November 26, 2014
In an effort to squeeze my words into a Twitter box the other day I transformed "make a writer merry" into "merry a writer." And then I decided...or rather, I brainstormed, well, really—yes, I have a new thing.
This holiday season, merry a writer. How? Buy indie books by indie writers. Then tell me what you bought. I am going to make a... well, I can't even describe it. I just have an idea.
Honestly, I'm not even sure if this will work. If it does—what I'm planning should look super cool. If not, then you bought books by authors who will be seriously grateful to you.
So if you want to help me out, email the titles you purchase to msalisontyler at yahoo dot com. You'll see where this is going as soon as I have a few images to work with!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Actually, nobody has asked any questions. I'm trying to do this pre-emptively. (Did I use that word right?)
• No, the titles don't have to be holiday-themed. However, the new novella above from Sommer Marsden will be available for purchase on December 5th from Excessica.
• What's does "indie" mean? Basically, my goal is to help writers sell their books themselves. I've been focusing on this theme a lot lately—and I have more to say about the concept (shortly). But what I'd love to do is spotlight books from small publishers or from the authors themselves.
• Other queries? I'll put them up here as they come in.
November 25, 2014
Alison on Top is my first foray into all fem-dom erotica. I am seriously excited about the way this collection turned out. (Thank you, Riendo!) And I decided to set a goal for myself. I would like to sell fifty copies of the little book this month. Yes, yes, you all remember when I tried to sell 50K of Banging Rebecca—but that was then, this is Tuesday. (Oh, look. I know the date. Star for me!)
This is where you come in. If you buy the ebook, I will send you the PDF of your choice (from a list of PTP books). So I guess you would call this a BOGO. (Buy one get one. I had to look that up.)
What do you have to do? Simple. Send me an email to msalisontyler at yahoo dot com if you buy a copy. That way I can keep track and post status updates here. On your marks, get set...
November 24, 2014
Wow, in an effort to write today's Trollop with a Question I accidentally wrote two more rants. (I'm keeping them in storage right now. With mothballs. Hopefully, I won't have to bring them out until the first snow.) I guess I didn't know how angry I have been recently. The vitriol keeps pouring from my fingertips.
You caught me. I just wanted to use the word "vitriol" once in my life. (Oh, no wait. I used it before. And look at that. It was about the same situation. I'm nothing if not predictable.)
So today's Trollop with a Question is very personal:
I believe women are taught not to express anger.
I'm no expert, but I did a little research. I found that men who are angry at work are often thought of as aggressive. Women who show anger at work are seen as "beasts from hell." (That was the scientific term. Ha.) An article from the early 90s stated that women did not feel as if they are allowed to show their anger. Articles from this year echoed the statement.
I've read that women tend to be ashamed of being angry. That women internalize their anger. That people (I'm guessing men) think angry women are crazy women. I read that women tend to be angry longer than men and more resentful than men. (My grandmother was known for holding a grudge about a parking space for a dozen years.) Women are more likely to cut people loose when they're angry.
What I know about myself is that when I'm angry I can't meet people's eyes. A few years ago, I was in a very public situation with a woman who had made me angrier than I'd ever been to that point. And I was so upset I couldn't even form words. My outburst was this one-line, incredibly polite sentence that felt to me as if I was saying, "Back the fuck off you fucking fuck," but came out much more like, "I would appreciate if you would leave me alone."
If I were to meditate (which I don't do, obviously) on this topic—I think I actually could come up with an answer that would work for me. I mean, I'd love to be the person who could be angry, but eloquent. Not aggressively passive (or vice versa) but clear and concise—razor-sharp so that nobody would be confused by my message or my intentions.
I'm still working on this. I think while I hear in my head "Back the fuck off" I end up saying "I would appreciate if you would leave me alone."
Now you—one end of the spectrum? The other? Somewhere in the middle?
November 23, 2014
Years ago, a friend of mine recorded all the words for the color "green" found in a clothing catalog as her answering machine message. You'd call and hear her husky voice murmuring, "Moss, pine, forest, lichen, emerald..." (I always thought that was clever. I don't believe "green" was actually one of the words she spoke.)
Penthouse on Oral recently received a smashing review from Valerie Alexander, who called me a an "erotica goddess" — which made me blush. Ms. Alexander says, "If you associate Penthouse with the type of porn stories that use 33 ridiculous synonyms for 'cock' on one page, this is nothing like that."
You can probably guess where this is going.
I tend to like cock. A lot. Quick scan of the laptop reveals 2,590 files featuring the word cock.
I don't appreciate dick quite as much, only 1429 references.
I'll admit to loving me some rod—1246 occurrences.
The word erection has popped up 958 times.
Hard-on shows its length 763 times.
Most of the time, prick feels like an insult. But still I found it 751 times.
I've used pole in 440 pieces.
Penis appears 315 times. (I was shocked.)
Let's hear it for Johnson, which I've apparently called out in ecstasy 253 times.
Boner has appeared 158 times.
Now, I'm drawing a blank. I'm sure I've used other words. But we've covered this before. I believe most writers return to their favorites. It's one of those things you can immediately tell when editors mess with. Years ago, a Black Lace book I wrote was shifted to the Cheek Line. My editor changed the word "clit" to "hot little love button" (if memory serves), in order to better fit with the chicklit ambiance. Those are not words that roll off my fingers naturally.
Will you do the math? What words make the most appearances in your stories? Are you in for a surprise, or are you secure in your choices?
I have to say, when I first started to read Sommer Marsden's work, I went to her blog and read this fabulous short piece that used the word "dick." Perfectly. I can't find a link to the piece, and I can't remember the story well enough to do a proper search. But I do remember thinking, Man, that girl knows how to fucking write.
P.S. I'm pretty pleased to have come up with ten words. But I feel like I'm missing some.
November 22, 2014
Last year, I came up with the idea to create holiday gift guides by price. If memory serves, the brainstorm was sparked by a gift guide I saw that featured bookends for $500. Or something insane like that. So I built my guides for $1 up to luxury—with a DIY bonus guide thrown in for good measure.
Each guide included a giveaway—and I had a blast gathering up the goodies. (That just sounds dirty, doesn't it? "Gathering up the goodies"?)
This year, I've decided to do guides by themes. Years ago, one of my friends told me that there was a boy at her college who would change the conversation by saying, "But enough about me... let's talk about things I like."
That sums up the themes of my guides. These may change, but at the moment, I'm compiling:
Then a reader said, "Five more and you've got the whole 12 days of Christmas."
Okay. Now, these may change. Lipstick may become makeup. Leather may merge with shoes—and give birth to purses. We'll see. I'm super excited. And I promise I will put on items for every budget.
If you have suggestions, don't hesitate to email me at msalisontyler at yahoo dot com. Especially, if you have an ETSY store, because I adore promoting indie artists. Now, back to November, already in progress.
November 21, 2014
You knew that would be my pull-quote, didn't you? I am so honored, humbled, flattered, and grateful(ed) to be part of Molly Moore's illustrious 20 of 2014 Sex Blogger List. I feel a sudden need to pop the champagne...or make a t-shirt!
Ms. Moore said I was one of the 'most prolific bloggers' in the write-up and I really appreciate the nod. A week ago, I decided to take a few days off writing. This was one of the more entertaining experiences I've had recently. Because I wrote like a motherfucker. I wrote rants, articles, future blog posts, letters to friends, notes for novels, outlines for stories.
What was I thinking?
I don't know how not to write at this point. The words start to leak onto unexpected places if I don't put my fingers to the keyboard. My arm was covered in ball-point. I had notes everywhere in the house. My favorite was on Sam's list of items to buy at a sporting good store. The list in his handwriting states: waders, boots, vest.
Scribbled in my indecipherable writing below: Next Door Sex. (An idea for something.)
Now, I would also like to say, Molly Moore is one of my favorite people on the interwebs. I have always been far more word than picture oriented. (It's why I love Penthouse Variations. All those lovely words.) I'm into font. I worship letters. I make kerning jokes with my geeky friends.
Pictures have never moved me the way words do. Riendo was the first photographer to show me what I was missing. Then Molly virtually took me by the hand and demonstrated how erotic, honest, creative, playful, exquisite, exciting, and sexy-as-hell the world of sensual photography could be.
You're asking yourself how I didn't know this?
I'm wired differently, I guess. I like to read write-ups on x-rated videos far more than I enjoy watching the movies. My brain uses the words to make the pictures in my head.
But Molly and the participants in her Sinful Sundays sparked something new in me. I can see the sex appeal. You know this is true when I tell you this: some of the photos—especially the ones by Molly, herself—make me want to write stories to match the pictures. They're inspiring. And that's something special to me.
So thank you, Molly, for what you said about me, but even more importantly, for what you do.
November 20, 2014
I fell hard for these matchbox "books" as soon as I saw them. Some of my favorite titles are here. I have probably read The Godfather more than any other novel. I loved Catch-22. I immediately wanted matchbox books of *my* books. (Wouldn't that be the coolest swag ever?) Even better, the name of the ETSY store is Matchmakers. Swoon.
A few months ago, I came up a concept for a contest in which people created crafts that would fit in matchboxes. Look! Matchmakers beat me to the punch. And remember last year when I created a series of holiday gift guides for different dollar amounts? These are making me think I should compile new lists this December. Especially, because you can buy individual matchboxes like the one for Lolita on the left.
Speaking of things that are on fire (points, please, for a slightly clever segue before six a.m.)... Violet Blue's new Filthy Housewives collection is all lit up with glittering reviews:
"These wife-centered fantasies are a literary feast for the senses."
"Each story introduces the reader to a new couple engaging their sexuality in order to give life to their horny imaginings."
"Pretty filthy. Hot."
"Such a fun and kinky book..."
"Seven sizzling stories in this volume offer a smorgasbord of fantasies and kink that will satiate any appetite."
I'm not sure if Filthy Housewives could handle being on a matchbox. I think the boxes might spontaneously combust!
P.S. I'm working on a poetry post and a typo post right now. Apparently my brain crossed the wires and I started working on a pottery post.
November 19, 2014
Several times during my career I have lost friends because of what I write.
Once upon a time, I was close with a woman who became a Born Again. We were best friends, the tightest you can imagine. Like sisters. We owned Los Angeles. I can shut my eyes now and be in a deep burgundy leather booth at the Rainbow at her side.
When she joined her church, she couldn't be my friend anymore because I pen porn. I was crushed.
Six years ago, give or take, I excitedly told a new friend that I had landed a book deal with Harlequin. Up until that point, the woman knew I was a writer, but she hadn't ever asked me what I wrote. (People are funny that way.) Her response was shocking.
I would never have thought that I would lose friends within the erotic writing community for what I do. However, I recently learned that a gaggle of fellow erotica writers I know have strong negative feelings towards the magazine I work for.
I've been trying to figure out my response for days. And I think I've finally come to an understanding. I swear that I would fight for your right to think what you think, believe what you believe, and say what you want to say.
Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing.
But you can't insult what I do and expect me to nod and smile and agree with the assessment. As much as you're allowed to have your opinion—I'm allowed to respectfully disagree.
And to move forward with fewer "friends" once more.
November 18, 2014
Here is a snippet from the collection which as Dante's trademark style painted all over it:
Reviewers have spoken: "I love the way Violet Blue puts an anthology together." "Literary porn at its finest." "...an erotic feast for the senses..."
So pleased to be promoting this collection from Digita Publications. Be on the lookout for more exciting, erotic, and affordable books from Digita in the future!
I've decided to roll out these Two-Fers on the Tuesdays I'm around in the morning and evening. And it looks as if I'm here. (I just pinched myself—and yes, I am actually here. I'm not a figment. Nor fictitious.)
Today's "Two-Fer" author is Dante Davidson, with whom I have worked closely over the years. (Hey, did I use "whom" right?) We first co-wrote together back in the 90s when we were hired to pen "Secrets for Great Sex After 50" (if memory serves. (I think if you added our ages together at the time we barely made 47.)
The first story is one of my all-time favorites:
I just realized I had a little unfinished business to deal with, as well. The winner of A.M. Hartnett's Halloween prize package is Sand. (Please drop me a note at msalisontyler at yahoo dot com.)
I'm about to post the answers to That's What She Said.
November 17, 2014
I'm percolating a post about why poetry is important. I'm the daughter of a poet and a prolific author. My father taught me how to write, how to write fast, how to not be afraid of words on a page.
My mother taught me how to love sentences. Individual words. Syllables even.
While I'm preparing the piece, please answer my latest question:
You can even say why if the answer's not too personal.
If you answered last week's question—and if you'd like me to send you a prize—slide into my box at msalisontyler at yahoo dot com.
P.S. I shouldn't have been surprised to find exactly what I was looking for from Loving Anvil. These stacking rings create a haiku!
November 16, 2014
I have been writing professionally for decades. And guess what? This type of interchange gets old:
Possible future employer: We would like you to write for free.
Possible future employer: We would like you to jump through every flaming deadline hoop we throw at you.
Possible future employer: We would like to own your work forever.
Writer: Sounds good.
Possible future employer: Here is a completely unreasonable contract we want you to sign.
Writer: Well, I have some changes I'd like to politely make.
Possible future employer: HOW DARE YOU?
Seriously. Some similar version of this has happened to me over and over again. When I was first starting out, an editor accepted a story of mine for an anthology. Then she announced to the writers that she hadn't been paid enough by the publisher to pay us for the stories. I thought, okay. Fine. I'll go with it for the credit. Then she sent a draconian contract stating she could do whatever she wanted with the story. Now, if there had been payment, maybe I'd have agreed. But as it stood, I balked.
And she responded: How dare you? You're lucky you even received a contract.
Ultimately, she made the contractual edits I requested—which basically said she could have the story for the book, but she couldn't do anything else with it. Reasonable, yes? Worth the drama? No.
A few years ago, I was working with another writer on a project. We jumped through every flaming hoop. Give us more. Faster. Explain. Pitch. Revise. When we received the contract, there was wording included that allowed the publisher to fire us, hire shiny new writers, and bill us to pay the replacements.
We said no.
HOW DARE YOU?
We walked. Possible future employers, I've learned, are surprised when you walk. But I have worn out my shoes walking away from miserable contracts.
Recently, I wrote a few articles for a website for free. Retroactively, I was asked to sign a contract. The contract stated that the site owned my articles. I thought, okay. Fine. I wasn't going to do anything else with them. The contract stated that the site could edit, publish, advertise, and alter my pieces.
After "alter," I added: "with author's approval."
And I received a "how dare you" type of email back. Seriously? You said my work has become your property. Which is pretty unfair. How dare *you* have a problem with my minor change?
The editor said "alter" really meant "excerpt" for Instagram, Twitter, etc.
I'm a writer, man. "Excerpt" is different from "alter."
Love does not alter when it alteration finds
Nor bends with the remover to remove
Insert "excerpt" and see how the poem flows.
I wrote back—yes, seething—and I said. No. I withdraw my approval.
This post has been brewing for more than six months. I'm putting it up now to add to the "self-publishing" versus "real" writing conversation. Authors are often treated like second-class citizens. (That's nothing new. Remember The Player?) Self-publishing allows writers to put out the work they want, to design covers they adore, and to treat themselves with the respect they deserve.
Of course, there are fabulous, dreamy publishers, too. (Post brewing on this topic, as well.) But self-publshing is an option that did not exist in this manner even a few years ago. There will always be writers. But I'm not so sure that there will always be publishers. (You should have seen how confident our printer was several years ago, pounding his hand on the table as he said e-books were a fleeting whim.) I feel as if writers should pay attention to the opportunities as we enter this new era of publishing.
Let's see what gets altered in the future.
November 15, 2014
I don't watch many reality shows. (I can't take the stress.) But I occasionally dip into Project Runway because I believe fashion is art. And I'm always baffled when the designers discuss "real" women in an insulting way. I understand they're accustomed to dressing models. But "real" women just strikes me as such an odd term—as opposed to faux women?—especially because many designers appear unhappy with the concept. "Real" in this case is often negative.
A "real" writer, on the other hand, is something writers—faux writers?— are supposed to aspire to. I've heard that you're not a "real" writer unless you're published. You're not a "real" writer unless you've written a novel. "Real" in this case is a positive.
I read a whole string of advice from a published author the other day who was attacking self-published writers. Who basically said: If you are self-published and consider yourself an author, here's how to behave... Articles like this are all over the internet. (Some people want there to be a difference between "authors" and "book writers.") The pieces often make statements along the lines of: "You're not a doctor if you pick up a stethoscope. You're not a singer if you only sing in the shower. You're not a writer if you put up a self-published novel on Amazon."
I don't buy the doctor analogy. There's a difference between artistic fields and scientific fields. No, you don't want to go to an orthopedic surgeon who simply bought a kit. But I read that Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime. Does that mean he wasn't a painter?
In fact, "self-published" now has this bizarre negative stench. But what if you say "indie"? What if you say "boutique"? There's a difference between watching a blockbuster movie and watching an indie film. And indies have this lovely intellectual glow to them. Ooooh, let's watch an indie. 'Zines had the same feel back in the 90s. Fuck mainstream, let's read a 'zine. (The 'zine writers I knew definitely considered themselves writers.) Now that anyone can self-publish a book, there's this whole—No, no, no. Those people aren't writers. They've only written a handful of stories, only a few books. (Some of the best and brightest writers were not extremely prolific. Harper Lee? Salinger?)
This week, I read an article stating that in order to be considered a professional author you had to be able to make your living from writing alone. I'm sorry. But wasn't Melville a clerk? Many writers have had to support themselves with other jobs. Jesus.
What infuriates me is that we now have the ability to even the playing field. Fabulous writers are able to publish their books themselves. Snagging a publishing deal with an advance that allows you to support yourself while you work is not going to happen for most writers. No, not all self-published books are going to be worth your time. But neither are the ones from the big publishing houses! That is what kills me. Simply because a publisher gave a writer a nod, doesn't make the words any better than those from an indie writer. (Stay tuned, because I will rant about publishers later.)
I have spent my career as an editor supporting writers. I want to work with people who value words. Who stay up late to write because they have two other jobs. Who read voraciously. Who devour sentences. Who repeat their favorite lines in random conversation. I don't give a fuck who published you previously—or even if you've been rejected by 100 other editors. (Wasn't J.K. Rowling rejected by 12 publishing houses?) I want to work with people who worship words.
My favorite definition of a writer appeared in Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich. (Just so you know, I've read this book more than 20 times.)
Years ago, when I married my second husband, he proudly told his uncle, who was a valet parker at the time, that I was a writer. The uncle's response, "Who isn't?"
I love that. She continues:
Everyone literate "writes," and some of the low-wage workers I have known or met through this project write journals and poems—even, in one case, a lengthy science fiction novel.
You're a writer if you write. In fact, you're a real writer, no quotation marks required.
P.S. I think I've covered this topic in bits before. I named myself a word-worker here.
P.P.S. On the topic of Project Runway, would the contestants be "real" fashion designers? They seem to think so. But most don't have their own fashion houses.
November 14, 2014
When I read the passages, I could only think of one thing. The Breakfast Club. Specifically this scene in The Breakfast Club:
Bender: Why'd you think it would be easy?
Brian: Have you seen some of the dopes that take shop?
Bender: I take shop. You must be a fuckin' idiot!
Brian: I'm a fuckin' idiot because I can't make a lamp?
Bender: No, you're a genius because you can't make a lamp.
Brian: What do you know about Trigonometry?
Bender: I couldn't care less about Trigonometry.
Brian: Bender, did you know that without Trigonometry there'd be no engineering?
Bender: Without lamps, there'd be no light.
Why is that scene playing in my head? Because I believe many people consider erotic writing to be the equivalent of "shop" in the literary world. Any idiot could do it, right? Except, not. Writing scenes that are truly sexy can be incredibly difficult. I have edited close to 100 anthologies, and I have read thousands of short stories. The ones that grab you, that pin you down, the make your heart race—those are special.
Off the top of my head, I'm thinking:
She Looked Good in Ribbons by Sommer Marsden
Boot Camp by Kristina Lloyd
Foundation Stone by Jax Baynard
Selling Point by Carl Kennedy
Death Rock by Thomas Roche
Chloe's Confession by Sophia Valenti
Hook Trap by Sara Taylor Woods
Body Work by Cora Zane
Lucifer and Venus by Nikki Magennis
Fool's Gold by Shanna Germain
These are drop-dead gorgeous stories. The words linger. The images resonate.
However, reviewers often claim to be surprised by the quality of erotica. Many reviews by people unfamiliar with the genre read as insults wrapped in compliments. "It didn't suck. Isn't that amazing?"
That said—I do find the "Bad Sex Awards" a little mean-spirited. These are tiny paragraphs lifted out of context. And when I think "out-of-context," I think about this.
But I have decided when people ask me what I do from now on, I'll tell them that I take shop.
November 13, 2014
I have no idea where this idea came from. I think maybe I was inspired by the "write a novel in a month" contest—which is a writer challenge. So I thought hey—let's do a reader challenge. I've put up something before where I asked you all (y'all?) to guess which author wrote which excerpt. (That was based on a lovely review from the stellar Cheyenne Blue.)
But I wanted to post a few saucy snippets and see if you can guess whether these pieces were written by men or women. (Not whether the stories are from the POV of a male or female—but whether a man or woman wrote each one.) On your marks, get set...
If you want to play along, post your guesses in the comments. Male or Female for each of the excerpts.
P.S. Actually, the more I think about this, the more I think I've done something like this before. Deja Vu all over again, you know?
Answer Key: All right, so you all knew I was trying to be tricky, didn't you? The first four excerpts were all by Thomas Roche from stories that appear in the books His and Hers. The final one was by me and will appear in book #5 of my series of novels. My point—which I occasionally have—is that writers often can successfully write from different points of view.