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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.

 

I write sex books

My older daughter, Athena (not her real name) in her first week in an American school made a new friend. The friend’s mom was volunteering for playground duty, and upon meeting Athena asked her what myself and my husband did for work. My husband’s job is innocuous–he’s a programmer.

“My mom writes sex books,” Athena tells her.

Fast forward to last week. I meet the mom for coffee–it’s my first time hanging out with her and I’m hoping to make a good impression. The story comes out after I said I write romance novels.

I am mortified.

That afternoon I shared what I’d learned with my daughter, and asked why she’d said that. I wasn’t angry with her, I just wanted to know why.

“That man is naked on your cover. He’s not wearing a shirt.”

She means RJ.

I asked her what she thought sex was.

“I don’t know.”

Cue my buying Sex is a Funny Word from Amazon, and asking her to say I write books, or I write romance books instead of sex books.

My friends have found this whole story hilarious. I am moving from mortification to amusement as well.

Exciting news

Capturing the Moment

Capturing the Moment

Exciting news #1–Capturing the Moment is now on sale as a paperback.  You can buy it here.

happy

Exciting news #2 is that I’ve had my first acceptance of 2107. I’m very excited to share more about this anthology when the editor gives the ok.

beta reader kitty

Finally, we have arrived back in the US after nearly seven years in Singapore. While I’m partially excited to be back, I wish it were in a different political climate. One of the things I’ll need to do is find a balance between writing and activism.

My next big project is to work on Plunder. I had some good feedback on the first draft, and although it means a total overhaul, I have faith that I can do it. When that is back in my beta’s hands, I have the idea for the start of a paranormal erotic romance series because apparently I can’t stay in my subgenre lane. I also have the plan for another contemporary, with the ambivalence of leaving and arriving in a home country that feels foreign (which is what I’m experiencing right now) with the added complication of a budding international romance.

 

Wicked Wednesday–Aspirations

Becoming a published author has been a life-long aspiration of mine, and I have several stories that prove it.

For example, here is my story “Bee Queen” from my third grade book, Animal Fairy Tales.

DSC_1711

Bee Queen

by Delilah (age 8)

The bee queen was very upset. She cried ever since the bears had found their honey tree. My children are dying. They’ve nothing to eat for weeks. I’m going to go sting those bear good and proper and so will all the bumblebees, hornets, honeybees and yellow jackets.

DSC_1712

We still teach them a lesson. As soon as Captain Stinger is ready, we’ll take care of those bears. And they did just that!

But my third grade magnum opus was “The Last Unicorn,” which I previously published. Read parts 1 and 2 if you want a good laugh.

wp-1453292076597.jpgThirty years later, Totally Bound published my first book, Capturing the Moment.

Does that mean all my aspirations have been fulfilled? Nope. Next up is a full length novel, and seeing my book in a bookstore, and not just on Amazon. Dreams and aspirations are what keep us moving forward.

Click below for more stories of aspirations.

wicked wednesday

Wicked Wednesday:The challenge of writing a threesome

I’m a little late for Wicked Wednesday (it’s just after noon on Thursday here in Singapore, but it’s still Wednesday in many parts of the world), but I still want to talk about threesomes.

The first time I remember imagining a threesome, I was still a teenager. I was really into Nelson (the band with the twin brothers fronting it) years after they were a mainstream success. Much as teens today are #teamwhoever in a YA love triangle, I found myself struggling to figure out which of the twins I liked more, basing my opinion of the day on whatever teen magazine I read.

after the rain

It was the first time I thought “maybe I don’t have to choose,” and proceeded to make out with my pillow (as one does) pretending it was one and then the other or not caring which one I was kissing. I didn’t have the language to say I was fantasizing about a threesome because the pre-Internet world was a very different world.

With twenty-odd years of experience, I can see the evolution of my interest in threesomes as well as my understanding of all the various permutations of acts and bodies. However, I’ve yet to incorporate one into a story since making the shift to professional author, and that’s because it’s very hard to write a good threesome.

 

When you write an m/f sex scene you can use their names or the pronouns he/she to make it clear who is doing what at any given moment.

Things get a little more tricky when you’re writing a 2 person sex scene with people who identify as the same gender. Pronouns are much less useful–which s/he? Body parts become ambiguous–who’s dick is that? In writing Love is a Virus I learned that you end up using character names in same-sex erotica a lot more frequently than in m/f sex scenes.

Threesomes take the difficulty of writing a same-sex erotic scene and dial it up a notch. Either two or three of the participants will identify as the same gender. You now have three mouths, six hands, six nipples (and possibly some number of breasts) and three sets of genitalia. It is a delicate balancing act to ensure that the reader is keeping track of the participants, even if the characters themselves are not.

Is your threesome your character and their partner with a “guest star,” or are you writing a polyamorous relationship, or a triad? This affects the chemistry and the interaction each person has with the others.

Writing erotic romance with two characters is hard, but with three you have to contend with issues of jealousy, whether someone’s family can know about the relationship, the relationship dynamics of three people, and so forth.

One of the authors I’ve seen execute this well is Alisha Rai in Glutton for Pleasure (which also features male twins).

This is not to discourage you from writing threesomes–people enjoy them in life and in fantasy–but rather to get you thinking about how to write a threesome scene that works on all the levels.

wicked wednesday

Clichés

I recently spent some time with my “Literotica” folder of work. These are stories I wrote in my first few years of writing erotica, circa 2001-2003. I’ve talked about my horrible, cliché-riddled Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfic (and when one chapter got posted to Fark and Wil Wheaton saw it)

q tip

But, my friends, the overused tropes didn’t stop with the Wesley Crusher fic. I also wrote about Q. Once I began to think through what a Q’s seemingly limitless power could do in bed, my Mary Sue character tossed Wesley aside for Q in a multi-chapter mess.

fireman

My final series (as opposed to stand-alone short stories) was about a girl torn between her new police officer boyfriend in NYC and her fireman ex in Boston. (One stereotype? Why not two?)

While on one hand those stories should never see the light of day, on the other I can see the seeds of my voice as a writer. I wish I still had the multi-chapter fanfic opus a penpal and I wrote together set in Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar world (for my nerds, we met via the Queen’s Own zine in the 90’s). Or the Christopher Pike rip-off I called “Curse of the Silver Teddy Bear Necklace,” so I could see how I’ve as a writer.

I do have one example, though, my two part post(1, 2) of my third grade magnum opus,

The point is that no one picks up a pen and is an amazing writer that day. You grow and you accept feedback and rejection and you will eventually get there–maybe my decade between starting to write erotica and publishing it was pushing it a bit, but I took years off in there to have kids, get married and go to grad school.

It’s okay to have clichés–in fact, sometimes it’s fun to play with them just to turn them on their heads. I have a story called “Doctor’s Orders”–the anthology is in limbo at the moment–where I specifically set it up to look like the playing doctor trope, only to put in a last second twist that changes the entire story. Tropes are okay as long as you make them fresh again with your writing.  Everyone knows the couple in the romance novel will fall in love–it’s the journey that’s interesting.

cop

And that police officer/fireman/college professor love triangle? Maybe that has some potential after all.o

***I wrote this in advance and may still be in the hospital, or at home recuperating on pain meds. Please be patient if it takes a while for your comment to be approved or responded to.***

Being a Writer in a Heartless World–Guest Post by Jaylan Salah

Jaylan is a new friend from Egypt via Twitter. I loved her beautiful prose on her Tumblr, and was so excited when she volunteered to do a guest post here on my blog. I love what she has to say about being a writer.

editing

Being a Writer in a Heartless World

First of all, thank you Delilah Night for having me here. Visiting a blog feels like visiting a friend’s home for the first time. And the first impression, even if it never lasts, always has this tinge of excitement and anti…cipation.

Sorry Dr. Frank-N-Furter. I couldn’t help but quote.

Once upon a time, writers were considered sacred human beings.

They were gods, demi-gods, prophets, creatures everybody got so curious about but knew they were unattainable. Something of the extreme extraordinary, an untouchable, in peculiarly a bad and a good way.

This is not the case nowadays.

Apart from a few people who actually find something that they really want to do, being a writer has become a wish, a desirable profession. Why? I honestly have no fucking clue. But still, as days go by and social media become crazier and more invested in people’s lives, writing becomes even more of an everyday act. How would people fill their Facebook statuses and their Twitter boxes if not with words? Yes, jobs like graphic designers, photographers and actors have also acquired too many admissions to count, but these are all “braggy” professions, ones that could bring their seekers –despite their lack of talent- actual profit.

I mean, even lousy graphic designers could make a living out of designing book covers for amateur writers, or designing logos for startups that have no clue why they started up. Photographers would find it so damn easy to make a living out of taking photos of their friends’ as they get married, get fucked or simply want to celebrate a newborn baby, not to mention how many girls are into modeling and for that they would go through thick and thin to have their sultry, sexy photos taken by an “affordable” professional photographer.

As for actors, well, people have been dying to become actors ever since Hollywood became Hollywood. It’s the easiest way to get girls –and guys- make money and become popular which is –in itself- the epitome of happiness for some.

But why writing?

When did writing become so fucking interesting and alluring? Why is it an object of affection with all the mess that comes along?

And who the Hell am I to speak?

I mean; I am relatively an unknown. In my country I am a struggling film critic and still haven’t published a damn book. Internationally I am a struggling film critic and poet. Who am I to judge or give an intervention?

Let me introduce myself.

Jaylan. Late twenties. Single. Hedonist. Feminist. Wolf (yes I was one in my past life and yes I believe in reincarnation and yes…that shit has also become cool and trendy I have no clue why). Writer.

Other passions include: Cinephile. Dancer. Spiritual. Singer.

That’s it?

Not really, I have a lot to offer the world. For starters, I left a decent –but boring, hellish- government job in November 2014, and ever since then I’ve been a full-time writer.

Do I make money out of this? Yes, I do. Does it offer me social and financial security? Not really, actually not at all, putting in mind I am not as active-proactive as I should be.

Then; why Jaylan? You may ask.

Actually two friends who used to be really close to me warned me against leaving my full-time job. The decent, boring and hellish job where I wasn’t getting paid as much as I wanted but at least I was considered an individual, with a job. It felt more respectful back then. I tried applying to many full-time jobs afterwards but honest to God everytime I set foot in one it felt like death; or even worse.

This doesn’t mean I made a perfectly right decision by becoming a full-time hippie. For starters, I don’t have a permanent source of getting paid. Secondly, I have no clue whatsoever what office politics mean, not that I care but still it kinda seems like a very important quality to acquire, or so I’ve heard. I take side jobs from time to time; content writing, content editing, literary translation, copywriting, etc. They’re all rotating in the same constellation but they’re what I can do to push myself forward without…

Yes, now to we come to the important part.

I cannot not be a full-time writer. Some of my very successful friends have been able to adapt, see what the society wants and BOOM! Go for it. They want me to get married, I could get a husband in a week. They want me to have a respectable job, one where I sign entrance and exit, I could do that in maybe a month or two (even though jobs are only offered to you in times where you are too busy to care, whereas when you are desperate for a job, you rarely find one).

The point is; do I want to?

The answer is no. I don’t want to become anything but a full-time writer. I have taken too many jobs to support myself and always dealt with that writing “thing” like a side dish, but now –as we speak, as I write this long post for my dear friend Delilah- it’s my main fucking course sans aperitif. I have a novel work-in-progress, a short story collection and a poetry collection in English. They are all my babies now. I have to tend for them daily; feed, bathe and change diapers. They changed from being words on blank Word docs into human beings, manifesting in the surrounding space and talking to me, confronting me about words I have or haven’t written about them. Using me as the human vessel that they need to communicate through with the strange ass world.

So writing? Yes, this fire burning within. This muscle that you need to work on and train everyday. This disease that doesn’t leave you. This joke that you make up for yourself with the “writer’s block” myth only to justify laziness or batshit boredom or disappointment from multiple rejections.

typewriter

 

Before I go, I leave you with this piece. A short poem where I wrote extensively about writing and how lonely nights greet me as I sit down and try to write:

“Originally published in theProse.com, May 2015”

Spending the Night Trying to Get Inspired

I close the door
Inspiration is an illusion, you know
Troposphere, smelling gas from a canister
Puffing out smoke
Milk glass moon
All you can do is piss on the mountain
Watch the world go brown
I try to write, but nothing comes out
Inspiration is one tricky bastard
A cobra, dancing right and left
I bend down to write
My spine grows out of my skin
My flesh bursts with a thousand loti
Angular vertebrae bask in the moonlight
Trying to taste the tears of the sacral cacti
My skin has a life of its own
and so does my spine
My armpits grow a forest
of unknown Asteraceae
plaits and plaits of blooming petals
Snakes that reach up to the seventh seal
Cobras that dance to the dreams of lonely writers
spending the nights in handcuffs
under covers, working on their lost inspiration
treading softly on lonely hearts, sleepless souls
and glasses of crescent-shaped milk
dipped in oysters of dark-rimmed moon

jaylan tumblr

 

Feel free to visit my tumblr blog

I swear there’s free booze for everybody and much more craziness than I intend to.