New Year’s Eve was always something I looked forward to with mixed feelings, as I felt obligated to be social while everyone else got increasingly drunk. Neither the former, nor the latter appealed to me very much, and so I had turned the end of the year into something relaxed and quiet for me and my loved ones, ever since I’m living alone.
2016 is no exception. Novella and myself had a nice evening, watching a little bit of TV and she enjoyed a few glasses of wine while I ravaged the orange juice. Among all the relaxation, however, I noticed that something was bothering her. “So, how has it been this year?” it finally burst out of her.
I raised my eyebrow and sipped on my glass of orange juice. “How’s what been?” I asked and acted stupid. “You mean in general, or... ?”
“Well, especially with regards to publishing,” she said curious. I was the only author she was close friends with, and since reading was her great passion – well, aside from sex, so make that ONE of her great passions – she gobbled up every bit of news she could about my profession.
I snorted laughing. “Publishing is a big word, isn’t it?” I asked and grinned. “I just write fuck stories and put them on the internet. That’s not a huge literary achievement.”
She sighed. “Come on, you know how much I like reading your ‘fuck stories’,” she answered and puckered her lips at the word ‘fuck stories’, as if she had bit on a lemon. “So don’t be faking modesty. We’re among us, so you can’t earn any sympathy points for that.”
I shrugged. “Who knows,” I said cryptically. “Maybe my readers will catch wind of this anyway...”
Novella took a large gulp of wine, rolling it around on her tongue. “So, how’s it been?” she asked again, without paying attention to my distraction.
I took a deep breath. “Oh well,” I said finally. “If you’re curious like that, let’s do it, but on my terms.” I poured the rest of the wine into her glass and put the cork back in the bottle, before putting it sideways on the table. “Come on, spin!” I told her.
“What, spin the bottle?” she asked.
“Exactly,” I replied. “If it’s my turn, you can ask a question. If it’s your turn, you’ll do as I tell you.”
She sipped the glass and looked deep into my eyes. Her red lips turned into a naughty smile. Novella knew too well what direction this was taking, and she was loving it. “Very well,” she answered and took the bottle with spread fingers. “Let’s go.”
She spun, and smiled smugly when the neck pointed clearly in my direction. “So then,” she said, enjoying the moment. “How was the year as an erotic author?”
I leaned back in my chair and played absently with my locks. “Well,” I answered. “It depends on how you look at it. I’d of course would love nothing more than to earn my money just with my writing, but that’s still a long way to go. On the other hand...” I paused, to gather my thoughts before I continued: “On the other hand, I’m really pleased. I mean, I’ve been doing this professionally for about a year now. That’s a time frame in which no job offers great strides. Of course, I’ve been writing for much longer, but writing and publishing are two different things altogether. So, I’m pleased.”
I looked at her smiling while she looked back expectantly. “Oh, alright,” I continued and sighed. She deserved a more in-depth answer after all. “So, I put down a few goals at the beginning of the year, and looking back, I can only say that I’ve kept to pretty much all of them. Meaning: Every week a piece of horrible advice for talentless authors – that was pretty easy, because I had them written already, and set it up so every Friday one of them got posted automatically. Also, a new title every Sunday. That worked too, even better than expected. In late February it was even two stories per week, one in English and one in German, after I started translating all of my previous work.”
She nodded and seemed at least halfway happy with the answer. I grabbed the bottle and spun it with verve, until it pointed at me again. “Looks like you’re not done answering,” Novella said smugly. “So how was the publishing? That was still missing, after all.”
I shrugged. “Not much to say there,” I replied. “As announced, I put my stories into all the major online-vendors, after my period of exclusivity with Amazon had expired. From then on out, the sales only increased a little bit, because it increased the reach, and made me a little more independent of Amazon. By now, about a third to half of my sales are outside of Amazon. Sales have increased overall, though there was a summer slump which recovered towards the end of the year again. I didn’t make any major strides, but some small progress.”
I didn’t want to bore her, but after she was listening attentively, I continued: “A nice side effect from that is that I can now publish stories which are too taboo for Amazon.”
“Mmh, like the horse stories,” she interrupted me purring.
I nodded. “Right,” I replied. “Most vendors don’t like those either, but at least Smashwords and Barnes&Noble don’t seem to have any problems with it, and they’ve become a little popular there as well. For a test, I’ve written a few incest stories, which weren’t all that successful, and didn’t give me as much either. So I’ll probably stick to things that turn me on myself.”
I spun again and this time managed to get the bottle neck to point a little bit more to her than to me. “There we go,” I said happily. “Start undressing, then.”
Novella grinned. “Well, that was predictable,” she said and got up. “But only one article at a time, to make it more exciting.” She pulled down her panties underneath her dress and let them fall to the ground, before she sat back down again.
“Mmh, that’s almost cheating, showing up here with underwear,” I said and smiled.
“I come well prepared,” she said, spinning the bottle, which pointed to me again. “Now then,” Novella continued. “Tell me, which stories were turning you on this year.”
I pursed my lips. “Hmm,” I said, contemplating. “Pretty much all of them. I only write few things that don’t turn me on, after all. But I thought the ‘Younger Mistress, Older Slave’-Series was the hottest, which has been well received by the readers, too. That Mely has a few wicked ideas in her repertoire. Cloister Black was pretty hot as well, because I could just throw away all inhibitions with that. Archer’s Lane and the other romances, or half-romances, that I started, like ‘her eyes have eyes’ and ‘Ultraviolet’ were exciting on an entirely different level, though. They were emotionally very, very satisfying, and I never felt something like I did at the end of Archer’s Lane, for example. I definitely want more of that.”
She nodded. “That’s right,” she said. “I liked that too, and not just because of the sex, but also for the story.” She was lost in thought when I spun the bottle and only got back to her senses when the neck pointed at her. Smiling, she put a finger on her lips and took off her shoes, putting her naked feet onto the table and wiggling her toes. “Satisfied?” she asked.
I nodded and she spun, which brought me in play again. “So what else do you want to know?” I asked. “There isn’t that much to tell anyway.”
She grinned. “Ah, what do you know,” she said. “For example, tell me something about your side projects. Audiobooks, illustrations, games, and so on.”
I put up my feet as well and sighed, kicking off my shoes to play with my toes against hers. “Oh yeah,” I said. “That could’ve gone better. We didn’t get to the audiobooks, there just wasn’t enough time. The illustrations – they’re actually pretty cool. I’ve had a few done, which I really liked overall, some more, some less, but it’s generally a cool addition. I just got into trouble when I published those along with the stories. Then it got labelled as ‘pornography’ and I had to cross my heart and promise that I’ll never never ever again do anything so uncouth as this ever again, since it’s obviously okay to write fuck stories, but not okay any more to have those same stories illustrated. The world is a strange place.”
She snorted. “For real now?” she asked incredulously.
“Totally real,” I replied. “One of the services I use to publish my books through even terminated my account for that. They were pretty pissed. In the end, I’ve found a replacement for everything and can continue as before, just without pictures. So everything still needs to happen in your imagination.”
Novella purred. “That’s my favourite anyway,” she said.
I nodded. “Well, it’s just a shame I can’t show the pictures because of that. I’ve sent them out to my fans on the newsletter and such, but they’ll remain hidden from most of the readers.” I shrugged. “Well, it was an experiment, after all. I’m still working with a few illustrators off and on, just for the fun of it. Maybe there’ll be a better solution. Otherwise, the adventure books and stuff like that, I’ve been working on those, but don’t have a result that I can show off yet. They simply need incredibly more work than a normal story, and are easily four to five times as long, and complicated to write. As usual, I’ve got a lot of ideas, but none of them ready.”
I spun and came up again. Novella clapped her hands. “And here I was afraid to run out of clothes before I can ask all my questions,” she laughed. “But it can go on like this, as far as I’m concerned.”
I smiled. “Don’t worry, I’ll find other things for you to do when your clothes are off,” I said confidently.
“Mmmmh,” she purred. “Now I’m curious what that might be.”
“Well, you’ll have to wait until your turn then,” I replied and grinned.
“Not fair!” she yelled half-joking and then sighed. “Oh well, then at least tell me something funny or interesting that happened this year.”
I puffed. “What, except Brexit, Trump, Erdoğan, Bowie, Cohen, Paris, Orlando, Berlin,...” I said upset.
“About you,” she interrupted me. “In your workings.”
I took a deep breath. “I know,” I replied calmer. “It’s just that compared to the amount of shit that has happened this year, my anecdotes are looking pretty pitiful.”
She shrugged and took another drink of wine. “All the better,” she said. “Maybe some dull anecdotes with happy endings are all that we need right now?”
“Maybe,” I said. “I’ve made the first part of Archer’s Lane free in response to the US elections, especially because it has such a happy ending and some readers might need that. So you might be right. But I don’t have anything even remotely similar to tell about me. It’s just been a busy year, I’ve written many stories, translated many more, gotten many new readers, gave a few AMA’s,...”
“A few what?” she asked confused.
“AMA’s. Ask Me Anything,” I explained. “That’s like a public interview, where everyone can ask questions, which I answered as good as I could. It’s a thing on Reddit, and pretty fun to participate and read the AMA’s of other people. Anyway, I did one in German at the beginning of the year, and an English one in August, when I had been self-publishing for a year. They were quite interesting, especially for me to see what the people are interested in – and where the differences between German- and English-speaking groups were.”
“And where were they?” she asked.
“Tsk tsk, one question at a time,” I said.
“Oh man,” she said and pouted. “But that’s still part of the same question!”
I pursed my lips, but then nodded. “Okay. Well, it seemed to me as if the Germans were more interested in the writing aspect, and the Anglo-Saxons more in the business aspect. That’s not exclusive, in both AMA’s were questions about both points, but more in the one, and less in the other. Otherwise, the people seemed to be a bit too interested in technical things, like which tools I’m using, and less in the skill of writing itself. But the tools are just as good as the ones using them, aren’t they?”
She nodded, and for a moment I felt really smart to make a point about that, until I decided that the point was more of a truism after all. I shrugged and spun the bottle again, which pointed almost perfectly between Novella’s breasts when it came to a halt. The dark-haired librarian smiled seductively and got up coyly, swung her wide hips a little while pulling up her dress slowly, inch by inch, up. At first, her white, soft thighs began to show, soon followed by the curly black triangle on her crotch, which captured my attention.
When I tore my eyes from her pussy again, she had already pulled the dress all the way up over her long, heavy breasts and just slipped it over her head, before throwing it aside, putting her hands on her hips and looking provocatively at me while standing there naked. I licked my lips with satisfaction and nodded aprovingly. “Mmh, just like I like you,” I said happily and rubbed over my breast absently.
She smiled reluctantly. “All for you,” she said with her most seductive voice and slowly sat down again, reaching for the bottle with her fingertips and giving it a peppy spin. “Okay,” she said when the neck pointed at me, “you mentioned briefly your new stories, but how do you see your older titles today?”
I sighed deeply and thought about this for a long time. This was something I hadn’t contemplated. “To be honest,” I finally said, “I don’t know. I don’t usually read my own stories again after I have published them, except maybe when I’m translating them or want to write a sequel. Otherwise, they play out in my memory, which doesn’t have much to do with reality. So...” I paused and tried to get my thoughts in order.
“Well, let’s say it like this,” I said, making a new attempt. “Some of the older stories are much more popular with readers than the newer ones. For example, the Martina series and the fisting collection are still being widely read, even though they’ve been published for more than a year. So I’m wondering if those older stories have something the new ones lack. But when I take a look at them, my writing back then seems to be much less refined and raw than it is today.”
She nodded and ran her fingers through her hair, while I looked at her adoringly. She was very beautiful, all naked and natural, and somehow content with it. “Right,” she agreed. “You have much less grammatical errors or something like that. In the past, you used to mix up the tenses, for example.”