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>Productive week. April 28, 2010

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in queue, writing.
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>So, I’ve had a productive week so far, and it’s only Wednesday. A query for Nomad’s Moon went off to Immanion Press. Infernal Machine is done, and went off to the beta readers two days ago. And I’ve almost finished revising Prince of Air. The initial revision that removed the sex scenes and attempted to make it a mainstream fantasy story was a mistake. I know that now. Putting the sex back is making it a better story again. Maybe now I can sell it.

Very productive. Now to sell the finished works.

The updated queue:

To Write:

* Haunts (Shadow Unit story, in progress)
* House of Sable Locks (novel, in progress)
* Wanderer’s Moon (next book in the Midnight Moon series. Currently on hold.)
* Drum Mage
* Professional virgin story (no title as of yet)
* Wandering star story

To Revise

* Prince of Air

To Outline

* Sea Prince (outline in progress)
* Coral Throne
* Hidden Things

To Sell

* Nomad’s Moon
* Exile’s Moon
* Infernal Machine

>Happy International Pixel Stained Technopeasant Day! April 23, 2010

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in excerpt, ipstp, writing.
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>Happy IPSTP Day!

For my offering, here’s an excerpt from my short story “Darkest Night” which will be included in the Circlet Press anthology Apocalypse Sex.

***

Darkest Night

They say that things are darkest before the dawn.

They’re wrong.

We know it for a fact now. Things are darkest right before the lights go out for the last time. Things are pretty dark now, as we wait for the end.

It was the middle of ship’s night when we learned of it. Often, in the night, I amuse myself by scanning for fossil signals from transmissions sent out into the dark who knows how long ago. It was only luck that I found this one. I listened to it once, and then went to wake Tariq, my captain.

I found him on the ceiling, entangled with his lover, Marcus. Marcus was still new to us, nominally brought on board just over a month ago as an all-around engineer. I never begrudge Tariq his lovers. I want him to be happy, and while there are many things that an A.I can do, cuddling isn’t one of them. Marcus was just Tariq’s type: intelligent, eloquent, as pretty to look at as a nebula cloud, and sexually insatiable.

I was quiet for a long time, a minute at least; I so enjoyed watching them together. The contrast between Marcus’ station-bred pallor and Tariq’s darkness was wonderful to watch, especially when they came together in this position, each of them pleasuring the other. I could tell that Tariq was enjoying himself immensely, and I hated to disturb him.

“Tariq,” I called, softly at first, then a little louder when he didn’t respond. I heard Marcus grunt past a mouthful of Tariq, then saw his eyes widen as the two of them rotated past my sensors. He was scowling, and I knew that I’d once again raised his ire.

“Tariq,” I repeated. This time I heard him react, saw his head fall back, away from Marcus’ cock. He groaned softly.

“…better… better be good…” he mumbled.

“I’m picking up a fossil signal, Tariq. I think it may be important.”

He groaned again, his eyes closing in pleasure as Marcus did something that I couldn’t see. Then he slapped Marcus’ bare ass, “Stop that, you.”

Marcus let go and floated away, reaching out to grab at a handhold and pull himself towards the wall, “Come on, lover. Why’d you have to go spoil our fun?”

“Because Moira wouldn’t interrupt without cause,” Tariq launched himself across the cabin and pulled a jumpsuit out of his locker. “I’ll make it up to you.”

“You listen to that damned machine more than you listen to me.” Marcus turned away from Tariq, finding his own clothes where they’d come to rest next to the air vent. “Tariq, if you loved me, you’d turn that thing off like I asked. It gives me the creeps, having that… machine watching us all the time.”

Tariq is many things, but tactful is not one of them. He stared at Marcus for a minute, then burst out laughing. “You’re joking!” he sputtered finally. “Moira’s run this ship for fifteen years. I’d be lost without her, and I’m not crippling the Taraqa to cater to your whims.”

Tariq jaunted out into the corridor, so he didn’t see Marcus’ face go red. I did, but I ignored it, following Tariq out to the command deck and waiting for him to take his place on his couch.

“Should I wait for Marcus?” I asked.

“No. Let me hear this.” He leaned back and closed his eyes, and I knew that he was listening with all of his attention. I started the saved transmission:

“…unknown origins… wave of incredible strength… all worlds utterly destroyed… all ships vaporized… cannot outrun… speed near ‘c’… evacuate all stations… warn all colonies… possibility of survival slim… must take shelter as deep as possible beneath planet surface… God have mercy on our souls…”

The signal faded to white noise, and I cut it off.

Tariq opened his eyes, his eyes troubled, “Origin and time stamp?”

“The signal seems to have originated in the Gamma Epsilon system, time stamped eight months, five days and sixteen hours ago,” I answered. Tariq frowned, and I could tell he was thinking hard. It would only annoy him if I interrupted, so I remained silent. Marcus didn’t.

“Tariq!” Marcus had stopped just inside the doorway, gripping the handhold there so tightly that his knuckles were white. “You need to make a choice,” he said, his words tightly clipped. “If you want me, then that… abomination has to go. Otherwise, I’m leaving at our next port-of-call.”

Tariq turned his couch so that he faced the door, “Marcus, we have more important things to worry about. Moira, play that again.”

I replayed the transmission, and Marcus looked at Tariq, obviously confused, “What was that?”

“Apparently, the end of the human race,” Tariq answered quietly.

On perverts, hypocrites, and why your sense of humor isn’t funny. April 22, 2010

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in reality-is-stranger-than-fiction.
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Allow me to set the scene. I am a crunchy-granola mommy. Not as crunchy as some, though. I’m more a been-left-in-the-milk-just-a-touch-too-long crunchy. I suppose you can call me a somewhat-soggy granola mommy. I wore my son until he was too heavy to wear comfortably, we’re doing child-led weaning, and I hope that he decides he’s weaned before he starts school. But we never co-slept, I am very much in favor of vaccines, and I don’t have the temperament to effectively home-school a little boy who is occasionally smarter than I am.  So I pick and choose from the Attachment Parenting menu.

Now, being a social creature, I’m on a mailing list with other AP mommies. We compare notes and talk about problems and the million little things that kids do. (I seem to be the go-to person about martial relations. Imagine that!) Last week, there was a thread on mommy paranoia, and how you should follow your gut instinct about who you let near your child. It was going well until someone chimed in, “Yeah, all men are pervs.” Another mom chimed in and agreed with that.

What?

After letting it it stew for a few days, I called them on it. I asked them if they really thought about their husbands and sons that way, and pointed out that hateful speech isn’t funny, even in jest. The second mom almost immediately said, “You know, you’re right. There was no reason to say that.”

The first mom, the one who initially said “All men are pervs” attempted to justify her statement (what she called her stereotype) by using statistics. You see, since men think about sex ever seven seconds, and since most pedophiles are male, that meant that all men are pervs.

WHAT?

I called her on it again, very politely. I pointed out pervert = sexual deviant. So, by her logic, since men think about sex ever seven seconds, which as I understand it is normal, and since SOME men are pedophiles,  then all men are sexual deviants. I then asked her what her idea of sexual normalcy in males was.

Her response was that she was sorry she upset me, and hoped that we could move beyond this. In other words, she evaded the question.

I pressed on, pointing out that I wasn’t upset, I just didn’t understand what she was talking about and wanted clarification. That she was reacting with a surprising  bias, and that it looked like the upset was on her side of the screen.

At this point, the moderators of the list stepped in, and my part in the conversation stopped. The conversation, however, did not. In the past day, at least two more moms have asked her to explain what she was talking about, and asked her to define what she means when she says ‘pervert.’

She now claims that she was joking the whole time, and that we just don’t understand her sense of humor.

Now, here’s where the fun part comes in. Just for grins, I googled her. I know where she lives, and I know her full name. And based on her email, I’m pretty sure that the first hit on Google was her. This is the part that if I wrote this into a novel, the editor would have sent it back and said it was too far-fetched.

Because she’s a Relationship Counselor.

I restrained myself from saying, “Counselor, your bias is extremely unprofessional for someone in your field.” I was a good girl. And besides, that would have been overly stalkerish.

But now I’m wondering what the HELL was going on there? Because she’s the person who other people trust to help them in their marriages and relationships. How can she do that if she thinks all men are perverts?

The mind boggles, scrabbles and parchesis….

>Excerpt: Drum Mage April 19, 2010

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in Drum Mage, writing.
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>Have an excerpt. This is from one of the works in progress that’s kind of low on my priority list. I’ve done some work on it, and I’ll get around to finishing it, eventually. The chapters follow the Wheel of the Year, and this will be the last chapter, which I think will be novella-length.

*

Samhain
It had been a good night at the club. I could tell that the place was packed. The air was thick and sticky with cigarette smoke, stale sweat, and cheap beer fumes. It was hot, and I’d stripped off my shirt at the beginning of the second set, to the cheers of the girls down front. We’d be called for another week here before too long, if the approval of the crowd was any indication.
It had been a really good night, and more so because the last night of any engagement always rocked. Mary’s vocals had been tight and dead-on, and I’d nailed mine. The drums had been hot tonight, like something alive, and I’d felt the beat deep down in my core. I loved it when the drum energy just started moving like that. It was… primal. Alive. Finishing felt like coming down off a really great high. I heard Maxie sign us off, and the applause, and felt around by my feet for my shirt. Gone.
“Hey, Mary!” I called out, “C’mere for a minute.”
“What’s up?” I heard her picking her way around the drum kit.
“Can’t find my shirt. You see it? I thought I put it under my stool.”
She rested her hand on my shoulder as she looked, “Nothing there. I think you lost another one. Stevie, you really need to leave your shirt on. You might go home with it more often.”
“Now where’s the fun in that?” I teased. She laughed and kissed my cheek.
“Well, I know one person who isn’t going to complain. He’s off in the back corner.”
“He’s here?” I hadn’t expected him back until tomorrow.
“Got in as we started the second set. You going to need help?”
“Mirage knows how to find him. Go have fun.” I grinned. “Is my jacket still around?”
“They probably didn’t know it was yours,” she said as she passed it over to me and I slipped it on. “See you next week?”
“Friday night. When do we rehearse next?”
“The Tuesday after. My place.”
I nodded and whistled, holding my hand out. A moment later, a cold wet nose was sniffing at my palm – my seeing-eye dog, Mirage. She whined, and I laughed, finding the harness and standing up, “I know, baby. Too loud. Sorry, they don’t make doggie ear-muffs. Come on. Forward.”
She started moving, and then stopped when we reached the stairs that led off-stage. No railing, as usual, but I managed. And at the bottom, we were surrounded by a gaggle of giggles. Slightly drunk giggles. No, make that very drunk giggles.
“Hi… umm…. can we have your autograph, please?” one of them managed to get out. They sounded young, and I smiled while making a note to talk to the house manager about fake I.Ds.
“Sure.” I let go of the harness with one hand, and reached into my back pocket with the other. And nothing was put into my hand. Instead, I heard more giggles, and the soft sound of fabric sliding over skin.
Ah… that kind of autograph.
Even after almost a year of playing in clubs like this, I found it hard to believe that none of these girls ever noticed Mirage, or the cane I used occasionally. Who exactly was the blind one here?
“Ladies, I really don’t think you want me to sign you there… with this.” I held up the thin plastic Braille punch and metal stylus that I usually used when I signed autographs. “Might be painful. Got a pen?”
They did. Naturally. And the giggle managed to stand still long enough that I could scrawl something illegible on her chest. Although she did sway a bit. Kind of like she was stuck in a very hard, extremely slow-moving wind.
They all thanked me, and several others wanted their own autographs, so I was stuck there for a few minutes (one of them actually wanted me to use the punch. Either very drunk, or… well, I said no). Then they wanted me to come to their party.
“It’ll be a lot of fun. Some drinks, a few other people….” One of the girls wheedled as she tucked her arm into mine. “Come on. We’ll make it worth it.”
Gently, I unwound her arm and found Mirage’s harness, “Thanks, but no. I already have a date, and he’s waiting for me.”
They made varying sounds of disappointment, but they did eventually get the hint, and I finally got through.
“Mirage, find Nick,” I said, and felt her tug me forward. People got out of our way as we moved through the room; one of the benefits of having a seeing-eye dog is that people do tend to get out of her way. A couple of them complimented me on the show and on the drums. But no one stopped us, and Mirage finally came to a stop in a slightly quieter corner of the club. I reached out, found a chair, and sat down.
“How long have you been here?” I asked.
“Just over an hour. You sounded good.” It was wonderful to hear his voice again, deep and rough, with the tiniest hint of the Russian accent that he never really could quite lose. He’d been gone for a week, and I’d missed him. “What happened to your shirt?” he asked.
“Vanished again. I wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow.”
“I caught an earlier flight.” I heard him exhale, and caught the smell of the expensive cigarettes that he rarely smoked anymore. These days, he only smoked when he was stressed. And I could guess at why he was stressed this time.
“She wouldn’t let you see Natalie this time, huh?”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said sharply, and changed the subject. “Quite the little following you have there.”
I groaned and leaned back in the chair, “It’s a status thing for them. Half of them just want to get with the drummer because it’s cool. And the other half think that they’re going to be the one to convert me.” I snorted, “Makes it sound like I can be a born-again het.”
That got a laugh out of him. “Must be one hell of a baptism.”
“Nick, that’s disgusting.” I shoved my chair closer to his. “I missed you.”
“I missed you, too,” he said, his voice softening. “That’s why I caught the early flight. What did you have planned for tonight?”
“Grabbing a burger and getting some sleep,” I answered immediately. Which he knew. I never went out if he wasn’t with me. The only other person I was willing to get in a car with was Mary, and she and Maxie usually had their own plans for after a show.
He leaned in closer to me, enough that I could feel his breath on my skin, “Feel like changing plans?”
That tone in his voice… my pulse was ringing in my ears like one of my drums, “I could be convinced. What did you want to do?”
In answer, he hooked one finger through the heavy silver chain that I wore around my neck, and twisted. The metal tightened against my skin, and I gasped. He pulled me in closer to him, and I could barely hear him speak before he kissed me.
“You.”
#
He’d come right from the airport, and the car was parked across the street. I zipped my jacket up against the cold October winds, and let him lead me across to the car. Mirage went into the backseat, and I sat down on the passenger side and let him slam the door. He climbed into the driver’s side a moment later, and stopped me as I reached for the seatbelt.
“Hands,” he murmured.
Oh. It was going to be that kind of night. I dropped my hands into my lap and let him reach across me and cinch the belt around me, over my wrists. It was a token only; I could easily slip out from under it if I needed to. But it told me what to expect. And what the drive was going to be like.
He unzipped my jacket, and pushed it off my shoulders, further pinning my arms. The leather seats were cold on my bare back, almost to the point of pain, and I winced. And heard a click as he started the seat heater. Then he started the car, and we pulled out into traffic.
“Are we going straight home?” I asked.
“Maybe.” I heard him laugh, and then we turned. We drove for a while, making what had to be random turns that I knew had to be solely to confuse my sense of direction, and then getting on the highway. That was when I really knew we weren’t going home. So what was he up to?
After a little while, we got off the highway, and he pulled over and unclipped my seatbelt. I heard the glove-box open. “Move forward a bit and give me your hands,” he ordered.
I nodded, and scooted forward in my seat, turning to hold my arms out towards him. And something narrow was snugged over each wrist with a familiar zipping sound.
“Zip-ties?”
“I stopped at the hardware store. Shut up and put your arms behind your back.”
He was deep in dom-space, and after a week alone, I was more than ready to respond. I turned my back to him, and shifted so my arms were behind me. Another zip, and my wrists were secured behind my back. He pulled my jacket further down my arms, and ran his nails down my spine.
“Sit back.” He sounded very satisfied with himself. I resettled into the seat, and he reached across me and refastened the belt. Then we started moving again. I was starting to wonder where we were really going; maybe out into the suburbs. There was a lot of parkland out there that was easily accessible late at night. And it wasn’t like we hadn’t done this before. But the last time had been in May.
“Nick, isn’t it too cold to play outside?” I asked.
“I didn’t ask you,” he answered. His dom voice. Very harsh. Very stern, with more than a hint of that wonderful accent. And he knew it made me want to bare my throat for him. But there was also a certain amount of resistance that he expected.
I turned towards him, “I know. But can we please just go home? It’ll be more comfortable.”
He laughed, “Who says I want you comfortable?” He found my nipple with his nails, and I moaned. He knew what this did to me; I’d been hard before the second zip-tie. Even if it was too damn cold.
His hand dropped to my leg, “We’ll be there… holy..SH…!” His hand disappeared, and I heard the screaming of the brakes. The car fishtailed, and the seatbelt across my chest suddenly felt like it was made of steel, pinning me back against the seat. Then…. nothing. The car stopped, and I heard Nick cursing in Russian. But from a distance. I wasn’t really… there at that point. Instead, I was in a different place. A different car. Screaming brakes, a screaming woman, a sickening crash, and the last thing I ever saw – blood spilling over broken glass.
“Steven!” I could hear Mirage barking, Nick calling my name, and a note of panic in his voice. And I noticed that the seatbelt was gone. I shifted, and felt the zip-ties dig painfully into my wrists; I must have pulled too hard on them.
“Steven, talk to me. Come on, Styopa. You’re all right.”
I nodded. I was all right. We hadn’t hit anything. No one was hurt. No one died.
But I could still hear the echo of Maureen screaming.
That was when I started shaking. And the first thing out of my mouth was my safe-word, “Oatmeal.”
“All right, mily. All right.” The dom-voice was gone. Now he was talking to me like he would to his daughter, low and calm. I heard him rummaging around, and then he cursed softly, “Dammit. Steven, I can’t cut you out. My knife is at home.”
“What?” I could barely get the word out with my teeth chattering. He felt my face and cursed, then reached over and pulled my jacket up properly, zipping it up.
“I had to leave it home, because of the flight. I don’t even have a nail cutter.” I heard more movement, and then his smoke-scented jacket was being tucked around me, “Stay with me, Styopa. No going into shock. We’ll be home in soon. I will drive slow. We’re safe.”
He belted the seatbelt around me, and started the car. I shuddered as I felt it start to move, and jumped when he touched my leg.
“We’re going home. Are you all right? Talk to me. Did you hurt yourself?” When I didn’t answer immediately, he slapped my leg. Hard. “Talk, dammit.”
I nodded quickly, and regretted it, “Not all right. My back.”
“Shit.” It came out sounding like stuttering snake. “We’ll be home in a few minutes. I’m sorry, Steven. It was a deer. Came out of nowhere.”
“Mirage?”
“She’s fine.” I heard him laugh, “And so are you. Worried about that damn dog.”
I tried to shift my wrists, and felt the plastic dig into my skin, “Where are we?”
“Our favorite park. Last time I came running, I found a new path down to the clearing. Thought you’d like being dragged through the woods and tied to Fergus’ tree.”
“Maybe in spring.” I was still cold, but the two jackets and the seat heater were helping. Now it was just pain. “How close?”
“Five minutes.”
Several minutes later, I heard the click of the garage door opener, and he pulled the car into the garage and stopped the engine. He got out, let Mirage out of the back seat, and then came around and opened my door. As he leaned in and reached across me to get the belt, he stopped and cupped my cheek in one hand, “Steven, I’m sorry. I just… it’s been a shitty week. I wanted…”
I nodded, “I know. I wanted it, too. But not now. Tomorrow. Right now, I need my drugs.”
The belt went loose, and his jacket fell away, “Okay, I’ll get them. Come on.”
He had to help me out of the car, and then hold me up when my legs didn’t want to work. I tripped and almost fell on the stairs into the house, which only made my back ache more. By the time he pushed me into a chair in the kitchen, I was ready to cry like a baby from the pain.
“Can you lean forward?” he asked. I tried, and almost fell off the chair. He sighed, “All right. Stand up.” I did, and felt something cold slip between my skin and the zip-tie. A moment of pressure, and then it was off. He cut the other wrist free, raised my arm, and kissed the wrist, “You are going to have bruises. I feel like such an idiot. I have got to leave a knife in the car.”
“Later,” I mumbled, trying hard to concentrate through pain. “Meds?”
“Right. Sit.” He pushed me back into the chair, and walked away. Pills rattling, water running, and then he was back, tucking two pills into my hand and putting a glass into my other hand.
Deliverance. Better living through chemistry. I swallowed the pain killer and the muscle relaxant, and the countdown started. They worked very well. And I was usually unconscious within twenty minutes. It would be less tonight; I hadn’t eaten since lunch. I told Nick, and he groaned.
“So much for even getting any conversation tonight. All right. Bedtime.”
I remember taking my shoes off. The rest was a blur that faded into quiet, dreamless dark.

Sorry, I can’t write. My genius is having a coffee break… April 19, 2010

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in genius, inspiration, writing.
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>Rehashing something older. Last August I had the opportunity to host an author chat over at the Circlet Press Livejournal community. This was one of the talks I gave. The idea of having a genius and not being a genius is, as I say below, one that resonated very strongly with me. And it describes how I write almost to a tee. (The steampunk on the high seas book that I talk about in there is The Sea Prince, and one of these days, the Genius will give me the REST of the outline….)

And no, I’ve never said that my genius was out for a coffee break. At least, not until today.

******

Let’s talk about creativity this morning.

I like TED talks. I download them to my Ipod and listen to them at the gym, or in the car when I’m driving alone (rarely).  I find the site addictive, and most of the talks interesting.

This one talk sparked some interesting idea. The speaker is Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the bestseller Eat, Pray, Love. Go ahead and listen, I’ll wait… (there’s a transcript available here if you can’t watch it at work)

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

What caught me was the idea of Genius being something external. As someone who gets most of her ideas when they walk up and BITE her, this resonated with me. This really does seem to describe the way I think, I like the idea of having a Genius (or a Daemon, if you want the Greek – and yes, this concept is where Phillip Pullman got the idea for the daemons in his Dark Materials series.)

The more I thought about it, the more my personal genius turned into that little guy in my icon. He’s a prickly fellow, cantankerous to an extreme, but when he’s on, he’s ON! He’s the one who kept me awake all night, yelling at me until I changed the ending to To Market, my erotic retelling of Christina Rosetti’s Goblin Market, which will appear in the upcoming Like a Prince.  As an apology, he also trotted out the main character for that steampunk-on-the-high-seas book (which went from interesting character with no name at roughly 6AM to full blown novel idea in under 12 hours. He kept THROWING things at me – here’s a nation, here’s their government, here’s their history, here’s the love interest, here’s the conflict, here’s…. hey, why aren’t you writing this down!)

So what do you think? Where does inspiration lie? Where do YOUR ideas come from?

>A point of reference April 19, 2010

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in to-dos, writing.
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>These are the things I’ve currently got in the queue:

To Write:

* Infernal Machine (bumping to the top of the list – deadline June 1)
* Haunts (Shadow Unit story, in progress)
* House of Sable Locks (novel, in progress)
* Wanderer’s Moon (next book in the Midnight Moon series. Currently on hold.)
* Drum Mage
* Professional virgin story (no title as of yet)
* Wandering star story

To Revise

* Prince of Air

To Outline

* Sea Prince (outline in progress)
* Coral Throne
* Hidden Things

To Sell

* Nomad’s Moon
* Exile’s Moon

>And this is why we save things to disk! April 11, 2010

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in annoyance, mat, sources, this-is-why-we-can't-have-nice-things, writing.
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>I’m writing two different erotic stories that have Russian characters (three if you count the ongoing Man from UNCLE fanfics). So I have several Russian language websites bookmarked. One of them was a whole page of Russian mat (really, REALLY profane insults. Usually sexual in nature). You can see how this might be useful to me.

Except that the page is gone. ARGH!!! Now I have to spend valuable writing time looking for more sources of mat that aren’t written in Cyrilic!

>Writing: Over the Edge April 5, 2010

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in fanfic, MFU, writing.
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>I realized that I haven’t posted any of my writing yet, and I have to fix that. This little piece was written for a fanfic challenge in a Man from UNCLE community. We were given our prompts by another community member, and the fics were rolled out over this past weekend. This was mine, and the prompt was: N/I slash, happy smut, Napoleon-top, please? Massive bonus points if it’s against a wall

Needless to say, this is NSFW. I’m posting it over on Dreamwidth so I can keep it behind a cut.

Oh, and I make no money off of this. I play nicely with the boys and then put them back on the shelf where they belong.


Over the Edge

>Writing with children -or- Why Mommy’s daily wordcount is so low. April 5, 2010

Posted by Elizabeth Schechter in children, writing.
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>I don’t write fast. Quite frankly, I wish I did. I’m in awe of some of the writers whose blogs I read, especially one in particular who has turned out two novel drafts in the time it’s taken me to write a third of Sable Locks. But there’s a reason I don’t write fast.

He’s three and a half years old. He’ll start school in the fall, if we ever master this whole potty-training thing, but until then, my writing is in the hours after he goes to bed. Especially since he a) doesn’t nap anymore, b) can see my laptop even if its on the kitchen counter, and b) can sound out words. I’m not ready to have that discussion with him. Not at three. I’m already imagining the fun that we’re going to have on Parent-Teacher nights.

“Oh, Mrs. Schechter, so nice to meet you. Tell me, what is it that you do?”

“I’m a writer.”

You know what the next question will be: “What do you write?”

Now, I suppose I could give them the bullshit answer: “I write fictional accounts of the homoerotic interplay between sentient humanoids and their mechanical constructs.” Which sounds a heck of a lot more impressive than “I write steampunk erotica.” But with my luck, I might just get the rare teacher in our county who actually knows how to think and who understand words of more than one syllable.*

I also think I won’t get a lot of invites to speak on Career Day. This is, after all, the DEEP South.

So, most of my day is focused on my boy, which is as it should be.

And now you know why it takes so long to get a book out of me.

*I’m not knocking teachers. I was one myself once. A LONG time ago. So I know first hand that teachers of high caliber don’t tend to last long in the public school system. The pay isn’t good enough to keep them. And since the private schools around here are all religious, with very few, very EXPENSIVE exceptions, our boy is going to attend public school. With home-schooling around the edges to pick up the slack. I want my son to be able to count to more than first-and-ten.