Dyslexic and semi-literate ‘publisher’ starting major new genre press; thinks ‘loving the genre’ and being ‘financially solvent’ will be enough.
Long weekend, writing deadlines, Labor Day parties – sorry for not updating sooner. Here we go:
Laura Kaye (@laurakayeauthor) vs Scarlet Day (@scarletdaybooks)
Amber Belldene (@AmberBelldene) and Lexxie Couper (@lexxie_couper )
Holley Trent (@HolleyTrent) Vs Kelly Jamieson (@KellyJamieson)
Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985) vs Danni Price (@DanniPriceWrite)
Amanda Usen (@AmandaUsen) vs Shari Slade (@ShariSlade) & Amber Lin (@AuthorAmberLin)
Sex Scene Championship Part 2 Round 10 : Vivian Arend (@VivianArend) vs Kacey Hammell (@KaceyHammell )
Blessed be the weekend, for it is long and full of writing!
In a few days, I’ll post complete images of a new book art piece over on my 2014 Book Arts page. Here’s a teaser:
One of the joys of doing book arts pieces is that I get to use my old poetry, rather than trying to sell it for one cent a word in poetry journals very few people ever read. If I’m lucky, the books go to universities and private collectors who enjoy the words as well as the art framing them.
Materials: cotton, linen, machine-made cotton lace, hemp thread, glass beads, commercially-printed fabric with a daVinci theme (Japan), laser-jet printed portraits and text pages, historical images drawn from Neo-Classical engravings.
‘Arachne’ is a poem I wrote over a decade ago, always intending it for book arts content. Like ‘Handprint’, ‘Guiding Angels’, and other works, this one falls squarely into my agnostic philosophies about the dangers/usefulness of relying on gods. I’m going to be very happy with how ‘Arachne’ has turned out.
by Marian Crane
We work from the center of a web. Every moment, strands shiver to the ticking clock,
The passage of leviathans half-seen, slow voices counting one number a year,
Always faster than glory inching from our fingers.
Wind blows. All our spinning frays to gray rags in the dusk.
We do not own the web or the wood, the steel or the silk.
But we own Vision until the moment we make it real.
Is this how Arachne felt? Not hubris, but love of the work challenged Athena only playing at her loom.
Milton dared us to reach for heaven.
Gods lay shadows on the path. They cannot quench the furious thunder within us –
Are they jealous?
The clock chimes: thread a new needle under starlight.
Update (more here): here’s the finished cover.
Since I’m on long work hours this week and under writing deadlines, the rest of my tournament posts will be brief. You’ve already read the excerpts, but you can go back to read my quick summaries in the part one posts.
Moving along to Part Two!
Round One: Samantha Ann King ( @SamanthaAnnKing) vs Cris Anson
Round Two: Leela Lou Dahlin vs Regina Kammer
Round Three: Jade Lee writing as Kathy Lyons (@JadeLeeAuthor) and Jack L.Pyke
Go. Read. Vote. Prizes.
Your favorite authors need some ego-boosting too: you’d be surprised how many relatively new authors made it into the second part, against some seasoned veterans of erotic romance. So feel free to leave comments on the Scorching Book Reviews excerpt posts, just to share the love. We write in a vacuum, so it’s good to hear from our readers and fans…
The first round is behind us – here’s to everyone for playing. Now we’re up to the second tier of brackets, and things should really heat up. Remember, read and vote for your favorite of each pair of excerpts; you could win prizes after all the dust has settled.
Here’s the schedule for tournament pairs over at Scorching Book Reviews for the second tier:
26th August AM – Samantha Ann King Vs Cris Anson
26th August PM – Leela Lou Dahlin Vs Regina Kammer
27th August AM – Jack L Pyke Vs Jade Lee writing as Kathy Lyons
27th August PM – Tessa Bailey Vs Ambrielle Kirk
28th August AM – Laura Kaye Vs Scarlet Day
28th August PM – Amber Belldene Vs Lexxie Couper
29th August AM – Holley Trent Vs Kelly Jamieson
29th August PM – Danni Price Vs Lucy Felthouse
30th August AM – Shari Slade and Amber Lin Vs Amanda Usen
30th August PM – Kacey Hammell Vs Vivian Arend
31st August AM – Sidney Bristol Vs Diane Albert
31st August PM – Lynda Aicher Vs Nico Jaye
1st September AM – Eden Bradley Vs Amber A. Bardan
1st September PM – Lane Hart Vs Shelly Bell
2nd September AM – Winner of Round 29 Vs Winner of Round 30
2nd September PM – Winner of Round 31 Vs Anais Morgan
From Scorching Book Reviews, Nix posts the following:
“The winner of round 15 is Danni Price! Massive thanks to Misa Buckley for joining in!
The winner of round 16 is Lucy Felthouse! Massive thanks to Lisa Fox for joining in!
The winners of round 17 are Shari Slade and Amber Lin! Massive thanks to Joely Sue Burkhart for joining in!
The winner of round 18 is Amanda Usen! Massive thanks to Biance D’arden for joining in!
The winner of round 19 is Kacey Hammell! Massive thanks to Gail Bridges for joining in!
The winner of round 20 is Viv Arend! Massive thanks to Crane Hana for joining in!
The winner of round 21 is Sidney Bristol! Massive thanks to Sami Lee for joining in!
The winner of round 22 is Diane Albert! Massive thanks to Tonya Burrows for joining in!
The winner of round 23 is Lydia Aicher! Massive thanks to Sessha Batto for joining in!
The winner of round 24 is Nico Jaye! Massive thanks to Alyssa Cole for joining in!
The winner of round 25 is Eden Bradley! Massive thanks to Lynne Barron for joining in!
The winner of round 26 is Amber A. Bardan! Massive thanks to Suz deMello for joining in!
The winner of round 27 is Lane Hart! Massive thanks to Draven St James for joining in!
The winner of round 28 is Shelly Bell! Massive thanks to Hanna Martine for joining in!”
Which means that the next post will lay out our contestants for Round Two. Stay tuned…
Here’s the last round of Part One of the tournament: Cari Silverwood ( @carisilverwood) squares off against Nicolette Day ( @Nicolette_Day)
Snippet 1: M/F Dom/sub foreplay with collar and leash.
Snippet 2: M/F oral foreplay after a year of teasing.
Since Moro’s Price stumbled off Amazon last January and was relisted through heroic efforts from Loose Id, I’ve been watching mostly domestic sales in the US.
I don’t know why, but the last month has seen a strong sales spike from Canadian and UK buyers. Thank you so much! You have my heartfelt gratitude, and my promise that I am busy writing the sequel (unrelated legal delays over the last two years, job stuff, health issues, yada yada yada.)
I don’t have a street team, or print books, or even a book that would benefit from flyers and giveaway swag. I don’t promote my work that much in my local area, for various reasons including slight stage fright and extreme laziness on my part. So I’m thrilled whenever a new review (good or bad, it’s still a review) comes out, or when readers discuss my work online.
Your interest helps get the word out about this book, and makes me feel like I’m not writing on a desert island.
So, since I was away from the computer yesterday, this will be a double post. I’m assuming that most of you currently following the tournament are doing so from the Scorching Book Reviews site itself, but this blog will be a good future reference.
Moving along, Round 27 features Lane Hart ( @WritingfromHart) vs Draven St. James ( @DravenStJames)
Snippet 1: M/F vampire/human angry sex
Snippet 2: M/M foreplay with removing leather pants and adding a blindfold.
Snippet 1: a dark country parking lot, live Scottish music in the background, and an easy-access kilt lead to a blowjob to remember.
Snippet 2: M/F silence kink, double stimulation, and power games as a female sub takes flight.
Round 29 tosses two formidable M/M authors in the same ring: Kimber Vale ( @KimberVale) and Vanessa North( @vanessanwrites)
Snippet 1: anal, clothes kink with jeans and a silk thong.
Snippet 2: distance, longing, and phone sex done right.
Round 30 gives us Samanthe Beck ( @SamantheBeck1 ) vs Tracey Alvarez ( @TraceyAlvarezNZ )
Snippet 1: M/F image reinforcement and mirror therapy meet some powerful rear-entry sex.
Snippet 2: frantic prep, ripping buttons, and sheer lust – they’ll be lucky if they make it to the rug, let alone the bed.
As before: read, enjoy, vote for the ones you think are the hottest/best-written. Have I mentioned there will be prizes for the winning comment posters? Like this prize?
I’m taking a break from the Sex Scene Championship for my latest writing updates:
Moro’s Shield: M/M/F space opera romance. 50K written of 70K needed, now that I’m back on track from a two-year legal delay that had *nothing* to do with my own writing.
Singer in Rhunshan: M/M/F non-explicit fantasy romance-quest set in the Lonhra Sequence universe. 39K written and polished, out of projected 45K final length. Not bad for something that was originally a 6.6K short story.
Red Amber: M/M erotic romance in fantasy paleolithic setting. 15K written out of projected 40K final (last 7.5K already written as short story, just needs to be incorporated.)
Leopard’s Leap: M/M erotic romance set in the Moroverse. 26K out of projected 48K final length.
Mask of Falling Stars: M/M erotic romance standalone in science fantasy setting. Halfway through outlining, no projected length yet.
Damn, that’s a lot of words to catch up.
1. My excerpt didn’t win in the Sex Scene Championship. Shockingly, I’m okay with that. I wasn’t planning on getting past this stage for my first-ever try at this contest, and I’m having a lot of fun reading everyone else’s steamy scenes. It’s like a free online workshop presented by some of the best writers in erotic romance.
2. Again, for the umpteenth time that I’ve written about this, I am not just a M/M writer. I write and read all kinds of romantic and sexual interactions. I want to read hot scenes, but more importantly, I want them to be true to the characters. Being a cynical romantic, I treasure all aspects of romance, in real life and in fiction.
So, when I bluntly say that my main male characters in Moro’s Price and Moro’s Shield are bisexual, I mean it. Moro and Val are as attracted to women as they are to men. I thought I made that plain from context (Moro had a girlfriend as well as a boyfriend, back on Ventana; Val has always known that he has several potential female mates, though he’s never been allowed to meet them) in the first book, but I guess some readers didn’t get that. I’m sorry. Not sorry. There is just the teensiest possibility that there will be a female love interest later. It will not be instalove first based on selfishness and expediency, like Moro and Val’s meeting. It’s going to be hard and emotionally trying and the results may surprise some readers. Because I really don’t like the long-standing trope in much M/M fiction, of making the female characters into total bitches. They are people, too. Or the one about ignoring or downplaying bisexual characters. Nope, sorry. Bisexuality actually exists, so why not have it in fiction, too?
3. Several different conversations this week have drawn my attention toward reviews and new writers. This is one of the hardest things to learn, as a newly-published/exposed author: how to deal with negative reviews.
The best and most-often-given advice is to ignore them individually. They are meant for readers, not writers. If a number of readers pick up on the same flaw and talk about it, it may be worth the author’s time to address it in future writing. That’s why this blog has a rudimentary Moroverse glossary buried over on the left side.
But vicious, individual reviews? Don’t answer them, try not to dwell on them. Everyone has their trigger points that make them lash out, often not even at the thing bothering them most. Laugh about the reviews from obviously clueless people, but try to recall that every reader comes to the book with different reading skills and expectations. No book can satisfy every reader.
As for trolls, those reviewers spouting vitriol solely to get a rise out of the author? Ignore them, do not reply, do not feed the troll. They don’t care about your book; chances are, they’ve never even read it.
But what to do when another writer takes it upon themselves to start a feud in social media or review forums? I understand we writers are in general competition with each other, but this isn’t a zero-sum game. Readers are voracious, and are always looking for more of their personal fixes. Otherwise Amazon’s ‘Also Bought’ service would be useless. Writers ganging up on other writers just makes the aggressors look stupid, and wastes everyone’s time.
Sure, there are writers whose work I don’t like. A much smaller subset of writers whom I’ve actually met, and didn’t like in person. Other than rolling my eyes and writing some general blog posts, I’m not going out of my way to spread one-star trashy reviews about them. I’ve adopted the policy of disinterest: if I’m not in love, love, love with someone’s story, I won’t review it. I may give a three star review on something I like, but I’ll make sure it’s a reasoned review hitting the good points, too.
Most of us are not in junior high or high school anymore. We certainly don’t have to act like it.
Back to the fray!
Round Twenty-five pits Eden Bradley (@EdenBradley) against Lynne Barron (@lynnebarron06).
Snippet 1: M/F contemporary – white hot oral and multiple orgasms blur the line between foreplay and sex.
Snippet 2: M/F historical – a strong-willed lady who knows what she wants, and the handsome rake who’ll deliver.
Round Twenty-six is between Amber A. Bardan (@amberbardan) and Suz deMello (@SuzdeMello).
Snippet 1: M/F contemporary shows vividly-written oral with an edge of D/s.
Snippet 2: M/F historical – a lovely widow, a Scottsman, just enough clothes to hide (maybe) what’s going on, and a first-floor window seat.
A fun mixed bag for today’s entries!
Round 23 plays Sessha Batto against Lynda Aicher.
Snippet 1: M/M a master interrogator receives a rough and sexy anniversary gift.
Snippet 2: M/F mutual masturbation and foreplay as wild as a storm.
Round 24 features Nico Jaye and Alyssa Cole.
Snippet 1: their second time proves the pleasure – and the connection – was real.
Snippet 2: M/M tongue piercings take oral to a new level…and that’s just the start of the evening.
Remember: readers have 48 hours to vote on excerpts, from the time the entries are posted over on Scorching Book Reviews. We’re getting a gratifying large number of votes for each pair of contestants, so our continued thanks to all the readers who are playing along. We hope the fun (and the prizes) will make up for your time.
Moving along! Here are the next set of excerpts for our intrepid readers.
Round Twenty-one has Sami Lee squaring off against Sidney Bristol.
Snippet 1: M/F power games and fast sex against a wall.
Snippet 2: M/F bondage, multiple orgasms, and a female sub flying high on more than rope suspension.
Round Twenty-two features Tonya Burrows vs Diane Albert (pen name of Jen McLaughlin)
Snippet 1: M/F everything she wants, the moment she says his name…
Snippet 2: M/F the handcuffs keep her there, but he’s the one trapped in pleasure.
The winner of round 11 is Amber Belldene! Massive thanks to Katriena Knight for joining in
The winner of round 12 is Lexxie Couper! Massive thanks to J.Hali Steele for joining in.
Round 38 (on the 29th August) will feature these two authors.
The winner of round 13 is Holley Trent! Massive thanks to Jeffe Kennedy for joining in.
The winner of round 14 is Kelly Jamieson! Massive thanks to Jess Dee for joining in.
Round 35 (on the 27th August) will feature these two authors.
(Housekeeping note: we’ve maybe had some numbering errors on the main site – no round 17 – so expect some tag and heading changes in the next few days. Until then…)
Round 19.2 (see above note) is Gail Bridges vs Kacey Hammell.
Snippet 1: (M/F) an illicit meeting, footsies, and magic – foreplay is just the start of this adventure.
Snippet 1: (M/F) …and sometimes neither party needs foreplay at all.
Round 20 puts me, Crane Hana, against the formidable Vivian Arend. Hope you enjoy!
Snippet 1 (from my debut novel Moro’s Price): M/M anal, and mind control broken in the most basic and enjoyable way.
Snippet 2: (M/F) a day’s unrequited lust, female masturbation, and sex up against a car.
Wow, this tournament is moving along! Today’s contestants are a talented bunch, so it’s going to be difficult to choose.
Round Eighteen is between Amanda Usen and Blaine D. Arden
Snippet 1: want a dynamite combo? Try wicked humor in contemporary M/F foreplay.
Snippet 2: in a nuanced fantasy setting, M/M foreplay takes on a sweetly desperate tone with bondage and weaponry.
Round Nineteen pits Joely Sue Burkhart vs the deadly duo of Shari Slade & Amber Lin
Snippet 1: (M/F) a strong, confident Domme takes down a powerful male sub with bondage and denial, proving again that sexual tension can be as effective as many actual sex scenes.
Snippet 2: (M/F) a jaded male rock star, a mousy female preschool teacher, and a one-way window high above the city – who is on display, and who holds the real power?
Quick reminder to anyone following along: my entry will be up tomorrow, Tuesday August 19. I’ll have a M/M scene familiar only to those who have already read Moro’s Price; I haven’t used it in any of my Love Romances Cafe promos or here on the Blue Night blog.
Okay, I don’t ‘hate’ Lois Lowry’s famous children’s novel.
I loathe it. I’m disappointed by it. I’m extremely irked by it, and what it has said about ‘mainstream’ Middle-Grade and YA writing for over 20 years.*
I am too old to have suffered through it in my own school years, but I had the opportunity to read it seven years ago, when it was on the curriculum of a friend’s private school. I’d of course heard about it for years: it was ‘groundbreaking’, ‘compelling’, ‘controversial’. Schools were either lining up to ban it for (gasp!) sexual references, or celebrating it as an absolutely necessary socially-relevant rite of passage for all students.
Since the book is less than 200 pages, that was about an hour’s effort for me at cruising speed.
My first thoughts on reaching the final page? I felt sorry for the kids who had to read this drivel. Where was the goddamn ending? Oooo, ambiguous ending, how literary and philosophical – not.
Or the worldbuilding? Some critics say you can’t create a rich setting and backstory in a short book for pre-teens and teens, but nope, other authors did just fine in books just as compact. I’ve already read this plot or seen it in numerous forms, all of them better-done than Lowry’s book.
Going wide from Lowry’s plot, into general coming-of-age stories, here are some great examples. I’ve said before that Patricia McKillip’s ‘The Changeling Sea‘ is probably one of the finest YA fantasy novels I’ve ever read, for emotional portrayals of a girl weathering both grief and magical upheavals. Or the late Kage Baker’s magnifcent, gentle YA story ‘The Bird of the River‘ – the story of a teenage girl discovering her aptitudes in a vividly-detailed fantasy world, with recognizable real-world problems and triumphs. Terry Pratchett is one of the masters of doing this sneakily, and well. His YA ‘Tiffany Aching‘ books are worlds better than Lowry’s. They actually teach worthwhile messages while giving us characters and settings we adore.
That ‘The Giver’ is meant for children is no excuse. Yes, there are vocabulary and cognitive thresholds present in stages of childhood development, and great books for those age ranges take such thresholds into account. Pre-teen to teen readers should have a better awareness of story and theme, and enough exposure to better examples to call their own private bullshit on Lowry’s supporters.
I’m not a huge fan of dystopias in general, since I find most of them one-dimensional, illogical, and depressing. There’s a belief in YA publishing that holds ‘YA readers love dystopias because most teenagers can identify with such dramatic high-stakes worlds.’ Okay, maybe. But give them better books, please. ‘The Hunger Games’ has giant plot holes. The ‘Divergent’ series, often believed to be HG 2.0, is objectively even worse. ‘The Giver’ falls back to the root of that trend, I suspect: excusing any level of technical mediocrity because of the important message or teenage affinity codes within such books.
Fuck that. Authors: if you’re going to plaster a message in your book, kid’s or adult’s, look toward Baker and Pratchett for great examples. Wrap it up in the story and let your readers find it on their own. Don’t hit them over the head with it, screaming ‘Behold my glorious message!’ I’m an old fart, but largely forgiving when it comes to hot plot messes. Millennial and younger readers are nowhere near as kind; what they do in social media when they scent incompetent and dishonest blood in the water? Makes Shark Week look like Disneyland.
Most of all I’m angry with the branding on ‘The Giver’. This isn’t very good science fiction or fantasy; it barely qualifies for them at all. It’s written by someone who appears to have no grounding in classic SFF, mythology, folklore, or even halfway solid anthropology. It’s equally obviously written by someone who consciously set out to write A Very Important Book, and managed to convince other people to accept it as such.
It’s also an able-ist slam against Actual People who are Actually Colorblind. I would know, since one of my best friends has no color perception at all, and is hardly the meek and dull human described in ‘The Giver!
Rather than go into a exhaustive post detailing my observations, I’m linking to this review, which covers most of my major issues.
That this book gets a movie? I’m not that surprised, given Hollywood’s love affair with YA dystopian fiction right now. After ‘Ender’s Game’, ‘The Giver’ couldn’t have been that far away.
*I have even incorporated ‘The Giver’ in my list of books/movies/themes/philosophies I use to sound out potential friends and/or business colleagues. There were SFF literary agents I never bothered querying, for example, because they insisted they loved this book, which told me enough about their experience with SFF.
Step right up, folks: Round Fifteen opens with Danni Price’s M/F sizzling reunion in a truck, against Misa Buckley’s M/F lovers discovering more than just pleasure.
Round Sixteen is all about opening moves: Lisa Fox gives us some serious M/F foreplay, while Lucy Felthouse’s female protagonist discovers what oral and anal can be like from lovers who aren’t selfish jerks (M/F/M).
Read. Vote. Because, prizes. Check out author’s homepages, buy links, and Amazon page and Goodreads pages, if you liked what you read. We’re mostly doing this not to ‘win’ anything, but to have a fun standoff against each other, and promote the heck out of everyone’s books. <Eyebrow waggle> Is it working? Hmm?
I’m a bit late in posting this (sleep-in Sunday!) but I wandered in here eventually.
We have the winner of rounds 7 – 10 from the 2014 Sex Scene Championships, right here.
The winner of round seven is Tessa Bailey! Massive thanks to Kit Rocha for joining in (and filling in last minute!)
The winner of round eight is Ambrielle Kirk! Massive thanks to Ayla Ruse for joining in.
Round 36 (on the 27th August) will feature these two authors.
The winner of round nine is Laura Kaye! Massive thanks to Anne Kane for joining in.
The winner of round six is Scarlet Day! Massive thanks to Anne Kane for joining in.
Round 37 (on the 28th August) will feature these two authors.