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Messages - Nic

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Question for Romance Writers.
« on: May 16, 2018, 12:19:19 PM »
Indie publishing doesn't work that way, exactly, so perhaps things are somewhat different in our part of the book world? I don't know, it's hard to say. It's definitely something I think about, though.

One would hope so.

As to appropriation, I believe underinformedness is the biggest problem. And the easiest to remedy.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Question for Romance Writers.
« on: May 16, 2018, 12:15:57 PM »
The Romani's origins are from Northern India and although I've seen gypsies with lighter skin colors I've come across ones with skin color like mine (dark). Make of that what you will.

I wouldn't use the term "gypsy". It's like using the n-word for a black person, and roughly of the same level of disrespect.

The actual origin of the Romany is still unknown. Their partial derivation from Northwestern Indian Aryans is a hypothesis and hasn't been proven, though quite a few have tried in the recent past. That India claimed the Romany is highly contended, including and especially among the Romany themselves. There is no scientific proof for this at the moment whatsoever.

Again, in Europe skin colour, short of being black, is rarely ever a decider of ethnicity or race. Go to Corsica for your next holidays. I am sure you will meet a lot of people of the exact same shade who all are considered French and white.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Question for Romance Writers.
« on: May 16, 2018, 11:59:42 AM »
I disagree. Tribes and races are not the same thing. And it would be counter-intuitive biologically since we're more likely to be killed by people of our own race. Also, some people adore/fetishize other races which would happen far less commonly. They've done studies with young children and found they don't make racial distinctions. It's something people are taught.

That's the politically correct take. I even sympathise with people opting for it, because it makes some discussions with racists easier.

Unfortunately "discrimination" is something hardwired into our species, and not just ours. I've personally seen "racist" dogs which will accept only mates of their own breed, my nieces tell me of equines preferring to socialise not just within the same breed, but which even drill it down to associating only with the same coat colour. No one has shown these animals a mirror or told them such and such is better [for them]. Curiosity or disinterest in children without any need yet to function on a tribal level has no real import on later behaviour, especially when these abilities and distinctions are relevant for survival. Yes, in some this is more, in others less expressed. Doesn't equate that it's only learned, or that it can be dismissed. The problem is that the whole thing is much more complex than we might currently wish for.

Fetishisation often happens when the object is taboo for the fetishiser. The thrill of the forbidden. In light of the fact that for example there are people fetishising amputees (right down to specific kinds) or artificially fattened people should give a hint to where that may originate.

I'm backing out of this part of the discussion because I don't want Becca coming down on me. But if this interests you, there are scientific texts out there about this.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Question for Romance Writers.
« on: May 16, 2018, 11:40:41 AM »
Yeah, Romani being considered POC is a debate, actually. I don't have the answer. They have, however, been discriminated against for years (centuries), so I feel like they get a place at the table.

The reason for their discrimination is however ethnic, not skin tone related. Irish Travelers are subjected to the same kind of discrimination, lately also for instance Polish migrants. And just to clarify, there are regions in Africa and Asia where anyone not of the local ethnicity and skin colour is discriminated against, including white Europeans or Americans.

Writers' Cafe / Re: GDPR
« on: May 16, 2018, 11:01:45 AM »
IT here as well. It also needs to be said that except for IT-related fields few of the mid-sized and smaller sized companies even know about GDPR. It's being discussed among IT professionals and related sectors though.

Writers' Cafe / Re: GDPR
« on: May 16, 2018, 10:51:30 AM »
I've received in excess of two dozen emails asking me to review and accept the privacy policies of companies and professionals I deal with in various capacities. Including people asking me whether I want to stay on their maillists. None of these are author related.

Writers' Cafe / Re: GDPR
« on: May 16, 2018, 07:22:21 AM »
I don't think anyone writing this law checked for potential results. That's not how legislative processes work. Unfortunately. Also unfortunately it doesn't matter what one logically expects, compared to what the law says. GDPR has been expressly written with the caveat that the courts of the various European countries should define how it plays out.

At the moment, and as a designer I talk a lot about this with colleagues, it is as I said. It is not even clear whether, for example, an American model whose stock photo is being used on an erotica cover of a book sold on European soil or to European customers, could demand a retroactive cessation of the use of her data (said photo). The law is clear however that this may not come at any cost to the person whose data this is.

As to websites, I was talking at the level of the site server collecting the access IPs in a logfile, which is standard practice of all servers (they don't work without such processes). Already this is "gathering of data" under this law. How people surf is of no import regarding the collection of data and need to apply GDPR. And anyone who sells books off their own site, or has similar interaction with European customers, also needs to account for the gathered data.

Yes, I do agree. This is a cluster[expletive].

Edited.  PM me if you have any questions.  --Betsy/KB Mod

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is there an erotica thread still active?
« on: May 16, 2018, 07:09:32 AM »
I would be very interested to hear if any erotica authors still maintain the same single-title release sales they did five years ago without any kind of promotions.

I do, but my books have a wordcount range from 40k to 80k. I publish far less often, 4-6 books per year, and my prices are higher. It works well enough.

Writers' Cafe / Re: GDPR
« on: May 16, 2018, 06:41:47 AM »
Something not mentioned here at all so far, this law applies to any kind of data.

It has designers and photographers currently in a huge panic, because it means that you can't anymore use any shots taken in Europe which contain recognisable faces/people. You can't even use old photos, taken before this law, because people have the retroactive right to demand they be not used. And what is worse, this may even apply to portraits and stockphotos with a model release, because retroactive cancellation of the model release also is allowed. So far I haven't come across any solution for that little quirk.

Also, this really is not just email addresses or mailing lists. It includes IP addresses when people surf onto your website or data you need to fulfill contracts.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Question for Romance Writers.
« on: May 16, 2018, 06:34:35 AM »
Nicely said. I went to school with kids whose last names were the names of towns in Europe, or whose names had linguistic tags that identified them, so of course my parents could instantly tell me, "Oh, she's from Poland" or "That's German for..."

Indeed. Geographic derivation is much more important here than the exact tone of skin and what people attach to that. Huge difference between the USA and Europe in this respect. What is similar, however, is religion. Or the absence of any.

It shows that "othering", separating us from others on a tribal level, is something which is built into our system. I find it quietly amusing when I observe someone ardently against any kind of racism turn around and behave like that without even noticing that they are doing the exact same thing. Happens without fail to people of any colour, too.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Question for Romance Writers.
« on: May 16, 2018, 02:43:44 AM »
This is quite interesting.

Yeah, I just wrote a romance where one of the heroes was Romani. He had a Romani first and last name, but it was modern day. He was detached from his culture a little, but his family played a role in the book so they provided the culture.

As a European I would never consider Romany people being PoC. They are a different ethnicity, but race and colour wise they are white and Caucasian. In fact they are the original Caucasians, if you will.

Furthermore, if you describe skin colours being olive, tanned, dark golden, tan or brown, and even if you add brown eyes, dark hair and curls, this does not at all imply PoC to me. What gets considered "Caucasian" and "white" in Europe spans such a wide range of skin colours, including those not imparted by outdoors exercise, that I wouldn't ever consider anyone having them as not being white. Maybe of a different ethnic background, for example Iberian, Greek or another Mediterranean derivation, but certainly not brown or black or otherwise "of colour".

By the way, this is no "colour blindness", though I would state that skin colour is of a lesser and different import in Europe compared to the USA. It's simply the local way of looking at things. Noteworthy levels of being PoC start for me with black people and Asian people. That's where I see a difference of race. "White" is for me a very wide range of shades from the near blueish translucent white of the far Northern red-haired Celts right down to the dark tan or swarthiness of Greek or Iberian people.

We notice ethnicity and derivation instead of skin colour and learning about who gets called "brown" or "PoC" among my American friends often leaves me speechless. Vin Diesel, for instance, is not someone I'd call "brown" if I met him here on a street. I'd probably wonder which area of Southern or Eastern Europe he comes from. Difference of culture.

Racism, as this was touched in this thread, is a completely normal, natural phenomenon. Just as the ethnic/tribal othering which is more common here. It is part of our genetic and instinct-driven inheritance. Apes do it, most animals do it. It's a genetic trait you can't just shed at will. If you believe that, you kid yourself. You can suppress it, but the instinct is built into people and it has a direct bearing on our survival. That's why evolution put it there. That doesn't excuse racist behaviour, because of course we need to civilise ourselves eventually. But the knowledge that it is evolutionary should at least temper the reaction of people, I'd say.

And in this vein, and to answer the initial question: I do write people of different ethnicities in my romances, but I rarely consider them being of different races (because of what I detailed above) and I so far wrote few "PoC". There were several Asian MCs.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Romance genre reader expectations
« on: September 19, 2017, 05:30:51 AM »
I have never heard it applied to a human though. It's not a disease that humans can get. No one where I live would use it as a synonym for skanky or slutty.

Ever heard of metaphors?

It has been applied to me where I live, and I am LGBT and happen to be promiscuous. If you can't wrap your head around such quips, I'm not astonished you have a problem with imagining how people at large react to promiscuous characters in romance. Or that they really do react. I suggest you listen to the good people in this thread who've tried to help you understand that and why this is a "thing" in romance.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Romance genre reader expectations
« on: September 19, 2017, 05:15:06 AM »
I doubt it, considering I've never heard "mange" used in that manner before. Where I live it only has one meaning: a skin disease that animals get.

That's the exact meaning I was talking about.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Romance genre reader expectations
« on: September 19, 2017, 03:29:16 AM »
And in my thirty-something years of life I have met quite a few like that.  Maybe it's a regional difference?  I tend to socialize in liberal and queer-friendly spaces. 

This thread has hit a nerve for me because I love reading romance.  It's just so hard to find romance novels that I can connect with.  I go through phases where I try, I check out recommendations, I trawl through Goodreads.  And then I get burnt out.  There are so, so many books I paid for but have to put down partway through.  And I'm on a very tight budget, so I hate wasting money like that.  But I have to walk away because I run into tropes I don't want in my stories.  An uber-alpha for a hero.  A virginal heroine who has never explored her body, not even once.  Or an exclusively white and heterosexual cast, sometimes jazzed up by stereotypes like the Sassy Gay Hairdresser and Token 'Ethnic' Co-worker. 

So I think there IS indeed an audience for formerly promiscuous FMCs, or ones that are sexually experimental.  Maybe quite a large one.  But the audience can't find the books they like in most romance subgenres, so they give up and go off to UF, PNR, etc.  And I love my queer UF stories or PNR triads with vampires.  Especially the vampires.  But if I want a contemporary romance, or I'd like to read the book equivalent of Black Sails?  Yeah, good luck with that. 

What can be done?  As a reader, the romance genre hasn't served me that well.  I wish there was a well-recognized subgenre or publishing house that I could just reach for to find stories that hit the right spot for me.

Read gay romance and erotica written by gay authors, as opposed to m/m. You'll find it there. Because m/m romance is written for a female and mainly straight audience you'll have more of a time finding promiscuous characters as heroes there.

Writers' Cafe / Re: August KU Rate: $0.00419
« on: September 19, 2017, 01:29:30 AM »
If Hunts, Libbys, and Del Monte decide to refuse to sell to Walmart at Walmart's price, then it's definitely collusion and/or a cartel. There is no collective bargaining rights for one company against another.

Self-published authors are not employees of Amazon any more than Hunts, Libbys, and Del Monte are employees of Walmart. Although Amazon calls what they pay us royalties (which may come back to bite them on the butt) they are by no stretch of the imagination royalties. They are wholesale payments for the products we provide to them. There is no legal, or even possible, way for self-published authors to strike against Amazon, or anyone else. It simply cannot happen. There can be no collective bargaining agreement between self-published authors and Amazon.

I don't understand where that belief originates from. Most assuredly there are author/creator unions within Europe, which also most assuredly push for better contract and remuneration levels of authors and legislation enhancing those rights. They aren't comprised of exclusively employed authors and creators.

In addition, cartel laws - as a rule and especially in Europe - have been established to stop several large companies from colluding in secrecy against the best interests of the customers or killing a competitor by outpricing him.

They  haven't been established to keep the fleas on the back of some giant corporate dog from fighting back against being squashed.

On the contrary: cartel, monopoly and trust legislation here in Europe works AGAINST Amazon, Google et al., because it sees their market shares as being close enough to a monopoly to make the cut of the definition (this to those who argue Amazon hasn't got one in the ebook market just because there are a few minor stragglers also offering ebooks).

Writers' Cafe / Re: Best or worst review?
« on: September 18, 2017, 11:55:38 PM »
I'm sure the Amazon TOS gives permission for reviews to get used.

Amazon can "use" reviews posted on their site. Which means they can mechanically publish that review and in various places. That's all. They can't, for example, take such a review and add it to the backmatter of a book published by them.

Reviews have a copyright. You have to ask.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Romance genre reader expectations
« on: September 18, 2017, 11:32:43 PM »
Boba, Monique, Usedtoposthere and LilyBLily nail it extremely well in their posts.

I also don't get why having casual sex outside of a relationship is equated with cheating? A person can enjoy themselves while single and still mange to be faithful if they do enter a relationship.

You inadvertently made a Freudian typo here.

A lot of readers will have no problem knowing that the heroine had a past sexual life, outside of the group who wants to read about virgins. As Usedtoposthere pointed out, she does well with mature, experienced heroines with an active past life and she is so successful with her books, that most people can only dream of it. Readers can easily identify which such heroines, because they are clearly healthy, wholesome women with a past a lot of readers will have experienced themselves or wish they had experienced themselves.

However, downright promiscuity is something else than just having had two or three serial relationships or a couple of sexual encounters while a teenager or at the uni. Mangy or skanky is - as I wrote in the other thread - the connection a lot of people make with "sleeping around a lot", quite apart from the moral aspect shared by most religions. This is especially so since HIV and AIDS. Many people will instinctively shy away from seeing a lot of sexual partners as being anything healthy and wholesome. This isn't particularly helped by the prevalence of  STDs in promiscuous people in reality. That's a negative value and not a theoretical one. It weighs much more in the considerations of people than any ideas of sexual freedom.

It isn't as if such romances as the one you want to write don't exist, though. There are a couple of authors who manage to pull it off successfully, especially among those writing BDSM romance or horror/SF romance. These are very small niches, however, and if you plan on earning a lot of money off writing romance, then you will have to adjust your sights - for the moment. Either gritty, promiscuous heroines or a lot of money.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Alphasmart
« on: September 18, 2017, 09:46:15 AM »
I've switched from the Dana to a Neo 2 a while ago, and use it when writing out of office or house. I much prefer it over a tablet, as typing and reading back the last few sentences is much easier, while the entire thing is far lighter to carry around than a laptop. The battery life of the Neo is so much better than the Dana's, too.

What I recently learned somewhere: there's a  button battery somewhere inside all versions of Alphasmart which will "keep" the content in memory for the short time it takes to switch main batteries. It needs changing after some time (5-6 years or so), which means that such Alphasmarts which can't "keep" their content during a battery change need to have those cells also changed to fresh ones.

As to keyboards: the Neo has the best one in my opinion. Like a good Cherry.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is mountain man romance the new thing?
« on: September 18, 2017, 09:35:49 AM »
Wow, but that kinda goes back to our debate about tropes. Even if you're writing real people, you'll still run into tropes :D

No. Just because something looks like a cliche doesn't mean it is one when it actually happens. I also very much doubt that there are so many auctioned virgins in real life that you could call them a cliche. Misapplication [of a term] doesn't change its meaning. And vice versa.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Smashwords - Categorisations
« on: September 17, 2017, 11:10:14 PM »
This blog post has me laughing. It's not funny though.

Overdrive, for example, has a huge catalogue of trade-published erotic romance containing just about anything Smashwords now tags "taboo", but now appears to not accept erotica of indie authors across the board. I can even get such books from my online county library, and by god, that library is as conservative and reactionary as you can get!

The fact that they ban "rape for titillation" across the board means that rape fantasies are banned for both men and women, and that is such an enormous chunk of all erotica and erotic romances written, you might say it is close to 40-50% of what people are looking for in erotica in the entirety of the genre. No one appears to have read data even as old and as venerable as Masters and Johnson or Nancy Friday. That's the most common sexual fantasy.

Sexual slavery is another huge chunk of the genre, up to another 20-30%, and it encompasses 90-100% of dark erotica and dark romance. In other words, an entire sub-genre is being axed, because these authors already do have a problem distributing on Amazon.

One might as well start selling under the counter again.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Smashwords - Categorisations
« on: September 17, 2017, 02:17:58 PM »
The way I read it, dubcon is OK. Because mainstream (tradpubbed) erotica writers use it, according to Mark.

Is okay with what? If I tick it? If I don't?

This whole thing comes across as just as vague a game of tag with authors as the entire Amazon circus.

Discussed in an earlier post. Sophie Kinsella, the Shopaholic series. British chicklit, very popular some years ago.

Thank you. No wonder I didn't know  ;) For a moment I thought there's a new romance genre involving shopping.

Shopaholic books, which are light, don't have quite so much swearing I believe but still more than similar US books would.

What are shopaholic books?

Writers' Cafe / Re: Smashwords - Categorisations
« on: September 16, 2017, 11:58:47 PM »
I read the email and thought they took a relatively conservative approach to labeling stuff taboo. As in, the work really has to be taboo for the new categories to apply. They made a point of calling out stuff that an uninformed person might confuse with taboo to say specifically that it shouldn't be classified that way.

Just stuff to help the less informed authors, I'd think, but I thought it was useful the way they broke it out.

And honestly, for erotica, and the way retailers keep having knee jerk reactions every time something becomes popular that no one wants to acknowledge, it's probably for the best. I understood what they meant by building trust. The alternative seems to be to keep having instances of retailers freaking out and banning everything.

The threat of account closure if you lie about what's in the book is probably necessary to keep some people honest about the content they're providing while protecting Smashwords and the other authors. If someone reports a book and Smashwords finds the author lied about the content, it could be a lot easier to mollify the retailer when they can say they're closing the author's account (and with a legit reason to do so that doesn't have anything to do with the actual content--only the lie about the content).

The big thing I'll be interested in seeing is how Smashwords will go about deciding if someone lied if a book is reported. Will it be "Crystal" as mentioned in some other threads, scouring the book for mentions of stuff here and there, or will someone actually dig into the book, or will the author have to write up a detailed rebuttal of the accusation? Or will Smashwords close accounts and give authors no opportunity to defend their work at all? That's the question.

I had a couple things to go through and classify, but nothing with taboo content, so it was painless.

The categories seems so clear cut to me that I don't really understand how it would be difficult, but maybe I'm just not thinking creatively enough in this instance.

I never received the email, I came across the popup message in the dashboard. And those explanations there don't at all make it out to be "conservative". Instead I felt hard-pressed into classifying my rather literary erotica as "taboo" just because of worldbuilding (institutional non-consent) or vague adhering to allegedly taboo topics (dub-con).

I ended up classifying books which are more along the lines of "The Handmaid's Tale" or "Brokeback Mountain" as taboo and - damn it - I really resent that!

Edited to add:

My entire catalogue has been doing extremely well on all of the retailers served by Smashwords, including Apple and B&N. So this probably will hurt me all right.

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