I would like to announce the upcoming publishing date of my new series Reality Dawn.
Reality Dawn is a dimension travelling Reality Worker. She’s on our Earth to make sure no unauthorised doors between dimensions are opened, Unbeknownst to most people, this happens quite often – passages from one Earth to another, parallel Earth open without warning, and the consequences can be alarming. Fearless, adventurous Reality Dawn loves her job, and loves having company on her travels, which is why, when Aussie-born Rae meets her when Rae’s sister-in law mysteriously disappears, Rae is invited along for the daring rescue from a parallel earth unlike anything Rae’s ever seen.
In the first episode, Rae’s sister in law vanishes into thin air right outside her house. No one can figure out how that is even possible, never mind what has happened to her. Until, that is, the equally mysterious Reality Dawn turns up late that same night. Rae is alternately baffled and intrigued by this strange woman who is addicted to tea and biscuits but claims she can get Rae’s sister-in law Morgan back from wherever she disappeared to. When Reality invites Rae along, Rae can’t help but go – this might be the big adventure she was always hoping for. If not, at least it’s better than sitting around twiddling her thumbs. And anyway, if this Reality woman is half as nutty as she seems to be, it’s going to be one interesting trip. She only hopes Reality is serious about rescuing Morgan.
Inspired by an online conversation one day, where one lesfic reader commented how much she’d enjoy a story about a lesbian Doctor Who, I’ve had a great deal of fun writing these stories. A mix of fantasy. Sci-fi, and adventure, there are three written so far, and another three planned for the first series. They’re novella length – about 32000 words, or just over 100 pages, and will be published every two weeks. Each is a complete story, but they do lead from one to the next, Reality Dawn and Rae deepening their friendship and understanding of each other in each story.
I do hope you’ll join me in this latest adventure of mine. They’re light, fun reading, no overt horror in them, though our two characters do get themselves into some awfully tight spots.
The first episode in the series is ‘Reality Dawn’ and will be on sale on the 15th June from Amazon, Smashwords and Kobo for an introductory price of US$1.99.
The second in the series, ‘Perfect Earth’ will be available on 1st July for the full price of $2.99, and ‘Dragon Dawn’ will follow two weeks later. By that time, the next stories should be available and published every two weeks.
Liz McMullen was kind enough to invite me along to read an excerpt for her Bedtime Stories series. Tune in to hear me read the first few chapters of Reality Dawn (you know you want to hear my sexy accent again!).
There’s been a lot of discussion lately in various places over sex in books. Some readers have been saying they wish they never came across it, others say it might be okay as long as it isn’t graphic – sex should be left to the arena of erotica. Some are okay with the sex if it’s part of the story and not gratuitous in any way. But I don’t know if I’ve been listening to the wrong groups, but the consensus seems to be that these readers would prefer to stay out of character’s bedrooms – ‘I know what lesbians do in bed, I don’t have to read about it’.
So, does sex belong in books (other than erotica) or not?
Obviously, because a lot of my work has sex in it, I’m going to have to say, that depending on what sort of story you are writing, yes it does.
What sort of sex scenes do we commonly come across? There’s the ‘fade to black’, the non-graphic and the graphic.
But first of all, why would a writer include sex scenes in a story in the first place?
Not able to speak for all authors without being terribly presumptuous, here are my reasons for including sex scenes:
People are sexual creatures, and physical intimacy is one way of cementing our romantic relationships. Most everyone does it, and it’s an important part of most people’s lives. For characters in a book to be well rounded and convincing, they’re probably going to want to be sexually active at some point. It’s not something that can be ignored, in romances both new and established. For the writer, it’s an effective way to demonstrate how your characters are feeling and responding to each other, and a pretty fabulous way of creating emotion in the reader without having to resort to great gobs of narration and interior monologues on the part of the characters. It’s like drawing a quick and easy diagram to show where the characters are at with each other and themselves. After all, we’re at our most vulnerable and open when we’re making love, why wouldn’t the writer use this to build their characters and stories?
As to levels of explicitness, that depends on what sort of story you’re telling. In my Michaela and Trisha books, the lovemaking is sensual but not graphic. I use sex in these books precisely because that’s how these characters naturally express themselves, and they themselves use it as a pleasurable bond-building exercise.
But surely, I don’t have to have any detail of the act at all? I could just lead them into the bedroom and close the door, right? Well, of course. But I don’t want to, because I think there are things that the reader can learn about the characters by seeing them at their most vulnerable and tender. The way they touch each other tells a great deal about how they’re feeling, both about themselves and each other. Important information in the context of the story.
What about the graphic sex? What justification is there for that? My novel Building Character has some pretty graphic sex scenes in it. Why? Because it’s a novel about sexual obsession, for starters, and the main character is a woman who’s only intimacy with others is sexual. It’s a novel about unhealthy boundaries and obsessions (with a supernatural twist). There was no way I could have let this character take the reader right up to the bedroom door then close it in their face. Apart from the fact that the sex was rarely in a bedroom. And because emotions other than tenderness, love, sensuality and attraction were at play, there was no point writing sex scenes where the physicality was more of the shimmering, suggestive sort. It had to suit the story.
That’s what sex scenes in a book should do – add an extra dimension to the characters and the story. I’ve no desire to read or write gratuitous sex scenes, but neither am I going to pretend that the well rounded character isn’t going to want to do the horizontal tango on occasion, and that the reader couldn’t learn something about that character from the experience.
What about titillating the reader? Isn’t that too why we write sex scenes? Because we want to excite the reader? Well, there I have to say that if that’s the main reason for writing a sex scene, then it’s erotica you’re writing. Of course, a good love scene should stimulate the reader, but every scene in a book should pull some sort of emotional response from the reader. That’s what we writers do with our stories – try to make our readers feel something, and learn something about themselves and this large, confusing thing called life.
(Note: Building Character is currently unavailable as I re-edit and update the cover. It should be back on sale next week.)
Thank you, Kira Lyn Blue, for nominating me for a Sunshine Award – “a recognition from fellow bloggers to those who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”. But the truth is, I’ve been feeling far less than sunshiny about writing lately. In fact, I’ve been in a major grump about it. And let me tell you, when a writer gets in a grump about writing, the sky’s pretty much falling.
My book sales took a dip before Christmas. This wouldn’t usually bother me – I rarely used to check the sales numbers anyway. As long as that cheque was arriving in the mail every month, I was happy. I don’t write without expecting to be paid for it, but I don’t write for money either. Except this dip in sales was more like a crash off a cliff and my sales have lingered twisted and wounded at the bottom of the cliff ever since.
I’m not going to go into the details of why I think this happened, because I’ve no real, sure idea. The consequences however, they’ve been on my mind. I’ve had to look about for a day job again, and that’s some big deal since poor health makes it impossible to work outside my home. But finding other ways to make money isn’t necessarily a problem, except that it means less time for writing. And I like writing. I like it better than anything else.
Except once I realised I wasn’t getting as many sales, I began to question what I was writing, and why. Unfortunately for me, I write in a small niche genre within a small niche genre. I long came to the conclusion that lesbians don’t generally like reading horror. Even when it’s called supernatural suspense or some other fancy name. On the whole, they’re big romance readers. I hate writing romance. I might have romantic relationships in my books, but tell me to write a typical romance story and I’ll lock myself in a cupboard until you’ve gone home (and I have a particular fear of being locked in small cupboards ever since a rather alarming experience at the age of 9).
But I found myself considering the task. Because of the money. Because of liking to pay the mortgage and eat and other unreasonable things. I knew however, that there’s no way I could do it. It’s just not in me. I’d be bored writing it, and it would never get finished. I’m already pissed off enough that my most popular books are slippy sliding into that paranormal romance category.
Which led me to being really fucking annoyed with readers. Why, I ranted to myself (and my poor partner) does the average reader want so little from a book? Why do they like to stick to one genre? Why do they go loopy loo over incredibly formulaic writing? I got quite hot under the collar on the subject. When I calmed down a little, I looked at the work I’d been doing, writing my novellas about the dimension-travelling Reality Dawn and thought to myself that therein might lie my salvation. While not romance, they might find a decent audience. They might be my life-line back into being able to quit the day job and stick with the writing.
Immediately upon having considered this possibility however, the fun was sucked out of the whole project. The Reality Dawn books were no longer me enjoying myself and trying something new, moving slightly north of horror into fantasy. Instead I found myself trying to figure out whether readers would like this or that about them, whether they would prefer if this or that happened, if they would want more of this or that from them.
The whole thing suddenly got very boring and very painful. They weren’t even properly finished and they were no longer my stories. I wasn’t having fun anymore, and I wasn’t writing because it pleased me to. I was writing for a bunch of people I didn’t even know and wasn’t feeling at all impressed with. Worse, I was allowing this imagined crowd of readers to dictate the course of my stories.
Well, that was a situation that couldn’t last. There were only a few options that I could see. I could drown my sorrows in the bottom of a glass of bourbon – useless suggestion as I don’t drink. I could write solely for profit, turning out copy I thought readers would buy by the bunch. Which could possibly work. I can write well enough to make just about anything sound good, what would it cost me to write what sells? Only my storywriting soul. So, not an option at all. I can slant my writing with an eye to the market, but I’m buggered if I’m going to sell my soul to it. I haven’t been able to get rid of the belief that the stories I have inside me are worth the telling, even if they’re light years from pure, unadulterated romances.
So, one option left. Forget about the readers. Forget about their preferences, their desire for this sort of story over that. Stop thinking about the large group called average reader and what their average little hearts want, and just write as I damned well please.
That’s the option I chose. I stuck a great big ‘fuck you’ sign over the picture of average reader slobbering over a cheesy romance, and went back to going my own way. Writing for myself and my ideal reader. Doing it, not just because I want to get paid, but because I’m a writer and I have stories to tell.
The funny thing is, having thought this epiphany would lead me to start some deep, dark, and twisty novel full of scary shit and other things that go bump in the night, I opened Word and started the third Reality Dawn book. There are dragons in it, and Reality Dawn and her sidekick Rae are having the time of their lives. Just like me.
As for the money? I might not have a large market of readers to keep me in furs and pearls, but I have plenty of books to write – for myself and the ideal reader who finds they like what I do. Time to get back to it.