Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Good Parts, Episode 13: Promotion for the Introvert

Hey, this month we're talking about promotion, what we're doing and what works and what's fun.

We've got promos for Cybrosis and Self Made.

Here's a purchase link for Ann's Second Sight.

EPIC Authors

Nude in SF

Download the episode here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Good Parts, episode 12: What We're Doing

This month, deep in the midst of NaNoWriMo, we're giving you a peek into what we're working on.

Ann plays some music she's been composing, and Nobilis and Helen read excerpts from their (very) rough draft works-in-progress.

See you next month with a somewhat more cogent show.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Good Parts, episode 11: The Third Person

Feedback this week comes from Ardor, in the form of a question about Gender Issues. We have a few things to say about that.

Then our main topic is National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo.

Nobilis is doing it.

Ann hates it.

Helen is subverting it.

Download the episode here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Good Parts, episode 10: The Third Person

This month we've got a special guest on The Good Parts, a fellow podcaster who goes by the name Remittance Girl.

First up, we get our first listener feedback! Terry Mixon over at the Dead Robots Society makes a comment about erotic romance novels that we address for a few minutes, and then we take on his topic suggestion for the rest of the episode.

Some of the stories we mention along the way:

Trapping a Duchess by Michele Bekemeyer

Demon by Day by Helen Madden

Black House by Stephen King

Promos for Goblin Market and Trapping a Duchess (see above)

You can download this episode here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Good Parts, Episode 9: Cover Art

This week, we're discussing the ins and outs of cover art.

Since Helen is a cover artist herself, she brings a great deal of light to the topic.

Along the way, we talk about a few covers we like, such as Messalina: Devourer of Men and Playing For Keeps.

We also talk about Erotica Cover Watch, where they want a few... well, maybe more than a few good men.

Helen points us to DAZ Studio and Terragen and Renderotica. Nobilis likes DeviantArt as well.

And we have a promo for Mur Lafferty's "I Should Be Writing" podcast which probably doesn't need a promo from us but she's just too awesome to leave out. Besides, we mentioned her book, so it's relevant, right?

Right?

You can download the episode here.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Good Parts, episode 8: Critiques

This week's episode is about requesting, making, receiving, and evaluating criticism.

We say lots of things (good and bad) about the Erotica Readers and Writers Association, and the critique mailing list there.

We also talk a lot about the close mutual-criticism relationship between Ann and Nobilis.

Towards the end, we mention some of the troubles Remittance Girl has had with criticism.

Nobilis can't seem to keep his foot out of his mouth, but is that really worth even mentioning?

You can download the episode here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Break the Rules

The rules that Helen presented are for newbies. Eventually, you need to start breaking them.

Especially:

5) Orgy scenes.

I recently started writing threesomes and moresomes. They're much more manageable once you've gotten the basics down, but before doing that, do some M/M or F/F scenes; you need to figure out how to write this kind of action when pronouns can't distinguish the participants.

6) All sex, no story... and no characterization and no setting. People, this is what sexual fantasies are for! Write me a story!

Write a hot fantasy. All sex, no story. The kind of thing that gets sent to "Penthouse Letters" and starts "I never thought something like this would ever happen to me..."

They're fun, and you can learn a lot about telling stories in the implications and margins rather than straightforwardly.

7) "Her mouth said no, but her body said yes." No means no, & rape is rape. Coerced sex is hard to make sexy. Not for beginning writers.

I've been dancing with non-consensual sex in a few stories lately. Not out-and-out rape but definitely people engaging in sex for reasons other than attraction to each other. People are complex.

9) Speaking of comedy, degradation isn't funny. If all partners aren't enjoying the scene, it's a fail.

See #7.

10) Writing m/m sex. I love m/m stories, but do your research. Gay men are not women with penises.

11) Writing f/f sex. Again, lesbians are not men without penises. People in the GLBT community are individuals, just like us!

The thing is, people are people first, and G/L/B/T second (if at all). I've seen F/F fiction, written by a lesbian, that looks like M/F fiction with the plumbing changed. People are complex and if your characters are complex people first, the individual twists that their sex lives take will be accepted by the reader.

13) Incest. Forbidden is hot, but don't let your hero have sex w/ a hot woman, only to find out she's his sister. It's a cheat.

Then again, there are hundreds of these stories on sites like literotica or storiesonline.

14) Anthropomorphics - if your character must get down and dirty with a real beast, that beast better be sentient & consenting (again, most publishers won't touch stories on bestiality and those that do may be courting legal trouble).

See #13

16) Sex in zero G! For every action, there is an equal & opposite reaction. Thrust into a partner in zero G. See what happens! (Hint: WHEEE! SPLAT!)

Yeah, I broke this one too. It was fun. Requires research, though.

So once you've got your chops, Break the Rules.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Good Parts, episode 7: The Seven Deadly Sins of Erotica Writing

In this episode, we bring up seven things beginning erotica authors really shouldn't do. It started with a list that Helen put together.

Some of which, we've done.

Specifically, writing a story where sex is used to seal diplomatic treaties with aliens; Helen's is here, and Nobilis put one here.

Anyways, this one has a bunch of little discussions.

Here's a link directly to the episode.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Good Parts, episode 6: Sex, Finally

We're seriously off-message this month. Totally pulling a Biden.

After mangling our way through the introductions, including talking about an article Ann wrote at ERWA and Nobilis's new website, we finally get down to talking about what we're all really here to talk about.

Sex.

How we're not getting any, how silly we feel sometimes, how silly or bad sex scenes belong in erotica sometimes, and then...

Happy endings.

Hate 'em.

Here's a link directly to the podcast file.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

It's not you, ever

I'm saying this as a writer with over three dozen published short stories, and as a one-time contest judge: it's never you. Ever.

Why do I say this? Because it's no skin off anyone's teeth to write a polite rejection slip. Going all Simon Cowell on someone takes more time than firing off an e-mail that says, "We're sorry, but your submission doesn't meet our needs at the moment."

On the writer side, you must accept the rejection with good grace, even if it isn't very gracious. Do not write back to ask what they mean by your submission not meeting their needs at the moment. Scratch that one off, and move on.

It's possible that one is just a sucky writer, because the problem with writing is that there are multitudinous ways in which to suck. You can have poor sentence structure, poor story structure, poor plot, poor characters, even one crappy character is all it takes. The story might really suck, too, even if other things you write are just fine. The thing about this, though, is that every single one of us has sucked at some point, on some project, somewhere. It's just that, if you're lucky, the sucky stuff gets rejected. You go back, you refine, rewrite, or start something else, and eventually, if you get all of the pieces working together, you'll live to be accepted another day.

There's also such a thing as sucky editors, as well as editors in bad moods or editors having off days. Some editors genuinely do not know what they're doing, having been promoted to their position of incompetence. Others had to take their dog in to be put down the night before, and are still grabbing for the tissues from time to time. Others went in to work with colds when they should have stayed home in bed.

So it isn't just that you cannot take rejection personally, it helps to have a certain amount of compassion for the person rejecting you. This is true even if it's someone who does a Cowell. (Thank you, Helen, for implanting that metaphor in my head!) You can offer a small request to the Divine for whatever ailment they are suffering to be relieved...

...and then you scratch that market off your list and move on.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Good Parts, episode 5: "It's Not You, It's You"

In this episode, we talk about Rejections; what they say, what they mean, and what to do with them.

Along the way we talk about the story Helen has up at ERWA, we play a promo for Well Told Tales, and we mention the Logical Lust website.

Direct Download

I just like to make stuff up.

There's a movie called "Barton Fink" which centers on the idea of writer's block and creativity. In the movie, when one character is asked about why he writes, he replies quite simply "I just like to make stuff up."

The character is W.P. Mayhew, who is supposed to resemble William Faulkener. Faulkner himself once said, "Facts and truth really don't have much to do with each other." And he is right. As a requirement for my master's degree in communication, I took two courses on quantitative and qualitative research. I learned how to conduct surveys, create Likert scales, develop interview questions, interpret data, calculate the mean, median, and average, and perform all sorts of interesting tricks with collected data. I became a master of research, a wizard of data collection, a grande dame of statistical analysis.

And in the end I still had to make shit up to write my factually researched thesis.

That is not to say I lied when writing my thesis, but even with all the data I collected, I still had to organize my dry facts and put some sort of spin on them. Facts alone mean nothing, really, and they will only get you so far in writing. Even non-fiction, the hallmark of research and fact, involves a certain amount of creativity and making up of stuff. Don't believe me? Go hit the non-fiction section of your local bookstore and page through a few good books. It may not be blatantly apparent, but every non-fiction author brings to their work a little something called "voice." That is, the ability to take dull, dry facts and enliven them through imagination and creative writing. These authors do not lie, nor do they even bend the truth, but if they want their books to sell, they've got to know how to tell a good story. And as writers, we all know we never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Some of my favorite non-fiction books are biographies of famous artists. I collect these books, mostly because I like to look at the pictures and enjoy the artwork of the artist in question. But the really good books are the ones that take me inside the artist's head. Now you and I both know it's not physically possible for one person to actually get inside another person's head. We can't read minds and experience life as someone else experience's it. But a good biographer can make you feel like you're in the mind of another person. They can start your imagination going by taking the facts of someone's life and spinning a creative tale with it. The most boring life in the world can be quite exciting in the hands of a good story teller.

But what about fiction, you ask. Helen, aren't you supposed to be talking about making up fiction? So far you've just been rattling on about non-fiction, which is based on research!

Okay, here's the deal. I will do the research for stories. Some stories simply require it. In some instances I find I must browse through books or the web to help me solidify an idea. It's sort of like looking for a jumping off point of inspiration. I scroll through the facts, letting them sit in my head until my imagination takes over. In other cases, I will spend days gathering notes in order to accurately describe a historical setting or costume, to recreate an exotic locale and its customs, to put the reader in a specific place and time. Yes, I will do the research!

But I also like to just make stuff up.

That's where all my stories start. I don't flip through the newspaper every day looking for inspiration. I don't browse the web in search of ideas. I start with a blank slate, as it were. Before I ever hit Wikipedia or the local library, I start with nothing more than my own imagination, a blank sheet of paper, and a pen. I scribble words down at random, jumping from one rapid fire thought to the next. I write about whatever strikes my fancy. Inspiration can come from anywhere - my mood, my latest daydream, the dessert I had the night before. It all comes out in a jumble, a sort of automatic writing, and it keeps coming out until one of two things happen. Either I find a theme that I keep repeating in my scribblings, or the voices start talking in my head.

If it's a theme that keeps showing up, then I know I have some work to do. The idea is there, but I'm going to need to dig for my story. Digging usually means research, and thus I will hit all my sources to get what I need to make my story, to find that jumping off point where my imagination takes over.

But if those voices start talking instead? You know what voices I mean. The ones that start supplying you with lines of dialog, action sequences, and impossible settings. Those voices are probably what writers like Homer and Ovid called the Muses. Those voices don't require research. They come with the full story in hand, ready to recite into your ear, if you're fast enough to get it all down.

I love those voices. I love that they have everything ready for me to write. I don't need to research these stories. They come with their own facts, their own rules, their own logic; a world complete within itself. And the more impossible the story, the more unlikely the tale, the better it usually is. A man makes love to the ghost of his high school bully. A sentient plant pollinates his human lover. A dominatrix sees the future every time she has an orgasm.

To paraphrase Dave Barry, you can make this up.

You can make up these stories and make them work, and you don't have to research anything to do it. You just have to give you're imagination free rein and get those voices going. But how do we do that? How do we summon the muse at will? It takes practice, and maybe some experimentation. Over the years, I've learned to listen to what goes on inside my head, and to jot it down no matter how improbable it may seem. I daydream a lot. I play "What if?" and make up ridiculous situations. I run these scenes through my head over and over and over again, rehearsing them until they take on a life of their own and then I just follow along for the ride. Call it research of the mind, if you will. Just as we sometimes have to spend hours in the library, we should also spend time alone with our thoughts. Lots of time, if you want to make stuff up.

Research is great, don't get me wrong. But if you really want to write? Get inside your own head and see what you can dig up in there!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Have you ever been amazon ranked?

There's a new term on the cyber-horizon. "amazon rank"... here's the definition:

amazon rank
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): amazon ranked

1. To censor and exclude on the basis of adult content in literature (except for Playboy, Penthouse, dogfighting and graphic novels depicting incest orgies).
2. To make changes based on inconsistent applications of standards, logic and common sense.

Etymology: from 12 April 2009 removal of sales rank figures from books on Amazon.com containing sexual, erotic, romantic, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or queer content, rendering them impossible to find through basic search functions at the top of Amazon.com's website. Titles stripped of their sales rankings include "Bastard Out of Carolina," "Lady Chatterly's Lover," prominent romance novels, GLBTQ fiction novels, YA books, and narratives about gay people.

Example of usage: "I tried to do a report on Lady Chatterly's Lover for English Lit, but my teacher amazon ranked me and I got an F on grounds that it was obscene."

Alternate usage: "My girlfriend wanted to preserve her virginity, and I was happy to respect that, then she amazon ranked and decided anal sex was okay."

(If you like this, don't link here; link to http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/amazonrank/ instead)

Here's the backstory.

Amazon has begun removing "adult" and "explicit" titles (defined in a completely haphazard way, of course) from their searches and sales ranking systems. Why? "In consideration of the entire customer base"... which means they've been getting complaints from the you-know-who's.

Needless to say, authors (and not just the ones getting amazon ranked) are getting pretty pissed. This is part of the campaign to make them pay for their mistake.

Use the term in a blog. Link to the definition. The cumulative effect will be immense.

Remember the definition of santorum? It's like that.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Write What You Know

Okay, so you don't HAVE to write what you know. Imagination and research can do the whole job.

Though if you think about it, you can't entirely escape putting yourself in there. A story written without a real human perspective might as well be written by computer. There's always a little of you in there, whether you want to or not.

But I'm not talking about the personal meaning that gets in there by fiat. I'm talking about investing yourself in a story by conscious choice.

Just once, dig deep down in your soul and find something real. Something real not because you went out and looked it up, but real because you know it, because it's yours. Then write it. Make it a theme, or a character, or a setting.

It could be your childhood home, and the way you felt when you smelled your mother's cooking.

It could be your college roommate with whom you had a hate-hate relationship.

It could be the first time you almost lost your virginity.

Everyone has something, because no one gets through life without at least a little drama.

Write it, and see what happens. Characters come alive. You never have to struggle with the right detail. It's natural. It's magical. The zone is right there.

There's a risk, though. The more you do this, the more of your own soul you invest in the piece, the more there is to lose. If someone throws your manuscript into the fires of Mount Doom I won't be responsible for the result.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Writing what you can research

As the one who came down on the side of writing from research, I have to admit that part of the problem may be a conviction, right or wrong, that my own life is too messy, painful or boring to write about. I'm a disabled single mother who spends very long stretches of time celibate, which doesn't mean that my life totally sucks, only that it's not great fiction fodder most of the time. The pleasures tend to be on the quiet side, like right now, when my parrot is preening my face. It's a sweet, loving gesture from a creature so different from me that he's almost alien, but there's nothing romantic, erotic or otherwise even sensible about having a beak on your chin, never mind being licked by a bird.

The idea of the bird, a red-lored Amazon parrot, going over my face with his beak actually freaks most people out. He has a big beak, attached to powerful jaw muscles. He can do serious damage with it, and right now it's next to my lip.

Anyway, cracking the whip on myself here, I've always been intensely curious about everything, from cooking to string theory, and writing gives me an outlet for that. I can trip over something interesting somewhere, look into it, and incorporate it into a story, whether it's an historical event, an interesting bit of technology, a disability that's different from mine, or a country I've never been to. It might even be an abstract line of thought, like an attempt to figure out how ghosts could work. In any case, writing gives me a way of exploring beyond what reading offers, and I often feel like I know more about something after I've written about it.

Having said that, I still rely on the other points of the triangle (imagination, experience and research). I need imagination to put people into that situation, and I draw on my own experience to create the kinds of emotional dynamics that generate plot. Who is here? What are they doing? Why are they doing it?

But even in the emotional dynamics, it's something that feeds the original concept, not a personal experience. In my story The Virgin Mary Cried Tears of Blood (in Second Sight), I was considering the idea that both vampires and statues of the Virgin Mary are thought to cry blood, and that it was interesting that these two opposite icons would have such a thing in common. Then I was thinking that we all have points in our lives where we have to choose between an exercise of control and a leap of faith, and that the decision is never right twice in a row, even if it can be thought of as "right" in the sense that one way is guaranteed to work out better than another.

I was also considering how a man with erectile dysfunction might be sexual in a positive way, so I had to imagine that, imagine both him and his partner coping well--but not too well, not so as to qualify for sainthood!--with what's considered one of the worst sex-related afflictions a man can have.

So while the story drew on raw imagination and emotional reference points gleaned from 41 years of living, reading, watching movies and playing music, the events themselves never happened and these people never existed. I've never met a vampire, never seen a statue of the Virgin cry blood, never slept with a man who had ED, and never did what my narrator did in the end. Nor have I wanted to. It was all a line of speculation triggered by watching part of Queen of the Damned one night.

What I find is that if I write from imagination, the result is too disconnected from reality to be sufficiently believable to be readable. If I write from life, or try to, I become too emotionally invested in the story for it to be readable. It becomes a diatribe. I have strong opinions about things, which is great for being an essayist but I find serves me less well in fiction. I can get into ruts, and that's true with my essays as well. I have to be careful.

But research is another matter for me. It's a big world, and there's so much in it to explore. I've looked into the lives of musicians and artists, of carpenters, mental patients, former addicts, Knights Templar, exiled Romans, classic car fanatics, anything at all that catches my mind's frankly wandering eye. It's to the point where I sometimes wonder what I'd do if I didn't write, because I don't seem to have much attention span.

As a writer, however, I'm free to indulge that lack of attention span indefinitely!

There's also an issue with a few woman erotica writers I know with being mistaken for someone who is ready and willing to do everything she has ever written about, or perhaps already has. I run into this a lot, with people who know nothing else about me thinking that a story is a true sexual fantasy that I want to have happen right now, thinking that reading an erotic story by a woman is like having sex with her by proxy, or thinking that being written into one of my stories would be hot. Clearly the latter hadn't read anything I'd written, or he'd have realized that such a request could have landed him a fictional severed limb!

In my case, and in that of Helen as well, this can turn on it's head in an amusing way: no, we haven't done everything we've written about because we're not gay men. However, if the gentleman wants to give it a shot, I can bind my breasts, paste on some fake facial hair and obtain a nice, big strap-on...

No?

Well, in that case, anyone who reads something I've written that they think is particularly sexy, assume I've been reading, watching or listening to something interesting. The fact that it tends to express itself as erotica in the end is a puzzle even I haven't solved.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Do You Write What You Know, or Make Crap Up?"

This month, we tackle the subject of where the stories come from. The old saw goes, "Write what you know" but we have some other ideas about that topic.

Promo for Prometheus Radio Theatre whose director, Stephen H. Wilson, was so nice to us at the Farpoint convention.

You can download this episode directly here.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

New book!


My latest ebook was released this weekend!

"Amazon" is the sequel to my second ebook, "Centaur." Opal and Pholus continue their struggle against the Blackstorm mercenaries, who want to stop them from uncovering the secret of Pholus's creation.

You can find an excerpt at the Extasy Books site, or just listen to my podcast next week for an audio excerpt!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Good Parts, episode 3: What do Women Want?

Helen E. H. Madden, Ann Regentin, and Nobilis talk about women's sexuality and how it pertains to reading and writing erotica.

Promo for I Should Be Writing.

Topics of conversation include:

The Times Magazine article on women's sexuality

Emily Vainglory

Jean Auel

M. Christian's "Brushes"

ASSTR

Joseph Campbell

You can download the episode here.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pip Sauce

A while back, my friends Philippa Ballantine, Dan Sawyer, and Chris Lester were recording a feedback podcast, and the phrase "saucy wench" came up on more than one occasion. This led to some discussion amongst the podcasting community on what "Pip Sauce" might taste like, given that "Pip" is short for Philippa...

Well, here's a first try.

2 kiwifruit (she's a New Zealander) peeled and cored (but not seeded, after all, this is Pip sauce)
1/2 cup yogurt, plain (she's lively)
1/2 chipotle pepper (she's hot and smoky)
1 tbsp honey (she's sweet)
1/2 tsp lime juice (she's tart)
Salt (she's salty)

Makes plenty.

Blend thoroughly. Salt to taste. Serve over broiled chicken or fish,
garnished with a thin slice of kiwifruit.

Or make a double batch, and use as a marinade.

I don't recommend turning up the heat on this recipe; it can overpower
the kiwifruit. We tried this on broiled swai and were quite satisfied with the balance.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Good Parts, Episode 2: Why buy the cow, when you can get the porn for free?

Helen E. H. Madden, Ann Regentin, and Nobilis talk about how much to give away and how much to sell, about electronic piracy and what it takes to build an audience.

You can download the episode here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

So, Marscon 2009

So I went to Marscon 2009 last weekend, and am only now starting to recover. That's because I came home on Sunday and immediately had to get back to work on the podcast and the book cover for Future Perfect. But now that I've got those things out the door, here's a few fond memories regarding Marscon.


If you have an author table, bring candy and set it out. People like candy, and you can use it to lure them to your table. Seriously. I dared author Beth Wylde to leave a trail of candy on the floor from the really cute guy in the sleek steampunk tux to our table, and he followed it like a charm!


If you agree to do panels for the convention, try to limit yourself to fewer than ten. Ten panels is a lot of work. A helluva lot of work. I know. From experience.


There are things you can do with tentacles that you probably don't want to know about. Again, I know from experience.


Sometimes less is more, as in costumes, but always remember that no costume is no costume.


If you throw on a plaid school girl skirt and a set of horns, everyone will automatically assume you are a wicked woman out to cause trouble. Not that the assumptions bothered me, or was untrue...


You can mainline coffee. If you agree to do ten panels at a convention, I would certainly recommend you try it.


John Ringo is very opinionated, and very interesting to listen to one the subject of e-books and digital rights management.


Ron Miller is the coolest person on the world to do a panel with, and he knows all sorts of nifty free and shareware graphics programs that I must now find and download.


You can do all seven Harry Potter books on stage in 45 minutes. Luna-C Productions' show was hysterical!


If you do an adult reading, prepare a piece that is not what people are expecting. Explicit sex scenes are fine, but humor and bad jokes goes over even better.


When I'm a little more coherent, I'll write a little bit more about this, but for now, you can enjoy a few choice pics of the con over at my Flickr page. Oh, and one last thing I learned... if you stick it out there, you will get flogged!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Beginnings, Part II

I suck at beginnings. Nobilis is editing my novel, and he always has something to say about the first few paragraphs. It never fails. It's gotten to the point now where I ask up front, "Okay, what's wrong with the first paragraph?"

Unlike Nobilis, I have no problem finishing things. I just can't seem to start them, which is why my first paragraphs suck. I don't want to write them. Once in motion, I'm fine, but it's the getting started part that's the problem.

However, this seems to have gotten started well ahead of me, so I'm going to hop aboard at this point, and use as my excuse for making it short that I have to do a bit of advance planning for our next podcast.

Yes, there is a plan.

Yes, I'm going to make it.

Yes, I'm going to procrastinate as long as I possibly can, because I hate starting things.

However, knowing this about myself is often all I need. It's helpful that my writing space is insanely comfortable, complete with a fleece blanket to ward off the Midwestern winter chill. Did you know that it's been colder here lately than it's been at the South Pole? I'm not kidding! I checked. Australia's looking pretty good right now.

But there's something wonderful about bundling up against the chill, and that brings me to my point. Often the kindest thing we can do for ourselves is to know and love our weaknesses. Procrastination is one of mine. I know this, so I set up this warm, snug spot to work in, where cups of tea can be placed within easy reach, and I use a program that creates a more attractive screen than a standard word processor. I may not like starting a new project, but I do like sitting here, and since I'm here, I might as well work. It gives me a good excuse to stay put.

cheers,
Ann

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Wrong Time to Start

Poor Nobilis. Poor, poor Nobilis. The three of us set up this lovely blog and so far he's the only one to post. We've left him all alone. Poor Nobilis.

Perhaps it's time I change that. In his first post to this blog, Nobilis wrote about beginnings and how much he liked them. I'd like to talk about beginnings too, as well as middles and endings. In fact that's the current theme over at my podcast this month. I usually have no problems with beginning a story. In fact, after the last year or so of pounding out a story a week, I've gotten pretty good at getting myself started on a tale. Nothing like a weekly deadline to spur the inspiration.

But this year, I'm having a hard time getting started on certain things, like my involvement in this blog. And that's because I still feel like I'm stuck in the middle of 2008. Yep, we're two weeks into 2009 but I can't shrug off certain projects that had their roots in the beginnings of the previous year. And it's killing me.

I am so ready to be done with 2008 and all its assorted baggage. One project in particular has just about killed me with sudden deadlines and its drop-everything-and-work-on-this-right-now attitude. I won't get into details beyond saying I volunteered to help out with an event and now I sorely wish I hadn't. Oh, and I won't be volunteering for said event ever again.

But because I'm not quite done with this particular project, I'm still stuck at the tale end of 2008 and I'm reluctant to start anything 2009-ish just yet, which is why I've dragged feet to get over here and post on this blog. It just hasn't been the right time yet, you see? I've got deadlines, and oh I've got this project that won't quit, and don't you know I'm in the middle of editing a book that's due out in February, etc., etc., etc.

I've got a million reasons why I shouldn't be stealing time today to sit and start posting to this blog. But I've got one very good reason to do it any way. And that reason is...

It's never the right time to start, and it never will be.

There are some things in life that you do have to wait to start. Like getting married. I wanted to get married the day I met my husband, but we put it off until we'd both finished school first. Or quitting my day job. I hated every day job I ever had, and the last one actually caused me to black out from sheer stress in the ladies room one day. But, finances were tight and I couldn't just walk away from the paycheck. So my husband and I planned out a time-line for when I could leave, and I waited another year and a half before turning in my resignation (one of the happiest days of my life, by the way).

But there are other things that you can never prepare enough for, and so it's never the right time to start on them. Like this blog. I really do need to be working on a story for next week's podcast, and I need to get back to my book edits, and I need to throw more time at that project that I hate so much. But ya know, I signed up for this blog, and I need to get started. If not now, then when? Next month is just as busy, and so is the month after that? So why not start working on this at the wrong time? Why not start right now?

And what about you, dear reader? Is there something you've always wanted to start, but didn't because it was never the right time? Maybe you want to write a book, but don't think you can do that and juggle the J-O-B. Maybe you want to start submitting stories for publication, but you don't because you think you're not good enough yet to get published. Maybe this and maybe that. We've all got things we want to do, but we don't want to start before the time is right. Well I got news for you. There may never be a right time to start. Never. Ever!

But it's better to start at the wrong time than never start at all.

Hmmm, I think maybe 2009 finally showed up at my front door. Time for me to get started on the new year.

Monday, January 5, 2009

She Reads Erotica

I knew this all along, but one of my podcasting role models, Mur Lafferty, has put an article up on Suicide Girls (where she has a monthly column) about what's on her Kindle ebook reader. She raises an interesting question:
Should I own my interest in the books where the secretary is tied up as a Christmas present for her boss? Should I confidently hand over the Kindle when someone asks, with a, "you asked for it!" look on my face? Or should I continue to pretend to be a productive member of Puritan society?
This has meaning for me on many levels. Like much of Mur's writing, it's posted in a humorous tone, but once you've gotten accustomed to the idea, it starts to get deeper.

One thing is that the answer ought to be, "Yes! Yes, own up to it, the only way we can knock down the walls of false propriety that the Puritans put up is if ordinary folks admit to reading erotica."

And then I realize that by using a pseudonym, and not owning up to writing erotica to anyone who asks, I'm doing the same thing as when Mur 'straightens up' her Kindle before handing it to her daughter's best friend's father.

So what's the answer? I don't know. I think there are good reasons for keeping sex in its place, but at the same time it's place isn't in the tiny little ironclad box some people want to keep it in. Society will keep looking down its collective nose at erotica as long as people hide it, and people will hide it as long as Society keeps looking down its collective nose. Change, if it happens at all, will come slowly.

And then, someday, Mur Lafferty will hand her Kindle to any adult who asks to see it with that shit-eating grin she gets, and I will proudly put my given name on the covers of my books.

Someday.

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