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For Valentine’s Day: Love Yourself

Valentine 2

Happy Valentine’s Day, my Lovelies! Though I know Valentine’s Day is dedicated to romance and lovers, I am officially rededicating it to self-love — and I don’t mean just … you know … ‘Self Love,’ though that certainly can be a part of it. Very sadly, and unfairly, Valentines day has often been a day when people who are One, rather than Two Together (The words single or alone, or worst of all singleton, have such bad connotations — especially on Valentine’s day, and reclaiming them is a major undertaking, but a topic for another time) I was One for a very long time before Raymond and I became Two Together, and for a very long time, I found Valentine’s Day traumatic with all the hoop-la and commercial hype all aimed at couples. It was only when I learned to be happy as One that I discovered I could celebrate myself and show love for myself ALL BY MYSELF! I didn’t need someone to do it for me. In fact, strangely enough, I discovered until I could be happy being One, I didn’t really have much to offer in a relationship of Two Together.

Celebrate One-ness:

Be Physical: Go for a walk, go for a run, go to the gym, bike, hike, climb, row, swim. Make yourself sweat. Now I’m all for doing this with a vibe or yummy sex toys, but do something for the rest of you as well. We are a Whole, not just a mind with a body attached like extra baggage. Love your Body! Always remember, it’s your Body that gets you there! Wherever there might be. Sadly, it’s also our Bodies that so often get neglected, ignored and often abused; and yet our Body is, and will be until our dying day, the vessel that gets us through the physical world, the conduit for all sensuality, all pleasure, all emotion, and all physical challenges. Why shouldn’t we love it, appreciate it and say thanks by showing a little self-love.

Enjoy some bubbles: And I don’t mean Prosecco, although there’s certainly room for some of that too. Bathing and cleansing rituals have long been rituals for preparation — a preparing for new beginnings, for ceremony, for something challenging.  What a lovely way to tell our Bodies we love them, and we’re ready for whatever new challenges they allow us to experience. Scented bubbles, a few candles, and yes, a glass of Prosecco or your favourite beverage. Add a little bit of your fave music in the background and indulge. Be mindful of the senses, be mindful of all that’s wonderful about being you, cuz, I promise, it’s so very much!

Do Something Totally Decadent: This is the best bit! Your choice! Totally decadent. Spend the morning (afternoon too if you like) in bed with a good … maybe even filthily book. Eat your very fave dessert, BUT eat it very, VERY slowly to savour the texture, the tastes, the feel, the smell. The richer the dessert, the slower you should eat it. The slower you eat it, the more delicious it’ll be. Oooh! Making myself hungry here. Go to a film, watch that Box Set you’ve been wanting to watch, Buy yourself that something you’ve had your eye on for awhile, go to a museum or a gallery. These are just ideas. The main thing is that whatever you do, it should be totally and completely for you — no guilt, no angst, just pleasure.

Do Something New: There’s an old proverb that every time you have a new experience, you add anotherSleeping woman reading181340322466666994_IswNAb85_b day onto your life. Certainly it feels like new life has been breathed into me when I step outside my comfort zone and do something new. Take that local sight-seeing tour you’ve always promised yourself, but never done because … well you know … it’s local. Sign up for that class you’ve always wanted to take, but never quite gotten around to. Learning something new is always life-enhancing and one of the very best ways of loving oneself. Cook a new recipe, plant some herbs, raise your own salad sprouts in a jar, knit, embroidery, draw, paint, take up kettle bells — whatever works for you! Whatever you feel the urge to do. Do it. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Now then, you might have seen that this list applies whether you’re One or whether you’re Two Together, because honestly, we’re all still One, and we need to take care of that One even when we’re Two Together. Good things are always good things. Seeing ourselves as worthy of good things, worthy of love and adoration and a little self-worship for being the gods and goddesses we are, helps us understand that circumstances are just that — circumstances. What we do with those circumstances can truly be the gift we give back to ourselves.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone! Whether you’re One or whether you’re Two Together, go out and enjoy some seriously decadent self love! 

 

Here’s a little Valentine’s Day Self-Love giftie just for you from my novel, The Pet Shop, now a part of The Collared Collection, which teams  Kay Jaybee’s The Voyeur with my Pet Shop. Enjoy! Preferably in bed with your fave beverage of some chocolate or toy or Other Half of Two Together … in a bath might be a bit on the wild side and scary for your computer 😉

 

The Pet Shop Chapter 9

It wasn’t Stella’s first time in the States, or the Northwest. She considered it a very good omen that her first trip for Strigida was to such a lovely place. In a lot of ways, the Western part of Oregon was like a primordial England that had been picked up by each of its corners and stretched and tugged and expanded. Then after it had been given a hearty shake to rid it of too many people, it was snapped like a puzzle piece in between Washington and California to glisten in the veil dance of wet Northwest sunlight.

There was plenty of talk about nature and the great outdoors with Vanguard. Stella had done all the appropriate research, brilliant research even, but the internet could only take her so far. On the last day of her visit, Vanguard sent her on an impromptu field trip with Bob Paris, the resident biologist, so she could actually see the site that was to be reclaimed.

She rattled down the road hermetically sealed in Bob’s muddy Vanguard Land Rover. She thought it Collared bundle - Copymight have been green, but she wasn’t willing to wipe away the grime and risk muddying her mauve pencil skirt and matching jacket to find out. The need for clothes more suited for outdoor life had not been something she had thought about when she came to work with Strigida, but she was beginning to see the wisdom in a pair of good walking boots and clothes that could withstand the rigors of the natural world. Her lack of such attire and the fact that there had been substantial rain the night before meant it would be a drive-through sort of tour, with Bob hitting the highlights of reclamation and pointing out a few of the local birds and a couple of deer browsing at the edge of a clear-cut.

‘The clear-cut will grow back on its own given time,’ Bob was saying as he pulled the Land Rover to the edge of the rutted excuse for a logging road and stopped so she could look. ‘Erosion is our main concern here.’ He nodded to the dark patch of heavy forest next to it. Tall conifers drapes in moss and spiked with mistletoe looked like giant, pre-decorated Christmas trees. ‘That patch would have met the same fate had it not been for Vincent Evanston.’

If Bob hadn’t before, he certainly had her full attention now. ‘Vincent Evanston? You know him?’

‘Yep.’ He laughed under his heavy mustache. ‘Always preferred to spend his time with the birds and the beasties rather than with humans. Guess I’m a bit like that too, but then I wasn’t born richer than God like Vincent. He’s a strange one.’

‘Then he lives around here?’

‘Has all his life. Right on the other side of those trees there. Speak of the devil.’ Bob raised the pair of binoculars that permanently hung around his neck, then gave a confident nod. ‘That’s the Birdman there. He spends a lot of time in these woods when he’s home.’

She fumbled with the spare pare of binoculars Vanguard had lent her, giving herself a hearty knock on the nose before she managed to get them focused. Her stomach did a flip-flop, then a pirouette. Even with her unsteady hand and the thud-thud of her heart making the scene tremble in front of her eyes, she knew she was looking at Tino, who was looking right back at her. She caught her breath ‘You’re sure that’s Vincent Evanston?’

‘Of course I’m sure. I’ve worked with the man often enough. Helluva naturalist.’

The butterfly dance in her stomach had moved up into her chest to do a mad mambo with her heart and suddenly she had to know. ‘Excuse me.’ She threw open the door. ‘I’m sorry but I have to go. I really need to talk to him.’

‘Wait! You can’t get out there dressed like that.’

She slammed the door on Bob’s objections and went slip-sliding across the road toward the man in the wood. Her kitten heels sunk in the pale mud with each step she took. On the other side of the road she found herself faced with a ditch full of fast-moving rainwater. It wasn’t that wide, she could have jumped it easily enough in trainers, but she wasn’t in trainers. She found purchase on a mossy rock and struggled to balance on the ball of her foot, but the rock slipped and turned beneath her sending her teetering with arms flailing before she sat down hard in the middle of the icy flow.

7401867966b49d9e25e799def0c09dae            The gasp for breath and the high pitched yelp barely passed her lips before he was on her, grabbing her beneath the armpits and pulling her to her feet with a heavy slurp and splorsh from her skirt, which seemed to be acting like a sponge. He half-dragged, half carried her to dry ground and plopped her down unceremoniously on a mossy log. His curled fingers lifted her chin until her eyes met Tino’s dark gaze. ‘You scared the hell out of me. Are you alright?’ Tino speaking would have been shocking enough but Tino speaking with an American accent just seemed wrong somehow. She nodded, unable to reply.

He already had his Blackberry out. ‘Bob, yes she’s fine. No, don’t worry, I’ll take care of her. Go on back to the hide.’ He slapped the blackberry back in his pocket and turned his full attention on Stella. This time it was not concern that filled his eyes.

‘What the hell were you thinking, out in the woods dressed like that?’

She was already shivering from the cold and the wet. ‘Guess the Great Outdoors isn’t my forte.’ She offered an apologetic smile.

‘Come on.’ He grabbed her hand and pulled her to her feet. ‘My pack’s under those trees. Let’s get you into something dry before hypothermia sets in.’ But when she stumbled and nearly twisted her ankle in her now filthy mauve shoes, he cursed under his breath and lifted her as though she were weightless, causing her to gasp surprise as he turned on his heels and headed back toward the pack.

She threw her arms around his neck and hung on tight, smelling wood smoke in his hair and on his plaid shirt, a smell that made her pussy tighten at thoughts of making love to him in the light of a campfire. They didn’t have far to go, just in the protection of the trees. There he eased her down on huge stump and thrust a steaming cup of cocoa into her hand from a flask he’d dug out of a rucksack big enough that he could have used it for a tent. ‘Drink this. It’ll help warm you till I can sort out something dry for you to wear.’ He turned his broad back to her and began to dig through the pack.

She was trembling hard enough that is was an effort not to spill the cocoa. ‘You’re Tino, aren’t you?’ She spoke between chattering teeth.

His back stiffened slightly, then relaxed again as he continued to dig. ‘I’m Vincent.’

She sat the cup down next to her and hugged her arms around her shivering body. ‘I know you’re Vincent, Vincent Evanston, but you’re Tino. I mean he’s you, isn’t he?’

He turned on her, grabbing her shoulders so quickly that she feared he would shake her. Instead, he began to chafe her arms, his dark eyes locked on hers. ‘I told you, Tino’s not here.’

‘But I — ’

He swallowed up her words in an open-mouth kiss, taking her breath away, taking away her ability to think with the heat of it, the expressive depth of it. He bit her lip as he pulled back, still holding her gaze. S6304604‘Tino’s not here,’ he repeated. His voice held the tiniest edge of warning. Then, as though it were business as usual, he bent and removed her shoes. ‘You’re lucky you didn’t break an ankle in these.’ He tossed them onto the ground and wiped his muddy hands on his trousers. ‘Afraid I don’t have an extra pair of shoes with me. Now lift your butt.’

‘What?’

He nodded to a non-descript wad of clothing now sharing her stump. ‘It’s not elegant, but it’s dry, now lift your butt. Or,’ the weight of his gaze was nearly physical, causing her heart to hammer and jerk like it was trying to get closer to him, or maybe run away from him, ‘if you’d rather I can turn my back and let you do it.’

She released her breath slowly and lifted her arse off the stump, an act, that in itself seemed lewd. He pushed open her jacket with warm hands and shoved up the edge of her silk blouse to unzip her skirt, exposing a swath of her belly just above her navel. Then he curled his fingers around the waist of the skirt, catching the elastic of her knickers as well, and shimmied both down over her hips. His hands skimmed the lacy tops of her hold ups, and for a second, she forgot about the cold. She reached out and raked her fingers through his unruly hair.

His breath caught in his chest, and he lowered his head to plant a warm kiss just below her navel, lips burning on her icy skin. Then he pulled away all businesslike. You’ll get hypothermia. You’re cold.’ The rush of his hot breath brushed her belly, causing goose flesh to tiptoe up her spine.

She had little control over the trembling that gripped her body from the cold, and yet her insides squirmed with want as he inched the skirt down over her thighs leaving her hold-ups in place. ‘Please,’ she gasped between chattering teeth. How could she be so damn cold and so hot at the same time. ‘I need…I need.’

‘I know what you need.’ His voice was tight, accented by the heavy drag of his breath, much heavier than the expended efforts demanded. His dark eyes were clouded with a cocktail of emotions too complex for her to translate in her discomfort, but there had to be some anger and maybe some concern in the mix. The second kiss chased the descent of her skirt, lighting fast and humid on the apex of her gash searing hot against the damp chill of goose flesh, just above the place where her clit roused itself from beneath its hood. The delicious steamy shock of it unbalanced her and she dropped back onto the stump, her bottom settling into soft moss and her elbow sending the cocoa cup clattering into the fragrant pine straw.

He dragged her skirt down and shoved at it as though it had offended him somehow until it was in a heap around her ankles. Then he eased her left leg free, lifted it so her foot rested on his shoulder splaying her crotch for his hungry gaze. ‘I’m wet,’ she sighed.

‘You fell in a ditch.’ His fingers traced a ticklish path up the inside of her thigh above the hold-ups.ThePetShop

She squirmed and arched her back. ‘That’s not what I mean.’

‘I know what you mean.’ Hi words were short, clipped. He slid a thick finger between her heavy folds causing a sharp intake of breath. Then he rose to take her mouth again, forcing her leg forward, knee bent to press her thigh against her breasts making her pussy gape like a begging bird, making her bare down into the pillow of moss. ‘Please,’ she gasped. ‘I need … ’

He held her in his weighty gaze. ‘I know what you need,’ he repeated. With his free hand, he fought his trousers like they were the enemy until they were down around his hips, and in her peripheral vision she could just make out his heavy penis straining toward her before he pushed into her with a grunt sending shock waves up through her at the sudden invasion that filled her too full for comfort, yet felt way too good to be pain.

He gathered her to him and began to thrust. There was no preamble, no foreplay, just driving hungry need. She hooked her legs around him and held on for dear life, growling and grinding, feeling like she would split in two with the each pounding. And yet she wanted nothing more than to live for the next thrust. It was as though her whole world contacted to thrusting and shoving and trembling. She was freezing and burning and grasping, and he was pushing her, more quickly than she would have ever imagined, to complete overload.

The Pistoning of his body raked the swell of her clit raw as he drew nearer his release. And when at last he overwhelmed her, she threw back her head and howled as her orgasm raged like fire melting ice. Only a split second later he convulsed and jerked on top of her.

For a few minutes they lay sprawled on the stump together catching their breath. Then, at last he pulled out, and it was as though nothing had happened. Avoiding her gaze, he cleaned them both with the large america-artist-art-paintings-prints-note-cards-by-howard-chandler-christy-nude-women-reading-approximate-original-size-18x16
blue bandana he’d been wearing around his neck, then he tossed her a pair of grey track suit bottoms with a draw string. ‘Put these on. We need to get you someplace warm.’ He packed up his rucksack while she struggled into the bottoms, then he threw her a hooded sweatshirt. He tossed her
muddy shoes into a waterproof bag and shoved it in the top of rucksack, just before he hoisted it onto his back. Then he lifted her in his arms again.

‘What are you doing?’ She breathed. ‘You can’t carry me to your house.’

He nodded behind him as a dark blue Jeep pulled up and parked inconspicuously by the side of the road, not far from where she had tried to cross. ‘I have no intention of carrying you to my house. George will take you back to your hotel.’

 

Five Non-writing Ways Writers Can Write Better

Dreams image 2IMG_0351I’m an obsessive person. Most writers are and often to the detriment of their health. For most writers I know, balanced is not their natural state. For many of us complete and total tunnel-visioned obsession is more the norm. After coming off a very challenging year in which I’ve been forced to find a more balanced way to live, I’ve discovered that while balanced may not be my natural, writerly state, the more balanced my life is, the better I write, and the more productive I am. As counterintuitive as it sounds, I’ve discovered that for me to be the best writer I can be, there are some non-writing things that I need to incorporate into my routine. Every writer has a different list, I’m sure, but these are my top five.

 

Read More for Pleasure. Okay, we writers all know that reading is a great way to improve our P1000885
writing, and I would be the first to give a hearty nod to reading in order to write better. BUT this is not that! This has nothing to do with anything but enjoying yourself. It doesn’t matter what you read, read it for pleasure, read it with your feet up and a nice hot cuppa or a good glass of wine at hand; read it while munching some seriously decadent chocolate. Read it in a boat. Read it with a goat. Read it greedily and obsessively and leisurely, and totally and completely do it for the sheer delight of it. You won’t regret it.

 

kettle bellsBe More Physical. We writers tend to forget that beyond the fabulous world where our imagination meets the written word, beyond the characters with which we eat, breathe, and sleep 24/7, beyond the WIP and the plot problems solved and the scenes unfolding in our head, we are flesh and blood. We’re often flesh and blood with carpal tunnel, stiff necks, horrible posture and bad backs because about as physical as we get when we’re on a roll, when the Muse is with us, when we’re chasing a deadline, is to move our fingers across the keyboard at blinding speed. Physical bodies were meant to be … well … physical. It doesn’t matter so much what we do, but that we move – pilates, zumba, kettle bells, dance, walk, run, bike, row, swim, but move! It can hardly come as a surprise to learn that the Muse likes a fit body as much as we like to write about one.

 

Eat Better: Never mind the notorious one-handed read, most writers could tell you a thing or two Harvest 25 AugIMG00569-20130825-1722about the one-handed write. It happens when we’re in the zone, in happens when we’re facing a deadline. We manage the keyboard with one had while we shove something quick and dirty into our
mouths with the other – pizza, M&Ms, a bag of chips, cookies, donuts, any kind of take-out. We need to eat and we don’t want to take the time to do it properly. But a one-handed write doesn’t have to be an unhealthy one. We can make the choices good for us. It’s amazing how easily fruit lends itself to the one-handed write. I’m a notorious grape-popper. Or even better yet, I have been known from time to time to actually walk away, take a break, fix myself a real meal – something healthy. You’d be amazed how many yummy, healthy things you can fix for yourself in just a few minutes. There are a gazillion recipes out there all over the internet. AND, the great side effect is that when I give myself a break; I come back refreshed and more focused, and I actually write better.


Be Seen in Public:
I tend to be a hermit whenever I can get away with it. I tend to be even more of a hermit when I’m chasing a deadline or when I’m in the zone with a new novel. But, we humans, even the IMG_3633reclusive hermits among us, are social animals and being with other people feeds the Muse. Plus the occasional honing of social skills helps to insure that we don’t forget how to use them. The truth of the matter is that there’s nothing more inspiring than watching and listening to people. People are where the stories come from, and our stories are almost all about people! That being the case, it might be wise to spend some time with a few real ones and not just the imaginary ones in our heads.

 

Pamper yourself: As often as I can, I try to do something for myself that’s deliciously decadent and Sleeping woman reading181340322466666994_IswNAb85_bjust flat out feels good – so good, in fact, that it makes me happy – possibly even makes me feel guilty for being so indulgent. What’s a writer without a little self-imposed guilt? I love long baths with nice bubbles. I love to read in bed – there, you see, I’m actually multi-tasking when I do that. It helps assuage the guilt J What are your guilty pleasures? Be sure to indulge in them regularly. They’re good for your writing. Your Muse will be pleased.

 

I’ve discovered that good writing involves more than just writing. Good writing often involves not writing at all. But as all writers know, even when we’re not writing, we’re still writing, so lets practice a little self-indulgent, decadent, pleasurable, physical, fun non-writing from time to time. Our Muse will be glad we did.

 

New Years Resolutions — ish

 

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! As I started thinking about the way I now view New Years Resolutions and IMG_5258what resolutions are most important to me, I began to formulate a blog post for my end of the year navel gaze with that in mind. It was then that I discovered I’d already written that post for the ERWA blog a couple of years ago, and it still applies. What I’m sharing below are my every-year, every-day resolutions, starting off with the most important one — I WILL BE KIND TO MYSELF!  If in doubt, always refer back to number one!

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I used to start thinking about all the changes I’d make for the New Year in the middle of November. My New Years Resolutions would be preceded by pages and pages in my journal of navel gazing and reflecting on the year past and on what I saw as my successes and failures before I finally got around to writing a list of resolutions longer than my arm and impossible to remember, let alone implement. Success was spotty at best.

I don’t do resolutions any more because it’s easier not to than it is to fail. Still, it’s impossible not to view the New Year as the ideal time for new beginnings, and the best time to make changes for the good. With that in mind, I’d like to share a very short list of resolutions that I plan to do my best to implement this year and that I would encourage other writers and creative folk to implement as well. I’m not promising success, but I think these resolutions will make my life better on a lot of different levels.

  1. I WILL BE KIND TO MYSELF! This is first and foremost, and likely most difficult on the list. Most of the creative types I know – writers among the worst – are way harder on ourselves than we would ever be on anyone else, which means, not only do we fail at that massive list of New Years Resolutions, but we thoroughly and completely beat ourselves up about it, just like we thoroughly and completely beat ourselves up about all of the many impossible goals we set for ourselves during the course of the year. I wish I could give advice on how to implement this first and most important resolution, but I fail miserably at it multiple times every year. The best advice is just to keep on trying. I’m trying to teach myself that this is not a resolution to see through March and then forget. I constantly need to make an effort to be kind to myself, to understand that I can choose to be my own worst enemy or my own best friend. I’ll never be able to do enough to satisfy myself when it comes to my writing. It’ll always be a work in progress. That being the case, I have to make being kind to myself a daily resolution – maybe even an hourly resolution, which includes forgiving myself when I fail to meet my own expectation. Each day I’m kind to myself I will consider a huge success worth savoring!
  1. I WILL DO SOMETHING PHYSICAL. Like all writers, I live in my head. I create whole worlds in kettle bellsmy head, I make the characters I create in my head do amazing and sometimes terrifying things, but that means my characters get their exercise while I sit on our arse in front of a computer. This is not a resolution to spend two hours at the gym every day. It’s a walk in the sunshine when that’s all I have time for, a half hour at the gym a couple times a week. Walking instead of driving, gardening. I will breathe deep, stretch, move, sweat. I’m sure I’m not the first writer to discover that the more physical I am, the more creative I am, and the more productive I am, which helps majorly with number 1!
  1. I WILL READ MORE! It’s another strange paradox, but at least for me, the more time I spend Book stacksreading, the more I actually manage to write. It isn’t just that I write more, but it’s that time spent in the imaginations of fellow writers stimulates my own imagination, makes me think, makes me imagine. I’ve heard writers say that they’re so afraid they’ll copy someone’s ideas if they read. I find myself much more inclined to think of every book I read as a chance to learn, a chance to become a better writer from example – even in those cases when it’s a bad example. It’s also just a pleasure that feels guilty but isn’t. There are too few of those in life.
  1. I WILL LOOK UP! Living in isolation is a huge risk for writers. I work at home. I live in worlds I raindrops 2
    create, and most of the time, I’m very happy to be in those worlds and often very anxious to go back to them when I’m forced to walk away. But I need to be connected. I need to talk and laugh and share and look around me and observe. Everything inspires. Everything sparks the imagination. A part of what I do is to create something new from what already is. A part of what I do is to see things through different eyes and to translate what I see into ways in which it’s never been translated before.
  1. I WILL GET IT DOWN! Once I look up, then it’s essential to record what I see, even if it’s just Writing pen and birds 1_xl_20156020making a mental note. Everything is seed for a story and everything can be seen from multiple angles. The very act of taking a mental note, or even more, of scribbling something down that gets my attention, is a view from a different angle, a possible story waiting to happen.

It’s simple, but it isn’t easy. But simple is always the best start on things worth striving for. Yes, this year’s resolutions are exactly the same as last years, which were exactly the same as the years before, and I’m going to go out on a limb and predict they’ll be exactly the same next year as well.

 

Wishing you all good things in 2016, the very best of those, I’m hoping you’ll give to yourself and I’ll try to do the same.

 

Reflections from Face Book Prison

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The Face Book Police

 

jail cell

 

 

I’m doing my time in Face Book prison at the moment, carving my name on the unassailable walls with a
rusty ink pen nib next to the names of all those who have gone before me. I was incarcerated without a fair trial and, though I’ve made some pretty good guesses as to why I’m blocked from many of my groups, I can get no actual response from Face Book. I’m told that the usual sentence is two weeks, so I’m halfway through.

It’s strange, this Face Book Prison. I can comment and share pics and updates on my own page with no problems, but with all of the groups to which I belong, I can only see the posts and press my nose to the window longingly while I offer up only a feeble little ‘Like.’

I suppose it’s a writer thing, working in isolation as we do, but the pull of social media is a powerful one. That’s not too surprising since it’s a way of building and having community that we otherwise wouldn’t get. Plus, best of all, it’s words! We writers can all interact with each other in short little status updates and tweets and have meaningful conversations and share witty banter while safely and comfortably seated at home in our jammies. It’s introvert paradise. It allows us to talk about writing and books with lots of other introverted writers for hours on end. We writers are notorious for considering every word we put on the page precious. Yes we may have to ‘cut’ those precious words in the final draft, BUT we never throw them away! We just cannibalise them for the next work or the one after that. And yet, thousands of words are lost to us every single day, set adrift in status updates and tweets to end up somewhere out there in the cold outer reaches of cyberspace.

Words treated carelessly – that’s one of the side effects of social media, I think. Words are way more Book stacksthrowaway now than they’ve ever been in a history that’s treated words pretty precious because they tell stories, they tell our story! Now stories are nipped and snipped to status updates and 140 character tweets. Oh, the story is still there. It just has to be unpacked and teased out, and tomorrow it’ll be lost and forgotten.

What does that have to do with Face Book Prison? Well as much as anything it means I’ve been forced back into a world where words are creatures of leisure, words are a little bit more precious and treated with a little bit more respect. I’ve been forced back into a world where words line up to in long serpentine queues to tell their story and they take their own sweet time to do it. Anticip-a-a-ation. They’re making me wait, and the wait is bloody well worth it!

The thing is, as much as I enjoy the interaction, and I truly do, I have to admit that I’m really enjoying the enforced time with my own thoughts, time to allow my own enormous collection of words to come out and play. And strangely enough, in the midst of all those wild frolicking words, I’ve taken incredible pleasure in the silence. I had no idea that Face Book was such a loud place, but then it makes sense that
social media, by the very act of being social is psychologically loud. I had nearly forgotten that in the Writing pen and birds 1_xl_20156020midst of all my words there could be such delicious silence.

I miss my friends in the groups. Efforts have been made to send files hidden in cakes, but the Face Book
police are far to savvy for that. Though I do appreciate the efforts. I just want to tell everyone on the outside that it’s not so bad to be temporarily banned for crimes I would have enjoyed a helluva lot more if I’d only know what they were. I miss the connection, but in its absence, I’ve been reminded of other connections, creative connections that don’t come in status updates and tweets and, while I’ll be glad to be welcomed back into the fold, I don’t want to forget the frolic and gambol of words and the way they come in their own time in their own way, and I don’t want to forget the exquisite silence in between that connects them all so seamlessly and gives me a place to rest a bit and regroup.

 

NaNoWriMo the Second Time Around

Writing imageSeven years ago I started my first NaNoWriMo in the most auspicious circumstances. I was ensconced in the Red Lion Pub in the middle of Avebury stone circle with my dear friend and wonderful author, Helen Callaghan. The Red Lion is reputedly the most haunted pub in England. Avebury is the largest stone circle in Europe. It was pouring down rain and every pagan in South England was there to celebrate a soggy Samhain in the stones. Perfect place for me to begin Love Spells, which would eventually become Body Temperature and Rising, the first of the Lakeland Witches Trilogy. And yes, there was a ghostly encounter while we were there. At the time, I had published a few short stories but no novels.

For me, that first NaNoWriMo was tough. I stressed over the fact that instead of the required 50,000 words for a NaNoWriMo win, I needed 70,000 words to finish the novel I had in mind. The situation was made even more stressful by the fact that I had several other writing projects with deadlines to deal with. Never mind all that. Those of you who know me, know I’m a pit bull when it comes to word count. As my poor husband can attest, I turned into the Queen Bitch of Surrey for the month of November. BUT the novel got finished and stowed in the drawer while I wrote and published The Initiation of Ms Holly and The Pet Shop, and THEN the timing was right for Body Temperature and Rising. That was seven years ago!

Eleven novels, several novellas and numerous short stories later and I finally am getting around to doing IMG_3564my second NaNoWriMo. It’s all about timing, and this year the timing was right. Auspicious beginnings? Well it all started with breakfast at home in our sunny dining area – yes there was sunshine! With my hubby at my side no doubt girding his loins for the month-long battle he feared was to come — especially since this year’s NaNoWriMo effort is even bigger. I’m figuring the finished product to weigh in at 80 – 90,000 words. Mind you I did a lot of prep in advance … er … well not that much actually, since I didn’t know I was even going to write it until on the train coming home from Smut Manchester. But I did begin with a chapter by chapter synopsis and a good idea of where I wanted to go.

This NaNoWriMo, I’m a happy little camper. Poor Hubby keeps looking at me wondering who I am and what I did with his wife. BUT this NaNoWriMo is about enjoying the hell out of writing a seriously fun story with characters who are full of surprises. All of that fun I missed out on with the lovely characters in Body Temperature and Rising because I took the whole event too seriously, I took myself too seriously. Having fun with what I write makes it a whole lot less stressful where word count is concerned. AAAAND … strangely enough, the less I stress about word count, the easier the words come. Result!

NaNoWriMocrest-05e1a637392425b4d5225780797e5a76I can thank the lovely and talented Kay Jaybee for the inspiration for The Tutor. And yes there will be several scenes involving a tin of pears in heavy syrup. That being said, the novel is more likely a Grace Marshall sizzle than a KDG inferno, but it’s early days. We’ll see.

For those of you who are doing NaNaWriMo this November, I wish you all the very best of luck. Write like the wind! For those of you who are just checking what’s coming up the pipeline as far as good reads go, I reckon there’ll be a lot of great novels coming from NaNoWriMo 2015. And do keep a lookout on this blog to see details of The Tudor as it evolves. With that in mind, here’s a little first draft, rough excerpt from The Tudor. Enjoy! And please remember, this is a work in progress.

 

The Tutor:

Struggling writer, Kelly Blake, has a secret life as a sex tutor. It’s strictly a no touch deal — advice only, and it pays the bills and keeps her solvent. Reclusive sculptor, Alexander ‘Lex’ Valentine’s, sculpture is in high demand, but Lex has his own secret. He can’t stand to be touched — by anyone. Sparks fly when he seeks out Kelly’s services. After a rare appearance at an exhibition turns into a fiasco, rumors fly that Lex and Kelly are engaged. The press feeding frenzy forces Kelly into hiding with Lex until rumors die down. Intimacy may not require touch, but can it survive the secrets uncovered as their sessions become more and more personal?

 

The Tutor Excerpt:

Kelly took a deep breath and tiptoed down the hallway to the master suite, then with a soft knock on the doorframe, she stepped into the open door.

A man tall and broad of shoulder stood with his back to her silhouetted in front of the window overlooking the city.

“Mr. Valens?” she said softly when he didn’t turn around. “I’m Kelly Blake.”

“Please close the door behind you.” His voice was a rough edged baritone, as though he’d just risen from sleep. A bedroom voice when they hadn’t yet begun – she didn’t know if that was a good sign or a bad one.

The muscles of her stomach tightened in nerves, but she did what he said, carefully pulling the door to behind her. When she turned back, she found herself the focus of the man’s full attention. Though he was still little more than a silhouette in the subdued lighting, she felt as though she were under the microscope. “Please sit.” He motioned her to a wing-backed chair facing a plush dark blue sofa. She felt his gaze on her as she settled in the chair, but he made no effort to move.

Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500            She set her bag on the floor next to her and sat back with her hands clasped in her lap, noticing that there was wine, coffee and an assortment of snacks on the coffee table. She smiled and nodded to the small feast, are you interested in food play, perhaps, Mr. Valens?”

He started at the sound of her voice as though she had suddenly regained his attention from where ever else it had been, but in truth it hadn’t wavered from his studying of her person. Strange that in spite of being the center of his focus, she didn’t feel threatened or ogled. “Oh no. I just wasn’t sure what the normal protocol is for a visit from a … sex tutor, and I decided that hospitality is never out of place. Though,” he stepped forward a little and the lamplight caught his half smile, tinged in mischief, “I have heard that you do interesting things with canned pears. Sadly those aren’t on the room service menu.”

She chuckled softly. “Well I certainly could have brought a can if that’s what you wanted.”

His laughter was like velvet against her skin and her forearms rose in goose flesh. “I don’t know what I want, exactly.” He rubbed a hand over his stubbled chin, then he added, “you’re not at all what I expected.”

“What exactly did you expect?”

“Someone a little more like Dr. Ruth,” he said.

“Sorry to disappoint, she said.”

This time they both laughed, and he moved to set across from her at the end of the sofa and for the first time she got a good look at him. His dark hair was mussed, as though he, or someone else, had just ran fingers through it. It was in need of a cut, hanging to the collar of a faded denim shirt. He wore jeans that were nearly as faded and a pair lightweight hiking boots. Though the lighting was subdued, there was a thin scar that began dangerously close to his right eye and curved across his jaw toward his ear, disappearing in his tussled hair. It shown in pale relief against the stubble of several days.

“I didn’t say I was disappointed,” he said.

“Well if it’s any consolation, you’re not exactly what I expected either, not in this place anyway.”

He chuckled softly. “I should have met you in Dillon’s apartment. We’d have probably both been more comfortable there.”

“Your PA?”

He nodded

“Now he looks like he belongs here,” she said.

“He probably belongs here more than I do, Ms. Blake,” he said.

“Kelly, please call me Kelly.”

“Kelly,” he said. “You do look like a Kelly, much more than you do a Dr. Ruth.”

There was a nervous laugh, and he poured them both a glass of water. As per his PA’s warning, she waited until he set the glass on the coffee table in front of her before she reached for it, took a sip and then smiled up at him. “Now then, what can I do for you, Mr. Valens?”

Her question seemed to unsettle him. He reached for the water glass and knocked it over, then Writing pen and birds 1_xl_20156020cursed and looked like any second he might bolt.

“It’s all right. It’s just water. Sit still.” She said, “I’ll get a towel.” She found the bathroom and took her time in returning, giving the man a chance to collect himself. Male ego could be a fragile thing under the best of circumstances, and whatever it was that had driven him outside his comfort zone to solicit her services meant this was definitely not the best of times. When she returned, he’d moved from the spot and once again stood in front of the window, but this time he turned when he heard her.

“Leave it,” he said, but she knelt on the floor and gave the pristine carpet a brisk rubbing before leaving the towel to absorb the spill and returning to her chair.

“It’s only water and it only went on the carpet. I spilled a glass of red wine down the front of an elderly Chinese gentleman’s white shirt in Lausanne once, and I wasn’t even drunk.”

He laughed. They both laughed and some of the tension left his broad shoulders. “Oh sure, I can laugh about it now,” she said, but at the time I was mortified. It was the poor man’s birthday. He was there with his whole family.”

He settled tentatively on the arm of the sofa while she cleaned. “What happened?”

“Turns out the gent didn’t speak any English. None of his extended family did either, so I ended up having the waiter translate from English to French to the one teenage daughter there who did speak French that I would pay for the dry-cleaning, that I would pay for the whole dinner, which I sure as hell couldn’t afford, that I would do anything including becoming his slave until his next birthday.”

“And did he … take you up on any of your generous offers?” He asked, settling on the sofa, slightly closer to her, but still a safe distance.

“They wouldn’t hear of it. Instead they insisted I join them for their celebration. I didn’t understand a word and neither did they, but they were all lovely, and when it came time for cake and the happy birthday song, they all insisted I do it in English. Solo. In front of the whole restaurant. It was one of the most fun evenings I’ve ever had.” She chuckled, “and that fact alone should tell you that I spend entirely too much time in my own company.”

“Now that, I can relate to,” he said, offering her a broad, easy smile. He looked so much younger when he smiled so unguardedly. She was betting he didn’t do it often.

She refilled his water glass and settled back in her chair. For a long moment they sat in silence. She had learned long ago that it was best to let the client speak in his own time.

“I need to masturbate a lot,” he finally blurted out, then downed all of the water in a single gulp.

“High libido isn’t unusual in busy people,” she said, “especially if their work is creative.”

He nodded. And then there was more silence. This time he fumbled with the bottle of wine. She watched as he opened it and poured himself a glass. He poured her one too before she could refuse. Then he drank his back in one go. “I mean a lot,” he said, slapping the glass down on the table with a thwack for emphasis. “I’m aroused all the time. If I did it as often as I’m aroused, I’d never get anything else done.” He shifted in his seat and folded his hands in his lap as though he were about to say a prayer or just in case she should glance at his crotch. She didn’t. A part of what made her good at what she did was that other peoples’ situations never titillated her. They intrigued her. They brought out her sense of empathy. “Do you?” he asked, clearing his throat loudly and pouring himself another glass of wine.

“Do I masturbate a lot,” she asked.

He nodded as though his head were suddenly loose on his neck.

“I do, yes. But I’m a creative and my job is both stressful and exciting. I need an outlet. It sounds like you do too.”

He nodded. This time more thoughtfully. “I … for complicated reasons I’m not in a relationship either, so no help from there,” he said. “I’m sure that would make it easier.”

“A lot of creatives don’t have time for a relationship,” she said. “Love of their work is their relationship.” He hadn’t said that he was a creative, but she could tell. She could always recognize another creative person.

When he still said nothing, but downed the second glass of wine just as quickly as the first, she thought it best to press the issue just a little bit at least while he was still sober. “Mr. Valens, what exactly is it that you need? If you’re expecting me to advise you to masturbate less, and to give you ways not too, well I think that’s a little premature. I would suggest that perhaps you need to masturbate as much as you do because of your circumstances. That’s certainly my case.”

“You don’t know my circumstances. You can hardly compare your case to mine,” he blurted. “You’re a lovely woman who could easily have a partner whenever she wanted, hell you could pick and choose.”

She bit back her response, for some strange reason wanting desperately to tell him that he had no idea what her situation was and he had no right to jump to conclusions. The urge nearly took her breath away. One of the reasons she was so good at what she did was that she could stay neutral, let people tell their stories, let them tell her what they needed in their own time. She took a steadying breath. “I’m not comparing anything with anything Mr. Valens, and since I don’t know your circumstances, I’m generalizing until you give me enough information to make an intelligent suggestion.”

“So I’m supposed to tell you what to do?” He said.

“No, but it would help if you told me what you need from me.”

He ran a hand through his already mussed hair, and she noticed it was trembling. “If I could get what I need from you, or from anyone else for that matter, I wouldn’t be here. Look, this was a mistake. There’s nothing you can do. Dillon knows it, you know it, and I know it. I’m really sorry I wasted your time. Dillon!” he shoved his way up from the couch just as his PA and Tuck came into view. “I need to leave. Now.”

The PA shot an accusing look at Kelly, who shrugged, and then back at his boss.

“Who the hell is he?” Valens said, nodding to Tuck.”

“Her bodyguard,” the PA said.

To this, Valens laughed out loud, then shot Kelly a look that suggested he was seeing her for the first time. “If there was any place on earth you don’t need him, Ms. Blake, it’s here with me.”

clear typewriter_n“What the hell happened?” the PA said.

“Nothing the fuck happened, what did you think would happen?” Valen’s reply was little more than a growl.

“Look it’s your suite,” Kelly said, hunching her bag up onto her shoulder and moving past Valens, careful not to touch him. “I’ll leave. I’m sorry it didn’t work out,” she said softly.

Valens nodded, avoiding her gaze, pushing back against the wall of the entry way as far from her as he could get, but not so far the she couldn’t see the sheen of sweat on his forehead, the dilation of his pupils and the way he cupped his hands protectively in front of his fly. She quickly looked away, not wanting to know if he had an erection or not, though she was certain if she had looked, that’s what she would have seen. She left quickly with Tuck right behind her.

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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