August MacGregor

Celebrating Sensuality. Intended for mature audiences, 18 and over


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Stopping By

It’s certainly been a while since my last post, and please know that I’m still alive and kicking 🙂

This past summer, I was tugged in different directions that took me away from posting on my blog. Increased work in my day job was the main culprit.

Outside of my day job, I questioned if I should continue writing under my pen name. If I retired August MacGregor, that would simplify my writing life, allowing me to focus more on writing under my real name.

This question has popped up several times before, so it’s nothing new. The question visits me every so often, under the temptation of simplifying life.

However, the stories have a stronger temptation. Stories that fit under my real name’s writing, then more romantic and erotic stories that fit better under August. These stories have urged me to keep going, saying they want me to complete them.

I’ve listened to a couple of the stories, and I finished the initial drafts for two August MacGregor novels. That quieted down the urges a bit — and it felt good to reach that point with the stories. I’ve put the initial drafts to the side, and I’ll go back to them early next year. (Billionaire and River are their working titles.)

In the meantime, my attention turned to writing stories that fit under my real name. Which means the activity that has suffered is posting here on my blog. Unfortunately, it will continue to suffer as I keep putting more energy into my day job, family responsibilities, and fiction writing.

I don’t have a clear sense of when I’ll come back to being on WordPress regularly. I miss posting, and I miss reading posts from my blogging friends. I hope you guys are doing well.

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Why I Write Erotic and Romantic Fiction

I originally wrote this by a request from Elizabeth over at Just Add Tea, and I wanted to add it here after reading Emmanuelle de Maupassant’s post “Why Write Erotic Fiction?” that offers a wonderful variety of voices (I reposted it yesterday).

First, a little background in how I got to the point where I’m writing erotic and romantic stories. Several years ago, I saw an online contest for erotic short stories. I was writing general fiction at the time, and I figured, Why not? It’ll be fun to try something new. I won an honorable mention, and that was soon followed by an invitation to join other authors in contributing to Ruthie’s Club, a subscription website that offered erotica — with each story accompanied with an original illustration at the beginning. I enjoyed being a part of the site, and many stories came out of that relationship.

Unfortunately, Ruthie’s Club shut down around 2010. That left all those stories no longer published — and a lot of ideas in my head for more stories.

Then I learned about this little thing called “self-publishing.” You mean I could prepare an ebook and put it up for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords? I figured, Why not? It’ll be fun to try something new.

Yes, that’s a recurring theme for me. It drives part of my writing. Because stories can come in forms of fantasies that I want to see played out and see where they go. I imagine that scores of people have fantasies, and authors move those from their heads to the computer screen (or typewriter if you’re old school like that).

And sex scenes can be electric to write. Sometimes, my fingers can’t type fast enough to get the action out. Thank goodness I can type fairly well, and don’t have to hunt-and-peck — which would’ve driven me bonkers from impatience.

However, my writing is not just about the sex. (Okay, you got me: that part of storytelling is fun.) Deeply satisfying is writing about people connecting on emotional levels — not just physical. I’ve noticed that my writing in the past couple of years has come to include this. Before, I was pretty single-minded on writing about people simply enjoying pleasure. Now, though, the characters also enjoy togetherness. And that has broadened my writing to involve scenes besides sex.

In turn, that expanded my stories from only the erotica category to romance. Which is something I never saw coming. I read a mixture of stories, including general fiction, thrillers, and erotica. I don’t come from reading a vast library of romantic books. So I feel as a newbie in the field. (By the way, the romance that I’ve read which has probably stuck with me the most is The Lover by Marguerite Duras. An exquisite book.)

Relationships and emotions are complex, and I probably capture only a fraction of them in my stories. I’m fascinated by relationships and emotions, so there’s plenty for me to explore. My most recent novel is The Sweet Taste of Revenge, in which the main character divorces her cheating husband and plans to get revenge on him. That’s been an interesting challenge. I’m not a woman, nor have I been divorced. But in writing the book, I hope I was fair to the character. It was quite a ride.

Speaking of a ride, I suppose that’s the reasoning behind why I write. It’s the rush that I get when I take an idea and turn it into a story. That can be with an erotic and romantic story — or tamer stuff. I use August MacGregor as a pen name for the Rated Mature content and my real name for the rest. Writing is way too much fun to commit to only one type of story.

With my August pen name, I try to tell stories of people enjoying the sensual things in life and connecting with each other — but making mistakes along the way. I find that to be another part that brings interest to writing. Because things don’t always proceed perfectly. When a character is in love with someone, the second character may not feel the same way in return. People cheat in relationships. Not every couple has simultaneous orgasms that are mind-blowing every single time.

Which brings the hope that a story with people making mistakes is more interesting for the reader. Because I’d love for my stories to be a ride for readers, just like the stories were a ride to put together.


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Assuming Roles

Funny how connections can be made.

I’m deep in editing Revenge, and part of the time, I feel good about how the novel  progresses. Other times, however, doubts pop up: Will readers think the story works well? Will they want to read it?

In these moments, I go back to a conversation between Neil Gaiman and his agent about his doubts that readers will care about his book. (The conversation is in a 2014 post about my doubts.) Revisiting that conversation helps me, because the agent tells Mr. Gaiman that all her clients have doubts about their books.

While doubts have come with all my stories, they’ve been stronger with Revenge. Maybe that’s because it’s my longest stand-alone book. So there’s more story in Revenge to mull over it working or not.

The other reason behind my doubts is that the main character is a woman, and she goes through separation and divorce. That’s not a spoiler alert, since those events happen early in the book. The revenge is about why the woman leaves her husband.

The book is written in third person, not first, and the story spans several months in the life of the female character (Michelle Brower). That brings up the particular doubt: As a man who’s never been divorced, can I appropriately write about a main female character who has?

And that’s where the connection came up.

Because the upcoming Oscars made me remember that actors assume roles all the time. A role could be similar to an actor’s background. Or the role could be quite different. The character could be from another culture, another economic class, another time in history. Could be a character with mental illness. Then actors are judged on how well they portray characters, and some are nominated for Academy Awards. (I won’t go into which actors I think deserve nominations.)

Actors aren’t the only ones assuming roles. Of course, us writers do it, too. And some male writers have written popular female characters. Stephen King created Delores Claiborne, who uttered the great line: “Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman’s got to hold on to.”  Stieg Larsson came up with the powerful character of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (and the next two books of the series). The list can go on and on.

This isn’t to say that my writing is as good as King and Larsson. Nor is it to say I’m as successful as movie actors in my writing. But keeping them in mind helps me push back against the doubts.

Also helpful is remembering that writing fiction is based on imagination. Without imagination, how could authors write science fiction and fantasy? Not all characters should look like the reflection in the author’s mirror. We can write characters similar to ourselves, but it’s interesting to leave our shoes and try on someone else’s.

That’s also a strength of reading books. By reading, we can inhabit someone else’s life. Be they from another culture, economic class, gender, time in history, and so on. We can live as them for a little while. We can learn from that experience.

And that’s along the lines of writing a variety of characters. It’s good to get out there and stretch in writing. Even when the stretching causes doubts in us authors.


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Too Many Good Books

bookshelves, by Sue Langford (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Sue Langford (Flickr, Creative Commons)

“Life isn’t really short. There are just too many good books to read in one lifetime.”

― Mokokoma Mokhonoana, The Confessions of a Misfit

*****

Source: Goodreads. The photo above is used under the non-commercial Creative Commons license. Click on image to jump to photographer’s Flickr page.


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Love & Hate Challenge

Hollie over at My Blog is My Boyfriend nominated me for the Love-Hate Challenge. To play along, you create a list of 10 things you love, 10 things you hate, and nominate 10 blogs.

I don’t typically play along with these kinds of things, but I figured why the hell not? I’ll go ahead and give it a shot — but I’m going to skip the nominating other blogs part.

10 Things I Love

  1. A book that grabs me by the eyeballs and won’t let them go (I stole this one from Hollie.)
  2. Writing a scene that flows nice and smooth, feeling that it fits just right into the story
  3. Getting a massage
  4. Ripe and juicy peaches
  5. Long walks in the woods
  6. Orgasms
  7. Getting an exercise high at the gym
  8. Music that feels good
  9. The sound of rain
  10. Hanging out with friends

10 Things I Hate

  1. Traffic jams
  2. Disco
  3. Telemarketers
  4. Opening the drawer in the fridge and seeing mold on veggies
  5. When people say “you know” and “I know, right?” in every other sentence. Actually, no, I don’t know.
  6. Pop music sung through a voice modulator, which masks lack of talent
  7. When I can’t remember something
  8. When someone sees a movie based on a book, and is profusely proud of never having read the book
  9. People who complain incessantly
  10. Mosquitos


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April Update

It’s been a while! I hope you’ve been well. Many weeks have gone by since I last posted on my blog — and it was quite a change going from posting every day during January and February to taking a break.

While I’ve missed posting on my blog and reading other blogs, the break has been a good one. It’s helped me get on a better track with my day job. Which has been busy, so I was relieved to take away the deadline of posting every day that I had put on myself.

Also, the break from my blog helped fine-tune my focus back onto longer stories — instead of poetry and flash fiction. And that’s been wonderful.

Because I’ve come to realize a big difference in writing flash fiction versus longer stories. Coming up with shorter pieces (fewer than 1,000 words) is neat for seeing what kind of story you can tell in a condensed amount of time. They’re fun to write.

However, you don’t get immersed in the story. Not like you do with a novella or a novel. It hit me when I made the realization that maybe it’s the reason why my short stories don’t sell very well on Amazon and Smashwords. I thought about it from a reader’s point of view, when I pick up a novel and dive into it and find out where it takes me. I like rooting for the characters and seeing what happens to them. Seeing if they change, grow, as the story unfolds.

And that’s what I’ve been missing as a writer when I focused on shorter stories. I missed connecting with the characters and pulling for them. I missed imagining the possibilities of where the story could go. Then seeing how I think the characters would react to the expanding story.

And that’s what I got back to when I returned my attention to longer stories. I was able to immerse myself in them. Like I said, it’s been wonderful. I’ve had such a good time writing a few stories — and I even managed to finish a couple.

I’ve worked on different types of stories: more romantic and sexier ones under my August pen name, as well as more vanilla stories under my real name. It’s been interesting to see that I write slower with the vanilla stuff. Nothing like the sexy scenes (or anticipation of sexy scenes) to get the fingers flying on the keyboard. Except for the dangerous stuff — like in the thriller novel on which I worked for National Novel Writing Month last November.

I’m still planning to get back to that thriller novel. Eventually!

But I’ve been wrapping other stuff up first. The big one was completing my second novel, Tara & Steve: A Tale of Swingers. This project started off several years ago as a series of short stories about a dating couple that tries out a swinging lifestyle — and the consequences that those adventures have on their relationship.

I tied together the short stories into chapters for a novel and hit it hard with my editor’s hammer. Well, that sounds too violent. More like a pen, with removing stuff here and adding stuff there. The novel is the longest story I’ve written so far, at a little more than 135,000 words. And, damn, that sucker felt good to publish.

I also finished a story that started off as a short piece last year on my blog. It had bugged me that the story wasn’t done, since the characters yearned for more than where I left them. So I expanded the story into a novella, and that’s published, too. I’ll have a post about it next week, as I’m going give the ebook away for free on Amazon for 5 days. It’s about Beltane, the Gaelic festival to celebrate fertility and the arrival of the warm season. The event comes on May 1, so I want to make the novella free leading up to that day.

The original story ran last year in two parts, and I deleted those posts because the ebook is under Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Select (KDP Select), which means the story can’t be available electronically anywhere besides Amazon. It also means that if you have Kindle Unlimited, the story is free any time it’s within the program — well beyond the 5 days when it’s free to everybody.

So that’s an overview of what I’ve been up to since my last post. Lots of work on my day job and lots of writing. Of course, getting out and enjoying the sunshine, too 🙂

After posting next week about my Beltane novella, I’ll probably duck out again for another break. I apologize for not keeping a more regular schedule of posting. But some stories have their grip on me, and it’s really hard to stay away from them for long. I’m not sure what I’d post about if I did have a regular schedule — since I’m not going to return to writing poetry or flash fiction any time soon. I hope you understand. Writing the longer stories is like a drug that pulls me in and gives me a rush that’s amazing.