Yearly Archives: 2018
I recently tried writing something new for me, a historical story. In fact, an early medieval story, set in the twelfth century.
In all my writing, I try hard to set the scene in my readers’ minds (yes, revealing my naked ambition by aspiring to multiple readers) by “painting” in what I hope is enough detail for their imaginations to fill in everything else they need to see the scene in their mind.
I blame being exposed to Len Deighton’s The Ipcress File at an impressionable age. But it’s a style I like for being economical and usually engaging.
But how can I imagine being there, watching my characters do their twelfth century … stuff?
Research? As a leisure-time writer with no access to academic libraries, opportunities for “proper” research are a bit restricted.
Yes, of course I used google for some things, but you need to have a good idea of what your real question is before you can figure out which hits are helpful answers.
Some answers are just pretty simple, of course, assuming we remember to ask ourselves “is this right?”
Not long ago, I read a novel set in the 1920’s, in which the main character produced a Glock pistol. A fine choice of weapon for self defence, I’m sure, but an implausible one… Glock wasn’t founded until 1963.
Want to set a scene in a fast-food restaurant in London in say 1970? McDonalds won’t open their first branch there for another four years.
Sometimes it’s kind of convenient to rely on other people’s research, particularly if you’re confident it’s reliable enough, and it looks pretty good.
I found a lot of helpful information in Ian Mortimer’s The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England. He’s a professional academic historian as well as an historical fiction writer, so has access to the right resources, and can probably even read Latin and Middle English. He wrote this book to help readers see the past as real rather than as history, describing what you might see and experience as a visitor to the period. It gave me some insight into how people lived, what they ate and wore, and about their world. He’s since written two similar books, covering the Elizabethan and Restoration periods.
And of course Dr Mortimer isn’t the only writer whose work we can benefit from, if only for some ideas and scene-dressing.
A few examples? Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose paints a vivid picture of a 14th century Italian monastery. Edith Pargeter (aka Ellis Peters) set her well-known Brother Cadfael murder mysteries in early 12th century Shrewsbury, in western England. Sarah Woodbury’s Gareth and Gwen mysteries are set in 12th century Wales, when it was still a separate country from Norman-ruled England, and Dublin was a Viking city. Or there are the Stanton and Barling mysteries, by EM Powell, again set in the 12th century, where the two main characters were the nearest thing the English justice system had to detectives.
There are factual TV shows and series which can help us “see” the past a little more clearly as a real time and place, particularly the “re-enacting” ones. There were several excellent British TV series about agricultural life in the past – the Tudor Monastery Farm, the Victorian Farm, the Edwardian Farm and the Wartime Farm (ie 1939-1945). The “supersizers” series by Giles Coren and Sue Perkins were factual entertainment about the history of food, including the two of them trying out things from the period, like clothing and historically accurate meals. It’s worth remembering our ancestors ate a far wider range of animals, birds and fish than we do. That wasn’t because these were notably tasty, more of an “eat it or go hungry” choice. I’ve read that swan tastes pretty awful.
I’ve read plenty of books (or listened to the audiobooks) which conveyed the period nicely for me. The Sherlock Holmes stories, written between 1887 and 1927, mentioned telegrams, daily postal services, messenger services, the introduction of telephones, and using frequent train services. The unrestricted access to opium and cocaine is surprising to modern readers, but both were readily available at the time, when it’s been estimated that a quarter of doctors were addicted to opium.
Other books I’ve enjoyed which were set in the early 1950’s in Britain described a time of post-war austerity, limited private car ownership, commonplace use of trains with helpful station staff (including porters), and, in some areas, telephone calls still connected via operators who might just be listening in.
On the other hand, books actually written in earlier periods may not be that helpful, as the authors expected their readers to at least be familiar with the world the characters lived in (eg Fielding, Austen, Hardy or Dickens).
What about old TV shows and films, from the 1920’s on? These might show regular life in the US before air conditioning – wiping the back of your neck with a handkerchief in summer – everyone wearing hats and other period fashions, steam engines in widespread use on the railways, horses and steam traction engines being used on farms, manual typewriters, rotary dial telephones, telex machines, card index systems, hot metal newspaper printing…
Some modern shows and movies made a big effort to create realistic-looking settings, and I thought Versailles, The Musketeers, Taboo, and Poldark certainly gave the impression of being true to period. The 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice with Matthew Macfadeyn and Keira Knightly was a notable hatchet job of the book which had some fabulous background details about life for the rural “comfortably-off” around 1800.
Although it’s primarily fantasy, there’s a lot of historical accuracy in the Game of Thrones world. Not the dragons, obviously, but the background details of life in a castle and so on.
The TV series Britannia ran rings around historical accuracy and even plausibility. But what the heck, it’s only a story.
I watched Die Hard the other night (my go-to Christmas film), made in 1988 complete with women’s “big hair” styles, clumsy-looking computer systems, CB radios, but no mobile phones. Richard Gere’s character in Pretty Woman (1990) had a mobile phone, which looks hilariously clunky today, like two house bricks. Even Dirty Dancing had a wealth of background detail you could study – the idea of annual month-long stays at the same stuffy resort centre, the entertainment, fashions, and manners.
It’s probably wise to resist overdoing your scene-setting. While you might be tempted to include things in the narrative like books or albums popular at the time, unless these are subjects discussed by the characters, it might come across as “telling”. Perfect incidental visual details in a TV show or film, though.
We may be fortunate in Britain with our long history, as we have some great places to visit which can help our imaginations. Neolithic constructions, iron-age hill forts, Roman forts and buildings, assorted castles and historic houses, and some decent museums…
The Weald and Downland Museum has more than forty historic buildings representing a thousand years of history. Blists Hill Victorian Town, operated by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, recreates a Victorian town for visitors, complete with a cast of re-enactors. The Beamish Open-Air Museum lets you glimpse industrial life in the northeast of England during the 19th and 20th centuries. I know the US has something similar at Colonial Williamsburg.
A lot of historic buildings and sites in Britain run events where visitors can meet re-enactors and get a brief glimpse of a version of the past, such as a medieval camp, or a Victorian mill or kitchen.
And then there are jousting displays and re-enacted battles and skirmishes, typically Viking or English Civil War. There are groups of enthiasts who do Roman, Napoleonic, Victorian and WW1 or WW2 military displays.
How about the large-scale annual Battle of Hastings rematch? Somehow, the bloody Normans always win, but maybe one year…
One thing we can’t get from these museums are some of the grim realities of even our recent past, which can be invaluable for the historical fiction writer. Dreadful poverty. The feudal system. Insanitary living conditions. A monotonous and limited diet. Frequent poor years for farming, with not infrequent famines. Thousands of people affected by ergotism. Half of children dying before the age of twenty-one. Huge numbers dying and suffering from disease, with no health or dental care, aggravated by malnutrition. Lives ruled by superstition and religion. The acceptance that the rich and noble were more important simply by right of birth. An almost matter-of-fact indifference to cruelty and suffering. Crusades, literal witch-hunts, wars, revolts and uprisings. The high death toll on long sea-journeys from disease, including an expected 50% from scurvy.
Or how about a disaster story set during one of the many fires which destroyed or severely damaged largely-wooden medieval European cities and towns? London had three great fires (1135, 1212 and 1666) and twelve major ones (two in Roman times, then in 675, 798, 892, 1087, 1130, 1132, 1220, 1227, 1299 and 1633). Lots of other towns and cities had similar incidents: google “list of town and city fires” and feel relief for modern building codes and well-equipped professional firefighters.
The past has all sorts of “detail” things which can help or hinder a writer, too. These are often overlooked for convenience in fiction.
Between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries, various European countries and the Massachusetts Bay Colony in America had “sumptuary laws”, restricting people’s choice of clothing. And fashions changed in the past almost as rapidly as today.
Religion and religious practices
In England, until the fifteenth century reformation, fast days (or meat-free days) occupied almost half the year – including every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and all of Lent. Vegetables, or if you were lucky, fish. The selection of vegetables available was surprisingly limited, too. And don’t forget that people then were generally incredibly devout and very superstitious compared to us.
As an example, for 200 years after the Norman Conquest of England, the general population spoke English, the ruling classes spoke Anglo-Norman and French, and very few of either group spoke the other’s language. Church services were conducted in Latin, of course. Legal cases could only be conducted in English from 1362, and the court switched to English by the end of the fourteenth century. By English I mean Middle English – check out Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” in the original text for a written form in the modern alphabet. And language use changed as fast in the past as it does today. There were also a wealth of local accents and dialects in all languages, some even more strikingly different from the norm than we have now.
Actually, language raises another question – dialogue. How closely do we follow what we think the speech styles would be in that period? It might sound perfect to someone from that time, but seems at best flowery and roundabout to us. How “realistic” does it need to be in order to convey a sense of the period? At the time, it was everyday language, after all.
Inevitably, there are a few books available to help those keen to write historical fiction.
Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders caught my attention when I perused Amazon, if only for the title. Historical Fiction Writing – A Practical Guide and Tool-Kit by Myfanwy Cook and Bernard Knight looks like a useful book, based on popular workshops Myfanwy has run. She’s a successful writer herself.
As with all other aspects of writing, there are no hard rules, only conventions. Even spelling’s just a convention, after all.
Readers who enjoy lots of historical fiction may well have expectations, so it’s probably worth becoming familiar with the genre or sub-genre you’re writing in.
Unless you’re writing an alternative history or steampunk, if you include significant factual details, do check them as best you can.
Other than that, well, have fun developing your ideas and writing your stories.
Oh, and do keep an eye open for intriguing historical discoveries. Spotting a mention of medieval underpants in a story might not actually be something to snigger about…
Oh, by the way, the comments I had back on my story from some of my collaborative critiquing group certainly left me feeling I’d got the “feel” right, which was rather nice to know. I’ve got some revisions to do, then I’ll see if I can get the story published.
by Ashley Lister
One of my favourite writing exercises comes from Jose Silva and Philip Miele, reiterated in Julia Casterton’s Creative Writing, a practical guide.
Close your eyes and sit quietly.
Bring into your inner field of vision – a lemon.
Examine it closely.
It is porous, with a little green dot in the middle of each pore.
Feel the knobbly cool surface.
Imagine a knife.
You are slicing the lemon in half.
You raise one half to your mouth and sink your teeth into it.
What has happened?
Casterton bets that anyone reading the description, and investing in the content, will find their salivary glands pumping at the stimulus of the description. Personally, I think she’s right because, even though I’ve shared this exercise with dozens of classrooms, it continues to make me drool in response to that fictional acidic rush of citrus juice.
And this is what we should be aiming to do with each aspect of description in our fiction. Description should be an immersion for the reader into the physicality of the storyworld. If a character is wielding a whip, we want our readers to flinch from each snap that it makes. If a character is enjoying a sensual massage, we want our readers to shiver with the tactile frisson of skin touching skin.
Description is where the magic happens in writing and it’s a skill that can best be developed through practice. As writers, we’re involved in a contract with the reader where we’re supposed to facilitate their suspension of disbelief. This is greatly helped when we present them with a world that seems so real they can experience it through their physical senses. And we achieve this by using exactly the right words with specificity, detail and sound symbolism.
Specificity: don’t tell your reader there are yellow flowers at the side of the road. Describe them as daffodils or dandelions or buttercups. It’s not a fast red car: it’s a scarlet Ferrari. It’s not a jaunty nineties pop song: it’s Britney singing, ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time.’ Notice how, in each of these examples, it’s easier to see or hear the more specific description.
Detail: in the example at the top of this page, we are shown the little green dot in the middle of each pore. I had never noticed this feature until I read the description and now I see it on every lemon I encounter. If you’re describing buttercups, tell your reader about the silky sheen on the inside of each petal; talk about the way the petals sit awkwardly together; or mention the icing-sugar dusting of pollen that coats the stamen in the centre of the flower.
Sound Symbolism: I was once engaged in a discussion with a publisher about which word was most appropriate to describe a type of glass: the snifter or brandy balloon. Snifter is the US name for this type of glass whilst balloon is the UK name. Being a UK writer, balloon was my go-to phrase when I described this in a story. However, the publisher suggested I reconsider the word and use snifter. Their argument made sense. The fiction was going to be published in the US and, as per my point above regarding specificity, it made sense to use the word readers would most easily recognise.
But I wanted to argue for holding onto balloon. The vowels in snifter, a short i and a concluding uh, don’t reflect the full rounded shape of the glass I was describing. Balloon, with that full final vowel sound and the association of roundness we have when we hear the word ‘balloon’ seemed more appropriate to my ear.
Description is a vital tool in our writing arsenal that can make readers feel as though we’ve spoken to them on a very personal level. With the careful use of specificity, detail and sound symbolism, we can ensure that the description we provide helps our readers to immerse themselves fully in our fiction.
It’s that time of year. Time for self-reflection. 2018 could have been a better year but that doesn’t matter since I have 2019 to look forward to. Some people are finishing off their NaNoWriMo books. Only three days left to get it together. I didn’t participate this year. I went to fewer public events mainly since I don’t have anything new out. Must rectify that.
Here is a list of 10 things I want to do to make 2019 a great year.
- Submit more short stories.
- Learn Italian.
- Finish my novel “Hell Time”.
- Go to more conventions especially since so many of them are only a short drive away.
- Write more thrillers and mysteries. I’m just getting started in those genres. They’re challenging but fun.
- Walk outside for exercise over winter. I now have the winter wear to do it.
- Find a home for my paranormal erotic romance with werewolves “Full Moon Fever”. And by home, I mean a reputable publisher that will market my book properly. I’ve considered self-publishing but I really don’t want to do that with this book.
- Publish “Happily Ever After: A Collection of Erotic Fairy Tales this winter or spring at the latest.
- Bake more sweets like cookies, brownies, and cakes. I already have crab soup in mind as well as turkey noodle soup.
- Make 2019 a much better year than 2018. 2018 sucked.
My list is writing-related. Even learning a new language, exercise, and baking. I do those things to broaden my scope and they clear my head so I may write well. I usually meet my yearly goals with maybe one hiccup.
2019 is going to be a good year.
So what about you? What are your resolutions or do you not have anything in mind?
Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, horror, and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and her two cats.
Web site: http://elizabethablack.blogspot.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/elizabethblack
Warning Non-PC Message Follows
One of the first things you realize about Las Vegas, a.k.a. Sin City, is vanity and show. Nowhere else in the world, except maybe on Rodeo Drive will you find as many boob jobs and fancy cars prowling the streets.
Being in the Lifestyle, it’s common to see women who’ve had some work done, as the saying goes but here everywhere you go they are in your face. We moved to Vegas from the mid-west, where things move at a much slower pace, and the women and cars are much plainer except maybe my wife, but she’s an exception. I had to throw that in, or she’d be pissed.
Our plastic surgeon friend Doctor Jim and his demo wife are a typical example. I doubt if there is an original part on her body except for maybe her heels, and nicely rounded they are. For a fortyish MILF Hotwife, she has the best body money can buy, and she even gets an employee discount.
He keeps telling me that a couple of 500cc implants would fill Wifey out nicely but I’m terrified that something will go wrong. Plus, I’m more of a leg guy than a boob guy and like her just the way she is. This is laughable in several ways, two of our closest girlfriends (a.k.a. Unicorns) have ginormous hooters, one real and one not. But, I love them for their minds!
Here you go to the grocery store, and it’s all you can do to not get an eye poked out. One of our neighbors is a dancer at a local gentleman’s club. She’s a little Asian who is so top heavy I don’t understand why she doesn’t fall over when she stands up. She told me that a big rack is worth at least $50K a year and I can believe her. We men are so easy to manipulate, show me your tits and I’ll follow you anywhere!
She’s one of the few dancers I’ve ever known with a decent brain and doesn’t just stuff her money up her nose or give it to a drug-addicted boyfriend, who is jobless and plays in a band. She owns five houses and drives a new Denali. Plus, she just gave her boyfriend a new Infinity. She’s 28 and at the tail end of her career. She figures that she will last maybe another five years, so she’s already planning for retirement.
In Vegas, strippers/dancers have to pay to work, and it costs every girl typically one-hundred dollars a night to work. What other profession makes you pay to come to work? It just shows how much money passes through the typical club. You hear stories all the time of bouncers who drag an indebt customer to the ATM so he can get money to pay off the dancers and not suffer a broken leg.
There was a big lawsuit, a couple of years ago, about a guy from Kansas who was beaten up so bad that he’s now partially paralyzed and won a settlement for several million dollars from the club. So let that be a lesson to you, make sure you have enough money to pay for that lap dance beforehand.
Now that we’re in Sin City, we seldom go to a strip club as they are not the same. Back home, clubs were much friendlier, with less high pressure. We knew a lot of the dancers, and they would often come to our house parties. One girl, Linda, looked exactly like my wife, close enough to be twins, and they always told people that they were sisters (incestuous sisters at that)!
Another thing you’ll notice is that everyone drives a Mercedes, Beemer, or other fancy set of wheels. A business associate of mine drives a new blue Mercedes GLC, and I know for a fact that she’s spending a big chunk of her paycheck for her ride. I like to have a nice car, but I don’t need to spend the majority of my pay for one. Wifey has a red Lexus ES350, but I have simpler tastes and have downgraded from my usual Suburban to a Honda CRV EX-L.
Foxy is extremely outgoing and as my Mom says, “Would talk to a fence post.” We hadn’t been in town long before she met two women on the Strip, who are prime examples of Vegas excesses. One girl drives an SL class Mercedes convertible and the other a beautiful baby blue Bentley. They are both a product of too much money and too much free time but I love them both, and so far they’ve kept my wife somewhat out of trouble.
So if you ever consider moving to Sin City, put enough money aside for a boob job and a nice set of wheels.
Changes at SmashWords
The other thing in the news is that SmashWords has redone their site and hopefully it doesn’t screw up author’s sales too badly. Now what you see is about a 100-pixel wide cover image along with the story title and author’s name. The description is gone and allows the prospective reader to see more stories at a glance as they scroll horizontally.
I browsed the section on Men’s Erotica – Best Sellers and found five or six of my stories, so at least for me, I’m currently happy. SmashWords has published over 500,000 stories, which is amazing in itself after being in business for ten years.
They’ve changed their search and ranking algorithms and only time will tell how that works out. There’s a nice blog posting by Mark Coker on what they did. You can now make better choices on what you see or don’t see on their site, which hopefully will make readers happy and less offended by our smut.
Up until the last couple of months, about two-thirds of my meager author’s income came from SmashWords and their down market. But recently Amazon is running three or four times my SmashWords bucks. The only explanation I have is my latest two stories were released narrow and in Kindle Unlimited. So far it doesn’t seem to have hurt my SmashWords sells as my SW volume is up about 20% over average, but I need to finish up some stories that I can publish wide to keep my dogs in Blue Buffalo.
My last new novel, House Party, an 85,000-word novel of pretty much nonstop F’ing and S’ing was published narrow at Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. Previously, I’d poo-pooed distributing solely through Kindle and Kindle Unlimited, but have been amazed at my sales. While I don’t know how sales would have gone through SmashWords, they’ve been great at Amazon. House Party was released the first week of October, and for the next four to six weeks, my author’s rating has averaged below 1,000 and all the way down to a little over 100. The first couple of weeks, my author’s rating was in the 100-300 bracket. House Party hit a high best sellers rank of 30 in Erotica – Mystery & Erotica – Thrillers, and is the first story I’ve ever written that the best sellers rank was below a 100 and the story stayed in double digits for a long time.
While I haven’t ranted about it, I am amazed at the number of four-letter words in the titles of stories at SmashWords. I write strictly stoke material but would never use “fuck” or “cunt” in a story title. My stories are as dirty as the next pervert, but I do have my limits. Mark Coker of SmashWords is to be commended on his allowing the most juvenile of story titles to be published without complaint.
Several months ago, SmashWords implemented a voluntary categorizing of story content. When you publish a story (and previous ones), you have a checklist of about 10 categories that you answer a Yes/No question to things like “Does the story include screwing your Mother?”
At first, there was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth at the conspiracy theories about what Mark was really up to. I could see their point to try and maximize distribution while not offending those publishers with sensitive tastes.
So far, it doesn’t seem to have changed anything, but then my smut doesn’t usually involve large groups and Vaseline. Well, maybe the Vaseline and possibly the groups but you know what I mean.
The thing I love about SmashWords is they don’t nickel and dime you about story content or the cover image. I hate it when Amazon throws one of my stories into the dungeon, and I have to spend the next couple of weeks on my knees begging for forgiveness. Which usually means that I miss half of my maximum sales month.
Your first 30-days days at Amazon are typically when you sell the most copies because, after a month, you can watch the stories rating drop as Amazon starts to favor newer released stories. Plus, you are never told why you got dinged beyond vague hints as to what was offensive. While I write stroke porn primarily, I still try and meet Amazon’s restrictions. Then, when I get put on the cross down in the dungeon, it really pisses me off.
If you haven’t tried it, Amazon’s new beta report for sales and Kindle Unlimited pages read is pretty cool. It looks like they’ve been watching “Book Report” and have tried to emulate their reporting. There are two main pages, one for sales and one for pages read. I’ve posted a shot of each to give you a flavor of what they look like.
This is the sales page at: https://kdpreports.amazon.com/reports/sales
This screenshot is of the Kindle Unlimited pages read: https://kdpreports.amazon.com/reports/kenpc
This is the beta version of the new sales reporting tool and looks pretty sold so far. The report breaks down sales in a number of ways for all of you anal bean counters out there. The new report presents most of the things Book Report offers. The nice thing about Book Report as it gives you dollar sales figures for today, this month, last month, last 30-days etc. so it’s easy to see how your smut is going over with your adoring audience and when you’ll be able to afford your next lap dance.
Book Report is free and you can grab a copy here: https://www.getbookreport.com/ I think they start charging you for it after your sales hit $1,000 bucks a month, so for me, it’s a freebie.
I’m writing this month’s post on the Wednesday before Turkey Day and am sitting in the parking lot of a casino waiting for Foxy to emerge with her free bottle of liquor. When you have a casino player’s card, one of the regular inducements is free gifts to reward you for stuffing money in a slot machine or throwing it on the craps/poker table.
Wifey plays Texas Hold-Em primarily and does reasonably well at it, but I make it a point to never try and figure out what it costs me to keep her entertained. I am a firm believer in what you don’t know won’t hurt you.
If you run out of something to do, check out my blog at LarryArcher.blog for my latest theories on world domination and lesser topics. As most of the author’s on ERWA, I’m a writer of erotic literature, and my typical fare is primarily what’s called stroke porn for those of you with more base urges. Remember to think of me when you take yourself in hand!
See you next month on the 24th.
Authors have been using pseudonyms for almost as long as publishing has existed, for various reasons. Victorian George Eliot reportedly chose a male pseudonym because no one would have taken her literary creations seriously if they knew she was a woman. J.K. Rowling wrote her crime novel The Cuckoo’s Calling as Robert Galbraith, to avoid contamination from her Harry Potter fame. Male authors of romance sometimes choose a female-sounding pen name to deal with the widely-held notion that men can’t write romantic fiction. Likewise, women writing thrillers may opt for a masculine or gender-neutral pen name. Many authors who write in multiple genres use different pen names for each, with the goal of building separate brands and reducing reader confusion.
Of course, for those of us who write sexually explicit material, a pseudonym may be more than just a convenience or a tool for maximizing sales. There’s a good reason why so many erotic works are attributed to the prolific Anonymous. In some countries, creating and selling erotic content is literally a crime. Even in nations that supposedly guarantee free speech, society often treats erotic authors or artists as psychologically deviant or dangerous to youth. We walk a fine line almost everywhere. Staying on the safe side of the law, avoiding being stigmatized or black listed, almost always requires that we publish under a false name. Furthermore, it’s essential that we keep our true identities secret from all but the narrowest group of trusted individuals where disclosure cannot be avoided, such as our publishers or accountants. Even our families may not be aware of our hidden lives as purveyors of the prurient.
Unfortunately, technology has made the preservation of anonymity almost impossible, and the situation is getting worse all the time. Back in 2012 I wrote a series of columns for ERWA called “Naughty Bits: The Erotogeek’s Guide for Technologically-Challenged Authors”. (You can download the entire series as a free ebook here.) One of those columns discussed some of the measures you can take to protect your identity and your privacy. Everything I said in that article is still true. However, even if you adhere to all my suggestions, you are still at significant risk.
Since 2012, computers have gotten even better at learning patterns and making connections between seemingly disparate items buried in huge amounts of data. You may see this discussed in the media under the general headings of “Big Data Analytics”, “Deep Learning” or “AI” – Artificial Intelligence. In fact, there’s not much real intelligence behind these processes, just extremely effective algorithms for sifting through massive amounts of information to discover previously hidden structure. These algorithms were already being explored in 2012, but there have been two important changes since then:
- Computers have become faster and cheaper than ever, and these high powered computational capabilities are available to anyone via commercial cloud services.
- The explosion of mobile applications and digital services has made nearly everyone’s data footprint a lot larger than it was in 2012.
Almost all these computational methods have the property that they become increasingly powerful and accurate as the size of their input data sets grows. Privacy through obscurity is a thing of the past.
As a consequence of these developments, even digital activity that you undertake anonymously (for instance, without logging in) can be easily linked to a well-known identity. This is a significant issue for responsible research. For instance, sensitive medical records used to investigate lifestyle correlates of health problems may be stripped of all personal identification (“anonymized”) to meet privacy restrictions. However, it has been demonstrated repeatedly that by combining multiple anonymized data sets, individual identities can be recovered.
Researchers may view this as a problem. Businesses see it as an enormous opportunity. Personalized, targeting marketing is demonstrably more effective than broadly designed, generic efforts. The more a business knows about you, the more they can influence you — not just what you buy, but how you think about them, how you talk about them, what you share with your friends. Meanwhile the data sets available to business becomes broader, richer and more informative every day,
Do you want a demonstration? Go to Google image search, https://images.google.com. You might not have realized that you don’t need to use keywords for image searching. If you click on the camera icon, you can search using a picture as the search key.
Click on the camera, then put the following into the URL box:
Then click on “Search by Image”. The results are labeled as “domestic short-haired cat” and many similar photos show up on the results page, as well as articles about cats.
You may think this is a bit crude (most of the cats don’t have double paws, like mine did!), but it’s only going to improve over time. How long do you think it will be before it’s possible to find every personal selfie you’ve ever posted? (My estimate: two years from now.)
If you use Facebook, here’s something else to try. Login to Facebook. Then in another browser tab, go to a hotel booking site such as Booking.com. Don’t log in (if you have an account), but search for hotels in San Francisco, and click on a few results to look at the details.
I’m willing to bet that within the next twenty four hours, Facebook will be showing you travel ads about San Francisco.
Now, maybe you don’t care. Maybe you want to see ads that reflect your current interests, even if that means that the different sites or apps you use are exchanging information without your explicit permission. If you’re an erotica author who uses a private pseudonym, though, I’d guess that you don’t want Google or Facebook connecting the dots between your author persona and your real world identity, revealing to your boss or your students or your church congregation that you’re actually Lulu Pinkcheeks, award-winning author of spanking erotica.
So what can you do about this? How can you reduce the risks?
I’m assuming you’re already following my recommendations from the earlier article. If not, start there. Below you’ll find additional precautions you should take, now that it’s nearly 2019.
Maintain separate login credentials for every site or digital service you use. Do not ever use a social media account (Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to log in to a third party site.
Never maintain two accounts on the same social media platform, one for your real world identity and one for your author identity. In the real world, I use Facebook and LinkedIn. I don’t have an account on either as Lisabet. On the other hand, as an author I use Pinterest and Twitter.
Use a completely different computer for your writing-related work than you do for your other work. This may seem extreme, but today’s browsers and applications save large amounts of contextual information which can be used to link your two identities. Using separate computers also reduces the risk of errors, e.g sending an email from your author identity to someone in your real-world contact list.
You might be thinking, “I don’t have the money for multiple computers.” In fact, what I do is to use different virtual machines A virtual machine acts like a totally separate computer (and can have a different operating system than your native computer), but shares the hardware with its host machine. An additional advantage of virtual machines is the ability to have them reset back to a known state every time you shut them down. This can also help protect against malware.
By the way, the recommendation above also applies to your mobile devices. Don’t mix real world and author accounts, data or business on one device. In fact, mobile devices are significantly more vulnerable to data leaks and data theft than desktop devices, because the mobile network protocols are less secure and because app stores do not investigate or stringently police violations of privacy by the apps they host. (I can provide references to support this claim if you don’t believe it.)
Consider encrypting your author-related files. “Encryption” is a process that protects your data from being understood by malicious third parties, by translating it into a form that cannot be read by anyone without the encryption key. It’s comparable to keeping your information in a secret code. You can set up your computer so that it encrypts the full contents of a disk whenever the machine shuts down. This protects you if your computer is lost or stolen.
Consider using an anonymizing service. One problem that will remain, even if you use different computing devices as recommended above, is that your public IP address—the unique number that identifies you on the Internet—will very likely remain the same regardless of which computer or virtual machine you use, since this comes from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Thus it is possible to connect activity from the two different machines. Furthermore, your IP address will often tell an Internet application where you are located, since different countries are allocated different blocks of addresses.Anonymizing browsers, such as TOR, solve this problem by relaying your communications through different servers, to hide your actual IP address and location.
By now your head is probably aching. “I don’t want to worry about this,” you’re thinking. “It sounds so inconvenient!” You’re completely right.
In fact, increased convenience is one of the ways we’re seduced into giving away our personal data. It’s far more convenient to use your Facebook login than to create (and manage) a new account for each new website or service you use. It’s more convenient to wave your phone in front of reader and deduct money from your digital wallet than to carry cash or a credit card, even though you’re at much greater risk of being hacked. You might find it more comfortable to keep your mobile GPS location service enabled all the time, so you can quickly do online navigation, even though that means that your detailed movements are being tracked and saved.
Trying to maintain your anonymity is inconvenient. It takes thought and work. However, for me, living in a foreign country with stringent anti-pornography laws, the alternative is too dangerous to risk.
By the way, you may think I’m paranoid, but as it happens I’m a computer professional in real life. I can provide solid documentation for all the claims I’ve made in this article. Just get in touch.
It’s been a while since you treated yourself to a night in the district. Work’s been busy and you’ve been watching your pennies. You know enough to go equipped with the proper change: a dollar to treat the girls in the parlor with wine, four quarters for the mechanical piano, a two-dollar bill for the girl you take upstairs, and two fifty-cent pieces for “extras.” You’ll see your Maker before you see them make proper change for any service in brothel.
Still, your blood is warming with thoughts about what lies ahead tonight. Since it’s been a while, why not splurge on a good two-dollar house where the girls are guaranteed to be pretty? You have your standards—those fifty-cent cribs are just too damned sad and it’s all over in five minutes. On the other extreme, well, they say the places that cater to the city fathers put on circuses where the girls do things God never intended for a decent man or woman at a ticket price of three months of a working man’s wages. That’s a sauce too rich for the likes of you. Good, fresh bread and butter will serve your hunger tonight.
Your favorite house has a parlor that reminds you of home. Neat and comfortable, except of course, back home you wouldn’t find three or four pink-cheeked girls lounging around in lacy negligees. The maid asks if you’d like to treat the girls to some wine, and you hand over that dollar-bill for a glass all around, because otherwise you won’t get your pick. You sit on the sofa and joke with the girls for a minute or two. They tell you their names: Violet, Lulu, Marguerite, and Maisie. You wonder what their real names are as you give a false name for yourself. Not that you have anyone at home to worry about. It’s part of the game.
One of those quarters starts up the mechanical piano, and you have a turn on the floor with the blonde on the loveseat. She presses herself against you and whispers in your ear that she can take you to heaven and, my, is she jonesing to be alone with a handsome fellow like you, the best-looking gentleman to walk in the door all evening. Now your blood is really running hot, but you want to give that brunette a try, the one lounging against the pillow with her stockings exposed. She has a mighty fine leg, if you do say so yourself. She called herself “Marguerite,” if you recall correctly. After a glass of that cheap wine, your head’s a bit fuzzy and you wonder if they put something in it.
Now this girl Marguerite is a handful, warm and buxom in your arms, but it’s what she’s crooning in your ear that tells you she’s the one tonight. It’s a dirty ditty about a man and a maid frolicking in the bedroom, a trip around the world with Frenching and doing it through the backdoor the “Italian way.” It’s just words, but she sure seems like a wild one. You decide to keep your two extra quarters from that hungry piano and take this gal upstairs. There’s always another night to sample the others.
Marguerite walks languidly up the stairs and you follow, admiring her lacy, hourglass form from behind. She leads you into a boudoir, turns the gas on low. She looks mighty pretty in the soft glow. You just want to gaze for a while. She seems to understand, for she stands there and smiles. The new girls are always in such a hurry. Marguerite clearly knows how to read customer.
You place the two-dollar bill on the nightstand. Her eyes sparkle.
“Say, Johnny, you seem like the kind of gentleman who likes undressing a girl for himself. It’s only a little bit extra.”
There goes one of those fifty-cent pieces. The girls usually keep their stockings on and you really want see her legs bare.
You promise yourself you’ll take it slow, but your hands are shaking and impatient, and she’s standing there just the way God made her in no time flat. She gestures for you to take off your shoes and trousers, which is all they’ll have in these places. Then comes the examination—a good, hard squeeze of your privates to see if you’re healthy. After that, a quick wash with water mixed with a purple tincture that’s supposed to keep the clap away.
She looks up at you, wash cloth in hand. Such a wicked gleam in her eyes. “Now you strike me as a fellow who likes a little adventure. Like maybe a cowgirl ride?”
The two-fifty on the table becomes three. She gestures for you to lie down on the bed. You don’t usually do it this way, and you’re excited at the thought of having her on top. You can see more that way and you like to look. With a sly smile, she climbs on the mattress. What she does next surprises you. She turns and mounts you with her back to you. Now that is a nice view. She rides you, up and down, slower than most girls, to your delight.
“Now, darling, wouldn’t you like me to turn around so you can see?”
Well damned if you don’t. She sees right through you. The two extra quarters will join the rest on the nightstand when you’re through.
Sensing she’s gotten everything she can, Marguerite pulls off, pivots and settles down facing you. And yes, right then, you’re glad for the “extra” look.
But then she does what they all do in the end. She takes over so you can hardly tell right from left or day from night and you finish faster than you’d like, because to be honest, you want this part to last all night.
In a wink, you find yourself back in your trousers and out on the street, pockets empty. Not half an hour has passed since you walked into the parlor. All things said and done, though, Marguerite gave you a pretty good time as those things go.
You see a fellow wandering past, glancing back and forth in awe. You guess he’s a stranger in this city. Some girl is going to give him a good fleecing tonight, although he looks a bit down in the heel, so she may not get much. Maybe he’s headed for the cribs where fifty cents will get you all of five minutes of heaven. You’ve heard some of those places have a secret panel on the back wall, so that while you’re at your business, the pimp can reach in and steal your wallet. Some even filch a man’s pants and boots to pawn, or so they say, and the poor rube has to go home barefoot in his drawers.
Greenhorns get wise soon enough.
You take the streetcar back to your boardinghouse, pour yourself a glass of whisky, and lie back on your single bed. It’s then your thoughts turn melancholy. Marguerite satisfied you in one way, for sure, but you’re still yearning for something more. More time, more laughter, better still, a feeling that you aren’t alone in the world. Maybe you’ll find a girl who will give you all of that some day. Maybe you’ll find her in the district, take her out of that life and marry her, make her respectable. You think of that imaginary girl lying beside you now, warm and smiling, with your whole life to spend together.
But why waste your time on something that isn’t real?
You think about having another whisky, but you’ve got work tomorrow, bright and early. A man’s got to earn a living.
This sketch of a working man’s evening in a middle-class parlor house was inspired by descriptions in Al Rose’s Storyville, New Orleans: Being an Authentic, Illustrated Account of the Notorious Red-Light District and Ruth Rosen’s The Lost Sisterhood: Prostitution in America, 1900-1918.
The photograph of Marguerite Griffin by Ernest Belloq is also from Storyville, New Orleans. If you’re interested in red-light districts in the early twentieth century, I recommend a copy of this evocative reference of a time gone by for your library!
The subject of this blog post was suggested because my turn to contribute to Editing Corner came just after I’d finished writing a story about a couple who invite other men into their home. Or, to be more accurate, who invite other men into their home to have sex with the wife while the husband watches.
It’s certainly not a new theme for stories, and psychologists can explain for hours how this is something that goes all the way back to our primitive ancestors. They’ll quote theories about ‘sperm competition’ and sex-mad bonobos, and tell us it’s all perfectly understandable behaviour.
The aforementioned story involves a fictitious couple called Harry and Michelle.
In the prequel, Michelle discovered that she enjoyed casual sex with other men, and her husband Harry discovered (much to his surprise) that he actually enjoyed watching it happen. There’s nothing new in that plot-line, and it’s been a well-used template in works of erotica for many years.
So, the scenario we’re talking about is a couple inviting another man to have sex with the wife. But, who should she choose…?
If Michelle had driven a Fiat Punto for ten years and was offered the chance to take something else for a test-drive, she’d want to upgrade. Something a bit flashy, with more power. Something bigger.
So, Michelle found herself a man with more to offer.
Michelle had become a hotwife.
Hotwife – Definition: a married woman who has sexual relationships with other men, typically with the consent of her husband.
Another term often attributed to ladies like Michelle is a slut-wife.
Although the word ‘slut’ is a vulgar term used to describe a woman considered by others to have loose sexual morals, it has a less offensive meaning within the hotwife alternative marriage community, referring to women who have chosen a non-monogamous lifestyle. Slut-wives can openly take on multiple partners and are not shamed for this choice, and their husbands approve of their promiscuity. So Michelle is also a slut-wife.
Harry likes to watch, so he’s a voyeur, right?
Voyeur – Definition: a person who gains sexual pleasure from watching others when they are naked or engaged in sexual activity.
But Harry is more precise than any normal Peeping Tom (there’s a joke about Tom, Dick and Harry crying out to be told here…)
Harry doesn’t get off on watching just anybody have sex: he gets off on watching his wife have sex, which makes him a wife-watcher.
Wife-watcher – Definition: A man who gains sexual pleasure from watching his wife have sex with another partner.
The term that’s most synonymous with this behaviour in erotica is cuckold.
It’s an old word, and this is what is says in the Oxford Reference:
Cuckold – Definition: The husband of an adulteress, often regarded as an object of derision, ultimately derived from Old French cucu ‘cuckoo’, from the cuckoo’s habit of laying its egg in another bird’s nest.
In fetish usage, a cuckold is complicit with the partner’s ‘infidelity’. But there’s more to it than that. As far as cuckoldry goes, the primary urge for the cuckold is to be humiliated. Psychology regards the cuckold fetish as a variant of sadomasochism. Freudian analysis sees it as eroticisation of the fears of infidelity and inadequacy. Some cuckolds don’t need to be present during the deed, and are happy to wait for their hotwife to return and describe her evening’s events in explicit detail.
The fetish only works if the cuckold enjoys the humiliation and degradation that accompanies his wife’s ‘infidelity’. If the husband doesn’t enjoy all of the humiliation and degradation, then he is not a cuckold.
Before the hotwife and cuckold can participate in their sordid shenanigans, they need something else. They need a ‘prop’. A big, thick, meaty prop. Yip, you guessed it. They need the person to have sex with the hotwife while the husband watches…
This man is known as the bull.
Bull – Definition: Within the context of cuckolding, a bull is a sexually dominant male who has sex with a married woman with her husband’s consent.
Bulls are typically good looking, confident, and well hung—which helps them satisfy women sexually in ways their loyal husbands can’t. Being a bull can be gratifying for men interested in sex rather than relationships. However, men looking for deeper connections may be disappointed and start feeling objectified by being a bull.
If you look at any cuckolding sites, the first thing you’ll notice is how many of the bulls are black. There are countless pictures of white women being pleasured by black men. The majority of these pictures have been taken by the husbands. Terms like BBC (big black cock) and Alpha are emblazoned over the pages of these sites.
Returning to my fictitious couple…
The hotwife has a loving husband and a series of ‘bulls’ to satisfy her womanly needs. For Michelle, life is good. She wants her husband to enjoy it as much as she does, and so she checks out cuckolding forums and chat rooms. She sees all the things that cucks love — denial, chastity, restraint, humiliation.
So she goes online and buys him a cock-cage, then informs him he’ll only be allowed to have sex when she thinks he deserves it. She lets him perform clean-up, which is exactly what it sounds like — using his tongue to clean up the mess the bull has deposited inside her during sex. Yip, Michelle is living the dream.
But for Harry, things seem to be going a little off-script. While there is no denying the thrill of watching his wife being used by the well-endowed bulls, he’s frustrated that she’s now off-limits to him. The cock-cage means he has to use a cubicle every time he takes a pee in the pub or at work, and he never gets the opportunity to give himself a four-finger-shuffle to ease the pressure.
And then there’s clean-up. He knew it was what she wanted—and he loved her—so he did it. Now she’s pushing him further; a pegging from her strap-on, contact with the bull, and worse. What started out for Harry as a sexy, wife-watching adventure is becoming a bit of a nightmare.
Maybe Harry isn’t really a cuckold, after all…
So, what do you call a guy who enjoys all the voyeuristic pleasure of wife-watching without the humiliation part of being a cuck? He, I’m reliably informed, is a stag.
Stag – Definition: A dominant monogamous husband who shares his wife with other men without any humiliation. It turns him on to see her receive pleasure
The wife of a stag is called a vixen.
Vixen – Definition: A shared hotwife who does not degrade or humiliate her husband. Instead, she uses her play to turn him on.
Also, a stag/vixen encounter doesn’t preclude the husband being involved. As well as watching, he might eventually join in with his partner and another man rather than enjoying being excluded.
Before I started writing the second book, I contacted a couple of people who are in the lifestyle to ask if they’d answer some questions for me. The lady is a hotwife, and the guy describes himself as a ‘wife-watcher’ rather than a cuckold. They’re unrelated and, as far as I know, they don’t know one another.
I knew where I wanted my story to go and put forward the scenarios I intended to include, along with a lot of general questions about the lifestyle. Their willingness to answer all of my sordid questions has hopefully given my story a feeling of authenticity.
They were incredibly open with their answers, and it soon became apparent that they were at opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to the ‘hotwife’ fetish. But what was also apparent was how strong their relationships are. They’re both in normal, loving relationships with their respective spouses. Both have families and jobs and regular lives.
The only difference between them and millions of other couples is that every once in a while they spice up their sex-life by including a third party. There is no jealousy, no bitterness, and certainly no seeing the other man without the husband being told. Both relationships work on total trust.
There are numerous sites where couples and bulls advertise their availability, and also chat rooms for them to ‘meet’ and discuss their preferences.
Many hotwives wear an anklet as a way of letting people know they’re in the wife-sharing alternative marriage lifestyle. This piece of jewellery is designed to show that the married woman’s husband is giving other men permission to talk to her with the knowledge that she may go a lot further than just talking.
Others have tattoos in prominent places (ankle, wrist) or not-so prominent places. A Queen of Spades tattoo signifies a woman who is looking specifically for a black man to have sex with.
I think of cuckold/hotwife and stag/vixen couples as two different examples of wife-sharing. I’ve seen this term listed as being synonymous with wife-swapping (swinging), but to me, the two are different.
The primary driving force of wife-sharing is that the husband gets sexual enjoyment from seeing his wife with another man. He gets pleasure from seeing her pleasure. It’s like he’s so proud of his possession that he wants to show her off. With wife-swapping, the primary driving force is that both partners want to experience sex with someone else.
Some people who start off as swingers may realise that the biggest thrill for the husband is watching his wife with another man. Conversely, some couples who go down the wife-sharing route may find that once in a while, the husband wants to experience contact with another woman as well. I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules. Each couple is different, and they’re perfectly entitled to have a change to the routine every now and then. But for the most part, the husband in a wife-sharing relationship is monogamous. He only desires his wife.
Though aware that wife-sharing was a popular fantasy, I was surprised when I first started my research at the sheer number of people actually participating in the lifestyle. I’ve read that the divorce rates between couples within the wife-sharing community are much lower than those between regular couples, and I’m pretty sure that this is also true of couples within the swinging community.
I’m told that it is imperative that you are honest with each other, and that you have a clear understanding of each other’s desires and limits. For any couples considering dipping their toes in the wife-sharing pool, it would be beneficial for you both to talk it through and discuss what it is you’re both hoping to get out of it.
For Harry and Michelle, that lack of communication caused problems that could easily have been avoided. But then, all stories need a little conflict, so I didn’t have them discussing what worked for them until halfway through Book 2.
Basically, if you’re thinking about writing a story around a wife-sharing scenario, then you have to decide if the husband is going to be a cuckold or a stag.
The nice thing is, he can be anywhere between the two extremes. And since it’s your story, you can decide what each half of the couple wants out of the arrangement and give your story an interesting dynamic as well lashings of fulfilling sex.
by Ashley Lister
When writers discuss writing, most are happy to talk about character and point of view. Narrative tension and description are always good for an interesting debate. And the pros and cons of authenticity in dialogue always makes for stimulating conversation. But the subject of plot seems to have a polarising effect on writers. Plot, it’s fair to say, can be considered a four-letter word.
I’m aware that some writers define themselves as plotters, and others as pantsers, but I think the truth for all of us is that we live somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. Some stories demand to be written without a moment’s consideration for structure. Other stories, regardless of how strongly a writer identifies as a pantser, need to be constructed with some acknowledgement of structure.
I’ll admit to having written stories after considering structure, but I’ve also written stories without giving structure a second thought. More importantly, I’ve gone back to stories that didn’t seem to work on the first draft, and I’ve been able to save them from the recycle bin with the application of some plotting principles. This month I want to talk about Aristotle.
Aristotle said every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. I’m paraphrasing but this is how most people interpret his wisdom. And this really is wisdom. The beginning is where all the stuff goes that needs to be in the beginning. This is where we meet all the important characters. This is where we discover what’s at stake in the story, where the story is set, and who we are going to follow. If it’s important to your story, it needs to be introduced in the beginning.
The end is where everything is tied up. Or not. However you want to conclude your story, however you have to conclude your story, this is where the happy ever after begins, or the monster is defeated, or the villain begins to atone for his sins. These things can’t go in the middle or at the beginning. They have to go at the end.
Which means the middle is where all the fun stuff should go. If you’re writing an erotic story, this is where your characters get to bang like New Year fireworks. If you’re writing a horror story, this is where the blood, guts, gore and scares all make their appearance. This is the part that takes your reader on the exciting journey from the beginning to the end.
All of which looks fairly straightforward. I can imagine you’re sitting in front of your computer now thinking, “Thanks for telling me stories have a beginning, middle and end, Ashley. I hadn’t already worked that out.”
But this is a truth that we often overlook and, when we’re tidying up stories, it’s worth considering the structure to see if we’ve adhered to this simple principle. Are you bringing in characters later in the story who are vital to the plot? Is this fair on your reader? Is this upsetting the balance of the story? Does your conclusion happen too early?
As I said earlier, I’m not trying to get people to be plotters if they want to write as pantsers. I’m just trying to make sure everyone knows about the way a little consideration of plot can sometimes help us all to improve the stories we produce.
Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, horror, and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and her two cats.
Web site: http://elizabethablack.blogspot.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/elizabethblack
A Facebook friend of mine made a post where she asked for names of non-scary movies for Halloween. She wanted nothing super scary, no slashers, and no gore. I thought that was the perfect idea for this month’s ERWA post – The Halloween Edition.
I love a good horror movie, but my husband doesn’t so I try to find movies I think he’d like, especially this time of year when I find classics on TV that we both can watch. I also like paranormal romances which are perfect for the Halloween season. We both enjoyed Shaun of the Dead and Army of Darkness which are comedies. Ghost is another favorite and that one is a paranormal romance popular with romance lovers. Romance and paranormal lovers don’t have to feel left out this season just because they don’t like slasher movies and the like. There is plenty out there to enjoy.
Here is a list of Halloween movies for people who don’t like gory movies full of jump scares. There are romances here, some comedies and some black and white classics.
- The Nightmare Before Christmas – The King of Christmas wants that holiday to be like Halloween. Animated. Jack, the male lead, also likes Sally, the female lead.
- The Witches Of Eastwick – Three women stand up to Jack Nicholson. A fun film.
- The Haunting – This is the 1963 black and white movie, not the new Netflix TV series although the series is excellent. The TV series is entitled The Haunting of Hill House so that you don’t get confused. Based on the novel by Shirley Jackson. Could be scary but it’s atmospheric and psychological. Avoid the 1999 remake. It’s abysmal.
- The Sixth Sense – Tear jerker of a paranormal.
- Practical Magic – A witch movie that is about love and family.
- Shaun of the Dead – British laugh out loud zombie comedy.
- What We Do In The Shadows – New Zealand laugh out loud vampire comedy.
- Young Frankenstein – The ultimate American horror comedy. Frau Blucher! Whinny! LOL
- E. T. – Takes place at Halloween. E. T. phone home!
- Gremlins – Don’t get them wet, keep them out of the light, and don’t feed them after midnight. Has a few genuinely scary moments but overall a fantasy with comic elements.
- Topper – Constance Bennett and Cary Grant as a married, ghostly couple. Another comedy. Black and white from the 1930s.
- Arsenic and Old Lace – Another Cary Grant vehicle. Yet another comedy. Black and white from the 1940s. Based on the play by Joseph Kesselring.
- Blithe Spirit – Husband calls back dead wife’s spirit during a séance. He’s since remarried. Hilarity ensues. Yes, another comedy. Black and white from the 1940s and based on the play by Noel Coward.
- The Ghost and Mrs. Muir – A lovely paranormal romance. Black and white from the 1940s.
- The Innocents – Based on Henry James’s novel The Turn Of The Screw. Very atmospheric, moody, and psychological. Standout performance by Deborah Kerr. Black and white from the 1960s.
So now you have plenty of movies to choose from to watch in the days approaching Halloween and Halloween itself. Whether you want a horror comedy or a black and white classic, there are plenty of movies to watch around Halloween that don’t involve buckets of blood. There is even romance! So pop some popcorn, get the bags of candy ready for the trick or treaters, turn down the lights, and enjoy your movie night.
While I’ve understood the appeal of Kindle Unlimited (KU), up until now I’ve rejected it for a couple of reasons. First is narrow versus wide. With KU, you cannot publish your story anywhere but at Amazon. I think you can do print versions, but most of that stays with Amazon.
Going wide, you can publish at all the other sites such as SmashWords, Apple, Kobo, B&N, and others, in addition to Amazon. Another drawback to wide is that you can’t publish in ePub or other formats that are native to Windows, Mac, most tablets and phones.
Certainly, nowadays there are apps which allow you to read Kindle books on other types of devices besides a Kindle. But to me, it is aggravating that Amazon restricts you in an effort to keep you corralled into the Kindle World.
Publishing on Amazon and allowing your smut to be in the Kindle Unlimited section, allows people who cough up $10 a month to read all they can stomach. For an avid reader like myself, I like KU except the nonconformist side resents being told I can’t publish a story anywhere except on Amazon.
Amazon pays about one-half cent per page for every page someone reads of your masterpiece. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but when there are millions of people out there, it adds up.
I decided what the hell, I’ll try it again and published my latest story, House Party, both narrow and in Kindle Unlimited. This 85,000-word novel is my biggest yet, and I have to admit that I was a little hesitant about committing for the next 90-days before I could go wide.
I was floored when in the three weeks since release it has sold 31 copies, and almost 18,000 page reads, which translates into 74 complete story reads of the 243-page novel. This one story in three weeks has earned basically one and a half times my normal Amazon income for a typical month!
That’s all the bragging I’m going to do, and I apologize for it but what I’m trying to say is consider using Kindle Unlimited to see if it helps your book sales.
Normally I don’t pay a lot of attention to my Amazon sales as I’m too lazy to read all the reports but using Book Report (GetBookReport.com) makes it so easy to see your best selling stories and how much money you are making. Book Report also breaks out your sales per day, week, month, etc. so it’s a lot easier to see if you’re doing any good.
I’d had always read that Amazon has a 30-day cliff and will start throwing your story under the bus in a month. Since I’ve been using Book Report since May or June, I’ve confirmed to myself that is true.
If you release a story, it will bump your author’s rank for about a month, then you’ll see your rank start to fall. Publish a new book, and it’ll immediately jump up for another month.
So, the old saying “Publish or Perish,” is definitely a truism with Amazon. This does not seem to be true with SmashWords. From what I can see, SmashWords only goes by best sells or most popular, without considering age.
I have two books in SmashWords Men’s Erotica Best Sellers that are in the top 60, and one of the stories was published in 2014 and is ranked higher than a story published this year.
While certainly, you can argue that one story is better than the other, but the bottom line is that a story published four years ago is ranked about the same as a story published in the last few months.
This tells me that when you publish at SmashWords, your story doesn’t get forgotten in a month and continues to be ranked on its merits, without being penalized for age.
Up until recently, I’ve always made more money at SmashWords than I have with Amazon but the last couple of months have been just the opposite.
The thing I really like at SmashWords is that they automatically push out to Apple and others such as Kobo and B&N. My sales through SmashWords are typically split four ways between SmashWords, Apple, Kobo, and B&N.
Sales and marketing are the things I hate to do. I’d druther pound away at my keyboard than try to figure out how to market a story but I’m becoming convinced that I need to pay attention to things like sales figures, advertising, etc.
I’m not naive enough to think I’ll ever quit my day job and write smut but I am covering expenses and being able to buy a nice laptop every year or two.
That’s all for this month folks. Go out and VOTE on November 8th. Until next month, if it’s the 24th, it’s time for smut from the dirty mind of Larry Archer. LarryArcher.blog