What The KU Changes Mean For You (And Your Porn)

Kindle Unlimited will be undergoing a big change next month, overhauling the way that authors get paid and forcing many of us to get in touch with our inner starving-1940s-pulp writer.

Under the old system, KU paid out of the collective pot whenever a book was read up to 20% of the way through. This counted as a ‘borrow’ and meant Amazon would have to reach into their moth infested pockets to the tune of round about $1.30 or whatever that month’s KU rate was.

It didn’t matter if the book in question was a full length novel or a 4000 word long short story about some girls who mysteriously grew dicks after eating gas station hot dogs or drinking weird punch. If the reader got up to 20%, it counted as a borrow.

You can see how the novelists were getting the shaft from this system. Even more than the boyfriends of the girls who ate the gas station hotdogs, although almost certainly a lot less pleasurable.

Now, don’t start thinking that Amazon’s overhaul of the system has anything to do with their love of the long form novel. This is Amazon we’re talking about. They love only money and were getting pretty pissed off at having to pay out the standard borrow rate every time someone waded through the bloated front matter of a ropey porn book only to find that it was illiterate garbage.

Under the new system the author will be paid per page read. Nobody knows precisely what the rate per page will be yet, but there will also be new software in place to catch out authors who attempt to stuff their frontmatter (copyright pages, acknowledgements, etc) and also compute a standard number of words per page. So if you have one of those pages that spill a sentence into the next, no matter how you format the thing, you probably won’t be getting paid for that.

Admittedly I have more than one horse in this race. I mostly write novels, although I have been known to amuse myself with 7000 words of tentacle porn or werestrippers from time to time. On one hand I’m pleased that I might see some more money from KU on account of my longer works, but on the other hand I’m kind of sad that I can no longer make fast, dirty money from alien dickgirl threeways.

Does longer mean better?

Good lord, no. For reference, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged weighs in a whopping 645,000 words, while The Great Gatsby is as svelte as a bright young thing of the Roaring Twenties, clocking in at roughly 47,000 words. A book should be as long as it takes to tell the story and no more.

This is not to say that you can’t spin the story of two uninteresting people having boring sex with each other out for the length of the equivalent length of Lord of the Rings and more. EL James managed it, and is now at work on her Silmarillion, if the Silmarillion was a tacky money grab composed mostly of copypasted dialogue and e-mails and constant thoughts about the main character’s penis.

Several options spring to mind for the Kindleporn writer.

1) Move into erotic romance. This will mean writing longer works, because romance readers will tar and feather you if you attempt to make them pay $2.99 for 5000 words of fucking.
2) Bundling – putting stories into collections in order to garner a bigger page count for $$$.
3) Pull out of KU altogether. Amazon will be giving authors a chance to withdraw their books from KU immediately in July, regardless of the dates of your current 90 day enrollment period.
4) Start writing filthy novels. Yes, it takes longer, but in my experience dirty novels have a far better shelf life than short smut. None of the nine or so stories I wrote last winter have made me any money this month, but I still occasionally get royalty cheques for erotica I wrote back in 2001.

It’s definitely going to be an interesting time in the next month or so; nobody is really going to know the full story of how this affects them until the 15th of August, when July’s royalty statements roll around. To all of those authors who are panicking because they think the Kindleporn goldrush is over, it probably is, in a way . I think the series format and short form erotica are pretty much dead in the water, but remember – self publishers have a huge advantage in this respect. We can respond faster to changes in the market than publishing firms.

Change can be a good thing. It’s all about how you react to it, how you work with it. You’ve got to turn and face the strange.

And then maybe offer it a gas station hotdog. Just to see what happens.

Anna Roberts’ latest novel, A Box Full of Ashes is now available on Amazon.com and through Kindle Unlimited. It doesn’t contain gas station hotdogs though. Sorry about that.

Heroin, buttchugging and the Young Conservatives: Why I Will Not Be Reading ‘Grey’

As you have probably heard, we are in the end times.

In just a couple of days the world will be once again bothered with another Fifty Shades book, as EL James goes even more Single White Female on Stephenie Meyer and releases her own terrible version of Meyer’s thankfully aborted Midnight Sun. Yes, it’s 2015 and the thing is still not going away. At this point the Fifty Shades franchise is rather like being in a relationship with its hero; you can kick and fight and scream NO! at the top of your lungs, but it’s still going to keep happening.

However, I will not be reading this book.

I admit, I’m curious, but I’ve been curious about a lot of things in my life, including buttchugging, heroin and the Young Conservatives. Curiosity is a good thing, but in some cases you have to let your sanity speak louder and just walk on by. Eavesdropping on the gross mental perambulations of a dollar store Patrick Bateman is definitely one of those times.

I’ll be keeping an eye on reviews; it’s going to be interesting to see how the critics respond to a romantic hero who fantasises about sexually assaulting the heroine within the first five pages and openly admits that he thinks women are toys he can buy, but reading the thing? Nope. This has gone on too long as it is. I have other things planned for this year and they don’t include wading through this bloated yawn of a book again, especially not through the eyes of a character who calls grown women baby and says things like ‘she’s an alluring little piece’. Not if I ever want to be able to open my legs again without the aid of a car jack.

So, to all of those brave bloggers who are attempting to chronicle this sad, desperate cash in, I wish you the very best of luck, a constant supply of booze and plenty of lovely soft pillows to scream into. You’re going to need them.

Also, I’d be very interested to know what the billionaire dick God actually does for a living. Three books and I still have absolutely no fucking idea. (My current theory is leprechauns.)

A Box Full of Ashes – now available to buy at Amazon.

It took me over twenty-two years to finally write this novel, and now it’s done.

Except it’s not, because it’s the start of a series and I’ve just started to realise the sheer scale of what I’ve had in my head all this time. It’s going to be a busy few years.

Anyway, A Box Full of Ashes – Eliot & O’Hare book one – is now available to buy in the Kindle store. If you’re tired of vampires as love interests and crave some proper old-fashioned monsters, then do I have a book for you. Liberally seasoned with stage magic, psychology, forensic pathology and lots and lots of garlic, A Box Full of Ashes is an eccentric urban fantasy in which scepticism and the usual accepted rules of reality war with the slow-burning realisation that something out there is eating people.

And it’s not so good at cleaning up after itself either.

Hope you enjoy the book.

ashes

Amazon.com

 Amazon.uk

A Box Full Of Ashes – The Trouble With Vampires

A lot of writers talk about process, and mine goes like this – SHUT UP AND WRITE. I seldom talk about what I’m working on as I find it kills my desire to get the thing finished; it’s like I’ve already got my storytelling jollies by telling it and then there’s no more satisfaction to be had in writing it out.

This also explains why I am not really very good at blogging.

I only feel really safe talking about things when they are very, very nearly done, and even then I feel slightly guilty about it, like when someone tells you that you can open your present before Christmas or your birthday and you do it, but it doesn’t feel right. Not really.

Anyway, remember a few years ago when absolutely everything was vampires and there were vampires on TV and vampires in the bookshops and some of them sparkled and others just had abs and were Alexander Skarsgard and Lindsay Lohan took selfies wearing fangs and everyone got really, really sick of vampires?

Well, shortly after that my brain decided it might be a good time to write a vampire novel.

There were a couple of problems with this. One was that everyone was so tired of vampires that it wasn’t even funny, and the other was that I don’t even like vampires. I enjoyed Anne Rice books when I was a teenager, but I’ve never managed to get through one as an adult. I like Dracula and I think Salem’s Lot is one of the best things Stephen King has ever written, but I have no patience for a bunch of undead mopes whining around the place talking about how hard it is to be beautiful, irresistible, basically immortal and (on more than one infamous occasion) sparkly.

Good fictional characters should change and develop, which is why vampires are at a disadvantage from the start; they’re basically frozen. They never age and never really need to fear death all that much. In fact some of the worst ones just sit about moaning about the fact that they’re never going to die (yes, you at the back with the widescreen forehead) and don’t even have the decency to try and off themselves properly. Seriously, just order some garlic bread and hop on a tanning bed for half an hour. Do the world a favour.

Anne Rice did a groundbreaking thing when she turned the vampire – the monster – into the point of view character. The trouble these days is that it’s been done to death and back, and I thought maybe it was time to take the vampires back to what they used to be; straight up monsters who want to eat you.

The other thing I knew I didn’t want was the kind of urban fantasy where there are vampires wandering around just because.  I wanted something where vampires – impossible, mythical, storybook things – invade the real world. Dracula does this very well, with newspaper clippings and diaries. Salem’s Lot – which uses Dracula as a jumping off point – probably does this even better, with Stephen King effortlessly folding horror into realism as only he can. Another inspiration was Ultraviolet, the sadly short-lived Channel 4 vampire series starring Idris Elba, Jack Davenport and Vampire Beeehl back before his True Blood days. I liked the hard science edge of Ultraviolet and I thought I could do something similar with some characters who have been knocking around in my head in various forms for over twenty years now.

So that’s kind of how I ended up with a mental patient, a slacker magician and an underemployed pathologist up to their eyeballs in a series of extraordinary events that start when a goth spontaneously combusts in a quiet Devon churchyard. Now, I don’t know how far you can be said to be writing ‘urban fantasy’ when part of the action takes place in Sidmouth, but if there’s one thing I’ve always been good at it’s giving myself marketing headaches.

ashes

Read beneath the tag for a first nibble. This takes place when the main characters meet for the first time in the graveyard where a goth named Deborah Messinger goes up in flames. What Francis doesn’t know at this point is that Deborah’s partially cooked corpse is missing, having seemingly walked out of the morgue on her own steam the night before her autopsy. Continue reading

Meet Christian Thundercat Grey

I really like life without Fifty Shades of Grey.

The absence of it is kind of like a respite from pain or annoyance; eventually you get complacent about how much nicer everything is without it, then all of a sudden you step outside your door and even buses are advertising milquetoast porn at you.

I spent a year in the company of these terrible books, mostly because the first one was so goddamn bad that it caused my brain to have some kind of fifty thousand word spasm that is now FREE on Amazon.com. Obviously since I planned on doing parodies of the other two books in the Fifty Shades of Grey series, it seemed like it might be helpful to read them.

So I did. I slogged through and blogged through each and every one of those three godawful affronts to literature. I staggered, glaze-eyed and occasionally screaming, through three monstrously obese volumes of plotless, meaningless guff. And I came out the other side relatively unscathed, considering that there were times when I felt like the acutely depressed horse in The Neverending Story.

Or did I?

It’s time to come clean. I haven’t finished The Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy. Not really. Because there is more.

For those who don’t know (you lucky people) there’s a…thing at the back of Fifty Shades Freed. Actually there’s a couple of things, one being a saccharine vom-fest called Fifty’s First Christmas, in which Baby Edward Christian is coddled by the Cullens Greys and recounts this experience in adowable wickle baby tawk.

Surprisingly, this is a lot worse than it sounds.

The other thing at the back of Fifty Shades Freed basically amounts to a threat. Remember how Stephenie Meyer was going to rewrite the whole turgid Twilight series from Edward’s point of view, until some wonderful someone leaked the manuscript, causing her to abandon the project in a hissyfit? Remember that?

Well, it’s that. No, it really is. Twilight’s idiot, teratomic hellchild once more follows in Mommy’s footsteps with what is tantamount to a written threat to write the entire Fifty Shades Trilogy again, but from Christian Grey’s point of view. Which was why I was working so very hard on ignoring it and hoping it would just go the fuck away.

On the other hand, enough time has passed to make it safe to start hoping that E.L. James is going to follow Meyer’s example and take a pass on the grubby cash-in rewrite. So with that in mind – and with a fervent prayer that this book will never be finished – let’s take a peek at the world through the moody, molten grey eyes of Christian Thundercat Grey.

Meet Christian Grey

“Tomorrow,” I mutter, dismissing Claude Bastille as he stands on the threshold of my office.

“Golf, this week, Grey.” Bastille grins with easy arrogance, knowing that his victory on the golf course is assured.

Hi Claude, bye Claude. That was Claude, by the way. You remember Claude – the black guy who said ‘Golf, this week, Grey’ in Fifty Shades of Grey? Lucky old Claude gets to repeat that one line, before (just like he did in Fifty Shades of Grey) buggering off out of the book forever. Still, at least he gets a name this time, albeit a rather stupid one.

I scowl after him as he turns and leaves. His parting words rub salt into my wounds because despite my heroic attempts in the gym this morning, my personal trainer has kicked my ass.

Not hard enough, it would seem. Two paragraphs in and I already want to give sulky-face Christian a damn good kicking.

Bastille is the only one who can beat me, and now he wants another pound of flesh on the golf course. I detest golf…

Is there anything you like, Christian? Good lord. I thought miseryguts Ana was an exhausting enough point of view character, but two paragraphs in and it looks like Mr. Sparkles here might somehow be even worse.

As I stare out at the Seattle skyline, the familiar ennui seeps into my consciousness…

Might as well jump.

I have to endure an interview with the persistent Miss Kavanagh for the WSU magazine…

Oh my God, I hate this guy. I mean, I hated him anyway, because I’ve read the Fifty Shades series. I know that he’s a rapey, manipulative psycho with no charm, less manners and the sense of humour of a housebrick, but nothing prepared me for him being so incredibly fucking whiny. He’s like an emo Howard Roark.

Why the fuck did I agree to this? I loathe interviews…

See? It’s like if Ana and Morrissey had a baby and bottle fed it nothing but a blend of sad cheap whiskey and the bitter, heartsick tears dilligently harvested from a million lonely high school bathroom stalls.

…inane questions from inane, ill-informed, vacuous idiots. The phone buzzes.

I admit this not only gave me my first laugh, but also that it was a full-on belly laugh. Oh Christian – I know exactly what’s coming your way, and you have never met a moron quite like Ana ‘Holy Crap, We’re Talking About Cheese’ Steele before. Trust me on this.

“Miss Anastasia Steele is here to see you, Mr. Grey.”

“Steele? I was expecting Katherine Kavanagh.”

“It’s Miss Anastasia Steele who’s here, sir.”

I scowl. I hate the unexpected…

…I hate the rain and sunny weather. And I hate the beach and mountains too, boo-hoo.”

“Show her in,” I mutter, aware that I sound like a sulky teen but not giving a fuck.

Ah, James. In a sick kind of way I’ve missed you. Whereas other authors would look back at the previous pages and realise that their moody hero is actually coming off as simply stroppy, you just hang a lampshade on that and meander off on your lazy, comma-strewn way. Bravo. Bra-fucking-vo, you terrible scrub.

Okay. So having established that Christian hates…well, everything actually, it’s time for him to meet the love of his life. Sort of. Insofar as you can describe Ana and Christian’s awful pelvic symbosis as ‘love’.

A commotion at the door brings me to my feet as a whirl of long chestnut hair, pale limbs and brown boots dives headfirst into my office.

I stared at this sentence for a long time. I still have no clear idea what it is and why it exists. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that this may be one of the worst character entrances in literature. While it’s awful even by E.L. James standards, I suppose we should be somewhat grateful that Ana’s boots don’t have their own haircut and haven’t started blinking at him or ‘regarding him shrewdly’ or whatever it was Christian Grey’s tie apparently got up to in their first meeting. I think one item of sentient clothing is more than enough in most modern BDSM relationships.

Anyway, he scoops up Klutzy O’Faceplant from the floor and describes her, causing him to reveal what we’ve all known all along anyway; that frumpy, self-loathing Ana was always only a romance novel make-over away from being a doe-eyed porcelain beauty.

She has a small, sweet face that is blushing now, an innocent pale rose. I wonder briefly if all her skin is like that – flawless – and what it would look like pink and warmed from the bite of a cane.

And straight off the bat he’s thinking pervy thoughts. This relationship is off to a flying start.

She gapes at me, and I almost roll my eyes again. Yeah, yeah, baby, it’s just a face, and the beauty is only skin deep. I want to dispel that unguarded, admiring look from those big blue eyes.

I admit I was curious to see how James handled a different narrative voice, and the short answer is that she doesn’t. Christian has gone from Draco Malfoy to Austin Powers and back in the space of about two hundred words.

A nervous, bashful, bookish type, eh? She looks it; hideously dressed, hiding her slight frame beneath a shapeless sweater and an A-line brown skirt.

Don’t be so superficial, Christian. If you would only look beneath the geeky, bookish surface you’d see that she’s actually denser than any of those blonde bimbos she devotes her few non-Christian related thoughts to disparaging. Seriously – ask her about Tess of the D’Urbervilles. That’s always hilarious.

Ana then gazes at the paintings – the ones that were so carefully described in Fifty Shades of Grey that I initially thought they were a plot point. Surprisingly, it turns out that they sort-of are, except you’ll never guess how. If you’re eating or drinking anything you might want to swallow it before you read the next paragraph.

“They’re lovely. Raising the ordinary to extraordinary,” she says dreamily, lost in the exquisite, fine artistry of my paintings. Her profile is delicate – an upturned nose, soft, full lips – and in her words she has mirrored my sentiments exactly. “The ordinary raised to extraordinary.” It’s a keen observation. Miss Steele is bright.

Yeah. This is the woman who not only thought you couldn’t use helicopters in a city because they needed ‘lots of space to take off’, but who also thought you could fly from Seattle to New York in one. She used the words ‘terminal velocity’ in the same thought as ‘elevator’ and didn’t even think to take the stairs. Hell, she probably thought Aristotle was Belgian.

Ana then sits down and fumbles about with the mini-disc recorder, prompting the weathercock of Christian’s inconsistent character voice to swing back round to pervy Draco Malfoy.

As she grows more and more flustered, it occurs to me that I could refine her motor skills with the aid of a riding crop. Adeptly used it can bring even the most skittish to heel.

That lasts all of about one paragraph before we’re back to Austin Powers, swinging briefly past Prince Joffrey and veering slightly towards Robin Thicke. Actually I’m getting character voice flashbacks to a vampire novel I wrote when I was fifteen or sixteen, which was pretty much full of all the things you’d expect from a fifteen year old’s vampire novel; frilly cuffs, horrible dialogue, inaccurate BDSM and quite extraordinary amounts of crying.

She peeks up at me and bites down on her full bottom lip. Fuck me! How did I not notice that mouth before?

“Sorry, I’m not used to this.”

I can tell, baby – my thought is ironic…

That’s not irony. That’s just really, really creepy.

This is actually kind of funny to read, because you can see how the author is trying to re-write the entire conversation from the first chapter of Fifty Shades of Grey but keeps tripping over the errors and inconsistencies she never bothered to fix in the first place.

“Did Kate – I mean Miss Kavanagh – explain what the interview was for?”

“Yes, to appear in the graduation issue of the student newspaper, as I shall be conferring the degrees at this year’s graduation ceremony.” Why the fuck I’ve agreed to do that, I don’t know.

See what I mean? Even Christian doesn’t know why he’s yarfing up this expositional hairball, but James very well can’t go back and fix her sloppy first draft. Since the sloppy first draft is now an international best-selling novel with a movie in the can. (Why, God? Why?)

Anyway, on with the infamous interview. This is the bit where Christian drivels at great length like he’s on The Apprentice and Ana sits there gazing at his radiant beauty and wondering why her noo-noo place feels all tickly. In this case we get the Christian’s summarised, interior version of his Apprentice drivel, which is – amazingly – even more douchey than the original.

But Miss Steele, the simple fact is, I’m a fucking genius at what I do. For me it’s like falling off a log. Buying ailing, mismanaged companies and fixing them or, if they’re really broken, stripping their assets and selling them off to the highest bidder.

I still have no idea what he does.

It’s like the author is trying to reframe him as a venture capitalist and asset stripper, but in the first instance he was supposed to be into telecommunications, then sustainable farming and apparently into manufacturing because he liked to build things. And he had a love of ships. Or something.

I mean, she could have solved this confusion by making him go to work once in a while, but since that would cut into the various smirky, quirky, impassive, murmuring, haunted-by-ghosts-of-smiles encounters that people mysteriously find so interesting about these books, we’ll just tell the readers he’s a workaholic and then show over half a million words of Christian Grey either goofing off work or shouting exposition down a telephone.

There’s no two ways about it; these books make The DaVinci Code look like Foucault’s Pendulum.

To succeed in business you need good people, and I can judge a person, better than most.

Christian, on the basis of a single banal observation, you just described a girl who could lose a battle of wits with a cheese sandwich as ‘bright’. This is not what anyone with an IQ larger than their shoe-size would consider to be good judgement.

Ana suggests that his success might have been due to luck, prompting Christian to throw a hissy-fit.

A frisson of annoyance runs through me. Lucky? No fucking luck involved here, Miss Steele.

Says the crack-baby who was adopted by the millionaires.

Hard work, bringing people with me, keeping a close watch on them, second-guessing them if I need to; and if they aren’t up to the task, ruthlessly ditching them. That’s what I do, and I do it well. It’s nothing to do with luck. Well, fuck that. Flaunting my erudition, I quote the words of my favourite American industrialist to her.

Needlessly dangling a participle, I check my notes for this section and read ‘This man is an absolute cock’.

Ana then says he sounds like a control freak, which once again – for no reason – stuns him with the originality and audacity of her completely unexciting observation. Again, it’s one of of those desperate attempts to retrofit some kind of real motivation into the hollow cardboard box of Christian’s character, when it was obvious in the original that Christian had no character or motivation, beyond being brooding and disdainful and making Ana gush like Old Faithful all over his white leather couch.

Anyway, she then asks him about his interests and he goes creepy once more.

“I have varied interests, Miss Steele. Very varied.” I smile. Images of her in assorted positions in my playroom flash through my mind: shackled on the cross, spread-eagled on the four-poster, splayed over the whipping bench. Fucking hell! Where is this coming from?

Yer a pervert, ‘Arry.

The girl is a mass of contradictions: shy, uneasy, obviously bright, and arousing as hell. Yes, okay, I admit it. She’s an alluring little piece.

Could this guy sound any more like a total neckbeard?

She regards me with a quizzical expression as if I’m some kind of conundrum for her to solve, but there is no way I want those big blue eyes seeing into my dark soul.

Oh, he could. Apparently.

I shrug, feigning boredom, and I imagine fucking her smart mouth to distract myself from all thoughts of hunger.

Surprisingly, this works pretty well. I was thinking about lunch before I read that sentence. And then I wasn’t.

Christian then goes on to say his guiding principle in life is to control things and people, and more or less admits that he thinks people are also things.

“So you want to possess things?” Her eyes widen.

Yes, baby. You, for one.

And there we have it – in black and white, straight from the horse’s mouth. The hero of this ‘liberating’ and apparently oh-so-empowering trilogy openly admits that he thinks women are things he can own. And don’t even think about telling me that he revises his opinion over the course of the books, because I’ve read them.

“You sound like the ultimate consumer.” Her voice is tinged with disapproval, pissing me off again. She sounds like a rich kid who’s had all she ever wanted, but as I take a closer look at her clothes – she’s dressed in Walmart, or Old Navy possibly – I know that isn’t it. She hasn’t grown up in an affluent household.

This observation prompts him to think he could ‘really take care of’ her, because it’s the twenty-first century and that’s what every modern woman needs – a man to buy her shiny baubles. You can tell that just a find/replace ago he was Edward Cullen, an old fashioned gentleman from a time when men were men and women were property.

“You were adopted. How far do you think that’s shaped the way you are?”

What the fuck does this have to do with the price of oil? I scowl at her. What a ridiculous question. If I’d stayed with the crack whore, I’d probably be dead.

Tease me with that beautiful thought, why don’t you, James?

The answer to this ‘ridiculous question’ is, of course, a whole fucking lot. In the real world infantile amnesia – the inability of anyone to remember much before the age of about four or five years of age – is a widely documented if still little understood phenomenon. Obviously it’s not so widely documented that the author has heard of it, which is why Christian spends three entire books hanging his foul behaviour and imaginary ‘issues’ on things he probably wouldn’t even remember.

She asks him if he’s had to sacrifice a family life for his work, which he thinks is another stupid question and surprisingly I actually agree. He’s supposed to be about twenty-seven. If I meet someone and they haven’t started a family by the age of twenty-seven I automatically assume they know how condoms work.

“Are you gay, Mr. Grey?”

What the fuck! I cannot believe she’s said that out loud! The unspoken question that my own family dares not ask, much to my amusement.

Your family is fucked up, but we knew that anyway.

There are lots of quite revolting things about these books, but this is one of the very special ones; the implied assumption that if Christian were gay he would be somehow broken or defective. Which is hilarious when you think about it.

I have to fight down the urge to drag her out of her seat, bend her across my knee, then fuck her over my desk with her hands tied tightly behind her back. That would answer her question.

Um, Christian? She asked if you were gay. Not if you were a sex-offender. (Although you are, obviously.)

I’m sorry, but this is the man we’re supposed to be wanking ourselves into a coma over? A man who thinks women are possessions and who fantasises about raping random strangers? Not that it should come as a surprise that he does so, after three horrible books where ‘no’ variously means ‘yes’, ‘maybe’ and ‘I don’t know but you could probably talk me into it’, but I always held onto the desperate hope that maybe it was due to bad writing.

And it’s not. He really is that bad.

Well, that’s about as much of that as I can stand right now. I’m told that even fans of the books didn’t like this glimpse of the world through Christian’s eyes, which is understandable because it’s about as charming as a peek at a BBC accountant’s fevered erotic fantasies about Jeremy Clarkson. The other reason is that it pretty much confirms all the things that us nasty meanie-head ‘HATERS’ said about their precious darling Christian Grey (aspiring serial killer, creep, perv, rapist) and there’s nothing they can do about it since it comes from the semi-original shitfaucet herself.

Still, it’s pretty bad. Next time, thrill as Christian Grey gets down with his serial killer side and runs a comprehensive background check on a woman he has met once and wanted to rape. It’s a love story – you can tell.

Fifty Shades links page now available

For everyone who’s here for the Fifty Shades stuff, I’ve just added a new page to the site so that you don’t have to suffer the extreme annoyance of searching WordPress tags. Fifty Shades Freed and Darker indexes will be added later, but there should be enough horrible to keep you all amused for the time being. Click the link below to go to the index page or click Fifty Shades Recaps on the page bar above.

For all your ‘When does he pull her tampon out?’ and ‘Is there anal in Fifty Shades of Grey’ search needs.  (And no. There is no anal in Fifty Shades of Grey.)

Fifty Shades of Pants

I am not good at blogging. I tried – I really did – but it turns out I just can’t pull it off. I’m only doing this now because I realised it has been six months since I updated this blog and because my stats are currently blowing up with people looking for the inside scoop on the tampon scene from Fifty Shades of Grey.

Yeah – did you hear the news? Apparently they’re not doing the infamous ‘whip that out and stick that in’ scene from the blandest book ever to be relentlessly marketed as pornography. So there’s going to be no cock and no tampon stuff, which kind of begs the question why you’d ever bother. Perhaps the most depressing thing is that the marketing creatures are still trying to polish this turd in 2015. I thought by now this book would be sliding into the ‘what the fuck were we thinking?’ file where it belongs

Okay – no. I thought that was the most depressing thing, but I was wrong. There’s actually something sadder.

I’ve been incredibly busy for the last year or so, writing almost continuously as Jessica Pine as well as breaking into the Kindleporn market with some really silly books about sasquatch and aliens who steal people’s dicks. I’m seriously struggling to find time to write stuff for myself but I’m working on it.

Another thing that happened last year was that I got really fucking fat. I knew I’d porked out a bit since I quit smoking three years ago, but it was when I realised I’d tiptoed – like a portly tutu’d Disney hippo – over the BMI threshold for obesity that I’d traded one set of health risks in for another.

Time to put the fork down.

It was a whole new world for me; I’d never really struggled with my weight before. I maintained my teenage figure through my twenties by smoking continuously, eating seldom and generally being crazier than a sack of cats. I’d never really had to buy clothes beyond sometimes picking something out for a wedding. I worked from home and generally lived in the same lazy slob outfit of tracksuit bottoms and t-shirt all year round.

And then suddenly I kept changing sizes. It was the weirdest thing. I realised I had to do something about my weight, so I figured calories in/calories out. This had to work. Unless my bum was somehow rewriting all known laws of physics, this had to work. I knew this logically, and yet there was this voice in the back of my head that said it couldn’t, because weight-loss this close to forty is some mystical thing only achieved by bony movie actors who haven’t kept down a meal since about 1997.

But, lo and behold, it turns out I’m subject to the laws of physics after all, and my bottom got smaller. And my clothes got bigger. And some of them – stressed to their limit by my fluctuating mass – just quit that bitch and fell apart at the seams.

Short version – I had to buy some new shit.

So I was browsing the clothes rails in Tesco, spotted the sale rail and went to see if there was anything I could stand. It was all kind of jumbled up end-of-year stuff, so it was bathing suits and acid green muu-muu dresses and plaid shirts and sweaters and no real rhyme or reason to it. Then I spotted a rather pretty ivory ruffled bra. Nice. I went to look for the cup size and then I saw it.

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY

I didn’t even know this. I had no idea this was happening. Yes, I read the books for the purpose of comedy, but I didn’t realise they were doing Fifty Shades themed pants.

I think I may have made some kind of noise when I discovered this, because I could hear the squeaky wheels of our shopping trolley disappearing at speed towards the fruit and veg section as he made himself scarce. It was probably as much of a shock to him as it was to me; just when he thought I’d stopped ranting about those fucking books he got blindsided by a Tesco knicker hanger and it set me off all over again.

It gave me a nasty turn. I’d been happily ignoring everything to do with those books for over a year and then boom – it’s back like a dose of herpes. And on a bra hanger of all places. What the hell? Is this piece of shit going to be stamped on our cultural DNA forever?

Lingerie. Seriously. I could think of far better products that would benefit from a Fifty Shades of Grey endorsement. Like rape whistles. Self-defence classes. Discount legal services offering buy one get one free on restraining orders.

I settled down and told myself that eventually THIS WILL GO AWAY. Nothing is constant. One day the sun will go foom and swallow the inner planets whole and the whole of our existence and all of human history will be nothing more than an obscure cosmic joke. And maybe on that day they’ll stop trying to sell things by sticking ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ on them. Maybe.

But there was a sequel (and you know they’re going to make those). The next time I was shopping I saw the same Fifty Shades of Grey tag in the menswear section. This piqued my curiosity, because while if I hit myself over the head and drink half a bottle of Tia Maria while crying I can maybe see the mad unlogic in selling knickers to women by using the name of a book that promotes endless violence and abuse against women, I am utterly fucking stumped as to why they’re selling this to men.

I know one man who read Fifty Shades of Grey. One. And he gave up after about three chapters because he said the syntax made his head hurt.

I looked closer at the rail. It was a t-shirt. A plain, cheap grey t-shirt. And you know what it said on the front?

CHARLIE TANGO

Someone bought this for their husband. Someone bought this for a man and expected him to wear it. A cheap, money-grab t-shirt featuring an unfunny reference from an unfunny book that he’s never read and will never read and will never get. Bought for him by a woman who resents him for not being more like a stalker and a rapist.

And I could almost picture his face, this husband. I knew that when he was wearing this t-shirt he was also wearing the same confused, bewildered and sad expression that dogs wear when you put Santa hats on them to take photos at Christmas. Their eyes say ‘why?’ and it’s both funny and shameful and absolutely fucking heartbreaking.

It was terrible. It was the saddest insight into relationships I had ever had in my life, and once again it was – like many such sad insights – all because of Fifty Shades of Grey.

I’ll tell you – even without the tampon scene, this movie had better be funny, because lord knows we need the laughs.