DO IT YOURSELF
by Nikky Kaye

Erotic romcom: starting over

CHARACTERS WELCOME
by Taisha Demay

Charity erotica anthology

SENSUAL SABOTAGE
by Willa Edwards

Contemporary, Menage, BDSM

SINGLE-SYLLABLE STEVE
by Sam Thorne

Light-hearted erotic romance

THE GUESCHTUNKINA RAY GUN
by Spencer Dryden

Humorous erotic romance

Monthly Archives: August 2017

What is the difference between erotica and porn? The classic reply is “erotica is what I like and porn is what you like,” which underscores the inherently arbitrary nature of any judgment. Some might challenge the need for this question at all, and I understand the appeal of taking each piece of writing on its own merits, classifications and hierarchies be damned. Still I’ve always found it rewarding to contemplate what makes certain kinds of sexually explicit writing more personally satisfying to me than others—what makes it my erotica, so to speak.

My definition has changed over the years and is still changing. Today, my favorite definition of erotica is that you still have an interesting story left if you take away the sex. As in my own life, what intrigues me is not the physical consummation alone, but the people involved and what they bring to the encounter.

The latter sentiment is starting to sound more like “romance,” another genre that has negative connotations for many due to its association with foolish women. Truth be told, my current project was inspired by a gendered coupling: my reading about WWI on its hundredth anniversary—hmm, the politics are fascinating, but what was sex and romance really like at that time?–and an unexpected dip into Fifty Shades of Greyhmm, I understand why some love this story and some hate it, but what kind of romance would I write to please myself?

I like a good romance as much as anyone who likes a good romance, so I’ve enjoyed exploring the path my lovers take in deciding they must be together, despite obstacles of social background and religion. The values and expectations of an earlier time naturally raise the stakes, because romance and sexual intimacy had more serious consequences for one’s reputation and fertility than they do today. I’m especially interested in how courtship has changed—and remained the same—in the last century.

One of the pleasures of this project is hearing voices from the past through books written at the time and primary sources such as letters. James Joyce and his wife Nora, Irish revolutionary leader Michael Collins and his fiancé Kitty Kiernan, Franz Kafka and Milena Jesenska, playwright John Millington Synge and actress Molly O’Neill, all provide insights into the passionate epistolary expressions of more-or-less famous artists and political figures. It should perhaps be no surprise that these correspondences have a bit more artistic panache than the emails between Christian Grey and Ana Steele. But the romances of ordinary folk are also revealing of their times. This month, I’d like to share a more humble sample from my archives, two letters exchanged by a courting couple, the first from John to Annie, shown at the beginning of this post. The text is as follows (my apologies for the quality of the scan as this blog won’t let me upload the highest resolution files):

McSherrystown, Pa.
April 25, 1915

Dear Friend Annie,

Hoping I am not taking to [sic] much liberty in addressing a few lines to you to ask you if I could see you some time reel [sic] soon to exchange a few ideas. Hoping you are not offended and if you wish to see me let me know if not please destroy this letter for old time’s sake.

From your friend, I hope,

John A. Smith

This letter is from Annie to John:

Hanover, Pa.
October 7, 1915

Dear friend,

I received your letter which was more than a surprise to me, I surely thought you did not want to speak to me, but Johnie the way your letter read you do not want very much about speaking to me. I would like very much to talk to you, so if you care to see me and it is convenient for you please meat [sic] me on Friday evening after Service down at St Joseph’s, if not destroy this letter, if you please + excuse this writing and all mistakes.

I remain a friend,

Annie C. Hufnagel

I hold the originals in my hand, the paper yellowed and spotted, torn at the creases and fixed with Scotch tape. The ink is faded, and someone has traced over the writing in ballpoint pen with some indifference to the original. Perhaps some of the misspellings are the fault of the second writer? As for the content, my first response was amusement at the reserve in “see you sometime soon to exchange a few ideas” and the concern of both writers that their invitations might not be welcome, hence the pleas to destroy them, which I assume means burning them in the stove. Was this simply convention? Did courting couples in 1915 worry that an unwelcome written overture would be circulated among friends or posted in the town square to be mocked? Modern technology, Snapchat aside, can hold similar dangers of regret and discovery, but most people don’t beg recipients to delete texts. (Or do they?) I have also read that in the nineteenth and early twentieth century if a courtship ended, it was polite to either return the other party’s letters or assure them that you had destroyed them to save embarrassment. Perhaps we should revive that custom today?

Yet a second more careful reading of the two extant letters raised a new question. John’s letter is dated April 25, 1915 and Annie’s, which I initially assumed was a direct reply to his, was written on October 7 of that same year. Did she wait over five months to reply? Or were other letters exchanged in between? If so, there’s little evidence of the development of confidence in the relationship or ease between the two.

We might wonder if there was much of a future between these two people. Beneath the reserve, I do sense some yearning on both sides in those expressions of friendship. Fortunately, in this case as well as in my novel, I know the ending. John and Annie went on to marry in 1919, when he was 35 and she 29.

They had seven children; the girl on the right of the photograph standing next to John is their second-to-youngest, my mother. I am one of their 23 grandchildren. Thus in retrospect, the personal stakes for this relationship’s success are high, but we can assume John did indeed meet Annie after church on Friday and exchange some appealing ideas. The long courtship led to a marriage of sixty years, until my grandfather’s death at 95. My grandmother confided that on the morning of the day he died, my grandfather made a sexual advance, which I like to think represented a long and fulfilling life of romantic “ideas” between them.

It’s a nice thought for the future and an appealing inspiration for my novel set in the past. Whether you call it erotica or porn is your choice!

As are most people in North America, I am anticipating a partial solar eclipse next week. Not eagerly anticipating, however. I’ve experienced a couple of partial solar eclipses in my life already. They are about as exciting as a cloud passing in front of the sun. One couldn’t even call it a dimming, no more than a fine curtain dims sunlight coming through your window.

Still, my neighbors are excited. They’re buying eclipse glasses so they won’t go blind looking at it. I expect they’ll be disappointed. Like me, they’re in the right time, but the wrong place. Ah, but that’s life, isn’t it?

The other side of that sad coin, of course, is being in the right place, but in the wrong time. That was kind of how I felt on my first visit to New Orleans, a city I always wanted to visit, but didn’t get the chance to until I was in my fifties.

As my bride and I strolled Bourbon Street on a Tuesday night, it was like the height of the weekend in any other town. It was March, and it was as warm as June in Massachusetts. Trees and flowers had bloomed and the air was redolent with floral scents and the aroma of liquor.

Young people carried glasses across the street from one bar to another congealing in one place before drifting back into the general current, with various eddies swirling amongst one or two establishments in particular.

Sex was in the air too. Young women baring their bellies and thighs and young men entranced, buzzing about like gnats swarming in a pheromone frenzy.

The thought came into my head, then out my mouth: “Damn, I wish I was here when I was single.”

Then a gulp, and momentary panic. Had I actually said that out loud? A sidelong glance at the wife answered that question. But she eyed me with wry grin.

I shrugged, grateful to be off the hook. She’d felt it too.

We stopped in to one joint and had a few drinks, chatted up some very friendly strangers, then strolled back to our hotel. Later we banged each other’s brains out, like a pair of kids on spring break (another experience I seem to have missed).

I haven’t gotten back to the Big Easy, though I’d like to. There are just so many other places I want to go, and I’m not immortal. At least, I don’t think so. Of those places I do get to visit, I expect some will be disappointing in some way, but letdown or no, it’s the journey, right?

And wherever you are, it might just be the right place, for that particular time.

Editing Corner banner

By Iris Perkins (Poetry Editor)

Most people that write know about the stumbling block that most call, consider or term “writer’s block.” Well, I am here to let you know that there really is no such thing.

Make sure that you’re writing for you, then for your readers. There is a story that you are trying to convey and you are trying to get it out. Don’t force it.

If there is a block, then that is from not surrounding yourself with creative people who can help push you or from being in a stagnant place for far too long. Also, something else could be requiring your attention, halting your creativity.

If you ever have that moment where you feel stopped, halted or blocked, think about what is the best way to push yourself—or even come up with a different storyline. Or even find something else to do like cook, read, watch a movie, go for a walk or rest.

Is it hard? May be for some; however, not impossible.

The biggest part of writer’s block comes from the writer him/herself. It is like you are trying so hard to make yourself do something when it is not time. It will not happen.

Forcing yourself to idly sit at a blank page/screen will not make words come to you; however, you can make yourself a word bank and keep that around to spark some creativity.

Go outside. Watch television. Listen to some music. People watch. Do something.

Doing something else may trigger a memory or provide something to write about in your so called “dry spell.”

The advice I was always given when totally stuck was to envision the one scene or moment that made me want to write the entire story. Capture the original spark and forget about how you get to that point, or what happens afterwards. Imagine you’re looking at that scene through a little hole cut in a sheet of cardboard and describe only what you can see in that shot. Forget being linear, or chronological or logical. Just go with the descriptive flow. Save (and print, if you like things visual) then move onto the next clear image. Eventually your brain might figure out how to link things up, and then those moments become the reason you wanted to write that story…

Don’t underestimate that dry spell though. That dry spell just may mean you’re on the brink of greatness!

 

 by Ashley Lister

I’ve courted you for eons now
And still we have not done the deed
Without trying to be highbrow
I think you know just what I need

 

I’ve probably mentioned the French form of the kyrielle before, but it’s one of my favourites, so I’m coming back to it here.  Typically, the kyrielle is a four-line stanza form that has a refrain in the fourth line. It’s customary for the kyrielle to contain eight syllables per line, although this doesn’t have to be presented in a specific structure, such as iambic tetrameter.  There is no prescribed limit to the number of stanzas but three is the minimum.

 

We’ve both held hands on moonlit nights
And you have heard me beg and plead
To have a chance at your delights
I think you know just what I need

 

The rhyme scheme for the kyrielle can either follow an aabB pattern, or an abaB. Because this is poetry, other variations on this rhyme scheme will always be possible.

 

So here we are, together now
And from our clothes we’ve both been freed
You are the field and I’m the plough
I think you know just what I need

 

As always, I look forward to seeing your poetry in the comments box below.

 

 

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DO IT YOURSELF
by Nikky Kaye

Erotic romcom: starting over

CHARACTERS WELCOME
by Taisha Demay

Charity erotica anthology

SENSUAL SABOTAGE
by Willa Edwards

Contemporary, Menage, BDSM

SINGLE-SYLLABLE STEVE
by Sam Thorne

Light-hearted erotic romance

THE GUESCHTUNKINA RAY GUN
by Spencer Dryden

Humorous erotic romance

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