The Randomness Of Selina Year 2 Day 21 : The Glory Of Writing Twitter

I’ve mentioned it on many occasions but Writing Twitter is a glorious place.

I’d go so far as to say it’s the best place on Twitter with the nicest people you could hope to meet (unless you try to copyright a normal word).

Whilst the occasional troll sneaks in to see what all the noise is about it’s a safe, welcoming community. Strangely for Twitter it has normal people in it.

I spent some time over on the Writing Sub-Reddits. That is a very different place. The responses although potentially helpful are stuffy, often passive aggressive.

I didn’t get the feeling of a community and it sometimes has the feel of a pissing contest.

Writing Reddit is like asking a Professor for help whereas Writing Twitter is like asking your best mate for advice.

Both can give equally good advice but when that advice is given Professor Reddit will engage no further whereas Twitter mate will happily carry on and talk about all manner of insane shit.

Writing Twitter is not only helpful but fun to engage with. But that is the golden rule – You Must Engage!

I see too many writers just use Twitter to promote their books. I question the usefulness of Twitter as a marketing tool anyway.

There is nothing wrong with saying here’s my latest work but there needs to be an even balance with non-promotion Tweets.

Get yourself out there. Respond to questions, engage with threads. It’s not all about the retweets. The level of engagement is entirely up to you and what you feel comfortable with but I would always recommend on some.

When I first got my Twitter account it was not with a view of being a writer. Fortunately I quickly fell in with some beautiful writers of erotica. I participated in their tweets and very soon I was giving writing a go.

So engaging with Writing Twitter can be motivational, fun and helpful. Yes, it can also be entertainingly time consuming and you can spend more time on Twitter than actually writing but we’ll gloss over that bit.

It can also be inspirational and fully engaging with Writing Twitter can unlock that writer’s block.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that the idea for Fell8 (the story I’m presently working on) came about from a thread of how you would survive the zombie apocalypse.

Even yesterday Twitter threw me another potential story. I responded to a Tweet about what your Detective name would be. It was the name of your first pet plus the name of the last place you went on vacation.

Mine was Squidge Devon (I once was the proud owner of a gerbil).

Within minutes the wonderful Stefanie Simpson (and you really should check out her writing on Amazon and Wattpad) tweeted that it sounds like a 1920s Independent Woman.

Moments later Squidge Devon – Private Eye was born. A 1920s Society woman that solves crimes that seemingly always occur at dinner parties while off her tits on gin.

Therefore if any soon-to-be writers happen to be lurking in the dark corner of the internet and falls upon this post then my one piece of advice is simple:-

To be the best writer you can then you can’t really go wrong by fully engaging with Writing Twitter.

The Randomness Of Selina : Year 2 Day 20 – Erotica Writers Don’t Want To Fuck You

I’ve mentioned it before but it appears some aren’t getting the message.

So, for the benefit of the people at the back let me repeat myself

Erotica writers don’t want to fuck you.

I should just have to stop there and say no more. After all, erotica is a legitimate literary genre then basically you are asking an author for sex.

That really isn’t good form. I mean you might have the opportunity to meet your favourite author at a bookshop. You will probably say to them what the story meant to you, get the book signed and that’s it.

You wouldn’t pause and say ‘Aaand so you fancy nipping out the back for a quickie.’

Yet that it exactly what erotica authors have to deal with on a daily basis, and it can be exhausting.

Many will receive messages that go something like this

– Just read your story. You’re a great writer.

– Thank you very much.

– The sex scenes were so hot.

– Thank you

– I got very aroused

– Okay

– I’m still hard now so…..

Look I know there is a growing sense of entitlement with consumers of entertainment but this really takes it to the extreme.

These horny guys are basically saying ‘How dare you arrange words in a carefully constructed sentence which has led to me having an erection. You are now responsible for it!’

It doesn’t happen in other genres. I stand to be corrected but I doubt that Stephen King gets loads of messages that says ‘That story was really scary. Now you must come round my house, check under my bed and sing my a lullaby until I’m asleep.’

There is a horrifically incorrect assumption that because a female erotica writer writes about sex she must be very much up for it.

If you honestly believe that then get your hand off your dick and listen up – erotica is mainly the work of glorious fiction. They are stories not invitations.

Writers like to engage with readers. It allows them to grow and improve. They just don’t want to see your dick with a request to fuck it.

Respect the writer’s boundaries. Unless a writer has in her bio ‘will fuck for reviews’ then understand the obvious etiquette.

Do not get sleazy in her DMs. Do not assume because they write about sex they are happy to talk about it in detail while you have a cheeky wank.

Just be normal. Just read their work, say if you liked it and leave it there.

We clear?

The Randomness Of Selina : Year 2 Day 15 : The Hypocrisy Of Comicsgate

For today’s entry I want to look at Comicsgate.

Now for those who do not know what Comicsgate is I am not going to go through the whole sordid history. There are plenty of articles out there that do so and you should read them.

Another reason is that having spent 72 hours reviewing and engaging with this hashtag it seems to mean different things.

Although it appears predominantly their mission statement is that the current output of comics particularly from the Big 2 (Marvel & DC) is only looking to appeal to a certain demographic to the exclusion of others. Further, they wish for more professionalism and accountability of the creators when dealing with consumers.

Their answer is seemingly to be the exact opposite. The problem is they’re not.

In summary – it’s all a bit hypocritical.

The Comicsgate movement have repeatedly stated what they stand for and in doing so it becomes a standard to judge them by. Not my standard that I have imposed on them, their own standard.

So let’s take a look at some of those standards and see how they are doing.

Demographics

Firstly, dealing with the output of comics. Let’s assume for a minute that they are right about the Big 2 alienating demographics for the sake of just one.

If they want to fill this apparent void then from what I have seen their answer is to make comics solely for their own demographic.

This appears simply to be having titles involving women with big tits, liberally use the word ‘slut’ and throw in the odd gang rape for good measure.

Whilst arguably there is nothing wrong with a group of people making comics they want to read, the arguments put forward by Comicsgate supporters go further – They are going to do right what Marvel and DC do wrong.

But if the charge against the Big 2 is they are excluding particular demographics then how does doing exactly the same make you any better?

Now I’m sure in response some Comicgators will say that I haven’t seen all the comics. I am happy to accept that and indeed would go further and say I actually saw some that looked pretty good and would be something I would buy.

But if the subpar regressive comics of some Comicsgators cannot be held to be representative of the movement as a whole then neither can the more mainstream ones.

In speaking with a few people that align themselves with Comicsgate they still read and enjoy the odd comic from the Big 2.

In short, if Comicsgate were a brand then their output to a wider demographic would be at best a few decent comics amongst a load of undesirable ones. How is that any different from the charge they throw at Marvel and DC?

Creators v Consumers

Turning to creators having better respect for the consumers.

Comicsgate has been fought out in the bubble of social media. The problem with social media is that you can get validation for any viewpoint.

Originally the unpleasantness of Comicsgate begin with some creators pushing back against criticism from people who identified with Comicsgate.

But it has since grown and non creators have got involved. People who love comic books but don’t like what is going on. Whatever their view they are consumers.

Outside the bubble of self validation there are a number of consumers criticising Comicsgate. The response by Comicsgators is to clap back and sometimes in offensive ways.

They have become so determined to push back at any criticism they have forgotten who they are talking to. They are no longer just throwing back insults to a creator who they do not respect, they are attacking the very people required to sustain a comic book market.

Yesterday I tweeted someone who is creating a comic and supports comicsgate. Despite our difference in views I felt his idea was interesting and it’s been on my radar to support it.

I expressed the view that I did not think it was very adult to knife a female comic character in the breasts (he incidentally was not doing that but was gleefully goading someone who was). Within a few tweets he suggested I had a mental illness.

Blacklisting

Finally, I want to address another allegation that gets thrown about by Comicsgators. Blacklisting of creators because the Big 2 do not share that person’s views.

The reason I’ve spent 72 hours delving into Comicsgate is because a non-pro creator that I follow tweeted criticism of Comicsgate over the weekend.

Inevitably many who support Comicsgate came to give their view. Now I don’t have a problem with that. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and to express it (providing they do it respectfully).

My problem with it was as a result he was quote tweeted with ‘Don’t buy this assholes work’, which was then subsequently retweeted.

For what reason? Simply because he held a different view to them.

This was not a decision by reading a sample of his work and saying ‘No not for me’. A number of Comicsgators flatly refused to buy solely based on his views yet in the next breath would complain that the Big 2 are doing exactly the same.

Conclusion

I do not know how all this will end. I certainly do not have all the answers.

I’ve expressed this opinion as a consumer of comics for many years. I love comic books that have been a huge part of my life.

And look I get there are issues with Marvel and DC. Believe me they are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.

Often I have been left disappointed or bewildered by some of their output.

But it’s important not to conflate that frustration and believe that Comicsgate is the solution.

They arrive on their apparent mission with baggage and as I have shown above they are no different to what they perceive the Big 2 to be.

As the saying goes Beware of False Idols.

Thank you this has been my TED Talk.

The Thoughts Of Selina : The Casting Of Scarlett Johansson

Full disclosure I am a Scarlett Johansson fan. I really do like her as an actress.Also I’m a big fan of equality and often post bemused tweets as to why in the 21st Century we appear to be further apart than more inclusive.So these two things have collided with the news that Scarlett has been cast to play a transsexual in the forthcoming movie Rub and Tug.The case against her and the studio is that the role should have gone to a trans actor. Many have tweeted that cis women are part of the problem taking these roles from transsexuals.Whilst I would certainly agree that the movie & TV industry should have a much higher representation of Transexual actors, writers and directors etc, the reality is that isn’t going to happen over night.I truly admire all those that fight for equal rights and representation of the LGBT community. The younger generation (which I believe I can technically still class myself as) have seen this society is fucked and want it changed for the better.Yet with that admirable desire comes the impatience of youth. People would like change and kind of want it now but the reality is it isn’t going to happen over night.There are people who have views that you do not agree with. Whilst I am not suggesting we should appreciate their views we should understand them. The older generations do come from a time where trans people are seen as wrong. It’s abhorrent but it is where we find ourselves.This would obviously cause a dilemma for even the most free thinking movie studio.Hollywood is after all a business. Awards and brilliant reviews are great but it all boils down to making money.It is unforgiving, if something is working they will flog it to death and then move onto the next thing when it becomes no longer commercially viable.When they have attempted diversity, bar a few notable exceptions, movies normally end up with a token black or gay person, often portraying them as a caricature for comedic effect.My view of Rub and Tug is there is a risk that rather than be a positive step forward for the inclusion of more trans actors it could have the opposite effect if a trans actor was cast in the lead role..I accept it could also be a huge hit but the harsh unfair reality of Hollywood is you need a star to sell a movie. As I’ve said I have no doubt there are trans actors out there more than capable of giving an awesome performance but the majority of movie goers aren’t going to know who they are.

Whether we like it or not a movie where the main character is a transsexual played by a transexual is not going to be a draw for a bunch of people who are still processing why that woman had a dick in The Crying Game.

‘So what? Fuck those guys’ is the obvious response and I agree with that sentiment but it ignores the reality of Hollywood business.If a trans actor was cast in the lead and it was a commercial and critical failure you can imagine boardrooms in Hollywood declaring they best not try that again. Trans people then risk that caricatured tokenism we have seen with other communities.So to Scarlett. She’s got a bit of flack for accepting the role with some levelling accusations that this is a personal slight against the transsexual community. I think such allegations are unwarranted and would counter that instead she’s actually taking on quite a burden to fairly represent this community.Whether she does or not will be down to her performance. But to prejudge this is dangerous.

My view is that we shouldn’t want this movie to fail because she’s in it but rather we should want it to succeed

Scarlett is a star, there is no denying that. People will go see a movie just because she’s in it. Therefore you are going to get people who may hold negative views of trans people watching it. Her performance could change those people’s views,If her performance is good and the movie is successful then this would open the doors for future movies which will then hopefully include actual trans actors.The ultimate movie utopia would be to watch a movie where the actors are not defined by who they are. A true reflection of society , where writers are not just writing roles strictly for white men or women but could be played by people of colour or transsexuals.I am of course referring to those run of the mill summer blockbusters but of course the LGBT community have many stories to tell. It is perhaps too much to ask that the major studios with their eye on the dollar to take a risk. Yet below them are scores of eager independent filmmakers ready to tell these stories.My point is that if Scarlett makes a success of this movie then the door will be opened enough to allow those stories to be told.

The Thoughts Of Selina II : Violence Good. Sex Bad

Following on from my Opinion on the present state of the Erotica genre I wanted to explore a little further a particular theme surrounding that.

I absolutely love Star Wars but fun fact after watching the entire saga you would have witnessed the death of trillions of people.

But that’s okay because it’s never really gratuitous. Sure genocide occurs, millions of people wiped out but it’s ‘oh well. When they going to start shooting stormtroopers again?’

The body count for The Fast and The Furious franchise runs into the hundreds. The violence in those movies are undeniably gratuitous, they add nothing to the storyline and only serves to makes those scenes more action packed.

But gratuitous doesn’t mean explicit. It’s comic book violence and is totally acceptable. Plus a lot of them were bad guys and deserved to die.

Yet movies such as Kick Ass and any Tarantino film contain gruesome scenes of violence. They are depicted in such a way that it leads very little to the imagination.

Indeed often they are both gratuitous and explicit. Yet these movies are lauded as being fantastic works of art, scoring highly on Rotten Tomatoes.

These random acts of gratuitous explicit violence are not limited to movies and are also a plot device in both comic books and literature.

But these are harmless action and adventure stories. We don’t need to know the socio-economic reasons which led a particular person to become a henchman for some evil bastard. He speaks with a foreign accent , he’s got a gun, he deserves to die.

That’s right isn’t it? It’s just a bit of fun. These scenes are infrequent and whilst not necessary they are, after all, exciting…..Lighten up it’s escapism.

And I would agree. There are far more qualified people around to comment on the reasons for our desensitisation to violence and it’s not the point of this opinion.

My point is, if it’s okay with violence then why don’t we have the same attitude towards sex?

Romance or chick lit stories often opt for the ‘Star Wars Implied Genocide Method’. We lead up to the sex but never really see it.

Just as we never saw all the kids playing on Alderaan before it was obliterated or witness janitor Clive’s final day before retirement on the Death Star, dreaming of spending more time with his grandchildren before Luke blew him up.

In a lot of thrillers and chick lit the main character may be having frequent gratuitous sex. But that is still okay because it’s not explicit, right?

Yet the moment you describe in detail the natural act of lovemaking and dare to mention words like ‘cock’ or ‘pussy’. The Erotica label is slapped on it and you are banished to the corner.

(Well that’s not exactly true – if you are an independent author you’ll be punished. The differing attitude towards mainstream authors is a whole other story.)

Look I get that some readers don’t like sex scenes. But that’s not the point. I don’t like Thomas Hardy novels, it doesn’t mean I’m advocating banishing all his work from ever being found on internet searches.

We all have our own preferences and tolerances of what we read and watch. Yet as previously discussed Erotica is automatically labelled as wrong. Dirty. Disgusting.

You want to watch a guy kill hundreds of people (including scores of collateral damage) then grab a beer and settle down. You want to watch people have sex then please leave town you depraved monster.

There is a continuing movement to push ‘porn’ further into the dark recesses of the web. If Governments get their way it will become more and more difficult to watch porn. Those who write under the erotica category are and will continue to find themselves caught up with this apparent cleansing of the internet.

However, on the likes of YouTube all the gratuitous explicit violent scenes from these mainstream movies are just a click away.

Sorry Explicit Sex Scene is blocked but you may wish to watch Top Ten Best Gruesome Action Movie Deaths Of All Time.

Violence good. Sex bad.

Yet sex is the most natural thing in the world. As I write this people are having sex. As you read this people are having sex.

Whilst I accept that there are also acts of violence being carried out at the same time, what is so wrong with escaping to a place where people are having sex?

Why is it fine that you can freely and without judgement enter a world where non-descript prostitutes are murdered as a cheap plot device, yet to explicitly describe the growing sexual relationship of a couple is disgusting.

And if you dare make that couple the same sex….Boy, have you crossed a line. Away with you must go, you purveyor of absolute filth.

Well written ‘erotica’ explores something that can’t be achieved by implied sex – how that person feels at the time.

Whether it be positive thoughts of desire, lust, happiness and passion or more negative concerns such as disgust or regret, they form part of the story. It maybe explicit but it’s not gratuitous. It is an exploration of their character.

If it’s justified to show explicit violence to further a plot then the same courtesy has to be extended to sex scenes.

Whilst some will include an explicit sex scene just to simply evoke arousal that cannot be said of every story that features an explicit sex scene. Yet the likes of Amazon will, for the sole reason it is simply explicit, banish it to the dark corners of it’s site.

The truth is everyone thinks about sex. People are rightly curious about sex and well written ‘erotica’ can provide some comfort, offer some answers; Rather than send them down the rabbit hole of depravity it can help them process their own emotions and attitudes towards sex. It is a positive thing.

Being positive about our sexuality is something that should be encouraged and not hidden away in the corner.

At some point in our lives we will all have been curious about sex. The same cannot be said for being curious about standing on a moving bus and taking out two vehicles with a rocket launcher.

If you are curious about that then you really need to be having sex.

The Thoughts Of Selina I: The Future Of Erotica & The Need For A Purge

In my continuing quest to make this blog a wonderful place to be I thought I would occasionally throw in the odd opinion about some topic.

For my opening attempt I want to look at the current state of Erotica.

Those writing in this genre are having a bit of a hard time recently with the forums for their work seemingly burying it as deep as they possibly can.

If this continues then it will be so difficult to find an erotica writer’s writing. This would be for the simple reason it has a bit of sex in it.

Erotica has enjoyed a bit of a golden period mainly in part to a combination of the phenomenon of Fifty Shades and Amazon KDP.

Fifty Shades was a huge success and no one can take that away from the author – well done to her. But let’s be honest, it’s a bit rubbish. A repetitive diatribe of grammatically incorrect erotic cliche. In short, she’s done alright but in the long term has done the genre more harm than good.

I have no doubt that people sitting at home thought ‘I can do that’ because certainly Fifty Shades is hardly an unobtainable literary masterpiece. Yet that has proven to be a problem.

Scores of wannabe writers with not much respect for the genre looking to make a quick buck with some crudely written smut

With Amazon KDP it provided those people the opportunity to do that. But the unforeseen consequence of tapping into this phenomenon is there is a lot of noise. That makes it difficult for any indie author with a great story to get heard.

It’s hard for a self published author. They have to do everything – writing, cover art and their own marketing often with the most limited of budget.

So I offer this thought what if Amazon etc just did away with the Erotica category. Even further that erotica or smut were not terms to be used to describe a book.

It would be terrible, right? How would you find your target audience?

In my opinion I think it would be the best thing that could happen.

Firstly it would do away with the dabblers. Those cluttering up the bandwidth with poorly written erotica short stories that really are nothing more than crudely created sex scenes.

A purge would leave those who actually want to do this, who care about writing, who are good at it still standing.

The massive problem with Amazon KDP is nothing goes out of print. There’s too much choice and consumers don’t like that and so opt for the safety of the mainstream.

If it were up to me I would have all ebooks published have a shelf life which when expired would have to be renewed by the author.

Thousands and thousands of stories keep entering the system and never go away.

Imagine walking into a book shop where every book ever written was published – a delight for some but a horror for the vast majority. They simply would not know where to start.

Secondly, should there even be an erotica category? What actually is it?

Well, erotica has many definitions but loosely it is a work of art designed to be sexually arousing.

So those one sex scene short stories I was talking about , yeh they are probably erotica but does that term apply to anything that may have an explicit sex scene in it?

That can’t be right. If you’re a guy and get a boner to a James Patterson sexy thriller is he now erotica?

I am proudly part of a community on Twitter of some of the most talented indie author who largely write under the erotica category.

I certainly do not speak for them but I would guess that a large number of them publish under erotica for fear of falling foul of the strict guidelines on content.

But are they writing erotica? No. They write romance, thrillers, horrors, sci-fi. Yet their stories include explicit sex scenes and so banished to the dark corner of Amazon they must go.

My current story A Song Of Tyler & Bryce begun life as a satire that those authors are labelled as inappropriate and hid away yet George RR Martin is lauded for stories that include incest, under age sex and plentiful non consensual sex.

If an indie author wrote those themes in a modern day setting they would be punished. Yet set it in fake olden times it’s perfectly acceptable.

I would also add that not once following the non-consensual sex does Martin ever explore how the woman may be feeling. Yet the big bad band of erotica writers dare to tell you what is on her mind before, during and after sex and they find themselves banished to the corner.

Whilst we could get angry about the injustice of this ludicrous hypocrisy I believe we should take note.

I refuse to accept that this world is made up of nothing but prudes. Mainstream literature, TV and film is littered with sex scenes. Overall society doesn’t seem to have a problem with sex.

You watch any HBO drama and the main characters are banging away whenever they can. Yet that wins Emmy’s

I believe it’s time to recategorise our work. If it is set in fake olden times it’s Fantasy. Modern Day it’s romance. A dark twist it’s a thriller or horror. They’re fucking in space it’s Sci-Fi.

Yes put the warnings that it contains explicit scenes (that would make you a better person than George RR Martin), change your cover to make it more, shall we say, user friendly.

If indeed there is a battle looming then prepare now. Play them at their own game.

If you are reading this and thinking but all I have to sell my book is a hot sex scene, then you may struggle if this trend continues (and I would suggest it’s only going to get worse).

But review your work, revise it. That’s the beauty of Amazon KDP etc your story can evolve.

Ask yourself can I add some scenes leading up to the explicit sex. In other words make it more mainstream.

Because Amazon etc cannot censor you for having an explicit sex scene. It’s a slippery slope that would have to include mainstream authors (including one Mr Martin) so it’s never going to happen.

My advice is to welcome a purge. Let’s encourage a reduction of noise and get your stories out there where they should be. Not buried because of some archaic categorisation but available to read.

Rightly or wrongly there is still a stigma about erotica – that it is cheap, nasty, dirty.

That is not how I view the stories I have read. They are well plotted, thought provoking with strong characters who are often female.

Yes they have explicit sex in it. But so fucking what. So does Game of Thrones.