Selah March

May 26, 2009

Making friends and influencing people: Ur doin’ it rong

Filed under: blah blah blah,Industry,Romancelandia — Selah March @ 10:23 am

I’ve been avoiding the Romancelandia blogs in favor of writing, so I almost missed the “Avon editors diss online romance reviewers” kerfluffle. But while it doesn’t surprise me that mainstream NY print publishing isn’t 100% caught up on the marvels of the online reading/reviewing community and how it can be used to further sales and build reader enthusiasm, I have to wonder at the vitriolic tone in response to what seem to be rather innocuous and well-intended — if possibly ill-informed — comments.

Yeah, it makes sense to say, “Dude, you might be a tad behind the curve on this,” and provide data to support your point. Less with the sense-making is the whole, “OMG, you took a piss in my Wheaties ON PURPOSE and I’m TOTALLY GOING TO CUT YOU,” thing.

I thought the intent was to educate the industry on the joys of the online community, not score Imaginary Intraweb points by launching attacks and fomenting bad feelings. Doesn’t look like those Avon editors will be standing in line for any “education” anytime soon. Counter-productive, much?

But what the hell do I know? I live in jeans and dirty sneakers, and my style-quotient is WAY below the norm. Maybe sporting a massive a chip on your shoulder is the new black?

April 12, 2009

Amazonfail/Amazon Rank + review of YotC

UPDATE II: The LA Times weighs in.

UPDATE: Smart Bitches attempt Google bomb = Amazon rank.

So, how long do you think the Taliban-esque branch of the conservative right wing has had Jeff Bezos’ balls in their pocket? Check here for bits and pieces of the sad tale. Outrage is rampant, petitions are circulating, the media has been alerted. We’ll see if it does any good.

And incidentally, if the stated goal is to protect the kiddies, then WTF is up with some of the titles that still have rankings and searchability?  Check this list. Talk about lame. Seriously…if you’re gonna cave to the wing-nuts, at least be efficient about it. Nobody respects a half-assed effort at pandering and cowardice.

Also, Twitter is abuzz with the news. Or atweet. Whatever.

Happy Easter to those who celebrate. We’re Orthodox Christian, so our fast begins today and our Easter is a week from today. Less crowded grocery aisles! Cheaper legs o’ lamb! Rabbit-shaped chocolate on clearance! It’s a good thing.

I got an early gift from Teh Bunny in the form of a thoughtful, amazingly insightful review from Kassa for Year of the Cat. Just what I needed to warm me on a chilly, gray day.

March 30, 2009

Yes. THIS.

Kerry Allen has the last word on e-piracy. Everybody else – and that includes “industry professionals” who tell authors to quit bitching about being bent over and buggered without benefit of lube by scumbag thieves because it might “alienate readers” – can just suck on this for a while, yes? Yes.

Also, have you visited Romance Cooties lately?

March 16, 2009

Grrr. Argh. Plus! Actual content.

Filed under: Asshats on parade,blah blah blah,Industry,Reviews,shameless bragging — Selah March @ 6:48 pm

I caught a nasty undercurrent of that whole “authors need to keep their mouths shut lest they alienate readers” thing again today, and it made me a little sick inside – particularly since the conversation was about ebook piracy. Apparently, authors just need to suck it up, buttercup, because the last thing readers want to hear is that we’re pissed over thievery.

I don’t understand this attitude, especially coming from an industry professional whose livelihood is tied to the success of epublishing.

To paraphrase author Ann Vremont, alienated readers aren’t the problem, from a business standpoint – alienated BUYERS (and potential buyers) are the problem. Is a buyer/potential buyer going to be offended because I come out strongly against ebook piracy? Why? They’re willing to pay for the books they read. Ebook piracy hurts them, too, because it causes prices to rise, the same way insurance fraud causes premiums to rise. It’s caused at least one author to reconsider writing an entire series because the profit/loss margin was too thin. So buyers and potential buyers who are willing to pay me for my work should be just as unhappy about piracy as I am.

But if the readers this industry pro was talking about are the ones who steal books, well, then…fuck ’em. Let ’em be alienated. They’ve already alienated me, and no lame-ass justification like “but if I like what I steal, I may pay for it later,” is going to change that.

I know I can be offensive as hell, in that whole “if you don’t have anything nice to say…” way of women everywhere. I know it’s probably cost me a few sales. I know it’s made me a few sales, too. There are companies to which I’d never bother submitting my work because I find the comments and behavior of some of their employees off-putting. I have no doubt at least one or two of these same companies would reject my work only because it’s mine. So we’re all in agreement, and I’m good with the balance.

And digital thieves can still blow me.  🙂

***

New reviews:

4 Stars from BookWenches for Year of the Cat: “Selah March’s Year of the Cat takes the fairytale Puss and Boots and stands it on its ear. This is not the children’s story that many of us grew up loving; this is a much darker tale filled with anger and violence… For all its dark overtones and BDSM theme, this is a very well-done and enjoyable story about love and the transforming nature of sacrifice made in the name of love. Ms. March has done a fantastic and clever job of weaving a fairytale out of Year of the Cat. The tone is very matter-of-fact and “once upon a time,” even though the subject matter is a little startling. This has a distinct feeling of being the dark counterpart to the Puss in Boots tale, and I was thrilled to be able to pick out similarities in plot between the two stories.

If you are a fan of the fairytale, I recommend that you give Year of the Cat a shot. It will give you a whole new outlook on Puss in Boots that has nothing to do with cartoon tabby cats who sound suspiciously like Antonio Banderas. Well done, Ms. March. I look forward to your next offering!” ~B.D. Whitney

4.5 Stars from Reviews by Jessewave for Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: “I’m not a huge fan of mysteries or horror stories, but the very aptly named Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was an enthralling read that kept me wide-eyed and reading voraciously to find out what happens next. I’m looking forward to reading more from Ms. March.” ~emmyjag

Finally, I have a guest blog up this week at BookWenches on the subject of antagonists, villains and anti-heroes. I tried not to sound like my senior year English teacher. I suspect I failed.

December 17, 2008

Update re: M/M Romance Goes Mainstream.

Filed under: blah blah blah,Excerpt,Industry,WIP,Writing — Selah March @ 10:38 am

Remember Running Press and their upcoming experiment with releasing m/m romance as actual romance? (http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6622447.html)

Looky! Covers!

transgressions

falsecolours

Ah, spring…when a young man’s mind turns to thoughts of BOOTAY in BREECHES…

Congratulations to Erastes and Alex. April can’t get here soon enough.

NON SEQUITUR ALERT: So am I the last one in the known world to discover Erotica Cover Watch? Why didn’t somebody TELL ME?? I mean, aside from the obvious attraction of Man Candy Monday, the posts themselves are a freakin’ HOOT. Plus, Mathilde and Kristina make several excellent points, which I shall not list here and now because I’m supposed to be writing, and I fear my brilliant and ever-stylish crit partner may break out the flogging implements if I don’t send her…let’s see…yes, the breath-play chapter is up next.

But first, an excerpt from Chapter 4 of Year of the Cat, my WIP based on Perrault’s Puss in Boots, because I can write historical-buttsexin’-boys, too…except mine’s more pseudo-historical, and includes shape-shifting and BDSM and a spot of forced seduction. Details, details…

***

All evidence to the contrary, Etienne was neither a halfwit nor a fool.

Impractical? Certainly.

Guileless? Without a doubt.

But in one particular subject, Etienne possessed no peer — the study of the supernatural. Indeed, his late and deeply lamented father had often expressed concern over the hours his youngest son spent poring over tales of the gruesome and fantastical. From children’s fairy stories to the journals of long-dead sorcerers to grim accounts of witch-hunts and burnings, Etienne’s appetite for the otherworldly was insatiable. Paradoxically, ’twas from this investigation of the inhuman that Etienne developed his most apt observations of humanity — for how better to learn the ways of good, decent men than to study the depravity of monsters?

Therefore, by the time he’d lingered three-quarters of an hour in the company of the man who called himself “Jacques,” Etienne knew his visitor to be a scoundrel, a villain…and quite possibly not a man at all.

None of this kept Etienne from accepting Jacques’ apparent generosity. For ’twould take a halfwitted fool, indeed, to reject warmth on a freezing night, meat for an empty belly or a healing touch on bloody wounds.

But the blaze in the fireplace no longer seemed to burn so brightly — not when compared to the glittering amber of Jacques’ eyes.

“Pray, tell me,” he purred, “what do you know of passion?”

Etienne could only stare. He went on staring even as Jacques loomed over him, caught his face between his large hands and growled, “Tell me, mon petit.”

Etienne struggled to find his voice. “I know nothing of passion. I am…untouched.”

Jacques’ lips quirked in a sinister smile. “So sweet, like spun sugar. I fear you’ll rot my very teeth.”

The kiss Jacques pressed upon Etienne’s mouth tasted of salt and iron, and awakened in Etienne a delirious kind of hunger. He found himself clutching at Jacques’ shoulders, tearing at the sleeves of his coat with his sore fingers. When Jacques pulled aside the collar of Etienne’s shirt and licked at the line of flesh he’d revealed, Etienne stifled a moan.

“No, mon petit, let me hear your cries,” Jacques murmured, his words setting a heated buzz against Etienne’s skin. “Let me lap them from the hollow of your throat.”

Etienne fought, at war with his traitorous body. “Monsieur, please, I do not—”

“Hush,” Jacques whispered and caught Etienne’s chin in his hand. The blacks of his eyes had taken on a strange, slitted appearance as he gazed into Etienne’s face. “You’ll only tire yourself, and gain nothing for the effort.”

“But you said you wished to be my servant in all things, Monsieur. Yet you would take me without my consent?”

“I would coax your consent from its hiding-place and make it sing out like the bells of Notre Dame on Christmas morning.”

His words sounded like nothing less than the simple truth. Etienne stilled himself against the hard cottage floor, his body not quite entirely limp with submission.

***

December 15, 2008

Kibbles and Bits III

Filed under: blah blah blah,Industry,Reviews,shameless bragging,Writing — Selah March @ 8:11 pm

“I’ll come ’round sometime and get that squeak outta yer door.” ~Roux, Chocolat

One of the most suggestive lines of dialogue ever uttered in a movie. Of course, Johnny Depp’s filthy smirk helps the innuendo along, as does the long, loving look he gives Juliette Binoche’s ass as he says it, but still it makes me positively puce with envy every single time. Why can’t I write a line as witty and sexy as that?

Chocolat is one of my favorite flicks, not only for the subtle use of imagery within its language, but also for its amazing visuals. Where else does the dipping of a ladle into a basin of liquid chocolate evoke a slow, sweet fuck between strangers?

I’m trying to capture that kind of imagery in my current WIP, Year of the Cat — a homoerotic, BDSM-infused retelling of Perrault’s Puss in Boots. (Wipe from your minds Antonio Banderas’ cutesy performance in Shrek 2. Adorable as he is, I’m going for something darker and more sexually menacing in a hero this time around. And as a matter of fact, Johnny Depp fills that bill nicely…though not the Chocolat version. I’ve dug out my DVD copy of The Libertine and I’m watching it compulsively…right up to the part where syphilis-stricken-Johnny’s nose starts to rot off his face. Then I hit rewind because we’re writing erotic romance here, and reality – no matter how historically accurate – need not apply.)

Anyway. The kind of visceral imagery found in Chocolat isn’t easy to translate to the page. I’ve tried before and failed. How does one capture the glint of moonlight off a devilish grin, or the exact shade of a pink in a young man’s (or woman’s, but this month we’re all about the boysexin’) cheeks as he offers up his virtue to a cruel, mysterious stranger?

Meh. I’ll keep trying.

In the meantime, this is verra verra interesting (thanks for the heads up from Karlene at RD): http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6622447.html

“Running Press is getting into the fiction market with what it sees as a unique twist in historical romance — gay fiction written by and for straight women. The idea for the line came from Running president Jon Anderson and is based on what he sees as the growing interest in M/M stories reflected in the success of such projects as Brokeback Mountain and the television series Brothers and Sisters. Anderson has acquired the first titles in the line, which will be edited by Lisa Clancy, associate editorial director. The series will launch in April with Transgressions and False Colors. Two more titles are set for fall 2009.

Running v-p and associate publisher Craig Herman said the series will be positioned as a subgenre within romance and while the books will be ‘erotic, they will not be hardcover explicit,’ Herman explained. Running will promote the line through traditional romance outlets including advertising in Romantic Times and outreach through regional RWA chapters. Noting that the books will be shelved in the romance section rather than the erotica section, Running said the book will be ‘created to mirror romance novels, not gay erotica.’”

I’m pleased by this news, especially in light of a recent, rather discouraging discussion at RTB in which certain folks insisted M/M romance would never be a player in “traditional” romance publishing. And while Running Press isn’t Random House or Harper Collins, it’s a foot in the door, no?

So, yes, I’ve decided to be heartened. Mock my optimism at your peril, for ’tis a hormonal sort of day here at Dubious Virtue.

In other news, I’ve finally crossed over to the Dark Side that is LiveJournal. (See?? The color-scheme sort-of-almost MATCHES. But I have yet to receive my promised cookie.) And I’m on Goodreads, too, which is (apparently) like Facebook/MySpace, except less with the random hookups and more with the reading.

Finally, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot continues to accrue strokes and nuzzles and hair-pats from the romance review community. Me LIKEY.

“Readers who love a good horror story are going to find Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by Selah March to be a custom fit. This is a spine-chilling novella that puts its characters through a wringer and doesn’t let up on them for the duration of the story. Tom Mulvaney is somewhat pompous and arrogant, but he has a hidden insecurity that the entity is able to ferret out and use against him. Leo, who Tom calls a “brooding psychic Wonder Boy”, is a very reserved man with a stutter. When the evil spirit takes over his body, he loses the stutter and becomes much more aggressive, and this transformation is fascinating to watch as is the effect that it has on Tom. As the story progresses, the tension mounts to almost the point of combustion. Ms. March has portrayed evil very well, and this reader stayed glued to the story in horrified fascination until the very end. Well done!” ~4 Angels from Whitney at Fallen Angel Reviews

“Selah March has a written story that is sensual, exciting and chilling all at the same time. There were times when I was truly scared while reading Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. The haunted house takes on a life of its own. The sexual chemistry between Leo and Tom is exciting and very hot and I also enjoyed following the development of their relationship as they grow closer. This story had me on the edge of my seat until the end.” ~4 Blue Ribbons from Christina at Romance Junkies

September 16, 2005

Oink….FlapFlapFlap…

Filed under: blah blah blah,Industry,Politics,RWA,Writing — Selah March @ 2:30 pm
Tags:

So, about that conference…

Orchestrated by the Southern Tier Authors of Romance (STAR) chapter of the RWA, it was held at the Holiday Inn in Ithaca, New York. The gathering was small–around fifty attendees, I believe, not counting speakers, editors and agents–which allowed a casual, “we’re all in this together” kind of atmosphere not found as often at larger cons.

The highlights:

Friday night kicked off with a lecture at the Lost Dog Café in which I learned more than I ever wanted to know about the Romanov murders–where and how the various members of the last Czar’s family were shot, bayoneted and bludgeoned, how exactly the bodies were disposed of, why acid was used to burn away their facial features, why the four daughters didn’t die as quickly as their parents, and how long it takes to burn a human body as it lies stiffening in the mud. Fascinating, every bit of it, but I was glad I hadn’t overdone on dinner, because I’m a HUGE wussy about that stuff unless I’m the one who’s making it up. We also heard all about the unsolved murder of William Desmond Taylor, a famous 1920s film director, which was somewhat lighter on the gore, but included a reference to one of my favorite movies of all time: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (pic)

Saturday morning began with a talk by NYT bestseller MaryJanice Davidson on “The Knockout Punch.” Basically, MJD promotes the idea that you need a fantastic, hooky, grab-’em-by-the-throat-and-don’t-let-go opening line that will insure your manuscript/book gets read by an editor or agent or bookstore browser, and not tossed back into the pile or onto the shelf. You could practically hear the wheels spinning as every member of the audience recalled their various opening lines and cringed. I know I did. My first lines tend to be…uh…less than unforgettable. But I think it’s good advice, so when I got home, I did what I could to punch up the opening line of book I’m prepping to submit.

A lovely lunch was accented by NYT bestseller Sherrilyn Kenyon‘s keynote speech, “There Will Be Pork In The Trees By Morning.” (Original quote: The Lion In Winter. When Richard says to Eleanor “When pigs have wings!” she replies, “There will be pork in the trees by morning.”)

Lordy, was Ms. Kenyon’s tale one of ultimate triumph in the face of endless woe. Seriously, if you tried to make this woman’s experiences into a book, an editor would tell you that you were over-selling the pathos–suspension of disbelief only gets you so far, and nobody’s life sucks that hard. When Ms. Kenyon could not get a new contract to save her soul, and had lost pretty much everything but her will to write, and her RWA membership was about to expire, and she had to borrow money to buy paper for that last proposal…and her father was dead of cancer…and she lived a roach-infested apartment from which she was about to be evicted…and her agent had dumped her…and Christ, the baby had COLIC…

And folks, this was AFTER she was already a multi-published author.

I dunno about anybody else, but I was worried about the state of my mascara. Who knew I’d have to go the waterproof route for a romance con?

Take home message? PERSEVERE. No matter what, keep going. And when they scoff and say you’ll make it when pigs sprout wings? Tell ’em you spy a flock of Bacon Bits on yonder horizon. Thank you, Ms. Kenyon.

As mentioned in my previous post, I also attended a workshop with a lovely agent who did, in fact, have a lot of good things to say about author promotion. I don’t even necessarily disagree with her about the whole “don’t be controversial on your blog” thing–I’m sure what I say here will, in the end, lose readers. And the fact that I don’t care more about that may make it harder for me to find an agent or even an editor who’s willing to work with me. I don’t think it’s bad advice. I just don’t think it’s the right advice for me.

And now, because I simply can’t let a day go by without stirring the shit, my quote and links for the day:

“You could say the new Iraqi Constitution is going to be a bit short on rights for women. You could also say the Arctic in January is brisk.” Will Durst

“Between 2001 and 2004, 4.1 million more Americans slipped into poverty while the upper 2% of the country’s richest became 55% wealthier. So, say what you will about Bush’s policies. They’re working.” Will Durst

And finally:

GRANDMA GOT RUN OVER BY INJUSTICE

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