Saturday, November 17, 2012

Paperbacks and e-books

I personally think that people really want to hold a print version of a book in their hands. It's what they're used to having, used to seeing from the time someone is little. There's a love affair with the printed page even for me. I personally have quite a collection of printed books myself. My 3rd edition Webster's collegiate dictionary (1945), my 1896 Fannie Farmer cookbook, Poet's Gold (1933) and my Crowell Roget's Thesaurus (1946, printed in 1960) are highly treasured by me and I'll never get rid of them.

That being said I use my Kindle all of the time for regular reading, it's quite convenient. I think I now read around 60-80 books per year now. Some of those books are for the reviews I write. I also beta read a lot of author's work on top of the regular reading. If I printed out all of that it would be difficult to tote around on my bicycle and would probably become a fire hazard in the house.

Even though most people I think really want printed versions I think it's how much they have in their wallet that helps guide them in the decision what they buy. Adam Smith stated in Wealth of Nations that basic economics guides someone's behavior. "I have x amount of dollars and I need to maximize what I'm getting out of those dollars." You can substitute whatever currency you want to but its the same guiding principle. I remember seeing the headlines recently that trumpeted that printed versions brought in a higher amount of revenue for publishing as a whole. It wasn't all that much higher either. Knowing what I know about pricing books that means there are two to three e-copies being sold to every printed copy.

Being a self published author I can't help but look at all kinds of pricing issues. Just wander through the Kindle store some time and notice the difference in prices. Especially with Indie's like me the Kindle's price is about one half to one third of the paperbacks price. In Sea Witch the amount of price difference is even larger. I really don't think that hard covers and paperbacks will ever totally disappear because I think people really want them. They just won't ever sell like they used to and they're going to become more of collectors item more than anything like some of the volumes I have in my personal library.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Is Erotica Literary Porn?

Indie Thoughts by Aneesa Price 

If a book contains sex scenes does it make it erotica?

To me, the answer is no.

I write romance and recently, also erotica. With my first book I purposefully kept any descriptions of sex scenes mostly suggestive, however, with my second book, the sex scenes were more explicitly described. I did not describe body parts and the acts in detail. I did, however, describe the emotions and sensations in tantalizing depth and sex was a major initiator for many events in the book.

My first novel, Finding Promise, was not labeled as erotic. It was labeled as I meant it to be - a sweet, small town contemporary romance for adults. My intention with the second book, Coffin Girls, was not to be erotic either - it was to provide a realistic description of what occurs within adult romance, which in my book (both literally and figuratively speaking) means a description of sex. I purposefully curbed the level of detail provided. However, I was surprised (neither pleasantly nor unpleasantly) when I received feedback that the book was in fact erotic. This confounded me.

I’m a firm believer that whatever the reader feels is their reality and thus true for them and so I accepted that to some, the book may seem to be erotic. This acceptance was shaken when most of the feedback I received was that Coffin Girls definitely fit into the erotic paranormal romance category. I then sat back and thought - very long, extremely hard (no pun intended *grin*).

What I was struggling with is that I had indeed read erotic literature long before the hype around “Fifty Shades of Grey” arose and as early back as when I was a university student. Back then I devoured the colorful descriptions writers such as Anais Nin and Henry Miller gave to carnal endeavors. To me, that was erotic. These classically acclaimed writers, to my mind, celebrated sex through the mastery of their words.

At this point, it may shed clarity to share my philosophy on sex in literature and other entertainment media. To me, sex is a natural activity that occurs between consenting adults and a very important one. As a romance advocate I cannot imagine a happily ever after for a couple who do not enjoy sleeping together. This is one of the many reasons I do not enjoy YA (Young Adult) reads. They seem to leave something to be desired due to the nature of the genre - like the proverbial ‘coffee without caffeine’.

I was baffled. Here I thought I was being very conservative with Coffin Girls and yet, the general consensus seemed to label it as “erotic with a bit of fang”. I then embarked on a journey to try and figure out if it indeed was erotic and if my definition of erotic was accurate or more akin to literary porn.

A series of events occurred. I read and reviewed a few newly released indie books labeled as erotic. I found that they weren’t actually erotic in my book and that Coffin Girls was indeed more explicit than they were. As I was outnumbered, I had to concede defeat. Next, I read explicit erotic short stories and here found that they made Coffin Girls look like a Disney production, which was more aligned to my original thinking. So, still in a state of confusion, I pulled out the old erotic classics and re-read them and reeled back in shock. They weren’t explicit in nature but what they were, were terribly illegal. A strong word but I cannot find any other to describe the grotesque acts I re-read in those books. Shocked and disappointed in writers I had previously looked up to, I then decided to read their journals. And that clinched it for me.

What I found in reading Anais Nin’s journal in particular was that she hated what she wrote.  The erotic works she created were commissioned by a benefactor that had no desire to read ‘poetry’. They wanted cold, hard, despicable acts of sex with an undercurrent of darkness and sometimes violence. Anais (also the name of the main character in Coffin Girls - and yes, I named her after the famous writer) experienced an enormous amount of dissonance but had been compelled to write those stories because she needed to earn money. She, in short, felt as though she was prostituting her art.

This was a revelation for me and it was is what led me to realize that what separates erotica, as a masterful literary art-form from literary porn is the story and the conscience within the work. If a book contains sex that discriminates and violates unless it is part of a story then it is porn. However, if sex is part of the story, adds richness and depth to the story and is not the story in itself, then, it is erotica. Erotica does not exploit its characters, instead the act of sex provides insight into how they think, feel and behave. It is not an attempt to fulfill a reader’s more promiscuous desires but to provide the reader with a full experience of the character’s hearts and minds. Erotica is then to me, a further development of adult romance. Sex is not implied, it is celebrated along with the other emotions and behaviors that characters possess.

And so I’ve discovered that I do indeed write erotica because my definition of it has matured. 

New Poster

I have a friend who will be doing some posts here on the blog also. Her name is Aneesa Price and she lives in South Africa. I think its interesting that since I became an author my friends are all over the world, none are here where I live these days. It's not like I could normally stop at their house for a cup of coffee or tea.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Next Big Thing

I didn't realize it but I was tagged by two in the Next Big Thing blog tour. Here is the interview.

What is the working title of your book? Liturgy

Where did the idea come from for the book? I wanted to read something a little different than I had seen previously. Many of the ideas come from a mix of Twilight Zone, and movies like “Hellraiser” along with some rock songs mixed together.

What genre does your book fall under? Horror

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I really don’t know but it would be really cool if Stephen King did a cameo.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? It’s a short story designed to chill the bones with a strong female main character.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? This one is self-published.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? It’s only a 5,000 word short story so it didn’t take long, a week.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Probably the Exorcist would be one.

Who or What inspired you to write this book? I was listening to some newer Iron Maiden (Dance of Death) when the idea hit me first.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Do you like things that levitate on their own and glow?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Novum Vicinos

(This is a short story I wrote a while back and I've just about finished with sprucing it up, plan on including this version in Continuum which is coming soon.)

Tap! Tap!
The noise awakened him from a deep sleep and that wonderful dream he was having. What a nice one it was too with that brunette who was so damned hot! The two of them had been making love on the deck of the boat while they were sailing along. The sun, the waves, the wind all seemed so real and perfect. I wish that would have really happened! He smiled to himself as his reverie still captivated his thoughts. Even better, in the dream he didn’t have any gray hair!
Tap! Tap!
Hearing the sound again caused him to sit up on the queen sized bed and look around the room. Everything in the bedroom looked just like they did earlier in the day except for the shadows. Even the hallway looked the same that was visible through the glass panels in the French doors. I really need to get some curtains for those soon. That was something he now remembered the realtor had mentioned as he became sentient. During the weeks of waiting for the closing it was one of those things that didn’t seem all that important. Somehow, they went from looking charming to something that was now rather disturbing with that appliqué spider web he decorated one of them with.
Getting up Josh went to the window and put his hands on the sill so could look out. There wasn’t much to see, the driveway between the two houses. The late fall chill was very noticeable as it transferred through the glass into his fingertips. This is the first night in the new place. I'm sure I'll get used to this house. Now what in the hell is making the noises that’s woken me tonight? Heading back to bed he heard the noises behind him again.
Tap! Tap!
The hair on his arms and the back of his neck stood on end and his skin felt prickly. This is definitely getting on my nerves. Rousing himself from the bed he made his way over to the window once again. An eerie feeling came over him and caused his stomach to churn. Just before he reached the window he heard the sound once again.
Tap! Tap!
Pulling the curtain back he peered out of the window. Observing the branch blowing back and forth and hitting the casement eased his concerns. Relief flooded in as he breathed a heavy sigh while he stood there watching it move. Letting the curtain fall back down he headed back to bed once more. Sitting down on the edge of the bed the tension he felt twisted within. His stomach wasn’t calming down and trying to will it to ease just wasn’t working.
Tap! Tap!
His ears located where the sound was coming from this time. Groaning, he rose to his feet and stepped over to the window to look out again. Man, this is really getting tedious!
Pulling back the curtain this time he was seeing some kind of glowing ball that was floating along. It faintly lit the concrete of the driveway and the light fog. His attention was riveted as he watched it floating by. He wanted to go out to touch it but yet was frozen in amazement. Slowly, it moved along to the garage door and then disappeared over the six foot high privacy fence.
Josh stood there gazing out a few minutes to see if anything else would happen but nothing did. It seemed to him the mystery was now solved as he headed back to bed. Lying down, he pulled the covers over himself and fell into a dreamless sleep for the rest of the night.
Waking to a bright shining morning the events of the evening were still fresh in his mind. Dressing quickly he went out to the driveway past the plastic molded pumpkin by the door. He ran to where the glowing orb went over the fence last night. Peering over it to the other side he now could see something that he hadn't noticed when he looked at the house. Why didn't I see those before? Row upon peaceful row of head stones greeted his vision. The cemetery was beautifully accented by the fall colors of the trees edging it. The unpleasant realization hit him that he might get a few more rather unwelcome visitors if he continued to live here.
Why did I have to move in just before Halloween? Is it too late now to get out of that damned contract I signed the other day?!
The End

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veteran's Day

Today is Veteran's Day.

Take some time to send your thoughts to those that have fallen in various wars. They served your country and it doesn't matter what country you're talking about. This doesn't mean you have to agree with the war they served in as that's a separate issue entirely. Personally, most wars shouldn't have ever been fought but the leaders for whatever reason felt that war was necessary. There's better ways of solving conflicts in my opinion. Think you actually have to serve in conflict to see it that way which most of our leaders don't. This time of year the ghosts come out and I do talk to them.

I myself am a veteran of the US Army, served in Iraq in 1991. Mostly did vehicle recovery, helped pull them out when they were stuck which was often. This especially was the deuce  and a half and five ton cargo trucks. While many times I don't feel it was an important contribution to Desert Storm apparently it was necessary at least.

My Grandfather served in North Africa during WWII. He wouldn't talk much about what happened while he was over there except for a very few things and it wasn't often. His job was to repair the fiber glass on some of the aircraft used while the Army was chasing after Rommel's forces.

While we both made it home we both knew many who didn't. My Grandfather more than me I'll admit. Take time to thank a Veteran today even if its just in your thoughts.