Friday, October 3, 2014

Guest Blog: Lorelei Elstrom on "Owning Regina"

Lorelei Elstrom
Author: Owning Regina
 available on Amazon.

 What an exciting honor to be guest-blogging on this site, something I would have found impossible to believe a little over a year ago when I started page one of my first novel.  As a neophyte author myself, Emily L. Byrne (aka Catherine Lundoff) inspires me to no end with her body of published work and prominence within the community of writers.

Finding a publisher was never anything I considered when beginning my book. All of the sudden, a broiling story began overflowing from within me that literally compelled me to pick up the pen. I had no care in the world how it would or wouldn’t make it into the hands of readers.

 Having written corporate video scripts and ad copy in the past, writing seemed uninterestingly utilitarian. But as I sat down in a San Francisco cafe to begin Owning Regina, I felt a deluge of a million story and character ideas surging into my head. The floodgates had opened; I discovered my voice.

Intimidated by traditional literary formatting, I decided the unconventional and unconstrained structure of a diary would give me more freedom to explore and play. And off I went into a world of romance and kink. Then came my personal vow, to never read anything I wrote until I got to “The End.” I didn’t want to start second-guessing my thoughts and curbing my flow and enthusiasm.   And it worked! After 8 months of writing on lunch breaks, I had spewed out a draft that was raw and all me.  Then after a couple of very easy editing passes, I felt really excited about the resulting story.

I gave it to a couple of my kinkier lesbian pals for review. They each blazed through it in a single day, then showered me with compliments that felt genuine. They each seemed surprised by the realistic tone of the story.

After hiring an Irish proofreader from, it was time to send out a few copies for early review. Shockingly, my very first response was from a writer at the Stanford Daily:
“I have never read anything quite like it before. The realism was astounding. I was pleasantly surprised by the depiction of kink you show in your book--I was expecting the sort of "Fifty Shades"-style of mostly nonconsent, but the level of consent made explicit was impressive and most importantly, really organic. I was blown away by your book!”

Imagine the validation I felt reading this as a timid, first-time writer! It felt like... if nothing else ever happened with my book, at least one person “got me.”

 The other early reviewers also responded with glowing praise, although some were confused as to which genre the book belonged to.  Owning Regina is mostly a love story with a lot of heart, which makes it a candidate for the genre of lesbian romance novel. But the story also features a large amount of detailed BDSM intimacy, which pushes it more toward the lesbian erotica genre.  Some reviewers were wishing it were solidly on one side or the other.  So marketing the book has been a little challenging to make sure the readers would know what to expect and not be disappointed. I decided on a faceless cover that hints at kink, but also alludes to a realistic love story. The cover was inspired by that of 50 Shades of Grey, whose key image is a mundane close-up shot of a necktie.

After releasing Owning Regina on Amazon, it quickly received a majority of 5-star reviews that share the common theme of successfully blending both genres.
"Owning Regina is a perfect blend of a romance and eroticism and I really appreciated that both women were healthy, strong, and very functional people that happened to be into kink.” – Amy (Amazon review)

 Yay! More validation of my burning urge to bring everyday kink into literature. I don’t write vampires or science fiction, I just write realistic, loving relationships of ladies who have a kinky sexual orientation.  And yes, kink is a real orientation (as this article by Slate/NY Times writer Jillian Keenan proposes).

 Super buoyed by the positive feedback, I jumped into getting my book more exposure. Again hitting Elance, I found a producer to turn Owning Regina into an audiobook. It’s been so satisfying and fun to hear my very own words read by actors. Advance chapters of the book were released on iTunes and had been downloaded thousands and thousands of times before the full book was finished being recorded.

Then I learned that Germany consumes more romance novels per capita than any other country, sparking my mission to get my book translated. I found a German college student and offered a back-end deal for the translation so I wouldn’t have to pay up front. I figured even if I my profit percentage were small, it would be bigger than if I didn’t have a German version at all.  But right off the bat, it was clear that I would have no control over the tone of the German version and had to trust that tone would work in German. For example, the very title Owning Regina is not translatable in German because the language has no gerunds. So we decided to change the German title to Regina, My Possession.

The whole Owning Regina experience has encouraged me to let my kinky voice out of its cage. In addition to finishing up a short story with entirely different characters, I’m delving into the sequel of Owning Regina.

My advice is short and simple to anyone wants to become an author: Always write for yourself!

1 comment:

  1. Hello, Lorelei,

    What an inspiring story! I do believe that you have to write from your heart, that this is the key to having a true, genuine, involving story.

    So did you find a publisher? Or did you self-publish this?