Thursday, March 29, 2012

Beauty, Pornography, Sex; Are We Just Kidding Ourselves

The human body has the distinct ability to give pleasure, enjoyment, happiness, love and nurturing, but it also has the ability to bring about extreme offense, causing people to turn on other humans, treating them like dirt, calling them names and in the extreme event, ending their lives through acts of violence or exerting enough social pressure that suicide seems the only way out.

A few days ago a quote floated across my Facebook wall. It seemed innocuous enough, until I looked deeper. - People who are attracted to you because of your pretty face or nice body won’t be by your side forever. But people who can see how beautiful your heart is will never leave you.

The quote seems harmless, but it plays on our worst fears, I’m not beautiful. The one taunt that people use against others, knowing that beauty is subjective, thus making it hard for any person, regardless of their looks, to refute the fear, driving them to think they aren’t beautiful. The quote also plays on the fears of those who are considered beautiful in our society.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Bobby Momenteller, a professional model and body builder. I asked Bobby if he ever wondered if people want to be with him because of his looks. His answer - “I definitely feel a lot of relationships are jaded and not of the right intention but because of your image and what you do...You get a lot of insincere people in your life that can cloud who is real and isn't...” [1]

Even those who are deemed by society as more aesthetically pleasing suffer from the curse of beauty, not knowing if it’s their outward appearance or their inner soul that has won them friends. The thing about the human body is that it is beautiful. It goes beyond our finicky limits we force ourselves into by picking a type, and it strikes straight through our prejudices. When we can love and accept ourselves for who we are, then we can begin to see the beauty of all.

Our lack of confidence causes us to hide our bodies even in our most private moments. Walking around in the buff is frowned upon by most in conservative America. I asked the question of everyday people if they were comfortable walking around their house naked. The response was an overwhelming “no.” I understand their position. For some, they stay clothed because of their children, for others it’s the fear of exposing their body to their partner or spouse. Mandy wishes she could lose weight, a common complaint that is heard across the country. Our insecurities are fed by societies view on our body shape, thus ramping up the discomfort. [2]

I asked model Bobby Momenteller if he is comfortable posing nude, he says that he feels most free and alive, uninhibited and proud of whom he is when he is unmasked and naked. Bobby goes on to say that nudity is even more frowned upon where he is from in the Midwest. “They definitely try to sabotage something beautiful and artistic into being a dirty pornographic event.” [1]

Because Bobby poses nude, he sometimes feels that his sexuality and everything of his personal self comes into question, but he doesn’t hide whom he is. “I’m big on not hiding anything about myself from anyone so I’m not living a fake existence. I have two little girls as well that it's not hidden from whatsoever. I will educate them as they get older and find my openness will be an actual plus to them in not growing up inhibited with shame of their own body and self-image. In America that negative trait is pushed by society from the time we are born. Family, friends, or people may not like what I do, but I don’t base my decision for my family around other people's opinion.” [1]

Momenteller goes on to say “...the little family that I associate with regularly are ok with most of it, some they don’t care for, but that's all in part of being a muse. I’m not portraying all the different roles and character's to please everyone else, I’m trying to do the best job I can, doing so with all my passion...and hopefully there is something for my fans within it.” [1]

But many people confuse what Bobby Momenteller is doing with porn instead of art. I’ll admit that over the past year my porn viewing has increased significantly. I know what you’re thinking, Oh my God, that’s awful, or it may cause some people to burst into fits of rage or anger, citing this article as invalid, but previously to this year I didn’t view porn except for one or two times with my husband many, many years ago before we had kids. I can’t say I’m addicted to porn or nudity of others. A few times a month doesn’t seem addicting. I don’t seek out illicit images or have to go masturbate in the bathroom while I’m out in public. All of my porn viewing now is for research, sifting through scenes that give me inspiration for my books. If anything, viewing naked images has allowed me to see the beauty in all forms and sizes. My marriage is better, sex is better, and I’m happier.

Porn-- Just say the word and it strikes a cord with people. Porn has a stigma that has survived through out the centuries. Nudity is seen as bad in most cultures. Steven C. Hayes in his article in Psychology Today points out “Through August 2010 not a single controlled treatment study had ever been published on the ‘problem that must not be named.’” (He’s talking about porn.)[3] You may see various studies claiming the dangers of porn, but they aren’t controlled treatment studies, they are statistics that are bendable, the questions skewed to meet whatever criteria the researcher is trying to find.

I can’t talk about pornography without discussing where the word comes from. The word pornography is derived from the Greek word pornÄ“ meaning prostitute or pornea meaning prostitution. [4] There is a strange fascination to degrade people who are comfortable with their body. Many see pornography as nothing short of prostitution. And everyone’s definition of porn is different. Some consider even the hint of the male rear end pornographic while others see fully nude women as acceptable.

Throughout modern history, media has shunned images of naked men, instead focusing on peeling the clothes off of women. In my opinion, men have an untamed beauty that far exceeds the beauty of women. From their narrow hips, to their beefy thighs, the flat plane of their pecs and the long sinew of their lats, men are beautiful. However, because men have controlled the images in magazines and print for so long the lack of male nudity has prevailed. In some twisted way, the insecurity of a few men who had the decision making powers of what was acceptable in public media effected us all, leading us to believe that any shot of a naked man was pornographic.

Models who pose naked aren’t cheap, crude, lazy, or the bane of society. Nudity is a beautiful expression of life, showing off what can be accomplished with the human body. It isn’t a mandate of what everyone should look like, but something to inspire others. We can no longer blame beautiful people for our insecurities. Beauty becomes evident when you are happy with yourself. Yes, some people are born with a certain set of features that a majority find pleasing, but every human on the planet has a beauty about them, they just have to let it shine through for others to see.

Insecurities drive us to this place where we feel comfortable making fun of others, and calling names. Where we trash people who we call pornographers, saying the name like it’s a bad thing. I’ll never look like Angelina Jolie, I don’t want to. I want to be me. I’m happy with who I am, how I look and my body, and you should be happy with yours. My father spent too long trying to knock me down, show me how unworthy I was because I didn’t fit his ideal expectations. It was all jealousy and insecurities on his part. It had nothing to do with me. Learning to rise above the petty remarks, the jealous stabs and other’s insecurities took me years, hell it took me decades to finally come to a place where I don’t let others define me.

Beautiful people face discrimination. People want to knock them down a peg or two. It’s a sad fact that jealousy causes people to become bitter, hateful people who can’t help but vilify beauty. Bobby Momenteller relates the following on the subject of being discriminated against. “Oh yes tons of people discriminate against you, its just part of the business. Even some of your biggest fans do eventually. You have to be prepared for it the further you go and better you do. You do get people not taking you seriously because of the job, and they think that you can’t do much else (which I’ve very well proven untrue, I think) and its one of those taboo things were people really hate that you’re making money and working off your own physical being.” [1]

Porn stars and models get a bad rap. They are blamed for the ills of society when it’s society making the situation ill. Yes, female models need gain some weight and not be so anorexic, but society forces the issue, demanding smaller models. Male models are forced to maintain perfect proportions, cutting all carbohydrates. It’s not healthy the way some models live because they are convinced their bodies have to be beyond perfection, but we can’t blame the models for having beautiful bodies.

Porn stars are people, just like you and me; they just have sex for a living. Their lives are crazy, fun, interesting, boring, normal and not normal. They have families, children, wives, husbands, fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers. They cook, clean, eat food and buy groceries. They can’t be blamed for problems people create by watching too much, or what some people think is too much porn.

Distinguishing exactly what constitutes porn is a hazy line that leaves society confused. Marti says that a photograph becomes porn when bodily fluids are exchanged or when there is actual penetration. Brad has a different idea about porn that has evolved. “Years ago I would have flippantly said ‘insert shots’ but after becoming familiar with Larry Clark's photography as well as seeing some rather beautiful artistic shots of guys shoving things up their asses (everything from bananas to garden gnomes), my thoughts of what constitutes porn has changed and so now I have a ‘I know when I see it’ attitude to the subject.” Ben says that art is the nude form, porn is the sex. [2]

When asked about how do you see porn stars, the answers varied from people seeing them as not real or cartoon characters to respectable people who just have sex in front of a camera. But how can there be so much difference of opinion? And what does it matter anyways? Do we really need to define nudity to the point of shaming those who see no problem with viewing all forms of nudity if it has no negative impact on their lives? That’s like calling a person who had one beer a week an alcoholic.

The question of how can one person see porn stars as respectable and others see them as damaged comes up. I think it goes back to beauty and our insecurity about our looks. Bobby Momenteller has good insight about beauty.

“It isn’t about society's perception of ‘beauty.’ We are all created in the divine eye of complete Beauty and while some more attractive to the eye...which can be deceived, it’s the WHOLE person inside and out, and how they view THEMSELVES is most beautiful and shines to others. We should all be so filled with love and uninhibited to be able to display all of ourselves with pride! When you go to a nude beach in another country or even in south Miami, its not supermodels sitting out there...its 400lb men, men and women in their 90's as well as small children with their mother and father..that’s beauty! None of them notice that they’re naked, carrying their coolers around having a beautiful lunch...its not longer just about sex, it’s our true selves uninhibited in the nature we’re from, accepting one another because we first love ourselves. That’s a good example for me in what I saw, being a sheltered boy from the Midwest where Hollywood is just TV and people vacation here twice in their lifetime and if you do anything nude your just weird or gay.” [1]

Porn or viewing nudes is blamed for relationship breakups, work failures, and the end of traditional family values. Recently Rick Santorum had this to say about porn. “America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography.  A wealth of research is now available demonstrating that pornography causes profound brain changes in both children and adults, resulting in widespread negative consequences. Addiction to pornography is now common for adults and even for some children. The average age of first exposure to hard-core, Internet pornography is now 11. Pornography is toxic to marriages and relationships. It contributes to misogyny and violence against women.  It is a contributing factor to prostitution and sex trafficking. [5]

Once again, porn is blamed for what Mr. Santorum sees as the ills of society. Long before there were cameras, pictures or pornography, there were toxic marriages, bad relationships and horrible problems. Just read the Bible and you will see that the problems started long ago. Or you can read an article Does Pornography Cause Social Harm by Michael Castelman that explains that since the Internet has become so prevalent, many of the issues Rick Santorum is blaming on porn have actually lessened. Since the arrival of Internet porn sexual irresponsibility has declined, teen sex has declined, divorce has declined, and rape has declined. [6] Yes, we have actual statistics gathered from various sources from the CDC to the Justice Department negating Rick Santorum’s statement.

Pornography and pornographers are not the cause of our issues. Self-deprecation, unrealistic expectations, and lack of knowledge lead people to emphasize the wrong things in relationships. Our own narcissistic tendencies lead us to make bad decisions, pushing us to form bad habits. We seek satisfaction outside of our own lives and call it porn addiction, when in reality we have an avoidance issue, projecting our problems on porn instead of focusing on our real relationships.

Of course real relationship are tough. We’ve heard from Bobby Momenteller and some of the difficulties he’s had in relationships, knowing whether they are real, or false. We’ve heard from everyday people and how they feel about pornography. What makes people so angry about sex, nudity, and pornography? Let’s go back to the definition of pornography from the Greek, it’s important to really think about what that word implies. Prostitution. [4] Can you really say that those performing in what we see as pornography are selling a part of themselves? Or are people who perform nude in front of a camera, just like other actors, and just like other actors, you don’t own a piece of them.

Beauty, it drives our insecurity, thus feeding our need to hurt others, calling them names and degrading them. In interviewing normal, every day people I asked them this question: “Do you think you are beautiful?” The overwhelming answer was “no.” Marti came back with a “flat no.” Brad said that all through high school he was told how ugly he was and it still affects him over nine years later. It pains me to see so many of my friends do not see the beauty I see in them. Society has taught us to ignore beauty unless it’s a very prescribed set of features. But at what point do we stop believing we are beautiful, or handsome, or cute? [2]

Is there a certain age? Or is it more complex than that? Again, when talking to normal people about beauty, they said it depending on our feelings or perceptions. What we’ve been taught at home and the environment we were raised in has a huge impact. If you’re told the human body is ugly, then you begin to see others and yourself as ugly, inciting anger when you see someone comfortable with their body.

Maybe it’s because we hate that part of us that feels desire. We hate that we don’t understand how love and lust and desire are all mixed together. We don’t see what makes up passion, and therefor we must hate it. When viewing nudes, it is supposed to stir something inside of you. Whether it’s the vulnerability the model expresses or the strength you see in the model’s eyes, you are supposed to feel, but you shouldn’t feel disgust just at seeing a nude photograph or painting.

Some times we become so jaded that the way we deal for our issues when viewing nudes is to objectify them. What does it mean to objectify? If you look at a naked person, are you objectifying them? Not necessarily. Objectification happens when you degrade the person to a mere object. It goes back to seeing the people posing or actin nude as people.

I know I’m not perfect, and have been guilty of objectifying people too. I’m not proud of it. I want to be able to see all people as beautiful creations, not things that can be used or bought. I think there’s a weird mix of caring and not caring when you’re talking about beauty. If you think you’re beautiful, at some point you have to not care what other’s think.

This article has turned into so much more than I ever thought it would. At first it was going to be a pithy little blog about my feelings on nudity and objectification, but now it’s twisted me inside out, kept me from sleep, forced me to wake at odd hours and filled my mind with pain, joy and wonder. I’ve cried, smiled and laughed more over the last two weeks that I’ve spent writing this piece. It’s caused me to awaken the pain from my youth and feel it all over again. I don’t think I’ll ever be solid on the subject of beauty, nudity and porn. There is too much to the subject of beauty and nudity, too many variables and too many thoughts. When you stand far away and look at the whole of beauty, it’s too much to take in, but breaking down each part, studying the issues you see that there is more to each person than what they look like on the outside, the particulars of their features, what activities they participate in, or how much of their body they show.

I want people to see the beauty in themselves. To see that they are beautiful like Ben, who has the confidence that was drilled into him by his widowed mother. She told him he could do anything. I want people to have that confidence so they can see the beauty in themselves, and maybe that will cause them to look at models and porn stars differently, seeing more than just the outside shell. [2]

Your quest for self-acceptance is not a contest; you don’t have to judge yourself based on what others look like. We humans have a strange fascination with doing that. We check out the magazine articles, pleased to see Reese Witherspoon have an ugly day, or happy that Julia Roberts looks flustered. Then we compare ourselves to the overly Photoshoped pictures that are made to make us feel less than so advertisers can sell their crap to us. We shouldn’t be judging ourselves on what other people look like. Judge yourself for who you are and your own path to self-improvement.

Growing up, I heard over and over again that pretty people were more important, that beautiful people were better than others. It’s not true. Because beauty is so subjective, how can we say that one person is better than another based on their looks?

Some people may say I’m crazy for tackling this subject. That I’m unqualified to write this article and talk about beauty because I write novels that place aesthetically pleasing models on the cover. There are a few people that may even call my books pornographic because they deal with emotions, sex, erotic desires, lust and love. But inside those books, it not the physical beauty that makes the characters, it’s the beauty of the way the character lives and solves his problems. You might say that I’m contributing to the problem by writing books about beautiful men, maybe I am. Readers know it’s the characters themselves, not the covers that please them the most.

Sure the covers are packed with beautiful men. Men with hard bodies, great abs, delicious pecs and other assets that make people swoon or see red, but as a cover artist and an author I know that books with beautiful people sell well. People are drawn to that which they find appealing. Which takes us back around to the start. Why do we focus so much on outward beauty, trying to crush those who are beautiful, or use them, objectify them and turn them into toys? Is it because we fear that we will never be as beautiful as they are, that we’ll never be enough?

I have a different take on beauty than others. A few years a go I had a rather severe illness that caused minor brain damage. I lost the ability to recognize people I knew, even those closest to me. For about six months I couldn’t even recognize my husband in room full of people. It took years to recognize people outside of my family on a regular basis. Even today, if I have a headache, I may or may not know who you are. When I sat down to talk with Bobby, because we were doing an exchange over email, I didn’t remember what he looked like. I had to have his picture up in front of me, or honestly, it could have been anyone. He could have been the ugliest person on the planet, but it was the way he spoke, the kindness with which he spoke that drew me to him, not his body. If I ever met him on the street, I would have no idea who he was. It’s something I’ve grown used to and adapt to. I think of people in terms of their personality now, not their looks, because honestly, looks really mean nothing to me.

I may look at beautiful men for inspiration, see their attributes, but that’s not what makes me like them, it’s deeper than just their surface appearance. Find the depth of others instead of just seeing their outer shell.

I hope that this article made you think. Maybe it opened your eyes to issues outside of your normal life. People are beautiful. You are beautiful. Don’t let your insecurities stop you from seeing your potential and loving yourself and loving your body instead of trying to become someone else.

1 (Momenteller, 2012) Bobby Momenteller (personal communication March, 2012)
2 Series of interviews with everyday people done March 2012
3 Watching Porn: The Problem That Must Not Be Named by Steven C. Hayes; Psychology Today
5 Protecting Families, Women, and Children through Enforcement of Federal Obscenity Laws, Rick Santorum.
[6] Does Pornography Cause Social Harm by Michael Castleman; Psychology Today

Saturday, March 24, 2012

SSS Wicked Watchers

Passion Bringer a story in Wicked Watchers

Fallon surveyed the vid screen. Just like last night and the hundred other nights since he’d taken this job. Working security detail for the passion bringers sounded glamorous, but being holed up in this dingy office was a far cry from the excitement he thought he’d be in the middle of.

A new customer entered room number sixty-seven; his movements drew Fallon’s attention. Heat washed over Fallon, making him hard. If only Kurt would stop taking the suppression medicine, maybe he could talk him into... Hell, it would never work.

For more Six Sentence Sunday go here

Commenting on today's post will get you entered into the Blog Hop. Cheers, and welcome to the Drinking and Winning Blog Hop to celebrate the Blogversary of The prize, an ebook copy of Not That Type of Guy and a $10 gift certificate to Amazon. How to enter, just leave a comment. For more blogs on the hop, click here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Drinking and Winning Reading Romances Pre-Party

Cheers, and welcome to the Drinking and Winning Blog Hop to celebrate the Blogversary of The prize, an ebook copy of Not That Type of Guy and a $10 gift certificate to Amazon. How to enter, just leave a comment. For more blogs on the hop, click here.

Today, we're discussing Torn To Shreds. The drink you should pair with Torn To Shreds, something hard, maybe a little sweet. Try mixing Godvia Chocolate Liqueur with some Tres Leches Cream Liqueur, add a few cubes of ice and some milk. To kick it up a notch add a shot of vodka. Why, because Torn To Shreds is a dark read and you need something smooth to help it go down.

Now then, it's shocking and I've heard how shocking it is that Torn To Shreds doesn't have any sex in it. Yes, I actually wrote a book without sex. Some people are mad, downright angry to tell you the truth, but Torn To Shreds wouldn't be anywhere near as good if it included sex. You see, Lucas, the main Character, has been abducted. Oh, yes, that's why you need the drink, it's a difficult subject matter. And every abducted young man needs a hero, and boy, does Brett deliver in the hero department. I hope you enjoy this dark tale.

When Lucas Spires goes missing his brother, Amos, turns to Brett Hutchings, an ex Marine, kicked out for being gay. After Amos betrayed him, forced him out of Lucas’s life and ended his career, Brett vowed to never to never to speak with, much less help Amos, until the end of eternity. But Brett can’t deny his need to save Lucas, the one guy he’s never been able to get out of his system, even if it means working for Amos.

The trail is cold, with Lucas missing for more than a month. The cops are clueless, unable to find even a hint that the young man was abducted instead of just wandering away. When Brett latches onto a trace of evidence, it looks like he’ll find Lucas, but the clue doesn’t pan out the way he thinks it should.

Lucas can’t take the abuse any longer. He’s at the end of his chain, literally. If he could escape into the mountains, he would, but the sick bastard attached a manacle to his leg, exerting his control physically. Lucas is desperate to escape his captor; all hope has vanished, crushing his spirit. Lucas dreams of a savior, but Brett walked away a long time ago, and he’s the only man strong enough to save Lucas. 

Warning: This book contains material that some may find disturbing and is only suitable for mature readers. This book deals with difficult subject matter, including abduction, abuse and murder. While there is no consummation of sex shown in the story, this is a very sensual tale. Enjoy!

Remember to comment to enter for a chance to win an ebook copy of Not That Type of Guy and a $10 gift certificate to Amazon.

Purchase Torn To Shreds

Illegal Liaisons part 3

Each week a few of us writers get together and write 100 words on a photo. Today I bring you Illegal Liaisons part 3. I swear I'm writing this book in the next 6 months. View part 2.

The raid on New Houston hadn't gone well. Cam injured his ankle, now Mark would fight alone. Mark, gazed in Cam's eyes, seeing the love, he couldn't disappoint. Cam's sister, his only sister, had been spirited away by the Imperium, and forced into a breeding program. At least they thought she was being held here.

A rival group, the Enlightened, has planned their attack at the same time his Freedom Fighters had moved. All shot to hell. People died, not at all what the FF's stood for.

“Don’t do anything stupid,” Cam whispered before he fell back onto the bed of leaves.

For more Flashes, visit here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sara's Lucky 7

Lee Brazil tagged me for this. Here goes.

Here are the rules:
1. Go to page 77 (or 7th) of your current ms
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines - sentences or paragraphs - and post them as they're written. No cheating.
4. Tag 7 other authors. No cheating.

7th page 7 Sentences.

From my Goodreads story - The Road To Hell

“I’m sorry,” he whispered behind Grayson, hoping the guy heard him, but praying the others didn’t.

“Get up,” Abbot Benton spit out before turning to leave the room.

Grayson grabbed for his pants, his face red with embarrassment or anger, Mac couldn’t tell which. The guys with guns didn’t turn away and everyone got a good look at his limp cock as he pulled on his pants. They filed out of the room, their captors surrounding them. The abbot stood off to the side, his face a mask of disgust. A small amount of shame trickled through him, unsure if he could even look at Grayson right now. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

SSS Torn To Shreds now out

Brett turned on Amos, thrilled at the flutter of fear in the other man’s eyes as Brett puffed up his chest and fisted his hands, ready to deck the jerk. “Fucking A, we are not brothers. Brothers don’t do what you did.”
“I said I was sorry. Aren’t you happy? Steve said you were happy now.”

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Torn To Shreds is now available

I have to say that Torn To Shreds is my book. Yes, I wrote it, but I wrote it for me. I have enjoyed every minute of this book. I love the way it flows. I love the tension. I love the dark themes. I am immensely happy with the way Torn To Shreds turned out. It may not be for everyone, but it has absolutely been a joy to have written this book.

When Lucas Spires goes missing his brother, Amos, turns to Brett Hutchings, an ex Marine, kicked out for being gay. After Amos betrayed him, forced him out of Lucas’s life and ended his career, Brett vowed to never to never to speak with, much less help Amos, until the end of eternity. But Brett can’t deny his need to save Lucas, the one guy he’s never been able to get out of his system, even if it means working for Amos.

The trail is cold, with Lucas missing for more than a month. The cops are clueless, unable to find even a hint that the young man was abducted instead of just wandering away. When Brett latches onto a trace of evidence, it looks like he’ll find Lucas, but the clue doesn’t pan out the way he thinks it should.

Lucas can’t take the abuse any longer. He’s at the end of his chain, literally. If he could escape into the mountains, he would, but the sick bastard attached a manacle to his leg, exerting his control physically. Lucas is desperate to escape his captor; all hope has vanished, crushing his spirit. Lucas dreams of a savior, but Brett walked away a long time ago, and he’s the only man strong enough to save Lucas. 

Warning: This book contains material that some may find disturbing and is only suitable for mature readers. This book deals with difficult subject matter, including abduction, abuse and murder. While there is no consummation of sex shown in the story, this is a very sensual tale. Enjoy!

Available at Amazon.
Available at ARe

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

PayPal, MasterCard, Visa, Censorship and Writing

So a lot has happened in the last few days. Many authors have written Visa and MasterCard, receiving the same answer, that MasterCard and Visa were not behind PayPal's censorship. Now PayPal has reversed its decision. Thank you all who have written, called or posted blogs.

I am happy to say that all of my books are in the clear now. Writing about difficult subject matter is key to exploring the human mind. Books would be boring if all we wrote about were happy things. I encourage you to continue to read those books that cover the tough subjects.

March 13, 2012

Smashwords author/publisher update:  PayPal Reverses Proposed Censorship

Great news.  Yesterday afternoon I met with PayPal at their office in San Jose, where they informed me of their decision to modify their policies to allow legal fiction.

Effective last night, we rolled back the Smashwords Terms of Service to its pre-February 24 state.

It's been a tumultuous, nerve-wracking few weeks as we worked to protect the right of writers to write and publish legal fiction.  

I would like to express my sincere thanks to Smashwords authors, publishers and customers.  You stood up and made your voice known.  Thank you to every Smashwords author and publisher who wrote me to express opinions, even if we disagreed, and even if you were angry with me. You inspired me to carry your cause forward.   

Smashwords authors, publishers and customers mobilized. You made telephone calls, wrote emails and letters, started and signed petitions, blogged, tweeted, Facebooked and drove the conversation. You made the difference.  Without you, no one would have paid attention. I would also like to thank the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC). These three advocacy groups were the first to stand up for our authors, publishers and customers. Their contribution cannot be overstated.  We collaborated with them to build a coalition of like-minded organizations to support our mutual cause. Special kudos to Rainey Reitman of EFF for her energy, enthusiasm and leadership. 

I would also like to thank all the bloggers and journalists out there who helped carry our story forward by lending their platforms to get the story out.  Special thanks to TechCrunch, Slashdot, TechDirt, The Independent (UK), Reuters, Publishers Weekly, Dow Jones, The Digital Reader, CNET, Forbes, GalleyCat & EbookNewser and dozens of others too numerous to mention.  

I would like to thank our friends at PayPal.  They worked with us in good faith as they promised, engaged us in dialogue, made the effort to understand Smashwords and our mission, went to bat for our authors with the credit card companies and banks, and showed the courage to revise their policies.  

This is a big, bold move by PayPal.  It represents a watershed decision that protects the rights of writers to write, publish and distribute legal fiction.  It also protects the rights of readers to purchase and enjoy all fiction in the privacy of their own imagination. It clarifies and rationalizes the role of financial services providers and pulls them out of the business of censoring legal fiction.  

Following implementation of their new policies, PayPal will have the most liberal, pro-First-Amendment policies of the major payment processors.  Will Google Checkout and Checkout by Amazon be next now that the credit card companies have clarified their positions, and have essentially given payment providers the permission to adopt more enlightened policies?   Finally, thanks to Selena Kitt of Excessica and Remittance Girl for helping me to understand and respect all fiction more than I ever have before.

This is a bright day for indie publishing.  In the old world, traditional publishers were the arbiters of literary merit.  Today, thanks to the rise of indie ebooks, the world is moving toward a broader, more inclusive definition of literary merit. Smashwords gives writers the power and freedom to publish.  Merit is decided by your readers.  Just as it should be.


Mark Coker

Monday, March 12, 2012

SFR (Science Fiction Romance) Does the R really trump the SF? Gravitational Attraction

(Psst – stick around for the end of this post. You might win something…)

There's a growing trend out there among romance authors - everyone wants to jump on the Science Fiction Romance bandwagon, er, starship.

This should make me deliriously happy. It should. I've been a science fiction fan since I could read (this, my dears, is a very long time) and have spent decades enduring the derisive and sometimes nasty comments from other readers and writers about geek fiction and "that kind" of fiction and so on.

So the rise in interest should make me dance with joy, right? In many way, yes, of course. It means more publishers are taking an interest, it means more people are reading SF. (Woohoo!)

However... (show of hands - who knew that was coming?)

I recently saw a review of an SFR which I won't name in which the reviewer (also not named) said he/she liked how it was all about the characters and the science fiction didn't intrude on the story.


Here's the thing - in SF, the science is half the point. If you ignore it, push it to the side, have a romance where there really is no science, where you just happened to stick in a couple spaceships and badly-crafted alien races, what's the point? SF without science is just...F. It could take place anywhere. It could be fantasy or paranormal or regular contemp instead. Might as well have your setting down the street at Joe’s Diner instead of Alpha Centauri. Why bother?

You need the science. Doesn't have to be physics. There are all sorts of possibilities. Biology, immunology, anthropology, xeno-studies, sociology, psychology - I'm not picky, but it's not SF without some speculation regarding what could be.

There are tons of romance readers out there who would disagree with me, I know. *shrugs* I’m a geek and a bit odd, but I like running across innovation and thoughtful world-building when I read. SF stories with romances in them, rather than the other way 'round. For my first erotic SFR, I tried my level best not to throw the science out with the bathwater, so to speak. The reader will find new tech along with the romance, new worlds along with the sexual tension. Promise.

Space Opera is fun, don't get me wrong. I like a good, rollicking SO from time to time, too. But don't go halfway if you want to call it SF. Build, think, speculate, then write, don't just hang a regular romance off the fins of a shiny starship.

Gravitational Attraction

"Get involved in this, in any way, it's going to bite you so hard on the ass you'll never be able to sit down again."

Captain Drummond's words of advice quickly become prophetic. One bitter, failed fighter pilot with a bad neuro-implant, one shattered, lost mercenary who's not sure if he's just caused a bloody catastrophe, one quirky, talented crew, one power-mad admiral, and a mysterious planet in the quarantined zone - all blenderized together for your reading pleasure.

Join Isaac, Turk and the intrepid crew of the Hermes on their first journey. You might be surprised at how far it will take you.
Leave a comment (go on, you know you want to J ) for a chance to win Angel Martinez’s new M/M SFR, Gravitational Attraction!

Silver Publishing:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

SSS Torn To Shreds releases March 15

The metal cuff dug into Lucas Spires’ ankle as he shuffled across the kitchen, trying to keep the chain dragging behind him quiet. Master would be up soon enough; he didn’t need to wake the bastard early. Lucas paused and gazed up at the ceiling, searching for help, but knowing he’d find no answers there. Tears welled, threatening to spill down his cheeks; he swiped them away. Closing his eyes, he clenched his fist, willing himself to be strong.

Three weeks. The time in captivity seemed like forever. Three long weeks of hell and abuse at the idiot’s hands. He squared his shoulders and tamped down the pity party, vowing to not cave under the pressure.

Torn To Shreds available March 15th.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wednesday Briefs The Meet

Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, the post that will make you smile, laugh, cry, or just enjoy the story. This week the prompt is - "Love is like basketball because...."Or the alternative prompts are: Doctor Who, banana,  Elvis Presley (for extra points, work in the word Daleks), or "Burn, baby, burn....", or litigation, sandwich, auto-erotic asphyxiation, and lastly "It's time to make the doughnuts..."

I chose Doctor Who, banana, Elvis Presley and Daleks, for the extra point!

Enjoy The Meet

Four days into Spring Break, Matt wondered if he'd ever meet anyone. So he hadn't gone to the beach, or skiing, or anywhere else fun, but he'd hoped to run into another lonely guy willing to take a chance. Duh, idiot, everyone’s abandoned the town. He should have picked up the extra hours at work, earning the cash to go play with other hot bodies.

Tonight's exciting events included a Doctor Who marathon with Daleks and all. Pathetic! At least he hadn't reduced himself to eating banana splits every night for dinner. Blowing up like a balloon over the break wouldn't do him any favors once the hot guys came home.

Matt stood, pulled up his shirt and checked his body in the mirror. He didn't look half bad, not as good as Charlie, his downstairs straight neighbor, but not too shabby. The Doctor Who episode started, one with David Tennant. It was the one where the Doctor and Rose planned on seeing an Elvis Presley concert, but they ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not his favorite episode, but he had no other plans for the evening.

The night wore on, and Matt thought of ordering pizza, then he glanced down at his abs, dissatisfied with their shape. He ran across the street to grab a chicken salad during the "Fear Her" episode. He didn't like that one anyways.

The restaurant, a place he’d never eaten before, was empty. No one at the tables, and no one behind the counter. Crap was everyone gone?

“Hello? Anyone here.” Matt threw up his hands and turned to leave.

“Hey, I’m here. Don’t leave.”

Matt searched for the man that went with the voice. He didn’t see a soul. “Where are you?”

“Under here.” The voice called from the kitchen.

Matt moved towards the kitchen, stopping at the door. “Um, where?”

The guy laughed and crawled out from under a table in the corner, a screwdriver in hand. “Sorry, had to fix a few things.”

“Are you open?”

“Yeah, but I’m the only one here. Everyone else took off.”

Matt watched the guy move through the kitchen. At first he’d written this strange dude off as someone he would never be interested in, then the guy removed his ball cap, allowing curly dark hair to spill down around his shoulders, and Matt took notice. The stranger turned and flashed a smile that sent shockwaves through Matt’s body.

“So, you want something to eat? Pick a table and I’ll grab you a drink. I’m Brian by the way.” He stuck out his hand for Matt to shake but pulled back. “Sorry, I’m filthy.” Brian glanced down at his clothes and groaned. “Damn, let me change shirts, I’m a total mess. After that, I’ll get on some food for you. Go ahead, find a seat.”

Matt glanced at the table Brian had been under. “So is that table fine.”

“Um, yeah.” Brian hooked his thumbs in the hem of his shirt and pulled the material overhead, exposing his chest and glorious abs.

Heat rose on Matt’s cheeks and lust pumped through his veins. “Wow.”

Brian gazed up, his eyebrows rose in confusion. “Pardon?”

“I’m sorry, just never mind me.” Brian spun around, wishing for an easy escape.

“You think I’m hot, don’t you?”

Footsteps drew closer, but Matt was too afraid to turn. “I’m sorry,” he stammered. “I’ll go.”

“Don’t you dare leave.”

Matt peeked over his shoulder, his gaze dipping to Brian’s perfect body once again before looking him in the eyes. He swallowed, surprised at the lust burning there.

“You’re gay, right?” Brian asked.

Matt hadn’t been asked point blank before. He’d gone to a few clubs, experienced the lifestyle and had some fun, but he’d never had to out himself. The words he’d been so proud to shout at the Gay Pride event last summer died on his tongue.

“Hey, don’t worry, I’m gay too,” Brian laughed.

“I thought so.” Matt chewed his bottom lip, wondering how delicious Brian’s abs would taste.

“Why so afraid when I asked?”

“I don’t know. It’s the first time I’ve been asked directly. I mean, if I go to the clubs the other guys don’t ask, they assume.”

Brian touched Matt’s arm, sending shockwave through his body. They stood connected for a long moment, neither of them moving. The slow smile on Brian’s lips turned Matt inside out. He forgot about the Doctor Who marathon, David Tennant, and his empty belly, his focus zeroed in on Brian, the hot and sexy hunk he’d found at the restaurant across the street from his apartment.

For more Wednesday Briefs visit these sites.

Nephylim     m/m  
RC Donitz      m/f
Scarlett Knight     m/f