Monthly Archives: April 2012
From the Erotica Readers & Writers Association
By Lisabet Sarai
Dear Perverse Pagans,
I know some of you might disavow any connection to paganism, but I’m writing this on April 30th – Beltane’s Eve or Walpurgis – and so my thoughts naturally turn to mystic bonfires, fertility rights, May poles (of various sorts) and rowan switches. Okay, I know you’re not interested in my dirty mind, but rather, in the dazzling array of erotic delights we’ve assembled for this month’s edition of the Erotica Readers & Writers Association website. No, this is all about YOUR dirty mind! And believe me, we’ve got what you’re looking for.
For a change of pace, let’s start in the Adult Movie section. John Stagliano’s massive opus “Fashionistas Safado” is now available in a special collectors’ edition – more than eight hours of stunning fetish fashion and edgy, intense S&M sex – and that doesn’t even include the outtakes. I’m starting my Christmas wish list early this year! For an updated (and adult-oriented) take on a classic Western plot, check out “Rawhide II: Dirty Deeds”, a tale of a stubborn ranch-owner determined to hold on to her land, the arrogant developer who’ll do anything in her considerable power to force a sale, and the mysterious drifter who’s the wild card in their deck. Also of note are “Last Tango”, a haunting, explicit revisiting of the Marlon Brando classic, and “Cabaret Desire”, featuring a bohemian cafe where men and woman can commission personalized erotic fantasies. In the smutty porn category, don’t miss the bizarre but arousing “Freak”, about a party girl who ends up in a coma after a night of debauchery and finds herself mentally reliving the increasingly extreme sexual encounters that led to her demise.
I found many more films I wanted to showcase, but I can’t afford to dawdle in a single section for too long. (Why do you think they call Adrienne our web Mistress?) I’ll just quickly remind you to click through to our affiliates like DVD Empire, and Adam & Eve if you’re itching to acquire any of these gems for yourself.
From the movie pages, it seems only natural to slide over to the Sex Toy Playground. After all, toys and porn go together like peanut butter and jelly, love and marriage, whips and handcuffs… In this month’s edition, the experts at Good Vibrations provide a treatise on how to select a dildo from today’s many options (hint: their technique involves cucumbers!) Mr. and Mrs. Toy give thumbs up to the multi-speed, multi-pattern Mio vibrating cock ring. And, as usual, the Sex Toy Scuttlebutt offers a sampler of the best erotic devices available on the market, from the classic Hitachi Magic Wand to the innovative Intensity, an electro-stimulator device to strengthen the Kegel muscles (and induce mind-blowing orgasms).
As usual, we’ve arranged discounts for ERWA visitors from all our partners, so you can get the very best implements of pleasure at the lowest possible prices. This month we welcome a new affiliate, UK-based Bondara.
Accelerate your orgasms:
Where to go next? Let’s circle back to the Erotica Gallery, where our guest author is the legendary Cecilia Tan, founder of Circlet Press and pioneer of the speculative erotica genre. Cecilia has provided three amazing stories as well as an incredible self-introduction. Would you believe she invented tentacle porn at the age of thirteen? Don’t miss her account of her sexual and literary journey.
As usual, the Gallery also features great stories, flashers and poetry from members of the Storytime list. This month’s contributions range from outrageous raunch to harsh realism. Highly recommended!
The mind is the ultimate erogenous zone:
If you’re craving more erotic writing after touring the Gallery, come browse our Books for Sensual Readers. This month you’ll find a wide variety of anthologies, from Maxim Jakubowski’s mammoth collection of the best of the best new erotica to Kristina Wright’s LUSTFULLY EVER AFTER, erotic retellings of classic fairy tales. J.T. MacLeod’s single author collection WARRIORS AND WENCHES features tales of magic, mischief, danger and desire. Meanwhile OC Press presents RAG DOLL: A HORROTICA NOVEL by Mathew Klickstein. The author guarantees that most readers will be shocked by his sociopathic anti-hero and the various depraved activities the characters enjoy (or suffer). Given the stellar reputation of the publisher, I for one am willing to take the risk.
Looking for erotic romance? Check out Cindy Spencer Pape’s IMMORTAL CRAVINGS series, featuring vampires, werewolves, demons, lion shifters and more, all eager to get it on with one another. In the gay erotica section, I was drawn to DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL, a multi-author collection about forbidden love in the military. And knowing Sacchi Green’s high editorial standards, I have to recommend GIRL FEVER: 69 STORIES OF SUDDEN SEX FOR LESBIANS.
There’s more… but the Mistress is threatening me with her riding crop, so I’ll just mention that purchases made through our links are ERWA’s only source of support, and move on.
Next stop is the Authors Resources pages. This month, Ashley Lister pens the final installment of his column “The Write Stuff” – “Visits from the Typo-Fairies”. Warning: don’t try to read this hilarious offering while drinking your coffee! And don’t be too disappointed about Master Lister’s departure. He’ll still be offering wise and witty authorial advice monthly on the ERWA blog. I continue my Naughy Bits series with my column “Did the Earth Move?” My topic is active content: forms, animations, videos, widgets and all that cool stuff that burns computer cycles. Want to know how it all works? Ask the Erotogeek!
Have you ever clicked the link labeled “Writers’ Resources”, below the monthly columns? You find a long list of useful websites for authors, from blogs and how-to sites to specialized dictionaries. Well worth a bookmark!
The Calls for Submission pages highlight dozens of current opportunities for you to sell your work. M.Christian’s looking for sexy spy stories for his Honeytrap anthology. Lucy Felthouse and Victoria Blisse are editing two collections, “Smut in the City” and “Smut by the Sea”, for the new House of Erotica imprint. Delilah Devlin’s looking for smoking hot fireman stories. Kristina Wright is editing a new collection of sexy erotic romance. And don’t miss the two open calls from the Coming Together altruistic erotica imprint: “Hungry for Love” – zombie erotica edited by Sommer Marsden to benefit the American Diabetes Foundation – and “In Vein” – vampire erotica to benefit Doctors Without Borders, edited by yours truly!
Don’t be afraid to submit:
Inside the Erotic Mind this month, our intrepid members talk about stuff that simultaneously turns you on and freaks you out. Care to share YOUR secret cravings? Just click on the Participate link.
Nothing is forbidden inside the erotic mind:
Our featured Wed Gem this month is Melange Books.
“Melange” (meaning: a conglomeration of many things) is for every reader’s taste in literature.
Melange Books, LLC is a royalty-paying company publishing in e-books (digital formats) and print books. We pay authors 40% net royalties on digital formats and 10% on print. We are actively seeking submissions for the following novel and novella genres:
Romance, sweet, sensual and erotic, westerns, science fiction, horror, contemporary, chic-lit, men’s fiction, women’s general fiction, action-adventure, speculative, drama, gay, lesbian, urban fantasy, paranormal, cross-genres, urban fantasy, mainstream fiction, and non-fiction. Also, on May 1, 2012, Melange’s new You Adult imprint, ‘Fire and Ice’ will go live!
Well, I managed to make it through the site without being subjected to any of the Mistress’ discipline. Sigh. Maybe I’ll have better luck next time!
Speaking of next time, the ERWA site and the Erotic Lure will be taking our traditional break in June. I’m off to my annual slave’s training camp. I’ll be back with a new Lure around the beginning of July, in traditional red, white and blue lingerie.
Meanwhile, if you’re hungry for more hot, smart erotic content, check in regularly at the ERWA blog. I’ll be there, along with lots of your other favorite authors and columnists.
Until then, I remain…
Write, learn, and play on ERWA email list. Details at:
by Kristina Wright
Every month or so, I receive an email from an aspiring erotica writer. Often, they haven’t read anything I’ve ever written– they just Googled ‘erotica’ or ‘sex stories’ or something similar and up popped my blog, which is probably the least sexy blog ever written by an erotica writer. But they write to me anyway, inquiring about how they, too, can quit their day jobs and write erotica full-time. Or write anything full-time as one person told me: “I’d write anything if I could quit my job, erotica or science fiction or children’s books, whatever.” Which seems to me to be more about hating the current job than about a love for writing. And by “full-time” they mean make at least as much as they’re making at their current full-time job, if not more.
I’m a bit boggled by these emails, coming as they from strangers not familiar with me or my work or even an idea about what it means to be a “full-time” writer. I’m equally boggled by the comments from friends and acquaintances alike (and sometimes strangers, too), who alternately joke about my “smut” writing or say things like, “I don’t want to get a real job when I retire. I want to be a writer.” Sigh… But I do know what they’re trying to say, I really do. What I do is not “real” to most people and I realize that. From the outside, what I do looks easy. Fun. Not work. Not effort. I try to explain the realities, but their eyes glaze over. Writing in and of itself is a very boring occupation to hear about. Writing is to other careers what golf is to sports. No one wants to hear about it, but from the outside it looks easy enough for anyone to do. What’s the big deal, right? You just write your fantasy or your dream from last night or an updated version of some story you read in high school. It’s as easy as hitting a little white ball into a little cup in the grass. How hard can that be, right? Until they attempt to do it. Then they’re looking for the magic backdoor into the world of being a full-time writer. The fun kind, of course.
I say I write full-time and I do, but it’s not 9-5 or 10-6 or Monday through Friday with weekends off. It’s when I can, as much as I can. It’s 11:30 AM until 4 or 5 PM, Monday through Thursday and sometimes 8 PM to midnight on those nights, too. It’s a few hours on Friday when my husband gets off work early and Saturday from the time the babies nap until Starbucks closes at 9:30 PM. It’s some Sundays when I’m under deadline, it’s even when I’m sick or tired or invited to go do something more fun. It’s staying up 3 AM writing a proposal on Thanksgiving morning when I have to get up at 7 AM to put the turkey in the oven. It’s thinking about and plotting stories when I wake up in the middle of the night, when I’m driving, when I’m playing with the two year old or putting the seven month old to bed. It’s cobbling anywhere from 30 to 50 hours a week from my schedule to do the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. That’s what writing “full-time” means to me. And sometimes I long for a regular schedule, normal hours, weekends and holidays off, not to mention a steady paycheck and vacation time and health benefits. Full-time writers don’t get any of that. Sometimes we don’t even get a royalty check– I’ve seen royalty statements with negative signs in front of the numbers on the bottom line. Has a non-writer ever seen one of those from their full-time job?
I don’t think my schedule is what people have in mind when they say they want to do what I do. Not most of them, anyway. They don’t want to hear about the hours, or about the sheer hard work that goes into writing. Or about the rejections that come for stories only I love. They don’t want to know that they might put in six months of hard work into a manuscript that will never see the light of day. I have several manuscripts like that. Books that taught me a lot about writing but will never be published, which means I will never make any money on them. That’s the other thing aspiring writers are most interested in, after the easy and fun work schedule– the money. They envision bucket loads of cash raining down on them from the New York publishing gods. The polite ones assume I make more money than I do, the rude ones ask me outright how much I make. The answer varies from, “Not much” to “Enough to keep me in coffee” to “I can’t complain” to “How much do you make?”
Here’s the harsh truth none of them want to hear or believe about their own future-fantasy writing career: precious few full-time writers are just writers. We are freelance copyeditors and proofreaders. We ghostwrite memoirs and write advertising copy for the local freebie newspaper. We do technical writing and text book editing. We are fact-checkers and researchers. We are librarians and bookstore managers. We are anthologists and bloggers and artists. We teach three sections of College Composition at the community college each semester and we teach Writing the Personal Narrative at the local literary center. We hold writing workshops in library meeting rooms and we review books for a dozen different magazines and websites. We design blogs and websites for other writers and creative types and we do lots of things that have no real name but are somehow writing-related. Sometimes we do many of these things in any given year– and we still don’t make enough money to buy a new car or take a proper vacation.
Aspiring writers don’t want to hear the harsh realities of the easy and fun job of hanging out at Starbucks all day. They want to be the next Stephen King or Suzanne Collins or E.L. James. They want to be famous. They want that Glamour Shots photo they had taken five years ago (or that photo of them on that yacht that one time in St. Thomas) to be on the back of a shiny hardcover book in the front of Barnes & Noble. They have already chosen their pseudonym, it’s a combination of their mother’s maiden name and their favorite Jane Austen character. They spent a lot of money on a shiny new MacBook Pro but so far the only thing they’ve written are Facebook status updates about their muse and how they love the writing life. Mostly, they play Solitaire and drink $4 espresso drinks and send vague query letters to agents about the book they’re going to write if the agent can get them a three-book deal. When they haven’t gotten a response (much less an offer of representation) from an agent within the week, they write Facebook status updates about how the publishing industry is a clique, a dinosaur, a closed door to talented newcomers. Then they play another round of Solitaire and tell themselves they need to self-publish like what’s-her-name who made all that money on Amazon writing those vampire stories. Except they never bother to learn the ins and outs of successful self-publishing and none of the writers they have emailed randomly will tell them the secrets of being full-time writers. They assume it’s because those writers are intimidated by someone more talented– they never assume those writers are too busy writing, editing, teaching, etc., to tell them the truth: the only way to be a full-time writer is to find a way to write full-time, even if you also have a full-time “real” job, even if you have kids and a house and a chronic illness and elderly in-laws and, and, and… The only way to be a writer is to write. That is not what they want to hear. So they write a shitty review on Amazon for a book they never read, write a Facebook status update about how author X is a hack and her book is illiterate trash, then they go back to playing Solitaire, smug in the knowledge that when they do finally get around to writing and self-publishing their book, they will have the last laugh.
Does that sound harsh? A hack smut writer in her ivory tower pooh-poohing the brilliant aspiring writers who only need a bit of advice and an introduction to my agent, editor or publisher in order to become The Next Big Thing that I can never hope to be? Yeah, you caught me. Sorry. God knows I make so much money and I’m so wildly successful that any question about how to obtain my fun and easy lifestyle is to be perceived as a threat and immediately condemned. My apologies. Let me make it up to you and buy you a coffee while you tell me about your muse. What’s her name again?
What do I tell those questioning souls who email me for advice? I tell them all the same thing and, oddly enough, not one of them has ever written me back to thank me. I guess I didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear. But here is what I tell them: read a lot. Read everything. Read in the genre you want to write, yes, but also read outside of it. And write. For the love of all that is holy, write your ass off. Don’t write erotic romance because it’s the hot new (old) genre right now. Don’t write horror because you have a lifelong crush on Stephen King (I did and I do). Don’t write children’s books because they’re short and therefore must be easy to write. Write what you love to read. Write what inspires you and makes your heart go pitter-pat. Write the story you’re carrying around in your secret heart even if it doesn’t fit into any genre category. Write without thinking about the money, because the money might be years in coming if it comes at all. Hell, write without thinking about who might read what you’re writing. Write to please yourself. To turn yourself on. To scare yourself with how far off the deep end you’ve gone. Write with your real name at the top of the page, to remind you of who you are, not who you want other people to think you are. Forget about finding an agent or submitting your manuscript to a publisher until you actually have a manuscript to submit– a manuscript that has been written, edited and proofread, then read by a few trusted souls and edited again. A beautiful, as good as it can get manuscript that is representative of your very best work as a professional writer. Don’t have that yet? Then you’re not a writer.
There are countless books and magazines and blogs about How to Be a Writer and I encourage all aspiring writers to read and understand as much about the craft as they can. But at the end of the day, the only thing you have are the words you have written. And if you haven’t written any words, you are not a writer.
Oh, and one last thing: that word– aspiring? It’s bullshit. You either are a writer or you’re not. Which are you?
I started out writing erotica on a dare. I had no idea about
the market, what was being published, or what wasn’t… but once I’d written a
short erotic story which got a very good reception, all that changed. I found
that I’d really enjoyed writing the story, so I wanted to continue. What’s
more, I wanted to get my work published. I started researching books and
magazines, and continued to write naughty short stories.
I was very lucky in that I got one of my first few short
stories published in the now defunct Scarlet
magazine. The buzz of publication was immense. It spurred me on to pen more
smut, and soon afterwards I was fortunate enough to have a story accepted for
publication by Xcite Books, in one of their anthologies. From there, I wrote
and wrote. Through University and through a full time job (I’m now
self-employed), I never stopped. But although my plots became more adventurous,
the sex became quirkier, kinkier, and (hopefully) the quality of my work
improved, one thing stayed the same. The length of my work. Granted, my average
word count per story increased from two to four thousand words, and I even started
creeping up towards twelve thousand words on occasion, but I was still firmly
writing in the short story category.
Why? Because it became my comfort zone. I entertained vague
ideas of novels, and stashed them away in the darkest corners of my brain to be
brought out “one day,” but stuck with short stories. That is, until I
was enticed out of my comfort zone, like a donkey with a carrot. I was asked if
I would like to write a novella for a brand new range of books being put
together by Xcite Books. I umm-ed and ahh-ed for a little while, then sent back
a “yes please,” before I changed my mind. I knew that once I agreed to
it, I wouldn’t back out.
Then I panicked. What would I write about? Did I have a plot
detailed enough to sustain a novella length piece of work? Would it erotic
enough? Romantic enough? Interesting enough? My panicking was irrelevant, of
course, because I’d signed a contract and promised to deliver a manuscript by a
certain date, so I could waste time worrying, or just start writing. So I did.
And it was a huge learning curve for me. I actually drafted out a plan before I
started, which I’d never done before.
Eventually, I finished it. My first novella. I read it,
re-read it, tweaked it. Then I hit send and promptly panicked again in case the
editor hated it. Thankfully, she didn’t. Other than a couple of minor changes,
it was good to go. Woohoo! Then it was a waiting game until the release date…
which was this month.
Yes, April brought the release of my first ever novella, as
part of Xcite Books’ The Secret Library range
of books. My novella is called Off the
Shelf, and appears in the book entitled Silk
Stockings. Here’s the blurb:
At 35, travel writer
Annalise is fed up with insensitive comments about being left on the shelf.
It’s not as if she doesn’t want a man, but her busy career doesn’t leave her
much time for relationships. Sexy liaisons with passing acquaintances give
Annalise physical satisfaction, but she needs more than that. She wants a man
who will satisfy her mind as well as her body. But where will she find someone
like that? It seems Annalise may be in luck when a new member of staff starts
working in the bookshop at the airport she regularly travels through. Damien
appears to tick all the boxes; he’s gorgeous, funny and intelligent, and he
shares Annalise’s love of books and travel.
The trouble is, Damien’s shy and
Annalise is terrified of rejection. Can they overcome their fears and admit
their feelings, or are they doomed to remain on the shelf?
You can check out an
excerpt and the buy links here: http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk/published-works/the-secret-library-silk-stockings/
So, I eventually broke out of my short story comfort zone.
Granted, my longest piece of writing since the novella has been twelve thousand
words, but I broke out once, so I can do it again, right? 😉
By Lisabet Sarai
I consider myself an equal-opportunity pornographer. I’m convinced that almost anything can be erotic, in the right context. During my decade as a published author, I’ve written stories from almost every gender perspective and sexual orientation. Obviously, there are certain stimuli and situations that push my personal buttons, but in my lifelong quest to comprehend and capture the essence of desire, I’m willing to consider the strangest of fetishes as possible inspirations. In my commissioned work for Custom Erotica Source, in particular (which I discussed a few months ago), I’ve been asked to eroticize scenarios that would not have originally struck me as sexually-charged. My own reactions as well as those of my clients suggest that I succeeded, at least to some extent.
In the last few days, though, I’ve stepped into new sexual territory, for me at least. I just penned my first tentacle porn story, in response to Nobilis Reed’s call for his charitable anthology Coming Together: Arm in Arm in Arm.
What’s tentacle porn? Just ask Wikipedia. Tentacle erotica originated in Japan, more than two centuries ago. The genre imagines the experiences of a human (usually a woman) sexually penetrated by a tentacled creature such as an octopus, squid, worm or extraterrestrial. Sometimes, though not always, tentacle porn stories include a non-consensual or horror element. Tentacle-sex was imported from Japan into American B-grade monster movies. In these lurid films, the victim often died, not from being rent asunder by the invading appendages of the horrific creature perpetrating the tentacle-fuck, but from the violence of her orgasm in response to the obscene pleasure.
My tentacle story, Fleshpot, has a male protagonist and takes place in modern times, though there are suggestions that his tentacled partner is of ancient and mysterious origin. True to the genre, the main character is both aroused and horrified by the tentacles that ensnare him and insinuate themselves into his various orifices. A jaded sex addict, he’s seeking new experiences in the exotic Orient. He gets more than he bargained for.
Why am I sharing all this with you? Well, for one thing, I’m pretty happy with my story. It’s atmospheric, dark and sexy, a little bit shocking (maybe more than a little, for some readers), and very perverse. I don’t know if Nobilis will accept it, but I love the notion of dedicating my dirtiest dreams to charity.
I also feel a special thrill because tentacle porn is so far beyond the pale of “acceptable” erotica. With elements of both non-consensuality and bestiality, it happily breaks the rules of most publishers. In fact, Nobilis produced an earlier collection of tentacle erotica, entitled Tentacle Dreams. Alas, this book was published by the recently closed Republica Press, one of the few book mongers brave enough (along with Freaky Fountain, also unfortunately closed) to take on erotica that deliberately violates taboos. I hope he finds another publisher, because I’d dearly love to read the anthology.
So writing this story, although great fun, was also a political act. I refuse to allow anyone else to tell me what I should find arousing. And although I hadn’t previously considered tentacle sex to be among my personal kinks, I’ve decided I wouldn’t necessarily kick an octopus out of bed.
I love Alessia Brio’s courage in being willing to bring this volume into the world. Not that I’m surprised. She has as little patience with censorship as I do – maybe less. The Coming Together Tabooty series, which was born out of frustration with Amazon’s ill-founded attack on incest and pseudo-incest titles, includes seriously sexy stories nobody else will publish, and – surprise, surprise – sales are brisk. And every time someone gets off on one of our taboo tales, a bit of cash goes to the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, an organization that fights for the right of consenting adults to have whatever kind of sex they want.
So authors – if you want to strike a blow for sexual freedom while contributing to ocean conservation – if you’re curious as to whether you might find tentacles sexy – if you want to explore just how much you can make your characters squirm – you might consider writing a story for Nobilis’ collection.
I said that this tale was my first tentacle porn attempt, but I realized while reading Wikipedia that my H.P. Lovecraft parody “The Shadow over Desmoines” also features writhing appendages invading unsuspecting orifices. Indeed, Lovecraft is strongly associated with western tentacle erotica, though I doubt he was familiar with the Japanese origins of the genre. If you feel the urge to indulge in some tentacled eroticism, over the top but still, I think, arousing, check the story out.
The topic of how erotica is reviewed has actually been on my mind for a while, but I was inspired to write about it here at the ERWA blog after reading Lisabet Sarai’s post at her author blog on dealing with negative reviews, “You Are Not Your Book.” Lisabet makes some excellent points based on her experience as both an author and reviewer, and negative reviews are definitely a challenge for any writer.
However, over the years, I’ve noticed another aspect of the popular approach to reviewing erotica—the primacy of the “wet test,” or using personal arousal to evaluate the quality of a story. Go to any Amazon page for an erotic anthology, and you’ll see that a good portion of the reviewers makes a point to list their favorite stories. A few will also finger the stories they don’t like (pun intended). It’s almost as if someone passed out a template on “how to review erotica anthologies,” with a final exhortation: “Don’t forget to mention at least three stories that got you tingly/hard!”
For a while, I took enthusiastic recommendations to heart as the opinion of the erotica-reading public and would be sure to read the stories that were deemed the standouts for both market research and my own education in good writing. However, I quickly discovered that I did not always agree with the reviewer, that in fact my favorite stories would be completely different titles. (Although, in some cases, I did agree and was guided to some perennial favorites!)
So, you might ask, what’s the problem? People have different tastes in the kind of writing they like and the scenarios and dynamics that arouse them. One could see this standard pattern as a way for the reviewer to reassure the potential buyer that the book “works” as erotica, which is clearly the main reason one buys a book of sexually explicit stories. And yet, unless this buyer shares the reviewer’s particular hot buttons, the book might not “work” at all. Again, there’s nothing really wrong with this kind of review. I did a check of reviews for Best American Short Stories and found that those reviewers also feel compelled to list their favorite and least favorite stories as a way to validate their critical acumen. Maybe this is simply an inevitable way to evaluate a selection of stories by different authors.
And yet, part of me wishes that erotica would be viewed through many different lenses, not merely whether it arouses a reader. This might take a lot more analysis, or it might just involve viewing erotica as an experience which touches the reader emotionally, intellectually, and artistically as well as sexually. Erotica can inspire us to unzip and relieve our red-hot carnal lust on the spot. Or it can simmer in our imaginations for a while and invigorate our next lovemaking in a very unexpected way a few days later. An erotic story can also surprise us, make us sad or even angry, make us see love and sex in a new way, disturb us, show us a new side of our own desire. Certain stories can be sensual and erotic without having much sex in them at all. One of my favorite erotic stories–“Seduction” by Anonymous in Mitzi Szereto’s Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers–did not result in my yanking down my pants and diddling myself to a frenzy. But it did enthrall me with its formal daring, sharp humor, and brilliant insight into the sex appeal of Warren Beatty and the nature of celebrity in general. “Seduction” was a total turn-on for the social critic in me, and yet, like the narrator, I also found myself being drawn into Beatty’s magic web almost against my will.
But perhaps another reader might disagree with my opinion.
I’m not pretending that I have any right to instruct other people how to react to a book, but I think we’d all benefit if reviewers considered giving us a little more than just the titles they liked and the heat level of their response. With the advent of online booksellers, we all get to be critics, and I’m the last person to bemoan the breakdown of the literary industrial complex. However, it would be helpful to other readers and writers if reviewers gave more context for their opinions. Tell us why a story turns you on or intrigues you or disturbs you or lingers on after you put the book down. Treat erotica as a crafted tale as well as a masturbation aid. This would involve a little more time, but there are some great benefits to the reviewer as well. I’ve found that when I’ve delved deeper into why I like a story and why it turns me on, I’ve learned a lot about the workings of my imagination–to the benefit of my sex life and the quality of my writing.
Perhaps it is a far-fetched fantasy to think erotica could be considered and reviewed as literature in a sex-negative society, where anything that touches on sexuality is considered cheapened and base. But, hey, I have an imagination–and in that magical realm we all know anything is possible.
By: Craig J. Sorensen
Easter Sunday 2012, and I rested.
I’ve been working a lot lately and we’re still elbow deep in getting ready to move cross-country. But, little by little, I have found my way back into writing. In the last few weeks I worked on a short story for a submissions call. It was just a matter of sitting down to the story and finishing it. I could have done it Easter Sunday. The story was close to completion.
I rested, and remembered Easter morning eight years ago. It was a beautiful morning. A glowing sunrise ignited the budding trees in orange. Eight years ago, I had committed myself to writing regularly by working on a story I had started to develop in my youth, and worked on over the years. I had committed to finish this novel by the end of 2004, and by Easter I was going strong. I wrote a scene that day that I still remember: Both the scene and the writing of it.
Later that year, I finished the book, not erotica per se, though like most of the stories I write, there was erotic content. When it was done, I didn’t know where to go with it. It didn’t really fit the markets, and I was a total unknown as an author.
Momentum carried, I continued to write with an eye to getting published, and a natural taste for exploring things erotic emerged. A quick acceptance of a twisted short story, and I found a home here, in erotica. One thing led to another: Numerous short stories published and challenges taken, meanwhile I continued to write longer works.
Turns out, when it comes to getting published, I’ve had greater fortune with short works than novels.
To be fair, I haven’t submitted much of my novel length work. There are a number of publishers out there, but so many of them want romance. I like romantic elements, but my longer stories don’t qualify as romance. There are indeed publishers who accept erotica without romance, but often with a different rider: fantasy, horror, cuckold, etc. I don’t fit there either.
On the other hand, some publishers put out three titles a week. Click on the list of authors, and there are hundreds. I’m not a number.
Still, when I look at it truthfully, my home is novels. I commit to the long novels. I love the act of intertwining multiple characters, love the devotion to editing the work, finding problems and fixing them. Improving, growing.
I’ve been married thirty-one years, and my last day job lasted twenty-six.
Getting my short stories published over the last few years has brought me great joy. There is a more immediate satisfaction, and maybe there is a safety net in sharing the table of contents with talented authors and editors like Ashley Lister, Donna George Storey, Jean Roberta, Kathleen Bradean, Kristina Wright, Lisabet Sarai, Lucy Felthouse, M. Christian, Remittance Girl and others.
I’m sure I will continue to write short stories from time to time, but what I accepted on Easter morning is that I am a novelist at heart, even if it is hard for me to find a publisher that I feel excited about, and who feels strongly about what I write.
Between that Easter 2004 and Easter 2012, I have learned so much about writing. In the end, that book I finished back then wasn’t ready for publication, and so I’m glad I’ve taken the path that I did. I still feel passionate about the story and the characters from that book, so, for now, I’m going back to it, while I continue to look for a home for an erotic novel I finished in 2011, another novel I had worked on for years.
Two books that don’t seem to fit the current markets. Seems that is one thing I do consistently.
Somewhere down the road, I will find homes for my books, and I hope I’ll find a readership. Until then, I write.
For now, I’ll write them long.
|Nikos Kessanlis, The Crowd, 1965|
There are some very divergent schools of thought when it comes to the subject of writing in a gender or a sexual orientation other than your own. Let me paint out the arguments:
1) Don’t do it. Follow the old advice: “write what you know”.
2) Heck, you’re a writer. You can write whatever you feel like.
3) Don’t appropriate the voices of others. Let them speak for themselves.
4) If you are going to do this, do it with respect and a lot of research.
I’m going to discount the first one. If we only ever ‘wrote what we knew’, there’d never be any sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal, horror, etc. I don’t know about you, but my life is pretty staid and it that’s all I wrote about, it would bore people to death.
The second argument has value from an anti-censorship perspective, but doesn’t address issues of quality in writing or social justice. Of course you can write whatever you want: it just may not be any good.
The third argument is a complicated one and deserves some explanation. With the rise of critical theory in the late 70s, smart people started asking whether it wasn’t just another form of oppression to appropriate the voices of social and cultural minorities for intellectual gratification.
Feminists argued that men had put words into women’s mouths for far to long already, and should stop it. They pointed to canonical texts: Dickens, Shakespeare, Chaucer, etc. in which women and their motivations were represented in very flawed manners because these people weren’t women – they had no real understanding of what it meant to be a woman or experience the world through a woman’s eyes.
Similarly, the Post-Colonialists pointed to writers like Kipling – white Englishmen – who put words into the mouths of other members of cultures and races while having little or no understanding of what it means to live under colonial rule. Intellectuals like Edward Said argued that the West had sexualized and fetishized ‘The Orient’, using non-European characters as stereotyped puppets with which to play out their own unrealistic fantasies of a life unfettered by Christian guilt.
Many Queer scholars felt similarly: for far too long, straight writers had stereotyped, misrepresented and even defamed gay, lesbian or bisexual characters to perpetuate mainstream prejudices against homosexuality. Or simply used them as a vehicle with which to dishonestly explore their own repressed same-sex leanings.
This third argument has some real meat. Women, gays and lesbians, and people of other races and religions HAVE been horribly misrepresented in a lot of fiction in the past. I would argue that it’s still happening, especially in film and television.
But at the core of this argument against ‘appropriating’ voices is the belief that we, as humans, do not have the flexibility of mind to adequately imagine what it must be like to be the opposite sex, the other sexual orientation, or wear another’s skin. It says: we cannot walk in each other’s shoes enough to write the voices of ‘others’ convincingly and fairly.
This is why, ultimately, I come down on the side of argument number four. As a writer, I have to believe that, with enough intimate knowledge, research and respect, I CAN know what it is like to see through the eyes of another, to feel through their skin.. because, if I can’t, then all the fiction I write that is not autobiographical is illegitimate.
I cannot write with the voice of, say, an African American gay man without considerable effort. I can’t rely on gut instincts or assumptions about what it might be like to grow up as black and gay. I have to enter this territory with an initial acknowledgement that I lack fundamental experience of what that life is like. But I can find out. I can ask. I can research and explore and learn and use that learning to write something approaching legitimacy.
My argument stems from the fact that it is not safe to assume I know what any other straight, white female’s life is like, either. Some of our experiences might have commonalities, but there will be a tremendous amount of divergence between the lives of ANY two people.
And so, my advice is really very simple: never write ‘types’. Never start your story with, for instance, a character that is ‘a lesbian woman in her early 30s’. Base your characters on individuals you have known and known well. Look at their personalities as a whole – not just their ‘Queerness’, their ‘Islamicness’ or their ‘Maleness’. People are more than just their gender or race or sexuality. In fact, it may be that the part of them that makes them different from you plays a surprisingly small part in the way they define themselves.
This is the basic advice that is given for character development for any kind of fiction, but when it comes to writing the other, we often forget it. We rely on generalizations, classifications, and information chunking when we venture into the unfamiliar. It’s a basic human instinct to do it and, on a daily basis, it makes life navigable.
But when you write in the voice of the ‘other’, more is expected of you. The ‘other’ should never really be the ‘other’; they should be an individual first, with a name, a body and a fully fleshed identity, before their ‘otherness’ even begins to play a part in your understanding of the character.
Before I begin, a bit of disclosure: While the following has
been written in an attempt to be professionally and personally non-biased I am
an Associate Publisher for Renaissance E Books.
Now, with that out of the way…
So, should you stay with the traditional model of working
with a publisher or go the self-publishing route?
I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been thinking – a lot — about
this. The arguments for stepping
out on your own are certainly alluring, to put it mildly: being able to keep
every dime you make – instead of being paid a royalty – and having total and
complete control of your work being the big two.
But after putting on my thinking cap – ponder, ponder, ponder — I’ve come to a few conclusions that are
going to keep me and my work with publishers for quite some time.
As always, take what I’m going to say there with a hefty
dose of sodium chloride: what works for
me … well, works for me and maybe not you.
Being on both sides
of the publishing fence – as a writer, editor, and now publisher (even as a
Associate Publisher) — has given me a pretty unique view of the world of not
just writing books, working to get them out into the world, but also a pretty good
glimpse at the clockwork mechanisms than run the whole shebang.
For example, there’s been a long tradition of writers if not
actively hating then loudly grumbling about their publishers. You name it and writers will bitch
about it: the covers, the publicity (or lack of), royalties … ad
infinitum. Okay, I have to admit
more than a few grouches have been mine but with (and I really hate to say
this) age has come a change in my perspective. No, I don’t think publishers should be
given carte blanch to do with as they
please and, absolutely, I think that writers should always have the freedom to
speak up if things are not to their liking, but that also doesn’t mean that
publisher’s are hand-wringing villains cackling at taking advantage of poor,
It took finding a good publisher to change my mind … that
and seeing the business from the other side. While there are a lot of things that separate a good
publisher from a poor one the most important one is that a good – and maybe
even great – publisher understands the business.
Case in point: authors love to bitch about their covers –
but a publisher that takes the time to look at what is selling, what isn’t
selling, what distributors will and won’t accept, and creates a cover
accordingly is actually doing the author a service. Yes, the cover may not be an accurate scene from the book,
but it – if it works — should tease and tantalize enough to get people to buy
it. By the way, since this is
supposed to be about publisher versus self-publishing keep in mind that you
would not know what sells and what doesn’t – by the way, the amazon best
sellers list is not a good indication – and so will be operating pretty much in
Authors often work from ego – and there is nothing wrong
with that – but far too often what they want, and what will actually sell, are
polar opposites. They want to see
their work like books they admire … but they also may be completely ignorant
of the fact that while those books look nice they simply don’t leap off the
Being in the trenches of publishing, looking at the numbers
myself, is very sobering. Just
take social networking. For people
in self-publishing it’s the end-all, be-all — you can’t succeed, they say,
without it. But while exposure is
important, many of your FaceBook friends will not buy your book. The people who will buy your book are
looking for erotica they will enjoy – and if your cover, your marketing, your whatever,
doesn’t speak their language then they simply won’t cough up the bucks. It’s a sobering though that many
bestselling erotica books are written by authors who don’t play the social
networking game … at all.
Yes, when you self publish you have complete and total
control – but that also means you have no access to a publisher’s experience:
you will have to do everything from scratch, from learning how to get your book
on amazon, iTunes, etc. to dealing with cover art specs and ebook
formatting. Sure, when you
self-publish you keep every dime – but you could very well spend it and more in
time doing what a publisher does.
And marketing … I totally agree that publishers should do
more of it, but publishers have never been good at that, even before the ebook
revolution. But even a little
publicity from a publisher can work wonders: many authors are discovered not
via advertising or marketing but because their book was put out by a publisher whose
catalog had a best seller in it.
If you self-publish then you are a single voice yelling as
loud as you can – and these days there are a lot of single voices yelling as
loud as they can – and against this din a lot of readers, and reviewers, are
turning a bit deaf. It may be hard
to hear but being with a publisher still carries a lot of weight when it comes
to getting noticed.
Sure, if you’re a huge author then going the
self-publishing route may make a lot of sense, but think of it this way: huge
or not, with a publisher your mailing list, fans, and miscellaneous contacts will
not be the only way people will hear about you and your book – and the cost of
getting more would probably be the same as the bucks a publisher would take.
In the end, though, the decision is yours. If I could leave you with anything,
though, is that while there are many publishers out there worthy of scorn there
actually are many that not only know what they are doing – though experience
and observation – and who can do a lot for you. Often their advice may be hard to take, but if you trust
them they can be a great help – and perhaps the difference between writing a
book that doesn’t sell … and one that does.
by Ashley Lister
When I’m not writing, reading or reviewing, I teach. I teach creative writing and one of the subjects I keep going back to is poetic form.
The reasons for this are fairly clear in my mind. Coleridge defined prose as, “words in their best order.” Coleridge also defined poetry as, “the best words in the best order.” To this end, I’ve always thought anyone writing prose with a knowledge and understanding of poetry is in a position to elevate the quality of material being produced.
Which is why, this month, I’ve decided to mention the Hávamál as a poetic discipline.
The Hávamál is a Viking poem, but it is often called a book of wisdom. Written somewhere around AD 700-900, the Hávamál is one of the more well-known Eddaic poems and, amongst other things, it contains nuggets of universal wisdom that still apply today, more than a millennia after these words were first written.
Here are a couple of examples from the Hávamál:
A guest needs
fine towels and friendliness.
A cheerful word
a chance to speak
kindness and concern.
Give each other
as friends for all to see.
To give and take
is a guarantee
of lasting love.
A typical Hávamál stanza usually contains six lines or two units of three lines each. The first two lines in each unit are tied together by alliteration, and the third is also decorated with alliteration. For those who’ve forgotten: alliteration is the repetition of similar sounds, usually the sounds of initial consonants, as illustrated below:
Better a humble
house than none.
A man is master at home.
A pair of goats
and a patched roof
are better than begging.
It’s also possible to look at the stresses used in the Hávamál but, for the purposes of this exercise, I’d prefer to see writers focusing on words of wisdom and the use of alliteration.
And that’s this month’s exercise from me: produce a six line poem in the style of the Hávamál, sharing words of erotic wisdom in the comments box below. Remember to keep a tie of alliteration between lines one and two (and four and five), and to ensure that there is some alliteration across lines three and six.
Have fun with this and I look forward to reading your words of wisdom.
From the Erotica Readers & Writers Association
By Lisabet Sarai
Dear Indulgers of the Id,
Welcome to the April edition of the Erotica Readers & Writers Association. Of course April is renowned for its showers, but here at ERWA none of us mind getting a bit wet. If you’re of the same mind, follow me as I point out our many lubricious landmarks.
In the Erotica Gallery, our featured author is Jeremy Edwards, one of the most original and amusing erotic authors around. What I enjoy most about Jeremy’s work is the fact that he clearly adores women – not just for their bodies but for their wit, warmth and sexual creativity. To see what I mean, sample the three seriously soaking stories he’s shared.
We’ve got other tales too, from your favorite ERWA authors, plus a whole page of luscious poetry. Month after month, the ERWA gallery offers surprising, arousing erotic writing from the gently suggestive to the extreme.
Let us stimulate your imagination:
In our Books for Sensual Readers section, we’re featuring releases from several exciting new imprints. Mischief Books, the new erotic arm (or some body part!) of literary giant Harper Collins presents THE SWAP, a sizzling anthology of tales about swinging. The spanking brand new Ellora’s Cave for Men line offers DANCE FOR YOUR SEX by Robby Mills, every guy’s fantasy about a gorgeous lawyer who moonlights as an exotic dancer. Meanwhile, veteran erotic publisher Cleis has several new anthos out, including BOUND BY LUST, edited by Shanna Germain, a collection of romantic BDSM. For hard core gay erotica, check out John Butler’s tale of a young teacher and his eager student, BOYS HARD AT WORK. And how can you resist a book edited by Sinclair Sexsmith? Her lesbian BDSM collection SAY PLEASE includes stories by D.L. King, Xan West, and many other masters and mistresses of lesbian fiction. Those of you who, like me, are ripening fast may appreciate Joan Price’s BETTER THAN I EXPECTED, an informative and encouraging treatise on senior sex. And if you’ve never read Laura Antoniou’s BDSM classic THE MARKETPLACE, Circlet Press has republished the work in a gorgeous new edition.
If you decide that you want to own any of these gems, I hope you’ll use the links on the ERWA pages. Income from our affiliates is what keeps ERWA alive and kicking!
Reading is sexy!
Feeling a bit of a chill? Hop over to the Sex Toy Playground, where we’ll warm you up (but not dry you off!) Start with our treatise on cock rings – leather, rubber, steel, adjustable, vibrating, diamond-studded – with detailed instructions on how to use them pleasurably and safely. Kyra Saunders reviews the Boss Naked Vibe, which looks delectable. Plus you can get the word on the latest and greatest erotic implements from our monthly Sex Toy Scuttlebutt. I’m dying for the elegant Crave Duet Vibe, “the little black dress” of clit vibes, and I wouldn’t mind a Spare-Parts harness either…! Our reputable partners offer special discounts for ERWA visitors. Honestly, what are you waiting for?
For the ultimate in erotic technology:
Over in the Adult Movies section, we’ve got a wet, wild crop of movies to keep you entertained on a rainy day. Brad Armstrong directs an all-star cast in “The Craving II”, a collection of erotic fairy tale vignettes. This is not Disney! I’m not generally a fan of parodies, but “SpiderMan XXX” sounds like it might be an exception, a gonzo super-hero sex-fest that still manages to remain true to its comic roots. And who could resist “Home Wrecker”, where an insatiable young woman lures her well-hung roommates into cheating on their girlfriends? It’s when those gals find out that the fun really begins!
We’ve got porn for every taste – from couples flicks to filthy non-stop orgies to sex-ed features that make learning into good dirty fun.
In the Authors Resources pages, Donna George Storey explains how to write like a rock star (and offers a recipe for cookies that sound genuinely orgasmic). In “Only to be Read by Writers”, Ashley Lister confesses a secret vice – bad poetry. I don my Erotogeek persona to talk about image problems – how to tame unruly covers, banners and head shots and make them do your will.
Our Calls for Submissions include many exciting new opportunities. Mischief Books (see above) is seeking erotica and erotic romance. Violet Blue wants the Best Women’s Erotica for her 2013 collection. Ravenous Romance seeks contributions for “Leather Ever After”, an anthology of BDSM fairy tales. Storm Moon Press has calls out for several GBLT anthologies. And don’t miss “Cream of the Crop”, an imaginative prompt-based story collection revolving around a mysterious riding crop abandoned on a London-Paris train.
There are many more publishers listed, all of them eagerly awaiting your submissions. So get to it!
The world wants to read your erotic dreams:
Inside the Erotic Mind, our libidinous visitors discuss the appeal of high heels. The general consensus seems to be that the allure makes the pain worthwhile. You can join in the lively discussion. Just click on Participate.
Explore erotic frontiers:
By the way, the ERWA staff has taken on the onerous task of vetting the zillions of adult-oriented sites clogging the web. You’ll find our recommendations for best of the best on our links page:
I hope you’ve enjoyed our whirlwind tour of April’s delights. As for me, I’m off to the shower – penning the Lure tends to get me hot and bothered. And yes, I have been reading about the latest waterproof toys in the Playground.
Until next month – stay wet!
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