Thursday, January 31, 2013

About That Oft-Rumored "Original" Version...

So it's a little more than a week since I released Poor Man's Fight, and as of this writing it's at #3 in Kindle Military Sci-Fi and #15 in Sci-Fi Adventure Books on Amazon! I'm genuinely blown away by the interest it has gotten. The reviews and the emails I've received have been much welcome--so thank you so much for all who provided such support!

There's a matter I need to address, though, for anyone who is a fan of my other novel, Good Intentions. It has to do with the question of an "original version." One part of this "original" stuff is shared below. For some fans, I could cut right to the chase... but given how Poor Man's is working out for me, I quite likely have some readers now who didn't start out with me as a result of Good Intentions. So, here we go:

As I noted in an earlier blog post, I started out writing what became Good Intentions while I had hit a small snag in writing Poor Man's Fight. Good Intentions was originally a series posted on under the title of "Angels, Demons and Alex." It was the first erotic anything that I had ever written, barring some racy letters between myself and a gal in high school who... um... well, that was twenty years ago. Anyway...

"ADA" was posted, in the beginning, in a serialized format. I posted each chapter as I wrote it. I did a few things there that were simply a matter of shameless pandering to my (underinformed) perceptions of the Literotica audience. For one thing, I felt like I had to make sure there was sex in every chapter, or at least ALMOST every chapter. (The first had none, and there was no prologue originally.) When I put the series together as the novel of Good Intentions, I had to consider the whole work as one big story... and that meant some stuff, like a couple of sex scenes and a couple of plot threads that went nowhere, had to go.

There are a couple of cut pieces I'm happy to share here on my blog. My favorite of them comes after the cut below. I'll post another at some later date.

I need to make something clear: the notion of there being an "original" version of "ADA" is really something of a murky topic. You see, the story evolved as I wrote it--a topic for another blog post--and thus I went back and changed stuff in the earlier chapters even while I was finishing the later stuff.

So, to be blunt: I don't have an "original copy" to send to anyone. I have an old computer tower in my closet that may have some of the material you miss, but that would depend on what material you're hoping to find. Some of it I genuinely wish I had never written, and have no intention of sharing with anyone ever again. They were my growing pains as a writer of erotica, guys. This is not a "Han Shot First" issue so much as it's like remembering the pilot of a TV series as being awesome until you dig it up on VHS and watch it and realize it was terrible TV. I am very sorry if this disappoints anyone. I know we all have varying tastes. I stand by my decisions and Good Intentions as a complete work.

Now, all that said: I promised you a "deleted scene." I didn't delete this one so much as I replaced it, because it's a tiny bit of what is more or less fanfic included in an otherwise completely original work. I didn't want any issues of copyright or to look like I was somehow making money off of someone else's creative IP.

I was, however, quite proud of this piece. I kinda wish I had kept it in the book and called it a "parody," but, alas, it was a risk I wasn't willing to take in my first work.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: 

Alex Carlisle's Totally Not Safe For Work Marty Stu Wet Dream

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Science, Research and Space Pirates

If I were one of those (very cool) authors who do a whole ton of research for a novel, I would have bibliographies at the end. Instead, I'm the type to rely on only a few sources for inspiration and/or fact-checking. Google and Wikipedia have certainly been good friends of mine for this purpose.

For Poor Man's Fight, I talked with a high school physics teacher (don't laugh, the dude's brilliant) to double-check myself on some of my zero-gravity stuff. I frequently went online to fact check things I remembered from my astronomy classes in college (well, really just "intro" and the accompanying lab). Very little drives me more nuts when it comes to sci-fi than the way Hollywood can't understand the difference between "interstellar" and "intergalactic;" these words actually mean something, dammit.

(I also crowd-sourced a few small details with friends via my personal Facebook page. The debate over whether a particular can of whup-ass should be opened with A) a knife to the face, B) a crowbar, C) a blowtorch or D) surprise strangulation turned out to be a great way to liven up a Thursday night.)

Ultimately, I wouldn't call my novel "hard" sci-fi. I tried hard to create a setting and rules that make sense, but it's not like I did a whole lot of math and I didn't plumb the depths of current theory about space travel and technology. I have a lot of admiration for authors who do that, but in the end I knew the focus of my story would be elsewhere.

There's one thing I really wanted to get right, though: space pirates.

I hold a bachelor's in history, and I'm a genuine nerd. I care about these things.

While I wanted to retain the freedom to innovate and adjust, I wanted my space pirates to work like real, historical pirates. I've always been fascinated by the subject. Since the first book I read about pirates as a kid in elementary school, I had known that Hollywood tended to get pirates all wrong. The "Pirates of the Caribbean," as it were (the archetype, not just that specific film series) did not fall under the iron-fisted leadership of a single uber-pirate. They ran as democracies, and by and large they hardly cared about what anyone's race was.

I figured in the wake of putting out my novel, I should plug my favorite book on the subject. Empire of Blue Water by Stephan Talty is a fascinating book about Henry Morgan and the pirates of Port Royal--which, incidentally, was pretty much the polar opposite of what Disney presents in its films. It's a history book, but it largely reads like a novel; there's not much in the way of dialogue, mind you, but Talty knows how to pace and knows how to keep his readers immersed. If you enjoyed the pirates of my novel, I highly recommend checking it out.

There were, of course, other works I looked at over the years regarding pirates, but nothing so much that I felt any need to cite it in my novel like an academic work. Still, I definitely wanted to give Talty a shout-out when my book was finished. Give it a look. You won't regret it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Just Did It: The Origin Story for Good Intentions, Poor Man's Fight, and Everything Else

It's a corporate slogan, and it's frustratingly simplistic, and often it even seems patronizing as hell, but it's also absolutely right. You have to "Just Do It."

I have two books out now because I Just Did It. I've been nervous and self-sabotaging about starting a blog, too, and even as I type this I tell myself that this is NOT the way to lead off a blog, but fuck it. I need to Just Do This, too.

I've wanted to be a writer since I was in my teens. Before that, I wanted to be a comic book artist, but somewhere on the tail end of elementary school I realized that wasn't where my talents lay. Many teachers would say that I was a writer even back then, because that's what you tell kids when you want them to write more... but I didn't feel like it then. I wrote a lot in high school, but I didn't feel like I was a writer. I felt like it was a hobby.

Some time while I was in the Coast Guard almost two decades ago, I came up with the very basic premise for Poor Man's Fight, but I never really started writing it. I tried my hand at short stories about its main character, set some time five or ten years after the story I wanted to write... hand-written on notebook paper, because I didn't have a computer, naturally. When I transferred from station to station, I didn't think twice about tossing those stories.

Writing remained just another hobby. I wrote stuff about the roleplaying games I played over the years, some of it short and some of it long. I also, tentatively and nervously and secretly, poked at writing some erotica that I never shared and frequently deleted from my computer and never, ever told my girlfriend about. (Girlfriends, plural, over the years, actually.) It was good practice, but it didn't make me feel like a writer. People enjoyed the gaming stories, but they were for an inherently limited audience. A couple of years ago, I wrote what amounted to two novels for the games I played. At that point, I realized it was time to get to work on my writing, For Reals, Yo.

In the summer of 2010, I finally started writing Poor Man's Fight. I got hung up on a small issue in chapter four. I was also, naturally, worried about how my writing would be received by strangers. Friends always loved my stuff, but I knew that audience, and they knew me and were naturally predisposed to be supportive, right? I needed to write for strangers. I needed to test myself.

I had, at that point, the first two chapters of what became Good Intentions. I was also an infrequent reader at Longtime listener, first-time caller, as they say. I polished it up, got so excited about posting something that I slapped a terrible, terrible title on it ("Angels, Demons and Alex?" Seriously? That was the best I could think of?)... and actually got pleasant, encouraging feedback from strangers.

No, really. Strangers on the goddamn Internet liked something I wrote and wanted more. Yes, the Internet, that place where everyone goes to tell everyone else in the world how much "everyone" (because everyone assumes they speak for everyone) just wants you to shut up.

So I wrote more. Alex and Lorelei and Rachel developed stronger personalities, and then they teamed up and ate my brain for the next three months. I will talk--in a different post--about how that story grew. It's nothing like my original concept. But again, that's for another post. Point is, they ate my brain, and somehow I wrote that story in just over three months.

And then, I figured, yeah. I can write. I didn't say to myself, "I'm a writer!" but I had a readership of four digits or more, right? So I polished it up, I put it together as a novel, and I self-published it. And then it paid the rent for a month. I wasn't about to quit my day job, but it paid the rent.

And that's when a real, honest-to-God professional author friend said to me, "You are now tall enough to ride this ride."

I spent the next year writing and finishing Poor Man's Fight. I wrote other stuff for Literotica, too, for lots of practical reasons and because I simply enjoy it. I finished Poor Man's Fight in the spring of 2012, sat on it for a few months, sent it to a single publisher during an open call... and decided that yes, I really do like self-publishing, and I wanted to put it book out.

So, yeah. Two books out. The sequel to Good Intentions is more than half done. I haven't quit my day job... but at this point, I can't not call myself a writer.

But mostly? You have to Just Do It. You have to stop making excuses. You have to be OKAY with either starting with an outline or maybe not doing an outline at all, or however it works for you. I highly recommend starting with the lamest, most conventional and cliche opening you can think of and just going from there, because it's easier to continue a paragraph or a page or a chapter than it is to stare at a blank page. If you really want to show your writing to other people, you'll inevitably go back and fix it later.

You can start with fanfic. You can start with smut. You can start with a blog that's all about your life and what you had for dinner. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. You're genuinely better off starting in your comfort zone and moving out from there; leaping into unfriendly territory right from the start isn't a way to do yourself any favors. If you really want to write, you will grow from there, because you will want to challenge yourself.

And then you can fret for a while about whether or not to start a blog that's about writing and what you write... because you'll learn that ultimately, you need to Just Do It.

Also, screw you guys at Nike for making me feel cheesy for typing that with capital letters.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Warning to All

I write this off the top of my head, mostly to get my blog rolling and to experiment with blogspot. Regardless, if this warning remains, all should pay heed.

All should read this in their heads in the most melodramatic tones possible. I recommend imagining Brian Blessed. Ahem:

Not all that I post on this blog will be fit for all readers.

Much of what passes here will be, as they say in the series of tubes that makes up the internet, Not Safe for Work. It will not be suitable for minors. It may even offend adults.

I cannot, however, promise that ALL will be so naughty. In fact, I can promise that by the standards of many, some of what is shared on this blog may seem quite tame.

Sometimes there will be tales of violence. Sometimes there will be not a single face punched.

Sometimes there will be erotica. Sometimes there will be straight-up smut. I leave it to the reader to decide which is which, as we've all got our standards.

Sometimes what is discussed here will have nothing to do with erotica at all.

Sometimes my writing will be comedic. Sometimes it will not. Sometimes I will think I'm funny when I'm not, and vice versa, and those times are always tragic.

So Be Warned, good reader: here lies a writer with diverse interests, who cannot promise to hold to any one specific genre or level of propriety... and I hope you keep reading.