Bad Girls

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There’s something about writing about “bad girls” that excites and interests me. The motivations, the compulsions, the experiences of women who are not examples of the feminine ideal awakens my imagination in a way that writing about “good girls” does not. It probably has something to do with my Catholic girls’ school upbringing where I was constantly restrained, restricted, admonished, and corrected.

And of course, hanging over my head (literally) at every turn was The Blessed Virgin, the ultimate example of female virtue and self-sacrifice.

For some reason, as I got older, I was always drawn to the girls who were in many ways the antithesis of that example: “girls who rode in cars with boys”, who had a little more information about sex than most of us, girls who advocated for breaking rather than adhering to the rules. But in terms of being a bad girl myself, I was always more of a poser than an actual do-er, more of a voyeur than a participant. Even then, I think I was honing my instinct for collecting information about how people live and why they do the things they do; and girls who against all instructions to the contrary broke free of an ideal someone else created for them struck me as worth studying.

In my new release ‘Unsuitable Men’ I write about a different kind of “bad girl”. She’s not a rebel at all and by all outward appearances, she conforms. But she has another side to her that’s self-destructive and inconsistent with the image she portrays. This is a different kind of bad girl – the kind some people call a ‘slut’, a word I think should not exist in any language, not only because it’s derogatory, but because it is an oversimplification of the complex ways in which women own, disown, are in touch with or pathologically out of touch with their ability to control and define their own sexuality. But that’s really heavy stuff and I tend – very intentionally – not to write very heavy books.

Still, I would love it if you would read ‘Unsuitable Men’ and leave me a review. I like to hear what you think about my writing, but also love hearing what you think about the themes. My goal is to tackle heavy themes in a light read. Let me know how I’m doing!

-Nia-

Is My Kindle Making me Stupid?

Last week, I hit the ‘Buy’ button on Amazon.com, completing my purchase of a book titled The Inconvenient Mistress of an Italian (not the precise name, but very close). Now, under normal circumstances and in my right mind, I would never consider buying an actual hard copy book with such a title. But it was an e-book, AND free, so I consummated the “purchase” and put it in my Kindle collection entitled “Trashy Romances” (not to be confused with my also burgeoning collection of “Trashy Romantic Erotica”). By trashy, I don’t mean that it uses “naughty” words; naughty words are important and fun, and I use them frequently in my own writing. By trashy, I mean that these books are like candy: pleasant to taste but with no nutritive value whatsoever. In this case, however, it is not my body, but my brain that may be malnourished. When I go to Goodreads and peruse the books I’ve read, I’ll be honest, I feel a little self-satisfied. All of the so-called classics are there, many Pulitzer Prize-winning authors and more than a few obscure but stunningly talented writers. And when I buy books by authors such as these, I tend to want the hard copy. I like the feel of the pages between my fingers, the quiet whisper they give as I turn them. And perhaps most of all, I like later looking at the book on my shelves and having a memory of how it felt to discover it and enjoy it. It is as comforting a ritual as visiting old friends.

The e-books on my Kindle are different. They are like my dirty little secrets; books about women who “surrender” to something or “succumb” or “give in” which is curious because women who “give in” are a particular pet peeve of mine in real life. On my e-reader, I also have a fair number of books about monsters and vampires, killers and miscreants of various stripes. And lately, I have been devouring all of these genres, sometimes at a rate of three per week because they are so easy to consume. In fact, Amazon sells about one and a half times more e-books than they do hard copies, according to 2010 figures. But if my personal experience is any indication (and it may not be) I don’t think we should take this as evidence that we have a more literate society or anything. If anything, I’ve learned that men in erotic fiction are as likely to “growl” as they are to speak, and that the women will “squeal” and “whimper” quite a bit. I’ve also learned that there are many, many euphemisms for the female anatomy that I would never have even considered.

And most of all, I’ve learned that there is a fair chance that when you pay $0.99 for a book, that’s about all it’s worth. But as a self-pubbed writer myself who hesitates to charge more than $4.99, I don’t knock it. I love that publishing has become a super-democratic process where readers get to make their own choices about the value of someone’s writing, and that mammoth publishing houses no longer get to be the arbiters of what the reading public should have access to, because for sure I’ve discovered a few gems, countless diamonds still in the rough and one or two writers whose lack of a six-figure book deal is a travesty.

Still, there is that part of me drawn to the illicit hunt specifically for corny, poorly-written fiction which I devour at 3 a.m. both fascinated and repulsed. Oh, it’s all in good fun I tell myself. But I wonder, ultimately, is my Kindle making me stupid?

Unsuitable Men


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Inspired by a comment from a reader, I am releasing ‘Unsuitable Men’ on September 15, 2012 ahead of the scheduled release of ‘The Seduction of Dylan Acosta’ which will be out later in the fall.

Sometimes the muse visits and you just have to go where she takes you. In this instance, my muse goes by the moniker MzRobin, and I’ve decided to dedicate this book to her. Thanks Robin!

-Nia-

Self-Editing

Do you often say things as quickly as they pop into your head? Offend people without intending to because it never occurred to you not to be honest? Do you point at the pink elephant in the room when almost everyone else would rather skirt around it? Don’t feel bad; me too. It doesn’t make us bad people, it just means we will be incredibly bad at editing our own writing.

I like to believe I’ve got a good eye, and a good ear for what’s necessary to round out the arc of a story, and I’m sure that’s probably true. But only if the story is not my own. For the self-published, this is a challenge. Chances are, you’ve already decided that the traditional publishing house is not a meritocracy, and that the forces of capitalism are just as likely to be making decisions at Random House as are the literary gods. So given that, why not run your own show? Write and publish your own work, and while you’re at it, edit it as well. Well, I’m suggesting that that last step, self-editing, is like the road to hell – paved with good intentions and will lead you to a very, very uncomfortable place.

Far worse than having someone separate you from your words, is having them heard-or read-and completely misconstrued.

Every novel I’ve ever written-and there have been a few- is at least 400 pages long. At least. Most include, in my view, about one hundred pages of absolutely essential character development. But what the hell do I know? What I likely have in those many, many pages is on average about 250 pages of worthwhile material and another 150 pages of sludge. That’s why much of this work has yet to see the light of day, and I’ve decided, after agonizing for months, to enlist the services of a professional editor.

Don’t get me wrong; I know it’s going to hurt. Having someone look at a paragraph I worked on for over an hour, which I happen to think is filled with profundities, and tell me that it “doesn’t add anything to the story” is going to be like a dagger through the breastbone. For them to read several pages and then look at me in confusion, telling me they “don’t get it” will keep me up all night (or several). But I think it’s necessary pain. If you’re like me, you write because you have to, but you also write to be read, and to be understood. So I’m bidding farewell to self-editing, handing my babies over to the care of another, crossing my fingers, saying a prayer, and hoping they will believe them as beautiful as I do . . .