KD Grace

Filtering Our Lives

By K D Grace

I’ve been thinking about filters lately, going through one of my periodic stages of resenting smart phones, social

networking and all things techno. That may well be in part because I’ve only ever managed to master what it takes to survive in that online world. I’m a klutz on my best days. But sometimes I’m an angry luddite wannabe, who grumbles incessantly while I bury my nose in my kindle to lose myself in a good book … Oh the neuroses of my life!

When I’m lost in the world of navel gazing and trying to connect to what matters without losing myself in the detritus and the trivia of a world online, I often find myself thinking about the filters we live our lives through, and what being once removed from everything, while at the same time up close and personal with the whole world and all the information in it means to us as a civilization – to me as an individual.

I can go online and hear the background microwaves that are the remnants of the Big Bang, the beginning of the universe. I have done, have listened over and over with goose bumps crawling up my arms.

I can go to FaceBook or Twitter and have meaningful conversations with friends all over the world, people I’ve never met physically and yet I’ve connected with  and feel somehow a kin to.

I can keep up on films and stars and gossip, I can join any group, be a fan girl, talk trash, be a part of any organisation with any cause imaginable – political, religious, medical, physical, magical, practical, any hobby, any sport, any obsession. It’s all there. All I have to do is log on. Easy.  

When we were in Dubrovnik over Christmas last year, we found ourselves in a random café for lunch one day. The cafes that were open in the dead of winter were happy for customers, and when we arrived, we were the only ones there. About halfway through the meal a young man came in, eyes glued to his smart phone. He asked us if we’d read the reviews for this particular café. We said no, we’d just dropped in. The food was lovely. We had a local beer, local specialties, and the owners of the restaurant were friendly, and patient with us as we practiced our rusty Croatian on them. Meanwhile the man ordered without looking at the waitress, ate without looking at the food, all the time lost in communion with his phone. We left him that way.

Back out on the streets, after a wonderful walk in the sunshine around the medieval city wall, we stopped for coffee and once again were astounded by the number of tourists gripped by their phones even as they walked, obliviously, down the main street of the Jewel of the Adriatic, the sea the colour of sapphire and the sky a shade darker still, contrasting with the red tile roofs.

A few weeks ago we went out for lunch and observed three very lovely young women who came in and sat down at a near-by table, again completely caught up in whatever was happening on their phones. They barely spoke to each other during the course of their meal and never put their devices down.

I recently received an email from a friend of mine in the States, and I was saddened when the rather extensive epistle was all about what series she was now watching on telly. I know for a fact this woman used to be a librarian. We used to spend our time talking about books.

All of these events, and lots of others leave me slightly queasy, even as I sit here writing this blog post, hoping that a lot of people will go online to the ERWA blog and read it. It’s the filters that leave me feeling this way. They leave me wondering about our connection with the real world, about MY connections with the real world. I wonder if we’re now more connected, and I just don’t ‘get it’, or are we less connected because we’re joined at the hip with our devices. I’m guessing it’s probably a combination of the two.

The world I live in is totally dominated by the technology my profession depends upon. The first thing I do in the morning is get up my laptop and see what I missed over night. I do what I need to do for PR on twitter and facebook, I see what I need to do for the rest of the day, and some days that involves a good deal of being online and interacting with social media. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy that I have some control over the promotion and sales of my books, no matter how little that may be. The feel that I’m at least doing something is worth a lot, even if it is at times only the placebo affect. In a time when publishing is entering the strange new world of self-pub, when the gatekeepers are no longer the guardians of all things literary, when the gates are quite literally wide open, I see how important it is to be present online. But I fear very much that being present online often costs me the simple pleasure of just being present.

On the 21st, I launched the latest of my novels as Grace Marshall, Interviewing Wade. That meant a great deal of my time the last two weeks and through the weekend was spent online or if not online at least writing blog posts and preparing for the launch. In the glorious sunshine of Sunday, the 22nd, my head was full of reviews and posts and tweets and status updates. When I realized, at last, that it was dinnertime, I went into the darkened kitchen to reheat the pasta from lunch and discovered something truly amazing. Through the kitchen window, I had the most exquisite view of the thinnest sliver of a new moon in conjunction with brilliant Venus, and for a few minutes there was the added pleasure of red Mars just about to sink below the rooftops of the neighboring houses. I was stunned. I couldn’t take my eyes off what I saw. I reached for the binoculars for a closer look

The moon was illuminated with earthshine and, through the binoculars, the darkened areas were visible with the brilliance of the sunlit crescent making the whole look almost dark purple, huge and 3D. As I tried to focus on the bright smudge of Venus, my heart beat kept jarring the binoculars, so I couldn’t resolve the phase, but I’m sure it was as close to full as Venus ever gets.

Venus is always in phase. How amazing is that! We never see the full face of Venus because it’s in between us and the sun, and it’s only full when it’s on the far side of the sun from us – something that’s only true with the inner two planets. Mars dipped quickly and was gone, but I stood for ages, trying to hold my breath and brace my elbows so I could look. But no matter how hard I tried, Venus constantly quivered through the binoculars with the steady beat, beat, beat of my pulse. I shifted back and forth between the shiver of Venus and the pock marked darkened surface of the moon with its crescent of brilliance at the bottom edge. When my arms got tired of holding the binoculars, still I stood.

It was one of those rare moments of being in focus, of standing with nothing in between me and my little sliver of the universe; experiencing a moment, one raw, naked, aching moment without anything in between me and my heart. That tiny shred of time felt like skin freshly formed over an abrasion.  And I wanted to stay there forever in that little sliver of the present with nothing in between.

I couldn’t, of course. The moon set, and I had work to do. It occurred to me as I nuked dinner, that even that incredible few minutes of focus were filtered, brought closer through the lens of my binoculars. We’ve been filtering our world for probably as long as we’ve walked upright. Perhaps we can only be safe in – and from our little slice of the universe when we filter it, analyze it, look at it through eyes – and heart — well protected.

 The next morning, online, there were more images of Venus and the New Moon in conjunction than I had time to look at. I was far from the only one bringing that moment into myself through filters that helped make sense of it, helped make it personal and, clearly, I was far from the only person needing to share it. Somehow that makes the world community seem just a little bit smaller, just a little bit closer. Somehow that makes the filtering of my universe and all the contradictions that involves set just a little bit easier in my mind. That and the knowing at least for a little while that earthshine, that sliver of moonlight, that conjunction with bright Venus was mine. All mine.

Billionaire Lurve

K D Grace

I’m guessing no one reading this blog has any doubt whatsoever why I’ve been writing a lot about billionaires the past two weeks. I’ve written a billionaire post for the Brit Babes blog and for my own and, since the Big B is a timely subject right now, I thought that for my monthly ERWA post, I would try to summarise why I think billionaire romance is so appealing.

The billionaire romance is loved and loathed far and wide. Though it’s always been a huge part of the romance cannon, it burst onto center stage in all its glitz and glam with Fifty Shades of Grey, and since 50SoG, the number of novels, novellas and stories available with the word ‘billionaire’ in the title is boggling.

It’s safe to expect the number of billionaire novels to skyrocket yet again with the Fifty Shades of Grey film due out on Valentine’s Day. That being the case, I found myself wondering the other day while I was doing the ironing just what it is about billionaires that we find so appealing.

OK, I suppose that sounds like a stupid question. People are always curious about how the other half (or in this case less than 1%) live. That’s only natural. And who hasn’t fantasized about how their lives would be different if they won the lottery or a long lost relative died and left them with a fortune? So here are just a few of the reasons I think billionaire romances appeal to readers so much.


In the secular modern world where the belief in magic, monsters, demons and gods is pretty much reserved for us paranormal fans, I would like to suggest that the realm of the billionaire romance is mythology and magic for contemporary romance readers.

As with the gods of mythology, the rules don’t apply to billionaires. Wealth and power allow billionaires to do the seemingly impossible, wining and dining the objects of their lust and sweeping them away to the proverbial Mount Olympus in their helicopter or private jet. Zeus seduced Leda in the form of a swan. Eros rescued the bound Psyche and swept her away to his glorious palace to live in incredible splendor. All sorts of magic and miracles can be performed with wealth and power, and who better to perform such feats than a sexy, brooding billionaire?

The general theme in billionaire stories is that the billionaire, like the gods of old, becomes obsessed by a mere mortal, an ordinary person living an ordinary life. The billionaire then sets about seducing the object of his or her obsession with whatever magic or miracle money and power can buy. In billionaire romances, the billionaire is no more willing to take ‘no’ for an answer than Zeus himself was.


I would like to suggest that the reverse is also true. Money and power are the billionaire’s equivalent to fangs, claws and magic. Our love of vampires, werewolves, angels and demons and all things paranormal is just a different twist on the billionaire romance. With fangs and claws and magic, the rules no longer apply, and when the rules no longer apply, the situation changes drastically.


If money is no issue, then the rules that apply to most of us can be bent and broken. And who doesn’t fantasize from time to time about being able to break the rules without consequence? While money may not be able to buy love, it can certainly buy sexual satisfaction in more than fifty shades and way more colours than gray. There’s something very edgy and exciting about the idea of buying sexual control over another person. It’s a Dom/sub relationship based on wealth. When we live in an age when money is power and money is control, it’s not surprising that money is also very sexy. Neither is it surprising that many of our fantasies involve ‘being bought’ in some way.


Billionaires don’t have the financial constraints the rest of us constantly live with. If a billionaire can buy it, he or she can have it. Helicopters, jets, palatial mansions in south France, yachts the size of the QE2, a private island in the Med — all just an afternoon’s shopping spree. There’s something very appealing about the freedom that money buys, which leads me to my next point.


The typical billionaire story involves a billionaire loving or at least lusting for someone who is very average. Again

the connection between the contemporary billionaire romance and the myths of gods seducing mortals is strong. And while we read that story, we fantasize ourselves right into that role. We become the character who is wined and dined, whisked away in the private jet and shopped for by a very exclusive personal shopper. In essence, we get one helluva makeover, readying us to walk in the rarified air of the billionaire’s world. It’s the luxury and adventure of our fantasies along with the hot nasty steamy sex of said fantasies.


In billionaire novels the polished, airbrushed look of wealth is associated with the look or our dream guy or girl. We want our billionaires to conform to our personal fantasies of what sexy and rich look like, and it’s amazing, though not surprising, how often the two go hand in hand. If we’re going to have a fantasy man, he might as well look good AND be rich. And of course, he will lust obsessively after US! It’s gods and mortals getting nasty all over again.


Perhaps one of the big differences between the gods and mortals and the billionaires analogy is that our billionaire must suffer. No silver spoons in these stories. Our billionaires must have suffered tragedy and loss, been raised by crack whores, lost a loved one, had an abusive childhood, secretly suffer from self-doubt, self-loathing, horrible nightmares, think themselves unworthy of love. In the eyes of readers, there has to be a cost for wealth. Most of us can’t really imagine what it’s like to have that much money and power. If we’re being honest, we resent the hell out of people we feel have it but don’t deserve it. We find it gratifying to know that, yes, the wealthy really do put their pants on the same way the rest of us do, and they don’t get off without suffering. We need to see that suffering to make that love connection.


Enter the love interest, just your ordinary girl/guy (insert your own name here) whose soul purpose in the story, as in all love stories, is to rescue the hero from himself, lift him above his self-doubts and heal him. The heroine’s job is to aid the wounded hero, even if he’s a surly billionaire, in becoming a better person, and lead him/her to a shared HEA. There’s something very satisfying about a billionaire who has everything, but is totally lost and impoverished until the love of his life saves him and brings him true love.


It’s essential to the story that the love interest has something to offer to the billionaire that he needs, craves, can’t buy with his money. No one really wants to read a story about two perfect billionaires falling in love with each other in their perfect billionaire world. I’m convinced the billionaire story works because if offers the non-billionaire reader a balance of power. There’s something outrageously satisfying about an ordinary person having exactly what a billionaire needs, but can’t buy, what a billionaire is willing to give up all his/her wealth to have. The HEA in a billionaire story is the balance of power that happens when the billionaire and the ordinary heroine come to a state of equilibrium that allows love. Because the contrast in the beginning is so great, the achievement of this

balance of power can be spectacular to watch. And the HEA can be very satisfying because of that contrast.

In mythology, I’ve always been particularly fond of the stories in which the mortals, one way or another, infiltrate the realm of the gods. These days the distance between the very wealthy and the average person seems as great as the distance between the shepherd in his field and the heights of Mount Olympus. Divinity and magical powers are replaced with all things money can buy, which is a helluva lot if you have enough of it.

The billionaire romance affords the reader a visit to heaven, or to Mount Olympus or to paradise – chose one. We are transported to a place, which we can only otherwise go in our fantasies. We go to the penthouse and the palatial mansion right along with the billionaire’s lover. We become the billionaire’s lover – his Psyche, his Leda, his Persephone, his Anastasia Steele, and we visit the realm of the gods – a place where we don’t belong, but we want to. So, along with the heroine of the story, we have to find a way to stay there in paradise with our billionaire.

The moral of the story may well be that billionaires need love too, but I think it’s more likely that the moral of the story is the gods are alive and well and living in their penthouse apartments. Just ask Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele.

My New Years Non-Resolutions

K D Grace

I used to start thinking about all the changes I’d make for the New Year in the middle of November. My New Years Resolutions would be preceded by pages and pages in my journal of navel gazing and reflecting on the year past and on what I saw as my successes and failures before I finally got around to writing a list of resolutions longer than my arm and impossible to remember, let alone implement. Success was spotty at best.

I don’t do resolutions any more because it’s easier not to than it is to fail. Still, it’s impossible not to view the New Year as the ideal time for new beginnings, and the best time to make changes for the good. With that in mind, I’d like to share a very short list of non-resolutions that I plan to do my best to implement this year and that I would encourage other writers and creative folk to implement as well. I’m not promising success, but I think these non-resolutions will make my life better on a lot of different levels.

1. I WILL BE KIND TO MYSELF! This is first and foremost, and likely most difficult on the list. Most of the creative types I know – writers among the worst – are way harder on ourselves than we would ever be on anyone else, which means, not only do we fail at that massive list of New Years Resolutions, but we thoroughly and completely beat ourselves up about it, just like we thoroughly and completely beat ourselves up about all of the many impossible goals we set for ourselves during the course of the year.

I wish I could give advice on how to implement this first and most important non-resolution, but I fail miserably at it multiple times every year. The best advice is just to keep on trying. I’m trying to teach myself that this is not a resolution to see through March and then forget. I constantly need to make an effort to be kind to myself, to understand that I can choose to be my own worst enemy or my own best friend. I’ll never be able to do enough to satisfy myself when it comes to my writing. It’ll always be a work in progress. That being the case, I have to make being kind to myself a daily resolution – maybe even an hourly resolution, which includes forgiving myself when I fail to meet my own expectation. Each day I succeed in being kind to myself I’ll consider a huge success worth savoring!

2. I WILL DO SOMETHING PHYSICAL. Like all writers, I live in my head. I create whole worlds in my head, I make the characters I create in my head do amazing and sometimes terrifying things, but that means my characters get their exercise while I sit on my arse in front of a computer. I won’t succeed in this non-resolution by spending two or three hours at the gym every day. That just won’t happen. I will succeed with a walk in the sunshine when that’s all I have time for, or with a half hour at the gym a couple times a week. I will succeed with walking instead of driving, gardening for a few minutes in the fresh air instead of pressing on when I’m tired and needing a break. I will breathe deep, stretch, move, sweat. These are all things I can manage without a blood sacrifice. I’m sure I’m not the first writer to discover that the more physical I am, the more creative I am, and the more productive I am!

3. I WILL READ MORE! It’s another strange paradox but, at least for me, the more time I spend reading, the more I actuallymanage to write. It isn’t just that I write more, but it’s that time spent in the imaginations of fellow writers stimulates my own imagination, making me think, making me imagine, helping me create.

I’ve heard writers say that they’re so afraid they’ll copy someone’s ideas that while they’re writing, they won’t read. I find myself much more inclined to think of every book I read ss a chance to learn, a chance to become a better writer from example – even in those cases when it’s a bad example. It’s also just a pleasure that feels guilty but isn’t. There are too few of those in life.

4. I WILL LOOK UP! Living in isolation is a huge risk for writers. I work at home. I live in worlds I create, and most of the time, I’m very happy to be in those worlds and often very anxious to go back to them when I’m forced to walk away. But I need to be connected. I need to talk and laugh and share and look around me and observe. Everything inspires. Everything sparks the imagination. And human interaction in the real world makes for better human interaction between characters in the worlds I create. A part of what I do is to create something new from what already is. A part of what I do is to see things through different eyes and to translate what I see in new and interesting ways.

5. I WILL GET IT DOWN! Once I look up, then it’s essential to record what I see, even if it’s just making a mental note.

Everything is seed for a story and everything can be seen from so many different angles. The very act of taking a mental note, or even more, of scribbling something down that gets my attention, is a view from a one of those different angles, a different way of seeing and a possible story waiting to happen.

These are my non-resolutions for 2015. What are yours?

My wish for all of you in the New Year is that you will be gentle with yourselves. You’re worth being kind to! All the best in 2015!

Erotica and Eucharist Moments

By K D Grace

There are moments in my life that stand out like shiny new coins. These moments are clearer, crisper. They’re full-blown, high definition, three D, and thoroughly enhanced. Amazingly enough these vivid moments usually involve the simplest acts, and yet somehow, in their simplicity, they encompass the fullness of being in this body on this planet at this time. And for those brief few moments, I feel like I actually truly GET IT. The sun breaks through the clouds and the mysteries of the universe are revealed. Then, everything goes back to normal, I go back to my routine and life moves forward to the next shining moment.

I’ve always referred to these times as Eucharist Moments not because I’m religious, but because the original meaning of Eucharist in Greek is thankfulness, gratitude. Because those moments are so complete when I’m in them, what I feel is thankfulness, gratitude that I’m me, and that I am even MORE me than I realize.

I remember one such moment when my husband, Raymond, and I were in Philadelphia. We had driven all night to get there. It was summer, hot, humid and thick. We were there for a series of meetings, the details of which escape me now. But the Eucharist Moment is as brilliant as if it had happened only yesterday.

We’d been out in the heat most of the day playing tourist. We didn’t have a lot of time, and we wanted to see the Liberty Bell and all of the other historical sights. By the middle of the afternoon, we were parched and positively wilted. We were too tired to go out for a late lunch so we stopped in at a small local shop and bought a box of Ritz crackers, a small jar of peanut butter and some Lipton teabags. Back in our hotel, Raymond ran down the hall for ice, and I made tea in the complimentary coffee maker, tea which we then poured over the ice into the small hotel room glasses. I don’t remember where we got it, but we had a plastic picnic knife. We ate peanut butter spread thickly on Ritz crackers and wash it all down with freshly brewed iced tea while we discuss the adventures of the day.

I’ve had a lot of great meals in my life in a lot of nice restaurants and in a lot of amazing places, but I’ve never had one better than that one. The shades were drawn and the room was cool and quiet after the noisy heat of the street. The tea had that lovely crisp, bronze bite that only freshly brewed tea has, and the aroma of it filled the whole room. We sat with our bare feet kicked up on the coffee table, passing the plastic knife back and forth, spreading peanut buttery goodness on crunchy, crumbly crackers. We ate until our t-shirts were covered with crumbs. We ate until we were both replete and drowsy and happily, quietly amazed that we were actually in Philadelphia, seeing all the things we’d only ever read about in history books. Afterwards we napped sprawled across the king-sized bed, and when we woke the sun had gone down. It was the simplest of experiences, and yet it still, all these years on, shines in my memory.

The best writing is full of Eucharist Moments. Anyone who has ever read a story or a novel that is too full of the grocery lists which makes up every day life knows how boring that is, and how quickly they lose interest. Good writing, good stories and novels that stay with us long after we’ve finished them, the stories we just can’t put down, are a stringing together of those Eucharist Moments, those moments of clarity, those moments of sloppy poignant full-frontal, in-your-face humanity.

Not surprisingly those moments are as fabulous to read about as they are to write about. Eucharist Moments in a story are the next best thing to being there. They draw us into the plot in the same way they draw us into life. They are the points where the story reaches out to us, touches us and becomes a living, breathing thing. They may last only the length of a few words, and they’re seldom longer than a single page, which is just as well because the intense purity, the clarity with which those moments shine would be too much to bear for 250 pages.

The best writers, at least in my opinion, know how to string those Eucharist Moments together, leading the reader from one to the next, to the next, through to the end. Those moments are the lighthouses along the darkened,

rocky shore that is the plot of a story. They move us forward to discover what secret the writer has hidden at the end of the journey. And if it’s well done, the end of the journey is never the end because it will have been written in such a way to create in the reader her own Eucharist Moment. The power of these moments is that each time we have one, we’re changed. What writer doesn’t want to tell a story that changes her reader? What writer doesn’t want to be changed by the story she writes?

This is just as true of erotica as it is of any genre. Stringing together sex scenes is not creating a story. The story is the path between the Eucharist Moments, and sex scenes can often be the Eucharist Moments. They can be the moments of pure, unabashed joy. They can be the moments of clarity, of revelation, when the writer is able to give us a peek into the soul of a character. Sex lends itself to Eucharist Moments because of the vulnerability it demands, because of the exposure it forces. That’s apart of the reason I enjoy writing erotica. Though sex is not the story, sex affords wonderful opportunities for Eucharist Moments, places where the light shines through and the reader understands, yearns, empathizes, and experiences the character from the inside out. Then the journey of the story truly becomes intimate.

Happy belated Thanksgiving, and I wish you all many Eucharist Moments.

Insights from the Changing Room

K D Grace

Tuesday morning. 8:00. I just finished a vicious kettle bell workout – first day back after a bad cold. I won’t even tell you what I look like as I walk into the shower room, suffice to say it’s not a pretty sight. I don’t see much in my state of exhaustion. I fumble through my locker for my shower things and fresh clothes then stumble to the stall, where I strip off my thoroughly sweaty workout togs adjust the water and lean against the wall, wondering how I’m going to lift my arms to wash my hair.

I linger there because I can, because I work at home and home’s not going anywhere. All around me the changing room is a beehive of activity and my sense of smell is overwhelmed by myriad scents of deodorant, shower gel and various other olfactory efforts to disguise the scent of humans. Most of my fellow gym-goers have stopped in for an early workout before they head into the office.

Once I’m sure I’m not going to pass out or need a stretcher, and I’m clean and lotioned with my own human-cover-up scent, I join the ranks of the frantic in the changing room. I never show my body. I’m fit and stronger than most, but my body shows the wear and tear of being my vessel, of serving me well through the abuse of the youth I thought would be endless as well as letting me experience some truly marvelous adventures and some amazing loving. At some point I’ve come to accept that I’ll never look like I’m twenty again, and even if I did, the way I looked when I was twenty was never the svelt, toned, gym bunny look that I fantasized about, that I suppose if I’m honest, I still fantasize about.

Mind you, the gym I go to is unpretentious and has a great mix of all ages and of people who are fit and people who are brave enough to thrust themselves into an environment where they can become fit. Most, like me, will know the joy of what becoming fit does to all other avenues of life. I’ve not come to that knowledge late in life, I’ve always needed, wanted to be strong and healthy, BUT fitness and health rarely translate to the washboard abed, bulging biceped males we see posed on the covers of erotic novels nor the high, firm breasted, rounded bottomed women who frolic on the pages in between those covers.

Even now, as I watch woman unselfconsciously flitting around the changing room with pert tits and exquisite arses naked or in sexy underwear as they blow-dry their lush long manes and make themselves up to perfection, my stubborn brain is green with envy. This morning there seems to be a larger than normal bevy of pert breasts and tight bottoms and flowing locks as I slink to my locker and dress as quickly as I can so no one will notice that my tits are not that perky and my arse, well, do to a genetic trait in my family, I don’t actually HAVE an arse. I’ve spent my entire life tugging up my trousers and sitting on bone and gristle. But I digress. As I shove into my clothes and run a quick comb through wet hair, not lingering for a good coiffing nor to put on the make-up I seldom wear, I can’t help feel that I should apologise for being neither coiffed nor pert. The nasty voice in the back of my head, says ‘at your age, who cares?’  And I protest that I look pretty damned good for my age … well not bad at least. In truth, no one in the changing room notices anyone else, and no one judges in the frantic effort to get to work on time. My only judge is me, and sadly, I’m a bit harsh at times.

God! I battle those internal voices all the time. You’d think I’d get past them at some point. But I don’t . You’d think that writing characters who are less pert and less wash-boardy would be my way of shaking my fist at heaven, of cursing the fact that at my age, the age I still don’t openly admit publicly, I don’t look twenty-five anymore. But nooooo! I constantly toy in my imagination with characters who may not exactly look like they live in a gym, but on the other hand, seeing them naked would be close enough to chocolate for the eyes to make my mouth water. All good characters need a life beyond looking hot, otherwise they’re boring, and the only thing worse than a character with flabby abs and a flat arse is a character whose biceps or tits are the most interesting thing about them. I confess, I write what I wish were so. I write what I’m convinced readers wish was so. I write who we wish we could be, and who we wish would be so attracted to us that they’d lose sleep obsessing about shagging us senseless. I write characters who look like youth has decided to linger awhile longer with them than it does with most of us. Of course I’m happy to throw in some good genetics for nicely rounded bottoms and a proper amount of pertness. I write nice bodies, AND do my best to make them interesting too. I WANT IT ALL!

I live vicariously through the characters I write. Through them my tits are perfect and my arse is magnificent.

Through them, I am the obsession of the wounded hero who is both intelligent and a fine specimen of manliness. Are all these a sign of my neurotic shallowness? Or are they, perhaps a sign that I’m old enough to recognise what I’ve lost, what I’ve left behind. I’m old enough to understand the price everyone pays for living in a body long enough to experience enough life with all of its joys and sorrows and bashings about to look a little worse for the wear. I’m old enough to know that what I don’t reveal in the changing room at the gym says enough about the wounded character that I am, says enough about my numerous and openly admitted neuroses to remind me again that the sweetest things aren’t pert nor washboarded, nor nicely rounded. The sweetest things are all the experiences in between the best my body was when I was twenty and the best my body is now. Am I making excuses? Perhaps. Would I still like to be pert and properly rounded? Hell yes! Is my reality and the fantasies I create as a writer any less textured and rich because of the lack? The truth it, that it’s probably richer for my flat butt and semi-pert tits. But perhaps I only say that as a way of compensating for my envy of youth and beauty.

On the other hand the place inside me that lives to fantasise, to create, the place inside me that lives for story isn’t subject to the passing of years. And what comes out of that part of me is, more often than not, a way of dealing with my darkness, my self-doubts, my occasional tango with self-loathing, a way of reconstructing them into something that feels better against the raw places, the places that are afraid and uncertain; a way of being less cowardly in the knowing that I, like everyone, must deal with my own mortality as best I can. And sometimes the best way is writing stories with heroes who have nice abs and even nicer pecs and heroines who are round and tight in all the right places. Strange that I never actually see those characters, those fine specimens of physicality, in my mind’s eye, though I know that some writers do, but I feel them from the inside out, that way I know that they’re, in some ways, a testament to my irrational need to be forever young and yet at the same time to cling to the experience that seldom happens in youth, but is always required to make us more than a collection of body parts that are pert today and sagging tomorrow. 

Five Things I Never Expected About Being a Novelist

By K D Grace

The 26th of this month was my very first novel, The Initiation of Ms Holly’s, 4thbirthday. A lot has happened since then. Ten novels, four novellas and multiple short stories later, it’s not so unusual that I would find myself reflecting. In so many ways, Holly is a watershed. Life before Holly was a different animal than life after Holly, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way are often not the ones I would have expected to learn. In fact, there’s a lot I never expected about being a novelist.

Writer’s block is NOT the problem! The real problem, at least for me, has always been not having enough time

to write all the stories in my head. In fact, my best writer’s wet dream is to have a month in which all I have to do is write. Ah yes! I can picture the place in my head. Well, actually, the place is far less important to me than the schedule. I can picture the schedule in my head, though. I get up in the morning. I have coffee, breakfast and write until I need a break. Then I go for a walk or work out followed by a good wallow in a nice bathtub – that’s the days inspiration sorted. Then … Well, then I write some more. And I keep writing. Add food (That I don’t have to prepare) drink, and sleep as needed. There would be no PR or marketing to be done, no laundry, ironing, or shopping of any kind. I would write … just write. Ooooh! I’m all aflutter just thinking about it.

Writing takes up all the space. I don’t mean that writing takes up all the space I allow it, I mean that it takes up ALL of the space. Before Holly, I seem to recall that I had a life, of sorts, that I had fantasies and plans and holidays and free time like everyone else did. After Holly, all of me was consumed by the writing life. I don’t mean just writing the story. Would that that were the case! I mean nurturing the stories that I’ve already sent out into the world, seeing that they get the attention and support that they need, making sure that my brands – K D Grace and Grace Marshall are known as far and as wide as I can possibly shout out the news. That takes time and energy – especially for an introvert.

It isn’t so much that the writing life consumes all of my time as it is that it consumes all of my thoughts. If I’m folding laundry, I’m writing in my head. If I’m walking, I’m writing in my head. If I’m sleeping, I’m writing in my head. Writing has become the oxygen that surrounds everything without displacing anything, while at the same time making me wonder how I survived without it. 

I’m totally ravenous to read! I am SO greedy! I just can’t get enough time with a good book. And here’s the really amazing thing about time spent reading: the more time I spend reading, the more the time I spend writing is quality time. I learned my craft by reading, by analyzing, by trying to understand what other authors did that worked or, in some cases, didn’t work. I suppose that technically I’m never really reading for pure pleasure. I would be really amazed if any novelist ever did. But it doesn’t really matter, because it feels like pleasure to me. And how cool is it that such a pleasure can also make me a better writer.

Being a Writer is Messy. I’ve had this vision in my head about becoming a writer since I was a kid. In my mind’s eye it was always sort of a caterpillar to butterfly  transformation that I imagined happening in my life. In my mind’s eye with the publication of my first novel, I would suddenly be glamorous, poised, outgoing, sexy. In my mind’s eye, the transformation was glitzy and polished to a dazzling sheen.

But being a writer is so much messier than I’d expected. The self-doubts didn’t go away. They just invited a whole new circle of friends. I quickly discovered that thhe only thing truly more frightening than failure was a little success. Writing plays on all my fears and neuroses. Okay, sure, I then turn them around and shove them onto my characters, but I still twitch and squirm while I’m doing it, and I’m still astounded at how totally unpolished and awkward I am! And doubts. OMG! I doubt everything about myself all the time! It wasn’t supposed to be like that – at least not in my fantasies. But the truth is, after four years, I realize I’m not the woman in my fantasies and I never will be, and it’s okay. Well at least most of the time it’s okay. And on the good days, I understand that if I were to become the woman in my fantasies, I would most likely have nothing interesting left to write about.

I’m not fit to do anything else. Every once in a while I read a post or a news article about some writer who has

given it up for good because it’s just not working for them. I sympathise, really I do. God it gets hard sometimes. But on the days I doubt my choices the most, the cold slap in the face that brings me back to myself is that I’m not fit to do anything else but write. I’ve never wantedto do anything else but write. And it’s still the passion that gets me out of bed early in the morning and keeps me up late at night. It’s still the passion that excites me and leaves me breathless and plotting and scheming for just the right words until my brain hurts. I may not be fit for anything else, but this craft, this skill of building a story one word, one sentence, one paragraph at a time, well, it suits me. It really does, even in the Post Holly Era.

Medusa and the Empty Nest

By K D Grace

It’s that time again. The nest is temporarily empty. I’ve just finished my third novel in The Mount Series. To Rome with Lust is now out the door and in the gentle but firm hands my editor. And as always, I feel a bit bereft.

Has there been a celebration? Weeell, not exactly. That is unless you call more writing ‘celebrating.’ It occurred to me as I sent Rome out into the big wide world with a flutter in my heart and a lump in my throat that I really don’t know what to do with myself when I’m not writing. Since the tender farewell, there have been blog posts, there has been planning and scheming and plenty of PR to catch up on. But all of that is close enough to writing to keep me from getting too twitchy.

Sunday, during a long walk on the Downs, I found myself flirting with Medusa again. That woman and I have a real thing going on, and she often rears her serpentine locks when I’m in between stories. But it seems that every time she starts getting up close and personal, I have to put a hold on our relationship. I’ve got another project I have to finish first, but after that, I’m promising her my full attention. Not that I’m complaining about another project. I get to be Grace Marshall this time and since I already know what the plan of action is, I’ve very adroitly managed to stave off serious Empty Nest Syndrome once again. High five! I walked back home with the weather threatening rain, all the while Medusa kept whispered her story seductively in my ear. Oh that woman is persistent! But she’ll have to wait at least a little while.

It’s hard to believe that I once wrote a post about emptying the brain from the busy-ness to make room for the imagination. These days the imagination takes no prisoners and demands way more space in the brainbox than I originally and neatly allotted. Or maybe it’s just that I’m allowing all those wild exciting possibilities to run amuck because I’m too scared NOT to write.

I should probably take some time to bask in the afterglow, maybe go out for dinner and a movie with hubby, but try to tell that to Medusa. I won’t lie, there are times when I wonder if I’m all right. There are times when I wonder if maybe it’s just not normal to spend so many happy afternoons and evenings … and mornings with people who only exist in my imagination. Is there something wrong with me that I’m always longing to write more words, longing to spend more quality time with my imaginary friends? And anyway, even if I do go out, Medusa and sex in the park with a hot genius nerd and more adventures on the Fells in the Lake District with ghosts and witches — they all come along for the ride, crowding around the dinner table and shouting in my ear during the film.

All of this makes me wonder what would actually happen to me if I took a break from writing — I mean really took a break. It gives me a headache to think about it. Okay, there is reading, and I really love quality time with a good book. But I can’t possibly read and not think about how the book was written, and what inspired the author. And then there are all the ideas with which that book inspires me. You get the picture.

I can’t really count walking as something to do when I’m not writing, because there are always the ghosts in the hedgerows and the couple going at it in the back of the stables and then there’s Medusa, of course. As for gardening, well, gardening by its very nature begs rude stories. And there’s something about compost and growing things that just can’t keep from inspiring creativity.

Come to think of it, it really doesn’t matter what I do. In my head, I’m still writing, always writing. When I bang on the piano … well, there’s this romance I’ve partly written down that involves a pianist and an astronomer. No, seriously! Even when I’m ironing or doing the washing up stories are pouring into my head. Sometimes even when I’m asleep and dreaming.

Don’t get me wrong, my life is rich and full of new and wonderful experiences and, generally speaking, I’m a happy camper. But I view my life – all of my life, every experience, every emotion, every challenge, through the jaundiced eyes of a writer. Every breath, every nuance is filtered through the writer’s lens, and every experience is mined for its possibilities in story.

Now that I think of it, maybe writing IS my celebration for finishing To Rome with Lust. It always has been. That works for me, and Medusa’s happy with it, even if I do have to put her on hold. And my long-suffering husband learned ages ago that I’m scary when I don’t write. Writing keeps me happy and keeps me from being an evil bitch. It’s a win for both of us. So maybe I’ll just skip the break from writing and go straight for the sexy nerd genius. Yup! That’s a plan. Whew! I feel better already.

Olfactory Voyeurism

By K D grace

My husband’s making toast. The smell
catapults me back to childhood days when my mother made me tea and toast for
breakfast before sending me off to school, and I can’t keep from salivating.
Toast is one of those scents that makes me want some even when I’m not hungry –
like popcorn and bread baking. Yesterday evening when I went out to water the
garden, I could smell the neighbors’ dinner cooking. I could pick up the scent
of something frying in fresh oil, probably chips. The ocean under-smell of fish,
told me that it was most likely fish and chips from the chippie picked up on
the way home for a quick dinner after a hard day’s work.

I’ve been very aware of scents these past
few weeks. My WIP is the story of a woman with a very gifted sense of smell.
I’ve always been intrigued by scents and the emotions and the memories they
elicit and by the little sneak peeks they offer us into the lives of those
around us. That’s why I decided to see what would happen if the story I chose
to tell was the story of sex and love and passion and all the emotions that are
a part of the package experienced chiefly through the sense of smell.  What does curiosity smell like? What does
anger smell like? How about fear?

Of course all of those things would be different
for everyone who smelled them. Fish and chips are easy, but a perfume that
smells gorgeous on someone else might smell like bug spray on me. The smell of
an unwashed human might smell like wet garbage to one person while that same
unwashed human may smell like sex on wheels to someone else. How does the scent
of two aroused individuals change when those two have sex? And does arousal
smell different from foreplay, intercourse, orgasm and the snuggle and snooze
that follows?

Since I was a child, I’ve never liked to
share a sleeping space with anyone. I still don’t want anyone but my husband in
my sleeping space and I’ve never wanted to invade anyone else’s – even when no
one is sleeping there. I find the smell of sleep both off-putting and arousing,
and most definitely intriguing. The scent of sleep is the scent of people with
their defenses down, the scent of people vulnerable, the scent of people
entering their unconscious, their dream space. That’s way too intimate to share
with strangers.

I’ve never made any bones about being a
voyeur at heart, and I’m happy to sneak a peek whenever I can. But writing from
an olfactory point of view is no less a voyeuristic experience, and in so many
ways much more evocative. Scent is much more intimate than sight. What I can
see with my eyes, I don’t have to actually take into myself. There’s a certain
distance, a certain sterility about a room with a view that just isn’t there
when the sense of smell is engaged.

Olfactory voyeurism is as intimate as the
breath we breathe. It’s literally in our face – inside our face, and beyond
that it even enters our lungs with the in and out of oxygen that keeps us alive.
There’s nothing sterile or sanitary about it. It can be a fresh-baked bread and
honey seduction or it can be a stale piss and garbage assault, but it can never
be something that happens through a telescope or behind glass.

I read once we humans actually have an
excellent sense of smell that we’ve simply forgotten how to

use. We’re mammals.
Mammals experience the world through their sense of smell. Granted we humans
have had lots of the lovely smells that would intrigue other mammals bathed,
sanitized and deodorized away from us. I think we do that because the assault
of scent is just so damned personal and intimate. No one wants to ‘smell.’
Maybe that’s because the way we smell unwashed, just up from the bed, just
after a sweaty fuck, says too much about who we are in a world where secrets
are much harder to keep and masks are much more important.

I’m certainly not advocating a moratorium
on bathing or perfume, but I can’t keep from wondering what else we might experience
if we made the effort to exercise our sense of smell a little more and build up
our olfactory muscles. Could we smell fear, curiosity, arousal, anger, contentment?
How much more information about the world around us could we pick up if we were
a little more attuned to our sense of smell? But then again, how would we cope
with the extra level of intimacy actually ‘smelling’ each other would give us
and with the level of vulnerability that would bring?

Saying it Out Loud

By K D Grace

I had a professor in Uni who taught English
Lit, and much to my chagrin, he focused on poetry. Much to my surprise, I ended
up loving the class, but then forgetting just what poetry does for the soul
after the course was finished.  I’ll
admit to penning a bit of doggerel and quite a bit of angsty verse in my teen
years, but for the most part, I consider myself a poetery Philistine. Sorry Ashley Lister J

Fortunately for me, I do write filth fairly
well, so no poetry required. Then I got invited to my first

poetry slam in
London. I went because I had been invited by my good friend and fabulous poet, Mel Jones. I stayed until the
last poem was performed because I was totally and completely enthralled. Since
then I’ve attended several poetry slams including Ernesto
Velvet Tongue
Erotic Literary Soiree
, and I’m always, every single time, riveted.

While I’m not convinced that I should write
or perform poetry – I shiver at the thought, what I am convinced of is the
power that comes from reading a story out loud. Poetry, at least to me, is
story distilled to its absolute essence. It’s the vodka of the literary world
to fiction’s beer.

I’ve always read everything I write out
loud during the final edit because giving voice to what’s written on the page makes
it real, gives it power, and makes me aware of the weak links that don’t flow
with the cadence of spoken language. I’m often asked if it matters if what I
write can be easily read out loud, but I think it’s essential in story. The
original storytellers, the ones who kept the oral histories of their people,
the ones who were entrusted with the magic, the lineage, the mythology and the
essence spoke their stories out loud, maybe around a campfire, maybe in the
temple, maybe in a cave where artists painted their stories on the walls. Speaking
the story out loud gives it dimension, gives it breath and shape and power.

I’ve been thinking about the power of the
spoken word ever since the reading slam in Scarborough at Smut by the Sea. Yes, I read, but
more importantly, I sat and listened to fifteen other people read. We were only
allowed five minutes, so each reader had to distilled down their reading to the
essence of what they wanted the listener to take away.

I love reading slams for that very reason.
I love being able to take the message in aurally and visually, as I watch the
reader/writer interacting with their work. Here is what I discovered; in those
five minute segments, the sex and the heat of the sex the reader shared with
the audience had way less to do with how much I remembered of their reading,
how much I sat on the edge of my seat holding my breath during their reading,
than the story woven around that sex.

I remember Jacqueline Brocker’s chocolate eclairs
because I could close my eyes and taste the richness of them, the guilty
pleasure of them, the phallic shape of them, the luscious crème filling. I
remember JanineAshbless’ vampires because I could almost feel the sting of the thorns of
those red roses biting into cleavage, drawing little beads of blood.  Breathe, K D! Breathe!

The cadence of words spoken in English is
hypnotic – ambic pentameter that feels almost like a heartbeat. (trying not to
show my poetic ignorance again. Please forgive) The listener can feel it down
deep in the belly. We live and breathe and move and share our stories in that

That the rhythm is hypnotic means it can
just as easily relax us into a meditative state, put us to sleep, send our mind
off wondering as it can excite and invigorate us. It’s when story is woven in
with that hypnotic rhythm that our whole body sits up and takes notice. We
experience a good story with far more than just our eyes on the page. A good
story is visceral, and the more senses it touches, the more powerfully we
experience it and remember it and long for more of it.

‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but
words can never hurt me.’ SOO NOT TRUE! Words have power! Lots and lots of
power. And words spoken out loud have even more power. I think it’s really easy
for writers to forget that, and a reading slam or a poetry slam can bring that
fact home in a very real way. The rhythm of the spoken word can easily enough
put us to sleep. That’s true. But the

rhythm of the story boiled down to its
essence, read out loud can inspire, excite, stimulate and change us. I remember
the story read out loud, and I want more of it. That sex is a part of that
story makes the sex more visceral and more arousing.

Reading out loud has always been a test for
me. If I read my sex scenes out loud and the story doesn’t demand them, require
them, use them, need them, then they don’t belong. Reading out loud exposes the
true essence of the story in a way that nothing else can do, and hearing other
people read their stories out loud is a very intimate experience for the
reader/author and the listener. The sharing of stories out loud links us back
to roots older than written language, back to the roots of story itself, forged
in the experiences and the myths of our ancestors. We writers share those roots
in a powerful way, and it’s good to be reminded of our role as the Keepers of
Story by clearing our throats, opening our mouths and giving our story voice.

Reading for Pleasure

By K D Grace

It’s so easy for a novelist to get caught
up in the work and the PR and the marketing that goes along with the writing.
Sometimes it feels like weeks can pass before I raise my head and take a look
around. It never all gets done and I wouldn’t want it to. There are books on my
internal ‘to-be-written’ calendar that may not get written until 2050. There’s
so much more than I ever have time to put on the page, and then there’s
promoting and pimping what’s already out there. Days come and go. Seasons
change, and sometimes I hardly notice.

But every once in a while, I look up from
the laptop, raise my arms above my head and give a good stretch and there it
is, an epiphany. I had such an epiphany just before Christmas. It shouldn’t
have been a surprise because it’s something I’ve always known, something that
I’d just pushed aside because there was no time, something that was too
important NOT to make time for.

We were FINALLY taking a little bit of
holiday – going to Rome, which is one of my favourite places on the planet. I
was in between books, having just turned in my latest manuscript, and was as
caught up on PR as I was ever likely to be, so I did something bold and
decadent. I downloaded J R Ward’s Dark
, and read a novel strictly and totally for my own indulgent pleasure.
I wasn’t looking for deeper meaning. I wasn’t aiming to see what’s going on in
my genre. I wasn’t trying to learn a new skill or do research. I absolutely, 100%
was looking to be entertained.

Frankly, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to
focus, since I was still on the come-down from the manuscript I’d just sent
off. Wow! Was I wrong! Starving woman … banquet … You get the picture. When I
wasn’t wandering around Rome and the environs, drinking in the scenery, the
history and the ambiance, I was reading. I read Late into the night; I read
early in the morning, I read over breakfast and in the underground. Whenever I
wasn’t playing tourist, I was reading –three novels. I was in heaven!  I’m not a fast reader, and okay these weren’t
tomes by any means, but for me, it was epic! And it was a powerful reminder of
why I read for pleasure, and how much I’d lost by not reading for pleasure.

Time! That’s always my biggest complaint. The
bane of my existence is that THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH!!! Who the hell has time to
read for pleasure? That was the question I’d been asking myself for the past
few years as I worked at becoming a published novelist, as I worked at pimping
what I’d written. It’s a complaint I hear often from other writers. It’s a
complaint I hear from lots of people, actually.

Amazingly, what I discovered in that
exquisite week in Rome is that I can’t afford not to take time to

read for my
own pleasure. I seldom actually get an escape from what I do. What I do is never
done, and I love that about being a writer. BUT that means I have to force the
issue when it comes to feeding my creative self, when it comes to just resting.
There’s very seldom a moment when I’m not thinking in one way or another about
my work. Writing dominates my life in ways that are, no doubt, beyond neurotic.
Reading for pleasure is the great escape – even if it’s just a little while
before I go to sleep, or while I’m on the bus or while I’m eating my lunch.
It’s that little bit of time when I’m outside the worlds I’m creating and in
someone else’s story – strictly for the fun of it.

The Escape is always followed by the
return. I go back to my own work more relaxed and more focused because the
break I’ve had is a total break. The return is followed by the analysis. That
takes place in the shower or while I’m cooking dinner or doing laundry.  The analysis is not hard work; it’s just
reflecting on what makes the novel I’m reading work for me, or not. Were the
characters endearing? Were they irritating? Did the plot move me? Can I predict
what will happen next? Beyond the kind of analysis all writers do when they
read something someone else has written is the idea that I’ve derived pleasure from
what I’ve read. I’ve engaged in someone else’s story and immersed myself in it.
That’s always a prompt for me, a little push to make me consider my own stories
and my use of craft to immerse readers in the tale I have to tell. Immersion in
my own story is, for me, a given. It’s what I’m most obsessed with. It’s what I
have to do to make the story work, to make it a total immersion experience for
my readers as well.

Yes, there’s a lot going on at a lot of
levels, and reading could very easily become an exercise in improving my own
work. No doubt it’s always that on some level, but the truth of it, plain and
simple, is that reading gives me immense pleasure, and I’m very glad that it’s
once again an integral part of my writing life

Hot Chilli Erotica

Hot Chilli Erotica


Babysitting the Baumgartners - The Movie
From Adam & Eve - Based on the Book by New York Times Bestselling Authors Selena Kitt



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