NEW RELEASE! "Bad Decisions" is out Today!

I'm so excited to announce that my new novel, Bad Decisions, is out at all major booksellers TODAY!  

Tabitha, Nate, and Jason were a lot of fun to write, but they took a long time to make it onto the page - if you've been with me on this writing journey for a while now... thank you for your patience! 

To celebrate the new release, I've also (temporarily) dropped the price on Bad Penny to 99 cents, so if you have a friend who you'd like to recommend it to, this month is a good time to tell them about it.

Thank you again, my friends and readers, for your support on this journey. I hope you love Tabitha and her guys as much as I do.

Bad Decisions: What's it about?

Who has time for love? Not this woman. 

Tabitha Wells is spinning her wheels - stuck between her past as a stripper and her future as a lawyer. Between bills and more bills. She doesn't have time for dating - let alone for dating a couple! Jason and Nate are serious about each other... they couldn't be serious about her, too? Not serious, serious... right?

If you do have time for love, can you make love work?

Jason has been a player for long enough - he's ready to settle down with his idealistic and open-hearted boyfriend, Nate. And maybe with Nate's classmate, Tabitha. The hot self-defense instructor is charmed by Tabitha's nerdy YA fiction references, her guarded heart and her brain - but is he willing to share his past?  And what about Nathan - will he give up his future in DC, and a job that could improve the world, to stay with the people he loves?

How can all three find the success they've worked for, when their hearts keep making Bad Decisions?

Another author who isn't at RWA...

Well!  I'm not at RWA, but I know I'm in good company, because I've been hanging out and stalking the #notRWA17 threads on Twitter.  What a great group, and what great tweet-storms!  If you haven't checked it out yet, I encourage you to do so.

As part of the #notRWA17 event on Twitter, I'm giving away a few copies of my first novel, "Bad Penny!" If you're reading this post... you've probably already gotten a copy.  If you haven't, now is your chance!  If you'd like to get a friend to read it, feel free to forward the link!  

Free Copy of "Bad Penny" for #notRWA17 is available on Instafreebie, here: https://instafreebie.com/free/JCcIT

What's in a category? That which we call an "Erotic Romance" by any other name, would smell as sweet.

Over at BookRiot's Video stream, Wallace is talking about the terms "Erotic Romance" and "Erotica" and the difference between them.  It's fun watching Wallace as she's getting into romance novels and dealing with a newborn (her kiddo is turning one!). I've really been enjoying her videos about her exploration of the genre.

So, today, when I saw the tag-line "Wallace talks about the difference between erotica and romantic erotica (there is a difference, and it’s significant)" I was super excited.  I just released my debut novel, and to my mind, I'm straddling the two categories.  I'm never sure what to list it as, what to tell book bloggers, where to put my categorization on Amazon, blah blah author problems blah. Maybe this YouTube video will solve all my problems!  I'm a law librarian, people, I like a solid categorization methodology.

Well, I'm sad to report that this video did not solve all my problems, but it did give me another thing to think about when making those decisions.  Not to spoil the video for you (you should watch it anyway, Wallace is adorable and interesting), but she said she found the dividing line had to do with the amount of plot. Is there more to the plot than the sexy-times? Erotic romance. Is it pretty much just straight bangin'? Erotica.

I remember reading Anais Nin as a teenager, and in her introduction to one of her books (Little Birds? Delta of Venus?) she talked about writing erotica for a private collector who constantly told her and the other authors sending him work to spend less time on plot, and get straight to the action. She felt like that left the sex scenes empty of content and meaning - you can't build a relateable or significant sex scene without building a plot to hang it on.

I agree with Nin, so my dividing line has always been a solid Happily Ever After. If there is one, erotic romance. If not? Erotica.  For example, I think that a lot of Megan Hart's work straddles erotica, literary fiction, and erotic romance.  A HEA is the dividing line, for me, for what category the book belongs in.  If the couple featured is together at the end, it's erotic romance. But, generally, almost all of Megan's stuff is marketed as erotica, maybe because she's not consistent about the characters staying together at the end.

I hesitate to put Bad Penny in the erotic romance category because although she does have a HEA at the end, the book is about a combination of that and her getting over an earlier relationship.  It's based on Penny's development and emotional growth more than on her relationship with Mike. Which is a plot element. So I'm not even following my own rules, here.  *sigh!*

Another factor I hadn't considered when writing, but which comes up on a lot of review blogs is: who is having sex? If the heroine only has sex with the hero, then they consider it romance. If they have sex with multiple partners (certainly if the heroine does), it's erotica. That dividing line makes sense to me, to some extent. However, I feel like that's more of a personal preference than a bright line between categories. Of course, I read a good bit of menage (and my next book is a menage story), so of course I'd think that.

I think my issue with that as a dividing line comes from my introduction to erotica, and still one of my favorite examples of it (and a huge influence on my first book): Exit to Eden by Anne Rice.  Bearing no resemblance to the horrible Rosie O'Donnell/Dan Ackroyd vehicle based on it, it's a really fascinating novel about the sexual life of a dominatrix, who is going off the rails and trying to figure out why. Is it because she's falling in love?  Both of the main characters have a lot of sex with a lot of different people throughout the book, sometimes in flashbacks, sometimes in real time.  It was absolutely a romance, to my mind, because the love story is the central support of the plot.  If you haven't read it yet, I encourage you to do so - it's a little dated, a little old-school, but I love it. Because: dominatrix.

Anyway. That's it for me, for non-fiction, for the day.

Ghost! Busters!

When you're in the middle of writing a book, you can get very wrapped up in the characters.  For me, at least, I spend time with them, and try to imagine how they'd react to things that are happening in my life as it unspools.

The side effect of this, is that once a book is written, those characters keep living in your head, even once you're focusing on the new book.

So, when I took a day off to unwind after TravelConferenceTravelStress and saw Ghostbusters by myself, I sort of felt like I went to see it with Tabitha and Jason, I'm not sure Nathan would have wanted to go (and I'm still trying to find a solid handle on him, anyway).  But mostly, watching that movie was a flashback to Penny.

Penny would have some serious feelings about Dr. Jillian Holtzmann.  

Tabitha would have spent a lot of time worried about Dr. Erin Gilbert's outfits.

Jason would identify heavily with Kevin, and spend a lot of time afterwards hoping people don't think he's dumb.  He's probably the only person worried about Kevin's inner life.

Personally, I loved the movie.  And, much to my surprise, my favorite character was Patty.  I'm a librarian at my day job, and Patty is basically the perfect library patron - she likes what she likes, knows a lot about, reads voraciously, and is friendly. Although I'm not a public librarian, patrons like Patty make me kind of wish I were. She was great.

Overall, I feel like it was better than the original in every way, except one: the transitions between scenes weren't as effective.  The original Ghostbusters was sweeping, and never let your eyes or your brain rest between scenes.  This one had better jokes, better fake science, better characters, but the pacing felt a little stop-and-start.

Oh, and it didn't have better music.

Anyway, go see it!  Tell me what you thought.

Imaginary Life - Drive-Thru Sushi Edition.

Sometimes, I spend too much time thinking about other things I could be doing with my life.  This week, I'm thinking about how I'd like to open a drive-thru sushi restaurant.

That's a lie. I don't ever want to run a restaurant, talk about a nightmare.  But I do want to go to a sushi drive-through for lunch today.  

This is a spin-off of my other drive-thru idea (mini-mart that only serves drive-through customers; selling toilet paper, a carton of milk, etc, etc).

This has nothing to do with writing, guys.  But if I ever get George R.R. Martin-level money, I'm making this happen.

 

Romance Novels, Pet Peeves, and Background Noise.

Hello Everyone!  This is my first post on this blog, and I suspect that future posts will be sporadic! But, I just saw Jessica Tripler's excellent article on BookRiot about her pet peeves in Romance Novels: 

It’s Not You, It’s Me: Nine Things I’m So Over in Romance Novels

JESSICA TRIPLER

A romance novel reader lists 9 things that drive her crazy about her favorite genre.

And of course, I read it and loved it - she's spot-on about all of them!  

One I wanted to talk about in particular is the "Moisture = Arousal" trope that's so common in romances. I want to tell you, I tried, I tried, I tried SO HARD to keep this out of my own fiction, and it's... difficult. Especially in BDSM scenes where there the consent happens before the sex act, and there is role-playing involved.  Using wetness as a reassurance that the female partner is into it is... ugh.  It's almost ingrained.  It feels weird when it's NOT there (hello, Freudian Slip). I still hate seeing it when I read, but I'm much more sympathetic to authors when they write it in.

On Lube: There are scenes in Bad Penny where she uses lube, and there are scenes where she doesn't and trust me, I overthought it in each case! I wanted to be mindful about it, since I specifically recommend Come as you Are by Emily Nagoski in my Acknowledgments section, and the chapter on lube (or lack thereof) resonated with me so much.  Spontaneous lubrication does not go hand-in-hand with arousal for a lot of women. When it doesn't, said women can feel a lot of pressure about it. Said women's partners can feel a lot of pressure about it. They shouldn't have to feel that pressure, they're not Queen.  Using lube is not cheating. Lube is the best.

Another thought prompted by that article: the intersections between arousal, fiction, what people think about to get turned on, and what people want in real life.

On Thoughts vs. Actions: Real life sex is so different from what you think about when you masturbate. Do you remember when Donald Glover left Community, and posted a bunch of reasons why he needed space on Instagram, talking about fear? One of the lines he posted was "I'm afraid people will find out what I think about when I masturbate" and how brave was that? How many people would stand up and admit that fear, let alone talk about the thoughts themselves? Not me, hah hah, I'm writing under a pen name. 

In the immortal words of Girl Code: "What you think about when you masturbate means nothing. It's always weird. For everybody. Sometimes, when I come, I just think of my cat. Just my cat's face." Yeah, that's not making it into a romance novel, guys. But if you'd like a romance novel that does deal (beautifully!) with the weird shit people think about in order to come, I highly recommend "Begging for it" by Lilah Pace. It's a rough read in parts, and triggery, but it's so very good, and you know how I love my books with therapy scenes.

On Books and Expectations: Books are sort of the half-way point between what people think about when they masturbate, and what they want in real life. Scratch that, they aren't half-way. They're much closer to the "what people think about" side of that line graph, but are discussed and often analysed as if they should be on the "real life" side of the graph. Especially romance novels.

I've often read a book, rolled my eyes, and thought "What universe is this book set in?" knowing full well it was set in the author's brain. I've sometimes worried about the author's grasp on reality, knowing full well that the author (and her editors) often chose to insert or leave out realistic elements because of their effect on the plot, reader reactions, or for a host of other reasons. 

This is one of the reasons I spend a lot of time in Bad Penny on club logistics. If I'm going to be comfortable reading about a sex club, I have to understand their security procedures and intake process.  My experience as a reader informs my choices as a writer. But other writers make other choices.  And that's okay.

Anyway, cheers to Jessica for writing the article on her pet peeves, because I share them. Cheers to writers who include those pet peeves in their novels, because I understand they're extremely difficult to avoid.  And cheers to the readers, because talking about what makes us happy is always healthy. 

Hugs,

Jocelyn