Sunday, 26 May 2013

Sex Art and Aromatherapy - free 27th May-9th June

Here's a heads-up: my short story Sex, Art and Aromatherapy will be free on iTunes from tomorrow, 27th May, to 9th June.

I can't give you a URL for it because the old way of constructing URLs for iTunes products doesn't seem to work any more. Just search on the title, or my name.

Brief details: Ruby is already experienced in BDSM and fetish, but she’s surprised to meet an older man in an art gallery, of all places, who also seems experienced in that world. He tells her stories about how, in his youth, BDSM was simply one part of a wider spiritual quest. Ruby lets him take her on a journey of enlightenment…

I think the cover used in this post is the right one! It replaced the original cover (which featured a woman's hands bound in red rope) when it first went onto iTunes because the bondage was deemed too racy for iTunes cover guidelines. That said, I think it's a pretty neat cover image.

I'll also just mention that at various points in the past (it's been out for a while), this story's apparently been among the most popular erotic downloads on a range of iTunes country stores.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Erotica, but not as you know it

Filthy Money erotic collection cover
I’ve just self-pubbed something you might or might not see as erotica: Filthy Money, and other stories of sex in the gutter.

The publishing process itself was a steep learning curve. First edition not sufficiently well proofread; second edition lost a bit of formatting in the Smashwords 'meatgrinder' (their term for the automatic conversion processes for e-publishing); third edition good, but failed Smashword’s premium catalogue submission due to not using markers (three or four asterisks) at section breaks, and having no first line indent at the beginning of each section – this part of the process isn’t automatic, but down to review by an actual human. Previous humans hadn’t seen these as problems, but never mind. The fourth version is ok and I wanted to get to that stage before promo-ing the collection.

Having got it on Smashwords and their premium catalogue - which distributes to Diesel, Ebooks-Eros, B&N and several other places - I don't have any enthusiasm for going through the same process with Amazon yet. Maybe some time in the future. 

What it is: eight quasi-erotic stories of desperate sex, sexual perversity and moral degeneracy from the margins of contemporary society. It’s set in a dystopia that actually exists – in social science literature it’s often called the underclass, though how the underclass is defined is a variable quantity. Political writers like Charles Murray turn up their noses at those who are ‘welfare dependent’, ‘feckless’, having kids outside marriage and so forth. Other more liberal writers point to the role of international capitalism and neoliberalism in reducing the life chances of the poorest, to the point that many are not only unemployed but excluded from much of what we might reasonably describe as civil society. They also, incidentally, point to the increasing dependence of the middle classes on welfare as 'professional' jobs become deskilled, and the prevalence of births outside marriage and 'reconstituted' families following separation and divorce in the middle classes; these trends don't just define the underclass any more. Or alternatively, more people with middle-class backgrounds are becoming members of it. If you want to know, I tend to side with the more sympathetic view of what 'underclass' means.

Over the years I’ve known a lot of people who qualify for the ‘underclass’ tag. I know their world and as the blurb for the book says, it’s an unstable world where anything can happen, reality is perverse and perversity is normal. People in that world find their pleasures any way they can, and it’s often a way that’s chaotic and wild. They often end up having desperate sex in ways that can sometimes lead to trouble and more chaos. I have, frankly, edited out parts of the chaos that involve alcoholism and serious violence, but left in – and, in fact, substantially toned down – the bits that involve drug use, the police, and psychological problems including self-harming. Much of what I’ve seen first-hand would frankly be more suitable to a horror collection rather than an erotic one.

And, yes, there’s a fair bit of BDSM in the stories. Not because it’s a major part of that world, though it does happen, but because that’s my particular bent. Even so, many of the scenarios in the book are based on stuff that I’ve either seen first-hand or been told about by those involved. It’s fiction, but there are factual threads running through it.

It doesn’t, by the way, include the story of what happened to someone who was kidnapped by a drug dealer because their boyfriend didn’t pay a debt. And it doesn’t go into any detail of the sexual dynamics of couples where both parties are self-destructive and manipulative. Maybe those are for an even darker collection.

I wrote most of the stories as a form of exorcism, because I'd had the ideas running around in my brain and didn't know what to do with them, other than share them with you. It hasn't completely exorcised them, but at least I feel better now...  I don't know whether the collection will be attractive to readers, if only in a tight lipped 'Eeew, that's really nasty' way. Possibly not. I'd be gratified if you did like it, but you may not want to encourage me. 

I published them myself because I wanted to get a sense of what that involves, and now I've done the learning curve I might selfpub some stuff that's a little more conventional eroticism. Or less unconventional eroticism, anyway. I have a few ideas I'm working on.

So what would be your motive for buying this collection? I’ve described it as quasi-erotica. It has a high urban grit content, plus a lot of sex. It has a lot of irresponsible and dangerous sex entered into by people who really, profoundly, don’t care about the problems it will bring because the world’s unpredictable anyway. It has sex between people whose fantasies are utterly against the norms of political correctness and polite society – though as we already know, many people’s fantasies from all walks of life are politically incorrect and brutally transgressive. It has sex that is chaotic, perverse, pleasurable, and pleasurable because it’s perverse.

And remember, in reading this, that morals are an affectation of those who have the financial resources to afford them. Read responsibly, and if any of what you read troubles you, just remember that it probably has really happened somewhere, sometime, pretty much the way the story tells it.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

On demand? TV-like? Backdoor censorship?

Here's an odd thing for people in the UK. It's caused a stir in the video community, especially places that offer 'on demand' style video services that can be deemed to be 'TV-like'.
There's an authority you may never have heard of, ATVOD - the Authority for Tevevision on Demand, which was set up as part of the implementation of the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2009 and 2010. 
Recently it's been flexing its muscles in various directions, presumably testing the boundaries of its powers. The head power it has is that the provers of 'TV-like' services are required to notify ATVOD of what they do and then adhere to its rules.
It's fined Playboy TV and Demand Adult for repeatedly failing to implement access barriers to under-18s. The fines were actually levied by Ofcom under the Communications Act 2003, since essentially Ofcom has delegated some of its powers to ATVOD but then acts as the administrative body able to levy fines for breaches of ATVOD's rules.
It's tried, though failed on appeal, to have the BBC Food and BBC Top Gear channels on YouTube defined as TV-like. This determination was based on relatively technical issues such as production values, brand name, continuity and narrative, opening sequence, music on the soundtrack, length of clips and the extent of bricolage in the presentation of individual clips. If the detail interests you, read the article referenced at the end of this post.
For various reasons I won't go into here, Ofcom's decision seems to have pitched the definition of what 'counts' as on-demand TV closer to streaming TV services that might compete directly with TV, than to user-generated content of the kind you might expect on YouTube or Vimeo.
But ATVOD has also started to get interested in places such as Clips4Sale and the individual (adult) videos posted there. ATVOD has started to contact some of the people who have material on Clips4Sale asking them to consider whether they should register as on-demand programme service providers (and thus pay registration fees). If they consider they don't need to register, they are required nonetheless to complete a declaration explaining why they don't need to register.
This has become a hot topic on Fetlife (because some of those involved have published all the emails) and does raise questions, not so much about general principles such as stopping under-age people from watching porn, but about the way they're being enforced. Should anyone who wants to make a reasonably proficient and thought-out video on any topic have to register themselves as a service provider? Should they, if they upload their work, have to contact an authority to declare they don't need to register?
In fact, given that technology now does mean someone can sit at home with a camera and a PC and make videos that do have TV-like characteristics, and put them out on the internet to compete with TV - and users can download them to watch on their TV - how valid is the distinction between what is and isn't TV anyway? Why shouldn't people seek to compete with established TV? Shouldn't regulation ignore the question of how material gets streamed or made available, and just address matters such as whether adult material is reasonably protected behind warnings, and whether video services are provided via commercial services that have, for example, significant third-party advertising content as opposed to 'cottage industries'? Should the burden of regulation fall - if it needs to fall anywhere - on the 'service providers' such as Clips4Sale, YouTube and so on rather than individuals or groups who upload their materials? How would ATVOD cope with someone who uses Google Glass, for example, to stream everything they do and see to a website (including ads for services and products that may appear on the Glass screen) and then have edited clips - perhaps with embedded ads - available?
This seems to be a situation where the developments in technology are happening very quickly and the regulatory regime, albeit only a few years old, is already several generations behind what's feasible and what's happening now. There may yet need to be a debate about whether the regulations are too much of a blunt instrument to avoid getting labelled as 'backdoor censorship' due to declaration and registration requirements, if ATVOD's interpretations of these are maintained.
Watch this space.

Useful further links: article on Ofcom rulings

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Free Voodoo Fetish

It's true. My Voodoo Fetish novella is free on and from today, 8 May, until 12 May 2013 (these links open in new windows).

It's a novella with paranormal, bondage and bdsm themes that follows on from the earlier Ridden. In place of a blurb or plot summary (which you can get from Amazon and its 'look inside' function) I'll just point out that apart from sex, bondage and whips you get post-structuralist philosophy, fluid dynamics equations, a reference to the film Cat People, a discussion of the 1832 Public Cemeteries Act, a small and intimate orgy, a dose of syncretism, a demonic possession and an anvwar mo. And sex and bdsm, did I mention those?

Enjoy. If you get your free copy, please do me a favour - take a minute to review, rate or tag it on Amazon or Goodreads or wherever you please. And if you like it - please remember I have others you might like to buy...

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Museum of Deviant Desires cover

If you notice a difference from the original cover, a slightly more medieval and handwritten feel to the title - that's because Sharazade at 1001 Nights Press had it redesigned using a new font. I feel a blog post on fonts coming up sometime...

The stories in it are still the same, though:
  • Poppy Seeks Pain
  • Waiting
  • Something Different
  • Burnout
  • The Plastics Factory
  • Fashion, Intent, Desire, Choice
  • Don’t Mess With the Author
  • Sex and the Giant Squid
  • >Voiceover
  • The Museum of Deviant Desires
  • $2.99
And the places to buy remain the same:,,  Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, Ebook-Eros and some other places, like iTunes, I don't have URLs for.

You may also like to know this is the novella-length collection that was reviewed as 'sexy and cerebral; breezy, thought-provoking, laugh-out-loud funny and utterly addictive', establishing 'fascinating new paradigms for the next generation of erotic fiction', and 'gritty, modern, playful, and strange.' And now, depending on how quickly the new cover propagates through the interwebz, with new wobbly and weird handwriting on the cover (the writing inside remains weird, but that's down to the stories themselves and not the choice of font).