My publisher, deemed too "adult" for even me to look at
Well, I’m in! I sent my blurb and first chapter to the Harlequin contest on Monday. The book is a paranormal. Whether or not it’s a Nocturne will be up to the judges to decide. I’m hoping it at least hits the minimum word count. I don’t know because I haven’t finished even a first draft yet. Guess I’d better get on the stick, seeing as how I’m now committed and all.
I don’t expect to win, but there’s still a chance mine could be one of the fifty picked, so I have to have a book ready. Last time I entered a contest I didn’t even have my draft typed, and events got rather hairy. Looks like I’ve got a couple long weekends ahead of me.
I’ve asked myself if this constitutes hackwork and decided it doesn’t. I can justify that because I started this story a couple of years ago, and was thinking about getting back to it before I found out about the contest. The contest just provided incentive to work on a book I was going to write anyway, eventually. Therefore, not hackwork. I can look at myself in the mirror again.
Anyone who wants a sneak peak at all the first chapters can click on over to www.soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com and read through any or all of what’s up there. Mine’s “Spark.” For this one I’m going by the nom de plume of Dana Stewart. After the noticeable lack of crossover readership between my M/F and M/M books, I’ve finally realized I should have gone with a pen name when I switched subgenres. Since my last couple books were M/M and had my real name on them, Dana will be writing my M/F paranormals from now on. P.E. me still writes SF and fantasy minus the romance element. Gerald S. Parker has a horror story out in an anthology. Some day he may get around to writing a novel in the Stephen King tradition, but he’ll have to wait in line.
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And now, a tale of censorship. I was out and about in the Hershey, PA area last Sunday. That’s Dauphin County, as opposed to my regular Lancaster County stomping grounds. Since Dauphin County libraries are open on Sunday, I stopped in and got an Internet guest pass so I could check out my email. While I was at it, I ran an experiment. Earlier this year the Lancaster County library system blocked my publisher’s site on the grounds of “adult content.” Did that hold true outside Lancaster? I decided to give it a shot.
Guess what? I had no trouble getting on the publisher’s site in the Hershey library. They even let me access Ellora’s Cave, that well-known morass of smut. I checked a couple other erotica publishers denied to me by Lancaster County’s morality police and got on without so much as a disapproving cluck or tsk-tsk. Or having the screen freeze up, which once happened to me when I accidently ended up on a Lord of the Rings Aragorn/Legolas slash site. Talk about embarrassing.
This proves a theory I’ve been harboring: Lancaster County is afraid of the dirty, and I think I know why. As with almost everything else, it all boils down to money.
If you Google us, you’ll discover Lancaster County is synonymous with “Pennsylvania Dutch.” We have a large Amish/Mennonite community. Our tourist industry is built on it. Don’t let the pictures of the farmers in buggies fool you. These people own businesses. They have money. They spend money. If they moved out, all those tourist dollars would go with them, and there goes the county’s economy.
This is a conservative area. You’ve heard of the Bible Belt? We’re the Bible Belt, Top Hat, Black Tie and Tails. One of our school districts banned the Harry Potter books on the grounds they promote witchcraft. I kid you not. You think it can’t happen in this day and age? It sure as hell can. I’m writing M/M paranormal smut in the sister city of Salem, Massachusetts, one step ahead of the stake.
And that’s why the library won’t let me access my publisher’s web site any more. I doubt very much if it’s about protecting The Children from obscenity. I’m convinced it’s about not wanting to offend the strictly-religious Amish and Mennonite population and their significant contribution to Lancaster County’s financial survival. The Amish are heavy library users. You don’t piss in the well you drink from, and you don’t upset the Amish and their Amish dollars.
Our local Barnes and Noble carries maybe half a shelf of Gay/Lesbian Studies. About twice that space is reserved for sex and sexuality. An entire aisle (both sides) is devoted to Christianity. Haven’t checked the amount of Muslim and Buddhist offerings yet.
I didn’t get a chance to try out the Adams County library system when I was in Gettysburg, but I might be going back for additional research so I’ll give it a shot then and see what sites I can get onto. Same for libraries in the neighboring counties of York, Lebanon, Chester and Berks. I have a feeling Berks might block me. They used to have Blue Laws. York and Chester, I’m fairly certain, live in the 21st century. They’re more industrialized. Lebanon’s got a lot of farmland and might be on the fence.
In the meantime, if I want to access my publisher’s site, I can still get on at McDonald’s, which is big enough to thumb its nose at everybody. At some point—like maybe if I get a publishing contract out of this contest—I’ll say screw you to the library and get Internet at home so I can look up porn in peace, or at least until the mob with the torches and pitchforks comes pounding on my door.
By the way, the Ephrata Library has three copies of 50 Shades of Grey. Haven’t read it yet. Seems all three are always checked out.