Don’t Be Shy edited by Astrid Ohletz and Jae (Plus a FREE ebook)

cover_A_Dont-Be-Shy-VOL-I_500x800Congratulations to canuckeh, winner of an ebook copy of Don’t Be Shy!

Check out all this awesome! It’s Monday, the birds are singing, and the sun is already making an appearance. I love spring. LOVE. And, as if all that isn’t enough on it’s own, Jae, one of the editors for the newly released anthology Don’t Be Shy from Ylva Publishing, dropped by today. And, she brought along four of the contributing authors: Harper Bliss, Fletcher DeLancey, Lila Bruce, and Cheri Crystal. Jae tells us why it’s important to publish anthologies, and the other four answer some questions for us.

Before you jump to the interview, though, you should know one more thing. Ylva is also giving away an ebook copy of Don’t Be Shy here at Women and Words. Drop a comment into the space below and I’ll draw the winner this Friday, May 8th.

Good luck!
Why is it important to publish anthologies?

Jae: As an international publisher, we are all about diversity. That’s part of why we think publishing anthologies is so important— because they allow us to present a diversity of styles, characters, and settings to our readers.

For writers, submitting a short story to an anthology is a great way to improve their craft by working with an editor and to make their writing available to a broader audience.

For readers, anthologies offer a chance to try out first-time authors and authors who are new to them along with the stories from their all-time favorites.

We truly think it’s a win-win situation.


Is there a story behind your story in Don’t Be Shy? If so, would you share it?

Harper Bliss: My story is called “Fit for Forty,” and my wife is turning forty very, very soon. The phrase “fit for forty” has been dropped in our house several times the past year, but lately it seems to have changed to “slightly less unfit for forty.” 😉

My story is set during a hike up a mountain, and I did get the idea for it on one of the hikes we embarked on together. By no means does this mean my story is a true one (although I do tend to curse a lot when climbing a steep mountain, but that’s where the similarities end.) 😉

Fletcher DeLancey: For the longest time, I wasn’t even certain I would submit a story to this anthology. I’m in the middle of rewriting and editing Without A Front, both volumes, and the idea of breaking out of that world to hammer out an erotic short story seemed like more than my imagination could handle.

But then my wife took me on a romantic weekend to our favorite resort, which has a proven record of relaxing both of us. It was there, under the influence of a nice glass of whisky and an appreciative wife, that I began tapping out The Souvenir. Writing an erotic short story with one’s wife watching can be an, er, interesting experience.

We had a very nice weekend.

Lila Bruce: Not in the way that you may think, although I am currently in the market for a new dishwasher (the one I have is about five years old and makes a sound like a freight train). Beyond that, don’t most people have that one person? You know the one. That person who you see at the post office, the doctor’s office, or maybe at the grocery store that you find yourself fantasizing about while you’re waiting in line. I’ll just say that I wanted to write a fun, sexy story, and my Carter character may or may not be loosely based on such a person. (Okay, she really is, but just don’t tell anyone I told you.)

Cheri Crystal: Treatment Nurse is purely fictional, but having worked in healthcare for many years, I’m well acquainted with how short life can be and why we have to make the most of each and every day. I truly enjoy life’s finer pleasures such as hot sex, scrumptious food, lovely settings, and a friendly smile to name a few. While it’s hard to constantly avoid sweating the small stuff I try not to take good health for granted. Treatment Nurse shows steamy hot sex between two oncology nurses who hook up with high hopes of reaffirming all is right and well in the world—even in the face of death and doom—all while enjoying each other to the fullest.

What’s harder for you to write? A sex scene or the lead-up to the sex?

Harper Bliss: I’m inclined to say a sex scene (although I wouldn’t exactly call them “hard to write”) because there are fewer possibilities for variation. Scenes leading up to the sex scene are always different because the characters are often different or new, and, for me, there’s nothing more fun than starting a new story with two fresh characters and finding out their story, their quirks, their preferences and so on, while inching closer to that inevitable love scene. And if the lead-up is good, writing the actual sex scene is never hard.

Fletcher DeLancey: The sex, definitely. It’s so hard to get that right—to find the arousing middle ground between “clinical” and “whoa, too much.” It’s also technically more difficult to not overuse names, and to find a good writing rhythm while describing a series of short actions. But the lead-up is usually easy and great fun.

Lila Bruce: Definitely the lead-up. At the end of the day, sex is sex. To me, the lead-up is what defines the type of sex your characters are having. For example, I don’t think you can have a heated but passionate argument between your characters end in slow, sensual lovemaking. That scene would have to have hungry, fiery, rip-your-clothes-off-and-take-me-now sex. I find that I spend twice as much time deciding how to convey the emotions my characters are feeling and what is happening between them in that lead-up scene in order to logically move their relationship to the next level (i.e., sex) than I do actually writing the sex scene.

Cheri Crystal: I find it much harder writing an original sex scene that is fresh, interesting and that enhances the story. Too many times an intimate moment is depicted as an exercise in mechanics with emphasis on body parts, foul language, clichés, or shock value. Reading a sex manual would be more interesting if that’s what I was after. If I want to read pure erotica or a saucy sex scene in a romance, I want to know the characters better, feel what they are feeling, and get off on seeing into their world as a fun bit of voyeurism. There’s only so many ways a person can pleasure herself or others. I’m interested in and try to convey what goes through a character’s mind, how her body responds, how she affects her lover(s), whether or not a relationship develops, if there’s a connection between the participants aside from the sex act itself etc. While in the throes of passion how a person reacts varies greatly. Showing depth of character is one of many skills I try to improve upon every time I write.

What’s the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for you

Harper Bliss: When my wife and I first moved to Hong Kong five years ago, she gave me the time and opportunity to explore the one thing I always wanted to do: writing. She supported and encouraged me and never once put pressure on me to find a “real job.” Without her, Harper Bliss would not exist. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

Fletcher DeLancey: When Maria and I were married, we wrote our own vows and didn’t show them to each other. Each of us heard the other’s vows for the first time at the ceremony itself. I thought mine were pretty good; after all, I’m the writer in the family. But Maria’s were pure poetry. They were full of love and references to our personal history, and she even managed references to two of my books. Her vows said to me, I listen to you, and I pay attention, and really, is there anything more romantic than that? To know that someone values you so highly that they pay attention? It’s so easy in our busy lives to take our loved ones for granted.

We will celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary this summer. She still pays attention to me. I can only strive to be as attentive to her.

Oh, and those vows made me cry. We had to pause the ceremony while a guest fished out a tissue for me, because of course I didn’t have one on me. Who cries at their own wedding?

Lila Bruce: I have to admit, I’ve never had that “Midnight on the Eiffel Tower” moment in any of my past relationships. Which is actually okay, as I’m a little afraid of heights anyway. The most romantic thing that comes to mind—once, while on vacation in Panama City Beach with one of my exes (I somewhat hate the beach, so I can’t really remember how I got talked into that trip), I was treated to a pre-dawn stroll along the beachfront. It really was a very sweet and intimate morning spent watching the sun rise up over the gulf

Cheri Crystal: My girlfriend took me birding on a sewage treatment farm in Las Vegas, Nevada, called the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve. We ticked some truly amazing Southwestern desert birds, waterfowl, and dragonflies we wouldn’t have seen anywhere else. Not many women can claim they fell more deeply in love on a sewage farm, but believe me, it was the romantic trip that clinched the deal. We were married within weeks.


Harper Bliss – Harper Bliss is the author of the novel At the Water’s Edge, the French Kissing serial, the High Rise series, and several other lesbian erotica and romance titles. She is the co-founder of Ladylit Publishing, an independent press focusing on lesbian fiction. Harper lives on an outlying island in Hong Kong with her wife and, regrettably, zero pets.

Fletcher DeLancey – Fletcher DeLancey spent her early career as a science educator, which was the perfect combination of her two great loves: language and science. These days she combines them while writing science fiction.

She is an Oregon expatriate who left her beloved state when she met a Portuguese woman and had to choose between home and heart. She chose heart. Now she lives with her wife and son in the beautiful sunny Algarve, where she writes full-time, teaches Pilates, tries to learn the local birds and plants, and samples every regional Portuguese dish she can get her hands on. (There are many. It’s going to take a while.)

She is best known for her five-book Star Trek: Voyager fan fiction epic, The Past Imperfect Series, and for her geeky romance Mac vs. PC. Currently, she is working on the next books in the Chronicles of Alsea and as an editor for Ylva Publishing.

Lila Bruce – Lila Bruce makes her home in the mountains of North Georgia, where the air is sweet and the summers are hot. Growing up in a military family, she traveled extensively as a child, living everywhere from Maine to Mississippi, Germany to Georgia, and a few parts in between. Lila loves to read and write contemporary lesbian romances and is a sucker for a happy ending.

When not writing, she spends her days adding to her ever-growing pack of basset hounds, consuming unhealthy amounts of coffee, and dreaming of the day she’s able to leave her evil day job behind.

Cheri Crystal – Cheri Crystal is a healthcare professional by day and writes erotic romances by night. She is a native New Yorker who was born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island. Recently, Cheri has crossed the pond to live in the United Kingdom with her loving wife. A day doesn’t go by that she doesn’t miss her three kids, technically adults, but thanks to Skype and lots of visits with her family, she enjoys living in England’s southwest coast. Cheri began writing fiction in 2003 after reviewing for Lambda Book Report, Just About Write, Independent Gay Writer, and other e-zines. She is the author of Attractions of the Heart, a 2010 Golden Crown Literary Winner for lesbian erotica. In her spare time, she enjoys swimming, hiking, viewing wildlife, cooking, jigsaw puzzles, and spending quality time with family and friends.



  1. Don’t add my name to the drawing–I already have my own contributor’s copy–but thanks for the insight into what sparked each story. I love to see what’s happening in other writers’ minds.


  2. Please enter in the drawing for “Don’t be Shy”. And thanks for the interesting interviews.


  3. Love to read this anthology. I’m interested in reading all of the authors included in it.


  4. Great interviews. Nice mix of romantic interludes and different approaches to writing sex scenes.


  5. Loved hearing the inspirations and the thoughts behind everyone’s writing..I seen some names I haven’t read anything from yet so thank you for giving me some ideas for new reading material..and Please add me for the drawing!!


  6. Great interview and insights into different writer’s approaches. Can’t wait to get my hands on this one.


  7. Thanks for the “backstage” peeks at how some stories came to be. Please enter me for the drawing.


  8. Anthologies are so much fun to read. I’ve discovered a few authors I enjoy via their short stories. I also enjoy it when authors add a piece to a previous story via a short story. It’s fun to see how they envision the characters’ relationship developing.


  9. Count me in. True, Anthologies make it very nice to check out writes you are unfamiliar with. I like it!


  10. Would love a copy. The interviews were very informative. I like finding out how a story comes together.


  11. You authors are as entertaining as the stories you write. Please enter me in the draw.


  12. Thank you all! Please add me for a chance to win an ebook of ‘Don’t be Shy’


  13. I think this was one of my favorite blogs on W&W! What an incredibly creative way to introduce an anthology. Loved the questions as much as the answers.


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