Archive for September, 2008



What Stace had to say on Tuesday, September 30th, 2008
What kind of stuff do you like?

Hey, I’m asking a question about promo and merchandising over at the League blog today, so if any of you feel like heading over and adding your two cents that would be awesome!

What Stace had to say on Monday, September 29th, 2008
I have a cold

Ugh.

It’s not too bad yet, but it promises to be a doozy. I have that awful, sore scratch in the back of my throat that always bodes ill. So I’m downing enough liquid echinacea to give me a buzz and hoping that takes care of it. (Hey, it’s worked before.)

And meanwhile, I’m not doing much else. Editing, mainly. Trying to decide how I feel about a book. Researching for a new book. I hate being sick; it’s very difficult to write when I’m sick. It’s like the writing part is all used up in fighting off the cold, do you know what I mean? It just *poof* disappears. And all I want to do is sit and watch Nip/Tuck on DVD or something (of course I can’t, because, you know, kids and stuff. Princess is home from school today too, she has a horrible cough.)

But I’m also doing some research, and thinking about some things, and making some decisions about my next projects and in what order they will be done and all of that, which is fun. It would be more fun if I could muster a single drop of enthusiasm for any of it, groan. I hate being sick! (And you see how dull I am when sick, too. Sorry, I know this is a terrifically boring post.)

This has been a weird year for me, writing-wise. You know how many books I’ve written this year? One. ONE. When this time last year I’d written three or four, plus some assorted novellas and stuff. I don’t know why this has been such a terribly unproductive year, but it seems I’m not the only one having issues either.

And I’m reading my Booker Prize book, which isn’t great. Well, it’s okay, but I’m not loving it. I’m trying to find the greatness in it but no matter how hard I look I can’t seem to. Maybe it’s all in the end? I’ve only got like 50 pages to go.

How are you feeling? Anyone else finding this to be a weird, off year for new projects?

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, September 24th, 2008
Some more random things

First…WHEE!! I was in Deal Lunch!

Stacia Kane’s UNHOLY GHOSTS, featuring a down-and-out witch and professional ghost-buster, who must fight a dark force powerful enough to frighten the dead, to Liz Scheier at Ballantine, in a three-book deal, for publication in late 2009, by Chris Lotts at Ralph M. Vicinanza (NA).

Ever since the day I started writing (well, no. I’ve been writing all my life. And when I decided to really sit down and try to be A Writer I didn’t even know what Deal Lunch was; I was so naive I actually thought joining the RWA would be helpful in my career by giving me information I couldn’t get elsewhere. Which to be fair was very likely the case at one time and was even still sort of the case when I joined back in 2001 or 02, I don’t recall exactly. Anyway). Even since I started actually learning something about the business I’ve dreamed of seeing my name there. So this was a Big Deal for me. (Granted, it was already there from the Demons books. But still, this is a huge deal for me.)

Anyway. What else. Ah, yes. Okay, did you all know that kis has started a new site for those of us who are straight women but occasionally enjoy reading hot f/f scenes? Because she totally has. It says “For the bi-curious woman”; I don’t consider myself bi-curious at all (unless it’s Beyonce, but come on. Like you’d turn down Beyonce. Or Angelina Jolie before she turned into a scrawny Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe) but I’m still happy to read and write hot girl-girl sex, so this is nice. Because f/f really doesn’t sell well (trust me; despite being, I think, my best solo EC title, BWT’s sales have always lagged a bit because there’s a brief f/f scene in it), and a ot of women don’t feel comfortable reading it, so there’s not a lot of it out there. It makes sense, of course. Why would publishers publish books that won’t sell?

Actually I should clarify. There is plenty of f/f out there, but a majority of it is actual lesbian fiction. Which is fine if you’re a lesbian (and some of the best people are) but I’m not. I don’t want to read political statements with my sex. I also don’t want to read Hustler-style girl-on-girl stuff where it’s all a show performed for a man’s benefit. So Kis’s new site is like a little clearing house for all things f/f that straight women enjoy, and is a neat place to peruse. Go pay it a visit.

Last, I am seriously considering cutting down my blogging schedule again, to just Mondays and Thursdays. I have a lot of writing to do, and we’re planning on hopefully stepping up activities at the League. Hits fall sharply on Fridays anyway.

But the big thing is just that I am trying to up my production, book-wise, and blogging four days a week (three here, Tuesdays at the League) is simply getting to be too much. The compensation will be, though, that I may pop in more often with short posts.

So there you go. Today’s news.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, September 24th, 2008
Eeep, um

I have just been invited to participate in a debate, sponsored by my local Waterstones in conjunction with the public library, about the Booker Prize shortlist. I have to read one of the Booker books and “debate its merits”.

On 6th October.

Ack!

I said I’d do it but I’m a bit nervous about it.

Anyone in the UK want to come give me moral support? I’m in Devon (Exeter area) so it is probably quite a trek for most of you, but if any of you want to come let me know.

What Stace had to say on Monday, September 22nd, 2008
What do I owe you?

Oooh, I’ve been itching to write this one. And I think it’s the perfect re-introduction to me as blogger, rather than me as hopefully semi-adequate teacher.

I’m sure many of you have already seen something about the Annie Proulx thing, wherein Ms. Proulx, who wrote the original short story on which the film Brokeback Mountain was based, has complained to the Wall Street Journal that terrible people out there–these disgusting maggots are sometimes referred to by lesser people as “fans”–have the unmitigated gall to send her fanfiction based on the story/film. Her exact comments:

‘Brokeback Mountain’ has had little effect on my writing life, but is the source of constant irritation in my private life. There are countless people out there who think the story is open range to explore their fantasies and to correct what they see as an unbearably disappointing story. They constantly send ghastly manuscripts and pornish rewrites of the story to me, expecting me to reply with praise and applause for ‘fixing’ the story. They certainly don’t get the message that if you can’t fix it you’ve got to stand it. Most of these ‘fix-it’ tales have the character Ennis finding a husky boyfriend and living happily ever after, or discovering the character Jack is not really dead after all, or having the two men’s children meet and marry, etc., etc. Nearly all of these remedial writers are men, and most of them begin, ‘I’m not gay but….’ They do not understand the original story, they know nothing of copyright infringement—i.e., that the characters Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar are my intellectual property—and, beneath every mangled rewrite is the unspoken assumption that because they are men they can write this story better than a woman can. They have not a clue that the original ‘Brokeback Mountain’ was part of a collection of stories about Wyoming exploring mores and myths.”

Now, here’s the thing. Ms. Proulx has every right to be upset by the fanfiction; she has the right to feel however she wants to feel about anything at all, of course. Personally, while I don’t read or write fanfic, I think it’s kind of fun and neat. My website gives express permission for fanfic (provided the writer of said fic does two things: 1. Acknowledges my copyright somewhere on the work; and 2. Does not send it to me, because for legal reasons I cannot and will not read it. (Not that anyone is rushing out to write fic set in my worlds, but hey, I figured best to have the policy in place up front.) So while I don’t necessarily agree with her views, I do absolutely agree that she has a right to be upset. And it seems, from some of the reaction I’ve heard from fanficcers, that sending the author of the original work your fiction is frowned upon in fanfic circles. She has a right to be annoyed by this. She has a right to speak so nastily about people who loved her work, if she likes.

But that doesn’t mean she should, and it doesn’t mean that I don’t find the bulk of her comments disgusting, degrading, and pretentious in the extreme.

Let’s start with the most offensive comment. “There are countless people out there who think the story is open range to explore their fantasies…”

Um. What exactly is a story supposed to be, if not fuel for the imagination? If not a view into another world? If not open range to explore fantasties?

A writer cannot, absolutely Can Not, tell people in what way their work should be enjoyed. To attempt to do so is at best rude and at worse highly offensive. We write the story; we send it out into the world. What readers get from it, how they view it and what it says to them, depends entirely on how well we’ve done our jobs and what the reader thinks/feels/has experienced in their lives up to that moment. All we can do is attempt, with each word and image, to convey a certain feeling or emotion. If the fan doesn’t “get” that it’s our failing, not theirs.

For example. In creating Megan Chase and Chess Putnam I attempted to do several things. One of which was to create a strong female characters who weren’t “kick-ass”; someone more like me and the women I know. Strong emotionally/mentally rather than physically; someone who picks their battles. Someone who doesn’t fly off the handle at imagined slights, someone capable of behaving like a professional and not a teenager. Yes, Chess is obviously both more vulnerable and tougher than Megan, but I think both of them are sensible and mature, for the most part, despite their flaws (and flaws are what make a character interesting to me).

I was lucky enough to have quite a few people “get” that. Some of my favorite comments from reviewers were to the effect that Megan was refreshingly mature and clever, that she was realistically strong. I’ve had quite a few early readers and early reviewers who love Chess, who identify with her and feel for her, and genuinely care for her. Those make me feel great. Really, to me, that’s what I strive for. It’s my goal, to make readers care about my characters.

On the other hand, several people felt that Megan seemed weak, that she didn’t stand up to her boss, that she sort of let people walk all over her; what I saw as common sense (you don’t tell your boss to fuck off if you want to keep your job) others saw as wimpiness. Some readers loved Greyson and found him as sexy as I did; others thought he was rude and overbearing. Some people have problems with Chess’s drug use, and feel it isn’t possible for her to be an addict and still be responsible, or it simply turns them off.

And I can’t do anything about that. All I can do is describe these people to the best of my ability and hope people connect with them. For me to insist that there is only one way to interpret their characters, that there is only one way in which to see them, and that way is exactly the way I want them to, is wrong. It turns me into some sort of dictator and my readers into idiots who can’t be trusted to understand me. If they don’t understand that’s MY fault. This is akin to creating a painting and telling people they’re not allowed to feel a certain way when looking at it.

All art is open to interpretation, by its very nature. For Ms. Proulx to insist that it is not, that the opinions, thoughts, feelings, and experiences of readers mean nothing and they should just shut up, is terrible. I don’t like it. It upsets me. Because I’m not just a writer, I’m a reader too. And I have certain tastes and I have certain things I like or dislike and those things color my reading experiences whether I want them to or not. It’s why I love The Caine Mutiny but hated Catch-22. It’s why I adore To Kill a Mockingbird but dislike Catcher in the Rye; I recognize the greatness of both works, but one struck an emotional cord in me and the other left me cold. And if that were not the case, quite frankly, I would not be human.

Then there’s the bit where she calls fanfic copyright infringement. Technically it is, yes. But I think an argument can be made–certainly in this instance–for Fair Use (I think the argument can be made for all fanfic, but really, this is an opinion piece and not a legal treatise). The chances that these writers, these men pouring out their hearts to Annie Proulx–who they think understand them–are posting their stories on the internet are slim; the chances they’re attempting to make money off them are even slimmer. Let’s put it this way. When my husband and I talk we have a tendency to quote movies. A lot. We are perfectly safe in doing so; it is not copyright infringement nor is it plagiarism, because A) it’s something we’re doing in our own home; B) It’s not something we’re doing for profit (important for establishing Fair Use), and C) we are acknowledging that we are not the original creators of those lines. We both know we’re quoting Star Wars or Jaws or Ghostbusters. Were I to write a book with huge swathes of movie dialogue, that would be wrong, but I’ve definitely dropped nods in to my favorite movies here and there in my work; nothing more than a line or two per book, or a name, but still. I think it’s fun. I think it’s fun for readers, too.

But most of all it’s just her attitude. She is rude. She is disdainful. That is not the way to treat people touched by your work. That is not the way to treat people period, frankly, but especially not those who spent time and money on you.

I’d be willing to bet at least some of the people sending her that fanfic, the men saying “I’m not gay but…”, are in fact gay. And didn’t realize it. Didn’t realize it was okay to feel the way they felt. Or perhaps they’re not gay but now think being gay is more acceptable; the story/film made them more comfortable with the idea. Is that really something we should disdain? How many young people out there perhaps gained the strength from that story or that film to be proud of who they are? How many of those people sending her their “ghastly manuscripts” were perhaps (and perhaps wrongly) trying to thank her? Trying to share with her a part of themselves the way they felt she’d shared a part of herself? Do you think any of those people thought to themselves, “I’ll scribble up a shitty story and send it to her to torture her, that will be great!”*evil cackle*? Or do you think those stories were sincere, loving attempts to share something? To touch her the way her work touched them?

If spending time in the online writing community has taught us anything, it’s that people who write badly don’t really know they write badly. I firmly believe the people bothering her with their “ghastly manuscripts” really, honestly think they might be giving her some pleasure in exchange for the pleasure she gave them. Misguided, perhaps. But not deserving of contempt. Nowhere near deserving of contempt.

When people take the time to tell you how much they enjoyed your work, the only correct response is graciousness. You don’t have to squee, you don’t have to visit their houses, you don’t have to read their fanfic, you don’t have to kiss their asses. But you do owe them the same respect which you owe every other person on this planet. The idea that you don’t, simply because how dare they send you something you’re under no obligation to read, is shameful. (I also have a hard time imagining the woman buried under huge piles of this stuff, frankly, but whatever.)

But to my surprise, my opinion is far from the only one. I’ve seen quite a few writers standing up for her, asking if the fact that she’s become famous means she has to just take whatever “garbage” is dished out (the attempts of readers and fans to communicate with writers is “garbage,” apparently. Nice).

No. Of course not. I don’t believe that any more than I believe movie stars are obligated to always smile, sign autographs, or allow their pictures to be taken. They do not. But they also should not respond to the greetings and compliments of fans with “Go fuck yourself, how dare you speak to me!” How hard is it to smile and nod? To say “Thank you”? How hard is it, in an interview, to say not “These morons are a constant source of irritation” but “I love that my work touched people but please, I can’t read the stories they send so if they could stop sending them I would really appreciate it.” She’s not under any obligation to read the stories. She’s under no obligation to sign autographs or reply to letters or anything of that nature. But she is obligated, as are all of us, to be respectful to her fellow human beings, and to be especially respectful to those foolish enough to think compliments–however distastefully they submit them in her eyes–are welcome.

What lies beneath Ms. Proulx’s tirade is not the weariness of someone snowed under by adoration. It’s the arrogance of someone who cannot believe there are people out there who wish her story ended differently, who have their own interpretations of her Pure Work, who dare to think of her as someone who might be pleased to know she touched their lives.

Published writers put their work in the public eye. We write it. We leave it to the world to decide if it’s any good or not. That is the nature of what we do. To declare readers are wrong for doing exactly what they’re supposed to do, and interpret the story through their own lenses, and internalize it, and feel it, is a violation of the sacred trust between writer and reader.

And that’s all. I feel I owe it to the readers to produce the best quality work that I can, and to be gracious when they tell me they enjoyed it and gracious when they tell me they didn’t. There are some who feel all I owe them is the work itself, and nothing more. That my obligation ends the minute I hand in those final edits.

What do you think?

What Stace had to say on Friday, September 19th, 2008
Exclamation Point–a revised scene

Note: This is the revised version of Scene Crit 3; the original crit is here

Joe’s eyes never left hers while she spoke. The room grew dark, until everything dimmed and blurred around them and she could see only him, until she fell silent and stared into his drowny deep eyes. Her own eyes filled. She dropped her gaze, not wanting him to see, but she couldn’t stop the tear that rolled down her face.
Joe placed a tender finger on her cheek to block the tear’s path, and their eyes met again.

For a moment – or was it an eternity? It felt like an eternity – they stared at each other. Into each other. Kate’s heart pounded in her throat, her whole body thrilling at his touch. She couldn’t speak. She didn’t think she could even breathe.

He removed his finger and waited, searching for a sign of… what? Resistance? Was he mad? No, she knew he wasn’t mad. He was just allowing her space and time to make her decision.

Without thinking she leaned into him, a slow movement like falling through a dream, and their lips met. Soft at first, tentative and questioning. Exploring. Then harder, with growing urgency. He smelled of sunny skin and wood smoke, tasted of sweetness and warmth. She loved him.

With a rush of truth she realised she really did love this man. She wanted this man. She wanted nothing on earth right now except to have this wonderful man inside her.

They stared into each other’s souls.

“I love you.”

They said it at the same time; felt the laughter ripple inside at the same time; felt the delight and the truth; felt each other’s feelings as the love intensified and became a solid thing. The last of their barriers dissolved and they fell into a hungry embrace and a long, bruising, breathless kiss.

Kate wanted him, needed him, all of him, forever, starting right now, and she felt him mirroring her urgent passion. She wanted to eat him alive. She ran her greedy hands across his strong back and shoulders, pulling his hair free and tangling her fingers at the soft nape of his neck. Tiny groans of delight vibrated her throat as she gloried in his muscular beauty.

His hands were all over her, communicating his powerful need louder than any words could. Kate was unsure where she stopped and he started. All she knew was that she couldn’t bear for them to stay clothed another minute. She grabbed his wrists and managed to find a husky version of her voice from somewhere.

“Let’s go upstairs.”

They shared a smile and stood unsteadily, clinging to one another. Joe stroked her cheek tenderly and bent his head for another kiss before they walked upstairs, fingers entwined, to stand bathed in moonlight in Kate’s bedroom.

The net hummed and glowed in harmony.

Kate unbuttoned his denim shirt slowly, loving the way he shivered when she pushed the soft cloth aside and scratched his firm skin lightly with her fingernails. She kissed each newly exposed inch of smoothness, inhaled his warm musky scent, and ran the tip of her tongue towards one of his nipples. He tasted slightly salty. She nibbled it, and teased the other nipple with her fingertip.

He shuddered and ran his fingers through her hair, held her to his chest and kissed the top of her head.

His hardness pressed against her. She flipped open his waistband button easily with her thumb and finger, and slid her hand inside his jeans. No underwear. His zip prised wide open as she reached down and held him for the first time. His cock pulsed big and hard against her palm. Her hand felt small around it, and suddenly her mouth went dry. She cupped his heavy balls and stroked her middle fingertip underneath to make him do another one of those lovely little shivers.

His cock rested on her forearm, its tip pressing into the soft spot in the crook of her elbow. She gripped his shaft again. She wanted to see it, to kiss it and suck it. She ached to feel it inside her.

She wondered why he wasn’t ripping her clothes off, the way she wanted to rip his off. She could feel his yearning, knew he wanted her as desperately as she wanted him, but she couldn’t hear his thoughts clearly. Something was clouding them.

Something was holding him back. She looked a question up at him.

He stood motionless, beautiful in the blue light, watching her carefully. “Are you sure?”

“I’ve never felt surer about anything in my life. Are you okay with this?”

“Are you kidding? I want you so much I’m going to explode!”

She grinned in delight. “Then what are we waiting for?”

He grinned back and she felt the cloud lift to reveal his joy. She closed her eyes as he slid his hands up inside her t-shirt to her breasts. He pushed her bra up and over them gently, taking their weight in the palms of his hands while stroking her hard nipples with his thumbs.

Kate nearly swooned as a rush of intense pleasure radiated from his touch and flooded her. Her legs felt like they belonged to someone else. Joe guided her unsteady steps backwards to the bed and undressed her skilfully, kicking off his jeans and dropping her t-shirt and bra on the floor as they went. When the back of her legs came up against the bed he kneeled before her, eased her skirt and pants down in a single smooth movement, leaned forward, and nuzzled gently through her light patch of soft hair to kiss her, almost reverently, just there.

She clutched his head with both hands and pressed his face into her, moved her feet apart to let him in and moaned when his tongue pushed inside her. She was so wet! He held her bottom with both hands and pulled her to him. They clung together for delicious moments, until Kate’s legs failed completely and she fell back onto the bed.

Joe moved with her, somehow managing to keep his tongue inside her folds. His shallow rhythm was delicious, but she wanted more of him, and quickly. She took two handfuls of his long hair and pulled gently, and he rose to her, his beautiful smile lighting up her heart.

She slid her hands over his back and his bottom. He felt so different, so manly, like velvety marble in her arms. His hard chest pressed against hers, crushing her breasts against him, and they kissed deeply.

Kate was starting to pant a little when they came up for air. She wanted him inside her so badly. “Please…” she moaned between kisses.

They lay on the bed, their tongues tangling, and the kiss grew into touching, exploring. Her entire life was captured in this moment, while his mouth whispered sweet words against her fevered skin and his tongue tasted her gentle sweat. His adoration of her seemed to bathe them in a warm golden glow. She was dizzy. She no longer existed as herself but was something else, someone else, a new person who belonged to Joe and to whom he belonged in turn.

He took her nipple in his mouth and sucked strongly, pulling waves of fresh love through her. She wrapped her fingers in his hair again and pulled.

“Please!”

She reached down and gripped his cock. He was so big, and she knew he wanted her right now. She squeezed him firmly and gazed at it. It was beautiful, dark and hard and smooth and straining towards her, a tiny drop of liquid glistening at the tip of its moist head. She squeezed again and pulled him towards her, stretching her legs wide apart, trembling with desire. “Now, Joe!”

“Now,” he growled, low in his throat. His long fingers slipped inside her, exploring deep into her exquisite wetness, while his other hand glided everywhere over her incredibly sensitive skin, driving up her fever of anticipation. And then he covered her with his body, held his weight on his elbows for a few seconds, and slid all the way inside her in a single breathtaking movement.

She wrapped her legs around his thighs and felt his velvet hardness stretching and filling her completely. She felt what he felt, too. She felt her soft, firm flesh moulding to him, holding him, clenching him tightly for long moments, felt his shiver from both inside him and inside her, and the blending of sensations was intense.

They moved together, finding their natural rhythm easily. Kate felt him feeling her sensations, as she felt his. He noticed all the little fissures and folds inside her, massaging him with every stroke, and he experienced her pleasure as they flew along an endless pleasure loop that just kept building and building and building.

It was nearly over quickly, and that was no surprise. They stared deep into each other’s eyes throughout, blinking slowly, sharing breath, sharing every sensation, sharing a pulse, and they both felt Joe building towards a climax after only a few minutes.

She wiped sweat from his brow lovingly with her fingers while he eased himself out of her, and pulled him gently down beside her.

He kissed her breasts and sucked her nipple while he stroked her belly and down into her hot wetness, slid fingers inside her again, and she was still very wet, and he spent gentle time loving her, and she gasped when he touched her most sensitive place, circled it lightly, then faster and firmer and faster and firmer and kept going and going until she came, shuddering and gasping, her eyes shut tightly and tears of joy squeezing from their corners.

Joe clamped his strong hand gently over her mound and murmured noises of tender love while the waves rescinded slowly and her heartbeat returned to normal.

“Now it’s your turn, mister.” She climbed astride and sat down on him and, oh, he was hard and deep inside her. She leaned back and rode him, slowly at first, watching him looking down at their joining and loving the look of bliss on his face, then building faster and grinding harder, until he came, crying out when his heat exploded and flooded deep inside her, and they felt it together as worlds collided in ecstasy.

They made love all night and Kate lost count of how many times she came. Joe fell asleep as dawn washed the shadows away. She held him and watched him sleep. She felt physically exhausted but more at peace than ever before, and she knew they would be together forever.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, September 17th, 2008
Be a sex-writing strumpet: Afterglow

***Insert generic disclaimer***

And so…we come to the end

Technically this is part 25. If you add in the crits, it’s part 31. Can you believe it? We’ve been discussing sex scenes for nine weeks. The series is over 40,000 words. And I still haven’t covered everything, not in the sort of detail I’d like.

For instance, I forgot to warn you of the dangers of the word “felt” and how it removes the reader from the action instead of placing them in the thick of it (as it were). When you say “She felt his hands move up her back” or “He felt how smooth her skin was” you’re telling, not showing; you’re pushing the reader away from those feelings. How much better it is to say simply “His hands slid up her back” or “Her skin awed him, so smooth and soft beneath his fingers.” The only time you’d use felt is when you have no choice, or when you say being in his arms made her feel safe, or something along those lines.

I ran out of time before I could get heavily into the mechanics of ménage scenes. I could probably do another several thousand words on inserting emotion into your scenes, on using them to build character. I haven’t shown you all of my examples. I didn’t get into BDSM at all, and I had plans for that one—I still may do it, because I have a friend who is a lifestyle submissive and she’d agreed to do an interview for me. So look for that one, because I feel I’ve cheated her and you by not getting to it.

But for the moment, anyway, we’re done. There are bits and pieces I’ve left out, sure. But I’m also conscious of the dangers of overexplaining things, of becoming redundant and boring. And to be honest, that worries me the most. I started the series because I thought it would be fun for me to do, but also because I thought I had something new to say on the subject, or at least, I have a different way to say it. To that end I’ve tried to keep the series fun; I’ve tried to work at least one good joke into every installment, to make it so even if you’re not a writer, or you don’t write sex in your books (which, shame on you! Ha ha) you might have still enjoyed reading these. I wanted to encourage people who are nervous about or uncomfortable with writing sex scenes that it’s fun, it’s something you really can do. It’s just sex, guys. It’s 100% risk-free sex, too; no actual bodily fluids are involved, at least not on the page (for me anyway; if you get actual bodily fluids on your pages, that is of course entirely your business. Freak.)

And most of all, that there is nothing dirty about writing sex. That a writer’s job is to tell the truth, and that the fact is, the deepest truths of our characters can be found when they are naked, when they are at their most vulnerable both physically and emotionally, when they let their guards down and just interact. Not every book requires a sex scene, of course, but there’s no reason to shy away from them if yours does.

Let’s put it this way. Perhaps I’m the only woman in the world who felt like this, but when I told my father that the hubs and I were expecting our first child, as much as I was excited and proud and all of that, I have to admit to one brief, fleeting moment of nervousness: He knows I’ve had sex! He’s my Dad, and he knows I’m not a virgin anymore! (The fact that at the time of my marriage I was twenty-six years old and had lived with a previous boyfriend for two years meant nothing; I think he and I both pretended the ex and I slept in separate beds.)(Ooh, that reminds me of a funny story, which further illustrates the point. Annette Funicello, Disney’s first squeaky-clean teen, said once in an interview that she often had people come up to her in public and say things like, “Annette, I can’t believe you’re smoking! I can’t believe you’re drinking!” Her response? “Well, I have three kids, so guess what else I do.” Which, awesome. Anyway.) So I was nervous about this, and actually had occasion one night, when we’d both had a few drinks, to mention it. And he just kind of shrugged and smiled and made some comment about how he’d thought I was artificially inseminated and where was that husband of mine so he could kill him for soiling his precious little girl. And that was what happened to my first husband. No, of course I’m joking! Nobody threw any bodies into the Everglades, of course not! Actually, he did think it was funny that I would even think that, and basically said, “Well, you’re married; it’s different when you’re married.”

And it’s the same with books. It’s different when you’re writing books (whether you’re married or not doesn’t matter, it’s just an analogy). It’s not you. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. If people are reading your books, and wondering if it’s a true-to-life encounter you’re describing, that’s their dirty-minded, inappropriately nosy little problem, just like people who wonder whether or not a bride “had the right to wear white”. Only the nastiest sort of person would think this way; polite people don’t speculate on such matters, which are none of their business (no, I will never stop working etiquette lessons into my blog posts. It makes me happy. Give me a break).

Anyway, we’re done here. And I’d love it if you guys could do me a favor. If you could comment to this one, I’d really appreciate it. Tell me what you liked best. Tell me if it helped you. Tell me if there was something I didn’t cover enough, something you wished I’d cover but didn’t. What was your favorite part, what helped you the most? What did you learn about your scenes and the way you write them, if anything? If you’re one of the people who submitted a scene for crit, did the crit help you? How? Do any of you look at writing sex scenes differently now? Do you feel more confident? Did you do any of the exercises, and if so did you find them helpful?

I’d really love the feedback. I do hope/plan to expand the series at some point and either offer it as a free download on my website or possibly find an actual publisher for it; either way, your suggestions and feedback will help me enormously when it comes time to revise it.

So thank you all so much for hanging out with me here for the last few months and playing along. I hope you’ve had as much fun as I have.

Friday I’m posting a revised version of one of the critted scenes; the author sent it to me and I decided to pop it up so everyone can see the difference. Like a little exclamation point at the end.

Monday I resume regular blogging; more rambling about me and my opinions and what’s happening with me and all that fun stuff. I hope those of you who friended me or bookmarked me just for the series will stick around; we usually have a pretty good time here, I think.

Big hugs to all of you.

***Did you enjoy this series/find it helpful? You can now purchase it in print ($4.99 at Createspace) or ebook ($2.99 in numerous formats)! And if you feel moved to leave a review or something that’s great too, though of course not remotely necessary.***

BE A SEX-WRITING STRUMPET

What Stace had to say on Monday, September 15th, 2008
Scene Crit 6–the last one–critted

Jill wanted to put Jack at ease, to make him understand she wasn’t a threat, and it occurred to her that everyone here needed him. They needed him to guide and decide, to fix and save. Everyone wanted something from him. Except me. It made her want to give him something just because.

Certain they were alone, Jill put an unmistakable look in her eyes. That’s a bit clunky. The sentence structure is my least favorite, and “putting an unmistakeable look in her eyes” just feels a bit meh. How about something like “They were alone. Jill glanced around to double check. Definitely alone. She allowed a little sparkle to creep into her eyes” or “She widened her eyes, put her hand on his knee.” “I have many talents to offer.” She began gently stroking his groin. She gently stroked his groin He was handsome, and if, like most men, mating put him in a better mood, a trusting mood, it would be doubly beneficial. Heh, cute.

He began to swell in her hand.He swelled in her hand. You don’t really describe him anywhere in here as being semi-tumescent, so you can just say it His expression of mistrust was overpowered by a strong rush of desire. A rush of desire is a feeling, not an expression, and if you describe his feeling you’re in his POV. “His expression of mistrust faded, his features relaxing as she kept stroking” or “The wariness in his eyes faded, replaced by something darker, something deeper.” As he gave in, she watched his features relax. He seemed younger, like someone else altogether. How long had it been since he put aside the burdensome weight of his rule? Nice little character moment there In that moment, she too, put something aside: her belief that he was callous. He was only harsh because they needed him to be. For these moments, she would make him remember himself, remember that he was more than a ruler. She wanted him to remember that he was a man. This is all nice. I might take out “For these moments” but it’s fine as is. The last line is especially nice

“And do you offer these talents freely?”

He cannot trust me to be genuine! Has nothing been given him for kindness’ sake? A tad melodramatic Again, she felt pity for him. Tell tell tell. I’d remove her thoughts and replace with something about how his mistrust, the wariness he must live with every day or whatever, sent a pang through her chest or made her eyes sting or some other show of pain/pity “If it would please you, I do.”

The size of him was impressive. Very ladylike. Maybe try “His size impressed her”? Her abdomen clenched tight in anticipation, nicebut she knew this was not to be a moment for her pleasure. She had to give now, not take.

Abruptly, his features hardened again. She knew the ruler had returned. Take out “She knew” He grabbed her hand and jerked it aside, held it there. “I know what you are doing! Do you really need this exclamation point?You seek status and influence. You failed to gain it from The Other Man.” He snorted a laugh. Snorted a laugh sounds a bit odd “I will offer you no status either, Jill.”

She jerked her hand free. “I have not asked you to give me anything!” He was so uncomfortable without that mantle pressing down upon him! Exclamation points really! Jar! The reader! You can keep the second if you must but I’d remove the one in dialogue“I am only trying to show you kindness,” she said as she lowered herself to her knees, “for all that you have given me.” I’d lose the tag. Just have her lower herself to her knees then say the line Deftly, quickly, she opened his breeches, and released the ready length of him. released his ready length

Suddenly a cold dagger lay against her throat. “Stop,” he said. I’m not cray about starting sentences with “suddenly”. Maybe the cold dagger appears at her throat instead?

“Hold your weapon if you like, but let me give you this, Jack.” Her hands wrapped around the silky warmth of his erection. “You’ve been generous with your hospitality. Let me show you my gratitude.” She took the velvet tip of him his velvet tip into her mouth. He didn’t command her to stop. Cupping his balls, Jill caressed him as she took him all the way in and then all the way out, sucking the tip before repeating the motion. And how does all that feel? How does he feel in her hands, in her mouth? How does he taste? What is she thinking as she does this? You could also expand this, I think. Make her move slower, ad more tongue action. Don’t just dspense with the blow job in one sentence, let us experience it with her

Jack sighed, dropped the dagger, and put his hands in her hair. Nice. I’d maybe have him shove his hands into her hair instead, but his acquiescence here is good

Jill took up the tea mug and poured honey—honey that never mixed into the brew—onto the tip of his cock, then lapped it up while stroking the length of him, her hand squeezing with enough pressure to appreciate just how hard he was. Again, I think you could expand this and give us a better sense of what she’s feeling and thinking, what he tastes like covered with honey, what the texture of the honey is, you know?

Then Jack forced her off of him. No “Then”; starting sentences with “Then” when referring to time is usually unnecessary For an instant she feared the mantle had returned again, but he said, “Take down your breeches and turn around.” His voice was thick and husky. Nice dialogue and action; maybe mention his voice being thick and husky in a different way? “But he said in a thick, husky voice, ‘Take down…’”? or “’…and turn around,’ in a voice thick with sex” or “thick and husky”. Something like that.

“As you wish,” she said. Don’t need this tag Jill slipped the fabric down and put herself onto all fours, eager and ready. Isn’t this awfully abrupt? I mean, sure, I don’t have the context, but it does strike me as a bit odd On his knees, Jack folded the length of her shirt up and put fingertips tentatively to her buttocks drawing little circles on her skin. Was he on his knees before? This sentence doesn’t work for me. How about “Jack sank to his knees and folded the length of his shirt up. His fingertips drew tiny circles on her buttocks, tentative at first, then with growing confidence. She felt his gaze on her, on her most sensitive, most delicate parts. It thrilled her, made her shiver. Something like that? Because I’m also not crazy about “a thrill tingled over her”; it just feels sort of clunky. And really, he is looking at her ladyparts, and she should be reacting to that. She’s essentially being very bolg and displayed those parts to him, so there should be some response aside from her reaction to his. Is she thrilled by her wanton behavior? Excited, aroused, nervous? A thrill tingled over her and Jill shivered, delighted. “Please,” she whispered. “Take what you want.”

He angled himself at her wet opening, rubbing the tip of his cock down and up, spreading the wetness. Just down and up? And how does that feel? Having the head of a nice hard cock rubbed around your sensitive spots is pretty good in itself; she should react physically to that just as much as seeing him or thinking of where he was. Over her shoulder she watched him: I don’t like the colon; I’ use a semicolon instead. I love semicolons mouth slightly open, that unshaven jaw so male. I like the unshaven jaw being male but having his mouth slightly open makes him seem kind of gormless, I think The posture of a man about to mate, touching her and holding himself, about to enter, it lose “itmade a rush of wet heat between her legs. Upon feeling him pressing at her opening again, she backed onto him as he pushed into her. This makes it sound as though all of this happens at the same time, and the tenses are off. Also I’m not crazy about starting the sentence with “Upon”; it feels a little formal for fucking. How about “His cock pressed at her opening, questioning, teasing her, driving her mad. She wanted it inside her, wanted to be impaled on him, but he kept circling her entrance until finally she shoved herself back, enveloping his hard length in her hot, wet channel” or something like that? It made the entry a rough motion, but she was wet enough to allow roughness. The rough entry forced her walls to stretch, forced a cry from her throat Jill liked mating that left her a little sore; it left her with a reminder of the activity. Nice She met his thrusts eagerly, trying to let him know she meant her words literally. I think she’s already shown him that. I’d focus more on how she met his thrusts eagerly and how that felt, how she wanted to hear him groan or sigh, wanted to get a reaction from him like the one he was creating in her, you know what I mean?

His strong hands gripped her hips and held her in place. Nice, but how did that feel? Is it a delicious ache where his fingertips dig into her skin?

Jill didn’t resist. She let him be in control of her, in control of this moment. Don’t let him be in control; let him take control. Taking is always sexy Gods knew he needed it, and gods knew he wouldn’t enjoy it otherwise. If only they had time, perhaps he could learn to take the mantle off completely, but building trust was not a quick feat for him. Wouldn’t “easy” work better than “not a quick feat”? That’s a little confusing and wordy/clunky And, for now, having him sheathing the length of him inside her in slow, deep strokes felt so good that a moan slipped from her mouth. But what does the moan slipping from her mouth have to do with what she was just thinking? Saying “And, for now,” implies her next thought will be related to the ones prior, do you know what I mean? So to just have her moan,and not think something like “And for now…she’d take whatever she could get” or “And for now…getting him to share his body was enough.”

* * *
You don’t need a scene break here. If you need a break, just leave a blank space. Of course this depends on house style but generally you can get by with just a line break

Jack knew his hospitality had been quite lacking. These next few paragraphs are awfully calm and reasoned for a man balls-deep inside a woman. I know we have to get a baseline of his thoughts, but it would be nice if he was a bit more delirious/confused/whatever, you know? Or just not so detached. “Jack ulled back slowly, watching his cock reappear coated with Jill’s slick moisture. That she was doing this, allowing him inside her, even after he’d been so rude (or whatever)… It made no sense. She owed him nothing, but was giving him everything. Pleasure invaded every inch of his body, every muscle, every vein…” That sort of thing. Incorporate the sex into his thought process, don’t let us forget what they’re doing.

His healer had meant to aid Jill, but her gods had healed her. She owed him nothing. Surely she knew this and was only seeking leverage to manipulate him.

Somehow, like this, knowing they would share the pleasure, he could allow himself to partake of it and maintain his belief that he could send her away.

When she began to moan, though, that low melodious tone expanded his excitement. He forced himself to slow down, not willing to be done yet. not willing to finish yet He leaned forward, laying his chest upon her back. Shifting his hips from this position his thrusts became shallow strokes, but he could cup her breasts. They filled his hands more than he had anticipated. And aside from that, how did they feel? How does she feel around him? Is his body straining to finish? Is his heart pounding, his breath rattling, his blood rushing in his ears? Wanting desperately to touch her bare flesh, he reached under the shirt and put fingertips to the puckered flesh around her nipples. So soft, round and firm! !!! He pinched the tips. Immediately she tucked her hips away then bucked hard against him, thrusting him deep. How did that feel for him? “Mmmmm. I love that,” she whispered. “Harder.. Mmmm.” She bucked again. Again. Nice repetition of “again”; adds urgency.

He kept the pressure on her nipples, and twisted a little, and feeling the bounce of her breasts in his palms like the ebb of the ocean as she rutted against him. This could be just a personal thing but I’m not a fan of “rutted” The way she used her body was unique, as if he’d never done this with a partner who enjoyed it enough to know what to do. Well had he, or hadn’t he? “as if” implies that isn’t the case but he’s comparing it to what it would be like if it was the case. And again, let us see more of what he feels here. Is he amazed by her enjoyment, by the unique (good word) movements of her body? Thrilled? Etc.

In his experience, women let him take what he needed, and loved it when he made the effort to see to their needs as well. But Jill, Jill knew what felt good to her, and moved eagerly, seeking pleasure as heatedly as he usually sought it. nice

Her head fell forward and she pushed back harder, used her arms more lose “more to ride against him with stronger strokes. By the gods, as she moved every sensation became enhanced, her movements enhanced every sensation/intensified every sensation—nice though and her little moans made him want to explode. He raised up and gripped her hips again. Rolling his hips with each strong thrust, mimicking her former motion, he felt her abruptly go rigid and she cried out. He rolled his hips with every thrust, mimicking her prior/previous/former motion, and she went rigid. Her voice broke the air, her cries of pleasure and abandon filling the glen, echoing in the still air etc. Jill’s lovely voice filled the glen with the cries of her pleasure. Jack felt her insides go hot, slick, and squeeze onto him so tighter. Her insides went hot, slick. Her walls gripped him with a force unlike anything he’d ever experienced He could fight it no more. His fingers dug into her hips yanking her on and off of him savagely until his pleasure came. run-on; needs punctuation. I’m not crazy about “yanking” either but it’s not bad. I’m not crazy about referring to an orgasm as “his pleasure”, simply because presumably he’s been feeling pleasure all this time, but again, it’s up to you

What Stace had to say on Monday, September 15th, 2008
Scene Crit 6–the last one

Another historical today, or a fantasy in a historical-esque setting. This is, as the title says, the last scene crit; Wednesday we’ll be finishing up the series itself.

Jill wanted to put Jack at ease, to make him understand she wasn’t a threat, and it occurred to her that everyone here needed him. They needed him to guide and decide, to fix and save. Everyone wanted something from him. Except me. It made her want to give him something just because.

Certain they were alone, Jill put an unmistakable look in her eyes. “I have many talents to offer.” She began gently stroking his groin. He was handsome, and if, like most men, mating put him in a better mood, a trusting mood, it would be doubly beneficial.

He began to swell in her hand. His expression of mistrust was overpowered by a strong rush of desire. As he gave in, she watched his features relax. He seemed younger, like someone else altogether. How long had it been since he put aside the burdensome weight of his rule? In that moment, she too, put something aside: her belief that he was callous. He was only harsh because they needed him to be. For these moments, she would make him remember himself, remember that he was more than a ruler. She wanted him to remember that he was a man.

“And do you offer these talents freely?”

He cannot trust me to be genuine! Has nothing been given him for kindness’ sake? Again, she felt pity for him. “If it would please you, I do.”

The size of him was impressive. Her abdomen clenched tight in anticipation, but she knew this was not to be a moment for her pleasure. She had to give now, not take.

Abruptly, his features hardened again. She knew the ruler had returned. He grabbed her hand and jerked it aside, held it there. “I know what you are doing! You seek status and influence. You failed to gain it from The Other Man.” He snorted a laugh. “I will offer you no status either, Jill.”

She jerked her hand free. “I have not asked you to give me anything!” He was so uncomfortable without that mantle pressing down upon him! “I am only trying to show you kindness,” she said as she lowered herself to her knees, “for all that you have given me.” Deftly, quickly, she opened his breeches, and released the ready length of him.

Suddenly a cold dagger lay against her throat. “Stop,” he said.

“Hold your weapon if you like, but let me give you this, Jack.” Her hands wrapped around the silky warmth of his erection. “You’ve been generous with your hospitality. Let me show you my gratitude.” She took the velvet tip of him into her mouth. He didn’t command her to stop. Cupping his balls, Jill caressed him as she took him all the way in and then all the way out, sucking the tip before repeating the motion..

Jack sighed, dropped the dagger, and put his hands in her hair.

Jill took up the tea mug and poured honey—honey that never mixed into the brew—onto the tip of his cock, then lapped it up while stroking the length of him, her hand squeezing with enough pressure to appreciate just how hard he was.

Then Jack forced her off of him. For an instant she feared the mantle had returned again, but he said, “Take down your breeches and turn around.” His voice was thick and husky.

“As you wish,” she said. Jill slipped the fabric down and put herself onto all fours, eager and ready. On his knees, Jack folded the length of her shirt up and put fingertips tentatively to her buttocks drawing little circles on her skin. A thrill tingled over her and Jill shivered, delighted. “Please,” she whispered. “Take what you want.”

He angled himself at her wet opening, rubbing the tip of his cock down and up, spreading the wetness. Over her shoulder she watched him: mouth slightly open, that unshaven jaw so male. The posture of a man about to mate, touching her and holding himself, about to enter, it made a rush of wet heat between her legs. Upon feeling him pressing at her opening again, she backed onto him as he pushed into her. It made the entry a rough motion, but she was wet enough to allow roughness. Jill liked mating that left her a little sore; it left her with a reminder of the activity. She met his thrusts eagerly, trying to let him know she meant her words literally.

His strong hands gripped her hips and held her in place.

Jill didn’t resist. She let him be in control of her, in control of this moment. Gods knew he needed it, and gods knew he wouldn’t enjoy it otherwise. If only they had time, perhaps he could learn to take the mantle off completely, but building trust was not a quick feat for him. And, for now, having him sheathing the length of him inside her in slow, deep strokes felt so good that a moan slipped from her mouth.

* * *

Jack knew his hospitality had been quite lacking.

His healer had meant to aid Jill, but her gods had healed her. She owed him nothing. Surely she knew this and was only seeking leverage to manipulate him.
Somehow, like this, knowing they would share the pleasure, he could allow himself to partake of it and maintain his belief that he could send her away.

When she began to moan, though, that low melodious tone expanded his excitement. He forced himself to slow down, not willing to be done yet. He leaned forward, laying his chest upon her back. Shifting his hips from this position his thrusts became shallow strokes, but he could cup her breasts. They filled his hands more than he had anticipated. Wanting desperately to touch her bare flesh, he reached under the shirt and put fingertips to the puckered flesh around her nipples. So soft, round and firm! He pinched the tips. Immediately she tucked her hips away then bucked hard against him, thrusting him deep. “Mmmmm. I love that,” she whispered. “Harder.. Mmmm.” She bucked again. Again.

He kept the pressure on her nipples, and twisted a little, and feeling the bounce of her breasts in his palms like the ebb of the ocean as she rutted against him. The way she used her body was unique, as if he’d never done this with a partner who enjoyed it enough to know what to do.

In his experience, women let him take what he needed, and loved it when he made the effort to see to their needs as well. But Jill, Jill knew what felt good to her, and moved eagerly, seeking pleasure as heatedly as he usually sought it.

Her head fell forward and she pushed back harder, used her arms more to ride against him with stronger strokes. By the gods, as she moved every sensation became enhanced, and her little moans made him want to explode. He raised up and gripped her hips again. Rolling his hips with each strong thrust, mimicking her former motion, he felt her abruptly go rigid and she cried out. Jill’s lovely voice filled the glen with the cries of her pleasure. Jack felt her insides go hot, slick, and squeeze onto him so tighter. He could fight it no more. His fingers dug into her hips yanking her on and off of him savagely until his pleasure came.

What Stace had to say on Saturday, September 13th, 2008
OMG!! I’m a real writer!

So the Kane family descended en masse on our little town center today. Faerie has a “Cowboys & Indians”-themed costume birthday party to go to tomorrow, and we headed for the party store to see if we could find her a costume. (I wanted her to be a Native American princess–I had lovely dreams of doing her hair in little braids with a feather headdress, and putting little lipstick stripes on her face, but she insisted she wanted to be a cowgirl instead. Sigh.)

Anyway. We got the costume. Then we headed for the high street, where, ironically enough, they had some Argentinian Indians (I have no idea if I’m being PC here or what but they call themselves Indians on the liner notes, so I figured that’s what I should put) a musical performance and selling CDs, one of which I bought, because it’s lovely instrumental stuff and is perfect for the New Project stirring around in my crazy little head. Anyway.

Visited the health-food store to get dried fruit for Princess. Since she’s in Year Three now we have to provide snacks for snack time, and of course her teacher will think we’re the scum of the earth is we give her potato chips or cookies or something, so we’re heavily into dried fruit. Bought several bags of assorted snack items.

The health-food store is a couple of doors down from the Waterstone’s. Hubs asked if I wanted to go in. No, that’s okay. No, he insists. Etc. etc. The upshot is, he twisted my arm and we went in.

I of course headed for the Horror section, which is where they shelf their UF stuff. I hemmed and hawed for a minute or so, and was just about to turn to leave, when I glanced at the bottom shelf.

And saw my book.

MY book.

Now keep in mind, UF isn’t very big here in the UK. Keep in mind Juno doesn’t do much distribution outside the US and they’re a small house. So while I’ve gotten pictures of my book on store shelves, and of course my BFF Cori took a little video of her buying a copy of the book, I have never physically seen it, on the shelf, in a store.

I “Oh my God!”ded for a second, picked it up, flipped through it. I literally thought for a minute I was going to pass out. And then I hurried my little bottom to the cashier’s desk, and told the guy behind the counter that this was my book (I showed him my picture in the back and everything) and if he had a pen I’d sign it.

He told me he’d actually ordered three of them, as the genre was showing some growth in the UK and there are some fans in the store as well as, apparently, in town. He ordered three, two had already sold(!!!)

The thing is, I haven’t seen the book in any other stores. I just find it so insane that of all the Waterstones’s in England, the one with my book just happens to be my local one. I still can’t get my head around that, seriously. And people have bought them!

Then he asked if I wanted to do a signing when Demon Inside is released, which, ACK! (Signings scare the hell out of me, because I honestly picture myself sitting alone in the back of the store, while everyone pities me for being such a loser and so full of myself I actually think people would care about me or my dumb book.)

And we chatted for a minute, and I met the girl who’d shelved the book who told me she’d looked at the back when she stocked it and couldn’t wait to read it, and I gave them my email address and plugged several of my friends, and left feeling simultaneously like the coolest person in the world and an enormous geek who’d just made a moron out of myself.

Oh, and forgot to even ask his name. So I ran back in to do that, and offered to take a bunch of my wristband bracelets in for them, and there you go.

So I actually saw my book on a shelf in a real bookstore, and people have actually bought it. And he’s going to order more and I’ll go in and sign those too.

Then we went to Tesco to get safety pins, and they didn’t have any, so I went to Boot’s for them.

So, to recap my day:

Bought cowgirl outfit
Bought CD of tribal music
Bought dried pineapple chunks
Bought safety pins
Signed my actual book in an actual store

It was a pretty good day.