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.

Advertisements

If excuses were wishes…

So I’ve been rather absent these past several weeks. No excuses, really; just a lot of stuff going on these days, and it’s sapping my creativity. In short, real life is busting in, unwelcome, into my artistic life. And, alas, real life takes precedence. Survival demands it. I’ve barely managed to read any good books, much less write one!

However, I’ve got a nearly-finished project just waiting for the last few scenes, and two completed stories that are just edits – and covers – away from hitting the e-book shelves. So don’t despair! More juicy erotic goodness is in the wings, waiting for the perfect moment to waltz onstage.

In the meantime, don’t just sit around waiting for me! There are plenty of amazing indie erotica authors out there, and you should be reading their work. Here’s a brief list of some of my favorites:

  • Patient Lee  :  author of erotic realism (a.k.a. the REAL good stuff).
  • Pandora Spocks  :  featuring hot, modern BSDM relationships. Yowza!
  • Lilah E. Noir  :  all kinds of hot & sexy tidbits…
  • Ian Saul Whitcomb  :  one of the most creative erotica authors I’ve ever read!
  • Emmanuelle de Maupassant  :  sensual, sophisticated erotica with a historical bent.
  • Sexscribbler  :  amazing talent, with stories offered for free on her blog!
  • MS Tarot  :  always surprising, and a superb storyteller. Plus all the great sexy bits.
  • Siren Allen  :  Scifi erotica, with surprises on every page!

Excitica: more self-publishing options for erotica authors

So with the recent demise of our smutty old friend, All Romance eBooks, indie erotica authors  were left somewhat bereft of self-publishing options. Besides mega-business Amazon and upstart Smashwords, which offer so much content erotica can get lost in the crowd. Plus they censor your best nude covers. Well mourn no more! Excitica is here to pick up the pieces.

The What: An online bookstore selling only romance and, especially, erotica.

The How: It’s fairly easy to set up a publisher account, either for yourself or multiple authors sharing the same publisher.

  • You’ll need to do some legwork on your own, in terms of file preparation and conversion. (The free e-book program, Calibre, is great for this.) They take Epub, Mobi, and PDF documents.
  • You also need a complete cover, 1000 pixels height maximum. (Covers can be more explicit! Hooray! Booties and (most of) boobies are welcome. No gentleman’s bits, however, as far as I can see… alas.)
  • Everything else is up to you, the publisher, to input: blurb, categories, etc. (Lots of sub-categories are listed, which is nice. Shop around, though, or you may miss one that applies to your book!) You also set the price, anything from $0.00 on up.

The What-ElseExcitica is a place for all your dirtiest stories!

  • Here is a brief list of some popular tags: Anal, Menage, BSDM, Brother, Creampie, Daddy, Gangbang, Dubcon (dubious consent, in case you didn’t know), Horror, Incest, Rape, Schoolgirl, Sister, Taboo

And there’s plenty more! Anyway, the good news is, if you write anything like that (and hey, don’t we all, sometimes?) then you’ll be among your people. There’s also a romance section, but from a brief glance at the homepage, it’s clear that Excitica is centered on erotica.

The Sales?: Honestly, not great so far for me. Perhaps their readership is limited. Maybe my stuff isn’t dirty enough, or my artsy covers don’t appeal among the sea of naked torsos. However, in the month since I’ve been signed up, I’ve had several downloads of my free stories, and one purchase. So hey, that’s a start!

If you’re an indie erotica author looking to get out there, get more visibility, and sell more books, you might take a look at Excitica.

The importance of a varied diet

We all know we need to eat our fruits and vegetables, limit fat and sweets, balance our whole-grain carbohydrates and healthy proteins. The importance of a varied diet is well documented. But the same goes for reading: if we overindulge in our favorite things (and be honest about your sugary favorites!) we end up with rotted teeth and diabetes. Or, in the literary sense, a lazy, mushy mind.

To that end, I encourage everyone — writers especially — to diversify their reading diet. Truly, it keeps your senses sharp, and offers plenty of perspective that can improve your own writing. If you don’t read, you can’t write. Period. (And if you don’t read many different genres and styles, you can’t write well.)

And just so no one can claim I don’t practice what I preach, here is a list of some recent books I have read and enjoyed, more or less in order. Amazon buy links included, as well as genre. With a growing stack on the horizon, I’ll be busily eating my literary vegetables for a long time! (And, you know, indulging in candy bars regularly too…)

Currently reading: The Things They Carried – fiction – The Vietnam War revisited through a series of brief, vivid tales, each a visceral reminder of the horrors of war.

The Cellist of Sarajevo – literary fiction – A gritty, wrenching portrayal of a city under siege, and the struggle to preserve humanity under inhuman circumstances.

Knight of Jerusalem: a biographical novel of Balian d’Ibelin – historical fiction – Well researched and unique, focusing on a little-known character during the medieval Christian occupation of the Holy Land.

The Shipping News – contemporary fiction – Superb characterization, snappy writing, and a darkly humorous look at love, life and struggle in modern-day Newfoundland.

Saga – graphic novel/space opera – One of the best things I have read, ever. Great adventure story, excellent dialogue, and gorgeous artwork. Go get yourself a copy now!

The Sport of Kings – literary fiction – A new take on the dark, gothic Southern family saga. Incest, violence, wealth, and racism intersect in all the worst possible ways.

My Antonia – American fiction – It’s a classic for a reason. People just don’t write like this anymore.

I Won a Basket of Porn – erotica/humor – In case you needed another reason to love author Patient Lee! Hilarious fun poked at small-town politics. Plus sex.

Because Beards – erotica/romance anthology – A fun collection of sexy stories, all with some kind of bearded hero. Some were excellent; all were okay. Plus, it’s for charity!

A Heart’s Promise – romance – On the sweet side, a classic romance novel featuring a horse-loving gal and a hot, modern cowboy.

Little Birds – erotica – Sexy short stories, from back in the day when erotica was all about turning on classy, well-read rich people.

Ancillary Justice – science fiction – An unusual SciFi adventure, featuring a ship that is also, somehow, a person. Totally unique.

All The Light We Cannot See – historical fiction – The kind of book that moves you to tears… and makes you wish you could write like that. Utterly superb.

 

A interview with…. ME!

interview image

This week I had the great pleasure of spending some time (via e-mail only, alas!) with Ms. Eeva Lancaster. You may know her as The Book Khaleesi, a talented designer who works with self-published authors to prepare top-quality covers, interior formatting, media kits, and more all affordable for hardworking indie authors. (Her work is so good, I commissioned her to redesign a couple of my own book covers… and you know how picky I am about my art!) She is also the author of several highly-rated books, including the super-informative Now What? series. (Anyone interested in online freelancing MUST read her work! As an online freelancer herself, Eeva really shares what it’s like in the trenches.)

I first connected with Eeva through the ASPA (Alliance of Self Published Authors), of which she is the founder.  It’s an amazing group of authors, working together to promote one another’s work. What I love about it is that the group brings together all genres, backgrounds, and nationalities. My reading there has enriched my perspective – and my craft – many times.

Today, however, I am delighted to share Eeva’s interview with, well, me. Everyone loves to be interviewed. It gives you the warm fuzzies – and show me someone who doesn’t like talking about themselves, and I’ll show you a liar! It was also a lovely opportunity for me to reflect on my writing, and my plans for the future. Plus, it’s tons of fun!

So please, hop on over to Eeva’s blog! You can read my interview there, and hey, you might just come across lots of other great reading material, too. 🙂

Raising the Writing Bar

One thing about eBooks is they’re relatively cheap, enabling one to read a greater volume of books for one’s proverbial dollar. (Or rather, the proverbial $2.99) This I have rediscovered while enjoying the amazing selection on Smashwords – all sorts of fun genres, which I am setting myself to read and honestly review. (Being a naturally positive person, I haven’t yet left anything less than 3 stars, which I think is the bare minimum of respect for someone’s hard work.) However, reading work from a variety of authors, both self-published and traditionally published, has reminded me that writing is truly a craft. No matter how interesting your concept, how engaging the characters, or how dirty your erotic fantasy, you have to write well!

What this means to me is an author must, first and foremost, be a writer. There is no excuse for lazy writing. If it sounds like the story you wrote in high school, I guarantee you it is bad. If you find yourself reusing the same words or sentence structure, it is also bad. And please, please don’t end every sentence in a preposition. I could go on, but there’s really no need to. (Curious about how to write and edit well? Check out these fabulous guidelines from eXcessica! They also publish hot erotica. Worth a visit!) Basically I feel frustration as a reader when I find great ideas – and published stories – that are not good writing. It bums me out.

Here’s the deal: self-publishing is a rather arrogant business. In this world, you’d better be able to walk your talk. That includes knowing how to write well. Join writers’ groups. Read your work out loud. Take a creative writing class. There are plenty of possibilities. Just have full confidence that you are a writer, before you decide to be a published author.

Of course, the absolute best way to get better at writing is to read. And don’t read crap; read great writing. (Having chugged through more than my fair share of New York Times bestsellers, I can say that generally speaking, these are not the world’s best writing. With a few notable exceptions, of course. Mostly, leave those on the shelf.) Go in search of authors known for their craft. Study it; read as a writer – take note of perfect turns of phrase, masterful characterizations, story structure. Write these down somewhere, so you can be reminded. Compare your work to that of these masters, and be honest with yourself. The best writers are voracious readers, and they read excellent books. I love finding unknown authors, rediscovering treasured classics, and losing myself in a perfectly written page. Reading books like these makes me a better writer.

Long ago (like, when I was a teenager; THAT long ago) I went to a talk by one of my favorite YA authors, Tamora Pierce. She had lots of great advice for me. (Read more of it here, on my previous post about keeping your day job) My friend loved her first series, the Alanna books, the best, so she eagerly listened to Tamara’s response to someone’s question: “Which is your favorite book that you wrote?” Tamara quite ruthlessly said her favorite book is always the one most recently published, thus crushing my friend’s hopes. However, Tamara went on to explain that she always preferred her latest book because she is constantly working to improve her craft. Each new book represents years of hard work, grueling days of editing, striving to perfect, improve, and grow. This makes total sense to me now. My latest story must be my favorite – though I’ll always have a soft spot for certain older works – because the newest work represents my growth as a writer.

Working together, fellow self-published authors, we must raise the bar. No more lazy writing! Work the craft; hone it. Make each new story your best yet. Reread, go back, edit, make changes. We can – and we must – produce work we can be truly proud of. We owe it to our readers, and to ourselves as well.