Latest Posts

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

General

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.

K D Grace

I judge a good villain by how badly I want to fuck him … or her and how serious the consequences would be if I did. I think bad boy antiheros are as popular as they are because they’re the next best thing to fucking the villain. Sort of villain lite, if you will. The consequences of sex with the bad boys aren’t as severe.

With Blindsided about to be released and Buried Pleasures not far behind, I’ve been spending a lot of quality time with my villains and thinking a lot about … well …sex with them. Sex with villains has been an ongoing theme in my novels almost from the beginning. Wouldn’t Freud have a field day with that?

Fucking a villain is only slightly less dangerous than fucking a god, though I would argue that in some cases there really isn’t much of a distinction. If sex with a baddie or a god were a doctor’s prescription, the listed possible side effects would include addiction, death, and major changes in personality, ability and worldviews. With those side effects clearly listed on the label, why would anyone even consider taking the risk? For a writer, sex with the villain offers a whole treasure trove of plot complications and chaos. Will the character who takes the risk survive, become a worthless addict if they do, or be transformed into something greater, possibly even more terrible, than themselves? What writer or reader, wouldn’t want to find out what happens when a character fucks the villain or the god?

I’ve often speculated what might have happened if Daphne wouldn’t have been so hell bent on preserving her innocence that she allowed herself to be turned into a tree. What would have happened if she had simply turned to Apollo and said, “take me, I’m yours.” Would she have died? Would she have become a worthless groupie or would she have been given a gift worth the risk? How many of us cheered when Buffy and Spike finally did the deed? But Spike didn’t stay the villain. How could he after sex with Buffy? That’s another fascinating element of getting it on with villain. Sometimes it’s the villain who is transformed, which raises a whole other world of psychological issues. Do we really want Spike defanged? Do we really want the villain tamed?

For me that’s another reason why Medusa’s story is so fascinating. When Poseidon rapes her and Athena curses her, she’s transformed with hideous power. The story of what she does with that power and the end result is pretty typical of myths from a male dominated, Bronze Age culture. If Medusa’s story were rewritten for the modern age, we might very well take a different view on who the villain is.

Fucking the villain is the ultimate in transgressive sex. It’s the ultimate wanting what we shouldn’t want and, most of the time, wouldn’t dare take if the opportunity presented itself. Warnings on the label tell us this is not a good idea. However, fantasizing about doing the dirty with the villain, imagining what it would be like to submit to a god, reading stories about what might happen when one takes in all that power at the point of le petit mort is risk free and hotter than hell.

Most of the time the fantasy doesn’t involve falling in love with the villain or becoming his colleague. The hero is always the better man, the love choice at the end of the day. Most of the time the dalliances with the villain are just an irresistible erotic encounter spurred on only by attraction. Mythology is full of such encounters. So is fiction in general. This is the other side of the coin. Who doesn’t want to be irresistible to the villain? Who doesn’t want to be the object of a god’s lust, the obsession that drives him to distraction. The conquest of the good girl, the virgin in white, the leaving of his mark on her, the sullying of her, is as repellant as it is attractive. I would suggest that this is why there are so many dream sequences in which the villain and the good girl, or boy, get it on. We want them to do it … but we don’t, because … well, the hero, and good and evil and stuff. I would also suggest that in the cases in which they really do have sex, the writers often go out of their way to redeem the villain or to at least make him not quite so villainous. After all, he’s literally been inside what’s good and light and pure. How can that not rub off? How can that not change him?

But do we want the villain redeemed? Do we want the good girl sullied? In fiction, that sexual encounter is often a way of reaching some sort of equilibrium, a way for both characters to see the world as less black and white. It’s a way to make the villain more human, more likeable to the reader. On the other hand, it’s also a way of muddying the plot, adding to the chaos with guilt and internal battles over inappropriate responses to inappropriate desires. Anyway you look at it, sex with the villain is a plot changer. It’s a story that titillates and intrigues, even as readers shout at their Kindles, “No! Don’t do it!” All the while they’re still thinking to themselves with all the bravado only a reader can muster, “Oh go on then. Let’s see what happens, cuz I’d do him if I were you.”

I returned from Necon this past Sunday. Necon is the Northeastern Writers Conference which is for horror writers but what I learned applies to any writer. The conference was held in a conference center in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

I was on one panel: Heroes Like Me: The Importance of Representation in Genre. There is more of a problem with representations of women in horror fiction and films than in romance or erotica. I’m happy to see that strong female characters who aren’t doormats or shrinking violets are much more popular in romance and erotic fiction now than they have been in the past. Women in these stories know what they want and they go after it. Sometimes, especially in the billionaire genre of romance, the heroine is inexperienced and rather naïve, but I’ve noticed she comes into her own as the story progresses. The hero often learns quite a bit from her. Hero and heroine are on equal footing in many of the stories.

Other panels included Guest of Honor interviews, Collections, and Editing. I was especially interested in the editing panel since I enjoy writing for anthologies. Some of the panelists were editing anthologies I had submitted to. I managed to snag some fine guests for my podcast Into The Abyss With Elizabeth Black. I took July off and I’ll start up shows again in August.

The best part about Necon was the same thing I liked about the Stanley Hotel Writers Retreat – socializing. Everyone was friendly and on equal turf. The casual atmosphere was very relaxing. I didn’t have to pay $50 or more to talk to an author and have him or her sign a book. There was a pre-Necon party I attended at one guest’s house. I saw old friends and made new ones. The BBQ ribs and chicken were delicious and I even had stuffed clams. You can’t live in New England and not eat stuffed clams. There were gatherings in the outdoor courtyard every evening with saugies, which are hot dogs well known in Rhode Island. They’re longer than most hog dogs and they have casings. They were delicious on the grill. I mingled and chatted which isn’t easy for me since I tend to be on the shy side. I talked to other writers about what they were working on. I did not ask the editors of the anthology I submitted to when submitters would hear back. That would have been in bad form. I know the rejections and acceptances will come soon enough. The networking opportunities were very good.

I liked Necon and I will attend again next year, money permitting. I do highly recommend writers attend conferences and conventions when they can. Some good ones are Viable Paradise, Clarion, Readercon, Arisia, and the RWA convention. Some of these cons include agents and publishers. The opportunity to pitch yourself is more than welcome.

by Jean Roberta

This past month, I’ve been thinking about similar book titles, among other things.

My erotic novel, Prairie Gothic (set on the Canadian prairies, where I live) was first written in 1998, when I had more enthusiasm for the game than knowledge of how to write a book-length narrative. During my year away from the classroom, I decided that I had to do something with the file, which had been gathering virtual dust in my Documents since 2006, when the only “publisher” (of the ebook) went bust. After rereading the novel, as though for the first time, I decided to rewrite and expand it rather than delete it.

I sent a proposal and the first three chapters of the revised, 2017 version to a publisher who has always treated me well (Steve Berman of Lethe Press), and he accepted the novel for publication. 

I didn’t consider changing the title, partly because no one advised me to do that. The “Gothicism” of local culture, IMO, is based on contradictions: Canadian politeness and co-operation on the surface, with an underlying history of violence toward the local indigenous population, and hostility to non-English immigrants. As in other parts of North America, rural culture has been characterized by a certain Protestant prudery combined with a roaring sex business on the “wrong side” of town and a secretive queer community. I tried to show all of this in my novel.

The new version of Prairie Gothic won’t be available for awhile. Meanwhile, the amazingly prolific and versatile Mitzi Szereto has launched a series of novels with “gothic” in the titles.  The first one, Florida Gothic, is scary, gruesome, and hard to put down. The local culture includes old Cuban refugees from Castro’s 1959 revolution, a variety of bugs, a variety of drugs (mostly illegal, and very lucrative for the sellers), retirees from other states, poor people with no access to health care, humid heat, and prowling alligators. And a zombie who might have been blessed or cursed by a Haitian trickster god, Papa Legba.

Reading this book, I noticed how differently gothic drama plays out in different environments, as well as in different genres. Mitzi Szereto’s series will examine it in different states; the next novel is titled New Mexico Gothic.  Apparently no book in the series will be named after a region (e.g. the prairies, the mountains, the coasts, etc.).

Mitzi’s series is categorized as horror fiction, and the sex in it doesn’t seem intended to be especially arousing. My novel is categorized as erotica, and the hypocrisy in it is not intended to distract a reader from the sex.

Readers probably won’t be confused by the word “gothic” in titles if they read the blurbs carefully. I just hope no reviewer claims to have been misled.

On a similar note, a fantasy story of mine (set in a desert where a local priesthood tries to appease a dragon-god who supposedly punishes humans for their sins by causing wildfires) has been accepted for a fire-themed anthology, tentatively titled “On Fire.” Meanwhile, writer/editor Rachel Kramer Bussel has been promoting an anthology she edited, On Fire: Erotic Romance Stories (Cleis Press).

I’m sure the editors of both books chose the same prepositional phrase as a title by coincidence, and because it sounds catchy. I suspect the two anthologies have very little in common. I hope the title of one of them can be changed enough to prevent misunderstandings.

I remember when two writers I admire (both fairly brilliant in the genre of m/m erotic romance) both named their novels Personal Demons, and the two books were released at approximately the same time. I’ve only read one, but from what I know of the other author’s work, that novel is probably a whole other saga, not part of a paranormal series.

These coincidences lead me to consider deliberate imitations, borrowing, theft, and misappropriation. Fan-fiction still seems to be a popular genre, and many recent books have been set in the fictional worlds of earlier writers: Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.P. Lovecraft, George Martin. No one seems offended by this, unless I’m missing something.

On the other hand, cultural appropriation is an ongoing source of conflict. Here is a definition that seems fairly standard: “cultural appropriation is when somebody adopts aspects of a culture that’s not their own.” This practice seems especially problematic when a member of a dominant culture (e.g. a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) “adopts” aspects of an oppressed culture: e.g, J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter novels, writing about the “history of magic” in North America before the mass arrival of white Christians.

This subject-matter necessarily involves writing about spiritual practices among indigenous peoples (and there were/are many cultures, not just one).  Even though Rowling is known as a writer of fantasy, the people she wrote about have actually existed for centuries, and many have responded to her work by tweeting:  1) We’re still here in the real world, like our ancestors, and 2) Our “magic” was/is as real as the “magic” of pre-Christian Europeans (vilified as “witchcraft” by church and secular rulers), and you got it wrong.

I feel some sympathy for those on all sides.

K. Tempest Bradford describes herself on Twitter as a “Science Fiction and Fantasy writer, media critic, and professional harsher of squee.” She has written a much more reasonable essay on cultural appropriation than I could hope to do. You can find it here:

https://medium.com/@tempest/the-cultural-appropriation-primer-91f1101doe1d

K. Tempest Bradford

In my rambling through Twitter, I also ran across the link to an older interview in Slate magazine with the cosmopolitan writer Zadie Smith, daughter of Jamaican and English  parents, raised in London but currently living in the U.S. 

www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2016/11/a_conversation_with_zadie_smith_about_cultural_appropriation_male_critics.html

Zadie Smith

In her article, Smith touches on “cultural appropriation,” and the false assumption that peaceful coexistence requires cultural homogeneity. She claims:

“My husband is from Northern Ireland, which is a completely racially homogeneous place, and was for hundreds of years, and they still managed to find the difference between which way you faced an altar, and then kill each other for at least 600 of those years.”

She has a point. Peace and solidarity usually appear somewhere else, or in imaginary societies.

Smith claims that cultural borrowing and mixing appear to be a subversive plot to some, while she simply regards these processes as a fact of life. She doesn’t seem especially concerned about cultural appropriation, and has no interest in trying to police it.

I offer all this material as food for thought. Do you believe there should be no limits on any artist’s imagination? Or does basic respect for other human beings require more self-control than some artists seem to have? Are certain words, titles or trends simply part of the general zeitgeist? Comments welcome.

An erotic story–indeed any story–is liveliest when spiced with plenty of conflict, mystery and the subversion of everyday expectations. While I’ve made it a special project to portray hot sex between longtime lovers, I have to admit that an illicit affair brings built-in tension to an encounter, making the writer’s task much easier.

Naughty sex is all the spicier if your story is set in the early 1900s, when “respectable” people assumed that “respectable” sex occurred only between a husband and his lawful wife, in their bedroom, in the dark, and preferably with as little enjoyment as possible on either side. With polite society watching and judging every move, women in particular could be “ruined” by even the appearance of impropriety. In Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth, socialite Lily Bart’s chances at a good marriage are fatally compromised when she is observed visiting a male friend at his rooms during a two-hour stop-over in New York on her way to a house party. Naturally, disgrace and suicide soon follow.

Gentlemen were allowed more leeway with their indiscretions if they chose extramarital lovers from the lower classes and didn’t flaunt their affairs in the better part of town. The parlor house or brothel was always an option, but by the early 1900’s, the anti-vice crusaders had achieved significant success in dampening the traditionally lively urban sex trade. Besides by the early 1900s, young men and women of every class were taking advantage of vaudeville theaters, motion pictures, amusement parks, and dance halls to fraternize more freely than their parents, whose courtships were confined to the front porch or parlor. For the upper-class, the fancy “lobster palaces” in New York’s midtown, or Jack’s and The Poodle Dog in San Francisco, now welcomed respectable ladies for dinner when accompanied by gentlemen. In The Way We Never Were, Stephanie Coontz quotes a study that showed men born between 1900 and 1909 were increasingly likely to have their first sexual encounter with a girlfriend than a prostitute—for this group, sex with prostitutes declined by 50% over earlier generations.

Seduction of the more modern-minded woman needed a proper setting, and for the wealthy men of New York and San Francisco, the restauranteurs of these glamorous metropolises provided a solution: the private dining room with accommodations for after-dinner indulgence. If you’ve ever seen Doctor Zhivago, you may recall that Komarovsky meets red-velvet-clad Lara in such a private room with both a table and a velvet daybed, one of many in a fancy establishment for the soon-to-be-imperiled Russian aristocracy. Funny Girl also makes use of this setting for the “You are Woman, I Am Man” number: “Isn’t this the height of nonchalance, furnishing a bed in restaurants. Well, a bit of dinner never hurt, but guess who is gonna be dessert?” (Apparently, both scenes stuck with me, because I’m gearing up to write my own version—sans Omar Sharif!)

In the New York of the early 1900s, gentlemen with money to spend and a hankering for a double life would woo a pretty chorus girl from a Broadway play and bring her to one of the famed lobster palaces such as Bustanoby’s, Rector’s, or Cafe de l’Opera (the drawing above is from the latter in Julian Street’s “Lobster Palace Society” Everybody’s Magazine, May 1910). If the man wanted to flaunt his conquest in the later hours when decent wives were already tucked in bed, the couple would stop in the public dining room for a “bird and bottle supper” of cold champagne and hot bird, a double entrendre as chorus girls were referred to as good-looking chicken or delicious squab (Lewis Erenberg, Steppin’ Out: New York Nightlife and the Transformation of American Culture, 1890-1930). After dinner, if the chemistry was right, the actress and her suitor might then retire to a private rooms upstairs.

On the other hand, an established extramarital couple would more likely head straight for the private dining room. At Jack’s in San Francisco “men would have lunch with secretary upstairs and dinner with wife downstairs.” The fancier Poodle Dog’s top three floors held sumptuous suites where “wealthy patrons could easily indulge themselves secretly in whatever whims caught their fancy.” These secret pleasure palaces were reached by a side entrance with a private elevator. (Frances de Talavera Berger and John Parke Custis, Sumptuous Dining in Gaslight San Francisco, 1875 to 1915).

The American Menu, a fascinating blog for historical fiction writers, describes a turn-of-the-last-century “love hotel” called The Palette Hotel on West 52nd Street in New York City.

“A vice report in 1890 claimed that ‘only the misguided of the upper-ten (percent)’ frequented the hotel, succinctly describing its rich clientele as ‘women who in their homes, in churches and in society hold positions of honor and respect, and men whose loyalty to wife and family is believed to be absolute.’ In fact, getting into the hotel without being seen was important at a time when outward appearances greatly mattered. Following the typical pattern, a man and a veiled woman would emerge from the hansom cab as soon as it rolled up to the hotel. After running up the stoop, and quickly pushing the door bell (then a new electrical device), someone ‘almost immediately’ opened the door.”

With all of the talk of wealthy men and their mistresses, I was heartened at the suggestion that wealthy wives also explored the path of equality with regard to extramarital affairs. It would certainly make sense that fine ladies would shun the pre-coital public dining room display for a thoroughly discreet rendezvous. I was a bit surprised to learn that the same blog post assures us that hotels specializing in romantic encounters still exist. Keeping up a forty-year tradition, the Liberty Inn in the fashionable meatpacking district rents rooms by the hour for couples at a reasonable price. The photo gallery reminded me very much of the love hotels that are very common in Japan—fanciful and not a little tacky. Although who really is paying attention to the decor in such circumstances?

Although my novel only hints at erotic adventures in Paris, I can’t resist mentioning another example, mainly because of the title of the article: “Paris for Perverts: The Clitoris of Paris.”

“At Lapérouse, a romantic restaurant that still operates on Le Quai des Grands-Augustins, the tuxedoed maitre d’ took me upstairs to visit the original cozy chambres particuliers, private rooms where gentlemen could discreetly ply courtesans with champagne, delicacies, and expensive presents. The antique mirrors are still clouded with etched marks, when the ladies would test their diamond gifts by scratching them along the glass to make sure they weren’t being duped.”

Presumably, the “ladies” were determining whether their suitors had given them cut-glass or true diamonds (Remember “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant, another tale of ruination? I vowed I would always ask the cost of the necklace first should the same fate befall me.)

However, we can’t really blame the gentlemen for trying to cut corners. The American Menu points out that The Palette charged more for champagne than lobster palaces and first-class hotels. Secrecy came at a price for the illicit lovers of the past.

But for erotica writers, it’s all gravy.

K D Grace

While I’ve seen Wonder Woman twice, and no doubt I’ll see it again, right now I’m living in the world of another powerful woman from mythology, a woman whose story is much darker, a woman whose story doesn’t find its way into comic books and graphic novels as a heroine, but as a villain, her name taken on mostly by evil characters. I’m talking about Medusa. She is very much at the forefront of my thoughts as I finish up the final rewrite of Blind-Sided, book 2 of Medusa’s Consortium. It hit me the other day as I was out walking that these two women of myth and legend could easily be the opposite side of the same coin. While the darkness and grit of the Wonder Woman film is refreshing, making her story more three dimensional, more human, there’s no doubt she brings light and hope into a broken world. Medusa, not so much.

While Wonder Woman’s Diana is raised in the isolation of an island of supportive and loving women warriors, who train her and prepare her for a world they hope she never has to face, Medusa draws the unwanted attention and lust of a god who rapes her. Then she is betrayed by the very goddess who should have protected her in one of the most horrendous examples of victim-blaming ever. 

Both mourn the loss of innocence, in their own way. Both pay a high price, Diana for the choice she willingly makes, Medusa for the choices taken out of her hands. Because Wonder Woman is Diana’s story, we see her evolution from an innocent to one who understands that there is darkness in the world and yet she makes the choice to stay on and fight that darkness. We know little about Medusa’s choices after her forced loss of innocence, other than that anyone who looks into her eyes turns to stone. 

I find it very interesting that Patty Jenkins, the director of the new Wonder Woman film, was also the director for the 2003 crime drama film Monster about serial killer Aileen Wuornos, a former prostitute who was executed in Florida in 2002 for killing six men during the late 80s and early 90s. While we embrace characters like Hannibal Lector and Dexter as anti-heros, half rooting for them, even as they terrify us, Aileen Wuornos, is the monstor. A woman super hero must be the bringer of goodness and light and love, while we rejoice in a male super hero who brings vengeance, even very ugly vengeance. Is it possible that a woman Hannibal Lector, a female Dexter, a modern-day Medusa, is just too disturbing for us to be comfortable with? 

Both stories are tales of the archetypal woman. The Virgin Mary, who is allowed to bring the savior into the world, if you will, and Kali or Sekhmet, whose destruction, when called upon, cannot easily be controlled. Perhaps the inability to entirely control or predict what’s at the core of a woman’s heart is a part of what makes the negative anima such a terrifying beast. There is a part of each of us longing to be the bringer of light and love in a world sorely in need. But that we also rage at our core, long for revenge at our core, fantasize about making the oppressors suffer and pay is something fewer of us are willing to embrace. By embracing those parts of us, we run the risk of being labeled ‘monsters.’ And even we fear the results of allowing that negative feminine loose on the world. I find it very interesting that Medusa embodies what happens with the embracing of that inner darkness, pushed down, hidden away and denied. While it’s perfectly acceptable to embrace our inner Wonder Woman, we’d rather keep our inner Medusa’s raging revenge as far away as possible. Diana Prince wears a golden diadem. Medusa wears a crown of angry vipers – the golden reward for love and light or the poisonous sting for darkness and rage.

The dichotomy of who we are and how we see ourselves is the subject matter of a million psychology and self-help books. What we embrace in order to be seen as good women, and what we must push down into the dark caves of our unconscious and repress at all cost is the split we all bear. While we may be part Wonder Women, we are just as much Medusa, whether we like it or not.

While one is the daughter of a god and sent into the world of men to bring hope, the other is raped by a god, cursed by a goddess and cast out from all she knows and loves. While one brings a virgin’s curiosity and an innocent’s delight in all things new. The other brings rage and bitterness for what’s been done to her, for all she has lost.

The way in which the story of both women is tied to their sexuality is also perhaps a telling tale of the archetypes we, as women, find safe to embrace. While the Wonder Woman of the film is enlightened enough about sex, she is also an innocent in the love of men, and she is led to the experience by the love of her heart, Steve Trevor. This is the tale of true love embraced and then lost too soon. Medusa’s past, we see little of. Her story begins with an ugly rape in a place where she should have been protected, followed by a horrible curse. And now we see why the two women are the opposite sides of the same coin. While Diana’s story of love and loss inspires, Medusa’s story of rape and humiliation disturbs, and yet ultimately both women, hero and monster, stand alone, adored or feared from a distance. They are what we strive for and what we fear, they are, each alone, complete in themselves and yet broken in their completeness.

Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, horror, and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and her three cats. Visit her web site, her Facebook page, and her Amazon Author Page. 

Her m/m erotic medical thriller Roughing It is out! This book is a sexy cross between The X Files, The Andromeda Strain, and Outbreak. This book is 30% off at JMS Books until June 30. Get your copy now! Read her short erotic story Babes in Begging For It, published by Cleis Press. You will also find her novel No Restraint at Amazon. Enjoy a good, sexy read today.

___

What inspires me when I write? I get my ideas from my personal life, the news, and my imagination. Positive feedback also inspires me. Nobilis Erotica recently accepted one of my short stories for a podcast. Thumbling will be available in audio format sometime in the near future. This story is my erotic retelling of the fairy tale Thumbling, which you may know as Thumbelina. The original involved a guy and not a woman. It’s a very sexy story that illustrates how versatile one can be as a lover when as small as can be. Thumbling can get into places no mere man can get into and what he does while in there will want you to take a cold shower after listening. Two other stories are under consideration for publication and I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I’m also going to self-publish these erotic fairy tales plus several others in an collection.

My short fantasy story The Care And Feeding Of Your New Pet Dragon will soon appear in the FARK charity anthology, Through A Scanner Farkly. FARK is a news aggregator that specializes in weird news, current events, and sarcastic humor.

Seeing acceptances, especially two within such a short period of time, inspire me. I’m sure I’m not the only writer who craves good news regarding her writing. When I am in the midst of a dry spell – no good reviews, lackluster sales, rejections – I can easily get into such a funk I don’t want to write. When that happens I take time away from the computer to take care of myself. I garden, go to the beach, watch TV and movies, and ride with my husband around town just to cruise.

Events in my life inspire me. Something happened recently to my Dad and sister that is inspiring a short horror story. My sister was helping my dad with his phone when she found 83 old messages that he never listened to. He didn’t know they were there. These messages date back several years. So, they had to go through each one and delete them individually. One of the ones was my mother telling my father to turn on the TV and watch a channel she liked to watch. It freaked him out, since my mother has been dead for two years. He went to turn on the TV when my sister told him it’s a very old message. It’s not my mother calling from the grave. That message was at least 2 years old. He calmed down and erased it. The next message was from his sister (my aunt) who died several months ago. More creepiness. The messages are now off the phone and it’s in proper working order. There is definitely a weird story in this business somewhere.

Conventions also inspire me, although I haven’t been to any in a very long time. That is about to change. NECON is in a few weeks. That’s a New England writers convention. This is my first NECON and I’m looking forward to it. Many of my friends in the horror community will be there, so it’s not like I’m diving into unknown waters. Some of the talks sound interesting. Here are a few examples:

  • Kaffeeklatsch: How to Avoid Shooting Yourself in the Foot: Self-Publishing Pitfalls and Tips
  • Not Dead Yet: The State of Publishing Today
  • Edge of Your Seat: Pacing and Plotting the Thriller

I plan to schmooze with the guests (including the Guests of Honor) and I’ll ask some of them to be a guest on my podcast, Into The Abyss With Elizabeth Black. That’s how I get my best guests – I ask them. There’s nothing magical about it. I just ask. Most of them say “yes”. Some of my guests have been very high caliber, such as Joe R. Lansdale (mojo storyteller and author of the Hap and Leonard series that appears on Sundance), Daniel Knauf (writer and producer of the TV shows Carnivale and The Blacklist), and Walt Bost (supervising sound editor for the TV show iZombie).

Finally, as anyone who knows me is aware, the ocean inspires me. I head there every day and walk about 2 miles. It’s not only exercise (which doesn’t feel like exercise), it clears my head so I may brainstorm about my writing. I’ve worked out plot holes while walking on the beach. I’ve thought out brand new stories while walking on the beach. I go to the beach with my husband and we talk, play in the very cold water (I live in northeastern Massachusetts. The water up here ain’t bathwater.), and crush empty crab shells with my feet. The last one is an obsession. I love to go for long walks on the beach, which sounds like a romance cliché but it’s true.

Everyone is different. What will inspire you will not inspire someone else. Find what inspires you and keeps you going. Writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Live life and stay inspired. Keep at it and best wishes to you.

by Jean Roberta

For the past few weeks, I’ve been revising, reorganizing, and overhauling an erotic novel I wrote in 1998. What was once contemporary is now historical, or at least nostalgic. None of the characters have cellphones, and they don’t hang out on FaceBook, so they usually communicate face-to-face. When traveling, they are unreachable.

I decided to keep the period flavour, but what I thought of at the time as an omniscient narrative voice now looks like a dizzying road trip through too many heads that are not all in the same place at the same time.

The biggest challenge of the rewrite is the need to focus more consistently on one consciousness throughout most of the plot. I gave myself permission to devote a few chapters to the viewpoints of two important secondary characters, but since the story is really an erotic romance as well as a queer coming-of-age story, it needs to focus on the central character.

Viewpoint is never a side-issue in fiction. For every plot (a series of events based on a process of cause and effect), there seems to be an ideal narrator to tell it, or an ideal pair of eyes through which to view the world in which the story takes place. At the same time, focusing on one consciousness means excluding all others, except by hinting at other characters’ internal reality through action and dialogue.

Viewpoint can be a scary thing. Edgar Allan Poe’s horror stories get much of their effect from the voices of narrators who reveal themselves to be irrational and out of touch with reality. Narcissists, while able to function in the world, do a horrible job of impersonating other people. For example, in one episode of the sit-com The Big Bang Theory, the chief science nerd Sheldon Cooper decides that he needs to learn how to act. He approaches his neighbour Penny, a struggling actor, for help. She tells him to improvise a speech, which he converts into a play about himself as a misunderstood genius. At one point, he pretends to be his actual mother, and says, “I’m just an ignorant Bible-thumping woman from Texas. I can’t understand scientific reality.”

Some of the worst stories I’ve ever read include equally unconvincing confessions, often written by male authors and put into the mouths of female characters. “Exotic” accents and “ethnic” humour can be equally cringe-worthy.

Attempting an “omniscient” voice, I hoped, would at least enable different streams of consciousness to balance and comment on each other. In real life, everyone involved in a situation has a viewpoint, and a truly omniscient (all-knowing) perspective doesn’t exist.

As I delete whole passages of head-hopping, I regret having to “murder my darlings.” Some of those unspoken thoughts can’t be rewritten as dialogue, since there are reasons why the characters didn’t speak them aloud in the first place.

Fiction would be boring if every writer stuck to first-person autobiography. Writing about characters who are very different from oneself is one of the joys of the game, yet we all do it at our own risk.

If John and Mary have a conversation in a story I’m writing, I want the reader to get a sense of both viewpoints. If John is the narrator, is Mary being shrunk to a relatively minor character? If Mary is the narrator, is she fairer to John than he would be to her? Do they need a witness, a cooler and more detached head, to tell their story? In that case, what happens to the passion that keeps a reader involved?

In reality, being able to hear the thoughts of every passer-by would produce cacophony in one’s own head. We would all want to turn off that magical power. As a writer and a reader, I like coherence, and therefore I strive to resist head-hopping. It’s a struggle.

Comments welcome.

My Top Ten

by | Jun 21, 2017 | General | 7 comments

How many erotic stories have I read, in the eighteen years since I formally entered the erotica reading and writing community? Five hundred? A thousand? For years, I wrote reviews for ERWA, as well as for the wonderful Erotica Revealed site. I’ve edited anthologies, too, which means I’ve done a lot of mucking around in the slush pile.

I’m not proud to admit that most of what I’ve read, I’ve forgotten. Sometimes I’ll be digging around in my review files, looking for something to recycle for my blog, and come across a book I don’t remember at all. It’s a bit embarrassing.

Of course, a lot of erotica is pretty forgettable. Even when they are well written, erotic short stories tend to follow predictable plots and feature familiar stereotypes. I may enjoy a story—it may even arouse me—but after I’ve closed the book and written my review, the details all too often slip away.

Some stories, though, have stuck with me. I was struck by this recently, when reading Emily L. Byrne’s lesbian collection Knife’s Edge. This book includes her stunning tale “An Incident in Whitechapel”. I read this story a long time ago, no doubt in some other anthology. I found I remembered it vividly, and was just as impressed by it on the second (and third) reading as I’d been on the first.

That experience got me thinking about the stories that haven’t vanished from my memory, the ones that stand out for their originality, their emotional intensity, their craft, and their erotic heat. This post does homage to my “top ten” most memorable stories, which are listed below.

They’re not in any particular order, by the way. The fact that they’re here at all is sufficient testimony to their quality. I’ll also admit that many of them have been published in anthologies I’ve edited. I guess that’s not surprising. My memory for these particular stories may derive from the fact that I’ve read them many times. However, I still believe their quality earns them a place in my list.

So here, for better or worse, are my top ten most memorable erotic shorts.

“State” by M.Christian

I believe I first read this brilliant piece of scifi erotica in the author’s collection The Bachelor Machine, originally published in 2003, and then in several later collections. In this wonderfully ironic reversal of cyberpunk conventions, the protagonist, Fields, is turned on by the challenge of impersonating a sex robot: a blue-skinned, manga-eyed, perfectly proportioned Mitsui Class B Automaton. When a client asks for the house “specialty”, for Fields it is not just a trick. It’s a performance; it’s Art. Christian skillfully leads the reader to wonder whether Fields would enjoy sex as a human nearly as much.

“An Early Winter Train” by C. Sanchez-Garcia

This moving tale was originally published in the ERWA Gallery and later in Sanchez-Garcia’s charitable erotica anthology Coming Together Presents: C. Sanchez-Garcia. I edited that book, and I love many of the stories, but “An Early Winter Train” is probably my favorite. The main character is a middle-aged man caring for his wife, who has premature Alzheimer’s. I know that sounds almost anti-erotic, but when the couple manages to recapture the erotic heat of their youth, it’s both arousing and heart-breaking.

“An Incident in Whitechapel” by Emily L. Byrne

Though I first encountered it years ago, this dark tale of a cross-dressing knife and scissors grinder on the trail of Jack the Ripper has remained in my memory as one of the very best erotic short stories I’ve ever read. As thick with atmosphere as the notorious London fog, “Incident” combines intense and passionate BDSM with social commentary and a stunningly ambiguous ending.

“What Was Lost” by Robert Buckley

I found this story intensely erotic even though it contains no actual sex. A history grad student struggling with her thesis makes the acquaintance of an elderly man living in her building. He tells her about lawless days of speakeasies in the Roaring Twenties of his youth, tales of forbidden debauchery and perverse pleasure. He asks that she let him touch her, in return for cash to support her academic career. Though his touch is dry, almost asexual, the suppressed eroticism of the situation really affected me. You’ll find this story in Coming Together Presents: Robert Buckley.

“Willing” by Xan West

I’d encountered Xan’s devastatingly erotic story of a FTM submissive offering himself to a vampire at least once before when Xan submitted it to my collection Coming Together: In Vein. Every time I read it, I marvel anew at the way it explores the emotional dynamic between dominant and submissive. It’s an extreme story, more violent than the BDSM I usually enjoy, but the outer actions aren’t the focus. Rather, the author is concerned with the trust that binds the two participants in a power exchange, and the courage required to fully surrender.

“Butoh-Ka” by Remittance Girl

Remittance Girl’s tale of cross-cultural sex sticks with me at least partly because it’s so strange. An uptight Western woman living in Vietnam becomes entangled with a practitioner of the Japanese Butoh dance tradition. Everything about him seems bizarre but gradually the narrator is sucked into his alternative reality. I particularly loved the sex scenes in this story, which manage to be arousing even when nothing happens. If you’re wondering how that could work, check out the story in Coming Together Presents: Remittance Girl.

“Stairmaster” by Daddy X

This short piece is a poetic paean to a woman’s posterior, as observed by an old man working out in the gym. This may sound trivial, even silly, but the language in this story, its humor, and its brilliant ending all elevate this tale into my top ten. You can read it in The Gonzo Collection by Daddy X.

“Welcome to the Aphrodisiac Hotel” by Amanda Earl

Like “Stairmaster”, this story doesn’t have much of a plot. A woman sits in a hotel bar, observing the men and women around her, speculating about their erotic connections. Her fantasies arouse her, preparing her for her own lover, for whom she is waiting. I guess I like stories that manage to be intensely erotic without including physical sex. This one fits right in with my personal tag-line: Imagination is the ultimate aphrodisiac. You’ll find it in Coming Together Presents: Amanda Earl.

“Remember This” by Shanna Germain

I don’t think I’ve ever read a story by Shanna Germain that I didn’t love. This one, though, has remained with me as one of her best, though I can’t find information on where it was published. Some anthology that I reviewed, I’m sure.

Like many of her tales, “Remember This” is luminous with passion but edged in darkness. On her fiftieth birthday, a woman celebrates with her long-time lovers, one male and one female. The pleasure they share is overshadowed by the fact that the narrator is losing her memory to early onset dementia. She tries to hold on to every sensual detail, to imprint the experiences so deeply she’ll never lose them. She knows this time may be the last she’ll remember. In fact, she toys with the notion of suicide, before she forgets her beloved partners.

“Twenty Minutes in the Eighties” by Alison Tyler

I’m not even sure this is the exact title of this early Alison Tyler story. I can’t tell you where I read it. I tried to find information about it on the web and failed, a situation that rather depressed me as it highlighted how ephemeral our work can be. Still, years after reading it, I remember the outlines of this tale as well as the fact that it really turned me on.

The funny thing is that, unlike the vast majority of Alison’s stories, this was not, overtly, a BDSM tale. A young woman (clearly an avatar of the author) gets picked up by an older man. She’s shy, awkward, sexually hungry but inexperienced. He brings her back to his lavish house in the Hollywood Hills and asks her to masturbate for him. In his eyes, for the twenty minutes in the title, she becomes beautiful.

I’d love to read this one again. Maybe the miracles of cyberspace will alert the author to this post and she’ll get in touch.

* * *

When I was growing up, there were books I read again and again. They were old friends, but with each reading I experienced new pleasure and gained new insights. The stories in my top ten are the same. I hope I can find copies of the last two in my list. Not being able to revisit them, I feel a sense of loss.

P.S. All the Coming Together books are charity erotica, supporting various causes. For more information, please go here:   http://www.eroticanthology.org/p/store.html

“When you write, you illuminate what’s hidden, and that’s a political act.”

So said Grace Paley in a 1985 “Fresh Air” interview. I came across her quote in a New Yorker review of the new collection of her work: A Grace Paley Reader. It’s hard to get more hardcore literary than the New Yorker, but even as I held that august magazine in my hands, I thought, “She’s talking about erotica writers, too! Actually, not ‘too.’ Especially us.”

After all, who is best at illuminating what is hidden from polite society than erotica writers?

Sexuality is, even today for the most part, segregated in private spaces or specialized commercial venues. Writing erotica in any dedicated, and certainly celebratory, fashion (bad, uncomfortable, or punished sex is more acceptable for literary fiction than a good, contagiously hot sex scene) “cheapens” a serious writer.

But most human beings do have sex. It has meaning in our lives. It elates and confuses, embarrasses and enlightens, connects and exploits. To explore this aspect of our existence honestly in our writing is courageous, and indeed political, in the sense that it “speaks truth to power” by refusing to obey the rule of silence around sexuality.

Yet for me, erotica’s illuminations go even deeper. I speak now as a reader of erotica, the twin pillar of our association’s name. When I first encountered sexually explicit writing, through Nancy Friday’s My Secret Garden and Penthouse letters, I was fascinated by the frank discussion of these naughty acts that I’d yet to experience myself. It was an education in the possible, and in some sense, even when I knew better, I took the stories at face value.

Once I began to write my own stories, I came to realize that a creative depiction of sex (or anything) involves choices and crafting, but also an intuitive understanding of what our culture considers compelling so we can connect with readers. Many readers probably believe we simply write what we personally find arousing or have done in our real lives, but I’ve written stories for calls that have drawn heavily from my imagination. I also came to believe that any erotic story, even one based honestly on actual experience, is a fantasy of a sort.

Many dismiss “fantasy” as second best to the “real thing,” but for me, the revelation of the sexual workings of a person’s mind is much more interesting and intimate than the most athletically orgasmic of physical encounters.

It’s also possible that I’ve read too much erotica to find entertainment solely in the descriptions of sex acts. There is as much pleasure to be gotten from considering what stories reveal in terms of power exchange—and I don’t necessarily mean just BDSM. Take a very common theme in erotic stories of sexual encounters between authority figures–teachers, doctors, policewo/men, bosses—and those with lower status such as students, patients, and employees. Polite society defines these relationships as public, proper, and untainted by sex, so just adding sex to the mix is in itself a transgression. But sexualizing a teacher or doctor also humanizes her and creates a kind of equality or even a reversal of status. Certainly during an orgasm, we are all equal in our transcendence of the civilized. Erotica of this flavor is thus an illumination of the humanity and vulnerability of authority figures.

In another example, the theme of exhibitionism can be taken at face value as the desire to perform sexual acts for another’s gaze, but I also see it as a way to reach for validation and acceptance of our sexuality. The illumination here is how suppressed and shamed many of us are or at least were when we had to deal with our maturing erotic selves with so little social support.

A deeper look at our own writing can be illuminating. Which dynamics fascinate us? What haunts us? What soothes? As I mentioned in last month’s column, I’m realizing that I must have internalized the message that a man “wins” when he has sex with me, and I “lose.” I don’t believe that rationally, but that zero-sum equation still has power emotionally. Yet in the fantasies, I “win” because the man’s desire for me and his “domination” lead to my pleasure. My erotic mind transforms society’s message into a win-win.

Respecting sexual fantasy as transformative, healing, revolutionary. Isn’t that a political act if there ever was one?

Sexual fantasy is not usually considered worthy of serious reflection. It’s a use-it-once-and-throw-it-away sort of thing. Perhaps if we’re really perverted, a doctor should be called in to analyze us, but otherwise, polite society says erotic daydreams are best kept private—even as variations of the same are splayed across billboards and movie screens. The first-draft writer side of me hesitates to spend too much time on analysis or the big picture. Storytelling uses another part of my brain. But the reader in me delights in the illumination of secrets, including my own, and the personal power it gives me to make or re-make stories, the food of our intellect and our souls.

That’s a political act, too.

Write—and read—on!

Hot Chilli Erotica

Hot Chilli Erotica

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