Monday, December 16, 2013

Sometimes Publishing Gets Weird

From time to time I check to see how my books are doing on I check the ranking, review the descriptions, think about cover design and whether or not I can afford to have a better one done.

And, I look at the price. Now, since I set the price when I publish the book, that might seem odd, but the fact is that I only set the suggested retail price. Amazon can change the price at which they decide to sell the book, and so I sometimes see it available for a lower price, which I will occasionally announce so that anyone who's thinking about buying it will be tempted all that much more.

But today I looked at the price, saw that has Blowing It! available in paperback for $6.75, which is 75 cents below list—nice—but that someone else has it new for $6.32. Now, I have recently made the book available for expanded distribution, so that retailers other than Amazon can carry it. Now, this seller charges $3.99 for shipping, and if you buy it from Amazon with an order totaling $35 in eligible items, you can get it shipped for free, so Amazon is probably still a better deal.

It doesn't, by the way, make any difference to me.

But what was truly bizarre is that the price for used copies of Blowing It! start at (are you ready for this?) $19.05. For a used copy of a book that you can buy new for $6.32. Makes perfect sense.

And even stranger is that one seller (I'll leave it to your curiosity to find out which) sells the book for $999.11! If I could sell even one copy for that price, I would be very happy indeed. In fact, if you are of a mind to pay that kind of money for a copy, shoot me an email and I'll arrange it. I'll even throw in the shipping (which this seller doesn't)!

And let me make something perfectly clear. Blowing It! and Eric's Secret are print-on-demand titles. There is no such thing as a first edition, and they will be in print for as long as I want them to be. Each book is printed when you order it and not a moment sooner. There is absolutely no reason to pay more for a used copy of any of my books than for a new copy (although if you can find a used copy for less, jump on it).

Perhaps someday, when I'm dead and gone and my heirs decided to withdraw the books from circulation, existing copies will be worth the extra money, if only for the novelty. But for now, save your money and buy a new copy or a Kindle edition, and have a good read.

And use the money you save to buy some balloons. $992.79 will buy enough balloons to fill a house. And that, I can get next to.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Misconception

I'm not going to clarify anything about balloon fetishes in this post, but I am going to lay a myth to rest. And it goes like this:

"I would love to buy the Kindle version of (insert name of book here), but I don't have a Kindle."

I don't have a Kindle either, but I not only write books for the Kindle but I read them. On my computer, on my phone, and on my non-Kindle tablet. Kindle reading applications are available for iOS and Android, and for Mac and Windows. There's no official reader for Linux, but you can still read as long as you are connected with the Cloud Reader. If you can post to Facebook, you can read a Kindle book.

That said, there are a couple of advantages to print, enough that I bothered to put the short story Eric's Secret into print although it's only 34 pages. First, as I once heard someone say, the only hand-held device that doesn't lose its charge is a book.

And then there is the question of ownership. You may think you own the Kindle books you buy, but your access to them is controlled by Amazon. You can lend Kindle books for a short time, but you can't give them away or resell them.

Now for me, the author, this would seem to be a good thing. But the way I look at it, if you lend, give, or sell my book to your friends, I have another potential reader, who might recommend my books to others who will actually purchase their own copy.

And I personally think that if you buy a book, it should be yours to do with what you please as long as you don't violate my copyright in doing so.

That said, I do buy Kindle books, because they are convenient, often more affordable, and sometimes the only option.

But I'm trying to give you whatever options you choose.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Popping and Not Popping: The False Dichotomy

It's supposed to be the great divide between balloon fetishists: popper vs. non-popper, as if we could picture some great room with a line down the middle, and on one side the poppers would be gleefully destroying their balloons, and on the other the non-poppers would be lovingly protecting theirs. And presumably, for those non-poppers who are also phobic, the line down the middle would actually be a soundproof wall.

It's a silly picture, I know, but it's the kind of simplification I hear over and over again. I even get asked, frequently, "Are you a popper or a non-popper?"

Well, the pseudonym I chose might give you a clue. But the first name is not short for Timothy; it's short for timid. I'm what you might call a sometimes-phobic-sort-of-popper. And that's about as much categorization as I'm willing to commit to.

Each of us has a very individual relationship to balloons. For some it's very emotional, for others it's only sexual, and for others it may be both. And if you think that there is an perfect correlation between the emotional side of the relationship and a fetishist's position on popping balloons, you might find yourself quite surprised.

Take me, for example. I have a strong emotional attachment to balloons. I love having them around, and I used to rescue them from being popped when I was little. I will often keep balloons around for months, hanging up or hidden somewhere to play with. My first sexual interest in balloons revolved strictly around close, physical, non-popping contact with them. When they popped by accident, it scared me and made me sad. Parties were a nightmare.

But somewhere along the line, I also came to be sexually excited by balloons popping, and I am to this day. But the prospect of watching even an incredibly gorgeous, totally naked woman take a pin and pop a huge number of balloons very quickly leaves me not only unexcited, but highly disappointed. Because the pop is not what I'm after. The pop that excites me comes at the end of close contact, as with sitting or lying on a balloon, or with the total involvement of blowing up a balloon until it pops.

Pin, lighters, knives, high heels, fingernails, even bare feet don't do it for me; I want to see intimate involvement. The best, for me, is bare butt against not-too-tight balloon, with considerable bouncing before the balloon gives up.

But that's just me. All of the things that I mentioned that don't do it for me, do it for someone else. So when someone says they are a popper, they are only telling a small part of the story, most likely.

Same for non-poppers. Not wanting to pop balloons—and it can be about fear, about loss, or even about indifference—says nothing about how a fetishist enjoys balloons, and the variety of ways can be rather staggering.

And the crossover, what the so-called experts who like to classify things would call being a "semi-popper" (what does that mean, that you only pop half your balloons?), can get even more complicated still. There are those who don't pop that are still somewhat excited by the pop, or by the danger of the pop without the actual pop. Conversely, there are those for whom the pop is a buzzkill. There are also non-poppers who don't much care if a balloon pops, but they are just not excited by it.

So the next time you see an article or TV show about balloon fetishes that claims that we are neatly divided into "poppers, non-poppers, and semi-poppers," take it with a grain of salt, and maybe write in and set the record straight.

Or just send them here.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Can I Have Some Facts Here, Please?

I'm getting weary of cable television shows about balloon fetishism. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the balloon fetishists themselves, who want to tell their story and promote some understanding and maybe acceptance. And I have to admit that Dennis fared a lot better on The Discovery Channel's Forbidden segment as far as editing, lighting, and music than did his predecessors on similar shows in the past on TLC and National Geographic.

But what about research? What about facts? What about getting experts who (and I realize that this is a radical idea) actually know what the hell they are talking about?

Let's take the most recent show, Forbidden, as an example. Here are some of the ideas presented as fact through narration and by talking heads "experts" (whose names are not given on this particular show, leaving us no chance to check their qualifications):

"There are up to 250,000 'looners' worldwide." Anyone who says that they know how many people in the world have a balloon fetish are pulling figures out of thin air. At least the expert on Strange Sex had a study she was referring to, although she doesn't actually remember where the study came from (something I know from personal correspondence with the good doctor). I suspect the worldwide figure is probably higher, and the 250,000-500,000 for the US alone cited in Strange Sex is much too high, but there really is no way to tell. This is not the sort of thing that Nielsen runs a telephone survey on. ("Good afternoon, this is Mr. Johnson from A.C. Nielsen. I'd like to ask you about any sexual fetishes you have. Hello? Hello?")

"Looner lads outnumber ladies by 30 to one." I have no doubt that lady balloon fetishists are much rarer than gentlemen balloon fetishists, but no one knows the ratio with any certainty whatsoever.

"And they're mostly young—in their 20s to 30s." Excuse me? As a balloon fetishist in his mid-50s who has been corresponding with other balloon fetishists since I was in my mid-20s, and who acquired his balloon fetish in his pre-teens, I can tell you that this notion is patently ridiculous. We come in all ages.

"Balloons are brought out during special times, which would be one thing that would make it [sic] more likely to be a fetish object than something that you would see every single day." Yeah, right, that's why there are so many shoe fetishists because, you know, shoes only come out during special times. Who is this woman?

"Part of the thing that makes a balloon fetish too is the fact that it can look as though it's a sexual shape." This woman obviously has no idea why people develop fetishes. "Oh yeah, that balloon looks like a breast and that one looks like a penis, and that shoe looks like a ... shoe." She's really just making this up as she goes. I'm sure she's never talked to a real balloon fetishist in her entire life (at least not that she knows of).

"Unlike kids' balloons, which are made of cheap synthetic rubber, Dennis favors inflatables of premium natural latex." Good luck going into your local party store and finding a balloon made of synthetic rubber, which is not cheap at all. Although balloons might have more or less added chemistry, the balloons that kids play with are the same latex balloons we play with. We just don't play with them the same way.

Aside from the factual errors, there is the whole structure of this, with the talking heads and the little history of the invention of rubber balloons thrown in to make it sound like the show covers the entire subject.

With all due respect to Dennis, his approach to the fetish is only one aspect of a very, very broad subject. Popping was only mentioned by Dennis as something that just happens sometimes. For Dennis, as with non-poppers in general, that's an undesirable thing. But for others, myself included, balloons popping is an important part of the experience. And for many, it's the whole point of their fetish.

But back to the subject of "experts." I don't think anyone is a true expert on balloon fetishism. Those of us who have one tend to have a fairly narrow view. And I doubt that anyone, even a clinician, who does not have the fetish would devote the necessary time for true in-depth study.

But the cable channels have to have their talking heads, right? So they pick a handy psychologist or two and just ask them to talk on camera about balloon fetishes. And, not having treated a balloon fetishist before, because rarer than a balloon fetishist is a balloon fetishist who seeks treatment for it, this person coughs up whatever is in the literature (or what they remember from the literature, if they are too lazy or haven't been given time to look it up), plus whatever comes to mind about how they think a balloon fetish might play out.

Worse yet is consulting someone like Karen McIntyre, the "expert" from National Geographic's Taboo, who is a reporter who wrote a thesis paper about balloon fetishism while she was a journalism student. Look up her paper: it's full of bizarrely cute animated graphics. And somehow this one paper makes her an expert.

And one of Taboo's other experts was a sociologist. Now there's someone who really knows about sexual development!

It's not that I think the general public needs to know all the little details about our sexual interest in balloons—there are certainly more important things that they, and frankly we, should be devoting our attention to. But of the information that's out there, these shows are where the majority of non-fetishists find out about this unusual fetish.

And I think we'd all be a lot better off if they were getting information that actually contained some good old-fashioned facts.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Update on Writings

I'm still not sure how the character in my new story, a phobic female non-popper who never throws away her balloons, makes the transition to being a popper. Usually this is the kind of thing I like to know before I start writing an actual manuscript. But somehow I just decided that I needed to write, to get to know the young lady before I put her through, well, whatever is going to change her mind and turn her life in a different direction.

So far, about a thousand words in, I still have no idea. But I think I know the character pretty well, so once I've reviewed a few ideas about how such a conversion might take place, I'll know which ones are not credible for her, and which are. With luck, one will stand out as being just right for her. I welcome any suggestions from those who have made the transition.

On the non-fiction front, I haven't gotten as many responses to my requests for research material as I had hoped, and I think I'm going to have to be a little more aggressive in going after information. Don't worry, I won't bite. But I will be asking people I know online (and find online) in a more direct manner as time goes on.

Meanwhile, I've decided that I am going to turn the one book into two books. The first will be a personal perspective on balloon fetishism, out of my own experiences and what I have observed over the past five decades that I have had these strong feelings for balloons. Why? Because I feel the need to get something out soon, to counter some misinformation that's already out there, and more that I expect in the near future (I won't go into detail about that—I just want some facts on our side).

And I don't want to give the second book, with real stories from real fetishists to show the depth and breadth of these feeling, short-shrift. I don't want to feel rushed to get something to press and find that I have left important aspects out, or misinterpreted what I've read online without getting the whole story.

So that's where I am now. I'll keep everyone up to date.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Thinking About My Next Story

I'm starting a new short story, and I think this one is going to be about a non-popper who becomes a popper. Not venturing too far out of my own experience yet, but give me time!

My conversion experiences happened in my late teens, only about five years after my first sexual experience with balloons. It kind of started with the TV show Wonderama (if you're too young to remember Wonderama, try to find reference to the "Balloon Bottom Relay" on the Internet; you will not find any footage, which is just as well because all the participants were underage. But then, at the time, so was I).

Then a girl that I lusted over told me that she like to pop balloons by sitting on them. At first I was repelled by the thought, but since I wasn't repelled by the girl I started to have fantasies about her butt in such hard contact with a balloon, and my fetish took a very different direction after that.

But I think I'm leaning toward an adult conversion in this next story. I want to make sure I set up the character's fetish in such a way that the conversion is believable even after all his or her time being a non-popper (haven't decided if the main character is male or female yet).

That will probably involve a lot of time trying to recapture the way I felt before I was excited by balloons popping. I don't think that will be too hard; I still enjoy non-popping play, and I like to keep balloons around for a long time, as I've mentioned here before.

As to the actual conversion event, that will probably involve a lot of fantasizing. It's a tough job, but it's got to be done.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

New Story, Available on Kindle

My new short story has just been published. It's called Eric's Secret.

Eric Walker is turned on by toy balloons. But he has kept that secret from his wife Gina during almost five years of marriage. Will a dream of his past force his hand? Does Gina have a secret of her own?

This time, the main character is a non-popper. I hope you enjoy this new story. I'm already cooking up an idea for the next one.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mixed Feelings About Summer

Summer has come a little early to New England, and although the temperatures will be a little more, uh, temperate in the days to come, the heat wave has me thinking forward to the coming season.

Now, don't get me wrong. There are a lot of things I like about summer. Time off from my seasonal job. Outdoor activities with the kids. Bikinis. But for a balloon fetishist with my particular likes and dislikes, summer brings several months of near abstinence from balloons.

I don't decorate with balloons in the summer, because we don't have air conditioning, and the balloons oxidize in no time with all the fans turned on. I don't like oxidized balloons, and neither does my wife (in her case, it's the smell).

And because the kids are home nearly all the time, balloon play just doesn't happen except in very short intervals. More time with the kids also means less time to write my balloon stories (although more time to write things that actually make money, so that's a plus).

So, although I plan to have a lot of fun in the next three months or so, I have to face the fact that very little of that fun will involve balloons.

But I can still think about them.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

An Open Letter About Globophilia and Pedophilia

I have edited this post in response to actions by the party about whom I originally wrote it. But I have retained the following paragraphs:

I also would like to ask all my fellow balloon lovers to make sure they are above reproach. Though I would like to think I didn't need to say this, it harms all of us when a balloon fetishist posts pictures of minors—no matter how innocent the picture itself—with balloons, or makes inappropriate comments on pictures and videos, or dares minor children to perform acts with balloons to satisfy their own desires.

And it's not enough to refrain from those behaviors. We need to call those who make us look bad to the carpet as well, as publicly as possible, as adamantly as the behavior demands.

We are already handicapped by the fact that the object of our desire is perceived as a child's toy (see my take here on that subject, among others). We have to separate our sexual interest in balloons from anything connected with children.

Otherwise, the haters of the world will win, and instead of seeing documentaries about men in the woods doing blow-to-pops, or men in their bedrooms stuffing balloons up their shirts, we may start seeing alarmist reports about balloon fetishists molesting children.

And at that point, the truth won' t matter even one little bit.

Please fight the good fight!

Sunday, May 5, 2013


I'm writing a short story, and unlike the main male character in my novel, this gentleman has a different kind of balloon fetish, a different kind of history, and a different kind of life from mine. So I have to let myself get into his head a little and imagine what it would be like to feel the way he feels.

In some ways it's not as hard as I thought it would be, but then this character isn't so distant from me in interests; it's not as if he is turned on by things I hate. It's more that he would probably hate some of the things that turn me on. It's more a matter of restraint on my part, I think. (Notice I haven't actually told you what his interests are. I'm keeping it as a surprise. Besides, I might end up changing some of it before I finish the story.)

But it did get me thinking about two things. First, when I get around to writing a story about a character whose interests deviate from mine a lot, will I be up to the task? Will it ring hollow because I don't personally get turned on in the same way? Or can I use my own experience with what turns me on, combine it with what I've read from other balloon fetishists, and create something convincing and enjoyable?

Second, am I really in any better position to understand my fellow fetishists than anyone else out there? As I've said, there is so much variety, and even one of my characters in the book expressed disdain for a popping method that she, personally, didn't like.

As to the first question, I don't think I'll know the answer until I try. I may discover, by the end of the first story I do that's far outside my own likes, that I can immediately detect my utter lack of identification with it, and toss the story out in favor of something I know much better. Or, maybe it will look okay to me and my readers will tell me I'm full of it (or at least full of myself).

The thing to do, I think is to dive right in a do a story where I don't identify with the interests of any of the characters involved and see what comes out. Maybe the story after the one I'm doing.

Now, as far as the second question goes, I think the answer is yes. Not only because I have a balloon fetish, but because, as a writer, I've had to put myself in the minds of so many characters. In fact, I think any fiction writer with an open mind who's willing to take the time to read the forums (and ignore the mainstream media) might do pretty well at understanding us.

Unfortunately, there have already been a few writers who took a stab at it without making the effort to understand. The only saving grace is that hardly anyone has read their work.

But then, I don't write balloon fetish stories to make a lot of money; the hourly pay is lousy. And I don't write to convince the masses, for I don't expect them to understand. But there are definitely intangible rewards. Even when I have to give my stories away, it feels good to know that there are people out there who, even if their fetishes are not exactly like mine, still understand the basic gist of what I'm writing about.

And that makes it worth the time and effort.

Writing While Researching

The research on the new book is proceeding very slowly. I was hoping to be further along, but this annoying need to make a living keeps interfering in one way or another (just as life takes time away from balloon play).

Meanwhile, I am composing a short story, not related to Blowing It! in any way (don't want to get anyone prematurely excited about a sequel), but just something I thought of one morning and decided I wanted to write. I expect that it will only take a few weeks to whip it into shape and get it published on Kindle.

I asked my Facebook followers if I should make the character a popper, a non-popper, or some kind of combination between the two. I got lots of opinions, and you'll have to read the story to find out what I decided, but some of their other suggestions sparked some other plot ideas.

So, rather than having to wait until I can do a whole novel, or get the research done for an entire non-fiction book, I just might have some stories for you to read this year.

It should be fun; I hope you'll enjoy them.

Friday, March 15, 2013

My New Year's Balloons

I finally took my New Year's balloons down, two and a half months into the year. In my house in the winter, good-quality balloons will stay shiny and firm enough to be nice to look at for several months. But when the spring comes and we start to open the windows to let in the fresh air, the balloons soon oxidize and lose that lovely shine.

We are still several weeks from that point, but I live in a house with children and don't get much privacy. So I took advantage of an empty house to have some fun with them while I had the chance.

The balloons were Qualatex jewels, and when they have been inflated for that long, the rubber is a little stiff, so they are not so good for sit-popping. But I also like to stuff balloons in my clothing, and they were still very nice for that.

I don't like oxidized balloons, so even though I was sad to not have the balloons hanging in my room anymore, I was glad I had some fun with them before they started to fade. This is different from many others who actually prefer oxidized balloons, or don't care one way or the other. Each of us has very specific likes and dislikes when it comes to balloons.

For example, a lot of people who like to pop balloons probably wouldn't keep them around so long. But I like to have balloons around to look at, and I like non-popping play, so I'm not always in a hurry to pop my balloons. Even balloons I've blown up specifically to play with sometimes end up in my closet for a time until I am in the mood (and have the opportunity) to pop them.

It's a good thing my wife understands.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Seen On Twitter

I post and follow on Twitter, but not very often. It started as a way to promote my book, and that score it has been spectacularly unsuccessful. But I haven't deleted my Twitter account because it does add some dimension to the research for my new book.

I keep a search going for the words "balloon fetish." Not so much to find other fetishists (Facebook, it turns out, is much more fruitful for that), but to see what people are saying about balloon fetishes. Mostly, I see very little posting by actual fetishists; what I mostly see is promotional posts by balloon fetish sites, and posts by people who have recently watched either Strange Sex or National Geographic's Taboo.

And the reactions are usually not positive. Now, as an indicator of how the general public feels watching a segment about balloon fetishism (albeit a narrow and misleading one, in both cases), tweets are probably not very helpful. When you consider who tweets, and what they normally tweet about, you might expect to get more "I just saw something really weird" posts than "I just saw this and found it very interesting" or "I was watching this and I really didn't have much of a reaction to it" posts.

Still, it's disturbing to see so many posters responding to these documentaries with LOLs and WTFs. And for a while I tried to set them straight, sending a link to my short, but more reasoned page on the subject on my book's site. But I realized that it was just a knee-jerk reaction on my part. No one who does posts like that is going to change his or her mind because a real fetishist tweets something to them. Maybe if one of their own friends came out to them as a fetishist. Or maybe not.

It makes people feel secure and more powerful socially to reject something that hints at "otherness." Especially young adults, from whom most of these posts seem to come. We just have to accept the fact that our sexual oddities cause discomfort to most of those who don't share them.

Of course, I'm sure that any of my gay and lesbian friends could have told me that.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Taking Over

I have been asked by my long-time correspondent Triple Outcast to take over Globophilia, as he is deleting his Google account and didn't want to see the URL go to waste. I will need to sort out for myself which of my writings should be in my author's blog, and which should be in this one, and I hope that I won't be neglectful as I take this over.

Thanks to T.O. for handing this over to me. I hope he made the right decision.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Getting Organized

Although I've already written a lot of words for the new book (which I need to get a working title for soon so I stop referring to it as "the new book"), I'm a long way from actually writing anything I would call a completed book. There is so much research to do, so many people to contact, so much thinking about the format of the book, and how I'm going to correlate everything that I find out so that it all works together without denigrating into dry statistics or trite (and wholly inaccurate) classifications.

And so the organization is not just of the kind where I make sure my files are all in the right places and that my GMail folders are set up just so. It's the mental organization of the concepts.

I've decided on a format for the book. And yet I'm fairly sure that by the time I've written the first draft, I will have discovered that the format I thought was just right is, in fact, totally inappropriate for the job.

But that's the way of writing, when it's working as it should. Not just words on paper, but a voyage of discovery. And when we all get there, I think that I will be as surprised as you to see what the final product looks like.