How I Got Into It

December 20, 2013

 
As a pre-Internet adolescent, I was intensely curious about sex but had no access to information beyond the Song of Songs and Merriam-Webster, which if you recall, gets old pretty fast.

When I was 15, I discovered a stash of Penthouse magazines in my parents’ garage. 

The photos were beautiful, hazy snapshots from the 1970’s.  The women were fresh and soft-looking, with aggressive tan lines, sandy hair, pastel chiffon nighties, and all-natural lady gardens.

Better than the photos, however, were the Penthouse Forum and letters to Xaviera Hollander--letters reportedly from everyday adults giving glimpses into the secret world of sex.  I was fascinated.
 
This image appeared at the beginning of Xaviera Hollander's column.
Later on, I borrowed Anais Nin books from the library.  I read The Story of O, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and anything dirty I could get my hands on.

I read this one, too.  It was nassssty.  By Georges Bataille.
 I enjoyed the titillation and shock value of these stories, but always felt something was missing.  I couldn’t put my finger on it until I realized I was having the reader’s equivalent of one night stands with dirty books—I had no emotional connection to the stories.  I was like an observer standing by with a clipboard and a penlight. 
 
Anais Nin.  Image from tumblr.com.
In an attempt to capture what was missing, I wrote a couple of erotica short stories and submitted them to Clean Sheets, who to my alarm and delight selected and published them in 2006. 

Four years later, I was 30 and recovering from an illness when I picked up my first romance novel. 

My husband loves this podcast called Too Beautiful to Live.  Sometimes they do live shows.  We attended one at the Troubadour in L.A. in 2010 and one of the co-hosts, Jen Andrews, did a funny bit on books she’d found at Laundromats.   One of them was a silly Scottish historical wherein a bride’s bloody wedding night sheets are flown over a castle like a flag. 

“Ew,” said my husband.

Out of curiosity, I bought a couple of Scottish romances on my Kindle.  I was fully prepared to get a lot of solid laughs out of them.  But these were by Maya Banks, and I was blown away by how much giddy fun they were to read.  


Intrigued, I read more historicals before making the jump to contemporaries.  Before I knew it, I had become a voracious reader of romance novels.

When I began reading hotter erotic romances--Ruthie Knox, Sylvia Day, Stephanie Draven, the Beautiful Bastard series--I finally found the deadly combination I was looking for: loads of hot Penthouse Forum-style sex woven into a sweet love story, tortured longing, insurmountable odds, and a happy ending. 

Eureka.  Stories with brain, heart, guts, and gonads.

So I started writing erotic romance.  Since November 2012, I’ve completed two first drafts for a trilogy and am currently working on the third.  Meanwhile, I’ve had some success with short stories in anthologies, selling pieces to Circlet Press, Cleis Press, and Go Deeper Press. 

I know I have so much to learn.  The writers who have built their careers in this place impress me continually with their knowledge, skill, and business sense.  This is not a place to dick around (well, in the time wasting sense) and I am a fangirl noob who swallows every piece of knowledge I can get.  In the last year, I joined my local RWA chapter, found a mentor, joined a few forums, and signed up for some classes. 

*UPDATE*

Happy new year!  Lots has happened since this post first went up.  On the business side, I attended my first RWA national convention, participated in pitches, found critique partners and made my first real contacts in the publishing industry. 

To my giddy delight, I finaled in a fistful of contests.  I connected with readers and made friends.  I left my day job in June to pursue writing full time and it was like turning a karmic corner.  Good stuff came cascading down from above.

I'm so excited to be sharing my writing with you.  I've got lots of things in the works, including a new sequel to Cowboy Cocktail and a couple of *gasp* full-length novels.   Stay tuned, friends!  2015 is going to be a bang-up year! <3