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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.


WORDS! A Complete Story by F. Leonora Solomon

Oooh! I feel all Muse-y today, and in a very delicious way. I am very honoured to have the fabulously Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500talented and naturally naughty F. Leonora Solomon with me today sharing a wonderful story that has its roots in one of those shared writerly conversations that inspires. This one happened this year at Eroticon. It’s SO true, we can’t do it alone, and from hat sharing comes amazing things. And F. Leonora, you can rub me like a genie any time! Thank you SO much for sharing you story with us! 


So I think KD Grace is brilliant, I have had the pleasure of meeting her at all three Eroticons that I attended, and she is BRILLIANT. We were walking out of a session at the last con, and I was basically rubbing her like a genie (semi-figuratively), for inspiration because I was feeling stuck. Somehow the idea for this story came about organically, and she invited me to be a guest on her blog. It took me a little bit…but now I have this to share with her—and you…


Writers cannot do it on their own, we need to be inspired. I am grateful that so many of my writer friends inspire me. Thank you KD! xxx


by F. Leonora Solomon

IMG_0333He was not the love of her life by any means. They had only gone out a couple of times—in some cases he just filled the space just so that she would not be alone. After a few drinks—they did not even have dinner—she wanted more than his conversation.

Lying on her side now, the night after, she could still feel the scruff of his stubble all over her body. She liked the chafed feeling of where his mouth had been on her. His mouth was the ultimate turn-on for her. Not so much the feeling of it, but what he said.

You like it rough don’t you, you like it raw right?

The timbre of his voice had moved right along her labia. She pressed her legs together, and then parted them.

You felt that right between your legs, didn’t you? You’re already wet, aren’t you?

Kitt nodded in memory against her pillow, its soft cotton for a moment fooled her into feeling like his stubble. She caressed the divide between her breasts, in her loose-fitting nightgown. Without any effort, her breasts slipped out of it.

She caressed their softness, and her hypersensitivity made her feel more aroused that she should have. She was in bed alone, but thinking about having him in her bed the night before…thinking about what they had done, how he touched her was sexier than having done it with him.

You’re so wet, can you hear how wet you are? You are making so much noise, because you are so wet. You’re a squirter aren’t you?

Kitt had panted so heavily, moving with him at that point. She had wanted to answer him that she had never squirted, but her words were unintelligible.

She did not squirt, but she did come. Not one of her best orgasms, but she did come with him.

Oh next time, I am going to make you squirt. I am going to make you flood this bed…

Writing pen and birds 1_xl_20156020She now stopped caressing her breasts. Her nightgown was up over her hips, and both of her hands were between her legs.

You like that don’t you, you like that so much you filthy girl. You like it better when I say it, and tell you how filthy you are too. I know you do…

Kitt was tangled in her sheets after, hair in her mouth and her clenched fists damp with her own come. Between her legs tremored with the memory of things that he had said into the nape of her neck the night before.

Untangling herself from her sheets, she went to the bathroom. A stream of pleasure moved through her body, as she sat on the toilet. Kitt’s eyes were damp with post-orgasm tears, but her breathing had slowed.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw her phone flash. She should not have kept it near her bed, but she knew who it was.

america-artist-art-paintings-prints-note-cards-by-howard-chandler-christy-nude-women-reading-approximate-original-size-18x16Can I come…over?

She nodded at his words, even before she typed her reply.

Yes you can come over me…

Kitt giggled meaning that typo, knowing he knew it.

You can come over to* me, I meant…

She was sure he would have a lot of words for her…when he came…


everything about F. Leonora Solomon is at:




Smut Manchester: Community Inspiring Creativity

IMG_3808If I had to describe Smut Manchester 2015 in three words, those words would be community inspiring creativity. Whether it was the laid back, cozy atmosphere of The Bangkok Bar and Restaurant or the delight of spending time with Brit Babe Street Team members – some of them we were meeting for the first time. Whether it was the open Dungeon and watching the lovely Cara Sutra spank Janine Ashbless or the joy of brainstorming with, listening to, and encouraging other writers; whether it was the workshops or the readings; whether it was the opportunity to make our own floggers with Kink Craft or the delightful evening at Dr. Sketchy’s drawing the lovely performers, who posed for us, I feel as though I have been totally immersed in creativity for the past thirty hours, and I’m still buzzing from it. It’ll be days before I can actually absorb all that happened this weekend, and the really stunning thing about Smut Manchester is that technically it began at 11:00 Saturday morning and was over by 8:30 Saturday IMG_3713night. How such a short time can be so crammed full of creativity, community, random acts of kindness, inspiration and shenanigans totally boggles.

Victoria and Kevin Blisse continue to astound me with their gentle, contagious, enthusiasm completely underpinned by more hard work and passion than a small army could muster. It’s a total delight to have been a part of Smut from the very first Smut event in Scarborough three years ago and to have watched it grow and evolve to the majorly exciting force for erotica and all things smutty. I would like to offer a huge and very heart-felt thank you to these two lovely, fearless people. Victoria, Kev, you are my heroes!

This Saturday has convinced me that we writers need to get out more! IMG_3698I know! I know! We’d all rather be holed up in our ivory towers tap tapping away on our laptops. BUT the pump has to be primed and sometimes we find the Muse in the strangest places; very often we find her in community. Sometimes she’s waiting with a pencil and a sketch pad, or with a mad attempt at a group selfie that ends is hysterical giggles, or the quiet chatting together crafting one’s very own, very beautiful flogger, or the incredibly thoughtful gift of a pumpkin pie totally made from scratch. Thank you Ian Haynes! Your name is spoken in hushed and reverent tones at Grace Manor! And yes, I did, indeed, practice delayed gratification and got said pie home to share with Hubby.

IMG_3677But, I digress. My point is that sometimes the things that inspire most have absolutely nothing to do with writing, and yet everything to do with story. Julia Cameron in her book, The Artists Way, suggests that creativity can be cultivated by having what she calls ‘Artist’s Dates’ on a weekly basis. These are little snippets of time in which we creative folks treat ourselves to a wander through a museum, to a play, to a movie, to a dance class, to a walk, to something, anything that will get us out of our usual headspace and cause us to see things differently. A writer’s date seems completely frivolous and a waste of precious writing time, BUT, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s neither a reward, nor a holiday, but an essential part of keeping ‘creatively fit.’ With that in mind, what can I say but that Smut Manchester was one big gigantic artist’s date. And, while we all know, few things can put IMG_3878you farther outside your comfort zone than a date, sometimes a date can be life-changing.

I spent a good deal of Saturday comfortably outside my comfort zone, in the company of other creative folks who were equally comfortably outside their comfort zone, with all of us encouraging each other. From being put on the spot by Kay Jaybee about what I would do with a tin of pears in heavy syrup out through the back door of the Sainsbury, to making my own flogger, to my very awkward attempts at drawing at Dr. Sketchy’s in the evening, I was always a little uncomfortable and always delighted by the Mr Sketchy winend results. Being outside my comfort zone inspired story ideas that I would have otherwise never managed. It’s not just the inspiration, but being gently forced outside my comfort zone seems to have left me feeling as though my whole creative self has had a relaxing, rejuvenating weekend at The Creativity Spa.

I won’t give you a blow by blow of the days events (though I do promise LOTS of piccies on Face Book over the next week or so) because even as I live them over in my own head and delight in them, I realize I would sound like an excited child telling her parents what she did on her first slumber party. What I do want to share with you, though, is what I took away — not in my head, but in those deeper, more visceral places where writers transform events into meaning and then into story.

I’m still reeling from the fact that I actually won one of the prizes at Dr Sketchy’s! (pretty sure it was a IMG_3861sympathy win. I was totally out of my element) I am now the very proud owner of a lovely pen and pencil artist kit that is so exquisite, I’m almost afraid to touch it. At the end of the allotted sketch time, with each awkward sketch I did, I scribbled a quick sentence underneath it of the story idea the sketch inspired. And while I sat making my flogger and IMG_3633watching other people make theirs, my mind was buzzing with a story. As for Kay Jaybee’s tin of pears in heavy syrup, well I reckon you’ll be seeing that in a story in the near future. Thanks, Kay!

The thing is, while most of our creative effort takes place in solitude, while we shape and refine our stories in isolation, what happens in community is a vibrant, fiery, mash-up that comes to us unexpectedly and out of nowhere from the shared experience. Sketching with a group of people, most of whom are no more comfortable with drawing than I am is commonality, and I can relax and let what happens happen because I’m not doing it alone. Doing crafty things with hands that are more comfortable on the keyboard of a laptop, while chatting and laughing and sharing the IMG_3775experience opens the creative floodgates in a very different way. It’s a much more gentle way, a way that doesn’t require the discipline and the focus that our day-in-day-out crafting of story does. Our encounters with the Muse in such circumstances are more playful, more laid back, and we toy with story and ideas in a way that we never can when we’re facing deadlines, when we have our heads down, still doing what we love, but so tunnel-visioned that we don’t look up to be inspired in the same way.

Smut Manchester was a beautiful chance to be inspired in playful easy ways. By being comfortably outside our comfort zone, we didn’t take ourselves so seriously and we were reminded in exquisite ways that creativity is a playful thing, and it often comes when we’re not looking for it. It often comes when we’re not looking for anything at all, actually.


My Life is in My Dropbox!

Writing imageThursday my life flashed before my eyes. It was the first time it had ever happened, and I hope like hell it’s the last. The first thing that struck me was that it was nothing like I’d thought it would be. There were no memories of my childhood, no memories of getting married or moving off on my own to Croatia. There were no memories of falling in love or of my favorite trips, nor the major milestones in my life. It still gives me cold chills thinking about it. It was intimations of my worst nightmare. I never thought it would be like it was. Though now, looking back, I can’t imagine how I would have expected it to be otherwise.

Due to complications installing a new operating system on my computer, which I won’t go into, I ended up having every file in my Dropbox deleted. Now, before you tell me not to worry, there are ways to get it all back, let me just say that I know that now. I knew that even as it was happening. BUT all of those ways of recovering data are only theories until you put them to the test, and then you have to be in a calm logical state of mind in order to be able to do that. I was neither calm nor logical as I prepared to continue with my WIP and opened a completely empty Dropbox. I back up everything – EVERYTHING in the whole universe, I back up! I’m fanatical about back ups. And where do I back it all up? On the f*cking Dropbox!!! AND NOWHERE ELSE!!!!! You see where I’m going with this? Panic sets in when the 135,000 word manuscript you’ve just completed disappears along with every picture you’ve ever taken, Drop box image imagesevery word you’ve ever written of any sort. ANY sort, for the past five years.

To give you a bit of perspective, I wrote The Initiation of Ms Holly in 2010. Since then I’ve written literally millions of words – some of them novels, some of them blog posts that I’m rather fond of, some
of them short stories, poems, novellas, even the odd navel gaze. There are stories and story ideas that have never lived anywhere outside cyberspace, but I hope they will someday. There are pictures of holidays, of veg gardens we’ve planted, of long walks we’d taken on the Downs in every season at every time of day. Words! There are literally millions of words that I’ve written, and suddenly they were all gone!

Recovery happened, as the tiny part of me that wasn’t vacillating somewhere between total panic and growing despair, knew that it would and, at the end of the day, all was well. I’d lost nothing. I was even able to recover the efforts of that morning. The point is that the fear that I might have lost all my words was an eye-opening experience for me. It was a huge insight into how I define myself and how I judge the value of my life.

For good or for ill, I define myself by the words and the pictures in my Dropbox. That’s what it boils Writing pen and birds 1_xl_20156020down to; that’s me stripped to the bare bones. And for a terrifying few minutes I was no one.

No one …

When I think about it now with all my words back safely where they belong, I can’t quite get my head around what I felt. There are words in the Bible meant to describe Christ. Most of you know that I came from a conservative Christian background about a hundred years ago, but these two passages transcend my faith or lack thereof and speak to the heart of the writer on a much deeper level than they might to anyone else.


For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to
the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12


And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us.

John 1:14


Words are more than just a collections of sounds that allow us to communicate. Words have power, like a sword, like a scalpel, to discern thoughts and intents. And words, in the hands of a writer become flesh and dwell among us. For a writer – certainly for me, they become my flesh, and they become the flesh of the characters with which I people my stories. They dwell in me as surely as if they were alive, and they do often discern the thoughts and intents of my heart, without me even realizing that’s what they’re Scribe computer keyboardMG_0777doing. Words are my companions, my guides, my friends; words are the mirror through which I view myself. For my whole life it’s always felt like the more words I write, the more clear the reflection of self in that mirror becomes. Navel gazing much???

Even as I write this, I’m well aware of just how neurotic it sounds to define myself by my words, and a
part of what happened in that short time without my words was an internal battle for points of reference, for other ways to define myself, which at that moment, I couldn’t even imagine existed. The point is the value of words – my words – to me can’t be overstated. I live with them close and personal every day of my life, and most days I bring home a few more to live with me. Losing my words, even for just that short amount of time before logic could kick in, before I could regain enough equilibrium to know that wasn’t going to happen, was like losing myself. How can I define myself without my Dropbox full of words? Who am I without those points of reference? Of course it wouldn’t have been the end of the world, had I lost all my words, but I promise you as sure as I’m sitting here, it would have felt like it.

© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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