I hate to admit this, but I’d never heard of a book blog tour before July 2011. I was at the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association annual conference and decided–almost on a whim–to attend a talk on blog tours. I had started blogging (both here and under my ‘real nam’) a while ago, but considered blogging primarily an exercise in procrastination. If I didn’t feel like editing or writing, I’d go make a blog post. I try hard to keep things topical on this site–either related to sex, issues about sex or writing sex. On my other blog I am all across the board writing about cooking, reading, knitting and parenting. It’s not focused, and I don’t really care so much.
I walked into the workshop thinking it would be about how author’s need to create their platforms, to blog about ‘their work’ and to create a connection between them and their readers. I was surprised to learn about this marketing thing that’s been happening under my nose for years. I’ve read dozens of book blog tour posts without even realizing that is what I was reading. It was more than a little obvious, within a few minutes from the start of the class, I had seen dozens of blog tours without actually recongizing them for what they were. And, as a previous marketing professional, I felt a little silly for not having some sort of intuitive notion about the power of the blog tour.
I think everyone is familiar with old style “book tours.” The author travels around the country visiting books stores, does readings, signings, radio and television spots. Very well known and higher profile authors get spots on nationally syndicated shows, but most authors don’t get that kind of publicity. The Holy Grail of television used to be Oprah Winfrey’s book club. This kind of tour is difficult to organize, hard to fund and exhausting. I don’t know exactly how blog tours evolved over time, but they have become a standard way of promoting a new book either in lieue of a traditional tour or in addition to it. And, they are the perfect venue for marketing anthologies.
And of course, I’m going to plug the anthology you’ve already seen mentioned on this blog, Voyeur Eyes Only. The blog tour started on February 14th and here’s a link for the entire blog tour schedule .
I’m the guest blogger over at this blog today.
Welcome to the blog tour for Women in Lust, Rachel Kramer Bussel’s latest sex-filled anthology from Cleis Press.
I’m fairly open about the fact I write erotica under a pen name. I don’t generally share what it is because I feel some of the subjects I write about are on the edge of societal norms, and I have children who don’t want to be associated with a mom who writes ‘that kind of stuff.’ One day I was at church—yes, church—and I said something oblique about my pen name. A friend of mine gave me this look and said she had a pen name, too. Hers is ‘Brandy Fox,’ and her first foray into erotica is published in Women In Lust, the latest anthology edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel.
When I raised my internet hand to host the blog tour for the new book, it seemed that interviewing my friend was the obvious thing to do.
CC: Brandy, you told me this is your first ever attempt at writing erotica. I’d like to offer my congratulations at making it into an anthology of this quality the first time out the gate. Why did you decide to try your hand at erotica?
BF: Thanks! I am delighted to be included in RKB’s anthology. I’ve written and published for many years under my real name—mainly essays, poetry and young adult fiction. The idea of writing erotica, however, was the last genre on my mind. I hardly ever read erotica and I’m pretty shy when it comes to sex. But there are certain similarities between myself and Brooke in Unbidden, one of them being that when I hit forty, my libido went a little wacko. Okay, that’s putting it mildly. Around ovulation time every month, I would think about sex 24-7. Being a busy mom of two young boys and married to a man whose libido was not accelerating the way mine was, I found this a bit distracting. I confided in a friend and she suggested I write some erotica to channel the energy. At the website for the Erotica Readers and Writers Association, I found a long list of calls for submissions. It was great to have a specific theme to write to, as well as a deadline. The writing was clunky at first, but after reading a lot of erotica—for research, of course—I got in the groove and found myself enjoying erotica more than any other writing!
CC: Brooke, the main character in your story, is almost out of control with her sexual desire. What made you have her stop the scene in the bathroom? Was it to send a message? If so, what is it?
BF: I set out to write a complex story about a middle-aged woman’s lust that would turn me on, not to write a story that would send a message. Brooke’s fantasies about being with another man turned me on. Ending up in a bathroom at a party with a man she’d always found hot turned me on. But ultimately, the advances of a stranger turned me—and Brooke—off, and the thought of her husband’s trust and utter devotion turned both of us on. For me, love and lust and trust are inseparable. My favorite stories in Women in Lust are the ones where the partners have developed trust, such as Guess by Charlotte Stein and Queen of Sheba by Jen Cross. The stranger-connections are hot, but just don’t turn me on personally. I know that for many, this isn’t the case.
Emerald put it well in her review of Women in Lust. She explains that while in some of the stories, lust was an overwhelming motivator, sometimes it wasn’t. “…and there was nothing less hot about those times. On the contrary, these were complex characters, so the story was often not just about unconsidered obedience to a sexual drive—Women in Lust included discerning, aware choosing where lust was concerned. To me this was epitomized in Brandy Fox’s Unbidden.”
CC: In another stop along this blog tour, Flightless says, “There’s even one story (“Unbidden” by Brandy Fox; do we think that’s her real name?) that ventures wonderfully into seldom-charted territory — this reader can remember only one other story, by Michael Chabon, that dared to do this: it describes hot, intimate, passionate sex between two people who are married — to each other.” Did you know you were being daring by having hot sex between married people? What’s your take on that?
BF: My first reaction to this quote is, Uncharted territory?! Are you serious?! But here’s what’s scary: “Flightless” is absolutely correct. Now that I’ve read a lot of erotica, I see the gaping hole where sex between married partners should be. My goal is to fill that hole, no pun intended. As a matter of fact, I have written a story where a married couple not only has hot sex, but has it in the same room as their two young kids who are so hypnotized by a movie they have no idea it’s going on. Their sex is playful, and very much influenced by their immersion in the world of raising kids, but that doesn’t make it any less erotic. I would not call myself daring. Again, I’m just trying to write unique stories that turn me on, and that includes long-term, committed partners making sex a priority.
By the way, I’m completely flattered to be compared to Michael Chabon. From what I’ve read, he and his wife Ayelet Waldman have made sex a high priority in their relationship. Hot hot hot!
CC: One of the things I found interesting is that Brooke has gone through some effort to tighten and firm her body and to become more ‘attractive’ physically. What effect do you think this has on her vs. her husband and then her sex life? Do you think the story would have changed significantly if she hadn’t gone through the transformation? And, how does her mental transformation parallel that of her physical?
BF: Research—and my own experience—shows that there is a connection between weight loss, physical activity and increased libido. In Unbidden, the attention Brooke gives to her appearance and her sex drive excites her husband. I think anyone whose spouse feels more confident and sexy would be attracted to that. For Brooke, her transformation at age 40 lifted her out of the post-baby-raising slump many new parents fall into. Once out of that slump, feeling sexier than she had ever felt before and therefore acting sexier, she was more likely to attract people to her and end up with a near-stranger’s knee pressed seductively into her groin. So yes, I think her story would have been different if she hadn’t had that transformation. Different in what way? I’m not sure.
CC: Now for the image that had me laughing in conspiratorial glee…The carrot. I know I have grown a few Italian Zucchinis that had me wanting to pop a condom on them. The notion that anything remotely phallic shaped would send a woman into lustful overdrive is not likely new to women, but the fact you actually wrote about it the way you did is something I haven’t seen before. I think many women aren’t going to mention stuff like that over coffee at Starbuck’s or while out to dinner with friends. Why did you include it in the story?
BF: One of the things I love about writing erotica is that so many of the stories are about just that—stuff you don’t mention over coffee at Starbucks. (Although writing erotica has definitely made me more comfortable talking about sex, even in Starbucks). I included the carrot “scene” in the story for two reasons: 1) Precisely as you said above, it is hardly a new thought to women, yet it’s somehow shocking to say it out loud; 2) To illustrate Brooke’s “unbidden” libido. She’s so horny she can’t even stay away from phallic-looking vegetables as she cooks for her family.
CC: My husband is very selective in what he will read when it comes to my erotic writing. I know his taste well enough to not show him the things that will squigg him out. Does your husband read your erotica work? What’s his reaction to it?
BF: Just to illustrate how shy I used to be about sex—and in many ways I still am—I’ll tell you that it was a HUGE deal to show my husband my first erotica story, which was Unbidden. I waited to show him when we’d have some private time together, assuming it would turn him on so much he’d attack me right then and there. Well, it turns out a story about a woman getting hit on by a man who is not her husband doesn’t turn him on. Since then, I’ve shown him other stories that are easier for him to read, but they never get him immediately horny or anything. I write erotica for women, so the stories just don’t do it for him. One huge benefit to writing erotica, though, has been an increased comfort in communication about sex with my husband. As expected, it’s improved our sex life immensely.
Women In Lust is easily available in print or on Kindle at Amazon.
More about the editor, Rachel Kramer Bussell, can be found here.