Better Without Ethical Smut Imprint & Logo?
Silver & Gold
My first full-length novel!
Work In Progress
It's not going to be a quick process by any means, but I've not only got Silver & Gold up to thirty-plus thousand semi-edited words, of what I am guesstimating will be a between 90,000-120,000 final manuscript.
I've also clarified the tone I want to convey, definitely erotica but equally a supernatural thriller touching on some sensitive subjects with, I hope, consideration and respect as well as kinky taboo smut.
I am hoping to finish this, my first full-length novel, by the end of Spring, 2019 but there's no guaranteed. I write in short, intensely-focused fits and starts. I am also being careful to try and infuse the book with the kind of unique character(s) and presence that all really worth reading novels have, in my experience.
If I'm honest, trying to balance, on the one hand, call it 'Ian Fleming's literary 007' with the hard-edge and the timeless style, without stealing said style, I want to create me own, demonstrate my good taste and sense of style even...
With the less respectable, less literarily work-safe elements of erotica, intense character interaction and development and, finally, being able to touch on the really taboo without in any way making certain possibly suggestive notions happen or in any way not evil, but finding ways that that evil can be expressed and find reactions both believable and appropriately villainous and challenging, but ultimately resolved for better or worse.
For what it's worth, early feedback has been very positive, encouraging and helpful. If you'd like a peek, drop me a message using the contact button, top-right or in the pull-down menu on mobile devices.
Est. publication date 1/2020
I am challenging myself to see if I can write a full-length, engaging, intricately plotted, compellingly paced erotic supernatural thriller with some pretty heavy subject matter handled, I hope deftly and with all appropriate consideration for others' sensibilities.
Interesting, relatable, flawed characters, from the protagonists to the somewhat unusual antagonist(s), a solid to superb grasp of both periods and settings, as well as hoping to add a stylistic element not unlike Ian Fleming's literary 007, which of course was a major inspiration.
I'm also trying to strike the right tone, eschewing my usual chatty, prone to flights of humour or whimsy voice in favour of an appropriately but not excessively serious narrative voice, which is one of the biggest challenges thus far.
I've been surprised to discover that years of role-playing seem to have helped me a great deal with envisioning and writing visceral, 'real' action and violence, with some help of course from a few people I know who have ever thrown or taken a punch, shot a rifle, etc., since I of course am entirely wimpy and girly about such things. One friend in particular, who got into way too many fights, rarely of his own volition, early in life gave me a few pointers about skipping overly intricate move-countermove type fight scenes and focusing on the emotions, the suddenness, the sickening brutality and the totally unglamorous nature of trying to either kill or maim another human being, or avoid being the one killed or maimed, or both.
It won't be finished for a while and will no doubt need some heavy editing, as opposed to my erotica where 'if it makes people smile and feel good then everything else (including my somewhat infamous habit of switching between first- and third-person without noticing it) is detail.' I will probably have to cut back on at least a few smutty, or hopefully 'erotic' scenes to avoid any feeling gratuitous, even for a novel that is billed as being an 'erotic' supernatural thriller.
Well, this time, craft and consistency count. So does storytelling of course, but both keeping each scene engaging, maintaining flow through multiple chapter or point of view scenes and long-term cohesiveness and plot arc... Basically, if you've done this before you know what I mean, and probably also know what I have yet to trip over.
I don't usually ask for Beta Readers and frankly might be too shy to let strangers at it before the above-mentioned heavy edit, but if I want to improve and do the best I am able, feedback will be important and particularly from people who don't know me, or 'hear' my voice when reading, so if you would like to have a look at either a chapter or two or the entire manuscript to-date use the same Contact? button mentioned above and let me know. Preferably with some sort of bibliography of your own so that I can obtain your work to see whether I can find examples of any suggestions you may have. I always seem to learn better observing and reflecting than just being told.
Going From Storyteller To Novelist?
& not cry?
I basically have two dreams
One, to help my friend realize Miao might be sweet, but considering the 'more likely than not' outcome of even a modestly successful implementation of that design and vision (and he does nothing modestly successfully, he either soars like the eagle or gets sucked into the jet engine. Not much in-between) would make billion dollar mark revenues, never mind IPO1 or whatever, it's not exactly the most selfless dream, even if, in all honesty, of course I'd love to live the rest of my life never wanting for anything, able to go wherever, whenever I liked. I'm a nice person, or like to think so. I'm in no way greedy, except maybe for orgasms and some related activities but I am not a saint.
The other is to be successful as a writer. I didn't say wealthy, though not only would I not object to, again, some financial freedom, more because being a bestselling author would mean that I'd made it. That I'd accomplished my goal of becoming proficient enough at my chosen craft (other than getting lleyed in every possible sense of the expression) and sufficiently imaginative, evocative and memorable enough that people actually sought out my writing and enjoyed it. Or at least didn't hate it so much that they burned my house down or whatever.
To that end, I know I have a lot of work to do honing the craft itself. My vocabulary isn't any kind of issue, except perhaps my timing with regards to certain uses thereof, and I've been a reader, role-player and to a lesser extent media follower (movies, other visual storytelling) long enough, and with enough dedication, passion and understanding of the role-player's craft that the elements of plot, character creation and personification, quite a few 'action' or 'specialized skill set' roles, such as bad-assed soldier or arrogant, emotionally distant surgeon or whatever fall easily within my 'totally only for the purposes of faking it sufficiently convincingly to pass casual, and maybe even moderate scrutiny' which, in my experience as both a player and viewer, can be one of the ways people trip up badly, because when that stuff is really phony or straight from central stereotyping it can totally undermine the success of the storytelling attempt, by which I mean both the audience's focus and their willingness to suspend disbelief, give the story the benefit of the doubt, etc., take a beating and may not come back for more.
On the other hand, all of my experience and talent in these areas are couched in role-playing, which is at once both much, much less 'subject to close scrutiny' than, say, Dr. Gregory House on television. In part because role-players, or at least 'serious' ones, tend to share a lot of 'emotional shorthand' and 'accepted pacing and tropes, as opposed to what gets booed out of the room if one stumbles there,' but the plotting and pacing are built around, most commonly, weekly sessions of anywhere between 6-12 hours, so there's a certain amount of routine and such that I am finding quite a bit different trying to write a full-length novel, unless you're Dan Brown, who has all of his bricks unfold in a single day.2
Then again, role-playing also involves an element of improvisation, instant action/reaction/reflection and analysis, both by the players and the DM by whatever label, that I honestly believe would shock, flat out astonish a lot of very good actors or directors, and I suspect the Joss Whedon types who have such an RP background would agree. Because there's no time, during a session, to just kick back and take an hour to think something over, there is no script... In fact, more often than not the players might not even be aware what the genre of their story really is, such as it looks like an action romp, but wait, slowly it dawns that it's a psychological horror, or an intensely emotional interpersonal struggle, or an... It could literally be anything, and you might not even be fairly confident you've correctly sussed it until it's over.
Character studies, etc., are second-nature. As is coming up with supporting cast on the spot (cabbie, police officer, government official, crackwhore, innocent Catholic schoolgirl, not-so-innocent Catholic schoolgirl, immortal observer who flits from body to body, resentful restless dead conjured up for exposition purposes...) And if you're any good at all at this and take it seriously, that cabbie cannot be a cigar chewing, crusty white guy who calls everybody 'Mac,' or an immigrant whose whole persona is more or less Apu. You have to recognize that, for example, many cabbies (at least around here) are immigrants, but if you've ever spent any time talking to any of them, and I talk to all of them because I am a social person and when it's you and them alone in a car for a while and there isn't much else to do, you quickly grasp not that they are real people (if you didn't already, we have very little to talk about) but that, for example, how many have advanced degrees that should command respect and earn them a good living, were it not for, say, Québec not necessarily recognizing medical degrees earned in Lebanon. But all this is to say that, while over time of course you build up a wardrobe of sorts that you can use to switch some things around easily and, for a five minute interaction, be just fine you also have to keep track of them all because players will go back to places and people you'd tossed out nine months ago in a completely unrelated story and if you flub the 'who where what now?' too many times, chances are it will be noticed and possibly even a little resented.
Finally, role-playing is an ensemble affair. Everyone contributes to the story. Not merely how it is acted or set or whatever, but in the sense that players gossip, and go over scenes together, and speculate, and if, as the DM, they toss something out that is miles better than what you actually have planned? Only an idiot doesn't steal their idea, try to, I don't know, put a hat on it or otherwise try to be just different enough that they feel clever for catching on, not catching you not being clever enough, if you get my meaning. But again, all in real time or close enough as damnit.
What I'm trying to convey is that I actually do have a lot of tools and talents and relevant experience as a storyteller, really a lot more than I gave myself credit for.3
I, or any number of other long-time, talented and passionate role-players could fall out of bed, stoned out of their minds (in my case, usually one would put something like 'dead drunk' there) and off the cuff a session of, say, a generic science fiction role-playing game named Traveller that would fly just fine if some names were changed as an episode of Firefly.
The snappy dialogue? Where the Hell do you think Joss Whedon sharpened that particular wit? Really, if you've never seen a group of really talented, devoted role-players on a good night? Well, the nerdy Cheetos-encrusted losers who never get laid stereotype might blind you to what is actually going on, but not for more than a few minutes unless you are an imbecile.
Oh, and very few, if any of the nerds in the groups I was a part of had any problem getting laid. Probably more often and definitely better than the jock crowd etc.
Role-playing is not my only talent or passion, as anyone who has been paying any attention at all to anything whatsoever about me, including the domain name, etc., that I've hung this material from.
But it's not writing a novel. Which I am already learning some of the challenges and am certain that I am not yet even vaguely aware of others that will bite me.
So, I am very nervous, to put it mildly, but I like my chances. And another thing my all-opinionating friend told me was :
'Roslyn, you have never tried to write, act or play as anyone else.4 Your voice is your own, and while sometimes that can be annoying to those of us who have to put up with it 24/7/365¼ it is an absolute blessing in that if and when you do start hitting your stride as a writer, no one will mistake you for James Patterson, or Dan Brown (thankfully), or Oprah, Fitzgerald, Tolkien (shucks)... and more importantly, you will never be mistaken for trying to write like anyone else. However long it takes you to find your voice, figure out what you're doing right, wrong or just uniquely and mind-achingly Roslyn, when you do, you're going to shine.
That is why I haven't strangled him in his sleep.
1 My understanding of a tech IPO is essentially : Your company has such and such revenues, such and such expenses and debt, such and such (just keep going until you cover all of the basic 'this is how real world people and non-NASDAQ or whatever companies operate and gauge success, with not being bankrupt being a definite target you want to keep firmly within sight' but if one takes a company public, essentially letting the peanut gallery purchase a certain per cent of your company, likely with restrictions on such things as 'having any say whatsoever in how it is run' in return for which they are either betting or have some relevant insight suggesting that said stock is more likely to increase in value than it is to quickly become personal bankruptcy, or similarly not what one might call a 'sound investment,' with Bombardier being the famously not ever to be mentioned example of the 'more the bankruptcy thing than the increasing in value thing' around here because all kinds of friends and relatives work or have worked for that unfathomably poorly run company and, as such, at one point or another lost a lot of money. Me not being one of them because for one, I never worked for Bombardier, and for another I have no money to invest, but if I did (and if I'm honest, I'd be more likely to invest in vacations to Colombia or something) I would only invest my money in a company that I understood in some significant way. I am not suggesting that this would ensure success, but I would be a lot more comfortable investing in Google (and yes, I am aware that is not exactly a startling pick) because I understand what they do well enough, and have seen them grow from 'that really useful search engine' to upon announcing their own IPO becoming 'they made HOW MUCH MONEY LAST YEAR? SERIOUSLY?' to, well, their IPO and now their major shareholders buy matching yachts and stuff. Hey, if you've got the money, do you, however it is you do whoever it is you are to be doing you doing you or... (Sorry.) Point being that tech IPO are basically spinning the wheel of imaginary fortune in that you're basically trying to create the biggest hype and frenzy possible so that once the stock is available to the public at large, the price starts inflated and rises from there like a helium balloon with a Saturn rocket boosting it. At which point the original investors and such who either got it free (because they founded the company and that's the part of it they didn't have to give or sell or whatever to not, you know, cease existing or fail to ever have existed, or the early investors who paid hundreds of thousands with the expectation of getting at least millions in return, scale that up or down as needed) basically sell everything not nailed down when they feel that the stock price is as inflated as it is likely to get any time soon and make the real killing. After which, the stock trades for whatever it trades for and really doesn't so much represent the company's real value as it does it's pretend value in paper or pixel currency. I assume there is a bit more to it than that. but I also assume that the majority of whatever 'more to it than that' there is could also be called 'greedy capitalist bullshit.' The example I am aware of most recently and, to me, most 'that's just typically shitty' is Uber. The company has not only never made a single penny profit, it has never LOST LESS THAN a billion dollars a year. Now I know, someone will mention infrastructure and needing to get it all peed in every corner or whatever, but apparently their agreement with their main investors specifies that they have to issue their IPO by some time soonish, and that in spite of all the money they are not only not making, they are perhaps more accurately haemorrhaging, has been speculated somewhere I read online that looked informed that said IPO will raise something like seventy billion dollars. Which, I take as given, is why the investors insisted on it. Get in cheap, get out rich, fuck everyone else. Not to mention that il anyone can 'value' Uber like that, or Tumblr at whatever, Tinder, with actual revenues of a billion or so a year, etc., and I didn't even mention Twitter because some targets are just embarrassing to have to not leave for the children, the seriously mentally handicapped, etc., then Miao, which is designed around actual revenue (and then giving it away, but that's another, awesomely not greedy topic) that has been described as 'Tinder is the low-hanging fruit to get the thing rolling, income wise, but then we'll be able to stop fucking around and start hitting the real revenue sources and figures that make Miao potentially the kitty that, in a decade maybe, shocks the everloving, motherfucking Hell out of FB in a manner not entirely unlike the way FB proved to be a very rude shock to Myspace. But if it does, and that is admittedly the best case, everything goes better than a Disney feel good movie top 0.01 per cent result. In terms of revenue or stock price or whatever. In terms of human value, relevance and integrity? It's already lapping Zuckerberg at least every other minute and it isn't even a thing yet. Which reflects well on Miao and her designer/visionary and, more so, reflects accurately and therefore not flatteringly on the Head Fuckwit at Facebook, or HFaFB as I will forever henceforth refer to him as.
2 Whether Dan Brown knows it or not, and whether he manages to fit everything into what feels like might reasonably be a single, very intense day, it is a Hell of a lot of an easier way to structure and plot and such than over, well basically any more extended period. Essentially you just have to cover the necessary for whatever plot, character development, etc., same as anyone, and then find enough 'other stuff' to fill a novel and not leave people feeling cheated. Dan Brown, to continue using the same example because that makes sense to me, seems to rely on a lot, and I mean a lot of exposition. If you want to read an 'Occulty Religiously Themed, Secret Society Infesty, Cool Locationy, grippingly just everything that is the opposite of Dan Brown? Try Umberto Eco. I mean, I am into that stuff. From Freemasons and Templars to Thuggee cultists to the German fencing schools of yore to the... I mean, as a role-player, that is almost required reading unless you stick to D&D or some science fiction game set A Long Time Ago... and I needed the Internet at my elbow to read him because, firstly, he knows so, so, so much more than I do (I am not going to further qualify that, it seems likely to apply pretty much universally) and secondly, he just mentions it with no more or less emphasis than he places on, say, going to the Louvre or dining at French Laundry. If he mentions an obscure offshoot sect of the Victorian Hellfire Club set, he just mentions them and keeps moving. If you have no idea, well, the Internet. Whereas while Dan Brown is by no stretch of anything the only person who does this, he does do it a lot and while sometimes it comes off as him just feeling insufferably clever, and in this regard he's at least half right, I have never once had to look up anything he's raised as obscure or mysterious or whatever, it's just his thing. "The Jesuits, an order of Catholic priests founded by Father Guido Sarducci in..." Every five paragraphs. Definitely must help fill page and word counts, probably useful to people with no background in the genre who gravitated to him because he sold a metric fuckton of books and became a thing for a while, so not blocking out your readers is probably not a stupid idea. But not my style. I'd be closer to Eco's 'you can look it up' but maybe with an element of indirect, sneaky exposition to give people both some important context or information somehow, and to have fun sneaking it in the side door, or up the dumb waiter, or... That's how I do it when I DM. Oh, and for the record, until my friend pointed out that all of Dan Brown's books unfold over the course of a single 24 hour period? I hadn't the faintest notion. It never dawned on me, I never twigged to it, just imagine me as a total airhead. NOT ONE PEEP FROM THE PEANUT GALLERY ON THAT SCORE OR THERE WILL BE A MURDERING.
3 Disclaimer, my friend, who is to all of this, compared to me, well, if I am, say, Johnny Depp (just because I wish...) then he is, say, Hitchcock, Nolan, Scorsese, Shakespeare, Robert Downey, Jr., Liam Neeson, Woody Allen, Jodie Foster... I trust you get my drift, but he's the one who encouraged-slash-bullied me into writing this essay from this perspective, then let me do the figuring outing along the way.
4 In the sense of trying to write like Neil Gaiman or seem as though I am Olivia Wilde playing a crackhead, or pirate or whatever. Obviously I play as 'anyone else' in the sense of 'people I make up,' with some greater or lesser degree of confidence in their field but plenty in the purely human, or elven, halfling, alien, etc., sense thereof .