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Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: E.L. James

It’s Wednesday, which is on its way to being officially renamed in the U.S. calendar of holidays as “Cait Reynolds Blogs for Kristen Lamb” Day. Denny Basenji, however, thinks it should be renamed “Curly Tail Problems” Day.

Announcing that you write erotic romances is certainly a conversation starter. Or stopper. Depending on your audience. Explaining that this is your livelihood and that you are proud of it will get you reactions from, “Wow, that’s cool!” to, “So, when are you going to write a real book?”

Let’s just get something straight, right off the bat. Erotica today is not “porn in pretty dresses.”

One of the first ground rules for taking an objective look at the changing face of romance publishing is to separate the quality of the writing from the message of the content.

The message of today’s romance, erotic romance, and erotica novels is that women are free to associate themselves (and pay the money to buy the books to drive this point home) with sexually experienced, sexually adventurous, and sexually knowledgeable heroines. Heroes today are expected to spend as much, if not more, time focused on the heroine’s pleasure than their own.

While certain tropes like the Cinderella rescue persist, the nature of their portrayal has changed. For example, you now find the Cinderella rescue scenario played out in LGBTQ romances as much as heterosexual romances. Often the “heroine” is just as or more successful professionally than the “hero” (regardless of gender or orientation).

Heroes now have room to be complex, and heroines can genuinely be strong. Erotic romance novels fearlessly explored issues of mental illness, adoption, divorce, depression, anxiety, socio-economic differences, even while so-called “mainstream” books were still tip-toeing around sensitive topics.

The readers of these erotic romances are a truly diverse group, and people are starting to take note of this sociological change (and you can thank good ol’ “Fifty Shades” for the mainstream media attention erotic romance has gotten).

But who are the writers of these books? These are men and women who sit down, day in and day out, and put fingers to keyboard to produce these stories. I am one of them.

I used to be tremendously embarrassed by the fact that I wrote erotica. I felt like everyone was always expecting me to use it as a “stepping stone” to my “real books.”

Well, guess what? The books I write as Fiona Blackthorne ARE real books. I lost sleep, tweeted, swore, chatted, paced, dog-walked, typed, ground my teeth, wrote notes on receipts, and sketched out entire storyboards for these books. I had to submit them to my publisher, Siren Publishing, wait for them to be accepted, then go through an intense, fast-paced editing phase that would leave your head spinning. Then, there’s all the marketing work I had to do to get my website up and running, and promoting my books.

Yes, I work from home, and yes, I can start my day in my pajamas. But my workday starts at 7:00 a.m. and doesn’t really stop until I go to bed. Sure, I can change the laundry in between chapters, but you can bet I’m still working through a paragraph in my head. Yes, I have a flexible schedule. That just means that if I need to work from 7pm to 2am because my day was already full of other stuff, then I’ll suck it up and work from 7-2.

You want to know what it’s like to write a sex scene…or seven for a book? Sometimes, it’s a delightful literary challenge, because I never want to write a sex scene the same way twice. I always am looking for different words, moments, things to notice, ways to enhance the experience for my reader. Sometimes, it’s good fun for *ahem* me as well.

Sometimes, though? Sometimes, it’s like pulling freaking eye-teeth. You can get really tired of writing sex scenes. You always have to be on your guard against dropping into the mechanical and clinical just to get through it.

Then there are those moments when you are thinking to yourself: “Okay, about 700 words left in the chapter. That means if I can get her to her climax, then, hmmm, no, that won’t take enough words. He’ll have to stop just short of it. Oh, and then he can actually pick her up and put her on the bed. That’s about fifty words right there. Then maybe he ties her up? That could be a good hundred words or so, and I could finish this goddamn scene in 500 words after that.”

Yeah. It happens.

Then, I remember Anais Nin, Henry Miller, D.H. Lawrence, and I am strong again.

Erotic writing has been around for as long as the oldest profession has been around…and when people couldn’t read or write, they carved things on walls and painted them in caves. Clearly, something that is so deeply tied to our biological drive for survival and procreation deserves attention, study, and respect, not dismissiveness or judgment.

This is why I am teaching a class on writing erotica. We write the stories that are the mirrors reflecting the changes in society’s sexual mores and gender roles. Good, bad, indifferent, it is our writing that helps to push boundaries, expand horizons, and drive acceptance.

Who are the writers of erotic romance? Why do they write this when they could simply leave out all the sex? What are the blessings and consequences of this life? For once, it’s time to tell our own stories.

Baby, It’s Hot in Here!…a Sizzling New Class from Cait Reynolds

Instructor: Cait Reynolds

Price: $45 USD

Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom

When: Friday, August 4, 2017

Erotica is one of the most difficult genres to write.

Wait. No. Erotica is one of the most difficult genres to write well.

From pacing (literally) to placing, this class is gonna go…deep. Yeah. Couldn’t resist. In all seriousness, how do you handle the paradox of writing a book with compelling characters and interesting story when it’s really about sex?

The answer is this: good erotica is not about sex. It is about seduction and intimacy. In this class we will cover:

  • Understanding why readers choose erotica, what they are looking for, and how to both deliver and guide them to wanting more;
  • How to apply and adapt standard plotting structures to erotica;
  • Creating a story that is interesting enough to sustain a full-length novel;
  • Developing characters that are complex, memorable, and desirable;
  • Avoiding repetitive, mechanical sex scenes;
  • Maintaining the heat throughout a  book;
  • How to push yourself to write better and use quality as a unique marketing strategy;
  • Bonus: history, fun facts, and trivia about literary erotica through history!

A recording of this class is also included with purchase.

In a world of a gazillion forgettable erotica books and romance novels, let Cait help you stand out in the one way no marketing can compete with: hot, unique stories that turn readers into fans who will BEG you for more! 

Erotica GOLD

You get the class (recording included in price) with Cait plus one hour of personalized one-on-one consulting regarding YOUR story. 

Erotica PLATINUM

You get the class (recording included in price) with Cait plus two hours of personalized one-on-one consulting regarding YOUR story and a detailed edit and critique of one sex scene up to 2,500 words.

Register today!

About the Instructor

Cait Reynolds is a USA Today Bestselling Author and lives in the Boston area with her husband and four-legged fur child. She discovered her passion for writing early and has bugged her family and friends with it ever since. When she isn’t cooking, running, rock climbing, or enjoying the rooftop deck that brings her closer to the stars, she writes. Learn more at http://caitreynolds.com.

 

For the month of AUGUST, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

****And MAKE SURE to check out the NEW CLASSES classes below (including writing layered characters and strong females) and sign up!

Summer school! YAY! We’ve added in classes on erotica/high heat romance, fantasy, how to write strong female characters and MORE! Classes with me, with USA Today Best-Selling Author Cait Reynolds and award-winning author and journalist Lisa-Hall Wilson. So click on a tile and sign up!

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The Internet is overflowing with all kinds of “guidance.” Often, we have to learn by trial and error. What’s sound and what’s a shill? Being a Fort Worthian, I’ve learned that comedian Will Rogers nailed it when he said, “There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by readin’. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”

Assuming y’all can delay any plans for peeing on the literary electric fence, I’m here to (hopefully) shorten your learning curve in regards to going pro as an author.

Choose Company Wisely

Mirroring is built into the human brain. Great writers are exemplary at mirroring. This his how these authors can create characters so real they might just have a heartbeat. That’s the good news.

Maybe you find your mannerisms, body language, pace of speech or even your accent changes depending on the group you’re in. It takes all of three minutes in NYC for me to sound like I’m a native (Mom being from NY probably compounds this). Yet, put me on a plane to LA? Within the hour, I sound like I’m from Orange County.

While mirroring is great for socialization and writing, we must be careful. Attitudes, negativity, and belief systems can stick like a BP oil spill on a sea turtle.

Original image courtesy of NOAA via Flickr Creative Commons.
Original image courtesy of NOAA via Flickr Creative Commons.

I’m an extremely loyal person. For years, I refused to let go of certain childhood friends even though they consistently made epically DUMB life decisions. I kept believing I could “help.” What happened? EPIC STUPIDITY rubbed off on ME. I had to break away. I wouldn’t change them, they were changing ME (and not for the better).

If you’re a natural giver? Takers and users can smell generosity like blood in the water. This is why learning to set firm boundaries is vital. Ditch complainers. Lose the lazy. Psychic vampires will not stop until we are emotionally drained and dead. Avoid those who live off excuses.

Conversely, seek out excellence. Search for those who work more than talk about work. Choose friends who give generously with no strings attached.

Remember, character is contagious.

Be a Finisher

No unfinished book ever became a NYTBS. Finish first. Refine later. If we’re trying to shape facets into a diamond not yet dug out of the ground, we’re wasting valuable energy for no payoff. The more we projects we finish (even the crappy stuff) the more we learn, the faster and more efficiently we work. Confidence comes from work, from finishing.

Write What You Love

We can’t predict trends. My POV? I’m convinced a part of every writer’s soul dies every time someone mentions the awesomeness of Fifty Shades of Grey. But, thing is? The book was finished. Our writing can’t catch fire in the collective consciousness of our audience if NO ONE CAN READ IT.

Ann Rice was told time and time again that no one wanted to read a book from the perspective of a vampire. She ignored the naysayers and persisted because she was passionate. Interview With a Vampire became a super success and is largely responsible for creating the vampire craze of the past thirty years.

Tom Clancy invented the techno-thriller because he wrote what he loved.

These authors didn’t write to trends, they created them.

Slow and Steady

Original image courtesy of Flickr Creatinve Commons, courtesy of Ali Samieivafa.
Original image courtesy of Flickr Creatinve Commons, courtesy of Ali Samieivafa.

There are no real “overnight successes.” Shortcuts are a lie and there are those who profit off selling them. WANA ways are not overnight tactics to build a strong platform. I believe in relationships and roots. Many author-bloggers give up after a couple months because they aren’t as big as Guy Kawasaki. I blogged a YEAR AND A HALF before anyone other than the man-part enlargement bots cared.

Then suddenly….

If we look to authors who seem to blaze in from nowhere like comet, it’s easy to believe the “instant success lie.” Yet, look closer and most of those writers were at it for years or decades and no one cared.

Stephen King wrote from the time he was a kid. He had so many rejections with Carrie that he finally tossed the manuscript in the trash. It was his wife who rescued it and told him to keep on. Carrie was the work that launched him out of obscurity and into the stratosphere. It’s how he became the legend we admire today.

This isn’t to discourage you. But if you’ve been at this a while and feel like you’re stuck? You probably aren’t. We grow roots before shoots 😉 .

Dreams are Still WORK

With greater success comes increased responsibility. When we’re new, we might think, “I’ll be happy when…” When I finish the book. When I land an agent. When I get a book deal. When my book is on Amazon and selling enough to write full time.

Yeah. Not reality.

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Be happy during all of it, because a new level only means a new devil. This is why yesterday’s post emphasized ignoring feelings (because most are pathological liars). This is why learning self-discipline and how to be self-motivated is so crucial to becoming successful.

In the beginning, we don’t have a paycheck to validate our blood, sweat and hard work. We can’t point to a book on display. We can’t even count on friends and family to be supportive (and outside validation can be a dangerous addiction).

Yet, even when we DO get to the point where we’ve written and sold books or even made a best-seller list, each work is a brand new battle. We also have new jobs piled onto the writing like taxes, running a business, travel, branding, etc.

I’m blessed to know many NYTBSAs and while all are grateful for “making it”, each new book is nerve-shattering. Can this book do as well? Better? Will it tank? Expectations are much higher, so obscurity can have benefits.

Kids don’t want to go play and take a nap. They want to make their own decisions. Adults would sell a kidney for a nap, three months of vacation and a DAY of making NO decisions.

Same in writing 😉 .

What are your thoughts? Have you had to change friends or writing groups because they were affecting you negatively? Have you had to let go of friends or even family members? What ways do you seek inspiration? Are you getting better at working even when you don’t “feel” like it? Are toxic people contaminating the muse? Remember, it is better to be respected than popular.

I love hearing from you! And here is some fun for FRIDAY! Warning, it’s PG-13.

To prove it and show my love, for the month of SEPTEMBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Back to School!

Upcoming Classes: NEW!!! Going Pro Series

 Going Pro Craft is CLOSED, but with the bundle you will get the recoding and notes in On-Demand format, then Going Pro SocialMedia/Branding September 6th TOMORROW, Going Pro Business September 10th, Going Pro All the Way! (ALL THREE). Use WANA15 for $15 off individual classes.

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook

Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Benjamin Watson.
Image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of Benjamin Watson.

We’ve been rather serious this week discussing the business side of the writing business. Today, we’re going to take off on a bizarre tangent another topic, namely because I haven’t slept in days and why put all this insomnia to waste?

I feel a lot like That 70s Show, the episode when the group decided to record all the “brilliant” ideas they got when they were stoned in the basement. Ideas that later…?

…yeah.

Some of my ideas (concocted at 4:00 a.m.) seemed sheer genius at the time when I was held fast in the grip of sleep-deprivation. Then later? Upon reflection, they were completely asinine didn’t make the cut. Namely my idea for a 24 hour manicure-pedicure spa, for people like me who COULDN’T GET TO SLEEP.

At least we could get our toes done :D.

Then, I decided that when I made it big, the car of my dreams would be a WIZARD VAN. Hey, mobile bookstore and a guaranteed way to keep The Spawn from dating until he’s over thirty.

You know you’ve hit a new low when you’re shopping for a panel van with a Star Wars mural at three in the morning.

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Yet, 24 Hour Mani-Pedi Spas and panel vans aside, I did take some time to think through the whole E.L. James 50 Shades thing, putting my sleep-addled brain to unraveling one of the greatest mysteries of our times.

I have a couple confessions. First, as an author and recovered editor, every time I hear the buzz about 50 Shades of Grey being a runaway success, I want to throw myself in traffic. All the craft classes, the conferences, the research and people really want to read books about THIS? My second confession is I haven’t actually read 50 Shades of Grey. Hey, only so much time in the day and my job requires a lot of reading and research, and this genre?

“Not my beer,” as the Dutch like to say.

Yet, it didn’t stop me from wondering, why are these books so popular, especially with modern women? Why is there a virtual explosion in a genre that involves advanced skills in knot-tying and requires a leather-cleaning kit? What makes college-educated modern women who are taking the world by storm gravitate to wanting to be “enslaved”?

Why isn’t there enough NyQuil to get me to SLEEP?

Sorry, got off-topic there.

Prepare to play armchair psychiatrist. I am not a real psychiatrist, but I do play one on the Internet. My credentials? 1) Being a modern woman 2) possessing empathy 3) I once took a Feminist Politics class in college.

Reason #1—The Culture Shift

I think it’s fairly common knowledge that the individuals who gravitate to wanting to be dominated are often the powerful. Judges, politicians, doctors, lawyers, CEOs, etc. have a lot of responsibility. When we’re boss, everyone comes to us for answers and looks to us to be in charge. Thing is? While being in charge is great, it can also be exhausting.

I’ve been through two agents, and both times I waited far too long to part ways. Why? I was tired of thinking and being in charge *whiiiiiine* I wanted someone to order me around and tell me what to do.

“Yes, Master Agent, I will rewrite that chapter. I’m a BAD, BAD WRITER!”

***Clearly, both agents made lousy “Tops”.

I imagine if we had a time-machine and zoomed back to 1950, no one would drop by the house and wonder why a man’s wife didn’t have a job.

“What? Your little woman’s baking pies, changing diapers, and ironing your shirts? Why doesn’t she have a REAL job?”

We gals were in charge of house, kids, cooking, and laundry. We were on the PTA and baked cookies and made costumes for school plays. In 1952, women were accustomed to thousands of years of being ordered around, so safe to say we wouldn’t have wanted more of that in the bedroom. Yet, as the glass ceiling shattered and more women took on traditionally male roles? We began to see a shift.

“I can open my OWN door, thank you.”

***Subtext—But feel free to tie me up me later.****

Many women are in charge of pretty much EVERYTHING, whether we want to be or not. Even though most women work full-time, we’re still largely responsible for child-rearing and household duties. Trust me, (and maybe it’s because I AM in Texas), if someone comes over to the house and notices it’s so filthy the CDC needs to do a drop-by? My tail is on the line. NO ONE is going to look to my husband and ask why he didn’t help do more chores.

My toddler attends nursery school and the school still asks ME to hand-make costumes for plays for a three-year-old. Really. Sure, let me fit that into my meetings, deadlines, blogs, books and traveling. Yet, when my kid shows up for the play wearing a Batman shirt instead of dressed as a caterpillar? Nobody asks Hubby why he didn’t break out the sewing machine and hot glue gun.

No, it isn’t fair, but fair is a weather condition.

Reason #2—The Whole “Less Thinking Thing”

No, I don’t read erotica, but I am guilty of having an addiction to celebrity magazines. Modern women are using their brains more than ever, and sure that sounds insulting, but  bear with me.

Just Host wants my website to have a password with two uppercase letters, a symbol, punctuation, a number and a clever emoticon embedded within. I have to reset my password almost every time I log in. My brain is exhausted.

WHY?

Because EVERYONE wants us to do this crap. I have passwords for my passwords and no idea what I did with the electric bill and why is the toddler suddenly quiet and am I wearing my bra on the outside of my shirt?

Sometimes the “grey” matter just needs a break.

Why do you think I’m blogging about this stuff?

Reason #3—It’s Just Too Hard to Kick Your Own @$$

I think a lot of modern women (especially those who happen to be moms) live in a state of perpetual guilt. For instance, my toddler knows his colors, his numbers and can even read…but potty training? I might as well be trying to teach him Advanced Particle Physics. I vacillate between, “Hey, not too bad. He’s pretty smart” and “OH DEAR GOD I SO SUCK AND MY CHILD MIGHT BE RETARDED.”

Yes, I am a #1 best-selling author, but the closets are a DISASTER and the dust bunnies have started a Hippie Commune in the garage and I swear I OWN scissors. I’ve bought 54 pairs! Where the hell have they all gone?

***My husband loses NO sleep over these things, btw.

Inside I know I’m a failure, but maybe it would just be cathartic and allow me to move forward if I could be handcuffed and told, “You’ve been bad. I saw inside your fridge and know you didn’t finish the laundry. Tell me you’re a bad wife!”

Didn't I just WASH these? BAD WIFE!
Didn’t I just WASH these? BAD WIFE!

Me: “I’m a BAD, BAD GIRL! I know! I haven’t sorted baby toys from the toddler toys! Yes, there are newborn clothes still in my child’s closet! I’M A BAD MOM! PUNISH ME!”

Then I can cry, confess and move on.

See? 50 Shades demystified! And y’all thought women were complicated (ok we are O_o).

What are your thoughts? Ever been in the clutches of insomnia and bombarded with “brilliant” ideas? Are you a modern woman riddled with nonsensical guilt? A modern dad? Am I on to something, that maybe we just want someone else to make a decision or…20?

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of August, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

ANNOUNCEMENTS: I have a class coming up August 21st, I am running a Your First Five Pages webinar. Bronze is $40 and Gold is $55 (I look at your first five pages) and use WANA15 for 15% off.

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