Smashwords, erotica and Paypal

Paypal has decreed that it won’t do business with the ebook distributor Smashwords (and presumably others) if it continues to stock erotica containing scenes of bestiality, incest and/or rape. Smashwords owner Mark Coker has agreed – albeit with some reluctance – to accept this.  In a letter sent to authors, he has written ‘it’s a slippery slope when we allow others to control what we think and write. Fiction is fantasy… A reader should have the right to feel moved however they desire to be moved.’

Many writers – and readers – have reacted with fury to what they regard as censorship on the part of Paypal.  Censorship is a massively tricky issue – to put it mildly. We all have our own boundaries – a topic which may be abhorrent to one person may be fascinating to another. Does anyone have the right to draw the line in the sand over which we should not cross?

I like to regard myself as open-minded with fairly liberal views. I appreciate the dangers if the power of censorship is given to the wrong people and allowed to be taken too far. How to choose the right censors however and indeed if there should even be such a thing as censorship – these questions will doubtless fill dozens of blog posts and newspaper columns following the Paypal decree.

I don’t really intend to get into the whole debate here – but I do have a personal point to make. When I uploaded my book ‘Forbidden Love and other stories’ to Smashwords – I had to tick a box saying whether it contained ‘adult content’. I spent quite a lot of time wondering about that – because the book does contain sexual scenes, but to be honest, they’re pretty lightweight stuff. There’s nothing graphic or violent or remotely deviant. In the end I did tick the box and I’ve regretted it ever since, because I suddenly found my relatively innocent little book in the company of some seriously dark and depraved shelf-mates.

I’m clearly far more naive than I’d realised, because I was genuinely horrified and sickened by some of the stuff that was there and freely available. I felt as though I’d abandoned my book in some lawless hell! I did try to launch a rescue mission by un-ticking the box, but failed miserably.

The title probably doesn’t help – someone seeing the name ‘Forbidden Love’ might well assume the book to hold all sorts of – well, forbidden love! Actually the title refers to a song in one of the stories – written by the rockstar hero for his childhood sweetheart who wasn’t allowed to go out with him because he was deemed a bad influence by her protective parents.  Not exactly rape, bestiality or incest!

So – I am actually delighted to see those other titles leave the Smashwords shelves. Maybe my book won’t feel quite so alone now!



The countdown’s well and truly on…

based on the graphics

Image via Wikipedia

Midnight on Halloween can generally lay claim to being the single scariest time of the year – when demons roar and broomsticks fly, ghosties and ghouls go dancing and cavorting and witches do their wicked, witchly worst. It’s a time for all good people to be tucked up in their beds with the covers drawn over their heads.

However. This year the scariest moment of the year – in our house and in many others throughout the land – is going to be immediately after midnight – on November 1. Because that’s when National Novel Writing Month officially begins.  That’s when I have to commit the first words of a brand new story to paper (or more likely computer screen) – and somehow keep on going till I reach 50,000. I don’t have to do them all in one sitting – heavens no.  I’ve got a full month.  Thirty whole days.  Which apparently averages out at 1,667 words per day.   A doddle, I tell you – an absolute doddle. Yeah right.  If you believe that, I might just try to interest you in a nice little deal involving London Bridge…

You’ll gather from the above that I have made up my mind. After days of pondering and swithering and occasionally even pontificating to anyone foolish enough to listen, I have decided to take up the NaNoWriMo challenge.  I must say – I’ve been really touched by the amount of support I’ve received so far – people genuinely seem to think I can do it!  Thank you for that.  The other fantastic thing is the camaraderie of other NaNoWriMo’ers.  I’ve spoken to quite a few on forums, and we’re kindred spirits (a nice way of saying – we’re all completely daft…)

People are approaching the challenge in different ways – some have their stories planned to the n’th degree – others will fly by the seat of their pants, sitting down on November 1 without so much as a title.

I do have my main characters sorted out in my head – finding the right names was a bit of a struggle, but I think I’ve nailed those as well.  The plot’s a bit vague at this stage, but I inevitably find that my characters swiftly take on a life of their own and go dancing off in completely different directions anyway, leaving me trailing in their wake muttering ‘But you weren’t supposed to do that! How on earth am I supposed to get you out of that pickle?’ But to me that’s all part of the fun of writing.

The fun of writing.  I have a feeling that phrase may come back to haunt me many times in November!  Please do stick with me – and feel free to send advice, morale-boosts or even the odd (virtual) kick up the backside when you deem it necessary.  I will be grateful – honestly!

Oh by the way – I now have Forbidden Love and Other Stories as a book – an actual, physical book – thanks to the good people at Completely Novel.  If you’d like a copy you can buy it straight from them or leave me a note in comments and I’ll get right back to you.  Here’s the cover…

and here’s the back cover…