Public Relations Advice for Faleena Hopkins

I attempted to write a blog post, using my 34 years in public relations to help Faleena Hopkins fix this ridiculous and dangerous situation that will impact creatives for many, many years. Why? I can’t stop thinking about how she grossly underestimated the solidarity of the romance writing community, how she continues to assert she is just trying to protect her brand, how she continues to believe she is right. Then I remember the last 34 years and it all clicks into place. I’ve seen this scenario before . . . so many, many times before . . .

Starts blog post: You can’t stay quiet anymore.
Stops blog post: You should be writing your book instead of throwing unsolicited advice to someone who will never read it or take it.

Restarts: Self, you spent three decades in PR.  Those 34 years of working in the most cynical, hard, arrogant, well-intentioned, mistake-prone place in the world called Washington, DC has to do some good.
Stops: And be seen as helping the enemy? Just go back to writing. You’re behind on your deadline, ya know.

Restarts: Everyone can be redeemed. Besides it might help someone else who falls into a similarly horrendous, completely-self-made, reputation f*ck up scenario like FH has created.
Stops: Elizabeth, you are being a pollyanna. She won’t listen. Narcissists never do.

Restarts: But this whole bloody mess could be turned around.  I mean, to a point. She could at least reach the level of indifference.
Stops: Too many people will never forgive her. It’s a waste of time.

Restarts: The public has an enormous capacity to forgive—if you ask for it.
Stops:: Oh, come on. She seems to have crossed that line. Ya’ know the one that all humans have but rarely get to? The line where “being right” becomes more important than “being happy?” You’ve seen this before. Lordy, have you seen this before! They dig in their heels and double down on their stance in an attempt to further prove they are right even if the outcome is clearly going to show they are wrong.

Restarts: FH has dug in her heels so far she’s up to her ass in dirt. Help the poor woman save herself.
Stops: The steps are too hard. Most people, and certainly not someone like who FH has shown herself to be, won’t do the things you’d suggest.

Restarts: Listen, self, you really should support all the other authors who have stuck their necks out on this thing,  like writing cocky-titled and cocky-themed books, with what you can contribute—PR advice. You can at least tell them what you’d tell FH if she’d listen, which is to:
1) Stop talking about it.
2) Start breathing — and thinking. Stop reacting.
3) Identify what she really wants from her life and her work.
4) Apply to rescind the TM on the single word, cocky, but keep the series TM.
5) Ask for forgiveness for all that came before this moment, and DO NOT say a word about angry responses. Be sure to say she made a mistake, and that she’s sorry. Like, really sorry and that she hopes others can forgive her.
6) Ask for forgiveness from the specific authors, attorneys and the publicist she’s gone after and not expect said forgiveness but rather hope for indifference. In fact, consider covering their legal bills.
7) Offer to help/financially support the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the Authors Guild so they can work with the PTO in changing their policies so individual words remain in the public domain.
8) Find a tribe of authors who can provide future advice on what to do/not do so she’ll never, ever end up here again. Hold them close. Above all else, listen to them.
9) Ride off into the sunset to make her movies or whatever the hell number 3 is but remembering number 4
10) Understand none of this is guaranteed to work but worth trying anyway. What isn’t a reputation worth?

Stops: Take your own advice, Elizabeth, especially step 3. Go back to writing your own books. Support RWA and the Authors Guild in having that talk with the PTO about removing the ability for an individual, non profit, corporation or governmental body to “own” a word. Buy all the cocky books written by other authors that you can get your hands on.

Oh, and if FH does take the advice above? Forgive her.

But only if she asks for it.

Billionaire Romance Will Never Die

This post first ran on Ladysmut.com

Let me be Captain Obvious. The rich aren’t like us. So it tracks that we’d be fascinated by these super rich creatures, right? Who wouldn’t want to live in that world, albeit virtually and vicariously, through romance stories? The “economic one percent” make problems disappear with the swipe of a credit card. They board private jets when the mood strikes for sushi but only from that little place they discovered in Japan. They buy all the shoes, books and enemy’s businesses they want, whenever they want.

Who wouldn’t want to read about these people?

A bunch of hands just went up in the room, as in “Me! Me! Stop with the billionaire romance already!” Apparently, a tribe of billionaire-hating readers who have a strong disdain for such reads exists! I discovered this on Facebook — the authority on all things true and accurate, right? written with extreme sarcasm. Direct quotes include:

“If I never read another billionaire romance life would be so grand.”

“Can we just have the billionaire thing over already?”

“Oh, yay. Another billionaire romance. Retch.”

I’m shocked, I tell you. SHOCKED.

Then I remembered hearing a panel at last year’s RT Booklovers Convention (forgive me for not remembering the details) where someone said Millennial’s reading tastes are vastly different from older generation’s. The younger generation wants–shudder–reality, as in romance books set in the real-world with characters who were authentic, i.e. not rich, not glamorous, not billionaires. In short, they wanted to read about people like them.

The same RT panelist said the older generations were more apt to want escapism romance. And, sorry to break it to the world, but at some point in the not too distant future the younger generation will become the older generation. So we authors need to care what these youngin’s think–today.

(Side note: Have you heard about the rich kids of Instagram? Well, lest you think everyone young is rolling pennies at night, take a gander at THIS.)

Back to our blog post at hand. Do these predictions mean tales of the wealthy whisking away the innocent virgin to unimaginable pleasures and private islands will go away? Is the billionaire erotic romance market, gulp, fading?

Nope. Not. Even. Close. So say, I, and not because I publish a billionaire erotic romance series. Scout’s honor.

Google images return results when you ask for “billionaire romance.” Thousands! Millions!

 

The Guardian recently published an article on this very topic, triggered by the recent Fifty Shades movie. (Read about my and Madeline Iva’s opinion on the movie here). How could anyone NOT click on an article with the headline, Filthy rich: our tortured love affair with wealth porn.

Wealth porn means accepting that someone is more interesting after seeing their stock portfolio. Kind of like being a virtual gold digger (guilty!). After all, many have said if Christian Grey lived in a trailer, he’d be considered an abuser. The fact he has a penthouse in Seattle’s most expensive building makes his, ahem, viewpoints and behavior around kink okay.

Back to the topic at hand. Forget that in real life millionaires and billionaires rarely have time for Saturday strolls with the family in the park, let alone time to jet off to Japan for sushi. Unless one has inherited a fortune, it takes an obscene amount of office face time to purchase luxury living. But in books, they have oodles of time to lavish attention and resources on their heroines. Thank goodness. I get enough reality in, well, real life.

Below are my super-non-scientific reasons why the super rich will grace our book’s pages for years to come and readers will love it–even the Millennials.

Billionaire romance can be aspirational. A girl’s gotta have a dream, so why not fill your head with visions of full-time maid service and a full-time cook (my ultimate dream)? But more than that, if you believe in the power of manifestation, what you imagine becomes closer to reality. Deep down, I wonder if this is what makes billionaire romance reading so appealing. I read at night and know my dream state is affected by this activity. I have to believe others feel the same.

Reality fatigue is real.  If you seek a break from the negative news filling our airwaves and headlines these days (who isn’t?), romance is perfect for such an escape. Reading about the super-rich takes this diversion to a new level. As for that RT panel that said Millennials don’t want reality? Remember that was before the recent U.S. presidential election, although we were deep in it. Just not as profoundly as we are now. Now we’re so entrenched in absurdity and negativity, we’re like pigs in slop (except pigs like slop).

Billionaire romance features the good guys. Lordy knows, we need some honest-to-God heroes right now, and will for decades to come to get over what’s happening in real life. In reality, the mega rich don’t have the best reputation, especially in today’s times. In romance novels, these wealthy heroes may be flawed, but they sure are heroic and deep down good. Heck, in books even the villains are usually redeemed. Or, if an unethical rich person is cast in a romance novel, they “get theirs” or at least are so obviously bad we know what we’re dealing with. That’s not always the case in real-life. That makes romance novels appeal to the better angels of our nature.

Note: In real life you’d be hard-pressed to find a billionaire who looks like Jamie Dornan. Just sayin’. 

No office pallor here!

Oddly, rich heroes and heroines make me feel normal. When reading, provided it’s not dark erotica or romance, my problems fade for a little bit. In fact, my problems don’t even show up in billionaire romance, even though the characters may be going through the same jealousy, insecurity, emotional vulnerability thing that I might be going through. But it always works out in romance, so I know it will be all right in the end. And if someone with a bank account the size of Fort Knox is worried about being loved, well, dammit, I’m not so strange after all.

In the end, romance has a time-tested appeal that taps into our human nature of wanting love to conquer all. In billionaire romance, we get to tap into that AND our desire for freedom and achievement — ultimately to not be at the behest of others.

Why do YOU love the billionaire romance? Or not?

And while you’re here, sign up for my Sexy, Saucy, Sometimes Naughty Email reader group. Never miss a new release, bonus materials and giveaways.

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Coming to the RT Booklovers Convention in Atlanta this May? Join the Ladysmut.com bloggers, myself included, for a very special reader event – Never Have You Ever, Ever, Ever — and win crowns, toys, books and more. (Ooo, and we’ll have brownies….) Goodybags (with fun stuff!) to first 100 people in line! Wednesday, May 3 at 1:30 p.m. Add this event to your RT Personal Agenda here.

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Why Set an Erotic Romance in Washington, D.C.?

This blog post first appeared on Kay Dee Royal’s blog during my Lovely blog tour. 

Don’t know about Lovely? The story is a contemporary erotic romance where college student Christiana Snow finds dominance and submission with Congressman Jonathan Brond adventurous—and ripe for scandal.

But, why set the book in Washington, D.C.? Our nation’s capitol  is a fascinating place to set an erotic romance.  Really? you ask. [Drops voice to a whisper] But the thought police live there. You know, the government? Yes, but just like Hollywood isn’t the totality of Los Angeles and Wall Street isn’t the definition of New York City, the government isn’t everything that exists in Washington, D.C. A whole lotta naughtiness goes on in our nation’s capital that has nothing to do with a federal budget.

Tourists flock to this city every summer, people raise families both inside and outside the Capital Beltway, and people get stuck in traffic, grocery lines and relationships just like anywhere else.

Still, the government and all its influence is palatable. Because of this impact, two unique characteristics of Washington, D.C. make it a fascinating place to set an erotic romance: the quest for power and the absurd level of judgment.

First, the need for power. Reminders of power’s importance are everywhere: monuments and memorials marking important historical outcomes; black SUVs travelling in packs; the Pentagon building looming over rush hour traffic; and the heads of federal agencies and businesses standing in line at Starbucks. Alpha energy is everywhere.

 
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In particular, as a BDSM erotic romance author, setting a sexual, dominance-submission dynamic against this natural, “power-aware” backdrop is fun. Imagine a submissive’s delight walking into a reception filled with dominant personalities – attorneys, members of Congress, judges, and CEOs. Heaven. Picture a submissive male walking into a restaurant where everywhere he looks sit female leaders of software companies, political action committees and trade associations. Jackpot.

Also, the idea that you could lose your power because of the second element — the ridiculous level of judgment — adds yet another layer to a juicy and titillating romance.

Have you watched the news lately? Pick any Washington scandal from the last year and it likely involved sex. Yet the town is notorious for telling people how they should live, especially around their sex lives. Carnal acts are only accepted if conducted with a marriage partner, in the missionary position, with the lights off, right? Well, let’s get real. In reality, people everywhere act out their desire, lust and love. But, in Washington, few people will approve of it. So when my characters act like real people (read: indulge in lustful fantasies), all hell can break loose pretty quickly.

 
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So, what could be more fun? Power hungry people having “unacceptable” sexcapades! Yeah, I think I like it. Sorry, Washington. You kind of brought it on yourself, you power-needy, sexy city.
 
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Lovely
Book One of the Elite Doms of Washington Series (Stand alone. Not a cliff-hanger) 

Book Description:
Can you have love and power at the same time?

Congressman Jonathan Brond has mastered his work, his reputation and the art of sexual domination while keeping his family’s political legacy intact. But a chance encounter with college student Christiana Snow promises something he didn’t think was possible–meeting someone honest.

When the charismatic man proposes a summer of sensual, sexual submission, Christiana leaps into his world—the antidote to her bland life. But Washington, D.C. is an unforgiving place; soon gossip and scandal threatens their relationship.

Yet, in a town of players, sometimes introducing a new game is the only way out. Who knew love would be the winning plan?

Available at Amazon     Kobo      Smashwords   Barnes & Noble 

Lovely (Elite Doms of Washington, #1)

Happy New Year’s Eve! Music, Book Trailers, Bonus Writings, Oh, My!

May the new year bring you everything you wish. In case you’re wishing for more hot and juicy moments, may I suggest some erotic romance reading? Choose a book from one of your favorite authors, or take a chance on a relatively new author (me!). Today is the last day to pre-order Lovely, a contemporary erotic romance, at nearly 50% off.

When nineteen year old Christiana Snow is lured into a summer of sexual submission with charismatic Congressman Jonathan Brond, the relationship promises the adventure she’s been craving and the life he’s been missing. But in unforgiving Washington, D.C. the threat of scandal and gossip always looms.

In case you’re wondering if Lovely is for you, below are some bonus writings, two book trailers and a link to the Lovely playlist. They will help showcase who you might meet between Lovely’s pages.

Like Jonathan Brond . . . Read his two-part interview with a very nosy reporter here and and here. (Bonus writing not in Lovely.)

 
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And Christiana Snow . . . Read a bonus scene here (not in Lovely).
 
 
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For your listening pleasure:The Lovely Playlist. (The giveaway noted is closed, but stop by my Pinterest board for weekly giveaways!)
 
Ready for the book trailer? We have two! Enjoy!
 
Lovely: Elite Doms of Washington (Book 1)

What My Day Looks Like – A Writer With A Day Job

My day starts out like most people’s days. I get up, take a shower and head to the kitchen where I lament the milk is low but rejoice the caffeine options remain high. Coffee, tea, or diet coke? I have them all. Then I head to my office. This is where things get tricky.

Come to me, whisper my characters. Think again, screams my email. No, me! Me! yell the submissives. The Doms say quietly, over here. Now.

Who wins? They all do. Welcome to my crazy, scattered, fun world.

My computer screen looks like Microsoft has blown up. Twenty windows are open at a time, some with manuscripts I’m working on and others with work documents. I toggle between Excel spread sheets, Goodreads, press releases, blogs, manuscripts, Twitter and more with ease. I’ve had the practice.

On long boring conference calls, I troll Pinterest seeking inspiration. (Oh, who am I kidding? Hot man pictures.) I’ve had to ask clients to repeat things on phone calls because my head is buried so far into a character’s bosom I can’t remember answering the phone. I’ve sent emails to clients under Elizabeth SaFleur’s email account. “Who’s Elizabeth?” they ask. Oops.

Then there are the Skype calls. These are conference calls where people can see your office. Note to self: angle the computer away from your “inspiration board.”


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At least I can work most days from home in whatever stretchy pants I can pull on. It’s important to be comfortable while doing battle.