Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Done With Blushing

By Rosalie Stanton


I have only recently become open about what I write with people who aren’t in my immediate circle. Previously, the getting-to-know-you conversations with friends, coworkers, and pretty much anyone I met consisted of a painful dance around the topic. I didn’t want to feel flushed or apologetic when I mentioned I write paranormal romance, never mind erotic romance. My genre of choice has never been a matter of shame for me—I love what I write, and I’m proud of it. But the opinion of others, particularly people who don’t know me, has long been something I’ve worried about. Be it in the way I look, the way I dress, my makeup, my hair, or my weight. I know I’m not alone in this. People—and women in particular—are guilty of overestimating the importance of a perfect stranger’s good opinion.

Granted, not caring what people think isn’t license to be an asshole. And there are some core truths in society that remain unimpeachable, no matter our small protests. One being that women are taken more seriously if their hair is flawless, their skin unblemished, their eyes painted and their lips red. Some women really enjoy this, and I don’t fault them in that one bit. However, as someone who more or less grew up a tomboy and later caved to the cultural norm of how respectable women looked, I’ve somewhat rebelled against the establishment. On the weekends, even if I’m going out, I have to really be in the mood to slap on makeup. During the week, I’m mostly sequestered to an office and out of the public eye, so my makeup is sparing and rarely touched up throughout the day. Those times when I do worry about how I look, I remind myself I shouldn’t have to. I dress well (four years working in a clothing department store gave me that), I’m friendly, my hair isn’t a mess, and I practice regular hygiene. In essence, I do everything a guy does, only I still spend more time in front of the mirror.

Admittedly, I’m at a point in life where I have nothing to lose by playing the “screw it” game. I’m happily married, and my husband is almost more of a feminist than I am. I also have achieved my professional goals—I work remotely for a publisher, in-office for an advertising agency and with people who have much more important things to worry about than how much foundation I applied that morning. On the rare occasion I get in front of clients, I do make an effort to not wear off my makeup quite so much, but those instances are few and far between.

Women are pressured by any number of variables to behave and appear certain ways. I once couldn’t fathom going to get the mail in anything less than my absolute best. My tomboy ways began to waver around the puberty point, and my obsession with my appearance instigated any number of unhealthy behaviors I have since decided were not only a waste of time, but damaging in the hands of someone else.

Appearance is one thing. Writing is something else entirely, though for many female authors, it does reside in the same school of thought where we find society’s expectations for women as a whole. Women are supposed to be passive, demure, visually pleasing, sexually stimulating but mostly virginal. Letting go of my visual hang-ups was a lot easier, in that regard, than letting go of the fear of judgment that came with every answer to the dreaded, “What do you write?” question. Romance novels, independent of erotica, have been many a punch line for many people for a long time. And when you’re the author of erotic romance, allowing someone the license to potentially judge you on a level so inherently personal is a very frightening thing.

But here’s the kicker: you can only be embarrassed if you feel you have something to be embarrassed about. Any reply you receive after you announce you write “erotic romance” is a comment on the person saying it, not you. It occurred to me a few weeks ago that since I have no shame in what I do, it was time to pony up and stop apologizing preemptively. Stop omitting the “erotic” part of “paranormal romance” or devaluing my own work by calling it smut. I don’t know about other erotic romance authors, but a lot more goes into each work than just the sex. There’s characterization, development, a grueling plot, life-or-death stakes, an emotional journey, heartbreak, healing, loss, acceptance, occasional existential questions, a blackest-of-all-black moments, and the much deserved HEA or HFN. And, yes, there are some naked sweaty scenes with characters engaging in the COMPLETELY HUMAN act of lovemaking. To call all of that smut is a disservice, and if you’re speaking specifically about my work, I consider it insulting. So imagine how pissed I was with myself for allowing my work to be branded “smut” for so long.

No more.

On Friday, my mother called my work “vampire smut” in front of someone I’d only known for five minutes.

“Actually,” I said, “I write paranormal erotic romance.”

She replied with, “Well, but it’s so much more fun to say vampire smut.”

I can be annoyed, sure…but more with myself than her. That’s what I built because I wasn’t woman enough to be loud and proud sooner than a few weeks ago. I denigrated my own work to in order to, what, save face? Avoid a blush? Why the hell should I be self-conscious? I’m damn proud of what I do.

I know this fight is only beginning. I imagine I’ll have many more moments where I’ll need to correct someone when they describe my work as “smut”…but I did the crime, so I’ll do that other thing. When something is important to you, you show up. Writing is incredibly important to me. Always has been. And I’m not apologizing anymore—not to strangers, not to my mother, and especially not to myself.

So what am I not blushing about anymore? Well, this for starters, and a whole lot more to come.

By the way, leave me a comment with your email, and I'll enter you in a drawing for a $10 Totally Bound gift voucher! 


TITLE: Lost Wages of Sin
LENGTH: Super-plus novel
GENRE: Erotic Paranormal Romance
THEME: Angels and demons, vampires

Blurb

Working for Lucifer is the best job in the universe, until the day it’s not. Then you’re on your own, with Hell at your heels.

Ava, Sin of Greed, has had a rough week. The angel she planned to make a life with left her with nothing but a Dear Jane letter. Even worse, Lucifer believes she spilled Hell’s secrets to her ex, and her boss’s temper is notoriously apocalyptic.

For centuries, Dante has kept his feelings for Ava under lock-and-key. The one time he pursued something more, he nearly lost her for good. Lesson learned. However, when he hears of her planned elopement, all bets are off. Not having Ava was a reality he could have accepted. Losing her to an angel is something else entirely.

Now, Ava, once Hell’s golden child, is fleeing for her life. When her old friend Dante shows up, her first instinct is to send him packing. But Dante is more than a friend—he’s the only other man who tempted her, and his fierce loyalty challenges everything she thought she knew about him. As Ava prepares to battle the devil himself, she can’t keep from getting closer to Dante…though given what happened the last time, she doubts her heart can survive another break.




Buy Links

BARNES N’ NOBLE: http://bit.ly/1j7B2pC

Excerpt

When he couldn’t stand the silence any longer, Dante cleared his throat and shifted in his seat. “Ava?”

Her head jerked up, hair flying out of her face. She blinked rapidly as though trying to remember where she was. “Yeah. Did you decide what you want?”

Dante stared at her for a moment then lowered his gaze to the burger and fries in front of him. “We already did that part.”

She blinked again and shifted her attention to her own barely-touched meal. “Oh, right.”

“So are we gonna talk about it?”

“About what?”

He rolled his eyes. “Don’t play dumb with me. We’re here for a reason, aren’t we? Thought you wanted to have the big talk.”

Ava sighed, picked up a fry then munched. “I don’t even know where to start.”

“How about what you were doing with one of those oversized pigeons in the first place.”

She managed to look wounded, amused and irritated at the same time. A look specific to Ava—one that told him she was still in there somewhere. “Like that’s any of your business,” she replied coolly, though her tone wasn’t sharp and her eyes weren’t narrowed. Her protest seemed more out of habit than anything else.

“Come on, love. We don’t need to dance around this. You already know I know.”

“Yeah,” she agreed softly, slumping farther into her seat. “My life just keeps getting better.”

“So what were you doing with him?” Dante cocked his head. “That winged asshole?”

“Sebastian. His name’s Sebastian.”

The possessive beast in his chest roared with anger at the name, but Dante washed it back with a mouthful of beer. It wasn’t as though he had any claim on her, despite years of trying, despite conversations that went on until dawn, despite a list of inside jokes that had no end, despite surviving the bad times and celebrating the good. And despite that one not-so-distant night when things might have changed, Ava had never been his.

He’d prepared himself for this. He’d thought he had, at least. Perhaps he should have tried to go back to sleep after he’d rubbed one out this afternoon—put some distance between his feelings and his job here.

Still, his feelings for Ava had never taken a back seat to anything, even when they should have. And since Dante wasn’t one to start sprouting sonnets, he forced himself to shove those feelings deep into the recesses of never-going-to-happen and focus on being there for her when he could.

He hadn’t lacked female companionship, either. It was one of the nightlife’s best perks. The women he chose were always warm and receptive, and likewise left his bed a satisfied customer. He hadn’t bothered developing a lasting relationship—hadn’t taken the steps those of his kind took in order to ensure the path to eternity wasn’t a lonely one.

The only woman he wanted for keeps was unavailable, and currently sat across the table with eyes so haunted he had a good mind to hitch the next ride skyward and introduce a certain angel to his fist.

“Sebastian,” he echoed at last. “Like the cartoon crab?”

About Rosali

Rosalie Stanton is a multi-published erotic romance author, with emphasis in paranormal and urban fantasy. A lifelong enthusiast of larger than life characters, Rosalie enjoys building worlds filled with strong heroes and heroines of all backgrounds.

Rosalie lives in Missouri with her husband. At an early age, she discovered a talent for creating worlds, which evolved into a love of words and storytelling. Rosalie graduated with a degree in English. As the granddaughter of an evangelical minister, Rosalie applied herself equally in school in the creative writing and religious studies departments, which had an interesting impact on her writing. When her attention is not engaged by writing or editing, she enjoys spending time with close friends and family.

Rosalie is represented by Tish Beaty at the L. Perkins Agency.



31 comments:

Debby said...

Looks like a great book. I love Totally Bound.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Your book sounds interesting. You are wise not to use to much make up since most makeup is made from petroleum products it isn't exactly healthy for anyone's skin. You should not worry to much about what other people think most likely they are more worried about their issues than yours. as long as you know in your heart that you are doing what's needed & are happy with who you are & what you do that's all that should really matter in the end. Keep up the confidence,happy summer and many more years of happy writing for you I hope. Good luck in all you do.
starryann2000@yahoo.com

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Rosalie,

Welcome to Beyond Romance, and congratulations on the release of Lost Wages of Sin. (I *love* the cover!)

I have to be very circumspect about sharing information about my writing, because I live in a conservative foreign country where it could get me into significant trouble. I agree you should be proud of what you write and not feel embarrassed. However, remember that not everyone is open-minded. Some people condemn any sort of content that has anything to do with sex. And people like that can make your life a misery. So when you decide to crow about your luscious books - choose your listeners carefully.

JoAnne Myers said...

Good article. Very informative. Good luck with sales.

Roger said...

Fantastic post, thanks for sharing. I think writing without shame makes the words come alive, and living your writing life makes you come alive.

"Any reply you receive after you announce you write “erotic romance” is a comment on the person saying it, not you." Absolutely!

Keep up the great work, be sure to enter me too :)

Roger
rogerusher at gmail dot com

Life Without Frank said...

Congratulations on your release, I've added it to my ever growing wishlist. My mother in law thinks I should do something more "feminine" and that it is a job for men so I know how you feel. You seem to have the right attitude, be happy with what you do.

Shannon
sabai30705(at)yahoo(dot)com

aureliatevans said...

... Okay, except for the fact I'm not married, we're so alike, it's scary. We even write the same kind of stories (I have a spiritual gothic urban fantasy series that I'm working up for TB as well, along with some vampire erotica, and I also tend to write the long novels).

I can't comment on your post, because many of the things you wrote above, I'd write in almost the exact same way. I feel the same, and I've come to the same conclusions.

Seriously, who are you and why are you in my head?

aureliatevans(at)yahoo(dot)com

Jana B said...

Enjoyed the post. Thanks for the giveaway. turtle6422(at)gmail(dot)com

Rosalie Stanton said...

Thank you! I love them too.

Rosalie Stanton said...

I don't worry about what people think as much. As I said, I don't take this as license to be an asshole, but I find it a lot easier and much more rewarding than pretending to be something I'm not. :-)

Rosalie Stanton said...

Thanks again for hosting me!

I definitely agree there's a time and place, and culture/local society can have a huge impact on behavior. In my corner of the globe, I don't announce this to everyone I meet, but if I mention I'm a writer and the person with whom I'm speaking asks what I write, I don't feel the need to hedge. They asked, I answered. Not everyone is open-minded, absolutely...but I am, and I am, and if they want to judge me, I can't stop them. Having said that, I'd rather have people in my life who don't judge, and in many ways, being open about what I write is a great litmus test.

Like I said, though, immediate society and culture does inform our behaviors. I'm at a place in life where I'm comfortable doing this. Others might not be, for internal or external reasons, and I completely respect that. My journey has led me here. :-)

Rosalie Stanton said...

Thank you!

KIM TALBOT said...

That was some of the best smut ever. ;) Way to be proud of your craft!

devynsmom95 @ yahoo . com

Rosalie Stanton said...

Thanks so much for your comment, Roger! I agree -- I no longer feel quite as inhibited, at least when I'm representing my work in person. It's certainly made the prospect of local signings and the like less frightening. I don't have to worry whether or not someone will recognize me and ask questions. If they do, I answer.

Thanks for dropping by!

Rosalie Stanton said...

Thanks for your comment, Shannon. :-) I know something about morphing wishlists.

Thankfully, my sister-in-law paved the way for my brand of feminism well before I entered the picture. She's a women's studies professor, and quite vocal about challenging gender norms. My husband, rascal that he is, keeps threatening to get her a t-shirt with a cartoon woman, captioned: "I belong in the kitchen!" I think he refrains out of a healthy sense of self-preservation, in that she'd kick his ass.

If you're defying traditional gender roles, you're doing something right, in my book. ;-)

Rosalie Stanton said...

So what you're saying is you're awesome? I can dig that. ;-)

Spiritual gothic urban fantasy series? Oooh, yes. I wants.

In all seriousness...well, I have nothing to add in all seriousness, except I'm thrilled the post resonated with you (love meeting kindred spirits) and KUDOS to you. It took me a while to put my money where my mouth was, but now that I'm there, I can't imagine being anywhere else. It's very liberating. Scary at first, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. And the more I realize that if people judge me, screw 'em. I owe no explanations or apologies.

Very glad to meet you virtually, Aurelia. :-)

Rosalie Stanton said...

Thanks, Jana!

Rosalie Stanton said...

Heh...I see what you did there. ;-) Thank you very much!

melissa crisp said...

Sounds great and i love the cover
leighannecrisp at yahoo dot com

Laura said...

This excerpt was great Rosalie. Almost all the books in my library are smutty and I thank god everyday that there are authors out there that understand what we need and want. I glad you are finding your way and standing up for what you do. Smut to me is that Fifty Shades crud that was so infantile and stupid that I can't believe how much money that author made. Keep up the good work and belief in yourself. Hold your head high - what you do is important and it matters. laurah2727@yahoo.com

H.B. said...

I like the concept. It sounds like a fantastic and fun read. The cover is pretty eye catching too.

humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

Naomi Bellina said...

I'm at the same place you were, debating whether to come out of the erotic closet with family and friends. Glad to hear you had a successful 'outing.' Hold your head high! Nice excerpt, thanks for sharing.

Rosalie Stanton said...

Thank you!

Rosalie Stanton said...

Thank you, Laura. :-) Yes, there are definitely books and stories out there that aren't erotic romance, rather actual smut. Amazon is rather inundated with it. And as far as that goes, if the author wants to write it, that's his/her prerogative...but there is a fine line for me between smut and erotic romance. Sort of like actual porn -- you know it when you see it.

Great comment!

Rosalie Stanton said...

Thanks!

Rosalie Stanton said...

It can be frightening, so I sympathize. The only people who don't know now are my grandparents, and that's only because I don't want them worrying about my soul (which they would...they worried about my soul because I watched Whose Line Is It Anyway...and that's not hyperbole). Whatever you decide, I got your back. Thank you!

Kate Deveaux said...

Here here Rosalie for being proud to say it as it is! Enjoyed the article and looking forward to Lost Wages of Sin. Great to see Totally Bound authors not blushing!

Best,
Kate
xx

Skeeter Lee said...

That cover is really eye-catching. I enjoyed the excerpt. Thanks for sharing, Rosalie.

In college, I had an internship as pharmaceutical sales representative. My grandmother snidely told anyone who would listen that I was a drug pusher for the summer. SMH.

Sometimes you just have to put your foot down and say, "No more."

Thanks for hosting the giveaway, Lisabet. I love finding new authors to read. Fingers crossed to win.

Have a great weekend!

skeeterlee63 @ gmail.com

Rosalie Stanton said...

Thank you very much, Kate! :-)

Rosalie Stanton said...

Absolutely. Saying "no more" is incredibly empowering.

I'm not sure if Lisabet is drawing the winner or if that's on me. :-) Hope to announce soon.

Thank you!!

Rosalie Stanton said...

Thank you again to Lisabet for hosting me! And to everyone who came by and chimed in. I loved chatting with you.

The winner of the giveaway, courtesy of Random.org, was Roger. The gift certificate should be hitting your email soon.

Have a great weekend, all!

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