The man grinned foolishly.

He lie in his own bed, for once, staring at the ceiling.  The publicity tour for his long project had taken him around the world and back home finally, on its last leg.  He’s conquered his thing with the Red Carpet and schmoozed with so many media types, that he was surprised he wasn’t sprouting gibberish.  He felt beyond exhaustion but the moment his head hit the pillow, he was suddenly wide awake.  Oddly, he didn’t want to think about all the incredible experiences he’d just encountered, but something else.

No, he needed some much needed rest.  Tomorrow started early; he needed to finish the AM program circuit without bags hanging under his eyes.  He had no time to humor himself.  Turning unto his side, he burrowed into the pillow and willed himself to count sheep.  The sheep morphed to ponies that morphed to dwarves that changes to – his eyes snapped open.

Damnit.  He could practically hear the laptop calling him.  He calculated fuzzily that he hadn’t been online in over a week.  Was that too much time?  He flopped onto his back.  He had no way of knowing.  He’d have to check.


The man sat at the laptop, sipping a glass of wine, neither of which was a good idea.  He paused to reflect.  He’d always wanted a place to let it all hang out, to be as chatty or reticent as he wanted, to discuss his fears and desires, to be creative, to nurture that geeky, creative side of himself.  He’d always fancied himself something of a writer.  His character biographies he created for his roles no doubt signaled a frustrated novelist. He’d written other stories never mentioned to a soul, stories containing characters woven completely from his vivid imagination.  No ideal outlet existed to share his fiction, and the demands of his day job limited any full time pursuit.   Ironically, his own fandom was that sort of place.  He’d checked his Twitter hashtag and found fans discussing creative projects and events happening on the blogs, forums and tumblrs.  They piqued his curiosity.  He’d imagined that if he were a fan, he would join a community like this.  He’d imagined also what kind of fan he’d be here.

Smiling, he went immediately to a blog called, “And So It Goes” written by Alia.  Alia was a 40 something educated, literary woman who’d emerged in fandom a month ago.  She was intelligent, erudite, reserved,and still reticent in disclosing facts about herself.  She was also funny, a bit naughty and had the knack of getting facts straight about him and squelching rumors.  She’d recently revealed herself to be a talented writer with a vivid imagination, having posted a few of her short stories to good receptions.  He really liked Alia; she was exactly how he pictured himself.  Scrolling down to the comments section on her latest story, he observed that she had picked up quite a few new commentators.  Taking another swig of wine, he leaned eagerly forward to read.


The man smirked at the new signs as the large group of cheering fans held them aloft for him to read. Thank heavens they were talking to him now.  He pulled out the ever-ready Sharpie, and scrawled his signature.  He nodded and winked at a few for good measure , provoking bigger smiles if that were possible.  Sending the last off, he entered the building and ducked into an alcove.  Good, nobody could see.  He pulled out the iPhone and tapped open his Twitter account, but paused for a second to think.  Chuckling, he tapped open his secret Twitter account: @Alia.  “OMG, I just met The Man!,” Alia tweeted.  He thought and added, “he winked at me!”  Maybe she might blog about it later; he’d have to finesse that.  Or maybe something for Tumblr?

He grinned fiendishly.  This was all manner of wrong.  He was being terrible, awful – diabolical, practically.

But he was having such fun!


Composing Erotica or How to Write Porn

I knew that would get your attention.

For the last few months, the regulars in the ArmitageWorld chat room (it’s the place to be 9PM – 1AM EST) have been asking, “Judi, when are you writing some porn? More porn! More porn!” (they are a classy bunch).  Each time I say I don’t know when I’ll write more *erotica.*   I encourage them to write their own, but they plead ignorance.

Let me start right off by saying I don’t have a clue how to write erotica either.  No, seriously.  Before posting my story over Christmas, it had been a long time since I wrote fiction, and never since writing erotica.  Since my readership is so demanding (I’m looking at you, chat room gals), I knew getting away with an erotica-free Guy story wasn’t going to happen.  No cutaway to exploding fireworks would work for them.  So I researched it.

After quickly realizing Google would take me places I really didn’t want to go, I headed to which turned out to be a vast depository of erotica and how-to books. I spotted one called literally How to Write Erotica and the other, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing Erotic Romance.  The latter one had me at “Idiot’s Guide.”  I purchased them both and waited.   Since one was an ebook, I didn’t have to wait long.   By page 182 of the 266 page book, I was yawning and still hadn’t gotten to the “good part” – how to write the mechanics of explicit sex- which my readership explicitly requested.  When the other honest-to-goodness-paper book arrived, I noted its thinness and made short work of it.  An hour later, I came to a realization – I’d learned nothing.  So, how do I write good erotica?

Needless to say, this was no help to me at all.   But because I was running against a self-imposed deadline, I simply dove in and started throwing sentences and paragraphs together to see what sounded good.  Then I realized the books were absolutely right in what they had been trying to tell me all along.  They could give pointers, but nobody can really teach how to write erotica.   As one book suggested, you simply have to get over your inhibitions and write it.

Obviously I’m no expert in erotica with only one story under my belt, but this is what I found: what eventually occurs in the story reflects how comfortable you are with the scenes and how far you want to go with them.  If you’ve never read erotica, you need to find some and read lots of it to learn different styles of prose.  Do you want to the sex to be implied or explicit?  Do want a sensuous (of the senses) tone or a more sexual (carnal) vibe or something in between?  What words do you feel comfortable using in describing the human body?  How does the scene work to move the story along?

Basically imagine what you would like to read and write it.  If you like it down and dirty and it fits in with the story line, then that’s the way to go.  If using clinical anatomical words would throw you right out of a scene, then don’t use them.  If more romance with only implied sex is your style, then that is what you should write.  If you’re uncomfortable with an action, then don’t go there because your reader will sense it immediately.

If there is one secret I’ve culled from reading, it’s this – if it doesn’t turn you on, it probably won’t turn on the reader either.



Fan Fic Musings or The Morning After

As I stated when this blog first began, my aim has been to revitalize my creativity that’s been for so long.  So I dabbled in different things including making a fan vid and rediscovering drawing.  But writing fan fiction has been interesting.

I’ve written a few stories in other fandoms, most of them dark psychological snapshots, but all of them, short, taking no more than a few hours to create a first draft.   The Chest is the longest piece I’ve ever done, created for NaNoWriMo in November.  It took the better part of a week with 70% fantasizing/woolgathering and 30% actually pounding out the story. In the process, I learned several things.

I’m terrible with plots.  My friend ElsaF helped me create the framework.  She can spin a yarn off the top of her head in two minutes flat without even breaking a sweat.  When I asked how she did it, she replied to stick to several basic tenets:

  • Character faces a challenge/conflict or something the character wants to stop.
  • Create obstacles for the character to overcome in facing the challenge.
  • Character must find a way to overcome the challenge/conflict.
  • Character must deal with the consequences/resolution of the conflict.

She assured me formulating the plot was the easy part.  Well, once she pointed out a plot, sure, it was blindingly obvious.  Finding that spark of an idea is key.  I would love to spin yarns as simply as she does, on my own.

I apparently get a kick out of doing things the hard way. The Chest did not have an outline.  It didn’t have a character study aside from the one already provided by the series.  All I had initially was the sexy waterfall excerpt I’d written as a dare to myself.   I wrote the story around that chapter.  Yes, Dear Reader, I started with the sex first.

Writing the sexy part wasn’t as difficult in the way I anticipated.  Having read many very good erotic fiction stories, I didn’t think I could titillate.  The first hurdle required getting past my inhibitions (I’m writing sex!  HEE!)  After that, erotic writing could be frustrating because it’s like putting together a puzzle.  Personally, I don’t care for purple prose (“her pearly gates of delight”) or cold clinical terms, and neither fit the sensual tone I wanted to convey.  But after awhile, how many ways can one describe the same sex act without being repetitive and dull? Really, it’s not all that exciting.  Writing erotica becomes just as labor intensive as any other part of the story: how many times can I use that noun, that verb? How can I make it different from the last time?  That sort of thing.

My beta readers (thanks so much Servetus and ElsaF!) inform me I dislike commas and am too enamored of all forms of the verb “to be.”  This comes from legal writing (“easy with the comma shaker!” and the flagrant use of passive tense (is, was, were).  Government only recently has started pushing for pithy action verbs and simple language, but it’s a hard habit to break.  It’s lazy writing.  Try writing a paragraph without “to be.”  Worse yet, once Servetus pointed out the affliction, I felt almost wedded to the verb. I can’t seem to divorce it but I’m working on it.

A protracted short story is quite labor intensive.  Even when I finally had a loose plot, I had difficulty keeping the momentum going, finding more obstacles for Marian to overcome.  Once that ball started rolling, I had to figure out where to end the story.  Then it became about pace: Did it move along? Was it consistent?  Was it believable? Was the ending too hokey?  I also learned there is a downside to not having a tighter plot and character study – The Fatal Flaw.  The flaw is a problem so ingrained in the story, that there’s no way to get out of it, save starting from scratch.  As my beta pointed out, the dark side of Guy’s personality never really came through, as in the series.  However bringing that forward might have defeated the Nice Guy premise that enabled him to help the villagers in the first place.  I added a few surly bits here and there, but there was nothing I could to fix it, alas.  But it was a valuable lesson I’ll remember for any subsequent stories.

After thinking, eating and dreaming story for days on end, and the initial euphoria of completion abates, I should never re-read a story until the beta readers edit it.  Without that distance, it all becomes garbage.  The story suddenly became the worst thing I’d ever written as my inner judge put it through the meat grinder.  I’ve heard about writers feeling depressed because they felt too connected to their characters; I felt depressed because I worried the writing wasn’t good enough.  It’s all totally subconscious, of course, and has nothing to do with reality.  Thanks goodness for beta readers slapping sense into me.

Aside from reactions of “more porn, more porn!” (you know who you are), readers asked why there wasn’t more Guy.  I wanted the challenge of writing from Marian’s point of view, partly because I disliked her character in the series.  This necessarily excluded Guy’s side of the story.  Also it’s easier as an initial venture to stick to one POV than switching back and forth.  I wanted to have a developed single POV than risk writing two underdeveloped POVs.

So, where to go from here?  I don’t have a clue.  A year ago, I never imagined myself writing a long story, but there it is.  I don’t imagine writing a sequel because that’s not my thing – unless something really grabs my attention.  Actually, my mind is a complete blank (need more coffee).  I’m open to suggestions about where to venture next.   Thanks so much, Dear Reader, for you feedback and encouraging replies.



The Christmas Surprise Is Here!

The big day has come.  It’s time to roll out the surprise!

Remember a certain “scenic” short story I secretly posted a while ago?  Turns out that was only an except.  Yes, Dear Reader, I actually wrote an entire plot around it which transformed into a fanfic complete with conflict, intrigue and er… more scenery.  It rolls out in eight chapters starting today and ending New Year’s day.  It was a challenge to myself to see if I could do it; it’s been an interesting experience.  It’s also the longest piece I’ve ever done.  I hope you enjoy it.

Password: What was the color of Guy’s wedding cravat?  Keep it simple!

The Christmas Surprise Is Coming!

Yes, the Christmas surprise is shaking off the dust (since it’s been complete for weeks) and readying for a wardrobe walkthrough (read: heavy duty prepping).  After much consideration, the surprise will be completely password protected. Ooer!  More news about it tomorrow, so watch this space.

What's the surprise? Stay tuned! (courtesy


NaNoWriMo or Adventures in Speed Writing

November is National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. It challenges any writer, including you, to sit down at keyboard and dedicate the month to writing 50,000 words, preferably as a novel, in 30 days.  It doesn’t have to be polished or even coherent. (You conceivably can type one word 50,000 times).  The purpose is to get people in the swing of writing. NaNoWriMo has a website where you can register your word count progress each day and see if you’re on track to meet the goal.  As you might imagine, churning out a 50,000 word novel requires concentrated dedication.  To stay on track and possible win at the end of the month, you must average about 1,666 words or a day or 3 1/2 pages doublespaced.

NaNoWriMo has been an internet creative project since 1999.  Each year when it was publicized, I thought it sounded interesting but year after year went by and I never participated either because I heard about it too late or felt daunted by the idea of 50,000 words. This year my fanfic series happened to coincide with this year’s project.  What better way, friends pointed out, to break your writer’s block than NaNoWriMo?

So I registered and then panicked.  Not one to cheat typing gibberish, I needed a plot, but plotting was my main stumbling block.  I moaned and procrastinated for five days, not writing a single word. My kingdom for a plot!  Desperate, I turned to my old beta reader and plotter extraordinaire.  She can reel off a plot in less than 2 minutes without thinking hard. Look, she said. Think about a goal, create obstacles to accomplishing that goal, and then find the solutions to those obstacles. Easy peasy!  Okaaay.

For the conclusion of my series on fanfic writing, I wrote a standalone scene. If you read the Foolish Friday Fan fic post last week, then you know what one I mean.  Since I usually don’t care for scenes without plots, I wanted to write a story around it. Hence, my story for NaNoWriMo was born. So on the 6th day, I sat down to write and instantly stalled. What was my first sentence? Where was this story starting? No problem, the NaNoWriMo forums had openers you could adopt and take home.  So I adopted one. It turned out to be not everything I wanted but it did help jumpstart the opening paragraph.

Over two days, I pounded out over 8,000 words, no mean feat with a short attention span right now.  I spent 70% of the time daydreaming and 30% actually typing.  It gave me a taste of how things can be when Winston finally comes to heel.  I concocted a semblance of a plot, wrote in the standalone scene and sat back.  The result was – a lot of words.  Seriously, the result was an uneven story, but a real recognizable story nevertheless.  Since the goal requires I keep going, there isn’t much time for polishing the rough edges.  The chance of reaching 50,000 words is nil; I will be happy to hit 25,000.  I’ve never written a 25,000 word story in my life.  So I’m certain to finish the month with a sense of having chipped away a bit at my writer’s block.  Another mark for creativity, yes!


Foolish Friday Fan Fic – [Read First]

Hello class.  There will be no pic spam lesson for today.  Instead I’ve published in a separate post extra credit reading to celebrate the ending of my fanfic writing series.  It’s password protected; you will discover why shortly.  Enjoy and have a great TGIF.

BTW, in case you missed yesterday’s prompt, the password is: what the first name of JT’s love in N&S?  The first letter must be capitalized.  Enjoy!


On Writing: Part 2 – Hedgeypig

This is a six part series on writing.  You’re find part 1 here.  In an effort to understand the process of writing fan fiction, I interviewed several writers for pointers.  Joining me to day is Hedgeypig.  She is a talented writer who has written Guy of Gisborne fanfic but now has moved into the realm of original fiction.  Here’s her blurb:

Hedgeypig is a hobbit sized, middle aged curmudgeon with a penchant for the outdoors, writing, film and sleeping. She’s been knocking around the Richard Armitage fandom in various capacities since late 2006. She even met the man in 2009 and squeaked pathetically at him like a terrified dormouse. At some point she may actually submit something to a publisher but don’t hold your breath.


fanfic banner

J:  How and when did you start writing fanfic?
H:  Early 2007 shortly after the first season of Robin Hood had ended. I was inspired by the character of Guy. I’d seen other fanfic after joining the Armitage Army forum and thought I’d give it a go.

J:  Was it difficult at first?
H:  The hardest part is making that leap of faith to publish as you’re putting yourself out there. i found a good beta and that was a massive help as they can help with spelling, grammar and any major plot clangers.

J:  Were you influenced by other writers?
H:  Can’t say I was, no.

J:  How did you improve as a writer?
H:  I feel that simply the act of writing helps improve skills. Also talking to other writers. Alicat and Twiddle and i all beta’d each others work which honed skills in spelling, grammar and plotting. Just write down ideas. they might go nowhere and sometimes they lead to something else.

I have over the past couple of years taken an Open University Course too. I did Creative Writing and Advanced Creative Writing which was a real eye opener. With that you obviously have to move away from writing fanfic to writing original work.

I also read an awful lot.

J:  Did you have previous training?
H:  I wrote for pleasure but no one ever read it so putting my work up on the internet was quite hard.

J:  What do readers look for in fanfic?
H:  Ooh, that’s a difficult one. I can only say what I look for. I’m not keen when people stray too far from the character as written. I think with Guy many people wanted him to be good but he was fundamentally a deeply flawed character. Sadly the actual writers themselves seemed to have rewritten his back story several times which made the character very confusing. Much as they did with Lucas.

A good story, well plotted with the characters not straying too far from their on screen personas. Mary Sues are a complete turn off for me.

J:  I know you write erotic scenes. How do you go about writing such scenes?
H:  Bizarrely at the time Guy was a very fantasy inspiring character and as such I liked to envisage him in erotic situations. However I tended to find those scenes quite difficult to write and if I’m honest looking back find some of them cringe worthy. I have largely moved away from graphic erotic scenes although within fanfic they can be fun.

J:  Would you write fanfic again?
H:  Given the right character certainly but at the moment I’m working a lot on original work. My result for my Advanced Creative Writing Course was much better than I envisaged and I hope to progress the story further at some point.

J:  Would you encourage fanfic writing as a starting point?
H:  Absolutely. You have the characters and a lot of situations there for you as jump off points.

J:  Do you have any advice for novice fanfic writers?
H: Try and stick to the character as written within reason. If you’re not then say so.
Don’t Mary Sue the character (make them unbelievably perfect) Not everyone thinks Richard is gorgeous for example so not everyone should think, Guy, Lucas etc are perfect.

Get a good beta. There’s nothing worse than trying to read a story that’s full of errors.

Don’t lose heart. It’s rare that someone will be unkind but some people may be critical. Constructive criticism is not a bad thing.

Don’t overdo the sex scenes unless you’re very good at writing them.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Don’t put yourself in the story. variations of your personality will most likely creep in but a character that’s definitely you may turn people away.

Be careful with Real person fic. ie writing about Richard for example rather than his characters. A lot of people don’t like it but I have seen it done. Gabriel Kane was undoubtedly inspired physically by Richard but don’t imagine for one minute Richard is anything like the miserable character I have created.

J:  Thanks so much for allowing me to interview you.

H:  My pleasure.


NEXT: An interview with GratianaDS90


On Writing: Part 1 – Fan Fiction As Cure for Writer’s Block?

calvin-writingEver since I started this blog, the desire to start writing fiction again lurked in the back of my mind.  Thirty years ago in college, I could conceive a plot and bang it out on my Selectric typewriter overnight in time for deadline and get top marks on the first draft.  I was used to that pressure cooker mode of working which certainly wouldn’t work now in the professional world of publishing.  The point is words flowed freely from my mind to the paper.

I hoped that blogging would remove that blockage.  While it has helped the creative sap to rise particularly with drawing, I still have difficulty putting pen to paper, as it were.  I could create another fanvid before composing a new piece of fiction. I’ve pondered long and hard about this.

One of my mental hang ups is the need to understand my style.  Every time I’m complimented on it, I want to grab them and ask “what *is* my style?”  Finally I asked.  The answer was: “humorous.”  This gave me pause, not for being funny, because that’s what I had intended, but due to wondering if this was my *style.*  I imagined writing a murder mystery or historical novel which usually has more serious tones.  Was I stuck being a Dave Barry or Erma Bombeck, famous humorous writers?  Yes, before I’d written my first sentence, I was already fretting about being taken seriously as a writer, nevermind whether I had real talent.

Most likely the biggest hurdle is my wanting to write like other writers.  I was enthralled with the lyrical styles of Colleen McCollough and Toni Morrison thinking, “I want to write like them!”  But unless that’s what naturally flowed onto my paper, that would never be my style.  My mind doesn’t compose in that manner; trying to copy it would look exactly what it is, second rate copying.  So I’m back to square one, mulling over what is my serious style.

People in ArmitageWorld have asked when am I writing fan fiction.  My first reaction was, “oh good grief no” but then that’s what I said about making fanvids.  In a way fanfic provides a ready template with the characters and universe already in place.  Just add a new plot and a credible bit of fanfic is born.  As much as I want to write the next Great American Novel, I need to take baby steps; writing a short fanfic is an realistic goal.  I need to simply write and see what it looks like.

Then people can tell me what my style is.

Over the next few days, I will interview other authors for advice and see what they have to say to a novice like me.  Stay tuned.