Publish or Perish!

As it has been, oh, a VERY long time since I’ve managed to write anything, I’ve been reflecting lately on that wise old saying: publish or perish. The data behind it is solid, in my limited experience. Whenever I publish a new story, it tends to sell best in its first few weeks of existence. And sometimes, having a new story out gets more exposure for older work, causing a spike in sales. All of this is great! However, the flip side of the coin is that, inevitably, if there is a dip in publishing rate, there is also a lull in sales.

This must be true for many traditionally published authors as well. Plenty of books out there are excellent, but if somewhat older, and not big names, they have their heyday on the bookshelves and then are set adrift in the bottomless maw of Amazon.com. Unless you’re J.K. Rowling or otherwise independently wealthy, there can be no sitting on your laurels. However, “publish or perish” hits indie authors particularly hard. We’re little fish in a huge pond, and the only way to makes waves is through exposure — getting our work into the hands of as many readers as possible. And the only way I know to do that is to write lots (and well); publish quickly; push and celebrate your new work as long as it is “new;” then do the whole thing again. It’s an exhausting cycle, but that’s the way the writing business works.

Which is why, at least in my case, writing is a wonderful craft I work to improve. I’m proud of my stories, and I strive to make them excellent. But, I am also okay with limited sales during my slow writing times. Life happens, and that always must take priority. The good news is, I have confidence that when the time is right, I’ll be back in the saddle and into the old “publish or perish” cycle once again.

Advertisements

ERWA: the erotica writer’s best online resource!

Although I’ve been off the grid for some time now (and yes, looks like that trend will continue into the new year. Sorry folks; it happens!) there is one thing I do to keep up with what’s what in the erotica world. It’s something I’ve been doing for years now, and I highly suggest you do the same: sign up for ERWA.

In my opinion, the ERWA writers’ group is the premier place for independent erotica authors online. Like any diverse group, you meet people of all levels and ranges of interest, but there is a distinction: everyone is there to read and write erotica, and everyone is there to better their writing craft. Boom. What more can you ask?

As a casual member of ERWA Storytime list, I receive many e-mails a day with works in progress to read and critique. This is a great way to improve your writing, by reading what others are up to, suggesting changes, and reflecting on how you can incorporate techniques you like into your own craft. Plus, I have always received excellent, professional-level feedback on work I have submitted. Invariably, whether giving or receiving critiques, I have come out of it a better and more thoughtful writer.

I also hang out on the ERWA Writers list, which is all kinds of fun. Discussions range from current trends in the market, to questions about publishing or branding, to thoughts on the writing craft. They also send out frequent calls for submissions, so you can target work for potential inclusion in anthologies — a great way to get out there!

Whether you’re an experienced erotica author, a newbie dipping your toes in, or just an avid reader of fun and sexy stories, ERWA is where you need to be. I guarantee you will become a better writer for it! (And read some hot free stories while you’re there, too…)

Yes, yes, I know…

Yes, I fully admit it, I’ve been silent for way too long. This time of year is always a slam at work, and other things happen in — ahem — “real life” that take precedence. That’s not to say I have no creative projects (I always have a story or ten bouncing around in my brain). One of these days, when I manage to sit down with the right cup of tea and a few stimulating hours, I’ll get back to work.

In the meantime, I offer the following tidbits:

maor arcanaAs ever, my Tarot-card-inspired journey is published and available to read for free, anytime! Check it out on Inkitt or Wattpad.

Also, just to prove to you that I’m still writing (kind of), here is a little — and shockingly safe-for-work, which is unusual for me — excerpt of my current work in progress. It’s a historical fiction set in colonial New Orleans, featuring a young girl who is being groomed (Gigi-esque) for life as the consort of a rich man who can promise her, and her children, the security her mother and grandmother worked so hard to attain…

1712, Nouvelle Orleans

Marie Celeste winced as her mother pulled the comb through her thick, tangled hair. She sat, wearing only a shift, in the warm, humid night. The night of her presentation into society. Perhaps, the night of her awakening to womanhood.

“Don’t ever forget, ma princesse, that this is the most important evening of all. You must ensnare the right kind of man—the kind who can keep you.”

“I know, maman.” Marie Celeste attempted not to sigh. She had this lecture by heart.

“Your grandmother, she knew. A proud woman, she, straight from the shores of Africa. A Senegal woman. She may have been a slave, oui, but she didn’t stay that way. Mère Celeste knew how to walk, how to snap her eyes and catch a white man’s attention. Why do you think I named you after her? Your grandmother was born free, and she died free. So will I. And so will you.”

She twisted Marie Celeste’s hair, hard, making her yelp.

“Ouch! Maman!”

“Quiet, baby. I’m almost done.” With several more quick tugs and the strategic placement of pins, she managed to corral Marie Celeste’s unruly curls into a stylish knot. “Beautiful.”

Marie Celeste picked up their old hand mirror—another relic of grandmère’s—and peered at her reflection. The hairstyle was flattering, with a fluff of curls framing her face, tightening to a braided coil at the back. Certainly, she’d never looked better. How she felt was another matter.

As if sensing her daughter’s disquiet, Yvette quietly took the mirror away. She grasped Marie Celeste’s hands in her older, darker ones. Her eyes were dark and intense as she spoke.

“I know you have heard this story so many times, princesse, but listen. Just once more.” Yvette drew a heavy breath. Her hands tightened on her daughter’s. “Freedom cannot be given, bought, or sold. Freedom must be taken. And tonight, you will take it.”

Pay Attention!

When certain authors come up with a new release, I pay attention. We all have those authors in our lives, the ones whose work we connect with, who impress us every time. And when someone like that writes something new, I just know I have to read it!

We’re in luck, because one of the most unique and original erotica authors I know — Mr. T.S. Tarot — has his latest work on pre-order. In case you don’t know who this is, may I suggest that you take a look at his collection of published work. His stories are unlike any erotica I’ve ever read before. M.S. Tarot is a storyteller extraordinaire. I wish I knew how he does it, because everything I’ve ever read of his takes twists and turns I’d never have seen coming. He’s not afraid of the dark and gritty stuff, but there’s a deeper emotional side to his work as well. All of this is shallow description; what you need to do is just buy his new release and check it out! I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Blackberry pickin’

When I got home from vacation, it was only to dive right back into work — hence the lack of writing or any kind of online presence. But, I am back! We came home into the height of a hot, dry Seattle summer. Heat is not really my jam… I can’t wait for the rain. But there is one thing about Seattle in late summer — besides its beauty, backyard BBQ’s, forest hikes and sunsets — that is unlike anything else I’ve found anywhere: wild blackberries.

They’re actually an invasive variety, but few people care because they are so delicious. And this summer, for whatever reason, it was the perfect year for blackberries. Truly, there is nothing more delicious that a fat, fresh, ripe blackberry, just off the vine, still warm from the sun… so good. It’s more than that, though. Part of the pleasure is the hunt itself.

Now bear with me, please; I’m crafting a metaphor. It came to me while I was up to my elbows in brambles, reaching for that elusive berry (the perfect ones are always just out of reach, aren’t they?) The most rewarding thing about picking wild blackberries is that you have to fight for them. You have to dare the thorns. You have to look under low-hanging leaves, and find the secret treasures hidden deep. These are not cute, domestic farmed berries. They’re tough, thorny, unkillable thickets whose only goal is survival. (And outgrowing the poor native species.) These berries don’t care about you — their delicious fruits are a prize you have to earn.

Which makes them taste all the sweeter.

Isn’t that the way with a great romance novel? We love reading about lovers who struggle. We want a happy ending, of course — just the way I salivate over a fresh blackberry tart — but we don’t want to just give it to them! Passion comes from the fight; that’s the part we truly love. Conflict and thorns.

As I ease back into my writing routine, I plan to remember that blackberry picking afternoon. How good it felt to reach perilously deep, to snatch that sweet prize and pop it, triumphantly, into my mouth. The burst of warm juice; the earthy grittiness of a wild berry. If I can make my romances feel like that, then we’re all in for a tasty time.

Free Summer Reading Time!

Yes! It’s summer at last! I always go on a relaxing vacation (yes, I am aware of my good fortune), where I eat, drink, and be merry until it’s time to slog back to work.

This summer, I propose a free armchair vacation for my readers. How about a trip to King Solomon’s Court? Perhaps a journey to a magical kingdom where princesses disappear each night, only to return with their dancing shoes worn through? Or maybe you’re in the mood for Tokyo, Japan? And in honor of the new Wonder Woman movie (and Amazons in general), why not spend some time in a world where women rule and men are kept only as tools for pleasure?

It doesn’t matter which destinations you choose, because I‘m making them ALL FREE this summer! Yes, every day you visit my Amazon author page, there will be something offered for free. (Besides One Night to Tango, and Taking the Reins, which as you know are always yours for the fantastic low price of 0.00!)

Enjoy your summer reading!

 

BAM! 3 new releases out today!

Yes! The day has come! If you pre-orderd, you are now no doubt enjoying (at least, I hope you’re enjoying it!) one of my brand new, just-released, fresh-off-the-press erotica stories. Two fairy tales and one sort of sexual travelogue… yeah, I’m a bit all over the place these days. But I’m happy with the result.

Now, if you DIDN’T pre-order, you’re still good, because today’s the day they’re all three on sale at our favorite little small-town bookshop, Amazon.com. I think Senegal Beach and The Seal Wife are some of my best work yet…. and Little Big Man & The Rani makes me laugh. (And we all know laughing is sexy!) If you’re curious — and you know you are — check them out!

Senegal Beach — a young Peace Corps volunteer confronts her prejudices. Culture shock can be sexy!

The Seal Wife — a lonely Irish fisherman, a legendary creature; an erotic fairy tale tragedy.

Little Big Man & The Rani — doomed to death if she does not spin straw into gold, Shivangi is willing to bargain with everything she has…

Spinning my wheels

I do love a good fairy tale. But they’ve cleaned most of them up to get rid of all the really good parts, in order to make them acceptable to parents of today’s much more sheltered children. (Pretty sure the old medieval storytellers had fewer qualms… of course, when you only live to be 25, childhood is forcibly much shorter anyway!)

For this erotic fairy tale, I took something fundamentally unsexy — a brutish king obsessed with gold, a pitiful girl doomed to die, and a tricky dwarf who only helps her in return for promises of increasing value — and plopped in right into the middle of pre-Colonial India. So there! Fixed it! Have I mentioned that I think saris are the most physically flattering traditional clothes? Something about the modesty of a veil, with the flash of midriff, and an elegant pleated skirt, just really spells seduction. I enjoyed using that beautiful garment to great effect in Little Big Man & The Rani.

Honestly, this one was purely for the fun of it. And you’ll have fun, too, if you grab it on pre-order today! It will be delivered to you, freshly e-printed, on June 30th. Just in time for summer reading season!

rani cover

Foam on the Sea

I’m on a fairy tale kick lately. It has long been my goal to reimagine some of my favorite old stories in new (and sexier) ways, and to that end I’ve got lots of ideas scribbled down. Two of those ideas actually evolved into complete stories — available for pre-order now, to be released on June 30th.

The first one I want to share is a blending of Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ (yes, the depressing version, where after her deal with the witch the poor mermaid’s every step feels like a thousand knives, the prince dumps her, and her dead body disintegrates into foam on the sea… Scandinavians aren’t known for their happy endings!) and the Celtic legend of selkies, or seal-people.

I really got sucked into this story. It was a fun challenge to imagine this kind of magical creature, all woman on the outside, but somehow animal within. Selkies had the reputation of being excellent wives and mothers, but they always long for the sea. If they find the hiding place of their stolen sealskin, the selkie will not hesitate to snatch it back and return to the waves from whence she came. It’s such a sad and beautiful legend… the perfect match for our Little Mermaid of sea-foam fame.

If you’re curious, pre-order today! I think you won’t regret it. 🙂

selkie cover DONE

It’s Earth Day every day!

I was in Hawaii for a brief vacation a couple months ago, and various cafes, acai bowl shops, and juice bars proudly proclaimed on their travel mugs and tote bags: Earth Day Every Day. Which is easy to remember when you live in paradise, with plumeria trees and coconut palms swaying in the tropical breeze. The rest of us often need more frequent reminders to love and care for this planet we all share.

Everything we do – our mere existence – has an impact on the environment. The trick is to make choices to minimize our impact, or help alleviate it. Species (including our own) are threatened daily by loss of habitat and natural resources. So thoughtful individuals ask themselves, “What can I do?”

One of my all-time favorite erotica authors, Patient Lee, was inspired by that question. Monarch butterflies, much admired for their beauty and incredible migration, are at risk. This article from 2014 gives a good overview of the monarch problem: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/01/29/the-monarch-butterfly-population-just-hit-a-record-low-heres-why/?utm_term=.8b3c6e59c01e

Patient Lee says: “Depletion of milkweed is only one of the factors contributing to the decline in the monarch population, but it is the one factor individual people can do something about. If we plant milkweed in our gardens, we can replace some of the plants lost to farming.” And if we CAN do something, then we SHOULD. And must.

milkweedIf you wonder how diminishing butterfly population could possibly be made into a sexy story, then you are in for a pleasant surprise. Milkweed & Gossamer is one of the most extraordinary, romantic stories I have read in a while. It’s a page-turner, but also thoughtful, bringing up questions we’ve all considered when grappling with the pressures of family, work, school, and a new relationship. There’s also a fun little surprise… but I won’t give everything away!

Whether you’re looking to laugh, cry, or fall in love, this story will deliver. Here’s just a little peek of what you’re gonna get:

Excerpt from Milkweed & Gossamer

During the second week, Carlos and Josh strung the white lights over the party pavilion in preparation for the outdoor party season.

“Yeah, this place is, like, number one for parties for little girls now. They all wear their fairy wings and come party with the butterflies,” Carlos said. “It’s more popular than the bowling alley and the roller-skating rink.”

“What are the lights for? They have these kids’ parties at night?” Josh asked.

“No. It’s a whole different crowd at night. The butterfly house closes at four, but they’ve turned it into a place for all kinds of parties—wine tastings, pig roasts, weddings. You’ll see.”

Josh was climbing the step ladder when the blonde who had given him the hard-on the other day walked into the pavilion. He stumbled a bit when he realized it was the same girl. “Who is that?” He asked in a low tone.

“Hey, Milkweed,” Carlos called. “Come over here. Josh wants to meet you.”

“No! Hey! You didn’t have to call her over,” Josh stage-whispered as she approached.

“Josh, I guess you don’t remember Scott’s little sister, Jaime,” Carlos said. “Jaime, this is Josh. He used to work here when you were still in a training bra.”

“Thanks, Carlos,” she said dryly. “Thanks for pointing that out.”

“Jaime. Holy shit,” Josh said. “You grew up.”

“Yeah. I did,” she said. Josh could tell by the look on her face that she thought he was a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

“I’m sorry. I just . . . Wow,” he said.

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” she said. “Sorry, guys. I gotta go shop for a dress for my party next week.”

She turned and left, once again causing Josh’s cock to stiffen a bit as he watched her ass moving away from him.

“You heard the boss,” Carlos said. “She’s off-limits.”

“Yeah,” Josh said, shaking his head. “Off-limits.” He reached for the lights and then stopped. “Why did you call her Milkweed?”

“Everybody calls her that,” Carlos said. “She’s obsessed with saving the monarchs.”

“Saving the monarchs . . . you mean the butterflies? Aren’t there, like, tons of them?”

“Not as many as there used to be, I guess. That whole greenhouse in the back is milkweed she planted to give away.”

“Why would anyone want to plant weeds?” Josh said.

“The monarchs need the milkweed. It’s her graduation project. Just watch yourself. If she gets an opportunity, you’ll get the whole lecture,” Carlos said. “Twice if you’re alone.”

“I’m not sure she’d want to be alone with me. I didn’t make a very good first impression.”

“Well, it’s probably better that way. Mr. Yaple would fire your ass if he found the two of you alone and your pants were sticking out like that.” He gestured toward Josh’s fly. “And Scott would kick your ass after Mr. Y fired it.”

“Scott is hyper-protective of her.” Josh shook his head. “I don’t get it. Did something happen before?”

“Personally, I think he can’t get a date, so he doesn’t want his little sister dating.”

“He always had girlfriends in high school.”

“Yeah. He was actually engaged for a couple months, too. I think the girl got sick of his ‘waiting until marriage’ philosophy, though.” Carlos grinned. Josh couldn’t tell whether or not he was kidding. “Now c’mon. Back on the fuckin’ ladder. We gotta finish this.”

**

I know, it’s SO good! And the rest is even better.

Author D.E. Vice says: “This story […] managed to be sweet while also showing just the smallest bit of teeth, like a quick, teasing kiss, sandwiched in the middle of a grinding day. The characters were likeable, almost adorable, and your dialogue was exceptional. Unpredictability is a trait I admire as well, and your tale provided that. It was a pleasure to read and left me with a warm, fed but still hungry feeling—satisfied but never sated. Sexy and succulent.

Yeah, I can’t add anything to that. You’re going to want to buy this one, plain and simple!