“Write what you know.” It’s the first advice given to new writers, but it’s invariably bad advice if you take it literally. Write what you know doesn’t mean your story has to be a carbon copy of your life. Nobody wants to read that, trust me.
On the contrary, ‘write what you know’ means you have to examine what you know, and also what you can research or learn. Because once you research or learn something, then you know it. Write what you know means you can literally write about anything, so long as you prepare.
Write what you know it also about experience and emotion. So yes, write about your dad’s red Ford Cortina estate with the traffic-light air freshener. Write about the fear of walking into your first gay bar. Write about the gut-wrenching pain you felt when that first woman broke your heart. But also, write about women from 1958, as I am in my upcoming lesbian romance, Big London Dreams. I wasn’t alive then, but I know how it feels to kiss a woman for the first time. To dance with a woman. I can put a magnifying glass on those emotions to hold the reader in the story, then shade in the period details once I’ve researched them.
Don’t be scared to write eras you haven’t lived, jobs you’ve never done, a gender you’ve never lived. Do the research, put yourself in the character’s shoes and truly feel their life. Then you can write what you know, because you know.
You can do a whole lot in seven years. Eat 364 tins of baked beans. Have nine kids. Drink 2,555 pots of nuclear-strength coffee. Watch all of Grey’s Anatomy. Or, you could do what I did and write 18 novels.
I started out slow, with one novel, then another. In the first three years part-time, I eeked out five books. Then something clicked, and I’ve written three novels a year since 2017. It’s taken hard work, discipline and a whole lot of love to get here. Along the way, I’ve learned so much. But every day, I’m working for myself and doing my dream job. I can’t ask for more! What have I learned in the last 84 months? Read on to find out… Continue reading » “Seven Years As An Author: Ten Things I’ve Learned”
When you’re writing a sex scene, it’s important to focus on the emotion and not the body parts. It’s not a biology exam, and nobody is going to thank you for using the word vulva. Trust me.
Sex scenes in romance are like fight scenes or car chases in action-adventure books. They’re essential and highly anticipated. Your characters (and your reader) have to work to get there, and when they eventually reach their peak, it’s your job to ensure nobody is let down.
The key thing is to make your sex scene both sensual and alluring. Describe what’s happening, but do it from the perspective of the character and all that they bring to the scene. What are their hopes? What are can they see, touch, taste, hear? What’s it reminding them of? What are they feeling in their heart now it’s finally happening?
Fingers can slide and caress. Tongues can tantalise and tease. Lube can be popped and pressed. Everything the character thought they once knew can be rewritten. Sex scenes should move the story forward. They should reflect what has gone before and what’s possible from here on in. Your characters have just taken things to the next level. Show it all.
Remember, you’re not playing a game of Sex Twister: no crazy moves required. Don’t use coarse or flowery language as that will throw your reader out of the story. Keep it real, but elevate it to a almost-perfect reality. Make sure senses tingle and stars collide. It’s all in the build-up, all in the emotion. The first kiss, the first touch, the loaded look that tips your character over the edge. Romance and sex go hand in hand, so don’t be scared of writing a sex scene. Instead, put yourself in your character’s shoes and write from the heart. Embrace it. Have fun with it.
And don’t for one second think about the fact your parents might read it.
Welcome to episode 68 of the Lesbian Book Club where I interview UK author Kirsty Eyre. Her first novel, Cow Girl, won the inaugural Comedy Women in Print Award and a publishing contract with Harper Collins. Kirsty talks about how she stumbled into writing late, but is now fully embracing the world of novel-writing. Throughout lockdown she’s been juggling home schooling, a new puppy, a day job and trying to write her next three books. No pressure!
As usual, I also do a run-down of the Amazon Lesbian Fiction charts in the US & UK, as well as updating you on the latest news of lesbian fiction conferences & awards season. I’m currently deep in draft two of my next book, Big London Dreams, which is available for pre-order now.
Are you doing Jae’s Sapphic Reading Challenge 2021? If not, maybe you should consider it! There are prizes on offer, as well as the chance to read more widely and be introduced to a ton of new books and authors. Plus, if you join her Facebook group, you could even chat about the books you’ve read with other like-minded readers, too. It’s a triple win!
How does it work? In Jae’s own words: “The goal is to read sapphic books that fit as many of the 50 categories listed as possible. You can read ebooks, paperbacks, or audiobooks; and they can be new-to-you books or re-reads. I’ll post book recommendations for a new category once a week. Of course, you could also just read whatever books you want and then, afterwards, see what categories they fit into. Depending on how many sapphic books you manage to read in 2021, you can earn different badges and book prizes.”
Basically, read books that fit certain tropes, and there are prizes to be had! Plus, you get to call yourself a Book Penguin, a Book Dragon or even a Book Unicorn.
Jae has 50 categories to tick off in her challenge, so I thought I’d list my books and what category they fit in. I’ve got 18 novels, and there are 50 categories. I might miss some matches, but I’m going to do the absolute best I can, and hopefully it might help you to fill your challenge card and puff your reading muscles. Ready? Here goes…
Continue reading » “Jae’s Sapphic Reading Challenge: Start Here!”
So let’s get this out of the way first: 2020. Crikey bananas, what a year. I went into it full of optimism, but after March, things took a decided turn for the worst. But for all the terrible things around the world, business-wise at least, 2020 was my best year yet. I know. I’m not going to dwell on the pandemic, divisive politics and racism: 2020 had them all. This blog entry is going to see how 2020 was for me professionally. Did I hit my goals? Did I publish books? Did I survive? If you want to know the sticky details, read on… Continue reading » “My Goals For 2020: How Did I Do?”
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Sort of. I mean, 2020 is testing us all. But there is still mulled wine, chocolates and twinkly lights. So let’s run with it. I adore the run-up to Christmas: late November and all of December are my absolute faves, and the thing I love most are Christmas movies. Unexpected snow storm? Tick. Stuck in a picturesque cabin with an impossibly good-looking stranger? Tick. Been summoned home to deal with a family crisis, and whaddayaknow, you bump into your first love? Tick, tickety, tick!
But much as I love Christmas movies, what I wouldn’t give for a few more with two women in the starring romantic roles – and that’s where queer Christmas books come in! Festive stories abound this time of year, so if you want your fix of yuletide love with some women at the helm, step this way. Here are my picks for a lesbian Christmas tale, best served with mulled wine and a Lindt Santa…
Continue reading » “Best Lesbian Christmas Books!”
2020 has been a phenomenal year for my ebook sales, led by the huge breakout success of Before You Say I Do. Up until early December, the ebook was only available to buy or rent on Kindle or Kindle Unlimited. However, at the start of the month I put the romance for sale wide across all platforms. That means that however you read, you can now buy Before You Say I Do around the world! Continue reading » “Before You Say I Do Available Everywhere!”
Welcome to episode 65 of the Lesbian Book Club where I interview US author Haley Cass. Haley’s debut novel Those Who Wait took the lesbian fiction world by storm this year, along with its follow-up Forever And A Day. Her new book, When You Least Expect It is currently thrilling lesbian romance readers around the world, too.
She talks about how her debut started life as a Game Of Thrones fanfic, and how blown away she still is by the reaction from readers. She also talks about how her favourite part of writing is the angst – when characters truly have to face their fears: “Break-ups and their aftermath are the first things that go in my outline. I’m always ready to write those.”
As usual I do a run-down of the Amazon Lesbian Fiction charts in the US & UK. My new book, Christmas In Mistletoe, is riding high in the charts alongside Haley’s, which is perfect timing!
Enjoy the podcast, and I’ll be back with a festive special before Christmas!
I come bearing jingly-jangly news: Christmas In Mistletoe, my brand-new festive lesbian romance, is out now!
You’re going to love this book because:
1. It’s set in a village called Mistletoe & features a Christmas tree farm. I know!
2. The story is a gorgeous enemies-to-lovers romance.
3. It’s got a hot singer, delicious simmering attraction, plus a scorching first kiss.
4. There are snowball fights, mulled wine and twinkly lights, plus a sparkling array of locals.
5. The story is gift-wrapped with emotion, and guaranteed to give you the Christmas feels. All of them. Proper head-to-toe tingles.
It’s been five years since my last Christmas romance, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that this one was worth the wait. I hope you enjoy the story of Fran and Ruby! Do let me know what you think.
Buy Christmas In Mistletoe by clicking here!