Sometimes, it’s hard to know where to start when speaking about censorship. There’s a lot of it around. Apple iBooks make me the angriest. They blocked, as in banned, one of our books because “transgender” was a keyword. The result? We at Go Deeper rarely submit books to them any more. Of course, tons of authors/publishers experience such bans from places like iBooks and Kobo. (Hat tip to Giselle Renarde.) Then there’s KDP, of course. They censor Go Deeper and trillions of other indies all over the place. Put “incest” in your blurb and watch them snub you for including valid and important information. Take it out, and they reward you.
They also recently censored Anais Nin’s Auletris, written long ago but only published now, because of a pair of naked breasts on the cover. Readers! Apparently, nipples are dangerous. (Maybe Amazon thinks we should all be smooth-breasted. Actually, just look at the boobs they censored on the cover of Johnny the Brave on the right — she might even be a flamin’ statue, folks. Click the image to find out what we eventually had to do this series’ covers. Just as pretty, but also pretty pointless.) Oh, and let’s not forget the almost non-existent content guidelines from KDP: “What we deem offensive is probably about what you would expect,” they say. Those are their content guidelines.
But here’s why I love social media, especially Twitter:
We get to talk about it.
A prime example? #BannedByAmazon is a hashtag — and a fairly popular one at that. After all, KDP’s choice to ban certain books creates an aesthetic that many actively seek. Amazon have banned it? Then it interests many of us. Some of the greatest books in the world have been banned, of course. But the more we talk about bans, the harder it is to suppress said books. With Twitter, and other channels, we can give banned books a voice and share the links to B&N and Smashwords and other retailers who don’t ban books. It’s easy and vital to moan about those who do ban, but let’s also remember to praise those who don’t. And guess what comes up higher and higher in Google searches, the more we RT on Twitter? Tweets with links in them.
They ban it. We tweet it. Here are a few things our communities are saying:
Aghast at Amazon's censorship! It is unacceptable for large corporations to suppress the content we wish to access! https://t.co/8lBCiIh4tw
— Poetrianais (@PoetriAnais) October 21, 2016
— Paul Herron (@AnaisNinBlog) October 21, 2016
— Poetrianais (@PoetriAnais) October 24, 2016
— Hewson Founder (@HewsonJoystick) October 17, 2016
— Giselle Renarde (@GiselleRenarde) October 28, 2013
Have I told you lately that my book was #BannedbyAmazon? Apparently it offends them when imaginary people fuck their imaginary step-families
— Lexi Wood (@sockpuppetlexi) October 7, 2013
— Lana Fox (@foxlana) October 25, 2016
I was fortunate enough to read Anaïs Nin’s Auletris before its release, and let me tell you, it’s a delectable Bacchic feast. In Auletris, Nin has written deliciously forbidden, relentlessly hot stories that break boundaries and are truly courageous in the face of taboos. The heat in this collection does not let up and the language is so sublime that you’ll want to stuff whole paragraphs into your mouth. If you thought Delta of Venus and Little Birds were erotically inventive, you’ll be amazed by what Auletris has to offer. This is erotica filled with lush sensations, complex feelings, and cerebral genius. The work is so sensually alive that it’s hard to believe its superbly talented author is no longer with us.
Conversely, it’s proof that she still is.
I’m honored to discuss Auletris along with Paul Herron (the book’s editor and publisher, and leading specialist in all things Nin), Anain Bjorquist, Rose Caraway, and Jessica Gilbey. We had an absolutely wonderful and enticing discussion. Why not join us by listening to the podcast here (it’s the Auletris podcast with the “panel of experts.”)
If you love Anais Nin, check out my fan erotica collection:
If the answer is yes, go check out Malin’s amazing posts on Maddie Aflame! They’re beautifully perceptive about the series and I’m really honored by them. Some tasters:
What I especially love about Maddie Aflame!, is that it features something that’s been largely lacking in erotic literature—queer-centered, empowering, inclusive portrayals of characters in their late teens and early twenties. Young adulthood is a challenge, even more so for people who may not conform to societal norms. The fact that Lana Fox tackles those issues here, and did it without sacrificing the book’s compulsive readable-ness is, quite frankly, fucking impressive. Like I said, I’m a fan.
The antagonists go to great lengths, including kidnapping, murder, and torture, to impose a rigidly traditional social structure on the populace. And yet, beneath that structure, individual people reject conformity in favor of boundless self-acceptance and love. It’s that sense fluidity (in gender and emotional / sexual relationships) that ultimately helps our heroes counter the rigid traditions that threaten them.
And then there’s the sentient mansion. While I don’t want to give too much away, it’s a metaphorical masterstroke that deserves a mention. The mansion, which, for all intents and purposes should be just a normal house, is a feeling, sensing thing, more creature than building, cognitively speaking, as it responds to the emotional state of its occupants. Like magic, tech and ghosts, the mansion bridges a gap and blurs the line between expectation and form to defy its own weaponization, making it not only a compelling character in its own right, but a powerful metaphor for the breaking of traditional worldviews in favor of wider possibility.
She has Combustion Syndrome, a disease that, when triggered, causes her body to combust from the inside out. While the ability to heal is part of the Syndrome, episodes leave her burned and weak, and are, quite honestly, a little terrifying … As Maddie progresses through the book, she learns to stop fearing the disease and draw strength from it. Sex plays a large role in this.
Thanks a million, Malin! And folks, please go and check out Malin’s own work. She is a huge talent! She posts stunning erotica and beautiful commentary on her blog and she also publishes widely with a variety of presses.
What’s not to love?
A new column in which I wax lyrical about Twitter and other social media.
As an editor and author, typos drive me nuts. That said, in some contexts they bug me far less. I see (and I fear, make) more typos on Twitter than anywhere else, and that’s usually because of the bigmouthed autocheck! (Word has big issues there too, right? Microsoft, Microsoft, “polyamory” is very much a word.) But the truth is, I sometimes find a typo adorable. Today, for instance, I found myself smiling because a profile said its owner had a sexy partner who they loved to do things too.
“Sweet,” I said to myself.
That’s right. Sweet!
Why did I find it so? Perhaps because of the romance of it all. Yes, I do think there’s a romance in putting yourself out there sexually and saying that you like it when your partner does whatever with you. For my own part, I’m actually quite erotically introverted about personal stuff on Twitter, but I enjoy seeing a more extroverted route and the language that goes with it. Yes, perhaps I think it’s sweet when you exchange “to” for “too” on your Twitter profile … at least, when I’m in the right mood. I mean, if you’re the tweep in question, I doubt I’ll be reading your e-book, but if you’re casually passing my notice on Twitter, perhaps I’ll think your sweet little typo says something about your enthusiasm and humanness. Maybe you’re so enticed by the partner about whom you’re tweeting that you want your “to” to go on too long. You might even write “toooooo” if autocheck would let you.
Why not keep those O’s coming, cutie?
Follow me on Twitter: @foxlana
To read in more depth about the forthcoming Maddie Aflame! (coming 10/03) please check out these beautiful posts from the amazing Malin James: “On Queer Marginalization” and “On Conformity and Defiance“. They are simply amazing! I couldn’t be more honored.
When I was a kid, my father bought me a magic set for Christmas. Because he’d been a magician himself, performing at children’s parties etc., he helped me with a lot of the tricks. The one I remember most vividly was a plastic plate with a slot under the rim where you could stash a coin. By tipping that plate towards an empty hand you could seemingly make it appear out of nothing! I loved making things appear from nowhere. The first time I used that plate, I shrieked with laughter. If only gold coins really would appear from nowhere! Wouldn’t that just be dandy!
In Maddie Aflame! there is such a thing as vapor tech and that in itself seems like a magic trick at first. Vapor tech comes to light once ghosts have arrived in England, floating down the streets or through their loved ones’ living rooms, for a reason that remains a mystery for now. These ghosts are formed of vapors, as all spirits in Maddie’s world are, including the spirits humans have inside ourselves. That’s why ghosts communicate psychically, speaking from their spirits to ours, their words appearing in our heads as if by magic. Out of vapor tech, comes bubblemail, as Maddie’s Scottish friend explains:
“So!” Pike held up the white tube. “This is a brand new invention.” He sucked on the end of the tube before placing the dry end to his lips and closing his eyes. After a moment, he puffed air into the tube and a bubble started to form. He puffed and puffed and the bubble grew until it was the size of a small orange, and then, with one final puff, he blew the bubble free.
It floated straight towards me, as if a strong breeze had sent it on its way, then it kept on dancing in front of my face like it was trying to get my attention.
“Maddie!” Pike called, pushing his glasses up his nose. “Reach out an’ pop it! Pop it! Go on!”
When I did, the bursting bubble exclaimed in Pike’s own voice, “Maddie, in a place where there’s neh cell phones nor internet, bubblemail still works.”
“Oh my God!” I gasped.
Aud’s jaw had dropped. She said, “Pike, that’s amazing.”
Pike beamed with pleasure. “It works up tae four hundred meters! An’ it’s just a tube! Easy tae hide. Sometimes, the bubble doesnae pop, but you can pop it, nae problem.”
–From Maddie Aflame! which launches 10/3/16!
Maddie lives in England, but not as we know it. Now being queer is illegal there, and a young person can suffer from an illness known as Combustion Syndrome. The trick with C.S., when it gets bad? Let out what’s inside, if you can.
Truth was, if Dad had fully accepted that I was queer, he’d have told me to hide who I was because my safety was always number one for him. That’s why he told me to avoid coming out about my Combustion Syndrome. But whenever I fought my flames and tried to keep them at bay, they only erupted twice as fiercely….
Suppress your flames, and they’ll only grow stronger. Let them out, and you’re likely to survive….
Hat tip to J.K. Rowling, who inspired me to write Maddie Aflame! — a Harry Potter type series, but with erotic scenes, for queer and/or sex-positive adults.
Maddie Aflame! (Book One: The Swallowing Mansion) releases in the first week of October, 2016. To receive updates about the series release, please join the Go Deeper Press email list. There’s even a freebie included.
Image: From the Crystal Wind Oracle Card Deck
One thing I adore about J.K. Rowling, who wrote the quote that is pictured on the left, is her understanding of love. She understands that if love was magic it would protect a parent’s child from being killed by a curse. And she understands that true love is the choice to act on the light, rather than the darkness. I think she also understands the importance of the shadow. We only have to look at Severus Snape to see how deeply Rowling cherishes his darkness and how he channels it for the good of the world. That is love indeed.
If I’d have understood earlier in my life that love, like magic, can flow in all directions, including towards the self, I’d have been happier far sooner. Thinking of love as magic helps me. Why would you deprive your own life of spells? Why would you only shower others with the gift? Surely performing magic in your own life means you’ll be more capable and able to help others. Love, like magic, isn’t something that should only flow in one direction. Neither does it change one life then fail to touch another. But when you first learn that you can love yourself, it can be scary to do so, especially if you’ve been taught that self-love is selfish.
Fear, however, is the anti-magic. It has a habit of blocking our light.
In Maddie Aflame! (the erotic fantasy series is launching in September), which is humbly conceived as a Harry Potter for readers of erotica — humbly is the word — I really wanted magic to be fueled by love. Maddie’s mother, who visits her as a spirit, teaches her the true nature of magic, while Maddie and her polyamorous friends are trapped in a magical mansion that is being used to experiment on queers. Maddie’s mother tells her:
“Fear is the anti-magic. Fear only creates itself. Love and peace, on the other hand, make magic faster and bigger.”
What Maddie’s mother has truly been trying to teach her, however, is that Maddie is magical. But as a sufferer of Combustion Syndrome, a condition in which she explodes into flames, Maddie can’t see the magic in herself — the magic in her fire.
“Love is magic,” says her mother. “And so my dear are you.”
When Maddie finds out what that truly means, she becomes more powerful than she’d ever imagined.
And, by loving ourselves, my friends, so can we.
As I wrap up my final drafts of Maddie Aflame!, I’m thinking in all sorts of ways about fire. I love that this element can be destructive, but also inspirational, lighting, warming, protective, cleansing. Fire is often used in rites of passage — walking or leaping through fiery hoops has been a part of many traditions, including the Celtic festival of Beltane, partly because it is thought to purify and leave the old behind. More than that, without fire, would we have survived as a species? And without passion, which is so often synonymous with flames, how deeply would our lives be changed? One thing I know for sure: many years ago, at a time in my life when I couldn’t feel passion for anything, I considered ending my life.
Fire, of course, often refers to sexual passion, and it intrigues me that folks also literally play with fire during sex. Fire play isn’t something I’d ever want to try (I suffered from second degree burns as a teenager and that’s enough for me!), but I love that there are those brave souls who choose to deal with Kevlar floggers and pens. Check out this intriguing post from SehAnru at SubmissiveGuide.com.
The following quotes challenge me to think about fire in all sorts of ways. Enjoy, and let me know if you’ve any fire quotes of your own, okay?
“What is to give light must endure burning.” –Viktor Frankl
“To hell, to hell with balance! I break glasses; I want to burn, even if I break myself. I want to live only for ecstasy. I’m neurotic, perverted, destructive, fiery, dangerous — lava, inflammable, unrestrained.” –Anais Nin
Picture credit – Oracle of the Shapeshifters (Lucy Cavendish) – click here or on pic to buy.
When I was eleven and living in England, I was sent to boarding school. I didn’t want to go, but at my previous school I’d been bullied ceaselessly for having extremely bad acne. For two years, I had begged my parents to take me away. The school — a private girls’ school — had a great deal of bigotry in it, and every time a student of color arrived in our year, or a student with a disability or a deep sense of shyness, I made friends with them. But they would only be there for a term because their parents took them away from the bullying. And then I’d be left alone.
What’s more, my parents were Christian Scientists who taught me it was sinful to defend myself against bullies, because they believed this “dragged me down to the bullies’ level.” So, being afraid of being “bad” in the face of God, I bore cruel words with tears in my eyes and never told anyone to leave me alone. Naturally, this only made it worse.
Then, one day, my parents gave me a choice. “Either you stay where you are,” they said, “or you go to Christian Science boarding school.”
I chose the latter.
“Erupting into flames really sucks, Maddie. I don’t know how you cope with your condition. To go up like tinder when you feel things strongly? The very idea slays me. But sweetheart, in a world where so much is iced over, where rejection can make us freeze and shatter like ice in a jar, warmth has to be worth the risk, doesn’t it? When we feel, we’re alive. When we don’t, we’re numb. And numb’s useful sometimes, but it’s no way to live. The flames have to be worth it — they are, aren’t they? Tell me the flames are worth it, Maddie. Tell me. God, please.”
The above words are from Aud to her friend and lover Maddie in Maddie Aflame! Obviously, I can’t promise Maddie Aflame! will be as amazing as Harry Potter (!) but it’s an exciting aim to write a sex-positive Harry Potter for queers and our allies, and also for poly folks, sex-positive folks, those who suffer from chronic illness, and all who know how it feels to be different. It feels important to try and write this. So I humbly continue, with JK’s inspiration firmly in mind.
I know life is hard for so many of us right now. I know there’s a lot to face. But you are beautiful.
The flames are worth it. This I believe.
Love them any way you can.
P.S. Yesterday was the Orlando shooting. (I’m updating this post today). I am sending love and light to everyone who has experienced or been touched by the pain, the horror, the tragedy of those terrible events. So much of this world is in need of healing. If only our flames could purge the hate.
Image: Angel Dreams Oracle Cards (Doreen Virtue). Click here or on image to purchase deck.