August MacGregor

Celebrating Sensuality. Intended for mature audiences, 18 and over


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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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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.


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Author Interview: Zoe Ambler

Zoe Ambler

I met Zoe Ambler back in November, during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), when loads of writers try to plunk down 50,000 words for a novel. I started following her blog, where she talks about her own writing — much of it done in a coffee shop, which I think is amazing, because I’d be too distracted to write. Social media is already a distraction, but if you add people watching to the mix … well, that would pull my focus away even more.

Recently, she’s been interviewing fellow authors on her blog, and she accepted my offer to be interviewed in the series. On the flip side, she also allowed to be interviewed here on my blog. I think it’s really neat learning more of another writer’s background and rituals. Writing is such a solitary activity, that it’s nice to share this stuff.

Also, stay tuned after the interview for info about Zoe’s book, The Road of Darkness, with cover, summary, and links.

Zoe’s interview:

1. What is your writing process?
I don’t really have a process, I don’t think. I mean, I am certainly more productive when NOT at home. I love working from my little coffee shop. Or when on ‘vacation’. I get random ideas at very random times, however. So I always have a little notebook on me to jot things down. I have these little notebooks EVERYWHERE…purse, truck, backpack, laptop bag…The biggest problem is finding a pen or pencil when I need it…lol. My ‘process’ doesn’t happen in order, either. I may have a random idea that would be great just nestled in a random chapter of a book, not really a beginning or ending.

2. What do you read for pleasure?
Anything and everything. Well, except romance. Erotica, yes, romance, no. I love everything from horror to non-fiction.

3. What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The freedom. I have a head full of ideas on a variety of subjects, and writing lets me place them on paper, with the hopes that someone out there is going to sit back and really enjoy it.

4. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a full time coffee drinker. Hot, cold, iced…gimme coffee. I live in a little land called Enterprise Alabama. We have a statue of a lady holding a bug in town square. I love cats. LOVE CATS!!! I have a cat. She’s very neurotic. Just like her owner. ..lol. I have one child, a beautiful young woman now. When not at the coffee shop, I have a home office I live out of. On some occasions I sleep. Mostly when not feeling well. Otherwise I quite the insomniac.

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses when it comes down to sitting down and writing?
When at home, I get very easily distracted by Netflix. I’m one of those people that just can’t watch an episode or two of something…I have to watch the series from start to finish…lol. And then there is my gaming. As for strengths…when I do get ‘in the zone’ on writing something, I write for hours on end, forgoing sleep and all. The ideas just pour from my head to the screen and usually doesn’t need much editing.

6. Do you have any strange writing habits?
I don’t think so. I mean, I talk things out with my cat…and answer for her. We argue sometimes. Nothing strange there. >_>

7. What is your least favorite part of the publishing/writing process?
Marketing/advertising/promoting. HATE IT. I’m not good at it, but can’t afford someone to do it for me…lol.

8. Are you a person who makes their bed in the morning, or do you not see much point?
I make it. You wouldn’t really think me the type, but I do. And I love clean sheets. So I have a linen closet full of the pricey nice sheets.

9. Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
The Everglades and Florida Keys.

10. Choose: Vampires, Werewolves, Demons or Zombies?
Vampires

Bonus Question: How prepared are you for the Zombie Apocalypse I’ve ordered?
I am so totally prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse. Food, weapons (I have a nice, completely usable collection of swords), ‘run over anything and everything’ 4WD truck. My house is in a good spot, the only real danger being is if the zombie are ‘regular’ zombies, or ‘Mira Grant’ zombies. (Mira Grant zombies – anything over 40lbs can be turned into a zombie, meaning I would then have to contend with zombie deer and cows)

Road to Darkness, by Zoe Ambler

The Road of Darkness is the story of Addison. She’s a young Southern Belle in early 1700 Louisiana with a love for Voodoo. She’s a child of privilege, but never really let it go to her head. She was always a little odd.
On an innocent outing, Addison falls prey to a supernatural predator. A vampire. He attacks and turns her, then leaves her to lost and alone with this new hunger for blood. However, unlike most, she embraces this new ‘life’. She finds delight in it. A darkness grows within her.
Like any young vampire left to fend for themselves, she stumbles in her new existence. She meets others here and there, and the world of the paranormal opens up to her.
Due in part to her thrill of bloodlust, she becomes fascinated with war. Soon she is moving from country to country, war to war. Mans evolution and technology in the art of warfare intrigues her.
Through her time and adventures, she has fleeting bits of both happiness and sorrow. The darkness within her will only allow her so much happiness.
Her link with all things Voodoo brings her into the servitude of the Baron Semedi, demi-god of the Underworld. A deal gone bad. It only serves to deepen that darkness.

Can anyone help her before she does irrevocable damage to both an entire city of innocent people…and herself?

Links for The Road of Darkness: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | Scribd. | Googleplay


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Goonies Never Say Die

The Goonies, by Ben Northern (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Ben Northern (Flickr, Creative Commons)

“And that’s why books are never going to die. It’s impossible. It’s the only time we really go into the mind of a stranger, and we find our common humanity doing this. So the book doesn’t only belong to the writer, it belongs to the reader as well, and then together you make it what it is.”
― Paul Auster

Source: Goodreads
Click on illustration of The Goonies to jump to the illustrator’s (Ben Northern) Flickr page.


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Consider Yourselves Warned, Muses

The Muse Calliope, by Eustache Le Sueur (Wikimedia Commons)

The Muse Calliope, by Eustache Le Sueur (Wikimedia Commons)

“Discipline allows magic. To be a writer is to be the very best of assassins. You do not sit down and write every day to force the Muse to show up. You get into the habit of writing every day so that when she shows up, you have the maximum chance of catching her, bashing her on the head, and squeezing every last drop out of that bitch.”
― Lili St. Crow

Source: Goodreads
Image above is The Muse Calliope, painted by Eustache Le Sueur (1650-1652). Calliope is the muse of epic poetry. Click on image to jump to this image’s Wikimedia Commons page.

Let’s listen to Homer as he invokes the Muse:

“Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns
driven time and again off course, once he had plundered
the hallowed heights of Troy.”

From The Odyssey, Book I, Robert Fagles translation (1996), quoted from Wikipedia.


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Favors for Writers

Elements of Style cover, from AbeBooks (Wikipedia)

AbeBooks (Wikipedia)

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”
― Dorothy Parker, The Collected Dorothy Parker

Source: Goodreads
Click on image to jump to this image’s Wikipedia page.


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Driving at Night

driving at night, by Jennifer Gaillard (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Jennifer Gaillard (Flickr, Creative Commons)

“E.L. Doctorow said once said that ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Source: Goodreads
Click on image to jump to photographer’s Flickr page.