There’s a Lot of Correlation Between Editing and Sorting…

…so that’s why I am doing both at once…

It’s been really hard to make myself stop cleaning (see Here’s the Clean for more on those adventures) and write these blog posts–as you may have noticed. But they really are a lot alike.

When you are editing, you do a lot of pruning. A word here, a word there–a rearranging of sentences–a removal of a scene that isn’t working.

When you are sorting through boxes, you do a lot of the same. Is this memory worth saving that piece of paper? Do you remember who is in that picture? Is that snippet of writing something that can be expanded into a short story or novel or something else?

I have actually found a lot of bits of writing that I am very excited to rediscover. I have been working on a novel for over twenty-five years. I just can’t seem to get it right. One of the things I found in a box was the first full draft of that novel. I can’t wait to re-read it and see what my original plan was for the story. I think it might help me to get the train back on the track…

I also found a long Ladyhawke fan fiction story I thought was lost to the ether. That story was one of the things that taught me how to write description, and was one of the longest pieces before I actually finished a novel. It was one of the things that gave me the self-confidence to write novel length in the first place. (And I think it is one of my strongest bits of writing ever…that almost no one has ever seen. And I might be able to remedy that now.)

I’ve got a lot more boxes to unpack. I can’t wait to see what else I find–between bouts of editing the next Horrified anthology I am working on. And getting ready for November. 😉

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Missed Yesterday…

Photo by Luna Lovegood on

…but that was because I was doing a lot of things at once.

I have the Strangers anthology off to the publisher for formatting. I have started the edit of X 6 which is the next Horrified anthology.

I have also been going through boxes that have been packed since I moved in with my husband almost twenty years ago. I realized I didn’t need those notes from Chinese class in 1996. I didn’t need the Certificate of finishing a training class in 1995. I didn’t need the outdated marketing materials from when I started in 2000. Those things were tossed.

On the other hand, the correspondence I had with Lis Sladen when I was doing a Sarah Jane Smith fanzine and a fan club for her I am keeping, even if some of the pages have gotten damaged over time. They are irreplaceable. I put them in an envelope which should add more protection and make them easier to identify.

Breaking down all those old boxes is very satisfying. 🙂

I am getting a lot done, but the writing isn’t moving as quickly. Hopefully this will even out soon. After all, November is coming. 😉

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Welp…that week off stretched to two…

It was a lovely break from blogging, but I am back at it. Still not writing much, but I have been really busy!

While I haven’t been writing, I have finally been pushing through to get the edits finished for the next Horrified Anthology. I’ve been struggling with this for months, but now the corner has been turned, and the end is in sight. Just waiting for the last few approvals and then it is off to formatting. 

The cover is based on another of the amazing images of Stefan Keller care of Pixabay.

I am very proud of it, and I’m sharing it here for the first time except for the authors…

This is going to be a great anthology. I think you will like it. This is my fifth anthology for Thirteen O’ Clock. There are that many again in the queue, so I have a long way to go!

I’ve got a lot of other projects on my plate, so we’ll see how quickly everything comes together as the world is finally starting to look ahead to normal again.

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A Bit About Time Travel…

In writing, especially a novel, it isn’t likely that everything you want to say is linear in time. It MIGHT be…but there is a good chance that you want to tell something that happened in a characters past–or flash forward to what might be in their future.

Getting this back (or forward) story into the book without bogging it down can be very difficult. It’s a fine balance to walk.

Lately, I have been binge-watching Orange is the New Black, as I’ve mentioned before. One of the things that makes this show so fascinating is the weaving in of the back story. You eventually see what brought most of the regulars to be where they are now. And it is done subtly and smoothly without slowing down the action. I’ve also just finished watching Babylon 5, and it features several scenes going the OTHER way, with flash forwards and premonitions. Again, they are handled subtly and without disrupting the flow.

Now, of course, these are both examples of media productions rather than static words on the page, but I think that by studying good examples like this we can learn to incorporate the time slips into writing.

I am not advocating a lot of flashbacks–they can really irritate some readers–but getting the information out of the past and into the present can be done many ways:

My husband’s favorite way is through dialog. Have the character whose past you want to explore relating the story to an interested party.

Have the character looking through a scrapbook or diary and remembering the incidents documented within.

Have two OTHER characters discussing the past.

Or, if absolutely necessary–in extreme moderation–have an actual flashback.

Going forward, there are also multiple options:

Have the character dream about something that later comes true.

Have a fortune-teller relate a vision of the future.

Have an ancient prophecy foreshadow the character’s path.

The important thing is not to disrupt the forward flow of the story with a break for time travel–past or future. The time jumps need to be seamlessly woven into the action so that no one realizes they’ve been elsewhere until they look back on your genius. 😉

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RIEVIEW: Orange is the New Black

Think of all the roads
Think of all their crossings
Taking steps is easy
Standing still is hard
Remember all their faces
Remember all their voices
Everything is different
The second time around

–“You’ve Got Time” by Regina Spector

I asked my husband today if he was ready to watch the final season of Orange is the New Black, because it was yet another of the series we have started and not finished. He suggested I could start it over instead…

And, since I have no problem rewatching things I’ve already seen, I thought that was a great idea because it would give me a change to reconnect with the characters before we got to the new episodes (well, relatively new…new to us.)

The theme song takes on an entirely different meaning when you go back through the series. Everything IS different.

You don’t have all the big surprises–because even I can remember the major revelations, but there are a lot of “Oh, yeah…I remember that” moments. The acting is still incredible, the characters are all still memorable, and the way the writers dole out backstory is still really phenomenal, as you find out bits and pieces of all the roads that brought the inmates to Litchfield.

And now, you can greet the characters as…well, maybe not friends, for the most part, but acquaintances you are happy to see again. Their tragedies bring sorrow, their triumphs a sense of hope.

I don’t want to spoil a first viewing for anyone, so I don’t want to give details of action, but there really are some amazing performances involved. It is worth watching the series just to see the way Uzo Aduba lights up the screen as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren. Taryn Manning’s Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett is the girl you love to hate, but learn to sympathize with as you find out more about her. Yael Stone’s Lorna Morillo and her wedding plans… And, of course, Kate Mulgrew is brilliant as “Red.” (These are just my favorites, but all of the women–and the men, to a lesser extent…they don’t have as much screen time–are excellent.)

I watched the first four or five episodes today as I was working on a project, and I am very glad to know that I have enough to keep me busy for a week or two. If you haven’t gotten to know these women, I highly recommend it. As a writer, I am really getting inspired by the way the characters develop.

(I don’t have a measure for this one…handcuffs, maybe? Whatever it is, I give it 4 1/2.)

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2020 Has Been…Interesting…From a Business Perspective

Despite what my husband says, most of my income is from hand-selling at conventions. He thinks internet sales are the way to go. My KDP reports say I am not as good at that as I am at sending people home with a book (and I’m not great at that.)

Adding to that the fact that I really haven’t felt like writing this year at all, and I’ve been trying to come up with alternate revenue streams.

One of my ideas is to add bookmarks to my convention table and Etsy store. I’ve managed to get three up online so far. I really hope to make this a new thing, but there will be a learning curve. Especially in listing them on Etsy. 😛

Does anyone have any ideas on how to showcase them better?

Another potential way to make some income is the fact that I have a few copies of my out-of-print books on hand that I would be willing to part with for better prices than they appear on Amazon…

The Luckless Prince — $15 + shipping

The Lute and the Liar — $10 + shipping

The Right Hand of Velachaz — $7 + shipping

Skellyman — $20 + shipping

Sidhe Moves Through the Faire — $10 + shipping

and the great thing about these is they can be signed for free! Plus, shipping will be less if you buy more. For one: $5 shipping, for two: $8 shipping, for three $11 shipping; for four $15 shipping; for all five $18

There are limited numbers of each, so order early for these limited editions. Hopefully, they will be back in print eventually, but these will be collector’s items. 😉

Drop me an email at to order any of the above (and tell me how you want them personalized if you want them signed.)

I will update this as things sell out.


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RieView: The Addams Family

The Addams Family title

Although this is really a topic for the Home for Wayward Spirits blog, I was having a hard time coming up with something for today and decided to escape with something I really love.

Watching the original Addams Family television series as a girl was where I first fell in love with John Astin, an admiration that survives to this day. The juxtaposition of what they thought was normal with the “real world” they were a part of was enchanting to a girl who also loved The Munsters. Maybe this is what shaped my writing career…

So, today I first watched the 1991 film with Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston. The story is fine. The acting is outstanding, with a stellar cast, but there is something missing…I think it is the fact that–even though they react to the world around them in much the same way as the original–the sense of play is different. They don’t sell the wide-eyed wonder quite as well.

Even though they mirrored several of the iconic scenes, they didn’t feel the same. And adding all the blood seemed unnecessary. Updating to modern morees seemed to take away some of the charm.

Of course, both of these adaptations would be nothing without the original source material. Charles Addams’s cartoons have something that can’t be fully translated to reality, though they’ve come close.

I haven’t watched the animated film yet, but I hope it works as well as the others.

And there are always the cartoons

Again, sorry for “horror” on the main site, but it definitely helped me feel better to visit the Family.

I give The Addams Family 5 Bats:

5 Bats


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Songs that Tell Stories

acoustic acoustic guitar bass classic


I have always been a sucker for a good ballad. From the time I was a little girl, this was my favorite sort of song, and I could listen to a good story song over and over.

From Bobby Goldsboro‘s “Honey” to Carole King‘s “Tapestry” and Gordon Lightfoot‘s “Bitter Green,” folk was prevalent in our house, and I think that is why I fell in love with the genre.

The best lyrics tell a good story. Sure, there is a place for a good dance song, but it isn’t as difficult to write as poetic lyrics that also tell a story. The artists above are masters of it, but there have been more recent examples.

Jim Morrison‘s lyrics were almost always poetry because he was a poet at heart. Songs like “The Unknown Soldier” combined poetry with story, and helped make The Doors stars.

As I mentioned yesterday on Here’s The Clean, the master storyteller was Harry Chapin. His way of painting portraits of people with a song is simply amazing. From “Taxi” to “A Better Place to Be,” you feel like you know the people he was talking about personally. This is the mark of a true master, and something I would love to emulate in my own work.

Steam Powered Giraffe also thrives on story songs. “Captain Albert Alexander,” tells the story of a life from start to finish, as does “Rex Marksley.” Many of their other songs tell similar stories.

The bards, I know–Brobdingnagian, Bedlam–all are good storytellers

When writing my own songs, I try to keep the storytelling tradition in mind, even if it doesn’t always work. I am particularly proud of “Rose” and “Soul of a Harper” in this regard.

The bards of old were also usually balladeers. My ultimate goal in life is to fit that tradition. 🙂

Of course, this list is by no means complete. Do you have a favorite that isn’t listed? Feel free to leave a name in the comments. I am always on the lookout for a good story song.

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Writing Tip: Putting the Sizzle in Steamy Scenes [The following post is rated Adult]

Some of you may know that I have a saucy alter-ego who dips her toe into the erotic. She writes the occasional tale, with a penchant for fairy tales. Her name is “Tysche Dwai” named after a Halfling D & D character whose name translates to “Lucky Dark.”

Writing erotica isn’t instinctive to me. It’s something that I really have to think about. So,  several years ago, I asked fellow authors for their tips on the genre. The article below was first published in 2013. It contains graphic examples, so continue reading at your own risk. 😉

“Go, get thee to thy love, as was decreed,
Ascend her chamber, hence and comfort her:
But look thou stay not till the watch be set,
For then thou canst not pass to Mantua;
Where thou shalt live, till we can find a time
To blaze your marriage, reconcile your friends,
Beg pardon of the prince, and call thee back
With twenty hundred thousand times more joy
Than thou went’st forth in lamentation.”

—Act III, scene iii
Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare could get away with reducing a wedding night to the lines above and a morning kiss goodbye, but in a world where Shaggy’s song about “banging on the bathroom floor” was one of the most requested songs in the country, it takes a bit more to satisfy a modern audience looking for “steamy scenes.”

So how do you get beyond what one writer calls the “blush factor” and create passion on the page without resorting to pornography? Being of rather high blush-ability myself, I asked a group of bourgeoning romance writers for input. Their feedback includes some great tips to bear in mind.

First of all, writer Janet Franklin pointed out how important sensuality is to the creation of mood for these scenes:

Writing steamy scenes is a very intense experience. I find that putting on a romantic CD really helps get things rolling. Then I might light a few scented candles and close my eyes to focus on my characters. I let them talk to me about what they want to happen, what their deepest wishes are, what their fantasies are. I then think about how they would go about fulfilling and getting those wishes fulfilled. I also focus on their previous relationship and experiences together. For me, steamy scenes need to be gradually approached as the characters woo each other. (Unless, of course, you’re going for the instant “lust in the dust” aspect, which has merits of its own.)

As a romance reader, I look for all my senses to be involved. I look for the romance of the act, not the physical blow-by-blow (no pun intended) of what goes where. Steamy scenes are an important part of romantic fiction; I think an author owes it to her readers to go beyond lights out, fade to black. But it takes a poet to bring those scenes to life, to heart, to soul. And that’s the true mark of a romance author–to bring her readers into the intimacy of the scene in such a way that they don’t feel distanced but feel involved.

Jennifer Turner offered some good concrete advice as well:

When I got to the hot scenes in my book, I read books that I knew offered such scenes. From them I picked the parts I liked best, reworded them, and using the ‘personalities’ of my Characters, blended it into my own scene. Also, I read somewhere that most editors hate the word MOAN in a sex scene. They say it makes them think the person moaning is in pain, not ecstasy. Plus, I think one of the key things to remember, is making all action believable, like say, it wouldn’t be believable to have the Hero carrying the Heroine through the woods while kissing her and trying to get a hand down her shirt. He’d probably run into a tree and drop her on her butt. Another thing, there should be dialogue during the encounter, at one point or another anyway. People in real life don’t just foreplay, but they speak to each other, murmuring endearments, especially in those first dozen or so encounters.

The above advice is important to remember, but realize that it is subjective. While some editors may hate moaning characters, there is still a lot of moaning going on in published literature—therefore it is not a universal thing. Check the guidelines for a particular venue before submitting, just like you do for any other genre.

Writing sex is not an easy thing. The days of bodice-ripping and heaving bosoms are now passé for most readers. Although I personally see nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned romance, the reading populace, in general, are often more progressive in their tastes. It is not enough to fade to black at first contact. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, “fade to black” was originally a cinema term for a scene where the director literally did just that—had his cameraman iris in to a black screen. The physical aspects of the scene were left strictly to the imagination. Traditionally, romance writers treated sex the same way. But as tastes have changed, more explicit detail is expected.

However, full out graphics must be handled with sensitivity. The lead-in is almost as important as the final consummation. Wynelda Deaver offers the following advice about creating atmosphere, with a sample of just how important foreplay can be:

In order to get to the point where I can actually write a steamy scene, I do a couple of things first. One of them is to write a dance scene, whether I use it or not. For me, dancing is so sensual, so primal that all my inhibitions dissolve with the song. I have “soundtracks” to my writing, and pick the songs that I write certain scenes to very carefully. The following scene was written to Meatloaf’s “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” from Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell. I love that song…can sink into the beauty and romance of it:

“Well, their singer has agreed to stay on for a couple of weeks. Until they can find a replacement, at least.” Cole sat down next to Lacey, draping his arm over her shoulder.

The contact felt right, if not exactly easy. Lacey could feel the warmth of his arm through her tee-shirt, and it sent a thrill through her.

“They’ll be practicing in a couple. Want to stay and listen?” Cole played with a strand of her blonde hair absently.

Lacey turned to look in his eyes. They were pensive, lost in thought. “Sure.”

The band was good. Lacey found herself bouncing along with the songs. When they started a rendition of “Satisfaction,” Lacey started humming along with them.

Cole smiled. The song summed up his feelings at the moment. “Shall we dance?”

“But there’s no one else,” Lacey said.

“Exactly. We’ll have much more elbow room this way.”

Grinning, Lacey allowed him to pull her up from her chair and followed him onto the dance floor. It felt silly, to be dancing in a club without the camouflage of other couples. More exposed.

Soon, the eyes that might be watching no longer mattered. Cole spun her around, brought her back in close to him. His hands were firm on her waist, bringing her in as close as he could. Branding her. Lacey snaked her arms around his neck. A slow, secret smile teased her lips. It was deliciously wicked to be in his arms, his body moving against hers. She could feel his breath, wanted to make it her own.

The band went smoothly into another song. Cole tightened his grip on her hips as she arched her back and leaned into the song. He wanted to feel the expanse of bare midriff that she revealed, but was afraid to get in too deep. Her dancing was a slow seduction, bringing him to the edge of control.

He slid a hand up her back, guiding her back up to him. She was humming in his ear.

Cole dipped his head, caught her lip gently in his teeth. He breathed in her gasp, slid his tongue gently against her lips. “Lacey?” His voice was quiet, shook with need.

“If you apologize again,” Lacey whispered, “I’ll have to hurt you.” She reached up and brought his head down to hers. Took him in a kiss that branded him as hers.

“Sing for me,” he breathed against her lips.

Lacey looked deep into his eyes. Trusted the warmth, the heat she found in them. The band was playing an old song, one of her favorites. Still, she remained undecided.

His hips moved against hers. “Princess, please.”

Softly, she sang for him. Only for him. Their bodies moved as one, she could feel his heartbeat against her chest. She knew instinctively that he would demand more from her. More than she had ever given before. Possibly more than she was willing to give.

She barely knew him.

She knew him all too well.

Her voice gained strength. With a growl of satisfaction, Cole slid his hands up her back, bringing her even closer. He wanted to shout for joy when she framed his face in her hands, her voice strong and true.
She hadn’t noticed that the singer on stage was now silent. That Lacey was the song, and the music followed her.

Neither of them noticed Tag walk into the club. He watched with narrowed eyes his baby sister making love on the dance floor with a man that he didn’t know. Saw her utter captivation.

Heard her sing. Truly sing. He hadn’t heard Lacey sing in…forever. Her voice was powerful, full of hurt and hunger and vulnerability and power. Perfect.

The bartender who had taken her in back the night before came up to Tag. “Can I help you, Sir?”

Tag shook his head. “I’ve already found what I was looking for.” He turned and left his sister in Cole Haggerty’s arms.

Lacey smiled shyly at Cole as the music ended. “Perfect,” he whispered. Then bent his head to claim her lips.

Scattered clapping from the stage brought Lacey out of his arms quickly. She could feel herself blushing bone-deep.

Cole swore softly. He needed another cold shower, damn it.

—- From Princess, By Wynelda Ann Shelton

The only other trick I have up my sleeve for writing steamy scenes is really odd. Sometimes the only way I can get over the blush factor is to write the scene on brightly colored construction paper. It seems to free my mind from its hang-ups.

So, we have covered setting the mood, and foreplay. How do you get down to the nitty-gritty? The brass tacks. The graphics. First of all, by not resorting to out-dated euphemisms or coy symbolism. There is still no need to get crude, but there is less tolerance for the “straining manhood” and “womanly nest” of the past. Unless you are recapturing a period mood or style. Today’s audience can handle more graphic wording, and expect it if it is tastefully done. For example, in the following:

As soon as Peter had shut the bathroom door, Beth stepped to the bed and sat on the edge of it. It was hard, yet yielding. She closed her eyes as she ran her hands along the spread and imagined lying back on that surface, and looking up as Peter knelt over her. She bit her lip. What was she doing here? She chuckled throatily to herself…just taking a little advice and “going for it” She opened her eyes and saw his jacket on the bed beside her. She swept it up and cradled it to her breasts, taking a deep whiff of the scent of him. She hugged it tightly. And smiled wickedly as a thought came to her. She laid the jacket back on the bed, and slowly reached for the next button on her blouse. Should she…?

Coming to a quick decision, she slipped the last two buttons undone and dropped the blouse on the bed, and then she reached behind her and unzipped the velvet skirt, dropping it to the floor. She took a deep breath. No turning back now. “Just do it!” she whispered, biting her lip again.

Stepping to the bathroom door, she put a hand on the knob, and all of a sudden had a heart-stopping thought. What if it was locked? God…let it turn….

The knob twisted beneath her hand, and she pushed the door open a crack. A wave of steam billowed out at her. It caressed her bare skin like a lover’s kiss, and she shivered. Then she slipped inside the bathroom and closed the door softly. The water roared in the shower, and she felt her nipples tighten in anticipation. Silently, she stepped forward and pulled back the rear of the shower curtain.

Beth felt her heart pounding so fiercely in her breast that the world went a little gray around the edges. She saw his stare drift down, and freeze at her crotch. She grinned a little, catching her lip between her teeth, and then let the grin widen impishly as she slid her hand down her own thigh.

Peter was staring at her with an obvious interest that was centering in the long, hard length of him. She panted, stepping toward him and feeling the hot beads of the shower caress her every pore.

“Welcome to Texas, Peter,” she whispered huskily, her voice so thick with desire she could hardly force it from her throat. “And welcome to me….”

Peter held out his arms, and she stepped into the circle of them, tilting her head up to meet his lowering kiss. She could feel the iron tension of his cock pressing into her belly, and she rolled her hips lightly against it. He chuckled, the sound deepening into a growl as he laid claim to her lips. His mouth moved hungrily on hers, his tongue demanding entrance into her throat. She opened her lips willingly, greedily feeding upon his tongue as it explored her mouth, and then, tightening her arms about his neck, pulling his head still closer and probing back with her own tongue.

His arms tightened about her waist, and then she felt herself being lifted from the bottom of the tub. He placed his hands beneath her buttocks, and she arched upward. Peter used his sensual fingers to reach underneath her and part the lips of her slit. She pulled her head back long enough to whimper. “Oh, yes, baby. Please. Please….” And then attacked his lips with increased fervor.

He raised her a little further, and then eased her down onto the hot, throbbing tip of his rigid penis. She sighed, arching backward to better the angle as it slid slowly into the core of her. Deeper…and deeper…until she wanted to scream with the intensity of it. He was deliberately teasing her, drawing out the penetration for as long as he possibly could, but when at last she felt the ridge of her pelvis meet his, she could feel the tip of him resting deep inside her. Her body tightened around him automatically, and he groaned. She locked her feet behind his waist and slowly rotated her pelvis, feeling the shaft within her respond like a well-oiled gearshift. The water continued to pour down around them, blissfully warm, and it danced upon her breasts, teasing the taut nipples. Carefully, she began to work herself up and down on the length of him. He filled her like the cork of a wine bottle, plugging her as if he were made for the task. The friction was heavenly torture, and she arched her back as he leaned back slightly to counterbalance her movements. She could feel a building tension. It had been so long since she had been truly satisfied….

Suddenly, she could feel the crescendo building to a head, and she whimpered again low in her throat.
“Go ahead and scream if you want to…no one will hear you,” Peter urged, and thrust forward an extra fraction.
It was her undoing and scream she did. Long, incoherent babbling praises. She bucked against him, and he laughed.

“Careful, love, you’ll spill us to the floor!”

But she didn’t care…her mind was locked in red-hot flames. She pulled herself down as tightly as she could on the miracle of him, and ground her hips into his pelvis one more time. She bit the side of his throat lightly with her teeth, suckling the salty flesh that still bore traces of sweat despite the prolonged shower, and she felt him stiffen beneath her. “Your turn,” she growled in his ear, nipping at the lobe as she redoubled her assault on his cock.

She felt him gulp, and then begin to thrust within her. She rode his thrusts, feeling the energy building again. After so long a starvation, she was not sated yet. As his strokes became faster and more urgent, she panted encouragement. “C’mon, baby. C’mon. Do it for me, come on…come on!”

Her panting grew louder and louder, as the scream gathered once more in her throat, but this time, she was not alone. He cried out with her. She felt him give one final jerk and thrust forward, and then she felt the hot spurting jets of his seed filling her like molten lead. She leaned forward and crushed his mouth beneath her own, forcing her tongue into his mouth once more, and kissing him hard. There were tears mixed with the hot water now…water that was beginning finally to cool as if realizing that its purpose had been served. He crushed her to him, returning her kiss with an equal passion.

At last, she pulled her head back enough that she could see his eyes, and murmured in a sated growl. “Now THAT is how we say welcome in Texas.”

Let’s recap—the most important thing to remember about writing a steamy scene is to be honest with the material. The way I judge whether a scene is working is by how it makes me feel. Does it cause a reaction in me as a reader? If it does, then it is probably working. Set the mood for yourself, and it will be easier to create it for your reader. If you don’t have a lot of experience in this area of writing, model yourself on what has sold in the past. You can tone down easier than you can heat up. But, as always—research your market before you submit a piece. Most markets looking for steamy content have very specific limits on how graphic their writers should be. Don’t send a publisher more detail than they are willing to accept. Tasteful love scenes can really add fire to a story, and punch to character relationships.

One of the most successful romance writers on the market today, Julie Garwood, is often cited by her readers for her well-written sexual encounters. For a good example of how to integrate the love scene into your action, I strongly recommend her work. Several of Anne Rice’s non-vampiric novels also contain erotic scenes. Besides the extremely graphic fairy tales comprising The Sleeping Beauty trilogy, “Exit to Eden” and “Belinda” also contain some fairly explicit examples for the would-be writer of steamy scenes.

Do write for the senses. Don’t forget that you have five, and in a good encounter, all are engaged. Set your mood for the reader; paint the room around your lovers before throwing them in bed together. Is there a scent of apples in her hair from the shampoo she used that morning? Does his beard stubble scrape against her cheek? Can they taste the wine on each other’s tongues? Give your readers details to bring them into the world you are creating.

Don’t overwrite the scene. If you are targeting a specific market, make sure that you stay within its prescribed guidelines.  Check here for Harlequin guidelines. Here are some other markets to check into. Be sure to make sure that the market is still publishing before submitting to it.

One final word of advice when you are deciding how far to leave the bedroom door open for the reader—keep in mind the age group you are targeting as well. Most of the readership for the mainstream romance lines are adults. They can handle more graphic sex. However, there are more young adult lines all the time. In these books, it is irresponsible to promote underage sex without presenting the consequences as well. It is even more vital to check for guidelines when working with this age group.

In summation: 1) Be sensual; let your readers experience all five senses. 2) Be specific; follow the guidelines for the market you are targeting. 3) Be responsible; don’t advocate casual sex merely for the sake of a salacious scene. Remember, all of the markets mentioned above look for the encounters to be within a committed relationship. 4) Have fun! Remember, this is your chance to indulge all your erotic fantasies….

And if you would like to check out some of Tysche’s work, here are the links:

The Cunning Thief — an Irish inspired fairy tale

The River God’s Bride — a Chinese inspired fairy tale

Western Ways — story “Starr for the Teacher”

Some of the others listed on this page are currently out-of-print, but you might be able to find some of them around. I hope to get some of them back on Amazon in the fairly near future.


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GUEST POST: Nicole Givens Kurtz — Kill Three Birds

KillThreeBirds cover

[Today’s post is a guest entry about the worldbuilding in Kill Three Birds by Nicole Givens Kurtz. This is one of the most fascinating worlds I have ever had the pleasure to discover. I look forward to reading future entries in this series.]

Falling in Love—Again: How I Fell for Worldbuilding

Nicole Givens Kurtz

I’ve fallen in love again. It isn’t with the new superhero or Hollywood leading man, but with worldbuilding. You might think the prolonged period of quarantine has gone to my head, but hear me out. For over 20 years, I have written fantastic stories, each with their own world. I hated worldbuilding. It felt like so much work. I wanted to get to the story, to the action, to the “meat” of the work. So, for many years, worldbuilding became a lesson in note-taking, a boring Word document with lists and bullet points. When I started a new story in that world, I would open the file labeled with the creative name of “Worldbuilding” and use the shortcut keys to find the information I sought.

It wasn’t the work. It was me who had soured on the grunt work of worldbuilding. It was mentally labor intensive. No wonder God rested on the seventh day.

But I digress. Let’s get back to falling in love.

During the whole pandemic quarantine life, I discovered something extraordinary. I can cook. I can grow vegetables and flowers. Both of these things, had you asked me in January 2020, I would’ve told you I would never and could never do. And like so much of 2020, I have been surprised and caught off guard by what I find pleasurable and what I’m capable of with these two hands.

Like cooking or planting a garden, worldbuilding takes time. That’s time I didn’t have pre-pandemic. Don’t get me wrong; I took time with my worldbuilding before, but it was stressed (see above.)

Once day I decided to write a fun, mystery series entirely for me. Novella length and just for myself. No pressure to publish or to please anyone but me. I knew I wanted it to be a fantasy world, since I haven’t done much of that since the Minister Knights of Souls series and those are bleak.

I wanted something different, something not quite as dark, but it would be a mystery so it would get gritty.

The Kingdom of Aves was born!

And I fell in love—with worldbuilding. Again.

This time, I opened my OneNote and I began to populate it with images that inspired me. I spent hours on ArtStation and Pinterest looking at Black fantasy artwork and trying to find the right images that matched what was in my imagination. I sketched out a rough map and had Sarah Macklin create a polished map of Aves for me. I researched the type of government they would have, currency, and how provinces and cities would be organized (in Aves, Nests are states or provinces, eggs are cities). It took a lot of time, but it was fun.

I loved it.

Why was it fun this time versus the other times I created worlds?

It goes back to why I know enjoy gardening and cooking. I have time to do those things without the grunt and stress of commuting back and forth to work, sitting in an office all day underneath glaring fluorescent lights.

And this time, I wanted to do it just for me. Of course, I am sharing KILL THREE BIRDS with readers after all. It released on July 20th. But as I was building that world, I looked for things that spoke to me–that I found fun and humorous or clever. I didn’t pressure myself to make it perfect or to get it just right. In fact, I created Aves with love and attention to the details that mattered to the story, but also to me.

Aves is deeply personal to me, in ways I won’t go into here.

I’m sure you won’t mind about that, as those in love rarely divulge all their secrets.

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