Monday, May 26, 2014

Transitioning to Young Adult from Erotica

Coming June 19th, 2014

Here it is! The launch of my young adult novel through Harmony Ink Press. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Hideous--the story of a boy and his demon.

I'm so excited about the release on June 19th, but that means I have a lot of work to do. Gotta get review copies out. Hunt down blogs for guest posts and interviews. I can already tell you now that I'll be promoting with On Top Down Under Book Reviews and Greedy Bug Book Reviews. So much to do, and I'm still recovering from Clipped's release. Oh, well. Just have to keep on moving, and finish the book that I'm in the middle of...and Clipped's sequel.

My first book, Clipped, is an erotic adventure with wild, violent, raw sexual situations. Hideous has some sensuality and romance, but is far from erotic. Since I first signed the book, I've had some people ask me about making the transition from erotica to young adult novels. There seems to be this idea that I've had to censor myself to write YA, which isn't true. First off, I never censor a first draft. I write things as they come to me. I don't censor the magic voices that give me a story. I go with the inspiration and see where it takes me. Does this mean I don't censor at all? No. 

With Clipped, there was actually a lot of censorship. I made substantial changes (at no one else's request). Some elements were just too disturbing for me to include, as I believed they would somehow make the world a worse place by existing. This wasn't the case with Hideous. Though pieces have changed since the initial drafts, I didn't remove my main characters potty mouth or sexual impulses to dumb it down for an audience. I personally don't think that a YA audience needs to be dumbed down to, and I was very fortunate to work with a publisher that felt the same. Also, the character whose head I was inside of during the writing of Hideous wasn't particularly foul and hyper-sexual like the characters in Clipped, so it was all very natural.

This is a pretty underwhelming discussion of the title of this post. I don't have a list about how to make the transition from erotica to YA. I don't have some deep, meaningful epiphany that I experienced. I just have what I think is a very natural transition that most writers experience: each story presents itself the way it needs to be told, and you just let that story unfold the way it wants to unfold.

So without further ado, I give you the synopsis for Hideous:

Eight years ago, Luke Retter witnessed the brutal murder of his mother and sister at the hands of his demon-possessed father. He survived but lost a hand and an eye. The demon also burned its emblem into his skin, marking him as a cursed. Those who bear this mark are at risk of becoming possessed themselves, so they are monitored and enslaved by the state-run UCIS. Working as a slave is hard, but Luke prefers it to the possibility of being controlled by a demon. 

One night, Luke wakes to find his worst nightmare coming true. His father's demon has returned. In a panic, he runs to the only person who might be able to help: Zack, a cursed who ran away from the state and created an underground community to protect other fugitive curseds. Zack helps him suppress the demon. But the city's become a time bomb, and Luke's demon itches to escape. 

With the UCIS closing in on Zack's underground operation and Luke's demon crafting its own, nefarious plot, Luke realizes that he must take a stand.

Right now, I'm holding a Goodreads Giveaway to win a paperback copy of the book. Click here to enter.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Erotica, Porn, and Literature

When discussing erotica, one of the big questions that always comes up is: is it literature or is it porn? I don't deny that porn lit exists, but I think it's hasty to brand anything classified as erotica as pornographic. For the sake of giving this discussion a foundation, I am going to say that "porn" is anything that is exclusively intended to be sexually arousing and serves no other purpose. That's a fairly good definition, and I think most people will agree with me when I suggest that there's little other value to a money shot on a guy's face in a Gaytube clip. Does this mean that any movie that features sexual acts is porn? No, no, no. Shortbus and The Idiots depict actual sex, but they are far from porn. They're art. And why is that? I would argue that it's because they aren't exclusively intended to arouse the audience (though a conservative mind might argue otherwise). I'm not suggesting that, at times, the scenes aren't intended to do that. However, they are clearly making larger commentary on sexuality than just that it's lovely and fun.

I brand my novel Clipped as erotica for the sake of giving it a category, but if you read the book, it won't take you long to realize that the prose isn't just designed to arouse the reader. It's designed to make the reader think about sexuality. What is an arousing act? What is a grotesque act? There are tons of sexual acts in the book--spanking, penetration, bjs, asphyxiation, etc. Some of these acts are eagerly welcomed by characters. Other times, they are forced on them.

I'm sure this bothers some readers, who would rather just get their money shot and move on to the next one. So why not just make the acts exclusively arousing? Because it's important to remember that sex, fun as it can be, has a dark and twisted side that we can never really ignore. We can try to, but it's always going to rear it's ugly head. It's beautiful, but dangerous. It's fun, but perverse. I wanted to write a book that showed both sides. In real life, sex is never all fun and games. It's "Did the condom break? Am I going to get HIV? Am I going to get pregnant? Is this herpes?" Anyone who would say something like, "Oh, well, I just have sex for fun and never am worried about it," is either a liar or wildly irresponsible.

This duality of trying to enjoy something that has such twisted dangers to it is something that I wanted to incorporate into Clipped, and it's largely one of the reasons that I don't think that it's going to appeal to everyone. I knew that when I wrote it, but I wouldn't change it to be more erotic because that would be a lie. I'm not just trying to satisfy the reader's desire for pleasure. I want the reader to think while they're reading the sex scenes. In some cases, I want them to be thinking, "This is arousing, but why? It really shouldn't be." Sometimes, I want them thinking, "This isn't arousing. Why would someone want that?"

Some people don't want to think about these things when they read erotica. They want their fantasy of a world where sex is harmless and care-free, and I understand that. But I don't see what's appealing about that lie. Half of what's arousing about sex is the fact that it is dangerous. Certainly, there is a place for porn, and people should enjoy it the way I enjoy jerking off to a mediocre looking actor in a DV porn. But, unfortunately, there are too many people out there who think in such black and white terms about literature and erotica. They think that the erotic has to be minimized in order to be literature. That's just sad, and it doesn't leave us room to explore some very complex questions about the nature of sexuality. And isn't that what literature is about? Getting people to ask questions? Getting them to think about things? And isn't sex something worth pondering?

Monday, May 5, 2014

How the First Draft Feels





Check outline.

Rewrite outline.



I hope you're enjoying the writing process as much as I am. :)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Clipped Blog Tour

***UPDATE: Also joining the tour is Joha at Littles Books. I'll be doing an interview with Joha May 16th.***

I've been moving right along with the Clipped blog tour, and thanks to Will Parkinson at Pride Promotions, I have quite a few stops:

For those of you who want to catch up with the tour, I've posted them on a pinterest board and you can click on the pics to see the interviews, reviews, and guest posts. Also, don't forget to sign up for the Rafflecopter giveaway to win a paperback copy of Clipped (ebook if it's an International winner).

I also want to take a moment to recognize some off-tour stops that you should check out:

Outside the tour, I've been busily working on my next project, and I just got through the second edits of my YA book with Harmony Ink Press. I also received the cover art for my YA book, which looks amazing. I'm excited about sharing that once HIP is good to go.

That's pretty much all I've got for now, but of course, I can't forget to keep shamelessly self promoting my book, so make sure to grab a copy: