Friday, May 27, 2011

Fawn : Fuck Me Friday

Another stab at Aisling Weaver's FuckMeFriday prompts.


I watch the way you look at them, your eyes on her hand as she feeds him, your brow creasing as she simpers.


Placing my hand on your thigh beneath your skirt, close to the rope you wear beneath your clothes, I lean in close to whisper in your ear, "Down, Pet."

You automatically still, relaxing all the corners of your face.

You do not need to serve me openly or to flaunt what you are.

We know.

Across the table, she giggles, but this time you don't frown. This time, your mouth creeps up into a secret smile.

And I can't wait til we get home so I can fuck it off your face.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Music To Write To: Numbness, Death and Despair

My favorite descriptions of the writing process are those that liken it to method-acting. When I'm writing a character, I need to get in his head – be where he is, think how he thinks, feel what he feels. And a huge piece of that, for me, is setting the right mood with music.

So this is the beginning of an occasional series. Just a quick playlist with some of my favorite selections to help me get into a certain mood. And what better place to start than with Death and Despair?

I threw this list together when I was writing a particularly grey scene in my novella Letting Go. The character was absolutely numb with grief, so these aren’t my blackest of black songs. They're more ... grey.

  1. God Is In the Roses – Rosanne Cash
  2. Find the River – R.E.M.
  3. Washing of the Water – Peter Gabriel
  4. Are We There Yet – Ingrid Michaelson
  5. Recycled Air – Postal Service
  6. Stars – The Weepies
  7. Never Think – Robert Pattinson (go ahead and laugh, it's okay.)
  8. I Was Watching You – Rosanne Cash
  9. Evaporated – Ben Folds
  10. Stolen Car – Patty Griffin
  11. How You Survived the War – The Weepies
  12. Secret World – Peter Gabriel

What would you add?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cream : Fuck Me Friday

Another stab at Aisling Weaver's FuckMeFriday prompts.



It was the little white dot on her nose.

She set the carton down before looking around to see if she'd been caught drinking cream from the carton before adding it to the bowl. She didn't see me. So the mixer was already whirring, her gaze intent on its contents when I placed my hands on either side of her against the counter, my body just a breath away from hers.

So slowly, I ran my lips along the side of her neck and felt her shiver before I opened my mouth at the corner of her jaw. "Lapping up the cream?"

"Just a sip," she whispered.

"My little kitten." I grazed one hand down her front to cup her just between her legs. "My sweet little pussy."


With my other hand, I tipped her face back, exposing her lips for my kiss. From the way she breathed, I thought she wanted it hard, but instead I gave her soft. Slow. Teasing.

"Kitty likes her cream?"


I licked the drop off of her nose.

"Good," I murmured. My hand reached down to open up my pants. "Then get down on your knees and drink."

My First Writer's Conference, Part Four: That's What Friends Are For

This is my last little reflection on my first writer's conference, and it’s shameful that it's taken me this many segments to get to the heart of the matter, which is that it's the people and the community that make a conference worthwhile.

I met some really incredible people in Pittsburgh. I'm a fairly shy person in general, but there was something about being among other writers that made it easier to get out there and introduce myself. In the end, I connected with people from a wide variety of genres and found that so many of the processes we go through are universal. There's a drive within writers that gets us through all of the doubt and the fear. And there is so much creativity and talent out there. It's absolutely staggering.

Whether it's the girls I went out to dinner with (and had a fabulous time with), or the random person I talked to in a session for two minutes, or the workshop presenter I didn't even get to introduce myself to – the people were what made the experience what it was. They're the reason I went home buzzing with excitement and renewed in my resolve to pursue this career and to make things happen for myself.

How about you? What amazing people have you met because of your involvement in a writing community?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My First Writer's Conference, Part Three: The Dreaded Read and Critique

The scariest thing I did at the Penn Writers conference this year was attend a read and critique session. It was me, five other writers, and a panel of people waiting to rip me to shreds.

And it was easily the highlight of the conference.

Listening to a panel of professionals offer up advice and praise to other authors was so inspiring, and it helped me put into focus was is important in writing salable fiction.

My take-aways from listening to the critiques:

  • Have a killer opening line.
  • If the novel is anything other than contemporary, specify the setting (time and place) before the first line. (example: Boston, 1815)
  • Get into the head of the protagonist right away. Forging an emotional connection in the reader's mind will keep her turning pages.
  • Edit mercilessly. Decide on the focus of the scene and cut out whatever is not critical to it.
  • Every word should move the plot forward. Don't dump in backstory at the beginning; you have plenty of time to slowly reveal it, and keeping the reader guessing keeps the reader invested.
  • Build tension from the first word on and keep building it.

I'm happy to report that my own critique was overwhelmingly positive. The panel was super enthused with the quality of the writing, which was such a relief. They were very critical of some issues with pacing, and while it wasn't easy to hear, their suggestions for resolving it provided another 'eureka moment,' when I recognized opportunities for strengthening my writing and my novel as a whole.

In the end, I am so glad I went and put myself out there. I left encouraged, bolstered by the fact that professionals in my field loved my writing, and inspired with new ideas for how to make it better.

What about you? Any critiques stick out in your mind as game changers? How did feedback affect your process?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My First Writer's Conference, Part 2: My Eureka Moment

I did not go to a writer's conference expecting to have a breakthrough on my novel. So imagine my delight when the clouds parted, the sun came out, and a brilliant ray of light shot through the sky while I was sitting there listening to a presentation on crafting story arcs.

I was already familiar with the idea of story arcs and character arcs, but the session gave me a great opportunity me to reexamine my own (admittedly sketchily envisioned) novel and through that lens.

The presenter encouraged us to consider our story within the classic three-act structure: Beginning (inciting incident / establishment of conflict / commitment to action), Middle (intensification / development / moment of doubt / recommitment), End (climax / resolution). Then she instructed us to identify two or three main characters and plot out their personal arcs, establishing how they change over the course of the novel.

My eureka moment came in trying to articulate how my main character evolves. While the mechanics of her journey were clear in my head, I'd never really made myself spell out how the steps she took through the plot of the novel were connected to her personal journey. And when I did, the whole thread of the novel suddenly fell into place.


In the end, that one moment of clarity highlights why I think the kind of focus that one can achieve while at a conference like this can be so valuable. No, I didn't learn anything new about story arcs during the session, but I forced myself to reexamine my project through a new lens, and I discovered something crucial, completely reconceptualizing my novel in way that will make it so much more cohesive from this point on.

Anybody else ever have a 'eureka moment' during a workshop?

Monday, May 16, 2011

My First Writer's Conference, Part 1: Pitching and Querying

Some of the most useful sessions I went to at Penn Writers were the ones on pitching and querying. Mind you, I do my homework, so I already had a vague idea of how to go about this, but hearing things in person and seeing pitches and query letters dissected really helped make things so much clearer.

My take-aways:
  • Agents and editors want to love your stuff. That's not saying that they will, but they want to. So put it all out there, be confident that you love your stuff, and give them the best possible chance to.
  • Flattery never hurts. If you know the agent/editor's work, if you're a fan of other authors she represents, or if you saw her speak at a conference, drop that into the pitch/query.
  • Keep pitches short and to-the-point. Establish characters, goals, conflicts and goals.
  • Figure out the hook – what makes this book unique – and put that front and center.
  • Show how the main character is active. Focus more on what she does than on what circumstances befall her.
  • Expect to have an actual conversation about the pitch. Agents ask questions because they're interested.
  • Keep your query letter short and to-the-point. Establish characters, goals, conflicts and genres. (Are you sensing a theme?)
  • In the blurb, it's more important to show the voice and style of the novel than to give a full synopsis.
  • Identify what's important for the reader to know and let go of the little details that – while critical to your writing process – aren't completely integral to the novel.
  • Include the first few pages (or more, depending on the agent's submission guidelines) directly in the body of the email, just under the subject line. Unlike an attachment, it's impossible to ignore.
Honestly, this is pretty much all information I've read before, but hearing it presented in such a condensed, targeted format helped clarify things in my mind, and I'm feeling so much more confident in my ability to successfully sell my novel to agents.

Anybody here that's been through the pitching process? How did it go / what did you learn?

Why Writer's Conferences Rock

This past weekend, my friend H. Hunting and I met up at the annual Penn Writers conference in Pittsburgh. Neither of us had ever been to a writer's conference before, and we were both very nervous going into it.

Our choice of conferences was mostly based on geography and timing, but I have to say that on the whole, as an author who is just starting out, this felt like the perfect conference for where I'm at in my career. (If nothing else, it's given me the confidence to say the words "author" and "career" in a sentence about myself. This is huge progress, people. HUGE.)

While a lot of what I've been hearing at the sessions has been stuff I already knew, listening to agents and editors and authors has helped me gain some much-needed focus, and it's helped put the whole serious writer thing in perspective. So many people have been so encouraging, and I'm feeling energized and armed with the knowledge I need to hunker down and make things happen, both in my writing and in my plans to get my words out there. It's been so great to be surrounded by so many friendly, creative, positive people, and I would encourage anyone who's just getting started to seek out this kind of opportunity.

Over the next few days, I'll be blogging about some of the information I picked up at the conference, but for now, I leave you with my summative statement: Writer's Conferences Rock.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Pin : Fuck Me Friday

Aisling Weaver is kind enough to post prompts every Friday on her site. Just for fun I thought I'd give it a go.



I used to hate when he would pin me down. It felt too vulnerable, too weak, and I would stiffen up. And not in the way that he'd intended.

He was just affectionate, I reminded myself. Tactile. He liked to wrestle, and nothing turned him on more than when we ran around together on the rugby field, pretending to just be friends while we worked up a sweat.

The way he'd fuck me when we got home on days like that...

"Hey, where'd you go?" he asked, there on top of me, his cock against mine, his face so close that I could feel him breathe. I could count the pores on his nose and the see the texture of his irises.

I could feel his hands on my shoulders. His knees on my thighs.


Suddenly, all the thoughts of his body, sweaty after a game, retreated again to the other thoughts. The bad ones.

I could feel other hands. They hurt.

It was just a flash. A memory. Something I had gotten past. Or at least that's what I told myself.

I forced myself back to the here and now, to lying on my bed beneath my lover instead of helpless in a field.

"Nowhere," I croaked, forcing a smile as I focused on his eyes. I felt like I might vomit. "I'm right here."

"No you're not," he insisted, one hand letting my arm go, and I felt blood rush back to the skin there. Tenderly, he touched the side of my face, leaning down to kiss my lips. I couldn't quite bring myself to open them, just like I'd never managed to open up in other ways. To tell him what it reminded me of when he held me down this way instead of gritting my teeth and waiting for him to let me go.

Still, the kisses came, soft, sweet ones all along the corners of my mouth and up my cheeks. Remembering the difference between then and now, my body began to relax, my free hand coming up to touch his where it was still heavy on my bicep.

"Let go," I whispered.

"I will." He nodded and pressed his lips to just below my ear. "Someday, I hope you do, too."