Are We Ready to Read Again?

Books are the blessed chloroform of the mind.

Robert Chambers


If we ever needed our minds numbed, this is the time. After nearly a month of not being able to finish anything, I started reading again and have been devouring books. Mainly things I have read before. I consider Amanda Quick books to be comfort food for the mind. The majority of her stories feature strong-minded and passive-aggressive heroines butting heads with alpha-males. No thinking required in reading these, and they all have happy endings. We need some happy endings right now. Natasha West is another author I’ve been reading to get to the hea’s. No alpha males in her books.

I’ve also been reading more urban fantasies such as those by Amanda M. Lee or K. F. Breene. No matter how bad your real life seems now, it could be worse. You could be socially isolated in a room with a vampire.

A few weeks ago I found that my books weren’t selling or being read on KU. From other authors’ blogs I learned that they were experiencing the same downturn in sales. Admittedly these authors were exclusively writing lesfic. It’s possible mainstream authors had a different experience, although I doubt that’s the case. However – in the past two weeks readership has gone back up {insert happy emoticon here}. I assume one of two things is happening. It could be that people have discovered they can get out of their isolation through reading. Or equally likely, people are getting tired of binge-watching TV shows. How many episodes of Heartland can you watch before your mind gets as numb as your butt?

I suspect that this isolation will be a big boon for eBooks. It is difficult to get to bookstores, if they are even open. It is much easier to download books. Cheaper too, especially if you subscribe to services such as Kindle Unlimited or Scribd. Here’s a tip: if you have Scribd you get unlimited audiobooks as part of your ten dollars a month subscription. Compared to, where you get two books a month for fifteen bucks. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Author’s Note I: I have a new book coming out today on Kindle. The title is Quarantine: love in the time of covid. It’s about two women quarantined alone in apartments that face each other. They have a love affair – you figure it out. Or better yet, buy it and read it.

Author’s Note II: The last book I published, Afternoon Delight, has been a complete bust. Even with the uptick in readership, almost no one is reading one. I believe it’s because I created the worst cover ever seen on a romance novel. What the hell was I thinking? It’s just plain depressing. I’m going to try to replace the cover with something more attractive and see if that helps.

Author’s Note III: There is a Spring Mega Lesfic Sale coming up. It’s scheduled to run from May 18 through May 22. More info will be available on I have submitted two books to be included in the sale for 99c each.




Making Friends

Outside a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read.

~ Groucho Marx ~

The quote above has very little to do with this blog, I just like it. With all that’s going on around us right now, it’s good to have something to smile about.

I am slaving away on my next book right now. It’s about two women, one divorced and one who is in the process of divorcing, who had both cheated on their husbands. They get stranded in a blizzard and – you’ll have to wait until you read it to learn the rest. I’ve got a long way to go to get it ready for publication, but I plan on it being a novella, shorter than what I have been putting out. My reasoning is that I want to get it available to people are looking for new things to read while hunkering down at home. Think of it as me doing my part to make social distancing a little more tolerable.

I think the reason I am getting into this story so well is because even though they were cheating spouses, I like the protagonists so much. They are both strong, career-driven women who are learning about their own passions. Most of the lead characters in my books have been women I would have enjoyed having for friends, with the possible exception of Alex in Fit for Love. I never really warmed up to her, although Amy liked her a lot. I have created a lot of unlikable secondary characters; Treece’s mother in Finding Treece or Larry’s son in The Taste of Cyn being the two worst of the lot; but they provided necessary drama to the stories.

I have read, or at least started reading, books in which one, or both, of the mains were unlikable. That fact has nothing to do with the quality of the books, but they weren’t for me. Hawke’s Prey by Natasha West comes to mind. Julia Hawke, a college instructor, is a sexual predator. Each year she selects the student she wants to victimize. She spends months grooming her, then swoops in and takes what she wants. Stereotypical actions of an abuser. A lot of readers loved the book. I couldn’t finish it. I understand Julia mellowed, or at least became a more sympathetic character, as the story progressed. In fact the book was the first in a trilogy that was very popular and achieved a lot of critical acclaim. But it wasn’t for me. I have read and enjoyed quite a few of Ms. West’s later books, but they all had mains that were women I’d like to meet. I highly recommend The Plus One, and its sequel The Plus Two. I was disappointed she never got around to The Plus Three. Charlie and Amie are both sweethearts.

How about you? Do you enjoy reading stories about people you hate? Or are you like me and want to make friends with the heroines in the stories?


Author’s Note: My book The Taste of Cyn got to #6 on Amazon’s bestselling lesbian fiction chart today (brag, brag). That’s probably because it’s free on Kindle. There’s nothing like giving your stuff away to make yourself popular. You have until the fifth to get your free copy. Enjoy.


Accomplishments – Not

Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.
Robert A. Heinlein

Social distancing is easy for a writer, or a reader. These are solitary professions. The same as most everyone else, I’ve been staying home, avoiding crowds, washing my hands, and trying not to hoard toilet paper; all easy tasks. I’m retired so I have no job to go to, or lose. I live in the woods outside a relatively isolated community. And Walmart is rationing toilet paper. How hard could it be?

So why can’t I finish anything? At present time I am reading three different books. One is the lesfic novel by Clare Lydon I mentioned in the last post: Before You Say I Do. The second is a paranormal mystery, Freaky Fangs, by Amanda M. Lee. The third is Eliza Andrews’ Soldier of Dorsa, a lesbian sci-fi-slash-fantasy epic. They are all good stories and well-written. I’m also listening to an audiobook version of an Amada Quick novel (my equivalent of a comfort read). And at least once a day I download another book, read two or three pages, and abandon it. I just can’t seem to finish any of them.

The same with my writing. I did complete Afternoon Delight and got it out on Kindle Unlimited a couple of weeks ago, but that was mostly written before the pandemic. Since then I have started two novels, both standing at about 10K words. And both just sit there on my laptop not getting finished.

I read in other authors’ blogs how productive they are being, using this recess from their normal lives to work on, and complete, projects. I just flit from project to project, completing nothing.

How about you? Are you one of those productive types, getting things done that you had been putting off? Or are you like me, starting too many things and finishing none? Let me know. Maybe you will be in inspiration for all of us do-nothings.

Now I think I’ll take a break and go wash my hands.


Author’s Note: I will have an embarrassing anecdote posted on the I Heart Lesfic blog this week as part of T.B. Markinson’s Project Laughter. Coinciding with that, my book The Taste of Cyn will be free for five days on Amazon Kindle starting on April Fool’s Day. It’s a slow burn romance about two young women in, you guessed it, Omaha, Nebraska. Enjoy.

Hunker Down, Wash Your Hands, Read an Ebook


I have a writing addiction.


Hope you are washing your hands, hunkering down, washing your hands, social distancing, and washing your hands. And reading ebooks. Need a suggestion about what to read? I’ve got a new one out this week, Afternoon Delight. (if you’re wondering, afternoon delight is exactly what it sounds like) This is the eighth book I’ve published in exactly twelve months. Writing is indeed an addiction for some of us.

I had not intended to finish this book until next month. But social distancing means staying home. To me, staying home means writing. Ergo it’s out an month earlier than I expected. It’s time to start another now. Actually, I already started one, but I put it aside while I finished AD. Now I can get back to it.

My latest book is something of a departure for me. Nearly all of my other books have featured characters in their twenties, with the exception of Finding Treece in which the leads were in the early thirties. This one has two lead characters in their forties: Jo is forty-four and Maddy forty-eight. I’d like to say they were closer to my own age, but Jo is still thirty years younger than me (insert a sad emoji here).

Now that AD is published, I am going to try to do more reading. At the present time I’m reading Clary Lydon’s Before You Say I Do. Every time I pick up one of Ms. Lydon’s books I am humbled by what a skillful writer she is. Even though her characters are sometimes in outlandish situations (the lead in BYSID is a professional bridesmaid – whoever heard of such a thing), she writes so well you don’t question it. She is a consummate wordsmith, her characters are so real you think you should send them Christmas cards, and her dialog is always spot on. I want to write as well as Ms. Lydon does when I grow up.


Reading tip: If you’re still social distancing on April Fool’s Day, my book “The Taste of Cyn” will be free on Kindle for a limited time.

Did I mention – wash your hands.

Let’s All Celebrate ‘Read an eBook Week’

“I’ve got to stop being such a snob about leather-bound books, he reminded himself. E-books do have their moments.”

― Dan Brown, Inferno


This is Read an eBook Week. How are you observing it? If you need a suggestion, you could read one of mine.

In my bedroom I have a large collection of books, mostly paperback but also some hardbacks. I very seldom read them. For the past several years I have done nearly all of my reading digitally. I have sat and read a book on my tablet while the same book in hard copy was sitting on the shelf next to me. I prefer the digital format, and there are several reasons for that.

They are easy to carry and read. You can read with one hand. You don’t need to hold the book open with both hands.

If you fall asleep and the book drops into your lap, you don’t lose your place. The book remembers where you left off, no bookmarks needed.

You can read in the dark (although it is difficult to read in bright sunshine).

You can change the font when your eyes get tired.

You can take as many as you want anywhere you want. If I have my phone or my tablet, I can read. If I take a trip I can carry a hundred volumes with me, no book bag required. My pocket is my book bag.

I can read them anywhere. Ever try to stand in a long line at an airport and read a hardback book? I have, and it’s not easy – like it is with an eBook.


A lot of my friends claim that if they can’t hold a book in their hand they don’t feel like they are really reading. Does that make sense to you? It doesn’t to me. It should be the words that matter, not the medium that delivers them. They also claim an eBook doesn’t smell like a book. Huh? What does smell have to do with it?

If you are one of those people who like to balance a heavy book on your lap, using both hands to keep it on the right page so you can sniff the ink – spend this week trying out eBooks. Read a few (including a few of mine) and see if your opinion changes.


Progress Report: My latest book, “The Taste of Cyn,” has been out for three weeks now and it hit the stands with a resounding thud. Very few sold, and very few read on Kindle Unlimited. There have been no reader reviews, which seriously affects readership.If you do read some eBooks this week, please leave reviews. They are enormously important to the authors.

I am working on two books right now and hope to complete one of them, tentatively titled “Afternoon Delight,” by the end of the month. The second one doesn’t have a working title yet. Both will feature lead characters in their forties, which is a departure for me. I expect them to come in at around 40K words, which will make the novellas rather than full novels.


Not a Hermit

“A certain ruthlessness and a sense of alienation from society is as essential to creative writing as it is to armed robbery.”— Nelson Algren

I want to get something straight – I am not a hermit. I could be, but have never had the chance. What’s had made me think of this is the fact I recently decided to post on Facebook. I’ve had a Facebook account for maybe ten years, and had not posted, or even opened it, for at least five years. To many people that alone makes me a hermit.

When I first set up a Facebook page it had not yet become the all-invasive media ap it is now. Mostly young people, teens and tweens, were using it. I decided to try it and see if I could locate some old friends from way back when. I didn’t. Instead I ended up being connected with not-so-old friends that I didn’t miss at all. Plus a few relatives I no longer had anything in common with.

And I started getting details of their daily lives. Who they went to lunch with; where they went shopping; what their plans were for tomorrow. All stuff I would not have been interested in if they lived next door, not hundreds of miles away. I quickly lost interest.

About that time my wife started browsing the ap, and she’s hooked. It’s the first thing she checks in the morning. And the last thing she looks at before she goes to bed. Of course she likes cute kitten videos a lot more than I do. It works out well because she keeps me updated on what all my relatives are doing so I don’t have to.

I decided to post again because I am now an author. While hundreds of people all over the world have been reading my book, to my knowledge not a single person I know, love, or am related to has ever read a book by me. I thought that if I put a posting on FB someone would see it and be curious enough to read something. If that happened, they never told me. Either no one read the post, or no one followed up and read a book. It’s possible that someone did, and was too polite to announce that they didn’t like the book; a slim chance of that because many of my friends and relatives fail the politeness test.

In any event, I am not a hermit. I’ll keep trying, at least when I have a new book coming out.


Progress Report:  I will be publishing a new book this week. It’s not the one I started, over and over. It’s entirely new. A full length novel titled The Taste of Cyn. Cyn is short for Cynthia, who kisses Lou, short for Louise, at a New Year’s Eve party. They are lovers by Valentine’s Day. A lot of stuff happens in between. If you read it you’ll find out what.




The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.

C.G. Jung.


Several of the reader comments about my novels Finding Treece (FT) and Kitty-Kat (KK) mention to chemistry between the lead characters. I have no idea how it got there, but I went back and read parts of the novels and they are right, you can feel it. I know I did not knowingly write it into the stories. As I’ve said before, I create the characters, their backstories, the situation, then let them act it out. These women connected on their own as the story unfolded.

I recently read two books in a four-book series by Anna Stone, Her Surrender (HS) and Hers to Keep (HK). In the first of these, the chemistry between the leads was palpable and drove the story. April and Vickie were two extremely strong-willed women who were on opposite sides of a proposed development project. Yet despite the fact that in the context of the story they were natural enemies, you could just feel the connection between them.

In the second, neither one of the lead characters were what could be described as strong. One, Camilla, was rich and powerful while the other, Lindsey, was not, but both were emotionally damaged and stumbled through life. Despite their similarities, I had trouble believing they belonged together. There didn’t seem to be a natural connection between the two women. The author tried. There was lots of sex, lots of I-love-you’s, but no spark. April and Vickie sizzled without the sex. Even when they were fighting you knew they belonged together.

Chemistry between real, live people is relatively easy to see. How they look at each other. How each responds to what the other does and says. How they touch, and how they react to that touch. But all we know about fictional characters is what the author tells us. Both as a reader and a writer, I am interested in how this gets communicated in the realm of the written word.

One thing I noticed in these novels is how the characters’ backstories are revealed in the book. When the novel starts, the author knows the backstory, the reader does not. In both FT and HS, Ms. A. learns Ms. B’s history at the same time as the reader. We share the ‘aha moment.’ In HK the reader is told Ms. A’s background, and related hang ups, but Ms. B is kept in the dark until she worms them out, and vice-versa. Does that make a difference? I don’t know, maybe. Perhaps by sharing with Ms. B. the discovery of Ms. A’s flaws we empathize and understand her reaction. We are going through the same process of discovery, so we identify with Ms. B.

Another difference I see in the relationships that when two women voluntarily let each other know what their hang-ups are. When they refuse to do this until it’s wheedled out of them it sends a message that the two aren’t connecting at a visceral level.

There is an early scene in FT where Treece refuses to let Dani buy her some expensive earrings. Dani is confused, and a little hurt, until Treece explains to her why she can’t let that happen. Even though Dani doesn’t agree with it, she understands. Had Treece not opened up, the reason had to do with the way her mother treated her, Dani would have felt pushed away. Instead she felt closer to Treece.

In HS Vicky explains to April that her drive for success came from her father’s rejection of her. Had she not explained, April would have continued to see her as a power-hungry executive. In HK, Camilla tries to hide her medical condition from Lindsey. Lindsey hides the fact that she abandoned her art career. There is a separation between the women that all the hot sex in the world couldn’t overcome.

In KK, after their first night together, which involved what they called ‘slightly kinky sex,’ Nan voluntarily opens up to Kat about being an exhibitionist. Had she tried to hide it, Kat would have been left confused, and possibly repelled, by her behavior. Instead she was drawn into it.

IMHO, it is the willingness to talk about the hard stuff, the hang-ups and weaknesses, that lets the reader see and feel the chemistry between two people. And by letting the reader make these discoveries as the characters make then, the author draws the reader directly into the relationship.


Progress Report: I did take up the story I’d nearly abandoned. I’ve added another character, although I haven’t used her much yet. I realized that one big problem was the timeline. It was too compressed. I’m working to get the events separated, which will make it a much better story. I don’t expect to finish it before the first of the year, but am shooting for Ground Hog Day.







If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
– Edgar Rice Burroughs


Prolific. A friend of mine used that word to describe me because in the past eight months I’ve written and published six works, three novellas and three novels. In retrospect it seems like a lot in a short period of time, and I probably won’t keep publishing at that pace – although I might. I get this empty feeling when I stop writing on a project and start preparing it to be put out there. Note I didn’t say ‘finished,’ I said stopped writing. I could take anything I’ve written and do another rewrite – sometimes you just have to stop writing. I bet Melville would have liked one more revision on Moby Dick.

But who publishes a hundred books? One that comes to mind is Nora Roberts. I haven’t looked up how many books have her name on them, but it’s a ton. Another writer like that was Erle Stanley Gardner. Not only did he put out all those Perry Mason books, he also wrote westerns and other mysteries. So, what do those two writers have in common? They often write the same or similar stories. Roberts has a bunch of different series, and they all sound alike: poor girl, rich man (with several brothers, one book in the series for each brother), girl is in trouble, man rescues her, HEA. Roberts also has some paranormal trilogies, same deal except they have three sisters (sometimes they’re cousins). The sisters all have something witchy about them, always derived from their Irish heritage. One book for each sister as they go on a quest. Books one and two have minor triumphs and book three is the ultimate victory of good Irish witchiness over the evil necromancer.

Gardner’s Perry Mason books were the same set-up: poor person accused of murder. Mason gets the real killer to confess at the trial, the killer being some rich guy or gal. I know I’ve read a few of his other mysteries but it’s been half a century or longer ago and I don’t remember them. I will guess it was the same deal, similar stories with different character names. I’ve never read any of his westerns, I think they were all short stories, so I won’t speculate about them.

So, if I am prolific (okay, I haven’t written a hundred books, but I’ve just gotten started) am I being repetitive? Thinking about it, in a way, yes. All but one of my stories has at least one character who has not identified herself as being gay prior to the beginning of the book. Some of these, like Treece in Finding Treece and Alex in Fit for Love, were in denial of their sexuality. Some of the others, like Amy who becomes Alex’s partner, Kat and Nan both in Kitty-Kat, and Emily in Caramel Kisses, thought themselves straight, until meeting the love of her life. Sam, in Girl of my Dreams, was blissfully unaware of having any sexuality, being a thirty-two-year-old virgin at the outset of the story. The exception to this is my latest novella Kitty-Kat’s Holiday, which is a sequel with the same two lead characters.

Maybe that’s what’s wrong with the novel I can’t seem to get written. I mentioned in my last blog that I was 20k words into it and not going anywhere. Thinking about it, each of the lead characters has always thought of herself as gay. Just not my story to tell, I guess. Maybe if I made one of them an Irish witch it would get easier.

Progress Report: I finished the holiday novella. It was 19K words and took me two weeks to write. It went more quickly than the others because it was a sequel and had the same lead characters. Also it’s mostly sex. For some reason it takes me less time to finish sex scenes, maybe because I don’t like writing them. I don’t know if I’ll go back to the half-written story I started last month or begin something new, but my fingers are already itching to get back on the keyboard.

The Writer as a Reader

I like to curl up in a quiet corner and write a good book.

Carrie Olguin


Okay, I’m a writer now. I’ve published, well, self published, five books in nine months. I get money from people all over the world who are paying for the privilege of reading them. Someone in Brazil has been reading my books. I barely know where Brazil is, for heaven’s sake. And India too. Not a lot of people, or a lot of money, sure. But still . . . I’m a professional writer. I get paid to do it. What a  concept.

One impact this has had on me is how it’s affected me as a reader. I’ve been reading books my whole life. Mysteries. Science fiction. Fantasies. More recently Romances, and lesfic romances. Oh, and odd bits of erotica thrown in for spice. I did dabble briefly in reading stuff that people like Joyce and Mailer wrote, but they were either too esoteric or too pretentious for me. I liked the erotica better. But not Mailer’s erotica (see comment on pretentious above). I’m more interested in how people live their lives than in the meaning of life itself.

Now when I read my mind becomes preoccupied with the writing, not the story. I find myself thinking ‘I know where she’s going with this.’ Or I start parsing the paragraphs to understand what and how the author is making his/her points. I read dialog, not to find out what the characters are thinking and saying but to study how the author is making it understandable and how the writing expresses his/her ideas. Does anyone who hasn’t done it know how hard it is to write four-person dialogue? I sure didn’t, until I tried it. Making clear who in the hell is saying what; and why; and how? It’s even harder if the characters are all the same sex. ‘She said’ just doesn’t work if there are four ‘she’s’ talking.

When I get to the climax in a story I’m reading I’ll start looking back for the incidents that led up to that scene, wondering if the author put them in as he/she wrote, knowing what the climax would be, or went back later and added them once the denouement of the story became clear. I do that a lot. I hardly ever know how a story is going to end when I start it, so sometimes I have to twiddle with the middle to have it make sense when I stop writing.

And names. Where do other authors get all these names? One of the hardest parts of writing fiction for me is coming up with names for the characters. Sometimes I’ll stare at the keyboard flummoxed on what name to give someone. I’ve used up all my friends’ names – often in ways they would not approve of. Does my wife’s friend XXX know that I’ve given her name to a slut? I sure hope not. Family names are easy, I’ll just pick up a piece of junk mail and select a word at random. One of my favorite character’s last name was Avery because there was a package of Avery labels on my desk. But first names are a bitch. In lesfic it’s usual that one of the leads has a non-gender specific name like Sam (Samantha/Samuel) or maybe Willy (William/Wilhelmina). Not easy to come up with on the spur of the moment, at least for me. Hell, I had a hard time coming up with an example. And the age of the character means I have to take into consideration what names were used in what generations. Is there a millennial alive named Ethel? I think not.

Having said all of that I must confess – I love writing stories and having people read them. This Thanksgiving I’m going to say how thankful I am for Amazon Kindle. Without that I would just be an old book lover, not an old book writer.


Progress Report: I still haven’t made any headway on that half-written book I mentioned in my last blog. I’ve thrown out two non-consecutive chapters in the middle because I need to add another character, but haven’t figured out how to do it yet, or who she is. I have started a holiday novella which I hope to have completed and published by the end of November. It will be short, almost certainly less than 20k words. It’s an erotic sequel to “Kitty-Kat.” If I’ve used your name as one of the characters, I apologize ahead of time. Remember, it’s fiction. Really. I made it up.





Writing about Writing

“Writing is the only thing you like, and you hate writing.”

Adair Lara, You Know You’re a Writer When . . .


I realized the other day that I haven’t contributed to this blog since sometime last spring. And I haven’t done a great deal of reading, either. I’m down from devouring a book a day to reading one or two a week.

And it’s all because I’ve been writing. In March I self-published my first novella, Girl of My Dreams, actually it was more of a long short story at sixty-nine pages. Since that time I have put out one more novella, Fit for Love, and now three full novels. The third novel, Caramel Kisses, I published this week. It’s occurred to me that publishing five works in eight months is probably a lot, even if I’m not writing War and Peace. The second novella and two of the novels were conceived and completed during this period. The other novel was started a couple of years ago but sat gathering metaphorical dust most of that time. I just can’t seem to stop writing.

When I stop writing on a book and send it off into E-book Land, aka Amazon Kindle, I get this empty feeling, like publishing it has left a hole in my life. When I finished my second novel I couldn’t keep myself away from the keyboard, even though I had no idea what I was doing there. I started, and abandoned, four other projects. For the most part they were interesting opening chapters, but I had no idea what the actual stories were. One of them is longer than my first novella, and I still don’t know what the story is or will be. Or even if it should be.

And that’s where I am right now. I’ve finished Caramel Kisses. It’s published. I can’t edit or rewrite it any more. Now what do I do?

In the lingo of writers I’m what’s called a ‘pantser,’ as opposed to a ‘plotter.’ That means I write by the seat of my pants with no clear outline of where the work is going, or more importantly, how it’s going to get there. I usually have an idea of what the climax will be, but that often changes. It’s as if I create the characters, then type out the story as they tell it to me. In my novel Kitty-Kat I knew who the main characters were, how they thought, and some of the things they would do. Their back stories were a surprise to me. I knew Nan volunteered at a battered women’s shelter, but I hadn’t realized she was raised in a physically abusive home until I was well into the story – and that turned out to be one of the defining issues in the book. I knew Kat had an older sister, but didn’t know how pivotal she was to Kat’s development as a woman until the two of them started talking. And I wrote the Epilogue before I even knew how the story itself would play out. Yet despite my ignorance, it is arguably the best book I’ve written.

I read in other writers’ blogs, the plotters, how they carefully outline their books, defining each character’s part in the story and choreographing each plot element before they start writing. I tried that. It didn’t work for me. I got so involved in the outline I never wrote the story. Hell, I wasn’t even interested in the story after that.

So now I’m sitting here writing about writing – instead of actually writing. What I need is a couple of characters who can tell me their stories, or maybe a good Epilogue I can write a book to reach. Suggestions would be much appreciated.