AHS Coven Roundup and Halloween

american-horror-story-coven-2You guys probably noticed that I didn’t comment on American Horror Story last week. Well, I was a little disheartened by last week’s episode.  There was some stuff going on that I just didn’t feel were particularly necessary.  And the one thing I hate in horror is when the writer does something just for ick factor.  There was a lot of ick factor last week:  the Incest is the Best storyline with Frankenwiener, the Is that a Cowbell or Are You Just Happy to See Me event with Queenie and the Minotaur— it was just too much for The Belle.  So I didn’t say a lot.

This week, the show was redeemed!  I’m not really surprised.  Every season has had a mediocre episode followed by the bombshell Halloween episode. This season was no different.  Marie Laveau has permanently cemented her place in my heart with this week’s badassery. Hell hath no fury like a voodoo queen scorned.  I won’t spoil it, but let’s just say that the Civil Rights Movement might have sped along a little faster if they’d let Marie settle some of the disputes.  I actually kind of like that we’ve got some social commentary going on this season.   I was also pleasantly surprised that Delphine and Queenie seemed to be coming to an understanding.  Perhaps old Madame LaLaurie will be the one getting redeemed this year.

The theme this week was obviously:  When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us.  As I mentioned on Twitter, there were a lot of checks being written that asses can’t cash.  Never cheat on a witch– her Coven will come after you.  Never hurt a witch– her Coven will come after you.  Never gang up on a witch– her Coven will come after you.  They may hate one another, but nobody else better fuck with em.  Which brings me to the double-edged sword of this week’s episode for me:  the witch council.  I hate complicated political structures in paranormal fiction.  Remember that stupid vampire power structure in the Sookie Stackhouse books? The Volturi in the Twilight series?   Yeah… I hate shit like that.  You’re freakin’ witches. I think a governmental body is a pretty moot point.  However, I loved the three actors that played The Council.  If these kids had been the Volturi, it would have been entertaining.

Coven did one thing extremely well tonight, though.  The Southern Gothic element was portrayed with the mysterious reverence it deserves.  If you’re an author who is trying to pinpoint how to capture that atmosphere, watch the encore episode and take notes.  It doesn’t get more perfect than this.

Happy Halloween, kids!  Have a spooky, sexy day!  And don’t forget to tune in tomorrow when I’ll be all about my RELEASE DAY!  That’s right, I have a new quickie from Ellora’s Cave dropping on Friday, Nov. 1st! So come back and see me!  You never know… I may give away a free book!

 

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Fanfiction: Masterclass for Baby Writers or Root of All Evil?

me and amy (2)OK, admit it, when you saw the FANFICTION at the beginning of this blog post, you thought, “Has The Belle finally taken leave of her senses?”  And the answer is: no more than usual.  Let me begin by saying that I’m very positive on fanfiction.  Like many of my colleagues, “fic” was my introduction to building a story.  Yes, kittens, beneath this cool exterior beats the heart of a true fangirl.  If you’ve seen my Pinterest page, you know that already.  I’ve always been a movie person and had that little obsessive streak.  I still do. I’m hugely inspired by movies, music, television, actors and actresses. Therefore, fanfiction has been crucial to my development as a writer.

The first complete short story I ever wrote was a fanfiction.  It was 1996, I was in college and I was obsessed with the TV show, Forever Knight.  If you’ve never seen the show, its the predecessor to all the sympathetic vampire shows we know and love now.  Anyway, I joined a mailing list (remember those?!) full of other Forever Knight fangirls and I was introduced to the fic phenomenon.  The story was called “First Kill” and it was a shortish, angsty piece about Nick Knight and his first involuntary vampire murder.  I’m sure if I came across it now, I’d cringe at how awful it was.  However, it helped me craft a complete story without having to worry about building a world and a lot of original characters.  I also got lots of encouragement from other people that  liked the story and liked my writing style.  They also told me things that I could do better.  I started to think, “Hmm… I might be able to do this.”  Fast forward about 5 years and found a new mailing list dedicated to “Moulin Rouge.”  That’s where I really took off and started writing A LOT.  I actually gained a following (hi out there to any former Cleo followers) and learned how to add details, description and plot twists. Oh and did I mention explicit sex scenes?  I also had the remarkable experience of meeting some of my best friends IN THE WORLD on those lists.

The point of this story:  writing fanfiction is like training wheels for authors.

Now, the dark side.  Fanfiction is technically copyright infringement.  Wait, wait… don’t jump on me yet.  When you write fanfiction, you have to keep in mind that your fingers are playing in someone else’s pie.  And if you’re going to play with their worlds, then you have to respect their rules.  Some authors/ screenwriters/ filmmakers/ actors are very positive on fanfiction and even encourage their fans to have fun with their universes as long as said fans aren’t making money off of it.   Authors such as Neil Gaiman, Arthur Conan Doyle, J.K. Rowling, E.L. James, Stephanie Meyer, Terry Pratchett, Jim Butcher and many others give their full blessings to fan fiction writers as long as no profit is being made (the exception being Conan Doyle who is, in fact, dead– of course his estate is a different matter for a different blog post).  They realize that their works have inspired others to write and their creativity might lead future authors to realize their potential.  Others are VERY MUCH against it. Marion Zimmer Bradley, Orson Scott Card, Diana Gabaldon, Laurell K. Hamilton, George R. R. Martin, Anne Rice, and J. R. R. Tolkien are pretty adamant that their works NOT be borrowed or played with.  And that’s just a small sample.  So keep that in mind before hitting that PUBLISH button on Fanfiction.net.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVRDQacBVh0

The thing I don’t like about fanfiction is that some folks have taken it too far.  The “rules” have become way more stringent than in my day and flaming seems to be the rule of the day.  When I was writing fic regularly, it was a very supportive environment where aspiring writers tried to encourage other aspiring writers.  Now it can be like a warzone.  Fic authors are afraid to write Original Female Characters (OFCs) because they’ll be accused of doing a “Mary Sue.”  If you don’t know what that is, a “Mary Sue” is the author inserting herself into a story in order to engage in sexual situations with the objects of their desire.  I was actually reading a story on fanfiction.net the other day (yeah, I went snooping before writing this post) and in the author’s note the poor girl had actually apologized for her OFC.  This disturbed me because 1– you should never apologize for creativity and 2– if you never create an original character, then you’ll never move beyond fanfiction into your own stories.  I wanted to write this poor girl a note and tell her to take that apology back.  It was obvious to me that this girl was very young and very new to writing, and I’d hate to think that some fandom battleax would crush her because she’d dared to have an original idea.  I’ve also heard that for some fandoms, if someone dares to write a “hetfic” (meaning that the pairings are heterosexual rather than slash) that they’re almost guaranteed to be flamed off the list.  This disturbs me.  If two male characters aren’t gay in their fandom’s canon, why do we insist on forcing them into a sexual relationship in fanfiction?  Don’t get me wrong, if you want to write that– awesome.  Have at it.  However, don’t flame someone else who isn’t into that.  Personally, if I’m writing fanfiction about a heterosexual character, then its more satisfying to me to keep them in character (I’m lookin’ at you JohnLock!ers… ;P).

Now, the answer you’ve all been waiting for:  Do I, Alexandra Christian, Southern Belle, erotic author and part-time pinup girl, write fanfiction?  Yes.  I do.  Do I publish it anywhere?  No.  It’s something I write for myself for my hard drive for my eyes.  Fanfiction is now how I break through blocks, give my brain a rest and work through writing issues that I might be having.  I share it with a few friends every now and then, but for the most part I keep it to myself.

Mostly so George Lucas doesn’t kill my dog.

**********

ingenue_new lineCOMING FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1ST!!– Not a fanfiction…LOL

Never fall in love with a hoofer. That’s the advice given to Stefan—advice he immediately ignores when he falls head-over-heels in love with burlesque dancer Rose, the shimmying, corseted star of the Footlight Theatre. But wicked, wounded Rose is far out of the humble stagehand’s reach.

Rose has stars in her eyes—and bruises on her face. As she suffers abuse at the hands of a cruel patron, she dreams of the day when she’ll find her way out of her nightmare and into the arms of the passionate, protective Stefan.

Inside scoop:  This book contains scenes of domestic violence before the heroine fights back and finds her true hero.

A Romantica® historical erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

 

Vintage Sexy

ingenue_new lineHi kids!  I haven’t said much about anything other than American Horror Story here in the last couple of weeks so I’ve decided to remedy that this week.  In case you didn’t know, I have a book coming out on Friday with Ellora’s Cave.  It’s a little historical piece that takes us back to the early days of American Burlesque and Vaudeville.  “Ingenue” is the story of a burlesque dancer and the stagehand who loves her.  With that in mind, I wanted to talk a little bit today about what is sexy.

As a writer of erotica, both straight and paranormal, I always find myself reading and researching about what is sexy to the readers of 2013.  It’s an interesting topic, though I often get strange looks from the patrons of the local Starbucks.  The fact is, the things that we find sexy in today’s modern world have changed drastically in the last thirty years.  The Sexual Revolution of the 1960s made us more open, maybe even too open.  Previous to this, housewives were hiding their bodice rippers in the nightstand and denying any involvement in masturbation or fantasy lives.  Then suddenly the market realized that women wanted more explicit sex, hotter men and stronger heroines. And then the 1980s brought us AIDS, an increase in teenage pregnancy and an emphasis on sexual responsibility. Nowadays, innovations like the Internet, social networking and eBook readers have made the world much smaller and if possible, more open.  Specifically, more open to sex.  With all of these societal changes, the modern romance author has had to become vigilant in keeping up with what makes the modern reader hot, while also maintaining that theme of sexual responsibility.

One of the coolest things that I’ve noticed over the last several years is the return to all things vintage.  As many of you who read my blog and indeed, my writing, I closely identify myself with the Goth culture.  One of the things that the Goth scene has done for sexuality is to bring back the Burlesque aesthetic.  Corsets, clothes that are sexy without being obscene and bawdy women who are purposefully comedic and sexually open are HOT.  The popularity of movies like Burlesque and Moulin Rouge and performance artists such as Dita Von Teese reflect a culture that is ready to embrace the playful side of sex.  And embrace it not as something dirty, but as something that should be enjoyed.  I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the proverbial “bodice ripper” that features some poor shrinking violet being kidnapped, raped and forced into marriage just doesn’t sell anymore.  The modern reader wants strong heroines who aren’t afraid to fight back with all the weapons in their arsenal:  intellect, beauty and general “badassery.”

Another thing that romance readers are finding exceptionally sexy right now is the Male/Male romance.  While I myself don’t write in this subgenre, I have great respect for those that do.  And I think it’s so exciting that love relationships between two men are becoming so mainstream.  No one, regardless of their sexual orientation, should have to hide who they really are from the world.  The popularity of the Male/Male romance genre indicates to me that the modern reader is accepting of the gay lifestyle.  After all, love is love.  And tolerance is, to me, HOT.

Along with the age of eReaders has come a wave of new and exciting writers in the romance genre.  No longer do writers have to drown in the slush pile of a New York publishing house for two years before being told, “It’s just not what we’re looking for right now.”  Instead of authors scrounging to be noticed by publishers, eBook publishers are pursuing unknown authors.  As one of those unknowns, I’m exceptionally pleased by this paradigm shift.  It means that thousands of creative minds are getting their words out to the readers.  How exciting to be a reader right now!  Whatever sort of kink you’re into, there’s a writer out there who caters to you.  Trust me, if you want to read a book about an alien that falls in love with a werewolf—it’s out there.  That being said, readers want more and more creativity.  Plots have to be tight and believable.  No longer will readers be content to lose themselves in a ridiculous scenario highlighted by ten pages of “He presented his throbbing member to the entrance of her moist and waiting canal.”

Let me close by saying that no one can really answer the question, “What is sexy?”  Because the truth is, like wine, everyone has their own preferred vintage.  The good news is, with the explosion of eBooks and small presses, everyone can find something to tickle their fancy.

***********

COMING NOVEMBER 1ST FROM ELLORA’S CAVE!

Never fall in love with a hoofer. That’s the advice given to Stefan—advice he immediately ignores when he falls head-over-heels in love with burlesque dancer Rose, the shimmying, corseted star of the Footlight Theatre. But wicked, wounded Rose is far out of the humble stagehand’s reach.

Rose has stars in her eyes—and bruises on her face. As she suffers abuse at the hands of a cruel patron, she dreams of the day when she’ll find her way out of her nightmare and into the arms of the passionate, protective Stefan.

Bitch, I Will Eat You! : Weekly Roundup on AHS Coven

american-horror-story-coven-2Well, I have to admit that I was hesitant this week.  My other show, Sleepy Hollow, was extremely disappointing this week.  So I was fearful that AHS was going to be another disappointment.  BOY WAS I WRONG!  Pardon me while I gush a little.  Everything about this week’s episode was fuckin’ amazing!  From the Gator Boy-Hillbilly Mass-uh-cree at the beginning to the Drivin’ Miss Daisy “You’re my best friend” Exchange at the end.  So I’ve just compiled a little list of my favorite things from this week’s episode.  WARNING!! SPOILERS!!!

1.  The best line of the night was spoken by Gabourey Sidibe as badass teen witch, Queenie.  “Bitch, I will eat you!”  I think I’ll be using this in every day conversation for the rest of the week.  It was just so unexpected.  I spewed Coke all over the dog.

2.  Marie Laveau’s Revenge.  Hey, I’m a southern belle– da voudou is in my blood.  I thought the scene where Madame LaLaurie is relating to Fiona about how she came to be immortal was fantastic.  The writers really thought it out and the sonsabitches actually made you feel sorry for Delphine.  For a second anyway.  It wasn’t overly complicated but everything fell into place.  And of course, Kathy Bates’s understated emotional performance was as always– stunning.

3.  Fiona and Marie Sparring at the Beauty Shop.  I can’t say enough about how much I love these two actresses.  Their bitchy banter back and forth sets up their relationship and explains a little more about the Tituba mythos that is apparently going to be a big deal this season.

4.  Frankenboy.  Maybe it’s a tired horror cliché, but I loved the idea of sewing all the parts together to raise Kyle from the dead.  Though I’m curious to see how they’re going to continue that storyline more than a couple of episodes without it becoming… moldy.  Hopefully Stevie Nixx is going to help us out with that.

5.  Finally an Integral Sex Scene.  I’m just a sicko erotica writer, but I thought the sex scene between Cordelia and her husband (when did she get a husband?!) was one of the hottest ever.  It beat the hell out of Black Magic Pussy, anyway.

As I mentioned before, there’s so many things about this episode that I liked that it was extremely hard to find favorite things.  I will say that it has already surpassed the previous seasons, so for that I say– BRAVO! As always, feel free to leave complaints and grievances below.

MUST READ: Long Haul by Louisa Bacio

LongHaulCoverI’d like to welcome to the blog today, for your Friday pleasure, authoress Louisa Bacio!  She’s here today talking about her first release from Ellora’s Cave, Long Haul.  Trust me, after reading her post, you’ll be adding this to your MUST READ list as well!  Without further ado….

*************

How fast do you go?

165 mph.

That’s how fast a car was going that I’ve been in. Let me tell you, it’s damn fast.

One of my former day jobs was working with automotive journalists. I photographed a few NASCAR Truck races, took a women’s defensive driving course and rose as a passenger in a supped-up Mustang, traveling the back roads of Nevada at 165.

Can you imagine how quickly the landmarks on the side of the road pass by at that speed? It’s whiplash speeds. Was it the smartest thing in the world to do? Probably not. But I was young, and fearless, and invincible, and – did I mention? – the driver was hot.

Fast cars. Fast men. A passion for life. Some of those items got infused in my first Ellora’s Cave Quickie, Long Haul.

Consider taking it for a spin, but make sure to wear your seat belt!

Long Haul

Between California and Arizona, there’s a sweet patch of highway that encourages a man’s mind to wander. Randy’s mind always ends up in the same place—traveling the smooth planes of Sallie Mae’s tanned legs and following the line of sweat that snakes down her neck and disappears between her breasts. It’s all too easy to imagine her naked in the seat beside him, flirting, stroking, even straddling his legs and daring him to find a better way to go than at eighty miles an hour with a hot blonde in his lap. The fantasy alone makes concentrating on the road a struggle. He doesn’t have a clue how he’s going to manage to drive Sallie Mae home from college while keeping his mind on the road and his hands to himself. Especially with Sallie Mae all too willing to flirt, stroke and blow the lid right off his fantasy.

Available now via Ellora’s Cave, Amazon, All Romance eBooks and coming soon to other eRetailers!

Enjoy the Ride!

~Louisa Bacio

 

http://www.facebook.com/louisabacio

 

http://www.twitter.com/louisabacio

 

http://louisabacio.blogspot.com

Bio:

A Southern California native, Louisa Bacio can’t imagine living far away from the ocean. The multi-published author of erotic romance enjoys writing within all realms – from short stories to full-length novels.

Bacio shares her household with a supportive husband, two daughters growing “too fast,” and a multitude pet craziness: two dogs, five fish tanks, an aviary, hamsters, rabbits, hermit crabs and rolly pollies. In her other life, she teaches college classes in English, journalism and popular culture.

Tour Giveaway: $15 gift card to Amazon

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Toil and Trouble: American Horror Story, Coven

american-horror-story-coven-2So last night was the most eagerly anticipated season premiere in my house this year–at least until Sherlock S3 begins– American Horror Story: Coven.  And you guys just knew I’d be here today to blab about it.  I’ll try not to give to many spoilers, but be warned– there might be some.  If you have no idea what’s going on, let me explain.  No, there is too much– let me sum up:  Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson are a mother-daughter witch team that have a school for teenage witches in New Orleans.  Kathy Bates, seen in flashbacks and in other instances I can’t talk about without spoiling, is the infamous antebellum murderess Madame Delphine LaLaurie.  If you don’t know her– look her up.  Truth is stranger than fiction, babies.  Angela Basett is of course, Marie Laveau, the baddest witch in town with a whole bag of gris-gris to unleash on those who would cross her.

Let me start by saying that they really couldn’t lose this season with their casting.  In addition to our favorites from previous seasons, adding Bates and Basset was no less than a stroke of genius on the parts of Murphy and Falchuk.  They prove in the first installment that it is possible to make a character that is truly evil the coolest cat in the room.  As “the southern belle from Hell” I can also say, with authority, that Kathy Bates does an excellent southern accent.  Lily Rabe’s “Misty Day” pales frightfully in comparison.  But I can overlook it, I suppose.  Emma Roberts playing Lindsay Lohan is mildly entertaining, but I do hope that she can handle the acting chops its going to take to stand alongside Taissa Farmiga, Gabourey Sidibe and Jamie Brewer (her witch sisters).

Most of you know me as a writer of erotic fiction– romantic, paranormal and horror.  Sex is my trade.  So that should give you some sense of the gravity of my next statement.  I, personally, am done with the shocking sex scene for shocking sex scene’s sake with AHS.  Yeah, we get it.  We’re showing explicit sexual content at 10pm on a regular cable network.  Ain’t we cool, ain’t we edgy?  Yeah.  You were.  In 2011.  Now it’s just getting tired.  I’m all for showing explicit sex whenever and wherever you want as long as its integral to the plot.  Seeing how many ugly ways we can do it in how many weird scenarios is just boring at this point.  There was one scene in particular, that I won’t mention because I don’t want to give spoilers and have people yelling at me in the comments, that I just felt was unnecessary.  The plot could have moved on without it and we had already seen the power of Zoe’s Black Magic Pussy in the first scene.  I actually prefer the explicit violence to unnecessary sex scenes that are put in there just to make us titter and say “oh no she din’t!”

Now that the criticisms are out of the way, I will say that I love it!  This is no surprise to anyone.  I’m a huge fan of the twisted, hardcore horror that AHS offers.  The scripts are well written, smart and positively wicked.  As I’ve always said, the strength of a good horror story is the characters.  Coven, like the previous two seasons, is rich in really interesting characters.  Even the most evil are amazing to watch.  I want to know more about them and even though I’m watching them commit these twisted acts of cruelty, I want to keep watching to see what’s going to happen next.  Yep, I’m lookin’ at you, Ms. Bates.  Also, the fact that Southern Gothic is becoming a big deal is awesome!!  But that’s a whole blog by itself.  Stay tuned.

Like Jerry Springer with his “Final Thought,” let me leave you with a wrap up entitled “Lexxx’s Favorite Things About Episode 1, in no particular order:”

1.  I love watching rapists get burned up in buses.  Little bastards deserved it.

2.  Jessica Lange’s dance number that ends in her sucking the life out of the doctor. Now that’s my kind of witch.

3.  Kathy Bates. Kathy Bates. Kathy Bates. Oh wait… does that count as three things?

4.  The “Coming Soon” montage at the end.  This season is going to be amazing.  I can’t wait ’til next Wednesday!!!

Alright, kids.  Now it’s time for your two cents.  Feel free to disagree with me if you like.  Just remember, we’re raised mean in the south….

Dinosaur Porn… WTF people?!

me and amy (2)All right, faithful readers.  Get ready.  It’s time for another Alexandra Christian: Shrieking Violet rant.  If you’re faint of heart or are offended easily, back out now while you still can.  Extreme snark ahead….

Have we finally sunk to the rock bottom of our culture?  Has the romance market finally become so saturated that we, as readers, are willing to accept any trash just to find something new and different?  Over the last few months I’ve come to realize that “like to hate culture” is killing art in America.

Think back to 2004.  It was the heyday of American Idol and other televised “talent” shows. There was a little show, passing just under the radar on the WB, called Superstar USA.  The premise of this show was to get a group of poor suckers to believe that they were going to be on a TV talent show looking for the best singer in America when in fact, they were looking for the WORST singers in America.  For seven weeks, viewers at home suffered through some of the worst Queen and Edwin McCain covers ever, voting on the one that was the most excruciating.  Was it hilarious?  Yes.  Was it humiliating for the contestants?  Yes.  Do I feel sorry for them?  HELL NO!!  The reason being, even if they were completely oblivious when the show was filming (doubtful), they were at some point told what was going on and they still made grabby hands at their fifteen minutes of fame like Veruca Salt at the Chocolate Factory.  And why?  Because being famous for being ridiculous is better than not being famous.  Apparently.

Which brings me to the purpose of my rant.  Today I saw no less than 2 news articles, 3 Facebook Shares and 5 Tweets about a series of books up on Amazon that are…. wait for it… dinosaur erotica.  I wish I were kidding, but I’m being dead serious.  Now, here’s the really depressing part—- the sales were through the roof.  The books have gotten NATIONAL attention.  Now, why does this peeve me?  Because myself and so many authors are struggling, literally struggling, to get our books into the hands of readers.  Authors that tell wonderful stories that are intelligent, beautifully written, have intricate and intriguing plots.  Books that transport their readers into a world where romance is still alive and adventure is waiting right outside your door.  But we can’t get noticed because we’re getting lost in a maelstrom of “books we love to hate.”  You see, it’s the same mentality as the Superstar show.  Whatever is the most shocking, the most offensive, the most ridiculous– the squeakiest wheel– gets the sale.

As many of you know, I do a lot of writing/sci-fi conventions to promote my books.  One of the conversations I have the most often on panels and with other authors are about how romance writers are the redheaded step-children of the writing business.  A lot of folks assume that writing a romance novel is easy.  That it’s not as worthy a genre as say, sci-fi or fantasy or literary.  The truth is, writing a sexy, entertaining and honest romance novel is hard work.  They are extremely character driven and require a lot of emotional investment on the part of the author and reader.  It ain’t easy.  And what truly pisses me off is that the dino porn, incest porn, rape glorification and borderline pedophilia porn that manage to get all this attention are perpetuating the myth that romance is not a worthy genre.  Perhaps this isn’t the intention, but I feel like the authors of these “shock” books are poking fun at the rest of us.

And the readers.

In short, I’m a damn good writer and I have hundreds of writer friends across many genres who are also damn good writers.  Those are the people who should be getting the big sales.  So now… all of you beautiful, intelligent readers– go forth and pimp your favorite writers’ books.  Tell the world how great they are through reviews and suggestions.  In an age of Miley Cyrus and Justin Beiber, be a champion for smart people everywhere!!  Remember:  you can read!