We’re Mad as Hell!

anigif_enhanced-buzz-6671-1374245679-42_previewIt always seems that I’m blogging when I’m pissed off about something.  And usually, it’s something that might seem pretty trivial in retrospect, but tonight I saw something that not only angered me, but disturbed me as well.  The truth is, we all tend to think that we live in a modern world where everyone is given basic human rights regardless of gender, religion, sexual orientation– whatever.  We hear stories about minorities being extremely oppressed, but it always seems that these happenings are in backward countries with medieval sensibilities.  Not in modern, advanced societies where everyone has televisions, computers and the internet.  Right?  WRONG.

I read a story on Buzzfeed tonight.  It was brought to my attention by my writer friend, Selah Janel, whom I met a long time ago when we were just kids writing Moulin Rouge fan fiction.  Well, she was a kid, I was already married.  Yeah, I’m old. But I did marry young!  Anyway, I digress.  The two of us have been sisters in fan fiction for a whole and so this story floored us both.  Apparently, the Chinese government is on a witch hunt to prosecute WOMEN who write erotic fiction.  Worse, they seem to really be targeting slash fiction writers (if you don’t know, slash fiction is m/m erotic romance written primarily by female writers for female readers).  This tells me two things, kittens:  the Chinese government is discriminating against women and the Chinese government is discriminating against homosexuality.  Now, those are broad generalizations, so do let me elaborate.

Erotic fiction online is very popular in China, apparently.  So popular, in fact, that readers are willing to pay subscriptions for serial novels.  Some are fan fiction based, others are original.  For the most part, these sites do not have any explicit images or video, its merely the written word.  The Chinese government has shut down many sites already and arrested their staff.  They’ve also managed to track down authors and arrest them in their homes.  They claim that what these girls are writing is indecent and corrupting the minds of Chinese youth (paging Mr. Socrates!).  That the stories advocate violence and promiscuity and give youth a distorted image of what healthy sexuality is.  Lemme give you an image of the average female arrested for these stories.  Young, between 18-25.  Socially awkward (some, not all).  Many of them isolated and living at home with their parents. Shy.  Sexually inexperienced.  Clearly we’re not talking about Larry Flint or Bob Guccione (editors of Hustler and Penthouse, respectively) or Pauline Reage (author of The Story of O).  These are young girls who are desperately trying to express themselves and for, most likely, the FIRST time feeling that they have talent and worth.  That they can do something that no one else can do.  That they have a voice that others might be interested in.  And ultimately, that’s what the Chinese government is afraid of.  Once women learn to read, write and discover their vaginas, they become dangerous.  And Heaven forbid if they express the thought that homosexuality is OK.

This scares me, kids.  I’m afraid for these girls.  I’m afraid for the youth of China.  I’m afraid for what this could mean for the rest of the world.  I’m afraid of the sins of our past being revisited over and over.  Freedom of speech and expression is the cornerstone of our society.  We may not like what people say all the time, but most of us would fight to defend their right to say it.  It bothers me that the citizens of other countries don’t enjoy these basic human rights.  That’s not geocentrism, its truth.  So the next time we decide to get our panties in wad because we’re being FORCED to have medical insurance or FORCED to register our guns or FORCED to go to school, just remember, kiddos– it could always be worse.

The Buzzfeed Article, if you’re interested:  http://www.buzzfeed.com/kevintang/inside-chinas-insane-witch-hunt-for-slash-fiction-writers

 

Just Sluts with Pens

me and amy (2)Hello, denizens of the Interwebs!  It’s been a while since we chatted and I know you’ve been waiting with bated breath to see what I had to say next.  Well wait no more, here I am!  Well, it’s going to be an exciting Springtime for the old girl. Why, you ask?  Well, tomorrow 3/19/2014, I have a new release coming from Ellora’s Cave and, wonder of wonders, it’s my first novel length work with them!  It’s also my first foray into erotic horror with them, so we’ll see what happens.  So keep watch tomorrow for excerpts, blurbs and just general squee-ing.  I’ve also written a little article called “Velocirapture, the Rise of Crypto Porn” that will be featured in Jamais Vu– Journal of the Strange Among the Familiar, Issue 2.  It’s snarky and fun and I do hope that you’ll like it.

Well, with all that in the works, you’re probably wondering about the title of my little blog today.  Yes, I’m afraid another rant is coming your way.  I know you’ve missed them.  At any rate, yesterday I heard that some romance authors in my area were approached about a reality show that is set to focus on romance writers.  Now, I’m sure that what’s being pitched is a show that would feature “The Writer’s Life.”  But think about it, people.  Many of you reading this blog right now know that “the writer’s life” in actuality would probably not make a good reality show.  Watching me go to my day job, trying to write a sex scene in between answering the phone to say things like “no, I cannot excuse you from jury duty because you have an infected toenail.”  Sitting for hours on the couch with my dog, trying to write but instead succumbing to the swansong of Pinterest and Facebook.  Knowing that I need to write the next chapter of my novel when really all I want to do is write more Sherlock fanfiction.  Staring at a blank piece of paper while I sip yet another cup of tea.  These things would not be intriguing to the general public.  This is not glamorous.  Which makes me wonder– what is the show really going to be about?  I don’t know, but I have some guesses.

It may be because I’m jaded or because I’ve gotten the “oh, you write romance” look far too often.  You know the one.  The one that says 1) Romance novels… that’s not like real writing and 2) You must be a freak in bed!  But I’m very skeptical. I have visions of romance novelists being represented as desperate housewives who are writing up their sexual misadventures with the plumber.  I’m seeing camera crews following authors to conventions where they only manage to catch the parts where we’re sitting in the bar after a day of panels, knocking back some margaritas.  Maybe producers encouraging said authors to dance on tables while having lipstick lesbian encounters with other members of their caste.  Or worse, romance novelists being portrayed as frustrated librarians who can’t get boyfriends writing about their fantasies of watching homosexual couples whipping each other with riding crops.

Hellsong_EC

NEW RELEASE!

In short, I’m afraid that reality television would perpetuate the myth that romance authors are “just sluts with pens.” Reality television isn’t solely to blame, of course.   After all, I have no idea if the show has even been greenlit.  I do spend an awful lot of time on Twitter and Facebook and see an awful lot of authors that, while talented, are so desperate to be noticed that they’re glad to project that slutty image (by the way, if you’re an author and my Facebook friend– I’m not referring to you) just to get attention.  Here’s a pro tip:  if your profile picture on Facebook shows you either A:  half dressed with your tits jacked to Jesus, or B:  wearing a collar and sucking a riding crop,  chances are folks aren’t interested in you for your books. And you’re degrading yourself and the rest of us who consider ourselves artists.  Those of us who work hard every day to craft a story that we can be proud of.  A story that is worthy of our readers.

Just a thought.

Coming up tomorrow:  A new release!  And a blog post entitled:  “If the words “dripping wet love hole” appear in your book, it’s probably not erotica.”

 

Does She Ever Talk About Writing Anymore?

Yeah, I know.  I’ve gotten to where, on my blog at least, I’ve beenme and amy (2) talking a lot about my other interests.  And I hope that’s okay.  I hope that’s a contributing factor as to why I’ve had a serious upswing in my followers and traffic to my quaint little blog.  The fact is, I’ve gotten to where I hate reading the same things over and over on every writing blog that I follow.  I’m going to list some topics and… stop me if you’ve heard them…

*  Where do you get ideas?

*  How to get the most bang for your marketing buck?

*  Various sex topics (BDSM techniques, positions, sex toys, etc.)

*  How to get published.

*  I hate/ love social media.

I bet they sound pretty familiar huh?  Yeah, me too.  And everyone has the same old answers.  So recently,  I just decided, fuck it.  I’m going to blog about stuff that interests me, stuff that I observe, things I see online or on television, music… whatever.  Now don’t worry… I will still pop up with little pearls of wisdom about my writing, my process and of course my books (duh… I’m a whore just like everyone else). And I always try to tie it to writing in some respect.  After all, pop culture inspires the hell out of me.  So coming up this week, I will post my hot and heavy, drooling review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug entitled:  How Benedict Cumberbatch Laid Waste to My Ovaries. 

1000573_490362137720823_1050310338_nAnd speaking of Mr. Cumberbatch, I have to make some noise about the weirdest thing I saw on the internet via Facebook on Sunday.  Y’all know that I am a fangirl.  I admit it.  I’ve even come out in defense of Fanfiction (scroll backwards in the posts, you’ll find it).  My Pinterest and sometimes Facebook feed are awash with my little obsessions.  I livetweet about Sleepy Hollow and American Horror Story and I’m sure that I’ll be livetweeting about BBC’s Sherlock in a couple of weeks (any of you in the UK, if you give me spoilers before Jan. 19th, I’ll kick you til yer dead).  Anyway, I digress. 

On Sunday, I was reading a blog post that was relating the story of a Q&A done right after the screening of Sherlock, Series 3, Ep.1: The Empty Hearse.  The Q&A panel was “moderated” by Caitlin Moran, a fairly well known writer/interviewer/some might say feminist.  The long and short of it is, Ms. Moran thought it would be a laugh to have the show’s stars read a fanfiction aloud to a crowd of many.  I haven’t watched the Q&A in question because I’m avoiding any spoilers of any kind, but from what I hear– it was pretty damn uncomfortable for everyone.  For one thing, the hot rumor is that she told the actors that it was not explicit.  Apparently, her definition of explicit was not shared with the class and it quickly descended into a Brokeback Mountain kind of uncomfortable (remind me to tell you sometime about that).  Anyway, from what I understand, the actors were good sports, though they did politely scold her for the pointless endeavor that kind of lessened what should have been a serious discussion. But of course, just like with anything “fandom related” (insert dramatic music here), that was just half the story.  The real story is the… what’s a good word to describe it… RABID twitter/ tumblr battle that ensued in the aftermath.  In fact I think we could call it “The Q&A:  The Desolation of Twitter” (see what I did there?)! 

Now I’m in some fan groups.  I’m on Twitter.  I wouldn’t say I have my finger on the pulse of the “Collective.”  I can just observe when their eyes are dilated (hidden obscure references abound).  And lemme tell ya, it got a little bit out of hand.  People ridiculing fanfiction, people ridiculing slash fanfiction, people ridiculing feminists… honestly, the Twitter board I saw yesterday read like a girls’ locker room throw down over the captain of the football team.  So what do I think about all this?  As if anyone cares…

1.)  Essentially, the actors in question (Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, in case you’ve been under a rock this year), had their say and have moved on with their lives.  We should too.

2.)  Bullying and mudslinging from both sides is just stupid. Take off your sheet, put your big girl pants on and be fanWOMEN, not fanGIRLS.  That goes for you too, Ms. Moran. 😉

3.) The writer of the fanfiction had nothing to be ashamed of whatsoever.  She’s a good writer and should be proud that she’s brave enough to put herself out there for strangers to read. 

4.) You guys know what I write and I’ve had to read it in public before. They were my own, original words and it still made me blush.  Putting unsuspecting people on the spot like that is just cruel.  And also seems to diminish what they do.  I’m just sayin’– all the artists in that scenario were insulted.

5.)  Everyone makes mistakes and looks like a big ol’ donkey butt every now and then.  Granted, they don’t usually do it in public in front of international stars, fans, television executives and journalists… but we do act like cunts from time to time.  I’m sure that the world isn’t going to fall apart any time soon just because this was Ms. Moran’s turn. 

All righty, then…so yeah, the blog.  I’m going to try to do some updating this week.  My shows are in hiatus for the holidays, so nothing on that.  But I’m sure I can find something to talk about.  Probably mishaps with tree decorating, the recipe for the best fudge ever, more fangirling… no, fanWOMENing.  OK, I’m not sure that’s going to catch on.  It’s kind of awkward…

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.

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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