though I won't eat it, I dutifully make it. And every year, the only person who eats it is the SO, and he takes the smallest sliver he can cut. Then, when the older people are safely snoozing in front of the TV, those of us still in the kitchen make a command decision and dump it into the trash. No one ever questions why it isn't with the other leftovers. Why do I have to make that wretched thing? Because it's tradition. Why did I have to make the flaming yam surprise? Tradition. Did anyone eat it? No. All the non-traditional dishes I made were consumed, while all traditional ones were ignored. It's almost like sacrificial food at this point. I'm tempted to set up an altar and offer them up to... who? Maybe those who are no longer with us but who live on in recipes.

Thankfully, except for the latkes for Hanukkah and torepitas for New Years, there aren't many traditional foods left to make this year - and they're the good ones. At least, I've never seen one dumped in the trash.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Interesting Article on E-Publishers who also Do Print

Okay, interesting to me. I like to take things apart and see how they work. Anway, read it here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Someone sent me a private e-mail in response to my post about e-books. The question was basically: Wait, so you write romance?

Sorry I gave that impression. The short answer is that I don't write romance.

The long answer:
I write erotica and speculative fiction(science fiction). One of these days I'll write a mystery. Or I'll just slipstream it and combine all those genres in one story. I already have the story. I just need time to write it.

I talk about the romance industry a lot for several reasons. The major one is that represents 50% of the sales of printed books, and probably more like 75% - 80% of the e-publishing world, but that's just a guess based on what I'm see e-publishers offering. Any genre that big can't be ignored, because the readers of romance will ultimately determine where publishing goes and how it fares. (Much as porn chose VHS tapes at the expense of Beta, and also drove the big switch over to DVDs)

Another reason I watch the romance industry with so much interest is, as I've mentioned many times before, they know how to promote. I don't see any other genre reaching out to its core of readers the way that romance does. One of the biggest romance conventions in this country is for the fans, not the writers (although the writers attend in droves). Only science fiction reaches out for its audience the same way, and even then it's mostly about television and movies, not books. I'd love to see queer writers work at being accessible to fans and promoting more, because I think the niche is slowly dying. (I have a few theories on that, but I'm trying to keep this post on track)

One of the other things I admire a lot about the romance industry is the sense of community. I'm not saying that they're all angels, but as a group, romance and erotica writers are generous with information and their time. Comparatively, science fiction writers are rather stingy with advice and information. Mystery writers range the full spectrum. Don't get me started on the paranoia of literary writers I've met. Part of this difference between the genres might be because so many of the writers of romance and erotica are female, and women tend to understand the benefits of cooperation. It also might be that with 50% of the book sales, they can afford to be generous.

So that's the long answer. I don't write romance, but I pay a great deal of attention to what the writers do to boost sales and try to figure out what part of that can be translated successfully into other genres. Some of the culture of romance is unique. It can't be duplicated. But the rest? We'll see.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Analysing My Characters

I spent some time on the phone with DL King today to discuss my latest novel. This is one of the things I love about having writer friends. (Especially the ones who are so generous with their time). It's hard to talk to a non-writer about the construction and purpose of scenes. Readers tend to accept what's there as just the way it is. Other writers, however, know that scenes don't simply exist. They always serve a purpose (or they should be edited out) Either the scene moves the plot along, or it reveals something about the character(s). Ideally, it does both.

One of the hardest things to know is if I've gone far enough with a scene or if it's okay where it stops. I have a character who never apologizes for what he's done, but he will try to set things right. The discussion I had with DL was - should I have him apologize? That led to a long discussion about where the character was mentally. It's so fun to pick apart a character and analyze their motivations and actions. I want so much for him to apologize, because deep down I know he's a good guy. (I wrote him that way, after all) DL feels that he's not to that point of self-realization yet. She's right, of course. In the third book, I'll not-so-gently push him in that direction, and finally get him there, but as usual, it's going to take a lot of angst.

Once upon a time, in a management class, I saw a series that explained where your employees and customers were in terms of needs and wants, and how those motivations had a lot to do with when they grew up. Some of that is common sense, and some of it is buzzword bingo, but it's an idea that I return to when creating characters. People can change, but it takes a lot to overcome that inertia. The emotional levers have to be strong. People have to want to change. And they almost always have to face a major life event that makes change possible. What this means for characters is, of course, duh-rah-ma. It has to be powerful enough to shake them to their core and make them question what were givens in their life, and it has to give them a reason to want to change, which brings me back to my character. Poor guy. The next novel is going to be rough on him. But it's for his own good. Really. I'm not poking him with the calamity stick just for the hell of it.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday

Today is Black Friday, the day when all good little consumers rush out to the stores to spend money they don't have on things they don't need in an orgy of full-contact shopping. Thankfully, I was born without the shopping gene. The harder stores push me to spend, the more I dig in my heels. I can't remember ever having taken part in this charming little ritual and don't plan to start now. There aren't a whole lot of material things I need now, and if it's a "must have" gadget, I'm even less likely to truly need it.

Many times, I prefer to want something than to have it. For example, for years I've lusted over orrerys. I look at them on websites, in museums, and in antique stores. Do I need an orrery? No. No one needs an orrery. If I have a sudden, desperate need to know where a planet is, I can go to a million different websites and track it down. But I do enjoy looking at the orrerys, and I can admire them equally. I can like one for the detail on the planets and another one for the gleaming brass gears. If I were to buy one though, I'd have to pick just one (if no one needs an orrery, absolutely no one needs two), and the model I'd settle on would never be everything I wanted it to be. Ownership = lingering dissatisfaction. Lusting from afar = being able to enjoy them all.

I've been slowly gathering presents for the SO and family since September. I have a nice little stash at the back of my closet. The SO buys himself whatever he wants when he wants it, so he's very hard to shop for. I'm no easier. We're about at the point where we give each other experiences rather than tangible objects. That's fine with me. I'd much rather go on a trip than have another thing I have to find room for in the hovel's rather limited storage space. Family is tricky too. Since I have no idea what they want or need, even though it seems impersonal, I buy gift cards for all the nieces and nephews. I hope they use it unwisely to obtain their hearts' desires instead of buying something practical. That's what their parents' gifts are for.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Print versus E-Publishing

In my conversations with other writers about the state of publishing, one of the topics that always comes up is print versus e-pub.

Since Amazon just launched it's new e-book reader, I thought this would be a good subject. Early reviews of the Amazon product basically say that 1) it's way too expensive, 2) people want integrated devices instead of something dedicated to one function, and 3) it's bulky and heavy. Like the Sony reader, I've heard - but have not verified - that the Amazon product only takes the files you download through them and in their format, which means fans of e-books can't get books from all their favorite publishers. Looks like a swing and a miss, but it's nice that they're trying.

I've also heard that several of the big box book stores are looking into installing e-book kiosks in their stores so that people can download books while in the store. This seems awfully counter-intuitive to me. Anyone who is already buying e-books knows where to find them online. These are internet shopping savvy people. Why get dressed, drive to a store, deal with parking, shopping,etc. when you can stay home in your bunny slippers and accomplish the same thing? Book stores obviously want a cut of the e-book revenue stream but do e-publishers want to give the stores that cut (especially since those same stores refuse to give shelf space to the print versions of these same books)? Right now, the publishers have an audience that buys directly from them. Why would an e-publisher want to encourage a practice that will only cut into their profits? (book stores, including Amazon, take a huge cut of the cover price. So when Amazon offers a book for 40% off cover, you can imagine how deeply they publisher had to discount it to get Amazon to take it.)

Speaking of publishers... From various sources, I get two very different pictures of e-books.

Print publishers say there's no money in e-publishing. And yet, they're beginning to offer e-books and include e-publishing wording in their contracts.

E-publishers, on the other hand, say that there's no money in print. Some e-books sell for 1/3 of the price of printed books. That should tell you something about the cost of printing, shipping, and storing printed copies of books. (print runs versus print-on-demand is a whole other ball of wax that I don't want to get into right now) Printed books currently have more prestige than e-books, so some e-publishers do limited print runs of popular books. One publisher says that print is break even at best for them, but it makes their writers happy, so they offer it as a bonus to their best-selling authors.

So what's the truth? Is the money in print or e-publishing for publishers? It actually might be a bit of both. Print and e-publishing are two different business models (something a few publishers are finding out the hard way).

I think that a lot of it has to do with the audience. Many people who buy e-books are voracious readers. They can consume many books a week. (And man oh man, is this a dream slice of the market.) Being rather sharp, these readers are opting for e-books for three reasons 1) cost, and 2) storage (I'll get into #3 below). When they are done reading the story, it only takes up memory space on a computer. Storage gets to be a problem after a while with printed books (glances at my teetering piles of unread books around the house.)

This shouldn't come as a shock since 50% of the US market for print books is romance novels, but generally e-book readers seem to like romance. Ah, but not just any romance. Because these women are computer literate, they tend to be a younger crowd, and this younger crowd generally wants something more than her mother's regency romance that ends in a chaste kiss. Today's reader wants sex. So what you see in the e-book word is a huge representation of erotic romance novels. This is point 3 of why these readers opt for e-books. Print publishers lagged far behind on the demand for erotic romance books, maybe because they thought that sex was icky, but their readers sure don't feel that way. The big romance publishers are getting into the erotic romance market now, but the audience has already been shown a different product that's cheaper, faster, and available for them whenever they feel like buying.

The last thing I'd like to mention about print versus e-books is what it means for writers. Print traditionally paid an advance, printed the book, and did a little publicity, but they don't do publicity anymore, and advances are shrinking down to nothing. E-books typically don't offer advances, but most have generous royalty sharing contracts. Many e-book publishers offer chat rooms, lists, and other vehicles to help their writers promote books. And e-publishers can produce books much quicker than print publishers can. Many e-publishers are very hands-on with their writers and offer great communication, something print publishers notoriously lack. One added bonus - with e-books, you're never out of print. Your backlist is always there, so when someone discovers you and wants to go back and read everything you've written, they can get it. The earning life of a book is vastly extended in e-publishing.

So what will win in the end? I don't think printed books will ever go away, but when 50% of the market for books is romance, and the romance readers are buying e-books, and the writers are getting tired of the way print publishers treat them, well.... I'm sure you can do the math.

What's Happening Here?

One of the other big topics of discussion last Saturday night when I was out with Trebor was the state of publishing. Lately, this seems to be the major topic whenever I sit down with other writers. At lunch with M. Chrisitian and Sage Vivant, we sighed over the state of the erotica publishing world. DL King, Lisabet Sarai, and a few other writers are involved in what has been (so far) a disheartening conversation about print, e-publishing, backlists and shelf space. Add to that all the recent small press closures, and you've got a lot of writers sitting around asking, "What am I going to do with this MS?"

The picture is even worse in GLBT than it is in erotica. On one hand, I'm watching Saints and Sinners GLBT Literary conference grow every year, on the other hand, the number of viable presses is shrinking. I expect a panel this coming year at Saints and Sinners to address this crossroads for GLBT publishing. Has it's time come and gone? Do queer writers still need GLBT presses, or do they have a shot at the big houses? And if you do sell to a big name publisher, is yours their token GLBT book? Do they help you reach a wider audience? Do they get you out of the GLBT ghetto at the back of the store and into the literature or genre shelves like all the hetero writers? Do you want to be in with the hetero writers?

So what's happening here? Are erotica and GLBT books stepping into the mainstream? Or are our audiences going into mainstream genres and leaving us behind? Who are the crossover writers? Where did they get their start? And perhaps most important for hopeful authors out there, will those same first opportunities be around for them?

I wish I had an answer.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Trebor and Felice Reading

Saturday night, I went to a reading at Skylight books for Trebor Healey's A Perfect Scar and Felice Picano's Art and Sex In Greenwich Village.

It's always a pleasure to see Trebor (he even wore the cheesy rosary I gave him) and to hear his work. He read from his short story collection A Perfect Scar, but I love his poetry (Sweet Son of Pan) and his novel (Through It Came Bright Colors). We went out afterwards for drinks with a couple other friends and talked for hours, something I don't get to do often enough. We talked about where we'd run away to live if we could. I think we all want a remote cabin surrounded by pristine nature that's within walking distance of shops and entertainment so we never have to use a car again and we won't feel islolated, has a low cost of living, is in an artist's community full of intellectually stimulating people but that's free from all that attendant art diva nonsense, and we'd like for the weather to be perfect because we're weather whimps. If you know of such a place, let us know.

After my rather sassy introduction to Felice at the West Hollywood book fair, I was glad that he seemed to forgive me. He read from his new book Art and Sex in Greenwich Village. His reading was fascinating, so of course I had to pick up the book. I could have listened to him talk for another hour.

And I was so pleased to get to talk with Malcolm Boyd again. If you know me, you know my deep interest in spirituality despite my disgust with religion. Malcolm has been exploring gay spirituality for years and has a number of books out. Such a gracious gentleman. And his partner (I can never remember his name) is so sweet, and obviously also has a very spiritual core. I adore people like that, and talking to them is such a thrill for me.

Also in the audience (the reading was well attended. I was lucky to get a seat) - Stuart Timmons of Gay L.A. fame. He always makes me smile.

On a sad note, when I walked into Skylight Books, I saw a notice that Lucy the Store Cat had passed away. She's a character in a short ghost story I just sold (not as a ghost cat though). I guess I'll have to dedicate it to her memory. (The ghost in the story disrupts a reading, just like I'd seen Lucy do countless times.)

Monday, November 12, 2007

One Beta Reader Reports

My novel's been in the hands of two readers, and I've been pacing my
brains out waiting to hear their opinions (No pressure, darlings) and
one handed me comments last night.

Except one chapter to chapter transition, he said everything flowed well. Yay! And made sense. Double Yay! And he said, "Um, yeah, you had to show the bad guys get their asses kicked." Well, sure that's obvious now. Why it wasn't before, I have no idea. According to him it was a satisfying scene of devine retribution raining down on the two villains. That's what we want to see, isn't it? We don't often get jusstice in real life, so it's nice to see someone pay for their evil ways.

Oh, and I got this one little bit of side commentary that I loved: "That Sam is one messed up guy."

Sure he is. I wrote him that way. Poor baby. Every time his life seems
settled, I poke him with the calamity stick. Writers have to be
sadistic to their characters or nothing happens. But I guess I
shouldn't enjoy it so much....

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Trebor Healey reading in LA

Next Saturday, Trebor Healey and Felice Picano will be reading at Skylight books in LA.
Trebor's book was one of the last to be printed by Haworth Press, so the ones that are available now are it. After that, it's a collector's item.

Trebor is serving wine and snacks. I'll be there. Come by and say hello.

Saturday, November 17th @ 7:30 pm

Trebor Healey reading with Felice Picano, author of the recently-released Art & Sex in Greenwich Village: Literary Life After Stonewall

Skylight Books

1818 N. Vermont Ave.

Los Feliz District/Los Angeles



Sunday, November 04, 2007

Duh *smacks forehead*

The last two chapters of Love Runes have been giving me fits. Part of
it is what I call the downhill slide. I can see the end, I'm galloping
towards it at top speed, butsometimes I'm going so fast that instead of
taking the individual steps, I gloss over things. Anyone who has ever
walked down the steep slope of a sand dune or a mountainside knows what
it's like when suddenly you slip downhill a couple feet. Sure, you
moved faster, but you lost your sense of balance. Realizing that I was
in that precariousposition, I went back and forced myself to slow down and do it step by step.

The other problem I had was my Duh! moment. It would seem like a no brainier
that you have to show the bad guy getting an ass kicking for a
satisfying conclusion, but someone that huge obvious point escaped me
as I wondered why my last few chaptersdidn't work. Some things can
happen off-stage in a novel. The big confrontation isn't one of them.
Duh! In my defense though, I'd like to point out that there are two big
confrontations at the end of this story, and the one that I felt was
more important eclipsed the other one. Now that I have both, everything
else fell into place and I'm happy with the way it worked out. I'm a
little late with this, but I couldn't have turned it in the way it

Oh - and another little piece of satisfaction - I
estimated that this story would come in at 70,000 words. Final count is

Thursday, November 01, 2007

November Reviews at Erotica Revealed

The new reviews are up at Erotica Revealed .

I've been waiting impatiently to read Jeff Mann's A History of Barbed Wire ever since I heard him read from it at the Lambda Literary Awards panel at Saints and Sinners (THE must-attend writer's conference of the year) last May. It was worth the wait. This is what Erotica should aspire to.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Running Late

Well, I'm a few weeks behind where I wanted to be on Love Runes. I did my first print last night even though I know part of one scene is missing. Why I printed it before I fixed that scene, I have no idea.

I have a hard time editing on screen. I tend to see what I meant to write, not what's actually there. On paper, it hits me between the eyes. What I like to do is edit about ten pages and then fix it in the computer, and then do ten more pages. Today I hope to get through at least 50. Because I promised this by October, and it may still be October, but just barely. (Which may explain my "late to class, can't find a seat, drop my books all over the floor, stern stare from the prof" dream last night)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What's Allowed?

As I'm working through my second draft of Love Runes, I'm thinking a lot about what erotica writers are allowed to write and what we aren't. In a perfect world, where the First Amendment was respected, there would be few limits on writers. Currently, if a story is marketed as literature, the writer can throw almost anything on the page and know that his/her publisher will back him/her up. Reclassify it as erotica and suddenly the PC police are knocking. The funny thing is that the police in this case are self-policing units from the erotica publishers themselves. Not that I blame them. A literary work can show a sixteen-year old high schooler engaged in sex. An erotica writer would probably do time for the exact same scene and have to register as a sexual offender. Think I'm joking? Read Prince of Tides and then read up on the Red Rose obscenity case. Since the DOJ has almost zero respect for the First Amendment, and doesn't care so much about successful cases as persecuting people who produce stuff they don't like, no sane erotica writer goes there. We are saddled with the unrealistic world of eighteen year-old virgins. While writing sex between minors could get us thrown in jail, in many states a fourteen year-old can get married (usually to some creepy old dude. who's the pedophile here?). The disconnect between reality and what we're allowed to write is bizarre.

Certainly with the Red Rose case, and in many other cases, the text is stuff I would never want to read and I think is in (to put it delicately) bad taste, but since when is taste to arbiter of what's legal? Probably since always, but it shouldn't be that way. Muzzle voices you don't like, and the next thing you know, there are no voices left. Text - stories made from imagination - should not be treated the same as proof (such as photos) that a crime has been committed and the marketing label - literature versus erotica - should not be the determining factor when First Amendment protections are granted or violated.

Not that I'm writing that kind of stuff, but the problem is that erotica publishers are getting nervous about mentioning all kinds of sexual play between consenting adults because the DOJ is waging a morality war against anything they don't like. First Amendment be damned. The DOJ want writers in virtual burkkas. And it really is too bad, because more than anything, Sam needs a spanking, an enema, and time in a corner to reflect on his behavior. Unfortunately, no matter how much he needs it, I can't write it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Second drafts

I'll admit that I used to hate rewrites. Somewhere along the line, I began to embrace them. Now I look forward to it. There's something liberating about giving up the idea of perfection in the first draft. Most important, it makes it possible to finish the first draft. Nothing brought on writing paralysis like having to go back and change prior chapters and the pressure to get it right the first time.

One of the great joys of the second draft is seeing the subconscious themes that developed the first time around. I can weigh their importance and either edit them out or enforce them. Usually I strengthen them, because they're interesting. Those hidden themes bring out depth in the characters and sometimes reveal their secrets.

Another good thing about the second draft is the ability to fix pacing and the sequence of events. The idea is to keep building the conflict until it reaches a breaking point somewhere in the last third of the story. Once all hell breaks loose, the last third (or less than that) of the story is putting the pieces back together again but in such a way that the picture changes. Why show this great life-altering event if it has no effect on the characters? How things resolve defines the novel. Things change for the better, or the worse, or my preference - for the better but with a bittersweet feeling. Nothing is ever gained without something being lost.

So I'm deep in the rewrite of Love Runes and working on perfection this time around. As usual, I'm sloughing off a lot of the extraneous stuff and focusing on the main relationship. I have all these other characters, and the temptation is to drag them in to be catalysts in every major event, but it's more interesting, and truer, to have the change come from conflicts within the relationship, not outside it. So I'm deleting a few scenes and adding few, and moving some stuff around, but it isn't the same process as writing the first draft.

After this, nothing changes. Everything get polished, but the story is set. The only things I may add after this will be to better describe the setting. That's my weakest point, but at least I know that I need to anchor the characters in a physical place rather than letting them be talking heads.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

It's alive, It's Alive, IT'S ALIVE!

Okay, it's Live, not Alive, but when I'm channeling Dr. Frankenstein, I don't paraphrase.

Can you tell I'm excited? Helen Madden (writer, artist, all around extraordinary person) created this website for my other pen name.

Jay Lygon Writes.

Pretty cool huh?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dan Boyle

I went to the reading last night for Dan Boyle's new book Housecleaning last night at A Different Light in West Hollywood. A year ago, he asked me to write a blurb for the back cover. I was really flattered, but eep! My first blurb. It was a pleasure doing it. It was also Dan's birthday and someone was brilliant and brought a little cake. The crowd warbled Happy Birthday off key while Dan blushed. Afterwards, they were headed out for dinner, but I was running on my last dregs of energy, so I went home. Ahh, the glamorous life.

Oh. This story is for Trebor, since I know how much he LOVES the Abbey. After a one and a half hour drive to WeHo, I really had to pee. Since I always park across from the Abbey, I headed in there to use the bathrooom. At the gate, this guy steps in front of me and asks if I'm there for "the event." He's giving me so much attitude that I'm tempted to tell him that no, I really just think of them as a convenient pit stop when I'm in WeHo, but I don't. He directs me around to the other entrance. Whatever. Make a beeline for the bathroom. Commit eye adultery with the cutest baby dyke while I'm waiting for a stall, and then go on my merry way, about half a pint lighter.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dia de los Muertos

I had the nieces over this weekend. We made sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos. We don't have an altar to pile the skulls on, and we won't be visiting a cemetary any time soon, so we're not truly celebrating the day the right way. This was the gringo version - suitable for school credit but completely superficial. I have mixed feelings about abetting faux cultural understanding. On the other hand - why get all angsty about it when there's spare hot pink icing to decorate our own faces with? My hands are mottled with food coloring, and I've pretty much decided that royal icing is a royal pain (not to mention how bad it smells), but we had a blast.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


I have a love/hate relationship with vampires. Mostly hate, although hate implies a deep emotional reaction, where my reaction is mostly eye rolling.

To be fair, I've read some decent vampire novels. The ones I like have vampires as characters but the story isn't about being a vampire. Both of M. Christian's novels come to mind as examples of stories I've enjoyed.

I also enjoyed Bram Stoker's Dracula, but for a different reason. The Romanian side of the family was none too happy with "that drunken Irishman's" vilification of the "great Christian leader, Vlad Teppes." Seriously. One wonders what it takes to be considered a bad ruler in Romania. I'd ask Nicolae Ceausescu (AKA Genuis of the Carpathains - I wonder if he picked that himself), but they executed him before the trial, twice. Once in private, and then once again in a dramatic re-enactment for the cameras. Vlad probably would have approved. But back to Dracula... Reading the book was an act of defiance against the family. I didn't care too much about vampires being unholy beings or whatever it was that got everyone's knicker in a twist. What I loved was how incredibly campy it was. Slutty Lucy, who gave into her desires instead of holding onto her virginity, dies for her sins and is buried in her wedding dress as a reminder that she can never fulfill the pinnacle of womanhood- marriage and family- so she steals a baby from a crib and snarls over it outside her crypt while a Van Helsing wields a cross and uses it to bring her to salvation. Campy, campy, campy, campy, campy.

So why am I talking about vampires? Because I'm writing a vampire story, of course. This will be my third vampire story. I always swear them off, but then I get sucked (hah!) in. I've always seen vampires as a metaphor for disease. Invite them to cross your threshold (a worldwide symbol for protection and for body) and you're doomed. Understanding the role they played in folklore doesn't make writing them any easier though.

I have this logic problem. Things have to make sense scientifically to me, even if I'm talking about mythical beings. Vampires are improbable. If they turn everyone they feed from - like members of a pyramid selling scheme- pretty soon the geometric ratio is off the charts and everyone on earth has been turned. Then what? Oh sure, by saying a person has to be bit three times slows down the conversion rate, but still...

Maybe the reason why so many vampire stories have me rolling my eyes is that no one ever brings anything new to the myth. Vampires have these set rules that they live under. No sun, no silver, no garlic. The reason for that is that when you create a super-scary Freudian creature, you have to give average Joe Villager the ability to vanquish it with items that are at hand so that the story can end with human superiority re-established. So we're all playing with an understood set of rules that haven't changed in a couple hundred years. I'm tired of it. If I'm going to write vampires, it has to be something different, because anything that can be said about vampires as we know them has already been said a million times.

Monday, October 08, 2007

West Hollywood Book Fair

I'm making these entries out of order. Sorry.

Last weekend, I worked at the West Hollywood
book fair. I had a great time working the booth with James Buchanan. We
were right next to A Different Light's space, so everyone I knew walked
by us at some point.

Lovely people I got to see:

Stuart Timmons (Gay L.A., a double Lambda Literary Award winner)

, Charles Flowers of Lambda Literary, Trebor Healey, Moses (sorry, I can never remember your last name), Thomas Roche, Ali Leibgott, Fiona Zedde, Mike Szymanski and Nicole Kristal, and

Dan Boyle.

What a Weekend!

Writer, fellow kinkster, dear friend, and editor of Erotica Revealed D.L. King came to town for the weekend. Unlike my visit to New York, I didn't get flogged this time, but not for lack of trying....

D.L. already knows LA which is a blessing as she's already been to the obvious places. We tried to find a leather store she knew, but even our combined research skills failed us. Not one to be daunted, I instead initiated her into my love of hooker boot shopping.

Alas - we took no pictures but just in case you think I'm kidding when I say hooker boots, what I mean is a store that stocks at a minimum 4 inch platform shoes in every color as well as clear plastic platforms with plastic goldfish, silk roses, or glitter in them as well as every conceivable shade of thigh high boots from black leather spiked heels to leopard print to glittery powder blue to white vinyl platforms with lip prints and dollar signs up the leg. The first store we went into was managed by a surly Russian couple who must have decided we weren't their kind of customers and pestered us until we left.

D.L said, "That's the first time I've ever been kicked out of a store for not being slutty enough."

Those Russians should have known that appearances can be deceiving. Even our fellow erotica writers would probably agree that we have really smutty minds.

The second store is my all-time favorite. The manager was nice and actually very helpful. He offered to call his warehouse to see if they had the shoe we were looking for. Is that customer service or what? If I were as graceful on 6 inch heels as the exotic dancer who was trying on the shiny red platform shoes at the back of the store, I would probably wear some of the shoes he sells.

After hours of shopping, we drove Sunset from Hollywood to the Ocean and went to the Santa Monica Pier to watch the sun set.

But the best part of her visit was, as always, the chance to talk to her. That, and getting to see her lovely new rubber skirt.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other

Today is good and bad news day.

Good news - I'm about three scenes from finishing the first draft of Love Runes. I was on a roll yesterday and moved through a significant portion of the story.

Bad news - Writing, meaning typing the story into the computer, almost every day for three weeks has aggravated my arthritis to the point where my hands are weak and achy. I'm afraid to pick anything up, because I don't have the ability to grasp firmly and I drop things. Further bad news - pain pills and anti-inflammatories are murder on my stomach.

Good news - I'll be working a booth at the West Hollywood Book Fair today, so I'll have to give my hands a rest.

Bad news - I think any writer would agree with me on this one. When you're in the writing groove and it's flowing well, nothing is worse than having to stop. Having to eat, sleep, or take part in real life is annoying as hell. With the end of the novel so close that I can taste it, I'm crazy disappointed that I can't write. Lord knows that's all I'll think about today.

Good news - more and more friends have been sending emails saying that they'll be at the book fair, so I have at least twelve people I get to talk to who I don't see often. And I can pick up more books for my already teetering reading pile. Wait - is that good news or bad news?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Each Novel is Novel in Its Own Way

At Saints and Sinners one year, Poppy Z Brite made the comment that you don't learn how to write a novel, you learn how to write this novel (meaning the one you're working on). At the time I understood what she meant, but every novel I write, her words come back to me and I'm amazed again at how true that statement is.

Every novel is different - and I don't mean the story. I'm talking about habits. It used to be that my first draft was finding the story. That meant that I wrote a lot that I couldn't use. While terribly inefficient, it was okay, because all writing is practice. On the second draft, I'd have to get rid of abandoned secondary plots, (My rule now - if it doesn't loop back to the main plot, don't bother to write it in the first place.) dead ends, character inconsistencies, scenes that didn't advance the plot, etc. Third draft was where the polishing began. Now I either have a lot more discipline, or I'm learning my craft, because when I sit down to write, I have a better idea of the story. I know the beginning. I know the end. The path I take between those two points is still negotiable, but I have a direction in mind and I try to stick to it. If I create a scene that's very cool, but redundant, or doesn't help the story move, I delete it right away. Maybe I'm just getting better at recognizing those.

I used to work on whatever scene grabbed my attention instead of working from page one to the end. Jumping around is called a non-linear style. It works very well for some people. I've learned that it doesn't work for me. If I jump ahead, I nearly always end up completely rewriting a scene. Trying to save what I already have is actually more work than starting from scratch. So now I work in a linear fashion.

Part of the linear versus non-linear debate is the idea that if you write non-linear, you can skip the dull parts of the story and move on to the part that's fun to write. Here's my crazy idea - skip the dull parts, but then never go back and write them. If it's dull for the writer, it's going to bore the reader. So unless you can make those transition scenes or slow parts interesting, find a way to avoid them completely.

Yet another thing that's changed is my sense of how much story I can tell. My plots are getting less intricate because I realize that I can't manage a huge cast of characters and secondary plots, etc. in the space that I have. Strangely enough, the more I strip away, the less I seem to lose. Everything that remains is distilled and intensified. That works for the types of stories I write.

I'm coming into the home stretch with this sequel to Chaos Magic. It's flowing well. I don't have a lot of excess to cut on the rewrite. I've headed off the path a few times, but recognized it fairly soon and was able to get back where I needed to be. The story is leading to the ending I wanted. In all, an amazingly efficient and good experience. All of which makes me wonder - what will I learn about writing a novel when I go to write the next one?

Monday, September 24, 2007

So, I did lunch with Superman today.

Not really Superman. His alter ego. Clark Kent.

Oh god, did I say, "Do lunch?" This is what happens when you work on the Westside too long. You stop, like, totally talking like someone real and start talking like one of Them. (To get the intonation right, you have to read the sentence above as if it were a question.) And by Them, I mean industry folk. If you have no idea what industry I'm talking about, count yourself lucky. The Westside is infested with them.

Clark Kent isn't his real name, but when you meet people online, you get used to their handles. So I call him Clark. It's pure coincidence that another friend is the alter ego of yet another superhero. Last time we were all out for a bite in Hollywood (Not North Hollywood, not West Hollywood, just plain old Hollywood - which really means Los Feliz. Got it?) I complained to Clark and Peter Parker that I was the only one at the table without superpowers. (Super powers in this case being catching the eye of every WeHo 'mo slumming outside his 'hood. So it wasn't as if I really cared. I just liked complaining.)

Anyway, Clark, as you suspected, really lives in Metropolis New York, but he's out here for a five week stint, so I have him to myself. (Unless I convince the SF guys to come down for a pub crawl. Alas, my hooker boots are no more, so if the boys do a road trip, I will have to go shopping for suitably unsuitable footwear for the evening. I always wear inappropriate shoes.) We negotiated lunch down to burgers. I gave him a choice - Tommys (chili cheeseburgers and all the heartburn you can cart away. But where else but Pinks can you see limos and Ferraris parked next to the body of a luckless tweaker?) or The Counter . We went to the Counter. My burger was $12. Clark must have order a kryptonite chaser, because his set him back nearly $20.

This is why I don't do lunch on the Westside. This is why I flee it as soon as the sun sets. Okay- it's not the only reason, but it'll do. I think I'll be brown bagging my lunch for a month to make up for that one.

On the other hand - the company was worth it. Clark really is a super man. (I feel like pimping him - cute, single, successful, fit... single)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Today is National Celebrate Bisexuality Day!

I didn't even know there was such a day until recently.

Despite all the jokes about how to celebrate it, I think I'll spend the day writing and preparing for the West Hollywood Book Fair. If you're going to be in WeHo next Sunday, email me and I'll tell you where to find me. Here's a hint - it won't be sitting on a fence.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The P'Town Murders

I went to Jeffrey Round's reading for his mystery novel The P'Town Murders last night at A Different Light. The little taste of his book - a blue haired psychic healer and a secret agent - put me in the mood for murder (a murder mystery) so I'm really looking forward to curling up with this book.

Max Pierce (The Master of Seacliff) introduced Jeff. It's always great to see Max. And I recognized Jeff's bf Shane from Saints and Sinners. This is one of the nice things about going to readings and to Saints and Sinners - being a writer can seem very isolating, but if you get out there, you realize that you do have a community. And the best part of that community is that it's filled with vibrant, creative people.

After the reading, Jeff, Shane (there, now I feel much better that I have his name right) and I walked down to the Abbey for drinks. I asked Jeff the question I always ask mystery writers - Did you know 'who done it' when you started. They always tell me, "No." I don't' know why I keep asking. But I'm so amazed that mysteries aren't plotted out down to the Nth degree before the writer starts. I love mysteries, but I can't write them. Maybe I should listen to what these professional have to say and just dive in. But.....

Jeff is one of the last writers to get his book out of Haworth's Harrington Park Press fiction line before the shut-down. Unfortunately, that means he's got no support for promotion. (not that Haworth ever really promoted anyone) Also tied up in this Haworth mess his his second book in this series. Like all the other Haworth writers with contract, Jeff has no idea where things stand. I really feel for all the Haworth writers and hope that soon someone at that company has the decency to let them know what the future holds.

BTW - yes, I was in WeHo again, and yes, I parked at the same lot I always do, and yes, out of pure orneriness, I stood in the exact same spot I did Monday night and smoked a cig. This time, in peace. (of course, there's a world of difference between WeHo on a Monday night and a Thursday night. The town was hopping last night.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

So... The Other Thing That Happened Last Night

Last night, I had one of those weird moments in life where I'm not sure exactly what happened, if anything did happen, but I have my theories. I always have a theory.

After I took Nan Andrews and her sister on a quick tour of the Abbey in WeHo, we said our goodbyes. We went in opposite directions. Dylynn DeSaint, her partner, and friends were outside the Abbey talking to someone who worked there. I waved goodnight and crossed Robertson. Near the valet parking lot that I've used in WeHo ever since the narrowly avoided towing-and-police-impound incident, I decided to have one last smoke before I drove home. So I stopped and lit up. Across the street was the park. Behind me was a tall cinderblock wall. I was about ten feet from the end of the wall where it led into the parking lot. The street was well lit, but empty, and quiet. It was after eleven, but I was in WeHo. Beverly Hills adjunct. So the deserted street and late hour didn't worry me. Besides, if I walked around the corner to the parking lot, I knew that a couple attendants would be hanging out on the other side of the wall.

As I was smoking, enjoying the peace, and thinking that it was a successful evening, I noticed a man walking towards me on Robertson. He was about 6'2", muscled, mid-forties, dressed casual but nice. I decided he was no problem. Just a bear headed out for a late night drink. But of course I kept him in my sights, because I'm not an idiot.

He slowed down on the far side of the driveway into the parking lot and lingered. Even though I wasn't looking at him, he was in my peripheral vision, and he had my full attention. There was no reason for him to stop there. A few moments later, he started walking again. He passed me, but stopped within arm's reach of where I was standing.

I took a few steps towards the street, because I didn't want the wall too close behind me. But I didn't feel as if I was in any danger. Just being proactive.

What I expected at that point was for him to ask for a light. I debated being prudently rude and simply walking away if he spoke. Because when a large, muscled, strange man is standing within arm's reach of you on a deserted street late at night, no matter how nice the neighborhood, your mind kicks into high gear with what-if scenerios. But I still wasn't scared. Mostly I was pissed off, because I felt he was in my space, so I held my ground. In LA, a city of millions,benignly ignoring people is considered polite. It keeps you sane. You pretend people aren't there, and they pretend you don't exist, and you create your little mental space of solitude. But he was intruding on mine.

He hovered nearby for a bit, wandered not more than ten feet away, and hovered again. I didn't look directly at him, but he was looking at me. Thoroughly pissed off by then, I put out my cig (if I'd felt threatened instead of pissed off, I would have kept it in hand as a weapon), walked to the parking lot, exchanged nods with the attendants, and got into my car. When I pulled out onto Robertson, the guy was still standing there, watching me.

Okay - so perception is everything here. On the drive home, I wondered if he was a cop. In which case, I'm hugely insulted. Not that he thought I was dressed slutty (I went right from work, so I was in my slightly Domme suit -which is meant to intimidate the hell out of people I work with, but not to turn them on), but insulted because if he was a cop, and he thought I was working the street, then he also thought that I was the stupidest hooker on the face of the planet. A female hooker. In WeHo. Think about it.

My other theory is that he was world most inept cruiser. A straight man in WeHo looking for female companionship. Hmmm. Talk about someone not clear on the concept.

I've been trying to figure out a logical explanation for his actions that doesn't include him mistaking me for a hooker, but for some reason, my imagination fails me. The thing is, I see street walkers all the time in other parts of the city, and I in no way fit the description. I wasn't even wearing my hooker boots!

So you tell me - what do you think happened, or didn't happen, last night?

Iridescence Reading

I had a wonderful time last night at the reading for Iridescence.

A Different Light is a great host for readings and I'd like to thank them for offering space for so many of my friends when they have books out.

As always, it's a great pleasure to spend time with with Jolie du Pre. She's working her butt off to make this anthology a success and get the word out. She put together a great group of stories.

There's something extra that comes out in a story when the author reads it. Passages take on extra depth. Fiona Zedde's Night Music charmed, as it did when I read it, but the intimacy of the scene she'd written really shone. Princess Jolene Hui was darling. Dylynn De Saint's hot story of dressing room sex kicked up a notch. It was her first reading, but you'd never know. She performed like a pro and made the audience smile. And last but not least - dear friend Nan Andrews - (I think this was also her first reading) gave us just enough to pique our appetites for more.

After the reading, we walked over to a restaurant for a relaxed dinner and great conversation. I was in the center and had a hard time picking which way to turn to listen as all sorts of fascinating things were being talked about. As usual, we chatted about writers, editors, and publishers, but there were a lot of non-writers along, so the conversation ranged all over the place. Not a dull moment. I love spending an evening in the company of smart women (and a few men too).

Fiona Zedde will be a panelist at the West Hollywood book fair again this year, so I'll try to drop by and at least wave hello.

Monday, September 17, 2007

So Much Going On

Tonight, the lovely Jolie du Pre, wonderful friend Nan Andrews, and other writers will be reading from Iridescence at A Different Light in West Hollywood.

Last month, Mickeys (ah, the glimpses of go-go boys through their windows!) suffered from a huge fire. Knowing that A Different Light was only a few doors down from the popular bar, I was worried about that it might have had a lot of damage too, but they apparently only had minor smoke damage on the second floor. (To which I said, "The bookstore has a second story? Who knew?)

Next week in WeHo:
(I make plans to go to this every year, and something always comes up - and no, not in the giggly kind of way. Just sucky real life stuff. This year I'm not even going to try.)

Erotic Art Fair Weekend

TOM OF FINLAND FOUNDATION presents the:13th Annual West Hollywood — Los Angeles EROTIC ART FAIR WEEKEND SEPTEMBER 21st through 23rd

Artists Reception on Friday Sept. 21st: Cocktail party open to the general public at the Tom of Finland House $10.00 cover.Come see over 200 homo erotic works on exhibition at the foundation. 1421 Laveta Terrace Los Angeles CA 90026

Art Fair on Saturday & Sunday Sept. 22nd and 23rd:West Hollywood Park on San Vincente. 1:00pm to 7:00pm. Come meet artists from Around the World: Sculpture, Photography, Paintings, Sketches, Digital Renderings and more. Most major credit cards will be accepted. $12.00 admission good for both days of the fair.Life Drawing and Photography all afternoon. Different models both days! Bring your art materials or just enjoy viewing the human form.


September 30th is the West Hollywood Book Fair. I'll be there. Contact me through e-mail if you want to know how to find me.

And finally

Pop over to my Jay Lygon blog and read about the latest fantastic review for Chaos Magic.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I Get My Gold Star For The Day

Admittedly, I didn't drag my butt out of bed until nearly noon today, but I spent the rest of my day writing. Yay!

I'm finally getting serious about the sequel to Chaos Magic. I knew the beginning, I knew the end, but the middle part? Ugh. I've been muddling through that for months now. It got to the point where I was making everything hopelessly complicated and convoluted. Maybe I need to do that until I finally get frustrated with the Rocco embellishments and pare it down to something with clean, minimalist lines. After all, what does a story need? It doesn't need side plots and more characters. All it needs is conflict and resolution. Oh yeah - and sex. Hot, steamy, dirty, raunchy, sweaty sex. This is erotica, after all.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Good Writing Habits

On one of my writer's lists, people are discussing good writing habits, and I'm afraid that I seem to have few of them. I can't write while music is playing. I don't keep a stack of post-it notes nearby with bits of info, draw flow charts, interview my characters, write an outline, do copious amounts of research, etc.

As with any creative process, I think that whatever works is the right way. If you can listen to Metallica while you're typing away - do it. If it inspires you, even better. If you believe in muses and set out offerings to yours, do it. (But don't expect me to kept a straight face while you tell me about it). If you write historical fiction then you better do your homework, or prepare to be mocked.

Most of my non-typing writing work is done in the car as I sit in traffic. I think about the story arc, I puzzle out sequences, I imagine scenes. However, if I come up with some really great turn of phrase while I'm mulling a story, I don't lunge for a pen and the back of an envelope, because no matter how great it sounds in my head, I know that on the page it will come of as too twee (to borrow a lovely English expression). Besides, once I have this incredibly great phrase, I have to find a way to work it into my scene, which usually means some heavy-handed manipulation of dialog. So then I have all this clunky mess working up to one great phrase that only I adore. To avoid that, I murder that darling before it hits the page. All I try to remember is the emotional impact of the scene. That's what the reader is going to take away. If they notice the writing, then I'm trying too hard.

My research methods would shock most people. I shouldn't even admit to it here. What I do is get lucky after the fact. It's terrible to rely on it, but it seems to work for me. For example - in one story, I based my civilization loosely on the Inca Empire. A small plot point was that everyone in the civilization owed the government physical labor as part of their taxes. If you served in the military, you were exempt for life. Otherwise, one month a year you were out paving roads or building city walls. After I wrote that, I was researching the Inca religion and found out that the Incas had a system called mita that was a tax every citizen paid the government in the form of labor. Do I live a charmed life or what? Similarly, when I was writing Chaos Magic (as Jay Lygon), I had this concept of godhood as simply another state of being. In my fantasy world, gods weren't immortal. Then I was reading one of my Buddhists texts, and it showed a wheel with the various states of being. Human was one, hungry ghost another, and insect, and... God. And since these are stages of being on a karmic cycle, that means that gods aren't immortal. Aha! I won't even go into how well Wiccan beliefs dovetailed with what I'd already envisioned. Now, if I were trying to write a historical - even alternate timeline, or setting it somewhere I didn't know, I'd research everything down to the cracks in the sidewalks before I wrote word one. With fantasy, I don't have to, but I always feel better when I can find a real life example of what I envision. After all, even in fantasy worlds, the laws of physics apply.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

*Bangs Head On Desk*

You know how I always go on about how important it is to hang around other writers and talk to them? I always point out the positives. I forget to mention the negatives.

Other writers are the kids from the wrong side of the tracks, and they will lure you into doing things you KNOW you shouldn't do. For example, somehow I'm now committed to NaNoMo madness.

I first heard about National Novel Month five years ago from Amanda Earl. I thought I'd never heard of something so insane. 50,000 words in a month? Maybe if I had no job and had an entire novel outlined to the Nth degree before the first day, but seat-of-the-pants novel writing? No way. That's just madness. Now, in a classic game of writer chicken, several of the other Torquere writers double-dog-dared each other to commit to NaNoMo. And I'm one of them. Ack! I never would have done it if the other kids hadn't dared me. They're a bad influence.

This is what I get for musing aloud that I needed to take drastic measures to force myself to start writing again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

And yet again

This time the employees of the Department of Justice are searching for pictures of historical smut. Note the search string: Pompei Penis. (Us Dept Of Justice) [Label IP Address]
District Of Columbia, Washington, United States, 0 returning visits
11th September 2007
12:59:58 penis

Monday, September 10, 2007


Oh yeah, oh yeah! Make that a 3
Brother of Dragons on Rocket Mania, and....

Oops. Guess I got caught goofing off again.

This last weekend I spent a ton of time working on stuff related to writing, but did little actual writing. I edited a promotional chapter snip, did a chat, volunteered myself for booth work at the West HollywoodBook fair, volunteered myself for prep work for the book fair (Just call me Ado Annie. You know - the girl who cain't say no.), took care of my EPPIE contest entry, sent my snippet to Torquere for their birthday cake (mine will show up on the 21st), read up on HTML coding for a new website for my other pen name, read some of an anthology I'm reviewing for next month at Erotica Revealed, committed myself to reviewing several novels from Chroma, worked on promo graphics..... And oh yeah, possibly committed myself to one HUGE headache that will end up being really cool if I can make it work (and did a little world building to lay the foundation for this mystery project, because it was too fun to resist.)

All of which is important for getting my name out there, but it doesn't get books written. Maybe I should submit a query for my unfinished novel. Nothing like the fear of god (actually, my publisher, but I'm sure they don't mind me thinking of them as such) and a deadline to light a fire under me.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Have Your Hugged A Judge Today?

As the rats advisers continue to flee resign from the sinking ship Bush Administration to sell their already mortgaged souls for private sector money *ahem* just ahead of indictments to pursue other career opportunities, the Bush theocracy Bush Adminstration has been handed its ass suffered a few blows from the Judiciary the past couple weeks.

The first sign that the Bill of Rights would survive (bloodied, but not bowed) the Bush Administration came with the resignation of Gonzales. That was cause enough to dance, but the good news just keeps rolling in:

A Judge in Iowa recognized blatant discrimination when he saw it, and said so. No matter how people phrase it, these laws are designed to punish people for being who they are born to be. I bet the religious right dreams of the days before civil rights - you know - when life was so "good.*"

*Unless you were a person of color, female, Jewish, Catholic, any religion except Baptist, or disabled in any way.

A Federal Judge struck down part of the "Patriot" Act*.

*wherein being a Patriot means shutting your eyes, and your mouth, and being obedient cattle while the Feds run roughshod over your rights. Never question, never think. War is Peace.
Here, have some more Soma before your brain starts working again.


A U.S. District Court Judge said NO to state sponsored religion. Shame on Congress for trying to pull this fast one.

I'm just so pleased with our courts right now. You know, the more I pay attention to what's going on with the government, the more respect I have for the Founding Fathers. They foresaw that the Executive Branch would try a power grab and wrote checks and balances into the system to stop it. Sure, a lot of this is the courts protecting their turf from the other two branches, but if they don't fight to keep the other two from seizing power they were never meant to have, who will?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Attack of the Killer Himbos

I have a MySpace page for each of my pen names. The male name gets hit with friend requests from what I affectionately refer to as The Bimbo Whores several times a day. The same pictures come up a lot, always with a name like Fawn, Candi, or Jasmine. The girls all have the same stupid blurb about themselves. I could probably recite it verbatim by now, but I'll spare you the breathless literary style of a 50-something marketing mobster trying to sound like a 20-something hooker in heat. Part of the blurb is always this pitch: They all have sexy pictures that puritanical, mean old MySpace won't let them share with their special "friends," but if I just click on the link, I can view them. Oh Yay! May I? I know my idea of female beauty is far off the male view, but do guys really like such sleazy, plastic creatures? SPAM dude, if you want to lure me to a pay site, at least use better bait.

Until this week, my female pen name has been spared from that SPAM, but it couldn't last. Suddenly, every himbo on the face of the planet wants to be my friend. First off, Spammers, change the sales pitch. It's just weird for a guy to sound like a 20-something hooker in heat - a female 20-something hooker in heat. And second, my gaydar is pretty damn good, and it's pinging loud and clear with those pix. Even if I wanted to see sexy pictures of men, I like adult men, not boys. And while I love my gay friends dearly, they don't turn me on. So use pictures of bisexual men or straight guys, please. Last, but not least, you might want to check your name generator, because your boy pix are coming up with names like Fawn and Candi. Although come to think of it, those are probably perfect stage names for Himbo Whores.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Another Long Weekend, Gone

Here it is, Monday afternoon, and I don't feel a bit rested. I'm not complaining, much, because I had the most fantastic time. (Here is the part where I piss off a few friends) I went to San Francisco for a couple days. (I know, you live there, and I didn't tell you I'd be in town. Shame on me. But my schedule was so booked that I wouldn't have had time to meet you anyway. Next time. I swear. It will be all about spending time with YOU.)

Saturday afternoon - caught flight to San Francisco.

Saturday night - if you were near the Castro and you saw a woman in black hooker boots and a borderline Dominatrix outfit staggering around with the most gorgeous, fun group of men on the planet, then you should have yoo-hoo'd, because it was me.
Oh lord. When will I learn not to pub crawl in hooker boots? On the other hand, as Glitter Pig (not his real name, obviously) pointed out, they looked fantastic, and that's what really matters, isn't it? (bonus fun points- watching me trying to climb up on a bar stool while wearing a pencil skirt.)

Sunday morning - brunch with Sage Vivant and M. Christian. Not only are they fantastically nice, but smart too. I adore smart people. They give such good conversation. We commiserated over the current state of the print publishing world. Shared warnings and awful publishing experiences, gossiped, and chatted a bit about Sage's unique and successful Custom Erotica Source. Last time she put out a call for writers, I was tempted to apply, but as I told her at brunch, I recognize the ability to write another person's customized fantasy is a talent - a talent I don't possess. Lucky for people who are looking for a personalized erotic story to share with a lover or to enjoy alone, Sage, and her select pool of writers, do. Take her fun erotic personality quiz here. (I'm a top. Not news to me, although I think I'm a bit of a student too.)
Fans of erotica no doubt recognize M. Christian's name. I've reviewed several of his non-erotic books on this blog and for Erotica Revealed and Chroma. As a fan of his, it was a thrill to talk to him. There's something about eating a leisurely Sunday brunch while discussing fisting stories that appeals to my inner deviant.

Sunday night - My friend from England was visiting mutual friends in SF. We all met up for dinner. We were at a long table, so we played musical chairs through the dinner, which no doubt endeared us to the waitress. Every time she came by, half of us were in completely different positions. Don't worry. Every martini was matched with it's owner. Eventually. Maybe a few sips short, but how many people want to drink an entire key lime martini anyway?
Next week this group plus a few more are heading out on a couple boats to sail the Bay. I won't be there, which is probably just as well because I'm notoriously bad with motion sickness, but it sounds like fun.

This AM - caught flight back home. Everyone was talking about how hot it was in SF. That was nothing. It's 90 plus in my house right now. SF was mid-70s. I already wish I was back there.

Friday, August 31, 2007


After polishing Candy Conversation Hearts, I submitted it this morning. It felt good to get that one out the door. The more I struggle with a story, the less confidence I usually have in it, but I like this one. It's been a long time in the works. Several years. Which once again proves why writers should keep all those snippets and partially finished stores. Something can always be salvaged. This story didn't change substantially, but it still took a lot of work to make it right.

One of the great things about a short story is that you can have a malicious main character and maintain that despicable personality through the entire work. In a novel, the writer, and the reader, would get weary of it. Who wants to spend 200 pages with someone unlikable? But in a short, it works. That being said, I'm glad to be rid of her/it/him. (I picture the ghost as being female, but nothing in the story indicates a gender.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I Remember

the good old days when I did the dance of joy when I sold a story. Now I go into full victory dance when I finish one. Is that progress? I have no idea. But the ghost story is finally, finally, finally, finally done. It's a bit shorter than I'd like, but there's no way in hell, other than polishing, that I'm touching it now.

Victory dance!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Happy Happy Joy Joy

You can imagine how I reacted to this. So long Gonazales. We'll hardly miss ya.

The Bill of Rights survived him. Whew!

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Looks like the US Department of Justice (talk about your Orwellian terms) decided to visit my blog again. They used to always link from another erotica writer's website, but this time they linked from a different one. Just out cruising the neighborhood, I suppose. (or looking for a quick wank while at work. Either way - our government dollars well spent.)

Really, boys, this is tiresome. If you were in stealth mode on servers that didn't point out you were DOJ (even in initials, it has that War Is Peace slogan feel, doesn't it?), I'd actually believe you were doing surveillance. But since you make it so obvious who you are , I guess this is some weak form of intimidation. Of maybe I'm just supposed to act like I don't see you peeking in my window. Sorry, boys. There isn't enough soma in the world to make me do that.

BTW - so my readers don't think I'm just paranoid: (Us Dept Of Justice) [Label IP Address]

Maryland, Potomac, United States, 0 returning visits
Date Time WebPage
26th August 2007 15:20:29
26th August 2007 15:20:55

I wish I'd thought to record all their other visits. But I will from now on.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


That ghost story is giving me fits.

Since its giving me such a hard time, I'm avoiding it. Every writer I know is a master at procrastination. We'd rather do the laundry, sort tax documents, or scoop the cat's litter box than write sometimes. This is one of those times for me.

I have two methods for procrastination. The first is improving my high score on several computer games. Sometimes, the SO sneaks in and makes the top ten list. For me, it isn't enough to top his score. I have to make it drop off the list. That can take hours. My other tried-and-true procrastination stunt is thinking. As I am currently a Brother of the Dragon (twice over!) on Rocket Mania, and the SO hasn't dared challenge my Ravenscroft scores, tonight I decided to think instead of play.

What I'm thinking about is the question: What makes a story a lesbian story?

In erotica, that seems simple enough. But it isn't that obvious. I've read stories that have two women together, and something about it says "straight male fantasy." I've also read erotic stories about a gay man and a lesbian that definitely read true as a lesbian story. So there has to be a certain quality, a queer perspective, to make it work. I couldn't give you a solid example of the difference though. As the saying goes, I know it when I see it.

But what if the story isn't erotica? Will a queer perspective make it a lesbian story? Does that certain quality apply? I think it does. Except.... my POV character is a ghost. To be more accurate, it's (she's) a poltergeist. I'm not an expert on ghost classifications, but to me, a poltergeist isn't the remnant of a human life. It's a completely different entity. So how do you make something that never was human lesbian? She's attracted to a female character. Is that enough?

I can spend hours thinking in circles on this one. In fact, I'm counting on it taking me hours to muddle through to an answer. Because the last thing this writer feels like doing right now is writing.

Monday, August 20, 2007

An Evening Well Spent

I have two stories due this month. One I sent off last weekend. It seemed like the hardest to tackle, as I was starting from scratch, but now that I'm working on the other story - a rewrite - I think I had it switched around. The rewrite is a lot harder. I worked on it four hours this evening and only got through the first five paragraphs.

I'm not complaining though. It feels good to be writing again. I've wanted to work on this story for a long time, but had little motivation. It's one of the first stories I wrote when I started working seriously to get published. It was never right though. So I set it aside for long periods andoccasionally turned my hand to fixing it, but when you're not sure what the problem is, it's hard to fix it. Now that I've had some time away from it, and a submission call to look to forguidance, I have a better idea what needs to change.

This has always been a hard story to place. Most erotic anthologies want contemporary fiction. Candy Conversation Hearts is a ghost story. If I only wanted to write stories that would sell, I wouldn't have bothered to write it. I enjoy being published, but it isn't the main reason I write. Still, I'd like to see this one find a home. Part of the problem, aside from being paranormal and being told from thePOV of the ghost, is that for an erotic story, it doesn't have much sex in it. This call for submissions, however, isn't looking for erotica. It's for paranormal stories. The little sex that I have in the story can be cut. It will still be sensual, but given the connection I see between the genres of horror and erotica, I feel that it will work.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sympathy Depression

Lately, it feels as if the indie publishing world is falling apart. Maybe it is, or maybe it's always been in flux and I'm just now realizing that Terra Firma isn't so firm. The plates are slipping and shifting in a subduction zone where big publishing houses push over the smaller ones and make them disappear forever. (Forgive the wording - we had a small earthquake today, so things like subduction zones are at the forefront of my brain)

Last year, one of the biggest distributors of books (read: wholesaler) went bankrupt. It survived, but many small presses were destroyed in the process. The fallout continues.Haworth Press, an academic press, owns the imprint Harrington Park Press which publishes many GLBT books. Haworth sold out to a bigger academic press, and according the their website, Harrington will be divested separately. That's the only news. So writer friends with contracts in hand are finding out, as I have in the past, that a contract from a publisher has little meaning if the publisher chooses to ignore it. Those contracts do not protect the writers. Friends with books that were supposed to be released this winter have no idea if their books will be printed. Friends with books already published have no idea what will happen to their books now. And of course, the employees of Harrington Park Press have no idea if they'll have jobs when they wake up tomorrow. It's possible that the imprint could simply shut down.

Early this year, when I was trying to decide which publisher to submit my novel to, I was tempted to go to Harrington. It wasn't the perfect fit, but the company seemed viable and published a good number of books every year. Many of the writers I knew had projects pending there and a few strongly encouraged me to submit. I know the editor and feel I could work with him. It was tempting, but instead I choose to submit to the publisher I thought was the best fit for my novel. That little sidestep around chaos doesn't make me feel any better though. Options are disappearing.

Even though they get little respect, e-published books are looking better and better. I have an e-published novel. It sells pretty well. Reviews have been incredible. I'd like to see it go to print though, because I feel it would do well with a male audience, and women are by far the biggest consumers of e-books. And then there's the snobbery factor. Many of the genre industry groups have declared all e-publishing to be equivalent to vanity publishing. In other words - not "real" published books. Heck, even print on demand books aren't good enough for them. Even though e-published books have been around for over ten years, these guidelines cutting of e-published authors from recognition have come down just this year. Strange timing considering that the big print publishers are adding e-publishing language to their contracts and are giving customers the option of purchasing e-books.

E-publishers have their problems too. Several have gone under. One did because it tried to get into print books and misunderstood the business. Others have simply been mismanaged. Writers I know are caught in the middle. It's coming to light that the owner of one e-publisher won't respond to emails, and several of their authors are openly questioning accounting for their royalties. One writer I know would love to walk away from that publisher and take her e-books to a different publisher, but escaping from a contract even when this is happening isn't easy.

It's been frustrating summer for writers. It's been disastrous for editors and publishers. I'm feeling it too. I can't even summon up enough energy to be the voice of reality when a writer posts a "If that's the way it's going to be, I'll just start up my own press," conversation on one of the forums I belong to. I can't even manage a snarky, "Terrific idea! And while we're at it, why don't we put on a play in the old barn!" I'm completely drained of energy. Is it possible to have sympathy depression?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Forgive Me, I Know Not What I Do

The temperatures in LA are in the upper 80's today, which is why I opened every door and window in the hovel when I got home from work today, but the lingering heat trapped in the house made me drowsy. I couldn't get motivated to do anything. I just wanted to collapse on my bed and take a late afternoon nap. And then I thought the unthinkable - maybe we should get air conditioning. The thought of cold air rippling over my bared flesh was too delicious to ignore -despite the sinus headache it would surely induce. Even though I didn't utter those treasonous air conditioning thoughts aloud, I swore I felt a ripple through the space-time continuum, and half expected representatives of the Beach Cities board to show up at my front door and ask me just what the hell was I thinking?

For those of you not from LA, let me explain something about air conditioning. While people who live inland or in the (shudder) Valley, accept that it gets hot here in the summer and use air conditioning, we who live in the Beach Cities are in collective denial. We refuse to believe it ever gets hot enough here to justify resorting to such measures. We have the ocean breezes, you see. Natural air conditioning. Just open your windows. Reliance on machines is a weakness, a Valley thing.

Normally, I'm just as susceptible to this collective madness/ superiority complex as the next Beach Cities resident. After all, last weekend, while the Southland sweltered, the beach was chilly underneath a layer of fog (yes, fog. not smog) that the sun never burned away. And, unless the Santa Anas are blowing off the high desert, we do have a constant flow of air off the ocean that keeps the temperature, on average, in the seventies year round. On average is the trick phrase here. On the bell curve of Beach Cities weather, I'm sure today is at least two standard deviations away from normal. And since the weather is being deviant, I'm thinking deviant thoughts about air conditioning.

So forgive me Realtors, city councils, and everyone else who is heavily invested in keeping the myth of our perfect temperate climate alive. In my heat-induced delirium, I know not what I do.

Now be a dear and bring me a tall iced something-or-the-other. (Paper umbrella is optional)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Two of a Kind

Occasionally on one of the many writer's groups I belong to, I'll mention that I see strong similarities between the genres of horror and erotica. Neither horror writers nor erotica writers take kindly to that. But I was recently contacted by a new erotica writer who used to write horror, and when I mentioned the similarities, he agreed. Finally.

Okay, just because someone agrees with me doesn't mean I'm right. It may mean that he's being polite. But I'll take what I can get.

Part of the problem is that I when I talk about the connection, I say that both erotica and horror writers manipulate their readers. Manipulate is not a popular word. Lots of negative connotations. But you'd think writers would be aware of the meaning of a word. Manipulate means to manage or use with skill.

What is being managed with skill? In horror, it's fear. In erotica, it's libido. Probably the most basic, primal drives in any creature with a brain.

More than any other genres, erotica and horror appeal to the senses. We use (a more PC word than manipulate) the senses to describe the setting and the action. With the right combination of sensory inputs, the trope of horror and erotica, we invite (again, a more palatable word than manipulate) the reader to experience feeling. We appeal to basic drives and elicit the desired response - a shiver of terror, or a shiver of sexual excitement.

Is there something morally wrong with that? (putting aside "moral" arguments against erotica) I don't think so. A reader picks up a horror novel expecting to be frightened. Anyone picking up erotica wants to be turned on by it. The writer is supposed to manipulate the reader into experiencing those feelings. That's the promise, the implied contract between writer and reader.

I think about things like the relationship between horror and erotica because I want to become a better writer. I feel that I can learn from horror writers. Now, I'll admit that I'm world's biggest wimp. I don't read much horror because it keeps me up at night. But I'm fascinated by how it does that to me. How do the best horror writers latch on to my imagination and skillfully force it to do their biddng? It's not what's on the page that terrifies. It's what lingers in the mind afterwards. It's in how the brain magnifies each detail into something scarier than even the writer imagined. I want to learn that skill and apply it to erotica. That may sound strange, but it's not that much of a leap. What is the first story humans ever told about ourselves? Adam and Eve. Sex and death have been intertwined in our psyches since the beginning. They are two of a kind.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Stories From Real Life

With the exception of my YA novel, I rarely take stories from my life. Life doesn't provide resolution or proper dramatic climaxes. Besides, real life is dull as dirt, unless you can at least name drop and share gossip about the private lives of interesting, powerful, famous wealthy, doomed people. My friends are interesting, but powerful, wealthy, and famous? No. Some of them may be famous one day. I hope to god none of them are doomed. Strangely enough though, both stories that are due by the end of the month I'm basing on real life events.*

* based on actual events means "might as well have been completely made up, because I reserve the right to change history to make a story interesting"

Candy Conversation Hearts quickly turns from the real to the surreal, and I doubt the writer that the story is based on would remember the reading that inspired me to write the story. (I, on the other hand, still fondly remember her perfect lips. I haven't seen her since then, but every time I see a picture of her, my heart flutters. Okay, that isn't my heart. Maybe a bit lower.)

The other story, the one I worked on today, sticks closer to reality, right until the part where it turns erotic. Frankly, being stranded out in the middle of the Mojave Desert at 2AM Christmas morning in icy rain when the temperature was hovering around freezing and the truck's heater was broken was about as erotic as, well, freezing my ass off in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere could be. (This was before cell phones. And did I mention the HUGE signs the State of Arizona so helpfully put up every 100 yards warning people NOT to pick up hitchhikers because there was a state penitentiary nearby and they didn't want prisoners to have help escaping?) So, as you can imagine, nothing about that night struck me as romantic or erotic then, or now. Except when the Marlboro Man in a rusty Chevy truck came to my rescue and saved me the four mile hike to the truck stop outside Quartzite. In real life, he drove away before I could thank him for the ride, so in the story, I'm going to make sure he gets thanked properly. And then improperly. Twice.