Saturday, May 18, 2013

If Ranting Is What Works

If you’re a romance and/or erotica author with a Twitter feed that you’ve looked at more than once over the past couple of days then you’re likely to have seen people discussing some author moves that seem – when looked at with a skeptical eye and then passing that skeptical eye over to the Amazon rankings – a little suspect. The words ‘publicity stunt’ got tossed around and it’s hard to disagree with those voices. I won’t mention the authors here; I don’t know them, I’d never heard of them before this weekend, I’ve never read their books and I have no idea if the books are good, the voices are valid or what their motivations are. But for a new-ish author with a book she’s really proud of that’s doing alright but hardly burning it up the Kindle charts, it’s hard not to feel defeated.

I’d taken to Twitter and Facebook to say, can’t we just write good books, put them out there and hope for the best? But really, that answer is naïve. Every author knows that you have to do some degree of promotion and, unless you’re in the upper echelons of writer fame, that promotion falls almost entirely on the author’s own shoulders.

So no, an author cannot just write her book and hope for the best. She must promote it. But the question is how? How to promote? And it seems that at least two writers this weekend, either intentionally or not, have stumbled upon a good way. Put a rant up on a blog… and then watch the fallout ensue and your sales rise.

It is all well and good for me to stick my nose in the air, call myself an artiste and say I do it all for the sake of art and don’t care about the money. But first, I don’t know that I’d deign to call my work art. That seems really egotistical. I don’t know if it’s art, I just know I like it, that I strove to make it the best it could be and hoped others would find enjoyment from reading it. Second – and not to get too Les Mis on you – there are indeed children at home and the children have got to be fed. I’m not above a little hype if it’s gonna mean the hours I spent on my book are going to pay off.

But the truth is, I just can’t bring myself to fake something. And I’m not bashing those who did, if that was indeed their angle. It’s brilliance in its own way, if annoying to the rest of us. I am just really enjoying living my life as truthfully as possible. So I can’t.

Here’s my truth. I wrote a book. It’s called For Her Pleasure. It’s as dirty and depraved and funny and smutty and well edited and well written as I could possibly make it. I had a blast writing it. It was a total joy.

Should you buy it now because it will be gone tomorrow? No. Do I secretly hate you if you like it? Certainly not, quite the opposite.

Is this post going to stir things up in the blogosphere out there and boost my sales?? Probably not. But I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon… and give it a shot.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Words With Willsin

Hello all!

Through the wonders of social media, I've recently had the pleasure of getting to know the extremely charming and talented Mr Willsin Rowe. Willsin and I got to chatting about writing and as one of the few male erotica writers I know, I was really interested in his unique perspective. And I thought you might be too! So here is some of our conversation:

KC: So Willsin, you spoke recently about men being stereotypically visual creatures who lean more towards watching porn than reading about sex. And yet you are a man who not only reads it... you write it as well. What draws you to erotic fiction? What do you think reading about sex can bring someone that watching it cannot?

WR: Well, I'm certainly quite visual myself, of course. I'm still a dude. I'm definitely not averse to seeing images of beautiful bodies - male as well as female. If a bod is hot, it's hot. It doesn't need to be about sex.

But where bog-standard porn falls short for me is in its harshness. I like nothing more than characters who connect with each other before anything physical happens. The kinds of scenes where there's an internal gravity that draws the characters into each other until the only possible outcome intense and passionate love-making.

Now of course, that kind of thing can be achieved in a visual medium. It's just that movies most often fall short of that poignant beauty - at least for my tastes.

The other factor is that I've been in love with words, both as a reader and a writer, since I was six years old. So combining words with sex? That's just perfect!

KC: You are a kindred spirit! I agree with you on all fronts but particularly about being in love with words. More than that, I love when words fit together in a beautiful way and I love and feel intensely curious about the intricacies of sex. So yes, to combine words with sex, to describe a passionate sexual union in a detailed but melodious manner is my favourite writing thing to do!

WR: Mmm...the intricacies of sex. That's it in a nutshell! That's an enormous factor in why I choose to write erotic material.

Now, with romantic and erotic material, there's a tradition of strong and aloof male leads who gradually (and inevitably) open up for that one special lady. Men who dominate any room they enter, and the mere raise of an eyebrow evaporates every pair of panties in the place. Or some variation on that, anyway.

You, however, have written a story which turns that around: female domination. Women who command, men who obey. What is it about a powerful woman that clicks with you? And in turn, what makes a submissive man attractive?

KC: Ah yes, the aloof Dom. I get the allure, honestly, even if it’s cliché. It’s cliché for a
reason! It can be appealing. And to be honest, for most of my life I had indulged exclusively in submissive fantasies and my writing reflected that. So writing For Her Pleasure was a bit of a revelation. I didn’t know I could identify with a powerful Domme. What clicked with me? It was hugely freeing to write from a Domme perspective. In a lot of ways Mistress is opposite to my own nature so to step into her shoes – a woman who is completely self-assured, who is in complete control, who is totally comfortable giving orders and is always one step ahead – felt exciting and powerful and exhilarating. 

As for submissive men, this was another revelation to me. From an outside perspective it might seem that the attraction would be in having a man whom you can just order around to do whatever you want, to fulfill your every sexual whim or desire. That’s maybe partially it… but for me that’s not even half of the attraction. I think what’s important here is to make a distinction between ‘submissive’ and ‘weak.’ To me there is an ironic power in a man’s decision to submit to a woman. Most often our society seems to dictate that men should be in control. So for a man to – first of all, explore enough to realize he finds a sexual thrill in submitting – and then to indulge that desire, to me that is a man who is comfortable with his sexuality and his self-confidence, who understands himself and his passions and doesn’t care about what society dictates. That’s not weak. To me that’s brave and powerful and sexy.

But Willsin, you tell me, what do you like about powerful women? And what about submissive women? Do you have a preference for writing one or the other?

WR: Well, I find myself thinking about the whole nature of “power”. Throughout the history of literature (and, of course, the real world) there are stories of powerful men laid low by the love of women. Men who figuratively (and often literally) prostrate themselves – denigrate themselves, even – in front of the women they love. The whole “I’m not worthy” and “You’re too good for me” line of thinking. Of course, it’s debatable these days whether that’s natural behaviour or the result of watching too many romantic comedies.

It’s also debatable in those cases whether it’s the woman who has power over the man, or whether it’s the man’s own urges which lay him low.

But on to what I love about powerful women...

Firstly, with power comes at least the appearance of confidence. As a naturally reticent person, confidence has a great attraction to me. And its attraction comes in many forms. It could be the businesswoman in her mid-50s who has risen through the ranks on her own terms and without masculinising. It could be the size 16 woman who’s wearing figure-hugging lycra while she jogs down the street. Women who don’t take crap, who won’t play the victim, and who can admit their mistakes.

There’s a far more primal attraction to submissive women, though. There are evolutionary reasons why men are on average taller, heavier and stronger than women. And there’s a deep-down, primate part of a man’s brain that gets a real buzz from being the biggest, the fastest, the strongest. A submissive woman feeds that ancient animal. She tells him without words that he is in charge. He is the hunter and she is the cornered prey.

But I don’t specifically have a preference for writing one or the other. What really works for me is a strong combination of the two extremes, as Katie Salidas and I wrote in our “Consummate Therapy” series. Our heroine, Natasha Blakely, is an immensely powerful woman. A billionaire with her own empire, and with an addiction to coffee, cigarettes and pretty boy gigolos. Our Dom, Master Sweet, is charged with teaching her the value of submitting, of letting go of the reins sometimes, even if it’s only for an hour or two. Natasha’s internal struggle, and its outward manifestation of rebellion and pettiness, really clicked with me. And it was so much fun to write her in all her smart-mouthed bitchiness!

See what I mean, everyone? Willsin was so much fun to chat with. So much so that our chat didn't end there. Head on over to Willsin's blog here to see the rest of our convo. 

And guess what? The first book in Willsin's "Consummate Therapy" series is free right now! Click on the link and it can be heating up your ereader in mere moments. 

Of course my For Her Pleasure is still free in the UK and should also be free from Amazon US soon. You know I'll keep you posted.

Comments? You know where to put 'em.