Posts Tagged ‘eroticnovels’

50 Shades of Nothing New

Monday, May 14th, 2012

bow tie

I figured that since so many journalists and broadcasters keep interviewing me and asking me for quotes about the recent publishing phenomenon of 50 Shades of Grey, I thought it was time I put in my two pence’ worth right here at my blog.

Now I’m the last person to rain on anyone’s parade, especially another author’s. Those of us who toil in this usually thankless and poverty-stricken profession know all too well how difficult it is to make a living, let alone garner the kind of phenomenal success now being enjoyed by 50 Shades author E. L. James, who, up until this time, wasn’t even a professional author (and there are many who would argue that she still isn’t). However, as a writer and editor who does quite a bit of work in the area known as “erotic literature” or “erotic fiction” or “erotica,” I’m truly in the dark as to what all the fuss is about.

James’s novel (and their many continuations) focus on a BDSM relationship between a “submissive” young woman and a “dominant” man. The book evolved from her fan fiction site for Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling novel Twilight. Though unlike Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey has lots of sex in it.

Explicit sex. And some of it is considered kinky depending on what church you go to.

Err… okay. So what? Is this anything new? Has no one ever written these kinds of novels before? Has no one heard of the similarly themed classic The Story of O? Has no one seen the gazillion erotic novels that have been published over the last few decades detailing precisely the same plotline, replete with salacious details? Has no one noticed the amount of explicit sex to be found on the pages of what are considered to be “mainstream” as well as “literary” novels, not to mention “women’s fiction”?

The fact that 50 Shades appears to be geared toward women readers also seems to have raised eyebrows. I guess all those Black Lace erotic novels written by women for women never existed, not to mention the many similar publishing imprints that have been doing the exact same thing for years, all vying for the exact same audience – an audience which appears to be reading content that has now become commonly known as (*gags*) “Mommy Porn.”

What I’d like to know is, where have all these goggle-eyed readers and journalists been living – in a cave? Even if you’re sweet sixteen and have no literary history under your belt, a visit to the local bookshop or a perusal of the steamy books on offer at Amazon will be sufficient to educate you that these kinds of novels have been around for eons. Some are well written, some poorly written. But this phenomenon is nothing new. For the media and reading public to suddenly make out as if Ms James has invented the erotic novel is a slap in the face for the multitudinous authors both past and present who have been doing the same thing – and quite possibly doing it better!

Of course many of these authors are hoping that the huge success of 50 Shades will translate into greater success for their own books. And perhaps it will. Whether it does anything to improve the actual quality of material being written remains to be seen.

Frankly, I have my doubts.

Adventures in America (Vapour Man Attacks Rhode Island)

Sunday, January 31st, 2010
Mitzi Szereto in Rhode Island

Mitzi Szereto in Rhode Island

My bear (the famous Teddy Tedaloo) has recently decided that he wants to move to Vermont. Why Vermont? Well, we hear there are plenty of bears there and, being the single mother of a young bear, this sounds like just the place (providing we can afford American health insurance, which looks increasingly doubtful).

Indeed, I can envision us living in a cosy little upmarket log cabin-style house with high-beamed ceilings and wood-burning fireplace, located on a nice parcel of gently rolling land, and not a neighbour within sight or hearing distance. Apparently the price of real estate isn’t too bad there either and as long as I have high-speed broadband, who cares how far away things are? Now if there are any cute quirky little lads who happen to be single and within driving distance (bonus points to those who own a nice motorbike), we might be in business! (Note: I’m willing to put up with an American accent if said lads tick the right boxes. Hey, what can I say? I’ll make sacrifices for love. Besides, Ted needs a positive male role model who’ll take him to ballgames and such. Okay, nix the ballgame shtick, we can’t stand that crap.)

As for why we’d settle on New England, well, why not? It’s somewhere neither I nor Ted have ever lived. In fact, I recently returned from a visit there, though I didn’t make it over to Vermont, but spent my time in Rhode Island and Connecticut. Rhode Island is nice, but it’s in the hurricane zone. Connecticut is nice, but it’s too expensive and too full of New Yawkers. As for Massachusetts, forget it – that caw-caw accent would make me suicidal (please, no hate mail from you Bostonians, okay?). So it looks like Vermont is top of the list for now. I’m sure I can root out enough quirky content and characters to keep Mitzi TV going. And there’s bound to be a novel in it somewhere, too (perhaps even an erotic one, if things go well). If it’s anything like Rhode Island where I walked into a random Barnes & Noble and found a copy of my new book In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed: Erotic Fairy Tales, then it must be a good place.

Mitzi Szereto in Mystic, Connecticut

Mitzi Szereto in Mystic, Connecticut

Would I be willing to leave behind the bright lights of Londontown for the peace and quiet of New England? You betcha! Would I be bored silly? Heck no! I tell you, it’s all happening in New England. Take Providence, for example. Providence has the best falafel I ever ate – and I don’t even like falafel! And there are adventures galore to be had at Providence Airport – or, should I say – Theodore Francis Green International Airport or whatever in heck they’re calling it this week. When it comes to ferreting out potential terrorists, they make the Heathrow security team look like a bunch of squealing girlies.

Last week I was minding my own business waiting to board my flight for Fort Lauderdale when along came this security dude armed with a really butch-looking test tube and some kind of pH stick he was waving about in a threatening manner. Oh, man, he was tuff stuff. All I know is, the bloke sitting next to me in the departure lounge must’ve been on some no-fly list, because that bottle of water he was hanging onto was confiscated and given a right going over by Mr Security Dude. Apparently, this test tube paraphernalia wasn’t intended to get people high (as we’d hoped), but was there to test if any suspicious vapours were emanating from our bottled beverages. It appeared that my fellow passenger Mr Vapour Man had set off some alarm bells, because that pH stick became intimately acquainted with the contents of his plastic water bottle. Talk about rude!

The point is, excitement can be found most anywhere. Or maybe not…

Right, well, I guess I need to start contacting some real estate companies in Vermont (and setting that plan in motion to rob a bank to fund this venture). As for the other part of my master plan, interested parties – that means you cute quirky little single lads in New England (or elsewhere, if you can convince me that you’re what I want/need/desire) – may apply for the position of being Teddy’s positive male role model by sending a CV to me care of my website. Photos and gainful employment required.

Mitzi Szereto on Watchaug Pond, Rhode Island

Mitzi Szereto on a frozen Watchaug Pond, Rhode Island

Nicked by the Old Bill: I’ll Go Quietly, Officer!

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

London Met Form

An evening of tech networking at a trendy bar in Brick Lane last Friday evening kicked off to a resounding start when I had the pleasure of being searched as part of a terrorist operation by London’s finest. (Or should I say the pleasure was all theirs?) Apparently what transpired is officially classified as a “Stop and Account” – and I’ve a souvenir to prove it. Okay, I know I can get a bit intense sometimes, especially in romantic situations, but to be stopped by the police as a possible terrorist suspect? Bad enough my poor bear had to contend with a body search last September at San Francisco International Airport, but now me? Is something wrong with this picture?

I know; you probably don’t believe me anymore. Hell, I don’t believe me either. My life just seems to get more and more ridiculous by the day – and these are just the little tidbits I choose to actually tell you about. Can you imagine the bits I don’t disclose? Why, it doesn’t bear thinking about! Now before you go getting all hot and bothered, let me clarify the situation: it was not a body search. There was no patting down of my bits (they just love doing this to me at Heathrow!), and no bodily orifices probed. (I prefer to reserve that for special occasions.) Besides, it was too bloody cold out to strip off for the London Met. No, it was more of a handbag search – and a superficial one at that, as if we were just going through the motions…

…As perhaps we were.

Why me? That’s a question I always ask myself – a question for which I never receive an answer. I can only conclude that it’s my aura. It was all my fault, I realise that now. I saw people being stopped left and right, and wondered why there was such a huge police presence on Brick Lane, especially at only half past six in the evening. I’ve been there many times and never have I seen this. I mean, had someone stuck a bomb in a curry? Had one of the Bangladeshi sweets exploded with nails? Maybe I should’ve taken the hint and gone off in the other direction, but I couldn’t find the venue where this geek and meet was supposed to be held and frankly, I was getting annoyed.

I noticed one officer standing about with nothing to do, so I went over to ask him for directions to the bar, which to all intents and purposes either didn’t exist or didn’t want to be found. Well, not only did he give me completely erroneous information (guess he wasn’t from around these parts), but he glommed onto me for this terrorist schtick. I told him that I’d always thought London coppers were supposed to be nice, not like the big bad mean ones in America with their big guns, whereupon he assured me that London coppers are nice, and they don’t carry guns. (Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?). He then proceeded to take down my vital statistics (well, those I chose to give), even asking for my address. I should have lied. For all I know that cheeky copper will be coming round with a dozen red roses and a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day. I mean, you can never tell these days.

Now I don’t want to get all controversial here (or maybe I do), but it seemed odd that in an area of East London so heavily populated with ethnic minorities I saw not even one member of an ethnic minority being stopped – only those who were clearly not members of an ethnic minority, just pasty English folk (or, in my case, pasty Hungarian-American folk). Granted, perhaps if I’d hung about longer it might have happened, but I was there long enough to suss the setup, and thereby conclude that what was purported to be an all-inclusive “Stop and Account” did not appear to be so all-inclusive.

Was this a case of reverse-discrimination tactics by the police to prove a point to those in the local community who are generally the targets of such discrimination? Because I can’t help thinking that if someone from a minority had been stopped for a terrorist search (and possibly detained), all hell would’ve broken loose – especially in this part of London. The incident would have hit every television channel and newspaper in the country, with every solicitor in the country fighting one another tooth and nail to take on the case pro bono. Hey, I can only go by my observations, and that is what I observed, so please don’t lay any accusations of racism on my doorstep (though I’m sure someone will still have a go at me). I had a long-term relationship with a man from a country on virtually everyone’s shit list – a country accused of sponsoring terrorism; I doubt the BNP will be welcoming me into their ranks anytime soon!

As for my new career in anarchy, despite the very respectful and friendly demeanour of the officer in question, I wonder if I should have kicked up a fuss. I mean, how often do you hear about expat American authors being “profiled” by the police? I might start a whole new trend. In retrospect, however, it was probably a wise move on my part to omit the fact that I write and edit erotic fiction (including the hair-raising M. S. Valentine novels) when speaking to the officer, even though I could have gotten some book sales out of the deal. And it was probably wiser yet to keep stum about my foray into crime fiction with my anthology Getting Even: Revenge Stories. Think what might have happened to me then!

Mind you, don’t most prisons have WiFi access these days?

Stop and Account

Bespoke in the East End

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
Mitzi Szereto tucks into some bangers and mash

Mitzi Szereto tucks into some bangers and mash

(Sunday S&M lunch…)

Can someone please tell me what in hell is up with this “bespoke” business? Lately I’ve been seeing it all over the place. The first time was in conjunction with a clothing establishment.  Apparently this is no longer the situation. Because if it were, then anyone who frequents the East End of London could be in serious trouble, since everything there seems to be bespoken of these days. (So much for the traditional Cockney culture of wide boys and jellied eel.) It’s now posh all the way in the East End and, for that matter, in the famous Spitalfields Market. I mean, they even have bespoke pastry. Next thing you know it’ll be bespoke oysters, bespoke chocolate, bespoke toilets, and maybe even bespoke bangers and mash. Oh sorry, they don’t call them bangers and mash anymore. Not upmarket enough, apparently.

Which brings me to the point of this blog post: bangers (oops, I mean sausage!) and mash. What began as a covert mission on a late Sunday morning to collect my person from outside Liverpool Street station led to what could only be described as a low-speed pursuit, with my mate driving around the city for nearly an hour hunting for a place to safely deposit his car. He finally found a legal parking space a couple of blocks from St. Paul’s Cathedral… at which point we were forced to amend our plan. We would now have to get the tube from St. Paul’s, and return back to Liverpool Street (where we’d started out!), then walk in the rain to Spitalfields Market, which fortunately is covered. Unfortunately there was a big fly in our ointment – St. Paul’s tube station was shut. We made it to the market two hours later than initially planned.

Needless to say, by that time I was starving. In fact, I was SO starving that I didn’t even care anymore about perusing the goods for sale – most of which I considered vastly overpriced for what was supposed to be a traditional East End “market”. Well, at least anything I wanted to buy was overpriced. Hey, I’m a good haggler, but getting a 65 pound handbag down to the 20 quid I thought it was barely worth was likely not gonna happen. So much for all that bespoke business. Besides, I had to eat. And I had to eat something substantial. Now I ask you, what’s more substantial than Great British Grub? And there it was, mere steps away – a little cafe with steamed-up windows and a crowd of people inside and a crowd of people outside queueing to get inside. How bad could it be? Well, considering the name of the place…

Indeed, I must confess to being a wee bit concerned about entering an establishment that called itself “The S&M Cafe“. (Perhaps the owner had read one too many of my M. S. Valentine erotic novels.) And the steamed-up windows only added to my increasing sense of disquiet. However, they had on offer “The World’s Number One Comfort Food”… or so they claimed. Sounded just right for a rainy downer of a Sunday afternoon. If said comfort came in the form of a plate of sausage and mash, so be it.

Once it was established that the place was, in fact, a cafe specialising in one of England’s favourite traditional meals (at least I hoped the S&M in their name referred to sausage and mash), we went inside, where we were shown to a table by their non-traditional Turkish manager. By then I was hysterical with hunger, only to find myself in the predicament of not knowing which kind of sausage and mash to order. I perused the menu like a burglar casing out an expensive home – a menu which, of all things, also boasted an S&M Teatime. If that wasn’t worrisome enough, it was then that I noticed a card on our table that had a picture of Santa Claus with a balloon coming out of his head saying, “How about a little S&M at Christmas?”

Talk about Ho Ho Ho.

Let’s just say that my doubts as to the wisdom of entering this establishment were rapidly returning…

Mitzi Szereto outside the S&M establishment

Mitzi Szereto outside the S&M establishment

(Would I lie to you?)

Is the Print Book Destined For Death?

Friday, August 8th, 2008

Within the past week I’ve had two people say to me – “but I like REAL books!” They were, of course, unhappily referring to the increasing popularity of electronic readers such as Amazon’s Kindle, and therefore the increasing popularity of books you can download and read on said reader. Unfortunately, I own no shares in (I wish I’d gone with my gut instinct on this years ago rather than listening to the dotcom doomsdayers, one of which was the investment guy who advised me to buy mutual funds whose managers are now all in jail), but that’s beside the point. Granted, in a way I agree – there is nothing like holding a book in your hands; it’s tangible, tactile, it looks nifty on a bookshelf, and hell, it can even make a damned good door-stopper, to say nothing of performing other important household functions. Why, just the other day while Facebooking I found myself being harassed by a wasp. Needless to say, he meet his fate quickly (and no doubt painlessly) at the hands of a novel I’d grown bored of reading.

So why am I jabbering on about Amazon Kindle? Well, for very good reason! My bestselling and now out-of-print erotic novel The Captivity of Celia (written as M. S. Valentine) has just been published as a Kindle book. Indeed, thanks to Amazon Kindle it has been brought back to life, and several of my other Valentine titles will be following suit via this platform. Is that such a bad thing? Not if it puts a few bob in my pocket! And I’m suddenly hearing from other authors who are feeling quite encouraged about this new opportunity to gain readers and thus earn a bit to put toward the rent.

Speaking from the rather prejudiced perspective of a writer, the really great thing about the Kindle is that the author can publish directly with Amazon, thereby cutting out those annoying little middlemen such as literary agents and book editors and publishers who, as many of us in this business have already learned, know as much about publishing good books as your senile old Aunt Gertrude in Hoboken, New Jersey. Hang on a minute – isn’t Gertrude the name of that editor who rejected my last book?

So before we go starting up a Kindle fatwah, we need to gain some perspective. People who like print books will always buy print books. The marketplace cannot ignore such a large percentage of readers. However, those who prefer the transportability, the varied features, and the ability to store a multitude of titles, not to mention being able to bookmark them, will add the Kindle to their reading repetoire. There’s room for all of us. Let’s just all try to get along, shall we?