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Free Story–Petticoats and Push Up Bras

Here’s a holiday gift from me to you. Petticoats and Push Up Bras was inspired by my former job as a costumed tour guide at the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum, with a sprinkle of voyeurism, and a heroine who’s worried about the imminent zombie apocalypse. It’s a few years old, but a fun little free story.

Instead of a photo of the boat—here’s a picture of me at my former job. I can’t believe it’s been twenty years since then!

I’ll be back to do a year in review between now and Jan 1. Happy holidays!

 

Petticoats and Push Up Bras

Delilah Night

 

“Dump the tea!” My voice rang out in defiance of the British and their illegal taxes.

“Into the sea!” My brave revolutionaries chanted as they followed me down the gangway to the ship.

“Dump the tea!”

“Into the sea!”

“Follow me!” My lips curved, waiting for the tourists to take the bait.

“Into the sea!” They burst out into laughter.

As I led the final tour of the day toward the ship, I flashed Jeff a saucy smile. The period costumes made most of us look frumpy, but Jeff looked like he was born to wear a vest and cravat. Throw in a convincing British accent, and he was sex on a stick. He winked in return as he moved his group from the ship to the attached floating museum.

“Welcome to the Brig Beaver,” I paused for the inevitable snickers. Please let me keep a straight face this time. Of the three ships involved in the Boston Tea Party, they chose to get a replica made of The Beaver?

Setting the stage for the events of December 16, 1773 involved a great deal of theatrical shivering and emotional rhetoric. My group of patriots got into the spirit of things, shrieking their defiance of British taxation while tossing crates of tea into the waiting harbor. Afterward, I posed for pictures with guests from Kansas, Singapore, and Poland while other guests explored the Beaver. As the clock ticked toward closing, I gently herded them off the ship, through the museum, and into the gift shop.

“All clear! Nate and Diane, you opened, so head off,” Jeff called out. “Hannah, I’ll take the museum if you’ll close up the ship? I’ve hauled those damn tea crates back up to the deck so many times today I’d rather cut the ropes than do it again.”

“Sure.”

“My savior!” Jeff fell to one knee, hand over his heart.

“Uh huh.” Amused, I shook my head at his theatrics and headed back to the Beaver.

On board, I grabbed hold of the thick ropes, and hauled the four dripping Styrofoam crates of tea up for the night. I yanked canvas tarps over the hatches and tied them down.

The lapping of water against the ship as the tide came in drowned out the ambient urban noise. Some might find it peaceful. I found the lack of honking horns and screeching sirens disquieting.

Gingerly, I descended the steep stairs down into the hull. Unlike the original Beaver, our replica had an empty hull divided into two parts by a wall of faux wooden tea crates. Near the ladder was a sleeping berth, a table with a few replica artifacts, and some interactive exhibits. Behind the crates of tea was the small cargo hold showcasing ballast stones and wall displays with more information about the events pre- and post-Tea Party.

The two light bulbs cast a miserly glow, throwing most of below decks into shadow and darkness. Brimming with tourists, the space was claustrophobic. Empty, it was cavernous and creepy. Who knew what manner of creature was waiting for me just outside the small pools of light? I immediately regretted bingewatching season one of The Walking Dead last night.

“Scurvy wench, are you still down there?”

“Be up in a second,” I yelled back, relieved that my voice was steadier than my nerves.

I was surprised to hear Jeff’s footsteps on the deck overhead. He was typically more the “you do your task, I’ll do mine” type. All the same, I was grateful to see his boots appear as he climbed down. My imagination didn’t fixate upon things that went bump in the night around him, preferring far more pleasant nocturnal activities.

“Good tour today. You’ve really nailed the accent. The guests would never know you’re the noob,” Jeff commented. “What is this, your third week?”

“Yes, thanks. I’ve been working really hard on my tour,” I smiled at him.

Jeff glanced at my wrist. “Let me give you a tip? Don’t let Andrew see you wearing a Hello Kitty watch. He’ll be an ass and lecture you that it’s not period.”

Ugh, Drew, if I hear “not period,” one more freaking time…

“Seriously? Why is he so strict? Is he going to buy me a period timepiece?” I pulled off my white cap and shook my hair free as I rolled my eyes. “Am I going to get in trouble for mascara, too? Where’s the line?”

Jeff gave me a slow once over. “Who knows what infractions you’re committing under your petticoats, m’lady? I’d be happy to give you a full inspection. I’m pretty sure that you’re wearing a bra, but I’d have to remove your corset and shift to be sure. We can catalog all the items you need to remove to ensure your authenticity.”

“Jeff, I—”

When he pressed a kiss to my neck, my words blurred into a moan. His teeth scraped my skin as he bit down gently, then laved the spot with his tongue. “I’m just trying to keep you out of trouble.”

“Sure you are,” I panted.

Jeff took me by the hand and led me behind the crates to the cargo hold. His mouth burned a path down my neck to my collarbone as his clever hands unlaced my corset.

My lips met Jeff’s hungrily as my back collided with the hull. I pushed Jeff’s tri-corn hat from his head so I could fist my hands in his thick brown hair. He parted his lips to let me explore uncharted territory, and his tongue teased mine as his hands traveled over my cotton shift.

Jeff broke the kiss. He gently pulled at the shift’s neckline. Peering down, he shook his head. “I don’t think they had blue lace bras in the Colonies,” he tsked. “No Ye Olde Felicity’s Secret for the maidens to shop at. I think I’ll need to check under your skirts as well.”

My breathing was shallow, as if I were still corseted. It was one thing to flirt and make out with Jeff, but entirely another to take it that far. I wavered, tempted by the pulsing between my legs. My relationship was on the rocks…

Footsteps on the deck above reverberated above us.

“Zombies!” I squeaked.

Jeff did a double-take, not quite stifling a snicker, “Did you just say zombies?”

Andrew’s voice echoed through the hull. “I think you’ll find this is a great location for your company party. We’ll do the full show, and then some of my actors can circulate while others serve hors d’oeuvres. This way.”

Jeff and I peered around the tea crates. Red high heels slowly descended the steps.

Jeff pulled me backwards, covering my mouth. “Shhh! There’s no reason for them to look back here. The interesting displays are out there.”

“What’s the big deal? We can just tell them we were closing up the ship,” I hissed, about to stand up.

He tugged me back down. “It’s not the first time I’ve gotten caught closing up the ship. Drew won’t believe you. C’mon, Hannah, please?”

I reconsidered. It might be embarrassing for him to get caught (again). I had bigger problems to deal with, chief among them the secret that our boss was also my boyfriend.

Drew and I had been dating for a few weeks when I’d gotten laid off from my crappy retail gig.

“Why not come work for me? You’re a history major. It would be a good fit.”

Taking the job had seemed like a great idea at the time. I could earn money and work at a job related to my major and hang out with my adorable new boyfriend. What could possibly go wrong?

The job wasn’t the problem. Doing the show was a blast. I loved making the Tea Party and the American Revolution come alive for the guests. The major drawback of the job was Andrew.

My adorable boyfriend turned out to enjoy the sound of his own voice more than anyone else’s. Worse, he was a dullard in the bedroom. I wanted to dump him, but I was worried that potential consequence of doing so was unemployment. I’d taken to praying to the Powerball Gods to free me from my dilemma. Sadly, the zombie apocalypse had better odds than hitting the jackpot.

“Will you be wearing one of those costumes? I can just picture you in tight black pants and an eye patch.”

Jeff rolled his eyes at me. “Not good at distinguishing historical events from Johnny Depp movies, is she?” he murmured in my ear.

“It’s not a pirate ship,” Drew said. “But I can threaten to make you walk the plank if you’re a bad girl.”

Gross. How fucking cheesy can you get?

“And what if I’m a good girl?” the woman purred.

Blech. You two deserve each other.

“This is like listening to terrible porn,” I whispered.

Jeff and I lay frozen behind the crates, listening to the activity on the other side. Drew and his paramour were noisy, slurpy kissers, but the sound was oddly arousing. Hearing them go at it reminded me of what Jeff’s lips had been doing to me moments earlier.

It seemed like we were going to be here for a while. I nibbled along Jeff’s jaw line to his lips. He quizzically raised an eyebrow at me. I nodded my assent. Our kisses, careful and quiet, echoed the kisses that were growing more heated at the other end of the ship.

I heard the metallic zing of a zipper. “Oh yeah, baby, take all of it,” Drew moaned.

“You have such a big cock,” she cooed. Rhythmic sucking and moaning ensued.

Such a big cock? She must be trying to get some kind of discount.

I’d been second-guessing hooking up with the hottest guy on the ship while my boyfriend was getting head from strangers? So he was just boring in bed with me? Any guilt I’d harbored before their arrival was now gone.

Fuck Drew.

I felt Jeff harden against me.

No, I decided, fuck Jeff.

“Are you wearing period underwear?” I questioned Jeff softly. Carefully, I slipped a hand between us. My fingers unlaced his trousers and slid inside. “Hmm…I think not.”

“I would. But going commando. In these. Would chafe. My favorite. Body parts,” his staccato whispers burst forth with each thrust of his hips against my hand.

“Hypocrite. I’ll have to give you ten lashes for that,” I murmured. “We’ll have to see if the cat-o-nine-tails on display really works.”

Jeff buried his face in my neck and moaned as his thrusts sped.

“Fuck. Don’t stop, baby!” Drew moaned. “Suck it!”

“Hannah,” Jeff groaned into my ear. “Suck it.”

I slithered down his body, careful not to bump the tea crates that kept us hidden. Freeing his cock from distinctly not-period red boxer briefs, I smiled in anticipation. I caught Jeff’s gaze and without looking away, l licked his cock from root to tip. My tongue made lazy circles around the head.

Jeff kept mouthing the word “please,” his expression growing more and more agonized. When I deep-throated him, he grabbed his tricorn hat off the floor and bit down on it to keep from making any sound.

“Christ, Hannah,” Jeff mumbled around the felt of his hat. “Your accent shouldn’t be the only oral talent on your resume.”

I heard the sound of things falling to the floor. “Up on the table, gorgeous. You’re not going to need that. No, leave the heels on, it’s wicked hot,” Drew said.

“It’s a front-clasp bra,” the woman instructed. “Mmmm, yes… Do that.”

“Come, here,” Jeff pulled me astride him. Taking his cues from the other couple, Jeff untied my shift, slipping it from my shoulders. Discarded, it pooled at my waist. “I see yours is not a front-clasp bra” he breathed in my ear. Jeff executed the kind of one-handed bra removal that only someone who’d had plenty of practice could manage.

My nipples puckered in the cool air of the hold. Jeff leaned forward to take one into his mouth. The warm tip of his tongue flicked my nipple as he sucked. His fingers tugged gently at my other nipple.

I pulled my skirts up. My pink thong was the only barrier between us.

“Leave the Doc Martens on…it’s wicked hot,” Jeff mocked Drew, causing me to stifle a laugh.

Jeff’s hand pulled my lacey excuse for underwear aside. His fingers waltzed over my clit. Biting my lips to keep quiet, I rocked my hips against him.

“Is it playing voyeur that’s got you so hot, or is it the risk of getting caught playing hide the musket?” Jeff’s breath was hot against my earlobe. His cock was hard as a length of iron against my thigh.

Ooh, that’s so good, Drew!” the girl moaned. “Fuck me!”

“Fuck me,” I echoed urgently.

“Good thing I was a boy scout.” Jeff reached into a knothole and pulled out a condom.

My eyes widened in surprise. There was a difference between hooking up on the ship and doing it so frequently that he kept supplies down here. By the time I had finished processing what he’d just seemingly pulled out of thin air (or, more accurately, thick wood) Jeff was repositioning me astride him. I hesitated for a moment.

“You’re the hottest chick I’ve ever had,” Drew grunted as the slap of skin on skin reverberated throughout the hull.

Now that’s just uncalled for.

Impaling myself on Jeff’s cock, I decided to give him a better ride than Drew had ever gotten from me.

“I doubt he’s had much opportunity for comparison,” Jeff murmured.

If only you knew, Jeff.

I moved cautiously, trying not to create the same loud noises giving away every thrust by the other couple. I circled my hips, pretending I was a stripper convincing a client that the champagne room would be worth the money.

“Do you wish I had you out there, bent over the captain’s table? Above deck, tied to the mast? A history major like you would probably love to get off in front of the Sam Adams portrait,” Jeff hissed as I took us higher.

“Why not go crazy and bend me over the display with the original tea chest in it?” I panted back, hips rocking.

“Christ, Hannah. Every time I’m in the museum from now on, that’s all I’m going to see.”

“Good.”

We were no longer completely silent, but the other couple seemed oblivious to us.

The woman’s moans from the other side of the boxes were starting to take on a bored tone. “Drew, that’s so good. Come for me, baby.”

That’s what I say when I want him to finish so I can masturbate once he’s gone home. Finding out that it’s more fizzle than sizzle with Drew, are we, mystery lady?

Jeff continued to describe crazy scenes. The gift shop’s contents, which has seemed like a jumbled mishmash of stereotypical souvenirs, now sounded positively pornographic.

“Want to hear more?” Jeff teased, pausing in his description.

“Yes, please,” I begged, eager for more.

Exactly what kind of mind did you need to come up with the idea to do that with a tea kettle? More to the point, how can I convince him to do it to me?

“Drew, yes, please!” She was losing enthusiasm fast.

“I’m going to come,” I whispered. “Cover my mouth, but keep talking.”

Jeff was mid-soliloquy describing all the places on the site he could tie me up using only a logo sweatshirt when my orgasm hit. It was the kind of typhoon whose monstrous waves were powerful enough to break apart the Beaver. I couldn’t help it, I moaned loud enough that Jeff’s hand didn’t adequately muffle it.

“Yeah, you love it, don’t you?” Drew groaned.

Thank God, he thought it was her.

“I can’t take much more! Come, please!” Her tone was taking on the same level of desperation the voyagers aboard the S. S. Minnow felt when their three hour tour turned into a multi-year stay on a desert island.

“I can’t take much more, Han. Can I come?” Jeff begged. I nodded enthusiastically.

“Baby!” Drew howled his orgasm.

“Hannah,” Jeff cried against my neck. I felt his body spasm as he came, and his head fell forward to rest upon my shoulder.

Jeff and I were still breathing heavily when Drew spoke.

“Fuck, that was hot. C’mon, I’ll take you up to my office,” Drew said. “We can sign the contracts and watch the playback from the security cameras.”

“Security cameras?” the woman sounded doubtful.

“Security cameras?” I gasped.

“I put in two after I caught one of my guys down here with chicks like, I dunno, six or seven times,” he laughed.

Jeff flinched. “Fuckfuckfuckfuck.”

“Wicked big pussyhound. He liked the captain’s table and behind the boxes over there. He must’ve found out because it’s been like three weeks and no action. But thanks to him we can see our own little video.”

I thought about the surprise waiting for him on the tape and cringed.

Hey, Zombies? You can start the apocalypse any time now.

 

I won NaNo and another snippet

Technically NaNo doesn’t end until Friday, but I uploaded and validated my win today with a grand total of 80,900 words. I finished both The Game of Love and Lab Rats.

The Game of Love is exactly the type of hot mess draft that just pushing through a story, even when deep down you know it’s weak and needs a lot of work, can produce. I knew it was a mistake not to go back and fix things, but I pushed through instead. Now what I have is a hot mess that will need so much editing it will be almost starting from scratch. Ironically this is the first novel I’ve ever outlined, and I guess part of me thought that it would help create a cleaner first draft. I’ve reread it and there’s promise, but it’s more like a draft I would have written a dozen years ago (aka the last time I won NaNo) that my current standard of writing.

Lab Rats is a whole other ballgame. I hope that after reading the snippet in the last post you also see the promise. Here’s another snippet from Chapter One, featuring my hero, who has a giant stick up his butt at the start of the book.

Dr Benjamin Wells didn’t watch daytime television. It was a frivolous waste of time, and the only frivolity he enjoyed was Star Trek: The Next Generation.

“Dr. Wells?” the brunette in the first row—Valerie Alvarez, according to the seating chart—waved her hand in an undignified manner.

“Yes, Ms. Alvarez?”

“Do you think that there’s any way, biologically speaking, that the viral video about the werewolf on that morning show is possible?”

“I think we should leave nonsense like werewolves to discount writers and movies, don’t  you?”

“So you don’t believe it?” The voice came from the back of the room without so much as a raised hand.

“I will admit to not seeing it, but no, I do not believe that such mutations are biologically probable,” Ben replied.

“You say not probable, not impossible.” Yet another student blathering on about this damned video.

Enough. Today’s lecture is on DNA methylation. You have all read the assigned reading, I hope.” From there he launched into his lecture.

The students, properly rebuked, opened their laptops and began to take notes. There were no more ridiculous suppositions about mythical creatures.

Once back in his office, though, curiosity got the better of him. What was this dratted video they were all going on about? He entered Video werewolf talk show into the search bar. Already ashamed of this waste of time, he clicked on the first search result.

He rolled his eyes at the pap his students were watching. What a waste of time. Was this some sort of mass joke on the professor in retaliation for a test he hadn’t graded on a curve? Trends in movies? Who cared?

“Screw that,” finished the actor and he stood. Ears shifted upwards on a head that was turning, indeed lupine in nature. Fingers became shorter and melded together into a paw. The screaming in the background was frenzied. Then the video cut out.

Ben wanted to dismiss it as CGI. But something deep inside of him—the reptilian part of his brain, he reasoned—quaked in fear. All of that rippling skin, hair sprouting from every inch of the body, hands blurring into paws made his stomach roil. If this was real, there seemed to be no way to know who was human or not until they exposed themselves. What if people of actual consequence—generals, the President, the Dean—was one of them?

Fear skittered along Ben’s spine.

The phone rang at seven that evening, just as he was about to leave his office and go home. He almost didn’t answer, but his stepmother’s cold voice droned in his head that when one is present it’s just good manners to answer a ringing telephone.

Ben picked up the phone. “Dr. Benjamin Wells.”

“This is General Abernathy with the US Army Medical Corps.” The voice was low and rumbled, yet carried an undeniable authority. It was a voice used to being obeyed.

“How can I help you, General?”

“It is the belief of our scientists that you are the best person to examine the werewolf. Your paper on mutations of human cells suggests you can tell us if this is a mutation or something entirely inhuman.”

Benjamin blinked several times. “You want me to experiment on a werewolf?”

“Yes. We have it in custody, and in a reinforced cage. We can get you the blood you need to conduct your research. Will you serve your country?”

Revulsion flooded Benjamin’s body. He wanted to go back to this morning, before he’d heard about the video. He didn’t want anything to do with mutants or the government. But another voice twined through his brain—someone will do their research for them. They will be famous, able to get tenure at any university Think of the research money. The two impulses battled for supremacy.

Benjamin was as surprised to hear himself say, “Yes, sir, I will.”

“Excellent. I will meet you in your office at oh-six-hundred tomorrow morning.”

“Yes, sir.”

The phone clicked, signalling that the General had hung up.

What have I agreed to?

Nano progress and a snippet

With only eight days left, most of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is behind me. I’ve “won” in that I’ve written more than 50,000 words this month–an unprecedented level of success and productivity. I guess this is what I can do with basically no distractions like television (I genuinely forgot Outlander was back, and I’m a huge fan), keeping my book playlists on repeat so that the characters are constantly in my head, and dragging my laptop literally everywhere. It’s also what I can do when I dance on the edge and sometimes slightly into the manic side of my bipolar disorder, which is kind of exhausting, honestly.

I think it’s healthy to have a daily writing goal and it’s helping me quite a bit right now. But I’m also going to have to go into an editing phase and I’ll need to figure out how I can write and edit at the same time. Historically I’ve only focused on one and that means huge lags between my projects. It’s been two years since Capturing the Moment was published (three since it was accepted for publication) and while there have been huge changes in that time, like an international move, I have not always used my time well. I have some ideas for New Years Resolutions, but we shall see how things progress from here.

Thus far in Nano I have completed the book about love and espionage at a video game company  (which is either a long novella or a short novel), and am about 90% done with the second big project of November which is a long novella about what comes after the Were community is exposed on national television, and what will be the first in my first series of stories.

In the meantime, he’s the opening from that Shapeshifter book, which I’m currently calling Lab Rats

Everything went to hell in less time than it took to conduct a five minute interview on Wake Up LA!

Liz Green, the perky blonde co-host batted her eyelashes at Justin Carson. He was a deliciously hot up and coming actor. She wondered if he had a girlfriend, and if he might be amenable to a little extracurricular activity in her dressing room. She leaned forward, just enough to give Justin a glimpse down the front of her top.

“So what do you think of the new trend? Zombies are in, werewolves and vampires are out.”

“Zombies suck,” Justin said flatly.  “Werewolves are where it’s at.  You think dead humans are scary when they want to suck you blood or eat your face?  That’s not scary. You know what’s scary, Liz?  When you can’t tell the monsters from the humans. How can you?  Anyone here could be a werewolf. I could a werewolf.”

Liz, laughed nervously. “I had no idea you were so passionate about scary movies!”

She had never lost control of an interview before, and Justin wasn’t about to faze her. He was probably teasing a new project. She could picture him in a horror flick, and even more clearly, she could picture herself clinging to his arm, pressing her face against his broad shoulder, his arm coming around her to hold her close. Later that night, he’d tease her for being so scared of make believe creatures, and then he’d rock her world six ways from Sunday.

“But you know what, Liz?  No one thinks they’re real, so humans get cast to play werewolves.”

Liz laughed and played along. “Sounds like you’ve got a very meta project coming up. Actors playing werewolves who are actually werewolves. Give us another hint.”

Justin growled. Actually growled.

Nervously, Liz looked at her notecards. “So how did you connect with the character of Grant for After Dark?”

Justin stared at her, unblinking.

Liz glanced at the camera. The interview was D.O.A. and she still had three minutes to fill. Her foot jiggled, the heel bouncing against the floor. The idea of hot sex in her dressing room was starting to fade in the harsh light of a bad interview. She knew she’d be blamed for it—bad delivery of questions, not enough effort at chemistry, making him upset. She took a deep breath, then flashed a dazzling smile at Justin.

“I heard the producers are hoping to start a whole After Dark franchise.”

Maybe that would get this interview back on track. Most actors couldn’t wait to talk about how their franchise was going to be the biggest thing since the Marvel Cinematic Universe series of movies. Please let this get him out of whatever snit he was in. Please, please, please.

“Weres are scared of being outed, and this is the consequence.  Screw that.”

Justin’s hands clenched the armrests of his chair, and his knuckles turned white from the pressure. His nails scraped over the buttery leather, leaving marks in their wake.

“Um…” God help her, she was going to have to dump to commercial. Liz sat back, and squirmed, no longer thinking of sweaty trysts on the soft blue coverlet of the daybed she’d picked over having a couch in her dressing room. At this point, she’d be grateful just to climb into the daybed and pull that coverlet over her head until she could face the world again after this horrific goose egg of an interview.

Justin stood up. He kicked off his shoes, but his paws ripped through the socks. His jeans shredded as his legs contorted, becoming shorter and thicker. His face elongated, and suddenly long canines snapped at his shirt until it, too, ripped and fell away from his body. Within a minute, a large wolf had replaced the handsome man.

Liz screamed, and fell off her chair, out of view of the camera. She skittered backwards, away from the monster she’d actually fantasized about fucking. She could feel a wetness spreading under her as she peed herself in fear. She scrambled to her feet, kicked off her heels and ran as fast as she could toward the safety of her dressing room, which had a solid lock. She’d be safe there, or so she hoped.

As Liz was escaping, the audience had fallen into chaos. People were shoving each other, willing to trample the less vulnerable in an effort to get away as fast as possible. Screams mingled with sobbing as the reality that this wasn’t some strange special effect—this was a real honest-to-God werewolf. And if you believed him, he wasn’t the only one. They fled as if he were on their heels, about to take a big bite out of them.

A woman wearing a smart blue pantsuit with tasteful gold jewelry dashed into the frame.

“Justin, we need to go. Now!”

The large wolf snarled at her.

“I said now,” she snarled back.

The wolf turned its head to the camera, tilted its head back, and howled.

The video cut out.

NaNoWriMo 2k18

Last year I wrote a blog post talking about why I wouldn’t do NaNo and what makes it a bad idea for me.

GUESS WHAT I’M DOING?!?!111

So I am doing NaNo this year (add me as your buddy–Delilah Night), *but* instead of starting a new project, I’m continuing to work on my contemporary romance about love and espionage at a video game company. I also keep telling myself that I don’t care about making daily word count, but then I low-key got stressed yesterday because my daughter’s birthday party took over my day and all my energy. (Yes, again. My two have birthdays three weeks apart.) 

Ask me on Dec 1 if this was a good idea of complete folly.

To get me through the month, I’m only going to post once or twice a week, with some cross posting to keep me sane.

Romance Writer’s Blog Challenge–If I weren’t writing

Today’s question is what would I do if I couldn’t write. The answer is simple–I’d be a teacher. In fact, I used to be a teacher until Athena was born almost ten years ago.

I used to teach middle school Math and History, and I was damned good at it. I had only intended to take a year long break from teaching when I had her, but she had serious health issues and needed me. So I stayed home. Then we moved to Singapore. So I stayed home. Then we had my younger daughter who is nicknamed Bunny (because she was born in the year of the rabbit and her class was always the bunnies). Then I started writing professionally. I did some freelancing.

I’ve thought about going back. I’m getting my paperwork together to transfer my teaching license to California, but it’s more of a “break glass in case of emergency,” sort of thing. Besides writing and doing the mom thing, I also have fibromyalgia, which is an illness with chronic pain. It’s questionable if I *could* go back as several medications I take make it hard for me to wake up from. I have trouble getting out of bed before 11 most days. I’ve started doing my girls’ hair at night in tight braids that will survive the night and the next day of school because it’s questionable if I can be waken up enough in the morning to do their hair.

So I guess the real answer is that if I couldn’t write, I’d watch a lot of tv and read, I likely wouldn’t be able to go back to teaching.

Sorry, I didn’t realize how depressing this entry would be.

Just in time for Halloween–Blood in the Rain Vol 4

Ready to get into the Halloween frame of mind? Just love Vampires? Blood in the Rain, Vol 4 is now on sale. 3.99 on Kindle. 

For as Long as You Need Me is my story

A vampire who only hunts men. A war veteran with PTSD. Will she be his death or his salvation?

 

Romance Writer’s Blog Challenge–How much of you is in your writing?

***First a little business. After this post I’m on vacation until 10/17, after which I’ll tell you all about my adventures in New Orleans, and maybe share a tidbit of a story I started that is set in New Orleans, but have mostly abandoned at this point***

Today’s question is how much of myself is in my writing.

This is a tough one. I think something personal has inspired all of my stories and that there’s a little of me in every heroine.

When I wrote Renewal, I was reconnecting with my own spouse after giving birth to my second child. It was an intensely personal story. While my marriage’s response to kid #2 was different from that of my characters, at heart there was a deep connection.

Capturing the Moment lifts huge chunks of my trip to Cambodia. Every picture Meg takes is a picture I took. Every place she goes, I went. The encounter with the baby monkey? I stole it from myself.

In my new book, my heroine is a giant nerd, just like me. So is Blitzen, for all that he’s male, he is a giant nerd, too.

If I don’t relate to the characters, I can’t write them well. So every character has a little piece of me–a snarky sense of humor, they like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, they’re independent, they think banter is foreplay. But obviously each character has their own personalities. I didn’t know that there would be a surprise wedding in a story. In another Persephone is far more timid and in her head than I originally conceived.

Ultimately I try to let the character have their own voice. If they don’t then every character will be just like every other one I’ve written.

Romance Writers Blog Challenge: Favorite Thing I’ve Written

I’m very late to the game on the weekly Romance Writers Blog Challenge, but here we go.

What is your favorite thing you’ve written and why

The obvious answer would be Capturing the Moment. After all it’s the book I finished. It’s the book that was accepted for publication by Totally Bound. It’s the book that’s currently on sale at The Ripped Bodice. Or maybe it’s Renewal, since that was my first sale. Or my pet project–The North Pole Chronicles (all of the three installments thus far can be found under the Deliciously Free tab at the top of the page).

But no, the answer is Plunder. As I lack a publisher and a cover at the moment, please accept this picture of Hook from Once Upon a Time.

Plunder is the longest thing I’ve written by easily 50% more book. It is the most complex. Capturing the Moment was a slice of life–one day in Siem Reap as tourists. The main characters were the majority of the book with very little in the way of secondary characters (her driver, her sister, the owner of the Indian restaurant). Because I grounded the book in real places, doing things that I did (mostly–no naked photo shoots in the falling down temple at Preah Khan, for one), it didn’t feel like I had to do a ton of world building in the same way that I did for a historical book with an actual bad guy, and two ships’ crews among other characters. You may never have been to Angkor Wat, but I have and I can describe it for you. I’m just as much a stranger to 1700 as you are, which made it both harder to write and something to be proud of.

I did tons of research to bring Plunder to fruition. With Capturing the Moment it was unintentional research–it was a trip I went on as a vacation from my life as a wife/mom (off topic–solo travel is awesome). All of that research was exhausting. Figuring out things like what clothes they’d actually wear, and that desks hadn’t been invented yet and a ton of other anachronisms that I’m sure my editor will find and help me fix even with that research. I’m really proud of the effort I put forward.

Beyond that, I think Bree and William are hands down my favorite characters thus far. She’s sarcastic and independent and isn’t here for anyone’s shit. He’s charming and arrogant and sexy as hell. Together they’re explosive. Maybe I shouldn’t say that because it will set your expectations too high. But I’m saying it. My betas say it, even when they are picking apart other aspects. The chemistry is off the charts.

Maybe it will get picked up by an agent. Maybe a publisher will want it. Maybe I’ll self-publish. But whether it sells five copies or five million, I’ll still be incredibly proud. And my goal with the next book is to take my game up another notch.

 

Masterclass with Margaret Atwood

***This is not a sponsored post. I am writing this blog post because I want to***

 

One day as I was scrolling through my personal  (as opposed to my DN page) Facebook feed I saw an ad for something called “Masterclass.” I saw things like Shonda Rhimes teaches writing for television, which sounded cool, but didn’t speak to me. Then one day there was an ad for Margaret Atwood Teaches Creative Writing. Maybe it came up with this because I like the Red All Over fangroup of The Handmaid’s Tale. Or it showed up because I talk about writing a lot. Regardless, I saw it and I was intrigued.

I went to the Masterclass site, and saw that the online course of twenty lessons cost $90. This is obviously a limiting factor for a number of people, and it sucks if it is a limiting factor for you. I grew up poor and even though I was a teacher, I have massive student loans–the only reason I can afford this sort of thing is that via my partner, our family has economic privilege. But full access to the site for a year was 180, or the cost of two classes. Was there at least one more class I wanted to take? There’s also a Judy Blume Teaches Creative Writing class, and that appealed to me. I also want to study cooking with Gordon Ramsay. Other cooking classes. Maybe watch the videos for the Shonda Rhimes or R.L. Stine because whether I want to write for tv or young audiences or not (it’s not) I can probably get some useful writing information. So I paid my 180 and started my Margaret Atwood class.

I am on lesson five and I find it really helpful that I can take the class at my own speed. One day I got through two lessons, but I haven’t done any for almost a week because life stuff came up. I love learning, but being a mom can be limiting sometimes–a college class sounds both wonderful and like too much commitment all at once, for example.

Each class has a 10-15 minute lecture by Margaret Atwood, and then there’s a pdf reviewing what she talked about including an assignment. The videos don’t cut perspective as much as the trailer does–the trailer is a bit irritating that way, tbh. What I find most helpful, though, is listening to Margaret talk about writing. Is it news that you should do revisions? No, but hearing her talk about it as re-vision-ing instead of revision reframed the concept from onerous chore to an opportunity (that is still kind of onerous, but less emotionally taxing that before).

If it is something that has interested you, feel free to ask questions in comments and I’ll answer them to the best of my ability.

Missing the Mark

There have been several occasions where I’ve missed the mark, professionally. Times when I mangled the call, or pushed myself to write something I think the person might like that isn’t true to who I am, or just plain fucked up.

I have rushed to submit. Sometimes, even though you’d love to be part of an anthology, you miss the mark because you rushed, and the quality of your work suffered. Sometimes all you get is the rejection. But sometimes the editor lets you know that they like your work, but what you sent them is half baked. Sometimes you just have to say that you’d love to have been a part of something but your work just wasn’t ready.

I have pushed myself to be edgy. I wrote a story called “Lab Rats” last year to submit to a call. I thought the author wanted edgy, so I ended without the happily ever after/for now, and ended on an ominous note. I haven’t given up on the story, but I’ve put it to the side for now. It would fold into the larger paranormal I want to write at some point, and will be much more romance and less edge. I’d say write true to who you are. If you love happy endings, don’t feel guilty for writing happy endings–with everything going in the world today, we need happy endings. And if you’re dark and ominous, be dark and ominous.

I have triggered beta readers on several occasions. We all have our buttons and it’s hard to know when you’re going to hit someone’s buttons. I can’t read any story where someone gets kidney damage–it’s an oddly specific one, but because Athena almost died as a baby and lost a kidney to that infection, it’s very triggering to me to read that sort of thing. But somethings just don’t work, and don’t come across the way you mean them to, and it upsets your readers. Sometimes it’s a not every book is for every reader. Other times, it’s that I fucked up and hurt someone unintentionally. But intentions don’t matter when you cause someone grief. You just hope they can forgive you.

But when you fall down, own up and accept the consequences. No one is perfect, but we can all strive to do better. As authors, and as people.