Posted on Jun 16, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments
In an odd way, I was lucky to grow up where I did – a resort town with a university. Time changed it, but it has been a wonderful background for some of my stories – all but the first book of The Millersburg Quartet were set there, and it was the setting for The Last Resort. In a way the town of ‘Millersburg’ becomes a character in itself. Of course, I changed the name to protect both the innocent and the guilty. (Although an old high school friend reconnected on Facebook, and she told me she recognized it.) Time has changed it, though. Most of the resorts that formed the basis for The Last Resort no longer exist. It was a real pleasure then to find an article in my local paper about some of my favorite places back ‘home’. The farmer’s market on Main Street where Cam bought the supplies for her Saturday morning breakfasts as described in Dirty Politics and Director’s Cut was real at one time, as were the resorts where Carrie worked in The Last Resort. The Inn at Pocono Manor, where Carrie and Drew danced, still exists. (Although I did change a few pertinent details as well as the name.) My favorite town, Jim Thorpe, was featured in two of those books, as well. A wonderful little town with Victorian accents, it was full of great shops, wonderful little restaurants, quaint little B&Bs and one of the best lounges at the Harry Packer house. I loved visiting there at Christmas when the whole town would be decorated for the holidays. There’s no season that isn’t good there, if you want a long weekend it’s a great place to go. Some people go just for the fall colors. Winter snow turns it picturesque, and there’s plenty of skiing nearby. Spring is a great time to visit, the number of visitors is smaller so you can enjoy wandering through some of the shops. How do I know all this? Like Molly, I worked – briefly – for the Vacation Bureau.
Posted on Jan 14, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments
I grew up in first in the suburbs and then in the mountains, but in both I played the kind of outdoor games kids used to play. (And maybe still do in some places.) We took on the roles of characters from movies, played spies and cowboys, built forts and fought imaginary battles. Then, as now, I objected to being relegated to the ‘women’s roles’. And if you think that in this ‘year of the woman’ that there aren’t some people who want women to ‘assume the position’, then you haven’t been watching politics. Or you missed the meme with the girl with the gun walking into a rundown location with the caption – ‘she’d die if she went in there’. Would a man? What were they trying to say? When I wrote Nike’s Wings I already knew that women were taking a more active role in the C.I.A. After all, Valerie Plame was plastered all over the headlines at the time. So it wasn’t that much of a stretch for me to imagine Nike. By then there was also Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft and Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, too, and we’ve been seeing other kick-ass women. The one thing I did object to was the emotional distance in many of those women – it seemed as if they were really just men in women’s clothing. I wrote Nike for a number of reasons, but primarily because I wanted to illustrate that some of the dangers this country – and other countries around the world – face come from a new kind of enemy. An enemy that doesn’t have a country but an ideology – like Al Qaeda – or only greed – as in the Mexican cartels and other crime syndicates like it. It was born of something I’d read about how terrorists could enter the country via known drug routes. I wanted to illustrate that danger. Oh, and of course, I also wanted to write a great and entertaining story… Yes, there’s a certain amount of politics involved in it – that was inevitable. We live in times that are far more political than ideological, and in ways with which I wasn’t always comfortable. It took the opening sequence to a James Bond movie – and I wanted Nike to be a little like Bond without the martinis and elegant clothes, but more grounded in reality – to give me Nike’s capabilities. That’s where I really noticed parkour for the first time. A little research was all that was needed, and I knew that at one time I might have been able to do some of those stunts. From all of that Nike Tallent was born – a woman highly trained in parkour, martial arts and assassination. I also wanted her to be well-rounded and realistic, to watch her grow from the distance her circumstances and career had forced her to maintain. I took a few hits from people – particularly and surprisingly from women ( a few men objected to the politics) – about Nike and her abilities. (Others – both women and men – cheered.) So I was exceptionally pleased, and more than a little vindicated, to see Zero Dark Thirty hit the movie theaters to such acclaim, featuring a female CIA operative in a prominent role. Not to mention that the director of the movie was also female. It was great to see Jessica Chastain take the Golden Globe award for her role in the film. Despite everything else, though, Nike’s Wings was a fun and challenging book to write, I hope more people get the chance to meet her.
Amazon US – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005GHE94K Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005GHE94K Smashwords – http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/79960
Today as an erotica author (among other genres) who has published on Smashwords site (since moved), I received an e-mail from Mark Coker, informing me that they are modifying their Terms of Service regarding erotic fiction that contains bestiality, rape and incest because the website Paypal would not support such fiction. I have the utmost respect for Mr. Coker for what he created with Smashwords, and I’m glad he’s made the decision. (I’m a little surprised his vetters didn’t bring up concerns regarding ‘rape’ stories, but that’s just me.) However I’m a little uncomfortable with the links provided justifying some of the content. Now, most people who know me know I’m no supporter of banning books or censorship, but this is neither, for two reasons. First, while Paypal is the largest secure on-line service for payment, it’s not their only option – Visa and Mastercard are hardly likely to care, and the sites themselves could develop their own on-line secure purchasing platform. Many do. For example, Diesel E-books has their own secure ordering site, but some of these sites simply don’t want to invest the money in doing something similar just to cover erotica. Paypal is simply more convenient. It’s also much easier to slam them for censorship. And if you look on Diesel E-books you’ll find they still have erotica books listed – including bondage and (Step)Daddy does Debbie. In fact, they wisely spun off their erotic titles as a separate entity. Something I – an erotica writer – suggested to Smashwords months ago when I noticed that the listings were disproportionately weighted with titles that were going beyond erotica (generally erotic romance), into erotic fiction and verging into porn, much of the type that Paypal found objectionable – particularly rape and incest. Why? Because in reality they’re illegal and send a terrible message to both women and men. As with the difference in freedom of speech from yelling fire in a theater because there is one, to yelling fire in a crowded theater for fun causing a panic that threatens lives, it’s a matter of common sense. Again, most people who know me or have read any of my books know that I’m a firm believer that if you can show violence in a book you should be able to show people making love. That’s a far different thing from making rape and incest look appealing. Some would even argue that most of the incest that takes place in some of these books is ‘okay’ because it’s step-father/step-child, no direct blood relation. They forget the uproar around Woody Allen when he admitted he was shagging his step-daughter by Mia Farrow. No blood relation there, either, and Soon-Yi was also adopted. But as with any relationship where one individual has a position of power, influence and trust, taking advantage of that position is a minefield of psychological dangers. Where it might actually result in a healthy relationship for someone like Woody Allen, giving tacit acceptance to it by putting it in an open forum it may send the wrong message to someone else. And that’s a scary thought. Such content also belittles the victims of rape and incest, who know how devastating it can be, by making their pain a source of titillation, and fuels stupid comments by sports figures and politicians. (Do you think they don’t read it? Really?) So, am I advocating censorship? Isn’t that what Paypal is doing? And how is that different from say Barack Obama requiring churches to provide contraceptives? Well, first Paypal isn’t saying all erotica, just the really objectionable and illegal stuff. Secondly because it’s not censorship, there are alternatives. Some would argue women have alternatives, too, they don’t have to work for some Christian organizations. But that, again, is pushing someone else’s views on individuals and it’s wrong. As its wrong to push the view that rape and incest are ‘okay’ under certain circumstances. All is should have taken was simple common sense to look at some of the covers and the blurbs during the vetting process and recognize that these books pushed the envelope. A decision could have been made, as Diesel did, to move those titles to a separate branch, giving those who wanted to read them the ability to do so. After all, you don’t recommend putting those titles on the shelves of your local bookstore or supermarket, and in the bad old days of video rental stores you had to go into a separate room for those videos. In terms of bestiality you may not want to walk down an aisle to see Donkey doing Dallas or a ‘rape’ scene where the victim is clearly tied down and appears terrified. For the same reason, separating erotic romance into one category (story centers around the relationship with more graphic language) from erotica and porn (where the sex is the primary focus and the language is all hard core), isn’t book banning or censorship, it’s common sense. We have a responsibility as authors for what we write. I make no bones about the fact that I write for adults whether as Valerie Douglas or V. J. Devereaux. I firmly believe that the act of making love is one of the most beautiful and sometimes the most fun things two adults can do, and that if you can show someone blowing away a couple dozen people with a gun, showing two people loving each other should be just as acceptable. But I don’t write for children or YA. Where given the option, I make clear on my book pages and elsewhere that my content is for those 18 years or older. While I could wish our attitudes about sex and violence were more evolved and that all human beings could treat each other with respect, we’re not there yet. If you doubt me, just read the headlines lately. Until then, we have to rely on common sense. And I’m just putting in my own two…
I’m told I really shouldn’t use my blog just for talking about my stories, and I was going to do that, but then something strange happened….
Setting Boundaries has always been one of my favorite stories but no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t find a place for it, a home. As much as I loved it, I couldn’t seem to find an audience for it so I just let it languish. Oh, it has action and adventure in it to be sure, but at its heart it’s a simple tale of friendship, of forging strong bonds between three people who have ample reason not to trust each other. But I didn’t want to write the standard story of mistrust and distrust either. Ever since writing The Coming Storm I’d always wanted to write the story of how Elon, Colath and Jareth met and became friends. As many times as I tried, though, they were all too dark, too cold, they didn’t match the warmth of the original story. And that’s what I wanted, that warmth, because so much of that is missing these days. There’s so much baggage that goes into such relationships these days. I didn’t want readers to think they were gay – as if there was something wrong with that or gay people couldn’t be friends with straight people. But that also wasn’t the story I wanted to tell. I wanted to tell the story of that friendship. But that came with baggage, too. As with so much of our interpersonal relationships these days, male friendships have become an object of fun. Our society gives them silly names like bromance or man-date, reducing it to a poor reflection of reality. It’s even worse for women. Or consider marriage – everyone points out that half of all marriages end in divorce, rather than saying Half of all marriages succeed! Its no wonder so many of us are on anti-depressants, we’re so afraid of being open with another human being for fear of looking silly or being made fun of. Ask anyone who’s fought side by side with his buddies, though, and you’ll find out what such friendships can truly be. That was the story I wanted to tell. I’d been making it too complicated. So, that was the story I wrote. It’s a good story but although it received a great review within days of posting, it never seemed to take off. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t seem to draw attention to it. No one seemed to want to read that kind of story anymore. So when I first saw the numbers for Setting Boundaries on Amazon.com I honestly thought it was a fluke, a mistake they would soon correct. I mean, that couldn’t be right – 1500+ copies? And they’d been having problems with reporting, so I just chalked it up to that. But the numbers didn’t go away, they went up. It still seemed strange and I kept waiting for it to be corrected. Then, at some point, it began to dawn on me that they were real. Because those numbers kept going up. I couldn’t believe it. Then someone told me Setting Boundaries was on the top 100 list of free fantasy novels on Amazon. Last night I looked and it was #23. 1800 copies. In the world of traditional publishing its a drop in the bucket. And, it’s free. But still. For me? I’m breathless. Could it crack 2000? Has it already? I can’t imagine it. If it does, if it did… wow…
A feline scream drew Jareth out of sleep with a rush. For a moment, he could only stare in breathless astonishment…and in wonder.
He’d never seen anything so swift, so strangely beautiful or so very deadly as watching Elon of Aerilann fight off firbolg and boggins alone in the moonlight.
The Elf moved like water, smoothly, gracefully, his swords swirling around him almost as if they, too, were fluid, as if the steel bent like reeds in the flow of his movement. Yet where they touched, blood flew. There was no sound save for the cries of the firbolg and boggins. Bodies littered the ground around him as steel flashed like lightning in the thin moonlight. Every movement was graceful and sure as he wove a web of steel around himself, denying entrance as Colath took up his swords and went to join him.
There was no pause, Colath simply stepped into the flow of Elon’s movement and became part of it. It was as if they were one person, extensions of each other, one stepping in where the other wasn’t.
It was a wonder to watch.
Jareth saw the firbolg leap and scramble to the rocks above him and them and fired a mage-bolt, sending it spinning out into the night as he rolled to his feet, calling up power. Energy flared around him, gathered in his hands.
A boggart leaped to one of the rocks and then toward Colath. Jareth picked it out of the air.
It wasn’t his first firefight but he felt the same mixture of terror and exhilaration as he spun and turned in response to the motion he saw at the edges of his vision as Elon and Colath defended the entrance to their little shelter.
Valerie Douglas is a prolific writer and genre-crosser, much to the delight of her fans. She reads and writes classic fantasy, romance, suspense, and as V.J. Devereaux, erotic romance. Who knows what will pop up down the road!Happily married, she's companion to two dogs, three cats and an African clawed frog named Hopper who delights in tormenting the cats from his tank.Valerie Douglas is the co-founder and one of the administrators of the 11,500+ member Indie Author Group - supporting writers around the world.She blogs at her own blog, The Indie Author Group, [email protected] Author Group and Two Midlist Indies.