August MacGregor

Celebrating Sensuality. Intended for mature audiences, 18 and over


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May Plans

Once again, several months have passed since I last posted here. As before my previous post, I’ve been quite busy with writing, working, and family. But everyone I know is quite busy, so I’m certainly not alone with that.

One of the projects that’s been keeping me busy is River — the working title of a novel I finished writing last year, and I’ve been editing it this year. I’m pleased to say that I plan on self-publishing the novel in May. The editing process  seemed to take longer than it did, but I’ve grown to I appreciate the process of re-shaping of the story. Compared to the first draft, it’s more stream-lined and tighter. Hopefuly, making it a more enjoyable read.

I’ll give more info when the book becomes live on Amazon, as I’m still working on making it a little tighter. But it feels good to be almost finished. With the warmer temperatures of spring, it’s like the book is coming out of hibernation.


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Revenge is Published

Sweet Taste of Revenge ebook cover

After the pre-order screwup, my self-published novel, The Sweet Taste of Revenge, is now available on Amazon! The introductory sale is for 99 cents. Less than a buck for a novel of just over 190,000 words. After a week, the price will increase to $3.99.

I’m happy to see this book published, as it is the effort of many, many months crafting it. Several years ago, I wrote a lot of erotic and romantic short stories, and some of them have grown into novels–since I found that I wanted to expand on what happened to the characters.

The Sweet Taste of Revenge is one of those. The short story grew during the past year, and I was interested to see what happened in Michelle Brower’s life after she discovered another woman’s hair on her husband’s shoulder.

Some days brought fluid writing, while other days brought doubts and much slower writing. Eventually, though, the doubts eased during the editing process. (I described my doubts in another post.)

And now, the book is complete and self-published on Amazon. A big breath of relief!

Here’s an excerpt — the first chapter — to hopefully whet your appetite:

*******

Chapter 1. Strand of Hair

The blonde hair on her husband’s shoulder didn’t belong to Michelle Brower.

Michelle and Joe were reading in bed, their nightly routine after dinner and their favorite TV shows. Sometimes, though, Michelle went through the routine alone, when Joe worked late on a demanding project. He put in a lot of hours at Hannold Engineering in the hopes of advancing his career into upper management. That position shone brightly above him on the corporate ladder, and he was determined to climb the rungs.

The light from the nightstand’s lamp flitted across something on the fabric of light blue pajamas on Joe’s shoulder. Enough to catch Michelle’s attention out of the corner of her eye. At first, Michelle kept reading Dead Ringer, the suspense novel she was enjoying, in which Detective Baldwin was at a bar, nursing his fourth Jack Daniels while trying to make sense of clues found at yet another crime scene from the previous night.

But something on her husband’s shoulder kept twinkling in the light, like a lure drawing fish out of a lake’s depths and up to the surface. Michelle had to stop reading and find out what the thing was, so she reached over and pinched it off.

A long strand of blonde hair. It twirled from the grip of Michelle’s thumb and forefinger as she held it up.

Exhibit A, your honor. She didn’t think it then, but would eventually view the hair that way.

“This isn’t mine,” Michelle said while looking curiously at the hair. It was a simple, flat statement. Void of the intense emotion to come later.

After glancing at the hair, Joe shrugged, saying, “It’s probably from the dry cleaners.” Trying to pass off the hair as nothing.

“But I clean your PJs. Not the dry cleaners.”

“Who knows?” he wondered. “Hair gets everywhere. It’s probably from the hotel. God knows how many people go through hotel rooms.”

Hotel room. Atlanta. Joe recently came back from a business trip. The facts clicked together for Michelle. As if she hoped to emulate the hunky and damaged Detective Baldwin, who tried to click the facts together to discover the serial killer’s identity.

Joe pressed on: “You know hotels are like carousels. Thank God I’m not worried about germs. Otherwise, I’d wear gloves or a Haz-mat suit or something. You know, they never wash the bedspreads in hotels. They just put them right back on the bed. I bet those things are breeding grounds for germs. I try not to touch them at all. I don’t want to get sick and bring some nasty bug home to you. But I guess I can touch them by accident. It happens. That’s where the hair came from. Got to be.”

“Yeah. I guess so.”

Michelle had told him that tidbit about hotel bedspreads not being washed. She heard it from a girlfriend and passed it along to Joe.

And now, her husband used it as an excuse for another woman’s hair on his PJs. But Michelle wasn’t convinced. Call it intuition. Something about Joe’s tone of voice or his frown or maybe a shadow across his face.

No, there wasn’t really a shadow on his face. That appeared later, in her mind, as Michelle remembered the scene and tried to pick out details that showed her husband’s guilt.

Michelle tried to tell herself that the thoughts of Joe cheating were all in her imagination. She was looking too hard for suspicious behavior. Her perception was biased because she read too many detective novels. Maybe she wanted to find suspicious behavior, so she turned ordinary things into clues because she figured they should be guilty.

She laughed, thinking, Don’t be so worried. There’s nothing wrong. Joe’s not the cheating type. He’s devoted to you, and he’s a hard worker. All that traveling stressed him out. So don’t go looking for things that aren’t really there.

Still, another woman’s hair had actually been on her husband’s shoulder. A blonde woman’s hair wasn’t ordinary.

Discovering the first hair led to the need to decide how it got on the shoulder of Joe’s pajamas. Maybe Joe was right. He could’ve tossed his pajamas on the bed in a Atlanta hotel, and his PJs picked up a hair from a previous occupant.

Or maybe Joe was lying. The hair could’ve meant that her husband fucked some blonde bitch in his hotel bed, and she spent the night sleeping next to him. Maybe they even fucked a second time in the morning.

Because the blonde hair wasn’t the only suspicious thing. There was something different in how Joe acted. He was more enthusiastic in general. And it wasn’t merely because his business trip to Atlanta had broken up January’s winter doldrums.

Undoubtedly, the trip to Atlanta had jolted some electric juice in him. Michelle felt a nagging sense that Joe’s great mood after his trip was due to great sex. Like how Joe used to get when he and Michelle had a weekend packed with sex. After several rounds of wonderful love-making, Joe positively glowed with happiness and relaxation. The guy sported a wide grin that took many days of returning to his job and grinding at work to wear off.

He had that glow again. Like characters in a musical, just before they broke out into singing and dancing. That was it. Joe didn’t normally look like he was about to break out in song and dance, but he did now.

And it wasn’t from a weekend of having an orgasm marathon with his wife. Who was a brunette.

As much as Michelle denied Joe’s guilt, the clues pointing otherwise kept nagging at her. His effervescent mood. The blonde hair. His business trip to Atlanta.

Michelle imagined Joe sitting at a hotel bar, sipping on a bourbon and club soda. A long-legged femme fatale sauntered in, wearing a black dress that hugged her curves. Her dress was cut low and cut high where it mattered. Showing enough skin to capture your eyes and hold them there securely. Until you realized that you were staring, and you had to turn your head. Before someone called you a creep.

As the femme fatale sat on a bar stool, she pushed blonde hair out of her face and tucked it behind her ear. Her long, straight hair flowed gently past her shoulders. Making all the men in the bar wonder how that hair would look when it was fanned out on a bed. Of course, after the bedspread was ripped off. Hotels never washed those things, and they were surely breeding grounds for germs.

Once the bedspread was ripped away, you could lay this hottie on the bed and see how her blonde hair looked all splayed about. You’d get to see how her body looked in various positions. Because her body and hair inspired lots of wicked fantasies.

All the men in the bar lusted after the blonde, as her smoky blue eyes drank them in. Her glossy red lips were parted just so, seeming to nearly say something—or kiss someone. If only a special someone would come.

Joe slid off his bar stool and went to the woman, as if drawn by a powerful magnet. He said in a scratchy voice, How about a cigarette, then a drink, then my hotel room? In that order.

A scene from an old, black-and-white noir movie, full of clichés. A blonde femme fatale and stilted dialogue. The scene was probably nowhere close to what actually happened to Joe in the hotel during his trip to Atlanta.

Michelle didn’t have a clue as to how Joe got started with the blonde. But she knew the story led to a long hair on the shoulder of her husband’s pajama top.


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Pre-Order Cancelled

Amazon cancelled the pre-order for my new novel, The Sweet Taste of Revenge. Their email said it was because the final ebook file had not been uploaded at least three days before the publication date (originally scheduled for June 1).

In Amazon’s defense, they sent me three emails in the past week to notify me that a final file needed to be uploaded.

I’m kicking myself for not checking my gmail account more frequently, as I don’t receive much email through there — besides WordPress telling me that someone new is following my blog, or when I’m following a new blog (which I can find out by logging onto WP).

When I set up the pre-order on Amazon a little more than a week ago, I uploaded the ebook’s file, and I considered the file as final. I had gone through two rounds of editing the book, and I liked the shape of the novel. After I finished Amazon’s process, the status for the book was “Pre-order live.” Cool, so it’s good to go, right?

Not so fast. I suppose Amazon thinks the ebook file you initially upload for a pre-order is a draft. That you’re still polishing the story, so you need to upload the final file at least three days before publication day. I had already uploaded my final file, but I guess Amazon needed confirmation of that.

My punishment is no pre-ordering ability for a year (ouch!). So I’ll have to wait until next year to see how an experiment of pre-ordering works.

I’m going to publish The Sweet Taste of Revenge in the same straightforward way as my past ebooks. Publication will be in a few days — unless something else goes wrong. I’ll set the price at 99 cents for a week, since that was the pre-order price.

My apologies to you if you ordered a copy and received Amazon’s notice that the pre-order was cancelled.


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Pre-Release Sale for Revenge

I’m excited to say that my new self-published novel, The Sweet Taste of Revenge, is now in a pre-release sale. I’ve never done a pre-order before, so we’ll see how it goes.

Here’s the blurb for the book:

 The blonde hair on her husband’s shoulder doesn’t belong to Michelle Brower.

Joe tries to explain that the hair got on his pajamas from a previous guest in the hotel room where he stayed during a business trip to Atlanta. But Michelle has her suspicions. Those suspicions lead her to a private investigator, one out of the mystery novels she enjoys reading.

This begins Michelle’s journey of discovery, pain, change, and the searing wish to exact revenge upon Joe. Give him a taste of his own medicine. But plans don’t always unfold smoothly and as expected. Ultimately, though, Michelle realizes that revenge doesn’t have to be an eye for an eye. It can be something quite different. And still taste very sweet.

The sale price is 99 cents, and this will jump to $3.99 after the novel is published on June 1. So you get to save a few bucks for a coffee to drink while you read. The ebook is available at Amazon.

I’ll share an excerpt from the book in another post, as I first want to say something about writing this book.

The last several months have been busy with editing the story, and I’m relieved that the doubts nagging me earlier (described here) have calmed. Doubt can be helpful in keeping me on my toes, rather than me becoming complacent. But it was nice for the doubts to simmer down in the second round of editing.

The general doubts of Is the story any good? and Will anyone want to read the book? will probably remain in the back of my mind for all my stories. Okay, let them be there. I can live with that.

However, this book carried the specific doubt of As a man who has never been divorced, can I appropriately write about a main female character who has?

After reading and editing the story a couple of times, I like how the journey unfolds. My imagination decided what Michelle Brower chose, and what happened to her. I hope I was fair to her as a character.

And I guess readers would have a variety of opinions about the events and Michelle’s choices, whether they are realistic or not. Reviews on Amazon have shown me that readers disagree widely on books. A book can have five stars with glowing reviews, then one-starred reviews where the reader said the book was a waste of their time.

Also, a few words on writing beyond sex scenes…

I developed a pattern in writing erotica where I believe I focused too much on sex scenes. Yes, that’s what makes erotica different from other genres. But erotica can expand beyond titillation and into other wonders and frustrations of relationships. How people treat each other outside the bedroom, with their clothes on. Stories can include emotional connections — and disconnections.

The Sweet Taste of Revenge is probably the most romantic story I’ve written. It has sex, yes, but it has moments of characters enjoying togetherness.

I feel that I’ve grown as a writer, and that’s a wonderful feeling. Expanding to include some of the complexities of how people treat one another. There’s a great deal in those complexities. Sources for more stories. Hopefully, many more.


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Eric Keys

Yesterday, someone found my blog with the search phrase “where can i buy eric keys writing,” since I posted about his short stories last year. That made me wonder what Eric is up to, as I hadn’t read a new post from him in a while. I had guessed he took a long break from blogging — something I’m guilty of, since I did it for six months to focus more on my day job and my writing. But I discovered that his blog, Blood Glory Grace, is no longer available.

That led me to check out Amazon and Smashwords to see if Eric’s stories are still on those sites. But they’re not.

I remember Eric had an older blog that he shut down, then he started a new blog after an extended break. Now he’s closed up shop again.

I can imagine the decision to remove his stories and close his blog was a difficult one. It takes a lot of time and energy to craft stories, and then it takes a courageous leap to put your writing in public, for others to judge. Eric had fans, as shown by the comments on his blog and the reviews for his books on Smashwords and Amazon.

Eric’s stories were under dark erotica, and they were a combination of horror and sex. They didn’t pull punches in confronting the reader in bold images of these. But they weren’t simply a shock-fest; they had greater depth than that. They had something to say about religion and relationships and family and tolerance.

I’m sad to see that Eric pulled out his e-books for others to experience. And I hope he’s still writing stories. Writers tell stories to get them from our head to the page (or screen). We’re our first audience. I hope he’s writing for himself and finding a creative outlet for his vivid imagination.


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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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Revenge: First Draft Finished

I’m very happy to say that the first draft of Revenge is done!

Even happier because I’m pleased with the shape of the draft. There have been drafts for other stories that I felt needed a ton more work. But this one doesn’t give me that feeling. I’m putting it to the side for a few weeks, then coming back to it for editing.

Does any writer enjoy editing? Maybe there are some out there. For me, it’s a process that pales in comparison with writing — the action of creating is much more thrilling than reading my work with a critical eye, constantly asking “Does it work?”

My favorite part of editing is when it’s finished. Because I’m glad for having done it, and finding those mistakes when something isn’t described well and needs cleaning. When a wrong word is used — a word that’s spelled correctly, so the spell-checker won’t pick it up. All those kinds of errors can sneak in. It feels good to clean those suckers up.

While Revenge is waiting on the side, I’m returning to a story I started last summer and ran into a road block. These certainly come up in different stories. Sometimes, I’m able to keep writing and get through it. But other times, frustration continues. I’ve found the best thing is to leave the story alone and come back to it.

In this case, I started a romantic story about a billionaire and hit a road block — then worked on Revenge (which began life several years ago as a short story and grew to the length of a novel last year). Now I’m returning to the billionaire story and seeing if the road block is still there. Fingers crossed that the writing will come more smoothly.

And it’s funny timing, given the Powerball jackpot is at $1.5 billion. Yeah, with a ‘b.’ Crazy! Of course, after taxes, the winnings would no longer be more than a billion. But after receiving tons of millions from a lottery ticket, would the winner really care?