It was a simple move, really—the sweep of his hand over my hair. Down, then repeat, fingers crawling over wild, tousled strands while he gave me that wistful smile of his. The move shouldn’t have meant anything, but in his eyes, I saw that it did. That all those years of silent communication were leveling out in the beautiful brown irises I’d told myself not to love so long ago.
And so it felt only natural to lean toward him, the whisper of the air around us urging us on, pressing us together like we were in a time-capsule vacuum of space. It didn’t matter that there were people shouting around us, cars whizzing by, stars glistening in the heavens above as though they were trying to tell us that they’d been watching all along, waiting for this very moment. Waiting for both of us to get it, to feel that strange floating sensation between us as his hand met my shoulder and he pitched toward me, too.
He opened his mouth as if to speak, and so did I—but nothing needed to be said. There was no verbal expression to communicate the way we slipped closer, now not two bodies standing there conversing through our buzz over the eternal mysteries of men versus women or how we always poked fun at one another, but two flames coming together, bursting into a giant, scorching fire. Lip to lip, tongue to tongue, we lost ourselves in a kiss that should have taken place so many years ago but never did.
I drifted into him, and he swept into me. We were one, arms wrapping around each other, tongues dancing, fire brimming through our bodies in ways I’m sure we would have known once, had we actually tried. As his hands played up my sides and back into my hair, pulling me closer, he kissed me harder—like he meant it. Like he needed it. Like the press of my body to his wasn’t enough, was never enough, and instead he ached to be with me, part of me, loving me just as I loved him and always had. His fingertips along my scalp sent electric pulses all through me, making me fall into him even more, sending that spark so deep I felt my need, my lust, heavy like the night around us. I was ready for him. For this.
When we pulled apart, the air hummed dense with our fervid breaths. Then we smiled, the universe winking its starry eyes, for it knew what happened next.
So did we.
“Come home with me,” he said.
There was no other answer but yes.
Photo courtesy of Exposing 40
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After last week’s seriously nitty-gritty editing post—which, in all truth, resulted in me realizing it was time to take a break from the book and pass it on to betas…now…before I start going nuts—I’ve decided to lighten things up a bit over here.
Occasionally, I like to share a picture. I’m a pretty visual person—both in bed and out—but photos usually don’t do much for me. There’s a very large group of writers who use images as inspiration, and while I don’t seem to have the capacity to do that, I enjoy a good image purely for its own value. Take the image I previously posted of the beautiful built man searching the sand for who knows what or the fabulous ass of the gentleman about to get it on with the Lady of the Perfectly Arched Feet—I could look at these over and over, and while they won’t inspire any words beyond “DAMN” and “HOT,” they still look deliciously good to me.
So today, I’m turning the tables around. Let’s play a little game, shall we? I will post a picture, and I want YOU to tell me what comes to mind. Call it research. Or fun. Or just that I enjoy seeing how different people respond to images. I’m not even about to blast you with a super NSFW image, either; this one is really pretty tame. With images, I think it’s often about the hint of something to come, the promise of what could be. I still haven’t figured out exactly what in this one speaks to me (might be the lean?), but it’s what I’ve got my eye on today.
Does it grab you?
I do hope you’ll play with me—I’m totally inviting you to talk dirty to me! Caption away, or share your thoughts. What do you see here? What does this image inspire in you?
I dare you to share. 😉
After careful consideration, I’m 100% sure I am an over-editing fiend.
This isn’t to say that the editing I do is bad editing, or even that it’s unnecessary. It’s just potentially a little over the top.
“All things in moderation,” one of my parents used to say.
Yeah. Kind of missed that boat, guys.
In all fairness, we all have our methods. We’ve got to do what works for us. I felt as though I’d fine-tuned my novel editing process the last time around, but I’m coming to realize that whatever the process is that I think I have nailed down, it will be sabotaged when, say, I’m in times of great stress. (Perhaps uncoincidentally, this is when my weird urge to check the oven is off at least three times before I leave the house kicks in, too. So fun.)The last book hit some road bumps before I called the edit done, but somehow it didn’t feel quite as disruptive as what happened this time. My awesome system was all screwed up due to too many “life issues,” and of course there was that whole bout with adding a subplot, removing the subplot, changing the subplot and re-adding it again. What all this basically amounted to was me convincing myself I’d fucked everything up, then laughing hysterically because I started re-editing things I’d already edited. Three times.
At least there was laughing, right? That’s good.
So, anyway. Clearly I’m going tangential today. There will be no fiction, no confessions, no poetry, no pictures of hot men. I have decided to share the editing process that is by no means “in moderation,” but that I used with both my currently shelved comedic memoir and that first erotica novel I finished writing last January. It’s a method I think I like (because I honestly love editing), and that I’ve attempted to use again—I just stress attempted because, well, see the last full paragraph. And yes, it might well be a little nuts. Or, maybe it’s normal. Or maybe it’s indicative of a woman who spent three years of her teens wanting to be a neurosurgeon so there remains a residual urge to meticulously fix things…who knows. Either way, perhaps you will find something of use (or at least a good laugh) from my editing insanity!
Jade’s 10 Steps to Editing Mayhem
Step 1: Mull It Over. Do not touch your first draft for at least three weeks after you type “The End.” Then, and only then, print it out. Read it cover to cover (best in a short, consistent time frame) with all pens and pencils locked somewhere you cannot find them. Once you finish, mull for 2-4 days. Make mental notes of any plot issues that strike you as seriously fucked up, but do not write anything down. Not yet. This is thinking time.
Step 2: Grab the Pen of Destruction. After you’ve sufficiently mulled it over, find your favorite pen (I’m a big fan of blue or green—red makes me crazy). Then, in batches of three or so chapters, edit like a maniac. At the end of the third chapter, enter the changes on the computer. When you finish, go back and read these chapters on the screen, making changes as you see them. Then repeat your chapter bunches to the end of the book.
Step 3: Throw It All Off. Bear in mind, you will need to stop to add scenes where appropriate. This will of course throw off the “[three] chapter bundle” plan, so after typing a new scene, edit it on screen, print and edit it on paper, enter the changes, then continue on with the rest of the chapter bundle.Step 4: Assess Your Mental Health (Take 1). Recognize this has taken a bizarrely long time already, and that, according to writer friends, this is where many people stop and send the damn thing off to beta readers. Laugh a good laugh and keep going, special snowflake. It’s time to let that freak flag fly.
Step 5: Begin Your Word List Madness. When I read, I’m hypersensitive to echoes—repeated words and phrases—so when I’m on Step 2 I keep a notepad handy, jotting down every word or phrase I swear I’ve repeated too many times. This list can get disturbingly long, and it will turn out that some of the words are not actually echoes but phantom echoes. That’s okay, though; write them down anyway, because you’ll take great pleasure in finding out you’re wrong when you do a “find and replace” for each and every word on this notepad. When you find a true culprit, though, set some random upper limit in your head for the number of times you think it should appear. Proceed to slash and hack to fit that number. This process, while tedious, will allow you whole phrase changes that will make the book read better—you probably didn’t need to say cock that much, even though the word rolls around so well on the tongue. (Heh.) Also check excessive adverbs and your Naughty Words List (the list of words that you tend to overdo).
Step 6 (Optional): Create Post-It Confetti. When feeling particularly Word List sensitive (this happened for me last time), write down the really bothersome word on a Post-It, and make note of what pages it happens. Then make another Post-It with synonyms and their page numbers. Sometimes, you can find an eerie pattern that makes you feel your use of certain words is logically connected to the Universe—but don’t spend too long pondering this. Your next goal is to disperse your abundance of synonyms so that the first half of the book doesn’t have all the cock and the second half get the shaft. (Ha ha. Who said editing isn’t fun?!)
Step 7: Assess Your Mental Health (Take 2). Realize you have synonym lists on Post-Its all over your desk and that this alone may be far more concerning than your browser history. Laugh another good laugh. Is it a math brain that makes one so obsessed with patterns? The OCD? Will you ever know the true answer? Does this have something to do with the meaning of life? Why do you care? This is not the time for an existential musing. Whatever the cause for this madness, regain your focus and set some rewards: a night out when you’re finished and a damn good book to read. I promised myself Alison Tyler’s Wrapped Around Your Finger when this current edit was finished, and while it’s been sitting on my nightstand for almost six months, I am going to get to it soon, goddammit!
Step 8: Sigh and Run Your Spellcheck. Breathe a sigh of relief. The hard work is over. Now, give the whole document a spellcheck. Take this opportunity to spot and change more boring words. You’ll find them. I promise.
Step 9 (Best for post-beta read, but whatever): Go Aural. Read the entire story aloud. No, really. This is the best piece of editing advice I ever got, and I still do it, every time, no matter what the length of the story is. It catches almost every error, swear.
Step 10: Get Your Ass and That Book Out. Send the doc to your beta readers before you find ways to make another pass through. Then, take yourself out to celebrate.
BOOM. You’re done. Easy as pie. Yes?
So, a few notes: First drafts get better as you write more (thank god), so this list, while arduous, goes faster and gets simpler with each new story. The next edit (post-beta or otherwise) won’t require several of these steps, either—so far I’ve stuck with a single read-through, then 2, 3, 8 (sans sighs), 9, and 10 on that round, with 2 and 3 switched. Also, 10 is even more celebratory because it’s more done, which is always a good thing. And once this bad doggie is out the door, you can now move on to all the other projects you’ve avoided save for a random piece of flash or ten.
Until, of course, you get your edits back from your betas/editor/agent again.
She’s been waiting her whole life for him, she thinks, and she raises the coffee to her lips.
They’ve been eyeing one another across this diner for the better part of an hour, all while he’s pretended to read his paper and eat his late night bacon and eggs, and she’s forgotten to finish the soup that grew cold not long after she ordered it. She’s been distracted by the rules skipping through her head—don’t stare too much, cross your legs like a lady, don’t forget to eat with your mouth closed—but with the gazes they keep casting back and forth, she doesn’t think these things are really all that important anymore.
Anna pays her check and rises from her booth. She imagines she’ll be the first to leave. That he’ll follow her outside, giving her a moment to reflect on whether he’s stalking her, and if she’s supposed to run. Or if instead she should give away everything she’s actually feeling—the unsteady ticking of her heart inside the safe housing of her chest, the unusual race of her once regulated breathing, or, more than that, the heat that’s slickened at the peak of her thighs, making all this thought a perilous landscape of impossible, inexplicable desire.
But the man is the first to leave. He walks right by her, deliberately meeting her gaze. The brush of his hand on hers cannot be a coincidence, nor the look in his heavy-lidded eyes. And so it’s Anna who follows him outside, Anna who walks in measured steps behind him, Anna who glances up at the stars, just once, reminding herself how small she is in this world as he turns the corner and she’s left to decide one way or another.
But mama’s been dead a long time now.
Anna finds him leaning against the backside of the building, staring beyond the edge of the bluff at the water below, where the waves ebb and flow like the surge in her veins. In her head, as she comes to face him, she anticipates the things he might ask of her. What’s your name? Why have you followed me? What are you looking for tonight?
He asks none of this. What he does is take her wrist and pull her to him, so that her breasts are flush with his chest and he’s breathing down over her face. She believes he’s asking for her approval, which she gives in the one kiss they will share—their lips merging, opening, exchanging the bitter trace of coffee, the hint of greasy bacon, and the sweet, sweet taste of spit. His hands are on her ass, molding her flesh, squeezing her closer. She welcomes this, then the way he swings her round to face the building, sliding behind her so his entire body lines her back. Anna gasps when his fingers slip under her skirt, because now he knows just how anxious she’s been for this. For him. Never show a man how much you care she remembers, but his fingers are in her, riding up and hot in the wet desire she doesn’t know how to hide. His teeth find her neck as he wedges her tight to the wall, and Anna’s open mouth grazes the fading building finish. She tongues the wood as he unfastens his pants, then the salty air that kisses her lips and makes her feel alive when he presses his cock to her ass.
This is the murmur she’ll remember him by, a quiet, desperate groan that elicits the wild bob of her head. We don’t take risks. Good girls don’t take risks she’d been told, but as he drives inside she wants nothing more than to risk it all, again and again. Every thrust of his cock brings another moan, another moment, another physical expression she held buried so far inside. She spreads her fingers on the building and arches her back, letting him sink deeper, closing her eyes while the waves sing behind them and he moves faster inside her. He bites her neck again, surely tasting the glisten of sweat that’s broken out along her chin. Her body shakes when he slides a finger in her mouth and she closes her lips around it, the taste of her cunt on his skin. She’s only partially surprised she comes before he does, her whimpers preceding the muffled grunts he makes into her hair. He fills her with the honest, heated greeting of a perfect stranger.
For a minute, they stand like this, Anna smashed between his body and the building. His come is seeping out around his slowly softening shaft, dripping onto the panties barely pushed aside before he marked her as who she really is. Who she’s wanted to be.
The man places a kiss on the edge of Anna’s mouth. It’s tender and indifferent all at once, but she understands the intention behind it, what he’s learned, too. Thank you.
She is still standing against the wall after he tucks himself away, pausing like he’s supposed to, waiting to see if she wants to say something, or if there’s anything else she needs. But there isn’t.
When he’s gone, Anna spins around, her back to the building as the chaos of her belly becomes a soothing warmth that brings a smile to her face.
She’s never taken a risk before.
And she’s been waiting her whole life for this one.