Friday, October 30, 2009

On Writing Sexy Stuff

Most of my writing is pretty clean. But occasionally, sensual situations come up and depending on the mood of my novel, I go ahead and write them.

In Forging a Legend, things got pretty steamy, but I keep the sex scenes short. In A Spy and a Lady, the most sensual scene is a make-out scene on a rooftop. Which I tried to make more humorous than sensual. In future novel, when Tory actually gets married (in a scene long envisioned!), there will be no sex scene whatsoever. These novels are definitely have a "sweet" heat level. I have not run into any sex scenes yet in East of Yesterday, and I'm thinking it would be mildly sensual at most.

I have a brief sensual situation in my flash fiction, “Under Observation”. (That reminds me—must find another market!)

But my novella, The Sevenfold Spell, is turning out much more sensual than anything I’ve ever written. As some of you know, it’s a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story. However, it’s told from the point-of-view of a homely young woman who, along with her widowed mother, made her living by spinning before spinning wheels were banned. It opens with the confiscation of their spinning wheel. With the loss of their livelihood, they must live on her dowry, thus ruining her chance of marrying a certain homely young man, who cannot afford a wife without a dowry. He gets sent off to join a monastery, and she and her mother must fend for themselves. Woven into all this is the actual princess, the prince, the evil fairy and the good fairies.

As with Forging a Legend, I’m trying to keep the sex scenes short. I don’t like reading long, involved sex scenes, so I’m not going to write them either. I am going for short and powerful, without using any explicit language.

Here is a scene that shows the mood of the novella.
My infrequent confessions went something like this:

"I have not been chaste, as a maiden ought," I would say to the priest.

"With whom have you not been chaste?"

"A butcher. A baker. A candlestick maker. Plus those I've mentioned before."

"And are you sorry for this sin?"

"No, I can't say that I am."

"Then until you are, your soul will bear its burden."

The local bachelors talked about me, I know, they traded stories--but they always went happily to my bed.

To the aisle? Never.

I spoke of it to Harla, sometimes.

"I would make a good wife," I said.

"I've no doubt of that," she said.

"I'm ready to be faithful to a good man who would have me," I said. "I would devote myself to him and his children."

"You're thinking of Willard."


"Did you love him, then?"

"Love? I didn't think of it as love."

"We all thought you went mad for him."

"I did. I wanted his child."

She looked at me in shock. "Out of wedlock?"

"I couldn't have him, so I wanted a piece of him."

"You were mad."

"Maybe," I said.

"Either that, or you really did love him."

And I wondered about that. Why did I offer myself to him? Although to lie with him had been my own choice, it would have never been a choice I would have made had we been able to marry. I often thought of the child I had wanted so badly, of little Aurora who was never conceived. She would be coming on her menses about now, had she been born.

I was picky about men, in my own way. True, I did look for the men so often rejected by other women: the too thin, the too chubby, the too pocked, the too graying. But I also looked for shyness, for awkwardness, for the socially inept. Was I looking for another Willard? Perhaps. I never found one, but I did find some men who stayed with me for lengths of time that measures in months rather than weeks. One even stayed with me for over a year.

Only one was handsome.
The scene that follow surprised me. I thought I’d have at least one more sex scene, but it turned into a scene where my plain protagonist turns down the most handsome man of all. She walks away. With no regrets whatsoever. I figured that my character needs to grow, and while she turns to men to ease her loneliness in her past, at some point she must grow beyond this. And I didn’t even realize that the story needed this until I wrote that scene.

Don't you love it when you muse takes over?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This Blog is Staying Put

Even though I've semi-officially launched my new blog at Debuts & Reviews, I'm still going to blog here. This blog is much more personal than my review blogs, and I intend to keep it that way. I actually don't have any obvious way of finding this blog from my domain, which is just fine by me.

I've still been working on "The Sevenfold Spell" and I'm really having to crack the whip to keep myself on a project long enough to finish it. I will allow myself to interrupt novel writing to write a short story--they come along rarely enough--but I simply must finish what I'm doing with this short story (or novella)  before I will allow myself to move on to another. Discipline! Must have it!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Short Fiction E-Book Market

A writing mentor of mine has given me the gift of knowledge. And that knowledge is the fact that e-book publishers accept short fiction. I never knew this!

My sleeping beauty retelling, "The Sevenfold Spell," is long. I have always tried to keep it under 8000 words, because that is typically the maximum short story length, but in truth, it has tried very hard to be longer. It's also somewhat racy. Not really racy; just somewhat. I don't normally write racy stuff, but when the story insists on being racy, then I, as the mere writer, cannot fight it. It's racy in a rather sad and tragic way.

But the fact that it was racy limited my markets. Very few short fiction magazines will take short stories that aren't teen friendly.

And now my friend tells me that e-book publishers routinely publish novellas as short as 10,000 words. I checked around with some of them--like Samhain--and she is absolutely correct.

So I've been on a writing tear. My 7000-odd word short story is now over 10,000 words, and I thought of several great subplots that need to be in there, which should increase the word count by at least 5000 words. I thought of a great way to change the ending that made me throw my head back and laugh. Better yet, it enables me to bring the story full circle, which is always a plus.

I love it when I get to unleash the true story.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

There's a certain agent . . .

. . . and if you read agent blogs, you know her name. She's requested at least partials for both my books . . . twice. And she keeps rejecting them, usually with little encouraging notes at the bottom. I suppose it's a good thing that she keeps requesting to see my stuff. But I do wonder if I'm beginning to be a pest. Oh, well. (Heavy sigh.) I do have other queries still out there.

I won't be making another round of agent queries with Forging a Legend without a contract. However, I will be submitting directly to publishers soon. I've been dithering about a recent rewrite. I sent it to one of my beta readers and she really liked it--in fact, she said she loved it. However, I thought of another way to frame it, and so I made a copy of it and was attempting to make this latest frame work. However, I don't think it will. I really don't want to do another major rework of it, and if I attempt this latest idea, it will require exactly that. So I'll be going back to the rewrite that my beta reader read and will be sending it to another beta reader this week.

One of the things that's been on my mind is the fact that I'm glad I'm branching out into another genre. Historical fiction may be harder to write, but it does seem to be more friendly to females. You guys know that I am intimately familiar with debut novels due to my work at Fantasy Debut. However, the bulk of epic fantasies that have come out since I started FD have been written by men. If you count small presses--old Juno Books and Avari Press--then I can think of a few. If they're not by men, they're about men, such as Naomi Novik's novels. The only exceptions seem to be urban fantasies and YA fantasies, both of which I have not written.

But some of the biggest names in Historical fiction are women like Phillipa Gregory and Diana Gabaldon. It also has a wider readership. I'm also hoping that by the time I am ready to query, this recession is over and time travel historicals are the next big thing.

Maybe--if I get very daring--I'll serialize Forging a Legend at Fantasy Debut. I have a large readership there; I might as well see what they think. What do you think? Good idea, or bad?