Maybe I’m losing it. Or, perhaps my attention span is tiny. I have no memory of Mrs. Lion telling me that my eye drops were done. She puts a series of drops in my eyes when we get up and before we go to sleep. We have to wait five minutes between drops. She does it because it’s easier for me. What a lioness! Anyway, I don’t always remember her setting the timer–we use Alexa. When she told me we were done, I was focused on watching an episode of “Law and Order, SVU” and didn’t remember our exchange. At least I hope that’s the reason.

Mrs. Lion often forgets that I don’t know or remember the context of a conversation. I think that’s why I struggle with pronouns. I use a product called “Grammarly” to copy-edit my writing. It uses artificial intelligence to catch things like unclear references. That’s what sometimes happens with Mrs. Lion. I think she forgets that when she uses a pronoun, the noun it refers to isn’t clear to me. I get it.

I’m very sensitive to this because I’m now a writer. I know. We are both writers. Each of us has over a million words of blogging. That’s writing. Somehow, becoming a novelist, albeit barely published, makes being a writer official, at least in my mind. I am approaching it as my new career. It’s very hard work, by the way. I’ve also decided to learn what I can about the profession from others. I’m reading books on writing fiction.

You know a lot about me. At least you do if you’ve been following the blog for a while. I tend to charge full-speed into things. I did with my first book, Fan Mail. I self-published it on Amazon. Sales suck. What’s worse, no agent will consider representing me since it is already published. Shit! What a mess.

It may well be that my second book won’t do any better at getting me represented. That’s a depressing thought. Most of the rejections I’ve gotten are from emails. One agent took the time to tell me that Fan Mail is an interesting idea, but no publisher will touch it since I put it on Amazon. Naturally, I think the premise is good. A successful TV actress decides to email a guy who sent a fan letter and asked for her picture. The story includes the actual emails. Within hours, she decides to invite him to join her on a week-long vacation in Maui. I think it is a nice start.

The rest of the story is hot sex and intrigue. The few people who have reviewed it gave it four stars. Thank you! Mrs. Lion says she likes it too. It’s hard to tell with her. She loves me and wants to encourage me. No, this isn’t a commercial for the book. However, for a few days starting Monday, you can get the book for free! I set the deal up on Amazon. Enjoy! Please review it too.

Usually, I’m not too fond of it when writers blog about their work. Here I am, guilty of the same thing. There is a point to this post. In his book, How to Write a Damn Good Novel, James Frey, writes that novels are about characters with lots of sex. It’s more complicated than that, but it reminded me of something I was told a long time ago: Write what you know about. Cool! My sexual adventures are numerous and varied. Finally, something I am qualified to do! I think the jump from sex blogger to novelist is pretty small. Wish me luck.

If you’ve been reading along for a while, you know I wrote a novel. I self-published it on Amazon. That turned out to be less than wonderful. I don’t have any way to promote the book, so not many copies have sold. I decided to try to get an agent. I own the Amazon publication, and I can transfer it to any other publisher. I sent lots of queries to agents. I got some replies, all negative. One agent liked the book but said publishers had trouble with previously published books, so she passed. I have more than one book in me, so live and learn.

I’ve also realized that I could do a much better job with fiction. Writing for this blog isn’t particularly good training. Yes, it helps me sharpen my vocabulary and style. I’m writing in the active voice most of the time now. But it doesn’t make up for lack of knowledge when it comes to fiction. Fan Mail has gotten good feedback from people who read it. I got a lot of help from Mrs. Lion and Julie, who are both gifted bloggers. I’m happy with that story. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t do much better.

All those rejection letters are hard to ignore. I realize that at best, some student reader spent ten minutes with the story. Unsolicited manuscripts get little interest. That’s why I published myself. I’m in the process of writing a second novel. This one is proving much more difficult to write. I think that may be a good sign. My writing process is less organic. I’m trying hard to craft the story so that the characters have more depth. Maybe I’m kidding myself. It could be that my confidence is damaged, and I don’t trust what I write. I don’t know.

After I sent off all those queries to agents and started getting rejections, I stopped liking the 150 pages of my new book, which I had already written. I’m back on the first page again, struggling with the opening. I’ve been listening to the audiobook version of Stein On Writing by Sol Stein. He’s a famous editor and writer. He gives good advice but does nothing to improve my self-confidence. I’m not a quitter, but I truly don’t need to find ways to depress myself. Before I published Fan Mail and tried to get an agent, I was having a lot of fun writing; not so much now.

I don’t know any fiction writers, so I have no network to help me through this. In the meantime, I’ll keep slogging along, and when I get enough of the revision done, I’ll share it with my amateur editors.

I re-edited Fan Mail. It still has plenty of rather kinky sex but no spanking sessions. It is just too much all at once. I imagine that men had no trouble with the original version, but women might find the spanking offputting. I am introducing a radical sexual idea: sharing a committed partner with another. It is difficult to convince female readers to suspend disbelief when the heroine allows her partner’s ex-wife to get him off. I think it works in the story’s context, but I’m not sure a female reader could put herself into the heroine’s shoes and do that.

Could Mrs. Lion imagine letting a friend masturbate me? I could (and did in the book!) imagine that. But it feels like a giant reach for a woman to imagine herself allowing that. Even if she could accept the concept, could she take the bigger risk of including another woman? This is what I think is the biggest challenge in writing fiction. It’s easy to identify with a character who solves mysteries and does heroic deeds. That is standard fare for romantic fiction. It’s also easy to identify with a woman having passionate sex and falling in love. Going further seems very risky.

Fifty Shades of Grey combined female-submission with romantic adventure. It was an enormous success. Obviously, the BDSM included in the story would be a stretch for most readers, but the underlying premise is very standard romantic fare. The genre is full of examples of women captured and forced into some sort of servitude, only to fall in love with their captors. Grey is no different. The only variation is that our heroine is involved in consensual BDSM. The reader has to leap into imagining consenting to accept what will be done to her.

The vast majority of people can get aroused thinking of being in a submissive position, especially if submitting includes orgasms. Women, who are the majority of romance novel readers, enjoy imagining themselves in this role. The author of the novel doesn’t have to do much character development work to advance this story.

What happens if the heroine takes the dominant role? If we start with her being sexually dominant, we almost certainly have limited ourselves to a mostly-male audience. I want to reach a much larger female audience. I can’t explain why I want to lead the ladies into suspending disbelief and imagining themselves as dominant. I don’t mean BDSM-mistress dominant. I am thinking of a much deeper, more subtle dominant role.

My heroine starts as a vanilla, sexually inexperienced woman. She meets a man who is as inexperienced as she. He has an established problem with initiating sex. She senses this and responds by taking the lead. She finds the power arousing. Here is where I think the trap lies. Just because it turns her on to control sex doesn’t mean she is ready to discipline him. In Fan Mail, she gains self-confidence and a strong sense of security. One way she expresses this is to share her partner in limited situations. That is the big stretch for the reader.

Like spanking, it isn’t essential to the story. I see this story arc being similar to BDSM in Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s an expansion of the female role in the relationship. It’s a sexual expression of power and security. At least that’s my thinking as the author. I want my heroine to use her power in a feminine way to express the deep love she has for her partner.

The logical question I’m sure you may be thinking of asking is: Would I want this with Mrs. Lion? Well, the truth is that I don’t know. She is already in charge, and unlike the edited heroine in Fan Mail, she does spank me. She also does other BDSM things for me. I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t want to include anyone else in what we do. If she did, I trust her enough to accept. Just because my fiction discusses a topic doesn’t mean I am asking for it in real life. If I do a good job as a writer, the reader can see her/himself in those roles. When I read the book, I can imagine myself in the hero’s shoes. For the record, when I am writing, I am too busy working on getting things right to get sucked into the plot. That makes it fun to read the book from end to end once I am done with writing and editing.

After writing yesterday’s post, I decided I should probably go back through Fan Mail and adjust the level of kinkiness. While Mrs. Lion and I have a domestic discipline relationship, inserting spanking into an otherwise sexy romance novel seems like a poor idea. I have to admit that the story flows more smoothly without the somewhat-jarring episodes of male spanking. It isn’t so much that spanking is to blame. It’s more that there is a lot of context needed to establish the erotic value of the practice. The book is already loaded with sex. I think the spanking scenes, while very hot to me, are probably over the top.

Since the first 75 pages are pretty much all about sex, maybe that’s over the top too. I’m not going to change that. Part of my problem is that I find it much easier to write sex scenes than to advance the mystery plot. I’m not sure what that says about me. However, I’m hopeful that the vanilla, non-sexual activities will become easier to chronicle. Maybe it’s a good thing that not many people have read the book yet. It gives me a chance to take in feedback and make adjustments.

I find it difficult to write blog posts at the same time I’m editing or writing fiction. Maybe my synapses become overloaded trying to write two things at the same time. Anyway, I’m discovering that the process of writing fiction is something absolutely alien. I love it, but it’s a lot easier writing about the real world than creating one of my own. Anyway, I decided to let you know what was going on in terms of writing since nothing’s going on sexually right now. If you haven’t read my book yet, please do. If you have read it, please review it.