Sunday, April 18, 2010

Excerpt Monday - April

Once a month, a bunch of authors get together and post excerpts from published books, contracted work or works in progress, and link to each other. You don’t have to be published to participate–just a writer with an excerpt you’d like to share. For more info on how to participate, head over to the Excerpt Monday site! or click on the banner above.

My excerpt is from Queen Bee, one of my Wicked shorts at Cobblestone Press.

"Got big plans for the weekend, Daisy?"

Daisy Cooper glanced up from her computer. Her co-worker, Constance, was leaning over the cubicle wall. The wall clock behind Constance told Daisy it was nearly five. Almost quitting time.

"Oh, you know," Daisy said with a smile. She had plans all right—sex, sex, and more sex. Daisy was a regular at Soixante-Neuf, a local sex club. "Same old, same old."

Constance shook her head in exasperation. "You need to get out more, Daisy. Go on a date occasionally." She glanced around and then said softly, "Maybe even get laid!"

Daisy looked down at her work again, hiding her smile. Constance liked to think of herself as a bad girl, but she'd be shocked to discover the truth about Daisy's pastime. As would Daisy's employers, which was why she kept it under wraps. They wouldn’t understand or approve of her lifestyle—and they weren’t alone.

She'd dated men outside the swinging community. It hadn't gone well. She couldn't have a real relationship with anyone she couldn’t be honest with, but none of her relationships had survived her confession. Most of them broke up with her over her interest in casual sex with other people. Two men had tried joining her in her hobby, but while they'd been extremely enthusiastic about the chance to sleep with other women, they'd been jealous of Daisy’s time with other men, and she’d broken up with them.

The relationships she'd attempted with men from the swinging community hadn't gone much better. The single men she'd gotten close to saw anything more than purely recreational sex as reason to demand monogamy. Once they began thinking of Daisy as “their” girl, they didn't want anyone else to touch her, and she'd written them off—as boyfriends, friends with benefits, or anything else.

After two years of such fiascos, Daisy had sworn off drama. She became a regular at the club, making friends and enjoying the benefits thereof, but she steadfastly refused to dabble in romantic liaisons. It had worked well for her. Or so she told herself when she was feeling lonely. And, if she were honest with herself, she got a secret little kick out of playing the mild-mannered office worker by day, man-eating siren by night. Or on weekends, at any rate.

"I mean it, girl," Constance said. "You're a lovely young woman. I don't know why you insist on hiding your light under a bushel."

Daisy closed the file she'd been updating. "It's always cold in here," she said truthfully. The office was always chilly enough to justify the sweaters and long skirts she wore.

Constance sighed theatrically. "You don't know what you're missing, Daisy." She checked that her computer was shut down and retrieved her purse from a drawer. "Goodnight, dear. See you Monday."

"Goodnight, Constance. Have a nice weekend." I certainly intend to.

* * * * *

Daisy strutted into Soixante-Neuf as if she owned it. Blonde, beautiful, sexy…and alone. She'd exchanged her drab work attire for a midnight blue cheongsam—a form-fitting Chinese dress—and matching heels. She nodded at the man behind the front desk. He knew her well and no longer even asked for her membership card.

The club was moderately crowded, though nowhere near as packed as it would be by midnight. Daisy wasn't the only regular. She waved or called out greetings to men and women across the room. Others approached to give her a hug, a kiss, or a grope. Often all three.

Still others simply watched her, heads turning as she passed. They were newbies or return visitors who knew her only as the gorgeous blonde who showed up every weekend. Maybe one or two of those men would work up the nerve to approach her on any given night. If they did, and if she found them attractive, she might play with them. If not...well, they had only themselves to blame.

"Daisy!" A naked woman with long, curly red hair approached. She was short and busty, with pierced nipples. She was also flushed and sweating, clearly just done fucking someone.

"Emily!" Daisy leaned over to kiss Emily on the cheek, both of them careful to avoid mussing Daisy's dress. "Having fun, I see."

Emily grinned. "You know it!"

Daisy did know. Emily had been one of the first people to befriend her when she'd first braved the club. She'd taken Daisy by the hand and led her around, introducing her to everyone. She'd also spent a lot of time talking to Daisy and answering her questions. She was the only person Daisy knew who was more enthusiastic about swinging than Daisy herself.

They conversed for only a minute before Emily excused herself to shower. Daisy moved on, drifting through the facility to see who was there and what was happening. As usual, not a lot yet—people were socializing, snacking, dancing, playing pool. Maybe indulging in a little grab-ass. The only real action she discovered was in the public play area.

She joined the crowd clustered around a large group bed, their attention focused on a single couple. The crowd around the bed was composed of about equal numbers of men and women. None of them seemed inclined to do more than watch, which they did in an almost eerie silence.

Daisy worked her way into a position to see the couple on the bed. To her utter lack of surprise, she recognized a woman named Lisa crouching over a dark-haired man Daisy didn't know, engaged in sixty-nine. She knew Lisa well. They'd often shared a bed, usually with several other people, but occasionally just the two of them.

Daisy wasn't yet so jaded that watching other people have sex had lost its fascination. She watched along with the rest of the crowd for a few minutes. Individuals and couples drifted away and were replaced by other spectators. Someone slid into position at her side, a tall blond man—six two at least—shirtless but wearing a pair of slacks and shoes. He sensed her attention and smiled at her before he turned his attention back to the show.

Lisa and her playmate continued pleasing one another, seeming oblivious to their audience. Lisa began breathing more loudly and erratically, her attention to her blow job flagging. Daisy wasn't surprised when Lisa raised her head, halting her blow job to shudder all over and make the delighted little noises Daisy had come to know so well. Then, her orgasm over, Lisa resumed her efforts.

The blond man next to her leaned in a little. "They sure seem to be having fun, don't they?"

"They do," she agreed. She waved a hand to indicate the crowd around them. "They seem to be the only ones, though."

He nodded slowly and moved closer. "I've noticed that. It seems to happen a lot. People pay good money to come to these clubs, and then they just sit around and watch. I don't get it."

"We're watching," she pointed out, though she hoped it wouldn't be for much longer.
He acknowledged her point with a minute shrug. "Yeah, but I just got here. What's your excuse?" He grinned. 
"I'm Paul, by the way."

She looked up into his eyes and said, very seriously, "Nobody's asked me yet. I'm Daisy."

Paul leaned in again, close enough that Daisy could feel his breath on her ear. She shivered, desperately horny and eager to join Lisa on that huge bed. "Sometimes," Paul said, "I'm tempted to just announce, 'Everyone who'd rather have sex than watch sex, raise your hand!' Maybe that would get people moving."

She laughed. She knew exactly what he meant. "It might at that."

"What about you?" He stood behind her now, not quite touching her but close enough that she could feel his breath on her ear when he spoke.

"What about me what?" she asked, deliberately drawing him out.

"Wouldn't you rather have sex than watch someone else have it?" Now he did touch her, placing his hands lightly on her hips.

She felt a rush of excitement. She glanced at him over her shoulder, biting her lip as she considered it. He was a good looking man, and his proposition was nicely done.

"Yes," she said. She turned to face him. "I think I would."

Writing The Novel

I'm writing my second novel, as noted in a previous post. I'm averaging more words per day on this one than on the last one. It's a higher per-day average than I've done in anything so far. I ascribe part of it to trying harder to write, write, write every work day. But part of it is that I've gotten better at stifling my interal critic.

I set a kitchen timer for sixty minutes, start it, and begin writing. For the next hour, I write--as non-stop as humanly possible. I don't revise, I don't delete anything and start over. I just write the current scene, transcribing it as simply and explicitly as possible. I try to stay in a "flow" state, trusting my process (or my subconscious, if you will) to be creative and to produce something worthwhile. After all, I have decades of experience at reading and watching fiction. I've soaked up the rules, just the same way I soaked up the English language as a small child, learning by immersion.

Now, like a child learning to speak, practice (and correction) are necessary. But that's what writing every day, and trying to produce workable short stories and novels is: practice. Artists practice. Musicians practice. Actors practice. Athletes practice. World-class examples of each of those spheres practice more than anyone else; they don't practice to get good, then stop. They practice to stay at the top of their game even after they've reached the pinnacle of their professions.

Writing is no different. Every novel, every short story, every scene I write is practice. One of the great things about writing is that you can get paid to practice. Once you've reached minimal level of skill, enough to sell your work, you can continue to practice, and sell the results.

Ideally, I'm doing focused practice, working a specific skill or technique. Whether it's writing convincing dialogue, character voices, plotting, scene description, or some other facet of the writing, I try to focus on one skill or technique and consciously work to use/improve it. In my first novel, I focused on cliffhangers. I tried to end each hour-long writing segment, and each writing day (of several such hour-long writing intervals) on a cliffhanger of sorts. Not necessarily a classic cliffhanger--sometimes I simply stopped in mid-scene, so I could pick up again easily when I started the next writing interval. But I tried to end each scene with a real cliffhanger--a revelation, a threat, or both.

In this novel? Well, I'm not prepared to admit what I'm working on just now. Better not to reveal that until it's done. But there's practice going on.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

April Showers Bring May...Novels?

Yes, they do.

At least in my case they do. As one of my goals for this year is to get at least three and preferably four novels written and into circulation, that means one every quarter (for four). And as April begins the second quarter of 2010, I began work on my second novel this month. Unlike my NaNoWriMo effort in November of last year, I'm aiming for 90,000 words rather than a mere 50,000. At an average of 3,000 words daily (Monday thru Friday) it would take 4.5 weeks to reach 90,000 words--or a little over a month. Assuming I don't make quite that many words daily, it should still see me thru by the end of May at the latest.

The current novel effort is science fiction. I read a fascinating article about people who make a living repossessing aircraft--especially big passenger jets. Immediately I began to envision repossessing starships for a living. Like real world aircraft, they're huge, they're very expensive, and people who buy them on time are sometimes going to default on the payments...and then the bank is going to have to foreclose and take them back. That's a job for a pilot, and for the canny folk who have to track down starships the owners don't want to surrender, and who may try various schemes to keep the starship in their possession regardless of the law.

How will the tale turn out? I have no idea. I'm a seat-of-my-pants writer. I began with a vague idea, and now I'm just seeing where it takes me. Ultimately I'll start to see a story emerge and I can craft it more deliberately into a proper story structure. But for now, I'm just along for the ride to see what happens.