Showing posts with label Writesex. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Writesex. Show all posts

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker: Writing Coaches and Teachers


Check this out: the fun article I wrote for the new - and wonderful - WriteSex site has just gone up at the equally wonderful Erotica Readers And Writers site.  Here's a tease:


For new writers, the temptation is obvious: after all, if you don’t know something, shouldn’t you seek out a way to learn about it? The question of how to educate yourself as a writer is a necessary and important one, of course, but an often-invisible second question follows: how do you sift through the piles of would-be writing coaches, teachers and other purveyors of advice to find the ones who will lead you toward genuinely better writing? The problem isn’t that there are over-eager teachers galore, but that far too many of them are preaching from ignorance—or just dully quoting what others have already said.

This is particularly true of erotic romance. Now, I have to admit I’ve been more than a bit spoiled by other genres, where you can write about whatever you want without much of a chance—beyond clumsy writing—of getting rejected for not toeing the line, so approaching erotic romance has been a bit more of a challenge. Romance authors, after all, have been told time and time again that there is a very precise, almost exacting, Way of Doing Things … and if you don’t, then bye-bye book deal.

But times have changed, and while a few stubborn publishers still want erotic romantic fiction that follows established formulas, the quantum leap of digital publishing has totally shaken up by-the-numbers approaches to romance writing. Without going too much into it (maybe in another column…), because ebooks are so much easier to produce, publishers can take wonderful risks on new authors and concepts, meaning that they don’t have to wring their hands in fright that the new title they greenlit will go bust and possibly take the whole company with it.

Because of this freedom, erotic romance can be so much more than it ever was: experimental, innovative, unique, challenging, etc. These are no longer the Words of Death when it comes to putting together a book.

One of the great, underlying tasks of teaching—one I love, but with some reverence and an occasional pang of dread—is challenging the boring, formulaic, way that so many talk about writing (which is also to say that a huge part of the reason I love to teach is that it’s a weird form of revenge against all the bad writing teachers I’ve had over the years). There are, however, far too many writing teachers who relentlessly parrot that erotic romance has to follow a strict formula to be successful. They spell out this formula in stomach-cramping detail: what has to happen to each and every character, in each and every chapter, in each and every book.

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Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker: Save the Frog


The coolness continues!  Check out this brand new column I just wrote for the fantastic WriteSex site - where I'll be contributing a monthly piece.  Here's a tease - for the rest you'll have to check out the great site.

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For new writers, the temptation is obvious: after all, if you don’t know something, shouldn’t you seek out a way to learn about it? The question of how to educate yourself as a writer is a necessary and important one, of course, but an often-invisible second question follows: how do you sift through the piles of would-be writing coaches, teachers and other purveyors of advice to find the ones who will lead you toward genuinely better writing? The problem isn’t that there are over-eager teachers galore, but that far too many of them are preaching from ignorance—or just dully quoting what others have already said.

This is particularly true of erotic romance. Now, I have to admit I’ve been more than a bit spoiled by other genres, where you can write about whatever you want without much of a chance—beyond clumsy writing—of getting rejected for not toeing the line, so approaching erotic romance has been a bit more of a challenge. Romance authors, after all, have been told time and time again that there is a very precise, almost exacting, Way of Doing Things … and if you don’t, then bye-bye book deal.

But times have changed, and while a few stubborn publishers still want erotic romantic fiction that follows established formulas, the quantum leap of digital publishing has totally shaken up by-the-numbers approaches to romance writing. Without going too much into it (maybe in another column…), because ebooks are so much easier to produce, publishers can take wonderful risks on new authors and concepts, meaning that they don’t have to wring their hands in fright that the new title they greenlit will go bust and possibly take the whole company with it.

Because of this freedom, erotic romance can be so much more than it ever was: experimental, innovative, unique, challenging, etc. These are no longer the Words of Death when it comes to putting together a book.

One of the great, underlying tasks of teaching—one I love, but with some reverence and an occasional pang of dread—is challenging the boring, formulaic, way that so many talk about writing (which is also to say that a huge part of the reason I love to teach is that it’s a weird form of revenge against all the bad writing teachers I’ve had over the years). There are, however, far too many writing teachers who relentlessly parrot that erotic romance has to follow a strict formula to be successful. They spell out this formula in stomach-cramping detail: what has to happen to each and every character, in each and every chapter, in each and every book.

[MORE]

Thursday, September 26, 2013

WONDERFUL WriteSex!



This is tremendous news: WriteSex - which I've written for in the past - is being ramped up to 11 with a new look, fantastic new contributors, amazing new features ... and more!  A big round of applause goes to Jean Marie Stine for her spearheading of this new and improved WriteSexWay to go, Jean!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

WriteSex And Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker

Busy little bee, aren't I?

Check it out: up on the fantastic Erotica Readers And Writers Association blog is a new Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker piece - AND I have a new article on the fun WriteSex site. Here are teases of both - just click on the [MORE] button to go to the full thing.



A pal of mine asked an interesting question once: what's my definition of erotica, or of pornography? Other folks have been asked these questions, of course, and the answers have been as varied as those asked, but even as I zapped off my own response I started to really think about how people define what they write, and more importantly, why.

It's easy to agree with folks who say there's a difference between erotica and pornography. One of the most frequent definitions is that erotica is sexually explicit literature that talks about something else aside from sex, while porno is sex, sex and more sex and nothing else. The problem with trying to define erotica is that it's purely subjective—even using the erotica-is-more-than-just-sex and porn-is- just-sex-analysis. Where's the line and when do you cross it? One person's literate erotica is another's pure filth. Others like to use a proportional scale a certain percent of sex content—bing!—something becomes porn. Once again: Who sets the scale?

What I find interesting isn't necessarily what the distinction between erotica and pornography should be but why there should be one to begin with. Some writers I've encountered seem to be looking for a clear-cut definition just so they won't be grouped together with the likes of Hustler and Spank Me, Daddy. While I agree that there's a big difference between what's being published in some of the more interesting anthologies, magazines and Web sites as opposed to Hustler and Spank Me, Daddy, I also think that a lot of this searching for a definition is more about ego and less about literary analysis. Rather than risk being put on the shelves next to Hustler and Spank Me Daddy, some writers try to draw up lists and rules that naturally favor what they write compared to what other people write: "I write erotica, but that other stuff is just pornography. Therefore what I write is better."

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Sure, we may all want to just cuddle in our little garrets, a purring pile of fur in our laps, leather patches on our sleeves, a pipe at the ready, and do nothing but write masterpieces all day and night – with periodic breaks for binge-drinking and soon-to-be legendary sexual escapades – but the fact of the matter is that being a writer has totally, completely, changed.I’m not just talking about the need to be a marketing genius and a publicity guru – spending, it feels too often, more time tweeting about Facebook, or Facebooking about tweeting, than actually writing – but that authors really need to be creative when it comes to not just getting the word out about their work but actually making money.

A lot of people who claim to be marketing geniuses and publicity gurus will say that talking about you and your work as loud as possible, as often as possible, is the trick … but have you heard the joke about how to make money with marketing and PR? Punchline: get people to pay you to be a marketing genius and/or a publicity guru. In short: just screaming at the top of the tweety lungs or burying everyone under Facebook posts just won’t do it.

Not that having some form of presence online isn’t essential – far from it: if people can’t find you, after all, then they can’t buy your books. But there’s a big difference between being known and making everyone run for the hills – or at least stop up their9 ears – anytime you say or do anything online.

Balance is the key: don’t just talk about your books or your writing – because, honesty, very few people care about that … even your readers – instead fine a subject that interests you and write about that as well. Give yourself some dimension, some personality, some vulnerability, something … interesting, and not that you are not just an arrogant scream-engine of me-me-me-me. Food, travel, art, history, politics … you pick it, but most of all have fun with it. Forced sincerity is just about as bad as incessant narcissism.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

How To Wonderfully WriteSex

 

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):

Sure, we may all want to just cuddle in our little garrets, a purring pile of fur in our laps, leather patches on our sleeves, a pipe at the ready, and do nothing but write masterpieces all day and night – with periodic breaks for binge-drinking and soon-to-be legendary sexual escapades – but the fact of the matter is that being a writer has totally, completely, changed.

I’m not just talking about the need to be a marketing genius and a publicity guru – spending, it feels too often, more time tweeting about Facebook, or Facebooking about tweeting, than actually writing – but that authors really need to be creative when it comes to not just getting the word out about their work but actually making money.

A lot of people who claim to be marketing geniuses and publicity gurus will say that talking about you and your work as loud as possible, as often as possible, is the trick … but have you heard the joke about how to make money with marketing and PR? Punchline: get people to pay you to be a marketing genius and/or a publicity guru. In short: just screaming at the top of the tweety lungs or burying everyone under Facebook posts just won’t do it.

[MORE]

Saturday, December 01, 2012

How To Wonderfully WriteSex (19)



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):
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 with the 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.
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Saturday, October 06, 2012

How To Wonderfully WriteSex


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):
As I’ve mentioned before, in many ways, I’m a queer beast—in the literary world, especially, because I’m an editor and publisher (for the great Renaissance E Books) as well as a pretty prolific writer. I know the biz from both ends, as someone rejecting as well as getting rejected. Wearing my editorial sombrero, I’ve noticed a trend in the stories and novels I’ve been reading … professional annoyances, pains in the derriere, pissing-off things, and just plain rude stuff that I thought I might vent … er, ah, share with you. This also gives me a chance to explain how to deal with editors—though, as with anything in professional writing, it’s very subjective. This is stuff that I consider important, or frustrating, etc., but another editor might feel completely differently about.
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How To Wonderfully WriteSex (19)



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):

Oh, dear, I’ve done it again. 
You’d think would have learned my lesson – what with the fallout over the whole Me2plagiarism” thing – but I guess not. 
Just in case you may have missed it, I have a new book out, called Finger’s Breadth. As the book is a “sexy gay science fiction thriller” about queer men losing bits of their digits – though, of course, there’s a lot more to the novel than that. 
Anyhow, I thought it would be fun to create another bout ofcrazy publicity by claiming that I would be lopping off one of my own fingersto get the word out about it. 
Naturally, this has caused a bit of a fuss – which got me to thinking, and this thinking got me here: to a brand new Streetwalker about publicity … and pushing the envelope. 
The world of writing has completely, totally, changed – and what’s worse it seems to keep changing, day-by-day if not hour-by-hour. It seems like just this morning that publishing a book was the hard part of the writing life, with publicity being a necessary but secondary evil. But not any more: ebooks and the fall of the empire of publishing have flipped the apple cart over: it’s now publishing is easy and publicity is the hard part … the very hard part. 
What’s made it even worse is that everyone has a solution: you should be on Facebook, you should be on Twitter, you should be on Goodreads, you should be on Red Room, you should be on Google+, you should be doing blog tours, you should be … well, you get the point. The problem with a lot of these so-called solutions is that they are far too often like financial advice … and the old joke about financial advice is still true: the only successful people are the ones telling you how to be successful. 
That’s not to say that you should put your fingers in your ears and hum real loudly: while you shouldn’t try everything in regards to marketing doing absolutely nothing is a lot worse. 
But, anyway, back to me. One thing that’s popped up a lot lately has been people telling me that I’ve crossed a tasteful line in my little publicity stunts – that somehow what I’ve been doing does a disservice to me and my work. 
Yeah, that smarts. But hearing that I also have a rather evil little grin on my face: for what I’ve done is nothing compared to what other writers have done. 
Courtesy of Tony Perrottet of Th e New York Times (“How Writers Build the Brand“), comes more than a few tales of authors who have done whatever they could – and frequently more than that – to get the word out about their product. Case in point are these gems: ” In 1887, Guy de Maupassant sent up a hot-air balloon over the Seine with the name of his latest short story, ‘Le Horla,’ painted on its side. In 1884, Maurice Barrès hired men to wear sandwich boards promoting his literary review, Les Taches d’Encre. In 1932, Colette created her own line of cosmetics sold through a Paris store.”
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Friday, June 29, 2012

How To Wonderfully WriteSex (18)



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):
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 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. The very same “sins” I’ve been posting here on WriteSex. 
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.
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Thursday, May 10, 2012

How To Wonderfully WriteSex (17)


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):

In regards to the last of erotica's sins, a well-known publisher of sexually explicit materials put it elegantly and succinctly: "Just don't fuck anyone to death." As with the rest of the potentially problematic themes I've discussed here, the bottom line is context and execution: you can almost anything if you do it well—and if not well, then don't bother doing it at all.

Violence can be a very seductive element to add to any genre, let alone erotica, mainly because it's just about everywhere around us. Face it, we live in a severely screwed up culture: cut someone's head off and you get an R rating, but give someone head and it's an X. It's kind of natural that many people want to use some degree of violence in their erotica, more than likely because they've seen more people killed than loved on-screen. But violence, especially over-the-top kind of stuff (i.e. run of the mill for Hollywood), usually doesn't fly in erotic writing. Part of that is because erotica editors and publishers know that even putting a little violence in an erotic story or anthology concept can open them up to criticism from all kinds of camps: the left, the right, and even folks who'd normally be fence-sitters—and give a distributor a reason not to carry the book.

One of the biggest risks that can happen with including violence in an erotic story is when the violence affects the sex. That sounds weird; especially since I've often said that including other factors are essential to a well-written erotic story. The problem is that when violence enters a story and has a direct impact on the sex acts or sexuality of the character, or characters, the story can easily come off as either manipulative or pro-violence. Balancing the repercussions of a violent act on a character is tricky, especially as the primary focus of the story. However, when violence is not central to the sexuality of the characters but can affect them in other ways it becomes less easy to finger point—such as in noir, horror, etc—where the violence is background, mood, plot, or similar without a direct and obvious impact on how the character views sex. That's not to say it isn't something to shoot for, but it remains one of the harder tricks to pull off.
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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. 
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Sunday, January 29, 2012

How To Wonderfully WriteSex (15)


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):


Only in erotica can the line “Come, Fido!” be problematic. Unlike some of the other Four Deadly Sins of erotica writing, bestiality is very hard to justify: with few exceptions, it’s not something that can be mistaken for something else, or lie in wait for anyone innocently trying to write about sex. This is unlike, for instance, discussing a first time sexual experience and have it accused of being pro- pedophilia. Bestiality is sex with anything living that’s not human: if it’s not living, then it’s a machine, and if it was once living, then it’s necrophilia.

A story that features—positively or negatively—anything to do with sex with animals is tough if not impossible to sell, though some people have accomplished it. However, there are some odd angles to the bestiality that a lot of people haven’t considered—both positive and negative.

On the negative side, I know a friend who had an erotic science fiction story soundly slammed by one editor because it featured sex with something non-human, technically bestiality—despite the fact that there is a long tradition of erotic science fiction, most recently culminating in the wonderful writing and publishing of Cecilia Tan and her Circlet Press (both very highly recommended). Erotic fantasy stories, too, sometimes get the “we don’t want bestiality” rejection, though myth and legend are packed with sexy demons, mermaids, ghosts, etc. This doesn’t even get into the more classical sexy beasts such as Leda and her famous swan, or Zeus and other randy gods and demi-gods in their various animal forms.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

How To Wonderfully WriteSex (13)


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):

“The assassin readied himself, beginning first by picking up his trusty revolver and carefully threading a silencer onto the barrel.”

That reads right enough, doesn’t it? You look at it and it sings true. But it’s not. Not because the assassin is a product of my imagination but because, except for one very rare instance, silencers cannot be fitted onto revolvers. So every time you see Mannix or Barnaby Jones facing off against some crook with a little tube on the end of their revolver, keep in mind that it has no bearing on reality.

What does this have to go with smut writing? Well, sometimes erotica writers—both old hands and new blood—make the same kind of mistakes: not so much a revolver with a silencer, but definitely the anatomical or psychological equivalent.

People ask me sometimes what kind of research I do to write erotica. The broad answer is that I seriously don’t do that much true research, but I do observe and try and understand human behavior— no matter the interest or orientation—and add that to what I write. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some (ahem) fieldwork involved.

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Monday, August 08, 2011

How To Wonderfully WriteSex (12)


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):

Even before writing about the sex in a sexy story you have to set the stage, decide where this hot and heavy action is going to take place. What a lot of merry pornographers don’t realize is that the where can be just as important as the what in a smutty tale. In other words, to quote a real estate maxim: Location, location … etc.

Way too many times writers will makes their story locales more exotic than the activities of their bump-and-grinding participants: steam rooms, elevators, beaches, hot tubs, hiking trails, space stations, sports cars, airplane bathrooms, phone booths, back alleys, fitting rooms, cabs, sail boats, intensive care wards, locker rooms, under bleachers, peep show booths, movie theaters, offices, libraries, barracks, under a restaurant table, packing lots, rest stops, basements, showrooms — get my drift?

I know I’ve said in the past that sexual experience doesn’t really make a better smut writer, but when it comes to choosing where your characters get to their business, it pays to know quite a bit about the setting you’re getting them into.

Just like making an anatomical or sexual boo-boo in a story, putting your characters into a place that anyone with a tad of experience knows isn’t going to be a fantastic time but rather something that will generate more pain than pleasure is a sure sign of an erotica amateur.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How To Wonderfully WriteSex (11)


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):

There’s no doubt about it, things are really tough right now: aside from the depression/recession that seems to be killing publishers daily—and making life even harder for writers—there’s the too-often- painful transition from print to digital books, and the problem of getting yourself heard in a world full of other authors screaming for attention.

So it’s only natural that writers would feel a lot of pressure to write books and stories to fit what they think is the flavor-of-the-moment, to work only to spec.

So, should you do it? In my opinion the answer is a definitive, absolute, certain … kind of.

Before getting too far into it, I should back up a tiny bit and say that stories are very different—no duh—critters than novels. Aside from the obvious length thing, the big difference between the two is that with stories getting the out into the world usually depends on if you’re writing for a specific anthology, Web site, and such. If that’s the case then, absolutely, you should work to try and meet the guidelines set by the publisher or editor.

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Monday, May 02, 2011

How To Wonderfully WriteSex (10)


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):

It can be very weird being an editor as well as a writer. It’s definitely a kind of schizophrenia, being on both sides of the fence at once: spending the morning rejecting other writers’ stories and then crying myself to sleep when it happens to me. Schizophrenia? Actually it’s more like a kind of sex — bad sex: mornings fucking someone, and then getting fucked myself. Kind of appropriate for smut writing and editing, no?

While I could on for pages and pages about why certain stories don’t make the cut for a project, I’d rather deal with something more … mundane for now — but something that has recently been on my mind. In other words, manuscripts and cover letters.

While I completely agree that good work will always win-out, there is a certain amount of packaging that is needed to get the work to the editor so that it arrives with a smile and not a grimace — and, speaking from experience, sometimes a frown or a grin can be the difference between acceptance or rejection.

Manuscripts are not resumes. The trick with resumes is to catch the eye, to get yours stand out above the rest. Career counselors often recommend bright colors and tricks to get the potential employer to spot a resume in a pile of potentials — but manuscripts are exactly the opposite. With a manuscript you want the work to be the only thing the editor notices — not that you printed the story on bright red paper, or that you used a teeny-tiny font. Anything that gets in the way of the editor reading what you written is a strike against you. Now no real editor will reject a story just because you didn’t know about Standard Manuscript Format (more on that later) but if reading the story is a chore — or you neglected important information with the submission — you might look to be too much trouble to deal with. Remember, there are usually dozens of other stories sitting on that editor’s desk, just waiting to be easier to deal with or read.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How To Wonderfully WriteSex (9)


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):

A friend of mine once called me ambitious. I’m still not sure what he meant by that – was it a compliment or criticism? Put-down or praise? It’s made me think, though, and that’s always a good thing. I’d normally describe ambition as a drive to succeed, a persistence to rise in status, income, reputation, so forth. But what does that mean to a writer? It could be money – but since when is money the answer to anything? It could be reputation – but then a lot of bad writers are well thought of, even famous (are you listening, Tom Clancy?). Ambition can also mean cold-heartedness, or a reckless disregard towards anything and anyone that’s not directly related to a goal.


God, I hope I’m not that.

I do know that writing is important to me – probably the most important thing in my life. Because of that, I look for opportunities to do it, and to get it seen. I rarely let opportunities pass me by: markets, genres, experiments – anything to get the spark going, juice up my creativity, and get my work published. Erotica was one of those things, an opportunity that crossed my path and it has been very good to me. I didn’t think I could edit a book, but then I had a chance to do that as well, and now have done a bunch of the suckers.

The fact is that opportunities never find you: you have to find them. The fantasy of some agent, or publisher, or agent, picking up a phone and calling you out of the blue is just that: a fantasy, or so rare it might as well be just a fantasy. Writing is something that thrives on challenge, growth, and change. Some of that can certainly come from within, but sometimes it takes something from the outside: some push to do better and better, or just different work. Sending work out, proposing projects, working at maintaining good relationships with editors, publishers and other writers is a way of being involved and getting potential work to at least come within earshot. It takes time, it certainly takes energy, but it’s worth it. The work will always be the bottom line, but sometimes it needs help to develop, get out, and be seen – those contacts and giving yourself a professional push is often what it takes.

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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.

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Friday, October 08, 2010

How To Wonderfully WriteSex (7)

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):


“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. It came from an LDS Web site, Meridian Magazine, but I could have picked fifty others. In light of that kind of hatred, 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?

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How To Wonderfully WriteSex (6)

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):


Other writers get it, of course: romance writers live in rosy castles and have crinoline dreams; science fiction authors are pasty-faced nerds with more love for science than humanity; horror pros keep bodies in their basement for research.

It’s natural for people to think that because you write smut … well, it’s pretty obvious that they think: thin, greasy mustaches, seedy domains, hacks, perverts – the clichés pop immediately to mind. But what’s really interesting is that this isn’t the toughest of occupational hazards for the erotica writer. After all, life is full of surprises: the romance author is a cynical young guy, the science fiction writer can’t balance his checkbook, the horror fan loves Fred Astaire movies, and the erotica writer is just doing a job.

Who cares what other people think: it’s what’s inside you that counts – and what’s inside erotica can be very unusual, sometimes almost traumatic.

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