Monthly Archives: August 2014
By K D Grace
It’s that time again. The nest is temporarily empty. I’ve just finished my third novel in The Mount Series. To Rome with Lust is now out the door and in the gentle but firm hands my editor. And as always, I feel a bit bereft.
Has there been a celebration? Weeell, not exactly. That is unless you call more writing ‘celebrating.’ It occurred to me as I sent Rome out into the big wide world with a flutter in my heart and a lump in my throat that I really don’t know what to do with myself when I’m not writing. Since the tender farewell, there have been blog posts, there has been planning and scheming and plenty of PR to catch up on. But all of that is close enough to writing to keep me from getting too twitchy.
Sunday, during a long walk on the Downs, I found myself flirting with Medusa again. That woman and I have a real thing going on, and she often rears her serpentine locks when I’m in between stories. But it seems that every time she starts getting up close and personal, I have to put a hold on our relationship. I’ve got another project I have to finish first, but after that, I’m promising her my full attention. Not that I’m complaining about another project. I get to be Grace Marshall this time and since I already know what the plan of action is, I’ve very adroitly managed to stave off serious Empty Nest Syndrome once again. High five! I walked back home with the weather threatening rain, all the while Medusa kept whispered her story seductively in my ear. Oh that woman is persistent! But she’ll have to wait at least a little while.
It’s hard to believe that I once wrote a post about emptying the brain from the busy-ness to make room for the imagination. These days the imagination takes no prisoners and demands way more space in the brainbox than I originally and neatly allotted. Or maybe it’s just that I’m allowing all those wild exciting possibilities to run amuck because I’m too scared NOT to write.
I should probably take some time to bask in the afterglow, maybe go out for dinner and a movie with hubby, but try to tell that to Medusa. I won’t lie, there are times when I wonder if I’m all right. There are times when I wonder if maybe it’s just not normal to spend so many happy afternoons and evenings … and mornings with people who only exist in my imagination. Is there something wrong with me that I’m always longing to write more words, longing to spend more quality time with my imaginary friends? And anyway, even if I do go out, Medusa and sex in the park with a hot genius nerd and more adventures on the Fells in the Lake District with ghosts and witches — they all come along for the ride, crowding around the dinner table and shouting in my ear during the film.
All of this makes me wonder what would actually happen to me if I took a break from writing — I mean really took a break. It gives me a headache to think about it. Okay, there is reading, and I really love quality time with a good book. But I can’t possibly read and not think about how the book was written, and what inspired the author. And then there are all the ideas with which that book inspires me. You get the picture.
I can’t really count walking as something to do when I’m not writing, because there are always the ghosts in the hedgerows and the couple going at it in the back of the stables and then there’s Medusa, of course. As for gardening, well, gardening by its very nature begs rude stories. And there’s something about compost and growing things that just can’t keep from inspiring creativity.
Come to think of it, it really doesn’t matter what I do. In my head, I’m still writing, always writing. When I bang on the piano … well, there’s this romance I’ve partly written down that involves a pianist and an astronomer. No, seriously! Even when I’m ironing or doing the washing up stories are pouring into my head. Sometimes even when I’m asleep and dreaming.
Don’t get me wrong, my life is rich and full of new and wonderful experiences and, generally speaking, I’m a happy camper. But I view my life – all of my life, every experience, every emotion, every challenge, through the jaundiced eyes of a writer. Every breath, every nuance is filtered through the writer’s lens, and every experience is mined for its possibilities in story.
Now that I think of it, maybe writing IS my celebration for finishing To Rome with Lust. It always has been. That works for me, and Medusa’s happy with it, even if I do have to put her on hold. And my long-suffering husband learned ages ago that I’m scary when I don’t write. Writing keeps me happy and keeps me from being an evil bitch. It’s a win for both of us. So maybe I’ll just skip the break from writing and go straight for the sexy nerd genius. Yup! That’s a plan. Whew! I feel better already.
Elizabeth Black writes erotica, erotic romance, dark fiction, and horror. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and four cats.
Have you ever quit
reading an author because of the way that author acted on social media?
This question was
posed on Facebook by several authors. I saw it on author Rachel Thompson’s
timeline, and I wanted to know if my readers and other authors had ever done
it. I had read about allegations of child sexual abuse against Marion Zimmer
Bradley and I was already familiar with charges of homophobia against Orson
Scott Card. As I saw on Facebook and elsewhere, the news turned off many
readers as well as writers. After all, writers are readers, too.
I asked the same
question on m Facebook timeline and I received some fascinating answers.
yes, an author’s behavior may affect a person’s desire to get to know their
works. Diana Perrine noted that it’s “sometimes it is hard
to separate the Art from the Artist. Actors, Musicians, Authors, Painters and
Poets. If I like the art, but if I find the artist to be particularly loathsome,
I may not patronize him/her.” Tess MacKall found certain criminal acts a
deal-breaker. “If an author has committed a crime—and I’m not talking
about income tax evasion or getting caught with a prostitute—but a real crime
such as sexual abuse, murder, rape, etc., I’m never going to read anything by
that author again.” She said. “And I don’t care how talented the
author is. I will not put money in the pockets of a person like that.” Darren
Madigan brought up the career damage misbehavior can cause for an author or
celebrity: “If you’re really offended by some kind of behavior, then it
will doubtless make you not want to have anything to do with the person associated
with the behavior…. which is why
celebrities lose endorsement deals when they get caught misbehaving. ” He
said. “It’s normal and natural for people to feel alienated from
everything they associate with a person when that person behaves in a way that
Some authors named specific
writers. Karen Pokras Toz pointed out a fellow author had forwarded to her an
interview by Nicholas Sparks where he puts down women authors. She said
“Buh-bye.” I’ve never read Sparks either, and now I definitely won’t
touch his books since I feel insulted. Jeanne Evans has never read, and will
never read, anything by L. Ron Hubbard.
Not everyone agrees with these
assessments, however, and these disagreements make some authors controversial. Still,
It is helpful to separate the artist from his or her work. Devon Marshall said,
“For me it’s a case of don’t confuse the house with the inhabitant. What
an author (or an actor, director, or any creative person) does is create a
fiction, whether within a novel or a role or a painting, or whatever. What they
do with their creative fiction is not always who they are in reality. Liking a
person’s work doesn’t obligate me to like that person in reality. And vice
versa, I can like a person but dislike their work! It should also be borne in
mind that what we read about people on social media (be they celebrities or not)
may not always be either the whole story or even the truth.”
Raye Roeske has had personal experience with
poorly-acting or speaking authors. She said, “It’s mostly been authors/artists/whatever who have
personally been dickish to me or one of my loved ones.” More personal
experience from a reader: “I had an author follow me on twitter,
then not long after they chatted/commented on tweets, even gave me a snippet of
their book and once I said I’d bought the book they un followed me (keeping up
their follower vs followed numbers) it irritated me so unfollowed them.”
Xenia Smith said. “They then commented on the fact I’d unfollowed them.
Not really the way to keep new readers. ”
This distaste isn’t isolated to authors. Dave Gammon
said he was “very turned off a specific director that shall remain
anonymous. This individual seems to relish in correcting other people who are
simply stating their opinions and impressions and retaliating with his own
opinions as abstract as they are as facts. I think its a sign of emotional
insecurity to have to railroad someone else’s opinion because it differs from
their own. I think this individual has definitely tarnished my enthusiasm of
seeing anymore of their films.”
James Gummer was enjoying one particular author’s
works, but was turned off later. “I bought all of his books and
listened regularly to his podcast,” he said. “He acts and talks like
he wants to interact with people. But he never responded to any of my emails or
tweets when I had questions I wanted to ask.” Authors really do need to
keep up with their readers. It may be hard, but it’s necessary. One key to
success is friendly interaction.
One of the worst examples of author behavior I’ve ever
seen was described by John Hancock, who pointed out a possible explanation for
some of this behavior. He said: “I think the thing is that SOME
authors are very solitary, lacking in social skills, so when they enter social
media, they either think they can control or retaliate against fans or readers
whose reviews they don’t appreciate, or they simply come off as obnoxious
jerks. ” He described a rather horrific personal experience: “I once
wrote a negative review, in which I pointed out the misogynistic parts of the
book I found repulsive (threats of cutting off a woman’s breasts, and making
her eat them, for example). The author, and a group of his friends hounded me
and down voted all my reviews (even those for products unrelated to books) and
bragged about targeting me. Eventually I told him enough, I’d remove the review
if they’d stop harassing me. Simply not worth it. The sad thing is, everyone
once in a while, due to his robo social media campaign, I get requests to
follow him on Facebook or twitter. I would never read another book from this
person. I wouldn’t anyways, due to his repugnant attitudes towards women, but
also because he’s a bully to bad reviewers. God only knows how many bad reviews
he forced to retract, like mine.”
Some aren’t affected by an author’s actions or
statements. “I feel missing a good book or movie because of that
would just mean I can’t keep my thoughts separated and distinct in my
head,” John Paradiso said. The
opposite side would be readers who have picked up an author’s books because of
their pleasant social media personas. I doubt I would have read Trent Zelazny,
Douglas Clegg, KD Grace, or Tom Piccirilli if I hadn’t been exposed to them on
Facebook. I’d never heard of them before social media, and due to my exposure
to them and liking them as people, I discovered their works. John Ross Barnes
said much the same thing: “I have bought quite a few books by
authors I have discovered to be nice people on social media, and will continue
to do so.”
Some authors were exposed to new writers via different
formats. Christine Morgan said, “I’ve picked up books I might not have
otherwise just because the author seemed cool on a talk show or at a con or
something, yes. And I’ve avoided books for the reverse reason.” I recall
about several decades ago hearing a show on NPR in which Donald Westlake
discussed his new book “The Ax”. Westlake was such a delight and the
book sounded like such great fun that I soon after went to a bookstore and
bought it. I later devoured his Dortmunder books with great delight. Some
aren’t greatly influenced by what they read online or hear elsewhere. Jenifer Baldwin Stubbs may “try an
author because of social media…either I saw something I liked or someone I
like recommends, but I don’t let news, reviews or public behaviour really
influence my reading or watching. ”
Author radio interviews, book reviews,
and author profiles in newspapers and magazines are designed to sell books, but
they bring the author into your living room in a very comfortable and
easy-going way. You feel as if you’re right there with the author. If the book
sounds good, you’re more likely to buy it if you get a feel for the author.
And finally, Shar
Azade made the best point of all: “A lot of the authors I like are
dead. So if they suddenly got active on social media … I’d be a little
weirded out, yes.”
Here’s where to find me on the web:
Elizabeth Black – Facebook
Elizabeth Black – Twitter
Elizabeth Black – Amazon Author Page
by Jean Roberta
As an erotic writer, I’m always interested to learn about sexual cultures: what a particular demographic considers sexually acceptable, and what is taboo. As an instructor of first-year university courses, I’m interested in the culture of the age-group of my students (approximately 18-22, with some exceptions), as well as the high-school culture that most of them have just emerged from.
Very soon, I will be facing classrooms full of young adults. I will give them stories, poems, novels and essays to read, and I hope they find the printed words meaningful. I strongly suspect that literature written before the twenty-first century will seem outdated to most of them because they won’t recognize the persistence of certain social patterns.
One social event among today’s young that has been acknowledged in the media is the Teenage Sex Party: a group of high school students get together to drink, and (in many cases) indulge in other mind-bending substances. A gang-bang happens, either spontaneously (it seems like a good idea at the time), or pre-planned. In most cases that I’ve heard of, the event is largely spontaneous, though it often starts with one boy and one girl. The rest of the crowd piles on. (If there are same-sex Teenage Sex Parties, they don’t seem widely known.)
I suspect that this event happens much more often than many adults choose to believe. It’s easy enough to legislate a minimum age for drinking, driving, and consensual sex. It’s not really possible to legislate lust, curiosity, or recklessness, and teenagers of all genders have these qualities in abundance.
Note that I’m not expressing approval of the Teenage Sex Party. I’m just saying that it doesn’t freak me out. Many years ago, I was a teenage girl. Less long ago, I was the mother of a teenage girl.
Now here is the catalyst that propels a local event into the stratosphere of public discussion: someone has a recording device and takes pictures, or makes a little porn-movie of the event. Someone posts this on YouTube or some other social-media platform. The images go viral. The girl or girls in the Sex Party (who are usually outnumbered by boys) become targets of a lynch-mob of their peers.
In some cases, the girl who has become known as the Scarlet Whore of Whoville (or whatever town it is) changes schools to avoid the stigma, and finds that her reputation has preceded her. If she reads her email, she finds fresh insults and threats every day. She can’t concentrate in class, and wants to drop out of school. She can’t sleep. Her only support comes from her parents, who would like her to recover in a well-guarded facility. In a worst-case scenario, the girl commits suicide.
At this point, there is much hand-wringing in the media. The girl’s red-eyed parents ask why the police have not prosecuted the “rapists” who did this to their daughter. Various experts point out that vulnerable young women need to be better-protected from sexual exploitation. Some form of house arrest is often recommended, along with more old-fashioned parental “discipline.”
The frequent aftermath of the Teenage Sex Party, in which a girl is deprived of human status because of her perceived sexual behaviour, is parallel to the disfiguring, flogging, or murder of “fallen women” in cultures that practise fundamentalist religion in its most medieval forms. There is nothing especially modern or high-tech about any of this; it took place in the time of Christ, as recorded in the Bible. (Christ was against it.)
Let’s reconsider the party itself. In a case that was recently discussed on a daytime television talk show, the girl who was the centre of attention explained that she went to the party with the intention of having sex with one boy (presumably her boyfriend at the time). Another boy entered the room, and both boys persuaded her to let them take turns. By this time, everyone involved was highly intoxicated and higher than a kite, so it was hard for the girl to remember everything clearly. At some point, she became aware that the fourth guy had been replaced by a fifth guy. She couldn’t identify him, but she knew he hadn’t asked her permission.
The talk show host asked Scarlet (as I’ll call her) her if she knew the difference between sexual attention and sexual exploitation. He made it very clear that there was only one right answer to this question. She said yes, and agreed that what was done to her had crossed the line. The host then assured the girl’s anxious parents that the local police were wrong when they said the boys couldn’t be charged. The host promised to look into the case himself.
Are you uncomfortable yet?
Scarlet was clearly disturbed by the host’s promise to her parents that oh yes, those five boys could and should be punished. She said she didn’t think they should get criminal records. She seemed admirably loyal to the truth: the event had not been a clear-cut assault, and she had not been simply a victim of unwanted sex. She was still a victim of something that began right after the sex-party.
It’s incredibly hard for a teenage girl to maintain her integrity by telling the truth about her sexuality in the face of social pressure. In my day, there was rarely any objective evidence, but rumours abounded. When numerous classmates asked me whether it was true that I had “done it” with the boy who was bragging about this, I denied it. Admitting it would have opened up an abyss of shame in which I was afraid of being trapped for the rest of my life. Then, when boys asked me why most girls lie so much about what they really want and what they’ve really done, I cringed. I didn’t want to be a liar or a hypocrite, but I didn’t see any viable alternative.
Let’s think about sexual hypocrisy with regard to Scarlet and the boys from the party. Did the boys acquire terrible reputations at school because they were recognizable from the video on YouTube? Did anyone propose that the person who recorded the event without Scarlet’s consent (and who might not have been a participant) should be convicted of a crime?
I would like to see a talk show with a different focus on the Teenage Sex-Party and its aftermath. Who were the ringleaders of the smear campaign against Scarlet, and why was no one talking about appropriate penalties for them? Where were the parents of these underage thugs? How many of them will grow up to become sexual bullies at work? Will any of them become police officers who use their power to abuse or even kill innocent civilians?
Something is definitely rotten in Denmark, so to speak. And it’s not a loss of sexual purity among young women.
If Only My Mind Would Shut Up And Let Me Write
by Kathleen Bradean
In the past two years, I can’t remember having written a
short story. A couple weeks ago I got the urge to dive back in, probably because
my erotic horror novel is once again on ice and my fantasy novel (under a
different pen name) was just released so I have writing time. It didn’t hurt that
I had a vision or flash of inspiration or whatever you want to call it that gave
me a story to write. Or, at least, a starting point.
The smart thing to do would have been simply to write the
little bit I saw in my vision and run with it, but of course I had to ruin
things by thinking about it. Instead of pondering why these people were there
doing that sexy thing together, I obsessed over *that* point in a story, the
one where the sex begins.
Even if I were to begin a story with lovers stumbling into a
room, groping and kissing frantically before they decide the bed is way the
hell over there, so why don’t they just do it against a wall (something that
looks super hot on film but in real life demands the flexibility of a contortionist
or freakishly misplaced sexual organs, which I’m sure happens, but not, alas,
to me), that’s not where the sex began. It started before the door slammed open
and this couple stumbled into the darkened hotel room even if technically that’s
where the physical act began. The point I’m looking for is when sex began on
the mental plane, which was much further back in the time line.
Say my two characters meet in a hotel bar. Both are enjoying
a hot jazz trio before toddling off the bed after a long day of being whatever
high powered job erotica characters have now. Is being a billionaire a
profession? Anyway, they lock gazes across the room. Suddenly, they’re thinking
about sex. Mutual attraction isn’t enough though. I can close my eyes and
inhale deeply in the bakery without tasting their donuts, after all. It’s
movement in the right direction, but thinking that the guy across the way has a
great butt and pretty eyes too doesn’t mean you’re going to let him finger you
in the glass elevator on the way up to your hotel room. (or maybe it does. I don’t
Now my characters interact. The seduction begins, maybe with
a drink sent over, or maybe she takes the bar stool next to his. You may
approach it differently, but this is where sex starts in my stories. It may
happen off page, before the opening lines of my tale, but it happens. Even when
my characters know each other, I think it’s sexy as hell to think of them flirting
with each other and appreciating that even in a long term relationship, sex isn’t
always a given. I have to know my characters went to the trouble to woo their
partners, or the sex against the wall won’t hold my interest.
I’m not saying the seduction needs to be drawn out, or the conversation
has to be sexual. What I want to see—what I want to write—is that point where
sex goes from a possibility to a certainty. And yes, it’s erotica, so it’s
expected that sex will happen, but I’d like for readers to feel that it isn’t a
given until that magical turn of mind occurs. But seeing as it is sort of a
magical thing, I have to mull it over for a long while before I write my story.
I’m trying to grasp an elusive thing. Deep down, I know there’s no formula to
getting it right on the page, but that never stops me from dissecting stories
that work to try to figure out why. It’s
It’s a sad fact of my life that in terms of work, my writing comes last. Not because I want it that way, but for the time being, because it has to be. Running my own business means I can work from home and have flexibility in my schedule. In turn, this allows me to squeeze writing in wherever I possibly can. But of course, paying clients (as opposed to writing books that may or may not be contracted, and may or may not sell), must come first for me to survive.
Therefore, distractions from my writing, when I get to do it, are not welcome. I’m not talking about the emails-coming-in, social-media type stuff, as they’re distractions that can be avoided, or at least ignored until you’ve written so many words. I mean the unavoidable distractions; personal ones, health ones, family ones, and so on. Stuff that demands your time, with no exceptions or workarounds.
It can be very hard to stay focussed on creativity when there’s something on your mind. Or it is for me, anyway. If I’m not in the right frame of mind then I tend to just stare at the screen with not much going onto the page. It’s frustrating, but it can’t be forced.
So, what to do when distractions are around? Well, that’s easy, isn’t it? I’ll do client work, I’ll do my freelance editing, I’ll shout about the books I already have out there – there are lots of tasks that make up my average day, and for that I’m grateful. I’m not sure how I’d cope with being a full-time writer, as when distractions come along, I’d be achieving very little. At least this way, I’m still crossing things off a to-do list.
What about you? Can you write through certain types of distractions? How do you cope with them?
Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and
erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100
publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several
editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic
Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and
co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house.
She owns Erotica For All, is book
editor for Cliterati, and is one eighth
of The Brit Babes. Find out more
Join her on Facebook
and Twitter, and subscribe to her
newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9
By Lisabet Sarai
A while ago, my main erotic romance publisher decided to institute a new system for rating the amount of sex in their books. Like most publishers in the genre, they were already rating each book for “heat”:
Simmering – The sweeter side of romance, but with just enough heat to get your pulse pounding.
Sizzling – Sexy, explicit, and highly imaginative but with an emphasis on sensuality.
Burning – Sexy, creative and hot, almost anything goes – not for shy readers.
Melting – Super X rated with risque and explicit plot lines. For the bold and the brave.
Taboo – Pure, unadulterated erotica, possibly covering extreme imagery – might push the limits of acceptability. Proceed with care, these stories might not have a happy ever after.
However, the powers that be felt that they needed to rank books on another, possibly orthogonal dimension, namely how much sex the book contained. They introduced a “sexometer” rating, running from 1 to 3:
1 – Slow burn with plenty of sexual tension leading up to an explosive climax.
2 – A delicious balance of erotic tension and sexy scenes. More than risque and less than relentless.
3 – My my, how do they keep it up? Non-stop sensual and sexual action throughout
In discussions on the publisher’s author list, I opposed this new rating, for several reasons. First of all, I thought it was a rather superficial measurement, since it was based on the number of sex scenes in the book relative to the book’s overall length. So was it better to have three short scenes? Or one extended scene?
Furthermore, there is the question of how you define a “sex scene”. My recent release The Ingredients of Bliss includes several sexual fantasy sections, in which the heroine is imagining various outrageous activities. Nothing is happening in the physical world at all. Do these count toward the rating? Do we consider sexual interactions between characters other than the main protagonists? Do the participants have to reach orgasm? I know these sound like dumb questions, but the sexometer concept seems to invite them.
I also worried that faced with the sexometer, authors would feel pressured to add more, and more explicit, sexual activity to their books, even when this didn’t fit with the story. We all know “gratuitous sex” when we see it, sex that’s stuck into the middle of a book without justification or narrative function. Personally I find that sort of sex immensely boring. People who don’t probably aren’t paying much attention to the plot or the characters in the first place.
My most serious concern, though, related to the implicit suggestion that the higher a book rated on the sexometer scale, the more erotic the book. I knew from personal experience this was just plain wrong.
I don’t believe you can measure eroticism in any simple or mechanical way. A single glimpse of a girl’s bare midriff or a guy’s hands can propel me into a fever of desire. The same holds for fiction. Indeed, some of my favorite stories are those where the physical sex is held to a bare minimum – or perhaps doesn’t occur at all.
A fine example is Amanda Earl’s “Welcome to the Aphrodisiac Hotel”, originally published in the Cleis Do Not Disturb anthology and part of Amanda’s imminent Coming Together Presents volume, which will benefit AIDS charity GMHC.
The narrator in this tale is having a drink in a hotel lobby bar while observing the other occupants and imagining their sexual lives. There’s no sex in this story at all – only the promise of sex, the delicious potentials and pairings. Nevertheless, I found this tale incredibly arousing.
At this point the waiter arrives. He’s a new waiter and I haven’t had the chance to fantasize about him yet. Probably a college student, making money for school. I love his short curly dark hair, wonder what it would be like to see that luxuriant head of hair between my legs, as he licks at my cunt. Perhaps he enjoys older women. It’s clear he’s in good shape, thanks to the tight hotel-regulation uniform that displays his sweet little ass so well.
I want to rub my hands over the zipper, to watch how his erection flares at the mere touch of my hand through the fabric of his pants. In a soft and sultry voice, he asks the doctor for his drink order. The quiet tones of his syllables whisper over my skin. I can feel my nipples hardening beneath my silk blouse. I’m watching others but I look around briefly and wonder just who might be watching me. That thought sends a jolt of arousal to the damp cavity between my legs.
Another example is M. Christian’s classic “Nighthawks”, which appeared back in 2004 in Alison Tyler’s Down and Dirty collection. This tale, inspired by the Edward Hopper painting of the same name, is set in a city diner, in those dark and lonely hours between midnight and dawn. It’s a luscious exploration of a love affair between a customer and a waitress that is no less ardent and tender for being entirely imaginary.
Just a few days ago, I read another brilliantly erotic tale where sex takes second stage to desire, Preston Avery’s “Won’t Last the Week”, which appears in Tenille Brown’s anthology Can’t Get Enough. The narrator meets the woman of his dreams at a party. They spend the night on the beach, so entranced by one another that they forget to exchange phone numbers. As the week goes on, dreams and fantasies of the lost woman consume the narrator’s life.
It’s clear that the protagonists have sex, but this is barely described. The focus is on the emotions the woman inspires, with her ripe sensuality and her openness to the narrator’s desire.
She isn’t skinny like the girls I usually go for, like my ideal “on paper” woman, but curved and soft and she fits me just right. Her breasts are big with a delicious slope to them, and I know they will overflow my grasp. I could bury my face in the valley between them and never come up for air. I could have seconds and thirds and fourths of her and die a gluttonous happy man. She does everything I lead her into. I don’t ask – words are still lost to us. The first time I lower one of my hands to those gorgeous mounds, hidden between a thin blue cotton shirt, she doesn’t protest of push me away- she arches into me, into my touch, and makes the most beautiful noise in her throat. That moment, those moments, are all that I can feel. The future is as unreal to me as a unicorn on the planet Saturn. That place where names and phone numbers matter is at least a world away.
The beautiful urgency of this story left me in wet wonder. And yet, on the sexometer scale, it probably wouldn’t even make it to 2.
Much of my own recent work, especially my short stories, would score pretty low on the sexometer. “The First Stone”, coming out in a few weeks in Cheyenne Blue’s lesbian collection Forbidden Fruit, has a single sex scene, maybe a page long, in a story of 4500 words. Most of the tale focuses on the build-up, the protagonist’s struggle against her unseemly, implacable and completely inappropriate lust. (The heroine is a nun.) “The Last Amanuensis”, in Remittance Girl’s anthology Written on Skin, barely has any sex at all, though it is shot through with frightening darts of desire. And even in the stories that do include a healthy dose of sucking and fucking, I tend to shine the spotlight on the characters’ emotions and reactions, not on their genitalia.
Okay, so The Ingredients of Bliss received a sexometer rating of 3. Am I proud of that? Not particularly. This romp demanded frequent and outrageous sex, so that was what I wrote. But I’m not sure that it’s any more erotic than (for instance) my short story “Just a Spanking”, which has orgasms but no sex at all.
Eroticism is in the mind of the reader. And I don’t think it can be measured in any objective, cut-and-dried way, any more than you can measure hope, or humor, or God.
It’s the nineteenth of the month, and you know what that means, don’t you? This is your day to share your Sexy Snippets!
The ERWA blog is not primarily intended for author promotion. However, we’ve decided we should give our author/members an occasional opportunity to expose themselves (so to speak) to the reading public. Hence, we have declared the 19th of every month at the Erotica Readers and Writers Association blog Sexy Snippet Day.
On Sexy Snippet day, any author can post a tiny excerpt (200 words or less) in a comment on the day’s post. Include the title from with the snippet was extracted, your name or pseudonym, and one buy link, if you’d like.
Please follow the rules. Last month I had to punish an author for posting multiple links and believe me, it wasn’t fun! If your excerpt is more than 200 words or includes more than one link, I’ll remove your comment and ban you from participating in further Sexy Snippet days. So play nice!
After you’ve posted your snippet, feel free to share the post as a whole to Facebook, Twitter, or wherever else you think your readers hang out.
by Donna George Storey
My inquiry into the allure of celebrity continues this month, but first I want to remind my readers that I do not give a rat’s ass about Justin Bieber’s latest bad-boy escapade or Kim Kardashian’s butt. Nonetheless, I am oddly fascinated by the reason why so many other people do seem to care. And while it may seem that most of us humble erotica writers need never worry about becoming the objects of celebrity worship, our society’s attitude toward fame and success does have an impact on every creative artist who seeks an audience. Like it or not, we create in the shadow of fame.
Because celebrity worship is never really about Justin or Kim. They are interchangeable, infinitely replaceable. Fame, like most erotica, is about an ideal self in an ideal world.
When I’m interested in a topic, the first thing I do is read lots of books about it. There are plenty of books about fame, from breathless biographies and memoirs to get-out-the-dictionary theoretical treatises. Fortunately I found a book that was a little of both called Starstruck: When a Fan Gets Close to Fame by Michael Joseph Gross. Gross grew up in a farming community in the Midwest, a closeted gay youth who reached out to a wider world by writing to 5000 celebrities requesting their autographs. In that more innocent time–when autograph seekers weren’t the aggressive operators they are now, bent on the profits of resale—4000 of these movie stars and world leaders obliged the earnest young boy’s request.
Gross is a journalist now, with press-pass access to celebrities. Predictably his attitude has become more critical and self-aware. The best parts of the book are about his own relationship to fame:
“I know that stars and fans all live in the same three dimensions, but I still imagine there’s a velvet-roped realm of existence that’s more vivid than the everyday place where I live. I know that a meaningful life grows from well-chosen commitments, well cared for; and yet, I can’t help but wonder if maybe celebrity offers a shortcut.”
Although I’m throwing around outlandish names like Paris Hilton and Dolly Parton, there’s a parallel fantasy world for writers. I know I certainly harbor a few ridiculous fantasies about someday maybe, just maybe, “making it” as an author which would mean… wow, what exactly? A high-powered agent who returns calls immediately, a huge sale and marketing budget for my books, sold-out readings (yes, I’d be the type of author people would buy tickets to hear read, right?), movie deals, Immortality.
Gross interviews a number of celebrities and numerous fans for this book, but a particularly poignant voice comes from Chad Evans, a fan of Debra Messing, who was in one play as a child, but hopes to go to Hollywood, get head shots taken and go out to auditions. Evans believes he deserves stardom because he has interesting things to say and people should hear him. I assume he doesn’t feel he has that in his own life.
Yes, we can laugh at his naivete about what is really involved in “making it,” but after I was finished shaking my head at poor Chad’s foolishness (one play as a child?), I realized that the core of my own fantasy—to have a responsive agent—is not so different. I, too, feel fame as a state where the chosen people are treated with respect and dignity, where they are listened to and loved just for being themselves. Don’t we all deserve that?
Fame, or rather our ideal of it, is rather like an extended coddled childhood. Indeed I’ve always felt that the endearing “beauty” required of movie stars is a sort of shortcut for the glow we see when we look at someone we truly love. We also know it is all too easy for a beloved celebrity to fall from grace when they act like spoiled brats, even if we enjoy the voyeurism of a train wreck all the more. Yet celebrity wouldn’t work its magic if most of us didn’t feel on some level that it must be better on the other side of the velvet rope.
One of the more mind-twisting aspects of this wish for us writers is that we then assume that the people on the other side are different and better, that they can do things we cannot.
Now we get to Dolly Parton. When Gross had the opportunity to do an interview with her, he was very excited. This is because Dolly’s song “I Am Ready” about a woman facing death inspired Gross to tell his mother he was gay. His mother had Alzheimer’s and didn’t really understand, but it made Gross feel as if he’d done something important. He very much wanted to share this story with Parton when they met.
But then he got to thinking—was it professional? Would Dolly secretly roll her eyes at the imposition? A friend urged him to do it so he could have more time with her and “get something out of it,” our culture’s best reason for every act. Gross had resolved to do so, but alas, Parton postponed the interview. He was deeply disappointed and angered. Again, why? Another friend provided solace by suggesting he look within. Why was it important to tell Parton her song made such a difference in his life? How did he hope she would respond?
He then understood “fandom’s most essential misconception: a fan’s intimate relationship with an entertainer’s work is an intimate relationship with the person who made that work.” And it is not. The great significance of “I Am Ready” to his life had nothing to do with Dolly Parton. The courage to tell his mother this important truth was his accomplishment.
“We like to imagine a world where Madonna’s happiness is more complete than ours, where Dolly Parton could someday be our friend… These are falsehoods and evasions, and they articulate a vital need. We work in an economy where everyone, it seems, is finally a cog. All too often, daily life makes us feel insignificant. But our culture is still haunted by the notion that a man was God; we have an ineradicable longing to believe that individuals are unimpeachably significant. Fandom helps give hope to that longing—and at the same time reveals its sadness and absurdity.”
This is not to say I will never daydream about having an agent who returns my calls, but the appeal of celebrity culture—the idea that someone out there has transcended the humiliations of ordinary life to become a king or queen on earth–certainly makes a lot more sense. And so does the wisdom of listening to our fantasies and yearnings for the deeper insights they give into what we need. As erotica writers, we are particularly close to the healing magic of honoring desire.
Donna George Storey is the author
of Amorous Woman and a collection of short
Presents the Best of Donna George Storey. Learn more about her
work at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com
During the months of March and April, acquaintances and family members
expressed concern over the warning signs of increasing structural instability
in Ms. Gail Wooding. On the evening of 15 April, while frying potatoes for her
family’s dinner, Ms. Wooding was observed by her daughter to go through an
entire roll of paper towels while exclaiming over the intense heat of the
kitchen. Marie initiated operations to move her homework to a suitable location
after filing unanswered complaints and misgivings to local management. These
operations were interrupted in progress by an explosion event in the vicinity
of the stove. This concussive release of methane was observed to come from Ms.
Wooding as she fanned herself furiously with a dish towel.
“Mom! You are so fucking gross!” observed Marie. Moments later her mother
violently dissipated in an act of spontaneous resummation. The subsequent
collapse of Ms. Wooding into roughly one hundred and five barrels of human
liquid compound caused the daughter to expeditiously move her educational
activities to higher land.
Immediately after the meltdown event, paramedics on the scene moved a live web
camera feed previously attached to the ceiling above Ms Wooding’s bed to the
kitchen area to monitor the ongoing spill on a twenty four hour basis. All
attempts to put a cap on what remains of Ms Wooding, and re-coop losses from
web site pay per view subscriptions have so far met with failure.
Peeves, the family dog, was observed to voluntarily take the initiative in the
skimming operations, lapping up some of what remained of Ms. Wooding, while
pending the approval of local emergency authorities to evaluate the scene. The
earnest skimming efforts of Peeves may have contributed in some part to the
lessened impact of the flood on the local household habitat known to support a
variety of wildlife, including cockroaches, silverfish and an endangered
species of pygmy land crabs.
“It was wicked!” exclaimed Wooding’s son Ed. “I mean like – dude!” Ed has held
the office of family son and male heir exclusively for the past decade,
starting with his conception into office in early May of 2001 by Mr. Wooding
and Ms. Wooding. Several attempts to provide a suitable placement for the
office of second son ended in failure, possibly due to the onset of hormonal
changes and an eventual fall off of reproductive interest in Mr. Wooding by
“My friends, you won’t believe what they’re up to now,” declared talk show host
Rush Humbug on Tuesday’s radio broadcast. “This is mind boggling, it shows how
desperate the Obama socialists are getting, folks, this so called menopausal
myth. It’s all being blamed on hormonal warming. Hormonal warming is a liberal
lie. There is no such thing as hormonal warming. There is no evidence of hormonal
warming, and there is no reputable scientist you can name that believes in
hormonal warming. I’ll say it again, my friends, there is no such thing as
female menopause, never has been, never will be. This is just another example
of the far left liberal environmental whackos, and the Obama White House agenda
conspiring with feminazis and the state run liberal media, trying yet again to
convince you to buy their crackpot theories. People – its getting crazy out
there, the absence of critical thinking on this. If Obama really cared about
this situation he’d appoint the dog as The Menopausal Czar. Does he? No!”
“You could have busted my nuts, when I heard this!” stated Sheila Wyman, Ms.
Wooding’s secret lesbian lover with whom she had been carrying on a torrid five
year affair, unknown to Mr. Wooding. “Some nights she was on fire. What bakes
my noodle is that all this time I thought it was me getting her hot.”
Mr. Cabot Paddington, who has been secretly running both Ms. Wooding and Ms.
Wyman as covert CIA death squad assassins declined to comment on the
spontaneous resummation of Ms. Wooding, only to say it was not work related.
“I drilled some relief wells into that honey’s big ass every chance I got, when
her man warn’t around.” said blues icon Hound Dog Redman in a Rolling Stone
interview. “I was her back door man. But the bitch, she was trouble. She
couldn’t get enough of that devil stick, and that’s what done ‘er in. I’m
tellin’ ya. This whole thing, it’s just ate up.”
Life insurance underwriters, Skrewiz, Widdow and Children released an official
statement that they will seriously consider all sustainable claims related to
this incident. So far no payments have been given out. The firm of Skrewiz,
Widdow and Children is disputing the claim that Ms. Walling’s demise is
connected with her sudden conversion into water, ruling it as an event of
“There is no actual evidence that Ms. Wooding is in fact deceased. No body has
been produced.” Said the firm in a press release.
As barrels of Ms. Wooding flooded into the street and damaged lawn grass
habitats in the adjoining houses, converting them into reeking wetlands,
neighboring residents assaulted Mr. Wooding with their complaints and several
have threatened class action lawsuits. Mr. Wooding rebutted the findings of
civil engineers that vast plumes possibly as far ranging as 22 miles of Ms.
Wooding may be hidden under the foundations of the house. “My wife Gail is
entirely on the surface of the kitchen,” stated Mr. Wooding. “There are no
hidden plumes or reservoirs of her anywhere. I would be the first to inform you
if there were.” Mr. Wooding believes the rapid use of dispersants as well as
the efforts of Peeves the Dog have reduced the buoyancy of Ms. Wooding and
prevented his wife’s further spread.
“We’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused their lives,” Said an
emotionally exhausted Mr. Wooding. “But there’s no one who wants this over more
than I do. I would like my wife back.”
Historically, erotic art (visual and textual) was produced primarily for men, by men. Yes, there have been exceptions, but the ones that survive are rare. It was only in the 20th century, and mostly in the latter part, that women began to produce erotic fiction aimed at women. This has been portrayed as emancipatory and, unarguably, it is. It filled a vast and silent gulf. For millennia we have known what men wanted, what they fantasize about, what arouses them. In a recent conversation on Facebook about Fifty Shades of Grey, Kristina Lloyd commented:
I think the reason the book spoke to so many women is because precious little else in our culture does when we’re talking het female desire. Give a bone(r) to someone starving, and they’ll pounce on it. The success of the book is about the failures in our culture. I wish we could chart a similar moment when it was suddenly acceptable for men to access and enjoy adult material without recrimination. 1970s? 18thC? Forever? 1
Once a book has sold 100 million copies, this is a pretty definitive sign that it has become acceptable, in the mainstream, for women to access material that arouses them. 2
It isn’t accidental that, since the 1960s, as the production and consumption of erotic material aimed at women gained momentum, so has the criticism of how women are presented in male-centered erotic material. It is only when both flavours are readily available that one can see the differences between them. In the past 50 years, feminists have raged against the objectification of women as objects of desire. We are more than the statues, the Madonnas, the Whores, the bountiful breasts and the warm wet holes you make of us. We’re not just breeding stock, or somewhere to put your cock. We are not that simple. See us – desire us – for what we truly are, instead of the facile, two-dimensional caricatures you’ve made of us! It was a legitimate demand.
Who would have thought that, suffering as we have from this diminishment, we would in turn come to produce material that commits the same sin? Yet, from the heady days of the explicit bodice busters until now, we have, with some laudable exceptions, fallen into the same trap. The spectre of the inscrutable Alpha male, with his money and his power, and his somewhat-but-not-impossibly-large-cock, his insatiable sexual appetite, his obsessive desire to please only the heroine and – by extension – us, has dominated the world of female-centred heterosexual erotic content. Christian Grey is its poster-boy, but his clones are everywhere. And, quietly, they always were. Consider Mister Darcy.
And there is little sympathy for the few male voices that speak up to complain about it. Partially for the same reason that very few women in earlier eras spoke up against female objectification; we are torn between our need to be known for who we are and our desire to be desired, even if imperfectly. Moreover, and like many women through the ages, men have participated greatly in their own objectification. It does seem a little whiny, after two thousand years of Venus De Milo, to complain that being simplified as a brainless, lust driven cock with a wallet is unfair.
But a few men have spoken up. Like their counterparts, they speak in the language of their own desire. Don’t we all? Nonetheless, the subtext is clear: please don’t make me a caricature. After trying his damnedest to get through volume one of Fifty Shades of Grey, my friend and sometimes co-writer, Alex Sharp, has recently written a piece I think every female erotic writer who sets out to craft male characters – especially the non-vanilla variety – should read: “I am he, and he is me.”
Good fiction writing embraces realism, even in its most dramatic flights of fancy. And, in my opinion, well-written erotica should attempt to embrace the eroticism in the entirety of the character or, at least, attempt an honest fictionalization of the problems of desire and objectification. I think that is the challenge that separates erotic fiction from pornography.
Admittedly, I’m torn. Desiring someone in all their complexity is a laudable aspiration, but I have several well-supported doubts as to whether, in the moment that lust takes us, this is even possible. Perhaps it is only now, with all our objects of desire so flagrantly on display, that we can begin to come to terms with the dilemma that so haunted Kant, the schism between desire and full knowledge of another. Jacques Lacan said that there is no ‘sexual relationship’; our projected desires are the product of the symbolic, muted world of controlled meaning that bears little relation to the real humans upon whom we heap our fantasies. Being a romantic, despite himself, he felt that only in love, in the terrifying Real of love, could we hope to overcome the watery barrier of symbolism and step out of Plato’s cave and into the blinding light of day. 3
So love in erotic writing should be the answer, right? Lord knows, the genre of erotic romance has well and truly eclipsed the erotica genre. It has all but swallowed it up, in no small part because Fifty Shades of Grey was marketed as erotica rather than romance. A large proportion of those 100 million sales have been to women who’d never read ‘erotica’ before. Now each time they pick up an erotica novel, they’re expecting romance.
The quandary, as I see it, is that love itself has been objectified. The very presence of the inevitable happy ending diminishes and even denies the terrifying truth of love: that it is seldom forever, that – like everything else – it changes, that its very volatility and instability is what makes it a dangerous place but also one of greater knowledge.
I’ve often contemplated the Judeo-Christian myth of the Garden of Eden, so often used as a metaphor for a state of perfect love. Its portrayal of humanity in a state of innocence, nakedness, and openness, before we ate from the tree of bitter knowledge, offers us an aspirational but ultimately impossible and fantasmatic vision of love. And I’d argue that most fictional romance presents this state as the final one; the scene fades on Adam and Eve, in all their natural glory, hand in hand in the garden of delight.
But isn’t love is more fittingly portrayed as the Expulsion from the Garden? That fruit we tasted was not only the knowledge of good and evil; it was the knowledge of ourselves and of each other. Love is the struggle to keep holding hands while carrying the burden of that knowledge on our backs. Assuredly, it has its idyllic aspects, but it also takes us through the rocky desolation of T.S. Eliot’s Wasteland. If we are to truly know each other, we must work to find erotic love in that dark and sometimes barren place as well.
So, I want to challenge you, as fellow writers of erotica, to try to forge the erotic there in that far more realistic landscape. We’ve spent too long in the garden; time to get out into the real world.
1 Lloyd, K. (2014) Comment in response to ‘I’ve Just Watched The FSOG Trailer’ Facebook post. Accessed 3 August, 2014 https://www.facebook.com/Remittancegirl/posts/10203583569204376?comment_id=10203584398105098&offset=0&total_comments=57↩
2 Flood, A. (2014) Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy Has Sold 100m worldwide, The Guardian Online. Accessed 3 August, 2014 http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/feb/27/fifty-shades-of-grey-book-100m-sales↩
3 Lacan, J. (1988). On Feminine Sexuality: The Limits of Love and Knowledge: Book XX, Encore 1972-1973. (B. Fink, Trans., J. Miller, Ed.). New York: W.W. Norton & Company.↩