Sex with a Stranger: Chapter Two


Rule #2: No morning afters

Fletcher woke slowly, not because it was morning – although it was – or because the light was peeking through the blinds – and it was, too – but because he was cold. The sheets were still beneath him and he was naked. It took him a moment to remember where he was and why.

“Jane?” he called out but the air was still and he wasn’t sure how he knew but he could tell she was long gone. He should at the very least have had fond memories but instead, like a typical man, he’d lived the dream – a beautiful, anonymous woman offering sex without strings – and all he could think about was seeing her again. He checked the bedside tables and the desk on the other side of the room for a note, a scrap of paper with her phone number on it, but there was nothing.

A knock on the door sounded and his hopes briefly climbed before he realised she wouldn’t need to knock – it was her room. Continue reading

Sex with a Stranger: Chapter One


Rule #1: No real names

Sadie Van Der Zee stood outside the bar, inhaling the cold air and steeling herself. She felt this every time. The excitement that verged on anxiety. The butterflies that started in her stomach, then fluttered lower and lower. The sense that she shouldn’t go in and the knowledge that she would anyway. She took a final deep breath, patted the dark brown curls that were normally dead straight and stepped in through the street-facing entrance.

Inside it was dark and crowded. The only lights were on the walls at intervals that meant they didn’t illuminate much. The effect was a muted feeling; long shadows fell from the patrons who were standing and over those who were sitting. It made it hard to distinguish features – one dark-haired man looked a lot like the next. But Sadie found the dark-haired man she was looking for on her first scan.

He was standing at the far end nearest the other entryway to the bar, the one that led into the reception of the adjoining hotel. He looked a little different from his photograph – broader shoulders, clean shaven, better dressed – which surprised her a little. Usually, the reality couldn’t live up to the promise. Even Sadie looked better in her online profile than she did in real life. She felt those butterflies again as she thought about peeling his shirt from his shoulders and seeing if they matched what she was imagining. Continue reading

Practice Novels: Not Just for the Start of a Writer’s Career


In my late teens and early twenties, I wrote three novels that I like to refer to as my practice novels. At the time that I was writing them, I didn’t realise that I was just practising. It was only after they were complete that I knew they weren’t good enough, they weren’t the genre I wanted to pursue and they were unlikely to ever see the light of day.

I published the sex scene from the last of them, Liberty’s Secret, in 2015 in conjunction with a blog post on writing sex scenes, mostly to demonstrate that I’m not very good at writing sex scenes. It was full of euphemisms, the highs and lows of waves and crashing, and an overblown sense of emotion. Certainly, it was completely devoid of accurate names for genitalia. (That’s one of the big no-no’s of the romance genre I was attempting to write in.) And I published the entire book chapter by chapter on this blog earlier in 2017, just because… well, why not? I hate wasting writing.

I thought that was the end of my practice novels. But when I sat down to watch the movie of Fifty Shades of Grey, despite its flaws, I realised these genres and sex scenes more generally aren’t going anywhere. They are popular. And if done well, they can be important components of plot and character development. So I could continue avoiding them in my writing or I could try to get better.

Yes, more than twenty-five years after beginning my writing career and after publishing three books, I decided to write another practice novel. I had no intention of attempting to publish it for profit, just to improve on this writing area. Continue reading

How to Psych Yourself into Writing a Book


After I wrote close to one hundred blog posts in 2015 about developing ideas, characters and plots, writing, editing, publishing, marketing and reading, I realised I had written enough to fill a book. And when I collated them all together, I realised it flowed nicely enough to seem like I’d done it on purpose. I’d written a book without even trying to write a book. That’s how Project December: A Book About Writing was born.

After I published Project December, I continued writing blog posts in the same vein but, of course, this time I knew I was heading towards writing a sequel. Why wouldn’t I? It had been so easy last time. I even wrote a blog post called, “How to write a book without even trying.”

The problem was that because I knew I was heading towards another book, it wasn’t going to be the same process. I wasn’t going to be able to write a book without even trying. Because I was trying to write a book.

I set a deadline for myself but as it approached, I knew for various reasons that I was never going to make it. Life, work and other pieces of writing were getting in the way.

Instead of giving up, I told myself that the deadline wasn’t important. I was the only person who knew it and I was the only person who would know it was going to pass by unmet. The important thing was that I eventually finished writing the book, regardless of whenever that time came.

So I just kept writing. I wrote when I had something to say. I wrote when I felt like it. I wrote when I had nothing else scheduled. And before I knew it, in less than two months, the first draft was finished. It only took one month more for the text to be finalised. How, I asked myself, did that happen? How, when I was so sure it would never happen in that time frame? Continue reading

The Choice Not to Publish


You came up with a great idea, you worked hard to punch our chapter after chapter, you agonised over the ending, you reworked and rewrote and edited it, you paid for a manuscript assessment, you reworked and rewrote and edited it again, you asked your family and friends for feedback, then reworked and rewrote and edited it a few more times. The final step is to publish… so why might you choose not to go ahead and do it?

These days anyone can publish – self-publishing has seen to that. A monkey might not yet be able to write the complete works of Shakespeare but self-publishing is so easy I’m convinced the monkey would be able to self-publish them. So it’s not a matter of not being able to. It’s a matter of whether you should. It’s a hard decision because it requires as much objectivity as you can muster and absolute honesty. And that’s because the simple fact that something creative exists is not a good enough reason for it be released to the general public. Continue reading

Advice to a Young Writer


Five years ago, as a favour, I did a manuscript assessment for a young, first-time writer, someone I had known all his life. I didn’t charge for it and reading it back now I wonder if I went a little harder than I would have had he been a paying customer. Perhaps it was just that I was still in my brutally honest phase. (That’s assuming I’m not still in it – the jury’s out.)

But for any young writers willing to take advice on board, there were a lot of really good ideas on how he could become a better writer. If you’re a young writer or even just a beginner, maybe there’s something in there for you. Hopefully, there’s something in there for all of us. Continue reading

There’s No Such Thing As An Aspiring Writer


Every time I see someone describing themselves as an aspiring writer, I want to shout at them, “There’s no such thing! Being a writer is like being pregnant – you either are or you aren’t. So are you writing or not?” Because if you write, you’re a writer. And if you don’t, then you’re not. Continue reading