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My Writing Process

I’d like to thank the fabulous Primula Bond for inviting me along on The Writing Process blog hop. It’s a nice opportunity to share with my readers what I’m up to and how my writing process works. I’ve been asked to answer four basic questions and then pass on the baton to three fabulous writers. Here’s a peekie-weekie into my writing process.

What I’m working on

At the moment I’m working on the final rewrite of book one of an epic fantasy trilogy. This WIP is a longwriting image 2 time coming and not in my usual genre, which means I’m more than a little bit nervous about putting it out there. But I’m also very excited because it’s been dear to my heart for a long time now, and something I’ve not had the time to spend with because of my full schedule of writing erotic romance. Now I’m in between novels and decided in the new year it’s time to take the plunge and finish up The Choosing.

How my work differs from others of its genre

Though The Choosing is completely out of the erotic romance genre in which I usually write, it’s not a genre in which I’m inexperienced. It’s just one in which I’m not yet published. What I love about writing epic fantasy is that I totally create the world which my characters inhabit. Though I’ve written paranormal erotic romance where the rules of reality are changed, in fantasy, the world itself is changed, and that world often exerts as much influence on the characters as the characters do on each other. Though there are erotic elements in the novel, and sex is one of the driving forces, The Choosing isn’t an erotic novel.

Why I write erotic romance

I write erotica and erotic romance because I enjoy it. I started out writing erotica because it was something I was good at and there was a market. Nine novels, three novellas and countless short stories later, I write it because I enjoy it, and I love the fact that I can ‘leave the bedroom doors open.’

How my writing process works

I used to have a very specific writing process. I walked in the morning and I wrote the rest of the day. That’s a simplification, but that’s pretty much it. Now my method is much more fluid. I write when I write. I’ve never had any trouble writing anytime, anyplace. I don’t need specific conditions. I’ve written on the train, on the bus, in the loo, on a walk, and every place in between.

Having said that, my writing process for a novel is still pretty structured. I begin by walking the story. Then I write a blurb and a very loose chapter by chapter synopsis, which can be very fluid and subject to change as needed. When that’s done, I write the first draft fast and furiously. The second draft is much more detailed, in which I sculpt and shape the story so that it’s tight, pacey and every word is what I want it to be. My final draft is simply an out loud read-through of the entire novel. If what I’ve written doesn’t read out well, then it won’t flow well to the reader’s eyes either. It’s the best way I know to pick up problems before the manuscript gets sent out. I never send anything out that hasn’t had a complete out loud read through.

Next Monday, check out the writing process of three of my very fave writers over on their sites and get the latest of what they’re up to.

Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100 publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house. She owns Erotica For All, and is book editor for Cliterati. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9

Tabitha Rayne has been told she is quirky, lovely and kinky – not necessarily in that order or by the same person. She writes erotic romance and as long as there’s a love scene – she’ll explore any genre.

Her short stories are included in anthologies from Xcite, Oysters & Chocolate, Cleis, Burning Books Press, Ravenous Romance, Mischief, and House of Erotica. She has novels with Beachwalk Press and Xcite Books.

Victoria Blisse is a Mother, Wife, Christian, Manchester United Fan and Award Winning Erotica Authoress. She is also the editor of several Bigger Briefs collections, and the co-editor of the fabulous Smut Alfresco and Smut in the City and Smut by the Sea Anthologies.

Victoria is also one of the brains behind the fabulous Smut by the Sea Event taking place at Scarborough Library (UK) on the 22nd June 2013. A day dedicated to Erotica with a mini erotic marketplace and lots of Author Readings, Fun Giveaways and Exciting Talks.

She is equally at home behind a laptop or a cooker (She is TEB’s Resident “Naked Chef”) and she loves to create stories, poems, cakes and biscuits that make people happy. She was born near Manchester, England and her northern English quirkiness shows through in all of her stories. Passion, love and laughter fill her works, just as they fill her busy life.

You can find often find Victoria procrastinating on Facebook http://facebook.com/victoriablisse , Twitter http://twitter.com/victoriablisse  and Pinterest http://pinterest.com/victoriablisse

To find out more check out http://victoriablisse.co.uk

 

BDSGym?

Recently I was asked to write a guest post explaining what I thought the appeal of BDSM is in erotica. As I wrote that post and sent it off, I found myself thinking about my workouts at the gym and drawing parallels.

I work out with a personal trainer twice a week. My trainer pushes me hard, much harder than I would be able to push myself, and I have a reputation for pushing. But I don’t trust myself. There are boundaries I’m afraid to push on my own. I’ve had too many injuries from pushing in the wrong way and overtraining. Though I love working out with my husband, and we have a great time together whether we’re practicing martial arts or whether we’re lifting, or even on a long walk, he can’t really push me like my trainer does because he’s not a trainer and because I’m his wife and he’s careful with me. Also he doesn’t want to be around the bitch I can be if he tries to push me too hard.

unnamedSo what’s different with a personal trainer? First of all, my trainer is an expert. I knew his credentials when I started working with him. Secondly, and most importantly, long before he could push my limits like he does now, we had to develop a relationship of trust. I went into that relationship with an injured knee. I had to trust that my trainer knew what he was doing enough to help me reach the level of fitness I wanted while not injuring me further, but strengthening me and facilitating healing. He had to trust that I would be honest with him and give myself over to his training. Once that trust was established, I knew that anything my trainer asked of me, no matter how impossible it seemed at the time, I would push toward. As time has passed he’s given me challenges that have driven me harder than I’ve ever been driven, challenges I would have never believed myself capable of finishing. And he’s also given me challenges that I’ve not yet finished, challenges designed to make me aware of how much farther I want to push those boundaries. During the year and a half we’ve been working together, we’ve developed a relationship of trust and camaraderie.

Today I hurt. I even have a few bruises from the boxing part of yesterday’s workout. I’m pretty proud of those, actually. It doesn’t matter how badly my body hurts or how exhausted I am — I keep pushing, and I know that I can push because my trainer’s looking out for me; he’s in control. What makes a situation that would appear to any outsider like torture something that I revel in is what happens inside my head. What I experience when I’m pushed to the edge of my endurance is somewhat similar, I imagine, to what practitioners of BDSM call subspace, which is the headspace in which submissives may find themselves when they’ve been pushed to their limits by their Doms.

I’ve been thinking about headspace a lot lately, about the place where I go, during a hard workout, when I’ve moved beyond tired and beyond pain. Pushing myself to the limit changes much more than my body. It feels like I go through stages. First there’s determination, and when the pain sets in (I’ve learned the difference between good pain and bad pain) and my body starts to rebel, the emotions start to well up – sometimes anger at the intangible, at some nemesis I neither have a name for nor can define. Sometimes that anger morphs into a child-like state that brings me close to tears, a state in which I want to turn on my trainer and ask him why the hell he’s being so mean to me – even as I push myself harder, even as I respect him more for believing I’m worthy of this challenge. When I get past that ‘why are you hurting me’ stage, what happens next is the most amazing part of all.  Somehow my body pushes the pain back. Endorphins, adrenaline, and all the chemical soup flooding into my brain and body take me to a place that feels far removed from what’s going on physically, and yet also feels right there at my very centre.

The thing about the change that takes place when my trainer has pushed my boundaries and tested my skill level is that, even when the workout is over, the change remains. I’ve gone where I’ve not been before. The reservoir inside me that makes me who I am seems deeper. I feel more real. I write this because I’m always seeking ways to understand what’s going on in the stories we writers tell, and when P1000816BDSM takes up such a large space under the Erotica Big Top, why wouldn’t I be seeking parallels, searching for ways to understand, ways to help my readers understand and identify. I do the same with all of the many components of erotica. Having said that, I hardly think it’s a surprise that gyms and physical fitness figure so prominently in erotic stories.

If I could put the experience I share with my personal trainer into a phrase, that phrase would be ‘power under control’ — my power, his control. And that power is power I didn’t know I had, power I would have been afraid to access without his control. I think we can’t overestimate the body as a teaching tool for knowing ourselves. We’re all our own biggest mystery, power unaccessed, depths unexplored, and most of us tend toward the path of least resistance. Moving off that path into the Undiscovered Country, accessing our power, is often easier when someone else is in control.

 

Acting Like An Erotica Writer

P1000816Writer Jane Wenham-Jones insists that most erotica writers she’s met look more like librarians. Most of us would happily admit to writing in our sweat suits or jeans or jammies. I don’t even own a corset and my feet are most often bare or in fuzzy slippers. Most of my erotica writing friends simply smile at the thought of writing in a basque and stilettos, and when we’re making a public appearance, I suppose we do look more like librarians than sex goddesses.

Most of us don’t mind so much when people say we don’t look like erotica writers. I confess the mental picture of me stretched out on a chez lounge with a feather boa and nose bleed heels scribbling away in a velvet notebook with quill is amusing, and it doesn’t bother me that I might look like a librarian when I’m out in public. I think librarians are hot. What does bother me, however and, what bothers most of my colleagues, is when people just assumed that we have DONE all the things we write about. Even that I could live with in a wink and a nudge sort of way, if it weren’t for the fact that sexual experience – especially for a woman – is sadly still stigmatized as something only ‘bad people’ have.

No one assumes Thomas Harris is a cannibalistic serial killer. No one assumes Anne Rice drinks blood and sleeps in a coffin. No one assumes Tom Clancy spent time being a terrorist. And yet, there are those who assume erotica writers have done everything we write about. For people who make that assumption, I have just one question; what part of ‘FICTION’ don’t they get?

Fiction writers don’t have to experience what they write in order to write about it. In fact, that’s why it’s fiction. IT DIDN’T HAPPEN — at least not outside the fertile mind of the writer. Erotic fiction is no different.

Fiction allows the reader, and the writer, to safely experience situations and worlds that, in reality, would not be safe or even be possible. In a world where safe sex has become a battle cry, as well as its own form of bondage, that has never been more true than it is with erotica. The erotica writer allows the reader to participate safely in an experience that can be both very wonderful and very dangerous. It’s no more necessary for erotica writers to have an orgy in order to write about one than it was for Thomas Harris to kill and eat a few folk before he could create Hannibal Lector.

Though it may add another layer to the psycho-sexual fantasy for the reader to imagine the erotica writer experiening first hand her orgy, bondage, or sex in a bus before she writes about, though that fantasy may be very sexy. It’s just that, a fantasy. In reality, what the writer has created it still fiction.

All that being said, I’m here to say that I do, indeed ACT like an erotica writer. In fact, I’m going to be even more general and say that I simply act like a writer. I see a world in my imagination and I recreate it on the written page. Some of what I write on that page involves sex, but not all of it. In fact most of what I write on that page is a story with an intriguing plot in which sex happens, in which sex helps drive the story. THAT is how an erotica writer acts!

writing image 2Like all other fiction writers, the world of an erotica writer is about plot, characters and setting. Unlike most other fiction writers, we allow human sexuality to be a powerful driving force in our stories, and we don’t shy away from the explicit when it serves our purpose. That erotic fiction is set apart from the rest of fiction simply because of its free and explicit use of sex saddens me deeply, as the stories being told by erotica writers are as relevant and as powerful as the stories told in any other genre.

Ultimately, if an erotica writer writes a good story with an intriguing plot, interesting characters and strong setting, then yes, she or he is acting like an erotica writer, behaving in character with all good fiction writers, using the same tools that writers in all other genre use – imagination, research and dedication to the craft. Erotica writers are just willing to give our readers a little extra heat — even if we do it in our jammies.

 

New Years Resolutions: Sneaking Quietly Through the Back Door

182Well what do you know? Here it is the 4th of January already! 2014 is well and truly under way. The gym is overflowing with New Years Resolutioners; all around the world new diets have been begun as soon as the New Year hangover wears off; people stop drinking, stop smoking, begin learning Spanish or French, people promise to take better care of themselves, spend more time with good friends, waste less time in front of the telly, and the list goes on. On January 4th the universal urge to be ‘better’ in the New Year is nearly palpable in the soggy English air.

It happens every year, that urge to reflect on what has been and plan how the New Year will be better. 266Hope and excitement at new beginnings is so much a part of our human nature that the end of a year and the beginning of another one can’t help but be the time when we anticipate, plan change, and dare to dream of what wonderful things we can bring about in the next year. In fact there’s a heady sense of power in the New Year. I think it’s the time when we’re most confident that we can make changes, that we really do have power over our own lives. It’s the time when we’re most proactive toward those changes, those visions of the people we want to be.

Before I actually began to sell my writing, back when I dreamed of that first publication, back when there seemed to be a lot more time for navel gazing than is now, I was a consummate journaler. I filled pages and pages, notebooks and notebooks full of my reflections, ruminations and navel gazes. And nothing took more time and energy than the end of the year entry, in which I reflected on how I did on the year’s resolutions and planned my resolutions for the next. This was a process that often began in early December with me reading back through journals, taking notes, tracing down some of what I’d been reading during that year and reflecting on it. Yeah, I know. I needed to get a life!

By the time New Years Day rolled around, I had an extensive list of resolutions, each with a detailed 191outline of action as to how I was going to achieve it. I found that some of those resolutions simply fell by the wayside almost before the year began — those things that if I’m honest with myself, I know I’m never gonna do, no matter how much I wish I would. Others I achieved in varying degrees-ish. But sadly, for the most part, a month or maybe two into the year, that hard core maniacal urge to be a better me no matter what cooled to tepid indifference as every-day life took the shine off the New Year.

It was only when there stopped being time for such ginormous navel-gazes and micro-planning that I discovered I actually had achieved a lot of those goals that were my resolutions simply by just getting on 183with it. As I began to think more about how different my approach to all things new in the New Year had become the busier I became, I realised that I had, through no planning on my part, perfected the sneak-in-through-the-back-door method of dealing with the New Year. The big, bright New Year changes I used to spend days plotting and planning no longer got written down, no longer got planned out. Instead, they sort of implemented themselves in a totally unorganised way somewhere between the middle of January and the middle of February. They were easy on me, sort of whispering and smiling unobtrusively from the corners of my life. They came upon me, not in a sneak attack so much as a passing brush with someone who would somehow become my best friend.

I’m my own harsh task master. I’m driven, I’m tunnel-visioned, I’m a pit bull when I grab on to what I want to achieve with my writing. No one is harder on me than I am – no one is even close. And yet from somewhere there’s a gentler voice that sneaks in through the back door of the New Year and through the back doors of my life and reminds me to be kinder to me, to be easier on me, to find ways to rest and recreate and feed my creative self. I’ll never stop being driven. The time I’ve been given, the time we’ve all been given, is finite. And that gentler part of ourselves must somehow be a constant reminder of comfort and gentleness, of self-betterment that comes, not from brow-beating and berating ourselves, not from forced regimentation, but from easing into it, making ourselves comfortable with it. We, all of us, live inP1010083 a time when life is snatched away from us one sound-bite, one reality TV show, one advert at a time. Often our time, our precious time is bargained away from us by harsher forces, by ideals and scripts that aren’t our own, and the less time we have to dwell on the still small voice, the deeper the loss.

So my resolution, my only resolution every year is to listen more carefully to that gentler, quieter part of me, to forgive myself for not being able to be the super-human I think I should be, to settle into the arms of and be comfortable with the quieter me, the wiser me who knows how far I’ve really come, who knows that the shaping of a human being goes way deeper than what’s achieved in the outer world, and every heart that beats needs to find its own refuge in the value of just being who we are, of living in the present and coming quietly and gently and hopefully into the New Year.

 

A Very Crowded Room

writing image 2It’s crowded room time again, and my room that is 2013 is unusually crowded, surprisingly crowded, in fact. I’m sure I’m not alone in my fascination with the last week of the year. It’s completely different from the rest of the year. It feels more like there are actually just fifty-one weeks in the year, then there is a week that’s really the crowded room at the end, a place not unlike my grandmother’s living room was, jam-packed with the bits and pieces and memorabilia of eighty-three years of living.

The last week of the year is a mental version of that living room, a room that we all have in our head. No matter how expansive the previous fifty-one weeks have been, this final week is the tiny space into which we crowd everything that has happened in the year. Then we mentally pour ourselves a glass of our favourite, settle in to the one comfy chair that’s not avalanching with memories and emotions, and we reflect.

Every item in my grandmother’s living room had a story — a gift from someone, a souvenir from some marked event in her life, something someone had made for her or she had made for herself. My grandmother’s living room was a book full of stories I only ever experienced through her eyes, stories that were lost in the mist to anyone but her.

This time of year, in this last week, we all sit in our mental story book living rooms and tell ourselves one last time the stories that have been our life for the past fifty-one weeks. We laugh at our joys, we mourn our losses and we nod our heads in satisfaction at our successes, promising they’ll be even bigger next year.

There was a finality about her over-crowded living room. It spoke of endings, of past events, of P1000885treasured moments. That last week of the year room we all occupy right now has its own finality. After midnight tonight, we can crowd no more into that room. We leave it as it is, papers strewn, boxes open, bed unmade, cup of tea half finished. Mind you, some of us spend our last hours in that room frantically trying to crowd just a little more into it. That’s me, sitting in the recliner madly tapping away at the computer trying to get another chapter written, another short story out before I have to leave this room and lock the door behind me.

It doesn’t matter though, if we’re sitting reflecting on all that fills this room, or if we’re frantically trying to fill it fuller, at midnight tonight, we’ll all take a deep breath, open the door and walk out into the empty room waiting for us that is 2014. All we’ll take with us is our memories of the room we left and our hopes for how we’ll fill this bright new room that stretches promisingly before us. Some of us make New Years resolutions, some of us just plow in without a plan of action, but one thing is for certain, this time next year, if we live that long, we’ll be sitting in the full room again reflecting on how the experiences of 2014 have shaped us, anticipating how we will take the experiences into the next empty room. With that in mind, here is a very brief tour of my 2013 Room.

Empty Room New Year postMore Books in My Crowded Room:

This has been the year I had three novels published, finishing two trilogies in the process, along with a collection of my short stories.

Elemental Fire, the final novel of the Lakeland Witches paranormal trilogy came out early in the year.

Identity Crisis, book two of Grace Marshall’s Executive Decisions came out about the same time.

The Exhibition, the final book in the Executive Decisions trilogy came out in November.

Gracefully Aroused: The Best of K D Grace  a collection of my short stories, came out in the middle of the year.

First Drafts and Works in Progress:

medusa_bernini2013 was the year I collaborated with the fabulous Moorita Encantada on a burlesque play, Eye of the Beholder, a kinky, quirky twisting and retelling of the Greek myth of Medusa and Perseus. There’s more work to be done on that, and I’m looking forward to the rewrite and the next steps with Moorita in 2014.

With two days left in 2013, I finished the final read-through of the proofs for Fulfilling the Contract, the sequel to The Initiation of Ms Holly, which will be out in February 2014.

I’ve written two short stories I’m very excited about, that will be coming out in 2014. I’ll be crowing about those when they happen, and I’ve written numerous blog posts. I’m not even going to mention the pages of new ideas for future novels!

Did I Do Anything other than Write in 2013?

Yes! I did! I made two major trips abroad for research as well as for fun. I spent five days in Las Vegas in March, along with ten days in Oregon. Both Vegas and Oregon figure strongly into novels I’ve written and ones still to come.

I just got back from a fantastic week in Rome, where book three of The Mount series, To Rome with Lust, will be set. I came home truly inspired.

This was the year of the allotment. I spent many long hours spent digging and planting and harvesting some of the most delicious veg ever grown. My back still aches and my mouth still waters at the thought.

This was the year I temporarily gave up long walks for time spent at the gym with a personal trainer. What started out as rehab for a gimpy knee ended up to be a different kind of challenge for me and one that I’ve truly enjoyed. As for the knee – it’s very much improved and I look forward to taking on some long crow-country walks in 2014.

555019_495828133815487_910474558_nThere were lots of readings this year, several at Sh! Women’s Store, including two Reading and Poetry Slams. Sh! is always a delight.

This was the first year of Smut by the Sea, a fabulous gathering of writers and readers organized by two of my heroes, Victoria and Kev Blisse. I’m elated to say that we’ll all be returning to Scarborough for year two of Smut by the Sea in 2014! If you get a chance to attend, please do. I’d love to meet you there!

This was year two for Eroticon – held in London in 2013, and expanded to two full days this year! Once again, Ruby Kiddell organized a totally stunning event. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to lead a workshop for the event – my first ever. Thought my knees were knocking and my hands were shaking, it was a wonderful experience. I can’t recommend Eroticon enough, and in 2014 it’ll bet returning to Bristol. I hope to see you there!

The Birth of the Brit Babes:britbabes_sidebar

One of the most exciting things that happened at Eroticon this year was the birth of the Brit Babes. In 2012 at Eroticon, we put our heads together and schemed the fab Seven Deadly Sins anthology. In 2013 all that creativity became the creative force behind the Brit Babes, a group of eight British erotica authors dedicated to promoting quality and varied erotica and helping readers find just exactly the erotica that works for them. To learn more about The Brit Babes and their plans for world domination which very well could include you, please check out the Brit Babes Site

After a year’s hiatus, this was the year Erotica came back to London and Smutters organized a wonderful table selling books and promoting authors. I was very proud to be a part of the event, even for one day, and I’m still in awe of Victoria Blisse and Lucy Felthouse who organized the Smutter table and readings. You two rock!

This was the year I got nominated, along with the fabulous Kay Jaybee, for ETO’s Best Erotic Author of 2013. Kay and I went and celebrated at the event in Birmingham. We lost out to some chick named E.L. James. Can you believe it? But we still had a fantastic time catching up with old friends and making new ones. We came away winners anyway.

Writers spend so much time living in our heads, in the worlds we create and, at least for me, that forces me to live in the moment most of the time when I’m not writing. I never think much ahead of the next scene to be written, the next chapter to be finished, the next blog post to be put up. As a result, the room that is 2013 has, like the ones before it, filled up without me paying too much attention to what’s around me. And then I reach this day, this last day of the year and I look around me. I’m stunned at all P1000814that’s happened. As I think back, reflecting on the stories, the experiences, the laughter, the sharing and camaraderie, the joy of seeing my stories in print, it seems hard to imagine that I could possibly fit so much into only 365 days. And all the neurotic struggles and self-doubts and fears, well they take up such a tiny space in the room of 2013 that I wonder now why I let them take up so much of my energy.

Once again I come to the end of the year, pick up the key, and stand with heart racing, head full of ideas and plans, with hand resting on the door knob to enter that new room, the one that is bright and shiny and labeled in spangles and glitter, 2014. I am moved by all that has been, by all that is crowded into the space of one single year and by how it has changed me. And I anticipate newness, challenges, more neurotic episodes, adventures, times with friends, and writing – LOTS of writing. That’s the part I anticipate the most. How could it be otherwise?

My wish for you is that your reflections in your full room of 2013 be good ones, satisfying ones, and encouraging ones. And at the stroke of midnight, may you enter that bright empty room of 2014 with hope and joy and anticipation of how wonderfully you’ll fill it up.

 

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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