Bad Novels! (Or, What The Hell Did I Just Read?!)

I’ll be announcing the winner of H.C. Brown’s contest (simply see the post below this one) tomorrow. In the meantime, however, I wanted to take a minute or two and parse this gem I learned about from Publisher’s Weekly. Kindly refrain from reading this if you are eating, drinking, or there is any possibility you may need to use the bathroom. I will NOT be responsible for any property damage incurred.

With that disclaimer out of the way, on to the show.

You see, it seems every quarter or so, they find a book that is so hideously, demoralizingly bad that for a reader to merely let their eyes roam over the cover assures they will sacrifice fifty IQ points to the mighty god “Durrrrr….”

I can say this with some authority, having just read some choice snippets from one such book. I flatly refuse to name it here, for one simple reason: I can spell. Not only is the cover beyond cheesy (unfortunate, but not a crime) but simply reading the first paragraph of the first chapter left me with a brain cramp that simply would not go away.

I’m all for someone putting themselves out there, warts and all, and seeing what they can make of their stories. Hell, I did it myself with Shadowphoenix: Requiem. Is it a masterpiece of modern literature? Probably not. The Great American Novel? Pardon me while I snicker into my sleeve. (Again.) Is it as tightly written or edited as it might have been? Certainly not. In the last eighteen months, I’ve learned almost as much about writing as I had in the previous fifteen years.

However, for all that, I at least made an effort. I “showed” far more than I “told,” ensured my spelling was absolutely letter perfect (unless I had a compelling reason NOT to, as in certain sequences of dialogue), and USED QUOTATION MARKS!

In the particular opus that sparked this rant, none of the above conditions are met. Okay. This wouldn’t be the first author I’ve ever encountered who didn’t have the patience or temperament to deal with the fussy and obscure “rules” of English literature and decided to hurl their work to the wolves. That takes a considerable amount of chutzpah and a lot of very large spheroids, and I can applaud that. But what really astounded and puzzled me is that this author not only had the gall to put out TWO sequels, but managed to delude a number of other people into considering his work “real literater.” (I wish to God I was making THAT up . . . )

In a very real and non-exaggerated way, the reviews on Amazon for this particular book are much more entertaining than the book itself. These people are falling all over themselves to be the first to hail this author as a literary genius, a kind of Everyman of American letters. One particularly vehement apologist for this author stated that she enjoyed his work because “he writes like people talk.”

I choked on my tea and cast a longing glance at the bottle of Captain Morgan Rum atop my refrigerator when I read that. I don’t give a damn if it was 9:30 a.m. when I read that, some things just shouldn’t have to be endured, least of all in the morning, without a little medicine to help smooth out the rough edges. However, I feel very noble and virtuous in reporting that I read the entire article, start to finish. And then noticed something that seemed so ludicrous it demanded further investigation. Three articles later, my cramping brain demanded I give it a reprieve or risk my skull exploding.

That such a novel could make its way onto the virtual bookshelves is, tragically, not far-fetched at all. What really horrifies me is the TWO SEQUELS! If you’re wondering why self-published works get no respect, it’s because novels like this one exist.

I’d like to say more . . . but I just poured myself a glass of rum. Now I’m going to huddle under my blankets and try to convince myself this has all been a horrible nightmare. Hopefully I’ll emerge to a world that’s sane and safe for literature.

But I’m not holding my breath.

If you’d like to see what exactly I’m on about, you can find the link HERE. Like I said . . . I refuse to speak the name of this abomination on my site, for fear of drawing that very cacodemon to my own demesne.

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne

 

Guest Blog: Justine Elyot and All the Fun of the Fetish!

Before I introduce my guest today, I first owe her and her readers a HUGE apology. I’ve been ill for the last few days, and so I forgot all about this. By way of apology to all of you, I’ll be leaving the post up throughout the weekend so you have plenty of time to stop by!

With that out of the way, my guest today is a lady in all the best senses of the word. I met her during the Noble Blog Tour in April of last year, and I’m very pleased to have gotten the chance to know her. She’s a terrific writer with a great sense of humor, so I hope you all enjoy what she has to say. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen:

Justine Elyot!

All the Fun of the Fetish

 

Oh, I do love to be at J S Wayne’s blog! He is such a gent. Thanks to him for agreeing to host me on my Meeting Her Match tour.

 

I’m a great fan of the canon of classic BDSM erotica, but it struck me pretty early on that there weren’t a lot of laughs in it. Of course, this is intentional – it’s pretty hard to set a dark, sumptuous, decadent tone when your characters are cracking jokes and slipping on banana skins all the time. But I do like a lighter tone on occasion, and that’s something I’ve tried to thread through my story, hopefully with a measure of success.

 

I wanted to emphasise enjoyment and the submissive Cherry’s control of her situation and her desires. I also wanted her to come across as human, vulnerable, warm and able to see the funny side of her experimentations.

 

And I might have thrown some plain daftness in there too here and there…

 

Take this version of the classic ‘remove your underwear in a public place’ scenario:

 

“Go to the Ladies’ and remove your knickers. When you return, give them to me. Not furtively, though – no passing them under the table. You do it blatantly and in full view of the whole restaurant.”

 

“In full view?”

 

“Yes. People hardly ever register it. They won’t realise it’s your knickers, for the most part. The people that do notice will think it quaint and a bit sexy. It’ll spice up their Saturday night. Perhaps they’ll do it themselves.”

 

I goggled for a moment, then he raised his eyebrows and made a nod of the head that meant business towards the toilets.

 

An act of disobedience wouldn’t get us off to a good start. Besides, once the order is given, even implicitly, I find my inner good-doggy and it all becomes easy.

 

I stood up and took my leave.

 

The toilets were distractingly fancy and I almost forgot why I was in there, so busy was I admiring the perfume dispensers and dazzling glass and gilt. I frowned, thinking, But I don’t need to go, then I remembered.

 

I backed into a stall and shut the door, reaching up under my skirt to lower the knickers. Problem. I was wearing stockings and suspenders, and the knickers could only go as far as the stocking tops. Annoyingly, I had to unsnap each suspender, move the knickers down, then refasten them, which was a slow process with my fumbly fingers.

 

The mere act of pushing the knickers down to my knees made me wet and I squirmed as the little suspender buttons clicked back into their slots, hoping I wouldn’t be in a state of raging arousal for the duration of the meal.

 

I finished removing the knickers and bunched them up in my fist. Outside the stall I looked at myself in the mirror. How obvious was it that I was carrying a pair of knickers? To me, it seemed glaringly so, but then I was bound to be hyper-conscious of my situation. Would anyone notice? Would they double-take and whisper about me, knowing that I was naked under the dress and informing their dining companions of the fact? Would the whole restaurant know that my bare pussy was just a whispery skirt away from potential fingering? I bit my lip, trying to chase the blush from my cheeks. It wouldn’t go.

 

I sprayed my wrists with perfume then, looking around to make absolutely sure I was alone in there, I put the atomiser under my skirt and gave my nethers a squirt. Bad idea. It stung.

 

I winced, put the perfume down, squeezed the knickers into as tiny a ball as I possibly could and sailed back into the restaurant, trying to exude inner confidence.

 

I was so busy exuding this inner confidence stuff that I forgot to look where I was going, tripped over a waiter’s foot and stumbled forward. In the process, I lost my grip on the knickers which flew wildly over to the right, landing with perfect precision in the dead centre of a diner’s bowl of soup.

 

I couldn’t help it. I screamed.

 

Whatever next! Here’s some more detail about the book:

 

In the internet age, it should be easy for like-minded fetishists to find and connect with each other. Or so Cherry thought. Her decision to enter the wild and wonderful world of BDSM leads her to some interesting and unexpected places. She soon finds herself on ‘the scene’ and her insatiable curiosity takes her to orgies, slave auctions and mansion houses full of trainee submissives, but where will she find her perfect dom? Will Cherry ever meet her match?

 

Available in paperback: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Meeting-Her-Match-Justine-Elyot/dp/1908086157/ref=pd_ecc_rvi_4

 

And for Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Meeting-Her-Match-ebook/dp/B006C4C3SK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1326140957&sr=1-1

 

Justine Elyot is the UK bestselling author of On Demand, The Business of Pleasure and Erotic Amusements. When she isn’t buried under a pile of new projects, you can find her waving at the world from her website http://justineelyot.com/ or gassing about trivialities on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/JustineElyot.

 

Invisible Efforts…

You’d never know it to look at the traffic on my blog, but I’ve been one busy cat lately! So I figured, since I’ve finally reached a point where things are a little more mellow, I should check in and let everyone know what I’ve been up to!

First, if you missed it, Barbara Mazzuca, Limecello, and Zee Monodee were both kind enough to have me on their blogs in the past week or so. Brave ladies! So stop by and take a look to see what the latest stirrings are on “Dead Means Dead” and the Lesbians Vs. Zombies line, which was kicked off yesterday with KevaD’s screwball comedy “The Zombie With Flowers In Her Hair.”

Second: Most of this past week has been exclusively dedicated to Writing Out Child Abuse, with the exception of taking care of the day job. Contracts, edits, emails back forth with what occasionally feels like half the free world, and trying to get my own contributions up to scratch and ready to go have pretty thoroughly dominated my time. But, I’m pleased to report that we’re about halfway done, which should put the final draft in Laurie Sanders’ hands right on schedule. One of the things I did tonight was take this picture, intended for the cover of A Light In The Darkness:

Hey, I’m no Ansel Adams, but I think I’m on to something here!

In the next several days, I’m hoping to have cover art and edits for “Dead Means Dead” and to have my stories for A Light In The Darkness completed and good to go. Meanwhile, the day job and the other things I’ve set in motion still demand their pounds of flesh. . . and they’re going to get them! Not like I couldn’t stand to lose a pound or two anyway . . .

Sorry for being absent lately. I’m going to try to be better about posting here, but that doesn’t always happen. But for now, I hope everyone understands it’s not neglect; I’m just really, insanely busy right now!

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne

Reviewing Matters

As a writer, I don’t necessarily like to hear that someone doesn’t enjoy my work. After all, it IS work and I give my work (probably a lot more than) its due attention. But I understand that not everyone is going to enjoy my work and I don’t take it personally.

What really hurts is when I don’t hear anything at all about my work. Not good, not bad, not middle-of-the-road. And I’ll tell you why:

Reviews help authors as a barometer of what they’re doing that’s working and not. One review that isn’t glowing probably doesn’t mean much; get four or five of the same comment, and it’s time to listen up.  Authors rely on reviews to help us sell our work, and so naturally , we hope for great reviews every time. Life in the real world doesn’t work that way, and most of us get that.

Back before Twilight became the megalithic monstrosity it is today, when you could walk down the street without seeing the likenesses of Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner brooding at you every three point seven inches, it started out as a book like any other. And like any other author, Stephenie Meyer relied on book reviews and word of mouth to get the word out about her work.

Now, I’m not weighing the relative merit (or lack thereof) of Twilight. Whether you’re a Twihard, a Twi-hater, or simply wish the last movie would drop so we can stop being bludgeoned with watered-down, overly angsty versions of vampires and werewolves, the fact remains that someone read the books. A LOT of someones. And those someones talked about it. They blogged it, Facebooked it, Tweeted it.

People tell people things. If I tell one person X, and they tell two people, and each of those two people tells two people . . . before long, you have a phenomenon. This is what authors count on when they publish their work: That word of mouth will attract new readers and hence more revenue, which in turn leads directly to the ability to write more work.

Reviewers and readers are the most powerful force in a writer’s universe.  Moreso than editors, beta readers, or even publishers. I say that because there’s only so much a writer can do. Or an editor. Or a publisher. Once the publisher rolls out “The Secret Lives Of Fruit Of The Looms” or whatever the next book is, it’s up to the author to push it and attract interest. But what keeps a good book rolling or dooms it to obscurity?

That’s right. Readers. And not just readers: readers who take the time to tell the author what they think about their work. People who tell others, either through word of mouth, on a blog post, or on a recognized review site, “Buy this book” or “don’t waste your time.”

You hear horror stories about authors who get into flame wars or outright pissing contests with reviewers when they don’t like what the reviewer has to say. In my experience, this is rare. Most writers, when confronted with a bad review, will either thank the reviewer politely for their honesty or say nothing at all.

At least, not publicly. Oh, sure, I may cry in my beer with a friend or two if it’s really THAT bad, but once I’m done, the only thing I’m likely to say in public is, “Thank you for taking the time to review XXX. I’m sorry it didn’t meet your standards, but I appreciate your honesty.” If I want to freak out, tear my hair, question the reviewer’s parentage, intelligence, humanity, or accuse them of having unnatural carnal relations with goats, I will. But I’ll do it privately, where NO ONE will hear about it.

So, with all that said: Readers, please. If you enjoy a story, take five minutes and let the author, and other readers, know. It takes only a few minutes out of your day to leave a comment on the author’s blog, a blurb on Amazon or the publisher’s website . . . hey, even a Tweet beats nothing! It’ll help make a writer’s day if nothing else, and you never know what might come of you sharing your thoughts about someone’s work.

And writers: Seriously. If you’re flaming reviewers because they had the audacity not to recognize that you really are the reincarnated greatness of Dickens, Hemingway, and Hammett all in one package . . . grow the hell up. Have a drink, have a pity party, do what you’re gonna do. But stop giving your fellow authors a bad name and making reviewers gun-shy about speaking their minds!

Just my own personal, folks. That and five bucks MIGHT get you coffee at Starbucks.

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne