Friday, February 24

But, PayPal, I thought we were friends…

I mean, seriously, it’s right there in your name!  For those of you who haven’t the foggiest what I’m talking about, I’ll streamline it for you as only Sable J can. *wink*

PayPal recently dusted off its TOS (or inked in a new line, you be the judge) and said, “Holy strawberries, Batman! Are we ever in a jam! We’ve been accepting and processing payments for people that sell *gasp* erotica?  For *gulp* years? This simply won’t do! We must rectify this posthaste!”

So, out went the PayPalettes, zipping off form letter after form letter to indie ebook distributors, like BookStrand and ARE, and to indie publishers who sell directly from their sites, like the super awesome *insert stadium applause*.  And what was in that letter? It wasn’t an, “Our bad, we didn’t know we were processing payments for your filthy-minded writers”. Nooo, it was much more robotic: “Boop—This is the PayPal-o-matic 9500. You are not in compliance with rule 5,760a that we’ve never enforced before.  In order to get in compliance with rule 5,760a, you must immediately remove all titles containing themes that discuss or hint at rape, bestiality, incest and pseudo-incest.  You have 30 days to fix this situation or we close your account and keep your money.  End transmission…boop.”  Mind you, this includes BDSM, which is a specific brand of mind-fuck that could totally include all of the above at once if the author’s crafty enough.

Well, the saying “shit rolls downhill” ain’t a saying for nothin’! Soon after, BookStrand and ARE scrambled to comply; the former terminating the accounts of a number of indie authors and threatening to terminate the accounts of indie publishers as well if those disgusting books weren’t removed, the latter asking authors to filter their works into newly defined categories of Erotica and Erotic Romance. (It should be noted ARE claims they were never contacted by PayPal, but if everyone else has been, I’d think they were too). That last bit about the categories doesn’t seem so bad, now does it?  However, if you consider the ARE policy change just so happened to coincide with the PayPal crackdown, one could conclude they’re gonna end up pushing those erotica titles off a cliff.  In short—Serial Eroticide.

This is the abbreviated version of events to date, if you want the full scoop, (without my brand of sarcasm) you can read it here along with the snappy e-mail from BookStrand to Dear Author in which BS (after asking Dear Author to “Kindly get your facts straight”) stated its publishing division, Siren, “NEVER has and NEVER will publish books with the disgusting themes of incest, pseudo incest, rape for sexual titillation, or bestiality with naturally occurring animals."  As you can imagine that line is complete and utter, er, BS.

You all caught up? Perfect. Either which way, the point is PayPal is not the friend of the erotica writer.  The speculative blame is being placed on chargebacks common in high-risk industries like porn and gambling—you know, after you’ve read your book and got your jollies, you call the credit card company and say you did not mean to make that purchase.  BTW, if you do that, may the fleas of a thousand camels rise up and infest your armpits.  Anyhow, I don’t think chargebacks are at the heart of this matter, but it’s a nice scapegoat...

Now, many authors are asking what’s next?  We’re all screaming about 1st Amendment rights and burning our bras! (not really, bras are expensive nowadays) #OccupyPayPal is trending on twitter! (it’s sooo not trending on twitter, but if it does, you know where it started).  Censorship Killed the Erotica Writer tee-shirts are flying out of stores everywhere! It’s Bedlam, I tell ya! Beeeeeddddllaaaammm!!

Like everyone else, I don’t know what’s next.  In fact, this post isn’t really suppose to be about any of that, but I had to give you some background or you’d think I was crazy(-er?) just jumping head first into what follows.

BDSM, rape, bestiality, incest, and pseudo-incest, defined as sex between non-biologically related people, e.g., step-dad and step-daughter.  Some of your eyes have glazed over and you’re thinking, YUCK! GROSS! I would never read anything like that.  Icky, icky, icky! To which I cough, bullshit.  Whether you’ve read it in an erotica title like me (I’m a grown ass woman, I do what I want) or in a mainstream (i.e., socially acceptable) piece of work, chances are you’ve read it.  The list would be exhaustive for books, but The Bluest Eye springs to mind for the rape theme (as does the Bible, but unknot your panties, I’m not going there) and there are a lot more.  Perhaps you’re a watcher.  Ever seen American Me? Platoon? Deliverance? I could go on.  Or maybe you think those are depictions of rape, and not meant to titillate (which seems to be the word du jour). How about Righteous Kill—a break-in and rape scene, meant to, ahem, titillate. 

Let’s move on to incest.  Scarface.  BAM! That. Just. Happened.  Yes, there’s an incest theme very prevalent in this hardcore, badass gangsta flick.  Tony is secretly pining for his little sister.  And right before she’s killed, she tells her brother to fuck her.  “Come on, fuck me, Tony.” (Could be paraphrased).  Not meant to titillate, but there.  “Say good’ni to da bad guy…”  But WAIT! The bad guy does it again in The Devil’s Advocate!  There’s a scene where Al’s screwing Charlize (his daughter) and offers her to Keanu (his son) who, in the movie’s “real life”, are married. If that ain’t confusing…

Okay, I’m not going into pseudo-incest, because while it may ick some people out, it ain’t illegal. You’re not blood related. (FYI, if not for negative recessive gene traits presenting, and the sometimes horrible mutations, society would once again say inbreeding was quite all right. Remember, being pureblood used to be a good thing. Hello—Gladiator? “Am I not merciful!?”)  And I’m not going into BDSM, because the range on that is huge! Really, tying a partner to a bed is bondage, and many of you do it, so you’re into BDSM, and therefore cannot use PayPal… Comply, dammit!

Bestiality was a hard one for me, and I actually had to turn to the web to find something (scary, I knew the others off the top of my head. Hm…) And after sifting through the infamous “farm-girl screws horse” videos, I came upon Sleeping Dogs Lie. I’ve never seen the film, you’ll have to investigate further, this is merely a point of illustration. 

See, as a society we’ve been quite all right with slipping these “disgusting” themes into our movies and calling it art.  We’ve watched a guy stick his dick into apple pie and laughed, for the love of all things yellow! And PayPal has no problem processing an eBay purchase for the sale of any of the aforementioned movie titles, or video games for that matter.  Why is erotica different?  Well-written erotica is not, I repeat, NOT porn.  Don’t believe me, read my older post.  Yes, there are authors out there pushing the limit when it comes to sex, but since when did we lose our ability to choose? You don’t have to buy or read things you don’t want to, same way you don’t have to watch movies you don’t like, or smoke a joint, or drink, or dance, or…or…or. I’m a big wuss when it comes to horror.  Wouldn’t I be an idiot to go watch Paranormal Activity, scare myself witless, and then demand that everyone else be prevented from watching it too?  Not choosing to read an erotica title with a theme you’re not okay with does not make you a prude, it makes you a friggin’ adult! 

But that’s what this PayPal shakedown feels like—a handful of people decided they didn’t like what was being sold on Amazon (or BN, or wherever).  Having already tried to bring down the naughty list on Amazon and only getting marginal results with the whole censorship business, they went for the pockets. How are these small companies (authors) being paid? PayPal.  Well, let’s take it straight to PayPal.  And PayPal, not bothering to do its homework, decided it needed to cover its ass by hacking off its nose, making an already hideous face even more so.  Spite away, PP.

Now, back to what this means for you, Average Natasha, writing edgy romantic suspense that does not talk directly about all the fun bits of the human body but does involve hot kisses, heavy petting, and alludes to more horizontal levels of intimacy?  It means you’re next.  But..but, why? My characters have the decency to do it off-screen! My books aren’t nasty!  Says who?  PayPal? Isn’t that an adult theme?  What if one of your characters being raped is integral to the plot of the story? In most novels, the sex and sexual tension between two characters pushes a story along. Do you take out the scene so you are in compliance with the PayPal or BS or ARE TOS?  Aren’t you then censoring yourself?

And, you, Average Dominic, writing fast-paced conspiracies with lots of murder and government cover-ups.  Get in line, because once they figure out how to stop us pervy erotica writers from writing altogether, and convince Natasha to not have her hero and heroine kiss or touch and walk around in hermetically sealed bags to prevent the transfer of bodily fluids including-but-not-limited-to semen, saliva, and sweat, you can bet your ass your days of killing characters by means of gun, knife, hardback book, credit card, or any other object that could possibly cause harm are good and over. 

You’re laughing. You think I’m just rambling and that this is all a tad over-exaggerated.  It’s not.  Remember earlier I said shit rolls downhill?  Well, we’re in the same cart, and eventually it’ll get on us all.  Whether you’re an indie author writing about your character’s struggle with life on the streets, or your characters are doing things frowned upon in a made-up world in a time and place we can’t even fathom seeing—we are none of us immune.

What to do about it?

First, let me reiterate, we are in this together.   That means staying informed on this issue and discussing the matter will be key.  You can follow for more detailed info. 

Next, there’s a petition circulating to stop internet censorship. If you agree with it, sign it.  And tell a friend to sign it, too.   

Some are calling for a boycott of these big corporations like Amazon, BN, PayPal. People tend to understand things when they get hit in the wallet. This might be an option, and may include figuring out where to relocate your titles or how else to get paid for your work.  Again, all of that is still up in the air at the moment.  But do NOT let this issue die.  Share it with your friends on Facebook or Twitter or pick up a phone and call! Send snail mail if you must, but let’s continue to get the word out that these unfair practices against all creatively inclined people will not be tolerated.

That’s my dollar’s worth. Go spend it.

Sunday, February 12

Eros Fell...

Hiya, folks!

It's been a minute, I know. Life seems to keep getting in the way, and I'd rather be writing. But I'm back—at least for now— and thought I'd let ya all know about the newest little morsel, Eros Fell.

Want some background? Well, whether you do or not, you're here so I'm gonna tell you. (OMG, seriously, it's like 2am as I'm prepping this and my dog's going batshit! What the...? Sorry, tangent...)

Background about this story—I had no intention of writing this, but as always seems to be the case, I was working on another Valentine's Day story (Saint Heartbreak, coming soon) and it sooo needed this background info and I decided, this story had to be in a book by its onesies. So, there, that's how Eros Fell came about.

Now, the deets you're really interested in, and a little lick.  Read on!

Title: Eros Fell
Publisher: Fresh Whet INK
Word Count: 13205 (this is a short, and if I read a review about how you didn't know the length, there will be pudding! *snerk*)
Price: $1.99 (Makes a great V-day gift! Better than a stuffed teddy bear, IMO)

Blurb:  Eros, god of love, has always been depicted as pure; the innocent, chubby-faced cherub slapped on today's Valentine's Day cards.  Ever wonder how he got that way? Well, I'll tell you—he fell.

And he wasn't alone.

It's a secret they don't want you to know about, because if you did, you'd never look at Love the same again.  You want to know?  Promise not to tell?  Okay, I'll whisper it to you.  See, it was Eros who bit the apple....

Warning: 18+ Only! This story is an untold myth you never heard in high school, and includes graphic language, sex, and all that fun stuff between two Immortals. 

Eros soared over the treetops, seeking out that flash of sanguine cloth, when he set eyes on the woman donning it.  The drape of her hair could never be forgotten, nor could the dark color of her skin.  He remembered the last time their lips met and, spurred on by their softness, he increased his pace.  The heavy gown bustled in her hands made escape on foot more difficult, and he landed before her easily.  She paused in her retreat, a small smile playing on full lips.
“Aneris?” The delight in his velvety voice was mired with confused.  “Why do you flee?”
A delirious laugh escaped her throat.
“Are we playing a game?” he asked in a curious tone.  He couldn’t believe she was here, but now that he’d seen her, he was glad she was.  “Come, my sweet.  Let me hold you.”
He folded her in his arms, but immediately noticed something had changed.  She was cool, no, cold, as though no heart beat in her breast.  And she did not smell as he remembered, though the scent was intoxicating all the same.  Desire stirred in his groin and, as never before, he was overcome with a primal urge to lay with the goddess of harmony.
She pushed from his hold and eyed him seductively.  The woman looked like Aneris, true enough, with the same heart-shaped face and obsidian eyes, but they trembled almost imperceptibly, an erratic little shiver. Her plump mouth, ripe and red as pomegranate seeds, parted to allow a slip of pink tongue to drag slowly across her upper lip, wetting it deliciously.
He took a step back to loose himself of her mesmeric gaze, for Harmony this was not.  “Who are you?”
“I’m your sweet, aren’t I, Eros?” she said in a lyrical voice.  “Your beloved Aneris, returned to you at last.”
He shook his head.  “Aneris is with Kadmos in Elysium.  I saw them on the Isle of the Blest with my own eyes many centuries ago.  Are you sent by Dolus?  This is a low trick, to be sure, even for him.”  Convinced she was a mere vision, he reached out and touched her hair as though he had not just held her close or heard her speak. She felt solid enough.
“Poor Love.  Gullible as ever,” she said, exasperated.  “I am no trick of Dolus, no shifted shape.  I appear before you as I truly am.”
“But you wear the face of another.  How is this so?”
She made a tut-tut sound.  “If I told you now there’d be no fun had.  And there is plenty of fun to be had, fair Eros.”
He narrowed his eyes, determined to find out who this goddess was that had aroused such desires in him.  “Tell me why you disrupt the humans with your mischief.”
She shrugged her shoulders, the move pressing the rounded tops of her breasts together in the scandalously low cut of the corset of her dress.  She did not continued until he lifted his gaze from the sight.  “It is my nature, Eros.  As it is yours to go about binding them with your,”—dark eyes rolled with disgust—“love.  Sticky sweet like nectar of the trees on the Mount.”
The ache in his groin had not yielded; her scent making his heart race.  “Tell me your name, goddess, or you will have the wrath of Zeus to face, and Aphrodite, besides.”
“Threats of Zeus?” she gasped and pressed her hand to her breast, “I shudder.  I’ll make you a deal, Eros.  A game, if you will.”
Curious, he nodded for her to continue.
“You wish me to cease my meddling with these useless peasants, yes?” She didn’t wait for his response.  “I am perfectly willing to do so, will surrender my powers to the great and mighty Zeus himself so that I may never make mischief for you again, permitted you excel in my challenge.  And as a bonus, I will gift you my name.”
He eyed her suspiciously, crossed his arms over his chest.  “What are the conditions?”
A corner of her mouth ticked up.  “For one-twelfth’s time of Apollo’s travels with the Sun, you must prevent my apples from hitting their marks.”  She held out her dainty palm, and a golden orb materialized there.  She handed the solid fruit to Eros, who studied it a moment before she plucked it back.  She tossed it in the air, caught it in her hand.  “You already know how to defeat them. Pierce them with your arrows and no catastrophe will befall a single mortal.  Ha!” she laughed, “I even tell you how to ensure your victory.  An easy enough task, yes?”
Easy? Of course it would be easy.  He was Eros, god of love, gifted with both speed and accuracy when stringing his darts and connecting with his targets.  He would effortlessly shoot her every sphere from the sky for one human hour.
“And when I win,” he clarified, voice deep and earnest, “I earn both your name and your promise to never cause the mortals ill again?”
She nodded, a sibylline grin on her mouth.
“And your oath is binding?”
“Binding.  Yes.”
“And what would you require should you win?”
A shoulder lifted nonchalantly.  “A simple thing, really.  Nothing you will miss.”
“Out with it, goddess.”
“A kiss.  One little kiss, Eros.”
He eyed her warily.  “And that’s all?”
“From the god of love? More than enough. Just remember, no other soul but me may touch the apples.  Have we a deal? ”
A warning blared in his head like trumpets heralding the arrival of Dawn, yet he could not resist the tempt of her lure.  Love would overcome this challenge as he conquered all else, and have her name when he was through.
The length of a human heartbeat passed and he’d changed from the mortal garb into lighter attire, white wings spread wide against red robes.  “When do we begin?”
The goddess morphed before him, no longer donning the heavy brocade and petticoats of the era but instead the shimmering silk gowns denoting her an eternal being.  Her wings expanded; two raven-black appendages with a span not quite as broad as his unfurled from her back.  Her hair twisted into a long, thick braid and then looped itself around her head like a crown. Eyes turned skyward, she marked the time. 
* * * *

So there you have it. Eros Fell!  Get your copy NOW! And don't forget to tell a friend. Happy Valentine's Day, peeps! And thanks for #LickingMyINK

Who am I?

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Quick and dirty, I’m a writer of multicultural erotica, erotic thrillers, seductive romances, and whatever else comes to mind. Tattooed vixen. Wicked humorist. Incurable humanist. Proud geek! Closet badass. (Shhh…) Lover of pit bulls, fast cars, all music, and candy. THAT’S THE NUT IN A NUTSHELL.