There are some unwritten rules in erotic romance that I’m okay with following. The heroes are always well-hung, for example. TOTALLY okay with that rule.
But there are other “rules” that don’t sit so well with me. Hair, for example. Real men have hair. They have it on their faces, backs, chests, and bellies. I don’t go out of my way to describe a hairy back, mind you, although I personally like it (there, I said it) but all of my heroes have chest hair – crisp, curly chest hair that holds the scent of soap and warm skin – and that hair gives my heroines tactile pleasure.
I was just reading a study where women’s preferences can be correlated to local health. In areas where the overall community health is bad, women dig men with lots of hair, thicker bones, visible musculature. In areas where community health is good, women go for thinner bodies, more delicate features, and less to no hair. The conclusion is that the heavily apparent secondary sexual characteristics are survival markers – denoting men whose genetic health gives them an advantage in an environment without a lot of available interventions.
I wouldn’t want any man who couldn’t defend me during the zombie apocalypse. Some of my heroes are gentle, kind of nerdy men, but they’re still men capable of kicking ass, taking names, and lifting heavy things. My guys don’t just act like alpha men – they look like alpha men. That means hair. Down with waxing! Up with surviving the apocalypse!
I needed two of my characters to not have sex. Fear of pregnancy is certainly a very good reason. I thought about having my heroine count the days, but just for giggles, and by giggles I mean “because I am a hopeless research nerd,” I looked it up to make sure the Victorians knew about that tidbit.
Women didn’t know about counting the days from one’s last period to determine the fertile window until the 1920s.
This was made worse by the fact that condoms were not widely available, and in some places only sold to married men.
You don’t think about just how liberating birth control was, just how great a degree of freedom is conferred by managing one’s own fertility, until you get smacked in the face with it. I have never known a time when I couldn’t just bop into 7/11 for condoms, or wander into a clinic and emerge with birth control pills, or at bare freaking minimum count days and say, eh, the curse starts tomorrowish so we’re probably clear. Also, while the consequences to getting pregnant unintentionally and outside of marriage would have had a massive impact on my life, I would not have had to cope with any societal disapproval, nor would my single mother status have any impact on my ability to be employed or rent an apartment.
What an impact this would have on a sexual relationship!
This is why good historical fiction isn’t “girls like us but in costume.” Some aspects of being a woman are universal across time and space, but other things are so anchored in context as to be meaningless without it. I hope I’m up to the challenge…
Got my final cover :) I am dying to post it, make it my avatar, shout it to the world… but the publisher gets dibs on posting it to the blog first. /cry
It is wonderful in every possible way. So wonderful that I am breaking my own rule about spending money I don’t yet have in hand to buy an ad using it. I’m not going to bother buying anything at the big, expensive sites – that is my publisher’s job – but a little ad at one of the sites where I’ve been lurking ever since I started doing market research? Why not? It’s ten bucks and they’re lovely people. And I just want to see my cover out there online because I am basically a big nerd and THIS IS MY FIRST BOOK, Y’ALL. Oh my goodness, I’m really going to be published.
Apple has been a bunch of busy bees, lately, pruning out apps that might be the least bit salacious, even going so far as to reject an app for having “sperm” in the public facing text. This reminds me of the breast cancer patient unable to research her recommended treatment at her small town public library, but Apple is not a library. They are a private company and free to do what they like.
What they like isn’t consistent, however, and that annoys the dickens out of me. Given the lyric content of stuff I’ve bought from iTunes, the sudden prudery is mindboggling. If I go down my playlist and look for the red “explicit” tag, I see… a lot of little red boxes.
A friend of mine zapped me an instant message that said, paraphrased, “What gets me is this was a reaction to the way people got upset that Junior could see a chick in a bikini on their iPhone. So, for giggles one day I searched for Penthouse in the audio books, and listened to a 30 second preview of a moaning how much, and how hard she wanted this guy to bend her over the pool table and do her.”
We are not going to get anywhere as a culture by constantly bowing to prudes, hypocrites, and Mrs. Grundy. I know it’s ironic that I say that, given that I’m hiding under a pen name, but I can’t afford to lose any of my day jobs – and that’s exactly what will happen if Mrs. Grundy finds out that I write a lot about hard cocks and the women who love them. I can’t afford to stand up and fight this battle on my own. My kid can’t afford it. But Apple could afford it. Apple could say, listen, get your panties out of your crack, Mrs. Grundy (unless you like ‘em there, and who are we to judge). Look for the red “explicit” box, and if that kind of smutty talk upsets you, DON’T CLICK IT.
Apple wouldn’t lose a single freaking sale over it. They certainly haven’t suffered with iTunes. Why can’t they apply this simple solution across all their product lines?
I’ve always loved the Victorians, especially their children’s literature and their erotica. I’m working on a steampunk right now, so my eyeballs gravitate to any article that might help. If you’re not a big fan of the era, and you haven’t read enough of their erotica to know how wild they were under those all-encompassing costumes, check out this link for a brief look at why you’ve been given the wrong idea: http://www.doublex.com/blog/xxfactor/what-victorian-women-thought-about-sex
All the talk about how publishers attempting to charge hardback book prices on ebooks, plus the frustrations of DRM, plus geographical limitations put on digital books (?!) equals frustrated customers who are tempted to create and patronize BookNapster? It reminds me of an image my husband, a devoted movie lover, sent me a few weeks ago:
Yep. That’s about the size of it, right there.
We buy movies and books in this household, but let me tell you something. I bought a laptop from Craigslist last year, and when I told the seller I’d be bringing a DVD to test the drive, told me not to worry about it, he had one he’d throw in with the computer. I met up with him, tested everything else, and then hit play on the DVD program.
A movie that had opened that day started playing. Arr, me hearties. I still bought the computer – he had original discs and reg codes for the software.
But I didn’t throw out the pirated DVD. Actually, I forgot about it until my little guy figured out how to start the movie on my laptop, and then he got interested. Now it’s one of his favorites, and I swear I meant to buy a legit copy. But something bad happened. When my kid wants to watch one of the movies we’ve bought, it can take up to ten minutes – TEN MINUTES – to get the stupid thing playing. When my kid wants to watch the movie the nice Craigslist pirate gave us, we press play. I have four different jobs, and I don’t have a nanny. That ten minutes can be the difference between a deadline met and a deadline blown.
I won’t say I’d pay *extra* to be able to cut straight to the movie – a DVD is already twenty bucks at Best Buy – but I’d make a point of buying from a company that let me skip everything that wasn’t the movie.
I’ll post more on this topic eventually, but for now, I’m just going to say that I bitterly resent the fact that content companies, be they movie, book, or music, have gone so far around the bend trying to keep people from stealing (that’s what piracy is, stealing) that accessing and sharing your own material is a giant hassle. I honestly think Carina’s lack of DRM is going to help me, not hurt me, as an author.
Some days, I want to be a Writer. By that, I mean “one who has written, and is now collecting royalty checks.” The whole “Writer” thing involves fuzzy daydreams and interviews with magazines and has nothing to do with reality. I know in reality, we’re writers with a lower case W, and that means we have to write. It’s a slog, sometimes. It’s not hard work in the sense that digging ditches is hard, but it’s still work. This morning I don’t feel like working. But if writing were my paying job, I would have to do it whether I felt like it or not. And I want it to be my paying job. It could be, if I put in the time and stop getting wrapped up in daydreams involving elegant hats.
But this morning I’d much rather be a Writer than write.
I said that one of the things I do to ensure I get paid for my work is to identify five prospective markets for my work right up front. I try to do that before I start writing, and then I finalize the list once I see how the story ended. There are lots of reasons you might change your mind about how suitable a market is – length, smut quotient, etc. Even the stories that start out as general fiction seem to go smutty with me. That’s why I stopped fighting the sex and started submitting it. Anyway.
When you identify your markets, look them up in two places before you start formatting according to the market’s guidelines.
The latter is of course entirely epub, but if you’re not looking to ride the coming digital wave, well, why aren’t you?
I say do this before formatting, only because I once did up a manuscript in an ugly font with bizarre margins, fixed all the chapter breaks, and then I looked it up and realized I was about to submit to someone who’d been sued for nonpayment of royalties. There’s an hour I’ll never get back.
I also mention these helpful links because I keep seeing these little spats here in Authorland about who is and who isn’t signed with a vanity press/author mill/publisher teetering on bankruptcy. Don’t argue about it – look it up. Preferably before you sign away your rights.
As a side note, when I see someone (who invariably cannot write) raging about how Deadbeat Press X is actually this really wonderful place that REALLY CARES about their authors, I make a mental note to strike that publisher from my list of potential options.
We’re supposed to be writers. Posting and blogging are forms of writing. Typos and other kinds of first draft slop are one thing, but I cast a gimlet eye at those unable to maintain a thought for an entire paragraph without changing subjects and verb tenses. I believe that sort of thing is a hint that the writer of the post isn’t ready for professional publication. Anyone who said he *is* ready is a scammer, or at minimum a publisher I’d be ashamed to be seen with in public.
Readers will judge our books based on the company they keep, especially romance and erotica. Try this – go to a message board forum where readers hang out, not other writers. Ask them how often they buy from various publishers. Be sure to include the name of Deadbeat Press X. You will hear in blunt language that they never even look at Deadbeat Press X, because the stuff there is all poorly written, half edited crap.
Being an unpublished writer is better than being “published ugly.”
I dabble in writing science fiction (dabble = not attempting to sell it at this time), and most of us who do that are familiar with Robert Heinlein’s Rules For Writers. I don’t see the rules come up in blogs nearly as often with romance writers, or erotica writers. I think they work equally well for all of us who produce genre fiction. Heck, these five rules established my non-fiction career.
1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you write.
3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
4. You must put the work on the market.
5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.
Science fiction author Robert Sawyer has more to say, and says it well.
I want to add my own half-penny to his two cents on #3 (if you’re too busy to click the link, he says, in part “And although many beginners don’t believe it, Heinlein is right: if your story is close to publishable, editors will tell you what you have to do to make it salable”). He is absolutely right. If you’re close, you’ll get the editorial order the rule calls for. If you’re not, your own revision isn’t going to get you any closer or you’d have already done it. You need to find an editor, a partner, or a functional critique group.
As a side note, that’s another downside to writing erotica. I need an editor, or at least a writing partner who doubles as an editor.
I’m good friends with several top notch editors. It’s just that when they heard about what I’m writing these days, they all got this… expression. One of them even asked if I put myself in the stories. Argh! No! Do you put yourself into your space operas? But now that I know what you’re thinking, I will show you a draft the instant hell freezes over!
Also, if you do put yourself into your space operas, knock it off, Mary Sue.