The Blessed Virgin Vulva and My Author Brand

It all started with this picture, which I saw in my Twitter feed via the lovely and talented @AudraNorth

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 10.29.56 AM

I spent several minutes writing, deleting, re-writing my Tweet before I forwarded it along. And finally settled on this:

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 10.26.49 AM The replies were great.  Here are some of my faves:

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 10.27.30 AM Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 10.27.54 AM

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 10.46.57 AM

I know. I like, like, like too!

Of course, my initial stutter about what to say has everything to do with the challenge of how to represent one’s self on social media.  I love to play around with the sacred and the profane, not to offend but to inspire laughs, reflection and conversation.  Still, a brief Tweet is a tricky medium for that sort of thing, so sometimes being “speechless” about matters of sex and religion is best.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my author brand as I prepare for the release of Blood Reunited knowing that my next release will be a light and playful erotic contemporary novella One Sinful Night in Sao Paulo, and the one following that will be a slightly more serious erotic historical M/M short story in an anthology from Omnific.  I pretty much dabble in all genres of romance, which, from an author branding perspective is stupid non-strategic for one simple reason: not every reader is as omnivorous as I am.

So, I’ve had to ask myself, what is my brand?

Maybe you care because you’re an author who thinks about this stuff too, or maybe as a reader, you wonder what the heck I  think I’m doing  am promising you in my fiction.  Well, here goes:

1)   There is lots of sex in my stories. Because I really believe my tagline, Desire is Divine.  At their core, all my stories explore the earth-shaking holiness of sexual intimacy.  In the scene I wrote yesterday, the hero of my current WIP, an up-tight priest and ethics professor with a scandal on his hands, gazes down on his heroine and thinks of her vulva as “that sacred place,” because like me, he believes sex to be a religious act (I would add it can still being naughty, thrilling, pleasurable, and sometimes scary, and he’s working up to some of that).  Having just written the scene, I was immediately hooked to the Marian image above.

fools2)   There are lots of jokes in my stories. Irreverence is good, and funny.  Way back in Middle Ages, making fun of the church was actually a sanctioned practice (The Feast of Fools, or better, The Feast of the Ass).  Let’s face it, if we take ourselves or our beliefs too seriously, they become rigid (and not in a good way).  My characters make fun of themselves, each other, and all kinds of sacred cows, and my stories use humor to address all sorts of grave issues.

3)   There is lots of heart in my stories. Sex and humor don’t matter much if you don’t care about characters and their stories.  I believe God loves us because of our quirks and foibles, not in spite of them, and that’s why I love my characters too.  As a writer, nothing makes me happier than when two characters I love fall in love.  I’m a shitty matchmaker in real life, but I always succeed on the page!

4)   There is no pressure from me, ever.  Seriously, I’m not trying to convert you, or anybody. I don’t even believe in Hell, so I’m really not trying to make you think or believe like me.  But I do care quite a bit that folks know Christians like me exist.  I promise, I am not the only freak out here who believes God is happy when we enjoy sex and doesn’t get judgmental about who we do it with or what kind of kinky stuff we consent to.  In the end, my books are just like every other romance novel, and if you didn’t know I’m a priest, you probably wouldn’t guess.

That about sums it up: Sex, Irreverent humor, Heart, No Pressure.  It’s not as catchy as Desire is Divine, but it’s my brand, baby!

Maybe it makes you want to hop on over to Goodreads and add Blood Reunited to your To-Be-Read shelf.  Or maybe not. No pressure at all ;-)

This entry was posted in Sex, Spirituality, Writing by Amber Belldene. Bookmark the permalink.

About Amber Belldene

Amber Belldene grew up on the Florida panhandle, swimming with alligators, climbing oak trees and diving for scallops…when she could pull herself away from a book. As a child, she hid her Nancy Drew novels inside the church bulletin and read mysteries during sermons—an irony that is not lost on her when she preaches these days. Amber is an Episcopal Priest and student of religion. She believes stories are the best way to explore human truths. Some people think it is strange for a minister to write romance, but it is perfectly natural to her, because the human desire for love is at the heart of every romance novel and God made people with that desire. She lives with her husband and two children in San Francisco


The Blessed Virgin Vulva and My Author Brand — 8 Comments

  1. I love everything about this post. I believe that God values who we are as full, complex people, and seeing the many facets of humanity in romance is what makes me come back to certain stories, again and again. Ultimately, romance lifts up the positive and encourages love, which is consistent (at least in my mind) with the message of my particular religion. This post really resonated with me–thanks for writing it!

    • Audra, thanks for stopping by to say so, and of course, thanks for retweeting the image that helped articulate something I’d been ruminating over for a while! I’m so glad to have connected with you, and to hear that these ideas resonate.

  2. Hi Amber,

    I am looking for the author of that image of the virgin vulva, you posted on your blog. Do you know by chance who is the author?

    • Hi Nadia–I don’t know the artist. I came across the picture on Twitter–I think it was from the account “You had just one job.” You might be able to find it that way. Good luck!

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