Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking at my Progress

(Just as a note, there's still a bit more time to qualify for the absolute TON of smutty prizes for the Advent Calendar. Winner announced tomorrow.)

Last year, I thought it couldn't get any better... that 2011 was the best year of my life.

It's really nice to be proven wrong sometimes.

Now, admittedly, I went about everything upside down and backwards, barely accomplished a thing that I'd set out to do for myself in 2012... and yet, still... fan-freaking-tastic!

I wrote Blister Effect and saw it published. From my to-do list from the beginning of the year, that's all I said I was going to do that got done.

However, I also:

  • wrote and published 8 short stories (two of which are in the 10,000 word range...)
  • submitted 5 more stories that were either rejected or I haven't heard back yet... 
  • Got asked to write something specific for a few different editors
  • edited about 8 chapters in my novel
  • planned out and wrote the outline for a romance novel
  • planned out and wrote an outline for a young adult novel
  • saw my work featured in both Publisher's Weekly and Hustler Magazine
  • wrote at least 85,000 words that I can conveniently count (somewhere along the way, I stopped tracking my word counts quite as religiously)
  • wrote 53 blog entries
  • wrote guest blog entries for a few well-known erotica writers
  • worked out a rough idea for a project with fellow-writer and best friend, Elizabeth Brooks
  • wrote a chapter in a collaborative novel project (more on that tomorrow, since it's finally "revealed" tonight)

So, while I accomplished almost nothing that I'd intended, I did a lot of good work on other stuff, and I am quite pleased.

2012 has been a good year.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Year in Reviews.

Well, that's probably not the case, but I did find two reviews yesterday for Duty and Desire that made me happy...

The first one is by Christi Snow, who did a quick "grade rating" on each of the stories contained within. I particularly found myself interested in the review, not just because my story got a good grade (it did, tho... an A.) but because my personal favorite stories in the collection, "Shattered" by Shanna Germain and "Done" by Charlotte Stein, got bad grades.

I'm reminded that we (meaning readers as a whole) don't always like the same things, and that doesn't make it wrong. It is, actually, a sign of a good editor that Kristina can select a group of stories that meets the theme, the "rules" for erotic romance and appeals to such a widely different audience.

"Shattered" is my favorite story. I love it so much. I cried almost all the way through it, and I recognize that sobbing with heart-breaking emotion is not necessarily what some people are looking for in an erotic romance. Now, I admit, I don't read erotica for perhaps the same reason that a lot of people do - I'm not the stereotypical one-handed reader. I read erotica, and for that matter, everything else for escapism, for emotional connection, to dream, to be someone else for a while. To me, sex just is. It neither has to be the core of the story, nor does it have to be avoided as a taboo subject. I love romance books, and erotica books and science fiction and horror and fantasy and murder mysteries and westerns. So long as they have good characters and interesting ideas, I'm right there with you.

When my work appears in an anthology with Charlotte Stein, I feel like a fraud. Her narrative voice reads so much like living inside my head that it's very familiar to me. It's like going over to my grandmother's house where she's got a fresh batch of homemade cookies for me, and the guest bedroom made up, and all the toys are the same as they were last time I was here, and everything is exactly the way I remember it. Not quite me, not quite my house, but very, very comfortable. Next to her work, I feel like an amateur. Like a guy on poetry night at the coffee shop's open mic who has the misfortune to be reading after Dylan Thomas.

This review, however, reminded me of an argument I have with a friend - repeatedly, actually, since we both never really tire of this. I think Bon Jovi is a terrible band. Which is not to say that I don't enjoy "Have a Nice Day." But the band... not good. Their music is derivative, the lead singer is a serious jerk with delusions of adequacy, and their CD's fill up the $5 bins at the Target. My friend... gets offended when I make this statement. She loves Bon Jovi and therefore they are good music. I say just because I like something doesn't make it good. But while we disagree - and that vehemently - on music, books, movies... we're still very good friends. (Well, I keep considering disowning her because she doesn't like Fight Club, which is one of my favorite movies... and she loathes it... )

Not everyone likes the same thing. And it's interesting to me to discover that someone might like my story - I mean, don't get me wrong, I love "Snake Dance." I'm very fond of it... but that someone might like it more than "Shattered" or "Done," well, that just blows me away.

And the second review is from Emerald. A small excerpt below, but really, the whole review is gorgeously written - and I'm not just saying that because it's a good review...

Each of these stories touched or affected me differently. I am aware of that, but I also feel aware of an unusual (in my experience) cohesiveness, of how this volume affected me as a whole, not even as a collection of stories but as a work encompassing a theme I approached with slight trepidation and emerged from with profound desire, even yearning, and gratitude for the universal oneness we share (whether we realize it or not). Whether I wanted it to affect me that way—and before I read it I might have questioned that—and whether I feel comfortable with what about it did so, it nonetheless did.
That, of course, means it is an opportunity for me to learn about myself. Which is one of the opportunities I appreciate most in life.
That kind of depth aside, I truly found this book beautiful. It may sound flippant, but I am not intending to be so when I say I feel these authors outdid themselves, offering stories of a world with which some of us are wholly unfamiliar and possibly can hardly imagine and illuminating what is both unique to that and what is universal—the expression of that universality being, again, something I see as a hallmark of successful erotica writing.
I was... quite blown away by the thought behind this review, by the serious way she treated the book, and by her own insights into our writings.

But you know, I don't really mind bad reviews, either.

I know, I know, I know that I'm not supposed to do this. I'm not supposed to read bad reviews, and I'm not supposed to comment on them, and because of those unspoken "rules"... (You shouldn't respond to trolls, you shouldn't give them what they want, if you respond to bad reviews, you're just lowering yourself...)

So, I'm not going to bring up the exact review; but I got slammed for one story... really hard, actually. I didn't mind. In fact, I was oddly gleeful about it. I felt like I'd "arrived." The person who wrote the review did a one or two sentence blurb on each story in the collection, and then reserved two whole paragraphs to comment on how bad my story was.

Amateur. Cliche.

And I love it.

For one thing, I don't really disagree with the reviewer. This was one of my first published stories. So, yeah... amateur. I often feel like I'm still getting my legs under my as a writer. Hell's bells, it took me twenty years to figure out what sort of stories I should be writing, of course I'm going to flub it up!

Secondly, I tried out a few different endings to my story. The one I was most happy with took me well over the word limit. The other one was tedious. My beta readers who got to see the multiple endings selected the one that was decried as "cliche." And honestly, I'm okay with that. Sometimes stereotypes have some basis in observation.

Third: There is no way in the world that anyone - ANYONE, no matter how trollie or personal they get - could ever say anything about my writing that's worse than what I say to myself... so, everyone and anyone who slams my writing is competing with the best there is to say something nasty. And that's me.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Stupid Stupid Writer Brain

I have been saying, recently, that my short stories have been successful, and now it's time to focus on writing (and of course, publishing) longer pieces.

I have a full-length (maybe a bit long, actually... the first draft was close to 150,000 words!!) novel that is currently in the process of going through the painful time of "second draft"... or "concept edits" if you prefer that phrase. The... "It's a romance novel, and you simply cannot have your hero accidentally kill a twelve year old girl in a romance novel, are you crazy?" stage of things.

I have at least two more London Steam novelettes to finish... I'm about halfway through Synchronous Rotations which is a steampunk/vampire/menage (m/m/f) story. And then I have Wind Me Counterclockwise which is another steampunk menage story, this one m/f/clockwork robot... each of these stories will probably run in the 10,000 - 15,000 word range.

And then I have a more traditional romance, steampunk, novel, The Wormwood Trade, that I've concepted, outlined, and done some character write-ups for, as well as written an intro and the first 2 chapters. I am guestimating that Wormwood Trade will run between 80,000 and 100,000 words when complete.

So, like I said, I have a lot of work ahead of me. If I can do all of these things in 2013, that'd be great... 

Which does mean, really, that I'll either have to cut waaaaay back on my short story writing, or I'll have to actually get my ass in gear and write every damn weekday. (because, confessions of a writer here... I really, really don't... Most weeks, I write maybe 1 to 3 days...)

So, of course I end up thinking about... other projects.

Because I am a stupid, stupid writer.

The first project idea that I'm toying with is a collaborative project... it sort of mulled around in a couple of different ways. First thing was, I was listening to the radio and a Pittbull song came on. Now, more than a year ago, my best friend and fellow erotica writer, Elizabeth L. Brooks, wrote a flash fic piece with Pittbull as one of the words selected that she had to work into the short...

Now, she wrote that piece back in August, 2011... so I read it over 16 months ago... and it's stuck with me. I remembered it when I had a beer in October of that year that actually had accents of caramel... and I remembered it again when I heard a Pittbull song on the radio. It's a really, really good piece. So, I texted her about it while the song was on.

We got to talking about the piece, via texts... and she mentioned that she was editing some ultra-shorts for a collection and that she was... well, not too terribly fond of them.

"You could just do your own," I said. (I text in complete sentences, most of the time. I really hate chat-speak and if 140 characters isn't enough, I can send a second text.)

"I suppose I could."

Elizabeth texts me back in full sentences. It's one of the many, many reasons I love her.

"In further fact, we could probably do one together."

"Let me talk to my publisher about that..."

And thus was born the idea. Writing one flash fic piece per week, 500 - 1,000 words long. (I will probably need some audience participation on this one, for 3-4 word prompts to write to... all suggestions used will get their names in the front of the book/e-book if it gets published. I think the publisher Elizabeth is thinking of going with has a minimum e-book sales requirement for a book to go into print... )

So, that's the first thing.

And then... well, it started as a one thing and then ended up as a "will you shut up, brain?" thing.

I got an email yesterday from an editor who'd talked with one of my other editors.. "I've been told you write hot... any way I could sway you to be interested in doing a submission for cupid's chokehold?!" We email back and forth last night, getting details and stuff for another one of Hot Ink's holiday special anthologies.

There's a pretty tight deadline for this submission, obviously, to get it out before the 14th of February. And I'm exceedingly flattered to be asked to participate. This will be the third collection/publication where I've been specifically requested to submit, and let me tell you, that does all sorts of wonderful things for my ego. So, I went to bed last night, thinking about it.

And I came up with a story idea. Except that it doesn't really work for that collection.

It does, however, work for this collection.

I had looked over this call and dismissed it. I don't usually go the BDSM route. Which is not to say I don't mind a little tie-down or some playful spankings. I've tried it out in an informal sort of way. Certainly never to the extent of costumes or industrial grade chains. And I'm not really familiar with a lot of the "tropes" of the Master/slave relationship. Given how much crapola 50 Shades of Fanfic has gotten about badly portraying the BDSM lifestyle with its "red room of pain"... I've not been especially eager to add my name to the list of the don't know what the fuck she's talking about...

Except now I have an idea. And it's a brilliant idea. And I LOVE the idea.

So, I took some notes. It's not due until my birthday (May 1st) so I have time.

And I was looking through my slush pile today. I have several stories that have either not found a home, or have not been completed - I have a really interesting piece that's only about 1/3 done that I started for another collection and then had an excess of real life and didn't finish it. I wrote to the editor for a week's extension on the deadline and was told she had plenty of submissions and she was running tight on time anyway.

I really think I can make Two Tents work for the Valentine's collection. So... that's what I'll be doing.

And it looks like I'll be writing "Make your Mark" as well, for the May 1st, Princess Bound collection as well. And there's the possibility that I might write up a story for Delilah's Cowboy Heat collection. And Elizabeth and I are more than likely going to go ahead and work on this collaborative short-short collection...

Oh, and plus, I decided that I was going to teach myself to crochet this year, since I really do not know how to do any craftsty sort of things, and I sometimes feel bad about that. Also, if I can learn to make those tiny cute stuffie crocheted dolls, that would really make a lot of gifts for my geeky friends.

So... busy writer is fucking busy this year.

PS - there's still time to enter the last drawing for the Smutty Advent Calendar... so go do that, people, what are you waiting for, an engraved invitation??

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Merry Joyous Thingie

Today is the beginning of the Grand prize at the Smutty Advent Calendar. There are a TON of prizes to be won, including an e-copy of Ladies of Steampunk Magazine... so go take the quiz and win a really lovely prize-pack. Entries taken from now til the end of the year...

I didn't quite meet my goal of posting daily, but I did pretty well. 19 out of 25 days is certainly more than I've posted in recent months...

Today is Christmas and I'm stealing a few minutes upstairs before the family expects me to cook, clean, open presents and generally be merry. Or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

Usually by this time of year, I'm freaking out about money. In fact, I managed to give myself a small freak the other day anyway. (My husband is big into Christmas, an enthusiasm that I'm almost ashamed to admit I've done a lot to quash... on the other hand, it's easy to be enthusiastic about something when you don't cook, clean, plan, buy most of the presents, wrap, organize, decorate, or do any of the actual WORK involved. I mean, he does shop for me - online - and he does take the kiddo out for one day of getting her presents for her friends and her present for me... but really... I'm the one who does the bulk of the Christmas work... which some years I mind more than others... )

Wow. That was a long aside...

Anyway, he likes to buy presents (or more exactly, he likes me to buy and plan and wrap the presents, he just likes to give a lot of them OUT...) which tends to lead to us being more broke than usual around this time of year... a common problem. But I spent too many years playing the "If I pay the gas bill this month and the water bill next month and the electric bill in February, can I fool everyone enough to think they'll get paid eventually to not shut the power off?" game to really feel comfortable with a low balance in our checking account. I recognize that it's unreasonable and irrational and that if I give myself a budget to buy gifts with and stick within that budget, there's no reason why I should be freaking out, right?

You'd think...

You'd be wrong.

I freak out anyway. The other day I managed to worry myself into freaking out enough to be terrified when I went to check the bank balance. Heart beating in my eyeballs, barely breathing, mouth dry, hands and joints stiff kind of panic.

It was... fine. Better than fine. Confusingly fine as a matter of fact.

Meanwhile, in the real world, I hadn't been paid for one of my writing jobs yet. And it was starting to aggravate me. I knew one of my fellow authors had been paid and she lives further away... Finally, I wrote a note to my editor - I did move this summer and I've had a surprising amount of trouble with getting my mail. She wrote back - "What are you on about, nitwit... I Paypal-ed you weeks ago...Moron."

(Okay, she didn't say that. She was actually exceptionally nice about it, but I always read things in that "sarcastic cat speaking inside my head" voice... you know the one. Or you don't and you're very lucky...)

So I went to check Paypal. And indeed, I was paid. In fact, not only had I been paid, but Paypal had been using that money to pay for the few Christmas gifts that I bought off Etsy and ThinkGeek and Woot! and the places that, you know, I have my PayPal account set up for...

Which would explain why there was still money in my checking account that I couldn't explain...

Which was, in the end, sort of like getting an extra present....

Now, if I could just stop wrapping things up with the crazy paper, I'd be great...

Happy Holidays...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Know ThySelf

One of my writer friends asked a question the other day.

"How do you decide what project to work on next?"

It's been, for a while, pretty easy for me. I work on whatever project is due out the door first. I also know what I'm capable of doing, as far as writing goes, and that's where I think is the important work.

Yes, I CAN churn out a 50,000 word crappy novel in a month. But what I don't seem capable of doing is bothering to rewrite the thing. It's so bad I may as well just start over...

What I can do, generally, is write about 500 - 2,500 words in a week, that are GOOD words. Sometimes I feel I should do more, sometimes I feel I should do better, sometimes I feel like I should sit my butt down in the chair and work-work-work.

But I don't.

And so, when I'm planning... I plan for what I know I can and WILL do.

500 - 2,500 words per week.

So, if a call for submissions is due on, let's say February 1st. And they want stories between 2,500 words and 5,000 words... well, typically my stories are about 3,300 words, unless they're longer stories, in which case they run between 8,000 - 11,000... And I assume that while I'll have some good weeks, I'll also have some bad weeks. So, for a short-short, I try to start about four weeks before the story is due. That gives me three weeks to write it, a week to review and fix things (and extra oh shit time). And a longer story - for some reason I find it easier to be productive on longer pieces... I have more 2,500 weeks rather than 500 weeks. I try to start around five to six weeks ahead of time.

But this year, I really want to try to work on some longer pieces. I have a couple of novellas burning around in my brain, and one full-length novel.

So what do I start with?

Is it the characters that yell loudest? Not really. I have some really loud characters that have already had their stories told and they refuse to move the fuck out. (I'm looking at you, Master Hooke.) And sometimes the characters that talk to me least - at first - turn out to be the most interesting...

I put together soundtracks to get me into the mood for writing... and I write up my outlines (sometimes that happens on paper, sometimes that happens almost entirely in my head) and then I work on whatever piece I have the best foothold in. I'm not a pantser. I struggle with the whole NaNoWriMo process because if I just *write* my characters wander off thataway and I have no idea where they're going or what they're going to do when they get there. Which, I know, works really well for some people. I'm more of a "if we're going to my dad's, I know it'll take about four hours to get there, and I'm likely to be hungry, and shouldn't we stop for gas somewhere along the way?"

So, I write whatever I think I can make the most progress in before I'm back at that blank paper going "Oh, fuck me sideways, what now?"

PS - Don't forget to stop by the Smutty Advent Calender. Only a few days left before it's over!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Shop Smart...

You know when you see Sylvia Day in the K-mart that really, erotica has gone mainstream.

This is sooooo awesome...

Shop Smart, Shop K-Mart...

Among her other publications - three of which pictured here - she did the lead story for the Steamlust anthology. Her story, "Iron Hard," is quite awesome...

This is a cap-end display, right across from the large boxes of Christmas Chocolates and baskets of beefstick and cheese foods and Hot Chocolate mix and all those sorts of things that you normally buy for people you don't know.

Maybe buying someone some erotica for a Christmas Present could really spice up their holiday...

Or, maybe for yourself... in the meanwhile, don't forget to head over to the Smutty Advent Calendar and pick up today's envelop!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Guesting with Delilah!

So, I missed a couple days... not shocking... hope you all haven't been forgetting to stop by the Smutty Advent Calendar!!

I'm almost done with my holiday stuff, and astonishingly enough I'm still in a good mood. Usually by this time of year I'm a complete frazzled mess. To be honest, I don't really like Christmas much. I'm not a Christian, so there's no religious value to me, it's just family crap, buying shit for people crap, getting shit from people that I don't want crap and too many Events I'm Supposed to Show Up For and be HAPPY, DAMNIT.

(If you want to troll me about how wonderful Christmas is, feel free. I'll feel free to ignore you. Just so we're all clear here...)

But this year it's been better. I'm happy. I've decorated. Without my husband basically steamrollering me into doing it. Usually he does. Around the 16th or so, he badgers and nags and whines until I finally throw our tree up and toss some ornaments on it and call it "in the way" and "good enough."  This year... things have been different. Partly, I think it's having our own house. We have not one, but three trees up. Ok, so one's the size of a Barbie Dream House tree, but it counts, right? I made a homemade wreath for my door - which continues to make me very very happy every time I walk in the door.


I had an awesome Christmas party and I think everyone had fun.

My shopping is completely done, and I have like 3 more things I need to pick up for dinner. Butter, because I forgot, and the pillsbury pie crusts. Not the ones in the tin pie pans, but the real ones that you can use as top crusts and put in your own pie plates... which for some reason only one grocery store in town has them. And orange juice, because it is a Family Tradition to have mimosas for breakfast on Christmas. 

I'm feeling good. Relaxed. And I haven't wanted to slap anyone except crazy drivers. But that's normal for me, any time of year.

And today, I'm over at Delilah Devlin's website, guest blogging.

So, hi if you're visiting from there... come in, sit down, I'll put on some coffee...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Smexy Dwarves


So... I never quite expected dwarves to be sexy... and yet... wow.

If you haven't seen the Hobbit yet, go do that.

In the meantime, don't forget to go check out today's Smutty Advent Calendar.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Aaaand I'm off

Tomorrow I'm going to see the Hobbit and do some tabletop gaming, so nice geeky day for me planned.

Today, I have to go spend a shitton of money (that's a metric shitton, not an English shitton) on Christmas presents.

Don't forget to go check out today's Smutty Advent Calendar!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

In My Head (The devil made me do it)

So, I'm talking to a friend of mine last night; he's going through some tough times, and probably the worst of it is, someone he cares about has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. So, he's coming to me for advice and a wall to wail against because I know a lot about bipolar disorder.

He asks me if bipolar can explain this, or that.

It's an excuse. It's like saying "The Devil Made me Do it." Yes, your brain is broken, but that doesn't mean you get to get out of the consequences of the stupid fucking decisions you made.

You drink, you get in the car, you drive over someone's daughter in the street. You'd have never done that when you were sober, but that doesn't change a damn thing. Someone's still dead and you are still a pathetic excuse of a human being.

I don't know about that. A lot of the time, these sorts of things go on almost entirely in our heads. I mean, how often do you look at me and think "She's practicing the speech she's going to give to her father when he finds out his only grandchild has smothered to death in her sleep." You'd be astonished how often what I'm thinking has nothing AT ALL to do with what's going on in the room. I've planned my own suicide more times than I could count. I know exactly how to spend the money if the husband should die and I get his life insurance policy. Almost every second of every day, I'm living my real life out here, and in my head there's at least 4 different other things going on; I'm almost always plotting or planning a novel/story/character/scene. I'm worrying about some long term problem (right now it's getting through Christmas dinner with my parents), visualizing everything that could possibly go wrong in that moment - falling down the stairs, rogue asteroid landing in the living room, being run over by a car, the house catching on fire... every single time I come home I have a brief moment of relief when I discover the house has NOT burned down - AND trying to pay attention to whatever the FUCK everyone is talking about at the moment.
Every minute of my life is like that. EVERY. Minute.

And that doesn't even include the depression that gets so bad I can't breathe, can't see an end in sight to any of the pain that I'm in, and I loathe myself with the kind of religious fervor that people reserve especially for the enemies of God.

Or the days when I can't sit still, I have to clean clean clean everything and nothing will ever be good enough, but if I sit down for more than two minutes, I'm listening to an internal monologue about what a bad housekeeper I am, and a bad mother, and did I really ever think I should be writing at all?

These are my elephants, and they're all in the room, and boy-howdy do they get in the way.

But at the same time, if I pay any attention to the shit going on in my head, they start trampling around.

Talking about this... doesn't make it easier. It makes it harder for me to build my life in the corners around the elephants.

My elephants are smaller than they used to be. I still hate myself, pretty much constantly. I've accepted that I don't see myself the way other people do, and I still try most of the time to act like I want to feel. It's an act, but it's generally a pretty damn good one. Sometimes I even fool myself. But I don't hate my life. And most of the time, I keep it under control.

But it was a long time coming. And I've known about my elephants for over 20 years now (back when they called it Manic-Depression, which I personally hate, because manic does not mean HAPPY, ok. Thank you.) and learned to deal with them. And my husband has learned to deal with them, and how to help me.

My friend, for the first time, has just realized there's an elephant in his life.

Ok, enough of the depressing shit. Go listen to my favorite song, and then go check out today's Smutty Advent Calendar!! Yay!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Milf & Cookies

So, just in time for Christmas, MILF & Cookies has hit shelves.

Go to Amazon for your kindle edition. I'll be adding other links as other distributors catch up. (Sometimes I think those Amazon guys have a Tardis in the back room or something. They are ridiculously speedy.)

Don't forget, go check out the Smutty Advent Calendar today!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Wind in the Turret

I've gotten prizes off to my contest winners - don't forget, it's not too late to ask me for a Jonah Knight CD. I still have about 10 of them left, so leave a comment with your email (me at thismail dot com) and I'll get your shipping details to you.

I'm up in my office this morning, listening to the wind sighing through the trees. It's been unseasonably warm recently (I have three words to say about this: Global Warming Conspiracy! Because, you know, that's what scientists do... they make up shit for political reasons....) and I've got the balcony door open. After living right next to the interstate (and the fire station) it's strangely quiet over here.

Full Frontal Neighbor (the first time I saw him, he was stark naked. Of course he was walking around in his own house, and it's probably not like he knows that from a certain angle of my living room, I can see straight into his kitchen... I haven't told him. It's a nice view.) is on his porch right now, smoking a cigarette. I can smell just the faintest tang of tobacco and hear him talking to his cat.

The trees bend and sway in the wind - I think there's a good deal of warm air that comes off the nearby river - and the oaks make a strange groaning noise as they move around. I've never lived so close to trees in my life. Everyplace else that I've lived has been a collection of little box apartments with a few bushes around for aesthetic purposes, but only one or two trees.

This worries me, a bit. We get a lot of storms here, and the trees are really close. Our balcony and porch have been constantly three inches deep in leaves, despite several foliage removals. I worry that a strong will come through and we'll have an oak through the roof. Or my big picture window in the living room will get smashed. During the fall, we spent several weeks being pelted with acorns. My best friend, the librarian, looked it up. The variety of oak in our back yard has the biggest acorns in the world. It was like being under a driving range. Constantly.

Sometimes, alone in the turret, the wind swirling around the office, the sound of trees and the faintest rumble of neighbors moving around, getting their days started, I have a sip of coffee and I feel like a real writer.

How amazing.

Don't forget to drop by the Smutty Advent Calendar and see what interesting prizes they have for you today!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Contest Winners

So, I did the drawing for the winner of my Advent Calendar contest; I used a random name-drawing program that I've found on line and used successfully in a couple of other contests.

May the odds be ever in your favor!

First prize goes to

Arely ZPerez 

First prize is an e-copy of Ladies of Steampunk magazine and an e-copy of Coming Together: Hungry for Love.

Runner up prizes go to:

Jan D



Runner up prizes are e-copies of Coming Together: Hungry for Love.

As always if you read and enjoy my work, please take a few minutes to post a review on Goodreads or Amazon.

Thanks so much for participating in my little drawing. Don't forget to go off to the Advent Calendar and see what nifty prizes are in store for you today!

*disclaimer: Winners have been notified by email, but if they do not step forward and claim their prizes by Wednesday, a new winner will be drawn.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Duty & Desire Blog

So, 9th day of advent calendar thingie, go check out what Sh! has for you today... And thanks to everyone who stopped by yesterday to check out my site, and say Hi and all that. I'll draw prizes sometime late today and let you all know by Monday. Mostly because I'm a slacker and I have no plans for today and I don't want to have plans for today. I'm all social'd out and activity'd out and I just want to lounge about.

In case I forgot to mention it, here's the Duty and Desire blog. Kristina Wright and the lovely people at Cleis have put together a set of author interviews, links and reviews for this military themed erotic romance collection. They're fairly short interviews; we were all given a longish list of questions and told to pick 2 - 4 of them to answer.

And here's my interview if you just want to skip straight to that... but be sure to check out everyone's interviews; they're a lot of fun.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

On the 8th Day of XXXmas...

Well, hello there.


First off, I'm sure you want to know where your freebies are...

Kindle Readers:

Nook Readers:


My story included in this collection - and hey! you get all ten stories just for dropping by! - is called "On the Fly." It's a modern setting romantic-erotica piece. The first I'd written in that genre; usually I'm more into sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk, urban supernatural... but I had fun writing it.

The company, PriveCo, puts together these collections of erotica as part of a marketing experiment to sell their main-line product, namely vibrators. In further fact, I could have been paid in vibrators, if I'd wanted to. They offer a base rate for stories or base rate x2. I was... tempted. If for no other reason, being able to say I was paid in vibrators would have gotten cool points.

So, for the grand - prize, I'm giving away an e-copy of Ladies of Steampunk magazine. And an e-copy of Coming Together: Hungry For Love.

Another first, The Ladies of Steampunk story was requested! The Seans, who I've mentioned before, are some really cool guys. They live out in Sacramento and they do steampunk in artistic projects, including boudoir photography for an annual calendar and this magazine and it's sister magazine, Bronze Age, which contains... well, NSFW material! Anyway, I was messing around on Facebook one night and they messaged me and made a pitch to include my work in their premier issue, and that's what I have for you today.

Coming Together: Hungry for Love is a collection of zombie-themed erotic stories. (Note that I didn't say "romance" on there... some of the stories are hothotHOT, but not what I'd call romantic.) The proceeds for this collection benefit the American Diabetes Association, a charity that's near and dear to my heart, as my daughter's best friend (and my best friend's daughter... same girl. convenient, that!) is a juvenile diabetic. Personally, I love zombie stories. (Altho I don't like The Walking Dead. I tried really hard to get into it and I just didn't like the characters. I wanted everyone to get eaten, might have made them decent human beings... go figure.) And I also love Sommer Marsden, who edited the collection.

Leave a comment here, or "like" my Facebook page (or both!) for an entry to win an ecopy of this magazine! It's a gorgeous piece of work, and you'll get a .pdf, full color copy. (If you're already a fan of my Facebook page, and you have problems leaving a comment here - I'm told blogger doesn't play nice with people who have iPhones - then just comment on the Facebook status that includes the links for your freebie stories and we'll call it good)

Grand prize is the Steampunk magazine and a copy of Hungry For Love, and then I have 2 additional copies of Hungry For Love to give away...

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Whole Week

So, I've managed to blog every day for an entire week! Wow.

Reminder; go check out today's prize on the Smutty Advent Calendar. Natasha Blackthorn has some stuff for you, including a free e-story just for participating.

And further reminder: Tomorrow is my turn! There will be a free prize to everyone who participates, and some give-aways for a random winner. Or two. I think two. I should check my email to make sure I'm doing what I said I was going to do...

I wish I had a picture of my great-grandmother. I mean, I have one wallet-sized pic of most of the family, but Mimi is tiny in that picture. Also, it's not a computer file, just a regular picture, and I don't have a scanner anymore. Maybe I'm glad I can't scan in that picture. You'd get to see me in all my sulky, over-done eyeliner and lipstick, 13 year old glory. And I do so totally not look like I want to be there. Emo, before emo was the thing.

But that's not really what I want to talk about. Mimi was my mother's mother's mother. Her full name after marriage was Nell Ardel Longwell Hall. Or, as a friend of hers called her, Nelly Ardelly Longwelly Hallelly. We called her Mimi. At the time of her death, she had 2 children (my grandmother and my grandmother's sister, my Aunt Kit), 5 grandchildren (my mom, her two sisters, and Kit's two sons)  8 great-grandchildren (me, my 5 blood-relative cousins and 2 adopted cousins) and 1 great-grandchild (my oldest male cousin's daughter).

That same summer that my sulky picture was taken by a professional photographer, Mimi started to lose her sight. She could see around the edges, but she had cataracts in both eyes and she could no longer read or watch television. She was a bit sly; if she didn't know you were watching her, she could make her own coffee, get her own breakfast, but if she happened to see you, she'd badger you into doing it for her.

I didn't mind. I thought it was kinda cute, actually. She always looked so mischievous, like she was getting away with something. Mimi's been gone a long time now, and I still remember how she liked her coffee. I made it for her often enough that year.

Because she couldn't read, we got into this habit, that last summer. I checked out books from the local library, and got some of the old radio plays on cassette tape. Sometimes we'd listen to broadcasts - several seasons of the original Shadow radio plays. And sometimes I'd read to her.

We would sit on the back porch at my grandparent's lake home, which was screened in against the mosquitoes, and faced west. The sun would set over the lake, and we sat in canvas deck chairs, and I read Wuthering Heights to her. It was the first time I'd read it.

I remember getting to the "I am Heathcliff" speech from Chapter nine.

"I think that's the worst motive you've given yet for being the wife of young Linton."
"It is not," retorted she; "it is the best! The others were the satisfaction of my whims: and for Edgar's sake, too, to satisfy him. This is for the sake of one who comprehends in his person my feelings to Edgar and myself. I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff's miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it.—My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being. So don't talk of our separation again: it is impracticable; and—"

I love this piece. I tear up every single time I read it, and sometimes even when I think of it. It's those things that make me want to write, make me want to feel, make me want to be. If I believed, truly believed, that I could affect even one person as much as this paragraph affected and continues to affect me... well, that would make everything worthwhile.

In my head, I'm thirteen again and I have no idea what love really is. I won't know it until I've lived at least as long as I already have. But on some other level, I understand what Cathy is saying. Tears are streaming down my cheeks and Mimi's hand is hard on my shoulder. Her grip is surprisingly strong, given her age. I steal a glance at her out of the corner of my eye. Her milky eyes, mostly blind, are looking directly into the setting sun. But she's no more seeing it than I am. She's far away, in England, or the landscape of her own youth. I rest my hand against hers, feel the parchment texture of her skin along her fingers.

I keep reading.

I've been reading ever since.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ten Inch Plushie Dick and the Muse

First off, it's the 6th day of the Smutty Advent Calendar. M. A. Stacie is giving away a bag of Starbucks coffee.

Today I want to talk about the crap on my desk.

This is my 10-inch plushie Dick. He's probably not what people have in mind when I say I have a plushie Dick, but hey... I like being able to make the joke.

I have a lot of cute, weird, or just touchable stuff on my desk. My Jane Austen action figure, my tacky octopus Christmas tree ornament, my three dancing mushrooms...

Now, admittedly my desk is the repository for a lot of crap, but the actually decorative stuff... a lot of thought goes into that stuff. I want to feel both relaxed and inspired in my work-space.

I've always loved the dancing mushrooms... and a few years ago, my mom finally found these figures for me. (If I was a major tattoo person, I'd probably get these guys on my lower back. As it is, I'm still trying to talk myself into getting an octopus on my leg.)

I have stuff from Star Wars (2 lego copies of Slave 1 because in the whole show, no one is more badass than Boba Fett.) and a teddy bear made from an old mink coat and a totoro (with his arm in a "cast". He was a get-well present from a friend when I broke my leg in 5 places) and a geode, and some tiny pirate ships from a defunct card-game.

Every single one of these things has associations for me. Everything I keep has a story behind it. 

And nothing has more meaning to me than this:

This is my muse.

He lives on my desk, no matter where that desk is, no matter where my home is. No matter what. If I'm going to go somewhere else and do some writing, he goes in my bag. (The cage was initially to keep my cat from eating him, back in the day, and as his little sticky feet aren't sticky anymore, and haven't been for decades, this is a good way to make sure I don't lose him. 

I started writing stories when I was in fifth grade. In 7th grade, my parents bought me a word-processor for some holiday or other. Keep in mind, this was the 80's. This was a tiny little thing, grey, with a two-line "saved" window. You could actually go back and edit up to two lines of text before it would print those lines out. It used a sort of punch-out tape to stick letters to paper (and if I wasn't careful, you could peel those letters right off the paper) and had a very, VERY basic spell-checker. I typed out about two dozen short stories and one completely terrible, derivative horror novel.

Muse was a birthday present from the girl up the street. Yes, she gave me a homemade fuzzy ball with feet and eyeballs as a present. She had a ton of the things stuck to her ceiling in her bedroom, and I used to like to lay on her bed and stare at them.

I stuck him to the top of the word-processor and he watched me typing up stories for most of high school before my WP died a smoking, fiery death. (When the magic smoke comes out of the machine, it stops working!) I cried. 

And then I carefully peeled Muse off the smoldering machine and stuck him on my desk. My cat promptly jumped onto the desk and batted him onto the floor and under my bed. I recovered my Muse, stuffed him in the little cage (which is actually a leftover cat toy and probably wasn't the best idea I've ever had) and tied the whole kit and kaboodle to my desk lamp, so it hung down directly over my work space. 

And there he's been. Since I was 13 years old. He's lasted through seven computers, two marriages, five cats, three rats, two lizards, a turtle, probably ten hamsters, dozens of boyfriends, three girlfriends, tons of novels, short stories, really bad poetry and a few disastrous attempts on my part to write song lyrics.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Interviewie Thingie

I meant to have this out earlier, but I woke up ill today. Or, more specifically, I went to bed sick last night and I'm still sick. Blech.

But I did this yesterday.

I am still completely weirded out by what my voice sounds like. It sounds completely different in my head.

I answer a bunch of questions, pitch a good dozen or so writers, talk about coffee and the process as writing... lots of fun stuff.

And you get to see the husband in the background there. (He was sort of grumbly about that...)

Also, don't forget to stop by the Smutty Advent Calendar. Sommer Marsden, who is mentioned in the interview, is giving away freeeeeeee stuff today!

Update: The video has been changed slightly to add in my author pic and book covers. None of the actual audio content is new, so if you watched this yesterday, great!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Book Trailer!

So, Elizabeth Brooks, who is one of my best friends, and she's also my primary beta reader, one of my editors, and you know all around can't live without her girl... has made a book trailer for "He Loves me for My Brainsss" (which as a side note, I've been spelling wrong for months now... since I like to stress it the other way. Braaaaaains. Braaaaaaaaaaaaaaains.) Wait. I lost track of what I was saying...

 Book Trailer.


So, there's that. Pretty awesome, yes? That last story, Two Guys Walk Into an Apocalypse by V.L. Locey, sounds amazing... can't wait to see the finished collection.

I'm going to take a minute to talk about W.O.L., which is my story from the antho, mostly because I like to talk, and I have to write a blog entry every day this month...

W.O.L. takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where genetic engineering and nanobot technology got out of hand. I first invented and visited (as a metaphor!) this world when I wrote about four chapters of a novel called Rains in Eden that I never finished, which was sort of a Handmaiden't Tale knock off, except at that time I'd never heard of Handmaiden's Tale and was being all clever. In Rains in Eden, the main character is an Eve, a surrogate womb. Her job is to basically to have baby after baby, none of which are hers, for the various citizens in floating cities. At the start of a new job, she's raped before the embryo can be inserted and gets pregnant in the very basic way - after all, she's on tailored hormones to be a receptive mother.

Part of the idea was something out of a class discussion in college. In a Jane Austen seminar, we were talking about the relative value of Mr. Darcy's "Ten thousand a year!" It was difficult to calculate what that would mean in today's society, since in the 1820's, you couldn't really buy a lot of the stuff we spend money on these days, new televisions and laptops, private planes and yachts. I mean, a wealthy family would have a carriage, or two, and certainly the tailor bills could get excessive for a dandy. But one of the things that's difficult to calculate is the power of purchasing people. Butler. Valet. Housekeepers and maids, cooks and grooms and footmen. Those people were often considered part of the family - and were often inherited along with the house. "I worked for the Darcys for forty years, and my mother before me." Their room and board, and often their clothing, were considered part of their employers' responsibility. They worked for very little spending money - it might take a groom a dozen years or more to buy a ticket to the Americas to make a new life there.

So, with that in mind, I made up the world that W.O.L. occupies, with Pure Humans - who have not been genetically modified and don't have any nanobots - and a lesser class of Altered Humans. Cities are walled off, or sealed, or on gyros and they hover above the ground, since some of the altered humans have grown wild. The Lazarus virus - which is actually a nanobot technology gone amok - creates a zombie-like horde in the unprotected spaces between cities.

Rains in Eden took place in one of the huge, mega cities that float above the ground. (There were originally seven, but now only three remain functional. Eden, Valhalla, and Mt. Meru.) W.O.L. on the other hand, takes place in the western part of what was once the United States, somewhere around where Sacramento used to be. It is entirely surrounded by a spherical shield wall, basically the post-modern version of a fort town.

I also worked the idea a bit from the fact that the Red Cross keeps calling me. I've given blood a few times. I don't usually like to do it, and sometimes it makes me ill - I have come pretty close to fainting - but I've also had a transfusion, so I like to pay it back. And just recently they've been pretty desperate. Supplies are at an all time low, and they call me about once a week. I'm scheduled to go in on the 19th, so maybe they'll stop calling me for a while - more persistent than a siding salesman, they are. I was thinking... what might happen to an organization like the Red Cross, when the whole world is mostly destroyed. Where moving between one town and another is likely to get you killed?

Thus, Korin, Knight of the Red Cross, came to mind. (Ok, I confess, I was also re-reading David Eddings for the nine millionth time, and church knights figure prominently...)

W.O.L. is one of my favorite stories - well, of the ones I've written. It was a decided stretch for me, and I admit, I'm still a bit surprised at the way it ended.

So, while I'm at it, here's your reminder to go see what FixSation is up to at the Smutter's Advent Calendar.

And, while you're at it, go to the Red Cross and give some blood.

Monday, December 3, 2012


It's the third day of XXXmas and my true love gave to me... one of my favorite people, Kristina Wright - editor of Fairy Tale Lust, Steamlust, Lustfully Ever After, Duty and Desire, Dreamlover and a bunch of other anthologies that I can't think of off the top of my head, as well as some stand alone books and collections of her personal short stories.

Well, no, my true love didn't give me Kristina... that would just be weird. Or the beginning of a threesome bondage piece that I haven't written yet. Hmmmm.



Moving on. For today's advent calendar, Kristina is giving away some stuff. So go check it out, enter to win, etc, etc.

For those of you lovely people who were at my Jonah Knight Creepy Christmas party, and even for those who weren't, but who are curious about his music, I thought I'd post the set list... Some of these are available for purchase at his website, and some are... not yet available in a recorded format (*cries* including Bacon & Beer.) I'm sure if we all winge loud enough, he'll get back in the studio...

Set the first:

Santa Claus is Coming
Time Machine
The Window Frames
Bad Moon
The Krampus
The Ghost in my Guitar
What Christmas Means to Me
The Dead Crawl From the Earth, Alive
Doomed (not available to purchase...)
Once Around the Sun

Set the second:

Sleepy Little Creepy Little Town
Someday We'll all be Ghosts (in particular, I really liked the story he told about this song; "When I started thinking about moving from bar songs and songs about my ex-girlfriend, I told my wife, 'hey, I'm thinking about writing songs about ghosts and monsters,' she said 'does this mean you'll stop singing about your ex? Then I fully support your decision.'")
Dakota Moon (not available)
Bacon & Beer (more whining)
Yuletide Lads
Empty House
Oh, The Places
Nuthin' For Christmas
Pirate Song
King of Nebraska (There's also a more acoustical version of King of Nebraska on the Age of Steam album... it's the 9. ? bonus song. Which is good, because I find the video game noises in the original recording of King of Nebraska to be a little disconcerting.)

Anyway, those are the songs he performed.

Here's a little sample video that I did with my phone. I think it's sideways, or at least it was on my Facebook page, so I dunno about here... if so, I'm sorry. It's my favorite song by Jonah, The Window Frames.

As a side note, Elizabeth Brooks, who is editing the m/m zombie antho which will frontline my story "W.O.L.", is in the process of making a book trailer for He Loves Me for My Braaaaaaaaaaains, and will be featuring "When the Dead Crawl from the Earth Alive" as background music for the video. So there's that, which is exceptionally cool. I'll let you know as soon as that's available...

And just because I'm feeling generous... if you comment on this blog post, I'll give you a copy of Jonah's Creepy Christmas Album. Please comment by Dec 15th, so I have time to mail you your copy before Christmas.

And, bonus, if you send me an email at lynntownsend (dot) writer (at) gmail (dot) com that includes your snail mail address - I fully promise that I don't bite or stalk people, and I will send you a Creepy Christmas Christmas card. (limit 15)

Happy Holidays, y'all.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

My Brief Life as a Folk Music Groupie

Don't forget, it's the 2nd Day of XXXmas... and today Alison Tyler has some fantastic smutty prizes for you. Go check it out...

(Do you know what this means? Because I want to remind you all of the fabulous advent calendar that Victoria Blisse has put together, I may well write a blog post every day this month... holy shit! Merry Christmas!)

So... as usual, it began with a joke.

Like I said yesterday, I had a Christmas Party, and Jonah Knight came to sing at my party. He has a wonderful album just recently out; Creepy Christmas...

But about a week ago, the husband said "Ask Jonah if he needs anything to perform, extension cords, crash space, groupies, etc."

And I did just that. Including asking if I needed to provide groupies...

So yes, electrical sockets, groupies, and a place to sleep. My wife would prefer that the groupies and I do not sleep in the same place :) 

The husband and I batted that around for a while. I'm probably the only one of our friends with a tendency toward groupie-ness... but we were making dirty jokes, as we are wont to do, and cracking ourselves up. Eventually the husband suggested that we take a groupie-style picture and mail it to Jonah's wife.

Being myself, I couldn't help but make the suggestion to Jonah. I was astonished, however, when he agreed. Which is how we ended up ushering every adult female guest at my party into the bedroom and taking a picture.

Seriously, my bed has never gotten this much action!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

On the first Day of Christmas....

My true love gave to me...

A Creepy Concert and a house party.

So, you know, I'm awesome.

This is Jonah Knight, and he's going to be playing Creepy Christmas songs at my party today. How freaking awesome is that?

But! It just wouldn't be a party without presents, right? Well, I won't be giving out my presents until the 8th, but you can get presents from someone else.

The completely more awesome than me, Victoria Blisse, is doing a Smutters Advent Calendar. You can go every day and enter for chances to win gift cards, free e-books, free dead-tree books, and the grand prize...

So, go see it, and stuff. Don't worry, I'll try to remind you to visit every day, either here or on Facebook, or both. Probably both.

In the meanwhile, here's my Christmas wreath. I cannot tell you how it fills me with joy. Probably because I'm afraid it's going to eat my face.