Friday, November 30, 2012

Conversation at Midnight

“Don’t you want to see me?”

“No. I can see you every day. Now I want to feel you.”

“Mm. And vice versa.”

“Do I feel younger in the dark?”

“I hadn’t thought about it. I don’t need someone younger.”

“Then why is it better in the dark?”

“Because we can pretend to be anyone, anywhere. We can be pirates or lovers from feuding tribes or invaders from a faraway planet that need human cum to survive. We don’t have to see the dirty underwear at the foot of the bed.”

“Maybe it’s like soft plates with leftover food on them. For us, the aliens who need cum.”

“I’d rather get it fresh from the source.”

“That tickles! Oh.”

“That’s good. You’re wet.”

“For you. Don’t stop! I can see colours."

“We spend too much time in the light.”


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How It Began

Kristina Wright

by Kristina Wright

A year ago in the very early morning hours of Thanksgiving here in the US, I sat in a dark room pounding out a few thousand words of a proposal for my first single title anthology. I had promised the proposal before the end of the week, despite the very busy holiday weekend, despite the fact that I had a not-quite-three-month-old baby sleeping upstairs (sleeping more than I was that week, to be sure) and a not-quite-two-year-old sleeping across the hall. So, before I had even put the turkey in the oven, before dawn had streaked the morning sky and running on an average of four hours of sleep a night for three months, I finished the proposal.

The proposal was approved, the book was contracted and I proceeded to write an eighty thousand word book in less than three months. The book hit the virtual shelves on October 25-- almost eleven months to the date of that dark Thanksgiving morning when I finished and sent the proposal. And because I wrote the book in such a compressed span of time-- and because there are roughly twenty short stories-- I have forgotten much of what I've written.

It's a strange thing, rereading my own writing and knowing I wrote the words because the story feels familiar, but not really remembering writing them. It has happened a lot in the past few years, as my production has risen while my sleep has decreased. Being pregnant, having babies, caring for children, being continually sleep deprived, having an endless stream of deadlines to meet-- it all makes for a sometimes faulty memory. And so I often lay in bed at night staring into the darkness and wondering how I'm doing it all, why I'm doing it all, whether I can do it all. Sometimes those questions-- and the lack of answers-- keeps me awake at night. It's a vicious cycle.

But this book I wrote in a frenzy at the beginning of the year, that is now available in all the usual online stores, is a point of pride for me. It is my first entire book in over a decade. I am proud of my anthologies-- six published to date, a seventh on the way in a month, four more contracted and in various stages-- but to have an entire book that is me, all me, has been a goal for several years. There is the inner critic that grumbles that it's "just" a collection of short stories and not a real novel, as I still dream-- scratch that-- plan to write, but even I can see how ridiculous my inner critic is being. I wrote a proposal, sold a book, wrote a book and saw it published in the span of a year. A very, very busy year, with a new baby in the house, a toddler going through all sorts of adjustments (along with my body, my marriage and my mind) and several other contracts and commitments to meet. I wrote a book in what everyone told me would be the hardest year of my life-- the year I had two babies under two. I wrote a book.

That thought, that single thought, is why I keep writing. Why I will always write, no matter what path my life takes. Writing sustains me. It keeps me awake in the dark, yes, but since I was a very young child, I have soothed myself to sleep by telling myself stories. The darkness is where dreams become words for me.

My book, Seduce Me Tonight (HarperCollins Mischief, October 2012), contains a collection of loosely linked short stories about couples in various stages of their lives and relationships. From people just meeting and falling in love (or lust), to long-married couples rekindling the passion between them, it's a book about people connecting in different ways, about the need to be held, comforted, loved, desired, wanted and understood. Many of the stories overlap, with recurring characters and settings. It was a fun book to write-- yes, even as I was killing myself to make deadline-- and I'm hoping it finds a wide readership who also believe in the power of love and lust.

Many of the stories include night scenes and darkness-- perhaps because that's where secrets are to be discovered. Here is a snippet from my story "Coming Home":

I knew I shouldn’t be there. I mean, hell, it wasn’t like I had even been invited. I’d broke in for god’s sake. I’d broken the law—and for what? To sit in the dark and wait for Quentin to come home so he could throw my ass out. Not for the first time, I wondered if he even would come home. It was 3 AM and I’d been sitting at his kitchen table for two hours already, running my fingers over the scarred kitchen table and planning what I was going to say to him. Two hours in—make that two months—and I still wasn’t sure what words were going to come out of my mouth when I saw him. For the hundredth time, I reflexively pressed the keypad on my phone and watched it light up with the time. 3:17.
Quentin and I were a lot alike. Both of us slung drinks for a living—alcohol for him and coffee for me—and we were both quiet and introspective, which made us good listeners for other people’s issues but not too good at sharing our own problems with each other. Quentin was stoic in dealing with life’s curveballs, whether it was his father’s unexpected death or a tree falling on his truck, and he could get focused on work or helping his brother rebuild that old Mustang of their dad’s, or repairing the fence on that piece of property out in the country, until the crisis passed.
Me, I was more inclined to run away from anything I couldn’t face head on—and sometimes that meant skipping town for a few days. Or a few weeks, in this case. I’d told my boss I had a personal crisis and needed to take as much of my vacation time as he could give me. He said my job would be waiting when I got back. All I could do was hope he was telling the truth. I was going to need a steady paycheck. Especially if Quentin bailed on me.
I knew he was still bartending at Kayla’s—but this wasn’t the city where bars stayed open until dawn. One or two, maybe, but it was getting on to the time where I either needed to pack it in and go or plan to make a night of it and hope he didn’t call the police when he found me on his couch in the morning.
I was still debating my limited options when I heard the distinct snick of a key in the front door lock. I threw a quick prayer up to the patron saint of stupid, lovelorn women that he hadn’t brought some chick home from the bar, and waited.
I hadn’t wanted him to call the police as soon as he pulled up, so I’d left the place dark when I’d helped myself to the spare key I knew he always kept tucked under the mat. He didn’t turn on any lights either, so he was just a shadowy figure standing in the doorway. Could’ve been anyone, I guess, except I knew it was Quentin. Five years with a man will make you remember tilt of his frame and the cant of his walk. And a whole lot of other things I didn’t want to be thinking about just yet. It was Quentin all right, and by the tight way he carried himself he had either jacked up his back again or he knew I was here.
“Little late for a visit, ain’t it, Rebecca?”
He knew it was me. “Hey, Quentin.”
Two months of trying to sort through the mess that was my life, two hours of sitting at his kitchen table, and that was the best I could come up with.
I like Rebecca and Quentin. I feel like I'm revisiting them after a long time away. So, I'm going to tuck myself into bed now (it's nearly 11 PM here on the east coast of the US) and finish reading their story. 
Good night.
(Seduce Me Tonight by Kristina Wright-- that's me!-- is available from all the usual ebook retailers.)

Monday, November 26, 2012

As Darkness Falls

by Kathleen Bradean

I go to work in the dark; I come home when it's dark. I tell people I don't do sunlight. But what does darkness mean to me? I'm not sure.

After I get home from work, one of us cooks dinner and the household gathers to share the meal. Then we're off to our separate pursuits. Mine is almost always reading or writing. I recently bought a laptop so I wouldn't have to sit in the coldest part of the house while I write. While R plays Call of Duty and C does homework, I'm in the midst of their noise and part of their conversations now. It's distracting but I can write. I still won't tackle sex scenes if anyone else is in the room though. It seems inappropriate. Funny, since I'm writing sex scenes to be read. Consistency apparently isn't one of my hobgoblins. Don't worry, I have plenty others.

But what about the dark? It's cozy. It's the time of day that's mine. I settle into it like a comfortable chair and relax. Nothing out there is as strange or dangerous as what's going on in my head.

I swear there are songs that sound better at night. Anything by Moby or Linkin Park or Led Zeppelin falls into that category for me. Classical music has it's nocturnes, music meant for the night hours, so this isn't a new concept. Given my schedule, it's a good thing I like driving at night, seeing the brakes lights reflect on the pavement, and on the opposite side of the road, the headlights contrasting with the red. Traffic is a great snake slithering through the city.

I often write stories set at night, when the darkness builds a wall around the scene, setting it off from the rest of the world. Characters huddled on their little islands of light, clinging to each other, dealing with the isolation. Dark, I suppose, can be scary, but that's because it frees the imagination. Stories are best told at night. We've always known that, we humans. Maybe it's because stories are, ultimately, illumination.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

In the dark...

By  Essemoh Teepee (Guest Blogger)

Nature dragged me from the soft warm embrace of my bed into the chill of the hotel bathroom and the shock of cold porcelain against my skin. I must remember not to leave the seat up, but this is a strange place, one I am not used to so I guess I can forgive myself.

My back aches a little from the unaccustomed work out it got earlier. My lover arrived yesterday, or is it still today, perhaps it’s tomorrow, I wonder if jet-lag is contagious?

The warmth and cotton comfort of the bed next door embraces her as she lies asleep, her skin silky smooth, her thighs sticky from me. I will go back to her soon.

To hold her in my arms again after so long apart is difficult to describe, familiar and comfortable, yet fresh, strange and exciting at the same time. Like one of those optical illusions where you can see the profile of one woman and the face of another if you crash mental gears.

The bathroom is dimly lit; a low crimson glow from the smoke alarm barely allows me to see the outline of my own hand. Instead my mind’s eye sees her rounded breasts filling my field of vision, her peaked nipples begging for my tongue, my lips, my teeth… I can feel my cock stirring, filling.

I can still taste her, feel her back arching as I suckle between her thighs and drink her essence that she gives forth so freely at the urging of my mouth. My nose grinding against her clit is not a sense memory that will easily fade, nor will the sound of her orgasm in my ears be a fleeting recollection. She comes so hard for me and I am once more feeling so hard for her.

There is a magnetism that draws me back to the bed, to her. Positive attracts negative, natural polarity destined to merge and cancel out in a flood of orgasmic energy. I pause at the nightstand to search for the tube of lube with night vision fingers. The slippery coolness filling my palm soothes the ache of my cock, momentarily. The firm strokes of my fingers stiffening my purpose. Stealthy hands, knees and elbows move me across the cloud soft bedding, the sooty dimness hiding her hills and valleys from me.

I remember the warm tightness of her earlier, welcoming me, engulfing me, getting wet for me and I want that again, I want that now. She is still and quiet, she does not stir at my touch. Does she sleep still or just pretend to slumber on as I prepare to ravish her?

My hands on her thighs, spreading her wide. My weight upon her, my erection pressing my petition for urgent entry. Slick with lube, hard with lust, I slide easily into her heat, burying my want in her. The sounds she makes as she wakes to my fucking her, spur me to greater efforts; my hands trapping her wrists. The taking, the having, the possession draw me on. My ankles pressing down on hers, binding her to the bed. My lover is wide open and accepting beneath me, arching against me, clutching at me, squeezing me inside.

I am near and so is she; I want to hold back, to ensure she peaks first. I pause and she cries out.

“Just one more, please…”

I thrust hard into her, deeply, fully; once, twice and she screams into my face. I let go and fill her, my needs satisfied…for now.

Essemoh Teepee is an author, editor, audio producer and publisher. You can find out more about his erotica and sensual hypnosis audios at and

Couples in Touch is a series of Directed Erotic Visualisation Audio ‘Better Sex’ experiences for hetero couples due for release in December from

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Nothing in the Dark ( a story of the dark)

 Darkness has no name.  It has no being.  It was not aware of the darkness until it was aware of itself. It was nothing wrapped in a nothing.  Within the nothing was a ripple rising from the indifference of awareness without identity, like the beginning of a new wave on an ocean.
 The ripple grew in force and then in awareness.  It felt pain and retreated and felt itself asserted against.  In its resistance there was will and a desire for oblivion.  Something pushed back against the desire for the dark and the desire became stronger.  As the desire moved with purpose, so moved the pain. 
 He opened his eyes in darkness and memories flooded him, broken like shards of a mirror.  None of these feelings were welcome.  Painless oblivion was now out of reach.
 He struggled in the darkness, but there was no strength in the body as he became gradually aware of it.  Things attached to it.  Something attached to his face that blew fresh breezes.  A red light was blinking urgently off past his right hand and there were soft noises approaching.
 I hope nobody sees me like this, he thought and then there was nothing.
 When the emptiness stopped and light began he opened his eyes again and became aware of eyes and light and a bitter dampness on his tongue and movement around him.
 Three women were standing beside the bed.  One dressed in a light blue uniform fussing with something by the wall he couldn't see.  The others were women, one young, one old; they stood looking troubled. 
 "How are you, dad?"
 I don't like women to see me like this, he thought.  Weak.  All water and dry vellum. Like a worm caught on a hot sidewalk, blind and twisting and baffled.  I don't like it.  They should have seen me only as I was.  Furious youth foaming at the moon, ripe and dangerous - Naked women!  Bare chested Goddesses at whose cunts I worshiped! What else were they invented for?
 Oh for god sakes.  Wormwood.  Wormwood.
 The strong darkness returned and beyond it voices calling him in fear.
 Who are these women?  Should I know them?
 He opened his eyes again and there were two women there who seemed to be made of light.  And then a word that sounded like "puce".  He moved his lips trying to pronounce it.  His lips struggled with his will to produce a sound.  Suddenly it seemed like the most important thing he would ever do, to pronounce the word "puce."
 He became aware of the water in his body turning cold.  A burst of sparks rising in the air.  It wasn't that he couldn't see, there was nothing to see and there was only the memory of the room and then that was gone.  It wasn't that he couldn't hear, but that sound had vanished to a solitary ringing tone of silence.  It was not that he couldn't move, but that he couldn't locate his body.  All that he had been was withdrawing into a cold ball that melted into -
  - a park. 
 Swing sets and a battered push merry-go-round beside a small white church. Small and hungry and filled with feeling.  Blowing brown leaves at his sneakered shoes that spoke of broom stick paper witches in frosted windows and grinning pumpkins and the moving along of the year into cool dying and all the future stretched out like an infinite road undamaged by decisions.  Bending his knees in corduroys, at the end of his arm stubby fingers with a Mickey Mouse band-aid on his thumb picking up a leaf and crushing it, holding it to his nose.
 The park - no park.
 The sky - no sky seemed filled with bright moonlight.  It was not the moonlight, but the quality of the dark in which a moon ought to be shining but was not, a cast of brilliance without illumination.  A feeling of safety as though awaking into joy and the soft steady drumming of a great heart. The things that had seemed so important before had the feeling of a dream already drifting away past range of caring. He felt silly.  A great rising of desire, an intense longing to join himself fiercely to the thrumming loins of woman and the warmth of this strong desire turned the sky orange then to red, then to clear light-no light.  And then nothing. 
 A great unraveling of smoke and there was no self and no boundary as space swelled and curved into freedom. 
 But is this all?  And he was afraid. I don't want to stop - existing.
 And who is this watcher who cries in the dark?
 Memories flooded over him, overwhelming memories of women and children, thoughts about money, people who had wronged him, things he had hoped to do and could not. Emotions and regrets in a fury of florid music.  Jigjag.  Jigjag.  Jigjag.  Beds.  Women.  Children.  Jigjag.  Jigjag.  Twining of lovers.  Vacant hilarity.
 Thou hast sinned against my light and I have made thee a servant of slaves.
 Warmth and closeness, folded in a living warmth and the gentle tick-tock of a heartbeat, which all seemed strangely familiar and forgotten. Swaying motion, strange sounds.  Urgency and explosion.  A room of sound, squinting painfully against the light and crying in fear.
 Cooing and warmth and something against his small mouth.  A woman, a breast, a nipple.
 The memories retreated forever and he began again remembering how to sleep in warm arms.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dark Magic

By Lisabet Sarai

She's so gullible. Over Thanksgiving dinner (an unexpectedly wonderful feast at an atmospheric inn they'd stumbled upon, tucked away in the hills), he'd dropped hints about magical powers inherited from his Celtic ancestors. She'd swallowed his tale as eagerly as the turkey and the red wine, hanging on his words, focused on his face, wet (he knew) as she anticipated what might occur when they returned to his apartment. Her plump, perennially erect nipples teased him through her turtleneck jersey. His nipples, now, to play with, to torture, though perhaps she didn't think of them that way – not yet.

How had he managed to lure her here? He'd surprised himself with the success of his epistolary seduction. Before, in graduate school, they'd been only slightly more than friends. When he vanquished her at chess (despite the distraction of her bra-less state), there had been flickers of something less innocent in their interactions. Then he'd left, moved west, and one day, on a whim, written her a clever, flirtatious letter, fantasizing all the while about her lush breasts, parted lips and the nicely-rounded ass he'd never seen. He hadn't really expected her enthusiastic response, especially not when he broached topics like spanking, bondage, and melted wax. Clearly he'd been right to trust his intuition more than his intellect.

His bedroom is shadowed, lit by a single candle that spikes the air with patchouli. He hovers over her, weight balanced on his arms, the contrast between his big frame and her petite body making him worry. He wants to hurt her, but not in any way that causes damage. A half year's worth of fantasies – both the ones they've shared and the darker ones he doesn't dare expose – have him achingly hard. He jerks a bit, so his cockhead brushes her tangled pubic curls. They both shiver.

Her cunt draws him, but he resists that magnetic pull a while longer, making her wait for what she obviously wants. Control is difficult but necessary. He hasn't bound her (though there are holes drilled in the bed frame and a coil of rope ready in the bed table drawer). He hasn't marked her yet. Candlelight dapples her fair skin, previews of the stripes he hopes to leave there. Tonight though, there's just her voluptuous, eager body and his, primed by hours of self-abuse (the term seems apt, given the images that obsess him). They could be any pair of new lovers. But of course that's not true. What binds them together is more urgent than mere passion, darker than love.

She does not speak, though he has not enjoined her to silence. Her eyes are wide, riveted to his. When he finally allows himself to enter her juicy depths, she gasps, though he's on the down side of average in size. Still, the fit is tight and sweet – it stokes his fever. Pulling back, he rams into her, letting loose all the frustrations built up in month after month of solitary imaginings. He reads her face as he does, ready to stop if she seems to object. They are, after all, practically strangers, despite the explicit letters and breathless phone calls.

There's no resistance in her, though. She keeps her wrists crossed, arms above her head, exactly where he placed them. The position highlights those outrageous nipples she flaunts with such apparent unconcern. Leaning towards her, he catches one in his teeth. Her body ripples and her back arches, driving him deeper.

Fuck me, her eyes say. Use me. So he does, pounding her with his cock again and again, rough and raw, reveling in the slick grip of her cunt around his impossibly hard dick. His thrusts are brutal, but he hears no complaints. Amazed, almost disbelieving, he understands. She wants this as much as he does.

You're mine, he thinks, exulting in his power. He wills his cock to grow and swell. He wants to fill her completely, stretch her to her limits and beyond, tear her apart. It may be suggestion, but he feels huge inside her. Her eyes are pools of wonder.

It's all that he had imagined - no, better, because she's soaked and hungry and more open than he could have dreamed. Then unexpectedly, reality shifts. Some sort of psychic conduit opens between them. Her emotions flood his senses, her desperate need and her profound surrender. All at once, he really can hear her thoughts, and he knows, with complete certainty, that she can read his.

Mine. Mine!

Yes, yes – please...

Be still.

Her writhing ceases. Her tiny moans quiet. He ravages her with his gigantic cock and she takes it - willing, trusting, grateful.

She is truly his slave, bound by his command, and he is her born master, caring or cruel as it suits him. She has died for love of him, and he's taking his last pleasure from her still-warm corpse. He is the devil and she's the soul he has ensnared and lured into darkness.


He comes with shout of triumph, pouring his seed into her welcoming heat. Her climax shimmers through her, and he feels that, too, the inevitable welling up of sensation so different from his own sharp release. For an instant he really can't tell which feelings and thoughts are his own and which belong to her.

A spark of fear – a flutter of rebellion – she pulls away from him the tiniest bit, reclaiming her will. The crystalline energy between them clouds. He does not fight the change. No one could bear the intensity of that connection for long. They lie in each other's arms, exhausted and groggy with joy.

The candle gutters and winks out. They sleep. He wakes a bit after dawn to find his bed empty. Did he imagine it all? Was this just another fantasy?

Rubbing his eyes, he wanders out of the bedroom. She is seated at the dining room table, naked in the pearly light of a foggy morning, writing in her journal. Her bowed neck speaks both of submission and strength. He sees that despite her tiny frame, she's anything but delicate.

Barefoot, he steals up behind her, cupping her luscious breasts, twirling her nipples. She leans back, with a sigh, her curly locks soft against his bare chest. He nips her earlobe, runs a wet tongue along the line of her jaw.

“What are you writing about, Sarah?” he asks, a bit afraid of the answer.

Her face is luminous as she turns to him.


Friday, November 16, 2012

from morning until night

Ack. I've been so busy trying to juggle various activities that I haven't found time to take any new pics.

Okay, I'll try showing a typical day in my life in metaphorical pictures. (After all, metaphors and analogies are a major topic that I discuss with my students).

When the alarm clock wakes me up, I let my sweetie go on sleeping (LOUDLY - she seems to snore most in the morning).

Our menagerie of creatures demands to be fed.

I quickly shower while one creature or another scratches the bathroom door.

I dress quickly and go down to the kitchen, accompanied by the herd.

I look out the window, hoping to see this:

This week, however, whenever I look outdoors, I see a scene like this:

Sigh. I put the kettle on for tea, warm up some of Spouse's homemade food for the dogs (meat & vegetables run through the blender -- they love it).

Spouse comes down to the kitchen in due course, we drink tea & eat breakfast, then we bundle up and go out the back door to the car:

We manage to get the snow & ice scraped off the car, remind ourselves that we desperately need a garage (next on our list of home renos), then she drives me to work.

I go to my office, which actually feels like home, especially since I brought in a space heater to warm it in winter. I gather up whatever I need for my first class, and go to face my audience:

(Please note that I now have a better hairstyle than when this photo was taken. I found an excellent hairdresser who works out of her home, so the price is reasonable.)

In the afternoon, I usually wish I had time to write creatively (even a book review or blog post), but have to spend most of my time marking student essays. Sometimes my mind wanders:

But I resolve to soldier on and continue the fight to improve the composition skills of young adults:

I comfort myself by remembering the results of the recent U.S. election:

Then Spouse picks me up after work, or I take the bus home if she is too busy.

Yesterday after work, we went to the fundraising Steak Night of the English Students Association, where we indulged in food, drink & revelry:

Today there is no revelry on the agenda, so I hope to do some writing! I have 3 book reviews to write a.s.a.p., an editing job to do for a former student (why did I agree to this?), plus more revisions to make on my article on teaching vampire fiction (deadline: early December).

I sometimes contemplate my technological ineptitude, and wish I could do a better job of wowing students with bells & whistles in the classroom, or wow potential readers on-line.

Spouse is better at this stuff than I am. At home, we will cook something, then she will check her Facebook messages and play games on imaginary farms and zoos while I read, mark, edit & revise. Even when we're not conversing, we will enjoy a cozy evening in our warm house, surrounded by our dogs and cats, while the wind howls outdoors.

It's a good life. :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Very Good Day in a Very Good Life

by Kristina Wright

Now that I have a toddler and a baby, my day starts earlier than I would like. I 'm not a morning person, so the boys have learned to fend for themselves and get their own breakfast.

I try to get the kids outside to play after breakfast. The fresh air is good for all of us. Well, maybe it's just good for me. It seems to bring out some aggression in the little ones.
 After we've played outside for awhile (and I've recovered from the wrestling match), 'll load up the boys and Big Monkey (center) and go for a "Jeep truck" ride, as my oldest calls it. They have fun pointing out the school buses, big trucks and police cars with lights and sirens blaring behind us.

We get home from our ride shortly before the babysitter arrives for a few hours. The kids and I spend some time doing things like looking for lost toys in the grass and collecting the mail from the very enthusiastic mail carrier. Some days are very good mail days, indeed.

 When Katherine the babysitter arrives, I make a break for the door kiss my beautiful children and drive to my neighborhood Starbucks, where I spend the next five hours (give or take an hour) checking email, posting exciting Facebook updates and chatting with the baristas writing.

There are some days when the words just won't come (or people just won't leave me alone) and I feel stressed and frustrated. Ever had one of those days? Maybe I should monitor my caffeine intake more closely.

Sometimes I just need to take a break and remind myself why I write. Seeing one of my books on the shelf with THE BOOK is motivational.  Encouraged and hopeful that some day MY book will be THE BOOK, I will do a little more work and pick up a treat for myself.

In the afternoon, it's home for playtime with my three guys and our new dog. My life is filled with handsome boys! (Thankfully, the dog is a girl. I need someone on my team. We're going to get matching pedicures.)

While the boys are playing, I might be a good mother and bake some cookies. You know, to make up for that breakfast fiasco.

If I can manage to wrangle the kids to sit still, we might have a video chat with my best friend in Chicago. She gives the best fashion tips. My fashion tips amount to a) make sure it's clean before I put it on, b) double check my hair for stray Cheerios, c) avoid solid colors, they show stains.

If it's Friday, our date night babysitter Ashleigh will be over after the boys have dinner (which may or may not be those cookies I baked). Then we're off for our own dinner-- preferably at a restaurant that allows us to have a peaceful conversation. Sometimes we talk about having another child. (Usually after I've had too much wine.)

Many nights are spent writing, editing and blogging after the boys go to bed. Some nights, though, all I want is a drink as big as my head. Nod if you understand what I'm talking about.

I thought so.
Most nights, I make it to bed sometime after midnight. Sometimes a little later. Depends on the obstacles.

Once in bed, I indulge myself in various ways... 

I always fall asleep with a smile on my face.

I love my life. I really do.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Enormous Success

Here is a day in my life! Hooray!

First, I have a period of intensive research.
Then comes time for my impeccable grooming routine. I usually start with styling my hair into the above creation of extreme and undeniable beauty. This is achieved by leaving a towel on my head for an extended period of time after showering. I call it the "Lost The Will To Live" method of beautification.
More research.
Usually by this time it's about five in the afternoon, so of course you can see how dedicated and involved my research process is - not to mention the strain of trying to take my hair unawares and wrestle it to the ground. I tend to think of my coiffure as a wild animal, so I don't think it's unreasonable to judge my efforts in the same way you would if I punched sharks for a living, or Ju Jitsued bears. Then, once I have done the shark punching and bear Ju Jitsuing, I make a valiant attempt at writing. Of course, by this time I am so exhausted and mentally drained from all the frantic researching and hair battles, that writing is reduced to an increasingly angry assault on my laptop, with my fists - as illustrated.
And no, I have zero clue why my fists look like pale sponges. Please don't email me to ask. I've just spent three hours painstakingly drawing these masterpieces in Microsoft Paint and now I'm too tired to make words, which is probably another stage I should have added to this day in my life:
"Time Spent Being An Idiot"
Which then leads me to the next portion of my day:
Sleeping and/or crying under the duvet.
I may be crying because the shark fought back after I punched it. We cannot know for sure.
More research. But as you can see, this is a completely different and far more involved type of investigation into important matters (such as the age old question: "how am I supposed to deal with Lee Pace being a vampire?"), that is totally justified even though it's now nine o'clock at night and I've only actually written a paragraph.

More crying and/or sleeping when I realise I've only written a paragraph.
And that is the end of my day. Personally, I judge it an enormous success.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Little Corner of Heaven

I used to take pictures a lot. There was a time I earned a living with it. Now hardly at all, I have to remind myself to take pictures. As I frame all the junk that has accumulated over the little table and chair in the last two hours I keep wondering if my mind is too cluttered. If this odd pile indicates a lack of mindfulness or maybe mental illness. I always fear I have something of my mother in me. Looking at this spread makes me think I should go back to my roots and study meditation. It’s definitely a relfection of the inside of my head.

As I push the shutter and the flash blinks I sense someone behind me.

“What’s that for?”

I want to say “I’m taking a picture for my blog.” But what comes out is “A magazine asked me to take this picture. I dunno.”

Anais Nin's Writing Desk

The girl with the pierced nose and pink hair looks impressed. She looks like she would either be easy to impress or very, very hard to impress. “Why?”

“Why not? They’re doing an article on fiction writer’s and they want a picture of our work spaces. This is my usual work space. I always sit here.”

“You’re a writer?”

“Oh yeah.”

“What do you write?”

“Science fiction. Sometimes horror. Mostly erotica.”

“Like what? Here?”

Stephen King's Early Writing Room

“No, I write short stories.”

Her face changes like someone who has been hearing galloping hoof beats and hoping to see a thoroughbred but instead it’s a zebra.

“Oh.” She strugs. “Well. Good luck with that.”

“Thanks.” My first potential fan wanders off. This is why I don’t do book signings.

Henry Miller's Writing Room

What you see in this picture at the Starbucks in the Barnes and Noble breaks down like this, left to right. On the left chair is a brown leather bag I carry my laptop in. I first got this bag for Father’s Day in Panama in 1997 or so. I carried it everywhere and it has acquired a weather beaten, distinct character. It started out as a man-purse, but now looks knocked around and almost tough. A biker’s man-purse. On the chair is a white three ring binder with notebook paper. Before I write I always warm up by free writing for ten minutes without stopping and letting the stream of words lead me to where the story fairy lives. My scribblings are on top of the notebook; on top of the scribbled notebook paper is an antique Remington Combo fountain pen and mechanical pencil about 70 years old if it’s a day, with a solid gold Schaeffer “Lifetime” nib. It’s my favorite daily companion pen and writes as fast and smooth as thought. It’s my samurai sword.

The Bronte Sister's Writing Room

On the other chair is a bath towel, folded, that I sit on. These are hard working chairs whose padding has been mashed flat by an infinate line of butts. I have to sit on the towel because my butt is so laughably tiny (even my wife laughs at it) I don’t have the padding unless I bring it. I can’t sit for the long hours without something, and the first rule of writing is get your ass in the chair and stay there.

Robert E. Howard's Writing Room

On the back of the chair is my trucker’s denim jacket, a souvenir of the road with lots of pockets. On the table is my elderly IBM Thinkpad R50 laptop. On the laptop is about 3000 words I’ve just typed, which is unusual for me, a short story tentatively called “Someone Like Pandora” which I hope to post here later. It was brewing in my head for two days and when I finally sat down on my towel it was already written. I just had to type. It’s wonderful when its like that. The software running on the laptop is a word processing program designed specifically for writing fiction called ”Scrivener”. You can download a free fully functional 30 day (literally 30 x 24 hours on the keyboard of trial use) trial version here:

So far I love the design of this software, in its ability to automatically back up your document as you work, and allows you to write individual scenes randomly and overview them in storyboards (which is so perfect for an asymmetrical, mercurial writer like me who makes radical overhauls in mid draft) and then compile them at the end into the traditional double spaced and indented format required by many editors for story manuscript submission. I love this program and when my freebie time is up I intend to buy it and I’ll be glad to get it.

Ernest Hemmingway's Writing Room in Havana Cuba

Next to the laptop is a wooden pencil and a pencil sharpener. They are the acoustic instruments of the writer. Hemingway usually typed his first draft of a short story or a chapter and then rewrote it afterwards up to thirty times or more with a wooden pencil and paper. When I get stuck in a narrative, I turn off the laptop and take out my pencil and yellow pad. I always find that this slows me down enough to focus on the story world freshly. Also it’s very tactilely pleasant to sit with a pencil and notebook and write in that meditative way with the scratching of the lead across the paper. I favor a dark black lead such as you usually get in an art store 6B drawing pencil although I’ve heard that the legendary Dixon Ticonderoga Black Wing #2 was the finest pencil ever made and the adamant choice of John Steinbeck for his rough drafts. I’ve also experimented with cutting goose quills but stopping to dip them in ink breaks my train of thought.

Of course when I look at this pile of stuff I wonder how I'd even know.

Ray Bradbury's Writing Office

Monday, November 5, 2012

An Illustrated Life

So, our topic for the next two weeks here at the Grip is "A Day in the Life - In Pictures". Whoever dreamed up this theme wanted us to give readers an idea of what we do on a typical day, by posting photos rather than by describing our activities.

Hmm. There's a problem here, at least for me. I work very hard to keep my real world identity a secret. I don't want to share any pictures that might reveal anything about the person behind my pseudonymic mask.

On the other hand, I don't want to be a spoil sport. Thus, I've concocted a bit of a fantasy day for you to enjoy, using pictures I've taken at various points in my extensive travels.

A Day in the Life of Lisabet Sarai

I live in a tropical country, somewhere in Asia. I wake at sunrise - I've always been a morning person - so that I can enjoy the fresh air sweeping in from the sea.

Leaving my beloved husband to sleep a bit longer ...

I'll go make breakfast, which I serve on our balcony overlooking the ocean.

After breakfast, it's time for me to get to work. I'll seat myself at my computer, with my assistants...

... and bang out my daily 5,000 words. 

That often takes me all the way to lunch, which once again I share with my adoring spouse.

Blissfully free in the afternoon, we may go for a walk on the beach...

or in the jungle...

Sometimes I'll go shopping.

Or we might take a trip up to the local volcano.

We try to get home in time to enjoy a glorious sunset over the sea.

By evening we're ready for some fun. We'll get dressed up....

And go sample some of the local nightlife....

Sometimes we have friends over.

We're usually in bed by midnight, though, drifting off into slumber and dreaming of another lovely day to come.

I love my life - both the fantasy and the real thing!