December 6th, 2011 | 21 Comments »

It’s holiday time! Time for toys! As this is an erotica blog, I’m sure people are thinking about sex toys — such a nice gift, because they often please both the giver and the receiver.

However, many sex toys mean batteries, and batteries mean … guilt. Am I the only one who feels this way? I have all these things that take batteries — alarm clocks, vibrators, laptop, camera, cell phone, vibrators (OK, so I have more than one!) — and they all take batteries. And I know batteries are bad. They’re expensive, and they’re made of toxic materials, and they’re hard to dispose of. Plus they’re inconvenient. Why do alarm clock batteries only give out before you have an early morning plane flight? Why do vibrator batteries … well, there isn’t really any good time for those to give out, is there? And then they’re hard to dispose of, so you get a drawer full of batteries waiting for you to take them to whatever place you take your old batteries, and then you open a drawer six months later and you have no idea if these are old batteries waiting to go out, or new batteries liberated from their packaging, or semi-new batteries that you took out of something else for some reason… it’s a mess.

Of course you know the solution: rechargeable batteries. But when you look at them, they seem expensive! You know they’re cheaper in the long run, but they’re right up next to the Valu-Pak of cheap-in-the-short-term disposable batteries, plus you’d have to buy the charger, and then of course it takes all night to charge them, and … I know how it is.

That’s why I’m going to recommend one of the best Christmas presents I have ever received (no, not the corded — and therefore battery-less — Hitachi Magic Wand, although that’s very nice too): It was a Battery System. Or that’s what I call it. A family member poked around my house, took note of what size batteries I used, and bought me two sets of everything I’d need plus a nice big charger that would hold all of them. See how it works? You have one set of batteries in the charger at all times. When some batteries you’re using need recharging, you just swap them with the other fully charged ones. No waiting! It’s the sort of thing everyone ought to do for him/herself, and yet most of us just don’t get around to it. To have someone else do it for you — well, it was very, very nice.

So I pass this on as my Green Christmas/Holiday tip: Buy the object of your affections two sets of rechargeable batteries and a charger. Heck, open one set and the charger and have one set already charged by Christmas morning! If you made enough money this year, throw in a vibrator as well. And then when the recipient asks what the batteries are for, hand ’em that package. 😉

Of course, as an author, I’d be remiss in not mentioning another very obvious Green Christmas gift: ebooks! Easy to purchase, easy to give, no delivery charges, no fuel used in transportation, and so on. You can read ebooks on your Kindle or your Nook or your computer. Oh… don’t have a Kindle? Did you know that by commenting on this post, you’re entered to win a Kindle? Yes! And then click here for the full schedule of Blissemas blog posts, because you can comment on each one for an additional chance to win.

Whether you win the Kindle or not, I’d be happy to send you your choice of a number of erotic ebooks, either to you or to a gift recipient you specify. Available in all sorts of formats, and can even be emailed directly to a Kindle or a Nook. Just mention in your comment that you’re interested, and I’ll email you (your email shows to me when you leave a comment, but does NOT show to the world in general, unless you specifically type it out for them) and we can sort out what you’d like.

I’m interested in hearing other people’s Green Holiday suggestions!

Special thanks to  sscreations (portfolio here) for the use of the red batteries image and to digitalart (portfolio here) for the use of the green battery image.

November 30th, 2011 | 5 Comments »

I once made myself very unpopular at a Harry Potter launch. They had one of those jars, you know, filled with jelly beans — Bertie Bott’s, naturally — and you had to guess how many beans there are in the jar to win it. It wasn’t quite a drawing, of course, more like a guessing, but it had the same feel. The launch of a popular book in a small bookstore meant that there was quite a crowd of people around the jar, filling out their guesses and dropping their names into the collection box.

“I never win these things,” sighed one woman, “I wonder why I bother.” And all around her was a chorus of agreement: “I know! I’ve never won anything” and so on. And without thinking, I said, “Oh, really? I win them all the time.” Well. I hadn’t felt such a cold, disapproving silence since I once heard a man say, “Oh, I loved high school. I was really popular.”

It’s true, though. I do win things. Not big things, never the Caribbean cruise or the 42″ television (not that I have room for one anyway), but second and third prizes. $25 gift certificates from local merchants. A basket of decorative bathroom soaps. A live Christmas tree. A pair of binoculars. A tiny flashlight that says on the side, “The Grim Grotto is dark” (Lemony Snicket launch, that one). A cordless drill.

Online drawings, too — three books from Victoria Blisse. A book from Rebecca Bond. A prize package from author Casey Sheridan that included a keychain, a mini bullet vibrator (that came with two sets of batteries), and a $10 Amazon gift card. Also a book from Sommer Marsden, a leather collar (black with red hearts!) from Babeland from sex toy reviewer Geeky Nymph, two anthologies from Lucy Felthouse, 10 pounds of organic coffee, and a book from Elizabeth Coldwell. Eat your heart out, Charlie Sheen!

Why do I win so much? Well, probably because I enter so much. I mean, there are plenty of drawings that I don’t win, too. But while I can assure you that people really do give away the prizes they say they will, you also can’t win if you never enter. My rules for entering are simple: I never enter a drawing for something I don’t want, and I never pay money to enter. I’ll pay time — I’ll fill out the form, leave the comment, repost the link, that sort of thing. But no money, not even a postage stamp.

The pattern seekers among you might have noticed that I win a lot of books. For one thing, I like to read, so I enter a lot of book drawings. It’s also the case, though, that authors offer a lot of drawings, and — no big surprise — they tend to give away books. Ebooks are especially popular for erotica authors because you don’t have to pay for postage, and your recipient can be nice and discreet. The plain brown Internet wrapper. But it’s also because authors love to be read, and because authors understand that new readers hesitate to take a chance on books they don’t know. Even if you like how a given author blogs, you might not be sure you’d like the novel. Thus, a giveaway is a chance for the author to find a new reader, and the reader to find a new author. That new reader might even leave a nice review or rating up at some site, although I’ve never seen a giveaway that even suggested that, let alone required it. It’s just a secret hope. 😉

I suppose people might be wondering if this post is going to include a drawing. Well, it’s going to do several things.

First is to announce a big giveaway that’s coming up, starting tomorrow (December 1, 2011) and running through the 22nd. The prize is … a Kindle! Yes! That’s one sweet prize! Hostess Victoria Blisse has teamed up with 22 blog authors (including moi) to create Blissemas, an event of free reads and essays and jokes and recipes and general holiday-related fun, culminating with a draw for a Kindle. Each day brings you one chance to enter, which is done by commenting on the blog of that day (check the main site for the schedule of blogs — this one is December 7, just FYI).

Second, I’d like to invite any author (well, not kid lit or YA, for obvious reasons) who’s holding a giveaway in the month of December to leave me the link in a comment to this post, and I’ll add them here. Then people can come back again and again to find more giveaways. Remember, people, you can’t win stuff if you never enter!

Finally, for anyone who has never won anything — whether you’ve tried or not — if you leave me a comment here, I will email you my new short story ebook, “Good Girl.” No, it’s not a villa in France, but it’s free! Your choice of .pdf, .doc, .mobi, or ePub formats (or anything else you want, if I can figure out how to make it). Everyone’s a winner!

Oh, and the jar of jelly beans?

Yeah, I won it.

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List of December Giveaways

• From Kiki Howell, a blog tour with several different chances to win. Find the schedule here.

• From Katie Salidas, a blog tour featuring her paranormal Immortalis series. Different blogs feature reviews, interviews, and guest posts. The schedule for the first week is here:

Dec. 1: and
Dec. 2: and
Dec. 3:
Dec. 4:
Dec. 5:   and
Dec. 6:
Dec. 7:


With thanks to Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot, whose portfolio can be found here, for the image of the jelly beans.

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November 19th, 2011 | 6 Comments »

This post comes after a discussion on this topic on google+ some months back. I came a little late to the party, so there was already a long list of comments, and pretty much they all agreed that authors should not review friends’ books (making me instantly wonder, well, should they be reviewing enemies’ books, then?). In fact, one poster even wrote that people reading the reviews could tell whether comments were made by authors or by “real people.”

OK, of course I’m going to bristle at being called an unreal person, but I do get the point being made — it’s the belief that a review being written by a friend is not just going to be positive, but going to be falsely positive. Therefore, since the review is inflated and insincere, it is in some sense dishonest, and does a disservice to potential readers trying to decide whether to purchase a certain book.

I don’t think it’s any secret that I review friends’ books, but just in case someone didn’t know that, I’ll clarify: I certainly have, and will continue to, review friends’ books. It didn’t start out that way, because when I started reviewing erotica, I didn’t know any erotic authors. In fact, some of my erotica author friends are people I met after I reviewed their books. I found things in their writing that spoke to me, so I connected on Facebook or FetLife or wherever, and we started emailing, and became friends. At that point, did my book reviews become invalid? 😉 (OK, I know that’s not what the original discussion was implying.)

But let’s take now. I have a few books in my review queue, and some of them were written by friends. Real friends, not just casual email acquaintances, but people I’ve spent time with, who’ve stayed at my house, whom I’ve shared meals with. In fact, one reason I wanted to review their books is because we’re friends, and through that friendship, I’ve come to know their values and beliefs as well as their writing, which lead me to think I’d like their future books.

Of course, no one was saying you shouldn’t read your friends books — only that you shouldn’t review them. But I still disagree. If I read a book, and I like it, I should be allowed to say so, whether I know the author or not. I know that I’ve read things by friends that I didn’t particularly care for, so it’s not true that I’ll like something just because a friend wrote it. That’s assuming I’m a lot more shallow than I am, thank you very much. Nor would my friends want me to write insincere praise. I don’t, for example, enjoy paranormal erotica. My friends who write in that genre aren’t offended by views, but they’re not surprised if I don’t ask for those titles to review.

Can a reader tell, though? If a review is insincere. You know, I’m not sure it matters — because I don’t think the thumbs-up or the thumbs-down is what influences readers anyway. Nor is the glowing praise or the scathing insults. What matters is a) the plot summary, and b) the reasons and descriptions a reviewer gives. If a review doesn’t tell me why the reader liked or didn’t like a certain book, then it doesn’t sway me one way or the other. And if the review does give me reasons, then I sometimes decide I wouldn’t like a book the reader loved, or that I would like a book the reviewer hated. I’ve experienced that in both directions. When The Kite Runner came out, for example, I can’t count how many friends recommended it to me, telling me how well-written it was. So I asked what it was about. Ah… really not my kind of book. (I’d confess here some books that got terrible reviews that I loved anyway, but I’m too shy.)

If you’ve ever read my book review policies on this site, you know I don’t write negative reviews — not because I never dislike anything, but because writing a review is hard work and takes time, and I don’t want to spend that on something I didn’t enjoy. I don’t necessarily even want to finish the book. I also review erotica for Oysters & Chocolate, and there (since I’m paid) I take what I’m given and I give my reaction, whether positive, negative, or a mix. However, even when leaving a negative or mixed review, I’m careful to give my reasons — and a thoughtful reader could read those reasons and still decide that he/she would enjoy the work in question and buy it anyway.

I don’t agree that opinions are like assholes, but I do think that opinions are … oh, no analogy. They’re just opinions! Not to say that an opinion can never be inaccurate (I swear to god, my local video store used to have A Clockwork Orange shelved in the “comedy” section), but if there are enough reviews of a book, one review that’s way off the others is going to stand out.

The reviews I do object to? Those by people who have not read the book (and yes, that happens!) and those that are only a sentence or two and say something like “I hated this book it was dumb” or “This was the best book ever, so you have to buy it.”

However, I don’t think those sway anyone’s behavior.

I’d love to hear from people whether they’ve ever bought or decided not to buy a book based on a review, and if so, what the deciding factors were. I’d also like to know, of course, what people think of authors reviewing the works of people they know. And finally, do you think you’ve ever read a review that was insincerely positive, and if so, how could you tell?

Thanks to dan for permission to use the photo of the rose on the book. Please see his portfolio of images here.

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October 19th, 2011 | Comments Off on Guest post for K.D. Grace

I’m over at K.D. Grace’s blog today, as part of her series on “The Story behind the Story,” talking about my short story “Flaws,” and what inspired me to write it.

Come join us!

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September 28th, 2011 | Comments Off on An Inconvenient Kink

I hope this doesn’t seem like a bait-and-switch! But I’m actually over at Lisabet Sarai’s place today, guest-blogging about the things that turn me on, like this lovely hotel, and why they do.

Incidentally, Lisabet is holding a giveaway between September 26 and October 10, with a grand prize of three autographed print books (remember print books?) from her backlist. Each comment you leave gets you an entry, but comments on guest posts get you two entries! (Hint: Guest posts are on Wednesdays.)

So head on over!

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