Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What Lies Beneath



Because I’ve spent the last year and a half working on my erotic paranormal Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy, I’ve made it a point to check out anything that might contain valuable information about the Lake District, and I take loads and loads of pictures each time I visit the Lakes. I’ve only recently launched Elemental Fire, the last book in the trilogy, and am definitely feeling some empty nest syndrome, so it was only natural that when I came across Sarah Hall’s novel, Haweswater, I had to read it. Haweswater is an older book, written long before I knew anything about the English Lakes. Hall’s is a historic novel set just before and during the time the dam was being built which created the Haweswater Reservoir.

Haweswater used to be a natural lake with a tongue of land out in the middle that nearly divided the lake in two, forming what was then known as High Water and Low Water. The reservoir was built in the then remote valley of Mardale, with the controversial construction beginning in 1929, after Parliament passed an act giving the Manchester Corporation permission to build the reservoir to supply water for Manchester. The valley of Mardale was populated by the farming villages of Measand and Mardale Green and the construction of the reservoir meant that these villages would be flooded and lost, and the people who lived there would have to relocate. There was no compensation, no help, no recourse.

Hall’s novel is the story of the love affair between the engineer sent to supervise the project and a local farmer’s daughter who was born and raised in the valley and loved the land she’d grown up on. Their tale is set against the tragedy of the land itself.

In 1976 there was a severe drought and, after forty years of being totally submerged in the reservoir, the village of Mardale Green once again made an appearance. Before the valley was flooded, the villages were demolished with explosives and everything that might float and might cause problems for the water extraction channels in the dam had to be removed. So what remained was the foundations, the dry stone walls and, amazingly enough, the bridge over what was once Mardale Beck. Several times since then when there have been severe droughts, the village of Mardale Green has been exposed, and when that happens, tourists come from all over to get a rare glimpse of what was lost. After reading the novel, I did some research on my own and found this site that had pictures of the villages and the farms before they were flooded and also pictures of the remains exposed by the drought. http://www.mardale.green.talktalk.net/

This might seem a strange topic to bring up on the Erotica Readers and Writers Blog, but my reasons are simple. The story moved me, more deeply than I’ve been moved in a very long time. Hall created a powerful relationship between her two main characters with some of the most simply written, most visceral sex scenes I’ve ever read. Hall created a world which was so much more than concrete and yet so very, very fragile and fleeting. She pulled me in and held me in that space where characters interact intimately, not only with each other, but with the landscape. I found myself thinking that if those two characters, Janet Lightburn and Jack Liggett, had been in any other place, in any other setting, their relationship would have had nowhere near the impact, nor the magnetic pull to me as a reader.

One of my heroes, Alfred Wainwright had this to say about the construction of the Haweswater dam in his A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells:


If we can accept as absolutely necessary the conversion of Haweswater [to a reservoir], then it must be conceded that Manchester have done the job as unobtrusively as possible. Mardale is still a noble valley. But man works with such clumsy hands! Gone for ever are the quiet wooded bays and shingly shores that nature had fashioned so sweetly in the Haweswater of old; how aggressively ugly is the tidemark of the new Haweswater!

I think Wainwright might have found the work of Sarah Hall’s hands much less clumsy, much more eloquent in her recreation of the Mardale Valley as it was before the dam. Her novel seems such a fitting tribute to a place that now only makes its appearance in dry times, when both people and the land are thirsty. There seems to be something vindicating and something accusing, and at the same time something quietly hopeful, in a place that reveals itself all these years later in such a dramatic way, in a place that won’t stay buried, won’t stay hidden, in a place that inspires maybe even more because it’s hidden most of the time. There’s something almost magical in a place that was nearly lost from memory, but just keeps coming back.

After I’d read Hall’s novel, I went back through my pictures of the fell walks we’ve done near Haweswater and found something that still gives me a goose bumps whenever I look at it. It’s a picture of my husband, Raymond, standing above Haweswater Reservoir on our 5th day walking the Wainwright Coast to Coast Walk. We’d spent the day walking in the mist and rain and had been cold and wet all day long. We had descended from Kidsty Pike, out of the mist and were coming down to follow the lake shore of Haweswater to the village of Burnbanks. Burnbanks itself didn’t exist until the dam was built, than it was quickly assembled as a pre-fab village for the workers building the dam. But it’s the view behind Raymond, in this photo, that stuns me and moves me, that I didn’t even think about until I read Sarah Hall’s book, that I didn’t even notice when I took the picture.

Behind Raymond and to the right is Mardale Head. If you look closely, you can see where the dry stone walls fall away into the waters of the lake. If we could have turned back time, if we’d been standing there in 1929, it would have been the village of Mardale Green in the photo below Raymond rather than the grey waters and the vanishing stone walls. So much is hidden in this photo, and so much is revealed.

I’m not drawing any parallels for writers. There is no moral to the story, only that there is a story that I wanted to share with you, only that I’ve been moved by another writer’s words and by a place that conceals so very much more than it reveals.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Writing Using Strong Emotions


Elizabeth Black lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and four cats. She has written erotic fiction for numerous publishers and she is self-published.

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I normally stuff my feelings. Old habit. I don't like feeling strong emotions because I'm afraid of losing control, which makes writing all the harder for me. Good writers regularly open a vein and empty it all over their computer screens. As Hemingway wrote, "There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

I'm a very private person, so opening up so much of myself in my writing takes a lot out of me. I do write my escapist fantasies like "Trouble In Thigh High Boots" (erotic Puss In Boots), "Climbing Her Tower" (erotic Rapunzel), and my work-in-progress "Alex Craig Has A Threesome". They're like setting me loose in a candy store. I get the gimmes and I want it all! However, I have exposed a little too much of myself in some of my other stories. Two include my contemporary 1980s novel "Don't Call Me Baby" and especially my short dark romance story "Alicia". Those two are partially based on personal experience. As I worked on both stories, I felt over-exposed and a bit embarrassed and even ashamed. However, all of those feelings reflected how much I opened up in writing both stories, and they made the stories all the better.
"The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed." - Ernest Hemingway
How often do you open up as a writer? You can always afford to open up more. Get inside your character's heads, and expose their weaknesses for all they're worth. In doing so, you expose yourself. The problem with sitting down at your typewriter and bleeding is that it makes you vulnerable. How vulnerable are you willing to make yourself for your art? Sometimes writers use their fiction as a cathartic way of coping with their own problems or coming to terms with trauma. It isn't an accident that writing in a journal is a form of therapy often prescribed by therapists.

Full disclosure here - my short dark romance "Alicia" is based on my rape. Twenty years ago I was raped by my then-husband, and the experience was obviously very traumatic. He choked me so hard I coughed up blood, and my voice was hoarse for several days. It took me many years to come to terms with that ordeal, and writing "Alicia" is one big way I was able to deal with it. The imagery I used in the story reflected how I coped with it. The entire ordeal was like being trapped in a horrific dream and I couldn't wake up. So, in both telling a good story and dealing with my own abuse, I dove head-first into my past and tore open some very old scabs. Here is the opening of the story, to give you an idea of the visceral nature of what happened to me - and to Alicia.

This excerpt from "Alicia" shows how using vivid description and strong emotions pull the reader into a story. Just so you know, "Eric" is the pen name of a dear friend of mine whom I care about deeply. "Carol" is my middle name. "Alicia" is one of my favorite women's names. Those three names have significant meaning for me. I've found that choosing character names close to your heart helps you to get inside their skins - and get inside your own so you can't hide from yourself. It's an interesting exercise - if you are basing characters on people you know, use their real names. Once the story is finished, go through the document and change the names to something different to establish some distance.
Eric stepped out of the shower and a foul stench—mingled with the crisp peppermint of his shampoo—smacked him in the face and left a coppery taste in the back of his throat. His stomach heaved. Confused, he looked around the room to figure out where the smell came from, but he couldn't pinpoint it. Dread clung to him, dark and sticky, ruining his relaxed mood. The light bulbs over the sink hummed, casting harsh yellow light about the room. He shaded his eyes against the glare, trying to see.
 Why were those lights so bright? Something was terribly wrong in his peaceful world, and not knowing what it was frightened him.
 His wife Alicia brushed her teeth as if nothing was unusual, while the stink of rot lurked beneath the cool mint of his shampoo. Why didn't she notice the smell?
 He leaned towards her to place his hand on her shoulder, and she turned her face towards his for a kiss on the cheek. Ugly, purple bruises darkened her eyes. He pulled away, repulsed and alarmed, not quite sure what he was seeing. One side of her face had swelled to a dark mask, not unlike a pumpkin that had been left outside in the damp earth to rot. An angry red welt encircled her throat like a bloody ribbon wrapped around her neck. Frightened, he reached out one hand but he couldn't bring himself to touch her swollen face. Touching her would make the vision real and it couldn't be real.
 Alicia spat in the sink. Two of her teeth bounced against the porcelain. Blood tainted the paste.
 "The girls are running late again." Alicia's bloodied mouth leaked crimson and white toothpaste. Why did she act as if nothing strange was going on? He gaped at her, not understanding what was happening. The safety of his home evaporated as she spoke with her raw, torn mouth. "Make them wolf down their cereal, and toss them out of the house before they miss the bus."
 "Alicia, who did this to you?" Eric asked. She did not answer him. She brushed her teeth, running the brush over her ragged gums where the teeth had been knocked out. His stomach heaved again, and he swallowed hard to keep from vomiting. He wanted to knock out the teeth of whoever had assaulted her, but she acted as if nothing was wrong. Why?
 The phone rang. Who would be calling him at this hour? It wasn't even 7:30 yet. He asked Alicia again who had done this to her, but she didn't answer him. She dried her torn mouth, and then she smeared foundation over her face. To his horror, the foundation did not cover her bruises. It only made them look uglier and even more purple.
 Eric walked to the phone and answered it.
 "Hello?"
 The phone continued to ring. Eric's steam-hazy mind knew that that wasn't supposed to happen.
 "Hello?"
 Eric woke up in bed to the ringing of the telephone on the dresser next to him. His wife, Carol, stirred at his side.
When I first wrote that excerpt and a later excerpt that takes place in a hospital, I wanted to delete, delete, delete! Too much revealed. In many ways, that's a good thing. It had shown I got to Alicia's soul, and my own. If you want to feel like a freshly torn scab when you write, make yourself vulnerable. You will likely feel exhausted and a bit worried you've said too much once you finish, but the end result is worth it.

Here are my blurb and buy links for "Alicia" if you're interested in reading the rest of the story.


Buy Links:



Blurb:

When the love of his life, Alicia, calls him in the middle of the night to report she had been raped, Eric drops everything to come to her rescue. She takes him on an eerie ride through turbulent hours he can't quite comprehend. Alicia may need his help, but her situation is not what it seems.

 ABOUT ELIZABETH BLACK

Elizabeth Black writes erotica, erotic romance, speculative fiction, fantasy, and dark fiction. She also enjoys writing erotic retellings of classic fairy tales. Born and bred in Baltimore, she grew up under the influence of Edgar Allan Poe. Her erotic fiction has been published by Xcite Books (U. K.), Circlet Press, Ravenous Romance, Scarlet Magazine (U. K.), and other publishers. Her dark fiction has appeared in "Kizuna: Fiction For Japan", "Stupefying Stories", "Midnight Movie Creature Feature 2", "Zippered Flesh 2: More Tales Of Body Enhancements Gone Bad", and "Mirages: Tales From Authors Of The Macabre". An accomplished essayist, she was the sex columnist for the pop culture e-zine nuts4chic (also U. K.) until it folded in 2008. Her articles about sex, erotica, and relationships have appeared in Good Vibrations Magazine, Alternet, CarnalNation, the Ms. Magazine Blog, Sexis Magazine, On The Issues, Sexy Mama Magazine, and Circlet blog. She also writes sex toys reviews for several sex toys companies.

In addition to writing, she has also worked as a gaffer (lighting), scenic artist, and make-up artist (including prosthetics) for movies, television, stage, and concerts. She worked as a gaffer for "Die Hard With A Vengeance" and "12 Monkeys". She did make-up, including prosthetics, for "Homicide: Life On The Street". She is especially proud of the gunshot wound to the head she had created with makeup for that particular episode. She also worked as a prosthetic makeup artist specializing in cyanotic blue, bruises, and buckets of blood for a test of Maryland's fire departments at the Baltimore/Washington International Airport plane crash simulation test. Yes, her jobs are fun.  ;)

She lives in Lovecraft country on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and four cats. The ocean calls her every day, and she always listens. She has yet to run into Cthulhu.

Visit her web site at http://elizabethablack.blogspot.com/
Follow her at Twitter: http://twitter.com/ElizabethABlack






Friday, April 26, 2013

Keeping House

by Jean Roberta

“Menage,” a French word meaning household, is the current term for sex scenes and erotic romances featuring more than two people. In some cases, this term seems parallel to “bisexual,” since ménage scenes or polyamorous relationships are never strictly heterosexual. Either one (or more) person has sex with one (or more) person of the same gender, loosely speaking, at least some of the time, or the whole group is gay-male or lesbian.

I haven’t tried living in an actual ménage that features multiple, simultaneous sexual relationships. In my reckless youth, I took part in a few sex scenes that involved multiple bodies. Just the logistics of such a scene make it harder to write about than a traditional coupling between a female and a male. (For one thing, as several other writers of queer sex have pointed out, pronouns can get confusing when there is more than one “he” or “she.”)

What intrigues me most about the subject of ménage, however, is the emotional complexity of a group relationship which is meant to be more committed and long-term than a casual hookup. While I have never assumed that an erotic writer has to live the lifestyle that she or he is writing about, approaching the chosen category with respect (whether it is BDSM, fetish, male/male, female/female, transgender, cross-dressing, or polyamorous) seems absolutely necessary to produce a story that doesn’t seem like a dirty joke told by an idiot, signifying nothing. (Apologies to Shakespeare.)

I haven’t written much about actual households that include multiple sexual relationships because, for a long time, I was skeptical about whether such arrangements ever actually work. A female friend told me about a failed threesome involving herself, her husband, and the woman who wanted a sexual relationship with her. The Other Woman would have liked Friend to ditch the husband, but instead, Friend told the Other Woman that she had to have a sexual relationship with him too, and then they would be a happy family with Friend in the centre. The Other Woman apparently said a few things that Friend didn’t choose to repeat, and raised a cloud of dust leaving them both behind. No surprise there.

At about the same time, I went to a women’s dance where I flirted with another lesbian who flirted back. Xena (as I’ll call her) was there without her long-term partner Gabrielle. Xena and I went as far as possible in a parked car before her guilt kicked in when she remembered her girlfriend at home. Xena suggested that we should have a threesome some time.

The next time I saw Gabrielle, she didn’t seem happy to see me. I realized that the loving threesome would only happen after the Apocalypse, and possibly not even then.

A young gay-male friend told me his plan to move to another part of Canada to live with a man he knew and liked. Friend told me that the other man (I’ll call him Joe) showed clear signs of being sexually attracted to him, but he was “in the closet.” This actually meant that Joe was married to a woman, Josephine. When I asked my friend if he thought he could also seduce Josephine so that both spouses would get equal time with their co-tenant, he seemed horrified. Friend made it clear that he was not at all attracted to any woman, let alone Josephine, but he couldn’t understand why she didn’t want him to move in. He assumed she was homophobic. Yoy.

Several months later, I heard that my friend was back in town. His ménage experiment had not worked, and the husband had chosen to stay with his wife. How shocking.

In Canada, government signs and notices must be in both official languages: English and French. A sign in the local post office reads: “Demenagez-vous?” which translates roughly into “Are you moving?” The notice goes on to advise those who plan to move to send out change-of-address cards. It always makes me wonder how many people who have tried to live in a ménage have left quickly, with hard feelings on all sides.

Jealousy is not an emotion that can simply be banished by means of a conscious decision, and it is not necessarily an expression of paranoia. Human beings need to feel liked, valued, admired and trusted, and no one wants to be ignored or left behind by a lover who prefers someone else. The challenge, both for those who want to be in a ménage and for those who want to write about the development of one, is to acknowledge the jealousy and cope with it realistically.

Since I began writing erotica, reviewing the work of other erotic writers, and exchanging information with them, I have read some persuasive stories about real and fictional ménages. Writing Skin by Adriana Kraft(www.amazon.com/Writing-Skin-ebook/dp/B003XRF5HU) tells the story of a ménage involving a bisexual wife, a heterosexual husband and a single, bisexual woman who is chosen by the couple because they like her erotic writing. Alternate chapters describe the development of the relationship of the writer with the wife (at first), then the writer’s growing bond with the husband, with some backstory about how the married couple fell in love with each other. There is some honest talk about feelings and expectations. It all works out because each of the three lovers has good intentions toward the other two and is genuinely turned on by both of them.

A few details in this plot stretched my ability to believe. (All three characters seem almost impossibly glamorous, and the husband is never a sexist jerk.) However, the ménage itself worked for me. I could imagine the three of them hosting a dinner party, and laughing together in the kitchen as they help each other cook and serve each course with a suitable wine.

My recent novella, The Flight of the Black Swan (www.amazon.com/Flight-Black-Swan-Jean-Roberta/dp/159021417X) deals with a “front marriage” in the 1860s, a necessary social illusion to protect both the man-loving husband and the woman-loving wife from the drastic penalties for “alternative” sexuality in the Victorian Age. (Women who were even suspected of losing their virginity outside of marriage were excluded from guest lists. Men found “guilty” of sex with other men were executed.)

When I began writing, I thought of this story as essentially queer, to use a broad term. The narrator is a lesbian, and the man she protects from the gallows by marrying him already has a devoted male lover when he proposes to her. As I got to know them better, however, the characters told me things I needed to know. (If you are a writer, you know how this works.) What begins in the story as a strictly legal arrangement develops into a kind of friendship with benefits. When the husband and the wife each have lovers, these Significant Others need to be reassured that they are important members of the ménage, not to be used and thrown away.

Making this kind of arrangement work requires courage and generosity. It requires thinking outside whatever “box” is offered to the participants as normal and inevitable. Writing a ménage story with a happy ending was an interesting challenge. I recommend it.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Writing This Novel part VI



I know you want to submit your story as soon as you’ve finished it. So do I.  Writers are under a lot of pressure to churn out work quickly in this publishing environment. I get that. But this is a little piece of your soul you’re sending out into the universe, and polish is the only protection it’s going to have. So please, slow down. Treat your work like a gourmet meal instead of fast food. Make sure it’s presented in the best possible way. You’re the only one who will give it such loving attention.

So. Editing.

Suggested reading before editing: Self Editing for Fiction Writers (Browne & King)

A line-by-line copy edit helps you find typos, missing words, and grammar mistakes. Below, I share the way I do it, but as always, do what works for you. However, I strongly suggest that you allow the MS to sit a few weeks after you finish your final draft before you plunge into copy edits.  

If you work in Word, you know all about the wavy red lines for spelling errors and the wavy green for grammar.  You probably also know by now that those are often wrong. There are many online sources to help you with tricky, specific grammar questions. Plus, you have writer friends, right? Turn to them. But always verify with a trusted authority on the matter.

I write science fiction so many of my proper nouns are marked as spelling errors in the Word document. Adding them to the dictionary gets rid of so many red wavy lines and Word will flag it if I have a spelling variation (AKA a typo), which happens a lot with odd names. I have yet to figure out how to get Scrivner to accept my world-specific vocabulary.

Despite the weaknesses of Word’s grammar and spell check, it can show you interesting statistics such as percent of passive sentences and reading level. I won’t say that I dumb down my manuscripts, but if the reading level is over eighth grade, I know to look for simpler vocabulary replacements as I edit. I usually run at about 2-4% passive sentences. Despite what you’ve heard, passive sentences aren’t evil, bad things. They have a place in your writing. No editor wants to see 60% passive sentences in your MS, but you don’t have to completely eradicate them either. Another interesting statistic is average words per sentence. If it’s over twenty-five, you may be guilty of too many complex or run-on sentences. If it’s under eight, your writing may have the delivery of machine gun fire. Mix it up to create a pleasant reading cadence.  

After spelling and grammar, I consult my ‘errors I make all the time so you’d think I’d know better by now’ list. I often type prefect instead of perfect. I switch the words from and form. I’m addicted to the word just. Spellcheck won’t catch those errors. Do you have crutch words or phrases? Are you aware of word substitutions you make often? Use the search function in your word processor to search for your recurring mistakes.

After I’ve finished those corrections, I print the MS for the first time. You might be able to see errors on a computer screen but I see many more on paper. I take a green pen and circle every error. If the problem is an entire sentence, sometimes I write the correction on the paper but other times I’ll simply circle it and deal with it later. POV errors, continuity, and plot holes are also circled but with a short note about the problem. This is detailed work so I don’t do too many pages at one sitting.

Next I sit down with the MS and make my corrections in the computer. This is another time when the search feature comes in handy. You can type in a three or four word string and it will find them for you so you don’t have to scroll through the whole MS.

At this point, I print the corrected MS for what I consider to be the hardest editing task. I read my entire MS aloud.

What I think I wrote makes sense. What I actually wrote is missing words or other errors I didn’t catch on my first editing run. What I actually wrote is repetitive either in theme or in word choice. What I actually wrote has weird rhythm. Or it’s a tongue twister. Or what the heck was that supposed to mean? All those errors are easily glossed over when I read mentally, but they’re glaringly obvious when I read aloud.

Reading a sex scene aloud can be embarrassing even though I wrote it. R has, on occasion, poked his head into my office and said, “Bragging about your cock again, dear?” Instant mortification.   

While reading an entire novel aloud, I often get lulled into a mental space where I will start reciting what I intended to write rather than what’s actually on the page. This happens even when it’s been weeks since I looked at the MS. That’s one reason why I limit my reading aloud to about twenty to thirty minutes a day. Another reason is that reading aloud is hard on the throat.  

After I’ve corrected any problems I caught that time around, I may send the MS to beta readers or I may submit it without reader input. That’s your choice.  Sometimes beta readers are more harm than help. Sometimes they try to impose their vision on your story. Sometimes they simply don’t get it. Sometimes everything you do is wonderful and lovely and… no. This is not helpful. You need critique, not ego strokes. Some beta readers have brilliant insights and totally call you on your weaknesses. Love that class of beta readers. Cherish them. They are amazing, wonderful, precious humans.

That’s my method for editing both short stories and novels. Do you have any tricks for catching errors? Beta readers – yea or nay?

Next time: submission. Finally.         

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

On Co-Authoring

By Lucy Felthouse

I've been published for a few years now, mainly in the short story arena, though I have novellas available and others contracted, as well as a novel out on submission. I always keep my eye on what's out there, what's coming soon, how people are working, their achievements, and so on. And one thing that's caught my eye several times has been co-authoring. To me, it looked like a brilliant way to work on a project with someone, have fun and then end up with a piece of work at the end of it. But I admit I didn't really understand how it worked, so it just bubbled away in the back of my mind, and I didn't do anything about it.

However, towards the back end of 2012, my good friend and fellow writer Lily Harlem suggested co-authoring something together. I explained I had a few projects on, so I couldn't start right away, but I would definitely be interested. She was busy too, so we said we'd start in the early part of 2013, when all the New Year festivities were over and done with, and life was back to normal.

The writing bug bit Lily, however, and in December she sent me a chapter that had just come to her, so she'd written it down. I managed to read it quickly, but knew I still wouldn't be able to do anything with it until January. I was eager to try out co-authoring, but other commitments had to take priority.

Then 2013 arrived. I'd cleared my commitments and was free to start something new - hurrah! I read the chapter again and then bombarded Lily with a million and one questions about the process of co-authoring, how she thought it would work, our intended publisher, and so on. I was very lucky in that a) Lily had co-authored many times before so knew how it worked b) she was very, very patient with me and answered all my questions c) that our writing styles are quite similar, so that although we wrote from separate character viewpoints, our respective sections would still fit together well and d) we know each other well enough to give constructive and honest feedback that will be truly helpful, rather than trying to sugar coat anything for the sake of being nice.

And so we began. The chapter Lily had written back in December was from the female perspective and I was happy to write from the male perspective. I've done it many times before and enjoy it very much. We'd already agreed that if things didn't work out, we wouldn't worry too much about it, so I opened the document and began to write without thinking too hard. We had no plan, no idea what on earth the book was going to be about, really, just that it would be an erotic romance. Despite this, the words came. Fast.

After writing a chapter of roughly the same length as Lily's, I skim read it and sent it back to her. And thus the mad email exchange began. Prior to this project I'd only written one full-length novel by myself and found it a learning curve, albeit it a fun and very satisfying project, but often I had to force myself to carry on and not procrastinate. With this book, however, it was totally different. It was full of surprises - because we hadn't planned it, the chapters we sent back to one another were a total surprise, and we both had to think on our feet to work out where the plot would go next. We'd agreed not to rush one another for chapters as we both had other things on, too, and although we didn't pressure one another, we still produced the words at lightning speed (for me, anyway!). I grew eager to read Lily's next chapter, to see where the characters - which I'd quickly grown very fond of - would go next, what they would do. There was very, very little procrastination!

The only thing we'd really planned was that the book would be longer than 50,000 words - to make it novel length. We did discuss how it would end, but never made a set decision, we just decided to keep writing and hope it came to a natural conclusion. We agreed that because Lily had written the first chapter, that I would write the last. That was the only time throughout the project that I felt pressure - and it was from myself, not my co-author. I had to write the last chapter, therefore the ending, therefore it had to be good, and satisfying! I put my fingers to the keys of my laptop and hoped that what came out would be good. When I finished the final chapter I read it again and made tweaks, then decided that no benefit would come of me staring at it - so I sent it to Lily. And waited with baited breath for her reply.

She loved it!! She even said that it made her cry. Naturally, I was incredibly relieved that she liked it - and the fact it made her cry was a huge bonus. Poor Lily was suffering with a bad cold at the time so she wasn't feeling her best, but I decided to take the compliment anyway. And voilà - our novel, which had been through what felt like a bazillion title changes throughout the writing process, was finished. We smashed our 50k minimum and ended up with 70,000 words, roughly. In five weeks (with me even doing two chapters in one day - one in the morning, then one in the late afternoon as Lily sent hers back in the early afternoon) we penned a novel that we were both absolutely delighted with, and characters we adored.

Next, we made ourselves leave it alone for a while. We both agreed that jumping in with edits and polishing too soon wouldn't help. We'd made comments on each other's chapters as we went along, asking for clarification of certain points or even just saying parts had made us "LOL" and that helped immensely. So much so that after our waiting period, we didn't change very much at all.

Then came the discussion on submission. We'd had a publisher in mind all along - Ellora's Cave - and we submitted to them. Thankfully, they said yes. Cue much happy dancing from Lily and I! As we waited for news, we had a bit of a debrief and agreed we'd both loved the process and were amazed at how quickly the book had come together - and even discussed making it into a series.

Now we have contracts, a cover and are waiting for edits. As the book is themed around tennis, we're hoping to see our novel - titled Grand Slam - release in August, in time for the US Open. I don't want to say too much more and give the game away (no pun intended), but the novel is an erotic romance with a sports theme and some BDSM and seriously hot sex in there, too.

I totally adored the process of co-authoring with Lily. It was genuinely fun and we just seemed to work really well - and quickly - together. We've already got some time carved out to write another book in the series - and who knows what will happen after that?

So if you've been thinking about co-authoring, I would say go for it. If you know someone that you can work well with, and you will be honest with one another and complement one another, then it's a great way to write a book. You'll have to ask lots of questions to make sure you're both on the right wavelength, but it's worth it in the end.

Keep an eye on my website and social networks for news of my first co-authored novel and a peek at the cover, and I'll see you again next month.

Happy Reading!
Lucy x

*****

Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over seventy publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include Best Bondage Erotica 2012 and 2013, and Best Women's Erotica 2013. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies. She owns Erotica For All, and is book editor for Cliterati. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9