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!

It’s here! The last book in the excellent November Snow series!

Those of you who actually read my blog know I am a HUGE fan of A.M. Manay’s November Snow series. I’ve had the great pleasure to read them all, and the frustration of finishing book two – which ends in a nail-biting cliffhanger, by the way. Now, at last, the long-anticipated third book is here! She Marches Through Fire : November Snow book 3.

I’m not a vampire-romance groupie, and usually books about supernatural creatures… well… bore me. There’s so much magic in the real world I’d prefer to sink my teeth into! Therefore it was my delight and surprise to fall utterly in love with A.M. Manay’s characters and story. Despite all their special powers, the fairies, werewolves, demons, and vampires in this series are never one-dimensional. Their world is our own, with all its challenges and joys, its hope and disillusion. It’s rare when an author can blend to much reality into a fantasy tale, but this is it! And the result is something even more rare: a rich, fast-paced, thrilling series that I could not put down.

Please do yourself a favor and buy all three November Snow books today! I’m serious. They’re THAT good.

Getting Inked

Remember that creative slump I mentioned last time? Yeah, I’m still there. It’s a sad, yet comforting place to be. No pressure, just the stories gradually fermenting until they get so bubbly the cork pops off, and I can write again.

In the meantime, good thing I’ve got plenty of finished stories to revisit! Today I’d like to offer my free novel, Major Arcana: Sex, Love, and Tarot, available to read on Inkitt. Remember this one? It was my experimental work from last year: each chapter began by drawing a Tarot card from my own deck, and using that to guide the story. Lots of fun. And I am really pleased with the result. It’s contemporary erotic romance (heavy on the erotic parts, naturally!), set in my lovable hometown of Seattle, and featuring a diverse cast of characters. Oh, did I mention it’s free? Yeah, so go get on Inkitt and read it now!

What’s Inkitt, you say? Well, I heard of it from indie author/publisher/editor extraordinaire, Ms. Eeva Lancaster.It’s like Wattpad in that authors post their work, either in progress or complete, and readers can peruse, glance, or read for free. Unlike Wattpad, Inkitt offers the possibility of a publishing contract. For authors, it can be a great way to preview your work, see how readers respond to it – and maybe even get offered a publisher in the bargain. For readers, it’s a chance to get first looks at new indie stories and novels from all genres (Yes! Erotica is allowed! Hooray for dirty words and graphic sex scenes! No need to curtail your content, as Wattpad requires). So far, I’m enjoying it.

So whether you’re new or an old Inkitt fan, check out my free novel there. The cards lead in mysterious directions… and all of them somehow involve our valiant protagonist in all sorts of sexy-romantic situations.

Major Arcana: sex, love, and Tarot

Rosemary has just been dumped. Again.

Everything in her life seems stuck in a rut: work, family, romance, not to mention her sex life. In desperation, she takes her sister’s advice and begins a journey of self-realization with a deck of Tarot cards. That decision is what changes everything.

Guided by the Tarot, she soon finds herself making decisions she’d never considered before. With two attractive men vying for her attentions – and her body – Rosemary is forced to reconsider what she truly wants, and how far she’ll to go to get it.

Set in the artsy, quirky scene of Seattle, Major Arcana offers a glimpse into the power of the self, the diversity of erotic experience, and the joys, agonies, and risks of love.

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.

Aren’t we artisans?

For a long time, I distributed my writing for free. It was the usual routine: I wrote a story for fun (and because it got me hot), gave it a cursory once-over, then plastered it on Literotica or — and I fully admit to this — WAY back in the day, on Fanfiction.net. (Yeah. Legolas was my guy in those heady days of the early 2000’s…) Anyway, at that time I considered myself an amateur. And I was; an amateur, of course, is someone who does something for the love of it, and nothing more.

I ceased to consider myself an amateur when I began investing more concentrated time (and money, too) in perfecting my work. I connected with beta readers, hired a proofreader, designed book covers, wrote and polished blurbs, edited, revised, and rewrote until I was sick of my own work. All of this was through a desire to make my writing the best it can possibly be. And in the process, I realized it had value. Real value: the worth of my time and effort.

So now, I consider myself an artisan. This is not the same thing as a professional. Professionals make their income from their work, whatever it is. Probably they have invested a large chunk of their life into their career, specializing in a profession, taking workshops and focused trainings, putting their nose to the grindstone and climbing the ladder. I do that, too, in my professional life. This is something I separate from my art, however.

Get it? Profession = professional; Art = artisan. So, unless you happen to be signed with a big publishing company, who pays you regularly and buys your work in advance, you, too, are an artisan. (There are professional artists, of course. My grandparents were; they struggled their whole lives with it. Hence, my preference for keeping art and work apart!)

Think about cheese – one of my favorite things! You can buy tasty cheese from professionals. Say, Tillamook. No matter where you are, you can get a nice brick of cheddar, knowing it has been made in a large, reputable plant, wherein they have been producing quality cheese for generations. Tillamook is a professional cheese-making business. They make TONS of cheese and maintain a level of quality we expect from professionals

Now imagine you’re at the local farmers market. Cheese can be found here, too, but this time it’s artisan cheese. You might find a small-batch herbed chevre, or fresh mozzarella. It’s all been lovingly made by hand, the product of individuals or small groups working in quite a different system than the big companies. Oftentimes artisanal cheese is delicious, far richer and more tempting than the grocery store variety. Other times, alas, it is less than amazing. In any case, it is likely to surprise you.

Lots of people say artisan is better, for this reason. Others prefer the consistency of professional products. Neither is right or wrong; they’re just two different ways of producing, buying, and enjoying cheese.

Keep that in mind when buying indie books. Self-published authors are artisans; we don’t work for any big company or publisher. There’s no safety net. We just quietly producing our work — our art — in the hopes that customers (that means you, gentle reader!) might prefer to buy a small, artisanal product rather than a predictable grocery store bestseller. Just know that, whichever you choose, there’s an artist behind it. But when you pay that artist directly, more of the benefit stays with them.

So buy from artisans! Shop at your local potter, beekeeper, couturier, farmer, bakery, woodworker, candlemaker, art gallery. Support us Indie authors, too. We may not sell at the farmers’ market, but we are artists and craftsmen, just the same.