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Final Edits of “Rescued Hearts” And Promo Art!

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I’ve got another quick, but pivotal update on the status of “Rescued Hearts.” A couple days ago, I received what will likely be the final round of edits. They weren’t quite as extensive as the first round that I got, but I’m hoping these act as the final layer of polish on what I hope to be a sexy, romantic novel that’ll entertain and titillate for all the right reasons.

While these edits were less extensive, there were a few interesting lessons to glean from the process. Some of those lessons were a byproduct of my writing style and I’m not just referring to the sexy scenes.

When I’m writing something I know will be edited multiple times, either by myself or someone else, I have a fairly specific approach. I tend to be more detailed and specific, sometimes to the point of being purposefully wordy. I know that would upset nearly every English teacher I’ve ever had, but there’s a reason behind it.

I learned early on in my writing career that it’s easier and more efficient to write some bloat into a piece and then trim it later on. Think of it like throwing a huge lob of clay onto a table, but then taking the time to shape and polish it. In my case, though, that clay consists of a sexy story.

During the editing process, it’s mostly a matter of trimming some of that bloat and being more concise in certain areas. That’s especially important for the sexy scenes. In my experience, people don’t want to know the exact location of every strand of pubic hair. The same goes for romance. Not every beat of sweat needs a backstory.

That doesn’t mean I don’t end up having to do major revisions. During the editing process for “Passion Relapse,” I ended up having to rewrite the entire ending. I didn’t have to do that with “Rescued Hearts,” but there have been times when I’ve tried to keep some of the bloat I’ve written.

I won’t get into specifics since I don’t want to get into sexy spoiler territory. However, I’ve learned from these final round of edits that there are certain points in the story where you can stop emphasizing certain details. You’ve already gotten the point across. You don’t need to repeat yourself, but I often do anyway. That’s a tough lesson that I’m still trying to learn.

I hope to make use of those lessons with future novels. For now, “Rescued Hearts” is on track for its October 28th release date later this year. In preparation for that date, my publisher, Totally Entwined Group, sent me some sexy promo art. I intend to use this art every chance I get on this blog so expect to see plenty of it. Here’s a quick teaser that should get your blood flowing in all the right directions.

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Hope that gets everyone a little more excited for October 28th. I also hope “Rescued Hearts” ends up being another step in my efforts to become a successful erotica/romance writer. I want to keep improving with every novel. I want my writing to get better, sexier, and more polished with every novel.

While I am going to put plenty of effort into promoting “Rescued Hearts,” I’m already hard at work on my next novel. I’ve got plenty more sexy ideas beyond that as well. I don’t know which of these ideas will work or whether any of them will make me more successful, but I’m eager to try as many of them as I can. If I can do that and add more sex appeal to my writing, then I’ll consider my efforts a success.

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Tropes, Strong Female Characters, And Challenges

Whenever I talk about an issue on this blog, I never claim to be an expert or an authoritative voice. Given the topics I discuss, from sex among shape-shifters to pro-nudity superheroes, I hope a disclaimer isn’t necessary. My capacity to research and understand an issue extends only to my own personal experiences and simple Google search.

It’s for that very reason that I’m not too surprised whenever I find something or someone that explains an issue down better than I ever could. I fully concede that I’m not as smart as I wish I were on any number of topics. I’m an aspiring erotica/romance writer with no PhD’s, Nobel Prizes, or daytime talk show. I’m not stupid, but I’m not a genius either.

Even in fields where I feel I’m smarter than most, such as writing sexy stories and talking about sexy topics, I know I’m hardly the best. I’m fully aware that there are others who are much smarter than I am in that field and understand topics better than I ever could.

Sometimes, though, you don’t expect to find that something or someone after having recently explored a particular issue. Recently, I talked about something called the Galbrush Paradox, which is a blanket term used to describe the challenges of writing female characters in a story. I like to think I broke it down in a fairly comprehensive way. It turns out, though, someone already did and they were much more thorough.

Someone on a comic book message board, which I frequent, posted a video that was made in late 2016 on this very topic. It’s from a channel called Overly Sarcastic Productions. It’s almost exactly what it sounds like.

This channel, though some colorful animation and rapid rhetoric, breaks down a number of topics and issues in a concise, informative, and entertaining way. They touch on things like history, philosophy, and various forms of art.

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One of their regular shows involves something called Trope Talk, which effectively breaks down certain tropes in popular culture. Unlike other discussions about such issues, they try to remain objective and make no over-arching judgments. That’s pretty rare these days because when people usually talk about tropes, they often make them part of some sort of sinister agenda. Alex Jones fans know what I’m talking about.

One such video covered the issues surrounding strong female characters, which is at the heart of the Galbrush Paradox. It’s also an issue that I tend to bring up often on this blog, from the misconceptions about such characters to those who deserve their own movie. I tried my best to break it down with my post on the Galbrush Paradox. However, I know when I’m beat.

Overly Sarcastic Productions definitely did it better. Their video on the issue is far more comprehensive and far more detailed than I ever managed. Just watch the video and I think most would agree.

There’s a lot to unpack in this brief, but dense video. More than anything else, it covered a few important details that I avoided. When I talk about strong female characters, I often put them in the context of the challenges they face within a contemporary context. I look at recent trends, like sex-negative feminism and evolving trends in sexual attitudes, and try to apply them to recent challenges.

This video stakes another step back and tries to see the forest from the trees. It breaks down the how and why these challenges exist, how to deal with them, and how to approach them in a reasonable sort of way. Again, I know when I’m beat.

It’s good advice for anyone who has ever attempted to write a story or publish a novel. Just as there are many double standards when it comes to gender issues, there are many ways to approach writing certain characters. I’m learning that more and more with every novel I write.

Given the dynamic nature of cultural attitudes and popular culture, there will some sort of disparity between the genders. That’s why it’s so important to learn about those dynamics. Having great female characters can only help a story. Given how one of them is now a monumental box office success, the stakes are even higher now. As an aspiring writer, I hope I can contribute to that one day as well.

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“Rescued Hearts” Cover Revealed!

Before I get too distracted by beer, fireworks, and barbecue, I have a quick announcement to make about the upcoming release of “Rescued Hearts.” I still haven’t gotten the second round of edits from Totally Entwined Group, but as far as I know, the release schedule I recently announced is still on track.

That process is moving along in as efficient and sexy way as possible. Just like “Passion Relapse,” there is a larger method to the sexiness. Earlier this week, Totally Entwined Group and I took another step in that process. They sent me the cover art for “Rescued Hearts.” If you thought the cover of “Passion Relapse” was hot as hell, then you might want to get some spare panties.

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As a sexy book cover, it checks all the boxes. It’s hot, it’s romantic, and it offers some sexy hints about what this sexy story holds. Like “Passion Relapse,” there’s a lot of passion and some of it gets pretty heart-wrenching. Unlike “Passion Relapse,” though, “Rescued Hearts” will follow a different kind of struggle.

This isn’t a story where two people just find each other, get sexy, and that’s it. Finding each other is hard enough, but there are other obstacles that Mary Ann Scott and Peter Rogers never had to face in “Passion Relapse.”

As I noted in the teaser announcement for this book, “Rescued Hearts” is about two people who have a lot of forces working against them. It’s not just that they have obstacles. There are actual, conscious forces trying to keep them apart. Finding love is hard enough. Finding it when you’re constantly worrying about those forces finding you is that much harder.

That said, it’s because the forces involved are so strong that the love and sexiness in “Rescued Hearts” has so much meaning. It’ll get your heart racing as much as your genitals. In terms of erotica romance, can you think of a better combination?

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The Galbrush Paradox And The Challenge Of Female Characters

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Anyone who’s written anything longer than a haiku will tell you that one of the biggest challenges is coming up with great characters. Stan Lee may make it look easy, but it’s most definitely not. Without great characters, your story might as well be a sandwich without bread. It just can’t function.

I can certainly attest to the challenge of creating great characters. In the eight novels I’ve written, I’ve tried to put as much energy and nuance as possible. Whether it’s Ben Prescott in “Skin Deep” or Mary Ann Scott in “Passion Relapse,” I make a concerted effort to help them stand out for all the right reasons.

In doing so, I have noticed something that’s both distinct and frustrating. It’s something I think every writer, including the Stan Lees and J.K. Rowlings of the world, have noticed at some point. When it comes to creating great characters, there’s a lot of flexibility when it comes to male characters. With female characters, though, there are too many unwritten rules to keep track of.

It’s only gotten more frustrating in recent years because the demand for strong female characters has never been greater. The success of movies like “Wonder Woman” and “Mad Max: Fury Road,” as well as novels like “Harry Potter” and “Twilight,” have raised the bar. Make no mistake. There are a lot of incentives to create these characters.

I’ve talked about why characters like Wonder Woman matter now more than ever. However, there’s one caveat that I didn’t mention and for good reason. I think it’s an issue that the William Marstons and Stephanie Meyers of the world understood, albeit indirectly. When it comes to creating female characters, the margin for error is painfully small.

By that, I mean there are a lot of things you can do with a male character that you just can’t do with a female character. Even male minority characters have a lot more flexibility, in terms of what you can put them through. Every character that Samuel L. Jackson has ever played is proof of that.

With female characters, it’s a lot trickier. If you don’t believe me, think back to that disturbing thought experiment I pitched a while back that reversed the genders of certain famous scenes, thereby creating a much more disturbing result. With that in mind, try to craft a story about a flawed, vulnerable character that has the potential to be interesting.

Maybe the character is a former cop who suffered a terrible injury at the hands of a deranged criminal.

Maybe the character is someone who made a huge mistake with a former lover and is haunted by it.

Maybe the character is someone who found themselves in a vulnerable state, had a few too many drinks, and had a messy one-night stand with a total stranger.

These are all fairly standard setups for typical characters. Think about those characters for a second. Chances are the character that comes to mind is a man. That’s not too surprising. That doesn’t make you a terrible sexist who deserves to lick the mud off the shoes of every radical feminist form now until the end of time. By and large, most of the iconic characters in popular culture are male.

Now, try to imagine that same character as a female. Chances are your reaction will be different. Even if it isn’t, there’s a good chance you’ll be more reluctant to develop this character because you know the kind of responses you’ll get from certain people.

Remember that cop who suffered a terrible injury? Well, if that cop is a female, then you’re a horrible misogynistic monster because you subjected that woman to violence and we can’t tolerate that.

Remember that character who made a huge mistake with a former lover? Well, if that character is a female, you’re also a horrible, misogynistic monster because you utterly failed the Bechdal Test by defining her through a relationship with a man.

Remember that character who was vulnerable and had a one-night stand? Well, guess what? You’re also a horrible, misogynistic monster because you overtly sexualized the female character in a way that propagates the idea that women are sexual objects to be used by men.

Are you seeing the pattern here? Are you getting that twinge of pain in your palms while you grind your teeth? Don’t worry. You’re not having a stroke. That’s normal. It also gives you a taste of just how hard/frustrating it is to create good female characters without making it an agenda.

That agenda didn’t used to be that big a deal. Then, in recent years, with the rise of third-wave feminism and social media scandals that have made people hyper-sensitive to sexism, the challenge got that much harder.

That’s not to say there isn’t some merit behind the sentiment. There are only so many Disney Princesses and horny vixens in “James Bond” movies before the narrative gets old, predictable, and outright insulting. Even I think Super Mario has had to rescue Princess Peach way too many times.

The problem is that when people try to create characters that aren’t princesses or Joss Whedon characters, they run into a wall, of sorts. They quickly find that creating those characters is a minefield, one where a single misstep can get you labeled a racist, misogynist, homophobe at a time when a single misworded tweet can ruin your life.

It’s such a frustrating challenge that someone gave it a name. It’s called the Galbrush Paradox and it emerged during the infamous GamerGate scandal in 2014. I won’t get into the particulars of that shit storm, if only because every discussion about that topic tends to lower people’s IQ by at least a dozen points. I’ll just focus on what the Galbrush Paradox is, as defined by its creators.

Do you know why there’s so many white male characters in video games? Especially leads? Because no one cares about them. A white male can be a lecherous drunk. A woman can’t or it’s sexist. Sexualizing women and what all. A white male can be a mentally disturbed soldier who’s mind is unraveling as he walks through the hell of the modern battlefield. A woman can’t or you’re victimizing women and saying they’re all crazy.

Consider Guybrush Threepwood, start of the Monkey Island series. He’s weak, socially awkward, cowardly, kind of a nerd and generally the last person you’d think of to even cabin boy on a pirate ship, let alone captain one. He is abused, verbally and physically, mistreated, shunned, hated and generally made to feel unwanted.

Now let’s say Guybrush was a girl. We’ll call her Galbrush. Galbrush is weak, socially awkward, cowardly, kind of a nerd and generally the last person you’d think of to even cabin boy on a pirate ship, let alone captain one. She is abused, verbally and physically, mistreated, shunned, hated and generally made to feel unwanted.

Now, you might notice that I’ve given the exact same description to both of these characters. But here’s where things deviate. While no one cares if Guybrush takes a pounding for being, for lack of a better term, less than ideal pirate, Galbrush will be presumed to be discriminated against because of her gender. In fact, every hardship she will endure, though exactly the same as the hardships Guybrush endured, will be considered misogyny, rather than someone being ill suited to their desired calling.

And that ending. She goes through ALL that trouble to help, let’s call him Eli Marley, escape the evil clutches of the ghost piratess Le Chuck, it turns out he didn’t even need her help and she even screwed up his plan to thwart Le Chuck. Why, it’d be a slap in the face to every woman who’s ever picked up a controller. Not only is the protagonist inept, but apparently women make lousy villains too!

And that’s why Guybrush exists and Galbrush doesn’t. Men can be comically inept halfwits. Women can’t. Men can be flawed, tragic human beings. Women can’t. And why? Because every single female character reflects all women everywhere.

It’s a fairly new concept, but a relevant one. We’ve already seen it play out in a number of ways in recent years. The best example is probably Rey from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

If you’ve done any digging whatsoever into “Star Wars” beyond seeing the movie and listening to arguments about whether Han shot first, then you’ve probably seen some of the criticisms about her. She’s what some call a “Mary Sue.”

A Mary Sue is a byproduct of the Galbrush Paradox in that she’s a character who’s too perfect. While this character can be a man, it most often takes the shape of a female character who’s so skilled, so beautiful, so perfect that it’s hard to make her interesting.

Rey faced this issue, and for good reason. Throughout “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” she was perfect at everything she did. She flew the Millennium Falcon, wielded a light sabre, and used the Force as though she’d been doing it all her life. Everything that happened to her just happened so easily. She was never allowed to struggle, suffer, or slip up too much like Finn or Poe Dameron.

I can even understand why. If she had been tortured like Poe or lied like Finn, there would be mass protests and hashtags. A very vocal contingent of fans and professional whiners with nothing better to do would’ve condemned Rey as an affront to women everywhere. Her flaws would’ve been taken as huge insults against an entire gender. If she were a man, though, nobody would’ve batted an eye.

It’s tragic, in a sense, because it shackles characters and stories. It creates self-imposed limits that don’t need to be there. It’s true that there is real sexism in the world. There’s even plenty in movies, especially slasher movies. However, nitpicking every little detail of a female character to ensure sufficient purity, so to speak, is counterproductive. All it does is discourage people from even trying to create these characters in the first place.

That’s not good for either gender because it is possible to create great female characters. From Furiosa in “Mad Max: Fury Road” to Sarah Conner in “Terminator” to Ripley in “Alien,” there are plenty of great female characters that go onto become iconic in their own right. That’s why it’s so important to avoid the pitfalls of the Galbrush Paradox, otherwise we’ll be doomed to a future of Mary Sues.

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“Rescued Hearts” Update: First Edits Complete And Lessons On Sexy Scenes

If becoming an successful erotica/romance writer is like sex, I like to think I’ve at least gotten to second base at this point. Just writing a sexy novel is hard enough. I’ve written eight so far, which I think counts for something. I’m not saying every one of those novels is an erotica masterpiece on the same level as Jenna Jameson’s tits, but they show I have put the work in. I am that determined to be an erotica/romance writer.

Getting “Passion Relapse” published by Totally Entwined Group was my first taste of the official publishing process. It was a novel experience, to say the least. That experience included no less than three rounds of edits, one of which involved me rewriting an entire chapter. If you’ve read the novel, and you should, you may be able to sense which part got rewritten. It’s a sign of just how far I have to go in this endeavor.

Since “Rescued Hearts” got accepted by Totally Entwined Group, I’m getting another chance at learning the process. While “Rescued Hearts” is a different kind of erotica/romance novel compared to “Passion Relapse,” it still relies heavily on the same elements to make the story sexy.

I say all this because earlier this week, I received the first batch of edits along with my contract by Totally Entwined Group. The edits, this time around, weren’t quite as extensive as the first batch I got with “Passion Relapse.” Some of that counts as progress, but I think most of it has to do with me just being more familiar with Totally Entwined Group’s writing style.

Even so, I managed to complete the edits and send them back. Usually, the first round is the most extensive so getting them done means we’re on track with the release date this October. I expect a few more rounds of edits over the next month or so, but I’ll be surprised if I have to rewrite an entire chapter like I did with “Passion Relapse.”

However, one issue did come up in the first round of edits that also came up with “Passion Relapse.” In both cases, my editor paid extra attention to the sexy parts and often asked me to rewrite them. I get that’s important. This is an erotica/romance novel. People read it for the sex appeal and not the pretty dots on the page.

This being my second published novel, though, I think I need to put more work into making my sexy scenes a bit sexier. One of the problems I had during the edits with “Passion Relapse” was that I got too detailed about the wrong things. That’s exactly as lurid as it sounds.

My editor often remarked how those scenes often had me describing the movements of body parts, as though they operated on their own. That really took away from the actual actions and sentiments of the characters involved. That makes sense. You can’t treat a character’s body as though it’s separate from the story. We save those kinds of disoriented narratives for rip-offs of “The Matrix.”

I was mindful of that when I wrote “Rescued Hearts.” I tried to make sure that I didn’t separate characters from body parts too much. This time, though, my editor also pointed out certain scenes that just weren’t sexy enough. I described what characters did, but not in an overly sexy sort of way. Given that this is an erotica/romance novel, that’s a big deal.

In some of my other self-published novels, namely “The Final Communion,” I was exceedingly detailed with the sexy scenes. I don’t think it ever got to the level of being gratuitous, but I did come dangerously close a few times. There’s a fine line between being sexy and just being crude. It’s a hard line to walk and one I’m going to have to walk skillfully if I’m to have a viable writing career.

I get that this is one of those skills that needs to be refined. I also get that these moments are the proverbial icing on the cake that readers of erotica/romance will savor. It matters that I make these scenes as sexy as possible.

As to how I’m going to go about that, that’s something I’ll have to learn and refine. It’s a process and one I’m still learning. These first rounds of edits show that I still have a ways to go. However, like any skill, including the sexy kinds, the more you do it, the better you get at it. I hope it shows this October when “Rescued Hearts” is released.

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Announcement: Contract Signed And Edits Begin!

I just want to make a quick announcement to update everyone on the status of “Rescued Hearts,” which is to be my second published book. The release schedule is already set by my publisher, Totally Entwined Group. I have every intention of making that date.

Earlier today, I made it truly official. I received the actual contract for the publication of “Rescued Hearts” and signed it. Just a while ago, I received confirmation from their office that the contract went through. It’s singed, sealed, and official. “Rescued Hearts” is on its way!

Along with the confirmation, I received the first round of edits. Just as I did with “Passion Relapse,” this novel will involve plenty of editing. Editing is one of the toughest processes in any novel, but it also happens to be the most necessary. It’s not enough to tell a sexy story. That sexy story has to have polish. That’s the only way to truly maximize the sexiness.

I intend to make “Rescued Hearts” as polished as possible. I hope it shows when the book finally comes out later this fall. Until then, I’ll be hard at work editing and polishing this sexy, romantic story. I’ll provide more updates as they come in.

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Announcement: “Rescued Hearts” Release Schedule

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks for me. Not only has summer arrived, thereby allowing me to spend more time naked, but I received word from Totally Entwined Group that they’re going to publish my second novel, “Rescued Hearts.”

This is another huge deal for me. Earlier this year, I celebrated one major milestone in my aspiration to become an erotica/romance writer. Thanks to Totally Entwined Group, I got my first novel, “Passion Relapse,” published. It’s a huge step for me because there’s only so much of an audience you can build through self-publishing.

Prior to “Passion Relapse,” I had a half-dozen other books I had self-published through services like Lulu. Being a nobody with no fanbase or audience, that really limits my ability to succeed. That’s why I need the support of a publisher and that’s why I’ll be forever grateful that Totally Entwined Group took a chance on me.

Working with them has been great and they seem to enjoy my presence just as much because they’re willing to publish more of my work. I’m already hard at work with them, editing my manuscript and giving “Rescued Hearts” the kind of polish that will make it that much sexier.

That effort now has a time frame. My editor has sent me a release schedule for “Rescued Hearts.” Even though I released “Passion Relapsea couple months ago, much to my elation, I want to get more of my sexy work out there. I want to be able to say that I had two published novels in 2017. If this current time frame holds, I’ll be able to say that with a smile on my face and a boner in my pants.

For those of you who got a taste of “Passion Relapse” and liked what they read, here’s the schedule. Plan your private time and your panties accordingly.

Pre-Order: 12th September, 2017
Early Download: 26th September, 2017
General Release: 24th October, 2017

Again, I’m going to work as hard as I can to keep this schedule with Totally Entwined Group. The editing process can be intensive. I actually had to rewrite huge chunks of “Passion Relapse” before it ever came out. I’m expecting “Rescued Hearts” to be every bit as intensive. As such, I have faith that it’ll be just as worth it.

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