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Tunnel-Visioned in Storyland

It’s that time again … Deadlines are tight, and I’m deep into Storyland. It comes as no surprise really, droppedImageand my husband is well used to it by now.

‘Did you feed the birds?’ my husband asks.

‘They’re in the refrigerator,’ I reply.

‘Are you hungry?’ he says.

‘I mailed them yesterday.’ I mumble.

I pour plain hot water from the mocha maker into my cup because I forgot to put in the coffee. Never
mind. I slap a teabag in the hot water and go back to the computer.

Spiders have taken residence in a number of nooks and crannies. Some of the webs, I’m sure could now be considered ancestral mansions. My arachnid friends know the odds that dusting will happen in the near future are slim, and the safety of their homes is pretty much guaranteed. I think they’ve gone to watching telly when I’m not looking, and they’ve misplaced the remote. At least they keep the sound down so I can work.

The laundry hasn’t been sorted. The flowerbeds haven’t been weeded, and I don’t know what’s at the bottom of the papers avalanching off the end of my worktable. So what’s the problem?

Tunnel Vision. Yep, it’s that time again. Everyone who knows me knows it happens periodically, and every writer can completely empathise. It’s a disease from which we all suffer. When it happens, I go underground. It’s like I’ve temporarily left the planet, and for all practical purposes, I have. When I’ve got tunnel vision, I’m sucked mercilessly into another dimension, the dimension of the story. The thing about the dimension of the story is that it’s a whole lot easier for me to go there than it is for me to come back. Short stories involve fairly brief stints in the land of Tunnel Vision. Five thousand words and I’m back home in time for a reality check. And the spiders tremble.

But these days I spend most of my time in the world of the novel, and whenever I go there, it’s hard to say when I’ll get back home again. Add to that the fact that the novel is full of love, sex, intrigue, populated with people I’d like to be living in places I want to go, and I’m very likely to linger as long as possible. In fact, I bet if you could go someplace similar right now, you would, wouldn’t you?

Come on, be honest! Everyone who’s ever read a good book gets the chance to follow the writer into that great world of Tunnel Vision. We all go there willingly and happily while the eight-leggers take up residence and the carpet crunches from lack of Hoovering. We’re disappointed when it’s not quite the world we’d hoped for. We’re equally disappointed when it’s more than we could have imagined. When that happens, we don’t want to leave. We want to stay with those characters we’ve grown so fond of and settle right in to that place which now feels like home. We’ve grown used to the excitement, the adventure, the sex, the love, the intrigue, and we’ve especially grown used to the opportunity to, for a little while, be someone else.

The land of Tunnel Vision is also the land of multiple personalities. In my novel, I get to be ALL of the To Rome with Lustcharacters. They all whisper in my ear and tell me their sordid secrets and their darkest fantasies. Then I, like an evil gossip columnist, splash their inner workings all over the written page for the world to see. Bwa ha ha ha ha! I get to do that because I’m the most powerful person in their world. In fact, in their world, I’m god. K D giveth and K D taketh away!

So, I’ve come back from the world of Tunnel Vision just long enough to grab a coffee, write a blog post and ignore the spiders. Consider this a postcard from The Mount in Rome, where the whole Mount Series started, and where Liza Calendar’s very sensitive nose is making Paulo Delacour very hot. It’s my way of saying ‘having a great time, wish you were here.’ I promise a detailed account this fall in the form of the latest book in the Mount Series, To Rome with Lust. But in the meantime, I’m out of here – back to Rome, back to Paulo and Liza, back to Martelli Fragrance’s secret formula for the best perfume ever! See you!

 

Typos, Auto-Correct and Freud: A Blot Post for All My Sweetits

HercAny writer will tell you that word-herding is hard work. Words are unruly things and not always willing to fall in line like we want them to. They’re tricksters just waiting to trip us up when we least expect it. So today I’m blotting about typos and, the bane of everyone’s existence, auto correct. Why? Because I’ve just had a very fun twitter convo with Madeline Moore about my latest blot post that’s up for everyone to read right not! She promised me she would go to my blot and buy my book not. She’s probably reading it not, even as I write.

Writers constantly play with words, and as Madeline and I tweeted back and froth, I got to thinking about how much fin we all have when the wrong word is used — either because of a typo or because of an over-zealous auto-correct. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve NEARLY called someone ‘Sweetit’ on FB or in an email. ‘i’ isn’t even close to ‘t’, so I can only hypothesize that because of what I do for a living, fighting the unconscious urge to write ‘Sweetit’ instead of ‘Sweetie’ is probably a Freudian thing, or maybe just my dirty little mind leaking out on the keyboard. If I call you Sweetit in any of our correspondence, please take it in the spirit in which it is meant and know that it was probably my wicked mind’s way of giving myself the finger … in this case the wrong finger on the wrong key.

The other day I had the misfortune of being the victim of auto-correct when I asked Vida Baily about her ‘WIPE’ instead of her ‘WIP.’ The silly convo that followed was caught for posterior on Facebook because for some reason, the ‘edit’ function wouldn’t work. This morning, as I was looking down through my blog content folder for an older post I wanted to refer to, I saw in the documents that I recently participated in the ‘Snob by the Sea’ blog hop, which will come as a real surprise to Victoria and Kev Blisse, who organized the ‘Snog by the Sea’ blog hop to promote Smut by the Sea. Honestly, there was not a jot of snobbery in that fabulous blot hog, just a lot of hot snogging!

I can’t count the number of times my characters have ‘shit the door behind them’, which is far more painful than shutting it … one would assume. And my poor Lakeland witches were nearly caught at the top of Honister Pass in a snot storm. I once read a story in which the hero’s face was pinched by an uncomfortable erection … After I fell off my chair laughing with relief that it hadn’t been fatal, I was reminded how easily I can make a sentence go on and on until it’s hard to tell what part of a character’s anatomy is being pinched by what … or whom … Sentence argument is very important!

The thing is, as writers we think a lot faster than we can get those thoughts down on paper. When those thoughts come out of the imagination, and when our characters and plot take control and drag us down the rabbit hole, sometimes it feels like we’re actually just secretaries struggling to take down their words and actions as fast as we can before faces get pinched by erections and whole villages are buried under snot storms.

Language and word play say a lot about a person. They say a lot about a writer, about a story-teller. Writers choose to dance dangerously with words, so it comes as no surprise when we occasionally trip over our own semi-colons. It doesn’t help that I’m the world’s worst speller Then there’s the constant Writing imagebattle of homophones. I’ve had the odd pale face end up pail … and while faces may be good for showing emotion, they’re not very practical for carrying water. Seriously though, it gets really tense sometimes when every word counts, when I want to make sure that my readers catch every nuance, every scent, every taste, every feel of flesh on flesh. That being the case, sometimes a writer just needs to play with the words and let them have their head. That means occasionally shitting the door on the more serious word-smithery and leaving the plot and the characters to stew in their own juices just for a little while, just long enough for a silly little blot post to all of you Sweetits out there before I get back to more serious word-herding.

 

The Morning After

The Morning After Smut by the Sea 2014:

P1010991It’s been a week since Smut by the Sea now. Can’t believe how fast time flies, and what a roller-coaster ride the week back home has been. But I want to talk about The Morning After today. I wrote most of this post on The Morning After. That meant everything was running late. My brain felt like someone stuffed it with cotton wool. When I sat down to write, I spilled my coffee and woe to anyone who crossed my path wrong. I’d have probably either bitten their head off, or worse yet, I’d have cried. As I walked to the green grocery that Morning After to cheer myself up with some summer fruit, I thought about why The Mornings After are so hard.

This time it was the Morning After Smut by the Sea. Just as I had expected, at Smut by the Sea there was that fantastic camaraderie with other writers. There was the chance to meet readers and encourage new writers to press on. One of the best parts of Smut by the Sea this year was meeting four members of the Brit Babes’ Street Team. Alison ScottDebbie Lowery,  Stephanie Robb and Peter Hill.What a pleasure it was to share the smut-tastic fun with the four of them. I was inspired by Victoria Blisse. I have the P1010956beginnings of a hot new story thanks to her workshop. I was reminded of what editors need and want in Lucy Felthouse’s workshop – always good for writers to remember. I was encouraged by the wonderful reaction and input and snippets share by the lovely writers in my writing workshop. I loved being read to in the reading slam and being intrigued by the stories shared there. Jackie Brocker had me squirming on my seat and my mouth watering with the most sensual description of eating a chocolate eclair I’ve ever heard. Janine Ashbless read some of the hottest, most prickly vampire prose I’ve ever heard. I was in aural heaven.

Beyond the actual schedule of events of Smut by the Sea, there was the wonderful catching up with other writers and talking shop. We writers work in isolation so we seldom get that chance to share with each
SBTS 2014 poster 2other. There was the chance to encourage new writers and the opportunity to meet readers in person. All in all it was a perfect day.

Buuuuuut … the Morning After, back home, I moped around with my chin on the ground. Why is the Morning After so hard? Here is a truth that I share gently and, in small doses, with new writers because I’m always afraid I’ll discourage them. Writing is hard enough and discouraging enough without hearing another writer talk about the hardships of the vocation. It’s a neurotic job we do. We work alone; our work is never done, and no matter how hard we try, we’re never a hundred per cent satisfied with what we do. Then there are the rejections that are just a part of the package and the bad reviews that every writer gets. There’s the wondering if we’ve done the best we can to promote ourselves, to make sure that our babies get the attention we think they so richly deserve. There’s the constant mental battle to decide what tasks we can leave undone so we can spend more quality time writing. And who doesn’t live with the chilling fear that tomorrow morning we might wake up and not a single word will come to us when we sit down to write?

P1020023The Mornings After are those days that follow the highs of being a writer – a good review, times spent
with other writers, a new sale, a nice royalty cheque, an inspired writing session. The Mornings After are the times when we remember that we’re always on our way up a very steep slope and that the pause to enjoy and to celebrate with writing friends — a pause we’ve well earned — is only that, just a pause.

Those last few weeks before and the weeks immediately following the publication of my first novel, I found myself depressed. The publication of The Initiation of Ms Holly raised the bar. Every writer wants each story, each novella, each novel to be better than the one before, and every writer wants to do all she can to see that her baby gets a good start. The Morning After is the understanding that we don’t know what will happen next, we don’t know exactly how to get where we want to be, as writers, and it’s inevitable that we’ll make mistakes along the way. The path is incredibly daunting. Sometimes it’s daunting because of the huge challenge we face. I felt that way when I began writing as Grace Marshall. Sometimes it just feels overwhelming because there are never enough hours in the day to do what we’d like to do to promote, to write, to become better at our craft. Quite often the Mornings After, for me, involves the overwhelming desire to run away and hide someplace where no one can find me until my heart rate settles and I can breathe again and think rationally again.

But when I strip away all that overwhelms me, all that frightens me, all that upsets me – the massive writing image 2need to promote my work, the blog posts that need to be written, the work that needs to be done, the editing, the social networking, the tight deadlines, the fact that I’m never totally pleased with myself and I set my standards outrageously high and I’m tunnel-visioned, and … breathe, KD! Breathe!

Once everything else is stripped away, the bottom line, the bedrock of my life and who I am as a human being is that writing is not a job for me. Writing is not a hobby. Writing is my vocation, my calling. Telling a story is my passion, and I’ll do it no matter what. I’ll do it because I can’t NOT do it. It’s as important as breathing. It’s my anchor to sanity when I feel like running away screaming. It’s both the gift and the curse, and the pull at my centre that keeps me focused and moving forward.

I hope that by writing this, I haven’t scared new writers, or maybe I hope that I HAVE scared them. It’s that perpetual state of fear and discomfort edged up close and personal to the love affair with story, with word, with a vocation that sometimes baffles us, but never, NEVER bores us; it’s that sharp edge that makes writing the story more than just a hobby, that makes it a spiritual journey and a digging down into the meat and bones and grit of the tale we’re compelled to tell and the passion we have for it.

No worries. I got through the Morning After. I always do. The Work in Progress grabbed me by the P1010987collar, yanked me away from my navel gazing and sat me in front of the laptop, and once again I’m  focused on what really matters. I’m a writer at the heart of me, and if I go to the heart of me, I can always get through another Morning After.

A very special thanks again to two of my heroes in the world of smut, Victoria and Kev Blisse. Thanks to you two, Smut by the Sea was the kind of event that make for great memories, loads of inspiration, and much encouragement long after The Morning After. xxx

 

It’s Time for Garden Porn!

From the Archives

Two words…garden porn. Oh yes! I’m most definitely addicted. Do you have any idea how many luscious, deliciously explicit garden sites there are? Though I like pretty flowers just fine, and though plump red strawberries are enough to get my heart rate up, what really gets me going, what really makes me quiver all over is vegetables. My, oh my, how I love to look at sites that sell vegetables, or sites that give advice on how to grow vegetables, or sites that show photos of really well put-together veg gardens. Does it get any better than that?

Oh, and the garden centres! I adore the earthy scent of fresh compost and fertilizer, of greenhouse heat and rank, growing plants, all overlaid with the scent of espresso from the coffee shop. And it’s not just the scent that I love, it’s the feel of a quality wooden handled hoe or garden fork resting in the relaxed but firm, grip of my hand. Some are designed especially for a lady’s light hand, while others are thick and long and manly. There are metres and meters of gossamer thin garden fleece all ready to caress my plants with that peek-a-boo hint of what lies beneath on a frosty spring night. There are multi-coloured, oh so soft, gloves to protect my hands while I’m groping and tugging in a weedy bed.

And the plants. This time of year plants that aren’t just loaded with gaudy blooms already are heavy and swollen with buds about ready to burst. Stiff phallic shoots are coming up everywhere, and the heady scent of new growth is intoxicating.

Personally, I don’t think it’s any surprise at all that I go both ways – erotic writer and vegetable gardener. We’re talking about the best of both worlds here. And inspiration, Wow! My seedlings are mostly in the mini greenhouses now, but when they first push up through the soft potting compost with just the tiniest hint of pale plant flesh pressing through the glossy black earth, it’s a teasing par excellence. My breath catches, my heart races and I’m positively bouncing with excitement.

I’ve written about naughty things to do with carrots and courgettes, and I’ve written about kink amid the topiary. It’s true, getting down and dirty among the growing things makes me hot and sometimes sore. I planted runner beans today, squatted in the rich earth, digging and watering and patting in place. There’s still dirt under my nails and my shoulders ache. Yes, it was good for me.

Sweet Corn on paradeIt’s true — I like the heat and the dirt, but what I like best of all is that the Muse hangs out in the vegetable garden. When I’m getting down and dirty in the beans, the Muse whispers fabulous naughtiness, amazing imaginative titillating tales in my ear. She’s practically giving it away, when I’m up to my knuckles in compost. I think the Muse likes garden porn too. It makes her  loose and easy with her ideas, and there I am hunkered down amid the weeds and the beans, completely unsuspecting of what she’s about to whisper to me. It’s always hot, and she always makes it good for me. Oh yes. I do like garden porn. I can hardly wait to write down all that she whispered in my ear while I took my pleasure planting beans.

Just a little added note: Keziah Hill informed me that there is an actual site called Garden Porn. I just checked it out. A site where the ‘Hortisexuals’ hang out is my kind of site

 

Sex and Fiction Revealed

From the Archives:
Rodin 250px-The_KissI once sat through a reading of four fairly well-known romance writers, who had great stage presence, read beautifully from their new best sellers, and answered the audience’s questions with the level of expertise one would expect from people who make their living as writers. That is until they were asked about writing sex.

There was a frisson of embarrassment across the stage and a lot of shifting and shuffling and throat clearing as all four made excuses for why they were uncomfortable writing sex and therefore didn’t do it if they could avoid it. Then the question was dismissed with all the gravity a question about the proper shade of lippy might have been.

I wanted to shout, ‘This is sex! It’s the biggie! It’s what romance leads to! It’s what made us all! Beyond the shouting, sex is the powerful leveler of persons that strips us of our facades and brings us down to the deepest part of ourselves, and occasionally the best part. It exposes our animal nature with all its crudeness and all its charm. Sex is one of the best ways for a reader to get to know a character. With that in mind, I can’t imagine why all writers aren’t dying to write their next sex scene.

I appreciate a good sex scene in a novel – any novel – because sex in fiction, no matter how dangerous, is always safe sex. I enjoy writing erotica because it allows me, and my reader, to experience sex vicariously, safely, in ways we would never experience it in the real world. In some cases it’s only to see what the appeal of being there is. In other cases it’s the fulfillment of fantasy on the written page done safely without leaving the comfort of the recliner. For me, as writer and reader, there’s also the added excitement of sharing fantasies with total strangers.

I’m told I don’t look like the type of woman who would write erotica, but the more I write, the more I
wonder why the type of woman who writes erotica shouldn’t be Everywoman. We all have fantasies, and I can speak first hand as to how hot it is to write those fantasies down – in detail. No one needs to read them but ourselves. Hey, it’s a cheap sex toy – a piece of paper and a pen – a hot pink one, maybe??? It’s safe sex at its best. The world of the written page has always allowed us to walk in other dimensions, other realities, other times, and to see the world through the eyes of other people. Why shouldn’t sex be included in those other realities?

Coming home from the States on a night flight a couple of years ago, unable to sleep, I found myself watching the film, The Ugly Truth, with Gerard Butler and Katherine Heigle. Butler’s character is trying to help Heigle’s character develop a relationship with a hot doctor. He asks her how often she Naked guy readingmasturbates. Horrified, she says she doesn’t do that sort of thing, to which he replies, ‘If you don’t want to make love to yourself, what makes you think anyone else will want to?’

According to Wallace Shawn, “Sex really is a nation of its own. Those whose allegiance is given to sex at a certain moment withdraw their loyalty temporarily from other powers. It’s a symbol of the possibility that we might all defect for one reason or another from the obedient columns in which we march.”

I’ll admit it; I’m a defector to that nation of sex. It’s a large nation with lots of room, and I’m inviting everyone I know to defect and enjoy.

You can read Wallace Shawn’s great essay about writing sex here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2009/jun/20/wallace-shawn-writing-about-sex

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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