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Petticoats and Push Up Bras

 

When I was in college, one of my jobs was to work as a costumed tour guide at The Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum as it was known in those days. I led a “re-enactment” of the Tea Party on a rotating basis with the other tour guides. We’d start off in a town hall set up, and then I’d lead them down a gangplank to a reproduction ship called The Beaver (yes, really) to a crescendo of throwing (Styrofoam, attached to the ship via a thick, long rope) chests of “tea” off the deck of the ship.

I also happened to be dating my boss.

No, I never had sex on the ship, but rumor had it that employees had gotten it on below decks.

Which led to the idea of a story set at my old workplace…Petticoats and Push Up Bras.

Here’s a snippet

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?”

Be my friend on Goodreads

I used to have two Goodreads accounts. One was under my IRL name, where I reviewed most of what I read (when I remembered). The other was under Delilah Night, where I only reviewed erotica, because I thought my readers wouldn’t want to know what I thought of this urban fantasy or that YA book.

However, that got to be a giant hassle and I stopped reviewing on Goodreads completely.

This year, however, I have gotten back in the saddle and decided to only use the Delilah Night account for all my books. Further, I set myself a goal of reading 100 books this year, and have been faithfully documenting everything I’ve read, and I am on my fortieth book this year.

I’d like to invite you to be my friend on Goodreads. I do read and review erotic romance and erotica, but I’m also a fantasy, YA, memoir, and romance fan.

Top Books I’ve read (so far) this year are

  • A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole, which is about a grad student named Naledi, who keeps getting bizarre emails telling her she’s the betrothed to a prince of an African country. Certain this is a scam, she emails them back to Fuck Off. Prince Thabiso is in search of the girl he was betrothed to as a child. When he goes to confront her, and she thinks he’s a waiter she was supposed to train, he doesn’t correct her. Great story, good pacing, hot sex scenes.
  • Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, which is the story of Zacharias, a freed slave who has risen to the position of Sorcerer Royal in an alternate version of London. He’s trying to solve the question of where all the magic in England is going. Prunella is a woman with immense magical powers in a world where women aren’t supposed to have such powers. She is looking for a husband, and convinces Zacharias to help her. The first section of the book is slow, but once Prunella is introduced, it really takes off. The book doesn’t gloss over the racial prejudices both Zacharias and Prunella face, and that makes it a richer novel. I’m looking forward to the second book.
  • Hamilton’s Battalion by Alyssa Cole, Courtney Milan, and Rose Lerner. As a total Hamilfan, I had to read this anthology of three novellas. The framing device for the anthology is that soldiers are coming to Eliza Hamilton’s house to share the story of serving with her husband (something the real Eliza Hamilton actually did). The first story, my favorite, is called Promised Land–the story of Rachel who has disguised herself as “Ezra” to fight for the country she believes in. She thinks Jews will be more welcomed in a free/fair America, and her Judaism is a big part of the story. The second is The Pursuit of, which tells the story of a Black soldier and the white British deserter and how they fall in love—and lots of cheese. So much cheese. I mean literal cheese, not that it’s cheesy. The final story is That Could Be Enough, which is the story of Eliza’s secretary, and the dressmaker who worms her way into her heart.
  • A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena, which is a realistic fiction YA novel set in Saudi Arabia. The story is told from multiple viewpoints to create a complex portrayal of a girl who died in a car with a man she was unrelated to.
  • Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. Noah’s memoir about being half white/half black in South Africa during and after Apartheid is incredibly eye opening. Seeing him on The Daily Show, you’d never imagine half of what he has done and experienced.

I’m currently reading the eleventh book in the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire, which is great urban fantasy set in and around San Francisco (which, coincidentally is where I moved a year ago). I am a huge fan of McGuire (who also writes as Mira Grant). If you jump into the series, read it in order as McGuire is constantly world building, and things that happen in one book often have consequences in another book. Stay with the series until book three/book four. The first two are the weakest (but are still good), but for me the series really began to take off with book three. I’m a bit bereft as when I finish this I’ll have to wait until September for book twelve.

Upcoming books include

  • We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy
  • Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
  • Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card
  • Touched by an Alien
  • Beneath the Sugar Sky

What are you reading? What do you think I should add to my to-read shelf? Add me as a friend on Goodreads if you use it.

Review: Bad for the Boss by Talia Hibbert

I first heard about Bad for the Boss on Alisha Rai’s Twitter feed.  (Side note–Alisha Rai is an amazing author and you should read her books.) She was tweeting about how Bad for the Boss featured a plus-sized heroine and that it was well handled, and that there was an instance of sexual harassment that well handled. I was intrigued.

I bought bad for the boss from Amazon for my kindle app and couldn’t put it down.

Jennifer is a plus sized woman with a dark past. She’s working as a social media rep in an advertising company. The office sleaze is hitting on her, and she sends an email to her friend asking for help to get her out of this situation. But she didn’t send it to her friend–she sent it to one of the partners.

Theo is a work-obsessed man who is unprepared for the accidental email, and is intrigued. He replies, insisting that the work-place should be harassment free, and adds a more personal note. When she replies with a reassurance that she’s fine, but a snarky ps, he’s hooked. He needs to meet Jen.

The connection between the two is irresistible, and as a reader I totally bought in. Jen and Theo are three dimensional people, and you see a glimpse of their lives beyond the office. While Theo is Chinese and Jen is Black, race isn’t an issue beyond a few respectful gestures. Nor is Jen’s weight an obstacle–Theo is hooked on her curves and finds her gorgeous, full stop. As a fat woman myself, it was so refreshing to see a plus sized heroine who I liked and identified with.

When dark things happen, Theo wants to protect Jen, but I don’t want to spoil the ending.

The book is a fast, hot read (I was ready to jump my partner after some of the sex scenes, or failing that, find some other release). I was thrilled to find out there’s a sequel, and have already bought it.

I highly recommend Bad for the Boss. If all the erotica I read this year is this hot, I’ll burn out my vibrator.

2017: The Year in Review

It’s about that time of year again when we take stock of the year that has been and think towards the year that will be.

2017 was rough. I oversaw an international move from Singapore back to the US. I had fantasies of doing the full rewrite of Plunder during the two weeks my children were with my in-laws. That didn’t happen.

myths monsters mutations

Once I was ready to start writing again (aka my kids were in summer day camp for half of the summer/were both in school in the fall) I spent a great deal of time rewriting and expanding “For Love of Snow White.” from a few thousand words to over 10k. It was published earlier this month in Myths, Monsters, Mutations.

pirate 2

Now I’ve returned to working on Plunder, and I’m only at about the halfway mark. It’s expanded from 50k to nearly 60k, most of it written in the past month (or roughly 1/5 the amount in the NaNo challenge–such is life).

I’m learning to forgive myself for not writing as much as I think I should. I am not yet someone who can burn out 3-4k words a day, or even 2k. I need to learn that that is okay–that I have other commitments that will affect the ebb and flow of my writing.

That said, I am committed to finishing Plunder in 2018. I also aspire to write one to two reindeer stories as this is the first year in the last four where I didn’t write or publish one. I’m considering editing an anthology as well.

 

Have you read Under the Mistletoe?

Last year I released my first anthology, Coming Together Under the Mistletoe.

Under the Mistletoe is a December themed anthology of poetry and prose featuring great stories by Ashe Barker, Malin James, Sonni de Soto, Sommer Marsden and more. The anthology opens on December first and a reindeer learning she’s joining Santa’s Team with only a few weeks of warning and ends with a couple reuniting on December 31st.

All proceeds go to Project Linus, a cause very dear to my heart–they give hand made blankets to children in crisis. My elder daughter, Athena, received one when she was in the Intensive Care Unit as an infant, and it was a kindness that was a bright moment in a time of darkness.

Winter themed smut plus a good cause? Who can resist? If you’ve read it, please leave an Amazon review, even if it’s just “great anthology.” Author and anthology visibility is highly dependent upon the number of (positive) reviews, so I can’t stress the importance of reviews enough.

Open Calls

My dear friend/editor has open calls for three anthologies (one erotica, two non-erotica). She’s such a great editor to work with. Jessica can help you take your work to the next level because she’s willing to work with you to build a stronger story rather than overwrite your voice.

Here are her open calls…

Wavelengths

Sometimes communication is not as straightforward as we might expect. From body language to Morse code, conveying messages comes in a wide variety of forms. How do we get our message across? Whether you’re talking with other species on this planet or another, we’re looking for your loquacious conversations!  (not erotica–DN)

Sensory Perceptions

Loose your imagination’s libido in this very spec-fic collection of erotica tales. We want plot-focused stories with enrapturing storytelling where the erotica and romance enhance the story rather than being the main goal. Your level of explicitness may vary—the important part is the tale itself. We can’t wait to read your stories!

unrealpolitik

Some of the best speculative fiction stories today have derived from the tumultuous political times of the past from authors seeking to highlight injustice or simply work through their own frustration. We are indeed living in interesting times, locally and globally (and intergalactically?). Whether the subject is government or espionage or even something only tangentially related, we would love to read your stories!

 

 

 

 

Why I’m not doing NaNoWriMo

I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) several times and “won” once. Since I’ve had kids I’ve usually tried to do it, and failed every time.

Chris Brecheen’s post NaNoWriMo: The Good, The Bad, and The Really, Really Ugly inspired me to write this post, but I agree with many of his reasons not to do it, and I’ll use my own experiences to highlight why. Chris’s points are in black.

It’s a terrible month to do it. As a mom I’m already overwhelmed by life in general. However in November I have one child’s birthday (and birthday party), Thanksgiving with all the attendant cooking and the added bonus of my children at home for three days, the usual family commitments–rock climbing/gymnastics/Mandarin/karate, along with the day to day stuff. Now I’m sure I could find things to complain about every month, and the pace of my own writing reflects that I have never really found the balance between writing and family, but November seems like a rough month in general.

Some people stop writing because of it/It instills a sense of failure.

However, even though I know Nano is a popular event among aspiring writers, I implore people who have never had any real experience writing a high word count every day not to participate or at least to lower the word count or in some other way practice self-care. I wish I could tell you they always listened. But we don’t live in the magical sugar cane land of rainbow unicorn farts and candy corn mountains. Instead, Charlie gets his kidney cut out, and what I have is a collection of friends and acquaintances in various levels of existential crises about whether they’re even really writers and how impossible writing can be. They burned out like shooting stars and slammed into the unforgiving wall of Nanowrimo.

Because of Nano, there are some people out there who AREN’T writers anymore.

The one year I won, I felt like a million dollars and I felt inspired to start a blog that I dutifully wrote in for two years until I had a kid. However, it should also be said that the one year I won I’d just had back surgery and wasn’t allowed to do very much. I basically stayed in my house alone, watched tv, and wrote. NaNo was the thing that brought me back to writing after not having done much of it in six years. However, the first time I attempted and failed NaNo, I didn’t shrug it off. I did feel like a failure. I didn’t exactly stop writing, but I stopped believing I could write a full book. I stopped and started and failed to write several books, which reinforced that belief. I couldn’t even get them to fifty thousand words, much less more, which reinforced that belief. Completing NaNo isn’t a measuring stick by which you can define your ability to write.

People think they’ve written a novel. Fifty thousand words is a lot but as Chris points out, it’s also a totally abitrary number. For most anthologies I’ve been involved in, it’s the bare minimum for a print run. It’s nearly two hundred double spaced pages. But by most publishing house’s standards, it’s a long-ish novella. A full on novel is usually nearly double NaNo’s goal of fifty thousand words. Further, like Chris points out, there’s a whole cottage industry around NaNo that preys on the winners, offering to publish their books for a fee. Or authors shoot themselves in the foot and self publish without an edit. I certainly felt “done” and was super proud of my “book.” I even printed it out and had it bound. That doesn’t make it a book and more importantly it doesn’t make it a good book.

It emphasizes word count over everything. Let’s build on that–it’s all about vomiting up a first draft. About halfway through Not What His Mother Expected (I know, terrible title) I realized that the main couple wasn’t the interesting part of the book. His sister and her girlfriend would’ve made a far better star. But I didn’t start over and rewrite it as Not What HER Mother Expected. I kept going because you’re not supposed to edit–you’re just supposed to vomit out your ~1700 words a day–and part of the reason NWHME sucks is that it really shouldn’t be about the main couple. Further, there’s no real emphasis on the all the work that comes after. There’s no EDitDEcember (and Jan and Feb and and and). There’s no real value of craft.

Personally, I learned my craft first when I wrote, obviously. You can’t edit or improve that which you never wrote. I started on Literotica.com, which I highly recommend for erotica authors. I found a supportive community, which in turn encouraged me to write more. I got better by writing more stories. But I didn’t really get better until I started editing. Finding good beta readers who didn’t stroke my ego, but rather told me what sucked was bruising. I still brace myself when I get comments from betas or editors. Writing fifty thousand words one time did prime the pump, so to speak, but it isn’t what made me a good writer.

I stopped writing this entry to go and find my NaNo story. The prologue was so bad I could barely get through it. Honestly, it’s so bad I can’t even bring myself to share anything beyond the title with you.

Word count matters eventually. Short story submissions usually have a minimum and maximum word count. As I said above, short story anthologies usually have a minimum word count to get a print run, and publishing houses each have their own rules about what constitutes a short story/novella/novel. But you will not be published (outside of self publishing) if you don’t edit.

Also, word count outside your novel doesn’t count for NaNo. This blog post is over a thousand words and I wrote another blog post for my other blog about moving my cat to Singapore. Probably about the daily NaNo word count between them, but neither “count.” Technically, neither does any of the editing/extending that I’m doing on Plunder because it’s not a new, shiny story that I started on November 1, 2017. And I find that irritating because all of it is writing. Maybe in thirteen years, when my youngest is in college I could do NaNo as a personal challenge over and above whatever novel I’m editing and blogging (or whatever we’ll be doing in thirteen years) but certainly not this year.

So no, I’m not doing NaNo, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. If you want to do it, go for it. But be aware of the high “failure” rate and don’t beat yourself up for not finishing. Don’t beat your chest and think you’re done when you do finish (well, beat your chest because it is an accomplishment). I’ll cheer you on, but I’ll do so from the bleachers.