Tuesday, October 25, 2011

NaNoReb(el)s: One Week Countdown

REBEL CHAT at 9:00pm est (10/26/11)! Click here!

Hi all! It's less than one week to NaNoWriMo 2011. Do you have your plans ready?

For those not in the know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing

Month, and it takes place every November. The goal is, within the month of November to write 50,000 words on a novel. Some of the #NaNoRebels here have actually signed on for that. Others have signed on to do something a bit different (lower word count, finishing a story for submission, editing...). But we wanted a place where all the Rebels who wanted could gather together, plan some virtual write-ins, offer support on Twitter, etc. So, I volunteered my blogs: this one and JulieParticka.com. I'll be posting stuff here on Tuesdays, there on Thursdays.

What I want to do right now is talk about Twitter (by the way, if you haven't yet, go ahead and follow this me, @SelestedeLaney, just so I keep everyone nice and organized). A lot of us use it and love it already. Some use it and hate it. Others have accounts but don't use it at all. And some of us just haven't gone there yet. There was a request for me to do a quick Twitter class. Since life grabbed me by the metaphorical balls and didn't let go, I lost track of time and now we're down to a week before. So... Twitter class will be tomorrow, Wednesday, October 26, at 9:00 pm eastern time at Chatzy. I will put a direct link to the room here tomorrow evening. Please make sure you have created a Twitter account in advance of the class and please download tweetdeck. I don't normally use regular Twitter, so it'll be a much more productive class if we're all on the same page.

For those of you who know what you're doing Twitter-wise, just remember to use the hashtag so everyone sees your tweets. And... speaking of the hashtag. *sigh* #NaNoRebels is already an official NaNo thing. So, by all means use it too, but I'm shortening ours to #NaNoRebs just so we have a thing just for those of us in the group. (Yes, it's an open group and everyone can join, but if we're all talking, I don't want it to get lost in a larger twitter feed).

*Big exhale*

Okay, now that that's out of the way, how about we all talk about what our goals are for NaNo? Is it the 50k? Or is it something else?

And if you haven't signed up to join us, click the NaNoRebels thing in my right sidebar and comment there.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy Ever After? No. Happy Anniversary!

No, I didn't say blogoversary. Honestly, I don't keep track of such things (and since I moved, when do I start counting from?).

Anyway, tomorrow I will have been married for fifteen years to a wonderful man who puts up with all my idiosyncrasies and madness. Hell, he even puts up with my friends! People often ask me why I don't write more blatant happily-ever-after stories (at best the HEA is usually implied). The answer to that is simple, I don't believe in them.
I can hear you now "Wait a minute, Seleste, you just said you've been married how many years?"

Yes, I've been married a decade and a half, and I hope beyond hope that we last a lot longer than that. But it isn't going to be because we met, fell in love, the stars aligned and everything was sweetness and light from there on out. That shit only happens in fairy tales. Real people work to make a lasting marriage (or union or whatever you want to call it). There are happy days and happy moments, but there are also a share of times that suck ass. I honestly worry about people who say they've never had a bad moment in their marriage (and seem to mean it). That either means they've never been tested by life (and can't even pretend they'll know how to handle it if they ever are) or--and you can refer to my as Dr. House for the rest of the post--somebody's lying.
I've said many times that I like my stories to reflect reality. And in my experience, reality doesn't involve happily ever after. It involves fights about money and in-laws and kids and sex and what to watch on television. But it also involves working through those things to come out stronger in the end. I don't want a happily ever after for my characters because I wouldn't want one for myself. Happily ever after is a surface beauty that will crumble with the first crack. I'd rather have something strong--forged in fire and beaten into shape. I want something that will last.

I like to think that's what I have with Shane. He drives me crazy and occasionally makes me want to throw things, but at the end of the day, I want to go home (or stay home, because, you know, I work here) to him.

Happy Anniversary, honey. Here's to not killing each other before the next one.

In other news...starting next week and running through November, this blog and that of my YA counterpart will be devoted to a NaNoWriMo project called #NaNoRebels. Please check out http://julieparticka.blogspot.com for more details and to decide if you want to be a Rebel too.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Too Smexy

*Note: This is not a commentary about the person who made the initial comment, rather a commentary about the concept in general as other things have come out recently, such as a push to have erotica removed from the top 100 lists at Amazon.*

/rant on

An interesting topic came up last week regarding the fact that Carina Press (and some other publishers) don't use "heat ratings" on their books. They have "erotica" as a sub-category, but not all books with steamy sex get labeled as erotica.

Badlands was used as an example. It's not erotica because the story isn't driven by the sex. In fact, there are a total of two sex scenes in the novella. One lasted a page and a half, the other was a page. Now, to be totally fair, it is true that I don't pussy-foot around sex scenes. The main character in this story isn't the type to put up with that. There is one stand-alone novel I have partway finished where that wouldn't be the case, but in general my heroines don't shy away from their sexuality. That doesn't make it erotica.

If a reader were to walk into a brick and mortar bookstore, there might be a section for erotica. (I'm not sure, since I normally buy my erotica digitally.) Everything else would be shelved in its genre category. And even there, the genres are much broader than those you'd find in an e-book store. Paranormal romance, steampunk romance, historical romance, romantic suspense, etc. are all shelved under romance. Other genre fiction gets shoved pretty much in either Mystery or Sci-fi/Fantasy (and Inspirational sometimes gets its own spot, but don't even get me started on the YA section.) So, when a book is in paper form, the reader is left to "guess" as far as violent or sexual content.

Most readers I know have certain expectations of some sub-genres. Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy isn't required to have sex, but I think most of us expect it. Conversely, sex is not expected in Inspirational Romance. Everything else is kind of a gray area, though I would suspect that Historical (I don't really read any, so I'm guessing) is more chaste than say Sci-Fi Romance. But even within those genres, I'm sure there are exceptions.

As kind of a mix between Historical and Sci-Fi, Steampunk falls into a really gray area. Readers of Historical will bring their own expectations, as will Sci-Fi fans. And, in all fairness, I would agree that when you set a steampunk in Victorian England with a prim and proper heroine, it would surprise me for there to be graphic sex. I wouldn't necessarily hate it if it fit the story, but it would surprise me.

Ever... is not that heroine, and the Badlands is certainly not Victorian England. In the very first scene, Ever is fighting half-naked. It gives a clear picture that the women of this world are not conservative with regard to their bodies (hell, sex is discussed on the very first page) and they are a violent lot--Ever more so than most. (And that is the scene that is listed most places as an excerpt, so anyone can read it.) The graphic sex shouldn't come as a shock. Really it shouldn't.

But regardless, in a brick and mortar bookstore (that miraculously carried novellas), Badlands would be shelved in either the Romance section or the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section (depending on who made the call). As would pretty much everything else I've ever written. The same with Cindy Spencer Pape or countless others.

Why do some readers expect more division than that out of their online sellers? And do we really want it? Badlands has two short but graphic sex scenes... and it has violence and blood. So let's say a conservative publisher gave it a heat level of 4. Some readers would look at that and say "Oh my God, that's got to be a lot of sex!" and would pass it up for a less scary three. Or conversely, someone could look at a liberally rated 2 and say, "Ugh, I just don't get a modern romance that doesn't have sex." when in reality it has sex, it just isn't graphic enough to warrant a higher number.

The numbers are as likely to do a disservice to all involved as they are to help. The only exception to that I've seen is when the cover art or blurb don't match what's in the book. I know of one F/F romance that has two naked women on the cover...it's a heat level 2 (of 4). Without the heat level, yeah, I'd expect a lot of sex there. Does Badlands cover or blurb scream sex? No, but the blurb mentions "growing attraction" and "desires", so it doesn't whisper of virgins either. Had there been sex every chapter, I could see the disconnect.

I guess the point of my little rant is just as you would in a brick and mortar store, check out what you're buying and don't expect the publisher to vet things for you. Read the blurb, read the excerpt. I want people to love Badlands, not be shocked into hating it, but I don't think Carina and other publishers who decide not to utilize heat levels are doing something wrong.

/rant off

And with regard to the latest Amazon nonsense, I think people need to get a grip and stop buying just because something makes a list. Decide if you want it first. Read the blurb. Look at the cover. And if the cover is too racy for your innocent eyes, you can scroll past it really fast. I promise, it won't scar you for life.

/rant off for real this time

In other news, because I can't get enough talking about sex in, I'm hitting a couple other places the rest of the week. Please join me at Cookies, Books, and Bikes tomorrow for "Do You Think It's Sexy?" And on Thursday, I'll be at Sex Marks the G-Spot with "It's Not My Kink...Except in Fiction." I hope you'll join me :)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Birthday Winners!

First, I want to thank everyone who stopped by my blog during the last week. I got swamped with regular life and didn't manage to come back and comment (which I normally try to do :( ). I hope some of you will stop by on Tuesdays (starting again next week), which are my regular blogging days here. I also hope you all took advantage of the great sale on Saturday--I know I did :)

Now, to what you really want to know, we'll start with the winner of GunShy...
Nay Nay!!!!
Congrats! If you're around to comment, you can let me know if you would prefer PDF or EPUB format, otherwise, I'll be sending you an email today.

Next up, the $5.00 gift certificate from Evernight Publishing...
Anna Keraleigh!!!!
Evernight has your email, so you should be hearing from them soon.

And now, the moment we've all been waiting for, the grand prize winners...
I've been scooped on this one. *sigh* To find out if you won the grand prizes, you need to go to Evernight's blog. Congrats to the winners here (and there), and Happy Birthday, Evernight!