The Product of Sex Coaching

Does anyone remember the Mickey Mouse Club on TV? They’d run around singing “Today is Tuesday – we’re gonna have a Special Guest!” Like it was totally the Best Thing Ever.

Today *I* have a Special Guest! And she may or may not have referred to me as her sex coach, which tickles me so. Please welcome Marcella Burnard, celebrating the release of ENEMY MINE. I’ll buy a copy for a lucky commenter!

It was a priority-two alert for beautiful Commander Cashel Khaleize: a contract put out on the life of Xiao Zhong. Professionally, Xiao was the Captain she reported to. Personally, he was man she desired. But as female Guild Assassin Mekise Tollenga closes in, Xiao wonders if even Cashel can be trusted with his safety. And with a tenuous bond between them, Cashel wonders how far she’s willing to go to earn that trust.

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Enemy Mine began as a dare issued in the midst of an instant messenger conversation. I think I made the comment that I wished I could write something sexy. Jeffe instantly said, “You totally could.” I laughed and said, “Doubt it.” She said, “Bet you could.” After a bit of possibly childish back and forth, I relented and said, “Fine. I’ll try. But it’ll suck.”

“No, it won’t,” Jeffe declared. “I’ll be your sex coach.”

Okay. It didn’t really happen like that. But Jeffe did offer to act as a resource – in case I had questions about the arc of an erotica (as opposed to the arc of my usual scifi romance novels). I did have questions. Lots and lots of them. Ultimately, I’m not sure who won what or where. I set out to write an erotica, but this story isn’t that quite. Hot? Yes. With a few minor BDSM themes thrown for good measure, because the romance was much more fun that way. Throughout the process, Jeffe very patiently answered questions, and explained psychology. She’s just that kind of friend.

I’m sure I owe Jeffe at least one drink at the Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention being held in Chicago. I mean, she offered expert advice – no, I will not specify what kind – and even kindly critiqued the various drafts of Enemy Mine. If you’re going to RT, look for us in the bar! Or check in at one of the reader parties or the book signing. I have silly goodies to offer. You see, to celebrate the release of the novella, my twelve-going-on-thirteen year old niece helped me assemble swag for RT. We stapled glow in the dark, bug-shaped rubber bands to cards with the novella cover – just silly, fun promotional freebies. (Yes. I’m *that* aunt – the one corrupting the preteen.)

She looked at the cover. “What’s it about?” she asked.

I shrugged. “It’s mostly sex.”

“Oh.” All interest went out of her eyes. “Can I have a bug band??

For helping me staple two hundred plus of those things? The kid got a bug band. If you’re in Chicago in mid-April for the convention, come find me, and get your own bug band. If you read Enemy Mine, I’d love to hear your assessment of the story. Scorching sexy? Slightly toasty? Luke warm? Of ice age?

How to Become a Phenomenon

We got snow. A lovely, soaking snow that started in the afternoon and continued through the night. The ground is busily sucking up the much-needed moisture. Don’t worry – the spring flowers are fine. I only wish you could hear the birdsong soundtrack that goes with this photo.

Also, big shout out to Marcella Burnard, friend and critique partner, whose sexy novella Enemy Mine releases today! She’ll be visiting the blog tomorrow, when she plans to blame it all on me, as I understand. Despite that threat, I plan to give away a copy to a carefully chosen commenter.

But that’s not why you’re here, is it? You want to know how to become a phenomenon.

Don’t we all.

I’m hearing this discussion a lot lately, especially with the sudden frenzy over 50 Shades of Grey. My mom sent me this link the other day, to the Fifty Shades Frenzy video. It’s not that long and kind of fun to watch, if only for the sheer enthusiasm of these women, lighting up over the book. My mom then commented, “she stole your idea!”

This is why we love our mothers.

Indeed, author after author on Twitter has been reporting various family members contacting them, asking if they’ve hear of this book. Suddenly what a lot of us have been writing for some time has been catapulted into the public eye – and approval, even. Suddenly people have heard of what we write.

And people are working the angles.

Some writers are tearing out their hair that this particular book is the one to hit, analyzing its many flaws. Others are talking about how their genre is HOT now and how to capitalize on that. Mostly what everyone wants to do is figure out is the magic formula. Why THIS book??

Mostly, we are jealous.

I mean, I am jealous.

I know it’s low of me, an unflattering insight into my less than sterling character. But there it is. I want for my books what this book is getting. The love, the notice. Chocolate-covered heroin, doncha know. The money would be nice, too.

The thing is, though, I think this is an impossible question. A while back I posted about the interview between JK Rowling and Oprah Winfrey, where they discussed what it’s like to become a phenomenon and why it happened to them. They don’t know either. They were right there, creating the thing and they have no idea. If you watch the Fifty Shades Frenzy video to the end, you’ll see an interview with EL James. SHE has no idea either. You’ll see – this is not a woman who’s a sharp marketer or calculated her way to the hearts of the ladies in the video. She simply started writing her spin-off fantasy of Twilight and BOOM!

(It should be pointed out that, despite its apparent sudden advent into public awareness, this is not an overnight boom. I read the book over a year ago.)

So, even as I rummage in my desk drawer for chocolate, because there is no chocolate-covered heroin available, stewing because other people have what I want, I know it’s all the merry-go-round. It’s all lights, tinkling music and fake horses. Up and down, round and round. Until you’re vaguely queasy and wondering why the ride sounded so appealing in the first place.

Figuring out how to be a phenomenon is like figuring out how to win the lottery.

My friend from college who has a masters in statistics was posting some numbers the other day. She said that the odds of winning the Mega Millions lottery were 1:175,711,536. This compared to the odds of dying in a plane crash (1:29,400,000) or being hit by lightning (1:10,000). Looking only at the number of books published in the US in 2009 (the easiest number I could find), the odds of having the stand-0ut book of that year would be 1:288,355. I’m betting that number doesn’t include self-published books either, which is how Fifty Shades started out.

How we’d define phenomena like Fifty Shades, or empires from the Twilight or the Harry Potter books, I have no idea. This is why *I* don’t have a masters in statistics.

Suffice to say, stay inside during thunderstorms and don’t worry so much about flying.

We can write good books while doing both of these things.