Thursday, May 17, 2018

Killing your darlings

Since retiring from teaching full-time, I've been an adjunct instructor at our local community college. I love teaching there - especially at the satellite campuses where the students are (usually) non-traditional in their ages. What's especially exciting is that the college is instituting the Freshman Year Seminar - a class students take either their first or second semester that will help them transition to the more rigorous requirements of higher education. I am honored that I was asked to design and teach one of those seminars.

Each seminar has a different focus. The science seminars, for example, might be based on some of the more controversial aspects of science research or centered on science in today's media. I'm in the Humanities, so our topics/issues can be quite broad. I've chosen "The Memoir as Self-discovery" as the title to mine.

What does that mean? It means I've been reading a lot of memoirs lately! While the students will spend a great deal of time writing their own (topics such as "How I learn best" and "How I got that scar"), they will also read others' memoirs so we can discuss style, form, and content.

To that end, I finally read Stephen King's On Writing. I know, I know - it's taken me long enough. I've only read a few of his books because I don't do well with horror or suspense. Gives me oggeta (I have no idea how to spell that Italian word and neither does the spellchecker). I've enjoyed the few pieces I have read (The Green Mile, Eyes of the Dragon) and now I can add On Writing to the list. He's blunt, concise, and pretty much right on track.

I particularly enjoyed the section on killing your darlings.

In fact, that's twice in two weeks that phrase has popped up - once in class discussion of literature and then again in King's book. In class, I spoke of how hard it can be - and how necessary. It isn't easy, they are, after all, your darlings. You created that character, that scene, that sentence. It is a part of you. It may be the most beautiful piece of writing you've ever created. If it doesn't serve the story, however, it must die.

In class I spoke of a description I'd included in the first few pages of a VERY long fantasy novel (that will probably never leave my computer. This was an early novel that holds just about every mistake a beginning novelist can make). At a workshop, I had the opportunity to read the first three pages to a group where a well-known author of fantasy would give a quick critique of our work. When I finished reading, she really honed in on the description of the flower, praising the imagery and phrasing. She then said, "I know that this flower will be very important later in the story because you spent so much time creating that beautiful image."

I thanked her for her critique, all the while cringing inside because I knew what she did not: that flower? Was just a flower. Nothing more. It never came back. It wasn't important. The protagonist bent down to smell it just because I needed to give him an action to do. Period.

But it had led at least one reader down an erroneous path. And if it could lead one...

I cut it.

Hard as it was to kill something praised as "beautiful imagery" with "excellent phrasing" - I cut it.

And I just did it again.

A different fantasy - the One of My Heart that is the Work of My Life - and I just cut an entire scene that I loved. Why? Because it didn't work. Oh, it was well-written and moved the plot forward, but I can move it forward more quickly and with better character development if I go a different route. The path has moved, in other words, and that scene is on a different branch. Sigh.

I do have to offer a disclaimer, though. Killing my darlings is never easy for me. To counteract the pain, I have a file I label "Extras" for each and every one of my stories. Not kidding. Every novel I have published? Has a file on my computer that contains writing that didn't make it into the final edit.

Why? Because every time I kill a darling, I think, "Well, I might go back and need it" or "I'll just use this later."

Want to know how many times I've put something back in after it's in the "Extras" file?

Zero.

Zilch.

Nada, not happening, never.

And yet, I keep doing it. Did it today when I put that entire chapter into the file in case I change my mind.

I wonder if Stephen King keeps all his dead darlings?

Oooh...I think there might be a story there - about a writer haunted by his dead darlings...

Play safe!
Diana

(edited to fix some typos)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Shh....its a Secret - in fact, it's TWO Secrets!

After two years of being out of print and unavailable, both SECRET SUBMISSION  and SUBMISSION REVEALED are both re-released into the great, wide world!

Secret Submission began life as a series of short pieces I wrote when I couldn't find any BDSM stories online that showed a loving relationship. All I could find back then (the early 2000's) was porn. Now, don't get me wrong - porn has its place. But it wasn't what I was looking for. When I complained to a friend, he suggested I write my own - and Secret Submission was born.

A few months later, I was looking for a home for an historical I'd written (Hardship and Hardtack) and came across a back page for Ellora's Cave. On it, was the email addy of their new Senior Editor. It got me thinking about that sequential series of stories I'd written that explored a woman's struggles to understand the BDSM lifestyle and why she was so attracted to it.

I sent off an email (which sounds so cavalier - in reality, it took me over an hour to write it as I agonized over every phrase!) - to my surprise, I got an answer about three hours later - on a Sunday night, no less. Response? She wanted to see my manuscript!

Not only was the quick reply unexpected, but I was so used to rejections for my historical, I didn't really expect anyone to want to see anything I'd written. Problem was, the manuscript wasn't organized into chapters, it wasn't even formatted well and it could use a good spellcheck - and it was nearly 10:00 on a Sunday night. What to do?

Call in sick to work on Monday, of course! I took the morning, whipped the first three chapters into shape and wrote a synopsis, and then stared at my responding email for a good twenty minutes before I summoned enough courage to hit "Send." I knew better than to get my hopes up - and the website said there was a 4-6 week period before getting responses, so I promptly attempted to put the whole thing out of my mind. The next day I went off to school, taught all day, came home and opened my email without expectation.

So you can imagine my surprise when there was an email from Ellora's Cave, offering to buy my book. I had pitched it as a two-book series and admitted the second book wasn't written yet, although the outline was. Because it was going to be two books, the first book didn't actually have much of an ending. The editor told me I had to change the end of the first book to a Happily Ever After. And they were only buying the first book. When I wrote the second, they'd consider it.

I was ecstatic! No problem in changing the ending to the first book, since I hadn't written it anyway. Oh, I'd made up an ending for they synopsis, but hadn't actually written it. My husband and I discussed a pen name since he is quite well-known in the community and I was teaching high school English at the time. Neither of us was in a position to let it be widely known I was about to be published as an erotic romance author.

I spent every evening and the weekend finishing the book and putting the rest of the short episodes into chapter form. By the following Sunday night (a week after that first email), it was ready to send to the woman assigned to be my regular editor - Pam Campbell. Pam was wonderful and we worked together on almost every book I wrote for Ellora's Cave. I miss her guidance.

Submission Revealed, which was always planned to be the second book, and for which I'd written the synopsis back in that quick week of May, 2004, didn't actually end up getting written until four years later and was released for the first time in May, 2009. Too many other stories crowded in between, demanding they be told. EC's art department was in transition at the time and I never liked the cover they provided. Secret Submission's cover was striking - and I never could figure out why they didn't do a visual tie-in with the covers so readers would know the two were related.

Hence the new covers for both books. While the design of Secret Submission is much the same as the original, the photo is different (I could've used the original, but the photo quality wasn't sharp anymore, so I replaced it). Submission Revealed's cover now aligns with the first book in the series, so you can tell they're partners.

So here they are, re-covered and re-released - all bright and shiny and new again. Both are available in all ebook formats. Happy reading and, as always -

Play safe!
Diana

PS. Submission Revealed is also available in print. Secret Submission is coming soon in print format.














Monday, March 05, 2018

So, what are you working on now?

I have some friends I don't see very often (maybe once a year) and every time I see them they ask, "So what are you working on now?" The question makes me realize two things: 1) they're not following my posts AND 2) I'm not posting often enough. So here goes:

What am I working on now?

I'm working on staying sane in an insane world. My country is so divided right now I worry about a civil war - and whose finger is on the nuclear button.

I'm working on writing new curriculum for a course that will be brand-new to me come fall semester. The college has asked me to teach a Freshman Year Seminar (FYS) and I said yes. It'll keep my mind young (at this point I'm fleshing out my topic: The Memior as Self-Discovery).

I'm editing and doing some major rewriting to The Revolution of Clara Simpson. It's an historical I wrote a few years back and it was denied by several publishers, one of whom gave me excellent feedback. Takes time to get back into that world - and then time to stay there, which has been in short supply lately.

I WANT to work on a fantasy I started nearly 20 years ago. It gets more timely every day - not something I expected when I first started chasing down the story. Like the historical, however, it requires my entering a world of my own creation - and staying there for a while. Hard when life pulls you out every other day - or oftener (is that a word? The spellchecker isn't marking it wrong!).
And I will work on my communication skills. Posting more often and getting back to that blog...Watch for some new re-releases coming soon - I've been working on those, too.

Play safe!
Diana

Sunday, November 26, 2017

New titles, a sale and reading!

It may have seemed as if I stopped writing, but I really haven't. I've just taken on a bit more than I wanted this semester and am teaching three classes. Doesn't sound like much, does it? Except they're timed so that I'm out of the house Every Single Day. Grrr. Won't make that mistake again. I retired for a reason - I want to write full time!

It has come to my attention, however, that the purchasing page was woefully out of date. That has been rectified. You can now find the page links to Stress Relief, Love Unleashed (which you can also get in print!), and This Journey We Call Life as well as all my other currently-released titles.

Cyber Monday sale!


Of course, Cyber Monday is coming and we're going to start a day early. Those three titles are all on sale for 50% off from today until Sunday, December 3rd. Just go to Smashwords and use the coupons below to get your discount. Remember, you can download any format you need for any device you use.

Click on the title to go to its Smashwords page.

Stress Relief - coupon code   FS68Z

Love Unleashed - coupon code  YC24K

This Journey We Call Life - coupon code   HJ94B  
BTW, did you know the cover for TJWCL was painted by my husband? The painting hangs in my work room at the cabin. :)

But wait! There's more!


And if you're looking for Christmas stories, don't forget the 12 Days of Christmas (Bondage) and A Devil in Winter, also 50% off!

12 Days of Christmas (Bondage) - coupon code   HG45W

A Devil in Winter - coupon code FN46E

And finally, what I've been reading...

The Summerhouse by Jude Devereaux (a good afternoon's read)
The Black Tulip by Laura Willig (a re-read, which should tell you something!)
three other romances I forgot to write down!

Currently I'm finishing up The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (good, but a bit indulgent)

To sum up - I'm still writing, although a bit slower, so those new titles will be coming soon; there's a great Cyber Monday sale that starts today and goes all week (50% off!), and I'm reading a bunch of stories. Oh! And my kids got me into Skyrim, so I'm all about killing dragons lately. Hey, someone's got to do it!

Play safe and buy books! (and leave reviews)

Diana





Monday, October 02, 2017

Relief for your Stress is coming!

And it's called Stress Relief!

Yep, this VERY strong, VERY sexual story of Meg, a woman who enjoys a good flogging, and Rand, a strong Dom who enjoys giving Meg what she needs, is soon to be available again. This is the book that won me the "Best Dinner Scene" award at Ellora's Cave Romanticon - for the creative use of Meg as platter. :)

What you don't know, however, is that Ellora's Cave censored that scene.

You read that right. That dinner scene was too hot for EC and I had to remove entire sections of it before they would publish it. Can you imagine? Something too sexy for the editors of Ellora's Cave???

So now that I'm self-publishing - all those sections are back in place. Every juicy slurp, every teasing touch, every dastardly deed - all there for your reading pleasure.

Stress Relief is available for ebook pre-order now - at both Amazon and Smashwords - and goes live on October 8th. Pre-order your copy now and then settle in on Sunday for a hot, hot, hot time!

NOTE: The print versions that are available on Amazon are of the OLD version. The new, hotter version will be released in print before the end of the month. It's in final checks before going live.

My Reading List

On another, more mundane note - I realized I haven't updated my list of books read since mid-July. I'm missing a few I forgot to record in August, but here they are:

The Mistress of Normandy by Susan Wiggs (good romance)
The Handbook to Handling His Lordship by Suzanne Enoch (disappointing. I really wanted it to be in handbook format -and it was Just Another Romance Novel)
The Deception of the Emerald Ring by Laura Willig (a re-read. That tells you something!)
The Garden Intrigue by Laura Willig (another re-read. I'm telling you - these are worth it!)
Seven Stories to Stand or Fall by Diana Gabaldon (Two words: Jamie. Lord John. Ok, that was three words. Sue me.)
The Lies of Lock Lamora by Scott Lynch (a fantasy that looked interesting. It was. I look forward to reading the others of his I put on my Christmas list)
The Taming of the Duke by Eloisa James (romance, entertaining)
Shadowmarch, Shadowplay, Shadowrise and Shadowheart, all by Tad Williams (I read the 1st book in this series years ago, then got the second but hadn't had time to re-read the first to bring myself up to speed. Found the 4th book at a book sale, so naturally I had to order the 3rd. Now having all, I read them in a row).

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

It's ALIVE!

Well, live anyway. :)





This Journey We Call Life is now available on both Amazon and Smashwords. Ten short stories - one of which has never before been published - for some very enjoyable (although not erotic) reading pleasure. Use the links to get your copy today!


Once you've read it, please return to the site where you purchased it and leave a review. Remember, we authors live and die by the number of reviews a book gets. Be honest and tell the world what you thought!




And while you're at it, pre-order Stress Relief - which will be available on October 8th - on both Amazon and Smashwords.. This is a full-length erotic romance that couldn't be further away in genre from the short stories. In fact, this might be the most extreme BDSM story Diana Hunter put her name to (the even more extreme belong to Mystic Shade. Woof!).

Happy reading and Play Safe!

Diana

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Cover reveal - and some traveling

Cover reveal


I really like the cover for this collection of ten short stories. It's an early painting my husband did and there's just something about the way the colors move from a dense, gray fog into the yellows and oranges of autumn that appeals to me. The green at the bottom reminds us summer is still here even as fall approaches.

This collection has nine stories that have appeared here on the blog, most of them for only a day (the First Friday Fiction series) and one story that's never been published. None of them are erotic romance, so this is a G-rated collection. All of the stories were fun to write, even those that are in genre that stretched my abilities (action-adventure? Really?).

It will be available for pre-order in a few days and will deliver at the end of September. I'll post again with links when everything goes live. :)


And some traveling...

It's always fun when you get to visit friends who live at a distance. My husband and I live in the Finger Lakes area of New York State and we have friends who, separately and independent of each other, all decided to move to Indiana many years back. We went out to visit five years ago and thought it was time to visit the Hoosier State again.

Remembering Benjamin Franklin's adage ("Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days"), we kept our visits short, staying two nights on a farm just south of Fort Wayne and two nights in the suburbs of Indianapolis. We had a great time both places, reconnecting, solving the world's problems, and just plain ol' having fun.

From there, we headed south and I crossed another off of my list of "States Visited." I'd never been to Kentucky before - and now I'm in love with it. Not only is it beautiful, the people are friendly and food delicious. I'm only sorry we didn't take time for any of the bourbon tours.

We did, however, visit Mammoth Cave, an aptly named cave if ever there was one. Over 406 continuous miles discovered - so far! We took two tours and my only complaint was that they moved too quickly. Would've loved a bit more time to look around as we walked. I took no pictures underground (being too busy trying to stay with the group) but my husband snapped a few. Will share once I get them off his phone and onto my computer.

From there we headed to Shaker Village - originally called "Pleasant Hill." This is a museum that houses the US's largest collection of historical buildings still on their original foundations. AND it has transformed the upper stories of the buildings into rooms you can stay in. We enjoyed our stay there, especially walking around the 19th century grounds after all the tourists had gone home (we stayed in the building on the right).


So watch for This Journey We Call Life - and play safe!

Diana