Aug. 25th, 2015 05:50 am
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I'd forgotten I'd even submitted to this thing.

Rejections do, at least, function as reminders to try harder. Publishers are not going to be lenient about loose plotting, characterization without context, or a profusion of unnecessary minor characters in a short story.

Perhaps I should try a few more sex stories. There has to be some way to write a happy one that also has plot and a genre element, and satisfies my contrary muse, which will always try to write the opposite of what is expected.
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It turns out my hosting site may be renewed again after all. I've already moved everything to, though, so I think I'll stick with it.

Despite having worked at the Genie novel enough that it now has some shape and substance to the plot, instead of writing it I seem to have started a completely different novel. it's tempting to be now because the plot is more straightforward, leaving more room for introspection, and it gives me whole new characters to play around with. I even came up with a title already. Oh dear.

If completed, I'd probably submit it to Bella Books. This is a reflection both of my fondness for Bella Books - despite the hit and miss quality of their output, an all-lesbian-works-incl-genre-subjects publisher is endearing to me - and my lack of self-confidence. They seem the most likely publisher I know of to publish a first novel that's a straight-up lesbian romance without even any sex in it.

I'm SO fond of my new characters, even though some of them still need fleshing out. Can't wait to see how they'll contradict me.
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I don't want to put them up for free yet, but it's not so easy to find a publishing venue fit for

- a horror-ish story about a woman who dates her own clone
- a pulp-detectivey modern-day erotic short story
- an slice-of-life erotic short story - no real content beyond the characters, the sex and its negotiation

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I don't know if I'll have time to write new things, but here are some calls for submissions I want to write for:

The Other Side - an anthology of queer paranormal romance - EDIT: Oops, turns out it's for comics. That's me out, then!

Journey to the Center of Desire - erotica inspired by Jules Verne

Best Lesbian Erotica 2015

Two give me an opportunity to write about lesbians and one is for Jules Verne fanfiction. How awesome is that? 

Meanwhile, I've moved my site to and closed my Wattpad account. The latter was due to a scraping scare which has since dissipated.


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I've written some pieces specifically for publication in erotic collections, with little luck so far, and in all cases I felt I should make my lead beautiful in the conventional sense. It's always a bit of a challenge. I'd like to start by creating a character I can connect with, not a character that's coded desirable. It throws a crink; makes it difficult to write a good character rather than a sexy lamp, or a sexy inspiration/reward vending machine. It means your character isn't allowed to be themselves unless that's somehow sexy.

Happily there is a lot you can still do to differentiate your character within the steel cage of minimum requirements for attractiveness: thin, able-bodied, with few really unusual features (unless they're beauty cliches such as "startling emerald eyes"). The one thing that's usually missing from stories with conventionally attractive leads is their own awareness of their attractiveness.

I think the cliche of the "ordinary-looking girl" who ends up being desired by every hunk in the vicinity arises from the desire to write a desirable lead, but not wanting to deal with the negative traits associated with being aware of one's own good looks. The gorgeous bitch is a stereotype, from high school cheerleaders to platinum blonde femme fatales. They're vain, selfish, and expect to be catered to. They're villains.

And that negative (misogynistic?) stereotype, coupled with our cultural insistence that women be effortlessly beautiful and never vain, is stopping us writing attractive female characters whose attractiveness (whether lucky or hard-won) has influenced the formation of their personalities. And then here I am, struggling to find something to latch on to, and that becomes one of those things. I would be dishonest if I tried to write an attractive character just the same as an unattractive or ordinary-looking one.

I could go on about what "attractive" means, anyway. Attraction is not about attractiveness. If I was writing erotica just for myself, you can bet the characters would be all sorts of chubby or bony, pockmarked or crooked-toothed, with cataracts or wrinkles or splashes of birthmarks down their backs.

"Conventional attractiveness" has its rewards and trials. A woman who works hard to look good and takes joy in her beauty gets attention, including attention she might not like. She gets told to wear less make-up, to smile, gets catcalled by men who find her beauty intimidating, smarmed up by men who think they've got a shot, lied to, manipulated; she becomes the object of unwarranted jealousy and gets painted with the "vain bitch" brush, or called a whore just for looking the way she does. Less gorgeous and made-up women might not want to talk to her because they, too, find her glamour intimidating.

A woman who just "happens to be" beautiful but doesn't work on it gets told to wear more make-up, to smile; gets targeted by men who think she lacks self-esteem, and gets called frigid and a lesbian when she won't cater to their hungry gaze.

When you think about all of that, it becomes kind of easier to be "ugly", even if it means you'll never get that job. At least you're not a lightning rod for other people's desires and insecurities.

Of course your life is never made up entirely of reactions to your looks. That doesn't change the fact that these things help form your self-esteem and what you base your self-esteem on - what you're proud of and what you're ashamed of, and what kind of reactions you've had to learn to steel yourself against. Did you get that nose-ring to enforce your own aesthetic over the sexiness narrative? Did you stop relaxing your hair because you reject the idea that kinks aren't beautiful? Is your make-up your shield against the world? 

Recently I've written several beautiful leads and exactly one character whose job in the story was to be sexy. It was a story for a romance collection in which the sexiness of the male lead was very explicitly required. I tried to do him justice, but I have no interest in him as a character. He is, regretfully, a sexy lamp. The female lead, though, with her shallow attraction to him and the flippant and brusque manner of her sexuality, became really interesting to me. This is someone who has chosen to make herself as physically "attractive" as possible and steeled herself against whatever negative reactions that nets her while gleefully sampling the benefits. There is no core of self-doubt, no self-hatred to drive her desire to look perfect. She knows she's attractive. She knows that's no guarantee of a lay, or of preferential treatment, and she will not take any shit from anyone who thinks it means they're somehow entitled to her. That kind of strength intrigues me.

Minor news!

Mar. 3rd, 2015 11:53 am
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I have a few more short stories - microstories to be precise - up on my website, and I set up an AO3 account for those few stories I write which could by any stretch be called fanfiction.

The NaNoWriMo novel didn't happen, though I still have a tempting outline written out.

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I can't promise it won't happen again.

This is the thought that brought me back:

I've been feeling insecure about a short story I wrote where two women jump into bed after a slight two-day acquaintance. It's not realistic, I thought - it doesn't sound believable. But just now as I was reviewing the story I remembered just how many highly acclaimed novels, movies and short stories I've come across where a beautiful woman and an average man have a brief conversation which culminates in her asking him up to her bedroom, as if this was always the unspoken intent of their conversation on the weather/cutlery/art. So I can also damn well have two love-starved women fall into bed, and I don't need to explain it any further than that.

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I have two stories conceptualized in my head that I really want to put on paper, but the outlines so satisfy me that I don't know if I'll ever get around to actually writing them.

I'll have to schedule a time and try!

[personal profile] spook_me

Sep. 20th, 2014 01:19 pm
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I have received my inspiration artwork, and it's absolutely gorgeous. It's also turned me away from the idea of writing about encantados to writing about the uturunco or were-pumas in Patagonia. Of which there should be more sources online, gosh darnit! I always have to pick the research-heavy subjects.

Encantados might have been more of a Humboldt thing anyway, and I'm writing about Darwin. :)
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It turns out that I don't know enough English words relating to mires.

What do you call a small patch of bog that cannot support weight, surrounded by bog that can? What is the English word for a pine wood mire? Does anyone use the word slough in this context? What's the difference between a bog and a morass? Dictionaries only get you so far, since they tend to equate different types of mires.

Edit: Found it on Wikipedia under "Fen". The classification is fens, marshes, bogs and swamps. Good! "Swamp" was the word I needed. Still don't know what to call the swamp's eye, or what precisely is a morass.
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I'm well on my way to finishing a 350-page book on New York's urban culture fin de siècle to WWII, ordered another one from Amazon, and on the lookout for one about the lesbian subculture of the same era. I've also read two issues of Brooklyn Brevities from from 1922 and 1923 - each was a revelation of its own kind.

What I'd really love to find is some kind of a 3D tour of the city circa 1920-1925 for my potential NaNoWriMo novel, or of the locations I particularly want to use: The House of Mercy, the NYC jail on Welfare Island, the Hamilton Lodge, the Village. I may have to just imagine it instead.

I do at least need to find a good 2D map and to nail down the location of my heroines' home and the nature of the café they live above, and the background of Genie, how her ambiguous racial background would factor in. I'm thinking she presents as a White European when meeting clients, and is fully identified as a Black American when among her friends, but then what about her family? I'd originally conceived of her as coming from a White middle-class family, but am I making things too complicated? Hmm. I do want her to have a foot in both worlds, so to speak.

I've added several more "seeds" to my plan while reading this book. I realize I can't include every "seed", only the ones that actually come together with some coherence. I'm also starting to get cold feet about one of the central secrets I originally thought up, since it would involve touching on the gender conceptualization of the era, not to mention the still radical idea of children's gender, which is seen as an issue of children's sexuality - an enormous taboo.

Sometimes I worry that if I write one story about the watersports kink and comment on one poem about piss, I'm going to come off as having that kink or overly associated with it. In the same way, I'm now worrying that since I've written one short story protagonist who apart from being a serial killer also sexualizes children, I can't write another one where the possibility of pedophilia is floated as a false lead. Oh dear. I might do anyway, since it emerges logically from the circumstances I've cobbled together, though I have zero interest in writing about actual pedophilia.

I'm already thinking of using some of these seeds and locations for the sequel. Steady on, girl!
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I seem to be developing two things:

1. A cold.
2. A new method of planning longer stories.

My previous NaNoWriMos were written using the basic story formula, with each plot point plotted out, and none of them worked out. The next step became obvious too early on, the events didn't proceed at a natural pace, and I ended up writing a lot of nonsense instead of utilizing concise language. The characters seemed forced into their paths. So, the basic story formula: a complete washout when it comes to story planning, at least for me. It might be something that's better applied in the editing phase, when naturally emerging plot points can be moved closer to the points specified in the formula.

Another easy trap, but one that I was already avoiding, is making a lot of character detail before you have a story. I'm now utilizing two characters from my latest short story as a kind of a detective-narrator pair, so they are rather well-thought-out, but the other characters a this point are roles, with some impressions and details attached. (I might end up writing a crime novel without a crime. That remains to be seen.) To develop the story they walk into, however, I started writing down aspects or things I wanted to see in the story.  These included things like "a rare Bhutanese butterfly", "Tarot reading" and "funeral".

This really sparked up the imagination. From the butterfly I got a butterfly enthusiast, and the seed for the first character, who I already see in my mind as being played by Michael Palin, though that might change when the actual writing begins. Another aspect, "a rose garden", created another character and with her an important chunk of plot.

I've only played around with this today and yesterday, so I haven't got anywhere close to a real plot yet. If this works out, the plot should emerge from the elements, and from consciously avoiding the obvious. Internal consistency will be key.

I have SO much to work out before this gets anywhere, but I refuse to stress about it too much. Now for lunch.

(Oh, my God. Could I drop Kwan into this story? No-- mustn't. If I want to meet him, I'll have to write another Ursula Herman story.)

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Three short stories in a week. Now I'm exhausted. This is why none of my NaNoWriMo novels were any good. If I want it to be good, it's a lot of hard work to get it on paper.

It also seems that as long as it's horror or erotica, the chances are high that there's a home for it somewhere. The story I was writing for Circlet's Coffee: Hot collection turned out to be about mothers and daughters and the sex was not the point, so I edited it out and sent the story to a horror publisher. Now to wait six months for a rejection, after which I can edit again and resubmit elsewhere...

I wish I felt more moved to write erotica, but it's rather boring unless there's plenty of space to establish characters, too, which you don't get in a short story. There's also the expectation to make the sex good, when bad sex is at least as interesting to write about.

I have one more story stashed, which I've already sent around before, which I hope I'll be able to submit it to Crossed Genres in a couple of months when their betrayal theme comes up. In the immortal words of Commander Taggart: Never give up, never surrender.


Aug. 29th, 2014 11:53 am
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I broke down another short story yesterday. I thought it was fairly solid, but now that I'm writing it, I don't find it exciting.

Part of it could be because I know what's going to happen. The other part is the story itself. It's cliched and predictable. I'm writing to order, which is probably why. It helps productivity to have limits to your subject and plot, but it doesn't necessarily produce the best fiction.

Well, I'll push through and edit heavily, and maybe it will turn out decent enough that I can at least send it off. I'm somewhat embarrassed by the Rogue Hearts story I already did send off. It's probably decent enough for what it is, but it isn't very me, or anywhere near the standards I usually hold myself to.

Ah, well. Let's carry on and see what we end up with.


Aug. 27th, 2014 02:58 pm
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I finished and sent off that Rogue Hearts story, which probably won't be what they're looking for, but I won't know for another six months.

I also wrote a short erotic story that I can't find a fit for - the only publisher who might be interested reserves the rights to edit the story, which doesn't sit well with me. I'd expect an editor to consult the author first, at least. I'm not sure letting some brute of an editor manhandle poor Tameka and Manny is worth $15. And now I'm tired of looking through publishers. This one might just stay in my files for a while.

I wonder if Ursula will pop up again. It's rare that one of my characters has such a distinct voice. I might want a story where she reconnects with her old partner Kwan, because I have very specific ideas about what he's like, too. Problem: This setting is contemporary, and it's easier to sell fantasy, sci-fi etc. I suppose I could spin it as neo-pulp. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable writing her in a fantasy setting. I suppose it's something to think about.

This has been a rather intense three days of writing. But work resumes, so I can get a rest. (!)
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Cleis Press is looking for romance/erotica stories about "bad boys".

Imagine a Scottish reiver come to steal sheep from a neighboring clan, but instead, he captures the laird's daughter. Imagine him striding toward her in a dirty tartan. As he scans the glen, his gaze snags on a woman whose frightened face is nonetheless set into stubborn lines as she meets his piercing gaze... Imagine what happens next...

I don't know about you, but my imagination supplies a shower of spores from an interstellar sentient fungus. Two weeks later, the laird's daughter is mentally fused with the vast fungal intelligence, gifted with amazing destructive powers, and busy taking over Scotland while the reiver joins a ragtag group of human freedom fighters.

If I want to write a story of a certain kind, I've noticed, I have to trick myself. If the thing to be achieved is a romance with "a special sort of hero - rogues with hearts of gold", I tell myself to write a story about a murderer and rapist and the woman who sees through his social graces to the monster underneath. That's the only way my contrary brain could produce a happy ending. Then I can edit out the murder and rape. I'm afraid otherwise it's going to be all alien genocide.

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...when you realize the things you've written and are proud of may be a little too sick for the general public? 

I was surprised to find myself developing into a horror writer, since I'm not a fan of the genre. It also means I'm not at all sure if I'm doing this right, or if there is a right way to do it.

In other news, I now have a Wattpad account, and am waffling about whether or not to publish Pet Monsters on the platform.


Jul. 9th, 2012 11:07 pm
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I haven't posted in over a year, and suddenly I get three community invites to fandom communities for a fandom I'm not in? Sorry...

Why haven't I posted in a year, though? I've been posting elsewhere, of course, in personal blogs. I really haven't taken this "post publicly about writing" thing very far. I even finished NaNoWriMo 2011 and yet not a word on either of my blogs.

That being said, I have been sending one story around recently. It was rejected once, and the next one has said they won't get back to me about it until August. I really want to write for Crossed Genres' Winterwell and a couple of Circlet anthologies. Now if only my muses agreed.

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I am still, I find, rather proud of that little story I wrote yesterday. This probably means other people won't get it at all, that's just how it tends to go.

I really want to do something in the adventure/action genre, but tend to only be happy with what I write in the brainfuckery genre. Is that a genre?

Working on a little something about wolves as metaphor, but it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Should have stuck with gorillas.
tuulia: (NaNoWriMo09)

Did some writing and am less behind now. Phew! Still intend to have another good go to pull on level with the expected wordcount. If all goes according to current plan I should have as much as 29,000 by Sunday. We shall see.

One really has to let go and write with NaNoWriMo, and it's both fun and frustrating. I keep seeing a million things I'm going to have to fix and address in the editing phase, I find myself forcing through passages that just don't work, etc... That is the frustrating part, but then there's also a wonderful sense of freedom in knowing that you can't go back and fix it right now, you just have to plough onwards to get to that finishing line. I fully intend to bring my story to a close this month; anything else would feel like cheating. If I wrote the first 50,000 words of a novel and left it without an ending, I would not have "written a novel in a month", I would just have written a certain number of words within a month. I want to get to the resolution, dammit! THEN I can sit down, expand it and make it work.

In other news, my buddy [personal profile] lemposoi has joined the ranks of Dreamwidth! Must be one of those months when she's not "through with the Internet"...

ETA: Pulled level! Go me!