Tag Archives: erotica

Shades of Grey

I haven’t read the book(s). Though there is a side issue, raised by Julia Molony, which is that romance novels in general (and their sluttier cousins erotica) have been “hijacked” by consumerism. As though it’s not bad enough for women to be swooning over impossibly handsome men with bulging muscles, rapier wit, and the ability to read our minds and bodies at every moment, we also are swept away in rapture by the size of their enormous … wallets.

This disturbs Ms. Molony. If it’s not some glittering duke in his obnoxiously huge castle (with a swanky townhouse in London, natch) or a swaggering hunk of a pirate captaining the largest ship on the seas, it’ll be a ruthless CEO in an Armani suit slitting the financial throats of his competitors. Why can’t heroes be math teachers or cable guys or pharmacists? Must they always supplement their mad bedroom skillz with gifts of expensive jewelry and luxury cars and tropical trips for their ladylurves?

Oh, I don’t know, Julia. Why doesn’t Playboy ever have a 45 year old overweight centerfold? It’s so bothersome…

Actually she’s wrong. Like many writers these days, she has to find something to complain about to get an article published and bashing romance novels is always popular. In fact, there are plenty of ordinary guys in romances. Cops are a big fave and last I heard, they don’t make zillions of dollars. The novel I have slated to read next features a hunky Idaho veterinarian who is holding a kitten on the book cover (he’s bare-chested, so this is very brave). In 27 Dresses the actual hero Kevin was a struggling journalist.

So yeah, there are insanely wealthy men featured in some romance/erotica lit. And there are normal middle class heroes in other books. (True, you probably won’t find the unemployed drug addict. That’s a different genre.) And while back “in the day” romances did over-feature the 17 year old impossibly beautiful slim goddess virgin heroine, that isn’t true now either. You’ll find older women, heavier women, women who’ve been married and divorced, with kids, with problems, et cetera. There are a lot of books out there ~ all kinds of shades of grey, as it were. But sure, take a few and do your selection bias, Julia.

Well, I don’t care anymore what people think of romances/erotica. It’s one of the hottest markets and not easy to break into, despite the piles of trash out there. But that’s true for any genre and even “literary fiction.” This is why I’m thinking of going the self-pub route, for both romance and my other stuff. I work full-time and writing will always be a hobby, not a career, so I don’t want to spend much of my free time on researching various publishing houses, fretting over query letters, making submission/rejection charts, etc. I just want to write when I’m in the mood to write. That’s it.

Few Writing Noodles

Some peeps were discussing self-pub and a friend just did his on Smashwords. I bought and downloaded his short story, which was available on a variety of formats, including plain old PDF (very convenient!). This worked out well and I recommend. It was easy and fast as a customer to sign up for an account and make a purchase ~ this is way, way important. Oh and you may want to keep your adult filter on, just saying. And I never say this.

If you write erotica and are thinking of self-pub, you may want to explore venues other than Amazon ~ an article came up in my Google reader accusing Amazon of censoring erotica titles. According to Ms. Kitt, her books don’t appear under “all departments;” you have to search for them specifically. And while Amazon can do as they like, Ms. Kitt received no warning of this change. I don’t know how erotica titles would come up in a search on Smashwords or other publishing sites, so erotica writers would have to research that. I also don’t know if my romance novels would be considered erotica ~ my feeling is that they probably would not. Also, apparently you can’t er sub-categorize by microgenre on Amazon in erotica, as you do with other fiction, thus directing readers right to your spanking stories, or whatever. This is a problem. Yes, I just made up microgenre in a snark attack. Sue me.

Here’s an essay on HuffPo regarding “unnecessary” romance in young adult novels. I don’t read YA, but the essay resonated with me because so many times I pick up a promising romance novel and the protags are well-written, but the plot is poor. There has to  be a reason for the hero and heroine to meet, fall in love, and be separated (physically and/or emotionally), but it’s a shame when the writer shovels in a complex murder mystery that borders on the ridiculous. Not every romance needs a James Bondesque level of intrigue! Most writers can’t do it well, plus there isn’t enough time to focus on resolving all that and also doing enough character development, as Ms. Vail states in her article.

That’s all for now. Enjoy the weekend!

More on Romance and Porn

Because you are not tired of this topic yet, nope. 🙂

(Look, it was either this or complaining about how my dad can’t handle his banking any longer and now I have to pay his bills on top of all my other monumental burdens like, um, deciding whether to blog or hem my beige pants.)

So this Salon article, which was criticizing a hit piece targeting romance novels, purportedly set out to defend both porn and romance, but did neither very well. Sometimes I wonder why I visit Salon at all; so much of the writing is pure crap.

But that’s not what I’m here to discuss. I followed the link to the KSL article warning women away from the potential addiction of romance novels, which I have to say was much better written than the Salon piece, even if you disagreed with it. I suppose there is a nugget of truth to the idea that if you spend all day every day reading about perfect alpha fantasy men you’ll eventually find your own normal lump of a husband not measuring up in comparison, but most women aren’t going to be consuming romance novels like the way they eat bags of Snickers bars in the closet for Pete’s sake.  (Not SAYIN’ anyone here does that with the Snickers bars, ahem.)

Never mind that in any case. I followed a sidebar link from the KSL piece to Moore to the Point’s romance novel bloggery. Obviously this is a religious dude with an agenda, but so what if he makes a good argument, I say. And I’m saying that.

Both are based on an illusion. Pornography is based on the illusion of a perfectly willing, always aroused partner without the “work” of relational intimacy. Often romance novels or their film equivalents do the same thing for the emotional needs of women that pornography offers for the erotic urges of men.

And in both cases, what the “market” wants is sameness. Men want the illusion of women who look just like women but are, in terms of sexual response, just like men. Women want the illusion of men who are “real” men, but, in terms of a concept of romance, are just like women. In both artificial eros and artificial romance, there is the love of the self, not the mystery of the other.

Ooh. Interesting, no? I think so! Discuss. I have to get ready for work.

Sex Still Sells

Duh. But just in case you had any doubts…

Today’s e-book power buyer—someone who buys an e-book at least once a week—is a 44-year-old woman who loves romance and is spending more on buying books now than in the past. She uses a dedicated e-reader like a Kindle instead of reading on her computer. [source]

Apparently Amazon and B&N are arbitrarily censoring erotica. Amazon has been eliminating books because of their titles, according to this article, while B&N has been allegedly hiding certain previews, which cut into book sales. I’m not sure I understand the logic of preventing a child from reading a steamy sample when supposedly s/he could walk into a Barnes & Noble, pick up that same book off the shelf, sit down, and read the entire thing. Or maybe these books aren’t on the shelves? Or perhaps there are B&N employees engaged in quiet carding. “Um, excuse me, but that’s a steamy-looking romance … may I please see your driver’s license?”

In any case, it annoys me that these article writers use romance and erotica interchangeably. They’re different. A romance novel may or may not contain a whole bunch of steamy sex (there’s a huge range, from no sex in the Christian romances to total porn), but either way it is supposed to have some semblance of a plot, however flimsy. The best romances have complex plots and are fun and interesting, though this varies hugely. I haven’t read a lot of erotica, only enough so that I can write some, but from what I see, plots are pretty much nonexistent. The idea is simply to get the characters (quickly) into a situation where they can begin having sex. That’s it. You don’t want to waste time (wordcount) with anything complicated.

But in any case, good news for romance and/or erotica writers, right? This stuff continues to sell, as always. Yay!