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The Men Who Dare To Go There In Erotic Fiction

27 Jan

By Elizabeth SaFleur

The evolution of Viagra’s marketing from Bob Dole to 40 something men during football games (so now she wants it) has given me further insight into the degradation that women experience every day, living up to impossible standards of beauty and sexuality. ~Spencer Dryden

You pretty much have to love a guy who emails you the above lines in response to your interview request related to why he writes erotic fiction. And then when he—and other male erotic writers—jump in with other awesomeness, well, it’s hard not to let pride swell one’s little heart that these gentlemen are part of our book tribe.

Authors DaddyX, Spencer Dryden, Daily Hollow and Ian Smith graciously shared their experiences writing erotic romance and erotica, including why (oh, why?) they went there. Few men do. Let’s hear from the few, the proud and the brave.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Okay, guys, how did you get here? Why do you write in the erotic genre?

SPENCER DRYDEN: Nearly all my life I have been enchanted by female allure. I come from a time and background where anything sexual was obscured by a cloud of guilt and shame. When I reached my early 60’s (I’m 66 now) I gave myself permission to explore those fantasies through fiction as it would be much safer that trying to carry them out in real life. I have learned so much about sex and sexuality in the process, things I wish I had known as a younger man. A guy could learn a lot by reading my stuff.

DADDYX: To be honest—and I will be honest—being horny. And in appreciating the fact that I still felt sexy rather late in life. It’s what was always on my mind, even at 64 years of age, when I began writing erotica. Figured to document my libido before it went away.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: We love honest guys.

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Good things come in plain brown wrappers. Daddy has stenciled a big red “X” on the cover of his new collection to warn the reading public. Open this book only if you’re ready for X-rated excesses beyond the ordinary. The five tales Daddy has chosen for this volume are X-tra outrageous.

IAN SMITH:  I read some ‘chick lit’ for relaxation, and enjoyed the development of the characters and the romantic story, but felt the lovemaking scenes were a bit tame. I decided to try writing this sort of story, but with rather steamier scenes. Sex is an integral and important part of most people’s relationships, and I thought it must be possible to be realistic without being ‘porn’.”

DAILY HOLLOW: I wanted to get back into writing fiction so a few years ago I googled ‘writing competitions’ and stumbled across Literotica. After reading a few stories I was like “I can totally do this.”

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: There’s that honesty again. You all come from different walks of life so I’m calling you my ‘representative sample.’ Here’s what I want to know. Why aren’t there more male authors in the erotic genre?

DADDYX: Hah! Momma X says that when a woman writes smut, it’s considered cute. A woman can get away with appearing something akin to adventurous without looking like a perv. Conjure a naughty picture of a cute girl, book in one hand, masturbating with the other. Isn’t that sweet? But a guy in a basement who can’t get a date, one hand beating Red Roger, typing like crazy with the other? Let’s just say it’s a different picture.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Okay, true that.

SPENCER DRYDEN: I don’t have a clue other than women weren’t seeing what they liked and have systematically taken over control of the ship. Very admirable. We need to get more male readers into erotica but I don’t see many characters I can identify with. Until men can identify with character and plot in erotica, what little fiction they read will continue to be action genres.

DAILY HOLLOW: I think because there are more female readers of erotica, so it would make sense more women would write it. Men (such as myself) tend to gravitate more toward action, horror, etc. Honestly, I very rarely read the genre, unless one of my friends has a new book or I am beta reading for someone.

IAN SMITH: There appears to be a widespread opinion that “men can’t write romance’” which I disagree with. Men feel romantic and get emotionally involved, probably in similar ways to women. Fewer men appear to write romance, or at least not under male pen names. I know the market for romance generally is predominantly female, and I can understand that people reading for escapism will typically identify more readily with their own gender.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: So as a man, do you feel responsible or obligated to write erotica or erotic romance a “certain” way? Such as more respectful (or more blatant) in certain areas because people know you’re a man?

DAILY HOLLOW: Not really. I write what I feel, then send it off to the betas. I have never had anyone tell me my writing was derogatory or disrespectful.

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Plumbers and Other Lovers is collection of four short stories about tradesmen who find unexpected rewards in home repairs as they stumble into romantic encounters during the course of their everyday blue-collar lives.

DADDYX: Not at all. But I sure get told when I get it wrong. :>) Much of my experience in offering, receiving and observing criticism is through The Erotica Readers and Writers Association lists. I have acted as Storytime editor for either flash fiction or short stories for the past few years. There, I see varying perspectives of criticism and as many ways of interpreting the same work. Everyone has his/her own way of perceiving and receiving erotica. That’s one of the more intriguing aspects of writing in our genre. Everyone absorbs the material according to their own turn-ons and squicks. In fact, with all the variety out there, it’s a miracle a writer ever connects with a reader.

SPENCER DRYDEN: My writing reflects the way I feel about women, which is that I hold them in high regard, especially the way they can use their powers of enchantment.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: See opening lines above.

IAN SMITH: No, I try to write with my own “voice.” I like my male lead characters to be decent, nice guys, and be courteous to the women they’re involved with, but that’s at least partly because it’s how I hope I am myself. I find it difficult to imagine being anything else, but that might be something fun to play with when I feel more confident about my writing.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Do you find people hold you to a higher standard? Like a woman can get away with writing certain things, but a man would get his hand slapped for “crossing a line?”

DAILY HOLLOW: Not really. I have heard some male writers feel that way, but I have never encountered any issues.

SPENCER DRYDEN:  I don’t know if “higher standard” is quite the right term for what I feel. I have read lots of short form F/F erotica (which I love) as a way to improve sensual vocabulary. Often these stories move fast and feature plots that move quickly from initial encounter to sex. (Hi I’m a girl that likes girls. Oh I like girls too….begin humping) My stories have the same structure and character arc as F/F stories but my are frequently labeled as “stroke” or “only about sex.” So it’s more like a double standard than a higher standard.

DADDYX: Some of my characters can be despicable. I do have to work to tone them down upon occasion. Though assholes make for interesting subjects, there should be someone for the reader to relate to. Often the reader equates a character with the author, so I wouldn’t want to alienate readership of any sexual orientation. Despite everything as personal as squicks and triggers, I’d like my work to be universal; but that’s nigh impossible, considering that many people wouldn’t open an erotic book in the first place.

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Paul is Hayley’s lover and now her leading man. But acting and portraying a hero on a period TV show takes far more than a suit of armour. He’s totally out of his depth, personally and professionally. Help arrives with dramatic lessons in leadership and courage, when strange events put him and his friends in harm’s way.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: And, you Ian?

IAN SMITH: I don’t think so. Well, aside from trying to write from a female POV and getting it wrong!

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: In general, men’s fantasies vary wildly from female fantasies. They experience sex differently in real life. Do you believe that colors a male author’s viewpoint when writing erotic fiction? Do you try to write something that will appeal to what females (the bulk of erotic fiction readers) want to read?

DADDYX: Wish I had an inside track for success with female readers. Any readers. It sure would be nice. Maybe then I could sell some books. :>) So here’s what I think:

Again, I can’t really say that I write to a particular gender. To me, it’s all about the story, no matter who’s reading. The plot has to be fresh, intriguing, and hold together. The story arc must be accessible, if not immediately obvious. I like to give my readers credit as intelligent people who will extrapolate content and subtleties by my prompts and suggestions. I don’t want to alter or conform my work to appeal to the lowest common denominator. By the same token, while I’m writing, I wouldn’t want to distract myself imagining my readers as any particular gender. I feel that engineering the delivery by gender could effectively limit scope in development of the story. I like to think of literature as universal.

That said, I also like to get my readers juices flowing, no matter their gender. Problem is, how would I know?

DAILY HOLLOW: I write what I feel. I’ve actually written a few F/F stories, and honestly my novella, Leslie’s Dilemma, may be my best fiction piece to date.

SPENCER DRYDEN: “I hope that female readers will find my male characters to be genuine and memorable. There are no billionaire bad boys, alpha males or self- destructive ego-maniacs in my stories. I feature ordinary guys who fall into the orbit of sexually assertive women. [As for a different viewpoint?] Absolutely. It’s why we are more visual and more mechanical in our fiction writing.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Confession time: Are you writing stories you wish would pan out in real life?

DADDYX: Heh. I’m 72 years old, for chrissakes. My fantasies will remain as such. :>) If Momma and I can achieve orgasm in the missionary position without injuring ourselves, we consider ourselves lucky. Best fantasy these days is a sexy dream. Or a trip to a thong beach.  In truth though, I often write situations I’d like to have happened. Other situations, not so much. Depends on the character. He/she may think like me. Or decidedly not.

IAN SMITH: In a general sense, of people meeting and forming solid, emotionally-fulfilling relationships, and having a few adventures along the way.

daly-hollow-book

Mark Jenson is a handsome, easy going man who enjoys drinking with his buddies and the occasional Myrtle Beach golf outing. Gabriella is a beautiful, yet intimidating Jamaican assassin who has nearly fifty kills to her credit. Because Mark unknowingly insulted a mobster’s daughter after they had a drunken night of sex, Gabriella is hired to end Mark’s life

DAILY HOLLOW: LOL, who doesn’t? I also try to throw a little personal experience in as well. I’ve been in several multi-racial relationships and have written a BWWM novella and short story. I’ve also had sex in public and one of my works in progress is going to have a scene where my MC has sex in a river at a popular college hangout. In my short story “Charlene’s Surprise”, my MC is tied up while his wife and her best friend “put on a show.” I guess that would be something I wish would have panned out in real life. 😉

SPENCER DRYDEN: I think fantasy; especially sexual fantasy is a very important part of a balanced life. Fantasy helps us set boundaries and then offers us a risk free way of seeing life on the other side of the boundary. In my case, through fiction, I can make love to any woman I want, my wife could care less and the woman even likes it. I think it would cause lots of marital difficulty if I were to ACT on my fantasies. I can also brutally murder people I dislike without fear of jail time.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Isn’t that the best? I digress… For you, what is the most satisfying part about writing erotic fiction?

DADDYX: Positive feedback. Connecting with a reader in an erotic endeavor. Nothing feels better than hearing a reviewer you don’t know say: “That’s the most erotic book I’ve ever read,” as has been said about “The Gonzo Collection.” Considering the aforementioned variety of erotic preferences (and the odds against of making that connection) the connection, once made, may be on some level equivalent to sharing sex with those readers.

SPENCER DRYDEN: When I see the whole story arc. I write most of my stories backwards, that is, I start at the end and work my way back to the beginning.

IAN SMITH: Readers telling me they enjoyed my storytelling. If they found it hot and steamy as well, that’s a bonus!

DAILY HOLLOW: Typing the words “the end.” One of the most challenging parts about writing is actually finishing. I currently have about five WIP going at once.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: So, I guess in the end, it turns out all writers are alike!

Thank you, gentleman. Keep up the great work. Readers, below is how you can stay in touch with our male cohorts in sexy crime. And follow LadySmut. We know all the great writers…and lovers of sexy romance.

 Love Links

Daily Hollow’s Facebook and Amazon author page

DaddyX’s  Oh Get A Grip blog  (where he posts fortnightly with nine other accomplished erotica writers) and Amazon author page

Ian Smith’s Facebook, Facebook Author Page and Blog

Spencer Dryden’s Facebook, Twitter and Amazon author page

~~~~~

Elizabeth SaFleur writes contemporary erotic romance and she’s not afraid to get graphic about it  — “it” being the sex, the BDSM or Washington, DC society, which she regularly features in her series, the Elite Doms of Washington. Join her Sexy, Saucy, Sometimes Naughty exclusive reader’s group or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Lady Smutters Out and About…and Causing Trouble

17 Oct

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

Okay, the causing trouble aspect might be a wee bit subjective, but Madeline Iva came home from the Washington Romance Writers Blogger and Reader Luncheon with a bag of (very cool) skull jewelry, so really, anything goes.

But you, lovely Lady Smutters, already knew that.

Last week, I posted about how our Lady Smut bloggers were out and about in the real world. This past weekend, I was bouncing around the New Jersey Romance Writers annual Put Your Heart in a Book Conference. Two days talking about books and publishing and romance. Oh my!

Lady Smut blogger Elizabeth Shore was also there, but she’s wily and slick, so though we caught glimpses of one another and even one side-arm hug, unfortunately there’s no evidence (i.e. a photo) of us in the same place. Bestselling authors HelenKay Dimon, Tessa Dare, and Terri Brisbin graced us with their publishing and writing experience and wisdom. I unfortunately missed Tessa Dare’s special presentation (in my defense, it was very early in the morning), but greatly enjoyed both HelenKay and Terri’s wit and insight.

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With HelenKay Dimon at the conference

Conference keynote speaker, HelenKay Dimon, spoke passionately about why reading matters, why it is so important. We don’t read only to escape or for stress relief or to indulge in fantasy. We read to survive. To escape bullying. To escape family illness or tragedy. To believe and feel better and to figure out how to defeat the monsters in our lives. In books, the bad guys are defeated, and that gives us hope that the bad guys in life can be defeated too.

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Worst margarita ever. No, REALLY.

“I have never felt guilty for reading a book,” HelenKay said. “Love is empowering. It has the ability to take us to a different place, to make us feel great.” In romance novels, she said, women are the heroines of their own stories (sound familiar?). To the hero, no matter how plain or regular or normal or whatever, to the hero, she is the most beautiful woman in the world. “In romances, there are women who are comfortable in their sexuality and men who celebrate it. Romance is about hope that you can overcome, no matter how many mistakes you’ve made or how flawed your past is, that someone will love you for you. When someone writes that romance doesn’t matter, my answer is ‘kiss my ass!’.”

Preach it, HelenKay.

Luncheon speaker, Terri Brisbin, spoke about the rules of writing–write what you know, make sure hero and heroine meet within first 10 pages, write the breakout book, blah blah blah. According to Terri, none of them really matter. Terri counseled that only three rules were important: If you want to be a writer, you have to write, and you have to find the time in your life to do it whatever your challenges. Tied in with that advice is that you have to read, you have to keep reading to refresh the well that hydrates your writing. She also advises to gather good people around you and hold on to them. “Trying to be a creative person in a business world is hell, unless you have good people around you,” she said. “Sometimes, they’re right there with you and you don’t even know it.” Finally, as a dental hygienist, Terri emphasized the only one true thing in life that everyone must do: “brush and floss two times a day.”

 

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First-line bingo fun

On Sunday, after the conference, we had the inaugural NJRW Hearts & Sparks Reader and Blogger Brunch. Here writers mixed and mingles with readers and bloggers with a delicious full brunch. First-line bingo sheets were employed as a fun, interactive ice-breaker where guests had to find out which first line on the bingo sheet came from what author’s book. Given my book WILD ON THE ROCKS starts with the line “Check the stalls.” I got a lot of people wondering just what kind of stall was being employed–and exactly what they were doing in the stall! Naturally, I told them to read the book and find out! Okay, I gave in and told ’em because I hate waiting. But still!

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First-line bingo fun

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Swag tables at the brunch

It was so wonderful to meet so many enthusiastic readers and bloggers–people who love passionately love romance novels. As bestselling historical romance novelist Tessa Dare noted, we sit behind our computers and laptops all day, in our PJs or our yoga pants or whatever (I’m writing this wearing a new nightie, FTR. TMI? Oh well.) and we so rarely get to meet in person the people for whom we’re writing (after ourselves, naturally). And that’s you, lovely readers and Lady Smutters, and that’s why we have our MEET page here on Lady Smut, so that you can come on out and meet us and, even better, we can meet *you*.

Plus, ya know, free stuff.

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Giveaway!

That’s right! I have goodies for you–free, author signed books, including the super sexy MINE by HelenKay Dimon,  one of three Scottish medieval adventures from Terri Brisbin, and Tessa Dare’s new historical regency romance A WEEK TO BE WICKED. Subscribe to our Lady Smut newsletter and/or click the FOLLOW button, and then leave us a shot of the confirmation in the comments along with your choice of the above pictured books. I’ll do a random selection and post the winners on next Monday’s post.

Follow Lady Smut. We’ll give you lots of reasons to keep reading to survive.

Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel, Wild on the Rocksis now available. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.

Lady Smutters Out in the Real World

10 Oct

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

From time to time, we here at Lady Smut step away from our laptops, peek cautiously out the door, and venture out into the real world.

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Okay, not really. We tend to go charging out into trouble. Making it if we can’t find it, because what fun is that?

It occurred to us that you, lovely readers, might want to find us out in the wild to chat or hang, share a coffee or a drink, talk romance and/or get a book signed. To this end, we created the MEET US page, right there up in the right-hand corner of the page. There you’ll find where *we* can be found throughout the year. We’ll be updating it regularly, so make sure you keep checking it for new events.

Talk about a timely initiative because we’re already heating up the cooler days of Autumn. Last weekend found Lady Smut bloggers Madeline Iva, Alexa Day, and Elisabeth SaFleur at the Washington Romance Writers Readers & Bloggers Luncheon. (I’m sure there’ll be more detail on that exciting event later in the week.) If you missed it this year, be sure to get it on your calendars for 2017.

Next weekend, it’s my turn as I’ll be at the New Jersey Romance Writers Hearts & Sparks Reader and Blogger Appreciation Brunch. I’ll have some packets of goodies ready to go for those lucky enough to join me at my table and a few extras to random attendees. This brunch follows the conclusion of the New Jersey Romance Writers Put Your Heart in a Book Conference, where you’ll not only find me floating around instigating trouble good times (let’s be honest, usually in the bar), but Lady Smut blogger Elizabeth Shore will also be in attendance!

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Next year, Elisabeth SaFleur is taking another wild ride at the Wild Wicked Weekend in San Antonio while a veritable passel of Lady Smug bloggers will be present at the Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention in Atlanta, GA for our first ever Lady Smut Panel!

And we’re just getting started!

 

For romance novel professionals–authors, bloggers, readers, editors, publishers, etc.–conferences and conventions are like the mothership calling us home. I know for me, it’s a step away from real life, the day-to-day of day jobs (for those of us for whom writing and/or publishing aren’t our day jobs, that is) and family responsibilities. It’s a chance to be with people who know and love romance, who speak the same language whether they prefer sweet or sexy, HEA or HFN, military or Amish. I love these times when I’m with my tribe, be it on a national level at the yearly RWA conference, regional at NJRW’s conference, or every month with my local chapter. Meeting readers is a new aspect for me, and one I love more and more with every new person, that thrill of knowing I gave someone an hour or two of entertainment as they delved into the story and characters I created. This will be my first conference with a book on sale where I’ll be participating in reader-focused events, and I genuinely cannot wait.

So be sure to hit up our MEET UP page for ongoing updates about the wheres and whens of Lady Smut Bloggers out in the real world. I hope to see some of you next weekend–or surely, someplace soon.

Follow Lady Smut. In the real-world or out of it, we don’t disappoint.

Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel, Wild on the Rocksis now available. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.

 

 

Six-Figure Book Contract – A Horror Story

7 Sep

By Elizabeth Shore

Although writers say, and it’s true, that their pursuit of writing is primarily for the satisfaction they get from a creative outlet, who among us hasn’t indulged in the dream of landing a big book contract? A nice hefty one, enough so we can quit our day jobs and do nothing but churn out book after fabulous book, generating still more big hefty deals! From the outside looking in, it’s an enviable dream, one to which we can all aspire. We’d land on the New York Times bestseller list, have tons of marketing muscle promoting our work, even get our faces on daytime TV! Getting a big book contract would be just awesome. Right?

Meet Dan Blum. Dan’s a writer, a poet, and a blogger. I first came across his hilarious blog, The Rotting Post, (“The Finest in Literate Snark”) when I saw a piece he’d published about badly written sex scenes. As it turns out, however, Dan is also a novel writer. His new book, The Feet Say Run is due out in December. But several years ago, Dan wrote what he describes as a “post-modern sex comedy” novel entitled lisa33. For his effort, Dad snagged a well-known agent who handed him a dream: a book contract with major New York publisher Viking and a six-figure advance. Dan was on his way to author nirvana! But not so fast…

LadySmut: Hi Dan! Thanks for agreeing to tell your story to our Lady Smut readers. Let’s start, as all good yarns do, at the beginning. Before being offered the deal for lisa33, you’d been trying to get a “serious” novel published but without success at that point. Was lisa33 born out of frustration with the publishing process?

Dan Blum: Not exactly.  I have to be genuinely inspired by an idea to put the time into writing it.  I had always enjoyed both humor and serious fiction.  With the dawn of the internet, the world of the chatroom and instant messaging and all of the anonymous flirtation and sex that it led to, I felt like there was this new world that was fascinating and comic and sexy and worth exploring.

LS: You’d put massive time into writing a serious novel and couldn’t get a publisher, yet you dash off a sex comedy in three months and get offered a six-figure advance. You must have been surprised that it was picked up so quickly, but were you also angered that this lighter novel got so much attention over your other fiction?

DB: It was very frustrating – particularly because I wanted to shout out, “This isn’t me,” or rather, “This is just one small side of me.” But there was no way to explain it. lisa33 was what got published and so it was all I was known for. It was me.

LS: The new agent you signed with for lisa33 was bursting with confidence and enthusiasm – did you have any hesitation at all in having him represent you? One of those “if it’s too good to be true” moments?

DB: I definitely wondered if he was for real. It happened incredibly quickly once he picked it up, all a bit dizzying. And I hadn’t really focused on what it would feel like to have that book actually published. I had a young family, was living in suburbia. After it came out, I remember waiting to meet my son at the elementary school bus stop, and wondering what all these mothers who were waiting with me thought of me. If I was the neighborhood creep.

LS: You wrote that Molly Stern, Viking’s Editor at that time, was a big fan of the book but wanted a couple of changes – like making it even funnier! Can you talk about those conversations? Did you feel like it was a collaborative process with her?

DB: Molly was a great supporter and if the rest of Viking had been behind the book in the way Molly had been, it would have been an entirely different outcome. At the same time, for anyone who writes humor, hearing, “Make it even funnier,” is a bit like a personal trainer hearing, “I want to be taller.”  There is only so much one can do. I have only good things to say about Molly, but I never really felt secure at Viking. I was always trying to please, trying to prove how accommodating I was, never quite there.

LS: When things started turning sour with Viking, where was your agent in all of this? Was he going AWOL on you at the same time?

DB: Yes. As it later turned out, he was off on a cocaine bender.  A good agent will not only represent the book through its sale to a publisher, but also make sure the publisher is doing the right things and assist some in promotion.  Just when I really needed that, my agent flat went missing. I never really knew what had happened until he published his own memoir about it.

LS: (And for which he himself received a giant advance. Ach! But I digress). So, OK. You’ve got an agent you can’t reach and a pub date that keeps getting pushed back. Did you at any time think about pulling your book from Viking?

DB: The short answer is no. I just didn’t know enough at the time to know what my options were. And I continued to get reassurances from Viking. “It will all work out in the end.” “We’re still behind it.” Etc.

LS: I’m curious about the contract you were offered. Since your agent had gotten a bidding war going for the book, it seems like Viking, the eventual winner, would have offered you a multi-book deal. Was that not the case? And if not, what did your agent have to say about that?

DB: This was something that in retrospect I should have insisted on. I’m confident we could have gotten it. But my agent was focused on getting top dollar, not on the other aspects of the contract, and it never came up.

LS: So your pub date gets later and later, your agent disappears…did you ever consider quitting writing altogether after this happened? It seems like the emotional toll would have been monumental. How did you get through it?

DB: For years I not only stopped writing, I even stopped reading – or at least stopped reading fiction. I just wanted nothing that reminded me of the publishing world. But at the same time, you need perspective. There are worse tragedies, worse misfortunes in the world than a writer getting screwed over by the publishing world. It’s been over a decade now, I have a new novel coming out, a humor blog I’m having a great time with, and it is a distant memory – like a bad break-up might be after a decade.

LS: I have to ask the “lessons learned” question. When you look back on the experience, what were those lessons for you, if any? Were there things you would have done differently?

DB: That’s a tough one. You finally get your dream, and it is not what you expect at all. In fact…nothing changes. You have the same friends. Enjoy the same things. Are frustrated by the same things. Maybe the dream is an illusion. There is no amazing, joyous, completely fulfilling other life out there. There is just this one. So make the most of it.

LS: Lastly, congrats on the upcoming book! The Feet Say Run is due out from Gabriel’s Horn Press in December (read the blurb here). Are you at all concerned that history will repeat itself with the new book?

DB: Thanks. But no, I don’t really worry about history repeating because I did not get a huge advance, and have not been told I would be famous. So I am much more grounded. If it’s a big success, that would be wonderful. If not, then so be it.

LS: Anything else to share with our Lady Smut writers and readers?

DB: Well, first of all, to the writers:  best of luck to all of you. As the site is all about erotica, I would add that I often feel we’re in an era of disappointingly prudish serious fiction. Shouldn’t sex be a topic to be explored like any other? In lisa33 I tried to mix erotic, comic and serious elements in a story about real people. I would leave it to others to decide whether or not it works for them. But I will say this:  I wish more writers today were willing to try it.

Amen to that! Thanks so much for joining us today, Dan. Great having you here.

For Dan’s own account of what happened, dash on over to his blog. You can access the harrowing tale here.

Elizabeth Shore writes both contemporary and historical erotic romance. Her newest book is an erotic historical novella, Desire Rising, from The Wild Rose Press. Other releases include Hot Bayou Nights and The Lady Smut Book of Dark Desires

 

 

Finding Your Tribe–A Guest Post From Jessica Scott

8 Aug

Note from Kiersten: In keeping with my unofficial military theme these past weeks, I invited military romance writer Jessica Scott to guest post at Lady Smut today. I first became aware of Jessica when she was serving in Iraq and Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books put together a book drive to send romance novels over to Jessica in an effort to ease the strain of war. Since then, Jessica has become a personal pal and a huge inspiration. I admire her greatly for her service, her writing, her many academics accomplishments (she currently teaches at West Point Academy while pursuing a PhD), and her emotional books that take a frank and often decidedly unromantic view of soldiers returning from war–and all they may bring back with them. I’m delighted to have Lady Smut host her perceptive reflection on the Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference and the concept of “tribe”–a watchword I heard a LOT at the conference–today.

Welcome Jessica!

At RWA this year, I noticed a pretty big shift in the conference. Well, there were several, but a couple really stood out to me.

Jessica Scott

We made room at the table. The Romance Writers of America has been struggling to find its voice when it comes to welcoming all members–authors of color have been remarking for years that there have been deep, systemic problems at the conference. But recently, the RWA board has started listening. This year, there weren’t just panels on diversity–diverse authors were mainstream, even featured at both the Keynote luncheon and the Librarian Day luncheon. Authors like Beverly Jenkins who started her speech by discussing slave narratives that had informed her writing. It was an amazing, powerful speech and what’s better is that she didn’t change anything because her audience was largely white women. Sherry Thomas talked about her journey from China to America and how she learned English through reading romance novels. But more, she spoke about her struggles with postpartum depression–a struggle many of us went through in shame and secrecy because what could possibly be so wrong with us that welcoming our child into the world wasn’t the joyous commercial break we saw on TV?

These authors spoke about the things that connect us. In our case, it was our collective love of romance. Each of us came to our place in the romance world through different means. I started writing when I was in officer candidate school, when I was away from my kids for the first time. I kept writing through my deployment in Iraq and through what were arguably the roughest years of my life as I transitioned back to being a mom after only being a soldier.

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I distinctly remember an author posting a blog years ago when I was first starting out about how a woman wrote to her about the impact her books have had on her life. See, she was going through genital reconstruction after have been subjected to female genital mutilation. And this author’s books made her realize that there was hope, that maybe she could find pleasure one day.

Each of our romance journeys are different. Each of us comes to the table from a different place. But the thing about RWA this year that made me tear up several times was that we demonstrated there was room at the table for all of our stories. Writing and publishing is not a zero sum game. Sure, there are finite number of readers out there, but that’s not what I get out of the RWA national conference.

I get to reach out and connect with part of my tribe. I get to reconnect with women who get what it’s like to try and write when you’ve got kids in the house. I get to connect with fellow readers and gush about books we’re supposed to be ashamed of but aren’t. Because these are our stories. They come from a place within us that is very personal to each and every one of us. Our stories connect us with readers–men and women–out in the world.

Before I Fall

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That’s what was so important about the RWA national conference this year. We opened the hidden door and talked about our struggles. We acknowledged that depression is real and it’s dark and it’s scary–but that you are not alone. We made room at the table for diverse voices and learned that ours are not muted because we add to them, rather that we are all lifted up when our voices are combined.

I left RWA this year feeling re-energized in a way I haven’t felt in a long time. I needed this reconnection with my tribe. To sit around with other moms who were enjoying time away from mom duty and laugh about the crazy things our kids did. To be around other writers who were struggling. To be the voice in someone else’s head when they need someone to drown out their own because their own is toxic at the moment.

I hope the changes we saw at this  RWA conference stick. I want us to continue to lift each other up. To stop pretending that life is the five minutes of perfection we see on Facebook and to connect with the real people out there in the world. To reconnect with our tribe. Who lifts us up.

Jessica Scott is the USA Today bestselling author of novels set in the heart of America’s Army. She is an active duty army officer, a veteran of the Iraq war, is the mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs, and wife to a retired NCO. She and her family are currently wherever the army has sent her. She has written for the New York Times At War blog, War on the Rocks, PBS Point of View Women and War and has been featured in Esquire Magazine as an American of the Year in 2012. She has published 11 novels and novellas about soldiers returning from war and has hit the USA Today Bestseller list twice. She has compiled two nonfiction projects about her time in Iraq and the return home. She has recently completed a Master’s degree in sociology from Duke, a Master’s degree in Telecom Management from University of Maryland University College, and a BA in Cultural Studies from State University of New York. She is currently pursuing a PhD in sociology. Learn more at http://www.jessicascott.net

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