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Messages - Nic

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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.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Writing against stereotypes
« on: September 16, 2017, 12:27:44 PM »
You don't have to use it, but that won't stop you from accidentally including some of them in your stories.

As several people pointed out now: if you concentrate on writing real people and real life instead of cliches and stereotypes, chances are excellent you'll avoid all but the most generalised tropes. Which already is a very, very long way from using tropes as the LEGO bricks of one's story.

You don't have to take a moral high ground and insult basically everyone on this site (because there are a lot of genre writers here).

Genre writing doesn't mean one has to write tropes. Tropes are per definition a negative thing. I didn't invent that fact, I just happen to wholeheartedly agree with it.

Writers' Cafe / Smashwords - Categorisations
« on: September 16, 2017, 11:23:48 AM »
Anyone else having a not so favourable feeling about the recent re-categorisation demand by Smashwords? I've been at a loss as to how I should answer the questions, because practically all my books are off on a tangent, even if they technically might fall under the new sub-divisions. A bit of painting everything with the same very coarse brush.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Writing against stereotypes
« on: September 16, 2017, 11:14:33 AM »
No, the common theme one is what I'm talking about. Every story contains a few common tropes.

My views are basically what's on TV Tropes website:

"Every story is influenced by what came before it — and storytellers (e.g., writers, directors, actors) are bound to show that influence, intentionally or not, in the process of telling. Just because something's been used before doesn't mean it's a cliché, and stories often gain something by having ties to other works. That said, there certainly is such thing as too derivative, but there's a difference between playing a trope straight and utter Cliché Storm (and even those aren't necessarily bad)."

I'm willing to bet that your stories have some tropes and cliches in them. If they don't--you're the most original author ever to live. Also, they're overused because for some odd reason people like them. Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that we should abuse them or anything. Just saying they're impossible to avoid.

I wouldn't ever use a site as a resource which collects tired and overused cliches for fun. That would be the opposite of aiming at ameliorating one's craft and art.

Of course there are readers - and writers - who like tropes and cliches. It prevents them from having to think much, or to deal with something different and demanding. I'm aware there are authors who use tropes like prefab components. You immediately know it when you see it. Not my thing. Not my goal.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Writing against stereotypes
« on: September 16, 2017, 10:07:36 AM »
Same method here but I'd like to point out that you can't avoid tropes, even if you try to. Actually, I think it's good for writers to be familiar with tropes because they aren't bad. I just embrace them and move on :D

This is the Merriam-Webster:

Definition of trope

1 a :a word or expression used in a figurative sense :figure of speech
  b :a common or overused theme or device :cliché
      - the usual horror movie tropes

2 :a phrase or verse added as an embellishment or interpolation to the sung parts of the Mass in the Middle Ages

So, obviously we need a clarification about the definition of trope we are talking about. I'm addressing the definition under #1b, the cliché. There's no good cliché in art, or even just craft. There may be clichés around which aren't so terminally overused that I groan on meeting them in a book, but even those aren't "good".

I guess you aren't talking about Middle Age masses, and if you mean "figures of speech", then I agree with you. These are benign. However, as said above, I doubt that's what we are talking about here.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Term Confusion
« on: September 16, 2017, 08:39:31 AM »
How is sneering telling and not showing if it's action? Not sure on that. I consider any action 'showing', whether it's succinct or more descriptive. If I'd said, he was annoyed, that would be 'telling' to me.

That's spot on. On  top of that, quite a few writers do too much showing, and not enough telling.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Writing against stereotypes
« on: September 16, 2017, 07:42:41 AM »
Stereotypes happen precisely because people don't think about them.

I don't think so. The books most riddled with stereotypes and long dead tropes are the result of authors either trying to write to market, and taking a shortcut, or authors having read and internalised too much bad fiction.

Consciously aiming to write real people and their reality is an active method of avoiding stereotypes and tired tropes.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Writing a non-linear series - bad idea?
« on: September 16, 2017, 04:58:08 AM »
This used to be quite common, especially within SFF. I don't mind, some of my all-time favourites are non-linear series of standalone books.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Writing against stereotypes
« on: September 16, 2017, 04:55:14 AM »
Do you consciously try to write against stereotypes based on gender/race/ethnicity/class/nationality/etc.? What about reversing tropes (applying a usually male trope to a female character, etc.)? How do readers respond, or do they even notice?

I avoid both tropes and stereotypes, instead I aim at writing real people and a sort of "compressed" and "brushed up" reality.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Romance: Happy Ever After In A Series?
« on: September 16, 2017, 04:52:42 AM »
I don't like series, as a writer, but also as a reader. If I could, I'd only write standalones.

The compromise I make for sales is writing standalones within the same world/verse. Thevoiceofone's first example.

I write steamy (erotic) romance and erotica with lots of on-page sex, but practically no swearing. If my characters swear, they have a solid reason. Someone would exclain "f*ck this!" when he hits his thumb with a hammer while driving a nail into a wall. There aren't that many such occasions in the books to justify more than a couple of swearwords. Maybe there are 15-20 such words per book.

I see no reason for people to talk as if they just lifted their faces out of a used toilet. If you want to write a vulgar character, there are more ways to do that than vulgar language. Try reading some Colleen McCullough. She managed to write working class and crass people without resorting to littering the dialogue with swearwords.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Should I kill the zombie dog - or cat for that matter?
« on: September 12, 2017, 02:22:48 PM »
Not sure the reason would be for the fun of it, although I could be wrong on that.

Dramatic effect?

Or is it all the same?

Then tell me what actual effect this has on the plot or the character which couldn't be achieved in another manner? For a scene not to be cheap, at least one qualifier is that it isn't superfluous, nor the easiest and oldest trope around.

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