by Donna George Storey
We live in a tumultuous time and few can predict the news each day will bring. However, we can be certain that under a Republican Congress and President and with a Supreme Court that is bound to become more “conservative,” the U.S. government will move to limit its citizens’ access to contraception and sex education.
When I say citizens, I mean both women and men.
Yes, men will be intimately affected by limited access to contraception. Why do so few of them seem to understand this?
Shutting down funding for Planned Parenthood is always presented in terms of its effect on women’s health. Reproductive choice is regarded as a woman’s issue, something that might sway the votes of women, but never men. It’s as if men don’t play a role in pregnancy at all.
Men may no longer have the luxury of ignoring the fact that they do.
Let me pause here to say for the record that my argument has nothing to do with abortion, which is about what happens after conception. I’m talking about the access adult men and women have to modern medical technology that will enable them to have sexual intercourse without conceiving a child.
But seriously, you say, who would take this access to birth control away from us? That would never happen!
Haven’t you noticed? All kinds of crazy and unimaginable things are happening these days.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of powerful male politicians who either actually want to take access away–especially from the young and people with low incomes–or who go along without thinking through how it might affect their male voters’ lives. Too many of us take for granted that contraception is part of our right to privacy. Birth control has nothing to do with government control. However, a look back in history shows that our government has zealously denied its citizens access to contraception for a period of over ninety years.
Before the Comstock Act, a federal law pushed through a tired, distracted Congress in 1873, birth control was legal in the United States. The Comstock Act cleverly prohibited sending any device or information having to do with contraception through the mail. Its pure-minded father, Anthony Comstock, was also appointed as a special agent to the post office to enforce his law, which he did with sanctimonious enthusiasm. He most often targeted small-scale, immigrant-run condom and “womb veil” producers, while letting Goodyear, a wealthy company which manufactured rubber condoms as well as other rubber goods, avoid surveillance and consequences. By the way, the Comstock Act also prohibited sending obscene materials through the mail—including sex toys, pornography and erotica, although the latter was surely not as well-written as erotica authored today!
The Comstock Act was terminated in 1957–that is, not all that long ago–although in 1936 there was a court ruling, United States v. One Package of Japanese Pessaries (the best court case name ever!), that the federal government could not prevent a doctor from providing contraception to his patients. In other words, those who were wealthy enough to have enlightened physicians who supported family planning could enjoy the benefits of reproductive technology much earlier than the common man.
In Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court decided that the Constitution protected the right of married people to use birth control as late as 1965. Only in 1972 did Eisenstadt v. Baird allow unmarried people the same right. Estelle Griswold was the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut who opened a birth control clinic in New Haven to challenge the state’s lingering Comstock law. William Baird purposely got himself arrested and convicted for handing a condom and package of contraceptive foam to a 19-year-old unmarried woman after a lecture on birth control. We must remember this didn’t just happen. These brave people along with many others (Margaret Sanger and her husband and many more) endured prison and hardship to win us our right to control our reproduction.
It might be a fight we have to wage once more.
Indeed some want to turn back the clock to a more idyllic time in America, before all these pushy women had the idea they were equal and wanted to have sex without consequences. I’d like to consider what such a renaissance of old-time values and customs would mean for men who want to have sex today.
Until the 1920s, when sexual intimacy was first acknowledged as an important part of a married couple’s happiness, an enlightened man would be considerate of wife’s health and abstain from sexual intercourse as much as possible. That was the only universally accepted way to control family size. The desire for sex was a bestial urge, and the civilized man would conceive a few children to help his wife fulfill her womanly nature, then nobly refrain—or visit a prostitute.
Now some men were not so noble, or inclined to visit prostitutes, and relied on other means to control family size.
Clelia Mosher’s survey of married women beginning in 1892 revealed that withdrawal was a fairly popular birth control method back when men were men and women wore corsets all the time and not just for fetish reasons. Planned Parenthood reports that if always done correctly, only 4 in 100 women will become pregnant each year using the withdrawal method. I was told it was a terrible form of birth control, so I’m surprised it’s that good. Of course, the rate climbs to 27 out of 100 if the man is not as conscientious, so it probably is not a great method for teenagers.
Back in the early twentieth century, many doctors recommended against withdrawal because it would make men weak and mentally infirm. The argument was no doubt self-interested, but most men today would probably agree. The rhythm method was not discovered until 1930. Before that, most physicians thought women were “safe” at the midpoint of their menstrual cycle based on studies of animals. The rhythm method might also be called “limited abstinence” because the couple might have to abstain as many as ten days of the cycle. If you don’t like sex during menstruation, the period of abstinence will be even longer.
Is traditional-values living sounding good so far?
Condoms were the most popular purchased contraceptive back in our glory days. Goodyear rubber condoms were so thick and sturdy they could be washed and reused. If we return to such a way of life, remember that recycling is good for the environment! Latex condoms were invented in the 1920s but men still had to purchase them under the counter in cigar stores, gas stations and saloons. Bellboys usually had a few on hand if you tipped nicely. Again we might ask—who would take condoms from the shelves of CVS? Can we take anything for granted in this crazy twenty-first century world of ours?
The other option was and is, of course, to have lots and lots of children. If followed to its logical conclusion, a policy which prohibits family planning and sex education means that someone with an active sex life will have twenty children. Since every other man with an active sex life will also have twenty children, that’s a lot of babies. And babies don’t die as often as they used to from diphtheria and measles as they did back in the day, although with an anti-vaxxer in the White House, infectious diseases might be great again, too. But let’s figure the world will be really crowded and competitive with all those kids running around. You think it’s hard to get into a good college now?
So in summary, gentlemen, if you don’t stand up and insist on every citizen’s right to reproductive options to your elected officials in the most vehement terms, you may well be left with the following choices of yore:
Then again there is one more option for sexual expression I forgot to mention: read erotic stories with your lover and pleasure each other manually and orally. Save the intercourse strictly for when you want kids.
Come to think of it, if we’re not slapped with a revival of the Comstock Act, the new era of reproductive restriction might be good business for erotica writers after all.
Donna George Storey is the author
of Amorous Woman and a collection of short
Presents the Best of Donna George Storey. Learn more about her
work at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com
have a crow to pluck (bone to pick) with James Joyce.
has been credited with writing the greatest short story of the Twentieth
Century, “The Dead,” one of a collection of tales he compiled under
the title, “The Dubliners.” “The Dead” is also recognized
as one of the first and best examples of modernist
fiction, when writers began to use characters to look inward into themselves
rather than out at the world.
don’t panic, or worse, yawn. I’m not
going to lead you through a class of Modern Fiction .101. It’s just, there is
something about “The Dead” that always rubs me wrong, despite that
it’s a marvelous story, on its face so simple and yet fraught with wry humor
and symbolism. After many years I recently reread it and, sure enough, it still
leaves me a tad irritated.
story revolves around a social gathering that takes place years before the
Irish rebellion hosted by three spinster ladies who are the queen bees of the
Dublin musical scene. Included in the company are locally known musicians, an
up-and-coming operatic tenor, an Irish nationalist and a token Protestant.
master of ceremonies is the nephew of two of the ladies, and cousin to the
other, Gabriel Conroy. Gabriel is portrayed as a nice enough guy by Joyce, but
a bit of a stuffed shirt, a music critic who feels his education and world outlook
elevate him intellectually several notches above the rest of the company. He
frets his speech/toast that he has prepared for the evening will go over their
the end of the story, Joyce arranges to have the wind taken out of Gabriel’s
sails, his ego deflated and his sense of place in the world utterly unmoored,
and in a way equally poignant and, I think, cruel.
is in a static, lackluster marriage with Gretta, a simple girl from the West of
Ireland, with whom he shared – he thought – an exuberant, lustful courting and
nascent wedlock, until children came along and ambition became his main focus.
the party ends, he catches sight of Gretta at the top of a stairway, stock
still, in what he sees as a classic pose, such as a goddess rendered in a Greek
sculpture. She is rapt, listening to the tenor’s rendition of a popular Irish
vision ignites in Gabriel a long dormant passion. He wants nothing more than to
hurry her to the hotel room he’s booked for the evening, a night away from home
and the kids. His heart swells with memories of the romance he experienced with
Gretta in their youth.
in their room, he’s watching her undress, and it’s all he can do to keep
himself from pouncing on her. He makes his overture, but he is rejected. She
just can’t … she’s too upset. The song that had so enraptured her was one a
young boy from her girlhood used to sing to her. His name was Michael and, she
sobs, he died out of love for her.
is at once amazed and angry. Gretta has never once told him of her previous
relationship. He begins to interrogate her and she explains that Michael was a
“delicate” young man, a euphemism for tuberculin. The night before
she was to leave her home in Galway to move to Dublin, she found him standing
outside her yard in the pouring rain. A week later, in Dublin, she learned he
then cries herself to sleep, leaving her husband alone to contemplate life and
his place in it. An epiphany shatters his illusions about himself and life. He
realizes he has never inflamed the passions of Gretta, nor any woman, as the
dead Michael had. He finds himself envying the sickly young fellow now long
Gabriel’s shortcomings, his arrogance is a mild sort. He’s not a bad guy. In
the moments before his wife’s revelation, he was bursting with love and lust
for her, only to have that proverbial bucket of ice water poured over his
uses Gabriel’s story as a metaphor for Ireland at the time. He was impatient
for his homeland to get on with modernizing, but it was held back by quaint
tradition and notions. It seems contradictory then, that he uses Gabriel, who
looks outside of Ireland, for example taking his holidays on the continent.
Still, he’s also in a sort of stasis, benighted by notions of class and culture.
those are the greater themes. I’m not so much affected by what he is supposed
to stand for, than as a sympathetic character who has just had his heart broken
perhaps that has always been the problem I’ve had with great literature. The BIG IDEAS never mattered as much as the small
and very human characters who make their way between them.
By Sam Thorne, ERWA Editor
editor, the strangest request I’ve ever had from a prospective author was ‘can
you make this funny, please?’
they wanted (other than a proof of the existing story). This chap had sent his
85k words of beautifully-composed gloom to a publisher who loved the story and
the premise, but wanted him to lighten things up in parts so that the true
gloom glowed. Yes, I know that sounds like a total contradiction.
I have to
admit—it was the most intimidating job I’ve ever taken on. Black humour takes
many forms so there were plenty of tools to apply to the job, but returning
this supposedly FUNNY manuscript to the writer gave me separation anxiety. Pressing
‘send’ from my gmail account was akin to wobbling my way onto a stage on
stand-up night and hoping I didn’t squeak into the microphone. Happily, the
author loved the little touches added to his MS, but as it transpired, he was
given a publication offer from an editor who was a fan of his original grim and
loveless offering. That’s not meant as an insult, incidentally—it’s how he
described his own writing (with pride!)
many years ago. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time reading books about how to
write comedy (none of which were particularly helpful), and looking
forensically at the forms of humour across a range of novels, coffee-table
collections, and TV programmes. This is not a hilarious business, I can tell
you. To paraphrase Jimmy Carr (co-author of the fantastic book ‘The Naked Jape’),
examining a joke or script is like dissecting a frog; by the time you’ve got to
the bottom of what made it tick—note the past tense—nobody’s laughing and the
frog has died.
So, before I
get into the meat of this article, I’d like to post a disclaimer. You are
unlikely to titter, guffaw, or snigger at any point. I’m just talking about tools you can use.
intimidating aspect of creating humour is that humour is totally subjective. Of course it is. Whether or not your witticisms will elicit a grin in your reader depends on a few
people are tickled by different things, so it may help, as a starting point, to
associate different types of humour with different beasts:
is king of the farce. It’s situational humour brought about by characters with
entirely conflicting goals. Most sitcoms largely fit into this category. But
wait! Some sitcoms are considered to be lacking in substance, while others give
the impression of being up-beat and edgy. Why? Because the situations depicted
are those that the audience strongly relate to, which brings us to…
The owl is
the wise one, who’s seen everything and has the worldly knowledge. People
grinning at an episode of ‘Modern Family’ quite often do so because of the distinct
feeling of connection. The owl has been there, done that, and worn the tee shirt.
The owl is all about observational humour. The owl is the representative for a
huge branch of stand-up comedy. Yet, even if the situations discussed in a
monologue have the potential to make you laugh, whether you do so or not
depends on the delivery. Not everyone enjoys an observation which is harsh or
close to the knuckle. Which brings me to…
The snake is
the overlord of deliberately cutting humour. Schadenfreude belongs here, as
does the razor-sharp quip, clever word-play and black humour. The snake represents
one-liners, the put-down you wish you’d used while engaged in an argument. Stand-up
comedians with an abrasive edge belong here.
enjoyment of snake humour doesn’t mean you have a dark soul—perhaps you simply effective
sarcasm, or a twist on a cliché: I don’t
have much shame; I have to ration it.
The bat is
the creature of the zany. Think groan-humour. Think total surreality or
incongruity. Monty Python’s sketches (and The Holy Grail) largely belong in
this category, as does Airplane, the Naked Gun series, and so on. Stand-up
comedians who fire off a hundred puns in ten minutes fall into this category. If
the majority of your chuckles are generated from bat humour, then you have a
very strong sense of the ridiculous.
humour sources in this way goes a long way to showing whyhumour is so subjective, and why some comedy series or films do
better than others—because they combine the beasts so well. Breaking Bad has a
situational concept (elephant), with a strong snake edge. Blackadder (which
remains one of the most successful British series of all time) combines all
four. I’m sure you can think of a few stand-up comedians who blend owl and
snake to perfect effect.
all this provides a framework for understanding what tickles you, and why. You
might want to keep this guide at hand for a few weeks while you’re reading or
watching films or TV. Get to know your
sense of humour. Make friends with it. Hell, give it a name, even.
So, in terms
of conveying your sense of fun on the page, what tools do you have? Within
dialogue, you have quite a selection:
* understatement (most prevalent in Brit,
Aussie or NZ humour)
* sarcasm and exaggeration (good for
snake or bat humour, depending on tone).
* indignation (arises naturally from
elephant humour, empathy deriving from owl humour).
dialogue works best when your characters have very conflicting goals. This in
itself will guide the intonation in your characters’ speech, doing half the job
for you. If you’ve heard a good one-liner you want to use, build your scene around it. Create the context in which this is said. In constructing
a scene where you want your characters’ banter to work well:
“He’d look wonderful in a harness.”
“Or a headlock,” I offered, marching
away before Stella could give me the be-nice-to-Dan speech.
Some of the most
memorable and effective comic moments come from the laugh generated by
surprise. Without actively trying to be funny or consciously writing
lively banter, you’ll find that you’ll get a lot of mileage out of the concept
of incongruity. It’s hands-down the
easiest tool to use to create that note of levity in your work, whether you’re simply
to lighten the mood after a tense scene, or creating a bit-part personality to
bring the best (or worst) out of your main character.
The trick is
to present a very strange situation or personality with a totally straight face. The incongruity principle covers diversions from the expected such as:
So – how to
use all this information?
is subjective. It’s dependent upon delivery, context, timing and audience. But once
you’re on speaking terms with your own funny bone, your inspiration for
creating grin-worthy prose will increase tenfold.
In case you might be wondering what I’ve been up to lately, check out this link to the articles I’ve been doing for the great Future Of Sex site. Other things brewing, but writing about the sexuality of tomorrow has been a blast!
Say you’ve written an erotica book. What’s more, it’s a quality
erotica book, which is to say that it isn’t just about positions,
sensations, steamy looks, and lingerie. It has an engaging setting,
multidimensional characters, and a plot. It’s well written and seeks to
do more than turn the reader on. Hurray, and congratulations! I’ve
said it before, but it certainly bears repeating: this is an incredible feat.
There are very few people in this world that could have done what
you’ve done. Take a moment to luxuriate in your success.
Done luxuriating? Good. Now you’ve sent your book out and
congratulations (part two), you’ve managed to find a publisher for
your novel—this is no mean feat, especially these days. So now
you’ve written a book, you’ve sold a book, and soon it’s going to be for
Now is the time you must do something very important, and it may
surprise you, given the genre in which your book is written.
Don’t. Think. About. Sex.
I know, I know—a bit weird, right? After all, you’ve written an
erotica book. So it seems more than natural that you’d want to reach
out to sexy, kinky, smutty, erotica venues—and well, you should. But
after you do that, you should really try and reach out to places a bit
more … tangential.
Let me explain: erotica is a fine and dandy genre (I’m not
disparaging it), but it’s also a bit limiting. In erotica, your book is one
of dozens, and every last one of them is clamoring to be the center of
attention. Sure, yours is different—for whatever reason—but in the
erotica world, your book is common first, and special second.
Let’s say, for example, that your book is about a soldier during
World War II. So why aren’t you thinking about your book being a
World War II book? Sure, you know you wrote it as erotica, and
that’s certainly essential to the book’s allure, but its more than that,
see? Try reaching out to soldier sites and World War II sites (and
authors, forums, and such). Sure, there’s a damn good chance your
emails and announcements will be ignored, but if someone does respond then your book will really stand out: a World War II book—
but an EROTICA one. Wow! Unique! Different!
In fact, I’ll bet if you really looked at your book, you could find
several places to branch off. Is it a love story? Then it could be
romance. Is there a mystery involved? Then it could be—well, you
get the idea.
Here’s an important detail. You should absolutely tweak your
announcements in a way to reach these different audiences. Instead of
“erotic” and “explicit,” try “sensual” and “stirring”—play up your
book’s connection to their world: a sensual tale of a love and
intimacy set in the latter days of World War II … that kind of thing.
Yeah, I know that sounds like another bit of Madison Avenue
trickery, but keep in mind that for many people, the whole idea of a
book with any kind of sexual content is a brain turn-off. You have to
get them to see your book more broadly—as a bona fide story, rather
than merely a sexual tale. The only way to do that sometimes is to
squeak it in under their radar. No, I’m not saying you should lie, but
what I am saying is this: why get the door shut in your face before
you’ve even had a chance to say one word about your cherished
Thinking of yourself as an erotica writer and your work as nothing
but erotica will limit you as well as your publicity opportunities.
Look beyond that simple label, and so will readers. You know your
book is more than Dick In Jane; you know there’s something special
about it—so why not use that uniqueness to open a whole new world
for both you and your works? Not only will this outlook give you a
possible new audience, but you’d be shocked by the number of
connections that also could emerge from stepping into other genres
and interests. Someone who never would have dreamed of reading
so-called smut suddenly has their eyes opened—by you, with your
So try and use the imagination you’ve developed in your writing to
expand more than just your storytelling: try expanding on other
possible places for exposure—and other possible places for you to
grow and develop as a writer.
By Ashley Lister
I’ve mentioned triplets before. The idea of putting three lines of poetry
together always excites me. Couplets are good for a rhyme scheme. They provide
a solid structure. But, to my mind, triplets increase the speed and seem to
allow a bigger build-up to the punchline of the poem.
Some lasses think that thongs are boss
But that opinion makes me cross
‘Cos a thong’s just fanny-dental-floss
And whilst some say the style is quaint
I would say it really ain’t
Cos a thong’s like cheese-wire on the taint
So what I’d say to every chick is
Treat yourself to some big knickers.
With this poem, I thought it might have a greater impact if
I mixed couplets with triplets. The title of the poem is ‘Big Knickers’ and the
focus is on the persona of the poem appreciating a fuller brief. Consequently,
to stress the importance of this sentiment, I thought the sedate couplet would
allow for the pace to slow down for the delivery of those two lines.
You see, when she’s ready to hit the sack
The kinkiest nymphomaniac
Does not want string across her crack
Thongs are cruel. Thongs can sting.
Thongs can be a dangerous thing.
They’re like barbed wire on the ring
Yes, whale-tails can raise most bloke’s smiles
But sit on this and think awhile
Thongs can aggravate your piles
To stop yourself from getting sick as
a cystitis parrot – wear big knickers
The poem goes on, but I’m going to cut it off there and say,
if you want to share a poem made up of a mixture of triplets and couplets, please
post them in the comments box below.
K D Grace
is a scary thing. That’s pretty obvious in the present political climate. But
Sex really is a scary thing. I had a
conversation once with another writer who wrote cozy crime. It wasn’t actually
a conversation so much as it was a rant. She didn’t understand why sex was such
a big seller. What was all this erotica stuff about anyway? Why did sex always
have to be dragged out in a novel for the whole world to see? Why couldn’t it
just stay in the bedroom where it belonged? Surly proper educated, intelligent grown-ups
should prefer proper literature. This was in the halcyon days of 50SoG and the
resulting erotica boom. The woman was not someone’s grandmother parading out
her Victorian sensibilities. This was a person who was a good deal younger than
I am. Seriously, sex is scary stuff!
don’t want to talk about obvious reasons why sex is scary. STDs, unwanted
pregnancies, sex as abuse – sadly the fear of those is a constant. What I want
to talk about is why sex is a scary thing just by the nature of being what it
makes us vulnerable. We’re quite literally exposing our tender parts, the parts
we keep hidden from public view, the parts we sometimes have disturbing dreams
of exposing in the super market or the office. More than that physical exposure,
we make ourselves vulnerable to another person, and that experience of opening
ourselves is something we can never take back, something that permanently
changes our perception of each other.
remember my first view of split beavers and hard cocks in the pages of a
dog-eared Hustler magazine that a
friend and I had surreptitiously taken from her parents stash. My first
response was ‘gross!’ I remember the little knot in my stomach. I remember the
feelings below my stomach that
disturbed me and at the same time intrigued me. All these years later
having gained a healthy appreciation for the view of the tender bits hard and
slippery and ready for action, I often find myself thinking about that first
response, that first sense of shock that both disturbs and intrigues.
is governed by something other than our rational mind. Anyone who has ever
watched dogs or other animals mating understands that what’s happening is a
primal imperative rather than a hot date. That we have a good bit of that
primal urge in us just below the surface just waiting to kick aside the
rational self and rut like rabbits is pretty scary. That we can somehow
convince ourselves that sex among humans is more civilised, more easily
controlled is even scarier still.
sex is scary because it offers an altered state that nothing else can. It feels
as though we’ve been transported either to a deeper place in our bodies or
was eleven when I had my first orgasm, quite by accident. I was extremely
ignorant of what touching my own body could lead to, and I thought I was having
some sort of seizure. I was terrified. But then when it passed into little
tremors, and I realised I wasn’t going to die, I was intrigued enough to
wonder, in scientific fashion, of course, if my results could be replicated.
wish I could say that it was all smooth sailing from there on, but those of us
who grew up in the western world all live with the religious and mythological
shaping of our civilisation, whether we grow up in a liberal family or not. I
had to fight the battles with guilt and shame. I had to fumble and faff about
in those first sexual experiences with none of the elegance and aplomb we
always read about and imagine. I had to decide for myself what it meant to be a
‘good girl.’ I had to find a way to claim and own my own scary
sexuality. That, to me, is the scariest thing of all. Even now female
sexuality is shamed and vilified. Even now tremendous lengths are gone to in
order control it – efforts that are inadvertently just as damaging to male
many ways, I think, erotica and erotic romance are about rebelling against that
control. Mind you I
don’t think erotica is our effort to tame sex and make it
safe and toothless. I think it’s our way of walking with the wild beast and
never forgetting that it is
dangerous, that it is and always will
be wild. The written word, story, is a safe place, in essence a container, in
which to approach what will never be safe and yet what by our very nature, we
long to embrace. Having said that, those of us who have been moved, disturbed,
intrigued, changed by what we read or write can vouch for the fact that even in
the written word, sex is a scary thing.
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 new m/m erotic medical thriller Roughing
It is out! This book is a sexy cross between The X Files, The Andromeda
Strain, and Outbreak. Read her short erotic story Babes in Begging For It, published by
Cleis Press. You will also find her new novel No
Restraint at Amazon. Enjoy a good, sexy read today.
(February) is Women In Horror Month. I thought I’d write something a little
different for January in preparation for this fun time since my first love is
horror. I’ve written erotic horror, and I though I’d tell my readers about how
enjoyable and sexy it can be.
Erotic horror is a
small niche in a big field. I’ve noticed that most romance and erotic fiction
readers don’t like horror in their smut. Most horror readers don’t like smut in
their terror. However, there is a small group of people who do like it, and I
suspect that group is larger than I assume.
I wasn’t allowed to
read horror when I was a kid although I did manage to get my hands on my
paternal grandmother’s Alfred Hitchcock
Presents horror anthologies. They scared the piss out of me. I loved every
second of it. My maternal grandmother was hooked on The Twilight Zone and Dark
Shadows. When my sister and I would stay over night at her place, we’d
watch both shows. They gave me nightmares but I couldn’t get enough of them. I
loved being scared. My mother, on the other hand, was not pleased at all. She
repeatedly told my grandmother to knock it off but the woman never listened. So
I enjoyed some scary shit when I was a kid. I was affected by horror movies
before horror books.
There are some very
sexy horror movies out there. Four of them are The Hunger, Innocent Blood, the Nosferatu
that stars Klaus Kinski as the vampire, and The
Vampire Lovers, a movie version of the very erotic tale Carmilla by J. Sheridan Lefanu. That one
has lesbian undertones. It was my first exposure to anything remotely lesbian,
not including Theo in 1963’s The Haunting.
Theo’s lesbianism was so understated in the movie to my 10 year old mind I
didn’t make the connection until I was in my late teens. It also helped when I
read the book to catch on to that.
Helen Fisher has written that scary movies encourage intimacy between partners.
So if it’s movie night with your sweetie, rent a scary movie rather than a
romance, chick flick, or action movie. Fear releases dopamine, the same brain
chemical that is released when you are infatuated with someone. So fear (like
watching a scary movie together) can bring a couple closer together. All you
need to do is choose the right movie. I recommend a horror comedy if you aren’t
into horror movies that much. Movies like Shaun
of the Dead, Zombieland, and Dead/Alive
may just be the ticket. The jump scares in some movies make you jump into your
partner’s arms. What a great excuse to get close! When I first started dating
my husband, I told him if he couldn’t make it through Dead/Alive, we weren’t meant to be together. He loved it! That
movie was made by Peter Jackson long before he directed the Lord Of The Rings movies. Dead/Alive is rather notorious and it
has a very bent sense of humor. And gore. Lots of comic-book-like gore. Fun
Some erotic horror
stories include the aforementioned Carmilla,
which is one of my favorites. It’s a vampire story with lesbian undertones. I’ve
written some erotic horror including Asphodel
which is available on my horror web site as well as Maneater
which is available on my romance web site. Before you read Asphodel, read Edgar Allan Poe’s horror story Berenice. My story is inspired by that one. Both of my stories are
Back in the 1970s
and 1980s Playboy published an occult erotica series. Other books you may want
to look into if you wish to try out erotic horror are Poppy Z. Brite’s Love In Vein series (vampire erotica) and Anne Rice’s Lestat books (very erotic vampires). You may have noticed a theme
here. Vampires and eroticism mix very well. There are many reasons for this –
the intimacy of the embrace inherent in the act of drinking blood. The Svengali
effect of a vampire on the victim’s psyche. Vampires as romantic creatures came
about with Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula
and continued with Lestat, Christopher Lee as Dracula, and even Twilight.
Beforehand, they were undead ghouls the like of Nosferatu starring Max Shreck from the silent movie era. Even that
movie has been romanticized with Kinski in the vampire’s role.
Looking for some
good erotic horror? Here are some more
Cthuluerotica by Carrie Cuinn (cosmic H. P. Lovecraft
horror with some smut thrown in)
Blood: Tales of Erotic Horror by Jeff Gelb
Seductions: Tales of Erotic Horror by John Scognamiglio and Alice Alfonsi
of the Dark by
Dark Fuses’s new
erotic horror stories. Erotikós.
So cuddle with your
partner and read some of these fine books. Take a walk on the dark side of
erotic horror for February – Women In Horror Month.
Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year Volume 2
(Best Lesbian Erotica 2018)
Editor: Sacchi Green
Publisher: Cleis Press
Deadline: March 20, 2017 (earlier encouraged)
Payment: $100 and 1 copy of the book within 90 days of publication
Rights: non-exclusive right to publish the story in this anthology in print, ebook and audiobook form. Authors will retain copyright to their stories.
Is there a story inside you burning to be written? Now’s the time to let it out. Or is there one you published during 2015-2016 that you think is the best thing you’ve ever written? I’ll consider just a few reprints. Up to two submissions per author are allowed, preferred length between 2000-4000 words. No simultaneous submissions.
I want a variety of themes, voices, and tone. A diversity of ages, ethnicities, cultures, and physical attributes and abilities is welcome. The central figures must be lesbian, believable, fully developed characters. Give me vividly drawn settings, and plots or story arcs that grip the reader and don’t let go. Originality is especially valued; write the story that only you can write. And, of course, I want intense sex scenes that flow naturally from the story as a whole. All flavors of sensuality are welcome, from vanilla to BDSM to edgy frontiers that surprise and startle the reader. A few stories with a speculative fiction bent, science fiction or fantasy, might fit in.
Send your submission to sacchigreen [at] gmail [dot] com as an attachment in .doc, docx. or .rtf format, double spaced, Times New Roman black font. The story title, your legal name, pseudonym (if applicable), previous publication information for the story (if applicable), and mailing and email addresses, should be included on the first page.
Queries are welcome.
by Jean Roberta
Over the years, I’ve read a lot of advice on how to write, what to write, and how to promote it. Some of that advice has been contradictory, while some of it might have been brilliantly relevant to current trends, and for particular writers who are not me.
During the Feminist Sex Wars of the 1980s, I was warned by sister-feminists that “porn” was a male writer’s genre, and that its goal was to reduce live women to objects, or sex toys without wills of their own. There was evidence to support this theory, and “jokes” about the sexual abuse of women have not disappeared from the culture. They probably never will.
However, I discovered that sexually-explicit fiction is as diverse as fiction in general. In fact, since most human beings secretly or openly want sex in some form, it’s hard to imagine a narrative about humans in which sex is absent. In some cases, the sex shows up in a central character’s dreams and fantasies. In nineteenth-century fiction, it often shows up in Latin/legal terms. (“They were caught in flagrante delicto.”) In “literary” fiction, the sex used to appear in euphemisms (“And that night, they were not divided”) and metaphors (“The earth moved”).
Since the sex is already there, I thought, coyly lurking between the lines, why not bring it out into the light so we can see it? If the sex is meant to violate the will of one or more of the participants, an explicit description makes that clear, and readers can respond.
Writing about sex felt thrilling when I first tried it. I knew that most of my relatives, not to mention friends, coworkers and other acquaintances, would probably disapprove and consider me misguided at best, but it was still a big relief to describe things I had actually done as well as things I had only imagined. Okay, I thought, call me a slut if you want, but if you never think about such things, why do you read my stuff?
The Erotic Readers Association (as it was called in 1998, when I joined) was a great source of support. Other members consoled me when I complained on-list that my stories seemed to disappear into the Bermuda Triangle when I sent them off to editors in response to calls-for-submissions. (My first three erotic stories had been “accepted” in the 1980s by a small publisher that mailed me a letter, then immediately went bust.)
I began getting stories published in anthologies, and I thought the thrill would never wear off. It never completely did, but as Lisabet has mentioned, books are more ephemeral now than we bookworms of the Baby Boom generation ever believed in our youth. Having dozens of erotic stories in anthologies has not made me famous on any level, nor has it provided a reliable income. Thousands of books are published each year, and most of them probably won’t be remembered in another generation.
Besides all that, as M. Christian has said somewhere (probably in a blog post), there are only so many ways to describe sex. Characters, situations and plots can be different in every story, but body parts are limited, and what can be done with them fits into a few categories. I grew tired of repeating myself, and I hesitate to go far beyond my own experience in describing elaborate scenes that might be physically impossible. (And on that note, unclear sentence construction can suggest that a character has three arms, three breasts, or three balls, or that two characters can grope each other from across a room. The logistics of a sex scene have to be carefully managed.)
My age has probably played a role in my desire to write about something other than sex. I doubt if I will ever completely turn off like a burned-out lightbulb, but I no longer feel as if I will just die if I don’t get some. And if I don’t need it desperately, it’s hard to convince myself that my characters do.
In short, I have begun to stray into other genres. According to those who advise writers to discover their “brand” and stick to it, this is a problem. If I have a brand at all, it is clearly erotic fiction.
During the past two years, I’ve written several stories that are not sexually explicit, and most are still unpublished. My story for an anthology that is meant to tweak the imaginary world of a famous horror writer was tentatively accepted, but I haven’t been offered a contract, and this project seems to have no clear completion date. I wrote a queer mystery story for a Sherlock Holmes-flavoured anthology, and I haven’t had a response yet. (In fairness to the editor, he probably hasn’t had time to make decisions yet.) I sent a fantasy story to an editor who said explicitly in the call-for-submissions that the anthology was not meant to include erotica. This editor sent me a flattering rejection (“This was an enjoyable read, but it’s not quite right for this collection”), so I sent the story to a speculative-fiction magazine that rejected it.
I feel as if I have started over. If I continue to write fiction without sex scenes, I will continue to send it to editors and venues that probably don’t recognize my name. The competition might be even more intense than it is in the erotic fiction market, though this is debatable.
I am grateful that the “Writers’ Block” I thought I had when I was responsible for a child and for too much unpaid work, while scrounging for a living, seems to be permanently gone. As Virginia Woolf put it so well, a woman writer needs a room of her own, and I now have several. And while I’m on sabbatical, I’m not distracted by the day job.
What I didn’t expect, and what writing coaches never seem to acknowledge, is that the Muse changes over time. For that matter, individual identity changes over time. As long as that is the case, I’m not sure how more “successful” writers (in terms of royalties and name recognition) manage to promote their “brand” for a lifetime without burning out. That seems to be one fate that ever-changing writers don’t need to fear.
by Kathleen Bradean
For those of you who don’t live in the western United States, it’s hard to explain what this drought has meant to us. I live in Southern California, which either stole, swindled, or skillfully negotiated water rights years ago that make us the villains of the west (See the movie Chinatown for a glimpse into this). Northern California suffered far worse in the drought than we did simply because we’d been sold the rights to the rivers up north. They had to eat of paper plates for several years rather than run the dishwasher and limit showers to once or twice a week, again, for several years. We simply turned off our irrigation in our back yard and let everything back there die, but were still able to avoid penalties for over usage when we continued to water out front (albeit on a reduced schedule). But then, it started to rain. Northern California got the brunt of it first and came out of drought months before we did, which seemed only fair. Now, it’s pouring outside and several times this week I’ve had the rare (for LA) pleasure of falling asleep to the sound of rain spattering on the patio.
Metaphorically, that’s pretty much what happened to my writing the past few years. I simply couldn’t write. I wanted to. I had a manuscript due, but there was nothing that could drag those precious drops of creativity from a dry well. Then, finally, something happened and I was able to write again. I wish I could tell you what it was. Nothing in my life circumstances changed. The horrible things are still dragging along, and the good things are also unchanged. For those of you suffering from writer’s block, I wish I could offer you some magical solution, but I rally don’t know what made it possible to write again.
Okay, maybe I do, but it’s no magical bullet.
I forced myself to write. It didn’t matter how crappy it was. Things can be rewritten, but only if there’s something to rewrite, right? It wasn’t a smooth return. I would write a sentence or two then take a month to get back to it. I took a stab at several opening chapters and discarded all of them. (This is, unfortunately, my writing style. It’s wasteful and slow and awful and I don’t recommend it to anyone.) Then I went to visit another writer and she gave me an amazing idea that I ran with for a while until I decided it wasn’t going to work, but when you know something isn’t going to work, you have to have a vision of why not and that’s as close to an idea of what I wanted to do as I could find, so I tossed out those two chapters and began over again. Now I’m on the threshold of chapter three. It’s a dam bursting in slow motion, perhaps like the infamous Great Molasses Flood in January 1919, only not nearly as quick.
It’s relief to be writing again. Only now that I’m wading back into the waters, I’m remembering things about writing that I’d conveniently forgotten. Writing a novel is a hell of a thing. Every character is a moving part with their own motivations and personalities. It’s not so easy to shove dialog into their mouths and make it seem natural, and they never seem to naturally do what they need to to move the plot along. Unless, of course, you’ve created the right character, in which case of course they’re going to say and do those things you need them to. That means backing up and recasting parts, which is also a slow painful way to write that I don’t recommend, so try to start out with the right characters.
The main thing I’d forgotten is how long it takes to write action. It’s a quick little movie in my imagination that takes maybe ten seconds to play. Describing it in words takes forever. For-ev-er. But I hate it and I love it in ways that no non-writer could ever understand. It’s like a rain storm after eight years of drought. I knew something was missing, but I didn’t remember until the tortured drip-drop of words began to form lakes on my pages.