Erotic Books (Non-Fiction)

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* This post is part of a short series:

QUALITY EROTICA (aka “Jess’s Erotic Stash”)

PART 1: Introduction + Erotic Art Books
PART 2: Erotic Books (Non-Fiction)
PART 3: Erotic Poetry
PART 4: Erotic Books (Fiction)
PART 5: More on Love/Sex/Relationships

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erotic_books

Jess’s erotic stash / “sex education”

[PART 2: Erotic Books / Non-Fiction]

The art books (in Part I) were nicely complemented with some non-fiction texts. I just so happen to have exactly five erotic art books and five non-fiction books on sex, at the moment.

These non-fiction books provided me with a lot of “valuable information” re: subconscious desires and that kind of stuff. I have a love for hidden things in life (I’ve always had an interest in what lies under the surface, re: the things that matter).

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perfumed_garden

6. The Perfumed Garden | Amazon.com

Blurb:

The great English explorer and author Richard F. Burton offers this translation of a work on sexuality, female sexuality in particular. Selected contents: Concerning women who deserve to be praised; About women who are to be held in contempt; Concerning everything that is favorable to the act of coition;  Prescriptions for increasing the dimensions of small members, and for making them splendid. This book contains much erotic poetry.

Excerpt:

The Master of the Universe has bestowed upon them the empire of seduction; all men, weak or strong, are subjected to the weakness for the love of woman.

(The Perfumed Garden, Page 75)

Very well-known book that I’ve yet to read in its entirety.

Link: Amazon.com

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hite_report

7. The Hite Report on Male Sexuality | Amazon.com

Blurb:

Over 7,000 men, ages thirteen to ninety-seven, speak out about: What they think of women — as wives, lovers, and friends; why a majority of men like marriage but are not faithful; what they think about love — and why they often distrust it; how they feel about giving women clitoral stimulation; why they often masturbate even with a regular sex life…and more.

Excerpt:

“The only time I am anxious that I am not ‘man enough’ (hate that juvenile, macho expression!) is when I have inexplicably lost my hard-on and cannot continue. What the hell happened? I ask myself. How come? How delicately am I balanced, anyway? It is frustrating and embarrassing. It makes me feel like I am a little helpless boy, guilty usually. I feel ashamed.” (Page 399)

Another very well-known book. I read both Hite reports (on male and female sexuality) — I enjoyed the male one a lot more. That’s not to say that the female one was not good. I just found the male one a lot more ‘illuminating’ ^^.

Link: Amazon.com

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sextrology

8. Complete Idiot’s Guide to Sextrology | Amazon.com

Blurb:

In this funny, insightful, and practical guide, Megan Skinner, astrologist extraordinaire, explains how to use the stars to find the perfect sexual mate. She profiles the sexual traits of each of the 12 signs, then shows every combination of them and what to expect in bed.

• Ideal for anyone interested in astrology
• Easy to use, encyclopedic in content
• Includes coverage of Sun signs and Moon signs
• Discusses the influence of each planet and house on the sexual dynamics of each sign and each couple

Excerpt:

Venus and Mars connections are all about your sexual chemistry — Venus is the “feminine” aspect of love, representing your deeper sexual and romantic needs. Mars is the “masculine” aspect of love, representing your most primal sexual desires. (Chapter 10)

A good INTRODUCTORY text to the subject of sexual astrology.

On a slightly more advanced level, I’m a Venus conjunct Pluto in Scorpio 8th house (which kind of explains this entire series of blog posts…).

Links: Amazon.com | Astro.com

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joy_of_sex

9. The Joy of Sex | Amazon.com

Blurb:

An international bestseller since it was first published in 1972, this updated edition brings this imaginative, uninhibited guide to lovemaking and sex to a whole new generation. It has been revised in such a way to retain Dr. Comfort’s original, revelatory advice while making it appropriate for the 21st century (balances responsibility with the importance of happy and relaxed sexuality in people’s lives). The drawings capture in full, frank detail the intimacy of the act of love.

Excerpt:

Real sex is the sort our culture and most mass media propaganda don’t recognize: not that intercourse, or masturbation, or genital kisses aren’t real sex, but some other things are real sex too, which people need, but which don’t excite our time and age. . .

(The Joy of Sex: “Appetizers” / Page 57)

Also a very well-known book. I absolutely adore the 80 very nicely done line illustrations (realistic, simple and very sensuous/intimate).

Link: Amazon.com

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famous_sex_lives

10. The Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People | Amazon.com

Blurb:

From the indefatigable Wallace family, authors of The Book of Lists and The People’s Almanac series (New York Times bestsellers that sold over eight million copies internationally), came 1981’s The Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People.

This compelling bestseller that kept many a reader up at night with its two hundred revealing profiles and three hundred rare photos just got better with a dozen new entries on the nocturnal fascinations of the iconic Tupac Shakur, Carlos Casteneda, Jim Morrison, Nico, Wilt Chamberlain, Ayn Rand, Kurt Cobain, Princess Diana, Aleister Crowley, Anna Nicole Smith, Michael Hutchence, and Malcolm X.

Excerpt:

“I loved my mother like a lover,” Lawrence admitted after her death in 1910. . .Always thin and consumpive, never particularly virile, with tousled hair, a “flaming” red beard, and eyes “intense as blue stars,” Lawrence attracted by the force of his personality a succession of wealthy, titled patronesses. “Income on two legs” he called these women, who subscribed to the Lawrencean sexual mystique and subsidized his nomadic lifestyle.
(Prodigal Son: D. H. Lawrence, Page 190)

This book is a real riot. I’ve read many of the profiles and have yet to be disappointed!

Link: Amazon.com

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QUALITY EROTICA (aka “Jess’s Erotic Stash”)

PART 1: Introduction + Erotic Art Books
PART 2: Erotic Books (Non-Fiction)
PART 3: Erotic Poetry
PART 4: Erotic Books (Fiction)
PART 5: More on Love/Sex/Relationships

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Erotic Books: Poetry

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* This post is part of a short series:

QUALITY EROTICA (aka “Jess’s Erotic Stash”)

PART 1: Introduction + Erotic Art Books
PART 2: Erotic Books (Non-Fiction)
PART 3: Erotic Poetry
PART 4: Erotic Books (Fiction)
PART 5: More on Love/Sex/Relationships

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erotic_books

Jess’s erotic stash / “sex education”

[PART 3: Erotic Books / Poetry]

I’ve loved poetry since a really long time ago (of all subject matter and styles). It combines succinctness with wisdom/clarity, beauty with spirituality, so on and so forth. What’s there not to like?

AND when the topic is about sex or erotic love…

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erotic_love_poems

11. Erotic Love Poems of Greece and Rome | Amazon.com

Blurb:

A taste of amour in the ancient world-newly translated. From the famous erotic poetry of Sappho to love scenes from Homer’s The Iliad, as well as works from such eminent Roman poets as Virgil and Catullus, this enthralling collection taps into a range of passionate, timeless emotions.

Excerpt:

Seeing someone incredibly beautiful can leave the timid observer speechless. So it was twenty-six centuries ago. In this poem, Sappho describes what she experienced when, from a distance, she saw a young man sitting close to the young woman she loved.

(Tongue-Tied, Page 27)

The beauty of ancient Greek/Roman culture and mythology are things I’ll never get tired of. A very concise + tasteful book.

Link: Amazon.com

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love_poems_japanese

12. Love Poems from the Japanese (Shambhala Library) | Amazon.com

Blurb:

Drawn from classical, medieval, and modern sources — including the imperial collections of the Manyoshu and Kokinshu — the poems in this collection are some of the greatest love poems from the Japanese tradition. The poems range in tone from the spiritual longing of an isolated monk to the erotic ecstasy of a court princess — but share the extraordinary simplicity and luminosity of language that marks Kenneth Rexroth’s (the translator’s) verse style.

Excerpt:

Since “the pillow knows all”
we slept without a pillow.
Still my reputation
reaches to the skies
like a dust storm.

(Lady Ise / Page 43)

This is the most expensive of all the poetry books here (bought from Singapore at Kinokuniya a long time ago — I won some book vouchers). Money well spent. It’s a perfect book — nothing superfluous.

Link: Amazon.com

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emily_dickinson

13. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson | Amazon.com

Blurb:

Though generally overlooked during her lifetime, Emily Dickinson’s poetry has achieved acclaim due to her experiments in prosody, her tragic vision and the range of her emotional and intellectual explorations.

Excerpt:

Wild nights! Wild nights!
Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile the winds
To a heart in port, —
Done with the compass,
Done with the chart.

Rowing in Eden!
Ah! the sea!
Might I but moor
To-night in thee!

(XXV, Emily Dickinson)

Wow, Emily Dickinson. A poet before her time, I think (with regards to style / mode of expression). But with reading her poetry, what I remembered the most was how she captured the sentiments/moments of our existence. I got this at the same time as the Japanese poetry book above, by the way.

Link: Amazon.com

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baudelaire

14. Baudelaire | Amazon.com

Blurb:

Modern poetry begins with Charles Baudelaire (1821-67), who employed his unequalled technical mastery to create the shadowy, desperately dramatic urban landscape — populated by the addicted and the damned — which so compellingly mirrors our modern condition. Deeply though darkly spiritual, titanic in the changes he wrought, Baudelaire looms over all the work, great and small, created in his wake.

Excerpt:

Eyes glowing like an angel’s
I’ll come back to your bed
and reach for you from the shadows:
you won’t hear a thing.

(“Incubus” / Page 102)

Baudelaire was a French poet, essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe (!).

Links: Amazon.com | Wikipedia

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erotic_poems

15. Erotic Poems | Amazon.com

Blurb:

These poems, selected from most of the cultures and histories of world literature, provide magnificent witness to the fact that love is as much an act of the imagination as it is of the body. From fourth-century Li Ch’ung’s “Parody of a Lover” to John Betmeman’s “Late-Flowering Lust,” they re-create, through the revelations of language, that experience of the erotic. Other poets include Theodore Roethke, Robert Graves, Octavio Paz, Joseph Brodsky, Sylvia Plath, Frederico Garcia Lorca, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and many others.

Excerpt:

…but I won’t call
Her ‘beautiful’. She has one fatal fault —
No sex-appeal: there’s not a grain of salt
In that big dish to stir the appetite.

(“Many Think Quintia’s Beautiful,” by Gaius Valerius Catullus)

Never know what I might find in this eclectic collection ;)

Link: Amazon.com

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QUALITY EROTICA (aka “Jess’s Erotic Stash”)

PART 1: Introduction + Erotic Art Books
PART 2: Erotic Books (Non-Fiction)
PART 3: Erotic Poetry
PART 4: Erotic Books (Fiction)
PART 5: More on Love/Sex/Relationships

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Recommended Erotic Books

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* This post is part of a short series:

QUALITY EROTICA (aka “Jess’s Erotic Stash”)

PART 1: Introduction + Erotic Art Books
PART 2: Erotic Books (Non-Fiction)
PART 3: Erotic Poetry
PART 4: Erotic Books (Fiction)
PART 5: More on Love/Sex/Relationships

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erotic_books

Jess’s erotic stash / “sex education”

[PART 4: Erotic Novels / Anthologies]

These are some of the books/novels that REALLY opened my eyes re: sex/sexuality/gender/love/relationships.

Doesn’t get much better than Anais Nin and D. H. Lawrence, etc etc.

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lolita

16. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov | Amazon.com

Blurb:

Awe and exhilaration — along with heartbreak and mordant wit — abound in Lolita, Nabokov’s most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on love — love as outrage and hallucination, madness and transformation.

Excerpt:

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.

(Lolita, opening lines)

Exhilarating –“You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style…” (a quote also from this book).

Link: Amazon.com

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switch_bitch

17. Switch Bitch, by Roald Dahl | Amazon.com

Blurb:

Great wit, melancholy, and lust pervade this collection of four adult short stories by Roald Dahl. Included here are “The Visitor” and “Bitch,” featuring the hilariously vivid exploits of the notorious Uncle Oswald, as well as “The Great Switcheroo” and “The Last Act.”

In these taut black comedies of human weakness and unexpected reversal, Dahl captures the delicious thrill of sexual triumph and the galling deflation of defeat.

Excerpt:

I only hope that my reticence will not create too strong a sense of anticlimax. Certainly, there was nothing anti about my own climax, and in the final searing paroxysm I gave a shout which should have awakened the entire neighbourhood. Then I collapsed. I crumpled up like a drained wineskin.

(The Great Switcheroo, Page 76)

It’s funny how many of the books on this list were just books I “happened” to find or receive (I didn’t specifically look for them to make a purchase). I think I bought Switch Bitch at a used books store in Singapore (for $0.50 or so). I loved Roald Dahl’s books for children. His work for adults is equally impressive/superlative in terms of style and wit.

Link: Amazon.com

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venus_in_furs

18. Venus in Furs, by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch | Amazon.com

Blurb (including excerpt/s):

An early manifesto on the potent relationship between cruelty and the pleasures of the flesh, Venus in Furs was written by a man once called the “poet” of masochism. “To be the slave of a woman, a beautiful woman, who I love, who I worship.” This is the sole desire of Severin, a young aristocrat who has fallen in love with the beautiful Wanda von Dunajew.

Wanda is initially reluctant to embody his fantasy, to become Severin’s Venus in Furs. But empowered by his desire, she begins to play her role with a passion that surprises even her lover. “You will be mine,” she tells him, “my plaything, which I can break to pieces, whenever I want an hour’s amusement.” A fascinating exploration of power in sexual relations, Venus in Furs is an erotic detour down love’s thorniest path.

This is real BDSM in a very non “sensational” or hyped way. The term ‘masochism’ is derived from this Austrian author’s name (that alone is reason enough to check this out).

Links: Amazon.com | Wikipedia

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anais_nin_little_birds

19. Little Birds, by Anais Nin | Amazon.com

Blurb: Delta of Venus and Little Birds, Anais Nin’s bestselling volumes of erotica, contain striking revelations of a woman’s sexuality and inner life. In Little Birds, each of the thirteen short stories captures a moment of sexual awakening, recognition or fulfilment, and reveals the subtle or explicit means by which men and women are aroused. Lust, obsession, fantasy and desire emerge as part of the human condition, as pure or as complex as any other of its aspects.

Excerpt:

She felt dizzy with conflicting sensations. She did not move or turn her head. A hand now sought an opening in the skirt and discovered the buttons. Each button undone by the hand made her gasp with both fear and relief. The hand waited to see if she protested before proceeding to another button. She did not move.

Then, with a dexterity and swiftness she had not expected, the two hands twisted her skirt round so that the opening was at the back. . .

(“The Woman on the Dunes” / Page 15)

OMG this was *the* erotic book which I started off with (bought it together with the Poe anthology at a book sale). I’d just finished secondary school at the time and this book was unlike anything I’d ever come across. It was the first time I knew of Anais Nin. I didn’t even flip through the book’s contents before deciding to buy (something I do very rarely). The back copy text (i.e. the blurb above) and the cover image convinced me of the inner contents.

I like how the title comes from the first story in the anthology (and the usage of the words in the story too). This slim (but extremely potent/influential) volume made the difference between my “young teenage” life and a more mature/worldly outlook ;) It was really a form of sexual awakening, in retrospect.

Link: Amazon.com

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anais_nin_delta_venus

20. Delta of Venus, by Anais Nin | Amazon.com

Blurb:

Anais Nin’s Delta of Venus is a stunning collection of sexual encounters from the queen of literary erotica. From Mathilde’s lust-filled Peruvian opium den to the Hungarian baron driven insane by his insatiable desire, the passions and obsessions of this dazzling cast of characters are vivid and unforgettable. Delta of Venus is a deep and sensual world that evokes the very essence of sexuality.

Excerpt:

Then John saw that she wanted him, that she was offering herself, but instead of being stirred, he recoiled. “Martha! Oh, Martha!” he said, “what an animal you are, you are truly the daughter of a whore. Yes, in the orphanage everybody said it, that you were the daughter of a whore.”

Martha’s blood rushed to her face. “And you,” she said, “you are impotent, a monk, you’re like a woman, you’re not a man. Your father is a man.”

And she rushed out of his room.

(Many Think Quintia’s Beautiful, Page 56)

I think this one’s even more hardcore (in the sophisticated/artistic/intense way) than Little Birds ;)

Link: Amazon.com

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lady_chatterley's_lover

21. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence | Amazon.com

Blurb: Lady Chatterley’s Lover is both one of the most beautiful and notorious love stories in modern fiction. The summation of D.H. Lawrence’s artistic achievement, it sharply illustrates his belief that tenderness and passion were the only weapons that could save man from self-destruction.

Excerpt:

Connie was surprised at her own feeling of aversion from Clifford. What is more, she felt she had always really disliked him. Not hate: there was no passion in it. But a profound physical dislike. Almost, it seemed to her, she had married him because she disliked him, in a secret, physical sort of way. But of course, she had married him really because in a mental way he attracted her and excited her. He had seemed, in some way, her master, beyond her.

Now the mental excitement had worn itself out and collapsed, and she was aware only of the physical aversion. It rose up in her from her depths: and she realized how it had been eating her life away.

(Chapter 9)

One of the best of the best. I had to read the book twice in order to appreciate it (I first read it when I was 16 — didn’t really ‘get’ some parts yet at the time). I can remember very well (in my mind — in terms of desire + emotional intensity) the part where Oliver Mellors (the gamekeeper) first meets Lady Chatterley.

Links: Amazon.com | Wikisource (Chapter 9)

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sons_and_lovers

22. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence | Amazon.com

Blurb:

D.H. Lawrence’s great autobiographical novel is a provocative portrait of an artist torn between love for his possessive mother and desire for two young beautiful women. Set in the Nottinghamshire coal fields of Lawrence’s own boyhood, the story of young Paul Morel’s growing into manhood in a British working-class family rife with conflict reveals both an inner and an outer world seething with intense emotions.

Gertrude is Paul’s puritanical mother who concentrates all her love and attention on her son Paul. She nurtures his talents as a painter — and when she broods that he might marry someday and desert her, he swears he will never leave her. Inevitably, Paul does fall in love, but with two women — and is unable to choose between them.

Written early in Lawrence’s literary career, Sons and Lovers possesses all the powers of description, insistent sensuality, and scathing social criticism that are the special hallmarks of his genius. “A work of striking originality,” writes the critic F.R. Leavis, by “the greatest creative writer in English of our time.”

Excerpt:

“A what?” she asked brightly and unashamed.

They thought awhile. He was sensible all the time of having her opposite him. Suddenly their eyes met, and she smiled to him — a rare, intimate smile, beautiful with brightness and love. Then each looked out of the window.

The sixteen slow miles of railway journey passed. The mother and son walked down Station Street, feeling the excitement of young lovers having an adventure together.

(Chapter V: Paul Launches Into Life, Page 89)

Wow, another best of the best. Words cannot describe the substance in classic works like this (desire is just one component; there’ll also be the social / societal / human condition aspect). I have other D.H. Lawrence books but if I had to recommend just two it’d be these two.

Link: Amazon.com

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QUALITY EROTICA (aka “Jess’s Erotic Stash”)

PART 1: Introduction + Erotic Art Books
PART 2: Erotic Books (Non-Fiction)
PART 3: Erotic Poetry
PART 4: Erotic Books (Fiction)
PART 5: More on Love/Sex/Relationships

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Author Interview, Lianne Simon

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Interview #63, with author of “Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite”: Lianne Simon!

Describe yourself in 5 words:

lianne_simon

Christian housewife writing about intersex.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):

intersex

From Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite:

Blurb: Jamie was born with a testis, an ovary, and a pixie face. He could be a boy after minor surgery and a few years on testosterone. That’s what his parents always say, but he sees an elfin princess in the mirror. To become the man his parents expect, Jamie must leave behind a little girl’s dreams.

Excerpt: “I’m sorry, Jameson. Are you okay?” Dad knelt down and hugged his little princess tight, but the disappointment in his eyes hurt her worse than the ball had.

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

“I look down the lonely, silent vista of my coming years, whose niches are filled not with joy, but quiet resignation—and I see beyond the calm shores of Rest, where, if faithful here, you and I may clasp hands forever.”

Macaria, by Augusta Jane Evans

Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:

Writing is much like motherhood. A fertile seed within you grows — a life of its own. The newborn cannot survive without your tender care and patient attention. Only later will you send it out into the world. But between writing and publication lies the agony of childbirth — finding an agent or a publisher — when all you care about is giving birth to your child.

I love the analogy :) What is your definition of “good writing”?

Good writing conveys just enough of the author’s imagination to set the reader’s on fire.

Sweet! Please share your #1 tip for writers:

Your heart, your life blood — make it flow into your characters’ veins. That makes you vulnerable, but it can also make your characters memorable.

Yes, indeed. Your websites/blogs/etc:

www.liannesimon.com

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Much thanks to Lianne for stopping by — do visit her website for more info about her and her experiences with writing/publishing. She has very detailed posts on book cover designs too!

Author Interview, Kristopher Miller

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Interview #62, with unorthodox/quirky/persistent author: Kristopher Miller!

Describe yourself in 5 words:

kristopher miller

Unorthodox, quirky, persistent, morbid, and knowledgeable.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):

mazes_amulet

From The Maze’s Amulet:

Elza shouted, “Vargas tull!”

Then the vagrant opened his eyes with a weak gasp. He turned from a tough guy to a scared urchin at the cloudy, bestial face that hissed at him with infernal green eyes. This creature was no longer the woman he and his friend planned to mug and rape. This was an animal with a phantasmagorical mane of hair and a twisted feline face belonging to a lion from hell.

The thug with the knife stumbled back and he dropped his weapon. Elza heard the knife hit the cement with a clatter ringing with the rain but she did not care as she stepped forward.

The thug shouted, “No! Get away from me!” He ran across the street, leaving his friend behind to face the shocking apparition Elza turned into. A car screeched to a stop in front of his friend as he fled the scene.

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

This is from Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere:

Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar were killing time. Mr. Vandemar had obtained a centipede — a reddish orange creature, almost eight inches long, with vicious, poisonous fangs — and was letting it run all over his hands, watching it as it twined over his fingers, vanishing up one sleeve, appeared a minute later after the other. Mr. Croup was playing with razor blades. He had found, in a corner, a whole box of fifty-year-old razor blades, wrapped in wax paper, and he had been trying to think of things to do with them.

Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:

For me, the writing process was challenging because I originally had one idea in mind, but the length of that idea needed to be expanded. That required several drafts, several readjustments, and several revisions to get it down to the “right” design and feel. The writing process is often made “easy” by some authors being interviewed, but it is a technical process that requires a lot of steps — and teamwork from editors — to succeed. At the same time, the writing process is rewarding once you realize that an element in the story, whether it be the plot, character development, or the in-story universe’s mechanics, turn out to work the way you want it to and the way that it is conveyed easily to the audience. The writing process is very rewarding because you are able to put your vision on paper. Sometimes it turns out differently than what you expect, but sometimes it is for the better!

As for the publication process, I can say that was easier because we live in an era where people can self-publish their work without having their work being dictated to what a publisher might think would be “marketable.” Self-publishing my work without a publisher would be challenging in that I would not have a lot of promotional resources but then I would also have full control of my work. I’m also a guy who cares more about writing as an art form as opposed to a commercial medium. My stuff is not everyone’s cup of tea, but all I care about is getting my work out there and continuing to make more material that I enjoy creating and what people enjoy reading. This is because writing is a difficult, frustrating, enjoyable, and a highly rewarding activity to partake in.

I love the full control “self-publishing” offers too ;) And it’s always nice to hear about people who aren’t solely motivated by “what $ell$.” What is your definition of “good writing”?

Good writing is writing that a reader can access without having to stumble upon mechanical mistakes and some logic issues that would otherwise ruin a good story. Yes, a good plot is needed, but moreover, the plot with a decent structure, character design and concepts are needed to mesh well in that the reader can access it. But moreover, I think good writing comes from how the author lets these plot and character elements run around before editing them for polish. Good writing is experimentation and taking chances with these elements, but good writing is also making sure that the experimentation works, especially on the readers’ part.

I reject other writers’ notions that the writer is the audience (Cough, Stephenie Meyer, Cough, Mary Sue…) because if it is only for the writer’s entertainment, then it is not really for the reader and this process of writing for the writer’s sake really hinders enjoyment on the reader’s part. I for one have read works in which authors have written for themselves that people have enjoyed but all I wanted to do was bash my head against a wall. One of the most rewarding things about the writing process is creating something that people enjoy and really getting a kick out of their reactions from the manuscript you spent many hours on.

It still takes time to do something worthwhile. In the greater scheme of things, I suppose it also depends on the writer’s motivations (and the type of audience they wish to target). Please share your #1 tip for writers:

Read, read, and read some more. Read stuff that you aren’t familiar with. Read stuff you don’t even agree with. Then write, write, and write some more. Write several drafts of that idea down. Overall: read and write. Rinse and repeat. You will understand how the writing mechanics work when you look at other people’s work.

Yes, it’s important not to stagnate (one of the deadly sins is “sloth,” after all…). Your websites/blogs/etc:

Kristopher Miller’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/catacombsbookshelf

The Catacomb’s Bookshelf, Kristopher Miller’s Official Writing Blog: http://catacombsbookshelf.blogspot.com/

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Much thanks to Kristopher for stopping by — do visit his website for more info about him, his views on writing/publishing, and his books.

Be sure to also check out his guest post for tips on Standing Out as a Self-Published Author!

Self-Publishing Tips (Quick Checklist)

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*** Based on an email from an aspiring indie author asking for help with starting out with self-publishing ***

I’ll add this post to a future edition of my Self-Publishing Wiz eBook. Adding to my blog here in case anyone else finds it useful ^^.

long_term

[“Think Long Term” | Image from Canrock Ventures]

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Original Email (from a “19-year-old proud Filipino male”):

“…Oh yes! I have plans to appear as a new writer in the publishing world. I wanna have my own novel and let people know that I am writing such book. But I am pretty much confused as to how I would start my journey after I’ve written one. What will be my first step(s) after I have my novel? ”

Jess’s reply (original email = quick thinking + typing):

First step after the novel is done — I think would be to plan/design a book cover (I usually “think of it” while writing the novel). The book cover has to look good when small image (since people will be browsing it online — has to be eye-catching as a small image).

Follow the Smashwords Style Guide to properly format the eBook version. If you’d like to have a print version, there’s www.lulu.com, www.createspace.com, and www.lightningsource.com (this last one = most expensive option but most professional also).

Some reviews would be good too (like the “members giveaway” programme on LibraryThing). I like to spend more time on production side though. But the reviews are good for credibility. Your book should be “easy to find” from your blog/website/etc also (for new visitors/readers to find).

*** Publishing is pretty much a long-term thing — so I think it’d help if you think of how you want to build up your brand over time. What is your work about / what’s your message / what are the genres you work in (something to attract people to your brand / your books). For me I had/have to usually think about whether I want to write “as an art form” or “commercially.” ***

You have to write a good summary and synopsis for your book also. It must be succinct yet enticing at the same time (people have short attention spans!). Choose good keywords and categories (easier when you have “books in series,” since people tend to buy all the books in a series if they like the first book).

I would recommend first uploading the book on www.smashwords.com (that’s where I first uploaded). Amazon’s would be https://kdp.amazon.com (but I’m not sure about how the international tax forms work). Smashwords allows you to sell on Barnes and Noble and some other retailers under the “premium” programme (which is still free at the moment).

SINCE people like free samples / free things, you might want to do some freebie promos (either mini eBooks, or perhaps a short story, essay, etc.). That allows more people to find you also.

It helps to have *** clearly-defined goals *** from the start — if you want to focus solely on profits, target a commercial niche that has a large audience (thrillers; horror; epic fantasy; etc.). If you have goals that are not just money-related then it’s best to respect those goals also (making a difference; originality; etc.). The good part is that you really have full business and creative control.

Hope that’s not too confusing — I usually just charge ahead and “see what to do” along the way (no structured sequence, lol!).

P.S. I bolded and put a “***” above on the points that were “most important” to tackle, in my personal experience.

Author Interview, Intense Restraint

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Interview #62, with the inquisitive/married/middle-aged author of Intense Restraint!

anonymous

[Image from Scribido Magazine]

There’s a recently-published crime drama / psychological thriller titled Intense Restraint, a book that’s published anonymously. Read till the end to see why the author would like to remain “Anonymous” ;)

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Describe yourself in 5 words:

Quiet, industrious, married, middle-aged, inquisitive.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):

Intense Restraint

Excerpt (from Intense Restraint): “I awoke in a dark room and in an unfamiliar bed. My wrists were handcuffed and my ankles were in leg irons. My heart began beating in rapid spurts, and adrenaline surged through my system as I tested my restraints and discovered they held me securely. The only light was emitted by a radio alarm clock. The time was 2 p.m. I had been asleep for a long time.”

Blurb: Steven’s hiking trip turns into a disaster when he is abducted by a grief-stricken amateur boxer whose mind has temporarily lost its grip on reality. Steven endures a horrifying ordeal as he simultaneously plans his escape and attempts to help his abductor find his way back to normalcy.

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

Fyodor Dostoevsky: “Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.”

I just chanced upon that quote the other day ;)! Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:

I’m very glad for websites where authors can review each other’s work and provide helpful comments. The one I used is TheNextBigWriter.com. I received lots of good advice on each chapter. The publication process was easy for me. I published the book via CreateSpace.com, a subsidiary of Amazon.com. I used their online tools for preparing the book for publication, including cover design. I was surprised and pleased to learn that the cost of publication in this manner is extremely low. Once the book was approved for publication by CreateSpace, I was able to do the additional work to make it available for the Kindle Reader. The book is also available on Amazon as a paperback.

What is your definition of “good writing”?

Good writing affects us profoundly, changes us, enlightens us, helps us live more noble lives.

Agreed. Please share your #1 tip for writers:

When I finish a chapter and need to take a break from sitting in front of the computer, I like to go on long walks and reflect on the plot and the characters, the latest developments in the story and the implications of those developments. As I walk along very often I get insights into what should happen next — what conversations should occur, what events will propel the story along. So, my tip is to try this technique of going on long walks.

Oh yes, they’re a good antidote to writer’s block! Your websites/blogs/etc:

Intense Restraint on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Intense-Restraint-ebook/dp/B00865T4JE/

I wrote my book as an anonymous author. I’m not ready for my co-workers to know that I wrote a book about a young man being abducted by another man! So, I don’t have a website that publicizes my writing.

Maybe I will create one sometime in the future…

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Much thanks to the author of Intense Restraint for stopping by! You may check out Intense Restraint on Amazon :)