The second stop on the tour for my lesbian cyberpunk erotica story An Angel Has No Memory is up on Alexandra Christian’s Southern Belle from Hell blog, with an excerpt and a discussion of disability erotica.
Just found a great review of my short story “Upgrade” in the Circlet Press anthology Jacked In: Transhumanist Erotica on Amazon.
Peter Tupper’s “Upgrade” is a beautiful, melancholy, elegiac but ultimately uplifting tale of one man’s final memories of physical sensation before transitioning to a new form, leaving behind and transcending the body in order to become a being of pure intellect. But not abandoning human curiosity. “When there is no possibility of loss,” Tupper tells us, “action becomes trivial. Even if we can’t die, We can feel fear, and feel even more ashamed because of that fear. We need to try new things. We need to find something that scares Us.”
After not updating for more than 6 months, I want announce some accomplishments.
2014 opened with two fiction publications:
“Angel” began as a piece of fanfiction for Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse TV series. When I learned about a project called Filed Off, an anthology of fanfiction edited to be commercially saleable (like a certain bestselling trilogy). As a long shot, I did a find-and-replace on the character names and a few other terms and submitted it. The anthology didn’t get enough submissions, but the publisher decided to publish it stand-alone, though with substantially more edits. I accepted.
This proved to be more difficult than I thought. Fanfiction assumes the reader is familiar with the source text. To “de-fanfiction” it, I had to add a lot more exposition of the setting and description of the future technology. Also I had to shift the setting from the present to the near future, which presented another character problem. The protagonist is a closeted lesbian, and even in the present day I had to justify why this character was so fearful about being found out. Most people assume the future will be more culturally liberal, with less need for homosexuals to live in the closet, so I had to justify that even more in this new version.
The other publication is my short story “Upgrade” in the Circlet Press anthology Jacked In: Transhumanist Erotica
It’s a story of a casual encounter on the eve of a transhumanist singularity/apocalypse.
I didn’t finish a draft of my history book, as I pledged, but I did make significant progress by completing a few chapters, and I have a better understanding of the path ahead. I hope I can complete a draft by the summer.
The Master-slave history book I’m editing has shifted into a new phase of editing the contributions. I always thought of editing as a position of power, something I’m not comfortable with, though in actuality a lot of it is figuring out the difference between “imply” and “infer”, and the like.
The last big creative project I’m working on is a shared science fiction novel, or more accurately a series of connected novellas, with my writer’s workshop. No details on that for the moment.
(Recovered from a yard sale in Pasadena, CA, in a Florsheim shoe box also containing a yellow turtleneck sweater, size L; the script for a one-act play, “Death Is My Client”; and the incomplete manuscript for a pornographic novel, “Queen of Perversions”, by “Pete Draper”)
EXT – SPACE
The ENTERPRISE orbits an Earth-like world.
Captain’s Log Stardate 2390.5 The Enterprise has arrived at the planet Southron, here to study the early industrial civilization.
INT – ENTERPRISE – CONFERENCE ROOM
KIRK, SPOCK, MCCOY and CHEKOV are seated around the conference table.
UHURA is standing to give the briefing next to the display screen.
Southron is an M-type planet with a mixed agrarian-industrial culture, 3.4 on the Nakahara development scale.
My first self-published ebook, The Curious Kinky Person’s Guide to the Fifty Shades trilogy, is now available on Amazon Kindle. Smashwords is next, though I’m having trouble getting the formatting to work properly.
An expert and historian on consensual sadomasochism began a critique of the sadomasochistic scenes in the best-selling Fifty Shades erotic romance trilogy by EL James. It evolved into a far-reaching analysis that ranges from 18th century romances, to the link between vampires and capitalism, to The Godfather II, to the tangled boundaries between romance and abuse, all on a quest to explain the popularity of this story. This ebook contains revised and expanded material previously published on historyofbdsm.com.
On Wednesday, March 28th, I took a deep breath and clicked “Upload”. My first self-published ebook, The Curious Kinky Person’s Guide to the Fifty Shades trilogy, had been carefully converted into clean HTML, and it and the accompanying image files went out into the world.
Within only a few hours, I got a response asking me why my text was also found on a website (i.e. my historyofbdsm.com, where the original blog post series remains). I had no idea this would be a problem. The blog Bad Books Good Times did the same thing with their blog series on Fifty Shades of Grey, and mine had extra material as well as extensive copy-editing. I sent Amazon back an email explaining the situation. No response yet.
While my book was churning through some recondite procedure at Amazon, I diverted my attention to the number two market, Smashwords. I like Smashwords’ philosophy better than Amazon’s: no DRM, lots of different formats.
At the moment, Smashwords wants publishers to submit in Word .DOC format. This suggest an unhealthy reliance on Microsoft’s word processor, exacerbated by the fact that I don’t use MS Office and prefer to work in LibreOffice. Even if you work in Scrivener or something else, Smashwords wants you to upload in Word format, and a very particular form of it. LibreOffice Writer can save in MS Word .DOC format, but it does some peculiar things along the way, like removing headers and footers. I suspected this venture would be fraught with difficulties.
I spent Wednesday evening and Thursday morning reworking the file to Smashwords specifications, and using a combination of GIMP, Libre Office Draw and IrfanView to get the cover image looking good and in the right dimensions. I also ordered another ISBN for the Smashwords edition, which was free thanks to the government of Canada. (One of my advisers on this project says she uses the same ISBN for all her
Smashwords has a two-tiered system. On the first tier, where Smashwords sells your book by themselves, they’re much less fussy about formatting. But if you want your work on Smashwords’ second tier, in which they submit your work to Apple iTunes store and other big retailers, your book needs to conform to a much stricter format.
I spent most of Thursday afternoon removing the auto-generated table of contents and manually rebuilding it with bookmarks and hyperlinks. (You can link directly to headings in LibreOffice, which I use, but the Smashwords Style Guide says not to use them, and create bookmarks instead.) I uploaded it a second time, and watched as it worked through what the Smashwords people refer to as “the meatgrinder”.
It looked good for a while, but then I got the error message from the epub validator. Running it through the epub validation app generated error messages like:
tmp_6357f15fbd059ed108102a8a3a7ceaf1_1cizwC.ch.fixed.fc.tidied.stylehacked.xfixed_split_023.html element “span” not allowed here; expected element “address”, “blockquote”, “del”, “div”, “dl”, “h1”, “h2”, “h3”, “h4”, “h5”, “h6”, “hr”, “ins”, “noscript”, “ns:svg”, “ol”, “p”, “pre”, “script”, “table” or “ul” (with xmlns:ns=”http://www.w3.org/2000/svg”)
What’s worse, I downloaded the epub Smashwords had generated and found that all those manually created bookmark hyperlinks for the table of contents had vanished, and all my Quotation styles had been lost too, and the bullet lists were a mess. I’m not even sure what I can do to fix this problem. I may have to borrow somebody’s copy of MS Word and use that to rebuild the table of contents.
I’m particularly annoyed at Smashwords’ insistence on only accepting Word format, when it’s just going to be reworked into a version of HTML anyway.
Results so far: Still not up on Amazon. It was up on Smashwords for a while but missing important formatting. I unpublished it until I can get it the way I want it.
There’s an app called Jutoh that is supposed to convert Libre Office Writer .ODT files into something Smashwords finds palatable. I’ll give that a shot.
At the risk of a workman blaming his tools, I think this indicates that we are still in the early days of ebook publishing, and that ebook formats are primarily intended for fiction. When you try to do things that are standard in non-fiction books, such as bullet points, indented quotation paragraphs, or endnotes, you run into problems. We are a long, long way from “click to publish”.
Under urging from friends, I’ve decided to start a new project and resume an old one.
The first is The Curious Kinky Person’s Guide to the Fifty Shades trilogy, a version of the live-blogging series on my other blog. After more than 80,000 words of commentary and critique on this bestselling erotic romance, I decided to revise, expand and edit them into a book, with some new material. It will be published via ebook on Amazon Kindle and other channels, though I won’t remove the original posts. I see this as charging a premium for a more refined product in a more convenient format (unlike the Fifty Shades books, which look like the original fanfiction postings were published without any copy-editing.)
Yes, it’s somewhat parasitical, but since EL James is freely cribbing from Stephanie Meyer, who says she was cribbing from Jane Austen, why break the chain? In part, this is motivated by money. I have the much discussed “platform”, with my website and my satellite content on Tumblr, Pinterest and Scoop.it, but no revenue short from a trickle from the ad banners and the Amazon affiliate links. I want to see how much money I can bring in, even though the high-water mark of the trilogy’s commercial success has passed (at least until the movie hits theatres).
I’m just dipping my toe into the murky waters of self-publishing via Kindle. I’ve already applied for an ISBN (free in Canada), and I’m grappling with the Kindle’s idiosyncratic formatting. There’s still a myriad of other issues like making the cover image, deciding on the licensing and so on. In part, this is a training run for the next big thing.
The second project is getting back to writing my history of BDSM book. I know I promised I would finish a draft last year, and didn’t, but let’s give it another shot. I intend to finish a draft by the end of year and if possible, and self-publish it. I’m even considering launching a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign to finance getting it professionally edited and formatted.
I’ve officially agreed to edit a collection of essays on the history of Master-slave relationships, commissioned by the Master Taino’s Training Academy.
I’m very excited about this project, as I will help create a contribution to the scholarship of the history of this field, and also get to work with people who have been involved in this subculture from its earliest days. My hope is that this book will have a place on shelves next to classics like Leatherfolk and Different Loving.
This project should run into 2014, at which point I will present the finished manuscript to MTTA for them to either publish themselves or present to a publisher.
My flash fiction “Consuming Art” is now up on Every Day Fiction. It’s a short but tart tale of artistic rivalry, revenge and bioengineered organisms.