How to write a novel…

How to write a novel… it’s what you’ve always wanted to know, isn’t it? And now for the bargain price of $999.99, I’m going to let you in on the secret of my success…

Okay, once you’ve stopped laughing and cursing, let me actually tell you about this post. If you caught my last outing here, you’ll know that my so-called success is inversely in proportion to the amount of time I spend distracting myself on social media rather than writing. Status update: the social media’s going well. The writing? Meh!

Why? you might ask. Why, after last week’s admittance of your distraction habits, have you not now got them in check? The answer’s simple. I’ve discovered a new and exciting distraction: the infographic template. And so to celebrate, I’ve made you all a sexy little infographic called Creating the Novel!

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(No, that’s right. I didn’t mention where I got the template from. Because I don’t want you all to realize how damn easy that was! But I’m not that mean either, so if you want details, just hit me in the comments. It was, in fact, like taking candy from a baby!)

 

 

 

Big in Canada

Winner Takes All by PJ AdamsThis month I had one of my biggest writing successes, and I’m still trying to work out why.

Winner Takes All came out in late June and picked up momentum quickly. Then in mid-July the book got slots in a few email promotions (My Romance Reads, Ereader News Today and a couple of others) and all of a sudden it was racing up the charts.

Peaks included good chart positions at Amazon for Romantic Suspense and Suspense, and in Amazon Canada the book topped a few charts and reached number eight in the entire Kindle store, sitting alongside books by the likes of Stephen King, James Patterson and Jodi Picoult.

So what actually happened?

Those email promos gave the book a big boost, but don’t explain everything. Winner Takes All was already heading up the charts and, in particular, was already in Amazon Canada’s overall top 40.

Thanks to distribution of some ARCs, the book had some great reviews from the off, which must have helped. But other than the email promos and the ARCs I didn’t do anything differently to when previous books came out: no blog tours, no hiring of publicists, no big social media campaign.

So I’m still struggling to identify what made this book such a success. In particular, what is its Canadian appeal? It’s set in Maine and New Hampshire: do Canadians like books that are almost, but not quite, set in Canada…? I can’t see anything in the book’s description that would make it either more likely to be found or bought by Canadian:

When a guy in a tux walks into a bar in the middle of nowhere, dripping wet from the storm, and pulls out a sodden roll of hundred dollar bills, you just know he’s going to be trouble.

Denny McGowan has lost his girl, his best friend and millions of dollars. All he has are the clothes on his back, the money in his pocket, an easy, wise-cracking charm that could melt the hardest of hearts… and two gangsters on his tail and out for revenge.

Cassandra Dane is down on her luck, and on the run from a father fresh out of jail. She’s probably the last girl you’d expect to hook up with someone as hot and exciting as Denny – and she knows it. But things are not always what they seem and sometimes you’re just on the tail-end of a string of bad luck and worse decisions.

When a one-night stand looks like becoming something more than that, Cassie must decide whether she can trust a complete stranger like Denny and work out what he’s really after. As matters of the heart become matters of life and death, Cassie has some tough choices to make.

And foremost among these: just how many chances do you give a guy like Denny McGowan?

Winner Takes All: the explosive bad boy romance from bestselling erotic romance author PJ Adams.

 

Do Canadians just have a soft spot for bad boy romantic thrillers?

I think momentum is a big factor. Once a book is heading up the charts, for whatever reasons, it tends to become more visible to potential buyers, appearing in the ‘also bought’ displays and in those ‘books you might like’ emails from Amazon and other sellers. Maybe it was just that I struck lucky early on and then the book had momentum and kept rising.

But what are the elements that contributed to the book striking lucky in the first place?

I’d love to hear if anyone out there has any more ideas about why books sometimes take off like this!

Anti-Social or Just Too Busy to Think?

I’m older than most indies and that means stuff like perspective, experience and our old buddy: hindsight.

I don’t know if there’s a strict advantage to being older (like generations before us claim). But I do know in the indie book biz, it doesn’t hurt to be younger.

If you were raised in the 1990s or beyond, you’ve got an advantage. Kids from that decade cut their teeth with the beginnings of real internet, video games and beyond. It seems young adults from that decade have a built-in skill set for the tech challenge and needs of self-promotion required to become a successful independent publisher.

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In strolls chicks raised in the 70s, scratching our heads.

Formatting? (Not social media but horrible nonetheless.)

Blogging?

Twitter?

Pinterest?

How, when and why? Well, it’s all about availing ourselves to our readership. (I didn’t include Facebook because I actually knew something for that one.)

When I began in 2011 and had my first manuscript to upload in my hand, I fashioned a blog, facebook fan pages, a twitter account and eventually stumbled through Pinterest. Why Pinterest when I could do Instagram or Tumbler… whatever? It seemed like the most fun. What’s not to like? I get to spam the world with my visual clutter. Dig it. It’s not about my thoughts or feelings, it’s about what I like to see. Reading without words.

Twitter is its own culture. Not sure if you’re aware. I wasn’t. I slowly got to know the ropes of how to use this new social animal and have been training my assistant on what announcements to make on my page. That’s right—assistant.

As far back as last November of 2013 I was looking for both a publicist and assistant. The thing some indies might not convey is the huge tech side of the job. It’s been only since May that I was able to finally hire those critical components to my career.

Anyone can write a book? Right? Sure—with a caveat: It’s a lot more work than it seems on superficial observation. A lot. More than writing a good book with a kick ass cover. More than great editing and that final, millionth read-through.

Back to social media. I like being social, maintaining my pages (two for each name guys), etc. However, after I got to more than 25 titles published, I stopped treading water and began to drown. Social media is important. Writing is more so. I have curtailed my presence on all my sites, streamlined the info. Dump, and kept my interactions personal.

Is that me you’re talking to on FB, or my assistant? Answer: me.

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Is that me that’s thrown up that book number umpdee-squat is on sale this week? Answer: probably not. Guess what I’m doing instead of announcing a sale or book release: Writing. Or editing. Or reading through.

Who posts excerpts and quotes from my work to tantalize readers? I do.

Who sends out my newsletter with the new excerpt.

My assistant.

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Essentially, social media is about information exchange. I was no longer able to give readers the news and tidbits to keep them informed about my work.

Now I can.

And the best news of all is I have more time to interact on a personal level with all of them. Social media is huge, readers expect authors to be available like never before, and authors want to be.

I’m so grateful there’s a way to touch base with my readers and to continue to write as quickly as they want me to. I feel like I’m finally using social media as the tool it is meant to be: interacting with my readers about The Work. Awesome!

So if I only pop up once or twice a week on Facebook to comment or share a quote from my work in progress, rest assured—I’m not anti-social.

I’m writing.

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Write long, write hard. 

Violence is Worse Than Sex. But Fictional Violence Is Easier to Publish Than Fictional Sex.

Every time I try to publish something kinky and run up against one bookseller or another’s unwritten rules of acceptability (a fairly regular occurrence), it makes me sit back and think about what I could have published instead.

noblewomanFor example, A Noblewoman’s Fall as it’s currently written isn’t eligible for most markets because it involves romantic and sexual relations between a brother/sister pairing. (It manages to squeak into other markets via “pseudoincest” — a cheesy workaround wherein “related” characters aren’t technically blood relatives, usually thanks to adoption or some similar mechanic.)

Now, had I wanted to write a mystery about that same brother strangling his sister, that would have been fine. I could potentially have even billed it as a “cozy mystery” if the descriptions weren’t too graphic.

Alternatively, I could have labeled it “gritty” and had the brother rape the sister, but off-screen and before the action of the book begins, to be revealed only in an autopsy scene with a suitably grim-faced coroner.

Or I could have written about a brother and sister abducted by a tyrannical government and forced to fight each other to the death in a high-tech arena, and it would be billed as YA. Yes, for “young adult.” Emphasis on the “adult” rather than the “young,” amirite?

Any of those would have been fine. More than fine — they would have been all-audiences fine, which A Noblewoman’s Fall wouldn’t be even if I’d cut the incestuous overtone completely. Just your basic ol’ bodice-ripper qualifies for adult-content filtering, keeping it off most search results, before you even start getting into fetishized content.

A butter knife in the eye is literally more socially acceptable to read about than a penis in a vagina. Pause and roll that thought around in your mind for a minute.

It is a strange world where consenting sexual relationships — even odd ones — are considered more taboo than violent, non-consensual ones. We don’t blink at murder, while desperately walling off anything but the most conventional romantic and sexual relationships. Even depictions of rape get a pass as long as they’re in there to provide “character depth,” rather than titillation. (And by “character depth” we of course mean making heroines sad and villains extra-double-plus mustache twirly evil.)

“Kill the bad guys, kill ‘em dead. But don’t kiss the wrong person!” That’s the lesson behind what can be published freely and what has to dance delicately around a maze of invisible, unspoken lines in the sand.

I suppose I should be clear in closing here that I don’t think we should be banning violent fiction, or filtering it more aggressively. But I do think that any argument in favor of censoring erotic content is an argument that can logically be extended to violent content as well, and if we’re not going to do that…well…I’ve got books I’d like to sell, here.

Happy Birthday To Me

I am writing this on my birthday, the 21st, but when you guys read it my day will be over, on the 22nd.

The big 39. The year during which people will look at me funny, and the braver souls will ask, “And how many times have you turned 39 so far?”

Lol, I almost wish I could skip it and be 40 twice. No one thinks you’re lying when you say 40.

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So, you poor guys get to read my birthday thoughts/ramblings as I turn a year older. I’m not taking the day off, after I get this post ready I planning on getting my “Shared” bundle up on Amazon.

I’m walking on my treadmill desk as I write this, not even taking the day off from that. It’s habit now, and I want to keep it up. It’s also mindless, which is nice.

The husband and I celebrated Sunday night, with a fabulous lakeside dinner at our favorite marina. Well, the night was fabulous, the food not so much. We definitely don’t go there for the food, or the prices, but it was a beautiful night sipping drinks, visiting with my baby and enjoying the breeze/water/people watching.

Wanna know something weird? I can’t wait to turn 40.

I’m not even sure why. You know those feelings you get sometimes, telling you that something you are about to do is either going to go very well or very badly? I JUST KNOW my 40′s are going to be GREAT. Like all caps great!

The last time I JUST KNEW about an age, I was waiting on 34 and 35. I met my husband at 34 and we married when I was 35. So…

Not to get all religious on you guys, but I totally believe in a higher power, and I’ve often JUST KNOWN things. I knew my kiddo would be a girl, and my sister’s would be a boy. I knew when my grandpa died before the phone call came. Stuff, ya know? So I am so psyched for my 40′s.

Other weird stuff happens, too. Like this one time in college, I came flying off a freeway exit way faster than my young self should have. There was a car. There was no way in hell I could stop without hitting it. I hit the brakes, feeling sure I was about to meet this person face to face after I joined him in his back seat.

Then this hand? wall? separated us somehow, and I felt the car come to a sudden stop where experience told me should have been in the place that car was already sitting, but no. A piece of papers worth of space was between us. It was very odd and has stayed with me forever.

Then, there was this guy I had met and was just starting to date. Our first real, getting picked up at the house, date was to be in a few days and I was getting this weird feeling about it. I woke up KNOWING I had to cancel and never see this guy again. Whatever had gone down in my dream state, I woke up in a panic. I was sick to my stomach and my whole being was screaming out, “Do Not Go!”

It wouldn’t go away. I HAD to call him and cancel. Then I saw that it was 2 am. So I said out loud, “I will call, I promise. But it is 2 am right now. Please let this feeling stop. I will call in the daylight hours and break this off, I will never see this man again, but please let me sleep/feel better. If I go to sleep tomorrow night not having done so, then you can make me feel this way again.”

The feeling went away, I slept like a baby, broke it off the next day, and have never felt like that about another person ever again. Of course, I have no idea what would have happened if I had gone out with him, but I’m fine with that.

I’ll give ya just one more. I was out drinking with a group, for my boyfriend at the time’s birthday. We had a designated, and we were all crashing at his friend’s house, so sky was the limit. I drank his ass under the table. I matched him shot for shot with jello shots. Now normally I don’t drink like that. I have my certain amount of liquor, I drink to a certain time, and am sober before I leave the bar. Responsible and shit.

But this night, the shots had ZERO effect. Nothing. I couldn’t feel them. He got so shit faced he broke his foot that night, and never felt it til morning. He spent time later at the friend’s house on the bathroom floor. We were given their kid’s room, (the kids were not there that weekend) which had two twin beds in it. We plopped him into one, and I took the other.

He was passed out cold. Some of the people we partied with that night were cops and medics, so I didn’t worry about him much, as a few of them stayed sober, and they kept an eye out.

Later, after the house settled down and got quiet, some guy let himself into our room. He was quite surprised to be confronted by a lucid woman. I KNOW the only thing that kept that from taking a bad turn was that I, who had matched my boyfriend drink for drink, was stone ass sober and awake when he came in.

So, the past is the past, and the future lies ahead, unknown. But for some KNOWN but unknown reason, I can’t wait for my 40′s.

Thanks for allowing me a birthday ramble, I’m sure my next post will be more erotica minded. If I haven’t bored you too much, any weird happenings you’d like to share? Either way, have a drink for me tonight, and always, ALWAYS go with your gut.

Betrayal

Betrayal is a nasty word, and being betrayed by a friend one of the nastiest feelings I know. That’s the major taboo of friendship. You may lie to your friends, keep things from them, let them down from time to time, but you don’t betray them. However, as we all know, taboos make for good sex stories. I could go on and explain that further, using my dry, professorial tone, but perhaps an example might clear things up a mite.

* * *

I looked up to see a wicked smile on her face, and I knew I was in trouble. Cynthia had been my best friend from grade school, through high school and college. We had been practically inseparable. I had asked her to be maid-of-honour at my wedding, and our friendship had continued up to the present. I had trusted her, confided my innermost feelings and thoughts to her – and she to me. But that look on her face told me that I had never really known her.

“Cat got your tongue, Linda?”

No, the penis gag had it. With my mouth wrapped around it, with it pressing down against my tongue, I could make no intelligible sounds – and grunts and moans didn’t cut it as far as she was concerned. She just didn’t feel like trying to interpret them. Or maybe she could, but pretended a lack of ability.

Her smile widened just a little, and she bent down and tweaked my already engorged nipples, causing me to strain against the bonds. But, with my hands tied together, and anchored above my head on the large bed, with my feet slightly apart and anchored to the bottom, I couldn’t escape. I squirmed.

“You look so pretty there,” she said. “So petite, just like a centrepiece on a table.” She glanced at the clock on the night table. “Well, we’d better finish up here, it’s almost time.”

She reached inside the bag she had brought, and pulled out two boxes. She showed them to me, and I swallowed. Two plugs. The models on the boxes were smiling. I couldn’t smile. Cynthia opened the first and my eyes widened at the size of it. It started off small, widened considerably, then had a sharp taper, ending with a patch such that it would be held inside me, but not slip all the way in. And I’d have great difficulty pushing it out. With my hands unavailable, I’d have to wait for help to remove it.

“Some lube, I think, though from the smell of things, you’re lubing up quite nicely as it is.”

I flushed. She told the truth. I felt all wet and gushy. I closed my eyes so I wouldn’t have to see her knowing smirk. Then I felt the plug at my lips, and Cynthia began pushing it. I gasped into the gag.

“Too big, too big,” I tried to say, but it didn’t come out that way at all, and Cynthia never stopped working it in and out until the widest part of the taper suddenly slipped in me. My muscles closed around it, and there I lay, plugged.

“Very good,” she chuckled. “Open your eyes.”

I didn’t want to open my eyes; I knew what I would see. A slap against my thigh changed my mind. I opened them to see the anal plug in her hand. It had the same sort of taper as the other, but smaller. I shook my head, no. It would never fit.

“Oh, it will fit, all right,” Cynthia said, grinning. “We’ll make it fit.” I closed my eyes again, and she laughed. She removed the anchors at my feet, and brought them up to my shoulders, such that my legs were spread and my feet were above me, giving her all the access she might ever want.

Nothing had been where she intended to put that nasty device, and I shuddered, fearing the pain it would cause.

“Good thing we cleaned you out, down there, hey?” She said with a little laugh as she pressed it against my anus.

I flushed again, remembering the enema that I had not wanted. But she had insisted, the witch. I tensed.

“Relax, and push out. It will hurt less.”

It didn’t hurt at all, to my vast surprise. She worked on me for almost ten minutes, pushing in just a little, then pulling out again. Each time, she stretched me just a little more, sometimes giving me a little breather before moving on again. It, too, suddenly slipped in, and my sphincter closed about it, ensuring it would go nowhere without aid. I felt very full indeed.

“There, almost done,” Cynthia crooned. She replaced the anchors – and my feet – at the bottom of the bed. “Just one more thing.”

“One more thing?” I tried to say, aghast. I didn’t have any more holes to plug.

“Well, two more things, but one can wait.”

Two more things? I shook my head. She laughed and piled the two pillows together. She lifted me, and placed them under my butt. Then she pulled something from the bag. A vibrator. That and a cloth wrap. I found myself sucking on the penis gag like a soother. I knew what she intended, and I shook my head, no. She ignored that.

Too soon, the vibrator rested where it would do the most good – or ill – and the bondage wrap around my thighs ensured it would stay there. She pulled the pillows from me and I settled back on the bed, truly trapped.

“Let’s see if it works.”

“Let’s not,” I tried to cry out. She showed no mercy, and turned it on. She sat cross-legged on the bed, looking down at me, holding my gaze as the vibrator worked its magic on me. My breath started to come in huffs, and my body lifted to her. She idly fingered my nipples, sending bolts of electricity through me. I couldn’t, I just couldn’t come in front of her.

“You don’t have a choice,” she said, as if reading my mind. Then that wicked smile came back. “When something is inevitable, you might as well just lie back and enjoy it. This is inevitable.”

She reached out and touched my chin, turning my face to her. I held back as long as I could, but my body tightened, my hips raised and I groaned around the gag. I began jerking as I came. Then the vibrator became too much and I thrashed about, trying to escape.

The vibrations died.

“Very nice, and just in time.” She indicated the clock. “He should be here soon.” She waited while I calmed down.

A knock came at the door. “Last thing,” she said, and put a blindfold over my eyes. Then she turned me over, the pillows now beneath my hips, raising my ass lewdly into the air. I felt her weight leave the bed, a pat on my ass, and then heard the door open.

“You have the money?” she asked.

“One hundred and fifty,” the man answered, quietly. I heard bills being counted out.

“You have an hour. Make the most of it. I think she wants a trip around the world.” She whispered something I couldn’t hear, and I swallowed again as I heard the door close. Cynthia, the woman I had called my best friend in the world, had left, and I lay helpless to prevent what would now happen.

A large hand came down on my ass and began rubbing in circles. The other hand wandered up and down my back, tickling, stroking. Then they departed, and I heard the sounds of a man stripping.

I felt him loosen the anchor that held my hands above my head, giving me some slack. With the slack, when he pulled at my hips, I came back, raising my head for him. He knelt in front of me, and I could smell his musky aroma. He pulled the phallus from the ring-gag that held my mouth open. Then his cock entered my mouth. I had no choice in the matter, I began to do the best I could, given the gag.

He gasped, but said not a word. I wanted to hear him speak, to say something, anything. I wanted to see his face, but the blindfold meant I saw nothing. He hardened nicely. I found myself glorying in my power to arouse this man – and then he withdrew. To my shock and dismay, he reinserted the penis gag before I could say anything, then pushed me back down over the pillows.

“Umph!” The vibrator had started. I heard a chuckle. Then I felt his fingers pulling at the large plug. He gently pulled until it slid out, and he slid in, in its place. His weight came down on me, his hands hooked under my shoulders and he pulled me back to meet his thrusts. Soon I chuffed into the gag again. The vibrator drove me ever higher, and his cock worked in and out of me, while my rear felt pleasantly full. I began to enjoy the feeling, knowing that my body would cause his to lose control.

When he started the hard, fast strokes I knew he was almost there. I wiggled for him, again feeling power. He groaned and slammed into me, then held himself there, spilling his seed inside of me. He collapsed on me, his weight making it difficult to breathe.

A slap on my ass told me he had risen. He moved to my head again, and pulled out the gag. He pushed himself in, and I could taste his juices mingled with mine. To my surprise, he hardened almost immediately. I dreaded what was coming, but could say nothing, for he replaced the penis gag immediately his cock left my mouth.

The butt-plug came out after a bit of working, and then he entered me. Slightly bigger, and much longer, I felt an entirely new sensation.

“I want to hear you,” he whispered, and unbuckled the gag. I spit it out just as he began to thrust once more.

No one had ever taken my ass. It felt … different. Not unpleasant. Especially with the vibrator still driving me. I bucked and twisted under him, but he rode me like a bronco, never letting me get away.

“Oh, God!” I gasped, the vibrator, and his cock, having pushed me to the limit. “Oh, God!”

He began thrusting like a maniac, and I came, shuddering. I tightened rhythmically, and that sent him over once more. The vibrator continued to buzz.

“Off, off, turn it off,” I begged. He complied, reaching down and stilling the devil’s apparatus.

He lay there, on me, still inside me. He unclipped my wrists from the anchor and I brought them down. He turned us both on our sides, with his cock still in me, though softening. His arm around me, held me close.

“Happy Birthday, darling,” I said. He began rocking his hips. Surely not again?

“The children?” he asked.

“Cynthia’s going to pick them up at school, then baby-sit them until we come home tomorrow.”

“One hundred and fifty dollars?”

I laughed. “I was too embarrassed to buy the toys. I sent Cynthia in. She picked them up on her card. Oh, and the room is on her – her birthday gift to you.”

“Nice to have a friend like her,” he said, nibbling at an earlobe. He continued rocking his hips, and I felt him beginning to harden once again. “If she’s got the kids, why only an hour?”

“Room service. We ordered a birthday meal for you.”

“Vixen. Well, in that case, I’d better take full advantage of your position.” He began moving in and out of me again. “Oh, and if the room is in her name, I think I’ll just leave you uncovered when room service arrives – a tip for the waiter.”

I goggled. “You wouldn’t dare.”

But he did. And we laughed about it for hours.

* * * *

Things are not always as they seem. Part of an author’s job is to deliberately point the readers in one direction while actually moving in another. The author gives enough information to ensure the readers have an idea about what is going on, but withholds enough to make a true analysis problematic. Oh, they may guess, but the better the writing, the greater the surprise and joy when that final piece clicks in place, allowing the readers a look at the whole.

If I had placed the above paragraph at the start of this post, where I had originally intended to place it, then all who read would have read with the goal of ferreting out my ‘trick’, thus spoiling the surprise. I’m not saying that some – or most – did not at some point intuit where the story was going, but if a reader allows him- or herself to be carried along by the flow of words, rather than playing detective, they’ll probably have a fairly good time of it.

A twist ending has to be set up so that everything that went before can be interpreted in two different ways. Is Cynthia a true friend, or a back-stabbing she-devil? Well, she’s part both, but mostly friend. Once she has Linda tied down to the bed, she takes a little advantage – who wouldn’t? And, we can assume, Linda secretly enjoys it. It adds a little spice to the whole thing. We know Linda wanted something like this, otherwise she could have put the toys in herself, and just had Cynthia tie her down at the proper time.

And my heading for the post: Betrayal? Well, that probably had my readers looking in the wrong direction. But the only betrayal that occurred is mine. I betrayed you by putting that title up. You trusted me. Your mistake.

The above didn’t come from any book. I wrote it just for this post — a two-hour quicky, you might say. So, your anger at my trick can’t be assuaged by leaving me a 1-star review on Amazon. You can, however, give this post a 1-star review. Heck, any review is a good review. At least it means someone read it.

Your local neighbourhood Deltonian,
Delta, (who also writes as Echo Chambers)

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Echo Chambers’ books

Delta’s Books

Consent Issues in Erotic Fiction

I had a recent work of erotic fiction blocked by several sellers because it contained “rape” themes.

slut-state-smallThe work in question, SLUT for the State, doesn’t contain any depictions of physically forced sex. But it does contain cheesy sci-fi technology that makes some characters artificially aroused, which raises an interesting question: if booksellers are, theoretically, unwilling to sell rape-themed erotica, are they really willing to hold fiction to the standards of real-world rape?

Because don’t get me wrong, some of the sex in SLUT for the State is non-consensual, by any reasonable real-world definition of it. Multiple characters consent to sex while under the influence of mind-altering technology, and if you’re thinking “yeah, but what if they consented to using that technology in the first place?” (which they did), stop that. It’s still rape, from the moment their judgement was chemically impaired.

But by that strict definition, a lot of erotic fiction tropes are rape. Yes, the familiar “hulking, brutish man tears damsel’s clothing off and forces her to submit” is rape erotica. So is:

  • anything that involves mind control, hypnosis, or just your basic overindulgence in alcohol or drugs.
  • any depiction of consent under duress (nobleman offers to spare a woman from criminal conviction, or pay her family’s debts, or whatever, if she submits to his lascivious advances that she totally wanted all the time we promise double pinky swear).
  • any scenes involving corrupt cops or other authority figures being “bought off” with sex.
  • pretty much anything, for that matter, with a clear-cut power imbalance and any sort of reluctance on the part of at least one participant.

That’s a good thing to be clear on in real life. But if you eliminate all of those from erotica, you have a very slender catalogue of feel-good stories left, and the reality is that not everyone wants to feel good about their smut.

Some people like it wrong. Some people like it really explicitly wrong. Written fiction is a place where they can enjoy their fantasies, even ones that would be deeply problematic in real life (or else require elaborate staging by consenting participants) without anyone being harmed.

That’s fine, so long as booksellers are willing to include stories with things that would, in real life, be considered rape in their catalogs. (And they’re certainly not shy about rape as an emotional hook in non-erotic media – Game of Thrones, I’m looking at you.)

But when you eliminate from erotica everything that isn’t the open, informed, and enthusiastic consent that we all need to have in our real-life bedrooms, you’re telling an awful lot of readers that their favorite fantasies are verboten.

I obviously have a dog in this fight. I sell books with dubious consent themes. But I honestly don’t think vendors who have no problem with graphic depictions of rape for other purposes should be telling the select subset of readers that enjoys graphic depictions of rape for erotic purposes that they’re not welcome.

So just how little consent is too little, in erotic fiction? You tell us in the comments. For my part, I’d rather see a wide acceptance of non-consensual fantasies, especially when rape is so common in non-erotic fiction.

And, obviously, if you like sci-fi mind control erotica, buy SLUT for the State where it’s still available. Goes without saying, really.

The Most Important Thing About Writing…

…is to get so caught up in the not-writing things that writing becomes that which gives you more work. The thing that leads to spending hours on Goodreads, on Twitter, on Facebook, on forums, desperately hoping that what you’re doing, whatever you’re doing, will lead to finding more fans, more sales. To become a little bit closer to your dream of self-sufficiency on writing alone.

Fine, I’m being glib, but I know I’m not the only author that feels this way. Between creating covers and marketing promotional pictures and movies, between updating sale vendors and reaching out to readers in a myriad of ways, our time gets dominated.

Suddenly, writing gets pushed to the back burner, and becomes the thing to do if you have the time and the inclination and the creativity to manage it. The thing that leads to more work, the thing that you’re fretting about even as you’re writing, hoping you’re not wasting your time on a book that will bomb.

That’s what happened to me. I got so wrapped up in finding fans, in getting reviews and doing all that other ‘stuff’ that comes with being an indie-author, that writing was hard and frustrating. It wasn’t the pleasure it used to be, because I was constantly wondering… will this sell? Will people enjoy it?

And the answer, in my all-or-nothing, mentally ill mind screamed back a violent “NO!”

Never mind that our fans seem quite pleased with our stories, in my mind they were never good enough. They weren’t like the books I saw on all the best seller lists, and it got to the point that if it wasn’t going to sell like hotcakes, I didn’t want to write it.

So then I stopped wanting to write.

Theodora's Descent Small

Theodora’s Descent – Coming later this summer

And then, Amazon threw down their gauntlet and suspended our publishing account, making us swear acceptance of them before they gave it back. They warned that one more violation could get our account banned, forever.

Just like that, all my dreams and hopes and desires came into view, and I realized what I had been squandering. Writing is my passion, and Amazon is more than just where our money is. It’s where we connect with fans. It’s how people who love our stories can find us, how new people who might love our stories discover us.

Amazon is a Goliath, and we won’t risk pissing it off or antagonizing it in the future, because what we want to write, what we really want to write? It’s not the erotic shorts that got us banned, though we love writing those too (and if you enjoy reading them, please become our Patron on Patreon.)

What we really love writing is scifi/fantasy/horror novels that have explicit sex. Sex written in the same amount of loving detail that most traditional sff novels describe fight scenes.

So in stepping away from it all, being forced away from pushing the boundaries of taste and acceptability, we come to a calm place where we can return to what we want. If sales slip, we’ll be okay, because even though we won’t have our bread and butter, we’ll be able to focus on fewer books, and really give them our all. From start to finish.

Here-There-Everywhere-Nowhere

bd gag

 

 

 

 

I’m still thinking a lot about writing but nothing new yet in the works.  So I guess I will continue to try to market what’s already on the market.  I have two new strategies.

As I mentioned last time, I’m on Pinterest now. http://www.pinterest.com/mnerotica/ 

I spent the past couple weeks pinning up a storm.  At first I didn’t think you could pin sexy stuff, which made Pinterest seem like the stupidest thingy on the planet, but somehow I managed to find like-minded individuals and copied some of their pins.  Then I added my own – from pics I saved from Twitter feeds and from Google.

Then I started a Tumblr account.

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/mianatasha-erotica

I noticed a lot of the best bondage pictures came from tumblr and one of my favorite picture posters on Twitter, Jay Gremlin, had a Tumblr account.  So I jumped on that.  I only reblog.  I haven’t written anything or even commented on the pictures I reblogged.  I am merely a kind of phantom blogger.  Not interacting with anyone.  I’m following loads of people and some are following me back.  But I’m more or less reblogging pictures that inspire me – if I ever write again that is.

I also prefer to post pictures of women with bodies like mine, thin, 34B, long hair, although some boobyish types do slip through the cracks.  I cannot stand fake boobs.  They make the women look older and those tits look like balloons.  And you can see the keloid scarring underneath depending on their positions.  That’s totally gross.

I was watching this documentary on Showtime about porn stars.  This celebrity photographer wanted to photograph them as real models.  Nude, but beautiful with very lovely makeup and softly curled hair.  She chatted with them, asking how they got started in the industry.  They were between 22 and 30.  Most started at 18.

They called themselves porn stars but I would say they were simply actress in porn.  Not stars.  They all commented that they have this goal of being the best porn star out there, but they just seemed very naïve about it all.

This one woman, who seemed to be a producer of some sort, said that men prefer watching adult films with young, attractive women in them.  Women who look more like girls, who look nothing like their wives.  The porn stars have a shelf life, I guess.  No one who worked in 2005 is still in it or something like that was mentioned.  I guess nobody wants to pay to see a woman my age fuck around no matter how tight her body.

The girls talked about how they came to do this work and pretty much across the board I saw a gross naivety.  One had wanted to pose for Playboy and signed with a company that was actually a hardcore porn company – they convinced her to make movies beginning with a masturbation scene.  And she had never masturbated before!!!

Another said she did not want to perform acts on screen that she hadn’t already done in her personal life because then she would always remember it happening that way.  They spoke of getting more money for various sex acts (think anal).  All the while, they were each being photographed on a luxurious bed in a fancy hotel room looking very lovely – not looking porn glam, but innocent and girl next door sweet.

There’s this part of me that wishes I had done something like that with my life when I see that fantasy – getting paid a lot of money, more money than a women with a master’s degree gets for her college necessary job, to have sex with professional fuckers – men who know how to do it right.  But then that naïve talk put everything in perspective.  They spoke about getting tested all the time for STDs and how they do it so much more often that the regular person (or as they called us, civilians) and that makes them so much cleaner.  Lol.  Seriously.

Now I’m sure you have had an STD at least once.  Bacterial infections are pretty common.  But when that one lovely girl began to rattle off everything she’s had including herpes, and when she acted like herpes was as common as the common cold and that people can have it without ever having symptoms and even civilians have it – everyone has it – blah, blah.

No, we don’t.

I don’t envy those women.  I don’t want to be a porn star.  I don’t even want to have sex like the people in my books or the fetish that appeals to me.  I obviously would not want to be kidnapped by some scuz and forced into sex slavery.  Naturally, the fantasy is to be abducted by a beautiful, wealthy man.

The problem with the fantasy is that it really doesn’t go past the abduction part for me.  What is everyday life supposed to be and how do I sustain the fantasy and make it fun to write?  I have noticed that my Cinderella series has the following review curve – Cinderella Club gets 5 stars, Cinderella Thyme gets mostly 4 stars and Cinderella Ending gets mostly 3 stars.  This is on Goodreads.com, although Cinderella Club gets a lot of 1 stars too, but I don’t concern myself with those.  Those readers obviously stumbled into territory genre they didn’t like.  The captive fantasy is specific and if the reader doesn’t like that, it doesn’t matter how well you write.  Their ratings rubric doesn’t exist.  They just pan the whole shebang.

This 5-4-3 though, indicates to me that people probably liked the Miller and Thomas storyline, but in the second book it was all about Thyme.  Miller and Thomas made appearances but you see them differently, through the eyes of Thyme and that perspective is very different, not to mention she is falling down a mentally unstable rabbit hole in the process.  The last book is the way I combined the two stories with an ending that satisfied me.  I’m assuming people identified with my characters in such a way that they had their own plan for them.  Maybe they did not love mine.

I was thinking that I should turn my blog http://www.mianatasha-erotica.blogspot.com/?zx=e6d8a5e4c88e316a into a book review blog.  That way bondage fantasy writers could send me free books and I could read them.  My problem right now is how do I know if my story idea has not already been done somehow?  A zeitgeist.  Every time I think of a way to move the story forward based on a scenario that may have some element of truth to it, like snatching a jogger in the park where I go running, I think that someone has probably already thought of it.

When I look at all of the Tumblr, Pinterest and Twitter picture porn, and there has been a hell of a lot of it lately, I think, oh, that idea is a good one.  Damn it, why didn’t I think of it first?  The actress/model/trust-fund girl snatch, which I can do pretty well.  I don’t really want to research jobs that I know nothing about so the people in my stories need to have some sort of artsy job because that is what I know.  I’d love to do a black man captor but I just can’t write black characters.  I mean African-American.  I can do Nigerian because I have some friends who are from there.  I already did that in Cinderella Club.  But the slang of black America – I don’t know it and I know I wouldn’t be able to do it justice.  I don’t know much about anything now that I mention it.  I’m not as smart as I wish I was, otherwise the sky would be the limit as far as ideas for stories go.  I have so many.

But how many readers are there willing to invest time in a capture story, regardless of the details, especially now when it is difficult to sell on Amazon?  It’s basically rape.  Non-consent.  It gets me off.  In fantasy.  I like the idea of not having any responsibility at all.  Can you imagine just being tied up all day then fucked all night?  Being someone’s fuck doll?  A beautiful pet/toy/slave?

I was thinking about that all day yesterday while cleaning.  I clean on Saturdays but I had the day off yesterday so I got a jump start on it.  Laundry, vacuum, dishes, Windex, dust, change the sheets on the bed, pay bills, pick up all the junk I was too lazy to put away during the week.  It’s a huge fucking pain in the ass.  If only the house could be this camera ready all the time.  Then if I ran into the man of my dreams, I’d invite him over like no biggie, no embarrassment.  He’d tie me up and fuck me.  I wouldn’t need to do a thing.  He would bring me to orgasm then whisk me away to his place for the rest of my life as his love slave.  Sometimes I’d be bound in rope, sometimes tape or cuffs, or silk scarves.  Sometimes naked but also in sexy lingerie, like corsets and garter belts with stockings.  I would only be allowed out to have my hair and nails done.

Okay, maybe I am getting somewhere.

Hold that position – I just need to check my email/Facebook/Twitter…

Hi

“Hold that position – I just need to check my email/Facebook/Twitter…”

Not a day goes by without some new article about how we’ve all become crazed gadgoholics, unable to leave our little electronic playmates alone for more than a minute. People are texting from the john or stopping mid-sex to check out the latest ping, ring or pulse from their new significant other (by which I mean the phone that’s been grafted to their hand) from whom they can’t and won’t be separated for even the duration of a quick fuck with their partner.

12529766_sSeriously, people interrupt sex to study the latest offers from Amazon.

“Hold that position – I just need to check…”

I’ve even been known to say it!

No, really, you didn’t think there, did you, that I was admitting to texting you while in the throes of passion? Electronic gadgets are banned from my bedroom. Ahem!*

But it was a confession of sorts. If people break off from real life sex to sext, then you can be damn sure that erotica writers break off from imaginary sex scenes to check their Twitter feed or Facebook friends. I do. Constantly. I’ll quite happily leave my hero with his tongue somewhere interesting and go off to see what the world thought of last night’s Game of Thrones or football results. It’s a problem and I’m getting fed up with it.

So I’ve been trying a few things to improve my concentration when I’m writing. Here are some of my successful and less successful attempts to enhance my productivity:

  • Searching Facebook until I find a picture of Tom Hiddleston or Ryan Reynolds with the caption, “Hey, shouldn’t you be writing something?” Yes, that works. I get right back to my writing as soon as I feel I’ve studied the image for the required amount of time.
  • Using Internet blocker programs such as Leechblock or Stay Focused. I set them to keep myself off Facebook and Hootsuite between 9.00am and 5.00pm. These are brilliant. They work right up until the moment I realize that they’re only on my computer and not on my tablet.
  • I make a list and ascribe set times to what I need to do. Later I tear up that list and make another. This list-making doesn’t eat into my work time at all. No, really.
  • I create an Excel table to replace the torn up lists.
  • I calculate my average words per chapter and multiply by how many chapters I still have to write then divide it by the number of days until the date when I was hoping to finish the project. I do the calculation three times (math obviously not my strong point) before I realize I can’t travel back in time. I recalibrate the date and redo the calculation – but let’s be honest, no one can write a million words a day. I tweak the figures some more until it reaches an acceptable daily word count. By which time it’s 5.00pm and I can go on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Sorry – where was I? Just got caught up for a moment watching the Hiddleston/Cumberbatch dance off. (Have you seen it? If you find either of them remotely attractive, go now. If you don’t, you might not find it quite so distracting.)
  • I’m currently experimenting with a time management system called Pomodoro. (No, don’t ask me why it’s called that – I don’t think it has anything to do with tomatoes…) Now I have a shiny new productivity app on my computer that allows me to set a timer for 25 minutes (like I could never have done that with the clock I already had, could I?) – and when it’s up, I can take a five minute break to do bad things, before settling down for another 25 in front of the screen. It works okay, until I forget I’m using it and wander off in the middle of one of my scheduled pomodoroes… No, it’s good. I’m getting there with it. I estimate a 3.7 per cent rise in my productivity over the 2.4 days I’ve been using it so far. Or is that a 2.4 per cent rise over 3.7 days? Let me just do the calculations again….

 

So you get the picture. I have the concentration span of a gnat and it seems to be shrinking at an alarming rate. And we’re all going that way. What the hell will happen when we can’t concentrate at all? On anything?Studio shot

By the way, just because I can’t concentrate enough to keep this column to one
subject, did I tell you yet that my latest installment of The Vampire Bond trilogy came out yesterday? The Scarlet Bond is available now exclusively from Secret Cravings Publishing. Only when you’re reading the red hot vampire sex scenes, please don’t remember that I probably took a break to read the recipe of the day or perv over pictures of Tom Hardy!

 

*Well, of course I can have my Kindle in the bedroom. What did you think I meant? Ah… congratulations on your dirty mind!