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 My dataset is mondo out-of-date so I have no data to refer to.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.