Why “The Power to Please”

copyright elenamarchesin courtesy of DepositPhotosI’ve been asked why I write what I’ve written, or made the choices I’ve made. As an author of an erotic romance series, I obviously wrote my books with the intention of entertaining readers with a love story that had loads of sizzle and hopefully, plenty of heart, too.

Beyond that basic desire, I admit that I had another purpose in mind. I had a particular point, a statement I wished to make (yes, yes, I know, please save us all from authors with an ax to grind). I like to think I kept the ax in the woodshed where it belonged, but that, of course, is for you readers to decide.

In 2012, when the success of Fifty Shades of Grey opened up BDSM as a topic of general conversation, I heard friends and acquaintances speak with some ferocity about how the BDSM lifestyle denigrated women, promoted violence toward women and was all-around misogynistic.

I was surprised by the vigor of their claims and was even more surprised that they were discussing the topic not within the confines of FSOG novels, but in the real world itself. I hadn’t read FSOG at that time, but it didn’t really matter; a lot of the women who were complaining about BDSM hadn’t read FSOG either, or began it but failed to finish it.

Regardless, while I sympathized with their concerns about violence toward women, I believed them to be mistaken in their generalization about BDSM. In my opinion, they simply didn’t understand the dynamics behind what in the D/s universe is referred to as the power exchange.

D/s and the power exchange, when practiced with sanity and respect between trustworthy partners, can be an amazingly empowering experience for both the dominant and the submissive. I believed that those vocal opponents of D/s couldn’t know that the real power in the D/s dynamic lies with the submissive, be that submissive female or male (another point they missed in their claims of misogyny — that there are also submissive men in BDSM).

And so I decided to create a story to illustrate aspects of the D/s power exchange, leading me to begin writing The Businessman’s Tie.

I had a friend who was rather vociferous in her dislike of BDSM, and so, when I finished the first draft of The Businessman’s Tie, I asked her to read it and tell me what she thought, explaining to her beforehand about my larger purpose.

I told her that my story acknowledges that the lifestyle is exciting and enticing but that it can also be dangerous. I wasn’t glamorizing BDSM, and I hoped the larger story might serve as a warning to the innocent and unwary who could be drawn into a casual BDSM encounter without appropriate caution. I explained how further along in the series, I would illustrate both the bad and the good sides of BDSM, the “How Not To” along with the “How To,” so to speak. I basically gave her a full outline of the series.

My friend refused to read it, saying she couldn’t stomach to read any part of it, no matter what my bigger point was.
Funny how life works, isn’t it? That particular friend was one of the main reasons I wrote the book, someone with whom I particularly hoped to share an alternative viewpoint. And she wouldn’t read even the first chapter.

It was okay, of course. She had a right to her feelings and her preferences, and for all I knew, she had a history which she wasn’t comfortable sharing. Nonetheless, the irony was striking.

So, there you have it. Why I wrote The Power to Please series. I had a point, but hopefully I didn’t wield it like a club. And even more importantly, I hope I wrote an erotic fantasy which people can love for itself, regardless of any underlying moral. I wound up falling in love with my characters, and I can only hope my readers will, too. That’s really what it’s about when all is said and done. :-)

 

The Pride and Prejudice connection

If you haven’t yet read the series and think you might want to do so in the future, you probably should stop reading at this point. What follows is written with the caveat that I’ll be freely discussing plot points and revealing spoilers galore.

For those of you who are Jane Austen fans, you’ll have noticed the connection between Pride and Prejudice and my series. I use the tag line, “Erotic fantasies with a classic twist.” By classic twist, I’m referring to the fact that The Power to Please is an homage to Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice. It’s my favorite book … ever. A perfect jewel.

P&P, PtoP, get it? I know, silly, huh? But I worked hard to create a name for the series which had two “P’s” in it. LOL.

I adore Jane Austen, and P&P is tops for me. I’ve read the book dozens of times, seen every film and television version ever made, and read the occasional adaptation (e.g. Bridget Jones’ Diary).

When I started to write my erotic romance series, I wanted to do it as a modern, kinky adaptation of P&P. I knew other writers were doing it, too, along with similar classics like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, so why not me?

Well, things didn’t actually turn out the way I thought they would. The lengthiness of the numerous sex scenes necessitated dropping all secondary storylines along with a significant number of characters. For instance, I had to lose nearly all of Lizzie Bennett’s family, Mr. Bingley and his sisters, and even Mr. Collins who is one of my favorite characters in the book, darn it.

Also, I had my own point to make, and it was different from Austen’s (couldn’t have been more different in fact, what with Austen likely never having even heard of BDSM – ha!), so it proved impossible to be married to a straightforward adaptation. A change of plans was in order.

I wound up writing my own story in many ways, but with what I think of as an homage to P&P.

Nonnie has little in common with Lizzie Bennett beyond her refusal to be cowed by people of greater social standing. Gibson is similar to Darcy in that he is reserved and proud, but he is more emotional, even if he doesn’t show it. Michael is much like Wickham in that his charm and easy manners disguise a bad nature.

Other characters who are nods to P&P include:

Elaine Hoyte. She plays the role of friend, confidante and advisor to Nonnie, a combination of the roles Charlotte Lucas and Mrs. Gardiner play in P&P. I enjoyed having Elaine tell Nonnie at the kink ball to reconsider snubbing Gibson since he owned the place and might kick them out, a reference to Charlotte’s warnings to Lizzie at the Netherfield ball: “When the dancing recommenced, however, and Darcy approached to claim her hand, Charlotte could not help cautioning her in a whisper, not to be a simpleton, and allow her fancy for Wickham to make her appear unpleasant in the eyes of a man ten times his consequence.”

Lilly Smith as Georgiana Darcy, wronged by Michael/Wickham and akin to a little sister to Gibson.

Paulina Martin as the indomitable Lady Catherine de Bourgh. It was incredibly fun turning uptight and proper Lady Catherine into a whip-wielding dominatrix. The very idea of the grand Lady Catherine surveying her kingdom from the front seat of a fully-harnessed, pony-boy-drawn cart truly tickled me. Of course Paulina has other major differences from Lady Catherine, such as caring about more than social status and actually having Gibson’s best interests at heart while meddling.

There are characters in the story who have no P&P counterparts, like Ron Hoyte, Kamun, Aunt Rose, Isabel Vinson and Xavier Martin.

Apart from the characters, there are loads of references to P&P. It’s chock full of Easter eggs for those who might care to seek them out. And there are bigger connections, too. I enjoyed turning the Netherfield ball into the Kink ball at Private Residence, for example. It was fun to adapt Wickham’s lies about Darcy’s supposed mishandling of his father’s will, into Michael’s lies about Gibson supposedly withholding royalties.

Most pleasurable of all was recreating the famous proposal scene where Lizzie smacks down Darcy. I’ll never forget my utter surprise the first time I read that scene in P&P. Best book moment ever. My version, of course, isn’t a hundredth as wonderful as Austen’s, but that’s okay. It was great fun all the same and I couldn’t resist it.

One last thing which I’m uncertain anyone has noticed —

If you look on the sidebar of this site at the upper left, you’ll see a link to a page of my favorite quotes. There are four of them, all from P&P. (I also have them listed as favorite quotes on my Goodreads author page.) Each quote is the inspiration and focus of the individual four novels in The Power to Please.

1. “I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.” Quote from Lizzie referencing Darcy not finding her attractive enough to dance with. In The Businessman’s Tie, Gibson loses control and humiliates Nonnie at the Frederick Hotel, setting the stage for Nonnie to select Michael and to believe his lies about Gibson.

2. “There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.” Quote from Lizzie Bennett again. In The Playboy’s Proposition, Nonnie isolates herself from her friends by deciding to pursue BDSM, and although Nonnie suspects Michael is potentially dangerous, her isolation and need for love leads her into ignoring her instincts and falling victim to even greater disillusionment.

3. “From the very beginning— from the first moment, I may almost say— of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form the groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.” Lizzie’s response to Darcy’s marriage proposal. In His Name is Sir, Nonnie is unimpressed with Gibson for reasons similar to Lizzie’s, and later turns down Gibson’s proposal that she become his live-in submissive partner. Later, like Lizzie, Nonnie keeps an open mind when she reads Gibson’s explanatory email and eventually becomes aware of the part her prejudice played in blinding her to his true character and Michael’s lies.

4. “You showed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased.” Darcy to Lizzie after she agrees to marry him. In The Submissive’s Last Word, Nonnie and Gibson must reckon with their mistakes and faults before they can find lasting happiness together. Nonnie learns it is Gibson who has the ultimate power to please, and that the ultimate power in the D/s relationship is hers. I intended to title the last book “A Woman of Worth,” in reference to this quote, but too many other authors had already used the title or a variation thereof. I went with The Submissive’s Last Word instead, and wound up liking it better.

I have never marketed The Power to Please as an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and likely never will. First, it’s not an adaptation. At most, it’s an homage. Second, the connections between the two were dependent upon my whim, my eccentric choices wherein I picked something simply because it was a favored scene or commentary or bit of dialogue. And third and lastly, I’m well aware that Jane Austen would undoubtedly have an aneurism if she were alive and discovered what I’d done to her story and characters. Poor Jane. First it was zombies and now it’s kinky sex. Will we never be done with her? It’s her own fault for making us love her so much.

 

Never ask a writer about their books

If you made it this far, you’re learning why it’s not a good idea to ask a writer about their books, or at least not this one, because I can go on and on and on. :-)

I enjoyed writing this series, and I may return to The Power to Please universe at some point in the future.

Right now, I’m working on a new novel which will likely be the first of a new series, if all goes well. It’s different from what I’ve done before, but it’s still me. That’s all I’ll say for now, since once I get started, I can’t seem to shut up.

I hope this post answered any questions you might have had about the PtoP series. Happy reading!

Happy New Year!

Horse New Year 2014Hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday season. I certainly did. And now it’s already New Year’s Eve. Happy New Year!

It’s been an amazing 2013 for me; I bid it farewell with fondness. I published “The Businessman’s Tie” in February at Amazon and began what became a career. I now have five works out (including the collection) and they’re available in both ebook and paperback (no paperback for the collection, however). “The Businessman’s Tie” is available free as an ebook at the Kindle Store, Nook Store, iBooks, Smashwords, AllRomance Ebooks, Kobo, Sony … well, pretty much everywhere in nearly every format you can name. The rest of the series can be purchased nearly everywhere, too.

It’s all thanks to those of you who have read and enjoyed “The Power to Please” series. I can’t tell you how grateful and thrilled I am for your support. I love getting your notes and messages about the series, and reading your thoughts about Nonnie, Gibson, Michael and the others, so keep them coming!

I’m not sure what the future holds at the moment in regards to what I’m writing next. Well, not exactly anyway. The problem is, I have too many ideas to narrow it down right now. I’ll get there, though, eventually. :-)

So here’s to all of you — wishing you a fabulous 2014 and the attentions of a special someone who has the power to please you. Cheers!

Tons of e-books 99 cents this weekend!!

spooky_sale

The Spooky Spectacular Event will kick off Friday and run through midnight Sunday (Oct 18-20). Featuring 60+ of today’s hottest authors, $1,000 in prizes and tons of awesome giveaways (Kindle Fires anyone? Coach wristlets?), the event is going to be a blast!

And most importantly, readers will be able to fill up their Kindles with incredible ebooks, all priced at .99!

Check out all the gorgeous books at the event’s webpage.

Just click here!

RSVP at the event’s FB page to be automatically entered into the drawing for one of three Kindle Fires! Click here to visit the event page.   Instructions for earning extra entries for the drawing will be on the event page! Additional links to Rafflecopter entries for other giveaways will also be available on the event page as well.

A special thank you goes out to Lisa Markson, Leanne Jacobson, Stephanie Shaw and Emily Rae for all their help with the event. You all rock!

Spooky Spectacular sponsored by …

Lizzy Ford (Website, Facebook page, Twitter)

HearNolfacebook

 

Julia Crane (Website, Facebook page, Twitter)

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Paperbacks and Collection Now Available

ptopcollect250-2I’m happy to announce that paperback versions of the four books in “The Power to Please” series are now available at Amazon. I’ll be enrolling them in the exciting new Matchbook program. If you haven’t heard about Matchbook, it’s scheduled to roll out in October.

Also, I’ve released The Power to Please Collection, one huge Kindle volume containing all four books in the series. Buying the collection is a big savings over purchasing each individual title — about 33% off, give or take a point — and hey, I’m a writer, not a mathematician ;-). Currently, it’s only available at Amazon.

I’m considering exploring audiobook possibilities. Drop me a line if you’re interested in an audio version of my novels. If enough people show interest, it would make my decision a lot easier.

Thanks for all your support out there. I really appreciate it!

 

Giveaway and review of “The Submissive’s Last Word”

Jodie over at Fab, Fun & Tantalizing Reads has posted her terrific review of “Submissive.” If you go to check it out, be sure to enter the giveaway. The main prize is a complete e-book set of The Power to Please series, and a runner-up will receive a $5 gift certificate from Amazon. Deadline for entry is this Friday, so don’t miss out on a chance to win! :-)

Sir is released from the dungeon

His Name Is SirI uploaded the new cover for “His Name Is Sir” this past week, and I’m pleased to report that, today, Amazon has removed the adult filter on the title.

As I suspected, I’m going to miss the old cover, but I like the new one very much. I think it gives a different feel, yet suits the story all the same. Best of all, the new cover ensures that anyone looking for the book will now be able to find it more easily.

An HEA for “Sir” — whew! :-)

“Submissive” is live at Amazon

The last book of The Power to Please, The Submissive’s Last Word, is live and available for purchase at Amazon. Can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks of it.

I’m in the process right now of getting all four books on the Barnes and Noble Nook site. Expecting “The Businessman’s Tie” to go live any time, and if it goes all right, the other three books will be following it.

Some of you have asked about print (paperback) copies, and if I have any plans to make some. Yes, I do have plans to do that … at some point. I’ve got someone working on it, but I don’t expect it to happen any time in the near future. I’ll certainly post an update here on my blog and at Facebook when print versions become available.

Thanks for reading! :-)

Where is Sir? In the dungeon

Sir’s in the dungeon and he’s not enjoying himself!

A number of weeks back, I discovered that Amazon had smacked “His Name Is Sir” with its adult filter, effectively pitching the book into the deepest depths of the erotica dungeon. What this means is that it’s much more difficult for someone to find the book, even if they search for it by title. If you don’t know how to get around the filter, you might never find it and will think it’s not for sale on Amazon.

I didn’t worry about the filter at first, figuring most people would follow the link at the end of “The Playboy’s Proposition” to buy “Sir.” Sales figures remained close. Of late, though, I’m afraid I’m seeing a change.

I assume the book was adult filtered because of the cover, the fact that the woman is hiding her privates with her hand, rather than with what … undies? Bikini bottoms? A g-string? Well, call me nutty, but the leaves and her hand provide far more coverage than most skimpy bikinis and panties I’ve seen plastered on covers across Amazon.

I chose that photo for reasons other than titillation. I thought the picture was striking, and it told the story of the book, the bright blue rose representing new hope and passion blooming on the brown, decaying stem of loss and betrayal.

I hate to drop the cover, but it looks like I’m going to have to replace it. I’m unsure how many readers are aware of the adult filter at Amazon, of how randomly it’s applied, and of how to get around it. I’m grateful that only the third book of the series got tagged, since this would be a much bigger issue if they filtered “The Businessman’s Tie,” the first book. Other authors haven’t been as fortunate.

I’m not opposed to keeping young eyes away from explicit content. In fact, I’m all in favor of it. But if Amazon is going to do this thing, they should be consistent in their selection process, so it’s fair for everyone. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

I did a search for some of the naughtiest erotica, using the term “gangbang.” Of over 3700 books that result from the search, more than two thirds of them have been hit with the adult filter. If you check out the remaining unfiltered one third, you won’t see any difference in the blurbs, content and covers from those of the condemned, filtered titles.

This inconsistency is true across the board, through other sub-genres of erotica. The filters are applied seemingly randomly, effectively damaging some authors’ ability to earn, while leaving luckier writers free to continue making a living in an emptier, more advantageous arena.

There are other ways that the filter impacts sales of erotica, including filtered titles no longer showing up in the “Also Bought” rows of unfiltered books. For instance, “Sir” no longer appears as an “also bought” with my other titles.

Once I get “The Submissive’s Last Word” out, I guess I’ll start searching for a new cover for “Sir,” and hope that when I replace the old one, Amazon will release the book from the dungeon. I can only try. I don’t think, though, that I’ll find a photo that tells the story as well as this one did.

*****************

About the Adult Filter

For any of you who haven’t heard of the filter and would like to see its effect, try this experiment. On your computer, search my name from the Amazon home page — type “Deena Ward” into the white search field box then press “Go.”

What you’ll see as a result is “The Businessman’s Tie,” “The Playboy’s Proposition,” an additional title which has no connection to me other than Amazon thinks you might like it, and a bunch of result chaff. Where’s “Sir?” It’s not there.

Now, look over to the left, at the white side bar. Note the categories listed under “Departments.” Under “Kindle Store,” click “Erotica.” Now what happens? “His Name Is Sir” is suddenly revealed as a search result under the other relevant titles (filtered erotica is sent to the bottom, beneath unfiltered books).

Even if you search the actual title, “His Name Is Sir,” from the Amazon home page, you won’t be allowed to see it until you click the erotica category.

In short, no filtered titles can be searched up from the Amazon home page. To access them, you must either search from within the Kindle Store itself, or click the erotica category after your search. Also keep in mind that filtered titles are pushed below unfiltered ones if the search parameters are (sort of) equally applicable to the books.

Search Tips for Erotica

* When I’m on my computer, I’ve made it a habit to go straight to the Kindle eBook section on the web site before I search for books.

* I dig deeper into result lists than I used to, knowing that lots of great titles have been unfairly buried under less popular, less relevant ones.

* I change the “Sort by” button from “Relevance” to “New and Popular,” since it gives a better chance of finding filtered titles higher in the list.

* Visiting author pages at Amazon is a good way to find hidden titles, since the listing of the author’s work isn’t censored there.

* Keep in mind that just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. And how crazy is that?

The cover — and a publishing date

Coming 08/16 to AmazonI’m happy to reveal the cover of the fourth and final book of “The Power to Please” series, The Submissive’s Last Word. Ta-da! I hope you love it as much as I do. I’m celebrating the reveal by putting The Businessman’s Tie on sale at Amazon for 99 cents all weekend. If you know anyone who hasn’t tried the series, let them know it’s a great time to give it a go.

And I’m even happier to write that I’ve completed the initial draft of The Submissive’s Last Word and it’s now in the editing process. Thanks to that, I’ve finalized the publication date — August 16, 2013, only two weeks from today! I’m excited and can’t wait to get the book out there to all my readers who have waited so patiently for the conclusion of the series.

I’m torn about finishing this last book. While I’m thrilled to have completed the story, I’m now faced with saying goodbye. After living with these characters, particularly Nonnie, for nearly a year, I suspect that I’m going to miss her and the others when the final edit is complete and I shoo them out of my author-nest, this time permanently.

For now, I’m focusing on editing The Submissive’s Last Word into the finest novel it can be. After following such a winding, treacherous path, Nonnie deserves only the best recounting of this, the final leg of her emotional and erotic journey. I’m determined to give it to her. :-)