Breaking Out of My Comfort Zone

by | April 26, 2012 | General | 5 comments

By Lucy Felthouse

I started out writing erotica on a dare. I had no idea about
the market, what was being published, or what wasn’t… but once I’d written a
short erotic story which got a very good reception, all that changed. I found
that I’d really enjoyed writing the story, so I wanted to continue. What’s
more, I wanted to get my work published. I started researching books and
magazines, and continued to write naughty short stories.

I was very lucky in that I got one of my first few short
stories published in the now defunct Scarlet
magazine. The buzz of publication was immense. It spurred me on to pen more
smut, and soon afterwards I was fortunate enough to have a story accepted for
publication by Xcite Books, in one of their anthologies. From there, I wrote
and wrote. Through University and through a full time job (I’m now
self-employed), I never stopped. But although my plots became more adventurous,
the sex became quirkier, kinkier, and (hopefully) the quality of my work
improved, one thing stayed the same. The length of my work. Granted, my average
word count per story increased from two to four thousand words, and I even started
creeping up towards twelve thousand words on occasion, but I was still firmly
writing in the short story category.

Why? Because it became my comfort zone. I entertained vague
ideas of novels, and stashed them away in the darkest corners of my brain to be
brought out “one day,” but stuck with short stories. That is, until I
was enticed out of my comfort zone, like a donkey with a carrot. I was asked if
I would like to write a novella for a brand new range of books being put
together by Xcite Books. I umm-ed and ahh-ed for a little while, then sent back
a “yes please,” before I changed my mind. I knew that once I agreed to
it, I wouldn’t back out.

Then I panicked. What would I write about? Did I have a plot
detailed enough to sustain a novella length piece of work? Would it erotic
enough? Romantic enough? Interesting enough? My panicking was irrelevant, of
course, because I’d signed a contract and promised to deliver a manuscript by a
certain date, so I could waste time worrying, or just start writing. So I did.
And it was a huge learning curve for me. I actually drafted out a plan before I
started, which I’d never done before.

Eventually, I finished it. My first novella. I read it,
re-read it, tweaked it. Then I hit send and promptly panicked again in case the
editor hated it. Thankfully, she didn’t. Other than a couple of minor changes,
it was good to go. Woohoo! Then it was a waiting game until the release date…
which was this month.

Yes, April brought the release of my first ever novella, as
part of Xcite Books’ The Secret Library range
of books. My novella is called Off the
and appears in the book entitled Silk
Here’s the blurb:

At 35, travel writer
Annalise is fed up with insensitive comments about being left on the shelf.
It’s not as if she doesn’t want a man, but her busy career doesn’t leave her
much time for relationships. Sexy liaisons with passing acquaintances give
Annalise physical satisfaction, but she needs more than that. She wants a man
who will satisfy her mind as well as her body. But where will she find someone
like that? It seems Annalise may be in luck when a new member of staff starts
working in the bookshop at the airport she regularly travels through. Damien
appears to tick all the boxes; he’s gorgeous, funny and intelligent, and he
shares Annalise’s love of books and travel.

The trouble is, Damien’s shy and
Annalise is terrified of rejection. Can they overcome their fears and admit
their feelings, or are they doomed to remain on the shelf?

You can check out an
excerpt and the buy links here:

So, I eventually broke out of my short story comfort zone.
Granted, my longest piece of writing since the novella has been twelve thousand
words, but I broke out once, so I can do it again, right? 😉

Lucy Felthouse


  1. Anonymous

    I'm so happy for you to get published and to get your first novella published.

    Writing is not work for some but for others it is. Once you can change your viewpoint, see your passion for writing erotica romance as something more of a drive and need to write, you will be able to write anything of almost any length needed by anyone.

  2. Craig Sorensen


    And yes, you did it once, you can and surely will do it again.

  3. Lisabet Sarai

    Congratulations on getting out of your comfort zone!

    So how long is Silk Stockings? I love the cover btw!

    Writing a long piece requires a very different mind set than a short story. However, when someone tells me they "can't" write a longer work, I'm not willing to buy it. It's just a question of adopting a somewhat different perspective – like being willing to outline@

  4. Remittance Girl

    I have to echo Lisabet on loving the cover!

    I have the same problem with writing very long pieces. I've often felt that is because I just don't have the brains to cope with a series of co-evolving plotlines. I was never a good chess player.

    Also, the outlining issue is a big one for me. If I outline, I know how it is going to end. And then I lose all interest in actually writing it. For me, writing is an exploration to find out how the story ends.

    So I'm pretty much stuck with short stories too.

  5. Lucy Felthouse

    Lisabet – I'm not sure on the length of Silk Stockings, but my novella is just over 22,000 words.

    Remittance Girl – I'm currently halfway through writing a novel, and I've outlined it. It's a very vague outline in places, and the ending isn't very specific, but I do know what you mean. I'm now relying on determination to help me finish it. I like to finish things 🙂

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