Sep 212018
 

I’ve been on vacation all week in Orlando at an undisclosed location. Hint: There are alleged Islands of Adventure nearby. That is to say, I should be on vacation this week, hurricanes and other disasters permitting. I am writing this post in the past and it will go up while I am on holiday because blogging while on vacation is a no-no.

“But Shon, you write every single day. You are a machine put here on Earth to give us porn. Don’t you write while on vacation?”

Good question, highly insightful person that I did not make up. I do write almost every day and it wouldn’t be a vacation if I didn’t take some time off from writing. Besides, my wife would really like my company while exploring these alleged Islands of Adventures. I owe it to my brain, my spouse and my sore fingers to not do any writing while on vacation.

But I do admit that the act of creation never stops. When I go on trips, I take a brand new notebook with me to jot down ideas. It is essential that it is a new notebook because if I bring my current notebook, I’m more likely to work on current writing problems and then the chances of me sneaking to the laptop and wanting to maybe write a page or two while my wife is gathering eighteen more pillows for the hotel bed, greatly increases.

A new notebook is a lovely thing. It has all these blank pages. It has no expectations. A new notebook pretends that you don’t have a dozen other stories waiting to be written. It exists to record whatever weirdo idea you come up with as you stand in line to a place that promises the thrills of your life even though the ride only lasts ten minutes.

“But Shon, what if your old ass body needs a break from standing in lines and you are at the hotel room killing a few hours while your knees recover AND your wife is off doing something because she still has knees?”

Well, that is another good question, person who is strangely knowledgeable about my knees.  What I do in these situations is read the hundred books on my Kindle that I haven’t gotten to yet, but if I am feeling really antsy, I might crack open the laptop and edit. Proofreading is always a challenge but reading your work in a new setting, like a hotel room, gives you that New-to-Me experience.

But really, I don’t recommend that. If you write on a regular basis, even if it is a just a little time a week, then you still deserve a break. People often treat writing as a recreational activity and I get that, but it is also a lot of work. Take the vacations when you can and make the most out of them.

Sep 072018
 

This week I read 2k to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron, and I pretty much wanted to high-five the author every other page. It is so rare to read a book about writing that gets to the practical advice right away and also presents it in a way that is easy to understand. It is also a remarkably short book which is a big plus for me as way too many books about writing are suspiciously filled with filler. Every page is useful advice and the part on improving your editing has literally changed my life.

But because the book is so short, I really can’t get into the advice without giving the book away. In short, I would say the advice is to become more conscious of where your story is going, and how much you are enjoying it before you get to the nitty-gritty of writing. The author breaks this advice into steps that are easy to follow and are even easier to add to your method of writing. she’s not asking you to change how you write, as much as she is asking you to take a moment to prep before hand.

I suspect those writers who work without outlines and fly by the seat of their pants might recoil for this idea, but I still urge you to purchase this cheap book for the advice on editing, which is priceless.

So yeah, even though I have writing for close over twenty years, this book was really helpful to me and I think it might help you as well.

Aug 242018
 

Writer, producer and awesome human being, John Rogers, had this to say on Twitter recently.

“. . . it is perfectly acceptable, when working on a scene that vexes you, to write “DUMBEST VERSION” along the top of the page and start from there. As I, a human who has been writing professionally for 25 years, just did. Give yourself permission to suck.”

It is truly great advice. I have lost count of how many times I have stared at the blank page, not willing to write a scene or story because it was just not right in my head. There were problems. I didn’t quite knpow how the characters would have sex. I didn’t like the color of someone’s hair. For whatever reason, I wasn’t willing to commit my idea to words because the words weren’t perfect yet.

Which is a bullshit reason to not write something cause let me tell you, even if you think you have all the right words to put down, you’re going to change those precious little babies in the rewrite. The most perfect ideal concept in your head is not going to be perfect once it gets on the page. There will be rewrites. Go ahead and put that shit on the page.

I have been writing since the 90’s and I still struggle with this. We all do. Sometimes it is not even perfectionism at work, it can be simply having no fucking idea what happens next. That’s cool, you still write something down. The act of writing your inferior idea down is going to give you very strong feelings about what is wrong with it. From there, you can craft the better idea.

My mental trick for coming up with the “Dumbest version’ is what I call the campfire scenario. Imagine you are sitting around a campfire with your friends. They are trading stories and it is your turn. You have to say because your friends won’t let you pass. In that situation, I will spit out something. If it sucks, who cares? The next person in line will tell a story and your blunder will be forgotten.

But in the meantime, you got it started.

 

Aug 032018
 

A friend of mine asked me a few questions about my ebooks on Amazon. I think he was a bit disappointed to hear that I wasn’t buying yachts with my royalties but after talking for a bit, he admitted that he had written a few stories and wasn’t sure what to do with them.  He wasn’t interested in shopping them out to a publisher but he also seemed hesitant to self-publish at Amazon or smashwords. I tried to press him on it but he changed the subject so I let it drop.

You, dear reader, don’t have that option.

If you are a writer, whether it is erotica or not, there is no better time to get your stuff out there to a wider audience. Unlike when I first started posting stuff, you can actually get paid for it. Uploading your fiction to an online ebook service costs you literally nothing. Okay, you may spring for a stock photo for the cover but even that can be pretty cheap these days.

Some of you might think your stuff is not good enough. That is silly. There is a lot of shit out there! I mean, it is not inspiring to tell people that their shit is not as bad the shit that is already out there, but it is true. Crap is generated non-stop in ebook markets. I guarantee you that if you are self-conscious about your work, you have already spent mote time scrutinizing your work for errors and inconsistencies than most of the shit available for purchase RIGHT NOW.

Some of you might think your stuff is too weird. There is no such thing. Name a fetish, a kink or an interest that you think is unique to you and I know there are at least 50 people there looking for that weird shit as we speak.

Look, I admit that I am passionate about this. Everyone has a story in them and some of us spend a lot of time crafting those stories. You are not going to get rich writing erotica unless you hit the lottery of Life and write the next 50 Shades but in the meantime, you can get the joy of putting your work out there. You deserve to be read and you deserve to be recognized for the story you came up with.

Publish it already.

 

Jul 112018
 

I miss writing short stories. I learned how to write by writing short stories. A short story is like a quickie; fast and dirty and get to the point. I used to post a short story a week but usually I was writing as many as three in a week. There is something seductive about producing that many stories. The regular pace encouraged people to comment on my blog and those comments inspired me to keep writing.

An artist friend of mine expressed disbelief at the idea of posting free stories every week. It would be more accurate to say he was appalled. He was trying to make ends meet by monetizing every artistic thing he did and here I am just giving my work away. He thought I was independently wealthy and when I told him I wasn’t, I had the clear impression he just thought I was an idiot. Maybe he was right, but I did enjoy the thrill of having something new to show off every week.

I stopped doing short stories when my interactive books started making money on Amazon. I already greatly enjoy making interactive books but the money proved that people enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. The problem is these books take a lot of work and there was no way I could keep writing them and do my short-story-a-week pace.

Having said that, I am still writing a short Vaquel story once a month because I like Vaquel and I have been writing them for eight years. I plan to do her full twenty year voyage and that is too big of a goal to stop at the 40% mark.

Still, I do miss doing random short stories about whatever strikes my interest. Sometimes I see ebooks on Amazon that strike me as being super short for the money they charge. It makes me wonder if I could get my personal short story fix by writing little stories and selling them on Amazon. It is something to consider but since no one writes fan mail, I doubt I would get that same emotional rush like I get from posting on my blog and getting comments.

Tell you what I don’t miss about short stories and that is coming up with ideas. I would lose entire days of writing just trying to come up with a new story. Days I am not writing feel like wasted days and that would play havoc with my anxiety. It became a real problem when my wife thought I was having a depressive episode during one dry spell and I realized that maybe this kind of pace wasn’t mentally healthy for me.

Not knowing what to write isn’t a problem when you are writing a giant book like Ravished by the Haunted House or this new one, Fight in the Sex Arena. Every day I know what I need to write next. Sometimes I may brainstorm on how to make the next part more interesting than I originally planned, but those days feel far more productive than a day or two where I have no idea what to write at all. My mood has been a lot more stable and my depression is related more to the hellish world we live in rather than my struggles with my hobby.

So yeah, I miss writing short stories. I might treat myself and write one or two just for myself or maybe an experimental ebook project.

Right after I write another 100K words for this book I’m doing . . .

 writing  Comments Off on Pining for the Shorts
Jul 062018
 

It is hard for me to write in silence. Music is comforting to me and I find that my attention drifts more if everything is quiet. I also find that when I use a playlist to write to, the first few songs will instantly kick me into a writing mentality even on days when I would rather be doing anything else. Repetition is the best way to form a habit.

The trick to a good writing playlist to pick songs that fit the mood I am shooting for in my writing. For my Haunted House book, I played songs from magic conscious bands like Purson, Jess and the Ancient Ones, Blood Ceremony and Mount Salem. Mixed in with those were psychedelic bands like Vintage Caravan and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats for that out-of-body mind experience I find useful in supernatural stories.  this playlist worked really well for me and never failed to keep me in the mood.

For my Alien Sex Arena book, I was tempted to go with science fiction music but most scifi music is hopeful and on a grand scale.  It didn’t quite fit with the theme of an arena where the player will live and die simply to please the crowd. The sex was going to be rough and sweaty, which is not something you can find in a Star Trek soundtrack. I needed something more superficial and yet still exciting.

I found my anwser in Britney Spears music. if I had to list pop female stars in order of personal favorites, Britney might have been near the bottom of list but the dance beat simplicity of her music really sets the tone.  Trim out the songs about how sad it is to be a superstar diva and you have a bunch of songs that I could easily imagine playing in between sex fights at the arena.

The other upside to using Britney songs is that since I am not super fans of the songs, I don’t get distracted by them as much as I would with more favorite songs. This is why I don’t use disco music. Disco would be perfect for my theme but I wouldn’t get any writing done if I was singing Blonde’s Atomic full six minute version. I need upbeat catchy songs about dancing or fucking but not songs that are too good that I sing along.

For the rest of the soundtrack, I turned to other pop singers. It seems like every pop album has at least one song about how the singer is going to fuck someone’s brains out.  Some like Nicole Scherzinger and Kelly Rowland have multiple fuck songs with every album. I picked and choose, omitting songs that were more romantic than sexy and dropping singers I simply don’t enjoy. I also threw in some older songs from the late 80’s that didn’t hit these qualifications but evoked memories from my hormone-crazed teenage years.

I have been listening to some version of this playlist since November, when I first started work on the Sex Arena book. Some have become real favorites, like Britney’s “Work, Bitch” that I will probably add to future playlists. Others are more recent additions like Janelle Monae’s wonderful “Make Me Feel”.  It has been fun to curate and the act of picking songs makes me thinki a lot about the kind of story I am working on. Even if you don’t use music to write with, I suggest making a playlist of songs that you think would work as a compliment to your art.

Here is a link to my playlist if you would like to browse it yourself.

 

 writing  Comments Off on Music for the Sex Arena
Jun 202018
 

Sometime around last October, I published my interactive book, Ravished Inside the Haunted House. It was a monster of a book and took my half a year to write it. I was exhausted and told myself that my next book would be a hell of a lot shorter.

About a month later, I decided what I wanted to write next was a story about a sex gladiator on a faraway planet who battled for his ass, literally. In front a screaming crowd and an evil Queen, he would fight aliens and people, with the winner having the right to fuck the loser with domination sex. It would be part of a grand tournament with a big finale where the winner gets to fuck the Queen.  It would be an interactive book where the reader took the part of the sex gladiator.

My initial thought was to write fast and dirty. Just spit this draft out there and I should have it done by June. Polish it and get it published in July. It would be like my version of a summer blockbuster: loud, crass and big. I would even get the jump on it and write some of it in December. Hell, I may have it done by May!

It is now June and I am about 80% of the way through the first draft. Whoops.

My rough outline was simple. Gladiator has a night before the match where he bangs the servant assigned to him. He then has a fight. If he loses the fight, he gets fucked and he is out of the tournament and the story ends. If he wins the fight, he fucks the loser and the story moves on.  The gladiator goes back to his room, bangs the servant and repeat. Easy-peasy. That is six fights and six nights before.

My biggest concern is that this would be most linear interactive adventure I have written. All of my books read like amusement parks; you can only visit so much on one trip. The early choices determine what part or theme of the book you explore. This allows the reader to play through the book at least three or four times with clearly different stories. I like this approach because it gets a lot of replay-ability out of a single book.

This book wouldn’t have that feature. You start at the same place, fight the same six sex gladiators and have the same six nights after the fight. There would be variations of how you fight or how to spend your night, but all in all, it is a single story-line without any real reason to read again unless you really like the story. This was a problem but I figured that I would just have to make sure the story is really good and worth revisiting.

Halfway through writing the first fight, it occurred to me that I have stressed that sex gladiators play to the crowd and play to the Queen but there is no mechanism to encourage the player to keep it mind. It seemed obvious that winning wasn’t enough, I had to quantify how good your win was. By adding that element, it stood to reason that your night after the fight would change as well. If you win and please the crowd and Queen, the Queen sends you a gift. If you win and only please the crowd, then someone from the crowd visits you. If you simply win, then you just have sex with your servant and maybe some luxury that has been provided for your quarters.

Now I have a lot of variety to play with. We have the same six fighters, but now there are three different ways to spend your night after each fight. That will help a lot with repeatability.

Of course, once I introduced the idea of three different ways to spend a night before a fight, it seems logical that the fight itself would change. Maybe fucking a member of the crowd gives you a hint about your next opponent. Maybe the Queen’s gift gives you an advantage. Maybe having sex with your servant can have risks in that you don’t adequately prepare for the next fight.

As you can easily see, now instead of fighting the same six gladiators, you have three possible variations for each of those fights. The math works out to three possible versions of each of the six fighters equals eighteen different mini-stories. Add to that the three different versions of the six nights before each fight for another eighteen mini-stories. Add them together, and I have thirty-six variations to write out for this tournament. Plus any variations I want to do on the grand ending when the Queen rewards you.

So that is how my simple story ballooned into a massive space gladiator epic that has consumed all of my writing for this year so far. I think it will be worth it. On a single run through, you will see twelve of the mini-stories and have twenty-four that you never saw. Of these thirty-six combinations, you could repeat some and see new ones depending on your choices. It may be linear, but there are a lot of ways to get to the end.

It is a lot of work but I can’t wait to share it with you.

 

 

 

Aug 302017
 

Congratulations on writing your story/novella/manifesto! You put your blood, sweat and other bodily fluids into it and can’t wait to unleash it on the world! This is going to be the written work that makes you a legend as well as getting that cute redhead to finally notice you!

But hold on, you still need to proofread that sucker! You don’t want typos, bad sentence structures and poor grammar to distract from your genius. Someone needs to read this thing and make sure it is understandable.

In a perfect world, that someone should be someone other than you. A fresh set of eyes without inside knowledge of the masterpiece you created will look at your work with unbiased eyes. They are the best hope you have at catching all of the errors.

The problem is, proofreading is work and like all work, it should be compensated for. Oh, early on you will have people volunteering to proofread for you and those eager souls are truly a blessing but let’s face it, they are doing work for free and that is not right. The longer and more complex your work, the more of a burden it will be on your volunteer proofreaders to put aside their responsibilities to do you a favor. You should really hire someone to do it.

But what if your genius isn’t recognized by the world yet? What if your cutting edge work only gets three purchases a month on Amazon? In short, what if you can’t afford someone to proof your work?

Well then you need to go to to it yourself and I am here to offer my top six tips for Do It Yourself Proofing!

Tip #1

Take a long break and do something else before you proof something that you have written. The worse thing you can do is finish something and then turn around and edit it. You are too close to the forest to see the trees. I recommend writing another story, or ideally, something close to the length of the thing you want to proof. The more separation the better. This way by the time you come back to the story you want to proof, you will have forgotten some bits and be almost like a new reader to your own work. That is when you are really going to notice the unclear shit that you wrote.

Tip#2

Print it out. Look, you have been staring at this work on your screen for quite a while. I bet if I asked you about a certain part, you could scroll to it instinctively without looking.  You know the computer document inside and out but what you haven’t seen is the paper version. Print it out, and maybe choose a different font, and it will almost be a stranger to you. Strangers are good because you first meet a stranger that is when you immediately notice how big their nose is, or the fact that you use the word ‘sensuous’ in every other sentence about sex.

Tip#3

Read it out loud. This might seem annoying and it will certainly slow your proofreading down but let me tell you, it fucking works. This is the best way to catch when you have omitted a word from a sentence. Oh my Goddess, you also have no idea how bad your dialogue might be until you read it out loud. Weirdly, I learned this from the first Sin City movie. I loved the books, but when the characters were reading word for word from the book on the big screen, I was struck by how utterly ridiculous it all was. Reading out loud also slows you down and forces you to pay attention to every word.

Tip#4

Document your weak points. As you read your work, keep an eye out for patterns that you do. Some patterns are good and are what Richard Laymon called “your special sauce.” Other patterns like a tendency to use the phrase “deep inside her” twelve times in a single sex scene are not so good. As you note these problems, put them in a list that you refer to before every editing job. It will be a refresher course for you on what to keep an eye out for.

Tip#5

Your spellchecker is not to be trusted. Oh sure, it will help you from typing a garbage collection of letters but for some reason my spellchecker thinks ‘bene’ is a word. I am sure it is somewhere in some universe but it sure as fuck isn’t ‘been’ which is what I wanted to type. The spellchecker is there is to catch the big giant errors but only a proofreader is going to catch that you left out the word ‘the’. Just because there are no red squiggles on the screen doesn’t mean there still aren’t problems. They are just better hidden.

Tip#6

Read it backwards. This is my most effective tool after Tip#2. Some people read every word backwards but I can’t do that. What I do is start with the last paragraph and read it to the finish. Then I go to the start of the previous paragraph, read that and then repeat. Doing this makes me approach each paragraph fresh and lacking context. It is chopping the proofing into bite-size bits that are independent of each other. I catch all sorts of shit this way and my self-proofing has vastly improved.

 writing  Comments Off on Edit It Yourself
May 242017
 

In my interactive haunted house story, I have several endings where the reader is given the opportunity to join the house as a resident. This means they essentially become a monster in the house, ready to molest and terrorize new people coming in. I did something similar in my interactive UFO book where the aliens recognize that the reader is just as big of a pervert as they are, so they invite the reader to help them abduct and probe other races.

I like this kind of ending a lot. I have done it many times in my regular writing, especially the magical stories. That kind of ending casts the story in a new light. Instead of just being adventures, you understand that it is more of an initiation. By the end of the story, the main character, and in part the reader, is invited to become the story.

Even though I have been writing these kinds of endings for years, I only now realize where the inspiration came from. It is the movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. If you have never seen the movie, Charlie is a poor kid who wins a lifetime supply of chocolate and a trip to Wonka’s famous factory. Charlie is asked by Wonka’s rival to steal a sample of top-secret candy in exchange for untold wealth.  Charlie goes to the factory, encounters many wonderful mysterious things, watches other kids get eliminated one by one for their greed, steals the candy because hey, Charlie is dirt poor but then because of a minor transgression, loses the lifetime supply of chocolate. Now this is a big deal because Charlie’s family is so poor that the chocolate might be the only steady meal that the kid gets but instead of cashing out with Wonka’s rivals, Charlie returns the candy to Wonka because Charlie is the Best Kid Ever. That is when Wonka reveals that IT WAS ALL A TEST and now Charlie is his new heir and will now inherit the chocolate factory and live happily ever after.

Yep, I have been copying the end of this movie ever since. As a Poor-but-Good kid, this movie really impacted me. I realize that I have been giving away chocolate factories to characters and readers ever since.

Oh well. It is a good story to steal.

Mar 082017
 

I am about to embark on a big novel and one of my first hurdles with any novel is deciding what kind of job the main character has or had before all this sex stuff happens. Jobs help define characters in the minds of the readers but for me, it helps me understand what kind of skills or personality the character has. A scientist for example is going to approach magic and threesomes a bit differently than a freelance artist.

Part of my problem when it comes to thinking of jobs is my own work history has been insane. As a teen I worked at two different fast-food chicken places. Dropping out of college, I worked ten years in a car factory. I then worked with a telephone company auditing calls, had a stint as a lab technician and worked a few months at a gas station. I am very fortunate to have married well and no longer need to work but I feel like my lack of experiences hamstring me when I write characters.

The fact of the matter is that the job I have the most experience with is being a writer. Which I guess is why 80% of horror novels seem to be about writers. I don’t know about you, but when I read that a main character is a writer, I have a hard time not thinking the author is writing themselves as the main hero. It bugs me so I refuse to do it.

Which brings me back to today. I have a character in mind and he will be a modern day Prophet/Cult Leader. Traditionally cult leaders are charismatic con men who upgrade their cons to becoming a religion. I intend my character to actually have contact with Higher Powers and serve more as a conduit for Divine Sex Orgies. I want him to be Real in the sense that he is trying to bring a new religion or philosophy to the world. With that in mind, I am skipping the usual con men cult leader professions like musicians, salesmen, and science fiction writers.

After a long meditation in the shower brought up nothing, I decided to resort to Google. As a writer, I’m not even sure what jobs people doing these days so I typed in “Most Common Jobs” as a starter search.

The result was this article from 2014. Here is the money quote, “The top three are all basically in the retail industry: salespeople, cashiers, and fast-food workers.”

Holy shit, it turns out that my gas station cashier experience puts me in the top three of most common jobs.

I will admit, as a writer of science fiction and fantasy, I was a bit disappointed by these choices. They don’t exactly inspire character ideas and look, salespeople are already likely to be cult leaders. I thought about refining my search for something more interesting.

But something nagged at me. Those are some real shit jobs for far too many people. I often think of my own poor job experience as a personal thing because I dropped out of college. A lot of people in the work force did graduate college and they still work fast-food and sales. If I have learned anything from the financial crisis of 2008, it is that it is harder and harder for the middle class to stay afloat when all the good jobs are somewhere else or don’t exist in the first place. That sucks.

It seems to me that maybe a fast-food worker might be the kind of person to understand that the world needs changing; perhaps by starting a cult and preaching a message from a Divine Sex Being.