Showing posts with label Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker. Show all posts

Monday, March 11, 2013

Seven M.Christians: Number 3 - My Mission In Life

Check it out: as part of my Seven M.Christian series I just posted the second installment as part of my on-going Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker column for the always-great Erotica Readers And Writers Site:

My Mission In Life

Being a writer – or, to be a bit more precise, the way I became a writer – has really affected how I view the writing life ... well, actually any kind of creative life. Part of it, of course, is that it took me a long time to actually become a professional -- but more than that I think it's the transformation I went through during that far too lengthy process.

Like a lot of people, when I first began to write with an eye to actually getting published, it was a very painful process: the words just didn't come, I was always second-guessing my stories, felt like my characters were dead-on-arrival, and doubt was around much more than confidence or even hope.

But, as we read in our last installment, I kept with it and was able, finally, to step into the word of professionalism. But an odd thing happened during those years: I actually began to like to write.

Shocking, I know (and, yes, that was sarcasm), as that is what writers are supposed feel, but when I wrote like I should have said loved: sure, the words were still clumsy, the plots a struggle, the characters stiff and uncooperative, and I thought more about being out-of-print than ever getting into-print, but somewhere during those years something just clicked and I began to look forward to losing myself in my own tales, having fun with language, playing with characters ... I began to see the joy in actually telling stories.

But, more than that, I began to see the magic – which gets me, in a rather convoluted way, to the title of this little piece. Working on my stories, before and after being a professional, I developed a real appreciation for what it means to be a creator. Distilling it down a bit, I began to see writing – or painting, music, etc – as very special: what a creative person does is truly unique, incredibly difficult, and immeasurably brave.

Think about it for a second: how many people out there, milling about in their lives, have ever even considered doing what a creative person does. Sure, they may think about it, dream about it, but very few actually take even the simplest of shots at it: a creative person is a rare and special treasure. Now consider this: not only are creative people one percent (or less) of the people walking this world but they are willing to actually get off their day-dreaming clouds and do the work – often against overwhelming odds. We hear of the successes, of course: the award-winners, the 'names,' the celebrities – but we don’t hear about millions of others who tried their very best but because of this-or-that they just weren't in the right place at the right time with the right creation. Lastly, even the idea of stepping into a creative life – especially a professional one – is awe-inspiringly courageous: not only do we do the work, struggle with every element, fail and try and learn and fail and try and learn but, despite it all, we keep going.

I call this installment "My Mission In Life" because I've been there, I know the pain of rejection, the struggles of trying to create something from nothing and so when I work with, talk with, or teach – though my classes – anyone doing anything creative I always remind them of their rarity, their dedication, their courage.

I once wrote a little piece that kind of got me into trouble – especially with other writers. In it I laid it on the line: you will never be famous, rich, or have one of your books made into a movie, no one will ask for your autograph ... but, if you remember that what you are doing is rare, special, and brave then some of that might actually happen. The trick is to remember the magic, to forever hold onto the pure enjoyment that comes from creating something that no one has ever seen before.

I don't use the word magic lightly: when it happens just right, when we put it all together, what creative people do is transport people into another world, show them things that they may never have ever considered, and – if we are very lucky – change their lives. If that is not magic then I don't know what is.

So, "My Mission In Life" is (1) remember my own lessons and not lose sight of the joy in creation, the specialness of what I am trying to do, and the courage I have in sending my work out into the too-often cold and uncaring world; and (2) to tell as many creative people the same exact thing.

Sure, some of us might be 'known' a bit more than others, sell more books, make more money and all the rest of that crap – but I sincerely believe that anyone who has dedicated themselves to creation, of any kind, deserves support and respect. No one who creates is better than any other person who creates: we all face the same difficulties, the same ego-shattering failures, the same Sisyphian tasks of trying to get out work out there and noticed.

What writers do is magic -- pure and simple: we are magicians using only our minds, imaginations, and lots of hard to work to use only words to transform, enlighten, transport, amuse and maybe even enlighten.

As a writer, an editor, a friend, and now as a publisher, it is my heartfelt "Mission" to remind anyone who creates that they are truly special: published or not, 'successful' or not, rich or not, famous or not, we are all magicians – and that we are all in this together and that there is absolutely no reason to make an already tough life tougher through needless competition, arrogance, conceit, or just simple rudeness.

We magicians should stick together – and never forget why we are all here: to experience the joy in telling stories.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: Seven M.Christians - Number 1: Intelligence Is Imagination With An Erection

Check it out: as part of my Seven M.Christian series (next one goes up tomorrow, btw) I just posted the first installment as part of my on-going Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker column for the always-great Erotica Readers And Writers Site:

Intelligence Is Imagination With An Erection

I didn't always want to be a writer. Sure, I was one of those kids: the ones who are too bright, too creative, too curious – and, yes, in case you're interested, I was bullied ... a lot – but actually doing anything with that brightness, creativity, curiosity didn't pop into mind until high school.

But, boy, did it POP. In retrospect it's more than a bit ... odd (to be polite) how enthusiastic and disciplined I became about writing. In hindsight a lot of it probably had to do with trying to find an escape from a less-than-perfect family dynamic – but another big motivator was that I'd always been the kid who didn't just talk about doing things: I did them. Perfect example: I remember, in early elementary school, discovering that the science classroom had a darkroom ... so I went home and over the weekend read every book I could on photography so when I came back on Monday I developed my first roll of film and did my first few test prints.

Alas, discipline and enthusiasm are fine and good – actually they are absolutely essential in a writer – but my discipline and enthusiasm was focused on Mount Everest: selling a story to the likes of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Early rejections didn't stop me – in fact nothing stopped me – and I kept trying, kept writing, kept submitting: my goal was a short story a week and/or three pages of writing or three pages of just story ideas.

And, you know, it worked -- sort of. I've never sold a story to Fantasy & Science Fiction but all that work, all that passion, paid off ... abet in a very unusual and totally unexpected way.

Eventually I made my way to the Bay Area, got married, and – on a total whim – took a class from Lisa Palac who, at the time, was editing a magazine called FutureSex. When I discovered ... well, sex, my stories got a little more (ahem) mature. It was one of those stories I was brave enough to hand to Lisa.

What happened next is, to resort to clich̩ Рand hyperbole Рis the stuff of legends: Lisa not just liked the story but bought it. A year later Susie Bright also liked the story and bought it for Best American Erotica 1994.

Sure, it took me ten years of trying (and, yes, you may whistle at that) but that wasn't important. People often ask me why I write what I write -- lesbian erotica, gay erotica, bisexual erotica, kink after fetish after stroke after stroke – and the answer couldn't be simpler.

I am a writer ... and for someone who lives to tell stories, who worked so hard to hang onto that brightness, creativity, curiosity, discipline, and enthusiasm, finding a way to do what I love to do and be recognized for it, in demand for it, and even paid for it there is simply nothing better.

My name is Chris, my main pseudonym is M.Christian, and I am a pornographer ... and I couldn't be happier.

(by the way, the quote that starts this is by Victor Hugo ... and is a kind of personal philosophy)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: What Makes a Good Publisher? (Part 2)

Check this out: I just wrote a brand new "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" piece for the always-great Erotica Readers and Writers site - all my previous columns, of course, have been collected in How To Write And Sell Erotica by Renaissance Books.

Here's a tease:

Before I begin (yet again), a bit of disclosure: While the following has been written in an attempt to be professionally and personally non-biased I am an Associate Publisher for Renaissance E Books. 

Now, with that out of the way (one more time)...


Wanna hear something scary?  The build-up might be a bit slow but, believe me, the punch line is more than worth it. 

It begins like this: I'm in the middle of my all-time favorite part of writing – publicity and marketing (and, yes, that was sarcastic) – of a new book of mine called Stroke The Fire: The Best Manlove Fiction Of M.Christian, which is basically my own personal best-of-my-very-best queer erotica, and I'm doing one of those round-robin guest blog things and a question comes up, "How long did it take you to write the first draft?"

Well, without going into the silly details of how I work I answered that, since the book is made up of stories I've written since I first started writing, technically the book was started in 1994.

Got that?  Well, here it comes: that basically means that the book was 18 years in the making ... now that is a terrifying thought.

What this has to do with this Streetwalker is that it got me thinking a lot more about publishers and publishing – and, believe me, after (sigh) 18 years I've had more than my fair share of them.  That, plus the wonderful comments I got on my previous installment, really got my wheels turning.

One of the big revelations I had as my wheels cranked was to agree with many of the comments my first publisher Streetwalker got: a publisher should, naturally, be considered on the quality of its materials and presence.  After all, if a publisher is sloppy with its contracts and site and so forth that doesn't bode well.

But I also have to say that a misspelling here or there shouldn't necessarily be enough to make a writer walk away: typos, do, after all, happen to the best of us.  Some have suggested doing research on a publisher before signing and while that may, on the surface, be a good idea I can't help but think of all the great books, films, etc., that have gotten petty, spiteful and – let's use the word – stupid comments on places like Amazon, Netflix, and all the rest. 

An excellent reason to use the word stupid, by the way, is that the world of writing, editing, and publishing is extremely small and it is far too common for a person to jump from one publisher to another – so venting bile at one target may, actually, hit a lot of targets ... and too often targets that you might not want to have hit sometime in the future.

So reviews are not a good judge of a publisher – though I do think chatting with other writers who may have worked with a publisher is a good idea, if just so you know what to expect – what really does make a good publisher?

A very common mistake a lot of writers make is that they feel a publisher should be a writer's best friend.  That's not to say that that a publisher shouldn't be supportive and enthusiastic about their authors – that's actually extremely important – but just that there is a big difference between being someone being a friend and suggesting that you swim in shark infested waters.  A good publisher should be encouraging but also have the experience and business sense to know what is good for their writers – and so be able to tell them things like: "We love it.  We think it's wonderfully literary.  We want it.  But don't expect it to sell a lot of copies."


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: What Makes a Good Publisher?

Check this out: I just wrote a brand new "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" piece for the always-great Erotica Readers and Writers site - all my previous columns, of course, have been collected in How To Write And Sell Erotica by Renaissance Books.

Here's a tease:

Before I begin (again), a bit of disclosure: While the following has been written in an attempt to be professionally and personally non-biased I am an Associate Publisher for Renaissance E Books. 

Now, with that out of the way (again)...


The last time I wrote an intro like the above it was for my Streetwalker column Self Or Not? – about why I feel that, even though it can be very alluring, I still recommend writers work with a publisher rather than go the self-publishing route.

After writing that column I've been thinking, a lot, about what makes a good publisher ... especially these days.  Not to (ahem) brag but I've been in the biz for quite a few years and have worked with a lot of publishers – both when books were printed on (gasp) actual paper, as well as in the new digital age, so I think I can say a bit about what makes a good publisher.

As always, keep in mind that this is somewhat subjective: what I like in a publisher may not be what you like in a publisher ... but the somewhat is there because, tastes aside, it's a publisher's job to get your book out so, hopefully, people will buy bunches of copies.

The world – as I mentioned – as totally changed, and so has what publishers not just can do but should be doing.  It may sound a bit ... emotional, but I like a publisher I can talk to – and who talks to me.  Sure, many publishers are simply too busy to answer every email immediately but that they get back to me eventually is more than enough to keep me happy.  I've dealt with far too many publishers who I have to write, write, write and write again to get an answer to even the simplest question.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out-

Check this out: I just wrote a brand new "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" piece for the always-great Erotica Readers and Writers site - all my previous columns, of course, have been collected in How To Write And Sell Erotica by Renaissance Books.

Here's a tease:

It's a huge no-duh that we live in an Information Age: from high speed Internet to 4G cell networks, we can get whatever we want wherever we want it - data-wise - at practically at the speed of light.

But sometimes I miss the old days. No, they weren't - ever - the Good Old Days (I still remember liquid paper, SASEs, and letter-sized manila envelopes ... shudder), but back then a writer had a damned long time to hear about anything to do withthe biz.

If you were lucky you got a monthly mimeographed newsletter but otherwise you spent weeks, even months, before hearing about markets or trends ... and if you actually wanted contact with another writer you either had to pick up the phone, sit down and have coffee, or (gasp) write a letter.

No, I'm far from being a Luddite. To borrow a bit from the great (and late) George Carlin: "I've been uplinked and downloaded. I've been inputted and outsourced. I know the upside of downsizing; I know the downside of upgrading. I'm a high-tech lowlife. A cutting-edge, state-of-the-art, bicoastal mutlitasker, and I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond."

I love living in The World Of Tomorrow. Sure, we may not have food pills or jetpacks but with the push of a ... well, the click of a mouse I can see just about every movie or show I want, read any book ever written, play incredibly realistic games, or learn anything I want to know.

Here it comes, what you've been waiting for ... but ... well, as I've said many times before, writing can be an emotionally difficult, if not actually scarring endeavor. We forget, far too often, to care for ourselves in the manic pursuit of our writing 'careers.' We hover over Facebook, Twitter and blog-after-blog: our creative hopes of success - and fears of failure - rising and falling with every teeny-tiny bit of information that comes our way.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: What's Erotic?

Check this out: I just wrote a brand new "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" piece for the always-great Erotica Readers and Writers site - all my previous columns, of course, have been collected in How To Write And Sell Erotica by Renaissance Books.

Here's a tease:

It's one of the most common questions I get asked – by budding writers via email or in person during one of my (ahem) Sex Sells: Erotica Writing classes: what makes an erotic story ... erotic?

But before I answer [insert suspenseful music here] a bit of exposition is in order: there is a huge difference in writing for yourself, such as when you are first dipping your ... toes into erotica writing, and when you've made the very brave decision to throw your work out into the professional world.

If you are writing for yourself then you really don't need to be thinking about sex (or the amount of it) at all: you're writing for your pleasure, or just as practice.

But if you do decide to send your work out you really do need to be pay close attention to where you're submitting: when a publisher or editor puts out a call for submissions they are often – or should be – quite clear about the amount of sexuality they need or want from a writer.  If you're sending a story, say, to a site, anthology or whatever it's always a good idea to scope out the territory, so to speak: read what the editor has accepted before, take a gander at the site ... and so forth.  That, at least, should give you a ballpark feeling of what (and how much) they are looking for.

But [insert dramatic drum roll] as far as the right, perfect, ideal, amount of sex for a story that isn't just for your own pleasure, or a very specific market, goes ... well, what's sex?


Monday, August 13, 2012

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: "Oh, how beautiful."

Check this out: I just wrote a brand new "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" piece for the always-great Erotica Readers and Writers site - all my previous columns, of course, have been collected in How To Write And Sell Erotica by Renaissance Books.

Here's a tease:

Funny that these columns are called Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker because ... well, I have a confession to make. 

I'm very much on the fence about the whole thing, and am still dealing with doubts about whether or not I've made the right decision but - in the end - I think it will end up being a good thing.

I know, I know: I've been a rather vocal - if not strident - opponent of that particular corner of the social media universe, but a very good friend of mine pointed out that, to call down The Bard, I "doth protest too much."

It hasn't been easy: I tell ya, nothing like having a nearly (gasp) twenty year writing career resulting in only 433 'friends' and 68'likes' on my author page to really make the dreaded depression demon really flare up. 

But I'm sticking with it - not because I think that I have to, or that Facebook is the end-all, be-all solution to all my publicity needs - but because it was something I really, honestly, didn't want to do.

Obviously, explanations are in order.  See, I'm a firm believer in pushing yourself in all kinds of ways: as a person and, particularly, as a writer.  Sure, you have to like what you are doing - both in how you live your life as well as the words you put down on 'paper' - but growth comes not from comfort but from adversity, from challenge. 

I didn't set out to be an pornographer, but then an opportunity presented itself and (surprise!) I was actually pretty good at it.  I didn’t plan on being a 'gay' writer - because, no duh - I'm not, but (surprise!) I not just did it but came to really enjoy it.  I didn’t think I could be a teacher, but (surprise!) I've found that I really get a kick out of it.

I may have hated Facebook - hell, I still hate Facebook - but I had to at least try it.  Maybe it will work out, maybe it won't, but at least I'll have stretched myself.

For creative people of any ilk, that’s extremely important.  For one thing, it can keep your creativity rip-and-roaring, key to avoiding deathly boredom and staleness.  Professionally, it's essential: writing just what you want, what you’re comfortable with, can really limit where you can sell your work.  That you love to write, say, erotic romances is fine and dandy but if you do then there will only so many places to show off, or publish, your work. 

You want examples?  Fine: I'm now on Facebook – we’ve already discussed that uncomfortable fact - but since I've written quite a few queer novels I've decided that my next one is going to be (you ready for this?) straight - and not just straight but with a 'happy' ending.  My short story work, too, has a tendency to be, let's be honest here, bittersweet at best - so my next collection is going to be much more uplifting.  I've never written a play, so I'm planning on writing one sometime this year.  I've never written for comics - well, I wrote one - so I'm going to work on more.  Will these projects be tough?  Sure they will: but who knows what I may discover about myself and what I'm capable of?

Who knows, maybe even Facebook and I will become fast and good friends and will walk down the social media aisle together, skipping merrily and holding hands.

And if not ... well, I tried.  There is nothing wrong with giving something a shot but then deciding it's not for you.  Rejection, both internal as well as external, is part of a writer's life.  There's nothing wrong with it.  Trial and error is how we learn, how we grow. 

Writers far too often think that the 'names', the celebrities, the legends sat down and created wonders of the written word, masterpieces of story, with no trials and tribulations.  But - as I've said before - writers are liars and very few will admit that they might have been an overnight success ... after failing for decades. 


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: Bond, James Bond ... Or Do I Really Need An Agent?

Check this out: I just wrote a brand new "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" piece for the always-great Erotica Readers & Writers site - all my previous columns, of course, have been collected in How To Write And Sell Erotica by Renaissance Books.  Here's a tease:

The world of professional writing can be ... no, that's not right: the world of professional writing is - without a doubt - a very frightening, confusing place.

Not only are there only a few diehard rules – to either slavishly follow or studiously avoid - but even basic trust can be a very, very rare: should I put my work on my site, or will it be stolen?  Should I even send my work out to other writers, for the very same reason? 

What about editors or - especially - publishers?  Does my editor really have my best interests in mind?  Should I make the changes he or she suggests or should I stand my ground and refuse to change even one word?  Is my publisher doing all they can for my book?  Are they being honest about royalties? 

Back in the days of print - before the revolution – a lot of these questions would have been answered by an agent: a person who not only knew the business but would actually hold a writer's hand and lead them from that doubt and fear and, hopefully, towards success ... however you want to define that word.

Agents spoke the cryptic language of rights and royalties: they could actually read – and even more amazingly - understand a book contract.  They'd be able, with their experience and foresight, to say when a writer should say yes or no to edits.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Confessions of A Literary Streetwalker: What Is Sex ... And How Much?

Check this out: I just wrote a brand new "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" piece for the always-great Erotica Readers & Writers site - all my previous columns, of course, have been collected in How To Write And Sell Erotica by Renaissance Books.  Here's a tease:

So let's ask the question: what is sex – especially what is sex when it comes to writing erotica? 

I will not begin with a dictionary definition ... I will not begin with a dictionary definition ... I will not begin with a dictionary definition ...

It's a very common misconception that erotica is supposed to turn the reader on ... or to be exact, that it is supposed to be written to turn the reader on. 

There's a huge problem with that, though: mainly that you, as a writer, have no idea what turns a reader on.  Even getting the cheat sheet of writing for a specific anthology there is no way you can possibly cover every permutation of that theme. 

Let's pick anal sex, just to be provocative: some people like anal sex people of the pure sensation receiving, or giving; while others have their desire mixed with domination or submission, etc., etc, etc.  Bottom line – sorry about that – you, as an erotica writer, cannot cover everything, erotically, when you write.

So how do you know how much sex to put into a story – and how to approach what sex you do put into a story? 


Thursday, May 24, 2012

GLBT Live Chats with the Pros At The Erotica Readers & Writers Association!

GLBT erotica is a genre to be reckoned with, and The Erotica Readers and Writers Association will help interested authors with two GLBT Live Chats with the Pros: Delilah Devlin and M. Christian will be on hand to answer questions, offer advice, and exchange ideas with authors of GLBT erotica. Whether you're penning your first gay fiction, or are a spicy-seasoned pro, don't miss this opportunity.

M. Christian, associate publisher for Renaissance E Books (which includes Sizzler Editions), is an acknowledged master of erotica with more than 400 stories in such anthologies as Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, and Best Bisexual Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica. If you want to know what GLBT editors want (and don't want) and how to make your submissions stand out, M. Christian will be happy to answer your questions.
Read more about M. Christian at

ERWA chats are held on the ShadowWorld chat server, channel#erachat.

(Follow the link above. On screen you'll see 'Connect to ShadowWorld IRC'. In the Nickname box, key in your name. Leave the channels box at #ERAChat, and click 'Connect'. A chat text box will appear at the bottom of your screen)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Confessions of A Literary Streetwalker: "A Cookie Full Of Arsenic"

Ever seen Sweet Smell of Success?  If you haven't then you should: because, even though the film was shot in 1957, it rings far too much, and far too loudly, in 2012.

In a nutshell, Sweet Smell of Success (directed by Alexander Mackendrick from a script by the amazing Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman) is about the all-powerful columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) – who can make or break anyone and anything he wants -- and the desperate press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis), who loses everything for trying to curry favor with Hunsecker for ... well, that Sweet Smell of Success.

So ... 1957 to 2012.  A lot's changed, that's for sure.  But recently rewatching this, one of my all-time favorite films, gave me a very uncomfortable chill.  But first a bit of history (stop that groaning): you see, J.J. Hunsecker was based – more than thinly – on another all-powerful columnist, the man who once said, about the who he was, and the power he wielded as, " I'm just a son of a bitch."

There was even a word, created by Robert Heinlein of all people, to describe a person like this: winchell – for the man himself -- Walter Winchell.

A book, movie, star, politician – anyone who wanted success would do, and frequently did, anything for both Walter and his fictional doppelganger J.J. Hunsecker.  Their power was absolute ... even a rumor, a fraction of a sentence could mean the difference between headlines and the morgue of a dead career.  As Hunsecker puts it to a poor entertainer who crossed him: "You're dead, son. Get yourself buried."

Welcome to 2012: we have iPhones, Ipads, Nooks, Kindle's, 4G, Bluetooth, Facebook, Twitter ... in many ways we're just a food pill away from every futuristic fantasy ever put-to-pulp.  But there's a problem ... and it’s a big one.

I think it's time to bring winchell back ... not the man, of course, even if that were possible, but the word.  Yes, a lot has changed from Walter and Sweet Smell of Success but, sadly, as the old cliché goes: "the more things change the more they stay the same."

The Internet has altered – quite literally – everything, but in many ways the speed, and totality, of its change has made a lot of people, writers to readers to just-plain-surfers, desperate for benchmarks: a place or person to go to that, they hope, will be there in the morning.

For writers this often means an editor, site, or just another writer.  In the 'biz' these people are called names: meaning that mentioning by them seems to have a kind of rub-for-luck power for other writers – with the ultimate prize being (gasp) noticed by them.  Sadly, this make-or-break mojo is occasionally true – though a surprising large number of these “names” are only divine in their twisted little minds.

I've said it before and so, naturally, I have to say it again: writing anything – smut to whatever you want to create – is damned hard work: all of us writers put our heart and souls down on the digital page and then send it out into a far-too-frequently uncaring digital universe.  No writer ... let me say that again with vehement emphasis ... is better than any other writer.  Sure, a few get paid more, have more books or stories published, but the work involved is the same – as is their history: name any ... well, name and you will see a person who, once upon a time, was sitting in the dark with nothing but hopes and dreams. 

Which is why these ... winchells give me unpleasant flashbacks to Lancaster telling Curtis: "Son, I don't relish shooting a mosquito with an elephant gun, so why don't you just shuffle along?"

Honestly, I will get to the point: never forget that what you are doing, as a writer, is special and wonderful.  Yeah, you might be rough around the edges; sure, you may be years away from stepping out of the shadows and into the blinding light of being (gasp) a name yourself; but you deserve respect.

I have a simple rule.  Okay, it might be a little harsh but it keeps me going in the face of trying to get out there into the big, wide, and far-too-uncaring world: ignore me and I ignore you. 

Facebook likes and comments, twitter responses, by the way, don't count.  That's not communication – at least not to me (not to sound like a crotchety old man).  If I write anyone – an editor, site, or just another writer – and I don't get an answer then I wish you into the cornfield.  The same goes with rude responses ... like the writer who asked me to promote her book.  I said that I would if she'd promote mine as well.  Quid pro quo, right?  She never wrote back – not even after a few polite suggestions for mutual exposure  ... so I hope she likes popcorn.

Being rude, not answering messages, playing the "are you a name? If not then screw you" game: there is no reason for this behavior.  Never!

Instead of trying to suck to up names or support them and their sites with a pathetic fantasy that you, too, may actually be seen by them, find some real, true, and good friends: people who will hold your hand when it gets dark and scary; who will bring you along no matter where they go; who understand the bumps in the road because they, too, are on the same path; who will understand kindness but also karma – that good begets good. 

Being a winchell may taste good, at first: being able to consider yourself better than other writers, to associate with other names in the business, to be able to make – or break – anyone who want for whatever reason you have ... but there's a great Hollywood expression that rings in my head just as loudly as any line from Sweet Smell of Success:

Always be nice to the people you meet on the way up, because those are the very same people you'll be meeting on the way back down.

In closing, remember that anyone, anywhere – name or not -- who doesn't treat you with at least professional equality, mutual respect, or just simple human politeness is, to quote from Sweet Smell of Success: "A cookie full of arsenic."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: Self Or Not?

Check this out: I just wrote a neat little "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" for the great Erotica Readers & Writers site about the perils of self-publishing.  Here's a tease - for the rest just check here.

Before I begin, a bit of disclosure: While the following has been written in an attempt to be professionally and personally non-biased I am an Associate Publisher for Renaissance E Books. 

Now, with that out of the way...

So, should you stay with the traditional model of working with a publisher or go the self-publishing route?

I'd be lying if I said I haven't been thinking – a lot -- about this.  The arguments for stepping out on your own are certainly alluring, to put it mildly: being able to keep every dime you make – instead of being paid a royalty – and having total and complete control of your work being the big two. 

But after putting on my thinking cap – ponder, ponder, ponder -- I've come to a few conclusions that are going to keep me and my work with publishers for quite some time.

As always, take what I'm going to say there with a hefty dose of sodium chloride: what works for me ... well, works for me and maybe not you.

Being on both sides of the publishing fence – as a writer, editor, and now publisher (even as a Associate Publisher) -- has given me a pretty unique view of the world of not just writing books, working to get them out into the world, but also a pretty good glimpse at the clockwork mechanisms than run the whole shebang. 

For example, there's been a long tradition of writers if not actively hating then loudly grumbling about their publishers.  You name it and writers will bitch about it: the covers, the publicity (or lack of), royalties ... ad infinitum.  Okay, I have to admit more than a few grouches have been mine but with (and I really hate to say this) age has come a change in my perspective.  No, I don't think publishers should be given carte blanch to do with as they please and, absolutely, I think that writers should always have the freedom to speak up if things are not to their liking, but that also doesn't mean that publisher's are hand-wringing villains cackling at taking advantage of poor, unfortunate authors.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

How To Wonderfully WriteSex (16)

Check it out: my new post at the fantastic WriteSex site just went up. Here's a tease (for the rest you'll have to go to the site):
Like bestiality—and unlike underage sexuality—incest is a tough nut: it’s not something you might accidentally insert into an erotic story. Also like bestiality, it’s something that can definitely push—if not slam—the buttons of an editor or publisher. Yet, as with all of these “sins,” the rules are not as set in stone as you’d think. Hell, I even managed to not only write and sell an incest story (“Spike,” which is the lead story in Dirty Words) but it also ended up in Best Gay Erotica. The trick, and with any of these erotic button-pushers, is context. In the case of “Spike” I took a humorous, surreal take on brother/brother sexuality, depicting a pair of twin punks who share and share alike sexually, until their world is shattered (and expanded) by some rough S/M play. 
As with any of the “sins,” a story that deals with incest in a thought- provoking or sideways humorous manner might not scream at an editor or publisher I’M AN INCEST STORY. Instead, it will come across as humorous or thought-provoking first, and as a tale dealing with incest second. Still, once it comes to light, there’s always a chance the story might still scream a bit, but if you’re a skilled writer telling an interesting story, there’s still a chance quality could win over the theme. 
Unlike bestiality, incest has very, very few stretches (like aliens and myths with bestiality). It’s very hard to stumble into incest. In short, you’re related or you’re not. As far as degree of relationship, that depends on the story and the intent: immediate family relations are damned tough to deal with, but first cousins fooling around behind the barn are quite another. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: The Four ... Well, Five Deadly Sins. #5: Oh, Shit

Check this out: I just wrote a brand new "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" piece for the always-great Erotica Readers & Writers site - all my previous columns, of course, have been collected in How To Write And Sell Erotica by Renaissance Books.  Here's a tease:

Back in the 'good old days' of smut – when pornographers had to haul their steaming piles of sexually explicit materials up four and five flights of stairs – a certain writer with a gleam of sexy potential in his mesmerizing green eyes ... okay, I mean me ... wrote a column for the fantastic Adrienne here at Erotica Readers & Writers called "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker."

Now one of the things I did was part of being a Streetwalker that really took off was a little series I did called "The Four Deadly Sins:" a playful examination of the things that smut writers could do but that could – to put it mildly – make their work a tough sell.

Fast forward a ... decade?!  Sigh.  Anyway, I had to put aside my Streetwalker days for other things but that little verboten list has always been by my side, especially since I'm now an Associate Publisher for the wonderful Renaissance Books (which includes Sizzler Editions, our erotica line).  By the way [COMMERCIAL WARNING] my old columns are now in a dead-tree and ebook collection called How To Write And Sell Erotica [COMMERCIAL ENDS].

The reason why those "sins" stay with me is because one of my Associate Publisher things is to consider books for publication – and still, today, erotica writers don't seem to understand that while, sure, you can pretty much write whatever you want there are still some things that will more-than-likely keep your work from seeing the light of day.  Just for the record, the four are underage (self-explanatory), beastiality (same), incest (ditto) and excessive violence (torture porn or nonconsensual sex).  But I'm here to talk about a new one that's popped up ... or 'pooped out' to blow the joke.


Friday, December 09, 2011

The Harsh Realities Of Writing Smut

I really do have some wonderful friends - just check out my dear pal billierosie, who posted my little piece on the perils of erotica writing (from How To Write And Sell Erotica) on her blog.  Thanks so much, billierosie!

Before I say anything here's a hearty and heart-felt THANKS to Billierosie for her love and support --- and for her wanting to share this little piece I wrote about the reality of being a smut writer. Little, alas, has changed from when I wrote this -- and when it was published in “How to write and sell Erotica:” sex and sex writing is still something that seems to bring out a lot of strange things for far too many people and, until we evolve as a species, everyone who wants to say anything about eroticism needs to have a very firm grasp of what that means. 
"The shock of September 11 is subsiding. Each day adds distance. Distance diminishes fear. Cautiously our lives are returning to normal. But "normal" will never be the same again. We have seen the enemy and the enemy is among us .... the publishers, producers, peddlers and purveyors of pornography." 
It didn't take me long to find that quote, just a few minutes of searching. It came from an LDS Web site, Meridian Magazine, but I could have picked fifty others. Maybe it's because of the election, or because of a few horror stories that have recently come my way, but I think it's time to have a chat about what it can mean to ... well, do what we do.
We write pornography. Say it with me: por-nog-ra-phy. Not 'erotica' -- a word too many writers use to distance themselves, or even elevate themselves, from the down and dirty stuff on most adult bookstore shelves -- but smut, filth ... and so forth. 
I've mentioned before how it's dangerous to draw a line in the sand, putting fellow writers on the side of 'smut' and others in 'erotica.' The Supreme Court couldn't decide where to scrawl that mark -- what chance do we have? 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Circlet Likes How to Write and Sell Erotica

The good stuff just keeps on coming!  Check out this very nice review of my book How To Write And Sell Erotica by TammyJo Eckhart on the Circlet Press site:

There’s a myth I’ve heard as an author: Authors are Wealthy. Not so much, and I can’t say that I’ve ever met a wealthy author who did nothing but write erotica. You can win awards and you can have a dozens of works out there but the common expression “Keep your 9-5” applies to a genre writer. Being an author is a lot more work than you imagined.

That’s where books like M. Christian’s How to Write and Sell Erotica Tips of the Trade from a Literary Streetwalker can lend a helping hand for the beginner. There are dozens of how-to guides for new authors, so the trick is to find one that offers you honest advice that you can apply to your life.
You may have heard of Christian if you’ve read science fiction, gay, or BDSM erotica in the past two decades because his personal publication record is quite lovely to read. However, he isn’t only a fiction author: he’s edited a lot of books and writes a weekly column about writing and the publishing business.

This book grew from his weekly column with Erotica Readers and Writers Association (ERWA) which, if you aren’t already, you need to be familiar with if you want to any money. In thirty-seven previously published essays on the ERWA website, Christian covers everything from the basics of writing to the complexities of contracts and marketing. His style may put off some readers, however, because it is more conversational and his truths can be discouraging for those with unrealistic expectations.

Having seen some truly terrible erotica in my own time, I have to say that his advice is both on the mark and far from it. You see, some of this terrible writing I’ve seen has been published,  bought by low-quality publishers or self-published. With enough time and effort, almost anyone can become “published” these days. Making a living as an author is a very different matter. Creating quality stories that will be remembered is another issue entirely. Christian touches on all these topics.

In addition to Christian, there are eight other erotica authors and editors in this book answering the same set of three questions, allowing us to see how different and yet how similar their careers have been. By including nine different perspectives this guide avoids promoting the flawed idea that what works for one author will work for another.

Most manuals for writing include a listing of publishers and agents but How to Write and Sell Erotica does not.  Publishing is an on-the-edge business. Publishers and agents frequently fail or change what they will work with. There are dishonest people claiming the role of agent or publisher as well. Giving any list is saying that those listed are reliable and useful; that just might not be the case in a year or two.

In general the overall flow of the essays in this book goes from the basics to the more complex issues, though some topics, like what words to use and how to do research, are tackled a few times. The fact is that writing for a living is complicated work, hard work, and Christian never lets us forget that in this book. His joys, his frustrations, his victories and successes are all written with an engaging and blunt style. If you take this book for what it is–experiences you can learn from–and are not looking for the one true way to be an erotica writer, you’ll gain much from this collection of essays.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How To Write And Sell Erotica - Now On Amazon!

For all you folks you may have been waiting to buy my brand-new book, How To Write And Sell Erotica, until it was up on amazon well, ta-da, it's now up there.  So buy the damned thing, will ya?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How To Wonderfully WriteSex (8)

Check it out: my new post at the fantastic WriteSex site just went up. Here's a tease (for the rest you'll have to go to the site):

Please read this if you just had something rejected:

It’s part of being a writer. Everyone gets rejected. Repeat after me: EVERYONE GETS REJECTED. This does not mean you are a bad writer or a bad person. Stories get rejected for all kinds of reasons, from “just not the right style” to a just plain grouchy (or really dumb) editor. Take a few deep breaths, do a little research, and send the story right out again or put it in a drawer, forget about it, remember it again, take it out, read it, and realize it really is DAMNED good. Then send it out again.

Never forget that writing is subjective. My idea of a good story is not yours, yours is not his, and his is not mine. Just because an editor doesn’t like your story doesn’t mean that everyone will, or must, dislike it as well. Popularity and money don’t equal quality, and struggle and disappointment don’t mean bad work. Keep trying. Keep trying. Keep trying.

Think about the rewards, about what you’re doing when you write. I love films, but I hate it when people think they are the ultimate artistic expression. Look at a movie – any movie – and you see one name above all the others: the director, usually. But did he write the script, set the stage, design the costumes, act, compose the music, or anything really except point the camera and tell everyone where to stand? A writer is all of that. A director stands on the shoulders of hundreds of people, but a writer is alone. Steinbeck, Hemmingway, Austin, Shakespeare, Homer, Joyce, Faulkner, Woolf, Mishima, Chekhov – all of them, every writer, created works of wonder and beauty all by themselves. That is marvelous. Special. That one person can create a work that can last for decades, centuries, or even millennia. We pick up a book, and through the power of the author’s words, we go somewhere we have never been, become someone new, and experience things we never imagined. More than anything else in this world, that is true, real magic.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Listen To Me!

Here is a real treat, if I do say so myself ... which I do because this is a very cool audio interview between myself and my wonderful friend, and Renaissance Publisher, Jean Marie Stine about all kinds of things, including the release of my brand new book, How To Write And Sell Erotica, and the new anthologies I'm editing for Renaissance.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Out Now: How To Write And Sell Erotica!

And the good news just keeps on coming!  Remember how I mentioned that a book of my Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker columns (written for the always-great Erotica Readers & Writers Association) was in the works?  Well, the book just came out from my favorite folks, Sizzler Editions!  More on the book very shortly but just let me say that I am very excited and very pleased by this new release!

"Want to write erotica and GET PUBLISHED? Then do yourself a favor and buy this book!"
-Marilyn Jaye Lewis, author, founder The Erotic Authors Association

No one knows more about writing and selling erotica, from inspiration to publication, than M. Christian. The author of over three hundred stories, eight collections of his own shorter work, five novels, and the editor of over two dozen anthologies, he has seen process from every point of view, as writer, editor and publisher. In this unique insider's guide, he makes the path easy for others with lifesaving tips, hard-earned lessons and personal observations, including how to:

* incorporate the key elements that make an erotic story sell
* think sexy and cultivate your erotic imagination
* create plots and characters that turn readers on
* put the right dash of sex in a sex story
* sell your work to magazines, websites, anthologies, book publishers
* write convincing stories for sexual orientation and interests beyond your own
* find the best internet resources for writers of erotica
* pinpoint the right place to sell your work
* get along with editors and publishers
* respond correctly to fans, reviewers and criticism
* and much much more

"... practical insider’s tips ... a fearlessly honest look at the realities of publishing erotica ... will educate, amuse and inspire veterans and new writers alike. A must-read."
-Donna George Storey, author Amorous Woman

M.Christian is - among many things - an acknowledged master of erotica with more than 300 stories in such anthologies as Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Bisexual Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica, and many, many other anthologies, magazines, and Web sites. He is the editor of 25 anthologies including the Best S/M Erotica series, The Burning Pen, Guilty Pleasures, The Mammoth Book of Future Cops and The Mammoth Book of Tales of the Road (with Maxim Jakubowksi) and Confessions, Garden of Perverse, and Amazons (with Sage Vivant) as well as many others. He is the author of the collections Dirty Words, Speaking Parts, The Bachelor Machine, Licks & Promises, Filthy, Love Without Gun Control, Rude Mechanicals, and Coming Together: M.Christian; and the novels Running Dry, The Very Bloody Marys, Me2, Brushes, and Painted Doll.

Plus streetwise advice fomleading writers like:
    • Cecilia Tan
    • Thomas Roche
    • Catherine Lundoff
    • Donna George Storey
    • Jude Mason
    • Lisabet Sarai
    • Patrick Califia
    • Sage Viviant
    • Shanna Germain
    • Carol Queen