Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Xmas

Yorkdale Fashion Santas

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tourists in New Zealand duped into taking part in hair-cutting fetish video

I have to admit that as soon as the first story came out I was pretty sure it was fetish related.  I mean, someone is offering young, pretty, female tourist a lot of money just to be filmed having their heads shaved.  There really is all of... one possible explanation for that.

However it must be said that I have more familiarity with the diversity of fetishes out there than the average 20-something backpacker.  And even I was not specifically aware of hair cutting and head shaving as a fetish per se. But in general if an anonymous person offers pretty gals a lot of money for a visual record of.. well, just about anything, that is probably a fetish. The fact they were instructed to wear a little black dress and high heels for the shooting just makes it all the more obvious.

And sure enough, the actual purpose of the filming has now become clear.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Trying to redefine "Eunuch"--and an ethical question

A couple of religious authors are trying a new way to make the problem of gay Christians just go away.  And the rug they are trying to sweep these people under is called "Eunuch". So basically instead of straight, gay and asexual as the broadly (but not exhaustive) categories the spectrum would be reduced to straight (who can marry) and eunuch who lack attraction to the opposite sex (and cannot marry). Eunuch is meant to refer to a range of states, not just castrated people. The Biblical meaning seems to apply to those who do not or cannot marry for a variety of reasons.

Veronique Debord via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
By completely failing to deal with active attraction to people of the same sex this approach seems to pretty much stick it's head in the sand and offer the celibacy "solution" common to most conservative Christian doctrines and counseling.  But I am curious enough about their theological contortions that I am considering reading the book

The ethical question is: is buying the book unethical as it gives financial support to bigotry?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Are per-title ebook sales down?

A few people have said this to me lately.  But are we just making excuses? My dataset is mondo out-of-date so I have no data to refer to.

I see two main options
1) Erotic romance ebook sales (per title) are down across the board or
2) Old school sales are down because new tropes are cool now.

Thoughts?

The enemy of the enemy of my enemy

A little bird observed Katherine Falk of Romantic Times wrote a statement on Facebook along the lines of "Dear Author apologizes for making false statements and reveals the settlement with Ellora's Cave." (A rather hostile and gloating interpretation of this post).


There is clearly no love lost between Falk and Dear Author.  But when it comes to Ellora's Cave when the core fact is that they have defaulted on payments due to their authors is all most of us care about... So by so clearly siding with EC Falk is inviting the wrath of the denizens of Romancelandia in general and the Knights of Righteous Authors in particular.  (I am being sarcastic but I am actually a sword-carrying member of the later, for better of worse).

(When is the last time any of you read the Romantic Times mag?  I guess it is very much more for classic 1.0 type romance readers?) 

UPDATE 12/10/2015 RT has officially apologized and retracted the statement
UPDATE2 12/102015 It looks like the link has moved so I will just post it here.
 

We apologize for the commentary that was posted regarding the EC case. We especially apologize to Jane. It was taken...

Posted by RT Convention on Thursday, December 10, 2015

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Fisking Atria's Press Release

Press release here, and below in bold.

"Atria Books, Paragraph to launch new way to experience books"

Atria to offer app

"Paragraph and Atria Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, said it has announced the launch of Crave, a new app that matches bestselling authors with the hottest actors to offer romance fans an entirely new reading experience."

We paid these guys to make an app with mantitty

"Crave will be available for download on iOS at launch with Android to follow shortly after."

But unfortunately these guys suck at making apps for Android

"...Subscribers will receive one installment from the book each day, and every new segment of the story is coupled with instant notifications, videos and photos from the lead character. Books are released serially, typically in advance of their official publication date, creating a new reading paradigm where the only place to experience the enhanced story will be in the app."

Because we don't understand why people like books we think they will enjoy being drip fed them less than a chapter at a time over three months.

“The way we consume information has changed dramatically in the past few years,” said Ziv Navoth, Paragraph´s CEO. “We took the romance novel and asked ourselves how can we create an experience that fits the way people like to experience stories these days. The result is Crave.”

We thought apps were dumb, but now all the other romance publishers have them and we feel left out.

"The Crave Studio scours the world and polls fans to discover actors who resemble the actual book characters so much that they might have well been the inspiration for them. Crave then turns them into real-life stand-ins for their characters, turning the audience´s fantasy into reality."

So asked for an app with mantitty

“Today´s romance reader isn´t satisfied with simply reading a story,” said Colleen Hoover. “She wants to be immersed in the story and get closer to the characters, while also building a relationship with the author who created them.”

We really don't understand why people like books.  We assume they really just want to look at mantitty or be author stalkers.

“This is an exciting endeavor for us. Truly the way readers consume, share and talk about books has changed greatly, and with Crave we are able to marry new methods of delivery with high-quality, value-added content to engage readers in an entirely new type of experience,” says Judith Curr, President and Publisher, Atria Publishing Group."

Apps are new and exciting for us because we spent the last decade living under a rock.

"Crave is a subscription-based service. Fans subscribe to an author´s channel for less than a dollar a week (USD3.99/month) and receive daily installments from their newest books over a period of 90 days."

We actually think people would rather pay $12 to read a book reeeaaaallly slloooowwwlly than $5 to read at at any speed they like.  

"Paragraph builds products and services that re-imagine the way people discover, tell and experience great stories."

Paragraph makes apps.

Technical question for you Blogger bloggers

What is the best way to set comments?  "Popup" seems a bad idea as popup blockers will get in the way.  When I choose "embedded" I like the reply function that lets you respond to specific comments--but the bloody thing will not actually post any comment no matter what I do.  So now I have opted for "whole page", and am hoping for the best.  Any advice appreciated.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Blather

My financial returns per ebook are dropping these days.  I have the usual anxieties.  Do I suck?  Is my work dated?  Just a saturated market? Why did I never write popular tropes? Well, I don't like alpha males, so what I can I do?

Also I now have a great day job with a non-crazy boss and delightful co-workers; how often does that happen?  And not coincidentally I don't have that time-honored muse any more (a.k.a. "need to pay the bills" / "must sell smut or starve").

I still write because, frankly, that is just what I do.  People buy it or don't buy it. Whatever. (Please buy it. Please). But I am not sure I am really in touch with "the industry" or "Romancelandia" or whatever-he-fuck-it-is-called-these days. I can't be bothered going to romance conventions because I would rather go to Niagara Falls and eat poutine and drink espresso martinis.

So if some crazy shit is happening that I should know about please email me at veinglory @gmail.com. (preferably something to do with erotica/romance/fiction, but in general I love me some drama). Or consider joining this blog as a guest or regular contributor.  Because I like to suck out the tender juices of the younger generation or just generally people more successful than me.  Or make friends.  Either way.

How many of you, my fellow authors, are baffled at being middle-aged (or older).  When did that happen?  I feel so much less desperate these days, and more happy, and somehow less hip. So.  If anybody is out there.  Drop me a comment. (Or not.  I get that).

Spencer Hill Press

Spencer Hill Press, planned home of the Tulip Romance imprint, seems to be in the middle of a storm of author acrimony.  Previous the proud owner of a rather good reputation, there had been muttering over the last few months. Last Saturday they suddenly became closed to submissions.

 In the last few days authors have been openly complaining, mainly on Twitter where the SHP Twitter feed is filled with apologies and promised to "rectify the situation". This all seems to involve a "change in management" complete with new email address.  (See for example this Twitter conversation with Brenda St John Brown and Sherry D Ficklin).

Monday, December 07, 2015

The Case of the Cowardly Credit Cards

On November 30th an interesting court ruling was posted. It seems that the Sheriff of Cook County, one Tom Dart, had been on a campaign to shut down a classified publication with an extensive "adult" section called Backpage(.com).  Dart told Visa and MasterCard to stop doing business with Backpage, and these credit card companies heroically... totally caved in and did what he said.

Dart was found to be violating the First Amendment in that he used his role as a public official to attempt to suppress all advertisements placed on Backpage, at least some of which must have fallen under the category of "free speech".


 shawnzrossi via Foter.com / CC BY
The judge refers to several weaknesses in Dart's claims about how damaging the adult advertisements were to women, including a charmingly naïve description of what a dominatrix is--one of the services being advertised.

In the judgement the credit card companies are referred to as "victims".  But it seems just as easy to see them as collaborators. In fact an letter stating the official position of Visa asserted that they did not feel threatened by Dart's letter, effectively undermining Backpage's case. (Meanwhile internal staff communications at Visa referred to the letter as "blackmail")

Backpage won nothing more than an injunction against Dart threatening credit card companies. No word yet as to whether either credit card company has resumed doing business with Backpages who is currently giving away heir advertising for free.  Backpage has the law on their side, but that is probably not going to save their business.

Why we shoud stop acting as if romance heros are real

Becca Fizpatrick said: "As a teen, I was completely in love with Heathcliff. As an adult, he terrifies me." Which makes perfect sense because Heathcliff is the very spirit of resentment and rebellion. But those qualities are less appealing when you are looking for a life partner who can both sweep you off your feet and remember to pay the cable bill.

There is a lot of talk about how Christian Grey encourages women to enter abusive relationships. Wanting a billionaire makes people shallow and wanting a large penis even more so. Commentators carry on like the Byronic hero is still considered some modern invention of which Grandmother Literature very much does not approve. Society purses its lips and says: you are meant to swoon over Thor, not Loki.

Romance books are trotted out every so often as the reason why woman make bad romantic decisions.  And that kind of patronizing bullshit is only to be expected from the more stolid type of old boy journalist or Ivy league scholar.  But can we please skip the hegemony of tarring ourselves with that brush as the actual creators and consumers of the genre,

Women want what they want. At different times in our lives we may take outings with different fantasy men (and/or women etc).  Perhaps we dabble similarly with real people, perhaps not. But we are not--as a rule--the kind of weak-minded idiots who turn stupid just because we read a book. No more than we as authors have some evil conspiracy to drive the female nation into the arms of slavering beasts.

We can trust women to have fantasies because even when it goes wrong, it is a whole lot better than the alternative.  If anything, being able to take a fictional Heathcliff for a test drive might be just the tonic for realizing you would not want to bring him home to meet Mother.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I am less than contrite

"Producing or using pornography is a mortal sin that needs to be confessed in order for the person to receive God's forgiveness."
-- draft copy of "Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography

Friday, November 13, 2015

Bing news section spelling issues....


Spangaloo Publishing

If you choose to publish with Spangaloo you pay for the editing, but the cover art is free.  Dare I say, however, that you get what you pay for?




Monday, November 09, 2015

Signs of Desperation from the Cave

I see Ellora's Cave is "now accepting new genres!" Specifically: comedy, new adult, nonfiction, thriller/horror (this is the same thing now?) and sci fi/ alternate reality.

Why are they suddenly an all genre publisher now? Maybe because the number and quality of romance and erotica authors willing to submit work to them has finally dropped too low to maintain a profitable output in their "trademark" genre?

After Dark App

I was thinking about Wattpad's erotic-romance focused reading app, After Dark, today.

It does make me wonder.  At what point does a vibrant cross-platform writing community become an e-publisher whose authors don't get paid?

Saturday, November 07, 2015

MARKET: Eros

I get the feeling I could probably post a new erotic romance market every day, or at least every second day. As of yesterday you can add a new imprint from Tule Publishing to the list.

Their marketing and semantic so far look very same-y (a.k.a. "I want to make money from chick porn"). But seeking to start with a stable of just five authors is a break from the usual high volume model.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

No updates from the Airport Because...


The Louisiana Online Age Certification Law, What Exactly Does it Apply to?!

A recent law change in the state of Louisiana requires website with sexual material to install age verifying software. Several online magazine and publishers are challenging the requirement.  The Garden District Bookshop says that the law unfairly requires affirmative age verification of everyone entering heir website, just because a small number of the products they sell are erotic.

The law maker replies that only true pornography, "not a romance novel", is targeted and the store most likely does not sell anything of that type.

Of course laws and layers don't work according to intent, they are enforced in the courts according to the literal meaning of their words alone.  Which in this case means that the requirement apples to anyone "that publishes material harmful to minors on the Internet" including "Descriptions or depictions of illicit sex or sexual immorality " specifically:

"...the depiction, display , description, exhibition, or representation of any of the following: Ultimate sexual acts, normal or perverted, actual, simulated, or animated, whether between human beings, animals, or an animal and a human being. Masturbation, excretory functions, or exhibition, actual, simulated, or animated, of the genitals, pubic hair, anus, vulva, or female breast nipples. Sadomasochistic abuse, meaning actual, simulated, or animated, flagellation or torture by or upon a person who is nude or clad in undergarments or in a costume which reveals the pubic hair, anus, vulva, genitals, or female breast nipples, or the condition of being fettered, bound, or otherwise physically restrained, on the part of one so clothed. Actual, simulated, or animated, touching , caressing, or fondling of, or other similar physical contact with, a pubic area, anus, female breast nipple, covered or exposed, whether alone or between human, animals, or a human and an animal, of the same or opposite sex , in an act of apparent sexual stimulation or gratification. Actual, simulated, or animated, stimulation of the human genital organs by any device whether or not the device is designed, manufactured, and marketed for that purpose ... "

If Rep. Timothy Burns thinks none of any of that ever happens in a romance novel, he sure didn't do his research.

Me, I was confused by the first line and it went downhill from there.  Given that "illicit" means "activities that are not considered morally acceptable" this whole things is about moral unacceptable sex, without at any point specifying what standard of morals, based on what code of morality, this ostensibly secular law is enforcing on the good citizens of Louisiana.

Red Moon Romance

Red Moon Romance is an imprint of World Weaver Press focusing on romance. (FacebookTwitter).  The rhetoric is rather heavy on women having the right to ready sexy stuff if they want to, as if this is somehow in doubt.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

No Sex Please, We're Egyptian.

In Egypt Ahmed Nagy and his editor are up on charges for publishing an except from his erotic novel in the literary section of a newspaper. An act which prosecutors claim constituted: "using his mind and pen to violate public decency and good morals, inciting promiscuity."  Part of the problem seems to stem from the prosecutors weak grasp of the concept of 'fiction'. They are treating the excerpt as if it is an article reporting actual events.

On the run up to US Thanksgiving, one is reminded that there is something worse than not being taken seriously as a writer--and that is being taken altogether too seriously by a rather paranoid regime.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Aleksandr Voinov vs. Riptide

Aleksandr Voinov (one of the founders) and Riptide Publishing are having a rather public parting-of-the-ways.  Public that is since Voinov's post on Sunday "Why I cannot publish Nightingale"  which elicited Riptide's response "A Statement Regarding Aleksandr Voinov".

10/29: Now this from Abi Roux, and this from Alexis Hall.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Should Sexting only Occur With Consent?

christopher frier brown / Foter / CC BY
In Romancelandia the depiction of safer sex remains largely controversial.  Whether contemporary "hero/heroine" characters should typically been shown having it, whether description of the condom is necessary or can be considered assumed, etc.

And given that many authors are considerably older than the characters they write and often in stable relationship rather than still seeking Mr/Ms/Mx Right, it pays to be up to date with contemporary dating behavior if you plan to depict this in your stories.

One of these newer practices being explicit texting, which popular culture and the media generally assumes is just a rather risky behavior of teens that allows their nudie pictures to get spread all around school.  But as I have previously discussed it is predominantly a behavior within relationships, with generally positive outcomes.

Obviously sexting with a person you have just met or are still getting to know is a more risky behavior, and a recent paper revealed another aspect of this risk.  That is that attitudes towards sexting are highly variable and misunderstandings can lead to the initiator of the sexting inadvertantly making the other person feel harrassed or simply creeped out.

In a free online article A A Hasinoff discusses how sexting is portrayed in sex advice columns and how issues of security, privacy, and consent are rarely covered.  But that it is important to know that the person you are sexting wishes to engage in this behavior and is not negatively effected by it. 

Are your contemporary romance characters sexting?  And is sexting consent the new "condom"?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

MARKET Churn Publishing

Churn Publishing (questionable name choice there) is a publisher paying 50% of net proceeds.  Their actual business model is considerably less-than-clear to me.  Right down to their tag line that says "Romance -- Women's Fiction -- Erotica" but a submission page that says they take only sub-genres of romance.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Turquoise Morning Press / Sapphire Nights Books Closing

bennylin0724 / Foter / CC BY
The sites and social networks for Turquoise Morning Press and Sapphire Nights Books are down amid reports that they will officially close on November 1, 2015.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Can an artwork be guilty of a crime?

Graham Ovenden is now a twice-convicted child abuser with a fixation on very young girls.  Nothing about that can be defended. Or anything other than condemned utterly.

Graham Ovenden's paintings have also been sentenced to destruction by court order. 

The ones in his studio, that is.  The many in public and private collections will continue to exist despite being presumably equally tainted.

If this act was to protect victims from their images being promulgated against their will, I would probably understand that.  But a direct obscenity charge seems untenable against the works themselves, if the new images are anything like his previous works.

It is not a comfortable thing when a recognized artist is also a sexual criminal.  But his body of works now exist in their own right and have their own complex place in art history. Those already in galleries around the world (now mainly withdrawn from display) and those the pubic has not (and may never) see.

Friday, October 09, 2015

MARKET Elevation Books

Elevation Book Publishing is be seeking drama, contemporary romance, and self help. Given that they list "services" I am not 100% sure whether they are fee-charging or not.

"Elevation Book Publishing supports getting your work to readers by stacking the deck for excellence at the hands of professionals. Elevation Book Publishing uses innovative techniques to produce dynamic, entertaining and comprehensive books."

: / 


Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The Meaning of "Erotica"

Within specific communities it is often assumed that words like pornography, erotica, romance, and erotic romance all have fixed and universal definitions.  When in fact these defintions are varied, changeable, disputed, and any shared meaning the do have is highly specific to particular communities and subcultures.

Consider for example this article about the use of sexual materials by sex offenders.  Here erotica rather than being a more refined and 'worthy' subset of pornography distinguished by artistic merit, is in fact a much more broader category including things not deliberately created to be erotic at all. Specifically "Erotica can include almost any object that has become sexually meaningful to a person, including but not limited to vibrators, dolls, specific clothing (e.g., undergarments), naked orclothed pictures of a child or adult, whips, magazines..."

My point here is not to start an argument about which definitions are correct, but rather to draw attention to the fact that definitions do not generally express a pure truth about our shared reality--more often they are created  by a person or group of people with a specific goal in mind.  Erotica and erotic romance is often defined by authors who create or consume this work so as to distinguish it from other sexually explicit work.  An approach that simultaneously elevates and demeans sexually explicit work in general by suggesting only certain 'special' forms are artistic, moral or otherwise acceptable, while others (and perhaps sex itself) remains generally shameful.

Of course when you look at the full range of sexualized material out there it is hard not to feel that some of it is in fact shameful.  But I would strongly suggest that the shameful quality is not sex itself.  Even the US supreme court recognizes that an interest in sex per se is healthy and not obscene.  So any material we wish to argue is objectionable it must be on some other basis (the possibilities being too complex and fraught to get into here). 

In other circles the goal of the definition of 'erotica' is quite different such as in the paper cited above which looks at any materials that may influence a person with a predisposition to sexual violence to develop and perhaps act on those fantasies.  A categorization that explicitly does not depend on the intent of the creator of the material or its effects on a psychologically normal person.  And as such leads to a very broad definition indeed.

Both of these definitions of erotica serve the purposes for which they are created.  One to help people identify when sex offenders are in possession of material that may feed into dangerous fantasies, and the other to help writers described a "good" type of sexually explicit prose.  But both of these definitions are built on complex assumptions about how these materials interact with the psyche of the people consuming them--assumptions that should not go unexamined.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Copyright

Leaks surround this new trade deal have shown that there will be some significant effects on copyright with impacts on creative professionals and consumers.  Effectively this deal with make the eleven other nations* in the new zone align with US copyright laws. 

Previously these nations differed in some significant ways. For example in New Zealand and India copyright extended 50 years past the life the artist rather than the US/DMCA's 70 years. (Japan did not pass this aspect of the agreement.)

Some countries held out on other points, for example to get a webhost must take down potentially copyright-infringing material upon receipt of a simple notice from the rights holder in the US, but this will still require a judicial order in Chile.

Other nations already well-aligned with the United States, such as Australia, will not experience any changes in the handling of copyright.

Overall synchronizing approaches to copyright and data handing should add the free trade of works including e-books, to the overall benefit of the industry.  However authors and publishers affected will need to brush up on the new rules when they come into force in their jurisdiction.

* Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore & Vietnam

Sunday, October 04, 2015

MARKET Luminosity Publishing


Luminosity Publishing is an erotic romance publisher looking for fast-paced romance at 10,000 -- 100,000 words.  

Thursday, October 01, 2015

MARKET: Fireborn Publishing

Fireborn Publishing is seeking "everything from romantic, through all heat levels of romance, and erotica."  The take lengths from 5000 words and up. Currently short on M/M ad ménage, The current site seems to be a bit of a placeholder, hence the Web 1.0 coding.

MARKET Adore Publishing

Adore Publishing is seeking "urban fiction, African American romance, street lit, woman's fiction, and interracial romance". Their website does not exactly fill me with confidence. I am going to guess the two owners of this startup are also the two authors they currently list.

Spero Publishing acquired Eternal Press and Damnation Books

In a move that came to a surprise to many of their authors, Eternal Press/Damnation Books and all titles under contract have reported been acquired by Alan Leddon of Spero Publishing.  At least some of the related announcements for and communications with authors are occurring on their Facebook page.

Spero Publishing seems to be a small publisher of children's and role-playing game books.  There is not much to suggest an ability to easily onboard and skillfully market a large catalog of genre fiction.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Do Third Party Sellers Deliberately Create Duplicate Listings on Amazon?

I keep noticing duplicate listings for my books on Amazon.  Only the paperback format, and marked "This item is only available from third-party sellers."  And listed by a single third party seller at an inflated price.

It is no mystery how the duplicate listing is created.  Even a small difference in just the title of the data entered will create a separate listing, not connected to the real listing where customers can by the book new and at list price. In these cases the new listing is generally created by putting brackets around the title. 

This as now happened often enough that I think it is a deliberate tactic by these sellers to avoid having to compete directly with the properly priced books.  Even if their listing gets much less traffic it has some chance of winning them the sale.

I keep reporting these listings, some of which now incorrectly say my titles are out of print.  But it seems to take careful explanations to several tiers of customer service every single time.  Amazon is quick to crack down on a lot of things, currently deleting reviews on the east suspicion of impropriety, but how long will it take them to catch on to this little scheme?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Erotic Poetry Open Calls (2015)

October 1st: Coming Together: In Verse is a collection of erotic poetry and risqué verse edited by Ashley R Lister. Sales proceeds benefit Hope for Paws.

September 15th: Bare Back Magazine is planning its first anthology in celebration of its 10th anniversary of publishing erotic stories, poetry, reviews, art and news online.

Open: Clean Sheets (unpaid) Poems on a broad range of erotic themes. We are interested in provocative poems about all types of lifestyles and cultural perspectives, all forms of sexual play, and insights on the nature of eroticism.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Pony Play Goes Mainstream (?)

As self-publishing and e-publishing become more accessible, a number of niche markets are becoming more visible online.  One of them being pony play, an equine role-play fetish that the informed eye sees glimpses of in sundry places like Madonna concerts and couture fashion shoes.  But the literary aspect of pony play has recently begun moving from underground to overt.

Works could be found where people literal turned horses fell in love in that form (Wind in Cairo, 1989).  And even collections like  Donna Barr's "Transformations" (Lulu, 2006) which focus on becoming a horse (or horse-like) as a distinct fetish interest.

However it is only more recently that works like the Victorian-era Copper Horse series by Miss Merikan have appeared on Amazon (See more examples here). If earlier prose works of equine roleplay exist, they must be from the ephemeral world of direct order erotica, and no obvious record remains.

Many mainstream works of pony play display intricate work building to make the fetish elements of being a human pony a natural part of the social order, often by using a historical setting where considerable imbalances of powers existed between people based on race or class. A rather perilous path that these earlier authors have negotiated skillfully (but less nuanced works are likely to follow).

A kink that was fading into obscurity is finding a new and more diverse audience through writing that blends the fetish core of the pony play concept with worlds where the more ridiculous aspects of its "reality" are buffed beautifully away.

Eventually we will probably see the mainstream media suddenly "discover" this modern trend that has it roots firmly planted in 100 years of kinky history.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Nine Star Press / Valentines Open Call

Nine Star Press is launching in November of this year (2015). They are seeking "LGBTQA romance fiction, literary novels, and erotica shorts."  They have a special call for Valentine’s Day 2016 stories.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Bizarro Kindlerotica


I think there is now official a growing literary love child between erotica and bizarro fiction.  Bizarro fiction has often included erotic elements but in  fairly haphazard way. 

Now it seem that as erotica grew beyond the tamer paranormal options and tentacles into Bigfoot, Dinosaurs and other monsters some writers have embraced the goal of brining erotica the most unlikely figures you could imagine.


Clippy the Microsoft Office animated assistance, the late President Lincoln, the MacDonald's Hamburglar... they all star in erotic ebooks available on Amazon. And Leonard Delaney is the crown Prince of Bizarro Kindlerotica land.

Bizarro Kindlerotica finally reach a place even I find rather dubious (aesthetical and legally) with author Lilith St. Augustine and the story Kim Goes To Jail: An Erotic Story--a transparent reference to county clerk Kim Davis.  (With a blurb clearly trying to shelter under the category of satire.)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Harlequin Wine

As Jezebel reports, Harlequin is bringing out wine under labels based on their earliest pre-category covers. No doubt a way to monetize and reinforce some romance genre clichés, without having to worry about paying a dime to the authors or illustrators from the original book.



And as for the advertising slogans.  Um, yeah.  That's not actually very romantic at all IMHO.  More sort of literally objectifying and all three advertisements clearly position the consumer as male. 



Of course if someone wanted to send me some Vintages by Harlequin I would not be above trying them out.  But when it comes to parting with my own money, I will wait and see what the Amazon reviews say first... and they would have to be pretty damn good to get part an advertising campaign that also seems strikingly "vintage", and not in a good way.





See also:

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Secret Cravings Publishing closed

Secret Cravings Publishing, closed 8/31, reportedly due to bankruptcy. Which is pretty much the worst kind of bad news for authors as it ties up their books for a long time and puts them right at the end of the queue as creditors.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Will there ever be a single 'go to' Romance Community? (And which ones do you use?)

Today Diversion Publishing launched a new online romance community.  What the press release lacks is a link to said community, it can be found here. It is meant to be "publisher neutral" and this is reasonably plausible in that Diversion's Ever After Division was been an e-bookstore and services provider, but never home to their own romance titles.

To my eyes the new community website looks deressingly pink, girly, sweaty-torso-ed and... well like a blog.Because,,.  It's a blog. Right? Damn it, I have fallen for another Press Release Puff Job.

Which is a pity because I do think there is a bit of a hole in Romanceandia where a real pan-romance site with forums, wikis, resources etc could fit in.  One is mainstream and business-like, and that swerves around the kitschy low tech populism of the Romantic Times forum, the cloying insularity of Romance Diva's, the dated fading charm of All About Romance....

Or a I being too harsh?  Which romance community sites do you use?  Which would you recommend?

Monday, August 24, 2015

When is a book not a book? (for GST & VAT)

Photo credit: Roberto_Ventre / Foter / CC BY-SA
Australia has just followed the United Kingdom in explicitly not exempting imported e-books or audio-books from goods and services tax (GST).  In both countries conventional hardback and paperback books are exempt from tax as being "activities in the public interest". 

The double standard is fairly obvious. It is based on "intangibility" of format, not the actual function or benefit of the product. It is easier to scrape all digital products together and make a money-grab than uphold the principle of fair and responsible taxation that focuses on the benefits society as a whole.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Chicago Teachers Union struggles with the concept of "fiction".

Apparently mistaking BDSM kindle erotica for a hard-hitting [pun intended] documentary, the Chicago Teachers Union is reportedly trying to get "The Teacher's Strike" by Gabby Matthews withdrawn from sale.

I am normally and ardent supporter of both teachers and unions, but in this case The Chicago Teacher Union needs to pull its head out of its collective ass. Pursuing this action will only promote the book and make the union look like humorless prudes with a very weak grasp of the civic principles that they are meant to be teaching to the nation's youth.

The Union hangs their case on the logo appearing on the teacher's shirt on the cover. However the author and publisher can probably easily hide behind the broad cover of parody and satire--if they even need to.


At the end of the day, this is fiction--not someone trying to cause confusion, disparage or divert money that would otherwise go into the union's coffers

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sexting is Good

garryknight / Foter / CC BY
A press release starts with the usual negative tone:

"The practice of sexting may be more common than generally thought among adults. More than eight out of 10 people surveyed online admitted to sexting in the prior year, according to research presented at the American Psychological Association’s 123rd Annual Convention."

I mean how often is the word "admitted" used in relation to good things, or even neutral ones?  But then the actual results of the research are described:

"...the researchers found that greater levels of sexting were associated with greater sexual satisfaction, especially for those in a relationship ... The researchers also found that greater levels of sexting were associated with relationship satisfaction for all but those who identified their relationship as “very committed." 

So, sexting people are more committed to their partners and more happy with their sex life. 

Sunday, August 09, 2015

MARKET Nightchaser Ink

Nightchaser Ink is seeking submissions in several genres including romance and erotica.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Why Romance Covers Look So Formulaic

A recent article by An Goris is either rather clever, or a very complicated way of stating the obvious.  I'll let you decide.  You can read the whole thing here.*

Goris describes how romance covers are deliberately made to look superficially the same to the general public (e.g. semi-naked clinch) but include subtle differences that romance readers can decode (e.g. gal in leather pants means paranormal). (A "double semiotic code")

She goes on to say how the generic features are necessary for non-romance readers to distribute, acquire and generally support the delivery of romance from the people who make it to those who read it, by those who don't give a crap about it.  And these cues have to be very unsubtle because romance fiction is sold not only in bookstores but a wide variety of other general retailers.

Because these deliverers of product are not interested in, or educated about, genre romance the cover art has to be very uniform and overt for them to get the message. And this in turn creates and reinforces the general impression of romance as "...formulaic, overly sexualized and more than a little ridiculous" and gives an impression of low quality** assembly line production. Especially as non-romance readers are not able to decode the subtle variations that indicate what is distinctive about each title.

So basically the argument is that the clichéd and repetitive part of romance covers that the general public disdain, are made that way because the general public does not understand anything more subtle--and romance fiction requires these people to understand how to transport, stock and sell it.  While romance readers benefit from the publishers ability to encode nuanced detail on top of this standard template.

Or as this is phrased in academic-speak***: "...far from being a random or coincidental effect, this semiotic pattern is a deliberate strategy ... public intelligibility of its material code is an important consideration for a book that circulates in a wide variety of cultural and commercial spaces..."


* "Hidden Codes of Love: The Materiality of the Category Romance Novel" by An Goris
** See: Romance, gender, and the measure of a 'real book'
*** (Because while romance needs to be easily recognized to be effectively traded, academia only respects maximally pretentious phraseology.)

Friday, July 31, 2015

Gemstone Romance backer Graeme Reynolds believes in the author blacklist

The idea that authors can get blacklisted for sharing their thoughts online is generally treated as a myth.  But it does serve a useful purpose in that you sometimes find small presses, usually start ups, who do believe in it.  And these are publishers to avoid.

Case in point, Gemstone Romance

A poster by the name of Anne noted that "Horrified Press" was not looking particularly promising as "newish startup without publishing/editing experience".  And that they seemed to be associated with another startup, Gemstone Romance.

Graeme Reynolds replied with more information about Horrified press and "Gemstone Romance is a separate entity, which I am funding and am applying the Horrific Tales business model to, but is being run by Charlotte Courtney. I am simply providing financial, technical and business support to the venture. It will use a different editorial team..."

He then added: "Also, a word of advice to Anne, who wrote this post. Probably not the best move to make when trying to get business from a publisher. Consider yourself off the shortlist for Gemstone Romance. Best of luck in whatever you do next."

Which both seriously undermines his claim of total editorial independence between Horrified and Gemstone, and is some grade-A unprofessional passive aggressive bullshit. Time will tell if he decides to try and backfill that hole or just keeps digging.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

...Of The Moon

The  Wild Webby West that is Amazon Kindle has brought us bigfoot erotica, dinosaur erotica, and even Clippy (the Microsoft Office animated assistant) erotica. 

But I still found myself just mildly scandalized by the trilogy-closing effort by Catherine De Vore.  Can anyone beat this (so to speak) for a seriously out there kindlerotica cover?



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New Market (sort of): Canelo

UK-based epublisher Canelo is looking for stories with "mass appeal" in several genres including romance. The founding partners are Iain Millar, Michael Bhaskar and Nick Barreto. They claim a royalty rate of 50-60 percent which I assume to mean percent of cover price. (Submissions via agent).

Comments on articles about Canelo seem to be about 1/2 skepticism about that royalty rate being sustainable, and about half other epublishers saying they have been offering rates that good for years and it is totally no big deal. (See here and here).

Canelo talk big about being the future of publishing, the next generation of digital publishing, blah blah blah.  It is a little hard to see what they are doing that is so distinctive so far other than being British men with nice hair.

NPR top 100 romance novels

Have I been living under a rock?

The NPR top 100 list for romance includes three erotic romance titles, two of them from Ellora's Cave, and none of them familiar to me. They seem to be neither old classics nor recent red-hot sellers.

Nature of Desire -- Natural Law by Joey W. Hill (Ellora's Cave, 2008)
Liberating Lacey by Anne Calhoun (Ellora's Cave, 2015)
The Lady's Tutor by Robin Schone (Kensington, 2000)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sugar and Spice Press: Closed (?)

I am told that Sugar and Spice Press (2010-2011) is closed and has been for some time, although their website and Facebook page are still up (but extremely out of date). Confirmation would be appreciated.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The John Havel Thing

World of Kindle eBooks
[July 20] John Havel tries to prove some really rather nebulous point by plagiarizing a romance novel and uploading it to kindle, and then posts about it on Hustle in a crass and insulting way. He concludes that because he managed to rip off Anna Cleary, Kindle is bad an you shouldn't buy self-published books.

Reactions to John Havel’s article in The Hustle[July 22]
Various people, including the author of the book, indicate this was a dumbass move.  Because, well, it was.  Seriously what was the point here?

Dear John, pull your head in.  Kindle is sometimes a bit lax in their screening but you actually committed a crime. Grow the fuck up and take down the post where you joke and boast about it whilst also being casually racist and very condescending to the romance genre.

Dear Hustle, what next?  Perhaps a laddish tale of stealing cars because security systems suck?  A little light sharking, just for fun?  Or maybe hire some bloggers who know that ignorance of the law is, as has always been the case, not an excuse. Although this may be one case of plagiarism where I actually believe the guy really is that stupid.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Old is the New New

I will admit to being a bit baffled by the latest campaign to promote traditional newspapers.  "Smart is the New Sexy". Mostly because this is not the 1980s and this particular campaign is about 35-years shy of being hipster ironic.

When I saw it my thoughts, in order, were:

1) Sexy is the new sexy.  Sexy was the old sexy.  Sexy will always be sexy unless you somehow think there is anything wrong with just plain sexy, meaning it needs to be replaced with something else.

2) I like newspapers.  I read newspapers.  I read the New York Times in an airport just yesterday.  But this is nothing that makes words in the average newspaper smarter than words in a magazine or on a website.  In fact on the previous flight I picked up two competing Chicago papers and at least three of the front page stories were word-for-word, picture-for-picture identical.  Freelancers may be smart, but newspapers are starting to look pretty damn idiotic.

3) Lets pair our product with a girl in stiletto heels so it becomes insta-sexy.  Um. Yeah.  Is that the nest advertising companies can come up with these days? Then there is the ad copy. Holy fricking jalapeno Christ.  Try this: "When you want to find out what they're talking about in Washington, D.C., or find the best deal on that pair of shoes you've been longing for, your newspaper has you covered."  This translates as: we desperately want readers in the female 25-45 demographic and we think they like shoes.

5) Then there is the main blurb: "The "Smart is the new sexy" industry promotion ads reinforce the value of newspaper media to existing and prospective consumers. The ads speak to the timeless merits of newspaper journalism, newspapers as vehicles for savvy shoppers, and the community insights and information that newspapers provide. Collectively, they reinforce the enduring draw of our medium among print audiences while engaging those consumers who come to newspapers through their many digital formats. All advertising materials are still available to newspapers that wish to run them in print or online. Interested newspapers may download print and digital files for each ad using the image buttons on the right rail."   This translates as: You think the Newspaper Association of America is naff, and you're probably right.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bonnier buys Totally Entwined Group

It seems that the authors at Totally Bound and the other imprints learned about this at about the same time as the rest of us, albeit through the nicety of a direct email.

"Bonnier is acquiring the whole company and its imprints Totally Bound Publishing (romance), Pride Publishing (LGBTQI fiction), Finch Books (YA), Evidence Press (crime and thriller) and Celebritease (celebrity authors)."

So, from proliferating imprints like a crazed hydra, to being sold on lock-stock-and-barrel in a matter of months?  One wonders what that is all about. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Amazon right now

The publisher formerly known as...

In a strategy that makes little sense unless one is trying to out run and hide from.... something, Mystic Press / Phoenix Fire Publishing / Dark Storm Publications is now apparently Demons and Deities Publications.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Red Feather Romance

Freebooksy thinks they have an even better service for erotic romance readers than an email full of free books.  An email full or non-free erotic romance books that is "a discrete way to discover books that you'll love".

Ah, that classic combination of suggesting erotica is shameful and selecting the wrong homonym.  Unless the problem with other book promotion services was their hopelessly conjoined and non-detached nature.

Anyway, it's called Red Feather Romance.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Loose Id PR Misfire

cpence / Foter / CC BY-SA
At this stage in my life I am not writing a great deal, for the happy reason that my career is going rather well and taking up a lot of my time.  But I continue to write the occasional story (mostly for Loose Id, as it happens) and am active as a blogger, reviewer and general busybody.

As part of this I have dealt with the ongoing ambiguities and conflicts of interest that come from both creating fiction, and publicly critiquing it.  I won't pretend that is always straightforward, and I now operate a second pen name for some of my published reviews which is a questionable solution at best.

On the other hand, having on foot in each camp does mean I will probably not develop the kind of catastrophic tunnel vision that a staff member at Loose Id demonstrated in their correspondence with the reviewer Mistress M.

It is not only "entirely possible" that any given reviewer purchased their own copy of a book, it must be assumed at all times unless there is actual evidence to the contrary. On top of that, the publisher is simply not entitled to request changes to a review, even if that review consists entirely of incomprehensible gibberish and emoticons of bondage wombats.  The content of the review is utterly and completely out of their hands.  At the very most, direct technical corrections (such as about the length of the story and stated facts within the text) might be offered in the spirit of helpfulness.

And suggestions, no matter how coyly phrased, that one might have used a pirated copy, be bigoted towards the mentally ill, and be pursuing a personal vendetta against the author is indeed a goddam complaint, not matter how you disclaim it.

Choosing to fire such a missive of to Mistress M, who clearly has no fucks to give, was just the coup de grace on this massive miscalculation.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

You need to customise these things.

Lucia Whittaker / Foter / CC BY
In my inbox today I found a string of emails with the identical subject line.

"I Need Your Support. I Have Just Launched A New Book. Let me know whether you are interested in reviewing my book."

Whoever out there is teaching this book reviewer pick up line probably did not expect their students to be quite so literal.  It is like showing someone an example of how to fill out a form by writing "your name here" only to have them dutifully copy down those exact words. Not that I think this is a great subject line for a review solicitation in the first place, but after the fiftieth repetition is quickly became a basis for auto-rejection.

Inside the email each of them dutifully copies, sometimes with minor variations but often word-for-word, the rest of the text. "I hope you are doing great. I have got your email address from Amazon Reviewer Page..."  Later on there is a sentence: "The main theme of the book is..." which many leave with an open ellipsis, stumped by the heavy task of creating a whole original half sentence describing what their book is actually about.


Any author who would copy and use, verbatim and uncorrected, such nonsensical form letter is not someone I would trust to write a book worth reading.  I only hope they did not spend actual money to be taught how to alienate potential book reviewers in one easy step. It may be a pain to write your own solicitation, but if you a trying to sell someone on your talent as an author this is one chore you need to undertake yourself.

Monday, April 06, 2015

MARKET: Steam Romance

Steam Romance is a new imprint for erotica, romance, or some combination thereof. One of the types of fiction they are looking for is described as "for men". Their definitions for romance and erotica, respectively, could best be described as... muddled.  I am wondering if this is a bandwagon imprint, looking to cash in on the sexy book trend?

Steam is described as an imprint of Kennebec Publishing.  While steam specifies that authors "pay nothing", Kennebec offers "services" including the offer to "work with your writing, hire ghost writers, or write on your behalf"-- whch does not sound entirely free to me.Only their other imprint "Prepper Press" has actual books listed on the website.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Market: Beau Coup Publishing

Beau Coup is an all-genre romance-focused publisher.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mystic Press Re-Reborn

Mystic Press became Rogue Phoenix and has now morphed into Dark Storm Publications. This seems to be a shell game rather than any actual change.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Blame-O-rama

Small businesses fail all the time, that is just a fact or life. But if it has to happen that is a virtue in doing it with dignity. 

And not, for example, going down in a cloud of recriminations blaming self-publishing authors for "cluttering up search engines" or churning out “unedited slush piles” (while simultaneously saying your downfall is due to Amazon discriminating against small presses [?] )

IMHO whether you make bagels, bangles or books if you cannot outperform a one person producer or the mass of eager amateurs, you are the one doing something wrong--not them.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Storm Moon press "downsizing"

Posted on the Absolute Write forums: "The press has downsized greatly, so apart from a couple ongoing projects that we already have contracted in our queue and our open anthology calls, we are closed to submissions."

Friday, March 13, 2015

Facebook: Are Groups the New Pages?

Photo credit: dkalo / Foter / CC BY-SA
As you probably know by now., if you start a Facebook Page for your pen name, book or series, most of your posts will be hidden from you followers by Facebook's give-us-all-your-money algorithm.

However the algorithm is not in force for posts made to Facebook Groups. Groups can be about any topic, are easily found via search, and have many of the features of Pages plus some handy dandy administrator/moderator tools. 

Seems like a good solution? Has anyone tried it?

Google Exposes Anonymous Bloggers

Many people who register their domain through Google, and anonymize it with Enom, had their full name and address exposed for a short period after this year's renewal.  ZDnet reports that a flaw effecting 280,000 users lead to their domain being renewed, but not their Enom -- so their legal name and address was listed in the public WHOIS data.

Google's official letter described this as only effecting "a portion" of users.  Well, I suppose 94% is technically "a portion".

On the up side, hardly anyone noticed this even during the six days the privacy setting were not in force and effected users got a free year of registration. But that will be small compensation to any user who suffer serious consequences from being exposed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Romances Someone Should Write: Designated Survivor

Romances Someone Should Write--a chance to describe that book you could never write yourself, but somebody out there should.

Designated Survivor (romantic suspense)

As Secretary of Agriculture, brilliant but humorless 82-year-old Porsche Smith-Barton is not especially effective and not particularly well liked. What she is, is a survivor. That may be why the President, as a joke, chooses her to be the senior politician sent outside of DC during the State of the Union address; the 'designated survivor' in the unlikely circumstance of every senior politician being killed while attending the speech. A security escort accompanies Porsche on a trip to rural Missouri to have dinner with her ex-husband Frank "Fatty" Barton, an irreverent cattle rancher who understands Porsche no better now than he did when the married sixty years ago, or when they and divorced ten years after that.  That evening they are watching the speech on TV while eating some excellent steaks when the largest conventional bomb ever detonated on Earth destroys the entire metropolitan DC area.  Porsche Smith Barton has just become President of the United States, and the only person she can even halfway trust to help her is Frank Barton. Porsche's job is to keep body and soul together while leading America through some of the darkest days it will ever face, and Frank's is to throw everything he has into the unexpected role of first (ex-)husband.  Because if this unlikely couple cannot learn to pull together, the entire nation may fall apart.

Send your own "Romance Someone Should Write" to veinglory@gmail.com, cross-posting on your own blog very much permitted and I will link back.

Not Your Everyday Rights Grab

An amusing article from Boing Boing describes an unusual attempt to grab rights for images and onions... about an apartment. Most authors might be used to carefully scanning a contract for rights grabs over unrelated material, but would you every think you needed to look for this in a lease?

The lease to the Windermere Cay apartment transfers copyrights of any text or images the residents might create that are about the apartment complex to the owner of the complex, with the intend of having anything "negative" removed from any public site under the DMCA. Oh, and there is a fine of thousands of dollars attached as well.

Thus leading one naturally to suspect that the apartment complex must be horrendous in pretty much every way to require such draconian "reputation management". A tactic that is already backfiring badly on apartment review sites.

See also: Huffington Post

Sunday, March 08, 2015

A Shade Too Far

Author Stephanie Dray recently issued an apology, as did Laura Kaye, over comments relating to the known sexual contact between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, a slave and minor child.

As authors we enjoy the privilege of writing about whatever feel moved to. And as writers of erotica and erotic romance we have probably become rather used to our genre being the butt of jokes and "50 Shades" of this and that being tittered about all over the media and social media. But to extend these jokes to the idea of "hilarious"  BDSM/historical mashups and to the very real experience of Sally Hemings and her children who lived and died as slaves, including sexual slavery.....

Well, it reminds us all that some things are not all that funny and will no doubt cast a very long shadow over Ms Dray's actual historical novel about one of Jefferson's children with his legal wife. Especially as Kaye chose to explicitly mention that book by name in the midst of her apology, thus cementing the connection between joking about child rape and the release of this book for some time to come.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Okay, Inkspell

...in the guidelines for your Passion imprint, what exactly does this mean:

"Steamy sex but not erotic (ménage, m/m, etc.)"

I am not sure what is worse, saying heterosexually it not erotica, or that homosexuality is never steamy.  Like gay people don't kiss under the mistletoe and hold hands in the street--they go straight from "hi, my name is Sam", to bend over while I fist you with a cantaloupe.

Orientation and levels of graphic/explicit depiction are independent factors.  If you are not interested in same sex romance submission, just say so.  Don't imply that it is because they are too extreme.

Blogger/Blogspot Bans "Graphic Nudity"

Image: pecanpleguy
Erotic romance authors using Blogger (which is the host of this blog) need to keep a very close eye on recent development.  Google has updated their policy on this platform.

Specifically you may not show: "...images and video that are sexually explicit or show graphic nudity on Blogger."

If your blog contains such material and it is not removed, you blog will be made your blog will be made private after March 23, 2015.

As usual this leave open the question of just what constitutes graphic nudity, but those wish to remain with Blogger would be well-advised to err on the side of caution.

See Also:

Friday, February 20, 2015

Musa Closing

There are multiple reports that Musa Publishing has announced that it will be closing.

I will update when there is more information.

See also: