Friday, July 20, 2012

50 Shades of Laughter by Selena Robins

I love this picture of Betty White reading the book, she's a hoot and I hope I maintain my sense of humor and adventure when I reach her age (God willing).

This isn’t another blog about the phenomenal success of the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. I'm going to talk about an experience I had, reading erotica romance.  

Besides writing, I also do critiquing and editing on the side. All of the work that comes my way is by referral, as I don't advertise this service, except on my website. So when I received an email from a new writer, (to protect her identity, I’ll refer to the author as Anastasia – yes pun intended J ), asking if I'd like to critique her work.

Anastasia then sent me her project via email.

An erotic novella.

I emailed Anastasia back and explained that I don't write erotica, and have only read one book in this genre.

She said that wasn’t a problem as she still wanted me to give her suggestions on how to strengthen her story.

I accepted, because I could still critique any genre based on a story's goal, motivation, conflict, characterization, plot and mechanics.

In her communication with me, she always addressed me as Mistress Robins, and her English sounded broken. When we talked about payment, she wanted to send me cash through snail mail. I asked if she used Pay-Pal. She said she didn't trust sending funds through the internet, she also said she didn't have a checking account, and could only pay me in cash.

Although I found this odd, I suggested that sending cash through the mail wasn't safe, but she insisted, so I gave her my P.O. Box number.

As I started to read her novella, I realized the content was beyond what I had expected.

This was a hard-core erotic tale, more suited for male readers than females, in my opinion.

I have a close friend (for the sake of my friend's anonymity, I’ll call her Natasha) who reads a lot of erotica stories written by male authors for men.

I emailed Anastasia and asked for her permission for me to forward her novella for a second opinion to a friend of mine, who is more suited to let me know if the novella was on track for this genre, as I felt my friend could provide better feedback on some of the aspects of the story.

I waited a week for a response from the author, but the Anastasia never responded, so I took that as a no and that she'd prefer I didn't share her work with anyone.

I went ahead and did my best to critique the project myself. 

I finished the critique sent back to Anastasia with my suggestions and explained it was a challenge for me to fully grasp some of the plot and actions in the book, and that I highly recommended she get a second opinion on my suggestions, and wished her lots of luck with her publishing journey.

A week later, I received a package in the mail at home. It was a CD collection wrapped as a gift with a note attached that said, "Thank you note for the wonderful critique and encouragement.. Here's a gift for my gratitude." Signed Natasha (my friend).

I was confused, why was my friend thanking me?

I hadn't critiqued anything for Natasha in a long time.

So I called my friend to thank her for the gift and also to ask why she bought it for me?

Natasha couldn't stop laughing and then imitated a broken English accent: "Thank you, Mistress Robins. I appreciate your hard work," my friend, Natasha said in between her fits of laughter.

After a few seconds, it all clicked together. The author, Anastasia was really my good friend, Natasha in disguise.

My friend explained it was the reason she purposely wrote in broken English, and why she couldn't use Pay-Pal or send a check, because then I'd know it was her.

She wanted me to critique this novella, without me knowing it came from her, and because the novella was a lot more hard-core than she knew I read, she shied away from giving me a heads up about the project.

I think I put a rib out-of-place that day, laughing so much with her on the phone. She did say it was an awesome critique even though she knew it was a challenge for me to understand some of the actions, dialogue and plot points.

I told her, I had asked the author if I could send it to my friend, but never heard back. She said she cracked up when she read that email because she knew if she’d say yes, I’d be calling her to discuss the project and knew she couldn’t keep a straight face or stop herself from laughing.

I still laugh my ass off when I think about that day.

I’ve had a lot of pranks pulled on me by friends and family, it’s not hard, as I tend to be gullible (sometimes), but I must say, this was epic.

Genre-defying, witty, humorous, suspenseful, romantic and sexy— words used to describe Selena’s novels. A self-professed foodie and chocolate guru, Selena loves to dance with her dog, sing into her hairbrush and write in her PJ's. In love with her family, friends, books, laughter, hockey, lively discussions and red wine (sometimes all at the same time).

Selena is a dragon slayer who enjoys reading and writing sassy heroines and hot heroes (the ones your mamma warned you about, but secretly wished she’d dated a few in her life).


Tina Donahue said...

Wow - that was epic.

Just a note about the interchangeable use of 'erotic' and 'erotica' in your post as some readers are confused by these labels.

Erotic romance is no different from any other romance (yes, even sweet) EXCEPT that it has fleshed out sex scenes. It has an HEA or HFN which makes it a romance, albeit a steamy romance.

EroticA (note the "a" at the end), on the other hand, is not about romance - it's about the sexual journey. An HEA or even an HFN isn't a required component of these tales. It's not about emotional build for the characters, it's about the sex.

BTW: The above isn't my opinion. It's what I've learned from my editors. :)

Stormie Kent said...

That is a funny story. It must feel good to know your friend valued your professional critique that much.

Selena Robins said...

Thanks, Tina. I get confused by the two.

Selena Robins said...

Hi, Stormie, yes it was a compliment, and also she said she trusted me, as she knows I don't judge a person by what kind of book they write. She knows that, but she wanted me to critique it without knowing anything about the author. LOL

Plus, she has a wicked sense of humor that way.

Selena Robins said...

Tina, I would go in an change the wording, but not sure how to edit on this blog.

I'm pathetic when it comes to computers.

Tina Donahue said...

It's okay, Selena. I'd go in and change it myself, but since they've changed (messed up) Blogger, I'm afraid to touch anything for fear I'll lose content or really mess the website up.

Trust me, I'm no techhie either. ;)

jean hart stewart said...

Hilarious story,but a great compliment too. Loved it...

Selena Robins said...

Thanks, Tina. Since they changed it, it is harder to figure things out. Which is why I switched to Wordpress awhile ago, much user-friendly for a non-technie like me.

Selena Robins said...

Hi, Jean, thanks for dropping by, glad you enjoyed my experience.