Out of print, not out of luck

I had a moment of depression tonight to realize my book, “Dark Thirst” is out of print. I had a reader contact me through Goodreads, asking if it was available in ebook. I found this kind of odd, since it hasn’t been available in paperback for some time, outside of used copies, but has sold pretty well in both Kindle and Nook formats since its release. But when I went to both Amazon and BN.com, I realized to my dismay that my reader was right — it’s no longer available.

Which kinda sucks, considering it launches my entire Brethren series, and is considered by a lot of fans to be the best book of the bunch. (I have a harder time choosing the best from among them — too much like choosing your favorite from among your kids.)

So I have an email asking “Hey, uh…what’s up?” out to my former editor at Kensington, the publishing company who’d released both “Dark Thirst,” and its sequel, “Dark Hunger.” We’ll see what, if anything, I hear in reply. I suspect the book is out of print — the literary equivalent of purgatory, or limbo. If so, I’m going to try to get my rights back to it and go from there.

Ironically, this discovery comes on the heels of me deciding to draw the Brethren series to a conclusion with my current work in progress, the tenth installment, “Darkness Falls.” I’ve enjoyed the ride with Brandon, Lina, and the gang over the years, and love the connection I’ve found with so many readers who have invested so much time, energy, and emotion into the Brethren world. But before I end the series, I want to make sure it’s available to those who want to read it — in its entirety, and that includes “Dark Thirst.” One way or the other, it will be available to readers again in the immediate future.

I’ll keep you posted.

5/5/2015: Update

After corresponding with my former editor at Kensington, I have been assured that “Dark Thirst” will be available for sale in ebook formats very soon. Not sure why it was pulled in the first place, but I suspect it’s because it’s been eight years since it’s initial release. That’s a long shelf life, even for an ebook.

I’ll post an update once “Dark Thirst” is available again, and plan to have a hella huge Grand Re-Launching Party once it does! Stay tuned!

Of singing rabbits and Indiana Jones: An Earth Day Retrospective

Earth Day, 1990: The 20th anniversary of the Earth Day celebration. It was kind of a big deal because the world wasn’t so eco-friendly or eco-smart back in those days, but we were starting to try a little harder, and making some progress. And at my high school, for some unknown reason, the Adults in Charge let me write and direct a series of short plays commemorating the occasion, and these were then (even more astonishing) performed before the entire student body.

I actually dusted off and tinkered with one of those plays several years later, and it was selected for performance as part of the Western Kentucky Playwrights Festival in Murray. It featured two teen boys, best friends since childhood, but polar opposites in personality, talking about how one boy had knocked up his girlfriend. There were liberal political statements galore in both the Earth Day, and later the Festival versions of that play. Most not particularly subtle, because well…I’m not. I wish I could find the script for it. Both times it was performed, the actors portraying the characters did great, as memory served, and really brought my story to life. That remains one of my proudest moments as a writer.

Then, of course, we had the “main show,” a satirical piece which, as memory serves, had a princess, a bunch of singing rabbits, a witty narrator who lipsynced Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al”, and Indiana Jones, barreling onstage from the back of the packed auditorium to the blaring sound of the iconic theme music. Yeah, it didn’t make a lot of sense, and I probably violated all kinds of copyright laws. But the crowd enjoyed it. LOL, that, too, remains a pretty proud moment.

And that’s what why Earth Day always makes me smile.

On Self-Promotion

Oh my frickin God, THIS, YES: “PLEASE SHUT UP: WHY SELF-PROMOTION AS AN AUTHOR DOESN’T WORK.”

Look, I’m an author. I write books. I have books for sale. If you like my personality here, on FB, or in person, or you remember what a weird-ass goofball I was in high school/college/nursing school/OB-GYN office, etc., you might like my books.

If you like creepy shit, you might like my books.

If you like sexy shit, you might like my books.

I write creepy, sexy, weird, goofy shit, so if that sounds like something you’d like to see in a book, you might enjoy one of mine. So maybe this will inspire you to buy one. Hell, drop me a comment, send me a message, something – I’ll shoot you a free ebook copy of one. Or more.

Because if you get one for free, you might read it, and if you read it, you might like it, and if you like it, you might want to read more of my books, in which case, I’ve got plenty, so you might buy one. Or two, Or more. I’m flexible like that.

I’m a terrible pimp, however, even of my own books, so I don’t do much of it, and this is as hard-sell as I get anymore. Like I said, if you like what I have to say, you might like my books. So hit me up, I’ll send you one, and let’s dance.

Last of the Brethren Series now in progress

And so it begins – my WIP, “Darkness Falls,” is officially underway. It’s going to be Book 10 — and the conclusion — of the Brethren Series:

“It felt as though an earthquake shuddered through the room, the ground beneath the sprawling expanse of the Noble clan great house heaving along some hidden and heretofore unnoticed fault line. The bed shook as if seized between enormous, invisible hands, and, jarred from sleep, Lina sat up, her eyes flown wide, her legs tangled in a heap of blankets and sheets. The sensation of being in motion, the rough jostling of the mattress beneath her, lasted no more than seconds, but it was enough to startle her into bleary, bewildered consciousness—and scare the shit out of her in the process.”

Breaking up is hard to do

Dear Untitled WIP,

For more than three months now, I’ve tried to make this thing between us work. I like your characters and your premise. My writing with you hasn’t been bad. But no matter what I’ve tried — and believe me, I’ve tried everything — it’s just not working out. I think we need some time apart.

I know I’ve done this to you before, and when I dusted you off in October with the intention of giving you another go, I really was determined to make it work. I felt a renewed enthusiasm for you, and dove right in where we’d left off, hoping that things had changed. That you had changed, and that together, we could find a happy ending.

When that didn’t work out the way I’d hoped, I refused to give up on you. I simply started you from scratch, keeping the things about you that I’d loved, while scrapping the things I felt were holding us back. I outlined you. I researched you. I spent hours each day hunched over my laptop, putting effort, energy, and love into you.

And then, last night, as I hit yet another roadblock creatively with you, it occurred to me. This was never going to work.

Thus, I’m breaking up with you, tucking you back into the virtual archives of manuscript relationships that just failed to pan out. It’s a modest company you’ll keep; I’ve only ever left three manuscripts unfinished, including you — and one technically doesn’t count, because it was on another laptop that crashed, deleting all copies of it. (Moral of that story: back up your work.)

I’m sorry. It’s not you. It’s me. Or maybe it is you. Maybe it’s both of us. But whatever the reason, we just don’t click. We don’t mesh. God knows we tried.

There’s no one else…okay, there wasn’t until last night, when I let my mind’s eye wander toward a new idea, new characters, a new premise. But so far, they’re just a friend. They’re not the reason I’m leaving you.

I hope you understand. I love you, but some things just aren’t meant to be.

– Sara

Beware the Option Clause!

It’s been awhile since my last post, but not because I haven’t been writing. Shortly after releasing In the Heart of Darkness, I stumbled across an older, incomplete manuscript I’d started several years ago. I’d actually managed to make it a good 130,000+ words into the story before shelving it, but not because I didn’t like it. In fact, I really liked it — so much so, I decided to dust it off and give it another chance at life. I figured with a month or two, I could get it finished.

That’s turned out to be longer than anticipated, and what I thought would be a relatively easy project to complete has wound up being a hell of a lot more. I basically scraped the original manuscript down to the bare bones, the protagonists and the concept, and have rewritten everything. But only after playing around with trying to complete the original version unsuccessfully for a good six weeks. So far, I’m happy with what I’ve completed, and I’ve outlined the rest of the book. (Figuring out a resolution by simply writing by the seat of my pants, as I often do, wasn’t working for this one, so I’ve uncharacteristically become a “plotter.”) But more on that later.

I want to throw something out as a sort of caution to other authors:

Beware the option clause.

I mention this because, in addition to my current WIP, I also decided to dust off Forsaken, the first in what I’d like to see become an urban fantasy series. I self-published Forsaken several years ago, despite receiving offers from several ebook presses to publish it. Unfortunately, at about that same time, I was headlong into nursing school, and couldn’t devote the time, energy, or money needed to effectively market the book. I eventually pulled it, but still love both the story and the series concept, and so have been shopping it around again.

I recently received a publication offer on both Forsaken and the two subsequent book in the series from an ebook publisher. In reviewing their contract, I came across this option clause:

“Author retains the right to self-publish their next full-length or short work, provided that such work is not a sequel, extension, continuation, prequel or otherwise based within the universe of the Work upon which rights have been granted herein. If the Work does fall within aforementioned parameters, or in the event that the author decides not to self-publish the work in question, or if any future work regardless of release date or sequence that is a sequel, extension, continuation, prequel or otherwise based within the universe of the Work upon which rights have been granted herein, Publisher and Editor hereby retain the exclusive option to acquire such full-length or short work of Author on mutually satisfactory terms and conditions. […]

“If, within 90 days following submission of such work to Publisher or Editor, or within 90 days after acceptance of the work, whichever shall be later, Publisher, Editor and Author are unable in good faith to agree upon terms for publication, the Author shall be free thereafter to submit such next work to other publishers or to self-publish the work, provided however, that Publisher and Editor shall retain the first option to acquire the work on terms no less favorable to the Author than those offered by any other publisher.”

The publisher was unwilling to amend or remove this clause, and so I declined their offer.

Why?

An option clause serves two purposes. First, it acts as insurance for the publisher, so if you become the next big thing, they have first dibs on your subsequent work. That makes sense: publishing is a business. If you’re successful, you make your publisher money. They want to keep you around.

Second, it helps reassure authors that publishers are interested in seeing them succeed, and will consider subsequent works from them.

However, as an author, you need to insure that the option clause works to your benefit, as well as the publisher’s. The one I was offered doesn’t. Breaking it down, here’s why:

“Author retains the right to self-publish their next full-length or short work, provided that such work is not a sequel, extension, continuation, prequel or otherwise based within the universe of the Work upon which rights have been granted herein. If the Work does fall within aforementioned parameters, or in the event that the author decides not to self-publish the work in question, or if any future work regardless of release date or sequence that is a sequel, extension, continuation, prequel or otherwise based within the universe of the Work upon which rights have been granted herein, Publisher and Editor hereby retain the exclusive option to acquire such full-length or short work of Author on mutually satisfactory terms and conditions.”

This basically says that the publisher gets first dibs at next thing you write, whether a novel, novella, or short story, regardless of whether it’s in the same universe as your contracted manuscript, or even the same genre. Even if they don’t publish that genre, you can’t submit it elsewhere until you submit it to them first.

“If, within 90 days following submission of such work to Publisher or Editor, or within 90 days after acceptance of the work, whichever shall be later, Publisher, Editor and Author are unable in good faith to agree upon terms for publication, the Author shall be free thereafter to submit such next work to other publishers or to self-publish the work, provided however, that Publisher and Editor shall retain the first option to acquire the work on terms no less favorable to the Author than those offered by any other publisher.”

This basically says not only does the publisher get first dibs on your next work of any length and any genre, regardless of whether or not they publish that length or genre, they can hold on to it for 90 days before making a decision as to whether or not they’d like to offer a contract on it. And even after that 90 day period, if they decline to offer you a contract, and you receive another offer of publication from another publisher, this publisher still has the right to change their mind and meet that same offer with one of their own.

And if you sign future contracts with this publisher, this same clause recurs, meaning it’s a endless cycle. If you choose to self-publish, it’s not as confining. But if you want to submit to other presses, you’re very constricted by the terms. As one who writes in multiple genres, many of which were not published by this press, I was unwilling to commit to such a broad option clause.

So how is an option clause that mutually benefits both the publisher and the author worded? I found some terrific guidance from this blog post by Jennifer Laughran, an agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (I should specify Ms. Laughran does not represent me, and I have no affiliation with her agency.) Basically, Ms. Laughran recommends limiting the option clause as much as possible. That means specifying only the next work of the same length and genre as the contracted manuscript, or only the next subsequent manuscript set in the contracted work’s universe/world, or with the same characters.

She also recommends limiting the amount of time a publisher has to review the option work: “30 days is ideal, NOT 90 or 120 days or anything else.” Additionally, “ask to be able to turn in a proposal/sample chapters, not an entire manuscript” and “make the date I can submit be either anytime, or anytime after delivery of the first book… NOT AFTER PUBLICATION OF THE FIRST BOOK [sic]. That could keep you hemmed up for a year or more.”

She has a lot of other great tips in her post. I highly recommend reading it and bookmarking it for future reference, if you’re an author!

Based on the suggestions from her post, here’s what I proposed as a revised option clause to my prospective publisher:

“Publisher shall have the first opportunity to read and consider for publication either the complete text, synopsis, or specimen chapter from the Author’s next sequel, extension, continuation, prequel or other work based within the universe of the Work upon which rights have been granted herein, for a period of 90 days from receipt of proposal of said next work, on terms to be negotiated. If the Publisher and the Author are unable to agree terms for publication, the Author shall be at liberty to enter into an agreement with another publisher.”

I had no problem allowing them the 90-day window and felt the rest of my proposal was fair and equitable to both me and the publisher. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to reach an agreement on the clause, and as I said, I turned down the offer.

Some folks might be okay accepting a contract with a option clause like the original one in it, but I wasn’t. It is important for me to emphasize that this in no way implies that this publisher was not legitimate or well-intentioned. They may be great — just not for me. I’m soliciting agents, and until I have one (and hell, even when I do!), I need to trust my own instincts and look out for my own best interests in my pursuit of publication. I work too hard on this shit to hand it over blindly to just anyone!

Audio version, “The Periphery People”

I stumbled across this video online today. It’s an audio version of my short story, “The Periphery People,” performed by a video blogger named Natenator. He saw my story on Creepypasta.com and enjoyed it so much, he selected it for narration — such a wonderful, unexpected, welcome surprise! I think he does a phenomenal job — he has a fantastic voice, perfect for the mood and atmosphere of this spooky little yarn. I hope you enjoy as much I did!

Sometimes inspiration in writing comes completely by surprise. Such was the case for me while working on my newest release (which launches today!), In the Heart of Darkness. Because the main characters in the story are both vampires, each of whom has lived around 240+ years, parts of the story take place at various points in the past, as well as in the present. For example, Mason and Julien first meet in the late 1700s, and reunite in 1818 in Boston, Massachusetts. Mason is attending Harvard Medical School, which was relatively new at that time. I wanted him to have something to talk about in terms of his life on campus, his classes, and started researching Harvard in the year 1818.

To my surprise, I discovered something quite relevant that I wound up including in the plot. In 1818, the entire sophomore class at Harvard was summarily expelled following several incidents on campus that marked the first organized student protest activities in the United States. The first such incident was a food fight. Really. While the food fight itself was probably more in fun than anything, when instigators were admonished for it, the student body rebelled, considering the punishment unfair. Teachers were heckled, administrators publicly ridiculed and mocked. Protests were organized. Mayhem ensued. And the rest, as they say, was history.

You can read more about the “Harvard Student Rebellion of 1818” here. But you can also read about it in the pages of In the Heart of Darkness:

“Have you tendered your letter of resignation yet, Morin?”

Mason glanced at his friend and fellow classmate at Harvard, David Gorham, as they tromped side by side along the snow-slickened cobbled sidewalk. They walked with their shoulders hunched, their gloved hands stuffed deeply into their coat pockets, and their breath frosted the air around their heads in dim, hazy clouds.

“I’ve yet to figure out a way to explain to my father why I’d do such a thing,” Mason said.

David laughed, his cheeks bright red, chafed with the cold. “Because the college’s treatment of their student body is nothing short of bloody tyranny,” he proclaimed. “The very same sort against which our fathers fought so valiantly to be freed from. A college should promote free and independent thought and self-expression—not seek to stifle it, or persecute those who would express it.”

Mason rolled his eyes. It all seemed rather ridiculous to him—circumstances that had, without question, been blown out of proportion. What had started as an innocent-enough, if not somewhat destructive, food fight in University Hall involving a majority of sophomore class had swelled to melodramatic proportions. Two of the school’s more venerable and influential instructors had been publicly ridiculed by the student body during a protest in defense of those suspended as a result. David—who had played a fairly instrumental role in the food fight that had instigated all of the trouble—seemed to be enjoying the entire debacle immensely, but to Mason—who hadn’t taken part—it all seemed a bit childish.

“Besides, what’s the point of resigning?” Mason asked. “They’ve already deemed we’re all to be expelled anyway—the entire class.”

And how the hell he was going to explain that to Michel was a more pressing concern than any pretentious and meaningless resignation. He’d pleaded for nearly a year before his father had agreed to let him travel on his own to Boston in order to attend Harvard Medical School. Three years had passed since the horrific fires that had destroyed their clan’s great house and left them living in exile, secreted from their fellow Brethren. Three years had passed since he’d last seen Julien and he had been forbidden to send as much as a postcard, not even a note, to let him know of his survival. In the aftermath, his heart had seemingly crumbled beneath the overwhelming weight of his loss.

“Yes, but they’ll let you reapply next term,” David said. “And you’ll be back in for sure, Morin. You’re not one for causing trouble. And your grades have been splendid for sure. Just rent a flat and bide your time until enrollment comes around again. Trust me—your father will never know.” He clapped his hand against Mason’s shoulder. “Come on, don’t look so glum. I’ll hire us a hackney and we’ll ride out to Beacon Hill. That should cheer you up.”

“What’s at Beacon Hill?” Mason asked. He knew of the area, of course. On one hand, it was home of the Massachusetts State House. But on the other, it was an area where many of the city’s poorer populace resided, one notorious for its taverns, inns, and other establishments of ill or illegal repute. He wasn’t about to admit this aloud, however, and especially to David, whom he knew only casually, and thus feigned innocent obliviousness as he spoke.

“Any manner of debauchery and impropriety you can imagine,” David promised with a grin. “Some even call it Satan’s seat. The ale flows like water, and the whores are always welcoming. It’s the perfect place to celebrate a successful rebellion!”

(And for the record, Mason’s friend, David Wood Gorham was an actual historical figure, who was indeed involved in the food fight rebellion and who went on to become a prominent New England physician. I like to throw these sorts of Easter eggs into my books.)

Fair use & song lyrics just don’t mix

I guess you’re never too old to learn a new trick. For example, did you know that song lyrics don’t fall under the terms of “fair use?” I didn’t, but as I’m putting the final touches on In the Heart of Darkness, getting it ready for it’s big commercial debut, I discovered this little tidbit of knowledge and thought it was worth passing along.

What is “fair use?” Stanford University defines it as “any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and ‘transformative’ purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner.”

Generally speaking, you find fair use applying mostly to nonfiction works, which may require the frequent quotation or use of other sources to support their material. It’s utilized less often in works of fiction, and most times, it is applied incorrectly, as is the case with the use of song lyrics without permission.

I researched song lyrics specifically because my first chapter opens with one line from the Lady Gaga song, “Born This Way.” During the introductory scenes, I quoted a couple of other lines, no more than 25 words total from the song. From my limited experience with fair use, I thought this was well under the 300-word limit for fair use, and would have no problems. However, with publication underway, I wanted to make sure, and I wanted to appropriately attribute the lyrics to Mama Monster in the book.

Imagine my surprise to learn that not only does the actual fair use doctrine not specify a word count limit, but also doesn’t apply to songs. That’s because song lyrics generally don’t contain a lot of words (unless you’re Meatloaf, and then all of your songs are as long, word-wise, as War and Peace). If you were to excerpt 300 words from most songs, you’d wind up using a majority of the lyrics.

Additionally, song lyrics aren’t just copyrighted. They’re licensed, which means you not only have to obtain permission to use them, but you will also most likely have to pay a licensing fee for that use.

Publishing houses will usually try to take care of this for authors, but for us indie authors, we need to be especially mindful. Ignorance of the law doesn’t excuse us from it, and no one really wants to get a cease-and-desist letter from Lady Gaga’s lawyers.

So there you go. You can’t use song lyrics, even a few of them, without first getting permission, and paying for the use. What, then, is an author supposed to do? Take me, for example. Those lines from “Born This Way” had been included in my opening scene from the initial inception of this book. Hell, it was the song that gave me the inspiration for both the scene itself, and the book as a whole!

The best solution, barring jumping through all of the hoops and red tape it would take to legally use the lyrics, is simply to omit them (which I wound up doing). You can use the title of the song without permission, so you can write that your characters are dancing to “Born This Way.” You can have them reference the song, such as by squeeing, “Oh my God, Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way.’ I love this song!” Or, as I also ended up doing:

I wasn’t ‘born this way,’ Mason thought miserably, blinking down at the thin puddle of frothy emesis he’d managed to choke up. He felt ashamed of himself, his drunken stupor, his inebriated clumsiness, the entire disgrace of his attire, his smeared makeup and puke breath. I was not born to wear high-heeled boots and a G-string. Jesus Christ, I’m two hundred and forty-seven years old. What the fuck was I thinking?

Happy writing, gang!

The art of the kiss

One of my favorite things to write about is the kiss. And not just any kiss –the first one. The culmination of all of the mutual attraction you’ve been hinting at and building up to, that first kiss between your main characters can be tantamount to lip-smacking magic if done right.

Maybe that’s because we all attach a certain sentimentality to the first kiss. Who doesn’t remember their own? And not just their first kiss in general, but their first kiss specifically with someone they’d been wanting to kiss, waiting for that moment with bated breath? I’ll never forget the night my husband asked if he could kiss me for the first time. (Yeah, he asked first, all romantic and proper-like — how sweet is that?)

In writing, as in real life, a kiss is the first physical contact between lovers. Yeah, you’ve got your hand-holding and all of that, but for true displays of desire, it boils down to the old smoocheroo. More so even than love scenes, I think kissing is a wonderfully intimate act, one that can reveal not only a character’s passion, but also their vulnerability.

For example, here’s an excerpt from my upcoming release In The Heart of Darkness, from the Brethren Series (available 10/31/14), in which my main characters, Mason Morin and Julien Davenant, vampires from rival clans, kiss for the first time:

Mason touched Julien’s face, hesitantly at first, and then when this went unprotested, he slowly uncurled his fingers to cradle his cheek. He waited for Julien to tell him to stop, to ask what the hell he was doing, because he’d never told anyone—not even his own father—about his desires. Although he’d met a handful of humans who had shared his predilections, he’d never found another Brethren like himself, none among any of the other clans.

But Julien’s heart rate quickened at Mason’s caress, his body responding with a sudden surge of adrenaline as if he liked the sensation, as if Mason’s touch had pleased him. Still, just before their lips met, Mason froze, so sure this was a dream, a fantasy born of his newly discovered lust for his brother’s friend, that at any moment, he expected to sit upright in bed, wide awake, his cock throbbing with unfulfilled need.

Wide-eyed, nearly ingenuous in his anticipation, Julien trembled, his breath fluttering against Mason’s mouth, his heart racing. Mason leaned in, his lips lighting against Julien’s, briefly at first, and then settling gently. Julien uttered a soft, pleading sound, and as Mason slid his tongue along the seam of his mouth, he opened his lips and let him pass. Mason cradled his face between his hands, pulling him near. He tasted the sweetness of the brandy on Julien’s tongue, felt the warmth of his breath tangling with his own, the eagerness and urgency in his fingers as he clutched at Mason’s arms.

When at last Mason pulled away, Julien smiled, breathless and flushed with excitement—not just the sexual sort, but emotional, as well; the eagerness that came from discovering you were not alone, that another like you—a kindred spirit—had just arrived rather unexpectedly into your world.  It was perhaps in that moment that Mason fell in love with him. Any resistance or caution he might have felt had dissolved completely at the sight of Julien’s radiant smile, those incredible eyes; Mason’s heart, it would seem, had been forever lost to him.

I included that last paragraph with this post even though it’s not part of the kiss, per se, because it sums up the point: it’s not the act of the kiss as much as all of the feelings that come along with it, tied up in that one single act. First kisses should be memorable, an emotional experience for the characters and readers. You want your readers to remember the moments when your characters kiss for the first time because those moments are special and worth savoring, cherishing — just like first kisses in real life.

Visually, I think this scene from the 2005 movie Closer, featuring Jude Law and Julia Roberts is about as hot and passionate a first kiss/first connection between characters as I’ve ever seen. (Yeah, the movie itself sucked, and the characters wind up being ass-hats, but put that aside for now…):

I’ve also recently gotten hooked on the TV show Outlander (and don’t even get me started on how pissed I am about the “midseason hiatus” the show is currently on!). I love lots of things about the show, but the chemistry between the actors portraying Claire and Jamie is one of the top. Their wedding night, when they kiss for the first time, was a wonderfully written, acted, and filmed episode. One of my favorite moments appears in the promo below (sorry – I couldn’t find it on its own) — not because it’s their first kiss, but because it’s their aborted first attempt at kissing, and all of the emotions that make a first kiss so memorable are perfectly captured: anticipation, anxiety, desire, etc. (And Jamie’s laugh when she hedges in the end — perfect!)

Just goes to show sometimes you don’t even have to actually have physical contact to have a memorable first kiss…

Just food for thought, and some moments of visual inspiration, the next time you’re writing a kiss. Especially that magic moment of the first one.