By Pamela L. Todd (Guest Blogger)
Every first time is different. Some are spontaneous, most are well thought out with the details finely tuned. As my first time approached, I was skipping along with my head in a puff of pretty pink clouds, blissfully unaware of what was to come. Slowly it became very apparent that there was a heck of a lot I had naively overlooked.
The fear of the unknown overshadowed that delicious anticipation of the act itself. Like any first-timer, the maiden voyage can be an intimidating prospect. You have no idea what the other party might be thinking, what they expect of you…the actual, er, ‘mechanics’ of it all.
But let’s go back to the beginning. Before I even knew my first time was an actual possibility.
I had just finished my first full length erotic novel. It had been written, rewritten and rewritten some more. I finally felt like it was ready to submit. Then comes to hard part: synopsis and query letter. Writing a 90k+ novel, for me anyway, is a piece of cake compared to submissions. To make it easier, it really pays off to properly study just what the person you’re submitting to is looking for. Some want a very short synopsis, others more detailed. Some want to know the ending, others don’t. Squeezing my novel into 1-2 pages is a mammoth task but not an impossibility. What I find really difficult is the query, or covering, letter. Show personality. Don’t be nutty. Be unique. Don’t be mental. Compliment. Don’t kiss-ass. I usually end up writing more drafts of this letter than I do my entire novel.
But once your submission is sent off, that’s when the agonizing part begins: waiting. As soon as I click send I suddenly spot a hundred things I would change. Will they get that joke? What if they think I’m a nightmare? What if the book is rubbish? Why didn’t I mention this part in the synopsis? I basically drive myself nuts until I hear either way.
In this instance, I was put out of my misery fairly quickly. I heard back within a week and…they wanted my novel! Cue insanely happy dance.
The next few months were a blur of waiting and working, waiting and working. Initially, the publisher suggested some changes that would make the book stronger so to start with I had a few more rewrites. After that it went through the editing process.
I know some people who found this the challenging part of losing their publishing virginity. You pour your entire self into writing a book. It becomes your baby that you love and cherish. And here comes someone who doesn't like this sentence, doesn’t get why this part is necessary or thinks this bit could be chopped out. Some writers can get defensive and will pretty much refuse to change anything they deem important (which can be the whole thing). I really lucked out with my editor. She really got the story, loved the characters and totally got where I was coming from as a writer. I felt like she had my back during the entire process and every change suggested came from a purely simple place - making the book that much better. So for me, edits were fun. I looked forward to receiving the next batch as we went through the various rounds.
Then the edits are done, the book is complete. There are still a few months until the publication date. To keep busy, I started work on another project and mostly put the other book to the back of my mind, safe in the knowledge that pretty soon I would see it published.
But then I got an email that would eventually become a game changer for me. The publicity team from the publisher got in touch to discuss the PR for my book. Ooh, that sounds exciting! A blog tour! EMagazine features! Author interviews! USA Today! It all sounded unbelievable…all this for my little book. I’m not a hugely confident person. I like to hide behind my computer screen, creating new worlds and characters. Online I can be witty and outgoing. Real life? Not so much. Fake it till you make it and all that. Which was basically my game plan for all of the publicity. But then something was mentioned that really made me nervous. Facebook party.
I didn’t even know what a Facebook party would entail. But what I did know, was that I would struggle to keep it secret. On Twitter, I am a very open person. I talk about my life and my writing. On Facebook I am the complete opposite. I never talk about my writing and rarely share anything acutely personal. Facebook was where I knew real people - Twitter was for like-minded people and industry friends. I have a young son in primary school and I am friends with a few school mothers on Facebook and I couldn’t stand the thought of people I saw everyday finding out about the career I kept quiet.
There aren’t many people close to me who know about my writing. One or two close friends, my husband and a small handful of family members. The majority of people I know have absolutely no idea. And that was the way I liked it. Remember I said I wasn’t a confident person? This was why no one knew. I got it into my head people would take the mick, no one would understand and I’d be subjected to ridicule. I’d rather remain anonymous than risk ‘real’ people knowing that part of me.
I tried to find ways around the Facebook party - alternative profile, author page, anything to keep ‘me’ separate from it. But mostly, the whole thing gave me horrible anxiety that would keep me up at night.
Breaking point came when I was offered an amazing opportunity. I was put in touch with an outside PR firm to arrange press for me. And they wanted to talk to my local press. I live in a small place. Local press is the same as walking down the street naked - everyone knows about it. So what was my reaction to this amazing news? Flat out terror and actual sobbing - the kind that isn’t at all cute or feminine but more resembles a snot outburst. I called my husband, fully believing he’d know where I was coming from. Instead he asked ‘so, you don’t want your book to do well then?’ Because logically, I would be blowing a huge opportunity that could potentially gain me a lot of sales. I talked it over with a few very close friends who understood why I was so upset, but were extremely supportive. And mostly kicked my butt. The only person who didn’t believe in me, was me.
After a lot of back and forth, I decided to get proactive and rip off the plaster.
I came out on Facebook. I wrote out a long blog post explaining pretty much everything I’ve just written above. I talked about my writing. I talked about my insecurities. And then I posted the link to it on Facebook, along with the link to my book. And you know what happened? Nothing but good stuff. The outpouring of support was incredible, and really humbling. It took some getting used to, but I didn’t have to hide anymore. It actually felt quite liberating, and I was proud to show off this amazing book that I had created.
In the end I did set up a new profile page, dedicated to my writing. I write under a pen name, so I wanted readers (if they wanted to) to be able to find the author me and see book news etc. Also, that way I could attend my Facebook party as my author self. Most of ‘my’ Facebook friends have since become my author friends, so really it’s not much different anymore!
The party itself was incredible. I was so touched that four of my fellow authors came out to support me, and to join in the party themselves. It was a great night and I had a lot of fun. I was also contacted by the lovely owner of this blog, Lisabet Sarai, who offered me a spot to do a guest post. She and Ashe Barker, whose support has been incredible, agreed to do peer reviews. (Go here to read the one from Lisabet!) Other authors have friended me on Facebook and followed me on Twitter. It was brilliant to connect with other people who have been through this process themselves and I really felt like I was welcomed to the Totally Bound family with warm, open arms. I feel like part of something amazing. The girls within the publishing team were awesome. They were so patient and kind and helped to talk me down when things started to get stressful.
Losing my publishing virginity was an experience I’ll never forget. At times it was euphoric, others it was terrifying. But it was a journey I had to take to appreciate not only what I have accomplished, but how amazing all the people who have helped me along the way are. I’ve no idea if other virgins experienced such an emotional roller coaster…I’d like to think I’m not the only one who had panic attacks! But I am proud that I overcame the fear because what happened afterwards has made me not only a stronger writer, but a more confident person.
Next time around, I’ll be more experienced. And I’m sure I’ll learn a new move or two!
Invisible. A ghost. No one sees her. No one knows her. Until him.
For the last seven years, Jo Carpenter has been a ghost in her own life. No friends. No permanent address. No long-term job. And that is exactly the way she wants it… Until a typing error lands her on Nate Harding’s doorstep in the city of Edinburgh, answering his ad for a roommate.
Nate and his luxury house are a different world for Jo. Tall, rugged and with a voice that seems hardwired to Jo’s sex drive, Nate is a distraction Jo can’t afford, but neither seems able to fight the growing tension between them. Nate’s touch brings Jo back to life and every encounter leaves her craving more. As they grow closer and intimacy creeps its way around them, Nate knows there are things Jo isn’t telling him. What he doesn’t realize is the less he knows about Jo and her past, the safer he is.
For years Jo has been careful—hasn’t let her guard down, got too comfortable or let anyone get close enough to see the person beneath her protective armor. Soon it isn’t just Nate that Jo has fallen for—it’s his whole family, from his adorable niece to his eccentric sister, Suze, who quickly becomes the best friend Jo has ever had. Against her better judgment, Jo let’s herself believe she can have a normal life. In Nate’s arms she forgets the things that haunt her, and the reasons she should leave that innocent family become all the reasons she can’t.
The front door opened and closed, Nate’s tall frame filling the doorway a moment later. My cunt tightened as I imagined his back arching as he thrust into that woman, the sheen of sweat on his skin and the feral look in his eyes when he caught me watching them.
Nate’s eyes flickered between me and Suze before settling on me, still brandishing the spoon. “Has she been naughty again? I keep telling her about this behaviour but she pays no notice.”
Suze rolled her eyes. “Ha ha. She was just about to give me that spoon, so bugger off.”
Nate came farther into the room. “What is that smell? Are you baking?”
He grinned. “I always knew my timing was perfect.”
Suze huffed. “And so is someone else’s. Come on, Tilly.” She picked up her daughter and we got the lovely smell of her nappy as they walked out of the room. “And don’t you dare touch that spoon!”
“What is it with you two and the spoon?” I asked, about to drop it back into the empty mixing bowl.
Nate caught my wrist and tugged me closer to him. My breath caught in my throat at the intensity in his eyes.
“Because licking the spoon is the best bit.”
“Suze told you not to touch it,” I said, my voice barely above a whisper.
His smile widened. “And I’m not going to.” Nate dipped his head and took the spoon into his mouth, keeping his eyes on me the entire time. He pulled back and winked.
I was soaking wet. If I claimed his mouth right now, it would taste of chocolate. His tongue would sweep over mine and I would suck it harder into my mouth, devouring the taste of him.
Nate’s thumb pressed the pulse in my wrist and I knew he felt it speed up. His eyes were hooded and he leaned an inch closer. I dropped my gaze and instantly my sight was drawn to thick outline of his erection, straining against his jeans.
I opened my mouth to say something, though I’ve no idea what. Maybe to remind him of Suze’s proximity, but more likely to beg him to finally put me out of my misery.
He smiled and pressed his mouth to the shell of my ear. “Save that thought, okay?”
A shiver snaked up my spine and I wanted to sink into the warmth of his body.
Nate released his hold on my wrist and took a step back. “I’m going for a shower. Save me a muffin.”
I still hadn’t fully regained my senses when Suze brought a freshly changed Tilly back into the kitchen a few minutes later. Every day he was making me care less and less why this was a terrible idea.
About Pamela L. Todd
Pamela has adored books since she can remember. There was no greater pleasure than discovering a new world to venture into, a new character to fall in love with…until she created her own and realised there was something even more magical.
When she isn't locked away at her computer, or scribbling in a notebook, Pamela can be found as her alter ego—namely wife to Matthew and mother to Todd. They also share their home with a schizophrenic cat and two greedy goldfish.