Category Archive: Writing

Feb 03 2016

Establish an Emotional Connection Using Deep POV (What I Learned Writing Darkness Eternal: Refuge Inc.)



Deep point of view, or Deep POV for short, is a technique used to get inside the mind of a character and make a deep emotional connection with readers. Today we’re going to discuss writing in deep POV.

Woohoo! We’ve made it to the fourth installment in the weekly blog series featuring important writing lessons I learned while writing (and editing) my post-apocalyptic/dystopian Refuge Inc. series, Darkness Eternal. It officially releases March 1st, but you can celebrate with me by claiming a copy now at a special preorder discount.


When my editor returned Darkness Eternal edits to me, each page was marked with red (which is a good thing! Trust me). It’s not just the corrections to spelling, grammar, or word usage that pushes me to write better. It’s comments from the editor like these:



By asking, “What is your character thinking?” or “How does that make your character feel?” or “What did your character want to say?” the editor is giving me a chance to dig deeper into the character’s POV. By answering those questions, it allows me to:

  1. Show a character’s thought process
  1. Build a three-dimensional character
  1. Get readers to understand, relate, and empathize with a character
  1. Develop internal conflict
  1. Become a better storyteller

Besides answering those types of questions about your character’s thoughts and action, here are some other ways to deepen POV.

Eliminate signs of authorship & signs of telling

Has your character ever wondered, thought, felt, or heard? Get rid of those filler words and rewrite your sentences to put your character in action. Your character didn’t just “think.” What is she thinking? Telling instead of showing puts you as the author in the story, which then pulls the reader right out of it. That’s a big no-no.

The best way to stay off the page as the author is to simply describe what your character heard, thought, smelled, tasted, felt, etc., without using those words.

Example 1:

Instead of: I felt a tingle travel my arm.

Write: A tingle traveled my arm.

Example 2:

Instead of: She heard the sound of thunder overhead.

Write: Thunder roared overhead.

Limit “said” tags

Has your characters said, yelled, replied, or asked? Use dialogue tags sparingly or eliminate them altogether in exchange for action tags. Just as “felt” or “heard” makes a reader aware of the author in the story, the frequent usage of “said” and “asked” does the same, and becomes redundant. How effective is having a character say something, then reestablish that she said it with a said tag? That would be redundant, right?

Said tags prevent the reader from sinking into the story or envisioning scenes without much effort. Using said in dialogue often reminds the reader that she’s reading instead of allowing her experience to be immersive.

(Also, it’s a form of telling, and can be viewed as a sign of lazy writing from some readers.)

Example 1:  

Instead of: “Look out!” Sam shouted. The door swung open.

Write: “Look out!” Sam moved to the side as the door swung open.

Example 2:

Instead of: “How was dinner?” I asked, taking off my jacket.

Write: “How was dinner?” I took off my jacket.

You can interchange action tags with thoughts too, as a way to create an emotional connection between character and reader.


“How was dinner?” When he didn’t answer, my world rocked. This was the beginning of the end of the only once-healthy relationship I’d known.

Write using first person narrative

First person and third person narrative are the most popular POVs in fiction, and each have their pros and cons. One benefit to writing in first person narrative is it allows you to get deeper into your character’s mind with a little more ease than third person narrative.

You are viewing the world through this character’s perspective throughout the entire story. You are already using his voice, and when he doesn’t speak, his thoughts are just as revealing. There’s no better way to connect with readers emotionally than to sit them in the driver’s seat inside your character’s head, allowing them to sense and experience your character’s journey as if it were their own.


So now it’s your turn. Tell me. Which POV allows you to better connect with characters, first or third?


Posts in the “What I Learned Writing Darkness Eternal: Refuge Inc.” series:

Part 1: Master the Element of Surprise

Part 2: Hook Your Readers 5 Ways

Part 3: Understanding Theme

Part 4: Establish an Emotional Connection Using Deep POV

image credit: [Maureen Didde]

Jan 24 2016

Understanding Theme (What I Learned Writing Darkness Eternal: Refuge Inc.)



Understanding your book’s theme is necessary to create meaningful and lasting stories that have deeper meaning than what’s on the surface.

Thanks for tuning in to the third installment in the weekly blog series featuring important writing lessons I learned while writing my story from the post-apocalyptic/dystopian Refuge Inc. series, Darkness Eternal. Darkness Eternal is available now on Amazon at a special preorder discount. It officially releases March 1st.


In general, the Refuge Inc. series explores many themes. One or two are major themes, which are the most significant in the work. Many are minor and appear in the stories briefly. Almost every story, especially those that resonate, have a theme.

Defining Theme


What exactly is theme? The theme of a story is the underlying message within a story, or the point the author is trying to make.

What the theme is not:

  • The Subject. The subject is a topic of the story. The theme is a personal belief or opinion of the author. For example, a writer may choose the subject of “coming out” and the theme for the story may be the author’s opinion that coming out later in life is detrimental in building healthy relationships earlier in life.
  • The Moral. The moral of a story is a lesson or message a reader takes away from the story. Because a moral can be left for a reader to determine for themselves, what resonates can differ for every person.

Developing Theme


Some of my best writing happens when I have a point to make or an opinion to express. That is why it’s best to start by looking inside yourself with self-reflection.

  • What in life has been heavy on your mind, heart, or conscious?
  • What have you wanted to say but too afraid to express?
  • What have you been saying but no one acknowledges?
  • What in life do you wish you can change, improve, or eliminate?

Like all people, you have beliefs, opinions, and experiences. You feel strongly about certain things. Now all you have to do is incorporate those feelings and messages in your story. Here’s how:

  • Use a character or conversation. Allow a character, preferably the protagonist, to express an opinion about the subject of the story, and then show how his beliefs are tested, changed, or enhanced to reflect the overall story theme.
  • Add it in the narrative. Be creative and use your story’s world, settings, and characters to integrate your theme.
  • Include it in thoughts or unspoken means. Some ideas are never publicly expressed, but what’s not said usually says a lot.
  • Using metaphors and symbolism. Sure, the blue drapes in the story can mean blue drapes, but when done right those blue drapes can signify the blues of a character who’s been living a double life.

Caution: Be mindful of how often you apply these methods within your story. Employ a combination of techniques and use them sparingly to avoid sounding preachy.

I hope you enjoyed diving into the topic of theme. If you find this helpful, please consider sharing! Now it’s your turn, what book’s theme resonates with you?


Posts in the “What I Learned Writing Darkness Eternal: Refuge Inc.” series:

Part 1: Master the Element of Surprise

Part 2: Hook Your Readers 5 Ways

Part 3: Understanding Theme

Part 4: Establish an Emotional Connection Using Deep POV

[image credit: Jo Naylor]

Jan 15 2016

Hook Your Readers 5 Ways (What I Learned Writing Darkness Eternal: Refuge Inc.)

hook image

As a writer, you’re familiar with the method of getting and keeping readers interested in your book by luring them in with a hook. We often think to “hook” a reader requires a snappy, hard-hitting, action-packed opening line, add one and then our work is done. The truth? A great hook propels the reader forward to the next great hook, and the next hook, and again and again, until the reader reaches the end. This can be accomplished five ways.


I welcome you to the second installment in the weekly blog series featuring important writing lessons I learned while writing the latest installment in my post-apocalyptic/dystopian Refuge Inc. series, Darkness Eternal. It officially releases March 1st, but you can claim a copy now at a special preorder discount.

When I create a hook, what I’m really doing is planting a question in the reader’s mind that they will seek the answer to. They want the answer so bad, they have to continue reading until they get it. If you produce this kind of interest early on, you’ve got yourself a hook. But getting a sale, a fulfilling read, and satisfied fans requires more than just a snazzy opening sentence or tagline.

1. Book Cover

Yes, hooking your readers starts with the book cover. No matter the advice, everyone judges books by their covers. You can talk about a book all day and night, but a tantalizing cover is like a picture … worth a thousand words. Instead of just being pretty and grabbing attention, a cover done well triggers something inside the viewer that screams “I gotta read this book.”

To spark that I-gotta-read-this-book feeling in your audience, give them a title, an image, or a tagline that they want to know more about. Your cover’s images and style should make people stop and ask, “What is this book about?” and create enough interest to propel them to find out, which will lead them to your book description.

2. Book Description

This is where the magic happens. After the book cover, the book description is normally what makes or breaks a person’s interest. The back cover description not only helps them determine if they’d be interested in the story, but it’s your chance as the author to show them that they are.

  • Hook them with a catchy tagline, a question, a controversial statement, or a thought-provoking claim
  • Hook them with the first sentence by sharing what makes your story special or unique, introduce an intriguing character or setting, or trigger an emotion
  • Hook them with the conflict, the antagonist, the premise, or what’s at stake
  • Leave them with a question (literally or figuratively) that they’d want the answer to

Write your description with the intention of getting readers from one hook to the next until they decide to open the book and read the first line.

3. First line of the book

Everyone talks about the opening line of the book and how important it is for grabbing your readers’ attention. We write, rewrite, and polish the first line more than any other part of our manuscript for this very reason. A first line is so important there are popular fiction writing contests dedicated to judging them. Much like the hooks of your book description, hook readers with the wow factor.

Here’s some examples of opening lines that does the job:

  • “I was trying hard to get drunk.” – Dark Space by Lisa Henry
  • “Today I’m five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I change to five, abracadabra.” -Room by Emma Donoghue
  • “I feel that suicide notes lose their zing when they drag on too long.” – Hushed by Kelley York

Indeed, the first line is a big deal, but only if it does its job of getting readers to read further. Enticing readers to want to read to the end of your book is the point, after all. And to properly execute that requires a hook to be set at the first line of every chapter.

4. First sentence of every chapter

Don’t stop at the first line of your book. Set a hook at the first line of every chapter. Give the reader more incentive to move further into your story. Make them feel the same excitement, intrigue, and curiosity at the opening of every chapter as they felt at the beginning of the book. Use your creativity to come up with some inventive, metaphoric or plan catchy first lines to introduce your chapters.

5. First chapter

Use your first chapter like a long first line. The entire chapter should be full of excitement or intrigue to lead the reader on to the next chapter. It’s like a cycle, really.

Make your first chapter tight, leave out unnecessary exposition or lengthy description, set the mood, introduce a special quirk to make your main character likable or relatable, hint at the main conflict, and conclude on a cliffhanger. This will lead you to the hook of the second chapter, rinse, and repeat.

Not it’s your turn. What do you think about the ways we hook readers? Speak your mind in the comments below. Don’t forget to share this post if you find it helpful!


Posts in the “What I Learned Writing Darkness Eternal: Refuge Inc.” series:

Part 1: Master the Element of Surprise

Part 2: Hook Your Readers 5 Ways

Part 3: Understanding Theme

Part 4: Establish an Emotional Connection Using Deep POV

[image credit:Derek Gavey]

Jan 08 2016

Master the Element of Surprise (What I Learned Writing Darkness Eternal: Refuge Inc.)




Want to turn a dull story into an exciting one? Want readers to talk about your story long after reading it? Surprise them. Plot twists and surprise endings are just some of the components that make up great fiction. Following are some tips you can apply to master the element of surprise in your story.


Today, I’m excited to welcome you to the first installment in a weekly blog series featuring important writing lessons I learned in the past year and a half while writing the latest book in my post-apocalyptic/dystopian Refuge Inc. series, Darkness Eternal, which will release March 1st! You can claim your copy now at a special preorder discount. Surprises are a huge component of the Refuge Inc. series. It’s one of the things that make the stories fun to write.


In stories, plot twists create interest and give readers something to talk about. Most popular and highly praised stories contain at least one plot twist or surprise within their pages. Planting surprises inside a story has become second nature in storytelling, and writers who seek support on mastering the element of surprise should read on.

Examples of surprises:

A surprise is a plot element written to keep a story interesting and to add suspense by putting the characters in a surprising situation.

Examples include:

  • Reveal a secret
  • Make your protagonist fail
  • Close an escape route
  • Turn an enemy into an ally
  • Turn an ally into an enemy
  • Kill a character

Examples of plot twists:

A plot twist is when something happens within the plot that changes the direction of the story in a way no one saw coming. Or an event that twists the story to provide an entirely different perspective of events than was anticipated. To accomplish this, write your story in a way that makes the reader believe one thing, and then twist it to reveal the truth.

Popular examples (from film) include:

(*Psst. The links contain spoilers.)

  • The famous twist ending of the 1999 horror-thriller The Sixth Sense from M. Night Shyamalan, who’s well-known for adding plot twists in most of his work.
  • The popular twist ending of the science fiction film Planet of the Apes (1968).
  • The big reveal at the end of the science fiction/dystopian cult classic Soylent Green (1973).

In each of these films, the reveal changes everything we knew up until the huge twist. So how do you create something similar within your story?

1. Avoid clichés and stereotypes

Clichés and stereotypes fall under the tier of predictability, and predictability is the last thing you want when trying to surprise your readers or create a juicy plot twist. Sure, tropes and themes are expected by readers, but can backfire when overused. Anything predictable, expected, or foreseen should be avoided like … the plague (see what I did there?).

Sometimes allowing realism to steer your twists, turns, and surprises can provide for some highly praised originality if you do it right by fitting it within your story’s world and rules. However, I caution about providing too much realism in fiction, since most readers tend to read to escape reality. However, making your twists believable without relying on familiarity or overdone scenarios is key to an enjoyable surprise.

Examples of clichés and stereotypes to avoid:

  • Falling in love based on looks
  • Nightmares and prophecies revealed to be true predictions all along
  • The protagonist turns out to be the culprit
  • It was all a dream
  • Female’s nausea turns out to be pregnancy
  • The blonde, busty, bimbo
  • The geeky, glasses-wearing nerd who’s an expert in physics and Star Wars
  • An everyday man finds the bomb, discovers who planted it, and diffuses it with only seconds to spare

 2. Foreshadow

Foreshadowing is essential for the reveal of your plot twist or surprise ending. By planting evidence early in your story, you avoid using convenience and coincidence as a plot device.

If your character is going to die by the blade of a sword in the final scene of your story, make sure you introduced the sword somewhere in the preceding scenes. In this example of foreshadowing, your character’s surprise death can still be unexpected without seeming out of place.

If your magical fairy gets trapped inside a rotting tree trunk in chapter ten, make sure readers are aware of her portal producing abilities in an earlier chapter. Maybe she didn’t know the consequences of using her power or she still needed to iron out the kinks, but she definitely knew producing portals was in her arsenal. Suddenly discovering this power ten minutes after being barricaded will not fly for your readers, and will thwart your plan of creating an effective surprise or twist.

The best twists are the ones where you look back over the story and kick yourself in the butt because you should have seen it coming but didn’t.

3. Dig deep for originality

The only way to be original is to forgo borrowing plots and genre tropes and write the story only you can write. That means digging deep within your emotions and experiences, and putting your findings on the page. No one can bring it quite like you. Embrace your uniqueness, take chances often, and create from your heart.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have tips on mastering the element of surprise? Speak your mind in the comments!


Posts in the “What I Learned Writing Darkness Eternal: Refuge Inc.” series:

Part 1: Master the Element of Surprise

Part 2: Hook Your Readers 5 Ways

Part 3: Understanding Theme

Part 4: Establish an Emotional Connection Using Deep POV

[image credit: Damian Gadal]

Jan 01 2016

New Blog Series for Writers & Darkness Eternal (Refuge Inc.)


First, Happy 2016! I hope 2015 was as good and productive as ever for you. And here’s to an amazing and lucky 2016!

Speaking of luck. I’m lucky to have the passion to tell stories and the desire to teach others a few things that I’ve learned from the process. Like many authors, I learn something new with every book I write. Since 2005, my passions for writing grew stronger each year with the completion of story after story. And at the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to, the stories. Wouldn’t you agree?


Upon finishing every story, I get so excited as I can’t wait to announce the completion of a beloved project and share with you the fruits of my labor.


Well that time has come again. And this time I’m especially excited about this story!


So, without further ado, allow me to announce:


The latest Refuge Inc. tale, Darkness Eternal, is finally complete and the book will officially be released on March 1st 2016!


So why am I so excited about this book?

Plenty of reasons.


  1. It took forever to write and completion feels oh so good
  2. It’s the most anticipated Refuge Inc. installment from fans of the series and I can’t wait to fulfill the itch
  3. It’s 50k words and twenty-three chapters of action, suspense, twists, turns, and male-male adventure
  4. It’s completely new for the series, set a century in the future after an asteroid impact in a nearly indestructible underground sphere surrounded by toxic air
  5. It’s the best written story and the best storytelling I’ve told to date, in my humble opinion 😉
  6. It’s complex, not complicated, but multifaceted in its details, settings, and characterization
  7. Its themes of leadership and responsibility are timely
  8. It’s a standalone in a five book series and features an uncommon protagonist and a rare antagonist


What’s Darkness Eternal About?


DarknessEternal2As above, so below, except when referring to the underground Refuge Inc. compound.


A century after an asteroid impact and merely fifteen years after a second collision that turned the world into a noxious wasteland, Cadet Connor Nichols and other Refuge facility residents are making the most of their spherical underground utopia they call home.


But when a breach threatens to poison the occupants with ambient toxic air, Connor is forced to make life-altering decisions in an attempt to save lives and his only home. With help from best friend and training partner, Vince Moore, he’s reminded that good leadership requires responsibility.


His struggle is intensified as everything he knew about the facility, the leaders, and himself becomes twisted, distorted, and turned into the unimaginable when his effort exposes shocking secrets that threatens their future.


So what happens between now and March 1st?


  1. Beginning next week and every week until the release day, I’ll feature a special series of posts highlighting particular writing techniques I learned while writing Darkness Eternal over the last year and a half.


  1. Also, I’ll host a special giveaway. I’ll be giving away printed swag, collectables, and one-of-a-kind Refuge Inc. goodies to some lucky fans!


I hope you’ll join me for the fun. Happy reading!


[Image credit: xioubin low]

Aug 04 2015

Follow Your Favorite Authors on Amazon

Wondering when the next book from your favorite author will be available?

Amazon announced a new follow feature that allows you to follow your favorite authors and be the first to hear about their new releases.
Actually, the follow feature has been available for a while, but now you can receive a personal note along with the new release notification from your favorite authors when their books become available on Amazon.
So now you can hear directly from the author, maybe little facts or tidbits about the release, or even a personal “thank you” for your interest.


Simply click the yellow “follow” tab on the author page, under their profile picture.
The next time a book from your favorite author is released you will get a notice in your inbox, to the email address associated with your account.
Click the picture or the link to be directed to my Amazon author page and click the follow button if you already haven’t and stay informed.























Jul 08 2015

Kindle Unlimited: What Authors are Forgetting


I’ve been distracted from writing stories because of all the fuss going on about the changes to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited; so much so, I had to finally publish my two cents on the changes.

And, in this case, change is good.

Enrolling your book in the old Kindle Unlimited (KU 1.0) would have gotten you an estimated $1.34 per borrow (largely depending on the amount in the Kindle Select Global Fund and the number of borrows) after the reader got past the 10% mark, no matter the length of the book or how many pages were read.

Enrolling your book in the new Kindle Unlimited (KU 2.0) may earn you an estimated $0.0057 per pages read no matter the length of the book with an $11mil global fund (and an unknown estimate on pages read since it varies depending on how many books are enrolled and how many pages actually get read between now and the end of the month). The calculation comes from the most recent known pages read from June 2015. KU and KOLL customers read nearly 1.9 billion Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENPs) of KDP Select books.

PROs of both:

  • Each program allowed a book borrow to count toward the book’s ranking as a sale would, creating greater visibility the more borrows you get.
  • Authors can choose to enroll their books.
  • Authors can choose the price of their books.
  • Each program provides a greater chance of your book being discovered by readers—who can’t afford to pay full price for your book, afraid of taking a financial risk on a new-to-them author, or likes to browse more than the first 10% of a book—who otherwise would have passed on your book.
  • The author is getting paid for allowing a reader to borrow their book. This is a huge bonus, one a lot of authors tend to forget or fail to realize. **

PROs of KU 2.0:

  • KU 2.0 uses the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC), an unspecified calculation that determines the exact page length for every book enrolled by making every page the same font, font size, removing extra spaces, etc.
  • It focuses on valuable content, making it harder for anyone to pad their book with extras in an attempt to game the system. An eligible page excludes front and back matter, i.e. table of contents, author bios, etc.
  • The system aims to be fairer for all book lengths (short, average, and longer works) by paying for pages read no matter the price, length, genre, etc. So the pages read from books enrolled in the KU 2.0 program is assigned the same amount of money and will payout the same, equal amount no matter the author, length, or genre.

CONs of both:

  • The payout amount changes monthly depending on how many customers subscribe to KU and how many books are enrolled, which determines the amount of money in the KDP Select Global Fund for the month, making this aspect unpredictable.
  • Exclusivity is mandatory to enroll in Kindle Select and the KU program.

CONs of KU 2.0

  • It contains bugs. Some authors, myself included, are reporting that their KENPC has not been generated for their book/s, and instead of an accurate KENPs read number in the KU dashboard chart there are placeholders reading 500 KENPs read.
  • Children books and graphic novels will payout lower since these types of books generally have a lower word count than the average novel, and word count determines the length of a KENPC. So many authors are concerned that these genres will take an unfair blow as a result of the changes.
  • The change is causing panic and uproar. Some authors are pulling their books from Kindle Select and encouraging others to do so. Petitions were started and signed, nasty words and accusations exchanged on blogs and social media, because many authors believe that their incomes will drop significantly due to the changes.

** Getting paid for borrows


With all the panic about the changes to Kindle Select, many of us are forgetting the best part of the Kindle Unlimited program, from an author/publisher/business standpoint, you are getting paid every time someone reads a page of your book WITHOUT purchasing it!

Let that sink in for a second.

Readers browse bookstores and libraries flipping through page after page, skimming, sitting and reading in many cases … in that scenario they don’t get charged for those pages read and you don’t get paid for those pages read, and it should be that way. After all, they haven’t purchased the book. They’re browsing, skimming, borrowing.

Kindle Unlimited allows readers to borrow books and, in exchange for enrolling your book, the author gets paid even if a reader only reads the first page. Granted, the payout is only estimated to be somewhere around half a cent a page (we won’t know for sure until August 2015), but I would feel guilty if someone paid me $1.00 every time a reader skimmed the first page of my book, especially when they can do so, without me seeing a [half] cent, by using Amazon’s Look Inside feature. So the question becomes, is $0.0057 a decent price for a page read but not purchased? Think about that.

In conclusion (aka my two cents): a borrow is not the same as a sale, and the money an author makes from a borrow should be considered a bonus to that author’s income.

And because I can reach more readers through KU than through other online retailers or from sales alone, I’m willing to take a chance. In my case, I have much more to gain than lose. So, because the pros outweigh the cons for me, I went ahead and enrolled each Refuge Inc. book into Kindle Unlimited, including The Complete Darkness Collection.

So what are your thoughts on the new Kindle Unlimited? Did I leave out any pros or cons? Let your voice be heard in the comment section.

Jan 28 2015

Most Important Advice for Fiction Writers

ink pen

After writing a short story and handing it over to my seventh grade Literature teacher for grading, she returned it with one sentence of advice written over the black text in big cursive red ink:
Make your reader like your characters before killing them!


This piece of advice stuck with me through all my fifteen-plus years of writing fiction. In other words, I needed to make my readers care about my characters enough to worry about their wellbeing.

That’s the stuff of fiction, isn’t it?

If readers don’t like your characters, can’t relate to or empathize with them, or refuse to find justification in their motives, traits, or behaviors, the reader wouldn’t care what happens to them.

And the common denominator in great fiction is great characters. Yes, even the unlikable antagonist can be a great character. The trick is to make your main characters three-dimensional, believable, and have a plausible motive.

  • Three-dimensional: Develop their background, a list of fears, wishes, flaws, and successes. Determine why they are the way they are by asking what special event in their life influenced them.
  • Believable: Build their character and have them stay true to it. When changes occur to their character, which they should over time, those changes should make sense and be influenced by the complications they encounter throughout the story.
  • Plausible motive: Give them a good reason for doing what they do, even if what they do is bad. Even the bad guy has “good” intentions.


If the reader does not care about your characters, they will not continue the story. If you lose your reader’s interest, you run the risk of losing that reader for good.

I admit, it’s hard to remember almost anything from my seventh grade Math class, but my Literature teacher’s valuable advice about good storytelling will forever stay with me.

What’s the most important piece of writing advice you received as a fiction writer? Tell me in the comments.

[Image credit: Dinuraj K]

Dec 14 2014

3 Ways to Write Better Erotica by Sherri Goodman


Blog post by guest contributor Sherry Goodman


Every writer dreams of having their work acknowledged by the world, their name in headlines, thousands (if not millions) of readers searching for their book, and their own work on the lips of every talk show host. That is, of course, unless the piece is being put on blast because it’s unanimously been deemed as some of the worst work of the year…Sadly that’s just what happened to author Ben Okri.

Bad Sex in Erotic Fiction?

According to The Independent, his novel, The Age of Magic, was just given the 2014 Bad Sex in Fiction award, a title chosen annually by the Literary Review.

While it’s certainly not an award that every author covets, what’s particularly interesting about Okri is that he’s actually an award-winning writer—the good kind. In 1991, he was given the Man Booker award for The Famished Road. At just 32, he became the youngest recipient ever to take home the award, though he was later beat out by 28-year-old Eleanor Catton in 2013 for The Luminaries.

So how did a renowned author receive such a, um, special award? Well, it may be hard for some to admit, but just because you’re a talented writer doesn’t mean you’re good at writing about everything. Even the most prestigious authors have a few subjects in their repertoire that could use some touching up.

Even the most prestigious authors have a few subjects in their repertoire that could use some touching up.

You just have to be open to doing what’s necessary to fine-tune them.

Now, just because your erotic writing could use some help doesn’t mean anyone doubts your skills in the sack. I’m sure you’re very talented. I’m sure that thing you do with your leg and the bedpost should be studied by contortionists and that you’re ability to change positions while “never leaving your post” is nothing short of magic. But being able to describe the act on the page, in a way that makes readers feel as though they’re taking part in the act, is a whole different ball game. You could be a tiger in the bedroom, but readers will instantly recognize if you’re typing timidly.

In order to really write the hell out of an erotic story, you’re going to need to find out how to release that tiger from its bashful cage.

How to Write Better Erotica Scenes

There’s really only a few ways to break out of your shell and better your writing for these particular scenes.

  1. Read every erotic novel you can get your hands on. Go through every book and then read through them again. Take note of the equal portions of writing describing what’s going on and the characters’ responses.
  2. Reminisce. Think about the times you’ve had sex, and highlight some of the reasons why an experience was more memorable than others. What did your partner do that made being intimate resonate with you? Was there a certain way your partner touched you, something your partner said, or even just your partner’s enthusiasm in the heat of it all that made that moment unforgettable? Write every bit of it down in explicit detail. Afterwards, read what you wrote. Does your writing really reflect the heat of that night? If not, try to see where your description is lacking. Your goal is to recreate the emotions for your readers to experience. You want them to feel the same attachment to the sex scene that you feel.
  3. Watch an adult movie. Watch the videos and describe what’s happening in order to get comfortable with the wording. Utilize the 5 Ws of journalism and describe how the couple on screen interacts, the sounds they make, what each seems to be feeling—write it all down. Having a visual to utilize for inspiration can dramatically improve your dialogue and scene description skills when writing about similar acts.

Even if you love reading sexy stories and can’t help but grin when thinking about your own particularly hot liaisons, that doesn’t always mean you can translate a steamy sex scene onto the page. Get out of your comfort zone a bit and give some of these exercises a go. Think of it this way: even if your erotic writing needs improvement and potentially painstaking research, at least you know putting in the work will be fun!

I’d like to hear from you in the comments section. How do you tackle writing erotic scenes?


 Want to write a guest post for the blog? Contact Leslie Lee Sanders with your idea.

[Image credit: Alan Cleaver]

Oct 06 2014

Angel Martinez Reads Refuge Inc. Excerpt

Do you enjoy video book excerpts? Here’s an excerpt from my sci-fi epic, The Complete Darkness Collection (Refuge Inc. #1-3) read by Angel Martinez, the author of sci-fi and fantasy centered around gay heroes. In episode 6 of Story Time with Angel Martinez, she reads from the 3rd book in my post-apocalyptic/dystopian series. She’s done such a great job portraying the characters, I just had to share.

Check out the video below, along with links to where you can find the collection. If you enjoy the video, please share it by using the social media buttons below or leave a comment! Thanks.



LLS_Darkness_Bundle_3d_453x680The Complete Darkness Collection
By Leslie Less Sanders
3-Book Boxed Set
Tags: M/M, post-apocalyptic, dystopian, erotic romance

Exploring the lives of two asteroid impact survivors and their journey through the dark, collapsed city of Phoenix and their ever-changing relationship between themselves, their pasts, and their futures.

All Romance
Barnes and Noble

Before the Darkness (Book 1)
After an asteroid strikes Earth, a series of violent earthquakes destroy secluded Phoenix and leave survivor Elliot struggling to stay focused in the bleak aftermath. He meets fellow survivor, Adam, and together they search for reliable shelter and other survivors while distant, murky clouds fast approach. Their hunt for shelter leads them down an alternate path when they find spray painted symbols directing them to a mysterious place: Refuge Inc.

Amid the Darkness (Book 2)
Weeks after an asteroid strikes Earth, hurling Elliot and Adam into a fight for their survival, the two take shelter in an underground compound known as Refuge Inc. Shaking their past seems impossible as it comes back to haunt them, weakening the foundation of their relationship. Elliot, hung up on guilt over his former actions, tries to right his wrongs which leads him face-to-face with the troubling secrets of the compound. Adam’s run-in with the enigmatic prophet makes him question Refuge Inc. and the survivors’ future.

Beyond the Darkness (Book 3)
Phoenix—a dark, vast ruin, speckled with sporadic rays of light pushing its way through the dark, dense clouds. Adam and Elliot wander the collapsed city for days before taking shelter at the nearly standing Arrowhead hospital. Their days are filled with hopes of rescue and a deep need for emotional and mental closeness, until a harsh reality take over their thoughts—their food and supplies are dwindling, and they are in desperate need of assistance and reprieve. They’re forced to return to the hellish compound, also known as Refuge Inc.

The author of several books of fiction and fiction with spice, Leslie Lee Sanders resides in Queen Creek, Arizona, with her husband, three daughters, and a wild beast she calls her imagination. She’s known for writing erotic romance, mostly in the gay and ménage categories, and recently plunged into writing deep, dark romantic sci-fi with her post-apocalyptic and dystopian series, Refuge Inc. She also writes horror that thrills and chills under L.L. Sanders. She loves to hear from readers and fellow authors!

EMAIL: leslie[at]leslieleesanders[dot]com

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