Monday, June 29, 2015

Confessions, sacrilege, and reviews

My name is Jordan and I have two confessions to make.

#1 - It has gradually become clear to me I am not an erotica writer, at least not as erotica has been defined to me.  Among the four short stories I'm releasing in the 4Play collection, only one, "Viewer Discretion Advised," qualifies as erotica  The others are erotic romance.  Is there a big difference to readers?  I think the line is pretty blurry.

#2 - I read erotica and erotic romance, but I've been known to skip through sex scenes.  You heard it here first, friends.  I know, it's shameful. On the positive side though, it means the story has a good plot and it's holding my interest.  So far, I haven't missed any plot advancement or character development.

Along those lines, here is my blasphemous statement - There is such a thing as too many sex scenes.  Somebody had to say it.  Even when it's really well written, at some point it becomes redundant.  In addition, we are cautioned, as writers, to avoid repeating significant words over and over.  Let's face it, it's not easy to keep coming up with synonyms for the acts and anatomy related to sex.  Repetition does nothing for arousal, even in straight erotica, and isn't arousal the point? 

What conclusion am I drawing here?  Don't push for a certain number of sex scenes in your writing.  If it's needed and supposed to be there, you'll know it.  I heard an author say recently,"It's time for a sex scene because I haven't had one in the last two chapters."  That sounds so contrived and formulaic to me.  Let it happen naturally as your story unfolds.   If it turns out you only have a few smutty bits in your book, don't market it as erotica.  If it's ALL "brown chicken, brown cow," maybe it's porn. JUST KIDDING.  Listen to your muse.

How about a few reviews to start the week?

Twelve Doors to Ecstasy by John Tucker - I'm typically hesitant to read an author's first foray into erotica.  I needn't have worried in this case.  Plenty of intrigue, suspense, and imagination here, along with creative sex scenes.  Plot summary:  Tryst Sanyon, dumped by her boyfriend for being a repressed prude, signs on for an experiment in sexual awakening.  Over the course of two days, she must choose and walk through 12 doors and participate in whatever sex-related activity awaits on the other side.  If successful, not only will she break through her puritanical mindset, she'll bank a cool $500,000.  Sign me up!  I can pretend to be a prude, really I can.
Twelve Doors to Ecstasy on Amazon

Bound and Freed (boxed set) by Nikki Sex - This was a Bookbub email blast find.  While the story plays out against a BDSM backdrop, there's a lot more going on than a typical Dom/sub dynamic.  Although some of the dialogue was slightly off, there were some truly lovely moments.  Plot summary  John Taylor, handsome, enigmatic and sadistic Dom, has captured the obsessive interest of submissive Kelly Flynn, who has forgotten he was part of her childhood.  The two come together when a power outage traps them in an elevator and John's demons begin to be revealed to the reader.  Warning:  This book contains references to disturbing child abuse.
Bound and Freed on Amazon

Tall, Tatted and Tempting by Tammy Falkner - I get so tired of series, does nobody write standalones anymore?  But I'm happy as hell there is more to this story. I fell in love with the Reed brothers, starting with Logan in this book.  Plot summary:  Logan Reed, hunky (omg did I just use that word) tattoo artist is deaf and lives with his four brothers.  He does not lack for bedmates but has never wanted more than sex from a woman.  He meets Emily, a secretive and homeless street musician, who won't even tell him her name.  Their romance is touching and real and one of my favorite reads this year.
Tall, Tatted and Tempting on Amazon


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Envy doesn't look good on anybody

The green-eyed monster.  It appears in romantic relationships, sibling rivalry, and professional competitiveness.  You better believe it's present within the creative arts community, writers not excluded and it's nothing new.  Stoker and Wilde, Fitzgerald and Hemingway, Byron and Keats - all famous rivalries.  We were discussing the changes Amazon has implemented n its review system and i learned that it was in part due to bogus negative reviews posted by competing authors.  Guess they never heard tearing another person down does not build you up.

It's not hard to fall victim.  The nature of the beast that is indie publishing requires a good bit of self-promotion.  You're working your butt off, trying to get better at your craft, researching details to make sure your story has an air of authenticity, relearning the grammar rules you forgot years ago and then you see it.  A post in one of your Facebook groups from an author thrilled that his book has made a bestseller list.  The post has six misspelled words and is barely coherent and you have a WTF moment.  You read a sample of the book and it's so derivative of a better known work, you can't believe the author isn't being sued for plagiarism.

Take a deep breath and count to 10, 20 if necessary.  Your success, or failure for that matter, is not impacted by the success of another writer.  He didn't steal it from you.  Flukes happen all the time  Thank the gods not everyone likes the same thing or there would only be a dozen authors selling books.  There is room at the table and wouldn't you rather earn your seat honorably and with pride?  You're more likely to still be there for dessert than someone who lucked into it.

Congratulate the lucky bastard and get back to work on your book.

WIPS Update
I'm still working on consolidating and reworking my erotic shorts and am nearly done editing.  I'm looking for beta readers; if interested, email me at

I have a few more chapters before the first draft of Xander's Garden is complete.  The Virgina Auction chapter is next and I'm stoked to get it on paper.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Cover me

Today I don't have the Erotica Writer Blues, in fact, I'm pretty darn happy.  I have a beautiful new ebook cover and I DIDN'T MAKE IT!  That's right, Ms. Stubborn finally, begrudgingly accepted that the covers I made myself do not look professional.  The best thing I can say about them is they didn't cost me but about $5 to make.  Looking at them critically, I'd say I got what i paid for..

Let me back up a moment.  A fellow author recommended I bundle the four short stories I have published and re-release them as a collection.  Realizing I could be cute and call it 4Play, I decided to run with his suggestion.  Instead of merely throwing them together into one manuscript, I'm revising, revamping, and even adding content.   I want to take the lessons learned while publishing them individually and create the best versions of the four I can.  It's a do-over.  You don't often get the opportunity for a do-over in life and I'm all for taking advantage of it when it happens.

Speaking of those lessons, one I learned is there are review and promotional sites that will not even look at your work unless it has a professionally designed cover and has been professionally edited.  I still need to find an editor, but another author friend introduced me to the talented Julie Nicholls, author and cover designer extraordinaire.  I know what you're thinking.  I'm a new author and I can't afford a designer.  Yes, you can.  She is insanely affordable  And did I mention quick like a bunny?  She created this cover for me in three days, one of which was helping me find a stock image, and she charged me $20.  Considering I paid $1 for the image, bargain of the century.

i can't recommend her highly enough.  She is so upbeat, energetic, and easy to work with. Click below to see more about her work:


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Meanwhile, back in the Garden

I've had a sneaking suspicion for some time now I may be a better editor than writer.  I see potential in almost everything I read, even if it's really rough.  I have clear ideas for how it can be made better.  why I can't do that for my own work is beyond me.  Probably the same reason I can't proofread my own stuff very well.  You see what you expect to see.  But I digress.  What I learned from editing my willing guinea pig's short story is I don't have the temperament for it.  Unbelievably tedious and time consuming, I had to parcel it out in tolerable chunks and couldn't stick with it for more than an hour or two at a time.  For all you editors out there, God bless you.  I am not worthy.

So, back to Xander's Garden.  I'm closing in on the final chapters of the first draft, but I can foresee an extensive rewrite.  I'm concerned it's very dialogue heavy, so more descriptive and action narrative needs to be added to flesh it out.  I love the story, love, love, LOVE Violet and Daisy.  Unless I get hit by a bus, Daisy will get her own story in the near future.

Setup for this excerpt - Xander's Garden takes place in the 24th century on an off-Earth colony.  Betta Pallin has been given sanctuary at the Terra VI brothel owned by her mother's childhood sweetheart.  The sex providers at Xander's have all been given botanical names and, although Betta is not yet one of them, she is now known as Violet.  In this scene, Daisy is restocking her "workroom" while Violet explores.  If you'd like to read more of the story, check out Xander's Garden on  Feedback welcomed, desired, longed for, craved, and greatly appreciated.

She led Violet to her assigned working room.  Stopping short at her door, she pointed to the one immediately to the left.  “See that?  Behind that door is a narrow room with a view of mine through the two-way mirror.  My last client tonight gets off on watching me have sex with another guy, so I snagged Chrys as my partner this time.”

“Do you like Chrys?”

“Sure, he’s a good guy. Ash has a bigger cock but he wasn’t available tonight.”  Daisy grinned at the expression on Violet’s face.  “We really need to loosen you up, sweetie.  I think I have a few ideas about how to, shall we say, expand your education.”  She hummed a little tune under her breath as she stocked her cabinet while Violet wandered over to the mirror and inspected it closely.  

“It really doesn’t bother you when someone watches you have sex?”

“You can say ‘fuck,’ Violet.  Go ahead, say it.”

“Alright.  It really doesn’t bother you when someone watches you fuck?” Violet turned toward Daisy to make sure she could see the exaggerated eye roll she was giving her.

“No, in fact I get off on it.  Picturing the client jacking off watching us makes the whole thing hotter for me.  You know what jacking off is, don’t you?”

“Yes, I’m a virgin, not an idiot.”  Honestly, if she’d known her virginity was going to be this much of a hassle, she would have lied about it.  “Change of subject.  How long has the merchandise shoppe been set up the way it is?”

“Forever.  Well, at least as long as I’ve been here and that’s four years.  Why?”

“Just wondering.”  She caught sight of something shiny on the floor under a padded bench.  Bending over, she picked it up.  It was a short length of metal chain with what looked like tweezers on either end. Turning it over in her hands and puzzled, she asked, “Hey, what’s this?”

“Oh, my God, I have been looking everywhere for those fucking things.  They’re my nipple clamps.” Daisy rushed over and took them from a speechless Violet.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Banishing the blues

Considering my latest release was pretty much DOA, my blog is currently quite aptly named.  I put more time and effort into that one than the previous three and believed it would do well.  I was wrong.  Anytime I've been faced with failure, I've tried to  learn from it.  While working my way through the five steps of grief, I tried to focus on my overall experience and not only the disappointment of Second Chances

So here are a few reflections on this journey in self-publishing to date, some good, some bad, some I'm still figuring out, like most things in life.

  • Formatting.  What's so scary?  You use a generic font like Times New Roamn 12  pt, set your margins at .5, line spacing at single, indent at .5, and insert page breaks.  Vertically center your title page, and unless you have tables or images, you're good to go.  Save your document as "web page filtered" and upload to Kindle or Nook.  Since I have only published at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, perhaps it's more difficult on other sites.
  • Develop a tough skin.  You may get poor or no reviews.  Your sales may be disappointing and your work may languish in the black pit of despair, otherwise known as rankings.
  • Obtain a copy and refer to Elements of Style.  
  • Editors are not joking when they complain about the excessive use of "that" and "just."  Every time you use one of those words, read the sentence again to make sure it's absolutely necessary.
  • Reviews are gold, be as thankful for them as you are for sales.
  • Be patient.  Overnight successes are rare.
  • Be aware that although you may follow every how-to guide, blog, and writer's resource guideline,your book may not sell.  There are thousands of books published every day and it darn near takes a miracle to stand out in the crowd.  Remember, lots of those authors are following the same process you are.
  • When you get depressed, and you will, turn to what makes you happy or try something new.  I am making my first attempt at editing for a writer who is even more of a novice than me and it is an eye opener as well as a distraction from my own writing woes.  It's harder than it looks my friends, and I have added respect for folks who do it for a living.
  • Be patient.
  • Don't count on perpetual and enthusiastic support from family and friends.  They will get tired of hearing about your characters, your snappy dialogue, and those clever plot twists.  If they don't, count yourself extremely fortunate or check them for earplugs.
  • Be optimistic but keep things in perspective.  
  • Keep your eyes and ears open for unique ways to promote your work.  If you've read of ten ways to do it online, so have thousands of other struggling writers. 
  • Be patient.
  • Hire a cover designer (I know a good one that only charges $20) and an editor.  Some reviewers will not touch your work unless it was professionally edited with a professionally designed cover.  
Did I say be patient?  That repetition was mostly meant for me because impatience has caused me problems and setbacks along the way.  One successful author advised me to not publish until I had multiple titles ready.  I have to second that advice, especially for those of you working on series.  It is so tempting to plow ahead and upload that first manuscript, and it is exciting to see your work appear in the Kindle store, but it is harder to be noticed or build a readership with only one book available.

I received a ton of advice yesterday from members of the Indie Author Group regarding how to stay upbeat and motivated.  That interaction helped pull me out of my funk.  If you get the Erotica Writer Blues too, reach out to your fellow authors.  They get it because they've probably had it.