I’m a little annoyed with this year. Happy that I’m making progress with my work, but miffed that everything is so locked in. If I stacked my projects end to end, I’d be fully booked until I turn forty. And what a slog life is when there’s no room for new, exciting things.
We’ve still a way to go before 2019, but I’m already thinking about what I’d like to achieve next year. I don’t know exactly how this looks, but the wheels are turning. Here’s what’s been happening lately, though. Busy busy busy…
In the rearview
The Only Question That Matters came out in August
I’ve released the Danica story, The Beating of Our Hearts, on Wattpad. The first chapter, “Smoke and Aural Pleasures”, is live and ready to read. Second chapter starts in a couple of weeks. This is the third celestial dream story out in the wild, but certainly not the last Read it now.
I’ve signed a contract with Kyanite Publishing. New book, It Starts With A Kiss, comes out later this year. Stay tuned.
What I’m working on
Publishing prep for It Starts With A Kiss. Cover art, blurb, all of those things.
When we are naked, I stop to take him in. His shoulders, his chest, the contours of his stomach—they are sinewy and strong, sculpted, perfect. His arms and legs look forged by a life of adventure, not writing alone in his room. I wonder if he lives the stories he writes. I wonder, will he write about us one day?
Then I realise he is watching me too. I blush, I think. I’m not sure. The room is not yet warm, but I am hot all over from his touch, his gaze. My posture closes. I don’t want to be modest now, but I can’t help myself. He rolls us over.
“Don’t be shy,” he teases, looking down at me. “I like what I see as well.”
How arrogant! I laugh out loud. It’s a burst of ungraceful noise, but the music continues and I don’t feel shy anymore. The bedspread is cool under my back; he burns above me. His hubris gives me confidence—this is a game, the good kind, just for fun. I won’t be trapped between the bed and his body. Not yet.
I push him upward. He falls back to his knees. I rise to meet him and kiss his lips, his soft and bristly chin, his neck. When I reach his collarbone, he shudders. He is ticklish. Ah, to manipulate his body with just a touch. His hands are at my shoulders, but he barely touches me.
It was meant to be a short and shallow steamy read. That’s what perplexes me about The Only Question That Matters: how it ballooned into a novella. The intention was a 1,200-word wham-bam-thankyou-sir flashfic, but while writing Sofia’s initial exchange with Alexei, little hints at her backstory kept popping up. I had to explore what got her on the AMS Celestial Dream in the first place. Why was her dinner date so important?
I’m not totally old-fashioned. I’m content with the idea of a one-night stand being what it is. But everything means something to someone. Everything we do is part of a bigger story. And we do things because they matter to us for one reason or another. It may be a small reason, like you’re antsy and need a fix. You can have your one-nighter and let it go, no problem.
But then how you go about it is unique to you; the way you flirt, make your intentions known, how you eventually pop the question. Those little decisions are a culmination of who you are, how people have treated you in the past, what you think about the person you’re with, and how you choose to express yourself.
It means something.
I guess, then, there’s so much you could say about a one-night stand if you wanted to. At the time, I didn’t think I wanted to. But the more I wrote, the more words kept pouring out of me. Sofia isn’t me, but she shares elements of my stories, and of the stories I’d collected from people who at some point in their lives loved too much, loved for the wrong reasons, loved the wrong person, not loved themselves enough, or not let themselves be loved.
Writing the first draft took three months. I was so immersed and consumed by this project, I think it brought on a mild bout of depression in the later weeks. Some of the songs on my writing playlist still hit me quite hard in the feels.
I think The Only Question That Matters may be the heaviest story I’ve ever written. I hope you guys enjoy it.
When I’m busy, the first thing to go is my TBR. I’ve realised recently that the time I spend reading directly corresponds to how I’m faring in my work-addled life. I do have workaholic tendencies I need to address. They say if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.
Well, that’s bullshit. If you love what you do, you end up working all the fucking time because you can’t get enough. It’s nice in the way party drugs are nice—they’ll nice you to destruction if you don’t watch yourself.
Until I sort my shit out, here’s what’s currently awaiting me on my to-be-read pile…
This is an interesting and insightful book so far, but I struggle to pick it up again whenever I put it down. Admittedly, I find it triggering. Every paragraph seems to stir up indignation (to say the least) at what we put up with and what we inflict on people in the name of love. For all our civilisation and infrastructure, we really are a primitive species—our own worst enemies sometimes, if not the unwitting worst enemies of the people we say we care about.
I suppose that makes it extra important to finish this book. I’m gonna need a lot of sleep and chocolate to get through this.
Pia Manning won me over with her deft writing style in Star Brides: Procured. I’m not into the “hot alien men” thing, but I can’t deny the stories I’ve read have, in one way or another, impressed me. Pia has a really classy way with words. Maybe this shows how much I still have to learn about writing, but I get real courageous vibes from the way she tells her stories. Reading her blog is like getting punched in the gut, but in a good way.
I’m pretty keen to read this, and I kind of want to read this with a lot of life clearance so I can smash it out without being distracted by tasks and chores. The last time I read a Pia Manning book, I missed my train and was late for work 😬
Because how could I not? I literally laughed out loud when I read the title, and if Taken by the 8-bit Plumbers is anything to go by, I will definitely want to read this book in private so I don’t have to explain what I’m giggling at.
C.J.’s work is high steam, and I don’t know if she intends her work to be hilarious, but I’m really tickled by the inside jokes and creative license. I’m very much looking forward to starting this book.
Loved this saucy and sweet flash story by Stefanie Simpson.
OK, so “saucy” is a bit of an understatement. Have a look for yourself…
I tapped the wooden arm of the bedroom chair, clicking my nails, watching.
The nude man on the other side of the room glided an iron across a freshly washed bed sheet. He neatly folded it and set it down on the perfectly placed pile next to him.
Bored, I got up, but he didn’t lift his face and started on a blouse. I stood next to him, steam rising, the smell of heated cotton and the vague scent of him close by made me want. I palmed his naked bottom, squeezing it, but he didn’t pause.
I leant right in, still feeling him. “You’re doing a terrible job.”
“Sorry, I’ll do better.”
“You say that every time. And yet you never improve. Bend.”
He hovered, the smallest doubt in his eyes as he turned his head slightly, but he obeyed. He held the ironing board and bent a little.
His chest rose silently, and he went further. I pinched hard, making him tense.
One time, I was playing a creativity game with a group of of friends. I remarked that I was battling the the competitive stress of the moment, to which one guy quipped, “First-world problem!”
Oh, how we laughed!
But also, this came at a time where I was questioning privilege in our modern, tech-infused society, and whether we have a right to quantify our struggles when people in other parts of the world can’t even afford to eat.
I’ll be the first to admit I make comments like that myself. Touching on someone’s first-world guilt is a great way to win a quip war. But I also wonder if it might be unhealthy, how quick we are to call out first-world problems.
I see friends experience genuine distress as a result of certain events in their lives, but just because we “live in the first world”, it doesn’t make their distress any less genuine. It doesn’t make the things they’re dealing with less real.
And yet, I also see them experience genuine shame about feeling the way they do because they’re going through those stresses instead of, say, starving.
Example 1: A friend realised he was gay early in his life, but he grew up at a time where it wasn’t okay to come out. He tried living as a straight guy, and ended up hurting people (which he carries a lot of guilt for). What’s more, he endured family members whose own mental health issues made them toxic influences in his life. As a result, he’s lived most of his adulthood struggling with debilitating depression and anxiety. After we discussed this at the pub, he glanced at my tab-funded pint, mused about being a privileged white male, then ended our conversation in resignation—”Oh well, first-world problems.”
Example 2: A friend found herself in a job that cut her off at every turn. She would get an instruction one day, a contradictory instruction another day, and report to a (indirect) boss who never showed remorse for unleashing verbal abuse upon her and her colleagues. On the surface, it looked like your garden variety “job is crap, boss is a jerk” scenario, but after months of this, I watched her mood and self-confidence erode. She had few opportunities to demonstrate her capability at work, while her environment would reinforce that it was her own fault. But she kept her chin up. It would’ve been easy to miss the toll this had on her, had we not been friends for so long. And yet, she’d often punctuate our conversations with, “But other people have bigger problems than this. At least I’m not starving.”
Just stahp it, guys.
Your brain doesn’t care whether you make fifty bucks an hour, or five cents. All it knows is that it’s under attack by something, and if you dismiss the problem out of first-world guilt, instead of appreciating it and solving it, you’re going to be dealing with it for a long time. Which is so bad for you.
There are limits, of course. You’d be taking the piss if you got in a snit because the brunch café didn’t spread your organic mashed avo all the way to the edge of your artisan sourdough toast. But even with a passing consideration for others, you can make a decent guess at where along the spectrum your problem sits between starving and extreme mashed avo.
However—and this is where that relativity comes in—if the society you live in is such that you’ll face severe consequences if you’re caught eating unspread avo, then stressing the fuck out is probably an appropriate response.
The size of your problem is relative to your experience, relative to context, relative to the consequences, relative to everything else you’re dealing with at the same time.
I’m not arguing against recognising when you’ve got it better than someone else. It’s good to appreciate your privilege. But this quote sticks out at me:
Empathy for others is a very good thing, except when it becomes so heavy a burden that we end up feeling no empathy at all. (source)
I wonder if those of us who are quick to call out “first-world problems” are maybe projecting some first-world problems of our own.
I wonder, in our eagerness to deride others for how they acknowledge and express their stress over a ‘small’ problem, are we ignoring our own small problem of controlling the urge to make a smartarse comment?
In our enthusiasm for taking the moral high ground, are we making the real problem—the implied and underlying lack of empathy—worse?
This post is a note to self to be a little more compassionate about the first-world problems of others.
And if you could use the reminder, think of it as a note to you too. Let’s be kinder together. 👭
“The word falls out of him between breaths. He is drenched in sweat, and the heat emanating from him ripples the air around the surface of his skin. He squeezes my wrist, forehead resting on his other hand, shoulders rising and falling.”
Sofia is en route to Planet Paradiso, ready to start a new life after her divorce. But when she accepts Alexei’s dinner invitation on her final evening, she realises she’s in for more than she bargained for. As the AMS Celestial Dream arrives at its destination, and their one-night stand draws to a close, Sofia must choose between newfound possibilities with Alexei and the freedom she so desperately craves.
The Only Question That Matters is an emotional examination of healing and resilience through sex and love.
Thank you so much to Chase Horan for his unending patience with this cover. We went through two or three revisions until we landed on a style that would capture the mood of this book and the other books in the series—yes, series ☺️ More on that later.
So, after ten months, I’ve finally finished that space romance. Two frustrating attempts in previous years left me skeptical of NaNoWrimo, but I may have to eat my words now—it was April’s CampNaNo that got me over the line. ☺️
The manuscript is with my beloved beta readers now. This afternoon, I’m pausing for a breath and a cup of tea before getting on with the next project
In the rearview
The CapriLuxe Chronicles. We’re almost up to 1000 reads and I’m humbled by the response. My Perth-side mates have asked exactly where in King’s Park About Henry‘s steamy action took place. Maybe we’ll take stroll one evening, friends
Writing for the Capri Luxe Hotels anthology got me thinking about the different relationships dynamics people live by—polyamory, swinging, “monogamish”, timezone rules, hall passes… and more. I’ve wondered what my view of relationships would be like now, had I grown up learning about these different arrangements without the social stigma applied by the conservative mainstream.
Anyway, you can understand how this book announcement for Mia’s Wedding caught my eye. A reverse harem, I thought 😏 Yes, I want to read this, because the theme is relevant to my ponderings right now.
I emailed Lucy Felthouse to ask whether it’s better to read Book One before getting stuck in. She says yes, but after reading that story excerpt, I’m tempted to do a cheeky and read Book Two first. Elias, Alex and Thomas sound spunky as (am I showing my age here?), and I just want to know if and how Mia sorts her shit out!
*adds to TBR*
*cries because TBR is already taller than I am*
Out Now—Mia’s Wedding (The Heiress’s Harem #2) by Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985) #reverseharem #whychoose
Planning a wedding is stressful enough, and that’s without a harem of gorgeous men to deal with.
Mia Harrington has had a difficult time of it lately—her father’s illness and subsequent death, then finding out she must get married if she is to inherit what’s rightfully hers. Fortunately, she’s tough and resourceful, and has emerged relatively unscathed from this period, as well as finding herself a suitable husband.
However, things are far from simple. Mia might be planning to marry investment banker Elias Pym, but she’s also having a relationship with his best friend, Doctor Alex Cartwright, and is in love with her gardener, Thomas Walker. Add to that broken dates, flashy proposals, a sexy Asian tech billionaire, and a nosey housekeeper, and you’ve got a situation hectic enough to drive even the most capable person to distraction. Can Mia juggle her men, her job, and the wedding arrangements, or is her happily ever after over before it has even begun?
Mia’s Wedding is the second book in The Heiress’s Harem reverse harem romance series.
Mia locked up and put the key in her bag, then took Elias’s arm. They walked down the steps and out into the chilly January night to the waiting black cab.
“I’m afraid,” Elias said, once they were settled into the back of the car, “Alex isn’t coming.”
“What do you mean, he’s not coming?” she squeaked.
Elias looked apologetic, but gave a one-shouldered shrug. “There was an emergency at the hospital—as their nearest surgeon, he got called in. Couldn’t very well say no, could he?”
Mia shook her head and sagged back into the seat, her heart sinking to her stomach. “No, of course not. I’m very sorry he won’t be joining us, but although we’re scintillating company, we don’t count as a life or death situation.”
He reached out and squeezed her hand, then kept hold of it. “No, we certainly do not. I hope, though, that I’ll be entertainment enough for you by myself this evening.”
She squeezed his hand back, then leaned over and kissed his cheek, pulling in the scent of his delicious cologne at the same time. “I’m sure you will. Besides, this was part of what you two meant when you were talking about being able to give a woman the attention she deserves between you, wasn’t it? Alex unfortunately can’t make it, but because I’m dating—or whatever the hell we’re calling this—both of you, it means I’m not left high and dry. I’m sure at some point you’ll be the one who has to cancel. These things happen.”
With a smile, Elias said, “They sure do. Though I don’t really get emergencies at work—and if I do, they’re all about which person gets to line their pockets the most, rather than saving lives. But enough of that!” he added brightly, clearly eager to change the sore subject of his chosen career. Though she still didn’t understand why he was so embarrassed about it. And if he hated it so much, why was he still doing it? She wasn’t going to broach that particular topic, though, not tonight. She already had one potentially hairy subject to discuss.
But then how could she, now? How could she talk about the situation with Thomas without Alex present? She stifled a sigh. Fuck it. Looks like it’s going to have to wait.
“So,” she said, “where are we going?”
“You’ll have to wait and see,” he replied with a smirk.
She jabbed him in the ribs. “Seriously?”
“Yes, seriously. Patience, woman! We’ll be there in…” he peered out of the window, presumably to check where they were, “in less than ten minutes, traffic permitting.”
“Hmph.” She folded her arms and pouted. “Guess I’ll just have to wait, then.”
“Don’t sulk.” Elias tapped the end of her nose. “We haven’t seen each other in a little while, so I want smiles and laughter, not pouting. Even though I know you’re faking it.”
She gasped. “I never fake it!”
“I should hope not,” he shot back, his grin turning wicked. “My future wife deserves nothing but the best, and that includes orgasms. Real ones.”
Her tummy flip-flopped. Bloody hell, she’d almost forgotten about that. She’d been so focussed on working up to telling Elias and Alex they weren’t the only two men to be sharing her that there hadn’t been much capacity left for thinking about her impending wedding. But then, technically speaking, she wasn’t engaged yet. They’d discussed it and informally agreed to it, but there’d been no proposal, no acceptance, no ring.
There was plenty of time left for all that, though. If she and Elias had to grab a couple of witnesses and go to a registry office at the last minute, it would still count—her father hadn’t specified a type of ceremony, thankfully. But that wasn’t how she wanted to do things, and she suspected Elias wouldn’t be too keen on that idea, either.
“Ooh, your future wife, am I?” she teased, figuring that since the topic of Thomas was off the table, she might as well put the topic of their engagement on the table, instead.
Elias frowned. “Of course you are. I know we haven’t sorted a ring yet, but we still know we’re engaged…”
She shrugged, hoping it appeared more nonchalant to him than she actually felt. “Well, not exactly. We never made it official, did we? More of a loose verbal agreement.”
Elias groaned and screwed up his nose. “When you put it like that, it sounds bloody awful. I know to all intents and purposes it’s a practical arrangement, but I want it to be much more than that, Mia.” He cupped her cheek and brushed his thumb over her skin. “I’ve missed you.”
Warmth bloomed where he touched her, and radiated across her entire face and down her neck. She smiled and placed her hand over his. “I want it to be more, too. And I’ve missed you, as well. It’s been a long month, hasn’t it?”
Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of, and an Amazon bestseller), Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award, and an Amazon bestseller), The Persecution of the Wolves, Hiding in Plain Sight and The Heiress’s Harem series. Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 170 publications to her name. Find out more about her writing at http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk, or on Twitter or Facebook. Sign up for automatic updates on Amazon or BookBub. Subscribe to her newsletter and get a free eBook: http://www.subscribepage.com/lfnewsletter