Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dabbling in the Dark Side

Many of you have done it, if only in your fantasies. I'm talking about all things encompassing the BDSM lifestyle.

I use the term 'lifestyle' because I've found through my research that those practicing this with the highest level of commitment, are into the entire lifestyle. For most of us though, this phrase is often thrown around with the act of tying your partner up, or spanking them to spice things up.

I've been researching this for quite some time now because I've wanted to learn about this lifestyle in order to write a story about someone involved in BDSM or getting involved in it at some level, from simple spanking all the way up to becoming a live-in Dom or Sub.

For those of you like me-on the fringes, looking at this lifestyle-peering in for just a sample of what it's all about, let me explain some things.

The term 'BDSM' really encompasses six things, not just four, as the acronym would imply. First there's bondage and discipline. Of course, bondage is the tying up part but the lifestyle goes beyond that. For the true BDSM aficionado, bondage is about control-ownership. Discipline goes along with bondage as a means of supporting that control and ownership.

The 'D' and 'S' in the acronym also mean 'Dominance' and 'Submission.' This means that, in this relationship, one partner plays the dominant role, while the other plays the submissive role. Some people are good at (or enjoy) one role or the other. A person that can play both roles is called a switch.

The 'S' also stands for 'Sadism' along with the last letter 'M' for 'Masochism.' This deals with the blurry borders between pleasure and pain. Specifically sadists gain pleasure (most often, sexual pleasure) from inflicting pain upon others, while masochists gain that pleasure from receiving pain.

Keep in mind here that the key to this lifestyle is consensual participation.

There is so much more to BDSM than I can possibly discuss here but know that it is mostly about power play, ownership, and control by all parties involved. The entire lifestyle is very psychological in its very nature, and explores what some might consider, some very Freudian issues.

It is important to understand though, that when you read, or write in my case, about tying up a partner, or spanking, or even some taboo issues such as daddy/teacher play, you are dabbling in the realm of BDSM.

Is that necessarily a bad thing? No, I don't think so. I just find it interesting how all these practices are considered so taboo by many, yet so worth exploring if for no other reason than self awareness.

What are your thoughts?

Note: Thank you to anonymous for pointing out that I had originally written the definition of sadist and masochist backwards.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Amazon KDP Select - My Thoughts

For the last ninety days I've had two books listed in Amazon's KDP Select program. This post serves as a short analysis of my experience with the program.

My analysis will, of course, be short and without a bunch of graphical data. I choose to just post my own personal experience.

The two books I selected for the program were: Window Treatment and All the Right Places.

The number one advantage to enrolling in the program was it allowed me to list my books free for a total of five days out of the ninety day enrollment period. While I saw a marked increase in purchases while the books were listed as free, they also fell under the free ebooks category for sales standings. When they reverted back to their ninety-nine cent price, they saw only a temporary rise in position.

As most of you know, position is everything in marketing ebooks on Amazon, or any other online sales channel. Once a book climbs to the lofty top one hundred position, it tends to stay there awhile. I've yet to see any of my books (except The Fifth Beauty, offered free) make it into this top one hundred position. My sales tend to be slow and steady.

The major downside to enrollment in the KDP Select program is the exclusivity clause. Books enrolled in the program cannot be marketed through any other sales channel. For me, this one disadvantage far outweighed any positive the program may have provided.

I believe the potential sales I lost at Barnes and Noble, ARe, Apple iBooks, Kobo, Diesel, Smashwords, and other markets were more than any possible gains through Amazon, Although their literature made it seem as though my sales would skyrocket because of the the ability for their Prime members to "borrow" books in the program.

I think it was a sham. I had less than ten books borrowed throughout the ninety days of program enrollment.

For this reason, I will not continue with this program, and republish my two test books into their previous channels.

Now, I must ask the readers out there, How does Amazon's Prime program affect you? Is it worth the money to enroll? If you have enrolled, do you borrow many books?

I believe it was worth it to try this program with a sample of my work, but was not overall impressed with the results. Although, I certainly liked the ability to offer my work free for a limited time, the results did not justify the effort.

Next, I may try offering my books (and maybe a select few others) for sale from my website.

Oh, and by the way. Here's a sneak peak at my next project, available soon

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Talk About Sex

Yes, I said it.

In the melodic words of Salt n Peppa, let's talk about sex. Why not? Sex permeates everything we think or do in our lives.

But specifically, I want to talk about writing and reading about sex.

"Literature - creative literature - unconcerned with sex, is inconceivable." - Gertrude Stein.

I suppose I can't say that ALL stories ever written were about sex, the but in the majority of adult literature, sex is, at the very least, an undercurrent.

Why is sex so popular? I believe it is because when one reads about sex, whether it be romantic or purely physical, they are reading about pleasure, mysticism, magic. Sex transports us to a realm of fantasy. I'm not saying that every story or piece of literature should ooze sex appeal or graphically depict the act at every chance. I am suggesting though that sex should be allowed to be a part of the story as much any other element of character or plot. In the case of erotica, sex can literally become the plot.

"Sex is as important as eating or drinking and we ought to allow the one appetite to be satisfied with as little restraint or false modesty as the other." - Marque de Sade.

I've often been accused of writing highly sexualized and wanton stories, even in works I don't necessarily consider 'erotica.' I believe this is because I choose to include the natural act within the lives of my characters. One might even say I allow the sexual or physical relationship to intertwine within the romantic relationship, helping to build layers in the characters. After all, isn't that like it is in real life?

Sex often takes a political place within a relationship. Sex can be both kind or cruel. People grow up with so many hang-ups about sex, even the most normal expressions of physical pleasure and release, can seem taboo to them.

"Sex is full of lies. The body tries to tell the truth but it's usually too battered with rules to heard, and bound with pretense so it can hardly move. We cripple ourselves with lies." - Jim Morrison.

That's why I often write erotica. It is a way to experience a fantasy. It is a way to live outside the realm of rules and pretense - if only for awhile. I believe also that this is why erotica maintains its popularity.

One can read about something they might otherwise know only as 'kink' or 'disgusting' without being made to feel guilty about it.

"Don't worry, it only seems kinky the first time." - Anonymous.

Many people allow their beliefs to blur the lines and think that something out of the ordinary is perverse when, in fact, it may just be another form of expression. The things we might call kink may be what allows one to fully let go. It may be the thing that brings the magic.

"Kinky is using a feather. Perverted is using the whole chicken." - Anonymous.

So, what say you? Why do enjoy reading or writing works of erotica? Do you read about things you would never do in real life or do you do things in real life you'd never even read about?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Back From The Nether

I Bet you thought I was gone to never return. It is somewhat true. I've been 'out of sorts' in more ways than one these last few weeks. I only hope my small following hasn't given up on my, and left me for dead because I'm still very much alive and kicking.

I took some time for a short vacation, driving nearly thirteen-hundred miles to see my son in the West Texas town of El Paso. We stayed there for a week, visiting Carlsbad Caverns and a small Winery in New Mexico. We toured El Paso pretty extensively, and even ventured to San Antonio to see the Alamo while visiting. We made a couple stops in Louisiana on the way back home. We visited the Tabasco headquarters on Avery island and ate a feast of a lunch at a great Cajun restaurant in the city of Lafayette. We also hiked up a very steep mountains to visit some old Navajo caves that turned out to be little more than depressions in the side of a cliff, but the walk was nice. We went to a Brazilian steak house where we were fed so much meat, we were all sick to our stomachs. It was a fun time had by all!

It was a great little vacation - and much needed - but it ended too soon. Also, we kept so busy, and the hotel was so nice that I barely got any writing done. I know, it's strange for me not to write on the road as I usually do my best writing while tucked away in some raggy little hotel somewhere.

But not this time.

Although my laptop remained plugged in, turned on, and perched on the granite table top in the lavish hotel room, I only managed to pound out about thirty words the entire week. THIRTY WORDS! What's wrong with me?  Well, nothing, really. I just stayed too busy and was so exhausted each night upon returning, I would simply fall to the bed.

I decided to suspend my weekly work in progress post. I realized that by posting work in a draft form, I was doing myself, and my readers, a disservice. Plus, I've struggled with the current major work in progress, and I'm beginning to wonder why, from a psychological standpoint, why I am still unable to come up with a title for the story. Those who know me will understand that psychology goes into much of what I do ... or do not do. I think that's true of most writers.

Anyway, to rest my mind and unfurrow my brow, I'm working on some shorter stories while I gather my thoughts. Expect to see some short, more-or-less plotless, fun, sexy stories out soon. The first, I've tentatively titled, Surrogate for now. Another, which is still stewing around in my head, I will title, Threshold.

Surrogate concerns a woman agreeing to take part in a scientific study revolving around the theory and/or practice of remote viewing/remote influence. She is given instructions to simply go into a dimly lit room, undress, and get comfortable. In another room, a woman, advanced in the art of remote influence will attempt to physically manipulate the unknown subject in the room next door. She will attempt to influence the subject sexually. In order to do this, she needs a surrogate - a real physical person with whom she can physically touch and pleasure in order to project her tactile feelings onto the unknown subject. The story will be told through the point of view of all three participants individually.

Threshold will involve a woman into the BDSM lifestyle. she will come to the same clinic as the previous story to take part in a study on determining the threshold between pleasure and pain. She intends to prove the threshold lies far beyond conventional wisdom. But, the clinic has found just the man willing and able to take her to that threshold, and beyond.

I haven't worked out all the details of the second story yet, but I've had other ideas that dabbled in this realm and have done much research on the subject.

Hope you all haven't forgotten me in my absence. Thank you for your patience. I'm now back in the game again.