50 Shades of Advertising – II

Fifity Shades


Penny Terrible and the Bodice Ripper

From Deviant Art

What a fabulous title for my non-existent romance novel. A sort of steampunk Jack the Ripper meets Alice in Wonderland.

Today, I almost bought a fake book dust cover printed with War and Peace. They are designed to disguise cheap romance novels as actual literature. I think they are brilliant.


I didn’t buy it. It costs more than a year’s worth of Penny Horribles.

And I love a good bodice ripper. Add in a touch of supernatural and the real world can take a back seat.

However, I hate 50 Shades of Bleh.

I cannot fathom this tepid series’ popularity. You’d think no-one had ever written a BDSM novel before. All this phenomenon is, is proof of the miracle modern marketing can have and the stupidity of the market to fall for it.

My entrée in the world of erotic fiction was Anais Nin, The Story of O, Emmanuel, Lady Chatterley and Erica Jong.

What separates these from the nausea inducing pages of Shades, is actual literary talent and the magic of leaving something up to the imagination.

Debbie Does Dallas has a more believable and well-developed plot line and that is saying something.

Enough already.

So, I am a voracious reader of romance novels. I didn’t buy the cover because I assessed the price against my embarrassment factor and found I didn’t have the latter.

I like happy endings. I like it when handsome, yet flawed hero meets beautiful yet under-appreciated heroine and sail away into the sunset. It reaffirms my faith. So, you may read the Bible, I read Mills and Boone. Happy endings all the way.

I also find the lack of pretension refreshing. These books don’t pretend to be anything other than escapist light-hearted reading for a lazy Summer afternoon, or in my case a rare, but highly prized, lengthy bubble bath with a glass of vino.


I am one of those women for whom all the electronic time-saving gizmos have just created a time expenditure loop. The more of them I buy, the less time I have.

So, I read where I can.

In the loo.

In the bath.

In the car waiting for the boy ninja to emerge from the sacred hallows of the dojo wherein no mother is allowed.

In the queue for the ATM and so on.

Hence, I can’t deal with complicated plot lines, time and space jumps or complex literary theory. My days of Umberto Eco are over. I think I reached my rock bottom somewhere around page 20 of “The Island of the Day Before”. To this day I haven’t met anyone who has actually finished this book.

My spouse is threatening to build a bookshelf in the storeroom to house my Nora Roberts collection of which he is acutely embarrassed. My late mother-in-law used to scoff at them too, until I caught her borrowing them.

Once a year I’d hand over to her boxes of M&Bs for her Rotary book sale. Every year they brought in more cash than all the other books combined.

These days I have a fancy tablet and smartphone, so I can download them and pretend to be very busy instead of actually numbing my brain into a quasi-meditative trance.

I also cannot sleep if I am partway through a book. I have to finish it. So, I need books I can finish in under 2 hours. Otherwise I’d never get any sleep.

With all this in mind I thought I’d try giving the writing of one a shot. This way, whenever some friend or family member makes some disparaging remark about my reading material, I simply say that I am doing research.

Good brief. Tight parameters. How hard could it be?

About as hard as feeding my son Brussels sprouts. Well nigh impossible.

I had to start somewhere.

So, I started at the most logical point.

Not a plot.

Not character sketches.


My name.

You see, my problem is this; apparently there are two other writers with my name.

One writes very serious books about geological disasters in South America and the other a rather bizarre bodice ripper involving time travel  and windmills (one of the few I never finished, but had to buy, because seriously how cool to have a book with my name on it?)

Yeah, I bought Victoria Beckham jeans for the same reason.

And Victoria Secret lingerie.

I am a slut for stuff with my name on.

The point is how can I be expected to start my M&B piece d’resistance without a suitable name?

It’s a dilemma.