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Even More Cambodia Photos (and a giveaway)

On Saturday, I shared photos of monks in honor of Vesak Day, and yesterday I posted photos of places that were featured in Capturing the Moment. Today I’m going to share a few last photos from my 2014 trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia. These are photos of things and places and people that/who do not appear in the book. All photos that feature a person were taken with their consent. If you wish to use a photo, please ask.

 

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As I shared yesterday, while schools are free in Cambodia, many children do not attend because they can’t afford the uniforms or textbooks. Children whose parents make a living at the temples, such as Angkor Wat, are often to put to work at a young age, selling postcards and other trinkets. Some are able to go to school (as school is a half-day program) and work, while others never get the chance. If you’re interested in helping out these children, you can

  • donate to the Cambodian School Project
  • shop the online store of Artisans of Angkor--a non-governmental agency that trains and employs over 1300 Cambodians to learn the art forms that were nearly wiped out by decades of warfare. I can attest that these are beautifully made products–I have a number of them in my house. (And yes, if you read the book and are wondering–I own both a linga & yuni, and mango massage oil)

If you haven’t entered it, don’t forget my Amazon giveaway for Capturing the Moment.

More Cambodia Photos (and a giveaway)

On Saturday, Vesak Day, I posted my photos of monks taken around Siem Reap, Cambodia. Today I’m going to share a selection of other photos from that trip. I limited today’s photos to a few places that appear in the book. I have done my best to put them in the correct order. If you’re interested in getting or using a specific photo, just reach out and ask.

 

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While schools are free in Cambodia, many children do not attend because they can’t afford the uniforms or textbooks. Children whose parents make a living at the temples, such as Angkor Wat, are often to put to work at a young age, selling postcards and other trinkets. Some are able to go to school (as school is a half-day program) and work, while others never get the chance. If you’re interested in helping out these children, you can

  • donate to the Cambodian School Project
  • shop the online store of Artisans of Angkor--a non-governmental agency that trains and employs over 1300 Cambodians to learn the art forms that were nearly wiped out by decades of warfare. I can attest that these are beautifully made products–I have a number of them in my house. (And yes, if you read the book and are wondering–I own both a linga & yuni, and mango massage oil)

If you haven’t entered it, don’t forget my Amazon giveaway for Capturing the Moment.

Happy Vesak Day (and a giveaway)

Two years ago today I was in Cambodia, exploring the sites that would eventually form the setting for my book Capturing the Moment.

In honor of that anniversary, which happens/happened to coincide with Vesak Day (Buddha’s birthday), I’m sharing some of my photos of Buddhist monks, taken in Siem Reap, Cambodia. (If you want a copy of a photo or want to use a photo, just ask.)

In honor of Vesak Day, there was a grand gathering and procession of monks around Siem Reap. It happened to start at my hotel, which was a great opportunity to take some photos. In honor of the gathering, though, I ran into monks everywhere–at the temples, on the street, teachers taking their students around, and so forth. You’ll notice a lot of children–Cambodia is still a very poor country. If your son becomes a monk, he’ll be fed, clothed, and educated. Many families choose this path for their sons.

This is just a small sampling of my photos.

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I’m also giving away ten copies of Capturing the Moment on kindle (US residents 18+ only, sorry). Enter the Amazon Giveaway here.

updated so I could add captions!

HUGE ANNOUNCEMENT–Capturing the Moment

Angkor Wat at Dawn

 

I’ve been prattling on about Meg and RJ and Siem Reap, Cambodia since January.  Well, I have awesome news…

I have signed a contract with Totally Bound, and the story, called Capturing the Moment will be published in 2016!!!!

This is a major milestone for me as a writer–it will be my first solo publication. This is the first time I’ve had input on a cover. The first time I’ll get a credit in my name on Amazon. My first solo credit on Goodreads.

To celebrate, here’s another teeny peek at their story

 

Once seated in the vehicle, RJ kissed Meg thoroughly. “Tell me more about the strippers and how you got naked in the Champagne Lounge with them. Tell me about how all the businessmen made it rain money while you guys sixty-nined each other.”

She laughed. “No wonder you’re so successful. That’s quite the vivid imagination you’ve got there. But I think you’re forgetting something.”

“You’re right. I totally forgot the whipped cream. Who licked it off who?”

Shaking her head, she said “You’ve forgotten about the dance you owe me. It’s the idea of you stripping that’s got me all hot and bothered. So now you owe me the dance, and you have to make sure it’s good enough to make up for leaving the Aspara performance, too.”

RJ pulled away. “Wait a minute. You deliberately misinterpreted what I said. You owe me a dance, Megan. Not the other way around.”

“So you’re going to chicken out?” she taunted.

Peek at a WIP

Apparently having fearless hair has bled over into my professional life. Or at least the positive mindset that came about because of dyeing my hair. I’m well into the edits for the Siem Reap novella.  Here’s the set up for and a flashback scene from early in Meg and RJ’s relationship while they’re having sex in the present day.

batman mask

“Do you remember the first time you came on my tits?” Meg’s voice was husky.

RJ could barely manage words. “After the costume party. Your first year. You wore a Little Red Riding Hood costume.”

***

The sexy costume was so different from the quiet Meg he usually knew. He’d felt like the big, bad wolf as he’d fantasized about pushing her into a dark corner and doing all sorts of wicked deeds to her. When they were dancing, she’d rubbed herself against his rod, adding fuel to the fire. The second her bedroom door was shut, she was on her knees, dress pushed down to her waist, eager to free him from the black jeans. She’d sucked him so well, RJ had forgotten that he was still wearing the Batman mask when he started to come. She’d popped off at just the right moment for him to shoot his load all over her breasts.

***

Siem Reap: Let the Edits Begin

When I first started writing erotica, my writing process went like this—

I would sit down and write a story. I would re-read it and do some light editing. I would spell-check it. Then I would submit it for publication on literotica. Within a few days, the story would be published. Email feedback would roll in. I would bask in my awesomeness. Fin

literotica

The thing about writing for literotica or any of the fan fiction hubs is that there is an audience for everyone. As a new writer, that sort of positive community support and feedback can be so valuable for building confidence, especially if you have a fragile ego.

My most productive period on literotica was when I was a graduate student in New York City. The program was a terrible fit for me. I came to the realization that I didn’t want the career I’d been focused on for years. I was new to the city, shy, broke, and miserable. There were weeks when getting a positive review email from a literotica reader was the only good thing that happened to me.

Looking back at that work, while there are stories that show promise—a scene, a character, an idea—the reality is that they are largely crap. The first reason for that is that I was a baby erotica author–those first steps were full of falls and bruises. I was new to the genre and rusty as a fiction author and it showed. The second reason–and if I’m honest–the bigger reason that those stories suck is that they lacked editing.

editing

After I finished the first draft of Siem Reap, I went over my story page by page, line by line and I worked on it until my eyes were ready to bleed. I tweaked it until I thought I had the best piece of writing I could come up with. Then I sent it out to beta readers, and steeled myself to have those readers point out all the faults I’d become blind to.

The difference between amateur Delilah and professional Delilah is that (a) I believe in editing and (b) I know that “my best” is a starting point far from the finish line.

My”best work” is full of flaws that I can’t see because I live in my character’s heads. I write with an ear for English instead of an in-depth knowledge of grammar, which means my writing suffers from grammar errors I don’t know I’m making. Something I think of as clever may be clever, or it may miss the mark entirely.

edit without mercy

I’ve been very lucky to get feedback from several readers. Some of it has been positive, other bits have been critical.  All of it is useful.

I took a break from Siem Reap largely because of health issues. If you follow me on twitter, you probably know that I was hospitalized twice in March due to back and pain management issues.  It’s why I’ve been so absent from the blog–it’s hard to write when the painkillers have you seeing double.

Now that I’m no longer in the hospital, and I’ve begun to rehabilitate my back, I’m ready to dive back into Siem Reap.  I’m trying to look at the forced absence as a positive. The story is not so fresh in my mind, so I have a bit of emotional distance from my characters.  I have valuable feedback to help me revise the story and make it stronger. I’m not so sick of the story that I want to burn it (a real hazard at times).  I’m eager to revisit Meg and RJ and begin the next phase of editing.

april 15

Literotica Delilah would likely have hit publish back in February after the first draft was done. Today’s Delilah is hoping that I will be ready to submit the story by mid-April. Siem Reap is an okay story today.  Thanks to my beta team’s feedback, I think the editing I’m about to do has the potential to make it a great one.

 

Troublesome words

I’ve begun the edits on the Siem Reap Story.

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Every author falls prey to words and phrases that pop up a little too frequently in their work.  You may have noticed one of mine in my excerpt posted on Jan 18.

“And you decided to just gate crash my dream vacation as a way to catch up? If you wanted to get in touch with me to warn me you’d be at the wedding, you could’ve just used Facebook like a normal person.”

I utilized the find tool and found 69 uses of the word “just” in my first draft.

Here’s the edited version of the same paragraph.  You’ll notice that “just” has been omitted.

Exasperated, she threw the soda into the trash and turned to face him. “If you wanted to warn me you’d be at the wedding, you could’ve used Facebook or email like a normal person. Or Rachel could’ve told me that you would be there. What made you think crashing my dream vacation would be fun?”

“Just” is a word that becomes far to easy to rely upon, and is most often unnecessary filler.  Other words that fall into that category are “actually” (5x) , “very” (45x), “really” (21x), trying (12x), “some” (63x) and “almost” (10x). I’ve learned about some of these weaknesses on my own, others were pointed out by beta readers.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 8.01.01 pm

The other thing I do a find search on before I begin to edit a piece in earnest is “began” (53x).

RJ took possession of her mouth. The taste of him, the feel of him was overwhelming and another orgasm began to build. His tongue seduced hers as he began to move within her. Her hands fisted in his hair, keeping their mouths fused. She needed him more than oxygen. The kisses grew hungrier as if they could make up for every missed kiss over the past six years. RJ’s hips caught the same frenzied pace as their kisses.

Everything began to spin out of control, and the orgasm hit her like a monsoon

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten was from Lynn Townsend, who told me that characters should only begin to do something if the action is about to be interrupted “He began to walk across the room, but tripped over his cat.”

He took possession of her mouth. The taste of him, the feel of him, was overwhelming. His tongue seduced hers. Her hands fisted in his hair, keeping their mouths fused. The kisses grew hungrier, as if they could make up for every missed opportunity over the past six years. RJ’s hips caught the same frenzied pace as their mating tongues.

The orgasm was a monsoon.

Dropping “began” makes for a stronger story. In the example above, you’ll find I didn’t replace began with a different word. If there is a “began,” (or any of the other go-to words) it’s a hint that the entire sentence should probably get an edit.

Now that I’ve shared some of my most troublesome words–what are yours?

Writing and Monkeys

Today I’m over at Lynn Townsend’s blog, talking about writing, Among the Stars, and monkeys.  Head over to Paid by the Weird to read my interview.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 12.49.16 pmPhoto credit: me

WIP: RJ and Megan’s Story

Here’s what you need to know about my work in progress.

Six years ago Arjun (RJ) and Megan each broke the other’s heart.  Even with the passage of time, they’re still not over each other.

RJ crashes Megan’s vacation in Siem Reap, Cambodia with the assistance of her sister. Due to delayed canceled flights, Megan is there for only one day instead of her planned four. He’s got 24 hours to show her that he’s grown up and is worthy of a second chance. Megan decides that what she needs is one last fling with RJ so she can get him out her system once and for all.

Will he win her back, or is she too scared that he’ll just break her heart again?

Angkor Wat at Dawn

Photo credit: me

When I saw a call for stories set in different cities throughout the world, I immediately thought of Siem Reap, Cambodia.  I fulfilled my dream of seeing Angkor Wat in May of 2014, and fell in love with the city in the process.  I drew heavily on my experiences there when writing this novella.

I finished the first draft late last week and will be editing it over the course of the next few at which point I’ll be asking friends to beta read (friends–poke me if you think you might want to) while I send off the pitch and first 5k words to the call.

In the excerpt below, Megan is reeling from the surprise of seeing RJ.  She’s just arrived in Siem Reap, and has rushed to Angkor Wat to shoot the temple at dawn (see my photo above). She’s taken refuge in the tent stalls next to the lake. (See below)  The wedding mentioned is Rachel’s–her sister, and one of his closest friends from college–the person who introduced them in the first place.

14262680898_296d84cbe5_z

photo credit: me

I can’t believe he’s here. This is almost as bad as if he were at the wedding.

“Oh. My. God. The wedding.” The bottle froze halfway to her lips. “Where is he?”

Meg scanned the crowd of tourists that were now crawling over Angkor Wat. Where had he gone? Was he invited to the wedding? She pulled out her cell phone to ask Rachel the question she’d never thought to ask before now. There was no signal.

Rachel, did you invite Arjun to your wedding? How could you?

Picking the bottle back up, and suddenly wishing it was a beer, Meg took a swig of the soda.

“Want to share that?”

She choked on the liquid, coughing and gasping. RJ’s hand pounded rhythmically on her back.

“Stop that! I’m—” Meg fought her way through another coughing fit. “Fine!” She tried to pull it together. Panting a bit, she took another cautious sip. What had been blissfully cool relief was now cloying sweetness. Disgusted, she put the bottle down.

“Why are you here? Don’t feed me any of your charming bullshit.”

He gave her a lazy smile. “Rachel told me you’d be here.”

Traitor!

“And you decided to just gate crash my dream vacation as a way to catch up? If you wanted to get in touch with me to warn me you’d be at the wedding, you could’ve just used Facebook like a normal person.”

“This wasn’t just your dream vacation, remember?”

RJ and Meg curled on his bed, daydreaming about where they would travel. They had always ended up in Asia—scuba diving in Indonesia, Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, the Golden Temple of Amritsar in India, the elephant sanctuary in Chang Mai, Thailand, and more.

Junior year he’d given her a poster of Angkor Wat at dawn as an end of term gift. It had lived on walls in dorm rooms and apartments ever since. Angkor Wat had come to symbolize all their dreams for the future. When they’d talked of getting married, spending their Honeymoon in Cambodia had been a given.

After the break-up she’d burned the poster.

“You’re unreal.” Meg shook her head in disbelief.

“Spend the day with me.”

“Why should I?”

“Because if you don’t, you’ll always wonder what it would have been like. I’m not going to pester you during Rachel’s wedding. Besides you’d be too busy to flirt with me if I’m a welcome surprise. And too much of a lady to curse me out in front of everyone if I’m not.” He flashed her an impudent smile. A dimple winked at her from both cheeks.

He knew her too well.

You know you would’ve been picturing him here with you even before you knew he was here. Now that he is, can you really walk away? Have you ever had much willpower when it came to those dimples?

“Just because I agree to hang out with you today and let you try to sweet talk your way into my panties doesn’t mean you’re going to succeed, RJ.”

He leaned forward and whispered in her ear, “Just remember that I’m not the one who brought up the idea of me getting into your panties. You are.”

I hope you’re curious to know what happens next…