Monday 31 December 2012

Happy New Years, and goals for 2013!

So much celebration this time of year! 2012 has been a pretty neat one overall. The world didn't end, I started a new degree, and then decided to embark on my career as an erotic author!

I hope all of you out there are having fun. I'm doomed to spend this Monday evening looking after myself as I fight off the annual winter sickness, but I'm sure I'll find something to have fun with all the same!
Probably writing erotica. Probably.

So! I feel like I'm at the point now where I can look back and appraise how my initial dabble into the world of erotica has kicked off. It was a shaky start in mid-August when I first started publishing on Smashwords. I was pretty slow with putting out content, a lot of it definitely wasn't my best work, and I had some pretty awful marketing/covers to boot. I'm already at the stage where I want to go back and redo a lot of my first erotic shorts. It's amazing how much you learn in such a short time when you're passionate about something!
The beginning of November was when I started really taking things seriously and published on Amazon. And boy, I wish I'd done it sooner. My sales there have been very encouraging, over a hundred in my first month, and now over two hundred in December, plus over 1500 downloads of my free title! This little blog of mine has been picking up a lot more traffic than when I first started, and I've settled in nicely with a couple of friendly indie writer communities.

As far as my recent progress goes, I'm very satisfied. I feel like I've got some traction now, and I'm not gonna slow down any time soon!

My one big goal for 2013 is to be making a living off my writing by the end of the year. To do that I'm going to have to finish sorting out my US tax exemption (the IRS steals 30% of all my US sales, grr), ideally get published on AllRomanceEbooks, and start selling 5-10 times the amount I am currently. With the kind of progress I've been seeing in November and December, I think those sorts of numbers are very, very attainable.

In other news, part six of His Darkest Desire is almost done. After editing and whipping up a cover it should be out in a couple of days!

Best of luck in the new year to everyone out there! What're your goals for 2013?

Friday 28 December 2012

Back Home, Upcoming Plans, and Amazon Freebie!

I'm back from visiting relatives, yay! There's nothing like recharging your writing batteries than being dragged away from the keyboard for a few days. I expected to have a couple of weeks in between releases over Xmas, but with 3000 words already under my belt for the next instalment of His Darkest Desire it's looking like it might be out by the end of the weekend!

So, time for an update on my writing plans! I'm really getting into my eRom now that it's verging into juicy plot developments and lots of drama, and my current plan is to conclude it within three more parts. Depending on how it pans out there might be one or two more, but we'll see!
After that I want to get to work on my paranormal werewolf eRom idea, and I can see erotic romance becoming more of a focus for me in the future. It seems to do very well from a financial perspective, and more importantly it's more compelling for me to write. That's not to say I'm going to stop with plain smut (I still have plenty of ideas to dip into!), but I expect I'll always have at least one eRom on the go over the coming months.

But on to what's really been exciting me since last night, Amazon have price matched Tempted to Submit, and it's now free! This title's been free on Smashwords for a while, but in just a couple of days the Amazon version has already gotten hundreds of downloads and is currently sitting at #32 in the erotica category! My story's up there next to a bunch of names that inspired me to start as an erotic author in the first place!
So, I mean, I'm a little giddy. I'm not making a bazillion dollars from it (yet!), but the sheer amount of exposure my little story's getting has me over the moon.

Another blog post soon, along with another erotic short to publish!

Monday 24 December 2012

Breaking His Trust Published, and Merry Xmas!

Part five of His Darkest Desire is finished and available to purchase now on Amazon and Smashwords! Things are starting to take a darker turn for poor Nina this time as we pass the mid-way point in the series.

Settling comfortably into her relationship with Elliot Wolf as both his girlfriend and slave, Nina finally feels like she's making progress with the withdrawn millionaire. Not everyone is as happy with the arrangement however. Manipulative Marcia is more than willing to drop a few carefully poisoned words at the right time, leading to an intense session with Elliot that pushes Nina to her limits.

And besides that, Merry Xmas everybody! Hopefully you haven't been too naughty this year and Santa will bring you everything you've ever wanted. If not, you might be in for a spanking.
But season's greetings all the same! I'll be taking a week off to tackle the relatives and stoke up some festive cheer, but after that it's straight back to erotica!

Friday 21 December 2012

Realism in Erotica

Oh mah gawd the world is ending! There are Mayan robots EVERYWHERE!

No not really. I think we're all safe from those kinds of jokes for the time being, until the next apocalypse prediction appears.
So! On to today's blog.

Realism, whether in erotica or any other genre, is always a subject an author has to have in the back of their mind. You need to sell your story as something that makes sense to the reader, with some basic foundations they can latch on to for security and stability. Without these foundations it's very hard to engage with what's going on, as it throws our expectations and frame of reference out the window, creating a strange and uncanny experience for the reader. Even fantasy and sci-fi has to have some sort of baseline established pretty early on, some kind of internal logic to let you know whether to expect wizards and dragons or swords and beards.
The Matrix set this up with beautiful simplicity when Laurence Fishburne explained how "some rules can be bent, others can be broken". Then the terrible sequels went ahead and threw all the rules out the window by giving Keanu Reeves magical powers.

So realism's important. Not necessarily real-world realism, but some kind of internal logic that makes sense within whatever setting you're working with.
How much does this matter in erotica though? I've read plenty of stories that throw me out of the steamy action because of some minor detail, and plenty of others I've loved where anatomical limits are pushed to the point of absurdity. As with any story, I think it really depends on the tone you establish and the genre you're working in. With something like BDSM a lot of the appeal can be in the kinky details. A lot of people are familiar with the ideas of whipping or wearing latex or being tied up, but I'd venture to guess that not a lot of readers have extensive first-hand experience with those things. Describing something like the texture of a whip, the feeling of the marks it leaves on the character's back, or the sexual thrill of pain blurring over into pleasure, can add a sense of realism that enriches and adds some extra spice to a story. Even if it isn't something you as a writer have experience with yourself, a little research can heighten the sensual detail of sex scenes to a whole new level.

Conversely, if you're writing about something like, say, fantasy monster sex, it's a safe bet that you can push the boundaries of reality a little further. In my recent short Mated by the Minotaur I pretty much hand-waved the realism of the petite princess taking a monster who was described as being hung quite literally like a horse. That story wasn't focused on graphic realism and detail though. It was a simple, hammy romp all about the fantasy of a princess being taken by a powerful beast. It was more about the overall tone than the nitty-gritty. Besides which, few readers were going to be thrown out of that experience by the omission of details. Not many of us have had lots of sex with fantasy monsters for reference.

Given the choice though, my personal preference is to add in as much sensual detail as I can manage most of the time. I adore things like describing the sensations of anal or oral sex in great detail, and I sometimes get thrown out of other stories when they handle these things in an offhand or unrealistic way (if the rest of the story expects you to take it seriously). That being said though, sometimes tone is more important than realism. It doesn't always matter if your virgin college student takes to rough anal sex like a duck to water. Sometimes that's just a heck of a lot hotter than having her slap the professor in the face and ask him what the heck he thinks he's doing.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Take it for the Team Published, Free Title, and More!

Take it for the Team, my latest steamy M/M (and a few more Ms) short has hit the virtual shelves! You can find it up on Amazon and Smashwords now!

Tyler lets his eyes stray far too often during practice with the college basketball team. Fed up with Tyler's unrequited fantasies, his girlfriend decides it's time to have the team teach him a lesson once and for all. When he ends up trapped in the showers with the team captain, Tyler suddenly finds himself about to deal with a lot more than he bargained for.

In other news, Tempted to Submit, the first part of my BDSM romance is now free on Smashwords! Once other retailers update with the price change I should be able to have Amazon price match as well, but for now if you want a bit of free kinky romance make sure you head to the Smashwords link. The free price point has been very appealing to me rather than a $0.99 one, given that royalties are so low, and even a two dollar discount isn't as big an incentive to dip into a series as it could be. Fingers crossed it'll turn out to be an effective marketing technique!

In other other news, I'll be working on part five of His Darkest Desire this week. I've also had a very exciting idea for a werewolf-themed eRom knocking around in my head for the past few days. It was one of those things that just leapt into my brain one evening while I was in bed, and the premise was too much fun to ignore. So at the risk of crowding my publishing schedule even further, expect to see some sexy werewolves managing their dramatic love lives within a few weeks time.

I think that's about all for now. Another blog post in a few days!

Friday 14 December 2012

Video Games!

Goodness, I've had a long and stressful week. What better way to unwind than with some video games?
Thankfully I've gotten this month's essay out of the way, Xmas shopping is all done and mostly delivered, so all I have to worry about for the next couple of weeks is staving off a winter cold and getting some writing done! And blog posts. Today we're going to talk about video games.

I try and keep this blog focused around writing, erotica, and sex, but another great love of my life is video games. I'm not what you'd call a hardcore gamer (I barely buy half a dozen big titles a year), but ever since studying some game design in university I've had a passionate interest in the medium.
What fascinates me most about video games is their potential as an artistic/storytelling form of media. When it comes to writing, whether it's for a book, film, or play, there are certain rules that inform the framework of any successful story. With video games however you have a completely different set of rules in play, and while the same basic tropes of storytelling still apply, the ways in which games can convey narrative and emotion are vastly different.

The obvious difference is the inclusion of the player. A good video game isn't just created as a series of events that unfold for the audience to experience, it's a series of events that involve and engage the player at every turn, making them just as much a part of the experience as the mechanics happening on-screen.
A great example I came across recently happened when I was playing The Walking Dead, a fantastic story-driven adaptation of the comic book that inspired the TV series. In this title the gameplay itself is very bare-bones. It's often reduced to pressing a single button or clicking the right spot on the screen at the appropriate time, but it uses this so effectively that it creates an experience entirely unique to anything you might find in a book or movie.
In The Walking Dead there's a sequence where you back an armed crazy woman up a flight of stairs while she holds your friend hostage. The only thing you're able to do at this point is walk slowly forward with the W key, and occasionally click on the woman to talk to her. She's unhinged, she's yelling, lightning flashes through the window, and she screams at you to stay back as she alternates between pointing the gun at you and pressing it to the head of your friend. Then the flailing arms of a zombie poke through the banister at the top of the stairs, inches behind the crazy woman. She'll be in its grasp at any moment, but a moment's all it'll take for that gun to go off.
So even though all you can do in this situation is to edge forward with the W key, that decision to move and back the woman away from you is the single most important thing in this entire scene. It's completely in your hands as the player, and you're constantly on the edge of your seat desperate not to scare your antagonist by moving too fast, hesitating to see if the zombie gets any closer, wondering how long you've got before she snaps and blows your friend's head off, and knowing that whatever happens rests squarely on your shoulders.

That right there is a storytelling experience that you just can't replicate in any other medium, and it perfectly embodies exactly the kind of emotional response that video games excel at drawing out of their audience. It's why I love them and find gameplay just as fascinating as the nuances unique to prose or cinematography.

I'll probably talk more about video games in future blogs at some point, but there's my little introduction!
Because I've been so busy my next release might be a day or two late, but for now I'm working on a steamy one-off M/M encounter in the college gym showers, the next Darkest Desire instalment, and I've gotten an idea for a paranormal erotic romance featuring werewolves into my head these last couple of nights. My plate's going to be pretty full over Xmas!

Sunday 9 December 2012

Taught Her Place Published, and Xmas Schedules!

Part four of His Darkest Desire is finished and available to buy on Amazon and Smashwords! This one turned out longer than usual, with plenty of juicy plot developments and naughty BDSM!

Waking up in Elliot's mansion for the first time, Nina prepares to begin her training as his obedient slave. But not all of her questions have been answered, and as she begins to get a glimpse into her new Master's past, Nina begins to wonder what it will mean for her present. Old flames and old faces begin to reappear, and even Elliot's intense training cannot put her fears to rest.

So! Besides this week's new release, things are starting to get hectic for Xmas. Not only do I have an essay to rush through this week (and another coming up in early January), I have shopping to do, relatives to visit, elaborate gifts to plan, schedules to work out, two birthdays at the end of December, and somewhere amongst all of that I'm going to have to get a bit of erotica written!

I'll almost certainly have a break in my publishing schedule over Xmas and new years, but I'm going to try my best to keep pushing out one story a week up till then. I'm considering alternating Darkest Desire chapters with one-off stories, so it'd be one BDSM romance instalment every fortnight interspersed with my backlog of other ideas for sexy erotic shorts.

Oh darn, and add blog posts to that list of things to do. Now I'll have to think of a fun topic to write about in the next few days. :|

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Sexual Orientation

That's a nice broad topic to cover, isn't it? I thought today's blog post could touch on the topic of sexual orientation briefly, so here are Claudia's thoughts on the subject!

As a writer I've written about all sorts of sexual encounters, and that includes several same-sex ones. I have a couple of M/M stories published at the moment, and you can bet your buns there'll be one or two F/F ones showing up at some point over the next several months. As you can imagine, I've had more than a couple of people ask me whether I'm bisexual after having read some of my work. Spoiler alert: I'm not. Not even a little. I consider myself very firmly heterosexual, I just happen to find same-sex encounters incredibly hot.

That probably sounds weird to some of you, but it's all about the difference between sexual attraction and romantic attraction. Unfortunately society doesn't often make that distinction, and sexuality gets lumped into "straight", "gay", "bi" without much consideration for its different dimensions.

I'll tentatively say that I think most adults who have a vested interest in sex beyond the norm get to grips with this concept pretty quickly. They're beyond the adolescent worries of "if I fantasise about a member of the same (or opposite) sex does that make me gay (or straight)?", and the more you get into exploring different sexual kinks the more open minded you tend to get about how and why different things turn people on.
In the two M/M stories I've published so far I actually make a point of establishing that the male leads are both heterosexual, to make the distinction between sexual and romantic attraction. They both have girlfriends, they're both in stable heterosexual relationships, but gay sex is still something that turns them on. I do this because it "fetishises" same-sex encounters for me. It makes them more accessible and naughty to a heterosexual audience. I feel like I'm going to have to put a disclaimer here that I don't intend to portray homosexuality as a fetish in and of itself - only as a straight person's fetish. I'm sure there'll be romantic same-sex encounters in my writing in the future. :)

I do like to explore the emotional subtext of sex whenever I can, and my hope is that, on top of being super-steamy reads, some of my stories can engage people in thinking about sexuality in different ways from time to time.

You don't have to be gay or lesbian to enjoy gay or lesbian sex. Sex is hot, no matter who it's with.

Saturday 1 December 2012

Mated by the Minotaur Published!

This week's quick erotic short in between Darkest Desire instalments: Mated by the Minotaur.

My latest foray into lusty fantasy monster sex is now available to purchase on Amazon and Smashwords!

Princess Cilissa's cruel father has had enough of his wayward daughter's disobedience. Sentencing her to be thrown into the Minotaur's labyrinth, Cilissa has no choice but to accept her punishment. The maze is dark and endless, and her only hope is to find a way out.
Somewhere in the darkness the beast stalks her, ravenous to claim the beautiful young princess and make her body his.

I had a lot of fun writing this one, and I'm pretty proud of the result!
I'm going to be taking a little break over the weekend to catch up with other things (essays are starting to loom again), and get some Xmas shopping sorted out with my fresh bounty of smut money. ;)