Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Flesh Cartel Book Tour: Welcome to the Dark Side

Thank you for joining us for The Flesh Cartel virtual book tour! All week long, we’ll be giving readers an up-close look at our new psychosexual thriller, The Flesh Cartel. The first episode in this serial story, Capture, is now available for purchase via the Riptide Publishing website. Because October is also Riptide Publishing’s Anniversary Blog Hop Bash month, we’re giving away an extra special reader prize at every stop along this tour—and all month long! One commenter from every stop we make in October will win a $10 credit to Riptide Publishing. Simply leave a comment below by 11:59 pm on Sunday, Oct 7th (email address included) to enter. Visit the First Anniversary Blog Hop Bash page for our complete October schedule, and make sure to check out each stop to increase your chances of winning great prizes all month long!

Welcome to the Dark Side

I write a lot of dark stories. So does my co-author, Heidi Belleau, and they also happen to be the type of story we both enjoy reading the most. And one of the questions I get asked the most is, quite simply, “Why?” What’s the appeal of not just reading, but actually writing, about horrible things? What drives me to spend months and months elbow-deep in some poor sap’s misery?

It’s an interesting question. And one I often ask right back, since if you’re reading my stuff, you probably like the dark side too.  Or maybe you’re just curious and want to dip a toe. Or, like many, maybe you find yourself strangely compelled, unable to look away even when it wrenches your heart out.

Which goes to show that we all have different reasons for reading (or writing) what we do. And a story like The Flesh Cartel is going to showcase that variety more than most.

What really fascinates me about a story like The Flesh Cartel is the headgames. The character journeys.Exploring what it takes to break a man, or—in Mat’s case—to not break a man despite circumstances that would shatter most of us into a million little pieces. What it takes to break the bond of trust and love between two brothers who’d do anything for each other when the story starts. What it takes to build a bond of trust and love between captor and captive. What it takes to heal a broken mind when all is said and done. These are questions I sincerely hope none of us will ever have to face in real life, but that’s part of what makes them all the more fascinating in fiction. It’s a safe space to explore these ideas, to feel the tension and the anger and terror, experience the hope and thrill and the resilience of the human spirit (or not). We’re not writing The Flesh Cartel as a flimsy backdrop for erotic encounters (although there’s no question many a fellow kinkster will find it erotic, just as there’s no question many a fellow psychological horror or thriller reader will emphatically not find it erotic but enjoy it anyway); we’re writing it to treat these circumstances with the utmost respect and gravity and see how they shape lives.

Which is why it takes us over a hundred-thousand words—two category novels’ worth of writing!—to even begin to form a Stockholm-syndrome-like connection between captor and one of our captives. In real life, breaking a man takes long, careful, patient effort. So too in The Flesh Cartel, and it was an absolutely fascinating process to watch play out across the page. It took us to more than one unexpected place, and taught us more than one unexpected truth. We hope you’ll find it equally unexpected and fascinating to read. 

Available for $2.99 (75 pages)

Synopsis: In this first installment of the exciting new psychosexual thriller, The Flesh Cartel, orphaned brothers Mat and Dougie Carmichael are stolen in the night from their own home. Taken to a horrifying processing facility, they are assessed, microchipped, and subjected to unspeakable brutality—all in preparation for sale to the highest bidder.

In a world where every person has a price, the beautiful and subduable PhD student Dougie is highly prized. His brother, a rough-edged MMA fighter, is less desirable—and potentially too dangerous—but he still has his own appeal.

Abused and locked up under round-the-clock surveillance, with no idea where they are or even why they’ve been taken, escape seems impossible, which leaves staying together their only hope. And after being separated once by the foster system, they'll do anything to keep it from happening again. Anything at all.

Author Bios:

Rachel Haimowitz is an M/M erotic romance author, a freelance writer and editor, and the Managing Editor of Riptide Publishing. She's also a sadist with a pesky conscience, shamelessly silly, and quite proudly pervish. Fortunately, all those things make writing a lot more fun for her . . . if not so much for her characters.

When she's not writing about hot guys getting it on (or just plain getting it; her characters rarely escape a story unscathed), she loves to read, hike, camp, sing, perform in community theater, and glue captions to cats. She also has a particular fondness for her very needy dog, her even needier cat, and shouting at kids to get off her lawn.

You can find Rachel at her website, Tweeting as RachelHaimowitz, chatting in the Goodreads forums, and blogging at Fantasy Unbound. She loves to hear from folks, so feel free to drop her a line anytime at metarachel (at) gmail (dot) com.

Heidi Belleau was born and raised in small town New Brunswick, Canada. She now lives in the rugged oil-patch frontier of Northern BC with her husband, an Irish ex-pat whose long work hours in the trades leave her plenty of quiet time to write. She has a degree in history from Simon Fraser University with a concentration in British and Irish studies; much of her work centred on popular culture, oral folklore, and sexuality, but she was known to perplex her professors with unironic papers on the historical roots of modern romance novel tropes. (Ask her about Highlanders!) When not writing, you might catch her trying to explain British television to her newborn daughter or standing in line at the local coffee shop, waiting on her caramel macchiato.

You can find her tweeting as @HeidiBelleau, email her at, or visit her blog:


pointycat said...

I read episode 1 yesterday - it made me think more of the darker thrillers I've read. Scary, brutal, horribly gripping - I really do want to read more; the characters are so well drawn that already I'm emotionally invested in finding out what happens to them.

I'm still very annoyed to hear that Amazon pulled this - fingers crossed you win that one, though I appreciate that they're likely to just dig their heels in :(

FanGirlMom said...

grrr Amazon...

Rachel Haimowitz said...

We're going to try to shame them into reinstating, like they did with Selena Kitt's books, where everyone very publicly complained and then they were all, "Oh, that was totes a mistake, we would NEVER do something like that on purpose." *snort* Yeah, right. Anne Tenino has very graciously invited us to write a guest post about censorship (ironically enough, this week is National Banned Books Week) for Chicks and Dicks, and hopefully folks will take a moment to complain to Amazon (you can do so here: ) that they don't appreciate being treated like children who can't make their own decisions about what they do and don't like. Never mind the sheer HYPOCRISY of it all. I mean, Flowers in the Attic features a 17-year-old brother raping his 14-year-old sister, and they're still selling that. Or what about Lolita, which details a pedophile relationship with a young girl. Or [insert Stephen King book here], many of which feature graphic rapes and one of which features a graphic rape of a prepubescent boy. Or American Psycho, which features graphic torture-snuff scenes. And yet every one of those books is for sale on Amazon. Ours isn't as serious as any of those, but gets pulled in under 24 hours.

Ergh, sorry. /rant :-p Anyway, thanks for stopping by, and I'm so glad you enjoyed Episode 1!

Rachel Haimowitz said...

@FanGirlMom: LOL, yeah. See my previous rant if you feel inspired to complain to Amazon. I included the contact link and an argument you could copy if you wanted :)

Thank you for following along on the blog tour!

Rachel Haimowitz said...

A hearty thank-you to our lovely host for having us here today :D

KB/KT Grant said...


Amazon won't allow The Flesh Cartel to be sold there? Did they give you a reason why? said...

I feel a bit of kinship reading your interview here, because that safe exploration of darker themes is something that has driven a lot of my own writing -- and something for which I've caught a lot of flack in the past -- as well.

I hope the write-in campaign is successful!

Heidi Belleau said...

Thanks for writing, Amelia. I think a lot of us feel that way. Fiction really does give us an important avenue to explore that darkness in a safe way, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that, just so long as the authors are okay writing it, and the readers are okay reading it. Thus the content warnings.

I hope so too!

FanGirlMom said...

i sent my own rant to Amazon - hope it helps!

evainesaid said...

The headgames and the character journeys... THIS is why I chose to read The Flesh Cartel and the first episode did not disappoint. I find it fascinating. And it's funny... I also feel safe in that Heidi and Rachel will take good care of me, as the reader. I trust them to take me places that will scare and shock me but will ultimately leave me satisfied and having widened my horizons. It's almost like a literary D/s relationship. *LOL*

Rachel Haimowitz said...

@KT: They simply said it violated their content policy, which says, in its entirely, that they won't publish "What you might expect" and "pornography." Which, wow, really specific. We wrote for clarification a couple days ago but haven't heard back. I don't expect to anytime soon, if at all, because that would require them to address in writing the fact that their content policy is ridiculous beyond words.

@ameliacgormley: One of the most amazing things about discovering this community--for me, at least--was the realization that I wasn't alone and that the world was full of people who understood me. It's always wonderful to meet folks like you :) Thank you for the kind words, and I hope you'll check the book out!

@FanGirlMom: Thank you so much! We're stirring up quite a hornets nest on Twitter, and have a post coming sometime this week on Chicks & Dicks that brings up all kinds of issues related to censorship and banned books. Hopefully Amazon takes heed.

@Evainesaid: It's why we wrote it, too, so I'm thrilled to hear it worked on that level for you. And LOL, we'll author-top you anytime ;-)

KB/KT Grant said...

Rachel: You have a big case because how can they justify selling such books with incest such as Flowers in the Attic and the recent YA incest romance- Forbidden or how about Lolita that has big pedophilia?

Rachel Haimowitz said...

@KT: Exactly! And this was what I pointed out to them when I wrote asking how the book had offended. I listed those exact books (minus the YA, which I was unaware of), plus a few others. Because basically what this seems to say is that graphic torture-snuff (American Psycho) and incestuous child rape (Flowers in the Attic) and pedophelia (Lolita) is all just fine as long as it's not GAY. Which, wow, is a PR problem I bet Amazon doesn't want again.

ad0ffae6-78f6-11e1-8cde-000bcdcb5194 said...

I don't know why Amazon has problems with certain books. I remember their hubbub over Kayelle Allen's WULF: TALES OF THE CHOSEN (one of my very favorites, and I'm not even a sci-fi person normally)--I still have no idea what offended them, maybe they just dislike alpha doms. Good luck!


Rachel Haimowitz said...

@vitajex: IDK if even Amazon knows what their issue is with certain titles. I don't honestly think they read the book before pulling it.

Rachel Haimowitz said...

Wow, Amazon replied to us surprisingly quickly (within 48 hours). Here's their fantastically helpful answer. /sarcasm

We're contacting you regarding the following title:

The Flesh Cartel #1: capture (ID: 2952220)

We’ve confirmed that your book(s) contains content that is in violation of our content guidelines and we will not be offering this title for sale in the Kindle Store. As stated in our guidelines, we reserve the right to determine what we consider to be appropriate, which includes cover images and content within the book.

If you wish to re-publish your book(s) with content that meets our guidelines, it will need to be submitted as an entirely new ASIN and go through our standard review process. Previous customer reviews, tags, and sales rank information are not transferable because the title will essentially be a different product.

Our content guidelines are published on the Kindle Direct Publishing website.

To learn more, please see:

We appreciate your understanding.

Go on, click on that link. You will die of LOLz when you see the extent of their quote-unquote "content policy."

Melora said...

I love how Amazon is ignoring similar content in well known books while excluding yours. I hope enough people complain and they reinstate it. And that so called content policy, what a joke. Obviously our definitions of offensive material aren't what they expect. And by being so vague they can use exclusionary criteria (prejudice/bias) whenever the whim strikes.

Melora said...

I need to have my email as a sig since I have such trouble remembering to include it when posting.

Lisa said...

Amazon can be such hypocrites at times. I really don't understand how they come to these conclusions. This happened with another book I read recently. Amazon banned the ebook because it contained pseudo incest. The characters involved weren't even related by blood. Now that the book is out in paperback, they are actually selling it, but the cover is not being shown. Go figure!

Keep writing the dark stuff and I will continue to read about it. I've read a lot of books where really bad things happen to people. Like you said, fiction is a safe place to explore how characters deal with the aftermath. I also like to read books about BDSM. I find the lifestyle fascinating even though I have never participated in it and probably never will. Keep up the good work!

Lisa said...

Oops! I forgot my email address, too.


booklover0226 said...

Amazon has me spittin' mad, as my grand-mother used to say. It has been a long time since I have written a "I am going to lay you out" letter and I think it is time to send one!

Tracey D
booklover0226 at gmail dot com

Michelle said...

I wish Amazon would let us make up our own minds about which books to buy. If a person doesn't like the contecnt they can always not buy it for crying out loud. Censorship is alive and well and living in the 'zon. chellebee66(at)gmail(dot)com

sylvan65 said...

Hello all!
Not too much really surprises me these days, but must admit to a "WTF" moment when I heard what Amazon did here... considering the books I've actually downloaded myself from their inventory. Hu. Really? Ah well, it ends up being attention brought to your work regardless, on the bright side. People will hear about it, investigate, see what remarkable writers you are and bingo! New fans! Chin up loves!


Jill Sorenson said...

Banned for what content? Underage sex, forced incest, both? I can see why Amazon would ban a book that had forced incest *as titillation* between underage characters. I assume that the brothers are of age, based on the blurb, so I'm not sure what the questionable content is. The examples cited are not erotica (Flowers in the Attic, Lolita) so you might look for other books similar to yours to make your case.

Rachel Haimowitz said...

@Melora: Exactly. If you feel so moved, you can contact Amazon's customer support here:

A lot of people have written in to complain, and we're hearing stories back now of people getting replies that don't even pretend to address what they've said; people are getting emails back suggesting they purchase other titles or saying the title they've asked about is not available. In other words, canned replies cut-and-pasted, instead of replies from actual people dealing with the customer's actual problem. Customer replies to THOSE replies do seem to be getting kicked up the management chain, though.

Rachel Haimowitz said...

@Lisa: Agreed, the hypocrisy is astounding. I don't actually think they even read the books they ban; that'd take time and effort. More likely, someone reported it, and they just banned it without question. Thank you for your support :)

@Tracey: LOL, you let em have it! :D

@sylvan65: On the one hand, yes. OTOH, I think a lot of people--even most people--don't know how to get an ebook on their kindle if they don't buy it from Amz, so for all the buzz and chat and outrage, we're not really selling any books :(

@Jill: There actually isn't any underage sex, and the "incest" is... well, I don't want to spoil folks, but let's just say it's really not. We put the warning on there in case someone has triggers because we emphatically DON'T want to hurt anyone, but it's very tame. Re: examples, thank you--we're pulling up some other titles now. There's no shortage of them for sure :(

gigi said...

Sounds like a great book. Please count me in. Thanks!

Aija said...

Okay, now I'm scared all over again! What it takes to break the bond of trust and love between two brothers?? Noooo! Rachel, why are you so evil? And why does that make me love you even more??? *HUGS* <3

Rachel Haimowitz said...

@gigi: Thank you, and you're counted!

@Aija: LOL! *HUGS, BB!*

Shadow said...

The whole amazon thing was a I bought several books from them that had some of the contect they dont approve of. Theyre being to high handed. But on the plus side, it brought great attention to authors work and hopefully boosted sales! Sorry theyve giving you a hard time. But dont worry, we'll keep reading your work! ;)