Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Joys and Hazards of De-sexing a Manuscript

Oh how I love being able to laugh while I work! And this last week’s writing has provided me with some downright belly laughter.

I’m currently rewriting one of my bestselling books (previously titled Samantha and Her Genie, and now titled Perfume Bottle Genie), transforming this reader/reviewer favorite from an erotic paranormal romantic comedy into a mainstream paranormal romantic comedy. (Perfume Bottle Genie will be released this summer.)

Let me tell you, this is NOT an easy task! I’ve rewritten mainstreams, turning them into erotic stories and I’ve done the opposite. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s far easier to add sex to a book than purge it.

Most of my previously published novels began life as mainstream romance or women’s fiction. After being invited to submit to Ellora’s Cave back in 2004, and then to Samhain in 2010, I rewrote some of those books (after getting the rights back), updating them and adding plenty of sex and graphic terminology to spice up the stories to meet the publishers’ guidelines. (I also wrote several erotic romance books from scratch.)

I’d never written erotic romances before, nor had I read any. That meant in-depth research was necessary. I bought a bunch of the most popular erotic romance books at the time and read them, my eyes wide as saucers and my jaw forever dropping along the way. Holy cow! Once I realized what was entailed in creating an erotic romance (all the gasping, groaning, tasting, tonguing, licking, quaking, shuddering, fingering, plunging, hammering, aching, throbbing, and…well, you get the idea) I wasn’t sure I could do it. Never one to back away from a challenge, I knuckled down and began writing.

I was flat-out mortified as I wrote, not at all sure this goody-two-shoes Midwestern girl could manage to pen believably smutty books. But I was determined because it seemed this is what readers craved, and I refused to be an old fuddy-duddy when it came to my writing career. My husband and daughter found it hilarious that I, of all people on the planet, would even attempt such a daunting project and they teased me unmercifully.

That changed when they saw the size of my first royalty check.

While rewriting my mainstream novels, I took great pains to make certain I wasn’t merely slapping a bunch of gratuitous sex randomly throughout the story. I can always spot that in a book and it renders the story unreadable for me. After familiarizing myself with the hot, sultry, sexy lingo favored by writers and readers of erotic romance, I took my time inserting the spicy stuff in the most appropriate best places. Amazingly, it wasn’t too difficult and I eventually became more comfortable writing super sexy stories that still remained, at their core, romantic comedies. Happily (and surprisingly) the positive feedback from readers and reviewers proved I’d succeeded in creating well-written, enjoyable erotic comedy romances…most of which went on to become bestsellers and award winners.

Here it is eleven years later and I’ve totally reversed myself.

The last erotic romance I wrote was released in 2011. After that, I decided to return to my mainstream writing roots. I was burned out from writing nothing but sex for eight years. I found myself groaning (no, not in a sexual way) and complaining as I wrote because, in the midst of a great scene, I reminded myself I hadn’t added enough sex (especially because my publisher’s guidelines had changed, requiring hotter, more frequent, and kinkier sex…which made me squirm—and no, not in a sexual way). I had to cut out the wonderful scene I’d just written and put in a hot and heavy sex scene instead. I also hated having to eliminate interesting side characters like the heroine’s BFF, etc., because they interfered with the main focus of the story—the hot to trot hero and heroine (whether a twosome, threesome or more).

Over the last week I’ve been “de-sexing” my Perfume Bottle Genie manuscript, cutting out over 8,000 words of graphic hot stuff in just the first half of the book alone. I couldn’t be more delighted with the story’s progress. It’s such a joy not having to halt my writing flow to add sex where it really isn’t needed. I love being able to focus on characters, story, and the romance instead. This—THIS—is the way I always wanted my genie story to read!

But de-sexing is no piece of cake. It must be done correctly so the book doesn’t have a choppy feel that disrupts the flow of the story. Sexiness needs to remain but be toned down so that romance, not sex, is the true star attraction in the story. I’m enjoying the process but it’s challenging.

Just when I think I’ve expunged all the naughty bits from a chapter, I’m taken out of the story when I come across some in-your-face explicit terms for body parts, or for a character’s internal musings, leading me on a mad quest for suitable substitutions. I swear to God, nothing writing-related has made me laugh this hard in a long time.

Sometimes (make that “most of the time”) I’m actually shocked at the steamy orgasmic stuff I wrote in my erotic romances. Holy mackerel, was I ever descriptive and detailed! Now as I focus on cutting out all the overtly steamy stuff (I’m saving it all in separate documents for a juicy, funny writing project I have in mind for the future), I’m dazed by the variety of sexual terms, positions and sheer frequency of my naughty nothing-but-sex-on-the-brain characters.

And then I remember that I alone—me, all by my bad self—am responsible for their smutty, slutty, excessively sex-charged personalities.

The realization makes me laugh and cringe at the same time. I’ve decided I must have been channeling some ghostly entity…most likely a nymphomaniac or sex maniac, while creating all those steamy books because there’s no way in hell it could have been me making those characters repeatedly engage in all that aching, throbbing, gasping, hammering…etc. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

Each time I happen upon another unexpected and outrageously graphic term during my rewrite, I find myself barking laughter because the behavior is so inappropriate for my current mainstream characters. Oh sure, they like sex well enough, and they do get horny, but they’re far less smut-minded. Seriously, shame on that hussy of a heroine thinking and doing all those scandalous, dirty things to the pleased-as-punch hero and his aching, throbbing nether regions!

So anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to lately…obliterating my self-created smut and retooling (nice word for “cleaning up”) my manuscript to the degree that it’s suitable reading material for readers of mainstream fiction.

Writers, how about you? Have you ever found yourself in the same situation? Have you had to de-sex books you’ve rewritten, or perhaps had to up the sex quotient for a book to transform it into an erotic romance? I’d really love to hear about your experiences!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Hide! It’s the Diet Police!

Over the decades I’ve received many wonderful reviews for my work but there’s one reviewer's comment in particular that I’ve found especially rewarding: “If Dave Barry, Erma Bombeck and Nora Ephron could somehow have a love child, it would be Daisy Dexter Dobbs.” I’ve heard variations of this from other reviewers and readers as well so I guess it’s safe to say that if you enjoy the works of those humorists, chances are you’ll enjoy mine too.

In each volume of my “The Crazy Woman Inside Me” series of humorous essays, you’ll find ample humor drawn from everyday life…my life to be exact. The latest volume, Hide! It’s the Diet Police! was both fun and painful to write because in these diet and weight-loss-themed essays I brutally expose some of my most shameful diet-related faults.

Hide! It’s the Diet Police! - by Daisy Dexter Dobbs

Before we get to the book’s actual blurb, there’s one important thing you need to know. If you’re expecting this little volume to help you shed all your excess weight and reach your ultimate diet goal, all I have to say is: Hahahahahahahahaha…deep breath…hahahahahahahahaha! :D

About my newest release: Hide! It’s the Diet Police!
(Available as a Kindle exclusive for just 99-cents, it’s officially available January 1, 2015, although you can preorder it before that.)

In the introduction, “It’s All About Perception,” Daisy delves into the sordid facts behind her lifelong love affair with food, years of resulting yoyo dieting, and the pivotal role laughter has played throughout.

“Plus Size Women and the Horror of Public Bathrooms,” tells of a cringe-worthy scenario, all too familiar to many woman. “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire” introduces us to the shameful, cunning traits of Daisy’s dieter personality, as she attempts to deceive The Diet Police. Her scheming ways continue in “Done in by Compassion and Understanding.”

“Angering the Gods of Chocolate” verifies that Daisy’s a diehard chocoholic who’ll stop at nothing to answer the siren call of her favorite food group, while “Satan and the Cheesecake Incident” examines supernatural forces at work to sabotage her diet. She’s even had to deal with “The Rare and Sudden Phenomenon of Volcanic Geothermal-based Clothing Shrinkage” on her weight-loss journey.

A clever method to trick the scale is revealed in “The Dastardly Horrors of Water Retention,” and “If Only I Could Yank Out those Dental Fillings” enlightens us about proper preparation for a weekly weigh-in. By the end, we are in complete awe of the author’s near super-human endeavor to control the ever-changing number on her scale.

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Wishing you all a happy, healthy New Year full of love, laughter, and lots of great reading!


Keep up to date with Daisy’s book news on her Facebook page!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Celebration of Christmas Books

Marching Home is book 1 of the Golden Times series. Since book 2, The Harold Angel, debuted on December 15, I wanted to celebrate its release by offering readers a special Amazon Kindle Countdown price on the first book of the series. So between December 15 and 22, you can purchase Marching Home at the special holiday price of just 99-cents (regularly $2.99)!

Marching Home - by Daisy Dexter Dobbs

Golden Times, book 1 (WWII romance/Christmas fantasy romance/women's fiction)

Clara knows better than to get mixed up with a serviceman during wartime. But she loses all rational thought when she meets Jimmy at the USO dance. The charming army private, in Chicago for a three-day leave, turns her world upside down.

The few precious days they share before he ships out on Christmas Eve are infused with more love, laughter and romance than most couples experience in a lifetime. Blissfully enveloped in a seventy-two hour whirlwind of discovery, passion and emotion, it soon becomes clear that their hearts and souls are entwined together forever.

Jimmy promises Clara he’ll come marching home to her. The magic of true love ensures that he’ll keep that vow.

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The Harold Angel, book 2 of the Golden Times series, is now available for just $2.99! Here’s more about it:

The Harold Angel - by Daisy Dexter Dobbs

Golden Times, book 2 (Christmas/fantasy/women's fiction)

Christmas, Present Day: About to turn eighteen, Jamie Crumrine is having a difficult time at home. The oldest of four kids in a single-parent home, she feels overworked, misunderstood, and is tired of her mom treating her like a ten-year-old. Granted, things are much better since her abusive, alcoholic father took off and left the family one Christmas Eve but, still, Jamie is itching to get out on her own to avoid drowning in a sea of responsibility.

An assistant at Golden Times retirement center, the frustrated Jamie confides in Alma, one of her favorite residents, about her problems, setting a chain of events into action that will forever change Jamie’s life.

It all starts with the story of Harold, a remarkable little boy in the early 1960s, who endured more pain and trauma in his young life than any child should.

This is a story about a Christmas miracle that touches the lives of all who hear it.

Author’s Note: The Harold Angel is dedicated to the victims of child abuse—those who survived as well as those who did not. As a survivor, the subject matter of this book is especially close to my heart. I'm an eternally optimistic realist who believes in hope, possibilities, the power of belief, and happily-ever-afters, whether the story I'm writing is a romance or, as in this case, mainstream fiction. There were many frightening days as a child when I wasn't sure I'd live to see adulthood, but I never, ever lost the all-important power of belief…in myself as well as in something greater. While it's admittedly difficult to tell an uplifting holiday story that centers around abuse, that was my goal. I leave it up to you to decide whether or not I succeeded.

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And for those of you who enjoy a good dose of laughter with your eggnog, Ho Ho Uh-oh… is volume 1 in my “The Crazy Woman Inside Me” series of humorous essays. This little book is available in Kindle edition for just 99-cents! Here’s more about it:

Ho Ho Uh-oh - by Daisy Dexter Dobbs

Ho Ho Uh-oh… is the first volume in a continuing series of warm, funny and fun-filled essays. It becomes clear in the introduction, “Daisy the Closet Writer,” why the author chose to title this series The Crazy Woman Inside Me.

Life experience has taught Daisy that finding the humor in difficult situations, as well as ridiculous mishaps, generates healing laughter. In “This Should Have Been a Clue” she shares valuable lessons learned about the difference between men and women. “Dripping with Diamonds, Furs and…Pillows?” sheds further light on the complexities of marriage, while “Oh the Joy, the Anticipation…the Socks and Underwear!” proves there’s a valid reason for time-honored male stereotypes.

“The Premonition Dream and Supernatural Lottery Ticket” gives a glimpse into the inner workings of Daisy’s thought process…and it isn’t a pretty sight. In “When a Writer Needs a People Fix…” we discover the author, an admitted foodie, has a weakness for more than just giant tins of Christmas shortbread cookies.

Come along for the ride as the author revels in the humor of everyday life, and celebrates the wild, wonderful magic of Christmas.

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A FAVOR: I hope you enjoy these three special holiday books! If you do, I'd be so very appreciative if you left a book review and/or rating on Amazon or your favorite review site to help other readers discover these stories too.

As a reader, you possess the power to influence the buying decisions of other readers. Your words and (hopefully) recommendation of these books can help bring attention to my writing so that others can discover my work. With so many books from so many writers available for sale, it can be difficult for an author to get her books noticed. So believe me when I tell you how very grateful I am to my readers for taking the time to leave an honest review or rating.

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Finally, if you're in need of a ho-ho-holiday chuckle, my image-filled blog post has all the necessary ingredients: Families…check. Insanity…check. Christmas…check. Total dysfunction…check. Holiday blog post…check. “When Life Gives You Material…” It’s sure to become a holiday classic.

Wishing you the happiest of holidays!

--Daisy Dexter Dobbs

Keep up to date with Daisy’s book news on her Facebook page!