Category Archives: WRITING

Process, language, grammar

No Smut Allowed Part 2

This is from the On His Knees sales page editorial reviews section:

“Let’s get a few things out of the way first. This isn’t a romance. There’s desire aplenty between the protagonists, but no romantic love. … It’s not stroke fiction, designed to get the average reader off as quickly and dramatically as possible while they hold the book with one hand.

It is erotica. But not in the sense of the (bad) American Heritage Dictionary definition of “literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire” or the (worse) Webster’s New World Dictionary definition of “pornographic books.” No.

On His Knees is erotica in the most basic sense: “stories written about the sexual journey of the characters and how this impacts them as individuals.”(Thanks for that definition, Sylvia Day!)

And this particular journey is gritty and gut-wrenching.

Dale Cameron Lowry – author, blogger, philanthropist


But here is a more complete quote from Day:

Erotica: stories written about the sexual journey of the characters and how this impacts them as individuals. Emotion and character growth are important facets of a true erotic story. However, erotica is NOT designed to show the development of a romantic relationship, although it’s not prohibited if the author chooses to explore romance. Happily Ever Afters are NOT an intrinsic part of erotica, though they can be included. If they are included, they weren’t the focus. The focus remained on the individual characters’ journeys, not the progression of the romance.

https://www.sylviaday.com/extras/erotic-romance/


This article is quoted constantly and her definitions have become a standard. This doesn’t mean they are “right,” but this specific paragraph does reflect my own thinking.

“The reader reads a book into existence.” I cannot recall who said that, but it’s true afaic. Some read Knees to get off and consider it smut. They don’t want mysteries or anything else getting in the way. I don’t consider anything I have ever written to be smut. Not Little Favor or A Thing for Feet or anything else no matter how much sex is in it.

Writers explore character through greed or sacrifice or violence or martyrdom. A lot of writers have done it through sex. It’s unfortunate that readers through time have so often brought their own rather unwholesome attitudes to these works and banned them.

I love my readers. I esp love those who see my and other works of erotica as what they are: stories about people.

Heat can still be fun, though. depositphotos_13155709_originalb

Following the Master

If you’re too young to know who Raymond Chandler or  Philip Marlowe are, be thankful you’re old enough to read.

“Raymond Chandler is a master.” —The New York Times

“[Chandler] wrote as if pain hurt and life mattered.” —The New Yorker

“Chandler seems to have created the culminating American hero: wised up, hopeful, thoughtful, adventurous, sentimental, cynical and rebellious.” –Robert B. Parker, The New York Times Book Review

“Philip Marlowe remains the quintessential urban private eye.” —Los Angeles Times

“Chandler wrote like a slumming angel and invested the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a romantic presence.” —Ross Macdonald

One of the things I’ve used as a writing guide is a list of Chandler’s Ten Commandments for writing a murder mystery:

1) It must be credibly motivated, both as to the original situation and the dénouement.
2) It must be technically sound as to the methods of murder and detection.
3) It must be realistic in character, setting and atmosphere. It must be about real people in a real world.
4) It must have a sound story value apart from the mystery element: i.e., the investigation itself must be an adventure worth reading.
5) It must have enough essential simplicity to be explained easily when the time comes.
6) It must baffle a reasonably intelligent reader.
7) The solution must seem inevitable once revealed.
8) It must not try to do everything at once. If it is a puzzle story operating in a rather cool, reasonable atmosphere, it cannot also be a violent adventure or a passionate romance.
9) It must punish the criminal in one way or another, not necessarily by operation of the law…. If the detective fails to resolve the consequences of the crime, the story is an unresolved chord and leaves irritation behind it.
10) It must be honest with the reader.


You see the blue one, of course. Sometimes I do a few things like Chandler did. Like write a 44 word sentence with a single comma. But I think he wouldn’t approve of Hunt&Cam. Their relationship is mercurial, passionate, sometimes fraught. Sometimes I think I should have left Hunter as I originally conceived him: a man alone and okay with that.

The “cool, reasonable atmosphere” exists only in Hunter’s mind. They are books that try to do everything at once. And I don’t seem to know any other way to do it. But I can, at least, introduce you to Raymond Chandler, whom you should 1-click asap. I have this excerpt from The Long Goodbye – tell me you don’t want to turn the page …

chandler text

Interviewing Addi:

 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing?
I’m an overeducated ex-hippie chick who ended up on the cops. I did a lot of things, but I always wrote. For money and for free.

How long have you been writing for, and what inspired you to start writing?
I was 8 years old when I wrote my first poem and book. The book was plagiarized! (Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty.) I write because I can’t figure out how not to. I once heard it called “the midnight disease.” The thing that has you scribbling away when you should be asleep because whatever is in your head won’t wait.

Can you tell us about your new release? What inspired you to write it?
Dancing Men is the 3rd in the Hunt and Cam 4Ever series that started with the short storyOn His Knees. Dancing the second police procedural murder mystery following Matchstick Men. Hunter Dane, bisexual switch and homicide detective teams up with Camden Snow, extreme Dom and Olympic champion, to solve a murder at the natural history museum involving a fresh body in a 3000-year old burial urn.

They also negotiate their relationship after the mess left at the end of Matchstick. I made sure to include quite enough backstory for this book to be read stand-alone. Most of my readers will be shouting “NO! Go back and read the first two!” But I promise, it’s not necessary.

New readers should know that the sex is explicit. I don’t think it’s dark, but it is at times pretty intense.

How did you come up with the title? 
It’s the title of a classic Sherlock Holmes story and originally, I’d intended to use elements from that story in this one. But—since I’m actually not in control here, the boys are—that went by the wayside. In this book, “Dancing” refers to the state of Hunt and Cam’s relationship. I don’t really write romance, I write love stories. And love can be incredibly challenging.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The multi-generational nature of the story. It’s all set in November of 2016, but to understand how things happened, they had to go back to the origin of the urn – who found it and how it got to America. It’s not a simple whodunnit, it’s twisty and turny and … okay, to me it’s all fascinating, but I’m a nerd girl, yanno? Still, a lot of readers seem to enjoy it.

Why M/M?
Hunter made me. He was a character in Desire for Bliss, an m/f bdsm, billionaire romance novel. It had a bit of mystery, also. Detective Sergeant Hunter Dane was introduced there. I wrote a series of short stories about peripheral characters in the Desire for … books. I knew Hunter was a Dom/sub switch and was going to write femdom.

I literally, in the old meaning of the word, had no idea it was going to be m/m until he got to the club and announced he was looking for Camden Snow. Who? Oh, man – a full metal Dom. They took me for a wild ride.

Are there any characters that you write, that are based on you, or people you know?
Sorta-kinda, but not really. The BDSM club Scene and Not Heard is based on a real place. Hunt and Cam are both physically based on real men I knew. But who they are, their complex personalities, I’m not sure where all that came from. I do use real people for peripheral characters, quite often, just for the physicality and voice, the cadence of speech.

Do you have a favourite character and/or book you’ve written? 
No. That’s like asking which of my children I love the most. I really like almost all my characters. They are so interesting and flawed and strong and wonderful. I write from 10 to 14 hours a day so they have to be people I enjoy spending time with.

Are there people in your life that annoy you, and you write into your books?
No. That would be bringing my personal life and feelings into the story. The stories belong to the characters. And they’d never let me get away with that. Hunter’s over here rolling his eyes at just the idea of it.

Do you write often? Is it on a schedule, or whenever you feel like it?
It’s my job. I get up, get dressed, get my coffee and go to work. But unlike a regular job, I take breaks as I wish, which is mostly about getting laundry done.

What are your writing goals for 2018?
I’m going to bring the different elements and characters in the RiverHart universe, including Hunt and Cam, together in the last Desire for … novel. I want to bridge the divide between m/f and m/m so all the characters move freely in and out of the stories.

I’d like to write more titles, get the Hunter Dane Investigation novels down to a standard 50k-ish. Write more relationship stories about other characters as well as Hunt and Cam.

TRADEMARKING WORDS

WHOPPER    BURGER KING    BK    JR

Those words are all trademarked. That doesn’t mean I can’t write “That fish he caught was a real whopper!” It means I can’t call my burger that if I own a restaurant. Here are some more presently trademarked words:  bubble wrap, dumpster, jet ski, memory stick, lava lamp.

No one gets a trademark by accident because a clerk in an office wasn’t paying attention.

There are so many. It’s not easy to get a trademark. It takes months or sometimes years.  There are a lot of legal hoops to jump through. You usually need a lawyer.

There’s actually nothing wrong with an author trademarking a word in a series title. In fact, it’s a standard thing to do in the industry. (See header image – source: http://www.sylviaday.com/best-selling-books/ ) Or trademarking the repeated word in the series titles. It’s similar to trademarking anything that identifies your product.  It isn’t immoral, illegal or unethical.

What is unethical, although not illegal, is copying a more successful author’s series title, using a similar font, naming your series the same thing as theirs in hope of getting their readers to read your books. The ones you can’t manage to sell on their own merit.

It’s cheating. It’s what makes authors trademark their series names and title words. Worse, it’s unprofessional, juvenile and simply the mark of a bad writer. But it’s not new.

Picking a pseudonym of KING is common for a newb horror writer. Putting it in all caps at the top of the cover, doing any of this tricky stuff that’s supposed to get you readers instead of just working hard to become a good writer, is all part of why indie authors get so little respect in the industry.

The author who trademarked “cocky” isn’t the problem.

You Write Your Books

I keep saying I don’t write romance because I don’t.

Fantasy is great. Romance or shifter or sci-fi or whatever, I’m down with fantasy.

I just don’t write it because I’m pretty sure I’d suck big time at it. I’m a person who reads nonfiction for pleasure. And we usually write best what we read most. When I did read fiction, I usually read mysteries. The author who influenced me the most was Truman Capote. He refined and popularized, some say invented, the “nonfiction novel” with the publication of In Cold Blood. It’s a kind of writing that is, by the fact of what it is, loosely-defined.

It’s what I write. Capote, whose literary shoes I’m not fit to tie, wrote mostly  fact that read like fiction.

I write fiction that insists on being true to reality. Not bound by it, but very much based in it. Camden Snow is physically based a real pro athlete. His accomplishments are mirrored in teen-aged Olympic medal winners. I write about BDSM clubs or sex from the experiences of my life and the lives of people I know. I write about being a cop as I was a cop and cops I knew. Hunter Dane poses for stock photos, nude or semi because a cop I knew did. You rarely find a lid with a Tamil burial jar. A clitoris is not a little nub. A comminuted femur fracture can take four months to heal well enough to bear weight.

Things are fictionalized or it would’t be fiction. Ben Hart makes sexual support devices that are about serving women instead of men. That’s wildly fictional, unfortunately.

My next book will be out …. soon. Not when I’d planned. Before Spring ends. It’s got graphic sex, as usual, because my boys can’t seem to keep their hands to themselves for more than five minutes. Like most of my stuff, it’s fact-based and a bit science-heavy.PSYCHIC2tohoAnd it has a really interesting list of research links.

I write love stories. But what’s inside the book is only what you find there.

“It is the theory which decides what we can observe.”
ALBERT EINSTEIN

 

NO SMUT ALLOWED

When I started my writer’s journey, I was briefly on a terrible Reddit board about writing “smut.” I was told my covers and blurbs were’t sexy enough. That I’d be a failure and make no money if I didn’t write to market and follow the formula of the wildly successful smut-writers trying to help me. None of them gave their author names. There was no evidence anyone was wildly successful. They were all about money and zero about writing.

I don’t write smut. I write erotica. And there is a difference. Dale Cameron Lowry, MM romace author and my first blog reviewer, described it thusly when he reviewed On His Knees in May of 2017, here:

This isn’t a romance. … It’s not stroke fiction, designed to get the average reader off as quickly and dramatically as possible while they hold the book with one hand. …

On His Knees is erotica in the most basic sense: “stories written about the sexual journey of the characters and how this impacts them as individuals.” (Thanks for that definition, Sylvia Day!)

Here’s the thing: readers get off reading my titles. I write explicitly. Maybe too explicitly for some, I guess. But I see them, I feel what they feel, want what they want, fear and love and suffer and triumph with them. In and out of bed—or car or van or BDSM club playroom. Or in a bathroom hearing the music you know will kill the man you love and knowing you don’t have time to save him. double1lighter

They make me feel them.

And while I have very literally never written anything to arouse a reader, my message to you is: You absolutely get to get off reading this stuff. You get to cry and laugh and be confused. They are. I was. Have a damned orgasm if you are so inclined. I made a sort of joke about it in one of my promos for Snowed In because it really is a lot of sex.

The reader experience is theirs. And readers get to have feelings about what they read, because if they don’t, WTF am I bothering to write for? But what happens between the men I love is not any word that implies there is something wrong or cheap or dirty about what they do or who they are. Or who a reader is and how they  respond.

My message to readers is: If you just read my books for the sex, to get off and that’s all, cool. There’s nothing cheap or wrong or dirty about you, either.

addi-