k d grace

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.

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

Could it be Magic?

By K D Grace

For those of you
who don’t know, I’ve been writing a new paranormal erotic series on my blog
called Demon
. It’s one of the many stories I wanted to explore when I
finished writing the Lakeland Heatwave
. I decided to try my hand with a serial and put the story out as a
freebie serial coming out every three weeks. Of course being back in the
magical Lake District, back with the Elemental Coven, got me thinking about sex
magic. Again. Still!

I’m always
struggling to get my head around why sex is magic, why human sexuality defies
the nature programme /Animal Planet biological tagging that seems to work for
other species that populate the planet. I don’t think I could write sex without
magic, and even if I could I wouldn’t want to. I’m not talking about airy-fairy
or woo-woo so much as the mystery that is sex. On a biological level we get it.
We’ve gotten it for a long time. We know all about baby-making and the sharing
of the genes and the next generation. It’s text book.

But it’s the ravenousness of the human animal
that shocks us, surprises us, turns us on in ways that we didn’t see coming.
It’s the nearly out of body experience we have when we are the deepest into our
body we can possibly be. It’s the skin on skin intimacy with another human
being in a world where more personal space is always in demand.

When we come together with another human
being, for a brief moment, our worlds entwine in ways that defy description. We
do it for the intimacy of it, the pleasure of it, the naughtiness of it, the
dark animal possessiveness of it. Sex is the barely acceptable disturbance in
the regimented scrubbed-up proper world of a species that has evolved to have
sex for reasons other than procreation. Is that magical? It certainly seems
impractical. And yet we can’t get enough.

We touch each other because it feels good.
We slip inside each other because it’s an intimate act that scratches an itch
nothing else in the whole universe can scratch. During sex, we are ensconced in
the mindless present, by the driving force of our individual needs, needs that
we could easily satisfy alone, but it wouldn’t be the same. Add love to the
mix, add a little bit of romance, add a little bit of chemistry and the magic
soup thickens and heats up and gets complicated. I don’t think it’s any
surprise at all that sex is a prime ingredient in story. But at the same time,
I don’t think it’s any surprise that it is also an ingredient much avoided in
some story.

Sex is a power centre of the human
experience. It’s not stable. It’s not safe. It’s volatile. It exposes people,
makes them vulnerable, reduces them to their lowest common denominator even as
it raises them to the level of the divine. Is it any wonder the gods covet
flesh? The powerful fragility of human flesh is the ability to interact with
the world around us, the ability to interact with each other, the ability to
penetrate and be penetrated.

So as I mull through it, trying for the
zillionth time to get my head around it, I conclude – at least for the moment –
that the true magic of sex is that it takes place in the flesh, and it elevates
the flesh to something even the gods lust after. It’s a total in-the-body,
in-the-moment experience, a celebration of the carnal, the ultimate penetrative
act of intimacy of the human animal. I don’t know if that gives you goose bumps,
but it certainly does me.


Reading Like a Writer

by K D Grace

There are few things I enjoy as much as a
good read. I don’t read like I used to. I now read like a writer. I realized
this after reading a short story that completely enthralled me for the course
of several thousand words. When I came back to the real world, I found myself
not only analyzing what made the story so amazing, but analyzing how I as a
writer read it differently than I would if I didn’t write.

I always think back over the story after
the fact and try to figure out what made it work for me or not. That process
within itself can’t keep from changing the story making it a story of multiple
plots and constructs the writer never intended, but my mind can’t keep from
creating. If in my analysis there are lots of changes I would make, things I
would have done differently as the author, at some point it becomes my story, the one I’m writing in my head,
and no longer the story the author intended.

For me, the big clue to how I esteem the
story is the point at which I begin to analyze. If I’m analyzing the story as I
read it, then it’s clearly not going to get five stars on the K D story
critique scale. The sooner I begin my analysis while I’m reading, the fewer stars
the story rates from me, until at some point it becomes an exercise in editing
and recreating it as my own story rather than reading for pleasure. When that
happens, the whole process becomes a different experience than the one the
writer intended.

If, however, I get totally lost in the
story, then my whole internal landscape changes. The writer in me is temporarily
replaced by the ravenous reader who simply loves a good story. When I am pulled
in, rough and tumble, to the world the author created, the story becomes multi-dimensional
and experienced twice, sometimes thrice over, sometimes even more. When I’m in
the queue at the supermarket, or in bed waiting to fall asleep, when I’m
waiting for the bus, I can have the secret pleasure of reliving that story over
and over.

Being pulled in is the first part of
experiencing a great story. The second part, the analysis part, happens after
the fact. When the story moves me, excites me, changes me, then my analysis of
it is a different process. Because I don’t feel I can improve on it, analysis
then becomes taking the story into myself from a write’s point of view. In
other words, what is it that makes this story so fantastic, and how can I
incorporate some of that fantastic-ness into my own writing?

A perfect story, a story that pulls me in
and devours me whole is a lingering experience. I’m a firm believer that a good
story should somehow change the reader. But a good story should change a writer
even more so. A good story should be like discovering a view from a mountaintop
that we didn’t know was there before, a view that changes everything, the
waterfall we didn’t see, the storm we never expected, the castle that dominates
the landscape. A really great story has the potential to make me a better
writer, a better weaver of story, a better seer of nuance, a better wielder of
my craft.

But a good story should change more than
just my views of my writing world. It should touch and stimulate in ways I
would not have expected. It should open up the landscapes in my unconscious and
my imagination. In some ways, a good story acts as a Muse, and that is the
pinnacle of what a writer can glean from a story. I won’t say that doesn’t
happen with badly written stories as well, after all the Muse chooses her own
time and place. But with a good story, somehow the appearance of the Muse seems
more numinous, more dressed for the occasion.

For me, the most powerful element of any
story is the key relationship and how it expresses itself. That expression is
often sexual, and a well-written sex scene carries with it the weight of human
emotion. It carries with it the drive to reach that magical point where two
become one, where we are as close to being in the skin of ‘the other’ as it is
possible to be. The power of sex and relationship in story can hardly be
overstated. Even in mediocre stories, the power of love and relationship can
still pull me outside of the editor-me and into the roil of the archetypal
story of human need. To me, that means we erotica writers wield one of the most
powerful tools in the writing craft; sex in story. Use it poorly and it just
sounds stupid and crass. But use it well and it’ll be the moment in the story
that the reader remembers while in the queue at the grocery store, while
drifting off to sleep, while waiting for the bus. And it’ll be remembered with
that ache of commonality of all humanity, the driving force within us all.
Keeping that in mind, I don’t think it’s any wonder that so many writers fear
writing sex. 

Heroes and Villains

by K D Grace

Confession time! I’ve been totally
gorging on J. R. Ward’s dark and sexy Black Dagger Brotherhood novels.
Honestly, I’m totally addicted! These seriously delish novels along with the
fact that I’m working on the final rewrite of an epic fantasy novel got me
thinking about heroes and villains. First of all, I want to be almost as afraid
of the hero and I am of the villain. Secondly I want to be almost as attracted
to the villain as I am the hero. Oh the angst! I honestly can’t think that
anyone could really fall for a vampire or a werewolf or a ghost or a powerful
witch, or any other paranormal or fantasy hottie and not be terrified at the
same time. For that matter, even in just a really good erotic romance, the hero
is so much hotter if he’s dark and dangerous.

A part of what makes good story that has
even an inkling of romance in it, work for me is knowing that the hero could
easily turn and destroy the very thing he loves and longs to possess. More
often than not, the best heroes are really antiheroes, striving, or being
forced by circumstances, to be greater than their nature, and the more
difficult the struggle, the more endearing I find them to be.

In fact, there
are times when the only separation between the hero and the villain is how
willing he is to do battle with his own flaws. The fact that the lover is not
safe raises the level of the tension and the excitement. And yet that danger
makes the sex all the hotter and the angst all the angstier.

I remember
seeing Frank Langella’s Dracula back in the day and thinking, as I watched the
horribly delicious scene in which he takes Lucy, even with the terrible truth
of what the end result of his sexy attentiveness to her would be, who could
possibly refuse even if they had not been under his thrall? He was a gentleman,
he was charming and mysterious, he was hypnotic, he was gorgeous, he was
terrifying. And I wanted him!

NBC’s new
steam-punkish re-think of Dracula
with Jonathan Rhys Meyers blurs the lines between the hero and the villain still
further in the battle with flaws. I want him too! In fact I want him much more
than I do Jonathan Harker, but then Jonathan Harker has always taken a sad
backseat to Dracula in his full glory.

Dangerous heroes and seductive villains
aren’t just for paranormalsies though. Writing as Grace Marshall, I found that
the villain in The
, the third of the Executive Decisions novels was an
evil nasty piece of work, and yet oh so fuckable, even though, like Dracula,
the chances of surviving such a shagging intact weren’t good. And yet …

It’s not so much that evil is sexy as it
is that nothing is really all that black and white. It’s the contradictions
that make for a good, chaotic story, and it’s the shades of grey (Oh please
tell me I didn’t just say that!) where the story takes place. If I want to shag
the villain and run from the hero, then how can I trust my own heart, and how
can I possibly keep from turning the pages? Those flaws are oh so sexy and oh
so scary and those endearing character traits in a truly delicious villain make
us squirm, makes us uncomfortable in our fantasies, and from a fictional point
of view, what the perfect place to be.

But what happens when I write the baddies? Why do I love
being in their presence so much? And even more to the point, what does it say
about me that I find them so easy to write? Am I all of those people, the
heroes, the victims, the incidentals and the baddies all rolled into one
neurotic, twitchy woman? Do I have all of those traits somewhere hidden inside
me — the fantasies about being the evil tyrant as well as the fantasies about shagging
him? I doubt there’s any way to peek into the strange depths of my own
psychology that’s quite as revealing as writing a baddie. I shiver at the

On some level we writers live on the page in all the
characters we create, whether they’re hot and gorgeous and deliciously flawed
in sexy ways or whether they’re evil and twisted and scary as hell. The darker
parts of me are kept in check and held in balance by all of the other parts of
me, all of the other parts that participate in the tenuous semi-democracy of my
inner workings so that the evil demon in me and the potential sociopathic
tyrant in me and the petty back biter in me are all channeled in full bloom onto
the written page. Instant therapy? Am I scaring you yet? I promise, I’m
harmless –ish.

The Beautiful Experiment

By K D Grace

I was bored. My flight had been delayed.
I’d already been traveling forever, and I’d reached that point at which I was
too tired to read, too tired to concentrate on writing, too tired to sit still
without being twitchy. I didn’t want to drink, I didn’t want to eat. I just
wanted to be done travelling. That’s when I began The Beautiful Experiment. I
was seated off one of the main concourses, which was a constant hive of
activity, of people coming and going, popping in and out of shops and scurrying
to make tight connections. It was the ideal place to people watch. But with a
twist. I decided to watch the masses to see just how many truly beautiful people
I could spot.

Okay, I know everyone has a slightly
different ideal when it comes to beauty, but we all know it when we see it. We
all know that look that turns heads, that look that makes us want to stare, to
take in all that loveliness just a little longer. I didn’t care if the real
lookers were men or women. I mean if we’re honest, we look at both, whether we
admire it, want it or envy it. So I sat and I watched. … and I watched … and I
watched. Since that time I’ve carried out my little experiment in pubs, in
museums, on the tube, in busy parks, and the results are always the same. There
just aren’t that many real stunners out there!

I was struck by that fact in the airport
that day, so I decided to add another dimension to my experiment. I decided to
look for people who were interesting. It didn’t necessarily have to be their
looks that were interesting, it could just as easily be their behaviour, their
dress, something, anything that made them worth a surreptitious stare. And wow!
Being delayed in an airport suddenly became a fascinating grist mill for story
ideas and intriguing speculation.

I’ve carried out this experiment lots of
time now, and the results are always the same. There are very few stunners out
there, and even when I spot one, even when I find myself sneaking glances at a
beautiful person, my eyes, and my attention, can always be drawn away by the
interesting people.

In erotica and, in particular erotic
romance, the characters are usually voluptuous, sculpted beauties and broad shouldered,
wash-boarded hunks. It’s fantasy after all. But how long can a story focus the
reader’s attention on washboard abs or perfect tits? Descriptions give us a handle.
Descriptions are like the label on a file. They might attract us to the file,
but if the file is empty, it won’t hold our attention. It’s what makes the
described beautiful person interesting that makes the story.

In our genre, sex is a large part of
what makes our beautiful people intriguing; how they think about sex, their
kinks, their quirks, their neuroses, their baggage – all of those things make
the fact that our beautiful people are interesting way more important than the
fact that they’re beautiful.  Add to that
some seriously delicious consequences for that sex, some chaos and mayhem, a
few character flaws that catch us off our guard, that draw us in and voila! A
gripping story is born!

Perfection in a story, in characters, is
the equivalent of a literary air brushing. No flaws = no story; no rough spots
= nothing to hold our attention. Our characters’ beauty is only their handle.
Their flaws and their intriguing quirks are what catapult us into the plot,
what make us want to stay on for more than just a look-see and to dig a little
deeper, to really know those characters and become emotionally involved with

Last night on the tube in London, I
tried my little experiment again, just to make sure. More data is always a good
idea, and good science has to be repeatable, doesn’t it? Taking into account my
own preferences and prejudices, the results were the same. I can remember a
half a dozen really interesting people, people I could very easily write a
story about. There wasn’t a single stunner among them, which leads me to the
conclusion that we’re more interesting in our flaws than in our perfections.
We’re more interesting in our experiences and the way they manifest than in the
static beauty of the moment. It also excites me to think that I’m surrounded by
interesting people all the time. A story is never farther away than the next
intriguing person. Is this an ordinary-looking person’s version of sour grapes?
I don’t think so; I hope not. Truth is there’s an astonishing transformation
that takes place in the company of truly interesting people. Before long, right
before my eyes, those truly intriguing people become the beautiful people.
There’s always a story in that.

Things that Go Bump in the Night (Why Paranormal is Sexy)

By K D Grace

Once, in a blog interview about my paranormal Lakeland Heatwave
trilogy, I was asked if I believed that sex magic is real. My answer was
something along the lines that I believe sex is the only kind of magic, and certainly the only kind of magic we all
have access to. But the question itself got me thinking about why the
paranormal and the erotic work so well together.

Writing always exposes us, though that exposure is
sometimes more obvious than others. As I thought about the question, I realized
that the choices I’d made when I wrote the Lakeland trilogy were very much my psyche’s
way of doing the full Monte. I’ve written lots of blog posts about the magic of
sex, about what happens when we cross that final barrier and get inside the
skin of another person, about what happens when we make ourselves vulnerable.
Though it certainly wasn’t a conscious part of my decision, choosing to make
the witches of the Elemental Coven practitioners of sex magic speaks very
powerfully of my writing credo and of my own psyche and what I believe is


I started writing erotica mostly to see
if I could, and because I had always enjoyed writing sex scenes. But it was the
magic of sex that kept me writing. It was what the act of sex revealed about my
characters and how it exposed them, all of them, in one way or another to the
magic of sex that kept me writing. Somehow sex brought them closer to their
humanity while at the same time increasing the chance they would experience
their own divinity, and that of their beloved. And, with any luck, my readers
would experience the same, vicariously. There’s something exciting in knowing
that the very act of sex between two people can completely change the course of
a novel. All of these elements of sex kept me writing erotica. And all of these
elements are the reason I believe sex is magic.

There are few
parts of our human nature we struggle more fiercely to control than sexuality.
How miserably we fail in that struggle is a testament to the biological drive
and even more importantly the archetypal power of sex. And that’s a whole other
area, the place within the sex act that borders on the mystical, the magical.
That’s why paranormal tales partner so beautifully with the erotic. Once that
boundary between the magical and the sexual is breached anything can happen.

Ultimately, sex
makes people uncomfortable, and anything that makes people uncomfortable is a
fabulous tool for fiction. On some level sex is all about biological urges,
experiences of a much more visceral nature than the sanitized, well defined,
well ordered way we like our world to be. But the power of sex reaches way
beyond the procreative. I know of no other act that can connect us to our
animal nature while at the same time lifting us outside ourselves to the realm
of the gods. I also know of no other act in which we become physically one with
another human being, in which we literally get inside the skin of another human
being, in which there is the possibility of literally creating new life. The
human sex act is about as close to magic as we can get, and we’re not all that
comfortable with anything we can’t explain away and dress up for polite

Sex is that one
little sliver of our life in which real magic happens. It’s the place where our
boundaries are most permeable. So it’s not surprising that we like to team up
the erotic with things that go bump in the night, things we can safely
experience on the written page, where those things are free to scare us and
titillate us and take away our human control thus allowing demons and vampires,
ghosts and witches, werewolves and succubae to dance the tango with our libidos
while we all perform our own personal versions of sex magic.

Whether you
celebrate Halloween, Samhain, Day of the Dead, All Saints, or whether you just
like to enjoy the season, I wish you much sexy magic! 

Lip Service

by K D Grace

Auguste Rodin's The Kiss

Auguste Rodin’s The Kiss

On the 22nd of September, Grace Marshall and I helped Victoria Blisse celebrate the 100th Sunday of her weekly Sunday Snog posts by posting sexy kissing scenes from a couple of our novels. The proceeds went to help Médecins Sans Frontières, and a lot of filthy writers had a lot of fun sharing sizzling kisses on their sites. That got me seriously thinking about kissing and what an important part of our sexuality and our culture it is.

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

  • The science of kissing is called philematology.
  • Lips are 100 times more sensitive than the tips of the fingers. They’re even more sensitive that the genitals!
  • The most important muscle in kissing is the orbicularis oris, whichallows the lips to “pucker.”
  • French kissing involves 34 muscles in the face, while a pucker kiss involves just two.
  • A nice romantic kiss burns 2-3 calories, while a hot sizzler can burn off five or even more.
  • The mucus membranes inside the mouth are permeable to hormones. Through open-mouth kissing, men introduced testosterone into a woman’s mouth, the absorption of which increases arousal and the likelihood of rumpy pumpy.
  • Apparently men like it wet and sloppy while women like it long and lingering.
  • While we Western folk do lip service, some cultures do nose service, smelling for that romantic, sexual connection. Very mammalian, if you ask me, and who doesn’t love a good dose of pheromonal yumminess?
  • Then there’s good old fashion bonding. It’s no secret that kissing someone you like increases closeness.
Jean-Léon Gérôme’s 1890 painting of Pygmalion and Galatea

Jean-Léon Gérôme’s 1890 painting
of Pygmalion and Galatea

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

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

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

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

The fact that the mouth offers all those wonderful, life-giving, life enhancing things, AND can kiss, makes it one of my very favourite parts of the body.

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

Romeo and Juliet Act 1 Scene 5
William Shakespeare

Are You a Plotter or a Pantser?

By Lucy Felthouse

Are you a plotter or a pantser? First, I’d better explain what that means for people that may not know. Basically, it’s whether you plot something when you’re writing, or just fly by the seat of your pants/make it up as you go along. I’m interested in the answers various writers have to give on this topic, which is why I thought I’d write about it.

So, personally, I’m both. I used to be a total and utter pantser, but the longer I’ve been writing, and the longer works I’ve been writing, the more I’ve plotted. I plotted my first novella, then made my second one up as I went along. I plotted my first novel, then the one I co-authored with Lily Harlem we made up as we went along. For the most part, it depends on the project. I plotted my first novella and novel because it was a big jump for me to go from short stories to longer stuff, so I needed to make sure I had enough material for the length of the story, and I also wanted to ensure things didn’t get boring in the middle, and that the thing had a beginning, a middle and an end. Now I just use a mixture of both, depending on what feels right.

And here’s what some other writers had to say…

K D Grace

I’m a plotanster. I never start a novel without a working blurb and a chapter by chapter synopsis. It usually takes me several days to come up with a blurb and chapter by chapter that I feel I can work from. That few days usually involve a lot of walking in the countryside and talking out loud to myself and alarmed glances from the people I meet en route. The blurb is only a short paragraph and the chapter by chapter is only a few sentences for each chapter. I’ve worked out roughly how many chapters, averaging 2500 words, I need for an 80K or a 100K novel and write the synopsis accordingly. It’s very loosely planned and very much subject to change.

That’s the plotter bit of my process. Once the actual writing begins, I’m happy to take detours and side trips all over the place, and I often end up on a very scenic route to the end of the novel. I leave lots of room for the muse to kick me in the arse and point me in a different direction. I think the blurb and the synopsis serve as a writer’s security blanket for me. Once I have those two things in hand, no matter how far I stray from the original plan, I KNOW there’s a novel in process, and I KNOW I’ll get to the end of it, even if the route’s not the one I started off on.

Kay Jaybee

I must hold my hands up to being a pantser.

I try to be a planner- I really do- I even go as far as to make nice neat chapter plans for all my novels each time I start one. Then, inevitably, the plot slowly begins to go out of the window as my characters take on lives of their own. I swear they look me square in the face and say, “Come off it Kay, we’d never do that. Let’s do this, it’s much more fun!” And off they go, dictating their own literary destiny, and recklessly flying by the seat of my pants!

I’d get cross with my imaginary protagonists, but so far this ‘not quite managing to hold onto the plot’ policy seems to be working for me.

So, what about you, folks? What works best for you?


Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and
erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over seventy
publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include Best
Bondage Erotica 2012, 2013 and 2014 and Best Women’s Erotica 2013. Another
string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of
anthologies. She owns Erotica For All,
and is book editor for Cliterati. Find
out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk.
Join her on Facebook
and Twitter, and subscribe to her
newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9

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