A fun new MTV article talks about Fifty Shades of Grey fans who want to pay PERMANENT homage to the books.  Yes,  there are people who have various Fifty-related images and sayings tattooed on their persons -- in various and sundry locations.

Don't get me wrong, I like "Laters, Baby" as much as the next Christian Grey fan, but I don't want it emblazoned on my chest, neck, fingers or toes. And I really don't want Christian's tie tattooed on my ankle.  (Why would you have a tie tattooed on your ankle?)

IMHO, the most devoted of the tattooed fans in the MTV piece is the one with quotes from the book inked on her body.  Yes, that's right.  Check it out for yourself.  By all the ducks in the pond, I don't even want quotes from my books tattooed on my skin.

Someday these ladies are going to have children and they will have to explain that key to the "red room of pain tattoo" not to mention all the sex toys.  Good luck with that.....



I just read a very interesting piece on Yahoo Finance (of all places) about successful indie romance authors. It's titled:  "These romance writers ditched their publishers for ebooks and made millions."  The piece focuses on a number of now indie authors who were first published traditionally: Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy and Courtney Milan.  They are the indie answer to publishing's "Big 5" - Andre, Freethy and Milan are the indie "Big 3."

I wonder if they'd mind adding a member?

The piece points out the speed at which all three ladies turn out new books, which is something I truly, truly envy.  They're able to do it, of course, because writing is their life and their livelihood.  I'd devote myself to writing full time, gladly, and I've been hoping to do that for some time.  But until my writing income outpaces my legal loot, I'll keep trudging to my office where I'm thankful my boss can tolerate having an insane duck lady churning out pleadings, memoranda, briefs, opinion letters and all sorts of other legal scribbling.

The income numbers for all three ladies are very impressive.  You go, lady love-scribes.  I hope to join you soon.

...continue reading "Indie Romance Authors Flourish"

Unfortunately, this week I had a close encounter with a dentist. I say unfortunately, not because this dentist and his team aren't amazing (He's even smart enough to have an office manager named Mary Anne) - I say it because I have a deep and profound terror of dentists.  I have the same feeling about ophthalmologists.  I know I fail in both areas so I feel like I'm taking a test I know in advance I will fail.  But some encounters can't be avoided, and thanks to a riled and rowdy tooth, this was one of them.

It turned out that the tooth and I had to part ways, so I saw the dentist twice this week.  At one point, we discussed my romance writing and the dentist mentioned how much his Grandmother loved reading Harlequins. I enjoy reading those too, but they're not my first love.  My first love is reading historical romance. My dentist's comment made me think back to the beginning, the first time I encountered the genre.  I picked up a book at the public library and started a love affair that still burns strong today. Yes, the book I found was the one that started it all.  It created a genre and blazed a trail for future authors to follow, including a certain crazy duck lady.

The late Kathleen Woodiwiss had a 600 page MS titled "The Flame and the Flower" and she believed in the book.  It was rejected across the board by agents and publishers of hardcovers, so she submitted it to paperback publishers directly.  The first on her list was Avon, and it snapped the book right up.   From an initial 500,000 run for its first publication in 1972, the book sold over 2.3 million copies in its first 4 years -- and it created an industry.

Woodiwiss wrote historical romance.  I suppose the term was invented to describe her work.  Susan Elizabeth Phillips - a NY Times Bestseller and absolute genius at her craft -  says that "We all owe our careers to her. She opened the world of romance to us as readers. She created a career for us to go into."  Another of my favorite authors, Julia Quinn, says "Woodiwiss made women want to read. She gave them an alternative to Westerns and hard-boiled police procedurals. When I was growing up, I saw my mother and grandmother reading and enjoying romances, and when I was old enough to read them myself, I felt as if I had been admitted into a special sisterhood of reading women."

You know what Woodiwiss brought to the literary world?  Passion.  She created heroines readers adored from the first page and paired them with deeply flawed heroes. Her work, like most of the early historicals, have been criticized by the PC Police as "glamorizing" or "advocating" rape. Today people call her books and the early historicals "bodice rippers."  I find all of that to be hogwash.  I'd agree with a review on the "Amazon" site by "A customer" who says that perhaps the heroes in Ms. Woodiwisses' work should have been redeemed earlier.  Or, if not redeemed, that readers should be given more reason to like and understand them a bit earlier.

But it's hard to criticize Woodiwiss too much because the passion in her stories is as contagious today as it was back, lo, many years ago when I first found "The Flame and The Flower" in the library as a young teen.  The characters carry her story and they carry the readers right along for the journey.  I think readers today wince too quickly and put stories down too fast. If they read a little further, they would experience more than a bodice being ripped. Maybe, they'd ignore the opinions of others and realize for themselves that in a Woodiwiss book, the hero dominates physically, but the heroine dominates emotionally.  In the end, it is the heroine's love that saves the hero.

Ms. Woodiwiss is no longer with us, but her work lives on and today, it is available at Amazon for your Kindle.  If you're an independent free thinker who doesn't follow the herd (like a certain duck lady), then I suggest you boogle on over to Amazon and pick up the book that started it all.  Give "The Flame and The Flower" a read for yourself and see if you can find in the book the seeds of brilliance that started a genre.

The lesson I take from it all is that if a writer creates strong characters, puts them in an interesting situation and listens very hard - they will tell her their story. And if it's done right, the passion in the tale will continue to burn bright enough to illuminate readers for generations to come.  That's my hope, every time I sit down at a keyboard.

Oh, and BTW, if you pick up "The Flame and The Flower" and read it for the first time, you might boogle back by and leave a comment sharing your thoughts.  I'd love to discuss!


I've been working on Olivia Outlaw's new m/m erotic romance - an "Isle of Bliss" novel. I've gotten more writing done this weekend than in the last few put together.  You know who I have to thank for that?  Amazon.

Yes, that's right, the source of  most of my writing income has now put out an excellent tool to help me increase it. It's the new streaming music service for Amazon's prime customers. I thought the free book borrows, free movie and TV streaming and the two-day shipping were already great reasons to pay for Prime. The streaming music service absolutely earns its keep and, in my house, more than pays for itself.

The single greatest enemy to my writing is distraction.  The story must flow in my head.  I have to be with the characters, in their skins, to know what they are going to say and do.  Television is a wonderful thing but if my head is in a program then it's not in my writing.  Sometimes, I can have a news channel or a reality program in the background and that works until something catches my attention - which is what the programs are designed to do, after all - and bingo - I'm distracted.

Music is great to write to and I love my oldies. To me, the best years of music are between the 60's and the 80's.  Not too much great stuff has been written or recorded since then, save for a few things in the 90's. We have a local station in Myrtle Beach, Sunny 103.1, and it play's some great stuff. I Heart Radio has a Great Classic Oldies station that also spins some fine stuff.  And I often listened to Q105 out of Tampa Bay, Florida to get the beat of my writing.

The problem with all of the great online radio is that sooner or later something would play that I didn't like or an annoying ad would play and it would be a lot louder than the music.  Either distracts me into changing the channel, looking for a new one, or leaving my writing and boogling over the the internet. Then the flow is gone and writing is all about the flow.

Amazon's streaming music for Prime changed all that.  I download my favorite music. It's a mix too eclectic for any radio station.  Seriously, on my streaming Prime I have pop, disco, rap, country, gospel, metal, and patriotic music. I have Corey Smith's "Carolina" - one of the great tunes of all time.  I have Susan Boyle's "Hallelujah." And, on Father's Day as this is written, I'm very glad that I have Judy Collins' "Amazing Grace."  It's the best version of the hymn ever done or that can ever be done.  My late Father ran an upholstery shop and when that song played, he would stop whatever he was doing, his face would glow and he would be happy. It's how I remember him.

I presently have 234 songs from 16 different genres streaming.  And the service has a music player that shuffles so no matter how I uploaded the songs - grabbing all the Charley Daniels in a row or two versions of "Hallelujah" - it plays randomly. If I'm not in the mood for one then I hit skip, knowing the next tune is one I'll also love. And while the music plays, if one spins I really like, then I look in the sidebar.  Just like the "readers also bought" feature, Amazon will tell you about the songs people who got this one also bought.  And there's another one to snag for my collection.

So, I'm tossing a big "THANK YOU" to Amazon for the streaming music service. It keeps me primed for writing which makes me happy, keeps me out of my family's hair, and makes my creditors feel like dancing. And if you're not already a Prime customer, then the streaming music service is the best reason going to join today. If you're a creative type then you can't afford not to have streaming prime music because it'll keep you in the same place it keeps me - flowing towards a happy ending.



Of late I've been following some of Konrath's advice - well, I didn't know it was Konrath's advice, actually, until I read a great writing blog in my Twitter stream.  Konrath says more writing and less of everything else.  Unfortunately, that has led to......  less blogging as well.  However, the recent piece by William Giraldi for New Republic has been stewing around in my unstable brain recently, demanding a response.  I've dusted off my soapbox for the occasion.

Have you read Giraldi's piece?  It is absolute proof that judgmental ignorance still flourishes amongst those who consider themselves 'better than the masses.'  What masses?  Well, their readers, their fellow writers, pretty much everyone with any other opinion.  Yes, those people.  I'd bet Giraldi is a card-carrying member of the P.C. Police and anyone who reads this blog knows my opinion of those specimens.

Giraldi's piece is part book-review (read book hatred) for a book by a woman, Eva Illouz, discussing and analyzing the "Fifty Shade of Grey" affect on culture and society.  From the perspective of the New Republic article, I expect that one of the biggest of Illouz's problems is biology - she's a WOMAN. And Giraldi doesn't think much of women, especially women like Illouz and the amazing author of "Fifty Shades", Erika Leonard a/k/a "E.L. James.  Illouz, Leonard and even, yours truly, the insane Duck Lady, have a big problem - we don't know our place.  Rather, we don't know that our place isn't at a keyboard.

How does Giraldi feel about "Fifty Shades," its author and its fans?

A great many women indeed have been living it up while dumbing it down, titillated by a charlatan amorist who goes by the nom de plume of E.L. James. I'm made distinctly queasy by uttering that sacral American surname when referring to this empress of inanity, so let’s use her real name, Erika Leonard. She who has done so much to help debase our culture should stand revealed.

To be able to pontificate so profoundly, Giraldi must have made a close study, a dissection even, of the Fifty Shades trilogy, right?  Well - not so much.

This is probably the spot to say that for the sake of this assignment I made a good faith effort to read these books at my city library, but I wasn't self-punishing enough actually to finish them and had to stop the agony halfway into the second volume.

If you haven't read it, from cover to cover, you are NOT in the least qualified to discuss it. The same goes for romance novels.  What is Giraldi's opinion of the genre?

The trilogy’s assembly-line asininity is really a fomentation of the worst that can be believed about both sexes. Romance novelsparochial by definition, ecumenical in ambitionteach a scurvy lesson: enslavement to the passions is a ticket to happiness.

Sorry, no - actually, that's the BEST thing Giraldi says about the romance genre. IMHO, the worst is this:

Dreck of this stupendous caliber has a particular advantage over literature in that one doesn't have to read all of it to surmise, accurately and eternally, that it is all uniformly awful and awfully uniformromance novels, like racists, tend to be the same wherever you turn. It's pointless to spend much time impugning these books as writing because they really aren't meant to be considered as actual writing, the same way a Twinkie wasn't meant to be considered as actual food. Books ejaculated this easily have the inverse effect of being extremely difficult to read. Leonard’s creations are the cartoonishly erotic suppurations of a hamstrung, not terribly bright adult trying to navigate a midlife crisis, and you get the feeling that the sentences arrived on the page as if by osmosis, unaided by even a sub-literate serf.

So, Giraldi thinks that romance novels aren't literature and they aren't writing any more than a Twinkie is food. The New Republic writer finds that romance novels are cartoonishly written and are to the literate world what racists are to society.  You know what I find?  I find that Mr. Giraldi's opinions of the romance genre are every bit as well-informed as his opinions of the "Fifty Shades" trilogy.  It is so much easier to spout generalities meant to sound superior when you are not troubled by having any knowledge of your subject.

Giraldi says that just as Twinkies aren't meant to be "actual food", romances aren't meant to be actual writing. I agree that Twinkies aren't meant to appease physical hunger.  A hungry person is more apt to reach for a hamburger than a Twinkie. A Twinkie is meant to appease a craving for something else, something more than physical hunger.  A person might eat a Twinkie when she needs her mood lifted or wants to reward herself. In the same way, romance novels - like "Fifty Shades of Grey", like my/ Mary Anne Graham "Forever Series"/ like my Olivia Outlaw "Sultan's Toy Series" - romance novels feed the soul and elevate the spirit.  Like a Twinkie, a romance novel sometimes just helps you go on believing, hoping, existing.

If you want to read something that makes you feel like eating a bowl of prunes, wearing a monacle and sneering at the world,  then perhaps you should pick up something by Mr. Giraldi.  If you want to read something that makes you feel like eating a Twinkie, wearing a smile and cheering for the human experience,  then perhaps you should pick up a romance novel.

Most women - and some very special men - are smart enough to know that sometimes you have to feed your heart, your soul and your spirit.  If we don't do that often enough we risk becoming a prune-eating, monacle-wearing nation.  A romance novel, anyone?

I've heard a bunch of scuttlebutt from writers who claim that the best sales strategy at the Zon is to select keywords that are in Amazon subcategory list for romance.  As writers know, for certain categories - Romance and Erotica among them - Amazon has a list of words that describe certain subcategories of romance; i.e. - for books about Kings, and Princes if you use those terms as keywords they'll appear in a "royalty" subcategory.

I've been putting up keywords that are most specific to my books.  If someone is over the top enough to hunt for something the crazy duck lady has written as Mary Anne Graham or Olivia Outlaw, then by the quack - I wanted them to find my stuff.  But given the scuttlebutt, I went in and changed all the keywords for several books - including my entire Sultan's Toy series - to fit in the generic mold that should have gotten them listed in several subcategories of romance and erotica.

Did I get listed in those subcategories?  I don't know, but if I did, it surely didn't help sales, which have been down in April.  So you know what I did today?  Can you guess?

Yep.  I went back to my me-words - my crazy duck lady terms that describe my stories.  I've just changed them, but sales have already started trending back up.

That can only mean one thing ---  there are more crazy duck lads and ladies out there than I ever suspected. Maybe one day we crazy duck people will take over and turn the world into a much more interesting place.

In the meantime, the results of my little experiment make me feel a little bit warm and cozy and a lot less lonely.  I'm hoping that all my fellow quackers keep on finding my books. We'll let the rest of the world worry about where we're holding our secret meetings.......


This is a quick post - and I'm stealing time from my muse to blog.  Snatching it from her greedy, absorbed, self-involved genius.  Because muse is absorbing me so, what else could I write about but her? (Are you happy now, Ms. Muse? Will you give me a sec to do this?)

As my "nom de plume" Olivia Outlaw, Ms. Muse has been working my imagination like a Sports Reporter on Super Bowl Sunday.  We're still working on the story of Ring and Ali - my Sultan's Toy series. As you can tell, it's going like gangbusters. Musey really adores the 20-30k format of erotic romance and she's having a mighty fine time with her first male/male romance. I'll definitely have to do another sometime soon.......

But for now, we're busy with Ring and Ali who are still in Turkey, in the Sultan's Palace.  (For now....)

And sometimes, my dearest darling Hubby will summon me, or the kids will pop up, wide-eyed by my monitor, or life, generally will require me to stop writing to sleep, eat, clean, work or get kids ready for school.  Lately, I've often looked up with that lost, strained expression at whoever or whatever is calling me away.

My Darlin' Mr. Duck could describe the expression for you - because it has annoyed him often enough - but you've probably never seen it unless you're the poor unfortunate family member of a writer.

And remember, sometimes we're writing when we're NOT at the keyboard. Muse may be whispering in my ear while we're driving somewhere or right in the middle of dinner.  When that happens, Mr. Duck will often break off in the middle of what he's saying to grouch something like:  "Are you listening to me?  Are you paying attention?"

I'll respond, "Yes. Of course," or something like that because - I'm really, really trying to listen and pay attention. It's just that muse is really tough to ignore. It's like trying to ignore a neon sign 5-feet in front of your face flashing thoughts in red and purple to the beat of the best song of all time. (Bob Seegar's Night Moves). It's really, really HARD.

It may be difficult to convince most non-writers that the world of a Grand Sultan's Palace in long-ago, far-away Turkey is more real than the world outside the window or inside your house -- but it's true. It's really, really true.

That is, it's true when I'm very lucky and my Muse is sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear. With my Olivia Outlaw cap on, and my fingers typing away at Part 3 of "The Sultan's Toy", Muse has been doing that a lot lately. Just now, Muse is occasionally distracting me from Part 3 with thoughts of -- what should I title this one?

I'm doing the "C" thing for all the stories - and I'm considering:  Captivated, Coupled and Consumed. What to do, what to do.....

I can't even be distracted from my distraction for long because Muse is back, whispering in my ear and tapping her high-heeled shoes on my chest.  After a while, that really hurts, you know?

So, send some good wishes to Mr. Duck and the Duck Clan as they try NOT to kill me for being even MORE distracted than usual - which is really saying something.  But all this distraction means something I'm hoping that Olivia Outlaw's readers will find mighty interesting........

Whatever it ends up being titled - Part 3 of "The Sultan's Toy" will be winding its way to your favorite online retailer very, very soon.

And - thank you Muse! I'm living for the day when I have no day job to distract me from my shoulder sessions with my very own, beloved, well-Mused one.......


Last night in boogling around the vast expanse of offerings by Time Warner Cable, I ran across a channel running "Brokeback Mountain." As y'all know, as 'Olivia Outlaw' I've ventured into the world of erotic romance with my ongoing series:  Sultan's Toy - Book One (Captured) and Book Two (Claimed) are available on Amazon now. (Grab 'em before you read the rest of this.  I'll wait....)

And yes, I'm hard at work on Book Three as we speak. It'll be out soon - and I'll surely announce here when it's available.

Anyway, Sultan's is my first adventure into male/male romance, so I thought the time might be right to watch "Brokeback Mountain." I started watching it, but then, I had that thought, you know, THE thought.  I've never heard how it ended.  Oh, I recall people raving about it, but none of those raves  mentioned feeling all happy,  squishy and warm at the ending.  And that sounded an alarm bell in my head, a loud one, like the annoying Emergency Warning System. A local TV station runs the "test" before 6:30 am when I'm trying to chug my first cup of caffeine and wondering when I'll be able to write full time and arise at a decent hour. You really can't ignore that alarm.

I paused the beginning of "Brokeback" and went to the Great Googled One to do a search.  I typed in, "Does Brokeback Mountain Have a Happy Ending?' I no sooner hit enter than the first item on the list said - "one of them is beaten to death at the end."  Well, great quacking ducks!  Thank God for warning bells. You know what I did, don't you?  Yep.  I flipped back, turned off "Brokeback," kicked on "Amazon Prime" and watched an episode of BBC's Sherlock Holmes.

See, I don't "do" unhappy endings in entertainment.  Never. Ever.  I'm serious about that - so serious that I refuse to watch "Titanic."  I hear the ship sinks.

By trade, I am a lawyer. I'm toiling away at that until I can earn enough money at my writing to allow me to do it full time.  Don't get me wrong - I'm a "scrivener" which means I do legal research and writing for a living. So I write at work too. (It's the only thing I'm anywhere near good at, after all.) But none of the writing is happy. People involved in lawsuits rarely are joyous about it, of course, but so often the weight of the tragedy is nearly overwhelming - the destruction, the injuries, the sorrow.

And when I leave work and come home, to update myself, I'll flick on some news.  In today's 24-hour-everything world, it's not hard to find.  And I hear about school shootings and monsters planning to attack Olympic athletes who've dedicated their lives to become the best of the best and are willing to use their skills in their country's honor.

Enough. It's enough.

If I want sadness and tragedy, I'll go to work or watch the news. When I want to entertain myself, I EXPECT authors, actors, movie producers, TV showrunners, directors and all the others providing possible entertainment choices to have enough common sense to know they have one goal - Give it to me with a happy ending.

It's the one promise I make to all my readers whether I'm writing as "Mary Anne Graham" or "Olivia Outlaw" - at the end of my story, the characters will have a happy ending. Y'all can take that to the bank.

As readers or viewers, we can choose whether we want to end feeling all hopeless and despondent or uplifted and encouraged - why would we ever pick misery? Aren't all of our daily lives full of enough of that already? I'm up for almost any journey that a talented creator contrives, as long as it arrives at an ending that makes me happy.

Misery may love company but Happy Endings make you feel at home.


There has been a spate of abusive, bullying tactics at Goodreads, about which I blogged very recently HERE. This has been spawned by bad behavior by authors and reviewers/GR users.  As to the authors, they have erred mainly by entering discussions to randomly toss up marketing for their books - something which (justifiably) annoys readers no end and by wading, uninvited, into discussions about their books.  As to the reviewers/GR users, the bad acts go from small - labeling their shelves in a manner designed to insult authors personally -  to large - ganging up to harass and threaten authors on GR and by leaving bad reviews on Amazon.

Frankly, I suspect that my prior blog post led to my receiving a dose of the bad Amazon reviews.  It may or may not have led to bad reviews or insulting shelves on Goodreads.  Like most writers, while the readers have been in a "posse" or "follow the bully" mentality, I've stayed off GR.  Now, thanks to a move by GR owner Amazon, I may return - along with many other writers who love reading and discussing books as readers.

Sheriff Amazon finally waded into the fray, enforcing a couple of important, basic rules and announcing them at the same time.  What are they?   (1)  Reviews must be about the book; and (2) Members can't harass or threaten others.  They're such basic rules, one wonders how they weren't always the standard at the site.  However, Amazon's announcement led to a mass backlash at GR, with users crying the expected charge of "censorship."

...continue reading "Amazon Shifts Goodreads Focus Back to Books"

Yet another writer has penned an anti-"Fifty Shades of Grey" rant.  This one is in Pajiba and is entitled:  "Women Who Have Never Had Decent Sex Outraged By Warped Fantasy Movie Casting."

Like most such rants, it says more about the writer than the subject.  This piece makes the writer appear to be bitter and brittle, too snobbish to appreciate the appeal of a good romance novel.  It paints a portrait of someone too insecure to consider that the books' readers could simply be smarter, more emotionally grounded, and far more secure in their acceptance of humanity's infinite variations than the writer could ever understand.   You know what?  That makes this writer, again, like most of them.

Them?  Yes, them - meaning, those who consider themselves superior to others.  Such superior beings imagine that they are very open-minded when in reality their view of the world is so narrow that it cannot encompass the possibility that they are wrong.  This particular writer, Courtney Enlow, a/k/a Courtney Enlow Hall, has the egotism to imagine herself as far more gifted, even, than the author of "Fifty Shades of Grey", Erika Leonard, a/k/a E.L. James.  Of Ms. James, and all of her readers, Ms. Enlow says:

" ...some simp of a drooling moron with her hand firmly clenched between her thighs as though she can will Edward into being through masturbatory efforts alone but cannot say the proper names of the body parts because that would be naughty WOULD go on to write the most popular book among fellow drooling morons, no longer satisfied by rubbing against their sparkly body pillows until the funny feelings go boom."

...continue reading "Fifty Shades Fans Don’t Have Good Sex? Yes, It’s Yet Another Anti-Fifty Shades Rant"