Lysistrata Cove: First Draft Finished

I just finished a first draft in 11 days.

And I’m not even exhausted!

The complete first draft of Lysistrata Cove represents a change in my understanding of novel-writing. After two books that took me years to write and edit, I know now that I’m, first and foremost, telling a story, and that I work best when I know what the story is, how it got started and how it ends. I tried to leave things open, so that I could do what authors talk about all the time and learn from my characters, but it just left me floundering eventually, hunting and pecking for the impetus to throw them over the cliff or the strength they’ll need to figure out they have wings and can fly.

James and I developed a story, capable of being told in a handful of paragraphs. Then I mapped the story to the dramatic arc, the three-act play, Campbell’s hero cycle, Hauge’s six stage plot structure, using all to some degree and some quite carefully. Using Scrivener, I broke the story into sections (folders): Enemies, Softening, The Fall, Point of No Return, Major Setback, Dark Night of the Soul, and Epiphany and HEA (Happily Ever After). I wrote a synopsis for each scene (individual documents), with 4-6 scenes in each section.

Only at that point, when I had exported all that into MS Word and had a detailed, 10-page synopsis, did I go back and start doing character sketches.

Then I sat down, after several months of thinking over all that, getting to know these people in my head, and started writing. In writing, I didn’t linger on setting descriptions. Lots of scenes take place in amorphous surroundings, which I’m fleshing out in the second draft. But I got the thrust of it down. It’s tight, spare, and plain, but it drives.

Now I’ll go back and add some lushness. I’ll bring the sensual aspects into flower and consider where (not whether) to add more sex. After all, all the best reviews of my work praise the erotic bits.

Blue Water Dreams

First word to completed first draft: 1 year

First word to publication: 9 years, 3 months

Heart of the Lilikoi

First word to completed first draft: 6 years, 2 months

First word to publication: 6 years, 11 months

Lysistrata Cove

First word to completed first draft: 11 days

First word to projected publication: 10 months

“The Undeniable Beauty of Gift”

While I honestly enjoyed each story in Come Again, I truly loved, and was even moved by, a select few. My favorite story in the collection was Gift by Dena Hankins. Gift features two women in their 60’s and 70’s exploring lesbian sex for the first time. They have been sleeping together for a few weeks, but the story focuses on a new toy they test together, leading to a new level of pleasure neither woman has ever experienced. Gift not only turned me on, but deeply moved me as well. In the story, one of the women deals with physical disability and mobility issues. With the introduction of the new toy, she is able to reclaim her sexuality in spite of her limited mobility and engage fully with her lover for the first time. For the first time, my eyes welled with tears while reading erotica – a true testament to the undeniable beauty of Gift and Dena Hankins’ talent as an author. –Formidable Femme

I’m the opposite of speechless – I want to chatter about my excitement without pausing for breath!

What a, well, gift to be read by someone who engaged with my writing on this level. No lie, I brought tears to my own eyes writing this story, but that’s me and my very own textured imaginary version of this story. To read that this Femme was right there with me…

Floating, flying happiness.

Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica is doing so well out in the world. I’m tickled to be singled out for appreciation among a strong group of stories.

Even better review

I found an even better version of one review of “Gift”, in Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, on Goodreads:

The Gift, by Dina Hankins is a remarkably tender, sexy story of senior lovers, Helen and Margaret. As a senior woman this one resonates with me, for sure. It’s gratifying to see stories of senior sex included in erotica anthologies. After all just because the packaging has changed doesn’t mean the fires within aren’t still burning.

Love this stuff!

Some great reviews for “Gift” in Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica

It’s tempting to spend all one’s time on Amazon’s author pages, refreshing the reviews page.  Has anyone talked about my work?

I stayed away a while and, what do you know, when I went back on, I saw some great mentions of my story in Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica!

San Francisco welcomes book tour at Good Vibrations

Dena Hankins will be at Good Vibrations, in the Antique Vibrator Museum, for a group reading September 29th and an erotica reading workshop September 30th.  She is touring the Pacific Northwest to promote her queer/trans* romance, Blue Water Dreams, published by Bold Strokes Books and available through major distributors.  The tour mixes readings, discussions, erotica reading workshops, and visits to groups for transgender people and their allies.

Publishers Weekly says this about Blue Water Dreams:  “Seattleites Lania Marchiol, a cisgender woman, and Oly Rasmussen, a transgender man, meet by chance and quickly bond over shared interests…and when Lania and Oly set their differences aside and embrace their sexual chemistry, the scenes are graceful, sure, and spicy.”

Good Vibrations Polk, 1620 Polk St, San Francisco, CA
http://www.goodvibes.com/content.jhtml?id=New-Polk-Good-Vibes-Events

9/29/14, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Queer Prism: Readings by Eric Andrews-Katz, Dale Chase, Dena Hankins, Clifford Henderson, Kathleen Knowles, and Felice Picano
Smut, humor, memoir, romance, intrigue, and outlaws—queer fiction runs the gamut.  This tasting menu of characters will make you laugh, cry, and squirm in the most delicious ways.

9/30/14, 6:30pm-8:30pm
http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/845246
Open Windows: Look Inside with Erotica—Fantasy or exactly what you did last night, words add power and excitement to sex. Erotica and romance writer Dena Hankins will ask which words turn you on, and whether you want to try what you just read about. Let’s talk hot language, exploring new ideas, and sharing stories with your lovers.

Good Vibrations has been creating a buzz since 1977.  They’ve been trusted for over three decades to provide high quality products, education, and information that promotes sexual health, pleasure, and empowerment. Having invented the concept of the clean, well-lighted vibrator store, they’re proud to provide a safe and welcoming environment where customers can shop for sex toys, books, movies, and attend workshops.

Other stops in the tour include the Gender Alliance of the South Sound in Tacoma, WA, The Art of Loving in Vancouver, BC, the Gender Justice League and Gay Romance Northwest Meet-up in Seattle, WA, Orca Books in Olympia, WA, and the In Other Words Feminist Community Center in Portland, OR.

“I love these people,” says Dena.  “The characters in this queer/trans* romance are fierce, passionate folks struggling to balance magnetism and self-sufficiency, trying to love all the way to the core without losing themselves in the process.  You will be rooting for them to get it on and fall for each other.  I hope you read the book and fall for them too.”

Dena Hankins writes aboard her boat, wherever she has sailed it.  After eight years as a sex educator, she turned to writing dirty tales with far-flung settings and a queer/trans* romance novel, Blue Water Dreams.  Read more: www.denahankins.net.

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Portland, OR, stop for book tour at In Other Words Feminist Community Center

Dena Hankins will lead a workshop on reading erotica at the In Other Words Feminist Community Center on September 23rd, 2014.  She is touring the Pacific Northwest to promote her queer/trans* romance, Blue Water Dreams, published by Bold Strokes Books and available through major distributors.  The tour mixes readings, discussions, erotica reading workshops, and visits to groups for transgender people and their allies.

Publishers Weekly has this to say about Blue Water Dreams:  “Seattleites Lania Marchiol, a cisgender woman, and Oly Rasmussen, a transgender man, meet by chance and quickly bond over shared interests…and when Lania and Oly set their differences aside and embrace their sexual chemistry, the scenes are graceful, sure, and spicy.”

September 23, 2014, 6pm-8pm
In Other Words Feminist Community Center, 14 NE Killingsworth Street, Portland, OR
http://inotherwords.org/events
https://www.facebook.com/events/710153919056947

Open Windows: Look Inside with Erotica—Fantasy or exactly what you did last night, words add power and excitement to sex. Erotica and romance writer Dena Hankins will ask which words turn you on, and whether you want to try what you just read about. Let’s talk hot language, exploring new ideas, and sharing stories with your lovers.

In Other Words is a non-profit, volunteer-run, feminist community center in Portland, Oregon. Their mission is to support, enrich, and empower the feminist community through literature, art, and educational and cultural events. They have a storefront that serves as a book store, a lending library, and a venue for feminist events.

Other stops in the tour include the Gender Alliance of the South Sound in Tacoma, WA, The Art of Loving in Vancouver, BC, the Gender Justice League and Gay Romance Northwest Meet-up in Seattle, WA, Orca Books in Olympia, WA, and two events at Good Vibrations in San Francisco, CA, at their Polk Street location.

“I love these people,” says Dena.  “The characters in this queer/trans* romance are fierce, passionate folks struggling to balance magnetism and self-sufficiency, trying to love all the way to the core without losing themselves in the process.  You will be rooting for them to get it on and fall for each other.  I hope you read the book and fall for them too.”

Dena Hankins writes aboard her boat, wherever she has sailed it.  After eight years as a sex educator, she turned to writing dirty tales with far-flung settings and a queer/trans* romance novel, Blue Water Dreams.  Read more: www.denahankins.net.

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6 City Book Tour for Blue Water Dreams

I am touring the Pacific Northwest to promote my upcoming Seattle-set queer/trans* romance, Blue Water Dreams, published by Bold Strokes Books and available now for preorder.  The tour mixes book readings, discussions, erotica workshops, and visits to interested groups.  I am available for interviews and welcome requests for review copies.

Publishers Weekly has this to say about Blue Water Dreams:  “Seattleites Lania Marchiol, a cisgender woman, and Oly Rasmussen, a transgender man, meet by chance and quickly bond over shared interests…and when Lania and Oly set their differences aside and embrace their sexual chemistry, the scenes are graceful, sure, and spicy.”

Tacoma, WA:
Gender Alliance of the South Sound, Reading and Discussion, 9/12/14, 7pm

Vancouver, BC:
Art of Loving, Reading and Discussion, 9/15/14, 7:30pm

Seattle, WA:
Gender Justice League, Visit, 9/16/14, 7pm
Gay Romance Northwest Meet-up, Conference, 9/20/14, 10am

Olympia, WA:
Orca Books, Group Reading, 9/21/14, 3pm

Portland, OR
In Other Words Feminist Community Center, Erotica Workshop, 9/23/14, 6pm

San Francisco, CA:
Good Vibrations Polk Street, Group Reading, 9/29/14, 6:30pm
Good Vibrations Polk Street, Erotica Workshop, 9/30/14, 6:30pm

About me: Dena Hankins writes aboard her boat, wherever she has sailed it.  After eight years as a sex educator, she turned to writing dirty tales with far-flung settings and a queer/trans* romance novel, Blue Water Dreams, about magnetism and self-sufficiency.  Read more: www.denahankins.net.

Image from book cover

My Bois Got Picked!

I wrote a while back about submitting a story, Teamwork, to Sacchi Green for a boi-themed anthology.  Pending final Cleis Press acceptance, I’m in!

Thanks for choosing my story, Sacchi.  It’ll be great if we can do a reading for this book like we did for Girl Fever.  That was so much fun.