New Release: Vinnie Tesla

Huzzah! This is a happy day, and not just because I am double posting.

Vinnie Tesla – author of the fantastically awesome victorian-era sex comedy The Ontological Engine, or, The Modern Leda has written a sequel, and it is now available! It’s up at Smashwords, Amazon, and Fictionwise (where I am told that as of this writing it is a dollar off for a new addition). If you have not yet read The Ontological Engine, I recommend that you do so straightaway – and pick up The Erotofluidic Age right away as well, so that you can continue on from the one right into the next.

I have quite literally forced The Ontological Engine onto my friends (“No seriously, pull this up on the screen, fill your wine, and I’ll just read… I’ll read this, it’ll take a little while but I swear you’re going to love it!” (Two hours later I had no wine, but a room full of fans.)) and have had the delightful honor of hearing an excerpt from the sequel only a few weeks ago. I can’t wait to read it!

If you enjoy it as much, please let me know. I want more people to fangirl with.

– Bliss


Five Things

In the interest of not being up all night, he texted to me, I shall only text you five times.

This amused and delighted me; a bondage of sorts, self-imposed and unrequested, unexpected even – and like any really good bondage, a sweet commingling of restraint desired (because one needs sleep) and restraint to rail against (because to stay up past our bedtime, to connect through impossible and invisible currents on the air carrying carefully constructed communiqués back and forth… it was like whispering on the phone late at night once had once been; it was like that time I curled up in a cool divot in the sand against a warm body, murmuring a half-remembered snatch of Dave Matthews Band’s Satellite into the starlight night over the beach; it was a quiet magic).

Bondage done well as me both reveling in the feel of what holds my limbs down and apart, or sometimes up and together, delighting to have someone indulge my desire for it while at the same time giving me something to jerk and lash and strain and struggle against, trying to refute physics to close the gap and get to touch what is there before me, just out of reach. And it is knowing that, because the person I let bind me is the sort of person that knows what I want, I will eventually get it when the time is right, which is not always right away when I want it.

I will not relate his texts here, but I will note that one of them included a scenario that first made me chuckle. On it’s base raw surface, it seems a pseudo-goth scenario of the sort that, were I to see it as the single-sentence summary of a piece of erotica, I’d likely pass it over to search for something a little more creative, a little more inventive. Yet as soon as that chuckle passed, I got a clear and visceral sense of being in exactly the situation described, and it plumbed my stomach. I could feel my cheeks getting hot in the darkness, blushing at the screen of my iPhone. My response was delayed as I began to truly consider and enjoy the idea not as a skeletal outline of setting and position, but as something actual possible (Heck, probable) to come about.

Powers above and below, but it got me hot.

It still does, just thinking about it now, and it has tweaked my brain a little bit in terms of my erotic writing. Very often I am searching for the more inventive, the creative, the clever. I very much enjoy thinking about things differently, about finding a way into a scene or bit of plot via a path separate from the norm.

Case in point, another writer chucklingly said in conversation,

“In sex between a winged fairy and a vampire, what positions would work best?”
Ah, Livejournal!

While I understand it in the context of our conversation, that it seems a silly sort of pairing, I couldn’t help but braindump all the questions I would have asked in response.

It really depends… aside from the one having wings, and the other being a bloodsucker, are both the creatures in question humanoid? What physical gender are they? Do they have any racial quirks – like can the vampire only bang while sucking blood? Do the fairy’s wings fold or tuck out of the way for certain positions, or are they perhaps useable for achieving loft for positions not afforded to a normal wingless humanoid?

This sort of intensive examination of what lies before me and what an be made of the unusual portions of a scene/story/pairing is, I believe, one of my strengths. Heck, I didn’t even get into asking more specifics about the wings, nor the flavor of vampire (Twilight? Hamiltonian? Ricean? Stoker?) which could affect still more positions available and their relative efficacy. Yet given the text I was sent and how it has consumed my brain in the intervening hours, I am set to wonder at my ability to take more ostensibly mundane scenes and make them live and breathe, to have them get my readers off (as it were) by firing their imaginations the way his words did mine.

A story lives or dies by the breath of the characters; if they’re not living on the page, they’re not going to live in the minds of the reader. No one gets invested in a set of stick figures* – characters have to be people for the reader to care about them, to identify with their successes and failures, to move with them through the conflicts that define their story and the touches that limn their trysts.

If I can do this, and do it well, if I can make my characters be people that my readers give a shit about, that I care about as more than just a vehicle to illustrate my own clever way of thinking about something? THAT is what is going to improve my work from where it stands now. I need to find their flaws. I need to feel out their mundanities. These are the things that will create the boundaries of their character and, in so restraining them, define them as the creatures that strain and yearn to be more than text on a page.

* xkcd notwithstanding, natch.

Being A Woman Who Reads (and writes) Fantasy

A currently-exploding story is of a New York Times review of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” – specifically, the brou-ha-ha is focused upon the fifth and sixth paragraphs of the piece, which I copy out here (emph. mine):

The show has been elaborately made to the point that producers turned to a professional at something called the Language Creation Society to design a vocabulary for the savage Dothraki nomads who provide some of the more Playboy-TV-style plot points and who are forced to speak in subtitles. Like “The Tudors” and “The Borgias” on Showtime and the “Spartacus” series on Starz, “Game of Thrones,” is a costume-drama sexual hopscotch, even if it is more sophisticated than its predecessors. It says something about current American attitudes toward sex that with the exception of the lurid and awful “Californication,” nearly all eroticism on television is past tense. The imagined historical universe of “Game of Thrones” gives license for unhindered bed-jumping — here sibling intimacy is hardly confined to emotional exchange.

The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise. While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.

I strongly encourage you to go read the entirety of the (8-paragraph) review for context in full, but the concern found in these paragraphs stands even following a full reading – Ms. Bellafante has made the unfortunate and grave assumption that (A) the sex is only thrown into the series to attract women and that (B) that no woman would be interested in watching a fantasy epic that didn’t involve some on-screen canoodling.

And yet she references The Hobbit, a Tolkein book from the same universe (and some of the same characters) as the famed Lord of the Rings series, which was made into a trilogy of films, and has just as rabid a fan following among women as men, both book and screen form. The Hobbit was, in fact, one of my first major grown-up epic fantasy novels, before I had even reads a double-digit age group.

In addition to the Hobbit, of course, my reading list has included a huge swath of Terry Pratchett (Discworld, especially), Neil Gaiman (Fantasy both modern, past, and otherworldly, in text AND graphic novel form), Jacqueline Carey (Fantastical reimagining of a european-based world with a different slant on religion where angelic creatures are still very much involve with the world, and also some hot sex amidst the political intrigue), The Dragonlance books, Piers Anthony (Xanth, Incarnations of Immortality, and others), Orson Scott Card (Ender series), Frank Herbert (Dune), David Eddings (Belgariad AND Mallorean, and others), Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, Lloyd Alexander (Chronicles of Prydain (AND played the video game of The Black Cauldron)), C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia), Anne McCaffrey (Dragonriders of Pern), R.A. Salvatore (Dark Elf Trilogy), not to mention J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter Heptalogy).

There are men and women alike in this list of authors – which I contend shows that not only do women like to read epic fantasy novels (regardless of sexual content), but they like to write it just as much as men do. I know that I am currently working on a novel-length epic fantasy project as well as a short story to go into an anthology, and many of the people that I know doing much the same are women. We write what we like to read.

I’d be quite indignant if I found myself somehow in a book club where nobody had read the Hobbit. I also find myself rather indignant at myself that I’ve not even heard of Lorrie Moore, let alone read her work, and think I shall put her on my To-Read list. But she’s below Roger Zelazny and S.M. Stirling.

And as for all the sex on TV being past tense… does she even watch Television? True Blood, Bones, Dexter, Battlestar Galactica – there’s sex out there, and it’s modern (or even futuristic), and it’s not just there for something illicit or prurient – often, ti’s there because it’s part of people’s lives, and affects and changes things sometimes. It’s a plot point just as much as any stealthy political intrigue.