Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The NaNoWriMo Post (2012)

After mulling over a few things this past week, I've decided to go with the "CROSS// Universe Grab Bag" idea, which basically means finishing Book 3 of RR and a couple shorts Nothing glamorous, but it's writing I need to get done like yesterday soooo why not? Woo!

Last year I made an update post for NaNo almost every day. Pretty sure that's not going to happen this week. You can expect my progress updates to happen in my weekly progress reports, if nowhere else. Because I know you all really care!

If you want to add me as a buddy on NaNo, you can find my profile here. Good luck!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Using All 5 Senses In Erotica (Or Sexy Scenes In General)

Source: Stock Exchange
Recently a post popped up in Kindle Boards about tips for using all five senses when writing erotica, or just erotic scenes. I ended up writing a fairly detailed reply, and thought I'd bring it over to my blog and expand on it for everyone else out there!

First off, if you're somebody looking for advice in this section, I want you to think about the #1 sense you associate with sex. (Or flirtation, if it's buildup.) For a lot of people, it'll be a different answer. But I'll bet you're thinking either "sight," or "touch." If you're writing scenes focusing on only two (or less) senses, however, you may find that readers aren't connecting as much to these physically and emotionally charged scenes as you want - and in erotica, that's not good!

So how does one try to work in every sense into sensual scenes? Whether harmless flirtation, or wall-bangin' fun, here are my top tips I hope will help and will ultimately tell you what a perv I am. (Please note that this is a bit more graphic than my post over at KB. Fair warning!)


Sight - What do the characters look like both clothed and unclothed? How do their bodies visually react to stimuli? How sweaty is it getting, and how does that affect make-up, hair, and clothing? What parts of the body do your POV characters love the most and therefore focus on? Do your characters have body mods or birth marks that can only be seen when they're nude?

Touch - Seems like a given, but some things seem to get forgotten besides the, uh, mechanical feelings. What tickles? What's cold? What's hot? If you're going for realism, sometimes things might (unintentionally) hurt. Or, if you're going for hurt, what makes it so attractive? How do people feel compared to one another? Nails? Teeth?!!? 

Sound - Even if you have the quietest couple (or solo, or more) vocally, there's still gonna be sounds. Physics kinda demands it. Do you have a moaner? A squeaker? A screamer? Are the characters worried about people hearing them? Think of how the erotic acts are affecting the environment. Things falling off? Furniture adding itself to the chorus? Also, skin makes sound when slapping into other skin. (And don't forget the funny sounds if that's what you're after.)

Taste - Besides the obvious*, don't forget how outside factors may affect the taste of things. Diet and body chemistry affect everyone's "flavor" differently. No two people taste the exact same. Also, if you're not looking to get into THAT much detail, there may be other ways to approach this sense. Maybe it's time to bust our the chocolate strawberries.

*Wait, you don't know the obvious? Uh, just read this link. (NSFW, textually.)

Smell - This one seems the most forgotten anywhere that isn't dead bodies or Thanksgiving dinner. And I think in erotic scenes there's a fear, sometimes, of grossing people out with smell. But like taste, everyone has a different diet and chemistry that will contribute to smell. But I also think you can get away with really vague descriptions here, because most readers will have their own scent-related memories they can call up. Scent is one of the most powerful memories so I think it's important to play with. (If you need some ideas, try calling up environmental smells that may set the mood, such as candles, flowers, soap, shampoo, perfume/cologne, and yes, even the smell of sweat in these circumstances can be sexy!)

A total package offering all five senses on your sensual platter is a great way to involve your readers in ways they may have never been expecting. Try a sense you often forget the next time you're writing and see where it takes you and your audience!
Are you particular to any particular sense when writing, whether a sexy scene or not? Would you add any other tips to this list?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Weekly Writing Check-In: One Month Check-In for "DAISUKI."

Hard to believe that one month ago today I released "DAISUKI." unto the world. Since then I've experienced a month of ups and down, growing pains and learning curves. I wish I could tell you that I became a big money-maker overnight, but, ALAS, I have not. But I have no  complaints so far. I am selling more, it seems, than most newbies with only one book out, and I am optimistic that once I get more books out there starting next month everything will work out!

I also wish I could share sales figures with you, but I don't think I'm allowed to from various TOS. But I CAN break down my sales percentages based on sales venues! Currently I have DAISUKI available on Amazon, B&N, Kobo (only took three weeks UGH), All Romance, and Smashwords (inc. expanded distribution to Sony and iTunes.) As of right now at this moment, here's how it's breaking down:

Amazon - 80%
Barnes & Noble - 10%
Smashwords - 10%
All Romance + Kobo - Try again, loser.

My percentages seem to mirror most of my research:  Amazon is a majority of the pie, and B&N comes up second with all the others vying for third. I'm rather disappointed in ARe since most other erotic romance authors told me they did very well there, but I have a feeling my niche (lesbianism. Yeah, it's a niche.) is the main factor here. On a site inundated with MAN PECKS MAN PECKS MAN PECKS you get the idea....

I suppose I should share what's coming up this we - OMG Nanowrimo. Ha. I've decided to go ahead and do the CROSS// universe grab bag. Finishing up book 3 of RR and then writing two shorts for it should push me over 50k. And if not, there's always book 4 to start. BUSY BUSY~

Also, be sure to be here for BOOK 2 TITLE/COVER/BLURB REVEAL ON THURSDAY! It's gonna be hot!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

POSTPONED: "Love, Differently" Blog Hop

As much as I hate to do this, I have to postpone the Love, Differently blog hop which was scheduled to take place next month in November. Two main reasons for this: 1, lack of interest. The only people who signed up were myself, my co-runner, and my editor. And well, that's not much fun.  2, too busy! Instead of pushing forward with last minute advertising, I'd rather just focus on everything else on my plate this November, since I have two releases coming out.

But don't fret, all two people who signed up - the blog hop will return early next year! So keep your eyes on here and you'll see it pop up again soon enough.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kindle Direct Publishing Breaks Into Japanese Market

Upon logging onto the Internetz today I have discovered that Kindle Direct Publishing now offers their Kindle Store via Amazon Japan! Of course, KDP's expanding markets are nothing new, especially recently, but I have a very special interest in the Japanese market, so this is really exciting news to me!

Some people are already selling their self-published ebooks in Japan as I'm writing  this, but I think it'll be interesting how it plays out for most people. Most people are probably selling works in English only, which can work throughout greater Europe, but not too much in Japan, which is one of the lowest ranking first-world Asian countries when it comes to learning English. (And I've worked in English teaching in Japan. I totally believe this position. Although I am surprised Hong Kong and Taiwan aren't higher.) Also, sorry guys, but Kindle is not a "thing" in Japan. In terms of the E-reading market, Kobo (shock!), Sony (another shock!), and even iPads (Japan loves their iPads and iPhones, although the laptops and desktops never seem to have taken off) seem to dominate the E-reader market. (Anecdote time: I remember when I first took my Fire back to Japan and attempted to find a cover for it in the giant, I mean GIANT electronics and accessories stores in Nagoya. I was finally told by multiple workers that Kindle gear isn't carried at this time.) In the beginning, I think we'll see most sales are coming from expats and maybe a small section of the Japanese themselves. But who knows! With the recent launch, it could go any way, really.

Now, for my personal excitement:  Japan is a market I would very much like to corner, and uh, not just because I happen to write stories taking place in Japan and featuring Japanese characters at the moment. (Although that is a good reason.) I have a few social connections in Japan that  could be quite beneficial to me, and have had emails from people asking me if they could buy my ebooks on Amazon Japan. Now  I can finally say I do! Hooray!

I suppose I should be off to translate my author profile and book description in Japanese. Just because I can. (Btw, here's my current book on Amazon Japan! Because it looks cool there!)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Weekly Writing Check-In: Still Know Nothing About Nanowrimo

Real quick post this week as I've got...things to do. Like writing! and playing Sims 3.

  • Sent off Book 2 of Ren'Ai Rensai to editing and am about 1/3 of the way through with the first draft of Book 3. I'm hoping to do the cover/title/blurb reveal of Book 2, alongside a tentative release date, on November 1st. (If you've bought "DAISUKI." and read through to the end, then you already know the title and the short, short blurb! Lucky you!)
  • Still have no idea what I want to do for Nanowrimo. Usually I work on a CROSS// story but I don't think I'll have time this year. Odds are I'll do odds and ends for Ren'Ai Rensai, but dear god, what to put in the novel field? I'm half tempted to put in CROSS//Revenge again anyway just because I want to keep the dream alive.
  • IT'S GETTIN' COLD. I'm only sharing that because my room is always one of two heating extremes, which means I'm going from melting in my chair/bed to having hands too cold to type. Just like Japan!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle

The Last UnicornThe Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Since I was a child, I have loved unicorns.

And since I was a child, every unicorn I see or dream of will be compared to this one.

I, like many others, came to Peter S. Beagle, and specifically, his magnum opus "The Last Unicorn" because of the animated movie that captivated me when I was very young. The story is about a simple unicorn who one day realizes she is the "the last" in the entire world. This takes her on a quest to find her fellow unicorns, which leads her ultimately to King Haggard's castle, believed to be the keeper of all the world's unicorns - minus one, of course. Along the way she meets Schmendrick the Magician and the middle-aged, embittered woman Molly Grue. Before they reach the castle, however, the unicorn is attacked by the "Red Bull", and Schmendrick is forced to turn her into a human girl for her own protection. This girl is then named "Lady Amalthea", and the rest of the novel revolves around their infiltration of King Hagrid's castle and the awful secret he keeps. When some of your fondest childhood TV memories include watching a bumbling magician change a dazzling unicorn into a beautiful young woman named Lady Amalthea in order to save her from the menacing beast known only as "The Red Bull," you're gonna go read the book.

Because the movie is so ingrained into me, however, I cannot help but compare the two mediums. They usually say the book is always better, but is it true? Of course, many things were cut from the book to make the classic movie, such as the entire "curse" of King Haggard's castle and the town attached to it. But for the most part, the movie is beautifully faithful to the book, all the way down to the butterfly's rhymes.

Beagle has a very approachable writing style that both tells a tale while never giving out too much information. He is a master of the omniscient POV, both common for the time period of the late 60s/early 70s, and a personal favorite of mine. While technically the Unicorn is the main character of the novel, Beagle also follows the minds of most of the other characters, and employs a level of sarcastic humor that only he could pull off. The setting is also completely baffling, considering it comes off as very medieval monarchy, but includes pistols and magazine subscriptions. All I can figure is that he leaves the setting completely ambiguous because the existence of unicorns, themselves, are ambiguous at best.

Even when compared to the movie, "The Last Unicorn" remains one of my favorite novels of all time. The characters are real and sympathetic, all the way down to the evil King Haggard who bases his entire life in the search for something to live for. The Unicorn touches everyone's life in some subtle way, not least of all Prince Lir who falls in love with her human incarnation. Some may call the ending bittersweet, but I find it beautiful and perfect - the book is triumphant, hopeful, but still very, very real. Not everyone gets their happiest ending, but everyone gets what they've been looking for.

My bias perhaps clouds my judgment. But even if you've never seen the movie (what in the world are you waiting for?) you should still read this fantasy classic. It's a short read, especially for the time period, and is full of artistic imagery and off-the-wall humor. Oh, and unicorns. Droves of them.

And I love me some unicorns.

View all my reviews

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Obligatory Birthday Post

Source: Pink Cake Box
The thing about being a night owl (I go to sleep around 5am) is that you always see midnight go by. Which can mean awkwardly welcoming in your birthday. This year, for my 25th birthday, I did absolutely nothing but the usual: reading, exercising, TV, and of course, writing! My mother baked me a cake that looks nowhere near as cool as the one in the pic (but it was orange!) but was delicious all the same. Especially with a scoop of Dairy Queen soft serve. Oh, God, my blood sugar. So worth it.

It's kinda weird to think that my life is probably more than a quarter of the way over now. And yet 25 doesn't seem to be a milestone birthday...although I can rent a car now! (Darn, if only I had a license.) Of course, as an adult I have to sit here and think about what a waste of space I am at 25 in my wandering, confused generation of recent grads in a nosediving economy. Hey! No job! Hey! No relationship! But before I feel compelled to go get drunk on my birthday to say that at least something happened like puking in the bath tub I reminded myself of all the life dreams I've accomplished so far, even if at the time they didn't feel like much. Short off you know, the apocalypse, or getting kicked out of my house, or what have you, things can only go up from here and I look forward to what the next 25 years of my life brings!

I don't really have a choice, I mean.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Romance Trading Cards: Now Here's Some Irony For My Life

Now imagine they all have boobs, and we're done here!
I never thought I'd see the day when I'm looking at trading card pixels on my screen again. During the late 90s, when Magic and Pokemon were all the rage, I was right there being told by my mother that no, I couldn't have them, because they summon REAL DEMONS. Or something. My mother likes to re-spout things she heard back in the 50s. Anyway, later on around 2002 or so, I started an online website in which members would get pixelized trading cards and could swap them with each other. It was a big hit for many years, until I "retired" from the scene because dear god, it was a nightmare.

But that's another post!

Recently I've come upon these things known as "Romance Trading Cards." I found them via the Kindle Boards discussion about them and couldn't help but think...what? These are a thing? And people go crazy for them? Whaaaa? I mean, whatever floats your boat, but personally I can't stand having little card sized paper things around. Takes me back a little too far to the late 90s.

But if this is something "going on" right now, I'm wondering...should I jump on it? Get some Ren'Ai Rensai ~trading cards~ (man, every time I type that, the 14yo inside me wants to die of embarrassment) and give them away for funzies? (Would any of my readers even want those?) I have plans for bookmarks to come out around Christmas, but should I get some of these, too?*

How about all of you other romance writers out there? Do YOU do trading cards of your characters? How has it been? Do your readers gobble them up? Are you like me and don't understand the appeal but HEY MAN WHATEVER WORKS?

Please share with me your experiences on romance oriented trading cards! Or any other small productions like this that you do for your novel. :)

*I do kinda wanna point out an observation - all the ones I've seen so far are for heterosexual romances, although I know M/M will never die. But if there's one thing I've learned writing lesbian fiction, it's that lesbian fiction fans tend to be a lot quieter, and thus I'm not sure this would be a good venture for me to pursue right now.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Weekly Writing Check-In: The Coming of Nanowrimo, and My Lethargy

NaNoWriMo is upon us. In fact, it's about half a month away. Normally at this time of year I'm jumping around all excited like, but this year I'm just not feeling it. Maybe it's because I already write ~50k a month so the "need" for nano is gone. Maybe it's because I'm just BUSY, man. I've got another book AND a short story coming out in November! And you want me to whatta? If it was Camp, I'd probably just forget it, but it's like, real Nano. Lawd.

I have no idea what I'm going to do for Nano. I should be working on just anything from Ren'Ai Rensai, but traditionally I've always worked on CROSS//. I just don't know if I have time this year. I'll probably end up doing a hodge podge of things and just hope it adds up to 50k.

At least my region seems to be a little active, with hopes of a meet up. Thus far though I'm the only "author" author there, and they're asking me about what I publish. Uh. Hmmmm. ;) (You may vaguely remember me being the ML of my area, except for last year when I lived in Japan. Well, it's not happening this year. Simply because I missed the sign up which happened in JULY for some odd reason. And I never received any notice about it. Yay!)

As for my other writing ventures, Book 2 of Ren'Ai Rensai goes off to editing this week, and I'm chugging along on the first drafts of many other things, including Book 3 and a couple short stories coming out by the end of the year. Phew. I'm a busy woman!

What's up with everyone out there in Blogger land? Gonna do Nanowrimo?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

NTL COMING OUT DAY Ebook Sales! (Daisuki is $1.50 for one week only at Smashwords!)

Really excited today to bring attention to something great! In honor of National Coming Out Day (today) a bunch of authors (including me!) are giving away their queer-themed works for FIFTY PERCENT OFF for the next week ONLY! Now, this was a bit last minute, so there's not much up yet today, but you can bet the list is going to grow!

So that said, you can now purchase "DAISUKI." off Smashwords for only $1.50! Head to the master list to grab your promo code and check out some other great works! (Please note that many of the words are adult in nature.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Reminder about the LOVE, DIFFERENTLY BLOG HOP!

Maybe you might remember a month ago when I first posted about the LOVE, DIFFERENT BLOG HOP happening this November, focusing on writing romantic pairings of various sexes/genders. Well, I'm still as excited about it as ever, only...the only people signed up are the people running it! I like to think we've got a pretty cool idea here, and I although we don't have much money our prizes come straight from our time and want to help others, so...SIGN UP! :P haha. Or at least, gives us a boost? Tweet us? Facebook us? Help us get this thing out there! It's October 10th and we need lots more people to make this competition fun!

Basically, guys, don't make me have to cancel my first blog hop ever. Please? Oh god the Blogger shame.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"DAISUKI." Blog Tour Day 6: Coming to a Close At Home

For the final day of the blog tour (is it that time already??) I really wanted to present you with a V-log. You know, something a little more personal than just my written words on the screen. (Like, my face and voice? Gasp!) But, come to find out, my webcam doesn't seem to understand HOW DO SOUNDS WORK anymore, so not V-log for now. Oh well! Nobody wants to see what happens to my face after I gain 30 pounds anyway. (Guess where it goes first!)

So in lieu of that, y'all will just have to settle for a super boring text post.

When I moved home from Japan late last April, I really had no idea what more I was going to do with my life. I had no other job, not even a nibble of a lead, and I live way out here in Oregon wilderness with nobody to talk to besides my immediate family and my cat. I've gained thirty pounds (wait, did I mention that already?) thanks to the wonderful American diet, and I pay about 1,000 dollars a month in student loans. Why am I going on and on about this? Because one thing I DID know I was going to do to keep myself going was publish a novel by the end of the year. Originally I wanted to publish my fantasy story CROSS//Rebirth, but it quickly went into editing hell until I figure out what to do with its massive length. Halfway through June Camp I got really sick and tired of the tone of the novel I was writing then, and decided to switch gears to something nicer, maybe sweeter. It had been what felt years since I got to stretch my romance muscles, let alone the lesbian ones! Thus I took a small story idea I'd had for a year and turned it into "DAISUKI.", a short story that quickly turned into a novel. I enjoyed writing it so much that I decided I would publish it if I felt it was up for it.

That idea turned into an entire series, what I now call the "REN'AI RENSAI" series. I managed to, in three months, write a novella, edit it to death (with the best betas and editors out there, of course!), get great cover art, and even brainstorm an entire series I hope will launch me out there and help cover my bills.

I would never have been able to do this without the great help and support of you all. (And the fact that I'm unemployed and thus can dedicate 12 hours of my day to nothing but writing/editing.) I was rather surprised to see how many people from my past contacted me after I announced the upcoming release of "DAISUKI.", showing their support and admiration. I was even more touched by the amount of people who have thus far bought the novella (although it would be nice if Amazon would give me complete, non-glitchy reports!) and told me how much they love it, that it was just what they were looking for, and how strongly they connected to my characters. Of course, I've gotten great constructive feedback too, and am excited to implement everything into future Ren'Ai Rensai installments.

If you had told me even six months ago that I would be publishing two lesbian romance novels and one short by the end of the year, I would have been surprised, but certainly excited! While I haven't made quite enough funds yet to start paying off the loans, or to pay for a trip to Japan next year, or to, gasp, move out of my parents' house, I know I will get there. Maybe even by this time next year I'll be making that author living. And as somebody who has dreamed of nothing more than that her entire life, it's amazing to have it in my reach.

I wouldn't be able to have this opportunity if it weren't for the DIY atmosphere on vendors these days, my parents putting a roof over my head and feeding my enlarging American ass, and of course, all you great Internet people who have been cheering me on. Onward!

PS. Since I couldn't bring you the V-log of me and my cat saying all of the above, have a pic of me and my cat from a few months back! Also, you can see why my webcam sucks. Woo!

She's so happy to help me~

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Weekly Writing Check-In: idek.

I could sit here and talk about writing. Or I could regale you all with how Nanowrimo is far from my mind. Or I could perform the splits and twirl a bandana around. But for this week's check-in I think I'm going to completely phone it in and leave you with a video. A video I dare you not to laugh at.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

DAISUKI BLOG TOUR DAY 5: Review Over at Vanilla Hearts

Day 6 takes us over to Crystal's blog at Vanilla Hearts where she's left "DAISUKI." a very nice four star review. I've been getting a lot of great feedback this past week, and I appreciate every single comment!

Come back on Monday for the final day of the Daisuki Blog Tour! Tomorrow will be a regular blog post, full of the usual grumbling and AAAAAAHHH that I usually spout.

Friday, October 5, 2012

DAISUKI BLOG TOUR DAY 4: Interview at Pipsqueakery

For today's super totally awesome blog tour stop,I'm over at bff, editor, and cover designer Lindsay York's blog, where she gave me an interview to write home about. In the interview we talk about the representation of gender, writing about Japan, and the fact that I'm apparently not drunk enough. WOO. PARTY.

Here's an excerpt question!

Your characters are older—actually adults. Do you find it at all difficult to write about older folks?

I’ve been writing about people older than me since I was a kid! I’ve always been fascinated about adulthood. I once wrote a huge blog post about why I’m not interested in children’s and YA fiction, but tl;dr is that I think adults get a bad rap. Everyone seems to focus on “first time” feelings, like first time falling in love, becoming an adult, and all that stuff. I mean, it has its place, but even I can’t connect to it half the time. My life has not mirrored most of the YA stuff out there in any way. People tell me I’m an “old soul” and I totally believe them. Give me bitter middle-aged women over whiny, wide-eyed teens any day.
Plus, you know, life doesn’t end once you become an adult. People may become more settled in who they are and their morals, but they’re still growing, and still having crazy experiences that will further shape their identities. And what can I say, I relate to being jaded and angry that life is different than how you imagined it would be.

That said, you should totally check out Lindsay's blog. She really loves literature and writing, and she knows her stuff! Especially go if you like poetry, as she has a poetry feature every Thursday. Also, I hear she'll be offering editing and cover design services for the small budget author soon!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

"DAISUKI." BLOG TOUR Day 3: 日本語を話せます~ (Or, Guest Post at Meradeth's!)

Day 3 takes me over to Meradeth Houston's blog again, this time talking about the use of foreign languages in writing. Watch me wax on and on and ON about how I tackled writing about Japanese speaking characters in English. And come tell me how YOU (would) deal with it!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

DAISUKI BLOG TOUR DAY 2 - Guest Post About Fashion at Pretty Fierce

DAY 2 of the blog tour takes us over to Leah's blog at Pretty Fierce, where I contributed a guest "interview" between myself and the two main characters of "Daisuki", Aiko and Reina. I attempted to get them to talk about fashion in Japan (since Leah runs a fashion oriented blog) but they were a bit...stubborn. ;) Step on over, say hi, and hope you enjoy it! (If nothing else, go for the great Japanese movie linked up there!)

Monday, October 1, 2012

DAISUKI BLOG TOUR DAY 1: Interview by Author Morgan Bauman

It's day one of the "DAISUKI." blog tour! Today I'm over at Morgan's tumblr doing a super short and sweet interview. Also, if you're on tumblr and would like to be Super Friends, you can still find me here!

'Til tomorrow for more touring goodness!