Sunday, March 31, 2013

Nightlife Publishing Is Looking for a Copy Editor

Nightlife Publishing is currently seeking a copy editor for its upcoming novel.

The specifics of the work are as follows:
  • Title: Smooth Operator: The Life and Crimes of Warren Baker
  • Genre: Crime, Espionage, Thriller
  • Word Count: approximately 75,000 words (245 pages)
  • Scheduled Release Date: Summer 2013
  • Release Format: Ebook

Interested professional editors may submit a written proposal. Please include all of the following information with your submission:
  1. Please describe your previous work in the crime, espionage or thriller genres.
  2. Please indicate which style guide you follow.
  3. Please attach a 1-2 page sample of your previous work with both the original and edited pages.
  4. Please list three professional references from authors you have worked with in the past, including the titles you worked on for them and their email addresses.
  5. Please let us know the estimated number of weeks it would take you to complete a 75,000 word assignment
  6. Please describe your fee structure including payment timing and methods of payment.

The final date for submitting a proposal is April 20th, 2013. We are planning to make a selection on or before May 10, 2013. If you have any questions, please contact me directly at gamalhennessy at gmail dot com.

Thank you in advance.

Have fun.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fictional Seduction in Five Easy Steps

Spring is (almost) in the air, and with it comes the traditional season of love and romance. I’ve been discussing the role of fictional seduction over the past two weeks, so this is a good time to walk through the seductive process and how it comes into play in writing.

Why Is This Important?

It is helpful for writers, readers and people in general to understand the elements of seduction in the same way they benefit from understanding the elements of story. Seduction, in fiction or reality, is a story with a distinct beginning, middle and end. It might only be a subplot of a story and it might not have any sexual component at all, but when it is well written, a seduction can be as satisfying as any good mystery, horror story or dramatic prose.

Sources and Methods

I’m not trying to suggest that I am an expert in seducing women. I have had far more failures than successes in my life. I have become a student of the seductive process and this essay is derived from some prominent writing on the subject including Robert Greene’s Art of Seduction, Ellen White’s Simply Irresistible, Erik Von Markovik’s Mystery Method and Ovid’s Art of Love. Each of these books approaches the process from a different angle, and this distillation is not an exhaustive description, but it’s a good primer for understanding the process.

Please note, that for our purposes the person doing the seducing is referred to as the artist and the person being seduced is referred to as the muse. Either person can be male or female. The time frame is open ended depending on the circumstances and the people involved.

The Seductive Process

Part 1 The Approach: Introduction leads to curiosity
In this element, the lovers do not know each other, or they know each other but do not see each other as potential partners yet. The key here is for the artist to stand out from the rest of the world in a way that captures the muse’s attention long enough to lead them into the next element.

Part 2 The Lure: Curiosity leads to attraction
Once a muse notices the artist, it is essential for them to find reasons to be drawn to and interact with them. The reasons can be artistic, financial, mental, sexual, social, spiritual or a combination of any of these depending on the lovers. The key is for the artist to find out what the muse wants and then showing that the artist can satisfy those needs. The primary connection here is intellectual because the lovers are engaging their imagination about what the affair could be.

Part 3 The Expression: Attraction leads to affection
At some point a love affair must feed the intimate needs of the lovers. This element often refers to sexual expression, but not every love affair includes sex between the lovers. Every form of expression does include an intense intimate connection that brings the lovers together while at the same time fulfills a basic emotional need. The primary connection here is sensual because the lovers are now engaging on a more physical level.

Part 4 The Bonding: Affection leads to connection
After the intense connection created by expression, lovers often feel safer sharing more of their individuality. This moves the love affair beyond the physical. Communication between them increases in breadth and intensity. Bonding doesn’t occur all at once. Often it is a process that occurs over many types of communication over an extended period of time. The key here is building trust that is essential for a deeper love affair. The primary connection here is emotional because both lovers are more vulnerable once the lovers move past the initial expression.

Part 5 The Comfort: Connection leads to integration
In a long term love affair, the lovers become part of each other’s lives. The initial novelty and uncertainty is replaced with complexity and intimacy. It is important to realize that comfort does not mean complacency. It does not mean a reduction in effort or an assumption that the lover will never leave no matter what you do. If anything, both lovers have the chance and the challenge to pursue and explore each other in ways that they would never be comfortable with in the earlier stages. The primary connection here is spiritual because it is at this point where the lover begins to define themselves in relation to the loved one.

Seduced by the Seductive Process

I have been fascinated by the seductive process ever since my divorce nine years ago. My two upcoming books both explore the seductive process in different ways. Smooth Operator focuses on the way money, ideology, coercion and excitement can be used to seduce, depending on the muse. A Taste of Honey goes deeper into the seductive process and how it can be used to deceive both the muse and the artist. I hope both books will be enlightening about this fundamental human connection as well as being entertaining.

Stay tuned.

Have fun.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Like a Spy to Honey: Sexual Seduction in Real and Fictional Espionage

A story is making the news this week about a US military contractor who is accused of passing nuclear weapons secrets to his Chinese girlfriend. This story is the latest episode in one of the most subtle and successful kinds of operations; the honey trap. But while this type of spy tale is titillating, it does not get the attention it deserves in modern espionage thrillers.

When Truth is Stranger than Fiction

In espionage parlance, a honey trap (or a honey pot) is the use of sexual seduction to recruit agents, either through blackmail or emotional manipulation. The use of honey traps can be traced back to ancient civilizations. Cleopatra’s seduction of Julius Cesar and later Mark Anthony to improve diplomatic relations between Egypt and Rome is one of the early honey traps. Casanova also used his seductive skills as a spy (as well as for general recreation).

Modern honey traps are also well documented. Dozens of military and diplomatic officers including Clayton Lonetree, Sharon Scranage and James Smith gave up secrets to their honey traps. One of the more bizarre cases occurred when a male Chinese opera singer named Shi Pei Pu pretended to be a woman, seduced a French diplomat and convinced him that “she” was pregnant to entrap him. This might be the most famous honey trap story of all because it was fictionalized into the play M. Butterfly.

A Bit of Honey

Honey traps have had a mostly minor role in spy fiction. Vesper Lynd is recruited by a male honey trap in Casino Royale. Nikita sometimes acts as a honey trap in La Femme Nikita. A honey trap poses as a prostitute to kill one of the assassins in Munich. The Fiona character in Burn Notice and her historical counterpart Cinnamon Carter in Mission Impossible act as short term honey traps in their respective teams. Most recently, Barry Eisler has shined the spotlight on his own honey trap, Delilah, in the novella London Twist. In the vast majority of espionage fiction, the honey traps act as love interests for the protagonist, rarely getting their own time in the sun.

A Taste of Honey

The book I’m currently writing is about a honey trap forced to spy on her lover. I’m creating a unique story, in part, because I am making the sexual seducer the protagonist. I’m exploring the motivations, struggles and choices that come with the use of sexuality as a tool of deception. The seduction in A Taste of Honey hasn’t been thrown in just for the sake of putting sex in a story. It is a way of exploring the true nature of the characters and the world they live in.

Human intelligence experts often refer to money, ideology, coercion and excitement (MICE) as the key motivators to recruitment. Sex is one of the most basic forms of excitement that we have and a powerful form of recruitment. There are plenty of examples of honey pots in fiction, but they are dwarfed by the number of assassins, rouge CIA agents and Delta Force heroes. I have nothing against assassins. Hell, some of my favorite characters are assassins. I just think the genre could use a bit more honey, and I plan to provide it.

Have fun.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sex as a Window to the Soul: Using Sexual Expression to Reveal True Nature

“Sexual energy can have many transformations: at the lowest it is biological; at the highest it is spiritual. It has to be understood that all creative people are highly sexual." Osho

There are many ways a writer can show the true nature of their characters. By placing them in conflict with their world at various levels and forcing them to make choices, the fundamental essence of the character is revealed. In thrillers, lives are at stake. In mysteries, justice often hangs in the balance. Every genre of fiction has its conflict conventions, but sexual expression is an unused goldmine for the revelation of character, especially in spy fiction.

Sex for Characterization
Last month, I discussed the difference between characterizations and true nature in fiction writing. In short, characterizations are the definable qualities of a person and their true nature is the choices they make under pressure. As a vehicle of characterization, sex is used all the time. The male hero falls for the femme fatale. Now we know some characteristics of both of them. The man is heterosexual and sexually active. The woman is on some level attractive. This basic idea can be expanded indefinitely. The unquenchable sexual appetite of James Bond, for instance, is as much a part of his character as his nationality. But even this high profile sexual expression doesn’t speak to the true nature of the character.

Sex for True Nature
If sexual expression is going to be used to reveal true nature, then the sexual choices that a character makes need to be explored. There are a variety of questions that can be asked to further this goal:
  • Who are they sexual with? Are they alone? Are they with one person and not another? Why?  
  • When are they sexual? Under what circumstances and at what point in the story does the event take place?
  • Where are they sexual? Is there some risk based on the location or do they insist on total privacy and security?
  • What sexual acts are they involved in? How vanilla or kinky are they? How simple or intricate are their thoughts or actions during the sexual encounter?
  • Why are they taking this action? Is it the release of some emotion, if so, which emotion? Is the expression designed as a reward for someone or as a punishment for someone else, or both? Is it a celebration or a submission?
  • How are they sexual? Is the character kind or cruel? Are they considerate or selfish? Are they experienced or na├»ve? Are they exploratory or conservative? Are they active or passive? This is perhaps the most important question when sexual expression is used to define true nature.

When you look at sexual expression from this perspective, the true nature of James Bond (at least the movie portrayals of him) is never revealed. We know he has a lot of sex. We know he is very eclectic in his sexual tastes, but beyond that, Mr. Bond is a mystery even after six decades of films.

So What?
Can we know a protagonist’s true nature without watching her in bed? Of course we can. Millions of fine books have been written over the years without it. So why should anyone want to put it in now? The answer boils down to creativity. In a time where everything has already been done and a fresh new idea is as rare as a winning lotto ticket, using sexual expression to gain insight into character and move the narrative is the road less traveled and could be the ripest avenue for exploration in modern fiction.

Sex in My Novel
I’m currently writing a novel called a Taste of Honey. It this story, sexual expression exposes both the characterizations and the true nature of all the main players. Instead of writing yet another novel about assassinations, bombings and hand to hand combat, I’m crafting a spy story that is more subtle in its execution. The stakes are still very high and the tension isn’t reduced because there are less bullets flying. I just decided to write a different type of spy novel. Hopefully the world will be ready to enjoy it.

Repression, Rejection and Titillation
There is a reason why more writers do not use sexual expression as a vehicle to reveal true nature. The stigma attached to sexual expression in America has a chilling effect that marginalizes sex to the fringes of pornography. There are few ‘legitimate’ writers who are in a position to take this bold step under their own name. Anais Nin and Henry Miller did it in their prose. Anne Rice did it with Sleeping Beauty and Barry Eisler has taken steps in that direction with his spy fiction. I’m going to follow them because these are the stories I want to tell and I don’t have anything to lose.

Sex for the sake of defining character is fine. Sex for pure titillation is great too. But I’d like to go in a different direction and see where it takes me. It might not make me rich, but it will definitely be interesting.

Have fun.