Angry Hubby here, posting a quickie. Mary Anne… I mean, Olivia… has started her new series Carnal Collateral and the first book has just been published on the Kindle.

Also, I have added most of the buttons necessary to reflect where you can purchase all of Olivia’s books.

Catch ya later, gators.

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Unfortunately, this week I had a close encounter with a dentist. I say unfortunately, not because this dentist and his team aren’t amazing (He’s even smart enough to have an office manager named Mary Anne) – I say it because I have a deep and profound terror of dentists.  I have the same feeling about ophthalmologists.  I know I fail in both areas so I feel like I’m taking a test I know in advance I will fail.  But some encounters can’t be avoided, and thanks to a riled and rowdy tooth, this was one of them.

It turned out that the tooth and I had to part ways, so I saw the dentist twice this week.  At one point, we discussed my romance writing and the dentist mentioned how much his Grandmother loved reading Harlequins. I enjoy reading those too, but they’re not my first love.  My first love is reading historical romance. My dentist’s comment made me think back to the beginning, the first time I encountered the genre.  I picked up a book at the public library and started a love affair that still burns strong today. Yes, the book I found was the one that started it all.  It created a genre and blazed a trail for future authors to follow, including a certain crazy duck lady.

The late Kathleen Woodiwiss had a 600 page MS titled “The Flame and the Flower” and she believed in the book.  It was rejected across the board by agents and publishers of hardcovers, so she submitted it to paperback publishers directly.  The first on her list was Avon, and it snapped the book right up.   From an initial 500,000 run for its first publication in 1972, the book sold over 2.3 million copies in its first 4 years — and it created an industry.

Woodiwiss wrote historical romance.  I suppose the term was invented to describe her work.  Susan Elizabeth Phillips – a NY Times Bestseller and absolute genius at her craft –  says thatWe all owe our careers to her. She opened the world of romance to us as readers. She created a career for us to go into.”  Another of my favorite authors, Julia Quinn, says “Woodiwiss made women want to read. She gave them an alternative to Westerns and hard-boiled police procedurals. When I was growing up, I saw my mother and grandmother reading and enjoying romances, and when I was old enough to read them myself, I felt as if I had been admitted into a special sisterhood of reading women.”

You know what Woodiwiss brought to the literary world?  Passion.  She created heroines readers adored from the first page and paired them with deeply flawed heroes. Her work, like most of the early historicals, have been criticized by the PC Police as “glamorizing” or “advocating” rape. Today people call her books and the early historicals “bodice rippers.”  I find all of that to be hogwash.  I’d agree with a review on the “Amazon” site by “A customer” who says that perhaps the heroes in Ms. Woodiwisses’ work should have been redeemed earlier.  Or, if not redeemed, that readers should be given more reason to like and understand them a bit earlier.

But it’s hard to criticize Woodiwiss too much because the passion in her stories is as contagious today as it was back, lo, many years ago when I first found “The Flame and The Flower” in the library as a young teen.  The characters carry her story and they carry the readers right along for the journey.  I think readers today wince too quickly and put stories down too fast. If they read a little further, they would experience more than a bodice being ripped. Maybe, they’d ignore the opinions of others and realize for themselves that in a Woodiwiss book, the hero dominates physically, but the heroine dominates emotionally.  In the end, it is the heroine’s love that saves the hero.

Ms. Woodiwiss is no longer with us, but her work lives on and today, it is available at Amazon for your Kindle.  If you’re an independent free thinker who doesn’t follow the herd (like a certain duck lady), then I suggest you boogle on over to Amazon and pick up the book that started it all.  Give “The Flame and The Flower” a read for yourself and see if you can find in the book the seeds of brilliance that started a genre.

The lesson I take from it all is that if a writer creates strong characters, puts them in an interesting situation and listens very hard – they will tell her their story. And if it’s done right, the passion in the tale will continue to burn bright enough to illuminate readers for generations to come.  That’s my hope, every time I sit down at a keyboard.

Oh, and BTW, if you pick up “The Flame and The Flower” and read it for the first time, you might boogle back by and leave a comment sharing your thoughts.  I’d love to discuss!

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I’ve been working on Olivia Outlaw’s new m/m erotic romance – an “Isle of Bliss” novel. I’ve gotten more writing done this weekend than in the last few put together.  You know who I have to thank for that?  Amazon.

Yes, that’s right, the source of  most of my writing income has now put out an excellent tool to help me increase it. It’s the new streaming music service for Amazon’s prime customers. I thought the free book borrows, free movie and TV streaming and the two-day shipping were already great reasons to pay for Prime. The streaming music service absolutely earns its keep and, in my house, more than pays for itself.

The single greatest enemy to my writing is distraction.  The story must flow in my head.  I have to be with the characters, in their skins, to know what they are going to say and do.  Television is a wonderful thing but if my head is in a program then it’s not in my writing.  Sometimes, I can have a news channel or a reality program in the background and that works until something catches my attention – which is what the programs are designed to do, after all – and bingo – I’m distracted.

Music is great to write to and I love my oldies. To me, the best years of music are between the 60′s and the 80′s.  Not too much great stuff has been written or recorded since then, save for a few things in the 90′s. We have a local station in Myrtle Beach, Sunny 103.1, and it play’s some great stuff. I Heart Radio has a Great Classic Oldies station that also spins some fine stuff.  And I often listened to Q105 out of Tampa Bay, Florida to get the beat of my writing.

The problem with all of the great online radio is that sooner or later something would play that I didn’t like or an annoying ad would play and it would be a lot louder than the music.  Either distracts me into changing the channel, looking for a new one, or leaving my writing and boogling over the the internet. Then the flow is gone and writing is all about the flow.

Amazon’s streaming music for Prime changed all that.  I download my favorite music. It’s a mix too eclectic for any radio station.  Seriously, on my streaming Prime I have pop, disco, rap, country, gospel, metal, and patriotic music. I have Corey Smith’s “Carolina” – one of the great tunes of all time.  I have Susan Boyle’s “Hallelujah.” And, on Father’s Day as this is written, I’m very glad that I have Judy Collins’ “Amazing Grace.”  It’s the best version of the hymn ever done or that can ever be done.  My late Father ran an upholstery shop and when that song played, he would stop whatever he was doing, his face would glow and he would be happy. It’s how I remember him.

I presently have 234 songs from 16 different genres streaming.  And the service has a music player that shuffles so no matter how I uploaded the songs – grabbing all the Charley Daniels in a row or two versions of “Hallelujah” – it plays randomly. If I’m not in the mood for one then I hit skip, knowing the next tune is one I’ll also love. And while the music plays, if one spins I really like, then I look in the sidebar.  Just like the “readers also bought” feature, Amazon will tell you about the songs people who got this one also bought.  And there’s another one to snag for my collection.

So, I’m tossing a big “THANK YOU” to Amazon for the streaming music service. It keeps me primed for writing which makes me happy, keeps me out of my family’s hair, and makes my creditors feel like dancing. And if you’re not already a Prime customer, then the streaming music service is the best reason going to join today. If you’re a creative type then you can’t afford not to have streaming prime music because it’ll keep you in the same place it keeps me – flowing towards a happy ending.

 

 

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Of late I’ve been following some of Konrath’s advice – well, I didn’t know it was Konrath’s advice, actually, until I read a great writing blog in my Twitter stream.  Konrath says more writing and less of everything else.  Unfortunately, that has led to……  less blogging as well.  However, the recent piece by William Giraldi for New Republic has been stewing around in my unstable brain recently, demanding a response.  I’ve dusted off my soapbox for the occasion.

Have you read Giraldi’s piece?  It is absolute proof that judgmental ignorance still flourishes amongst those who consider themselves ‘better than the masses.’  What masses?  Well, their readers, their fellow writers, pretty much everyone with any other opinion.  Yes, those people.  I’d bet Giraldi is a card-carrying member of the P.C. Police and anyone who reads this blog knows my opinion of those specimens.

Giraldi’s piece is part book-review (read book hatred) for a book by a woman, Eva Illouz, discussing and analyzing the “Fifty Shade of Grey” affect on culture and society.  From the perspective of the New Republic article, I expect that one of the biggest of Illouz’s problems is biology – she’s a WOMAN. And Giraldi doesn’t think much of women, especially women like Illouz and the amazing author of “Fifty Shades”, Erika Leonard a/k/a “E.L. James.  Illouz, Leonard and even, yours truly, the insane Duck Lady, have a big problem – we don’t know our place.  Rather, we don’t know that our place isn’t at a keyboard.

How does Giraldi feel about “Fifty Shades,” its author and its fans?

A great many women indeed have been living it up while dumbing it down, titillated by a charlatan amorist who goes by the nom de plume of E.L. James. I’m made distinctly queasy by uttering that sacral American surname when referring to this empress of inanity, so let’s use her real name, Erika Leonard. She who has done so much to help debase our culture should stand revealed.

To be able to pontificate so profoundly, Giraldi must have made a close study, a dissection even, of the Fifty Shades trilogy, right?  Well – not so much.

This is probably the spot to say that for the sake of this assignment I made a good faith effort to read these books at my city library, but I wasn’t self-punishing enough actually to finish them and had to stop the agony halfway into the second volume.

If you haven’t read it, from cover to cover, you are NOT in the least qualified to discuss it. The same goes for romance novels.  What is Giraldi’s opinion of the genre?

The trilogy’s assembly-line asininity is really a fomentation of the worst that can be believed about both sexes. Romance novelsparochial by definition, ecumenical in ambitionteach a scurvy lesson: enslavement to the passions is a ticket to happiness.

Sorry, no – actually, that’s the BEST thing Giraldi says about the romance genre. IMHO, the worst is this:

Dreck of this stupendous caliber has a particular advantage over literature in that one doesn’t have to read all of it to surmise, accurately and eternally, that it is all uniformly awful and awfully uniformromance novels, like racists, tend to be the same wherever you turn. It’s pointless to spend much time impugning these books as writing because they really aren’t meant to be considered as actual writing, the same way a Twinkie wasn’t meant to be considered as actual food. Books ejaculated this easily have the inverse effect of being extremely difficult to read. Leonard’s creations are the cartoonishly erotic suppurations of a hamstrung, not terribly bright adult trying to navigate a midlife crisis, and you get the feeling that the sentences arrived on the page as if by osmosis, unaided by even a sub-literate serf.

So, Giraldi thinks that romance novels aren’t literature and they aren’t writing any more than a Twinkie is food. The New Republic writer finds that romance novels are cartoonishly written and are to the literate world what racists are to society.  You know what I find?  I find that Mr. Giraldi’s opinions of the romance genre are every bit as well-informed as his opinions of the “Fifty Shades” trilogy.  It is so much easier to spout generalities meant to sound superior when you are not troubled by having any knowledge of your subject.

Giraldi says that just as Twinkies aren’t meant to be “actual food”, romances aren’t meant to be actual writing. I agree that Twinkies aren’t meant to appease physical hunger.  A hungry person is more apt to reach for a hamburger than a Twinkie. A Twinkie is meant to appease a craving for something else, something more than physical hunger.  A person might eat a Twinkie when she needs her mood lifted or wants to reward herself. In the same way, romance novels – like “Fifty Shades of Grey”, like my/ Mary Anne Graham “Forever Series”/ like my Olivia Outlaw “Sultan’s Toy Series” – romance novels feed the soul and elevate the spirit.  Like a Twinkie, a romance novel sometimes just helps you go on believing, hoping, existing.

If you want to read something that makes you feel like eating a bowl of prunes, wearing a monacle and sneering at the world,  then perhaps you should pick up something by Mr. Giraldi.  If you want to read something that makes you feel like eating a Twinkie, wearing a smile and cheering for the human experience,  then perhaps you should pick up a romance novel.

Most women – and some very special men – are smart enough to know that sometimes you have to feed your heart, your soul and your spirit.  If we don’t do that often enough we risk becoming a prune-eating, monacle-wearing nation.  A romance novel, anyone?

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Hey guys, it’s me, the hubby.

As promised before, the Sultan’s Toy Bundle is now up and available for the Kindle. We’re having some technical difficulties getting it onto Barnes and Noble for the Nook, but we’re working on it.

That’s not the only place where gremlins have chosen to attack.

Too late...

Too late… I hate you little bastards…

The website has been going blinky at times, saying “Error in connecting to database” or some such thing. It looks to me as if the current WordPress version has problems with spam busting it open, but who knows. All I know is I’m the poor schmuck who’s got to deal with it. Called tech support the first couple of times it happened and got them to fix it. I then think I figured out how to fix it myself.

As I was typing up this post, it tried to go sideways AGAIN. Ugh… what a pain in the ass.

I swear, if this keeps up, I’m moving this stuff over to GoDaddy… for obvious reasons:

Highly technical reasons.

Highly technical reasons.

 

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A quick thought after tonight’s episode of Grey’s – the beginning of the end for Cristina.  Yes, it looks like she’ll head off to Zurich to become the Superwoman of Cardiac, but it feels wrong and empty.

The Burke Shonda showed tonight was not Burke until his last scene with Cristina. “The way I loved you was consuming,”  - that was the Burke we all knew.  And he admitted that if Cristina worked with him they would end up back together.

Yes, there is a reason for that.  It’s because Burke is Cristina’s soul mate the same way Derek is Meredith’s.  And I’m enough of a romance author to feel that Shonda got it wrong tonight.  I’m glad Cristina will head off to conquer the next generation of medicine. And I’m glad she’ll be at the forefront of that. But being a pioneer at anything is a lonely business and Cristina deserves better.

Even if Owen leaves the hospital and moves with her – it’s not enough.  It would be the same as Grey’s fans imagining a Dr. Burke who settled instead of one who moved Heaven and Earth to have it all.  Cristina’s happy ending should include a consuming career and a consuming love.  We want to imagine that Cristina is out there, forging a future with her soul mate the same way Meredith is forging a future with hers.

No matter what happens now, it will feel like settling.  I think Shonda got this one wrong and I think she was influenced by the bad things the actor playing Burke did that got him tossed from the show.  This feels more like Shonda punishing the character for the misdeeds of the actor — and shortchanging Cristina in the process.

The Cristina/Burke arc is one circle that Shonda should have finished.

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Something has been bubbling and brewing in my demented mind for a while now, and I’ve decided to blog about it. It’s the confusion that abounds regarding Erotic Romance. People hear “erotic”, think “erotica” and are convinced that both mean one thing — pornography.  That’s just not the case and I really wish someone could explain that to Apple, which is quite possibly the most confused of any major retailer.

And that’s a little strange – the Apple thing.  It’s a company that used to have the image of being “the smart person’s tech choice” and even “the creative person’s tech choice.”  The company’s confusion and double-speak have destroyed both images.  These days the smart person’s tech choice, and the creative person’s tech choice is Amazon.

What do the first two paragraphs have to do with each other?  My “Olivia Outlaw” erotic romances were rejected by Apple via Smashwords.  Since Apple is the major reason to publish through Smashwords, and since Smashwords meat grinder is a complication in and of itself, I unpublished my Olivia Outlaw work from Smashwords after Apple’s rejection of “Captured.”

Why did Apple reject “Captured?”  Because it “doesn’t publish that kind of story.”  What?  Say that again? Apparently, Apple has no idea what it publishes.  “Fifty Shades of Grey” was most certainly available at Apple.  Sylvia Day’s work is sprawled all over Apple. But – Apple doesn’t publish erotic romance. And yes, Apple said that.

The underlying problem is that like many people, the supposedly smart staff at Apple hears “erotic”, thinks “erotica” and imagines “pornographic.”   Their policies are as garbled as that thought process and to make it worse, they are inconsistently enforced.  And they appear to be not enforced at all for major publishers. Only indie authors’ must go through the indignity of having their erotic work screened by Apple’s confused, hypocritical porn police.

(more…)

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I’ve heard a bunch of scuttlebutt from writers who claim that the best sales strategy at the Zon is to select keywords that are in Amazon subcategory list for romance.  As writers know, for certain categories – Romance and Erotica among them – Amazon has a list of words that describe certain subcategories of romance; i.e. – for books about Kings, and Princes if you use those terms as keywords they’ll appear in a “royalty” subcategory.

I’ve been putting up keywords that are most specific to my books.  If someone is over the top enough to hunt for something the crazy duck lady has written as Mary Anne Graham or Olivia Outlaw, then by the quack – I wanted them to find my stuff.  But given the scuttlebutt, I went in and changed all the keywords for several books – including my entire Sultan’s Toy series – to fit in the generic mold that should have gotten them listed in several subcategories of romance and erotica.

Did I get listed in those subcategories?  I don’t know, but if I did, it surely didn’t help sales, which have been down in April.  So you know what I did today?  Can you guess?

Yep.  I went back to my me-words – my crazy duck lady terms that describe my stories.  I’ve just changed them, but sales have already started trending back up.

That can only mean one thing —  there are more crazy duck lads and ladies out there than I ever suspected. Maybe one day we crazy duck people will take over and turn the world into a much more interesting place.

In the meantime, the results of my little experiment make me feel a little bit warm and cozy and a lot less lonely.  I’m hoping that all my fellow quackers keep on finding my books. We’ll let the rest of the world worry about where we’re holding our secret meetings…….

 

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It’s the fat guy, dropping you a quick line to tell you Book Four in the Sultan’s Toy novella series is up. I’m updating the website as I get to it; the fourth book should be in the side bar soon.

Also, another thing that’s going to be there and on the Olivia Outlaw book list page is the Sultan’s Toy Bundle. As soon as I get it assembled and stuff and update the website and do the cha-cha and alphabetize my spices and run with scissors and make a mountain out of a molehill and slay the dragon and divide by zero and stop typing “and” and adding silly phrases with the aforementioned conjunction junction, what’s yo’ function… hookin’ boxcars and makin’ ‘em run right…

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Faithful Quacking fans – Yeah verily, I have neglected thee.  I admit it – but, as you know if you’ve been paying attention – I have an excellent excuse.

I’ve been caught up in writing my erotic romances as Olivia Outlaw.  My first series, The Sultan’s Toy, features the story of Ring and Ali. It’s a m/m romance and writing it has been such fun!!  Readers who’ve enjoyed the books – and there are a lot of you out there – should know:  I JUST HIT PRINT ON BOOK FOUR- Coupled, the conclusion.

Coupled follows Ring back home to London, where he flees after witnessing Ali cavorting in his harem.  And where Ring goes, can Ali be far behind?  Not hardly, as anyone who has been reading the series knows.  But Ali has a lot of “splaining” to do and Ring is too hurt to listen.  Can Ali win a Second Chance at the love he can not live without?

The Sultan’s Toy – Coupled will be available any time now from Amazon, and I’ll get it up at Nook as soon as the site is back up.  (Speculation is that it has been down while Nook fixes the Heartbleed Bug security flaws.  Repairs to Heartbleed has caused a lot of Heartache for writers as the posting of sales is slow, slow, slow and way, way behind.)

Soon and very soon, Mr. Duck will work his quacking magic and a new bundle will be born.  We’ll surely hollah at ya’ll when the bundle is about to appear.  But don’t wait for that – go ahead and pick up “Coupled” today.

And me?  I’m boogling on to my first “Isle of Bliss” Romance.  It’ll be another m/m erotic as Olivia Outlaw.  What’s the Isle of Bliss, you ask?  Naughty question – you must be punished.  Where’s my whip?  Go read Coupled and you’ll find out.

As the weather heats up, it’s time for romance to do the same. Pick up a Quacking Alone Romance by Mary Anne Graham or Olivia Outlaw today!!

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