Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Novel (or Long Novella) Editing

Hiya Peeps!

I'm in the middle of editing my next novel (which will likely end up being a long novella - about 50,000 words), so I thought I would share my editing process. I've already shared how I edit my short stories, and while a lot is similar, my novel (and novella) editing process is a bit more involved. I have 9 stages of revision for my longer pieces. As I've said on all my posts about how I write, I'm mostly sharing this in case you're looking for a few hints to liven up your own routine, though I'm just as happy if you read it out of curiosity and continue doing what you do!

Before I start editing at all, I feel it's important to give the 1st draft some time to cool off. With longer works, the more distance you put between the draft and the editing process, the better. I like to give it at least two weeks, and a month is even better. While you wait, you might start plotting your next book, get a short story written that you've been dying to tell, or simply take a couple of weeks and read, catch up on TV and some movies (or family time if that's your bag), or otherwise decompress if it was a rough draft to write. Everyone is different, and what you need to do to get your sanity back is perfectly fine! Personally, I usually work on a short story while my novel sits and waits for editing.

When it's time to begin, I have 9 steps ahead of me. I currently use my laptop and my iPad in my editing process, and I'll explain how in each step. If you only use one gadget, that's no problem, as you'll see. You could even print out your manuscript and use a trusty red pen for most of the steps. I used to do that years ago, but with printer ink being more valuable than gold, I've since kept it all electronic. So, anyway, here are my 9 steps of revision.

1st Step: This is a quick read-through. I simply want to read through the draft to remind myself of everything and catch mistakes that I can later fix. While I'm writing, I'll often find inconsistencies or things I'd simply like to change, but it would kill all forward momentum I've built up. I have a file labeled "Revision" that I put these notes in, and I keep writing as if I've already fixed the problem. So in this read-through, I'll add on to this file if I find anything inconsistent, or if I have a new idea for a scene, character, setting, or whatever. It's not the time to fix it yet but simply label it. In this 1st step, I rarely even fix grammar mistakes. I complete this step on my laptop because I find it easier to add to my revision list.

2nd Step: This is where I dig into that revision file. While the 8 other steps are a front-to-back read and revise, this step often calls for me to jump around the manuscript. I create a second file, naming it something along the lines of "Revisions This Time" or something similar, and begin copying and pasting revision notes from the first file into this one. I use the word processing program Scrivener, so it's easy to have two files up on my screen at the same time. Of course, you can figure out how to do this with most or all word processing programs. Many of my notes are about a certain chapter, and I will put those into the new file first. For example, in my current work, Metalcore Minx, one of my notes said: "Ch.13, when the young couple asks for autographs, make sure it’s a better metal conversation—meaning they need to call her Mistress of Death at least once, say it’s strange to see her out of her makeup and costume or something." After getting the chapter notes done, I use the more general notes to fix the story. Sometimes this 2nd step could be four or five or more runs through the story until I'm happy that my revision notes have been implemented or otherwise found to not be necessary. I use my laptop on this entire step.

3rd Step: This is another quick run-through from front-to-back to make sure me implementing my revision notes didn't "break" any part of the story. Basically, I make sure the narrative flows once all the heavy-lifting has been done. I use my laptop for this step, mostly because it will begin to alternate starting with the next step.

4th Step: This is where my polishing of grammar, sentence structure, word choice, and other such things begins. I have the story in the linear order I want, so now I want to make it sound good. Unlike steps 1 and 3, I run through this step slowly so as to catch mistakes. I do this step on Scrivener on my iPad, mostly to get a physically different view of it.

5th Step: This is the same as the 4th step, but I'm back on my laptop. Again, this simply gives the eye a different superficial look at the same words. I don't know if it truly helps or not, but it feels like it to me, so I continue doing this.

6th Step: This is the same as step 4. By the time I'm done with this run-though, I'm ready to move on.

7th Step: This is where I use the editing program SmartEdit. I use it the same way I do when I edit my short stories. Feel free to click on the link in the 1st paragraph to read that post. The only difference between using SmartEdit with short stories and novels is time. Obviously, it takes much more of it in longer works. This program is on my laptop, so that's what I use.

8th Step: This is one final polish where I pay close attention to grammar, word choice, and other such fun stuff. I also make sure the story still flows after running it through SmartEdit. I can use either my laptop or iPad for this step, whichever is more convenient at the time. 

9th Step: This is the final editing step. I use a text-to-speech program to listen for typos and other mistakes which are often hard to catch when reading to yourself. I also find it helps me discover how the story flows. Personally, I use the program called NaturalReader, and like with SmartEdit, I talked about it in my short story editing post, so feel free to check it out there. Also, like with SmartEdit, the only difference between short stories and novels using NaturalReader (or any other text-to-speech program) is the time it takes. I use my laptop for this step since that's where NaturalReader is. I couldn't find anything I liked as well on my iPad.

Those are my 9 steps to revision. It takes quite a bit of time, especially the steps where I like to go through slowly to best catch mistakes or find better ways to say things, but it's worth it in the end. The finished product looks (and reads!) so much better. The book still needs to formatted for publishing, but that's a topic for another time!

What do you think? Does this look anything like how you do it? Does anything look like something you'd like to try? Or was it just nice to see how another writer works? I'd love to hear any comments! Thank you for reading!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Disney Halloween Fun!

Hiya Peeps!

My latest collection came out ten days ago, and I don't have anything else planned for the near future, as I'm in the middle of writing my next book, which I'll talk about at a later date. No, today I thought I'd just have a bit of fun! My husband and I headed to the Disneyland Resort yesterday for lunch. We avoided Disneyland itself and headed over to Disney's California Adventure. We weren't expecting to see any Halloween decorations (Halloween is my favorite time of year!) as the season doesn't officially start in the parks until next weekend, but we lucked out, as Car's Land had some neat decorations already out. I didn't take many pictures, but I thought it would be fun to share the six that I did take.

First off, if you've never been, Car's Land is set up to look like you actually stepped into Radiator Springs in the movie. The building placements are very close to spot on, and the first time I watched the movie after being in Car's Land, I was blown away! So these pictures would likely be right out of Radiator Springs if they had a big Halloween celebration!

This first picture focuses on the decoration which runs above the street. Mufflers, tires, and traffic cones make for a neat-looking monster strung across the street.

Here is the famous Cozy Cone Motel decked out for the season! Yes, those are spiders built out of parts you might find in an auto shop. How cool is that?

This is a Route 66 roadside souvenir shop decorated to look like it's in a haunted swamp. I don't know if the pic is good enough for you to see, but there are silly Halloween-themed signs all over the front. 

This undead car pinned down by the tree is outside the shop above. You might be able to sort of see it under the tree on the left side of the above photo. I certainly wouldn't want to run into this guy on a moonless night!

This is a billboard to the left of the souvenir shop and undead car. You can see the bottom of it in the above photo. If you're having trouble reading it, it says, "Get your hex on Route 66."

Here is the other side of the above billboard. "Trunk or treat" and a "scary" Mater. I giggled when I saw it, as I love Mater!

So there you go. Just for fun early September Halloween decorations. Though, to be honest, if Halloween stuff stayed up all year, I'd be happy. And if you're wondering about lunch, since I said that's why we went, we ate in the Fisherman's Wharf food court area. I had a Chinese Chicken Salad in a sourdough bread bowl and a Karl Strauss Mosaic Sessions IPA to wash it down with. (So good and tasty! A big-time grapefruit flavor.)

I hope you enjoyed this just for fun blog post! See you all soon!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Quick Reminder

Hiya Peeps!

We're a week away from the release of my collection of holiday erotica short stories. I wanted to give everyone a reminder! Six Contemporary Holiday Erotic Short Stories will be out September 1st. I have the pre-orders for the ebooks set at both Amazon and Smashwords (click on either of those to be whisked away!), and the paperback version will be available close to then as well. (I didn't see how to make the paperback version available for preorder on Amazon, so I decided to simply click publish on August 31 to have it ready to buy on September 1st.)

As a reminder, each of the six stories has already been published on Amazon, so if you've already read most or all of them, unless you want them all in one bundle (and I'm all for that!), you might want to pass on this collection. I will be charging $2.99 for the ebook on both Amazon and Smashwords, and $9.99 for the paperback, which will only be available on Amazon. I will, of course, have the link for the paperback for you when it's available. I will also change the link for the Amazon ebook when it's published so it'll go to your country's Amazon page when you click on it, rather than just the US version now. 

That's all I have for now. I hope some of you are excited for this release! If you know you want to get it, I'd be thrilled if you pre-ordered. If not, I'll have the links all over this blog, my website, and Twitter, so you won't miss out. Thanks again, everyone! See you soon!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Six Contemporary Holiday Erotic Short Stories

Hiya Peeps!

I've put down my first book for pre-order on Amazon. It's, as the title to this post says, Six Contemporary Holiday Erotic Short Stories. This is a collection of my six holiday stories that I've published over that last couple of years. It will be available as a Kindle book and paperback on Amazon, as well as an ebook on Smashwords and its affiliates (B&N, Kobo, iBooks, etc.) I've put it in to pre-order on Amazon on September 1st, the Friday before the Labor Day holiday in the US. (It is a book of holiday shorts, after all!)

EDIT: The pre-order has gone live. Find it on Amazon here!

I will be charging $2.99 for it as an ebook, and a price to be determined for the paperback. (I'll update this when I know.) If you were to buy each short story individually, that would run you $5.94, so the savings is about 50%. This collection will not be a part of the Kindle Unlimited program, as I am putting it on Smashwords, but each individual story will remain in the program. 

Anyway, here are the cover and the description, which lists which six stories will be in this collection. Thank you for reading, everyone! Have a great day/week!

Six Contemporary Holiday Erotic Short Stories

This bundle includes six tales of contemporary romantic erotica.

These stories have already been published on their own, but you can get all six in one handy book at a bargain price!

We celebrate Valentine’s Day with a girl who vows not to fall in love; a Halloween-themed frat-party in June where an innocent girl loses her virginity and soon after finds her true love; 4th of July at the beach where a young woman who thinks a sex tape ruined her life finds the one for her; a Halloween dungeon where pleasure is the word of the day, not horror; a young woman who reconnects with an old flame before her Thanksgiving feast; and a toy-store clerk who finds the true meaning of Christmas in the arms of a handsome hunk.

Happy Anti-Valentine’s Day
The Odd Costume Party Fiasco
Their Own Fireworks
Mad Merlin’s Secret Dungeon
She Thanks His Giving
The Hot Clerk

At almost 50,000 words, Six Contemporary Holiday Erotic Short Stories is the perfect collection for celebrating sexy holidays all year round! These tales are explicit and fun!

His Hard Rockin' Princess: Definitive Edition

Hiya Peeps!

A quick update here. I am removing the Bonus Edition of His Hard Rockin' Princess. Or, more appropriately, I'm removing the original version of the novel and replacing it with the Bonus Edition. This no longer makes it the Bonus Edition, but the only edition. The paperback will be replaced, too.

This means you now can read the epilogue and the three short stories that inspired the novel for $2.99 instead of $3.99. I'm also removing it from Smashwords (and, therefore, their affiliates) so you Kindle Unlimited members can download it for free! 

I will update this post when Amazon has informed me the changes are live. Same for the paperback. I'll also let you know on Twitter! I hope you will come and enjoy Elle and Moth Man's adventures in metal and (reluctant) Daddy-Dom play!

Update: Both the paperback and Kindle book are now live with the changes. Click the cover on the left of the screen to check them out!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

What's Going On With Me?

Hiya Peeps!

How is everyone doing? Me? I'm fine. Slinging smut. What could be better, right? Today's post is going to be all about what I have planned in the very near future, basically through the summer months (or for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, winter months). I've been awful about blogging lately, though if you follow along on Twitter, you probably know I don't shut up all that often over there. I think I'm fine with this, only giving you blog posts when I have something to say rather than try to jam something (hey-o!) down your throat every week.

First off, what do you think about my new greeting? I think it fits my personality a bit better than my old "Hello Lovelies." Do you like it? Not? Let me know on Twitter (@ClaraZaynn) or right here in the comments. Also, some of you might have noticed the writing tips/experiences I've written in the past few months. They were about how I use 20-minute word sprints, how I plot my short stories, how I edit my short stories, and about reviews, that one focusing primarily on the erotica-writing and reading audience. I hope you've enjoyed them, either as tips/motivation, or simply as a look into my process. Do you have any more writing topics you'd like me to tackle? Let me know, again on Twitter or in the comments.

Okay, now onto the meat of the post. I'm still occasionally posting new Tumblr stories, quick reads at about 1500 words or so, complete with a sexy .gif or pic that inspired the story. I posted my latest, The Cheer Office, yesterday, so feel free to give it a look. Even if you're not on Tumblr, you can still read it and my other stories, and they are all free, of course. 

Next, I'm in the beginning stages of a new short story which may become a novella. I unveiled the cover on Twitter a few weeks ago, but then became distracted with non-erotic writing, so I had to take a break from the naughtiness. You can see it right here now (that's it to the left!). I'm hoping this story will be available to buy in early August, but since I'm still in the early stages of the first draft, it may be mid-August, depending on how easily the words flow. You'll see more about it, especially on Twitter, when it's closer to release. Feel free to let me know what you think about the cover here in the comments or on Twitter!

And, finally, I plan on bundling my six holiday-themed stories into one collection, a la The Babysitter Fun Series and Six Contemporary Erotic Shorts Volume 1. It will be priced at $2.99 and be available at Amazon in both Kindle format and paperback (though no idea on the price of the paperback yet), as well as Smashwords and their affiliates (B&N, iBooks, Kobo, etc.). The stories are: Mad Merlin's Secret Dungeon (Halloween), She Thanks His Giving (Thanksgiving), The Hot Clerk (Christmas), Happy Anti-Valentine's Day (Valentine's Day), Their Own Fireworks (4th of July), and The Odd Costume Party Disaster (Halloween in June - yes, that one is a made-up frat party holiday, but it fits!). I'll have much more on this as it gets closer to release, which I'm envisioning as Labor Day here in the States (1st weekend of September, I believe). 

So that catches you up on what I have planned for now. I'd love to hear comments about what you think of my two upcoming releases, my new Tumblr story (or any of the older ones), and your thoughts on future writing-based blog posts. Give me your questions/comments below in the comment section, or hit me up on Twitter, either with an @-mention or a DM. I'll be thrilled to hear from you! Have a great day!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Editing Short Stories

Hello Lovelies!

Today I thought I'd tell you how I edit my short stories. Feel free to use some or all of my techniques, or simply read and move on, happy with your own system. As long as you edit your stories, it's all good! (But, please, no matter how you do it, edit your stories!)

The first thing I do is simply read through the draft. I do this in one sitting, which, let's be honest, with short stories isn't too much of a time-sink. If I find typos, I fix them, but otherwise all I want to do is make sure the story, from front to back, is fresh in my mind. If I find any glaring plot problems during the read-through, or otherwise discover a way to make the story better, I fix it now. Otherwise, if I'm happy with the structure and how it plays out, I continue to my next read-through.

My second read-through is pretty much the same as my third, fourth, fifth, and however many I need before I'm happy with the story. (Usually by my fourth or fifth, I'm ready to move on.) I check word-usage, punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, and all that good stuff to make sure the prose sparkle. I want my dialogue to sound realistic, the story to not be too passive, and words to not repeat too much, or at all, if possible. If you get to a read-through where you're not finding many things to change, it's probably time to move on to the next stage. If you're not sure, another read-through won't hurt.

One thing to remember, though; you will be able to tinker with a story forever if you want to. You change and grow every day, so you'll find something else in your story with every pass. At some point, you need to say, "It's ready." When I find I'm at that point, I move to the next step.

My next step is a program called SmartEdit. No, it's not free, but I find invaluable. I use the stand-alone version, not the Word plug-in. I copy and paste my manuscript in, and it makes a number of checks for me. Personally, I have it check my adverb usage, possible misused words (ex. accept vs. except), redundant words, and my monitored words, which is a list of many words I know I use far to often (ex. that, was, up). There are other things it can check, as well, and you just need to click on an option for the software to add it to its compiled list. It helps trim up my prose, making it leaner and meaner. The best part is you can get a 10-day free trial, so you can see how well you like it. I'm sure you can also Google other programs, some maybe free, to help clean up your story.

If you don't want to use a program at all, you can make a pass where you focus on only adverbs, one where you check words which you know you know you use too often and eradicate them if you can, and so on and so forth. You can do the same thing as SmartEdit or other programs, but it's going to take a bit longer. If you don't mind that, or are good at focusing on more than one task earlier in the read-throughs, you're all set.

After I use SmartEdit, I give the story one more read-through to make sure I didn't jumble anything while removing words. Also, one more read-through is never a bad thing to make sure everything still flows. I then move onto my final (editing-wise) step. 

This final step is another program, but it's free, and you might already have one downloaded on your devices. I listen to my story with a text-to-speech program. Personally, my favorite is NaturalReader. You can download it at that link for free. Whatever device you edit on (laptop, desktop, iPad, etc.) may have a text-to-speech program built in, but I find the voices on NaturalReader are the easiest for me to listen to. There is a floating bar so you don't need to copy and past anything, simply highlight the text you want read, and push play. Other programs may work just as well, but I love NaturalReader. There is also a paid version, but for my purposes, and likely yours, there's no need to go to it. Every once in a while, the voice will stop so it can offer you a chance to upgrade, but it's an easy two clicks to get back to your work. 

Why do I suggest using a text-to-speech reader? First off, it's the best way to find pesky typos or wrong words. Often the eye skips over typos, but if you're listening at the same time, you'll pick them up. You can also determine if a sentence or passage sounds unnatural to the ear and fix it. It's also easier to tell if dialog sounds natural when you listen rather than simply read it. Basically, I highly suggest you don't skip this step for the hunting down typos reason, but you'll also benefit in other areas.

That's it. Once I finish listening to the story, I'm confident my story is ready to be published. I know it's a lot of steps, and my longer short stories (those running 10k to 15k words) often take a week or longer before they're ready. But, honestly, that's no time at all to make sure a short story is ready for the world to see. When I'm editing a novel, I often spend a couple of months to make sure it's polished to my perfection, but that's a topic for another time.

Once you've finished editing, you need to ready your manuscript for publishing or submitting, depending on what you're doing to it. I will talk about how I ready a story for Amazon in a future post, but for now, you see my editing process. As I said at the beginning, feel free to follow each of my steps, but if you don't, that's fine, too. We all do things differently! (But, for the love of all that is holy, don't finish your first draft and deem it worthy of publishing. Guess what, it's not ready!) 

Feel free to leave a comment if you enjoyed reading about my process, totally agree or disagree with it, want to let me know how you edit, or anything else! Thank you for reading!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Twitter Problems

Hello Lovelies!

There seems to be a bit of a problem with Twitter, and you may be having it, too. (No, I'm not talking about the lost hours after getting sucked in and constantly scrolling for new tweets.) I'm talking about not getting notifications when others RT or otherwise mention you. It's kind of a big problem because you feel like people are ignoring you, and they, likewise, feel like you're ignoring them. 

I first noticed this a few weeks ago when I saw @sexyreads had RT'd me in my timeline, but it didn't show up in my notifications. We talked about it, and thought it was an isolated incident, some sort of strange setting one of us couldn't figure out. But I saw today that he tweeted that he was missing a bunch of people in his notifications, so this is a bigger problem. 

I realized I was being affected this morning, too. For most of the week, I've noticed a few people I normally interact with (even if it's simply sharing RTs), have not been in my notifications. I thought maybe they'd gotten bored with my dog and pony show (and I should clarify that I mean that as the saying, not any sort of bestiality erotica - not my kink), and maybe it's true for some of them, but I discovered not all. Scrolling through my timeline this morning, I found @EADeBoestauthor had mentioned me in a #FF tweet. That put a smile on my face, and I decided to wait and say thank you when I found it in my mentions. (I was already deciding which .gif I wanted to use in that tweet - what can I say? I love that feature!) As I'm sure you can already guess, that tweet was a no-show in my mentions/notifications. When I went to her timeline to find the #FF tweet, I found she had also RT'd me a bunch (thank you, by the way, sweetie!), but none had made it to my notifications. I'm sure this is the case with others, but I haven't figured out who yet. So if you think I'm ignoring you, either not RTing you back, or flat out not responding, I promise I'm not! I simply haven't seen your tweets!

So, to summarize, there seems to be a problem with mentions/notifications in Twitter. I have no idea if it's affecting a select few of us "lucky" users, but if you're missing tweets from people you're used to seeing on a regular basis, they simply could be hidden from you. Twitter just recently (in the last day or so) updated their site, so maybe this problem is one of coding? I tweeted @Twitter with this question, but have not heard back. I'm sure they get far too many tweets for them to even see them all, so I'm not holding my breath (or maybe my tweet didn't make it into their mentions! hehe), but maybe they'll let me know. Or at least fix it soon.

Last thing. I said it earlier, but I want to say it again. If you think I've been ignoring you, I apologize! I haven't been. I simply didn't see your tweet. You may have the same problem, if not with me, than with other users. I still get plenty of mentions/notifications throughout the day, but not from everyone. Hopefully this gets fixed soon, and we can return to our normal social media time-sink.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Free Books

This week's freebie is Happy Anti-Valentine's Day

Hiya Peeps!

I've decided to set one of my books as free on Amazon each week, Monday to Friday. It will start next Monday, June 19 with Flag Football Conquest, continue the following week with The Odd Costume Party Fiasco, and every week after with a new book for the foreseeable future. And, yes, I will be including my longer works (His Hard Rockin' Princess, The Dragon's Mate, and Carnival of Sin, plus any new ones I publish) in this freebie fun!

Why am I doing this? Why give anything away for free? Actually, I'm guessing many of you who are reading this, seasoned Indie authors, already know. But for those of you who aren't familiar with the goodness of giving away free books, I have good reasons. 

First off, I'm hoping readers snatch up my book and enjoy it so much that they can't help but pick up more. And follow me on Amazon or Twitter or right here on this blog so they know when more are coming. That, honestly, is the ultimate reason, but there are others.

Second, I'm hoping for more reviews, be them on Amazon (my biggest hope), Goodreads, or anywhere else people like to review. By giving my stories away, I'm hoping for more readers, and maybe some of those extra readers will give a review. 

A third reason is word of mouth. Maybe someone who picks up one of my free stories will recommend it to friends or social media followers. I'm always up for an extra dose of readers!

Those are three big reasons why I'm going to be giving away a different story each week. It's something Indie authors should really keep and use in their magical bag of marketing tricks! It's easy if you're in the Amazon KDP Select program - you have five days to mark your book as free every three months. It's also different from the Kindle Unlimited program, where readers can download your book for free, but they're only borrowing it, even if there is no "due date" like a traditional library. The free book through the promotion means it's the reader's book as if they bought it.

If you use Smashwords, you can easily generate coupons which readers can use, and you can set an expiration date on those. For other retailers (B&N, Kobo, iBooks, etc.), you'll have to look into those, as I've never tried to get a free promotion going at any of those. 

So look for my books starting on Monday. This first week, as I said, will be Flag Football Conquest. And if you miss it? Keep an eye on Twitter or my Amazon Author Page to see what the current freebie of the week is! I hope you enjoy the free reads!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Reviews for an Erotica Reader/Writer

Hello Lovelies!

I decided today to talk a little bit about reviews. They really are the life-blood of Indie authors (or any author, for that matter). If you enjoy a book, be it an epic novel or a short story, the best way to give your thanks to the author is with a review. You only need to leave a sentence or two to go along with your whatever-number-of-stars-rating. Something as simple as "I really enjoyed this story. The main character was fun to follow." Tailor it to your own tastes, of course, but that shows you how simple writing a review can be.

Sure, that's great for mainstream or genre books, but, come on, if you're reading this, we're pretty much talking about erotic stories, aren't we? It's silly, as there should be nothing wrong with reading about sex, but society often frowns upon it. I hear you. This may shock you, but Clara Zaynn isn't my real name. A pseudonym? For an erotica author? Unheard of, right? (Okay, get your laughs in now. 😁) What I'm saying is that you may be unsure about leaving reviews for sexy books. I have some easy ways for you to do it, however.

(Note, these work for you non-erotic readers and writers, too, of course, if you have reasons for wanting to leave reviews under a different name.)

Let's start with Goodreads, as this is easy to get a new account with your pseudonym. All you need is a different email account from the one you used to sign up with your real name. If you're simply a reader who wants to leave reviews, you're pretty much good to go. Set it up how you like, but as long as you have an account, you can start adding books to your list and reviewing them. One thing about Goodreads, too, is you don't need to leave a written review; you can simply give a book a rating from 1 to 5 stars and be done with it. Personally, I try not to do this and give a written review to everything. If you're an author, I'd advise setting up an author account, as it's easy enough to do, but that's a topic for another time. 

Smashwords is another easy one. I personally don't use Smashwords often, but I have set up a pseudonym account, and with the same email account I set up my Goodreads, it went nice and smooth. With that account, it'll be nice and easy to leave reviews. 

Now, let's talk about the biggie in Indie Publishing: Amazon. With as easy as Amazon makes it to publish, as well as the Kindle Unlimited program, reviews are probably most important for authors on Amazon. The problem with this is that Amazon, while it makes it easy to publish under a pseudonym, it's much harder to leave a review under one. You can change the name you leave reviews under, but as far as I can tell, it changes the name for every review you've ever written. Not ideal. It's also easy to start an account, but you can't start leaving reviews right away. No, Amazon says you need to spend $50 or more before you can start leaving reviews. (I believe they had all sorts of problems when they didn't do this, so it became a necessity. That's fine, but still a pain in the butt.)

So, what can you do? Well, if you don't see yourself spending $50 with Amazon, you probably aren't interested in leaving reviews on their site anyway, so problem solved. Stick with Goodreads, Smashwords, and the other retail sites (though, to be honest, I have no idea how easy it is to set up a second account with B&N or any of the others). If you use Amazon anyway, start buying from that account. You can purchase items and then send them to your real name and address. I did this, and I also found you could gift things to your other account. $50 proved no problem, and I didn't even splurge. Depending on your spending habits, it may take a few months or longer (or a few minutes), but you'll get there. Stick to the other sites until you pass the $50 threshold. 

Why go through the pain? Because authors will love you for your Amazon reviews. Yes, a Goodreads review still makes us smile, but Amazon is the gold-standard at the moment (and for the foreseeable future).

So there you go. Tips on leaving reviews for erotic stories. Make an author happy and leave reviews. Leave a multi-paragraph recap or give your thoughts in a sentence or two. Either way, you'll make an Indie author a happy camper!

Master List of 6 Contemporary Erotic Shorts Volume 1

Click here to find the collection at Amazon

Click here to find the collection at Smashwords

Click here to find the paperback at Amazon

You can also find it at other retailers. Simply search "6 Contemporary Erotic Shorts Volume 1"

You can purchase (or read for free if you're a Kindle Unlimited member) each story separately if you'd like. They are available only at Amazon.

Click here to find Flag Football Conquest

Click here to find Almost the Three of Them

Click here to find The Open House Sextravaganza

Click here to find Movie Theater Therapy

Click here to find HORSE-ing Around

Click here to find Substitute Teacher Daydreams

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Collection of Contemporary Erotica

Hello Lovelies!

Sometime soon, maybe as early as tomorrow, I'll have a new collection available. I'm calling it Six Contemporary Erotic Shorts, Volume One. It's six of my previously published stories packaged together in one book. It will be available on Amazon and Smashwords (and the other retailers that Smashwords sends to - Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBooks, etc.) for $2.99. If you've always wanted to read these stories but don't do Amazon, this is your chance! It won't be available as a free Kindle Unlimited download, but each individual story is still available to read for free if you're a member.

And speaking of the stories, which ones are included? You get (in this order):
 - Flag Football Conquest
 - Almost the Three of Them
 - Open House Sextravaganza
 - Movie Theater Therapy
 - HORSE-ing Around
 - Substitute Teacher Daydreams

Here's the cover for the collection:
I will, of course, let you know when it's available. It'll likely be ready on Amazon first, followed by Smashwords, and a few days later, your other favorite ebook retailers. I'll also have a paperback version available, much like I did with the Babysitting Fun collection. If you have any question, ask in the comments, get a hold of me on Twitter, or email through my website. Thank you! 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Carnival of Sin: Coming Soon & Ch. 1 Preview

Hello Lovelies!

UPDATE: Carnival of Sin is now available. You can get it here!

I want to let everyone know that my newest book, Carnival of Sin, will be available Tuesday. This one is a bit of a departure for me. Yes, it's sexy and erotic, but it's also very brutal, violent, and gory. I'm labeling it as an Erotic Dark Fantasy, though I'm sure many would have no problem if I instead labeled it as Erotic Horror. I'll place the cover, description, and excerpt (Ch.1) below.

I'm marketing it a bit different than normal. My pricing platform is to charge 99¢ for my stories under 20k words, and $2.99 for works above that. This one is a novella of about 30k words, but instead of charging you $2.99 right out of the gate, I'll be pricing this at 99¢ for the first few days, maybe through the first weekend (we'll see how it goes). Of course, I'd be thrilled to get early reviews to help sell this one even further, which is one reason I'm putting it out at first at the cheaper price. It will also be available on Kindle Unlimited as a free download for those of you in that program.

So, what is the Carnival of Sin? Here are the cover and the description that will be on Amazon:

Conquering a deadly sexual gauntlet could lead Heart Masterson to a race of immortals.

Ever since her best friend disappeared, Heart has been searching. Armed only with a mysterious name, the Carnival of Sin, she scours the seediest corners of the internet and the darkest of back alleys. She must be ready to do whatever dirty deed it takes to find Bliss.

It’s only when Heart gives up all hope that the carnival reaches out, and she finally realizes what she’s been chasing. In order to find Bliss, the Carnival of Sin will challenge her in ways she never thought possible. Heart’s comfortable using both violence and sex, but she’s never experienced anything like this.

Can she survive the trials to find her best friend, Bliss? Or will the immortal Masters feast on her corpse?

If you’re a fan of BDSM and other brutal sexual acts, as well as violence and gore, this dark fantasy erotic tale is for you!

Because of strong sexual and violent depictions in this story, only those over the age of 18 should read this. You’ve been warned.

Chapter One

Heart dropped to her knees in the alleyway, well aware of the grime and slimy filth soaking into her jeans. It’s why she chose to wear an older pair. She knew going in this would be a dirty job in more ways than one.

This pig, Reynolds, had his button and fly already undone, so she reached in and pulled his cock out. If she could snag this information any other way, she’d choose to, but this was foolproof. Or as much as dealing with a guy like Reynolds could be.

“Yeah, baby, pull my balls out, too. Cradle my boys while you suck me off.”

Better believe she would. Though it’d be a lot less pleasant than he figured. She yanked his pants down hard to get more room. That earned a chuckle from him.

“Whoa there, girly. I know you’re eager, but no need to rip me out of my drawers.”

“I’m so ready for this,” she said as she fished his balls out. All in all, as she’d hoped, his cock measured average at best, and probably a little smaller. She could get his entire length in her mouth with no problem, even if she didn’t want to. He smelled like moldy cheese, and not the gourmet kind the stores charged an arm and a leg for, but this was the quickest way to get him to spill all he knew.

“Yeah, girly, go for it.”

She reached into her pocket, found the folded-up note where it should be, and then swallowed his stinky rod. He groaned, and though she wanted to go for the note right away, she needed him primed first. This was in no way as much fun as the last guy she procured info from. She’d ridden his beautifully sculpted body to multiple orgasms before forcing the answers out of him. He, Travers, had been so good she felt bad about slitting his throat after he talked. Reynolds would be lucky to go out so easy. He gave off a vibe which screamed she’d have to earn every bit of what he had to say.

“Shit, you go deep,” he hissed out. His hands went to the sides of her head, holding her in place. She relaxed and breathed through her nose. She would normally be able to go forever, as his cock wasn’t anywhere near big enough to block her windpipe, but, god damn it, he stank. This needed to end soon or she might puke. No, it wouldn’t do anything to the aesthetics of this alley, but it would ruin her mission. Reynolds would take it as a compliment if she spewed, thinking his dick had choked her, but she plain and simple wouldn’t be able to get back on him, and there was no way he’d spill any of his knowledge without prodding of some sort.

He pulled her hard off and then back onto his cock, getting it deeper in her throat. This time she held her breath until he let up. When he did, she took a couple of gulps of air through her mouth so she didn’t have to smell him before he impaled her face again.

“Fuck, girl,” he groaned. She had him.

She pulled the note out of her pants with one hand and cradled his balls with her other. The only way this could go wrong was if he couldn’t read, but she tested him before they came out there, feigning she’d forgotten her glasses and needing him to read a sign for her. He rattled off the fine print with no problem, so this plan should work.

“What’s this?” he asked as she handed him the note.

She stayed deep, her hand tightening on his balls. She felt more than heard his intake of breath. It was short but sweet, at least from her point of view.

It read: “You pull away or hit me, I clench and twist. Tell me about the Carnival of Sin.”

Though she had confidence in her ability to handle him however he chose to react, he still caught her by surprise. Instead of acting, he blubbered.

“They’ll kill me.”

She raised her eyebrows in a way she hoped portrayed, “So will I.”

He got it, and he gave her a curt nod. Then, more to himself, he muttered, “Women the weaker sex, my ass.”

Heart squeezed his balls, not hard, but enough so he knew she wasn’t being playful. She also bit down on the base of his cock, again not enough to cause any real pain, but it got his attention.

“Okay, okay. At least they won’t neuter me before they rip my throat out. I’d ask if you’re sure about getting mixed up with that bunch, but I think you deserve them. Why don’t you pull your mouth off my Johnson and tell me what you already know.

Ha! Nice try. She squeezed his scrotum, this time twisting it a little. She also rubbed her molars over the head of his cock.

“Ow, shit, stop. Okay, I’ll tell you everything I know. But, I swear, it’s not much.”

“Lie and I munch,” she said, not sure how clear it came out with her mouth full of his cock. He got the message.

“Yeah, no, I’ll tell you the truth. I’m fucked either way. It’s a place for people who want to die. To get one more, or maybe even their first, taste of the perverse. You can show up the first time and watch, but if you blab, you’re dead. Don’t ask me how. All I know is it’s the worst way to go. I’m one of their cleaners, so I’ve seen the aftermath. Those people are tortured and killed in the worst ways possible.”

Heart knew all this already. She bit down to get him to continue. The sicko was still rock hard in her mouth, and she had a feeling a few quick tugs would bring out his jism-storm. She held as still as possible.

“If you get invited back and choose to attend, you’re forced to participate. Those who want to die are given some sort of drug that dulls everything but their pleasure, even with the killing blow. That’s how it happens each time, however often they do it; I don’t know. The only time it’s any different is on Demon’s Night, which happens a few times a year. That’s when those who want to meet the masters are allowed to run the gauntlet. If they survive and finish whatever goals they’re given, without the use of the pleasure drug, they get the honor of meeting the masters. I don’t have a clue what goes on then, I swear. I assume it’s to join the group, but that’s nothing but a guess on my part.”

This tub of shit wasn’t giving her what she needed. “How do I get my invitation?” Was that understandable? Probably not, with his dick still hard in her mouth, but he picked up the gist of it.

“I can’t help you, I swear. I don’t have anything to do with the invites. I don’t even have a name for you to follow up on. I’m not bullshitting you, I promise.”

The quaking fear in his voice proved he told the truth. Though it disappointed her he couldn’t give her a free pass to the front of the line, so to speak, she could do nothing more about it tonight. All in the same motion, she reached into her boot, pulled out her trusty switchblade, and disengaged from his cock. Before he could do anything, she slit his throat deep. He gargled and fell to his knees, confusion dancing behind his eyes. Then the lights went out and he crumbled to the dirty pavement.

“You weren’t living through this, and that was a lot more humane than me biting off your cock.” She wiped her knife on his shirt, made sure no one had witnessed any of it, and headed out of the alleyway.

End of Chapter One

I hope you enjoyed the sneak peak at Carnival of Sin! Let me know what you think. I will, of course, have links on Tuesday when you can buy or download it. Until next time, be good humans!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Outlining Short Stories

Hello Lovelies!

Been a while since I've written a blog post, so let's make the most of it! I decided today to talk about how I plot my short stories. I always make myself an outline, or I find I never finish the story. I'm definitely not a pantser (someone who writes their first draft by the seat of their pants)! But what does it mean to make an outline? It's certainly not the old roman numeral, followed by uppercase letters, followed by numbers, followed by lowercase letters that many of us learned in school (though it can be if you like). No, an outline can be as structured or messy as you want it to be. Basically, if you write down a road map to your story of any kind, you've created an outline.

I start, of course, with a basic idea of what I want to write. After I have that, I freewrite. What does that mean? Basically, I start writing any idea that pops into my brain about what I want the overall story to be about, how I want it to start, how I want it to end, what should be in the middle, and everything else! There is no structure to this, and often thoughts stop midway through if I don't like the direction it's going. In fact, I rarely even look back at this freewrite exercise. I only do it to get my mind focused on the story. And, of course, if I do want to check back later, it's right there, either in my notebook or my Scrivener file. 

Once I'm happy with the direction and ideas for the story, I open a clean file (or turn to a fresh piece of paper if I'm writing old school) and summarize my story from start to finish. I try to do it all in one sitting, and since it's a short story, it doesn't need to be too long. I try not to add too many descriptions, dialogue, or anything else in my outline except the bare-bones of the story. I do this because it gives me more freedom during the actual first-draft writing. (And, yes, later during the first draft, if a better idea comes along, I'm not afraid to deviate from the outline even if it is sometimes a major pain in the buns.)

After I've finished this outline, I read it over again to make sure the story flows, and then add or delete things to make it the best story it can be. Basically, I have a summary of my story, with each scene in its own paragraph. Since I use Scrivener, it's easy to put it in its own window/column/whatever it's called so I can have it right there in front of me as I type. Of course, you'll have an easy way to do this with whatever program you use, including pen and paper. That simple process has done the job of both getting my mind focused on the story and building a structure that allows me to add plenty to as I write the actual story. Even though I've added a few steps to my story before I've even began, I find the writing goes so much faster and smoother. I know what I'm up against before I start, rather than trying to figure it out as I go.

It also makes the editing process easier, in my opinion. Since I have the story structured how I want it, I simply need to make sure the story reads smoothly for the reader. (Even so, I do have a whole routine when it comes to editing, but that can be the focus of a future post!) I've basically handled the editing of the structure before I wrote word-one on the first draft. Easy-peasy!  

So that's how I do it for my short stories. Feel free to copy my process if it helps you - it's why I posted it! Or take a bit of it. Or scoff and say your way is better. Whatever helps! Thank you for reading, and I'll see you soon!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Coming Soon - HORSE-ing Around

Hello Lovelies!

EDIT: It's available on Amazon here!

By this time tomorrow (later afternoon Pacific Daylight Time), my newest short story, HORSE-ing Around, should be available for you on Amazon. As always for my shorts (this one ~10k words), it will be available to purchase as a Kindle book for 99¢ or as a free download if you're a member of the Kindle Unlimited program. I will, of course, have the link for you when it's available. For now, check out the description and cover image. I hope you enjoy the read!


19 year old Carrie Garcia hates her boyfriend, Dylan, but she doesn’t want to break up with him because of how great he is in bed. After he humiliates her yet again, she realizes she’s had enough. While he heads for the gym, and doesn’t invite her, she drives to the campus basketball court to shoot away her anger. As fate would have it, a totally hot nice guy, a welcome change from Dylan, also chooses to shoot baskets on that Saturday night. Instead of simply chucking up shots, they decide it would be fun to play a game of HORSE. The added bonus? The one who gets a letter also has to answer a personal question.

Can a random game of HORSE really lead to true love? Reveal a soul mate? Carrie thinks it might. Will this nice guy, Jay, think the same thing after Carrie reveals more of her past, why she’s still with Dylan? She thinks he might be her true love, but he needs to agree for that to work. What will the game reveal?

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April Fools' Foolishness!

Hello Lovelies!

I decided to share one of my favorite (long) jokes with everyone today. I can't give a source for it, as I heard it from a manager in the bookstore I worked at in the late 90s. (Yes, a bookstore! Remember those! 😉) I only heard it the one time, but it stuck with me. So, in honor of April Fools' Day, and with a little bit of flair (I hope), here you go!

There was once a woman named Barb. Barb was your typical, everyday office drone, doing the 9 to 5 thing. The thing that got Barb through life with at least a little bit of a smile were clowns. Now, quite a few people have a phobia of clowns, but not Barb. Heck, she even wanted to meet that creepy old clown Pennywise in the iconic Stephen King story, IT. 

One day while taking the bus into work, she found an ad mixed in with his Twitter feed that said a huge circus was coming to town. And not only that, but touring with the circus was the the reigning ten-time winner of World's Greatest Clown competition, Horatio the Hilarious. Barb almost spilled her coffee when she read it, but she knew people would look at her if she did, so she kept himself in check.

On the day the tickets went on sale, Barb made sure to buy what she considered to be the best seat in the house. Maybe front-row-center was a bit of a misnomer since the show would take place in a circular arena, but it was the best one in her opinion. Now she only had to get through the next two months before the show actually got to town.

As it always does, time moved forward, and before she knew it, Barb was first in line to get into the arena. She normally watched what she ate and how much she spent, but today was a special day. Horatio the Hilarious didn't come to town often, after all! She purchased a collector's edition program, a pennant to wave during the show, a big floppy bonnet complete with a water-squirting flower, a couple of reusable shopping bags--one for Horatio, and the other for the circus itself--and a few random buttons and pins.

And let's not forget the scrumptious food! She bought a corn dog, a big box of Cracker Jacks, a tub of buttered popcorn, a bag of cotton candy, and a few caramel apples. No, she couldn't eat it all now, but so much of it would taste just as good at home, and she could remember the fun she had at the circus when she ate the treats. Of course she also got a ginormous soda in a take-home souvenir cup. What could be better?

Barb rarely liked to talk to people, but she made an exception at the circus. A young family sat to her left, and an older couple on her right, and she enjoyed spending the time chatting both up before the show started. Of course, when the lights dimmed and fanfare started, all of her attention went to the floor where the action would take place.

It was a glorious circus. Two hours of acrobats, magicians, high-fliers, trained animals, and a gaggle of clowns. She loved every second, but she saved up her most thunderous round of applause. Horatio the Hilarious, after all, hadn't yet made his appearance. 

At last, after all the other performers moved off-stage, the lights went dark for a minute or two, and then the unmistakable clown music, March of the Gladiators--doot-doot-doodle-doodle-doot-doot-do-do--sounded, and a spotlight picked up a clown struggling to keep upright on a unicycle. Of course, there was nothing uncoordinated about it, as he "accidentally" did tricks that no one but a master could pull off. After a few minutes of this, he tumbled head-over-heels and landed as gracefully as could be. The crowd, including Barb, went nuts for the great Horatio the Hilarious. 

Horatio put on a thirty minute show of non-stop tricks, tumbles, and hilarity. To end his set, he walked up into the audience. Barb's breath caught in her throat. He was coming straight for her! Both he and the spotlight stopped next to her. She felt the eyes of everyone in the arena boring into her. She wanted to say something to Horatio, a quick thank you or anything to show she appreciated everything he'd done, how he made her life that much brighter. Before she could get anything out, though, Horatio spoke.

"Excuse me, ma'am. Are you the horse's head?"

You could have heard a pin drop in the arena waiting for her answer, but she had no idea how to respond. All she could do was shake her head, getting her over-sized bonnet to flop around, and say, "I...I don't know."

"You don't know if you're the horse's head?"

A few titters now sounded out around the quiet arena, but she still didn't know how to respond. All she could say was, "No."

"Then you must be the horse's ass!"

The arena erupted in laughter, including Horatio's iconic bray. Everyone thought it was the best joke ever. Everyone, that is, except Barb. She tried her best to slink down in her seat so no one would look at her. Luckily, at that moment, Horatio took his final bows and earned a standing ovation. She took that chance to flee the arena, leaving behind all her souvenirs and left-over snacks. She didn't want any of it any longer. She even stuffed the bonnet into a trash can on her way out. 

She had to call in sick to work on Monday and Tuesday because she was so distraught. Her hero had humiliated her. Sure, if it had happened to someone else, she probably would have laughed like a loon and thought nothing of the feelings of the recipient, but it hadn't been someone else. It had been her.

Finally, late Tuesday night, as she browsed the Internet, she came across an ad for an Internet clown school. Even though the image of Horatio the Horrible, as she now thought of him, graced the page, she still took notice. Maybe she could become a clown and hide her tears behind laughter. She signed up right away, and received her welcome package via email less than five minutes later. After pouring through the material, she felt well enough to go back to work the next day. 

The next year-and-a-half were the busiest of Barb's life. She worked her 9 to 5 job like always, but on her coffee breaks, lunch break, commutes, and, of course, for hours after work, she dug into the on-line clown college tasks. Thanks to .pdf booklets, links to YouTube videos, and local seminars on the weekends, she learned how to make exotic balloon animals, ride a unicycle (both in general, and later with style), create hilarious practical jokes, tumble, shoot water out of fake flowers with incredible accuracy, and everything else a clown needed to do to garner laughs. But the thing that Barb proved best at, something that surprised even her, was coming up with snappy comebacks. She couldn't ever do it before, but she found when she wore the iconic clown makeup, it brought out the best in her.

She dominated the snappy comeback school forums. She cracked everyone up, even the instructors, at the weekend seminars. She even traveled to the school's headquarters in Walla-Walla (California, not Washington) and decimated the head clowns with her biting humor. She soon became known as Ms. Snappy Comeback, and she started to draw media attention. She went on the talk-show circuit, became the special guest on stand-up nights in prestigious comedy clubs, and even began getting guest spots on major television shows and movies. Before long, she no longer needed the makeup to make her biting and hilarious quips. That's when her career, first as a star in sit-coms on television, and then in staring roles in major motion picture blockbusters started coming her way. Needless to say, her times in the cubicles was over, and life couldn't be sweeter. She supposed she owed it all to that clown Horatio the Horrible, who she had, thank goodness, never again run into.

After almost a decade of being on top, Barb decided to take a break. She returned to her hometown and settled into a nice routine. Of course, when she went out shopping or to dinner or anything else, people loved it when she zinged them. They'd make sure their friends got it on video before having her sign a receipt or napkin or something. They loved it, and Barb enjoyed making people happy.

Then, one fateful Tuesday afternoon, Barb saw that the circus was coming to town. The same one that had brought about her new life. Not only that, but it was coming to the same arena, and Horatio the Hilarious was even coming out of retirement for the tour. She honestly hadn't given the horrible clown any thought in a few years, so she decided she could let bygones be bygones and enjoy the show. But wouldn't you know it? When the tickets went on sale, she found she could purchase the same exact seat she'd been in that day. She snatched it up, and a plan formed.

When the day of the circus came, she didn't go overboard with the treats, ordering only a deep-fried corn dog, a tub of popcorn, and a medium soda. She grabbed a poster and a few pins and buttons. Why not, right? She had a pretty extensive collection of both contemporary and vintage circus souvenirs. Hey, everyone needed a hobby, and hunting for such gems was hers. 

The circus went pretty much the same as the one ten years prior. Sure, there were new tricks and such, and she enjoyed the heck out of it all, but a circus was a circus. Besides, she was waiting for Horatio, and hoped he'd choose her to try to humiliate again. From everything she'd researched on the Internet, his set was pretty similar to the one from those ten years ago.

Before she knew it, the circus proper was over, and Horatio the Hilarious made his appearance. Like before, he came out on a unicycle, and though she tried to find fault in his acting, she couldn't. He looked as smooth and practiced in his foolishness as he had then. In fact, he didn't look to have missed a beat at all in his retirement. Despite herself, Barb had to admit she enjoyed his performance immensely. 

Then came the moment of truth. His act had come to its end except for the one bit of audience participation. Like before, Horatio headed right towards Barb. She thought for a second he might choose another seat, but like had happened ten years prior, he and the spotlight stopped right in front of her. This time she held no nerves.

"Excuse me, ma'am, but are you the horse's head?"

Same joke. Not that it mattered anymore. Barb stood, and as she did, the quiet audience, waiting for the poor woman in the front row to be humiliated, instead recognized her as Ms. Snappy Comeback. Even Horatio noticed, as his painted eyes grew wide in fear. Soon word had spread around the entire arena, and everyone knew what was going on in the spotlight.

Barb, now completely immersed in her Ms. Snappy Comeback role, leaned forward, tilted the microphone in Horatio's collar towards her, and said... 

"Fuck you, Clown!"