Friday, June 20, 2014

“I’m not the person you think I am.”

I've often heard of authors having conversations with their characters and sometimes even having arguments with them.  I never knew what they meant until I started writing my work in progress, Golden Perspective. 

My writing style is a bit unique.  I like to daydream about the story, imagining conversations and situations before writing it down. Sometimes it feels like I’m watching a movie and I’m just recording what I've seen and heard. 

Not long after I finished writing Golden Change I started writing my second book, Golden Perspective. Golden Perspective features Dylan, who was Jacob’s best friend and secondary character in Golden Change and two other characters who were briefly introduced in Golden Change, Tyler and Evie.

At first, things were going smoothly with Golden Perspective.  My daydreams were providing excellent material.  After a while though, my daydreams didn't seem as productive.  I had an outline though, so I pushed through, thinking that this was a part of my growth as an author.

One day while trying to daydream, I heard, in my mind, someone clearing their throat.  Then I heard a very distinct voice saying to me, “I’m not the person you think I am.”  It was Evie and she was not happy. 
“I’m not sure what you mean,” I told her. 

“Do you think, because I was a slave I am weak?” she asked me.

“No, of course not.  You are a strong woman, you put yourself through nursing school, you were a college athlete, you hid girls and sacrificed yourself when you knew that you would be captured,” I reassured her.

She had her arms crossed against her chest, her fingers of one hand rhythmically tapping on her forearm.  Her stance was resolute, her face a mask. 

She was right.  I had let one small part of her past, the part that she had no control over become a large part of her personality.

“My apologies,” I said very sincerely to her. 

So I let my mind dream about Evie, who she was as a person, what made her tick, what her dreams were, what her true fears were, what she desired. 

I had been writing a character, not a person.  I went back through the document, making changes whenever I felt her tapping on my shoulder.  I let her tell me who she was, and I wrote her story. 

I have finished the rough draft for Golden Perspective and hope to submit it to Siren at the end of June.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

From Bodice Rippers to Housewife Porn

I have always loved books with edgy concepts.  When I was in grade school that meant checking out Judy Blume books, hiding away in my room learning about puberty from characters in books.  In middle school, I checked out edgy books like Flowers in the Attic, and in High School I read banned books like The Clan of the Cave Bear

I discovered romance books as an adult.   I checked out hundreds of books from the library and haunted thrift shops and garage sales.  The jacket covers proudly displayed strapping men without shirts and women with heaving bosoms.  The women’s clothes seemed close to slipping off and they wore expressions of ecstasy on their faces. 

The heroes of these books were dominant and forceful.  They had positions of power, and whatever brand of masculinity they possessed, they were the highest and best of their kind.  If the hero was a duke, then he was the highest ranking, if he was a Seal, then he was the team leader and if he was a cowboy he was the only one who could ride the untamed horse.

The heroines were often young women thrust into compromising situations.  They were the governess who found herself in employ with the widowed duke, damsels in distress that were rescued by  a handsome seal, and mail order brides who traveled across the country to marry a cowboy.  The heroes had a hard emotional shell that was almost always pierced by the gentle love of the heroine.

The heroine was often a virgin, and there were scenes of what we would now call forced seduction or dubious consent.  They were surprised by their sexuality, and as they explored their desires they almost always ended up owning it.  They overcame their fears, they adapted to their situation and they story ended in “happy ever after.”  

Somewhere along the line, romances changed.  Heroes became more sensitive, they still were masculine, but they had different professions.  Heroes were bankers, and doctors as well as the duke, the seal and the cowboy.  Heroines were older, they had sexual experience and they were not waiting around for their happy ever after-they went out and got it.  Their relationships were more equal and reflected the demographic of women who were breaking barriers in the real world.

Readers flocked to these new books for their witty dialog, their masculine but sensitive heroes and their strong sensible heroines.  I fell in love with the new style romance too.  The book jackets were different too.  Gone were the heaving bosoms, they were replaced with a stylized image of a high heeled shoe or a crumbling castle.

I’m not sure if my favorite authors of old, pioneered this new romance style or if they followed the trend of the newer authors, but pretty soon I found that many of my favorite authors had changed too.  I read and loved their new books as well, but pretty soon I realized that I couldn't find stories similar to the ones I had loved in the beginning. 

I kept my older books, and reread them whenever I wanted the Scottish lord to ravish the young woman he had captured in a raid. 

One day, while browsing an online book store, a new kind of book came into the feed marked, “you might also like.”  It was a whole new genre of romance books to me.  The jacket covers had pictures of women with almost exposed bosoms, half naked heroes and sometimes more than one hero.  Intrigued, I clicked the buy button.  I found my new love, erotic romance! 

I think what I love about the romances of old, and some of the new erotic romances is women discovering their sexual appeal, their sexual identity and sexual prowess.  Through reading, I can explore my own desires and discover out what I find sensual.   I can become the scared young girl, captured in a Highland raid, who explores her sexuality.  I can become the high powered executive who submits to a Dom, and when he pushes her sexual boundaries she realizes she doesn't have to give up her self-identity.  I can become the girl who doesn't have to choose between two men, I can have them both! 

Labeling is a constant in our lives.  The label bodice ripper was meant to denigrate the reader and the writer.  The term holds up the book in a negative light, not acknowledging the romance, not validating the growth of the character but assumed that the whole premise of the book was sex. 

Erotic romance has a different derogatory term, “housewife porn.”  I have a problem with that on many levels, since I love erotic fiction and am a stay at home mom.   I write and read stories about love, romance, and characters who have sex.  Hot sex, steamy sex, and fulfilling sex.  I’ll tackle my objections to the term “housewife” in another blog!

I am a sexual being with desires and fantasies.  I explore those desires and fantasies by reading and writing about them.  I’m not sure why we have to put a negative label on books and stories that feature passion and love.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Thank you readers!

This has been such an amazing journey and I want to thank you for being a part of it.  Writing my book was a solitary endeavor, so I’m excited to share my work with you. 

I also want to give a shout out to Siren Bookstrand!  I couldn’t be happier with them as a publisher and am so thankful that they accepted my manuscript for publication.  Everyone from the editors, to the book jacket designers has been so wonderful and professional. 

The Siren authors are an incredibly kind and helpful group.   In a short amount of time, they have become my friends.  This journey wouldn’t be as fun without them. 


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My journey to become real

Maybe someday you’ll write a real book...

My journey to become real.

I haven’t told everybody in my life that I published a book, but of those I've told, about half have said, “Maybe someday you’ll write a real book.” 

I wasn’t offended, but I began to wonder, was my book a real book?  I had become the toy in the playroom looking around at all the other toys asking, “How do you become real?”

I used to write fan fiction.  I wondered what happened to the secondary characters after the story was over.  I used to think about them and worry about their stories, I would write about them, so I knew they would be okay.  I have dreamed of writing a novel for most of my adult life.  I have pages of outlines, and introductory chapters written, but never got beyond a few thousand words. 

One day an idea took hold in my mind, and a story flowed through me in a way that was new and different.  The story seemed to write itself, I just had to type the words.  I wrote for hours on end, ordering pizza for my kids rather than cooking a meal, called in favors for carpools if it meant I could write for another hour.  I typed away, creating a world and characters that called to me. 

When it was finished, I spent even more time editing than I had spent writing it in the first place.  I poured through websites and journals about writing tips.  I learned how to correct past progressive tenses. I studied my manuscript for head bopping and repeated to myself, “show don’t tell.” 

When I felt like it was ready I sent my manuscript to two publishing houses.  It was rejected.  It took me a long time before I read through my work again and sent it to a different publishing house where it was accepted.  I literally cried.  My work was going to be published.  It wasn't a matter of crossing something off my bucket list, it was the realization of a secret hope I had long harbored. 

Getting the email was only the first step, there were contracts to be signed, blurbs to be written, and questions to answer.  I agonized over every step.  I had more self-doubt after each step than I did when I was rejected!  I drove my husband crazy, pestering him with questions that he had no idea how to answer.

When the long awaited publish day arrived, I bit my nails, checking every hour to see if anyone bought my book.  I wondered if people liked it. Did they enjoy my characters, the world I created?  I worried that maybe I should have left out certain scenes, maybe added a different scene instead. 

My real life feels chaotic.  I have a teen and pre-teen.  Every day I second guess parenting decisions, and argue with one of them or my spouse.  I volunteer my time for charities, civic groups and in the kid’s school.  I am the CEO of domestic affairs.  I host parties and gatherings for my kids so I know what they are up to.  Most of my life revolves around my family.  It’s a choice I've made, and one I am happy with.

Whenever I have a spare moment, I read.  I always have a book with me, and now that I have them on my phone it’s a lot easier.  I read erotic romance, mainstream romance and mystery/thrillers.  I like books with a Happy Ever After.  I want to know before I open a book that when I close it at the end, the lovers will be in a committed relationship.  I want to know that the detective will find the culprit and the criminal will face justice.   It’s fantasy without dragons.  I've been married for twenty years and know the difference between fantasy and reality. 

Erotic romance allows you to dream of a man who will know your every thought, your every desire.  Every sexual encounter is beautiful and explosive. 

 In books, when they get away for the weekend, the hero and heroine don’t fight over the finances, or come down with the flu.  They aren't interrupted by their kids who can’t sleep.  Erotic fiction is fantasy in a way, but it’s the fantasy I like. 

After all of my self-reflection I looked again at all of the toys in the playroom, then I looked at myself.  I didn't need to wait for a fairy to blow dust on me to become real, I was already real and had written a real book.