Thursday, December 27, 2012

More BOSS business...

If you are just tuning in, or if you tuned in before but lost your short term memory due to an eggnog related mishap, I am currently writing a book called The Boss. It's my own entry into the contemporary erotic romance subgenre spawned by 50 Shades of Grey and the Crossfire series. But I'm pretty much just doing it for fun and to goof off, and to see if I can write a book in that genre without falling into the traps of misogyny and abuse we've seen in the 50 Shades series. Which is why I'm giving away The Boss for free, as a serial. You can get the rest of the details in this post.

I'm armed with beta readers who are diligently editing the ever-living fuck out of my manuscript, and a brand new blog where the chapters will be posted (so I can keep track of page views and search keywords and all that fun stuff, separate from this blog). Right now, it's just a post with a countdown and some unfinished pages that will later have stuff on them, but feel free to have a look and bookmark it in advance of the January 15th kickoff. I'll also be posting links to the chapters here, so don't panic if change makes you afeared.

There is one tiny detail that I'm still missing: legions of slavering, rabid fans who will make The Boss the most viewed free serialized novel of all time. Go big or go home, right? And everyone knows that word of mouth is what drives a book's success. That's where some of you come in.

Do you tweet? Do you Facebook? Do you have a livejournal or a blog? Occasionally, do other humans look at these things with their eyeballs or an assistive reading device? Fantastic! You're just the person I'm looking for.

I'm forming up a digital street team, dear readers. This is how it works. If you volunteer to be a part of my street team, your job will be to talk about The Boss on social media. Post links when new chapters go up, write a few lines about what you thought of the latest installment or just tell people, "Hey, there's this free book, have you heard of it?" If you wanted to start talking about The Boss like it's a new religion you just converted to, that works fine by me, of course. And in return for this, I will give you:
  • Every chapter of The Boss in .pdf format, five days before it goes up on the blog. (You'd get chapter one on the tenth, instead of the fifteenth, for example)
  • A nifty graphic to put where ever you want to proclaim that you're on the street team
  • Access to a secret Pinterest board where I post visual inspiration for characters, settings, etc.
  • Your name or pseudonym credited
  • My eternal and undying gratitude
If you're interested, fill out the form and await further instruction. I didn't really have an idea of how many people one recruited for a street team, so I took to my twitter and asked. And the tweeple there gave pretty much the same answer, ten to fifteen people. And I was like, "That sounds sensible, so fuck that." I'm capping this street team at fifty. And if I can't find fifty, then we'll just go with whoever shows up by January 10th.   Holy crap, I did not anticipate that going that well. The street team is now closed for sign up. Expect an email in the near future, but not today, because I've got a birthday to wrangle.

I can't promise this will be a success. I can't promise that I know what I'm doing. But I can promise that grilling a peanut butter sandwich makes it ten times more delicious than usual, and that even if all of this fails miserably, I'm going to have a good time doing it.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

50 Shades Freed Chapter 1 recap or "MINE."

Well, we're back.

And that's all I have to say about that.


So, now we're on 50 Shades Freed. Since we're turning over a new leaf, so close to the new year, I'm going to try to remember to like, actually label these posts and link them to the main recap page in a more timely fashion. Let's see how long that lasts, shall we?

Many of you have sent me the link to George Takei reading 50 Shades of Grey. Which was hilarious, but I'm sure you've all seen it, so instead I'll post this link, from Mandi Rei Serra, to a show call The Factuary. In this episode they deconstruct the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey and compare it to Valley of The Dolls. What's weird is that in another episode, they deconstruct the popularity of George Takei... which brings us neatly full circle.

To the recap mobile!

I can't believe there is actually an acknowledgements page in which E.L. thanks people for helping her with research. I can come up with two scenarios to how this went down. The first one is, she wanted knowledge from a professional, but all the ones who knew what they were talking about were booked. The second is, these people gave her their advice, and E.L. pretended to be listening and then went and wrote whatever the hell she wanted. Both of those fly in the face of logic when you consider that despite an acknowledgements page arguing the contrary, E.L. James obviously couldn't have been bothered to research a damn thing. I'm going to just go forward assuming all of these thank yous are directed at fandom friends who are indeed PhDs, but not in the subjects she's thanking them for helping in.

I hope you enjoy vague, deconstructed dream sequences, readers, because that is what the prologue and chapter one are all about.

The prologue is written in pseudo-child head pov:
My tummy hurts. It is hungry. He isn't here. I am thirsty. In the kitchen I pull a chair to the sink and I have a drink. The water splashes over my blue sweater. Mommy is still asleep. Mommy wake up! She lies still. She is cold.
Can anyone else see a really pretentious theatre major acting this out in a workshop? Like, maybe the one who has an obvious crush on the professor, who is happily married and not interested? I can see that. I can see that with a clarity like unto the states of spiritual consciousness obtained by mountaintop gurus of yore.

Do children actually think that literally? "My tummy hurts. It is hungry." "I am thirsty." I get that he's going through a traumatizing experience here, but I also remember being a kid. I don't remember consciously walking through my day to day like a running monologue in my head. I said all that shit out loud, in a constant verbal barrage I unthinkingly unloaded onto anyone, even people slightly out of normal conversation distance. Maybe that's why this is throwing me. He's not narrating all this to himself aloud.

Anyway, you know how this goes down, Chedward is having a bad dream and Ana wakes him:
"Hush, I'm here." She curls around him, her limbs cocooning him, her warmth leeching into his body, forcing back the shadows, forcing back the fear. She is sunshine, she is light... she is his.
 Is this a vampire book?



It is revealed that Christian and Ana fought about putting "obey" in their wedding vows. Oh, I really hope we get to see the fight where Ana gives in because of course she's obeying him because this book was written by Don Draper.

And then she stopped being so fussy about the damn vows, or she got slapped.

Ana promises Christian that they're going to find a way together, and then it's on to chapter one. Chapter one takes us directly from "disturbingly graphic first hand account of a child left alone with his mother's corpse," to "Yay, romantic honeymoon!" Can I just say that if you're writing a novel right now, pick a tone and go with it? You can't be both a searing portrayal of child neglect and a book for people to jack off to. It's not going to work.

Anyway, Ana is staring up at the sky. I wish I could tell you what color it is, but she's not terribly clear about it:
I stare up through gaps in the sea-grass parasol at the bluest of skies, summer blue, Mediterranean blue, with a contented sigh.
Oh, some other douche is there with her, too:
My husband - my hot, beautiful husband, shirtless and in cut-off jeans - is reading a book predicting the collapse of the Western banking system.
Yeah. He's reading that on the beach on their honeymoon. How is that for some serious romance. "Oh baby, reading about how the world economy is in the shitter gets me so hot. Let's go spit on poor people!"

Ana and Christian are hanging out on a hotel beach in Monte Carlo, but Ana is quick to point out that they aren't staying in some plebeian hotel:
 I open my eyes and gaze out at the Fair Lady anchored in the harbor. We are staying, of course, on board a luxury motor yacht. Built in 1928, she floats majestically on the water, queen of all the yachts in the harbor. She looks like a child's wind-up toy. Christian loves her - I suspect he's tempted to buy her. Honestly, boys and their toys.
 Looks like she got over that "uncomfortable with money" thing pretty quick. "Of course we're not staying at some chintzy beachside Monte Carlo hotel! What are we? Paupers?"

Also, let me point out that this is the beginning of a book that, while it is a sequel, should probably provide a little background story for someone who picked this one up first. A reader who begins this with no prior knowledge of the other books is going to, after a thoroughly confusing prologue about child neglect, know more about the yacht the characters are vacationing on than the characters themselves.
Sitting back, I listen to the Christian Grey mix on my new iPod and doze in the late afternoon sun, idly remembering his proposal. Oh, his dreamy proposal in the boathouse... I can almost smell the scent of the meadow flowers...
Which new iPod? The new one that your husband got you when you first started dating? Does everyone get what I'm saying there? Because I don't know if I can be any more sarcastic without straining a muscle.

A section break sends us back in time, to when Ana and Christian have just finished having sex in his parent's boathouse. Again. For the second time. As they lay entwined in a bliss more perfect than anything you'll ever know, a love deeper than you will ever be capable of surrendering to, they talk about where they want to have the wedding. Christian suggests eloping to Vegas,  but Ana wants an actual wedding. Christian figures Carlisle and Esme will let them have it at their place.

Hey, serious request here, can anyone who has retained more knowledge of Breaking Dawn or Twilight in general compare page 6 of 50 Shades Freed to the wedding nonsense in Twilight? It's that page in particular that felt strongly ripped off, but I can't put my finger on specific instances. Can someone either confirm my suspicion or tell me I'm crazy?

Christian tells Ana that he'll agree to a one month engagement. Let's try to do the math here. They knew each other for... two weeks? Three? And then they broke up for five days. And now they've been together... another two weeks? At most, these people will have known each other for NINE WEEKS before their WEDDING.

I cannot stress enough how fucked up I find this. In a completely judgmental way. People are going to leave comments saying, "How dare you, I got married to my SOUL MATE after NINE HOURS and we live in ETERNAL PARADISE!" and I'm going to say, "Yeah, well you made a chump bet that actually paid off. Congratulations, your marriage is successful, but it was still STUPID."

Unless you needed to get married for a green card. In which case, 1990's Gerard Depardieu was hot.

Flash forward, because E.L. James got her book confused with the narrative timeline from Pulp Fiction, and Christian is smoothing sunscreen over Ana's magnificent body:
"You'll burn," Christian whispers in my ear, startling me from my doze.
"Only for you."
Oh god, is this the vacation version of "I'm hungry but not for food?" Because I'll drown myself if it is.
Smiling, I roll over, and he undoes the back strap of my hideously expensive bikini.
Oh my god, stahp. We get it. I promise, we all get it. You married a rich guy. You have the most expensive everything and you won. You are the Highlander of women.

 The Highlander reference was just an excuse to work in this picture of me and Sidney Ayers with Adrian Paul.

Regarding the bikini, which Christian probably picked out himself because he seems to have a real hard-on for buying her clothes he later tells her she can't wear, Christian tells her he wishes she was wearing more. Is she supposed to wear full fucking sleeves to the beach or something? He tells her she's for his eyes only, and takes a business call.
My inner goddess purs. Maybe tonight we could do some kind of floor show for his eyes only. She smirks knowingly, arching a brow. I grin at the thought and drift back into my afternoon siesta.
Siesta is always in the afternoon, moron. Also, in my copy of the book, "siesta" is crossed out and replaced with "hallucination."

Ana wakes to Christian speaking "fluent French." How does E.L. demonstrate this fluency? What fascinating subject could Christian be talking about now?
"Mam'selle? un Perrier pour moi, un Coca-Cola light pour ma femme, s'il vous plait. Et quelque chose a manger... laissez-moi voir la carte."
Wait, he ordered a Perrier, a Diet Coke, and asked for a menu? That's not fluency. Anyone could do that. You get a cd or something right before you go on your trip, and you can manage that. You want fluency? Fluency is what Ana will need after she gets that sunburn, and then has to go to the pharmacy, and then when she draws the woman at the counter a picture like this:

the woman at the counter jumps to all sorts of crazy fucking conclusions and decides the American girl delirious from her sunburn is trying to score some weed, THAT is where you demonstrate fluency, if you have it. When you're trying to talk your way out of the back of a French police car, that's when.

Not that I know anyone who has had that or any similar circumstance happen to them in Nice in 1998.
His shorts fall a little and hang... in that way so his swim trunks are visible beneath.
You know, this is the third book and just another in a line of countless hours I have spent trying to deal with this nonsense, and I still have no idea what pants look like when they hang "in that way." I'm going to strive to be that vague in my writing, because apparently that's where all the profit is.

Christian wants Ana to come swimming with him, but she's still sleepy and doesn't immediately spring up from her lounge to join him. Obviously, he has to throw her over his shoulder and march her into that fucking ocean, because that's how you show a woman who's boss.
Several sunbathers on the beach watch with that bemused disinterest so typical, I now realize, of the French, as Christian carries me to the sea, laughing, and wades in.
Ana is alleging that French people are typically confused, but they don't really give a shit? Is that what I'm grasping from that description?
"I know your game," he whispers and slowly sinks into the cool, clear water, taking me with him as his lips find mine once more. The chill of the Mediterranean is soon forgotten as I wrap myself around my husband.
You guys remember that you're on a hotel beach, right? People can see you. Also, what's up with the cool water in the chill Mediterranean? They met in May, judging from the fact that Ana graduated the same week. Even being totally cautious with my estimate and giving them a generous three months instead of nine weeks, that would still put them in Monte Carlo in August. The water temps in Monte Carlo and August of this year were between 22 and 27 degrees celsius. For my fahrenheit friends, that means it's between 70 and 80 degrees.

Research! That took me two entire minutes of my life.

Christian asks Ana, "'Shall I take you in the sea?'" and I laughed out loud, because 1. He already took her in the sea, when he carried her into the water, and 2. who the fuck talks like that? Christian doesn't want to do her in front of all the bemused Frenchies, so they just swim. My theory is that E.L. couldn't write the part where they have sex in the drink because that scene faded to black in Twilight, thus obscuring her rip-off roadmap.

Ana swims to shore and wonders how to get Christian to come pay attention to her:
I shield my eyes from the sun as I watch him go. He's such a tease... what can I do to get him back? While I swim to the shore, I contemplate my options. At the lounges our drinks have arrived, and I take a quick sip of Diet Coke. Christian is a faint speck in the distance.
I hope he gets decapitated by a passing jet ski.
Hmm... I lie down on my front and, fumbling with the straps, take my bikini top off and toss it casually onto Christian's sun lounge. There... see how brazen I can be, Mr. Grey. Put this in your pipe and smoke it. I shut my eyes and let the sun warm my skin... warm my bones, and I drift away under its heat, my thoughts turning to my wedding day.
And the award for most artless flashback transition goes to...

There is nothing worse in real life than going to the wedding of someone you actually care about. Weddings are terrible. They are the worst, but you suffer through hot churches in uncomfortable clothes and weird food you can't take reasonable portions of because you're super conscious of heaping more debt on the happy couple, because you recognize that this is the most important day of this couple's life so far and they invited you because they wanted you to be a part of it and that means something. But I don't have even a casual fondness for the jerks in this book, so why am I being forced to go to their stupid, boring wedding?
"You may kiss the bride," Reverend Walsh announces.
I beam at my husband.
"Finally, you're mine," he whispers and pulls me into his arms and kisses me chastely on the lips.
I know this is going to come as a shock to you, after we read the last two books and saw their super positive view of equality within relationships, but in this one, a wedding ring = contract of ownership.
"You look beautiful, Ana," he murmurs and smiles, his eyes glowing with love... and something darker, something hot. "Don't let anyone take that dress off but me, understand?" His smile heats a hundred degrees as his fingertips trail down my cheek, igniting my blood.
He just said all of that literally at the altar. In front of all his friends and family, who probably don't care to hear it.
Jeez, I hope no one can hear us. Luckily Reverend Walsh has discreetly stepped back. I glance at the throng gathered in their wedding finery... My mom, Ray, Bob, and the Greys are all applauding - even Kate, my maid of honor, who looks stunning in pale pink as she stands beside Christian's best man, his brother Elliot.
Every time the Greys throw a party (with the exception of the big, fancy fundraising ball), Ana is all, "There is a THRONG there, for real, y'all." And then she describes maybe a dozen people. Also, check out the fact that Kate is wearing a pink dress and Ana isn't complaining about it. Ana hated on Kate hardcore for wearing pink in the first book, but now it's one of Ana's wedding colors? What a pink-hating hypocrite.

I like pink. Hating pink doesn't make you cool. Hating pink makes you a jerk, if those Pinkalicious books are accurate.

Fuck those haters, Pinkalicious. You do you.

The text skips us mercifully ahead to the end of the reception, which is being held in this huge marquee on the Grey's lawn. Ana watches Ray and her mother dancing and her thoughts turn to divorce, like so many  happy wedding day thoughts do:
I hope Christian and I last longer. I don't know what I'd do if he left me. Marry in haste, repent at leisure. The saying haunts me.
You don't know what you'd do if he left you? Clean up in divorce court, for one thing. "He psychologically manipulated me into marrying him, your honor."


Kate comes over and notices Ana's doubts, so she offers some words of wisdom:
"Ana, it's obvious he adores you. I know you had an unconventional start to your relationship, but I can see how happy you've both been over the past month." She grasps my hands, squeezing them. "Besides, it's too late now," she adds with a grin.
"I know you guys went really fast, but the good news is, you're never going to get away from him now, even if you wanted to. Happy wedding!"

Christian comes over, probably because someone is talking to his property and he needs to shut that down. Ana observes that Christian is "still cool toward [Kate] even after six weeks." Is anyone else getting the idea that time moves differently for E.L. James than it does for everyone else? Like, a day in E.L. Standard Time is a week in Earth time?

Christian tells Ana that he doesn't want to share her with people anymore. Ana doesn't want to leave, because "'This is the first party I've been to where I don't mind being the center of attention.'" I think she got "first" confused with "every," because Ana has proven over and over that she thrives on attention. Even though she doesn't want to go, she's going to leave, because Christian told her to. But then his grandmother intercepts them and forces Christian to dance with her, leaving Ana time for the obligatory Jose moment of awkwardness.
"I won't ask you for another dance. I think I monopolized too much of your time on the dance floor as it is... I'm happy to see you happy, but I'm serious, Ana. I'll be here... if you need me."
Then Ana gave him a plastic bracelet and Jose led her out of the Labyrinth.

Ana wants to go change, but Christian, either not realizing or not caring that wedding dresses are super uncomfortable, has different ideas:
He gives me a lascivious grin. "But I'm not undressing you here. We wouldn't leave until... I don't know..."  He waves his long-fingered hand, leaving his sentence unfinished but his meaning quite clear.
Christian tells her to pack her going away clothes, and we learn that Christian won't tell Ana where they're going for their honeymoon. I'll be straight up, I've known couples who have done this, and I thought it was super romantic. But coming from Chedward, it just seems like another creepy control bullshit thing. Also, she really shouldn't go with him to a second location.
"I'm not changing."
"What?" my mother says.
"Christian doesn't want me to." I shrug as if this should explain everything. Her brow furrows briefly.
"You didn't promise to obey," she reminds me tactfully. Kate tries to disguise her snort as a cough. I narrow my eyes at her. Neither she nor my mother have any idea of the fight Christian and I had about that. I don't want to rehash that argument. Jeez, can my Fifty Shades sulk... and have nightmares. The memory is sobering.
We haven't even read the "obey" fight, and I can tell you right now how it went down. Christian wants "obey" in the vows, Ana doesn't, they fight, and Christian fakes a night terror to try and get his own way. But apparently he didn't on this one.

It's a good thing Ana has all these strong women around her to help her when she's making bad choices, like just blindly doing whatever her husband tells her because he's her husband and she thinks that's the way it should be:
Carla gently tugs at a loose tendril of my hair and strokes my chin. "I am so proud of you, honey. You're going to make Christian a very happy man."
Oh. Well, I would have taken that in a different direction.

Ray comes in, and he and Carla have a big cry fest over their daughter. It's a scene you've seen countless times in movies and books, so I won't bore you with it, even though E.L. does. They do the traditional "run away from our guests" thing, Mia catches the bouquet, and Taylor whisks the couple away to an airfield, where a company jet is waiting. I love seeing happy couples mismanaging company funds for personal vacations.
Taylor halts the Audi at the foot of the steps leading up to the plane and leaps out to open Christian's door. They have a brief discussion, then Christian opens my door - and rather than stepping back to give me room to climb out, he leans in and lifts me.
Whoa! "What are you doing?" I squeak.
"Carrying you over the threshold," he says.
"Oh." Isn't that supposed to be at home?
He carries me effortlessly up the steps,
BULLSHIT! People can't even walk effortlessly up those steps. If you've ever walked up a staircase to a plane, you know what I'm talking about. And it would have been hilarious if Christian was like, "This is home. Bad news. The company folded this morning. We're paupers now. This plane is all we have left and we have to live in it."

Because literally every character in this mess must have a name, no matter how small the role, we meet Stephan the pilot and First Officer Beighly, a homewrecker:
She blushes as Christian introduces her and blinks rapidly. I want to roll my eyes. Another female completely captivated by my too-handsome-for-his-own-good husband.
"Delighted to meet you," gushes Beighly. I smile kindly at her. After all - he is mine.
Pack it up ladies, the game is over. Ana won the prize, we can all go home. At least she'll deign to talk to us all from her lofty new position as supreme winner of all womanness.

Christian chats with the pilot, and Boston and Shannon both are mentioned, which makes Ana insane with curiosity. Since there is no other conflict in these books at all, the suspense gets dragged out a little longer while Ana gives us a description of the cabin:
The interior is all pale maple and pale cream leather. It's lovely. Another young woman in uniform stands at the other end of the cabin - a very pretty brunette.
This is why I'm totally grossed out when people call this book a romance. Romance is a very specific genre, with very specific rules. No romance novel should ever allude to the heroine wondering if her new husband, the hero, has fucked this girl on the honeymoon getaway plane. Moments later, Christian glances at the pretty flight attendant and frowns, which is even more telling.
Taking my hand, he leads me to one of the sumptuous leather seats. There must be about twelve of them in total.
Have you guys noticed that in these books, the larger a number is, the more precise it is, but the smaller it is, the more often it's estimated? Most adults could easily count that number of seats at a glance, so why does Ana have to guess at it?

Ana and Christian sip Bollinger champagne and reminisce about the time they drank it at Ana's half-packed up apartment, oh so many, many, many days ago. Christian reveals that they're going on a European honeymoon, since Ana has always wanted to go to there. They also get a wedding feast, courtesy of the ever present, constantly mentioned Natalia. Gosh, I wonder if Natalia will be a plot point later:
"Dessert, Mr. Grey?" she asks.
He shakes his head and runs his finger across his bottom lip as he looks questioningly at me, his expression dark and unreadable.
I can read it. He's wondering if he can get a wedding night threesome out of his easily manipulated wife.

Ana finds out there's a bedroom on the plane, because Christian wants dessert, just not food. It doesn't actually say "Just not food" in there, but the sentiment was too close to pass it up.
"I thought we'd spend our wedding night at thirty-five thousand feet. It's something I've never done before."
Of course it isn't. You've never been married before, nimrod.

On page twenty we start a sex scene that lasts five pages and in which Christian refers to his ownership of Ana ten times.
"I love you so much." Trailing kisses from the nape of my neck to the edge of my shoulder. Between each kiss he murmurs, "I. Want. You. So. Much. I. Want. To. Be. Inside. You. You. Are. Mine."
When people write dialogue like that, I always imagine a malfunctioning robot.

"Whoever directed this is a master of suspense!"


A few "I. Love. You. So. Much."s are fine. I don't mind those. But I keep seeing these books that have long, unbroken strings of them and I think the character is either having an asthma attack or experiencing a severe stammer. And check out that nifty sentence fragment in the last excerpt. Trailing kisses down from the nape of her neck to the edge of her shoulder, he did what? Because "Trailing kisses down from the nape of my neck to the edge of my shoulder." isn't a sentence.

Now let's pause a minute and revisit this whole "mine" thing, okay?

There are some authors of romance who routinely use the, "Mine" thing during sex scenes. Some carry it off well, and I don't care so much. Such as, in historical romances. I give the hero a pass, because until recently, men really did own women. It would be difficult to believe that the heroes didn't have some kind of legal possession of their brides, or that they objected to the concept. Same goes for vampires, because they're usually centuries old and used to that type of thing, and I don't mind hearing them say, "You are mine," if they treat the heroine as a human individual of equal worth the rest of the time. People say weird shit in bed.

But Christian is saying it in creepy ways:
Gently he cups my breasts, toying with them, while his thumbs circle over my nipples so that they strain against the fabric of my corset.
"Mine," he whispers.
And:
"Mine," he breathes as his hands spread across my backside, the tips of his fingers brushing my sex.
And even more disturbingly given the time of year I'm presenting this to you:
"This is like unwrapping my Christmas presents."
When the hero of a romance novel tells the heroine, "You are mine," it's often followed up by, "body and soul," or some other declaration of how their souls are bonded together in passion for all eternity. While that kind of behavior would be creepily intense in real life, it tells the reader that this man is so consumed by his desire for every single facet of the heroine that he's reverting to preschool possessiveness. He wants the heroine to love him, and only him, and he's driven desperate with that need.

When Christian Grey does it, it's like he's cataloging all the stuff he just bought by getting married. "I own your bewbs. I own your hooey. Gee, this is fun, and literally, physically, owning a woman fulfills an emotional need in me."

That's gross. And did I mention it happens ten times in five pages?



The foreplay is so intense, Ana forgets a whole continent:
Oh my... I'd forgotten. Europe.
You know, I sometimes forget Europe, too. But not generally when I'm on a plane that's actually going there.

The scene ends with Christian sinking into Ana and starting to move, so you know, basically copy/paste from every other sex scene in this series. Then there's a section break, and we're back in the present... or the future... or something. It's like a fucking time travel story.

No shit, you and your past-future-present wife had a less confusing wedding.

Remember what Ana was doing right before we Quantum Leap-ed back to the start of the honeymoon? That's right, she was sunbathing topless, so she wakes up to...
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Christian shouts, waking me from my very pleasant dream. He's standing all wet and beautiful at the end of my sun lounge and glaring down at me.
What have I done? Oh no... I'm lying on my back... Crap, crap, crap, and he's mad. Shit. He's really mad.
So... the honeymoon is over, then?

Expect recapping delays as Christmas barrels down upon us, but I'll try to get another one in this year.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Roadhouse episode 12: "Do Your F***in Worst, Mayans."

Twas the week before Christmas and the video was late.
For 'twas Jenny, personally, the entire world did hate.
They scheduled appointments, pageants, and things,
on top of the frenzy Christmas itself brings!

How could she edit, how could she cope,
when of finishing all the gifts she could have no hope?
And on top of that, a recap was due!
That meant she had two jobs... plus two!

One as an author, and one as a blogger!
One as a mom and professional kid schlogger.
(Kid schlogging is a type of a thing moms have to do for their broods,
such as schlogging kids to school and to go shopping for food.)

Besides all of that, she had crafting to do!
That made another job, two plus one, plus two!
So TV producer added too much to her plate,
which means she had to deliver the show... late.

Here's the show, about the end of the world that wasn't, and tune in tomorrow for the first chapter of Fifty Shades Freed.

THE WEEK OF NOTHING SERIOUS: The Weighted Companion Cube will never try to stab you.

This may go down in history as the geekiest of all the Christmas presents I am making this holiday season:

Yes, it's the Weighted Companion Cube. That's all it is. It's not a box to conveniently store things, it's not a stool or an ottoman, it's just a Weighted Companion Cube my son can use when he's pretending to be navigating the Aperture Science testing program. Which is always and constantly.

I'm not going to pass this off like "Oh, that was totally easy," because it wasn't. You're looking at a 9 hour paint job. Did you know I scrunch up my face when I concentrate? I didn't, until I got this burning pain in my forehead. And yes, the final product did end up costing more than just buying the stuffed version, because durable paint is expensive, but damnit, this one is better. Because it's got LOVE.

I'll be spending the rest of my day editing Roadhouse, working on presents, and writing up tomorrow's 50 Shades Freed recap. I'll also be going to my son's school assembly, where he'll be singing "Still Alive" (yes, the one from Portal) for the enjoyment of all of his peers.

But before I go, have this picture of the cutest little sleepy rat ratty rattigan face you've ever laid eyes on:

OMG LOOK AT HIS LITTLE NOSE!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

THE WEEK OF NOTHING SERIOUS: The Next Big Thing

I got tagged for a "The Next Big Thing" post, and I was supposed to do this yesterday, but I didn't because I was busy sewing like a little Christmas bee. A bee that can sew and guzzle malt liquor like a goddamned champion. Now, I'm doing it today, with a massive hangover that feels like someone is inserting metal rods through the extremely dry husks where my eyeballs used to be. I have two "The Next Big Thing"s happening in January, and since I can still taste the Mike's Hard Black Cherry Lemonade in my sinuses, I'm doing both and no one is going to say boo about it. Unless they say this boo very softly and without turning the lights on. Because both books are dear to my heart, and both of them are coming out within a day of each other.

What is the working title of your next book?

Silent Surrender and The Boss.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea for The Boss came from a line I read in a review of Anything He Wants by Sarah Fawkes. The review was totally not complimentary, and referred to books like Anything He Wants and Fifty Shades of Grey as belonging to a genre of "poorly written, badly researched erotica." I thought, "A genre, huh?" And I thought it would be fun to write a book that has the flavor of Fifty Shades of Grey, but not the non-existent conflict, the abuse masquerading as romance, or the heroine who dumps her entire life to be owned by some dude.

The idea for Silent Surrender came to me years ago, when I was studying American Sign Language. I realized that in all my reading, I'd never found a single Deaf heroine in a romance novel. I'm sure they're out there, but I had never read one. Then I thought, "Wow, it would be shitty to be a woman in the past. Shittier than it is now," and it all kind of fell together.

What genre does your book fall under?

Both are erotic romances, but The Boss is contemporary and Silent Surrender is historical erotic romance.


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

For The Boss, I would have to say Amber Heard for Sophie, and Anthony Stewart Head for Neil:



For Silent Surrender, I would cast David Tennant and Ray Stevenson as Jude and Esau, and Anne Hathaway as Honoria:


Why did I even put that picture up there? You already know what David Tennant looks like. If you read this blog, I guarantee you were more likely to know what David Tennant looks like than Anne Hathaway. It's just science.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your books?

I think a drunk person wrote this survey. Anyway, for The Boss: A young professional struggles to balance her passion for a former lover with her ambition to succeed.

For Silent Surrender: A Deaf woman on the verge of being institutionalized indulges her most passionate fantasies with a dock worker she hires for the job, despite the protestations of her tutor, who is secretly in love with her.

Hey, it didn't say, "A not run-on sentence."

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The Boss will be self-published as a free serial on this blog, with the first installment coming on January 15, 2013.

Silent Surrender will be published by Ellora's Cave on January 14, 2013, and you can check it out HERE.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Silent Surrender took me from about December of 2011 to August of 2012. I had to take several breaks while writing it to fulfill deadlines for other contracts, and a brutal amount of research. The bulk of the novel was written on a week-long writer's retreat to a cabin in the UP, where there were no phones or internet to distract me.

The Boss isn't completed yet, but I'm churning out about a chapter every week, to stay ahead of my "every 15 days" release schedule.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I would compare The Boss to Fifty Shades of Grey, within the genre, and The Devil Wears Prada outside of the genre.

Silent Surrender... I don't know. To be honest, I don't read a lot of historical M/F/M.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?


My rage, loathing, and despair at the success of 50 Shades of Grey fueled The Boss.

Silent Surrender came from the myriad projects I had to research while learning ASL. One of my text books was called For Hearing People Only, which is an amazing, surprisingly fun book answering Hearing people's questions about Deaf culture and life. I thought, "You know, there really aren't any Deaf heroines I can think of in romance." Over the years, my heroine, Honoria, sort of percolated in the back of my mind, and it blossomed into a story of what it would be like to be a woman in 1841, facing the reality that you don't get a lot of say in your life, your life is kind of chosen for you by one man or another.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The Boss is free, and Silent Surrender is romantic as fuck.

Look, I'm not tagging anyone for this, because I hate tagging. It's obligating one group of people, and excluding a larger group of people. If you're a writer, and you want to do this thing, just do it, and tell people I tagged you, if you want.

Armintrout out.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

THE WEEK OF NOTHING SERIOUS: Random Inspirational Semi-Serious Post

Feeling some self-doubt? Feeling discouraged? Listen to your new theme song. Like some not awful books I wrote once, it has the word vampire in it a lot:


You know why people tell you "you can't?" Because they're afraid that you might. So you just do you, and forget the rest.

THE WEEK OF NOTHING SERIOUS: Geek mothers result in geek children

Geek is a genetically inherited trait. My husband has the recessed gene, and I'm chock full of geeky goodness, so our son is super, extra geeky. He can also obsess like nobody's business, due to autism.  Unfortunately, his obsessions usually lead me off the beaten path when it comes to Christmas time, because although he grasps the fact that they don't generally make toys for video games only adults play, it still bums him out.

For Christmas this year, he'll be getting a mini Portal Gun, a Potatos "science" kit, and a mini battery operated turret, all from thinkgeek.com. But I wanted to give both the kids a handmade doll they could treasure for ever and ever. These two ideas fused and merged, and now I present to you Chell, heroine of Portal:


Sorry the picture is sideways. No, I'm not. I still have a weighted companion cube storage box I need to paint today. YOLO.

Check out her Aperture Science approved knee replacements, made out of paint and wire:


I would never put that on a doll for an older kid, but since this is for a ten-year-old who will more keep it than play with it, I think we're safe.

Now I'm off to finish sewing a similar doll and a mermaid tail to go on it. Tune into twitter tonight, 8:30pm EST, to tweet at us while D-Rock and I are filming our end of the world/year end Roadhouse episode. Hit us up with the hashtag #YOAO. Because You Only Apocalypse Once.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

THE WEEK OF NOTHING SERIOUS: Look at these fucking puppets.

Look at these puppets:


Yeah, that's right, I'm talking about Phantom of The Opera. I'm talking about The Phantom and Christine (in her "Think of Me" dress, natch), and Movie!Raoul. BAM. What.

Oh, maybe that's too high-falutin' and fancy for you? Try these geeky motherfuckers on for size:


Minecraft puppets like WHAT WHAT.

Last year, I got tired of spending five hundred dollars of money I couldn't afford on a bunch of plastic crap my kids didn't need and wouldn't even play with past January. So, I started making homemade Christmas. They still get a few purchased items, like books, movies, and stuff I can't actually craft with my own two hands (like the Portal Portal Gun my son was desperate to have), but for the most part, if it's from mom and dad, mom made it with her own two chapped, bleeding, callused hands. These puppets are part of a larger gift for the kids to share, a puppet theatre that still needs painting, sanding, and a curtain. But I don't want to talk about that because it's the fucking 18th of December.

Monday, December 17, 2012

THE WEEK OF NOTHING SERIOUS: The Mystery of Giles's Apartment

This weekend, I uncovered what might be the greatest mystery of all time:

What I figured was, someone, probably several someones, would answer my tweet and I would get my answer and that would be the end of it. And at first, that looked like the case:


"Okay, that's what I thought," I says to myself, I says. But then:


"Well, now I don't know what to believe," I think to myself, because I watched "A New Man," the episode where Giles turns into a demon (I'm a Buffy/Giles shipper and that one is full of "proof," okay?) and not only does Demon!Giles trash his apartment, but that's the "new apartment" I had been thinking of in the first place.

Things started getting weirder when people started remembering different times that Giles got a new apartment:





As you can see by the time stamps, this discussion has gone on for days now.

Still, a lot of people insisted that Giles never got a new apartment:



So, how did some of us come to the conclusion that he moved? Especially when many of us are all so certain?

Here's a shot of the apartment during season two, from the episode "Passion": 

Not pictured: Me, making out with Giles on that uncomfortable looking couch.

And here's a picture of it from the season 4 episode, "Pangs":

Pictured: Way too much pointless brooding.

If you look past depressionsweatpants!Giles and sad!Angel (also known colloquially as just, you know, Angel), you can see it's the same damn apartment.

But I swear, I swear on my soul, that at some point, in some line of dialogue, someone mentions Giles's new apartment. Clearly, the only way I'm going to be satisfied is if I watch every single episode and get to the bottom of this.

While I'm doing that (and sewing until my fingers fall off, because YAY CHRISTMAS!), please to be enjoying the following, which is my favorite Buffy/Giles fic of all time. It's rated G, so don't worry about clicking on it and getting a landslide of smut or anything: 24, by Jacqui. Feel free to share any recs you might have, I know other B/Gers are out there. And don't forget to swing by yesterday's post for tons of cute animal links in the comments.

When I have our answer to this mystery, oh, you best expect I'll be updating this post.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Week of Nothing Serious

It's difficult to know how to approach life after a tragedy. With my entire country reeling from grief, there's a lot of finger pointing, a lot of anger, and a hugely politicized gun control argument. We've got people saying this is because we've moved into a secular society and removed God from schools. We've got other nutjobs saying that Connecticut deserved this because they offer marriage equality to their residents. We have people passionately calling for a ban on guns, with others passionately calling for armed teachers. At the end of the day, every single one of those reactions are coming from people trying to make sense out of the fact that twenty children are dead at the hands of a deeply disturbed individual.

I started a blog post with the intent to look at some aspects of the media coverage that make me uncomfortable. The rush to blame mental illness, the rush to divert gun control into a discussion about violence in videogames. The way that everyone gets up in arms about the tragedy of a school in a "safe" setting being targeted, but collectively we couldn't care less about the gun violence deaths of children of color in our cities.

The more I wrote, the more mired down in depression, until I couldn't do anything but stare numb at the tv and watch episode after episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer in my increasingly odorous clothes I hadn't changed and, yes, had slept in. I recognized this as the beginning of a depression spiral that I can't afford, and I know it's having the same effect on a lot of you out there, because some of you have shared your struggles with mental illness.

So, with that in mind, for the next week, this blog will be all fluff. There may be pictures of baby animals (my husband says he can tell how depressed I am based on how many videos of cute baby animals are in my youtube history). There may be mindless chatter about stupid shit. But I won't be mentioning the shooting, and I'm not going to air any big political opinions.

That might sound callous, but I assure you, it's coming from a good place. There is no amount of analyzing we can do that will bring those kids back to life. No amount of cultural reflection will mend the families whose lives were irrevocably torn apart. But at times like these, when every channel is airing photos of the smiling faces of the deceased, when every facebook status update is lauding the heroes who laid down their lives, it's very easy for people made vulnerable by mental illness to get overwhelmed. So, I just want to explain why it's going to seem like I'm carrying on without a care in the world while the rest of the nation falls apart.

It's not because I don't care or I'm ignoring the tragedy. I hope you all understand.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Roadhouse episode 11: "Happy Holidays, D-Rock is Here To Wreck Your Shit Up."

I hesitated posting this, in light of the news of the national tragedy in Connecticut. Then I remembered that I live in America, and if I waited for a day when we didn't have a gun crime tragedy, it would never get posted. At best, I hope it serves as a diverting distraction.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

I'm so mad at Anne Hathaway's vulva right now.

As you may have heard (and how could you not hear about it?), adorable gamine Anne Hathaway accidentally flashed her vulva getting out of a car, and someone got a picture of it.

The female-celebrity-getting-out-of-a-car-pantyless photo is nothing new. Britney has done it. Paris has done it. In the world of celebrity, you're nobody until somebody has taken a photo of your labia.

For the most part, Hathaway's slip might have gone uncommented on. And then Matt Lauer commented on it. Like, on tv. He was basically all, "So, saw your vag, tell us about your new movie." People were, understandably, outraged. Anne Hathaway is an Oscar nominated actress. Her work is lauded and respected by millions. She seems super nice and her smile is like sunshine (that's not sarcasm). She has way more teeth than a person should reasonably have, but they're so straight and blindingly white that it's like looking into a virgin's soul (some of that was sarcasm). She's the closest thing we have to an official "America's Sweetheart." Some MAN can't acknowledge that the whole country has seen her bare crotch. TO THE INTERNET OUTRAGE MACHINE!

Here's the thing that I can't quite get my head around. Accidental nudity photos have been an issue for years. There's a scene in Spice World where Richard E. Grant blocks a paparazzo's camera and admonishes him for trying to get an upskirt of the Spice Girls. Spice World.

I fear many of my readers won't have any concept of who these women are, due to my old age.

The point is, this has been happening for a while. And yet, the collective anger only reared its head on a large scale when it happened to Anne Hathaway.

Look, I'm sure many people were as disgusted at the publication of LiLo's beaver pics as they are at Anne Hathaway's. That's not the point. The point is that, collectively, we decide who is deserving of our ardent defense and who is not based on the same misogynistic bullshit that creates the marketplace for those pictures in the first place.

We live in a culture where we feel we have the right to see an actor, musician, or model's naked body on display for our own gratification. Your first urge there might have been to correct me: "No, we live in a culture where we feel entitled to see women's bodies." That's just not true. If that were true, True Blood wouldn't have half the ratings it's getting.

You are not watching this show for his incredible acting. Come on.

So, why are we so up in arms about the exploitation of Anne Hathaway, when we tolerate and even pay to see other celebrities being exploited?

Because Hathaway is a "good girl," and as such she deserves our moral outrage. She's never been involved in any scandals (at least, not any of her own making). She doesn't openly use drugs and doesn't get kicked out of nightclubs for being too drunk. But most importantly, she doesn't trade sex as a commodity. Any time she's done nudity for a film, it's been "artistic" nudity that's necessary for the role. When you compare her to Britney or Paris, she's practically a nun.

Some have argued that since Britney and Paris have made their careers out of flashing flesh, they deserve what they get. That's just stupid. If you break into a grocery store after closing time, you aren't going to get very far with the defense, "Well, it was open this morning, I figured I could just go in at any time." It's like these people are saying, "My mom gave me twenty bucks for my birthday, so I emptied out her bank account. What? There's nothing wrong with that, she was asking for it." A woman dressing and behaving in a sexually provocative manner doesn't mean we all have this all-access pass to see parts of her body that aren't meant to be displayed.

Others have said that since Britney and Paris and Lindsey have made it a routine to go out and get plastered and fall all over the place with their skirts up, that's the key difference. Hathaway doesn't act like that, so we don't feel she deserves the ridicule. This is also a completely fucked up and illogical way of thinking, and it's akin to arguing that women who get drunk at parties should expect to be raped and don't deserve sympathy. Intoxication is viewed as a moral failing, and it is extra, extra immoral when women are the ones who are intoxicated. But even though society now grudgingly admits that raping drunk girls is wrong, it still seems pretty comfortable saying that if you get drunk and flash your panties (or lack thereof), it's perfectly reasonable to expect that someone will take a picture. Oh, and it's all your fault.

What's worse is, the women whose snatches are being mercilessly hunted are women that are culturally understood to be, well. Not very intelligent. Whether Paris is truly a dumb blonde, I have no idea, but that's the image the media projects: "Here's Paris Hilton. She's a stupid whore." Britney Spears is/was? under a court ordered conservatorship because mentally she was not sound enough to care for herself as an adult. Doesn't it seem like these women, if they're really, truly of a lower intelligence or functional capability, are more vulnerable than Hathaway? And therefore more deserving of our indignation? Aren't they victims of the very culture that encouraged them to market their sexuality in the first place?

Look, I'm not saying we shouldn't be angry about people with unscrupulous morals benefitting from poor Anne's wardrobe malfunction, because we absolutely should. I'm just saying, maybe we should examine why we care, as a culture, more when it's a "good girl" and not a "slut" or "trainwreck" being exploited.

Speaking of wardrobe malfunction... why did everyone blame her? It was Timberlake who exposed her titty, FFS.

Maybe you're not guilty of any of these things, and you're thinking, "But Jen, I always defended Britney!" Good, I'm glad you did. I didn't, because I hadn't wised up at that point. If this is you, then good, I'm happy for you. But the fact is, a lot of people don't defend the Britneys and Parisii of the world and choose instead to defend a woman who is clearly more than capable of defending herself. And that's fucking sick.

Guest Post: Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever

When my tweep 'Ro Mania from Ramblin' Ro's tweeted about a book called Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever, of course I immediately needed to get the scoop on it. Here's the review, and it's about 100% more professional than anything else you'll ever see on this blog. Much thanks to 'Ro for making it through what sounds like a thoroughly frustrating book.





Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever
(A Parody – The Ghetto Girl Romance Quadrilogy)
L.V. Lewis
Jungle Fever Press 2012

I’m sure by now everyone has been, in some way or other, exposed to the literary phenomenon that is Fifty Shades of Grey (FSoG). For those three of you who haven’t, I will give a brief synopsis.

Brief synopsis: FSoGis a fanfic of Twilight wherein Bella Swan and Edward Cullen have been…reimagined…as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey: a virginal college grad and the multi-millionaire BDSM dominant who wants her as a submissive. From what I understand the story is just as awful as the source material.

(By the way I haveread Twilight, but I’ve only read part of FSoG so most of what I know about it comes from numerous in-depth critiques and reviews).  

So, now that we know where we’ve come from, let’s see where we’re going, eh? I recently stumbled across Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever (FSoJF) in one of my ‘free-kindle-book” e-mails. As soon as I saw the title, I had to click on the link and ‘buy’ it. How could I possibly resist the potentially massive sh*tshow this book could turn out to be? Please recall the subtitle – “A Parody – The Ghetto Girl Romance Quadrilogy”! (So there’s more coming…)

I actually saw the ‘ghetto girl’ part first (and was excited) and then I saw the ‘parody’ and was a little saddened. I was really looking forward to reading an attempted ‘urbanization’ of FSoG and I felt that a parody would be too self-aware to be funny; I find the best parodies to be the fully unintentional ones – the possibilities for humor are much higher.

And of course, for the culturally un-hip amongst you, ‘jungle fever’ refers to the time-honored act of ‘miscegenation’ – or, for those of you born after 1852,  ‘interracial relationships’.

I decided, however, to take a chance and read the book anyway. And now that I have…I’m not too sure how I feel about it…

Let me back up and start with the characters. Instead of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, we have Keisha Beale and Tristan White. She’s a well-educated singer/songwriter from “the ‘hood” who’s trying to start a recording studio/music business with her best friend. He’s the multi-millionaire venture capitalist she goes to with a business proposal hoping he’ll become an investor. He ultimately agrees on the condition that she become his submissive.

On its face it’s an interesting enough premise and – standing on its own – it could have made a decent story. Actually, it could have been a really intriguing story: a smart, professional black woman, not only entering into a D/s relationship as a submissive to a wealthy white man, but doing so willingly and then learning how much she enjoys her submission. In the hands of a skilled writer, that would have been fascinating.

Unfortunately L.V. Lewis is not that writer (not yet anyway), and, as a parody this story mostly falls flat. The major situations that the author parodies are done poorly and the minor ones are seemingly chosen at random.

Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever has many of the same trappings of FSoG: the ‘dungeon’ sex room, the non-disclosure agreement, the bestowing of ostentatious gifts, etc. But everything is, of course, done with an “urban” twist.

For example, in FSoGAnastasia has her subconscious and her Inner Goddess, her angel-/devil-on-the-shoulder…except that her subconscious seems reallyjudgmental and her Inner Goddess is overly-dramatic, doing somersaults and dancing about. Keisha has her own versions of these:

There are two entities that war inside me, but I’m the only one who sees them manifested physically. […] On my right shoulder is my Ghetto Good Girl or Triple-G for short. She keeps me out of trouble and generally roots for me to do what’s right. The mischief maker, my Fairy Hoochie Mama aka the bad girl, resides on my left shoulder. She generally wants the exact opposite of what my Triple-G finds to be prudent. Yeah, I have an angel on one shoulder, and a devil on the other, as good and evil has been depicted over the centuries, but who doesn’t?


Now, while there are a fewamusing moments with these two (especially when her Fairy Hoochie Mama does a little song-and-dance to Salt-n-Pepa’s “Push It” as Keisha and Tristan dry-hump in his office) they show up way too often, and they’re normally not funny. And, while their frequent appearances are in keeping with the source material, other parallels are not. For example, the ‘gay’ issue. 

During Keisha’s initial meeting with Tristan she questions his sexuality, much like Ana did with Christian. Unlike Ana, who was mindlessly reading interview questions written by her roommate, Keisha has no reason to do so. Her sole intent is to unnerve him because she’s annoyed with him; not the smartest move to make when trying to woo an investor. And, in the greater context of the story, it makes little sense.

This, unfortunately, is a recurring theme throughout the book. The plot will start to get interesting, and then Keisha will do something that Anastasia did, only because Anastasia did it; there’s no logical reason behind it. And that is really a shame, because it really detracts from what could have been an interesting story.

Another example of the odd things the author chooses to parody is the way the main character expresses herself. In Twilight, Bella Swan was constantly referencing Wuthering Heights; in FSoG, Anastasia had Tess of theD’Urbervilles. Keisha’s corollary? Ebonics! Seriously.

While Bella and Anastasia are meant to be literary-minded and upper-ish middle-class, Keisha is more the “educated urbanite” who’s had to master the art of code-switching as she navigates between the “hood” and the business world. And she tells us this over and over. It becomes rather tedious, actually.

At one point, she runs into her ex-boyfriend on the dance floor of the hip-hop nightclub, Wicked. Unsure how their meeting will go, she greets him and then says of the greeting, “I speak ebonically to put him at ease…” And, even after she learns that Tristan happens to be the owner of Wicked, she still feels, “…compelled to use my sometimes dormant, proper English vocabulary I learned in high school and college [when speaking] with Tristan.”

In addition, the author uses the lazy habit of name-dropping to circumvent the need for actual description. How does Keisha describe her arms? “…my petite biceps, which I am proud to say are more toned than Michelle Obama’s”. And, as for Tristan’s facial expressions: “He raises one eyebrow, like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is famous for doing, but he doesn’t look comical”.

And later, the reader is offered this:

“Ms. Beale, fancy seeing you here,” [Tristan] says, his tongue caressing my surname in a succinct purr, like a lion. His smooth baritone does weird things to my nether regions. My Fairy Hoochie Mama jumps up off her chaise and does an African dance, shaking everything her mama gave her.

 “Yeah, fancy that”, I say flippantly, like Maggie Gyllenhaal said to Christian Bale, in The Dark Knight.

I honestly have no idea what that refers to, and I’ve seen TheDark Knight several times. I’m not even going to touch the “African dance”…

The story is peppered with current pop culture references – movies, tv shows, celebrity names, and famous products – in a way that, while it is clearly meant to “connect” with the reader, only serves to cheapen the reading experience. If I wanted commercials and celebrity sightings, I’d watch tv; I read to avoid such things.

We later learn that Keisha is apparently a *big* movie buff. The movie references she makes throughout the story, however, are often either poorly chosen, obscure, or both.

Of course, numerous references to popular music/musicians fit the framework of the story as Keisha is a singer/songwriter, Tristan owns a nightclub (among many, many other things) and their plan is to open a music store/ recording studio.

Despite these shortcomings, the characters are actually rather believable and likeable. There are some definite differences between Bellastasia and Keisha, not the least of which are age and sexual maturity. Keisha is clearly an adult who is making informed decisions – and she actually makes the decisions herself, she is not coerced. And we learn that she has a solid support base in the form of her best friend/roommate Jade who ends up in a similar situation with Tristan’s twin brother.

And Tristan, though he is controlling and demanding, does not exhibit the level of stalker/abuser creepiness that so completely defines Chedward.

As far as the sex scenes: they were pretty good. Not worth slogging through the rest of this mess to get there, especially when there’s so much more BDSM erotica and porn out there that’s better written and more engaging, but they were ok.

Overall, I’d say this was a decent effort. As a parody it fails, mostly because it makes the same blunders as the source materials, which could all really be boiled down to one thing: lazy writing. As a story on its own, however, with a good re-write and some heavy editing, it could definitely be worth purchasing. If you’re bored and you can find it for free on Amazon, it’s worth a look.