So my history with romance novels is long, complicated and surprisingly personal — but it began at summer camp. The year I was 12 or 13, one of the girls in my cabin at camp received a care package from a friend containing a half-dozen paperback romances, and they were passed around during hushed nights outside or in, the books falling open easily to the naughtiest bits.
It was exciting and fun — I found sex on the page to be far less scary than the prospect of real sex with a human being — and even when I stopped reading them, I never lost a residual fondness for the genre.
Since those smoky camp days, the romance novel industry has undergone some major shifts, but none so big as the advent of self-publishing, which has allowed writers with followings to make more money from their books than they might with a traditional publisher — it’s such a huge shift in the business that it’s led me to explore self-publishing myself (I make significantly less from sales than most romance novelists, alas).
But one of the things self-publishing rewards is specification — which is why, when I heard about author Virginia Wade, who makes $30,000 a month from her self-published Bigfoot erotica on Amazon, I wasn’t terribly shocked. Amused, sure, but not shocked. Especially when I saw that she employs one of the self-published ebook author’s most common strategies — make the first taste free, have them coming back for more.
This strategy also made it possible for me to read Moan for Bigfoot, the story that kicks off Wade’s epic Sasquatch romance series, for absolutely no money. Given that “absolutely no money” was the price I was willing to spend on it, Frank, it worked out really well!
So, how does Bigfoot erotica actually play out? I sat down to find out! Bigfoot erotica! WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG. Read the rest of this entry
For a while now, I’ve been hearing that I should check out Lost Girl, a Canadian fantasy import featuring sexy people, makeouts and magic. I normally am not a straight-up fantasy fan (due to the lack of space battles) but the voices called out, Frank. They demanded that you know about Lost Girl. And who am I to deny them?
Thus, fade in on a girl– Ugh, Frank, I’ve been watching too much Smash. Point is, meet Bo! She is a bartender, and she is hot, and while working she manages to dodge a creep who tries to force a roofied drink on her.
However, said creep then targets a sassy pickpocketing teen at the bar, cornering her in an elevator just as the roofie kicks in. Uh oh! Things do not look good for our sassy pickpocketing teen!
Until, of course, Bo shows up! Read the rest of this entry
When last we met, our friend, writer and filmmaker John Ross, was telling me what happened in the best-selling erotic not-technically-”Twilight”-fan-fiction-except-basically-still-”Twilight”-fan-fiction novel “50 Shades of Grey,” leaving us with this breathless cliffhanger:
Ana wakes up the next morning to find herself in Grey’s hotel suite in Portland where they did the photo shoot. Don’t worry, they didn’t do anything. As he explains over breakfast, he won’t touch her unless he has her “written consent to do so.” What does he mean by that?! Refrain. He assures her that all will be revealed later that night, at which point, I guess, he will finally touch her. But in the elevator, he can’t seem to contain himself and—pinning her arms above her with one hand and grabbing her hair with the other—proceeds to try to fit her whole head in his mouth. Afterwards, he promises to never do that again until the paperwork is signed. What paperwork?! What is this mysterious man’s mysterious secret?!
Now, we go further down the rabbit hole, as things intensify for not-Bella-and-Edward’s relationship, as does John Ross’s use of “Ghost Recon: Future Soldier” as a coping mechanism…
I wish I could say that a lot of what you’re about to read was made up by me or embellished for comic effect. Such is the sadness of the Fifty Shades of Grey experience: reading it, knowing it is not a joke. Until the ending, that is, when another writer seems to suddenly take over, but we’ll get to that.
That night, Christian picks Ana up and flies her via helicopter to his penthouse apartment complex. After Ana signs a non-disclosure agreement (kinky!), she’s all ready for him to make love to her. But Christian needs to explain something to her first: he never makes love, he fucks…hard. Record scratch! Big reveal: Christian Grey is a dominant, and the only relationships he’s ever had were with women who agreed to be his submissives. This is the only kind of relationship he’s ever had, ever will have, and ever wants to have. And if Ana signs a contract, she can be his submissive too! Read the rest of this entry
Here’s the true story of how this came about — at an engagement party a few weeks ago, your friend and mine John Ross (a writer/filmmaker based in Los Angeles), mentioned that he was looking for a good excuse to read the best-selling erotic novel “50 Shades of Grey,” so he might learn what all the hype was about.
Because one of Liz Tells Frank’s proudest traditions is other people telling me about stuff, I immediately said to this nice Nebraska-born young man, “You should tell me about it so that I don’t have to tell Frank about it!” He proceeded to buy the book that night at his local grocery store (because apparently they are seriously selling “50 Shades of Grey” in grocery stores). And then, everything for John changed. For the better? Let’s find out….
Fifty Shades of Grey tells the story of Anastasia Steele, leader of a four-man Ghost Team call-signed “Hunter,” tasked with extracting an arms dealer named Christian Grey from a terrorist-controlled compound in Sucre, Bolivia. After using her remote surveillance drone to tag and execute the surrounding hostiles, Anastasia at last breaches the compound — taking out the last remaining guard with a silenced double-tap.
His body drops to the floor to reveal Christian Grey, bound and tied to a chair — her objective. She flushes. She can see the heat radiating from his toned physique through her thermal optic tac scope. Her breathing accelerates. Her optical camouflage deactivates and she starts to feel a pinch down there. Her subconscious is pinned down but her inner-goddess is providing cover fire—there’s just something about him that she can’t keep away from!
That is a pretty accurate snapshot of my psyche while reading Fifty Shades of Grey. I played a lot of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, because it was the only way I was going to get through the book—by taking frequent breaks to kill people. It was rough, Liz. There were moments when I wanted to take the book out to my driveway, run it over with my car, then light it on fire — for example when I would read an exchange like this:
So this one goes out to a few of the folks who were sitting at the Geminon table at Rudy and Casey’s wedding reception last week — during dinner, the subject of Torchwood came up, and I realized that I had very strong opinions about this show that had not yet been committed to words.
Specifically, this: If watched properly, this plucky series about a team of sexy bisexual alien fighters is not only an enjoyable companion piece to Doctor Who (of which it is technically a spin-of), but genuinely great television in its own right. The proper viewing experience, however, requires skipping about 50 percent of the show. Maybe actually more? (It depends on how seriously you take Torchwood: Miracle Day.)
I don’t know why Torchwood is one of the most uneven series of all time. It just is. As sci-fi fans, we learn to accept these things and just enjoy watching Spike from Buffy make out with John Barrowman — because when Torchwood gets something right, it gets it VERY RIGHT.
So let’s get into it! Read the rest of this entry
Here’s the short version — this:
And this: Read the rest of this entry