DO IT YOURSELF by Nikky Kaye

DO IT YOURSELF by Nikky Kaye

Erotic romcom: starting over



Charity erotica anthology



Contemporary, Menage, BDSM



Light-hearted erotic romance



Humorous erotic romance


By Donna George Storey

I just finished Dirty! Dirty! Dirty!: Of Playboys, Pigs and Penthouse Paupers, An American Tale of Sex and Wonder by Mike Edison (Soft Skull Press, 2011). It was a quick read and a nice change of tone from my usual research for my historical erotic novel these days. The book is about the history of sexually explicit magazines for men; the tone is funny, fearless and conversational, which you don’t usually get in studies of the apartment house in New York in the early 1900s. The familiar, cozy tone is no doubt due to the fact that over the years, Edison worked at Hustler, Screw and Penthouse, so he knows most of his stuff from the inside (and which may be why Hugh Hefner is presented with less affection than the other publishers).

I bought my first Playboy in a bookstore in downtown Washington, D.C. while on lunch break from my summer secretarial job at the IRS between high school and college. Yes, I was self-conscious as I stood in line to pay, although I wasn’t worried I’d be carded or anything. Eighteen wasn’t the hard cut-off it’s become in this day. The middle-aged guy behind me seemed bemused, but hey, it was the “Women of the Ivy League” issue, and I was headed to Princeton. Granted my later purchases have been a few vintage issues from the 1950s, and my enduring interest is in the mass presentation of erotic fantasy and the sensibilities of the men who made fortunes feeding on the sexual desires of men in our fairly repressed society. But frankly, I was thrilled to have my work published and generously compensated for by the Playboy Cyber Club and the print version of Penthouse under its new owners in the 2000’s. I wish I could tell that guy behind me in the bookstore what my brave purchase would lead to….

So, maybe I am unusual compared to the average woman, but I would argue that even though these magazines were not aimed at women as consumers, we, too, were profoundly affected by the new availability of erotic images and especially the manner of their presentation. Playboy, Penthouse and others defined what was sexy in a woman in our culture. It taught us what red-blooded straight men “really wanted.” Over the years I’ve had talks with men about their responses to these magazines, and it’s certainly more complicated than mere slavish acceptance of what Hefner or Guccione liked. However, we must acknowledge that these nationally distributed magazines helps shaped the erotic imaginations of millions, whether we like it or not.

There’s a lot I could say about Dirty! Dirty! Dirty! It rightly points out our debt to the men’s magazine honchos for battling for our First Amendment Rights with their sweat and treasure, for example. But I’ll mention two things that I’m sure I’ll remember, the takeaways from my reading. First, I got a new insight into the role of Hugh Hefner in the grand story of moving the heterosexual erotic impulse from the closet into the public sphere in the twentieth century. I’d always felt Hefner was a good example of how money and power make you weirder than you might ordinarily be, and it’s not just the round-the-clock pajamas. Edison spared no report of Hefner’s weirdness. He even had an epiphany while watching an episode of Playboy After Dark—which aired way back in 1969-1970–and that is: Hefner “hates women.”

Which of course is ironic because someone who celebrates the female form and has slept with thousands of women might be assumed to “love” women. Edison’s epiphany made a small light bulb go on in my head as well. I get where he’s coming from but the word “hates” is a blunt instrument. “Fears” is closer. Hefner created a world where real women are kept at a distance, controlled, their beauty airbrushed into a safe, predictable, tasteful form. By packaging these smooth, clean, unthreatening girls-next-door with decent journalism and “the best” of contemporary literature (every one of the “great” authors Edison mentioned as appearing in Playboy are men), Hefner allowed America to dip its toes in the shallow end of the pool. Hustler and even Penthouse were too raw, low-class and possibly honest about the fantasies of the Average American Male. History shows us that middle-class self-indulgence always seem less threatening to society. We know that proper upper-class men can handle mistresses, French postcards or a glimpse of Pompeii’s brothel art without going mad and raping every woman in sight, unlike their working class brothers whom we must keep carefully in line. So that’s what Hugh did for us: he eased the door open for the millions with a generous greasing of “good taste.”

Bravo Mike Edison for giving me a new look at Playboy. But I have a beef with him as well. When describing the many business mistakes made by Penthouse publisher and chief Pet photographer, Bob Guccione, Edison pointed a big fat finger at Viva magazine, co-edited by the Gooch’s wife, Kathy Keeton. He described Viva as “a porn magazine for women (always a bad idea).” He hinted that the main readership of Viva was gay men, as is often claimed of Playgirl as well, and this is why it failed.

Sorry, Mike, I think you and society at large may be guilty of the very same failing you attribute to Hefner—that he never listened to real women or cared what they really wanted. We hear it over and over again. Women don’t like pornography. Women don’t respond to erotic images. Don’t waste your time trying to make tons of money from women’s sexual fantasies. It’s a mistake.

I loved Viva as a teenager. Maybe gay men were buying it, but so was my older sister, who made no effort to keep her issues from my curious hands. I didn’t question the magazine was meant for women to read. I figured young, worldly women were interested in the content: sexual fantasies and sexuality itself and feminist politics and sophisticated articles about the waning glory of England’s Royal Family and other provocative discussions of the early 1970s. I spent some very enjoyable summer afternoons perusing the articles, the “analyzed” sexual fantasies, and the pictorials. I learned a lot about myself and my desires.

Now I will agree the photographs of nude men didn’t do it for me the way Playmates and Pets apparently seared into the libidos of my male peers. But one very important reason may be that all the penises were flaccid. Even in my state of inexperience, it struck a false note. Looking back through the issues now, I get anxious when I see these beautiful young nude men and women embracing (including Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson as very young lovers) and the guy’s dick is soft. Something is wrong here and it’s hard, so to speak, to get drawn into a lustful fantasy when the man clearly is not aroused. 

On the other hand, I have to admit if Mike Edison means the type of pornography produced for men is unlikely to be profitable if the exact same thing is slapped with a label “for women” without deeper inquiry, then I agree with him. But “women don’t like pornography” suggests we don’t enjoy erotic images at all. That is not true for me. Is it true for you?

So instead of saying all women don’t like pornography, how about this? Maybe women don’t “like” or buy what has been on offer, because it’s a spin-off of the recipe for males and we respond to a different sensibility? Women don’t buy jock straps or mustache combs because they aren’t made for our needs. Has there ever been mass-distributed pornography that has “listened” to women’s wants and desires without fear? Who and what in our society are threatened by the idea that women might genuinely get turned on by erotic images?

Instead we get Fifty Shades of Grey. It certainly made plenty of money and caused nearly as much to-do as Playboy and Penthouse in their day. The heroine of the Fifty Shades is the special one-and-only rather than the endlessly replaceable pet of the month. The woman’s experience is important and she gets lots of orgasms, perhaps not won honestly for a virgin who never masturbated, but still. Oh, right, and those muscled torsos on erotic romance covers, which seem rather too literal of a riff on the Playboy centerfold, all unnatural bulges and oiled tan skin. Perhaps we need our own female version of Hugh Hefner to get that revolution going, with or without the twenty-four-seven pajama look?

I guess what I really take away from Dirty! Dirty! Dirty! is that the public acknowledgement of our culture’s sexual desires is still in its infancy. We have so much more to learn about female and male desire, if we can resist the temptation to retreat to worn formulas and truisms—women all like this and don’t like that, men want this and never want that. Each story we write or cover we choose can take that exploration further. In some sense, that discovery is what’s kept me writing for almost twenty years now.

Let’s keep making history!

Donna George Storey is the author
of Amorous Woman and a collection of short
stories, Mammoth
Presents the Best of Donna George Storey
. Learn more about her
work at

I read a lot of BDSM erotica and erotic romance. While what
I write is fairly specific, I enjoy reading a wider diversity, all different
sorts of pairings and groups. I enjoy the sort that is all about building a
fantasy for the reader, from the billionaire natural alpha dom, to the corral
where you park your submissive at the club. I also enjoy the sort that is
intended to feel real, to reflect the realities of kink life. I’m not one of
those folks who do BDSM and need fiction to be realistic; I’m perfectly fine
sinking into a fantasy story about a magical mind-reading dominant, whether it
comes with a critique of kink life (e.g. Cecilia Tan’s Telepaths Don’t Need Safewords) or
is purely there to fulfill a fantasy (e.g. Cherise Sinclair’s Club Shadowlands)

What I’ve found is that there’s a particular thing that’s
pretty much guaranteed to spoil my investment in and enjoyment of a BDSM story:
carelessness in the context of a scene or D/s dynamic.

To be clear, I adore mean, cruel and even cold dominants.
I’m not talking about sadism here, or needing to go easy on bottoms in a way
that treats them as fragile. I’m not even just talking about tops. Bottoms can
definitely be careless too.

I’m not talking about stories where folks have casual play,
or play that’s not centered on emotions or caring for each other romantically.
I’m not even talking about psychological edge play scenes that center on a top seeming careless. I’m fine with that
sort of play as long as I know, as a reader, that the top is actually seeing to
the well-being of the bottom, and that the bottom knows somewhere in the back
of their mind that they can trust the top to be careful with them.

What do I mean when I talk about carelessness?

I mean carelessness in terms of leaving a bottom tied up and
unattended. I mean carelessness in terms of casual selfishness where the
character is solely focused on their own needs to the point of ignoring the basic
well-being of the folks they are doing BDSM with. I mean carelessness in terms
of launching into heavy humiliation play with a novice with no negotiation. I
mean carelessness in terms of deliberate ignoring of basic bodily needs. I mean
carelessness in terms of deliberately fucking with someone’s head when mindfuck
was not on the table. I mean carelessness in terms of a dominant giving a
submissive away to someone without ensuring that the submissive is ok in that
person’s care.

For the most part, what it often boils down to is a
character treating another character like they are not a real person, but an
object, not as part of an agreed upon D/s dynamic or humiliation scene, but in
actuality. Treating them as if they are a tool to get off with, not a human
being with, y’know, needs and vulnerabilities, who is worthy of a basic modicum
of respect and care.

Is it realistic to have characters do this? Absolutely. This
behavior abounds in kink life, just as carelessness does in many other kinds of

Do I want it in my erotica or erotic romance? Absolutely

Please do write about miscommunication, misunderstandings,
secrets, scenes that go wrong, common novice mistakes, times when people need
to safeword, accidents that happen in play, times when folks are not aware of
their feelings or not up for talking about stuff they should, and all the other
ways that people are human and have opposing needs and fuck up and things fall
apart and need to be repaired, especially if you are writing realistic stories
about BDSM. I’d love to see more of that in the kinky fiction I read. I don’t
need or even want characters to be perfect.

Carelessness is in a different zone for me.


I don’t trust the character any more as a practitioner of
BDSM. I wouldn’t recommend them as a player to a stranger, must less to someone
I care about.

I am not rooting for the couple anymore. I want the other
character to dump that asshole, not make excuses for them or sink deeper into
connection with them or ignore the problem or want to be treated that way.

I don’t want to witness them playing or falling for each
other. It’s not hot. I wouldn’t watch that scene in a public dungeon; I
definitely don’t want to read it.

I don’t want stories that support, elide, apologize for or
excuse carelessness in kink. Especially not in a main character I’m supposed to
be identifying with or desiring or rooting for. Especially not in a story that supposedly
has a HFN or a HEA ending.

Want me to love your BDSM erotica and erotic romance and
invest in your characters and story?

Show the reader moments where characters are careful with each other.

Where dominants take an extra moment to ensure they still
have consent. Where submissives consider a dominants needs. Where tops check in
after a scene. Where bottoms share information a top might need in order to
fully consent to something. Where a dominant pays attention to body language
and tone of voice and not just the words a submissive uses. Where a submissive
notices that a dominant seems off and checks in. Where a top thinks about what
a bottom might need from play. Where a bottom thinks about the shit a top had
to deal with today and treads carefully around sensitive subjects. Where
characters negotiate in a way that shows they are invested in each other’s

It’s those moments that make me fall for your characters,
root for them as a couple or triad or group or whatever they are together, want
to follow them to the end of the story. Those are the moments that make me sigh
and smile and swoon.

It may come as a surprise, but far too often authors—people who are supposedly very comfortable with words!—have days when they just don’t want to write at all.

It’s a common mistake writers make when they begin to think about social media, marketing, and all that other fun stuff: this idea that words are the be-all and end-all for them. They force themselves far too often to script tweet after tweet, Facebook post after Facebook post…until they just can’t write another line of original content, even if only to say “Look at my book!” Worse, they come to feel that because they’ve burnt out on writing tweets and posts and marketing copy, they have failed. They think about all the potential readers they have lost; markets they haven’t tapped; piles of beguiling words they should have written—because are they not supposed to be endless fonts of text? (Spoiler: no.)

Fortunately for you if you’re one of these writers, there are some great options for social networking that don’t require you to write a word. They are wordless yet powerful, simple yet evocative, easy yet  poignant.

In short, Facebook and Twitter are not the only games in town when it comes to keeping yourself and your writing in the public eye.

I’m talking about using pictures rather than words. Using Flicker, Instagram, Pinterest or Tumblr to make your point, catch your Twitter followers’ imaginations, engage them emotionally in a way that leaves a favorable impression of you in their minds. An image-sharing tool like these can help you reach out to others, and save you a thousand words of writing, every day.

There are quite a few image-sharing venues out there—and while your mileage and social media needs may vary, in my experience they’ve basically boiled down to just one. Allow me: Flickr is ridiculously clunky and doesn’t share well with others—just spend a few minutes trying to either find an image or a keyword, or pass along a photo. Pain. In. The…youknowwhatImean. Instagram is fine and dandy for taking snapshots of your dinner, your dog, your kids, your whatever…but when it comes to sharing what you snap, or using images from other sources, it’s not exactly user-friendly.

This basically leaves us with two choices, if you want to save those thousands of words: Pinterest and Tumblr. I’ve tried both and the choice was extremely easy to make—it comes down to one thing: sex.

Let’s face it, when you’re an author of erotica and erotic romance, you are dealing with—in one way or another—characters having sex. Like lots of erotica authors, I’ve learned to (sigh) deal with platforms like Facebook that will wish you into the cornfield for showing—or in some cases even talking about—something as threatening as a nipple. We deal with Facebook because we have to. But an open-minded image-sharing social media venue is a bit like Twitter: the more the merrier.

Pinterest doesn’t like sex…at all. I used to have a Pinterest account but then I began to get messages, here and there to start, but then tons: each one about a posted image of mine that was removed due to the dreaded Terms of Service. A few were obvious, but then the images they were yanking became and more innocent. Bye-bye Pinterest.

Tumblr isn’t perfect—far from it—but even after being purchased by the search engine deity Yahoo, I can count on the fingers of one hand the times it has caused me any kind of headache. Mostly they will reject anything that really pushes a button—think of the deadly erotica sins, but with pictures, and you know what I mean (hate speech, rape, bestiality, incest, underage, pee or poo, etc).

In a nutshell, Tumblr is easy, fun, and—best of all—a rather effective social media tool that also neatly and simply integrates into Twitter and Facebook…and, no, I do not own stock.

The way it works couldn’t be less complicated: you can create any number of Tumblrs—think folders—(even with an “age appropriate” warning if you want), and then design them with any one of a huge number of themes. From your master dashboard you can see—and tweak —all the separate Tumblrs you’ve created. The themes are a blast, and the interface takes very little skill to navigate.
As for what Tumblrs you should create…well, that’s up to you. Like food? Make a nice edibles Tumblr (and they have an app that lets you to take shots of your meals if that’s what you’re into). Like history? Create a vintage photo site. Love sex? Well, it’s pretty obvious about what you can do with that.

Where do you get your pictures? You can certainly take them yourself or upload them from your various devices, but where Tumblr becomes a real social media machine is in reposting. Once you create your account just look for other Tumblrs by interests or keywords and then hit that little follow button. Then, when you look at your dashboard, you’ll see a nice stream of pictures that you can like, share, or repost to your own various Tumblr incarnations. Plus, the more people you follow, the more people will follow you.

Just to give you an idea, I started—rather lazily—my dozen or so Tumblrs four or so years ago and now my main one, Rude Mechanicals, has over 5,000 followers. You can imagine the reach you could have if you really put some work into it.

And if you want to see how far that reach extends, you can go back and look at your posts to see how many times they’ve been liked or reposted. It’s harder to tell when it’s a reposted picture but it can also be very heartwarming to see that, for instance, when you post about a good review or a new book announcement, dozens of people liked your news or, even better, shared it with their own vast audience.

What’s also fun about Tumblr is the auto-forward feature. It’s not perfect, as there are some periodic glitches, but all in all it works rather well. When you set up your separate Tumblrs you can then select an option where—if you choose—you can also send any image to Twitter or to Facebook.
That increases the number of people your image will potentially reach. It can even go to a Facebook page you’ve created. Neat!

One trick I use is to click the handy “like” button to create an inventory of images and then—once or twice a day—go back into my list of likes to repost them to my appropriate sites…with or without Twitter or Facebook reposting as I see fit. Tumblrs also feature RSS, which means you can subscribe to one of them through an aggregator like Feedly.

What’s also neat about Tumblr is its flexibility: you can post images (duh) but you can also embed video (from YouTube or wherever) and post text, quotations, links, chat streams, and audio.
Let your eyes do the walking and let the images they find do the talking. Image-sharing tools like Tumblr are a super easy way to fulfill your need for social media presence without having to write anything.

Here’s a summary of recently posted calls for submission. Click the links to get the details from the ERWA website.




HUSH EROTICA – Short stories










Call for Submissions
Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 2 
Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

To be published by Cleis Press in 2017

I want your best, hottest, most creative and diverse 1,500-3,500 word erotica stories, written by and starring a wide range of women, from single to coupled, living in big cities and small towns anywhere in the world, of varying sexualities, races, ages (all characters must be 18+) fetishes, jobs, interests and life experiences. As per the series’ history, only submissions by women authors will be considered. Stories in the final book will range from humorous and playful to intense and soulful, and will reflect a similar sexual, racial and age diversity as the stories in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1. Story submissions must be unpublished (never published, in whole or in part, anywhere, online or offline). No scat or incest, although age play will be considered as long as it’s clear in the context of the story that the characters are engaging in roleplay. No poetry.

I don’t want to limit your creativity, because I want these stories to be as dazzling, varied, surprising and sexy as possible. I want your very best work, the kind that will make readers want to savor your story over and over again. Some things I’m looking to include in this volume: stories by authors who’ve never been published in the Best Women’s Erotica series or are new to writing erotica, stories by authors based outside the United States (and stories set outside the United States), stories by and about women of color, stories from the point of view of transgender women, stories featuring women in their forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties or nineties, romantic erotica (they don’t necessarily need to have a traditional “happily ever after,” but happy endings are extremely welcome too), stories involving more than two people, stories in unusual settings, erotica touching on current events (though the story should be one readers ten or twenty years from now will also appreciate), stories that touch on real-life issues affecting women, BDSM stories (especially ones with creative motivations and femdom stories, though I also want stories about outstanding submissive women), and creative fetishes. These are meant as springboards for your storytelling, but are by no means prescriptive. All stories that meet the guidelines will be considered.

In a nutshell: I want stories that blow my mind, that grab my attention and don’t let go, that say something new and exciting about sex and sexuality, that will appeal to longtime erotica readers and new readers. I gravitate toward unique, creative, memorable characters, settings and scenarios. I will consider sci fi, fantasy, paranormal and historical stories, although they will likely not comprise the majority of the book. 

For an idea of the types of stories I like, see Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, or my women’s erotica anthologies Fast Girls, Orgasmic and Women in Lust.

In the interest of publishing a range of authors, those whose work appears in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 will not be considered for this volume, but contributors to previous Best Women’s Erotica collections are welcome to submit work.

Rights (see below): non-exclusive right to publish your story in this anthology in print, ebook, and audiobook form. Authors will retain copyright to their stories.

Guidelines: Submit only 1,500-3,500 original, unpublished stories that are not being considered elsewhere. Maximum two submissions per author. I want only original work that has never been published online or in print. All characters must be 18 or over. US grammar (double quotation marks around dialogue, etc.) Submit to by attaching a Word .doc or .docx file, double spaced, Times New Roman Black font with legal name, pseudonym (if applicable), mailing address AND 50 word-or-under third person bio on the first page of your story above the title or in the body of an email.

All stories must have a title and byline included with the submission (no untitled stories). Indent half an inch at the start of each paragraph. Use only double spacing for the entire file; do not add extra lines between paragraphs or use any other irregular spacing. If you cannot use Word, submit as both an RTF and include the full submission in the body of an email, including title, story text, bio, name and pseudonym (if applicable), and mailing address. DO NOT submit alternate versions of the same story multiple times. MAKE SURE TO THOROUGHLY PROOFREAD YOUR STORY BEFORE SUBMITTING IT. Only stories that are between 1,500-3,5000 words and submitted by April 1, 2016 will be considered.

I will confirm that I have received your submission within 72 hours. I will respond to all submissions by September 30, 2016. If you have not heard back from me by October 1, 2016, feel free to follow up at that time.

Payment: $100 and 2 copies of the book within 90 days of publication

Deadline: April 1, 2016

Questions: Email

Contract terms (authors will not be allowed to make any amendments to the contract terms, so please only submit if you are prepared to sign the contributor contract):

Author hereby grants Editor, during the first term of the United States copyright, and any renewals thereof, in the “Work”:

a. The non-exclusive right to “publish” (i.e. print, publish, and sell) the Work as part of the Book in printed and digital form in English in the United States and its territories; and

b. The non-exclusive right to “publish” and license the Work as part of the Book in printed and digital form in English in other countries; and

c. The non-exclusive right to publish and license the Work as part of the Book in printed and digital form in English and the right to license, translate and publish the Work as part of the Book in printed and digital form in languages other than English in all countries; and

d. The following non-exclusive subsidiary rights to license and publish the Work as part of the Book in the United States and all foreign countries, to wit: anthologies, magazines, book club editions and reprints; Braille editions; audio, computer disk, all electronic/cyber rights, CD-ROM and microfiche editions; and television productions (including network TV, cable, and pay TV); and

e. The non-exclusive right to excerpt from the Work in non-book printed materials issued by the Publisher and/or its licensee for the sole purpose of promoting the Work, including, but not limited to, bookmarks, post cards, buttons, and t-shirts; and

f. The non-exclusive subsidiary right, for promotional purposes, to serialize the Work in periodicals, newspapers, and magazines.

by Ashley Lister

Happy New Year. I’m hoping 2016 brings you
everything you desire that makes your life satisfying.

We first looked at the Burns Stanza back in
October 2014. I’m looking at it again now because we’re in January and Burns
night (25th January) will be on us before we know it. And, what
better way to prepare for a Burns night celebration than to write a saucy Burns

As I mentioned when we looked at this form
before, the form did exist before Burns made it his own. It had previously been
known as the Standart Habbie or the Scottish stanza or, sometimes,
simply the six-line stave. Personally, I’m happy calling it a Burns
stanza. This is my attempt at the form.

Stanzas have six lines rhyming aaabab.
The a lines have four metrical feet and the b lines have two metrical feet.

fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Basque of leather, stockings of lace
A cold smile with no soft embrace
You hold the crop
You wield the whip. I know my place
Please never stop.

As always, I’d love to see your
interpretations of this form in the comments box below. And, if you are celebrating
Burns night this year, please eat haggis responsibly.

K D Grace

After sending out a photo on Facebook of Hubby and me in Dubrovnik eating the lovely Croatian holiday treat of

“Saruman”  — often eaten with mash potatoes —  we tried to edit our update only to be re-auto-corrected to eating “Sarah” for lunch. The incident reminded again of just how much fun words can be and how much trouble they can get us into. I decided that instead of my usual rather serious end of the year navel gaze, that I would approach 2016 with a celebration silliness while I look back on some of my best best typo and autocorrect moments. Writers, especially erotica writers, tend to have a particularly juicy collection.  By the way, it was sarma we were actually eating – no evil wizards were stewed and no women named Sarah were fricasseed, nor invited for a steamy threesome while frolicking on a bed of spuds.

Any writer will tell you that word-herding is hard work. Words are unruly things and not always willing to fall in line like we want them to. They’re tricksters just waiting to trip us up when we least expect it. That’s why I’m blotting about typos and, the bane of everyone’s existence, auto-correct. I recall a very fun twitter convo with Madeline Moore about my latest blot post, which was up for everyone to read right not!  She promised me she would go right to my blot and read the pist, then buy my book not. 

Writers constantly play with words, and as Madeline and I tweeted back and froth, I got to thinking about how much fin

we all have when the wrong word is used — either because of a typo or because of an over-zealous auto-correct. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve NEARLY called someone ‘Sweetit’ on FB or in an email. ‘i’ isn’t even close to ‘t’, so I can only hypothesize that because of what I do for a living, fighting the unconscious urge to write ‘Sweetit’ instead of ‘Sweetie’ is probably a Freudian thing. If I call you Sweetit in any of our correspondence, please take it in the spirit in which it is meant and know that it was probably my evil Muse’s way of giving myself the finger … in this case the wrong finger on the wrong key.

I once had the misfortune of being the victim of auto-correct when I asked Vida Baily about her latest ‘WIPE’ instead ofher ‘WIP.’ The silly convo that followed was caught for posterior on Facebook because for some reason, the ‘edit’ function wouldn’t work. Not long after, I was looking down through my blog content folder for an older post I wanted to refer to when I saw in my documents a post I’d written as I participated in the ‘Snob by the Sea’ blog hop, which will come as a real surprise to Victoria and Kev Blisse, who organized the ‘Snog by the Sea’ blog hop to promote Smut by the Sea. Honestly, there was not a jot of snobbery in that fabulous blot hog, just a lot of hot snogging!

I can’t count the number of times my characters have ‘shit the door behind them’, which is far more painful than shutting it … one would assume. And my poor Lakeland witches were nearly caught at the top of Honister Pass in a snot storm. I once read a story in which the hero’s face was pinched by an uncomfortable erection … After I fell off my chair laughing, terribly relieved that it hadn’t been fatal, I was reminded how easily I can make a sentence go on and on forever until it’s hard to tell what part of a character’s anatomy is being pinched by what … or whom, which is simply a very long drawn-out way of saying that sentence argument is very important!

The thing is, as writers we think a lot faster than we can get those thoughts down on paper. When those thoughts come out of the imagination, and when our characters and plot take control and drag us down the rabbit hole, sometimes it feels like we’re actually just secretaries struggling to take down their words and actions as fast as we can before faces get pinched by erections and whole villages are buried under snot storms.

Language and word play say a lot about a person. They say a lot about a writer, about a story-teller. Writers choose to dance dangerously with words, so it comes as no surprise when we occasionally trip over our own semi-colons. It doesn’t help that I’m the world’s worst speller. Then there’s the constant battle of homophones. I’ve had the odd pale face end up pail … and while faces may be good for showing emotion, they’re not very practical for carrying large quantities water. Seriously though, it gets really tense sometimes when every word counts, when I want to make sure that my readers catch every nuance, every scent, every taste, every feel of flesh on flesh. That being the case, sometimes a writer just needs to play with the words and let them have their head. That means occasionally shitting the door on the more serious word-smithery and leaving the plot and the characters to stew in their own juices just for a little while, just long enough for a silly little blot post to all of you Sweetits out there before I get back to more serious word-herding in anticipation of the new year.

Higs and snobs all around, my Lovelies! Wishing you all Hippy Holidays, no matter how you celebrate, and all the beast in the New Ear!

by Jean Roberta

As 2015 speeds to a close, I’ve been thinking about memory and its relationship to the imagination that all writers need to cultivate.

I’ve been reading Skin Effect: More Erotic Science Fiction and Fantasy Erotica by M. Christian. I promised to review this collection months ago, and now I have time to do it. In the opening story, “[Title Forgotten],” the central characters can have their worst memories “overwritten” by mind-movies that seem like memories of real experience and which prevent the subjects from becoming aware of memory gaps (“Why can’t I remember 2013?”) Yet the traumatic memories underneath can still be accessed by means of special software, and some people choose to access them because they value the truth, however painful.

How many of us would make that choice? We like to think our lives are coherent narratives showing a logical process of cause and effect. “Overwriting,” however well-done, would probably throw something off. We would probably want to know, for example, why we dread visits from Uncle Fred , and when we first became aware of our fear of heights. Or why we like certain sexual activities more than others.

Actually, “overwriting” seems like something that human beings tend to do constantly, without need of external software. Most of the people I’ve known for years disagree with me about some of the details of our shared experiences, and this is why I’m reluctant to part with souvenirs that can serve as evidence.

I’m glad to know that one of M. Christian’s obsessions (the nature and value of memory) coincides with one of mine.

One of my worst memories involves someone else’s memory, if you follow this, but the someone else (my husband in the 1970s) is no longer alive. Even if he were, it’s unlikely that he would remember things differently now.

He was newly-arrived in Canada, after I had sponsored him in from England, where we had met. He was a refugee from the Nigerian Civil War. In Canada, I had helped him find a kind of loose community of international university students and Nigerian doctors who had been imported by the local health-care system. A group of people we hardly knew had attended our courthouse wedding, and came to the party someone threw for us later. It was fun.

On one occasion, we were invited to hang out in someone’s apartment with a crowd of people we hardly knew. My husband drank until he fell asleep in a comfortable armchair, which seemed rude to me. When he started snoring, I shook him awake and told him we should find the host, say our goodbyes, and leave. To my relief, he didn’t argue, and he managed to drive us home without crashing the car.

The next day, I launched into a discussion of his drinking. He interrupted to tell me how hurt and humiliated he was when he walked down a hallway to the bathroom and saw me in flagrante. According to him, I was lying on a bed in a bedroom (with the door open, unless he had X-ray vision), and some man he didn’t know was fucking me wildly. My husband said he didn’t understand how I could do that. Neither did I. This was hardly the evening I remembered.

In vain, I asked him how likely it was that I would be that reckless, and that he had walked past, silently, despite feeling wounded to the heart. He accused me of gaslighting him: trying to make him think he was crazy, when he was no such thing, and no loyal wife would suggest it.

In hindsight, I realize that I should have left my husband that day, but I soldiered on for two years longer, trying to convince him that dreams prompted by jealousy and paranoia (or mistaken identity?) are not reality. He persisted in telling me how much I was hurting him, and how real his feelings were. If his feelings were real, how could they be based on illusions?

Since I wrote my first erotic stories in the late 1980s, I’ve wondered how this scenario, or credibility gap, could be turned into an exciting erotic story, purged of the anguish on both sides. How could I describe the mystery man? Could I imagine my husband as a fan of spontaneous threesomes, and to do that, would I have to reimagine him from scratch, with different cultural roots and physical characteristics?

There is a bleakly funny story by Mark Twain (the title escapes me) about an acre of ground that is claimed by two families, who continue the conflict for generations, even though the land is so barren that nothing can be grown on it. Eventually, the man who narrates the story claims to be the only person involved who made any money from that land. In that sense, the land finally produced a paying crop.

Real-life conflicts tend be remain unresolved, and real-life relationships often trail way without satisfying endings. (My ex-husband’s death was definitely an ending for him, and it ended a phase of my life, although I didn’t find it especially satisfying.) The challenge for all writers, including those who write fantasy, is how to make a profit from barren ground by transforming the often frustrating, boring, enraging, or work-in-progress quality of life into narratives that are exciting to read, and also realistic enough. And with a beginning, a middle, and a conclusion.

I don’t have a handy formula, but I have plenty of raw material to work with. Maybe I will find a way to turn garbage into gold. Beginning in July 2016, I will have a full-year sabbatical (a break from teaching) to spend on writing. I already have an outline for a book on censorship in various forms, which will draw on my involvement in the stranger-than-fiction cultural politics of the 1980s and 1990s. I will also have enough time to battle my internal censor and squeeze out some fiction.

I hope everyone who reads this is blessed with time and inspiration in 2016.

pressing wine after the harvest, circa 1400s

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, her tuxedo cat, Lucky, and the new feline additions Chloe and Breena who are now Lucky’s best friends. Visit her web site, her Facebook
page, and her Amazon Author Page.


I’m happy to
announce I have a new permanent writing job! I can’t go into detail because I
signed a non-disclosure agreement, but I’m doing some travel writing. It’s fun!
I’m reading about places I want to visit now, especially the haunted hotels.
Some I’ve heard of and I was excited to write about them.

Non-fiction has
always paid better for me than fiction. My last long-term non-fiction writing
job was with the British sex toys company Bondara a few years back. I wrote
product descriptions using SEO (search engine optimization) verbiage. If it is
made of silicone and went into a fun orifice, I wrote about it using all kinds
of fun descriptions. This company specialized in high end bondage gear, and I
learned a great deal about how the products work, what they were made of, and
what was high quality vs. low quality. I wrote for the company blog. I pretty
much did whatever my boss Chris wanted me to do. When we needed to speak in
person we used Skype. I was paid by direct deposit into my bank account. I
worked from home. This was the perfect, ideal job for a writer. I worked for
Bondara for about four years. I made a decent amount of money, and when my
husband was laid out and out of work for five years, this job kept us afloat. It
was one of the most fun jobs I’d ever had, and I used to work as a gaffer
(lighting) making movies. That says something.

I like writing
non-fiction. It’s a nice break from fiction and a completely different mindset.
When I’m working for a steady paycheck, I feel much more confident and
productive. When I’m working for a steady paycheck and paid to write, I feel
much better about the endless rejections for fiction manuscripts I submit. It
also takes the edge off of selling a book only to see it crash and burn when it
comes to sales, although that still hurts like hell. While writing non-fiction,
I keep hope alive for my fiction which is much harder for me to succeed at.

I interviewed mojo
storyteller Joe Lansdale on my radio show The Women Show in mid-December. He
used to do non-fiction writing. It’s not unheard of for fiction writers to do
this, especially since it does seem lucrative IF you find the right job. I was
lucky enough to find one that paid a reasonable fee per hour for the current
travel writing or – in the case of Bondara – paid a reasonable monthly flat
fee. I have a better grip on my career now that I’m actually making money at

My husband and I
visited Kennebunkport, Maine the day after Christmas for a little get-away.
This is the ritzy town that is home to the Bush family compound. We didn’t see
that – didn’t want to – but we did stay at a haunted inn – The Kennebunk Inn,
which is in Kennebunk, Maine, next to Kennebunkport. Rumor has it that
Silas Perkins, one of The Inn’s clerks who passed away in the mid-twentieth
century, continues to inhabit his place of former employment—his presence being
made visible occasionally by flying or falling wine glasses and other objects. Like the Stanley Hotel, I
didn’t see any ghosts, but we had a lovely time. Our room had a fainting couch! That was delightful. I sprawled on it with my hand to my forehead, trying to imitate the Edward Gorey drawings from Masterpiece Mystery.

My husband and I brainstormed
the idea for a wonderful non-fiction book about traveling the haunted venues in
New England. This kind of book has been writing before many times, so we had to
find a new twist to make our book unique. We thought of turning it into a
travelogue where the reader may follow our directions and repeat our experience
on their own. Each chapter describing a haunted inn, restaurant, forest, or
whatever would be followed by a short fictional story set in each particular
location. I could write any kind of story I like. Romance. Light horror.
Mystery. Comedy. I’ve already decided what I’m writing about for the Kennebunk Inn. We decided the characters in each story would be the same two,
most likely my husband and I in fictitious form. I’d write the stories as E. A.
Black, my dark fiction and horror pen name, but publish the book with my real
name. A gimmick would be that the reader would quickly figure out both persons
are one and the same. I took lots of pictures so I could start on this book
now. It would likely take us a year to visit most of these spots, take
pictures, notes, and write a chapter and a short story. I came up with a very silly working title which we will of course not use: Maniacs and Massholes: A Haunted Tour Of New England.

Here’s the Kennebunk Inn, all dressed up for Christmas. There was an outdoor skating rink right next door. It looked like fun, but my body would splay out on the ice if I even attempted that. LOL

I’ve already visited
one haunted location here in Rockport, Massachusetts, the coastal town where I
live. Three months ago, I went hiking with my writer’s group in Dogtown, which
is an abandoned colonial settlement. I did this with the intent to write two
short horror stories set there, which I have yet to do but I have no deadline. Still working through plot bunnies and characterization. When searching for “Haunted New England”, Dogtown was listed in the first article to come up on my search. I’d heard Dogtown was haunted, but I’d never experienced anything odd although the location is very creepy. The thing is, while
hiking, I injured my right leg something fierce, and I was in physical therapy
for three months until a week ago today – Monday. It took that long for the
injury to heal. I already have lots of pictures and I vividly remember the
place, which I’ve been to before the injury. Dogtown will go in the book.

Here’s a shot of one of the Babson boulders in Dogtown. These boulders were carved in the 1930s, and they dot the landscape. They’re deep in the woods, and they are carved with inspirational words and sayings. 

This is an exciting
project and I’m looking forward to the research and the writing. I don’t know
if I should try to find an agent for it first or just write it and search for the
agent after it’s finished. Probably the latter. I could also look for medium or
small dark fiction/travel publishers. There’s a small set of haunted New
England books published here, and I own a few of them. They’re a fun read, but
our book will be better. I could easily write to the publisher of those books
to pitch this one. I do like writing non-fiction. I don’t think it’s for
everyone, but it is a good way to make steady money if you can find a long-term
gig. I’ll keep everyone posted regarding my new job and this wonderful new
project. I feel very confident about 2016. Things are looking up for me.

Stay Tuned

by | Dec 28, 2015 | General | 0 comments

by Jean Roberta

Oops! Due to being on holiday time, I didn’t write my December 26 blog post soon enough. However, I have a post ready to go.

I hope to post it on one of the in-between days after the December 28 post.

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