Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Judging the Unclean: Brockmann, Taylor, and RWA's Dirty Laundry

Suzanne Brockmann used her acceptance speech for a RWA lifetime achievement award to make a strong statement about how RWA--and to some extent the romance genre in general--has struggled with diversity issues a.k.a. displayed institutional bigotry.

Most responders were supportive or neutral with the notable exception of Clean Reads Publishing's Stephanie Taylor who was scathing about Brockmann choosing to "make it political".

 Mind you, this is from the owner of a publishing company whose main self-chosen descriptor on Twitter is "Clean Reads is an independent, conservative publisher." So apparently the idea of mixing publishing and politics is only offensive if you are being pro-gay rather than anti-gay. 

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Called For Submissions: Rule 34

Editor: Zak Jane Keir
Submission Deadline: Midnight (UTC+1), 31 August 2018
Word Count: 3000-5000
Payment: 50% royalties split equally among participating authors
Enquiries: Sexy Little Pages

RULE 34 Weird and Wonderful Fetish Erotica Volume 2
#internet rule 34. Top Definition. Rule 34. Generally accepted internet rule that states that pornography or sexually related material exists for any conceivable subject.
Zak Jane Keir is putting together a second volume of erotica celebrating the niche, the unusual and the thoroughly strange. Have a fetish for sneezing, farting, thunderstorms? Find a man wearing socks with sandals irresistible? Write a story about it and send it in. Last year’s collection included tales of erotic encounters involving arson, photocopiers, cake frosting, church bells, a dominant dentist, a life-size skeleton… and tripe. Let your imagination loose and see if you can outdo the previous authors. While stories may be bittersweet and neither HEA nor HFN is mandatory, keep it sex-positive please; no kink-shaming.

Pairings – absolutely any, including person/object rather than person/partner. Straight, gay, group, open to offers…
Heat level – up to you.
Settings – contemporary/realistic preferred but historical/paranormal/sci-fi will be considered.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Stormy Night Publications

"Stormy Night Publications was established by Korey Mae and James Johnson with the goal of providing a highly author-centric publisher for spanking and BDSM romance and erotica titles."

Their first blog post dates from 2012, they were apparently formally established in 2015, and still seem to be going strong.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Royalty Publishing House
"Royalty Publishing House is now accepting manuscripts from aspiring or experienced urban romance authors"

Imprint: Curvy Girl Publications
"Curvy Girl Publications is all about the love of Big Beautiful Woman/Plus Size romance novels. We want to share our stories about sexy curvy girls and alpha males and just have fun with the genre! We are accepting submissions in the following categories of BBW & African American Romance."

In defense of "Guilty Pleasures"

It seems like a lot of stuff women say is now stuff women shouldn't say.  Using polite language makes you seem apologetic, 'vocal fry' makes you sound weak, and God forbid you mention a "guilty pleasure".  Because nothing a nurtures a strong, confident woman more than shaming them for every aspect of the way they speak and express themselves.

I am all for avoiding language that attacks or belittles others, but this hegemonic cringing about how our every word reflects our ego-strength and feminist credentials needs to stop.  If the idea is that a woman saying reading romance is a "guilt pleasure" actually means she feels ashamed of it--well time to stop being so absu-fucking-lutely literal.

A "guilty pleasure" is widely understood to be a hedonistic activity outside of your larger plan to achieve something worthy but probably dull.  The donut in the diet; the iPad that could have been a mortgage payment, the detour into entertainment rather than education or a good nights sleep.

People who speak about guilt pleasures are not actually saying they are doing something bad that they would prefer not to do, they are saying that they are being mindfully moderate in their pursuit of something that gets it's value from a domain other than pure enjoyment.  It's a turn of phrase, and people acting like it is some kind of sin are really completely missing the point.

See also:

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Daily Fail gives Cocky Author the Last Word

"A cock in search of food the dunghill tries..."

The good news is that the word "cocky" has been freed with the associated trademark being abandoned. True to form Faleena Hopkins exited using Jennifer Smith at the Daily Mail as an obvious mouthpiece.  She announced the end of the dispute in an article where she reiterated her usual nonsense, namely that she was just a poor wildly successful author trying to protect her brand from a marauding band of copycat bullies led by Tara Crescent. The comments make for better, and more informative, reading than the article.

"Implied Nudity"

The latest platform cracking down on erotic material is Patreon which has expanded banned material in the public pages to "implied nudity".

This is apparently a known term in photography circles, referring to any photo where the state or dress or undress of the model is unclear, no typically forbidden parts are visible, but the the model certainly could be naked.

While Steam seems to suffer more from direct lobbying, Patreon is feeling the lash from famously prudish payment processors like Paypal--but the results are similarly ludicrous.  Censorship based on the parts of the picture filled in by the viewer's mind.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Obscenity: The Invisible Line

Many publishers and retailers have a vague and unhelpful definition of material deemed too offensive to sell.  Amazon for example says: "What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect."  As if it has even been easy to know what people--or the hypothetical average person--would, should, or would publicly claim to find offensive.

The lack of specificity has a purpose, it prevents rules-lawyers from engineering their material to comply while still including material likely to outrage customers or potentially lead to an obscenity lawsuit.  But the vagueness that baffles the scammers is equally confusing to honest content providers and sometime the retailers own staff.

The most recent example is the leading distributor of online games, Steam, which issued and then retracted notices that certain games were overly pornographic. A few days later Steam leadership seemed to indicated that they would take a step back from blocking pornographic content at all.

This whole issue, be it one Steam, or Amazon, or a high end art gallery, hangs on the US definition of obscenity and pornography which on one hand states that interest in sex itself is not obscene but on the other has only a handful of precedents to say what material does cross the line and so is illegal to distribute.

In reality US mainstream culture predominantly continues to consider sexually explicit content itself morally unacceptable, and most companies seem to want to abdicate from the responsibility of preventing access by minors or dealing with push-back religious customers and lobby groups. These lobby groups who obscure their goal to suppress all sexually-explicit entertainment on the basis of their own religious morality under names such as the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (formally "Morality in Media).

Sexually explicit content is not an easy subject for creators and distributors to deal with.  The unanswered question remains--will it be managed based on evidence and a secular ethical-legal frame work, or from a messy tug-of-war between religious extremists and rampant capitalism that disregards the risks of promoting extreme material even to children.  Companies like Steam need to decide what they actually believe in and hold that line, not just surrender to whatever group is currently complaining the loudest.