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Retiring the Boots

IMG_5556It’s a solemn occasion, one that should be handled with great dignity and serious introspection. Just kidding! It’s actually a happy occasion. It’s time to retire not one, but two pairs of walking boots. One pair has walked across England through bogs and bracken, through bolder fields and fast moving streams. The other has lived fast and dangerously mostly with city walking. From London to Rome, from Dubrovnik to Guildford, they’ve made the winter in-town walks a pleasure for my feet while protecting my delicate knees.

 

I’m sure a lot of you are scratching your head right now wondering what the hell I’m talking about, but anyone who is passionate about walking will understand. And really, those of you who know me, those of you who have read my bio and followed my blog know that I measure inspiration in boot soles. There! That’s the key! That’s why I’m writing this post. I’m retiring two pairs of boots – one has been with me for the long hard walks; one has been with me only since October, only since I recovered enough from my knee surgeries to get serious about walking again. To me, that’s really exciting. I’ve literally worn them out in six months, and most of that in town because of the winter mud on the country walks.

 

Since I measure inspiration in boot soles, all I can say it’s been a helluva six months!

 

During that time, those boots have inspired the writing of two novels, with several more still unwritten. They’ve taken me on walks that have cheered me up, walks on which I have vented anger and frustration, walks on which I have lost myself in the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other … over and over and over again, and walks on which every step inspired story, plot, characters and filthy sex.

 

IMG_5559As a lot of you already know, my walking has been enhanced by the addition of a Fitbit to my daily routine, which, at the very least, functions as a reminder to walk ten thousand steps a day if I don’t do anything else, and at the most, challenges me on to walk farther that I’ve ever waked before. By the very act of pushing my walking boundaries, I’ve reached new depths of creativity and new levels of fitness. Why yes! I do love my Fitbit!

 

One of the best side effects of owning a Fitbit is connecting with other walkers. I’ve had some fabulous walks in London this winter with my good friend and Brit Babes Street Team member, Emma Louise Burbidge. They were walks filled with laughter and good conversation and lots of selfies – Emma is the queen of selfies. I look forward to more city walks with Emma and more laughs and selfies.

 

But just because I don’t live close to someone doesn’t mean I can’t walk with them. Maybe the very best thing about my Fitbit is that it has connected me with a world-wide community of people who are fitness minded, but especially love walking. I’ve done Work Week Hustle and Weekend Warrior walking challenges with other enthusiasts all over the world. But one of those lovely walkers has a special place in my heart – a woman I admire and adore in spite of the fact that on more than one Work Week Hustle, she has handed me my arse on a platter, a woman I walk with every week in spite of the fact that she lives in New York City! A lot of you know this lovely, talented lady, the fabulous F. Leonora Solomon, who bolgs as F Dot. When I asked her if she’d write a couple of paragraphs for my Boot Retirement post, she happily agreed, so take it away, F Dot!

 

I love movement, it is a simple but lovely thing. I have never been an athlete, my preferred forms of exercise have been walking and yoga. Very subtle, but both make my body feel fantastic. Before I got my Fitbit, co-workers mused about how many steps I made a day. I easily fell into 10+ K a day…and then I got into a work week hustle with K.D., and watched my steps increase exponentially! K.D. is my hero on many counts because, she is dedicated to whatever she does. When we did NaNoWriMo together, she also helped keep me inspired. It has been the same with our Fitbits.

 

We have been doing the challenge for almost a month–funny how time flies when you are having fun! First of all, we Fidencia's shoes13045640_649412445207825_1992982793_ncheer each other on all day. I want her to go as hard as she can, because then it means that I have to go harder. I got fancy walking shoes–they look like Mary Janes but they are powerful! I take time to stop and smell all of the flowers, even though I envy K.D.’s walks in the countryside. But we luckily will be in each other’s countries in the next few months, and I am excited to walk together…and maybe reach our highest step counts ever…together…

 

Thank you, F Dot! I SO can’t wait to walk with you in the UK and in NYC later this year! Thanks for making what is one of the very best parts of my life even better!

 

And now I can think of no better way to send my tired worn-out Keens and Hedgehogs into happy retirement than with a little naughty excerpt from a walking related story from the fabulous Brit Boys with Toys Book Bundle and my story Toys for Boys.

 

Toys for Boys Excerpt:

“You’re late,” Doc said to Will fucking Charles, who was supposed to meet him at St. Bee’s Head an hour ago.

At Toys for Boys, Will Charles’ moniker was ‘the Alpha Nerd.’ Doc had read some of his reviews and articles but never met him. Since T4B, as they all called it, was an online magazine, he’d never met any of the people who worked there, and he liked that just fine. The best part of free-lancing was no neurotic colleagues and no idiot supervisor looking over his shoulder. Will Charles reviewed computers, smart phones, and games – rubbish like that, while Doc reviewed all the stuff that gave the outdoorsy blokes a hard-on. It was late in the season to be walking the Coast to Coast, but T4B wanted the walk and the boys toys that would accompany Will and Doc on said walk to be a part of their big Christmas issue, which was always driven by shameless consumerism and chock full of the expensive shit to buy for the man who has everything. The article would be atmospheric, they said. It would be fun, they said.

Alpha Nerd, his left nut, Doc thought. The skinny geek with the expensive looking iPhone could have passed for a twelve-years-old — spotty face, heavy-rimmed glasses and all. Looked like Doc’s dream walk was about to become a britboyswithtoysbabysitting job for some whimpy-arsed kid who would whine every time he didn’t have a Wifi connection for his little games on his little phone. Doc wondered how the hell the bloke could even heft the backpack sitting on the floor beside him, and those brand new, straight-out-of-the-box walking boots guaranteed major blisters. This was supposed to be twelve glorious days alone on the Wainwright Coast to Coast path across England. This was supposed to be total outdoor bliss. He had been looking forward to it for months and then, at the last minute, T4B ruined it all by insisting Will fucking Charles tag along with his expensive little camera phone to record the event. Bromance, they said. Adventure and companionship, they said. Merry fucking Christmas! T4B didn’t pay him nearly enough for this shit.

“We’ve got fourteen and a half miles to walk today, and the rain isn’t going to make it any easier.” He nodded to where his own pack sat by the table in the corner of the Seacote Hotel where he’d slugged back enough coffee to guarantee he’d be caffeine-fueled for at least part of that distance; the rest he’d be off in the bushes pissing.

As he turned to go, the lad just looked at him like he’d spoke Chinese. “Is that the Smart phone you’re supposed to be reviewing?” Doc snapped. “Do you need it to translate for you maybe? Hope it’s smart enough to figure out how we can make up for the lost time you cost us.”

“That’s just an iPhone,” came a voice from behind. “This is the device I’ll be reviewing.” To Doc’s horror, he turned to find himself being videoed by a man who definitely passed as an alpha – an alpha bastard at the moment. The sleek black device he pointed at Doc was labeled urBrain in gold letters. Seriously? Were T4B having a laugh?

Doc gritted his teeth and tried to count to ten, but only made it to three. “Perhaps you’d like to turn off urBrain before I cram it up urArse?”

Undaunted by Doc’s threat, the bloke continued to video as he added, “as for young Nigel here, well I rather think his boss at the Seacote might have something to say about him following us on the Coast to Coast. Nice boots,” he said to the kid.

Just then an American tourist the size of a bus blew in through the door, tipped Nigel and thanked him in a very southern accent. He hefted the backpack with a grunt, and headed out into the rain. “As for this little jewel,” Doc turned his attention back to the real Will fucking Charles, “well if I hadn’t had this lovely piece of kit to guide me on an alternative route, I’d still be sitting in traffic behind the overturned tractor with everyone else heading for St. Bee’s Head this lovely morning. So there, you see. It’s already saved us time. Oh, sorry,” he said, offering his hand. I’m Will.” Before Doc could do more than gop, the man slid an arm around him and guided him seamlessly into a selfie.

“Day one of the Wainwright Coast to Coast, and after a near disaster,” he spoke for the camera, “I’m here with Caradoc Doc Jones, the Welsh Woodsman and outdoorsman extraordinaire, about to head into the rain toward our first stop at Ennerdale Bridge. Say hi, Doc.”

Doc managed a wave and a grimace of a smile at urBrain, and Will continued. “We have 192 miles and twelve days to get from St. Bee’s Head on the Irish Sea all the way across England to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea, with fourteen and a half miles to make today, so best get on with it.”

 

Brit Boys: With Toys Bundle blurb:

From coast to coast and city to country Brit boys enjoy playing with each other and their toys. Not any old toys, though; guitars, rope, plugs and Moleskine journals all prove to be enormous fun. Throw in a shop that’s wall to wall with kinky ideas, a journalist on the lookout for the next big thing, and Dominants who insist on obedience and there’s sure to be something to cater for everyone’s taste.

Whether it’s a quickie or a slow indulgence, Brit boys know how to hit the spot and they aim to please every time. So take a ride, fly high, come enjoy these sexy boys and their toys.

 

Brit Boys: With Toys is an anthology of M/M stories written by British authors, featuring British characters in British locations. If this steamy set of stories has whet your appetite for more don’t miss Brit Boys: On Boys.

 

raymond 018Toys for Boys blurb:

Alpha Nerd, Will Charles teams up with Caridoc ‘Doc’ Jones in a coast to coast walk across England reviewing outdoor gift suggestions for the Christmas edition of Toys for Boys—an online magazine dedicated to the latest gadgets to tickle a man’s fancy. Will is recording their adventures with the latest smart phone technology. Doc is reviewing the latest outdoor gear. The two quickly discover the great outdoors provides even better toys for boys, toys best shared al fresco, toys that, in spite of Will’s great camera work, will never be reviewed in Toys for Boys.

 

Some Days I Just Need to Write Something

Dreams imageIMG_0347Some days I just need to write something, but I don’t know what. I want to write something, but everything in my brain is a jumble, a bit like picking raisins out of a scone. I’m looking for the tasty bits, the sweet bits, the bits that will take me by surprise and get my pulse thumping with thinking outside the box and letting the imagination run wild. Some days those things I want to write, those things I really need to write only show up in my mind when I’m walking or when I’m just going to sleep or when up to my elbows in dirty dishes, and I think I’ll write them right down in just a moment, just as soon as I can settle in front of the computer, and then they’re gone.

Those are the days I need to write something, but it’s not story, it’s not ideas for stories. Some days it’s just the detritus that builds up like a log jam in my head and needs to get out there on the page to release the pressure, to let the ideas flow again, move again, be at ease again, to just let me rest a bit. I used to keep a journal, but I seldom take time for a good long navel gaze anymore. I let my characters do the navel gazing for me. They can do it once removed and I can make them squirm instead of me. But some days they’re just not having it. Some days they’re taking time off and I have to sort it all myself. Rude of them! Inconsiderate of them, but there you go. It’s not in their job description, I guess.

The truth is that it is in my job description. It’s more than just in my job description. I think it might actually be in my DNA – in fact it quite possibly might be in most writers’ DNA – that desperate need to write something, to write anything to write EVERYTHING! We writers define our world and everything in it in words, sentences, paragraphs, collections of images that are only real to us, only live for us when
we’ve written them down, mulled over them, analyzed them, compared them with other written images and defined their meaning in our world of words and story. For us, it’s as though things only actually Writing pen and birds 1_xl_20156020become real once we’ve written them down. At least that’s how it is for me. The fact that I can write my
own reality into fiction makes it all even better, gives the life I live more dimension, more depth, more
color, with every character a facet of some experience, some connection, some thing that’s found its way into my psyche. In essence, I get to live over and over and over again, to experience my own life and those of everyone around me not only for real, but vicariously re-imagined, redefined and recreated multiple times in story as well.

I suppose that’s it in a nutshell, what I needed to write today — only that I needed to write something, only that I wanted the opportunity to share it with you, and now that I’ve written it, toyed with it, seen what it feels like, what it looks like on the page, I feel better.

 

Doing Lip Service

Lipssugar-lips-kisses-hd-desktop-wallpaper-widescreen-backgrounds-for-mobile-tablet-and-pc-free-images-download

(From the Archives)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like it’s a proper sex scene, or even a proper PG love scene, unless there’s some serious lip action. Here are a few fun factoids about the lip lock from Psychology Today , How Stuff Works and Random Facts:

 

 

 

  • The science of kissing is called philematology.
  • Lips are 100 times more sensitive than the tips of the fingers. They’re even more sensitive that the genitals!
  • The most important muscle in kissing is the orbicularis oris, which allows the lips to “pucker.”
  • French kissing involves 34 muscles in the face, while a pucker kiss involves just two.
  • A nice romantic kiss burns 2-3 calories, while a hot sizzler can burn off five or even more.
  • The mucus membranes inside the mouth are permeable to hormones. Through open-mouth kissing, men introduced testosterone into a woman’s mouth, the absorption of which increases arousal and the likelihood of rumpy pumpy.
  • Apparently men like it wet and sloppy while women like it long and lingering.
  • While we Western folk do lip service, some cultures do nose service, smelling for that romantic, sexual connection. Very mammalian, if you ask me, and who doesn’t love a good dose of pheromonal yumminess?
  • Then there’s good old fashion bonding. It’s no secret that kissing someone you like increases closeness.

 

While all that’s interesting to know, what really intrigues me about kisses is how something seemingly so fragile can become so mind-blowingly powerful when lips, tongue, a whisp of breath, perhaps a nip of teeth are applied in the right porportion at the right time on the right part of the anatomy. And with the size of the human body in proportion to the mouth, the possibilities for a delicious outcome are only as limited as the imagination.

 

Kissing-LipsOne theory is that kissing evolved from the act of mothers premasticating food for their infants, back in the pre-baby food days, and then literally kissing it into their mouths. Birds still do that. The sharing of food mouth to mouth is also a courtship ritual, and birds aren’t the only critters who do that. Even with no food involved the tasting, touching and sniffing of mouths of possible mates, or even as an act of
submission, is very much a part of the animal kingdom.

 

The sharing of food is one of the most basic functions, the function that kept us all alive when we were too small to care for ourselves. The mouth is that magical place where something from the outside world is ingested and becomes a part of our inside world, giving us energy and strength. Not only is the mouth the receptacle for food, it’s the passage for oxygen. Pretty much all that has to pass into the body to sustain life passes through the mouth. I find it fascinating that the kiss, one of the most basic elements in Western mating ritual and romance, should involve such a live-giving part of our anatomy.

 

But the mouth does more than just allow for the intake of the sustenance we need. The mouth allows us voice. I doubt there are many people who appreciate that quite as much as we writers, who love words and the power they give us. And how can I think about the power of words without thinking about the power of words in song and poetry? Our mouths connect us in language, in thought, in the courtship of words that allow us to know and understand each other before those mouths take us to that intimate place of the kiss. And when that kiss becomes a part of our sexual experience, it’s that mouth, that tongue, those lips that allow us to say what we like and how we like it; that allow us to talk dirty; that allow us to vocalise our arousal; that allow us to laugh or tease our way to deeper intimacy.Auguste Rodin’s The Kiss

The fact that the mouth offers all those wonderful, life-giving, life enhancing things, AND can kiss,

makes it one of my very favourite parts of the body

 

“If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.”

Romeo and Juliet Act 1 Scene 5

William Shakespeare

 

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.

 

Writing Good Sex

 

Dreams image 2IMG_0351As a writer of erotic romance, I’m always trying to analyze the ways in which sex strengthens story. I’ve
been very vocal in my belief that a story without sex is like a story without eating or breathing. Sex is a major driving force in our lives on many levels that I’ve dealt with in many blog posts. Because it is a major driving force in our lives it must also be a major driving force in story. Sex is a powerful way to create conflict and chaos in a story. It’s a way of allowing our characters to interact on an intimate level. And it’s one of the very best ways to cut through our characters’ facades and get an honest look at who they are when their guard is down and they’re at their most vulnerable. With that in mind, I’ve decided to share a few points that I always find helpful when I write sex scenes. For me, going back to the basics is always a great way to sharpen my skills. And I love to share the things that work for me.

 

Three occasions not to write sex

 

  1. While writing children’s books
  2. While writing the definitive work on antique saltcellars.
  3. When you’re not a writer, you’re a bricklayer. Even then …

Auguste Rodin’s The Kiss

Three important reasons to incorporate sex in your writing

 

 

  1. Sex adds tension.
  2. Sex adds depth and dimension to a story, and gives it more humanity.
  3. Sex adds intimacy and transparency to the story and helps the reader better know the characters.

 

Three big no-nos in writing sex

 

  1. Sex should never be gratuitous. If it doesn’t further the story, don’t put it in.
  2. Sex shouldn’t be a trip to the gyno office. Technical is NOT sexy.
  3. Sex should never be clichéd or OTT. (unless it suits the story)

 

Four suggestions for writing better sex scenes

  1. Write sex unselfconsciously. No one is going to believe it’s you any more than they believe Thomas Harris is a cannibal.
  2. Sex scenes should always be pacey. Too much detail is worse than not enough. Sex should neither slow nor speed up the pace of the novel. It shouldn’t be used like an interval in a play. It should not serve as filler to bolster word count. It should always keep pace with the story being told.
  3. Approach sex in your writing voyeuristically by watching and learning from your characters. Their personalities, emotional baggage and behavior traits will dictate how they have sex and how you write it.

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  1. You should always be able to feel a good sex scene in your gut. I’m not talking about wank material, I’m talking about The Clench. It’s a different animal. The Clench below the navel is for the sex scene what the tightness in the chest and shoulders is for the suspense scene.

 

The power of good sex can drive a story in ways that almost nothing else can. Good sex can be the pay-off for a hundred pages of sexual chemistry and tension, but the pay-off is even better if it’s also the cause of more chaos, sling-shotting the reader breathlessly on to the next hundred pages and the next.

(This post from KD’s Archives of cool stuff)

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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