Oct 282010

Todays post is exceedingly short
frankly i forgot this was my week
i have been busy  with narrators
and reviewing the back log of audio i have on my desktop

but that doesnt help you any does it?

Todays topic is audio erotica

the one thing i find as a repeated theme is this
even narrators aren’t really sure what audio erotica is

and authors arent sure how to write for it

so here is a little question for you
if the spoken word is story telling
then audio erotica is ________________go ahead fill in the blank

when polling people i got a lot of different answers
there are a few

  • some said it was porn for your ears
  • orgasms and words
  • several said it was sex stories
  • soft core sex stories as if making a difference
  • some took it seriously and said its just for women or gay men (a few even went so far as to say that straight men dont like, listen to or buy audio erotic stories)

that last part made me laugh because most of my clients are straight men with some pretty heavy audio erotic fantasies

but even if you jumbled them up and put them all together none of these answers actually is right
because audio erotica  like the spoken word is ALSO story telling

i know
it makes life easier to take if we put things into specific little cubicles
if we take something we dont know very much about and stick it somewhere were we dont have to be challenged by it then it is easier to forget or discount
but then if i let you do that then i wouldnt be doing my job
see i truly believe i am here to help you break down those compartmental walls

consider this
a well told story
can be told in pictures, audio and text
a well told story holds the reader/listener/viewer and makes them experience emotion

it doesnt matter if it is history, romance, erotica, fiction or non-fiction a well told story transcends

i know a great many of you will NEVER EVER record your work or even consider it
but maybe you might consider this

when i was in art school
one of my favorite professors remarked that a well made piece of art could be turned upside down or sideways and still be a well made and appreciated

now apply that to your story
if it is read with the eyes and captures the reader
how well will it stand up to being read aloud
is it still as powerful
if you answered yes
then you’re one of the fortunate few

so go ahead try it – and let me know how it reads – text and audio

links are appreciated!

this has been oceania for writesex.net

you can find more of me, oceania on radioactivesex.com; sensualwords.com and the new up and coming pureobsessions.com

Oct 212010

With NaNoWriMo coming up, it’s worth addressing the central conceit of the NaNoWriMo concept, which is — if you’ll allow me to take a few liberties that may piss off the punters — that you should just write, no matter what, without pausing — and without an outline. That’s the way to get a novel out of you.

I agree and I don’t. Personally, I like novels that write themselves. But not every novel wants to write itself.

Outlines are a critical part of the novel-writing process for most successful novelists. Their importance simply cannot be overstated. Writers who pump out book after book of quality prose about spunky ballerinas finding romance and homicide detectives hunting serial killers and winemakers solving crimes about cheese — those people almost all write with outlines, and tight ones, too. If it’s your first novel or your hundredth, you should do whatever works for you, but personally I wouldn’t trade the crazed madness of writing a novel without an outline for all the tea in Buckingham Palace.

That’s when the novel seems to write itself. It’s awesome. Writing a novel without an outline is the bomb.

Writers are very much split on whether doing so is a good idea or the most dangerous kind of antisocial lunacy. I tend to fall into the latter camp; writing a novel without an outline is definitely antisocial lunacy and should be avoided if you value your sanity, your interpersonal relationships, your job, the tendons of your forearms — and, most of all, your time.

But you’re not me, and therefore there are no significant consequences to my advocating that you do stupid shit.

Writing a novel without an outline is unquestionably dangerous — you could end up with a mess. The truth is, you’ll probably end up with a mess. If you make a habit of this, you may end up like me — the proud possessor of a hard drive packed with few dozen 20,000-word innovatively-cross-genre turds that steam so bad sometimes you gotta open the windows. But the experience of writing a big narrative with total abandon is something that I simply can’t give up. The problem is, that kind of muse doesn’t necessary come when you call her. She’s much like a cat in that regard. Nine times out of ten she knows you’re looking, and you can bite her.

What outlines can do for a novelist is force you to break your narrative into manageable chunks. When I write novels (or feature-length screenplays) to a tight outline, I lose the experience of sitting there tear-assing through six scenes in a sitting with no idea what’s coming next, which is a hell of a feeling. But like I said. I get that feeling a lot, then realize I have no idea what’s coming next. For this reason, I have many, many more half-novels than novels. Most novelists do.

But I also have many more outlines than novels. Hell, I have more outlines than first chapters! It’s easier for me to write an outline than it is to write a first chapter, and you know who enjoys reading them? Uh…no one. Not even me.

The point is, you can tear through an outline and think you have the framework for a novel. But from a reader perspective, there is no framework for a novel. The framework is the novel.

There’s no one answer as to whether you should outline, except to say that if it works for you, everyone else’s opinion is irrelevant. But it’s worth mentioning that most of the really accomplished genre novelists I know — I mean the kind of people who put out a book a year or more, and have been doing it repeatedly for a while — outline like fiends. Their outlines or “treatments” are incredibly detailed. Why, just this past week, science fiction legend Norman Spinrad, by way of crowdsourcing his novel queries, freely published a 113-page treatment of his next novel. James Ellroy of LA Confidential and The Black Dahlia fame writes novel outlines hundreds of pages long, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro once told me she outlines novels so thoroughly that she never has to rewrite (and, in my experience, her novels read tight).

If you’ve never written a novel, there’s a chance when it comes, it’ll just happen. You won’t need an outline because the thing will be winking at you from your computer screen, and you will have just typed END. Sure, everyone you know may think you’ve vanished off the face of the earth, and there may be an eviction notice on the door, and you may be about to get your power shut off because you haven’t paid the bill in twelve weeks. You may need a payment plan with the power company, but you still won’t need an outline. If this is how it goes down, mazel tov.

This sort of first-novel experience occurred with me on two separate occasions. That’s right; I received the lightning strike of having not one but two first novels just kind of explode out of me, in different decades, because they were in thoroughly unrelated genres. It’s an awesome feeling, a little bit like being high. High on life! High on life and six shots of bourbon. And the cocaine exports of Peru and Colombia put together. And these funny pink pills some weird guy in an overcoat sold you for $3 and a bus transfer over on 16th and Mission…

If that sounds like fun, great. If that sounds sustainable over the course of a professional career, you’re either more näive than I am, or you have way bigger brass ones.

If you’ve never written a novel and you’re trying to, or if you’ve written lots of them and you’re trying to write the next one, it won’t do you any good to bellyache about the novel that won’t write itself.

Sometimes you gotta make them write themselves. And then? An outline can be your best friend.

Oct 152010

How important are titles? I hear this question at almost every writing workshop or panel I attend.

The answer is that titles are very important for books. Would you have ever wanted to read “Two Mules in Harness”? Or see the movie. Luckily, Margret Mitchell changed the title of her book to “Gone with the Wind” – a much more romantic and intriguing title. What is gone with the wind?, potential readers are likely to ask themselves.

Then there was the book about women who were daughters of alcoholics who fell in love with men who turned out to be alcoholics. All these women were obsessed with their men and would do anything for them and take any form of abuse from them. Publisher Jeremy Tarcher read the ms, and felt that the idea of women who would do anything and take any form of abuse was much larger and would appeal to a much larger audience than a book just about women with alcoholic fathers who chose men like dad. He put the author through six drafts (paying her extra to do it) and retitled the book “Women who Love too Much.” And since there is hardly a woman [or man] who doesn’t feel she loved too much at least once in her life, the book became a must have as millions of women wanted to know why they acted like that and how they could stop.

In case you don’t get the urge to purchase “Trimalchio in West Egg,” you may be surprised to learn that you have probably read it, or seen the movie, and may even have a copy of “The Great Gatsby” on your bookshelves.

Some titles practically guarantee big sales. Consider these titles, for instance, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex but were Afraid to Ask” and “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Or these recent novels “Angels and Demons,” “Rich Man, Poor Man.”

Titles can make or break a book. Because the title is often the first thing someone learns about a book. If it is captivating or compelling or raises a powerful question in the reader’s mind or makes a promise, one is more likely to pause and consider the book and that is 2/3s of selling a book to a reader right there.

A good title with a bit of sizzle or sell to it even makes it easier to find a publisher for a book. They know that if the title catches their interest, it is likely to catch a reader’s interest as well.

Alright, you may be saying, it makes sense that dreaming up a good title is important if you are writing a book, but is a great title essential for a short story?

Well, no, in the sense of selling it. But, yes, in another sense. Let me explain.

If your story appears in an anthology or magazine, it is the title of that anthology or magazine that will impact and hopefully sell the general public.

So in that sense, the title of your story doesn’t need to be great to sell an editor, because the title of any one story will not have any impact on the public buying the publication it is in. The perceived quality of the story is what sells the editor. If a story for an anthology is good, you can call it something as pedestrian as “Lesbian Encounter” or “Gay Story” and an editor will take it. And if they are busy and fighting deadlines, they may never think to retitle it.

On the other hand, if you want your story or stories to be remembered, don’t just make them memorable, because people often remember really good stories they read, but if the title wasn’t memorable, can’t recall it. In the long run, giving your story a memorable title may even earn you additional sales, as anthologists may remember it when looking for stories to reprint.

Harlan Ellison could have called his story “The Rebel” and any scifi editor would have been happy to buy it. But readers remembered the story forever, and it was remembered well enough to be nominated for and win awards, when he titled it “Repent, Harlequin, Said the Tick-tock Man.” He scored another title bullseye when he came up with “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.”

Or Richard O’Connell could have titled his story “Choice,” but who can forget “The Lady or the Tiger?”

As for Fitzgerald, who having heard it once can forget the title, “A Diamond as Big as the Ritz.”

So if you want your work to live and be remembered a cool, stick in the mind title will take a good story a long way toward immortality.

No matter how you look at it, or what the media, a good title is a good idea, and a necessity over all. It might not be essential for selling the story the first time, but it might go a long way toward helping sell it again. And again. And again.

Oct 072010

“The shock of September 11 is subsiding. Each day adds distance. Distance diminishes fear. Cautiously our lives are returning to normal. But “normal” will never be the same again. We have seen the enemy and the enemy is among us …. the publishers, producers, peddlers and purveyors of pornography.”

It didn’t take me long to find that quote. It came from an LDS Web site, Meridian Magazine, but I could have picked fifty others. In light of that kind of hatred, I think it’s time to have a chat about what it can mean to … well, do what we do.

We write pornography. Say it with me: por-nog-ra-phy. Not erotica – a word too many writers use to distance themselves, or even elevate themselves, from the down and dirty stuff on most adult bookstore shelves – but smut, filth … and so forth.

I’ve mentioned before how it’s dangerous to draw a line in the sand, putting fellow writers on the side of smut and others in erotica. The Supreme Court couldn’t decide where to scrawl that mark – what chance do we have?

What good are our petty semantics when too many people would love to see us out of business or thrown in jail? They don’t see any difference between what I write and what you write. We can sit and argue all we like over who’s innocent and who’s guilty until our last meals arrive, but we’ll still hang together.

I think it’s time to face some serious facts. Hyperbole aside, we face some serious risks for putting pen to paper or file to disk. I know far too many people who have been fired, stalked, threatened, had their writing used against them in divorces and child custody cases, and much worse.

People hate us. Not everyone, certainly, but even in oases like San Francisco, people who write about sex can suffer tremendous difficulties. Even the most – supposedly – tolerant companies have a hard time with an employee who writes smut. A liberal court will still look down on a defendant who’s published stories in Naughty Nurses. The religious fanatic will most certainly throw the first, second, third stone – or as many as it takes – at a filth peddler.

This is what we have to accept. Sure, things are better than they have been before and, if we’re lucky, they will slowly progress, but we all have to open our eyes to the ugly truths that can accompany a decision to write pornography.

What can we do? Well, aside from calling the ACLU, there isn’t a lot to we can directly do to protect ourselves if the law, or Bible-wielding fanatics, break down our doors – but there are a few relatively simple techniques you can employ to be safe. Take these as you will, and keep in mind that I’m not an expert in the law, but never forget that what you’re doing can be dangerous.

* Assess your risks. If you have kids, have a sensitive job, own a house, have touchy parents, or live in a conservative city or state, you should be extra careful about your identity. Even if you think you have nothing to lose, you do – your freedom. Many cities and states have very loose pornography laws, and all it would take is a cop, a sheriff, or a district attorney to decide you needed to be behind bars to put you there.

* Hide. Yes, I think we should all be proud of what we do, what we create, but use some common sense about how easily you can be identified or found: use a pseudonym and a post office box, never post your picture, and so forth. Women, especially, should be extra careful. I know far too many female writers who have been stalked or Internet-attacked because of what they do.

* Keep your yap shut. Don’t tell your bank, your boss, your accountant, your plumber, or anyone at all, what you do. When someone asks, I say I’m a writer. If I know them better, I say I write all kinds of things – including smut. If I know them very, very, very well, then maybe I’ll show them my newest book. People (it shouldn’t have to be said) are very weird. Just because you like someone doesn’t mean you should divulge that you just sold a story to Truckstop Transsexuals.

* Remember that line we drew between pornography and erotica? Well, here’s another: you might be straight, you might be bi, but in the eyes of those who despise pornography you are just as damned and perverted as a filthy sodomite. It makes me furious to meet a homophobic pornographer. Every strike against gay rights is another blow to your civil liberties and is a step closer to you being censored, out of a job, out of your house, or in jail. You can argue this all you want, but I’ve yet to see a hysterical homophobe who isn’t anti-smut. For you to be anti-gay isn’t just an idiotic prejudice, it’s giving the forces of puritanical righteousness even more ammunition for their war.

I could go on, but I think I’ve given you enough to chew on. I believe that writing about sex is something that no one should be ashamed of, but I also think that we all need to recognize and accept that there are many out there who do not share those feelings. Write what you want, say what you believe, but do it with your eyes open. Understand the risks, accept the risks and be smart about what you do – so you can keep working and growing as a writer for many years to come.