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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Elizabeth Black writes erotica, erotic romance, and horror, and she lives on the Massachusetts coast. See her bio at the end of this article.

—–

It seems everyone is
self-publishing these days. More authors are jumping on the self-publishing
bandwagon when they read about success stories like J. A. Konrath and Amanda
Hocking. Why pay a publisher most of your earnings when that publisher
(especially if it is tiny and for the most part operates out of someone’s
kitchen) does little of the work? Authors who are published by large publishers
these days must do most of their own promotions. Some authors must distribute
their ARCs to professional reviewers on their own because their publishers
don’t send books out for review. It’s even tougher to find readers to review
your works on reader blogs. So lots of people self-publish, hoping to repeat
the successes of Konrath and Hocking.

Not all of them succeed.
In fact, cases like Konrath and Hocking are rare. From what I understand, most
self-published authors barely sell fifty copies of their books in the book’s
lifetime. You don’t hear much about that.

As an experiment, I
self-published two erotic fairy tales, “Trouble In Thigh High Boots”
(erotic Puss In Boots) and “Climbing Her Tower” (erotic Rapunzel).
Like so many small press authors, I was tired of working my ass off promoting
and writing and taking home only about 40% of my book’s worth. I wanted the 70%
I could get from Amazon, especially since I did most of the work myself anyway.
Far too many small publishers are really self-published authors operating a
start-up out of their kitchen. They add a dozen or so authors (often new
authors) to their catalogue to give the appearance of professionalism. These
are people with little to no publishing and/or marketing experience. These
publishers provide editing and cover art – and that’s about it. Since I did
most of the work including promo as opposed to most of my publishers promoting
author’s works, I wanted to see if I could make a go of self-publishing.

It’s much harder
than most people think. Granted, I’ve been self-published for only four months.
It’s too soon to say whether or not I have been successful.

I choose to avoid
Kindle Select. I wanted my books to be available on as many distributor sites
as possible, so I opted for Kindle Direct, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Kobo,
Sony, Apple, and a few others. I never made it to AllRomanceEbooks although I
should list the books there. I’m still figuring out Calibre. Now that I’m
considering Kindle Select for a three month trial run, I’ll forgo ARe for the
moment. I’ve also chosen only ebooks for the moment, since I can’t afford to release print books. 

One big problem many
writers face is that their books are lost in a sea of millions of books,
especially on Amazon. This is especially true of self-published writers. How do
you get noticed? That’s where creative promotions come in. The Holy Grail is to
find readers rather than promoting to other writers. Here is some of what I’ve
tried so far:

Professional editing and cover art: I hired a cover artist and an editor. That
was the first thing I did. They put me back several hundred dollars for both
books, but the expense was worth it. My books are professionally edited –
something all self-published writers should strive for. One valid complaint of some
self-published works is that they are full of errors and are presented in an
unprofessional manner. My covers are beautiful and easy to read. I’ve seen some
self-published authors and even small presses skimp on the covers. There’s more
to making an effective cover than choosing free or low cost stock photos and
slapping some text on them.

Professional and Reader Reviews: Some small presses don’t even send out books
for review. I sent my ARCs to review sites and individual reviewers myself. Good
reviews drive books further up in the ranks, but they can be hard to come by.
Amazon recently removed what it considered questionable reviews from author’s
books, including perfectly legitimate four and five star reviews. Hit-and-run
one-star reviews that serve no purpose other than to attack the writer
remained, driving the overall rating of the books down. Reviews can be gamed.
Sock puppets were a big problem. Like so many writers, I was disturbed to learn
some best-selling authors (most notably self-published wünderkind John Locke)
had paid online services several hundred dollars to write positive reviews of
their books to artificially boost sales.

Social Media Sites: Facebook and Twitter are mixed bags.
Facebook’s new algorithm allows for only less than 100 of your friends to see
your posts at a time, therefore you lose a great many potential readers. You
must be careful promoting on multiple groups because Facebook may ban you
temporarily or permanently for spamming. Even seeking friends who are possible
readers is risky, since there is a new item below friend requests asking if you
know the person outside Facebook. Ignore that feature. If you click on
“no”, that person’s account may be penalized for up to a month.  Despite all that, Facebook is one of my
favorite places to be, especially when it comes to networking with other
writers and publishers, and finding submission calls. I do see results from my promoting on
various reader groups, so Facebook is worthwhile. I’ve heard from writers who
get plenty of mileage on Twitter, but I’m not as active on Twitter as I am on
Facebook.

Reader Forums: Forums such as Kindle Boards and Goodreads
are great places to find readers. The problem is writers are discouraged on
most reader forums from plugging their own works. If they plug, they are
sometimes flamed and attacked. I’ve run into many writers who have had bad
experiences with Goodreads. According to Hocking and Konrath, rather than
endlessly advertise your books, you must engage readers. I agree with that. So
go into these forums with the intention of talking about your favorite books.
Join in the crowd. Get to know people. A big problem with this approach is that
it takes an incredible amount of time and it’s not guaranteed to get anyone
interested in your books. Time that could be spent writing is spent hanging out
in reader forums hoping to get lucky. I used to post on Kindle Boards but I’ve
since slowed down. I’ve never had much luck with Goodreads.

Live Chats: I highly recommend live reader chats if you can find them. My favorite
live chat is the Night Owl Romance Live Chat. I’m a member of an online
writer’s organization that meets with readers on Night Owl every two months or
so. Plus I have set up my own individual chats on Night Owl. These chats are
scheduled a year in advance so if you’re interested in participating, keep an
eye on the forum towards the end of the year to sign up.

Contests: Giving away a book for free is a great way to get noticed. I’ve found
initially I’ve given away more books than I’ve sold. It takes time but there is
a payoff. Everyone loves free stuff, and people will come out in droves for a
chance to win a free book. Just be careful of the collectors – those who are in
it only for the freebies. These people have no intension of actually reading
the book or buying your other books. They collect free stuff for the sake of
having it. Hosting contests on your blog or Facebook page, for instance, is a
great way to lure lurkers out of the shadows. Ask a contest question that
requires more than a “yes” or “no” answer so you get some
personal information about your contest entries. Then, engage them briefly. A
little attention goes a long way. Plus you may make some friends doing this.

Loop Chats on Yahoo Groups: Yahoo groups are a mixed bag in similar ways
that Facebook and Twitter are mixed bags. A big problem is that most groups are
promo dumping sites readers don’t visit. So it’s all an echo chamber of writers
promoting to each other. Yes, writers read but the purpose of posting to Yahoo
groups is to promote your books to readers who aren’t necessarily authors. I
participate in live loop chats on the Love Romances Cafe Yahoo group several times per year. An
advantage of loop chats over live chats is that readers don’t have to be
present during your chat to benefit from it. There is an archive of your posts
so readers who drop by hours later have written material they may view at their
leisure. This includes blurbs, excerpts, and buy links. You can’t post long
excerpts in live online chats. You’ll end up with a case of TL;DR.

Blog Hops: I’ve had great results from blog hops. A blog hop is where a number of
blogs with a common theme are linked on one web site, most often to celebrate a
holiday. For instance, there are Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and Halloween blog
hops. I’ve done both romance and horror blog hops. You register your blog on
the blog hop page and have a post prepared for the day(s) of the blog hop. Some
requires a contest giveaway of a book or other swag. Want to try a blog hop and
you write romance? Sign up for the July 4th romance blog hop at The Blog Hop
Spot: http://thebloghopspot.com/sign-up-here/

Blog Tours: There are companies that will set up blog tours for you, but I’ve
found it easier to simply set up my own. I contacted writer blogs and reader
blogs, and asked if I could put up a guest post. Everyone I contacted said
“yes”. It helped that I already knew most of the people from
Facebook. I often swap with them – I’ll host them on my own blog. I set up a three week blog tour, running Mondays through Thursdays.
Blog tours are a great way of getting exposure to a wide variety of people in a
short period of time. If this sounds too overwhelming for you to do on your
own, there are plenty of companies online that will do it for you, for a fee.

Radio Shows: I’ve co-hosted romance and horror radio shows on Blog Talk Radio with
Marsha Casper Cook. Radio is a great format for you, your interests, and
books in general. Plus it’s interesting to put a voice to a name. Radio shows
make you seem more real and human.

Special Sales And Free Books: One way to attract attention is to lower
your book’s price to $0.99 for several days as a promotion. An even better way
to attract attention is to make your book free for a few days. Think of it this
way. Your free book is downloaded on Amazon by 1,000 people. 100 out of those
people actually read it. 20 of those people chat up the book with other readers
because they liked it. Then those people buy and read the book, and pass on
their own views of it to their friends. A snowball effect occurs.

These are the two
books I have self-published.

TROUBLE IN THIGH HIGH BOOTS

Erotic Puss In Boots

Amazon US: http://tinyurl.com/trouble-amazon-us

Tita is a Puss In
Boots with a little something extra. Being a magical creature, she shifts from
a kitty into the form of an alluring, ginger-haired woman when the situation
demands it. And what a situation she finds herself in! Her new master Dylan is
a poor man who needs a boost in the world. Sly Tita uses her seductive wiles to
pass him off to the villagers and the king as the Marquis of Carabas in order
to help both of them gain their fortunes. Her plan is not without its problems.
Dylan’s malicious brother, Zane, lusts after Tita, and he wants her all to
himself, but she refuses to succumb to his treachery. Being a cat first and
foremost, she purrs in the arms of her many lovers but her heart belongs to
only one man – the king. She hopes that in ensuring Dylan his lofty place in
the world the king finds a place in his heart for her. Her life becomes an
erotic adventure in reaching her goals.

CLIMBING HER TOWER

Erotic Rapunzel

Amazon US: http://tinyurl.com/climbing-amazon-us

Rapunzel has never
known life outside her tower. She has never felt the company of a human being
other than Mother, and she has never been in close contact with a man – until
Prince Richard of Norwich climbs into her tower one dark night and sweeps her
off her feet. Prince Richard introduces Rapunzel to erotic pleasures beyond her
wildest dreams, and she wants more! In order to make her both his wife and his
sex slave, Prince Richard needs to spirit her away from that tower, but Mother
stands in his way. Prince Richard and Rapunzel begin a tantalizing and
dangerous adventure in order to be together as one. And “let down your
hair” takes on an entirely new meaning in their fevered embraces.

ABOUT ELIZABETH BLACK

Elizabeth Black
writes erotica, erotic romance, speculative fiction, fantasy, and horror. She
also enjoys writing erotic retellings of classic fairy tales. Born and bred in
Baltimore, she grew up under the influence of Edgar Allan Poe. Her erotic
fiction has been published by Xcite Books (U. K.), Circlet Press, Ravenous
Romance, Scarlet Magazine (U. K.), and other publishers. Her horror fiction has
appeared in “Kizuna: Fiction For Japan”, “Stupefying
Stories”, “Zippered Flesh 2: More Tales Of Body Enhancements Gone
Bad”, and “Mirages: Tales From Authors Of The Macabre”. An
accomplished essayist, she was the sex columnist for the pop culture e-zine
nuts4chic (also U. K.) until it folded in 2008. Her articles about sex,
erotica, and relationships have appeared in Good Vibrations Magazine, Alternet,
CarnalNation, the Ms. Magazine Blog, Sexis Magazine, On The Issues, Sexy Mama
Magazine, and Circlet blog. She also writes sex toys reviews for several sex
toys companies.

In addition to
writing, she has also worked as a gaffer (lighting), scenic artist, and make-up
artist (including prosthetics) for movies, television, stage, and concerts. She
worked as a gaffer for “Die Hard With A Vengeance” and “12
Monkeys”. She did make-up, including prosthetics, for “Homicide: Life
On The Street”. She is especially proud of the gunshot wound to the head
she had created with makeup for that particular episode. She also worked as a
prosthetic makeup artist specializing in cyanotic blue, bruises, and buckets of
blood for a test of Maryland’s fire departments at the Baltimore/Washington
International Airport plane crash simulation test. Yes, her jobs are fun.
 😉

She lives in
Lovecraft country on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and four
cats. The ocean calls her every day, and she always listens. She has yet to run
into Cthulhu.

Visit her web
site at http://elizabethablack.blogspot.com/

Her Facebook
page is https://www.facebook.com/elizabethablack

Follow her at
Twitter: http://twitter.com/ElizabethABlack

by Jean Roberta

In about 450 BCE (Before the Christian Era), give or take a few years, a jolly Greek playwright named Aristophanes wrote Lysistrata, a comedy about a woman leader who ends the war between Athens and Sparta by persuading all the other married women of Athens to refuse sex with their husbands until they stop fighting. (Meanwhile, Lysistrata’s Spartan counterpart Lampito is doing the same thing on her side.) By the end of the play, all the men are so horny that they agree to a peace settlement, to be followed by a feast and an orgy. And the women are as horny as the men.

The logic of the play is unassailable. If you had to choose between killing “enemies” in a war while risking mutilation and death or enjoying every kind of physical pleasure, which choice would appeal to you more? If you, as a non-warrior, had to deprive yourself of sex temporarily in order to pressure the warriors into a lasting peace, wouldn’t it be worthwhile?

Centuries later, in the 1960s, the protest movement against the American war in Vietnam (re-)invented the slogan “Make love, not war.” This command, as compelling as it seemed, was about as effective as Aristophanes’ play. (In the real world, the war between Athens and Sparta caused massive damage to both sides and ended the “golden age of Greece.”)

In fantasy, any activity that creates sexual pleasure can solve most personal and social problems. Sex is a form of exercise that burns calories, it enables two or more people to transcend their basic human loneliness, at least temporarily, and it increases the participants’ knowledge of themselves and each other. It is earthy and spiritual at the same time. Being desired is good for the self-esteem, and having one’s own desire satisfied is an antidote to negative feelings of all kinds. The hippies of the Counterculture of the 1960s and ‘70s proposed orgies and “free love” (sex outside the bounds of formal, committed relationships) as an alternative to materialism, the profit motive and organized violence.

We all know how that revolution turned out.

Ideas for erotic stories are not hard to find. I assume that sex fantasies are part of every person’s stream of consciousness. Utopian fantasies about ideal societies seem closely related to fantasies about satisfying sex. Erotic romance, with an emphasis on an evolving relationship between soulmates who live happily together ever after, seems like a logical component of utopian fantasy.

So why do I often have trouble completing either a work of erotica or of erotic romance in which all the characters get what they want? Because real life messes with my imagination.

In the real world, several decades after the advent of “Second Wave” feminism in the industrialized world (circa 1970), sexual harassment, gang-rape, and forced prostitution are rampant in countries once classified as “Third World,” and there is no evidence that these traditions are disappearing in the “First World.” I am well aware that my currently privileged life (secure job with good income, equal relationship) is an exception to the way most women live.

Lately, when I try to imagine a delightful scene of “ménage,” formerly defined as “group sex,” my mind’s-eye flashes on a scene of gang-rape on a city bus, committed by a group of male buddies who apparently assumed they would get away with forcing increasingly violent forms of penetration on a young woman who clearly didn’t want it, wasn’t ready for it, and hadn’t invited it.

Religious and cultural traditions in which all females are defined as worse than males in every sense obviously have an effect on male-female interaction, but violence against women is only part of the problem. Dread of sexual “perversion” results in homophobic persecution, and while same-gender couples in Europe and North America increasingly have the option of getting legally married, violence against unmarried non-heterosexuals, especially those known to be transgendered, is still widespread.

Deteriorating economic conditions for the majority of the population all over the world seem to intensify existing hierarchies of power. A man who doesn’t think he could be thrown in jail for beating his wife is more likely to take out his frustrations on her when he loses his job. An unemployed racist who blames immigrants (legal and illegal) for his poverty is likely to attack them one way or another.

The Athenians blame the Spartans, and the Spartans hate all things Athenian. The feast has been cancelled, and the orgy has been transformed into a massacre. After the most aggressive humans have killed off all the rest, the ultimate earthquake or tsunami is likely to swallow up the “winners.”

The part of my mind that could be labelled “Leftist Puritan” warns me that thinking about sex when the world is on fire is self-indulgent at best. How can I think about tempting bodies when so many people lack the necessities for healthy survival?

The answer to Leftist Puritan comes from Physical Self. My skin, my sensory organs, my clit, my orifices, my spine, my fingertips all remind me that a desire for touch that leads to orgasm can’t really be separated from the experience of living in a human body. Puritan disapproval tends to separate my consciousness from the body it lives in. If I want to stay in touch with reality, trying to function as an ego floating in space is not the way to do it.

So, when looking for an erotic story idea, I bounce from fantasies that are hard to hang onto because they seem unbelievably good (or childishly naïve) to a joy-killing awareness of human violence and misery. And I’ve been writing long enough to know that reality can never be completely ignored, even when I’m describing a fantasy world. If a feast and an orgy on some distant planet (Pelopponesia would be a good name) are to grab the imaginations of earthlings, they have to be fleshed out in realistic detail.

For the sake of my sanity, I should probably limit my exposure to world news, and other writers should probably do the same. Yet if we want to write honestly about sex, we need to be aware that it is a language that can convey many messages, including some that seem paradoxical (whips and bondage to express fierce love or pride; sexual abuse or sexual rejection to express contempt). Sex is literally used to create life, to enhance life, or to destroy life.

In an earlier post in this blog, Lisabet Sarai claimed that real sex can be as good as our fantasies, and I believe her. I’ve been there too. Yet so much of what passes for reality convinces too many to give up hope. As sex-writers, we’ve taken on the mission of keeping the faith. It’s a challenge.

——————–

by Kathleen Bradean

The end is near! 

The last two chapters took longer
to write than the rest of my novel. Usually, writing the ending is easier than the
beginning because as you near the final chapters the story should be converging on the event
horizon, collapsing on itself like a black hole, and the ending should be
inevitable. Right? It will seem that way to the reader. It isn’t that simple
for the writer.

What if you didn’t end up telling
the story you meant to tell? That isn’t always a bad thing, but that means there
are choices to make. You can follow through with the ending that seems to flow
naturally from what you’ve written or you can force the story back on track in
the final chapters. I’m not a big fan of forcing for the sake of plot, but if
you feel strongly about it, do it. (because later you’re going to rewrite the novel in such a way that the forced ending seems to flow naturally, but more about that next month.)

For Night Creatures, I chickened
out and wrote a weaker, albeit happier, ending. My beta reader wasn’t
impressed. He felt cheated that everything pointed to a darker conclusion. I
should have known better. Considering the extremes of the rest of the story,
the end was no place to play it safe. I promised to fix that in the next draft.

If you’re a complete pantser, you
might not have any idea how your story should end. But as a storyteller, I’m
sure you have an instinct for the natural conclusion. Quest completed? Goal
achieved? Character transformation complete? Congratulations, you’ve reached
the end of this tale. Don’t linger too long after the big climax but do give
the reader a sense of closure.

Please, don’t wrap up all your
loose ends in the final two paragraphs. Those should have been woven into the
story as you were nearing the ending. Twist endings take a deft hand so be
cautious with them. Have you ever seen the play/movie Murder By Death? At the climax,
the protagonist yells at the assembled detectives, “You’ve tricked and fooled
your readers for years. You’ve tortured us all with surprise endings that made
no sense. You’ve introduced characters in the last five pages that were never
in the book before. You’ve withheld clues and information that made it
impossible for us to guess who did it.” Don’t be that writer. (On second
thought, since he was accusing parodies of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple,
maybe you should. Even the Doctor carries an Agatha Christie book with him in
the TARDIS.)  

So… Now you have a completed first
draft. Congratulations! That’s a huge accomplishment. Be proud of yourself.
What’s next, you might be wondering. Send it off to a publisher?

Don’t. Don’t even think about that
yet.

I used to think that if I were any
good at writing my first draft would be perfect. *rueful chuckle* Then I read a
quote that changed my mind. I wish I knew who to attribute it to. “Even F.
Scott Fitzgerald wasn’t F. Scott Fitzgerald in the first draft.” Wait! What?
Stories didn’t just flow from his fingers perfect and wonderful? He didn’t type
The End at the bottom of his first
draft then drop the manuscript on his publisher’s desk?  Holy smokes! So the work of writing isn’t simply
the physical act of typing the words? Who knew? 

Apparently everyone knew except me. Ernest Hemingway stated, “The first draft
of anything is shit.”  That might be a bit harsh, but I’m not about to argue that succinct comment with
him. (I’m aware that he couldn’t win a debate with a flower at this point, but
I meant hypothetical him. You knew that.)

You’re going to have to write a
second draft. Even if you didn’t force the ending. Even if you never made a
typo. Even if you ruthlessly polished every word before you finished your first
draft, you’re going to have to do a second one. I can hear you groaning from
here. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. And I sympathize. I truly do. I’ve
always hated reading my work once I finished writing it. Telling the story is
fun. (Let me dream here that the first draft wasn’t a pain in the butt.) Fixing
the first draft is the same work without the creative fun. This is
the craftsmanship level of writing. This is where you put in your time.  

BTW – here’s an excellent discussion of rewrites and if they’re necessary.

So – onward to the second draft,
right?

Sorry. No. I have some advice that
I hope you’re ready to hear. This is one of the biggest secrets of writing.
It’s probably the most important trick up a writer’s sleeve. Are you ready for
the big reveal?

Patience.

Boo. That’s no fun. I know. It
sucks. It’s a virtue, fer chrissakes, and I’m not exactly a virtuous person. I
hate it and part of me wants to rebel against it, but I’ve learned how
important it is.

My novel needs all the breathing
room I can give it. Yours does too. A couple months is ideal, but at least give
it a few weeks. The longer the work, the longer the break. Don’t open the file
and don’t touch anything for a while. Time will make you more objective and
you’re going to need that distance.

 ~

Do you have problems bringing your
story to a close? Do you know before you start how it will end? Has the ending
ever changed while you were writing your novel? Share your tricks for wrapping
it up.

Next month, we’ll talk about the
second draft.

By Lucy Felthouse


When Tiffany Reisz decided to make her joke about an
office-supply erotica anthology into reality, I was very excited. I, like many
writers and creative types, adore stationery. I love to go into Staples and
Ryman (UK stationery chain) and wander around, looking at things, even if I
have no intention of buying anything! Also, back when I was at college, many,
many years ago (*feels very old*) I actually used to work in a one of the shops
belonging to aforementioned UK stationery chain, when it was still called
Partners. It was just a weekend and day-off-college job to earn me some cash
which I was supposed to spend on my education, but inevitably spent on booze,
clothes and, of course, stationery! So, okay, I did kind of spend it on my
education, then 😉 I enjoyed the job, and many years later it provided the
inspiration for my story in Felt Tips, A
Stroke of Peach.


And now I’m getting to the bit about the allure of sex at
work! Back then, I sadly did not have sex on the premises of the stationery
shop. Thinking about it, I’ve never done the deed of the premises of any of the
places I’ve worked, and I work from home now, so that opportunity has been
lost. Damn. Anyhow, the allure has always been something I’ve been aware of,
and it is a very popular fantasy amongst males and females alike, so when I
thought about my potential Felt Tips story, I was leaning towards the topic of
sex at work very quickly. But I wanted to do something a little different from
sex in the office, and that’s when I decided to pull on my experience of
working in the stationery store.

Just like any other kind of workplace, having sex there
would be risky, forbidden and guaranteed to get you fired. And therein lies the
allure—whether or not someone will actually take that risk, if it’s something
that floats their boat, they’ll think about it, fantasise about it. Their boss,
a colleague, someone else altogether… everybody loves a little bit of the
forbidden, don’t they?

So if this is something that appeals to you but you don’t
want to run the risk, then why not grab your copy of Felt Tips quick-smart and
check out A Stroke of Peach? You can
live vicariously through the characters, and as far as I know, you can’t get
sacked for doing that!

Happy Reading! x

*****

Shoshanna Evers, Kelly Jamieson, Karen Stivali, Karen Booth, and forty other authors share their office-supply-inspired fantasies in Felt Tips, an eclectic anthology of erotic literature. This collection is edited by bestselling author Tiffany Reisz, who contributes “Teacher’s Pet,” a brand-new Original Sinners short story. All proceeds from the sale of Felt Tips will be donated to an organization that helps struggling schools supply their classrooms.

More info, excerpt and buy links.

*****

Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and
erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over seventy
publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include Best
Bondage Erotica 2012 and 2013, and Best Women’s Erotica 2013. Another string to
her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies.
She owns Erotica For All, and is book
editor for Cliterati. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. Join
her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her
newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9

By Lisabet Sarai

Most people have crappy sex lives.

All right, I will admit that is an
overstatement, intended to get your attention. Furthermore, I suspect
it is less true for the readers of the ERWA blog than for the
population in general. However, the claim is not too far from the
truth. The Durex Sexual Well-being Survey for 2007-2008 found that of
nearly 19,000 sexually active adults from 26 countries, only 44%
reported that they were fully satisfied with their sex lives. 38% of
women surveyed experienced orgasm “only sometimes”, “rarely”
or “never”. Although more than 60% of all respondents reported
having sex at least weekly, the average time for foreplay plus
intercourse was less than 20 minutes. Almost half of the respondents
said they would like to engage in some sort of sexual activity other
than their current practices (though the reported interest in
specific activities such as oral sex, anal sex or BDSM tends to be
around 10% per practice – supporting the old adage about different
strokes).

The statistics above tend to confirm
what I’ve heard over the years from friends and lovers. Men feel as
though they never get the sex they need. They’re amazed and delighted
when they meet a woman who’s sexually relaxed, assertive and
experimental (like me). Women report that men are selfish or
incompetent lovers who leave them feeling frustrated and used.

Personally I’ve been extremely
fortunate. Through a combination of luck and courage, I’ve had a
wonderful sex life – exciting, diverse and enlightening. I’ve been
blessed with intelligent, sensitive, adventurous partners who weren’t
hung up on the virgin/whore dichotomy, who respected me even when I
shared – or acted on – the filthiest of my desires. I’ve tried
everything on the Durex list of “other” activities, and quite a
lot of other items not on their menu.

On the flip side, I’ve had very few
really bad sexual experiences. Of course I’ve had ho-hum sex, and
I’ve had my heart broken once or twice, but I’ve never been raped or
abused. On the occasions when I’ve ended up with a bastard in my bed,
I’ve known enough to walk away.

For me, sex has been a path not only to
pleasure but also to self-knowledge. Some of my liaisons, of course,
were no more than hot and heavy romps with few metaphysical
implications. What I remember, though, are the encounters that
changed me – experiences of communion, insights into who I was and
what I really wanted, glimpses of spirit peeking through the veil of
flesh. As C. Sanchez-Garcia wrote a few days ago, sex is more than
just instinct or entertainment. The urge to couple and connect is a
fundamental aspect of our humanity.

Because of my personal history, I tend
write erotica that focuses on good sex – joyful, fulfilling,
empowering, and transformative sex. The underlying message in much of
my work is simply that sex can be good for you – both for your body
and for your soul. I want my readers to know and believe that the
sort of experiences I describe are not just some fantasy ideal. They
too can enjoy their sexuality, not just vicariously by reading my
stories, but by being willing to reach out and grab some of that
goodness for themselves.

Earlier this month, Remittance Girl
suggested that both porn and romance are in some sense damaging to
their consumers because they “ultimately leave people constantly
yearning for a reality that cannot exist”. Although I appreciate
her point (as well as its elegant expression), sexual and emotional
happy endings do in fact exist in the real world – not
forever after, of course, but for longer than the brief moment of
climax.

My erotica frequently explores this
territory of sexual fulfillment. It’s a far more complex landscape
than one might imagine. Perhaps the critical difference between my
work and the more stereotyped instantiations of either porn or
romance is that satisfaction is never guaranteed. It is, however,
possible. I fervently want to convey that truth.

Remittance Girl notes that refusing to
definitively choose either side of the Apollonian/Dionysian dialectic
is a revolutionary act. I agree. One should not compromise truth for
neatness.

On the other hand, I personally think
that writing about good sex that ends well is also a revolutionary
act. Many forces in society broadcast the message that if you have
sex, you’ll suffer later, partly because giving in to lust can in
fact undermine the stability that is the “civilized” ideal. A
number of past posts on this blog have commented that for a book to
be categorized as “literature”, sex must be portrayed in a
negative light. Those who indulge in carnality must be punished, by
misfortune or ostracism.

Well, guess what? In the real world, it
doesn’t necessarily work that way. My own life demonstrates that
fact. Considering the way I behaved in my twenties and thirties, I
should be totally miserable – damned, ruined, ravaged by disease,
saddled with feeble illegitimate children, scorned by society.
Instead, I’m solvent, healthy, childless by choice, moderately
productive, a respected member of my community, and in a loving
relationship. Oh, and I’m still close friends with a number of my
former lovers. My mother told me I was destined for hell, and perhaps
she was right, but in the meantime, I have no complaints.

I do write darker erotica sometimes.
Some encounters are destined for tragedy. A number of my stories
conclude with the deaths of the protagonists. A woman is burned at
the stake as a witch. Star-crossed lovers commit suicide rather than
be parted. A jaded sex addict is consumed by an exquisite tentacled
monster. I have played in the interstices between Eros and Thanatos.
Even in those tales, though, there’s some sense of transcendence. On
the verge of death, there’s a weird joy that comes from surrender and
acceptance – a kind of afterglow. I don’t think any of my tales are
likely to leave you feeling depressed.

I enjoy thinking about sex, writing
about sex, dreaming about sex. I suspect this shows in my work.

If the people who read my stories come
to believe that sexual happiness is possible, I’m delighted. If they
want more for themselves – all the better. Maybe that will stir
them to try something new, to move past their fears, to be more
honest with their partners.

That would be the sort of revolution
I’d be proud to support.

I learned just a few days ago that the erotica webzine Oysters & Chocolate has closed down.  I expect everyone else knew this a while ago, but fortunately I’m used to being at the blunt edge of news and fashion trends.  In any case, I was very sad to hear that yet another fine erotica literary magazine has faded into history.

When I first started writing erotica, I dutifully sent my stories out by quaint snail-mail to print magazines like Libido and Yellow Silk.  Both of them ceased publication before my work was saleable enough to receive back more than a Xeroxed fortune-cookie-sized rejection.  However, soon enough I did have more luck with the then-revolutionary online magazines like Clean Sheets, Scarlet Letters, Playboy’s CyberClub, Fishnet, Ruthie’s Club, dearly departed Oysters & Chocolate, and finally The Erotic Woman and the ERWA galleries (the only two left standing from my publication list).  There are numerous other fine webzines that I won’t mention for space.  Most of these focused on an edgy, complex, not-always-feel-good—also known as “literary”–type of erotica. 

More important than a list of the fallen brave is the question of what is filling the void left by these magazines.  I don’t have a confident answer, but I’ll hazard a guess that it’s not uncommon for a new erotica writer to dash off a story, throw it up on Amazon for ninety-nine cents, then dive into the self-promotion madness before she even really knows who she is as a writer–all the while receiving plenty of encouragement for business savvy.  Of course, there are some publishers who still put out fine anthologies and welcome newcomers, but for me the webzine world was the perfect place to ease into publication and meet editors, not to mention share my work widely without imposing too much on my friends’ pocketbooks.

I have a temperament that has never loved rules or authority figures, so part of me is thrilled with the new “Wild West” atmosphere of self-publishing.  I firmly believe that anyone who takes the time to write about sex, even in a formulaic way, is going to be paying more attention to an important aspect of our humanity that is still reviled, even as it is harnessed to manipulate us by providing the addictive hit of “ideal” sex. (See Remittance Girl’s recent Apollonian & Dionysian Dialectic: Inner Conflicts and Revolutionary Acts for a discussion of this and other thought-provoking arguments about what makes for a compelling erotic story).

Yet I think we do lose something important with the demise of an editorial vision on the web.  As scary as gatekeeping editors can seem from the writer’s point of view, I appreciate that they work hard to select good stories for their readers.  With the advent of self-publishing, it’s the reader who has to wade through the slush pile—and pay for the privilege.  During the golden age of the webzine, you could click on over with confidence you’d be getting a certain level of quality.  For writers, the magazines also provided an easy way to research and be inspired by a wider variety of stories selected by veteran editors.  I learned a lot from my reading.

I may be flashing my West-Coast-hippie-romantic undies here, but I’m still dismayed by how often people invoke money as the reason they write erotica or retire from doing so.  Or rather how we’re all okay with that as the most important reason to do anything at all. 

“I thought I’d get as rich as E.L. James writing a dirty book, but it didn’t happen so I quit.” 

“Smart move, follow the money, honey—maybe try Hollywood or country music?”

Which reminds me that erotica webzines paid little or nothing.  This probably lessened their appeal to new writers as well.  Yes, I know, we all need to make a living and pay the orthodontist, but presumably most of us have sex for pleasure and emotional connection without plotting a way to get paid for it.  Why should writing about it be any different?  And why shouldn’t we enthusiastically celebrate authors who write on even without thousands in royalties?  (One inspiring example of the spiritual approach to writing erotica is described in Garce’s Confessions of a Craft Freak: Sex and the Apprentice Writer.)  I’m not saying refuse payment or stop promoting, just, you know, appreciate there are other ways to be a success.  Otherwise, we’re buying into the system that puts profit above all.  Really.

Now I definitely don’t believe the golden past is unquestionably better than the alloyed present.  After all, in the old days ice cream only came in chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, and now we have Americone Dream.  But while I’m reminiscing, I’m old enough to remember way back to about 2005 when traditional print editors suddenly decided they wanted to cash in on the erotica revolution.  Many writers I know got juicy contracts for anthologies with big publishers, which meant not just money but respect.  I had great hopes this would be the break-through for sexually explicit writing that dares to go deeper than titillation followed by a chaser of sin well punished.  Finally, we were being taken seriously by the Big Boys.  Alas, the hoped-for deluge of profits did not come and they dropped us cold, proclaiming erotica dead.

We could probably have an interesting discussion about whether 50 Shades of Grey genuinely revived the erotica cause or not, but obviously millions are still intrigued by sexuality and what other people do and think about it.  Like any writer, I hope my work will be read and appreciated, although I’d choose fewer readers who appreciate what I do over millions who are getting a faked sensibility in the name of sales.

I guess I’ll just pull out the Americone Dream while I wait and see how this chapter in the publishing-and-money saga plays out.  I can always soothe myself with the undying truth that whatever form it takes, humanity’s curiosity about sex and its meaning in our lives is here to stay.

Donna George Storey is the author
of Amorous Woman (recently released as an ebook) and a new collection of short
stories, Mammoth
Presents the Best of Donna George Storey
. Learn more about her
work at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com
or http://www.facebook.com/DGSauthor

I’m a craft freak.

My relationship with books, words and even wooden pencils is not normal or even especially healthy.

My car, my bedside, my jacket pockets are littered with little notebooks and odd scraps of paper. Alongside the books are piles of notebooks of all sizes and purpose. Pencils and fountain pens have a fetishistic fascination for me which can be disturbing and geeky to behold.  I have more fountain pens and pencils than I will ever use but not as many as I want.

Being a craft freak is how I make up for not being the world’s greatest writer.  Maybe you can relate, I don’t know.  It’s just how I’ve adapted. It’s an adaptation that has changed me.  I started out hoping to be a great writer.  Over time I am becoming the path itself. I am an enthusiast for language and for words well written.  A well crafted sentence makes me swoon with pleasure.  A passage from Shakespeare or Nabokov makes me mumble to myself with demented happiness.

I’ve come to the conclusion over time that writing is unique among the art forms in that literary talent is a precious luxury if you have it, but you can get by without it if you have sufficient enthusiasm. If you have to choose between talent and working very hard on the right things, choose hard work.  Pay your dues at the keyboard and the talent might find you.  If you want to draw or paint, you need certain brain wiring. If you want to be a musician you need certain brain wiring. But you can develop an ear for the written word if you read a great deal and if you teach yourself to read well.  Quality fiction writing is a thing that can be learned if you have audacity, observation, fanaticism and an iron butt.

I’m an Apprentice Writer. Let me define that.

Many years ago publishers drew a line between “popular” fiction and “literary fiction”.  Popular fiction was the kind that people paid money for.  Literary fiction was that endangered species of everything else.  In my case I write literary erotica mostly. 

The fact is very few people, I think Stephen King said it was less than 5%, make their income exclusively from writing fiction.  These would probably be people who work in formula genres, such as television staff writers and most popular novelists.  Nobody ever earns a living from writing poetry or short stories no matter how good they are.  Writing literary short stories is for suckers; people who are content to write their hearts out for stuff very few people will ever read and for which you’ll usually get paid peanuts or nothing.  But that doesn’t mean we’re not the happiest suckers in the business.  Maybe you can relate, I don’t know.

Norman Mailer observed, and I agree, that you can’t learn much from only reading the immortals, guys like Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, or Nabokov, names to conjure with. They’re over your head for the time being, but they can give you an idea of how high you can reach. You’ll learn more craft-wise by reading people on your own level and aspiring respectfully to reach past them.  A bad story written by someone else is as valuable to your journey as a good story.

All those guys, Dostoyevsky and Nabokov, most of the time they didn’t know what they were doing.  They wrote shitty first drafts.  The difference is, they knew how to work around this and they did it by writing their asses off and ferociously overhauling their work over and over. Ernest Hemingway rewrote each of his short stories up to thirty drafts apiece with a wooden pencil. Dostoyevsky rewrote his novel “The Idiot” five times completely from scratch, from the bottom every time, using notebooks and a dip pen while struggling with epilepsy and a gambling addiction.  Nobody invited him to any Iowa Writers Workshops either.

It’s great to be a genius, but hard work is better.  Walk down the aisles in a used book store where the romance novels are; I guarantee there will be at least two aisles stacked tall with white and red Harlequin paperbacks that ladies of letters have been churning out in their spare time like hamburgers, writing in the kitchen when the kids are asleep, or at the laundromat or at their office desks during lunch.  A person with heart can definitely do this. 

We write erotic stories here. Erotic stories are the most ancient and universal genre of story telling, second only to religious mythology, going back to the Neolithic fires of people who hadn’t learned to feel shame, telling stories to each other of  nature gods who fucked lustily and gave birth to the world. Though often despised and banned, it’s a proud heritage.

We who write this transgressive genre are the literary equivelent of punk rockers.  Literary erotica especially has a unique satisfaction. It searches for a kind of truth in furtive midnight sheets.  A good love story should give love a bad name. A good sex story should give sex a bad name when it comes from licking your tongue in the dark wet spots of your soul and tasting and reporting about the human heart, and when its done right it stands for the ages, like King David seeing Bathesheba for the first time bathing nude on a roof top or Joseph being thrown in prison for refusing to fuck Pharaoh’s wife. People have been writing about sex for a very long time.

I’m a craft freak.  Maybe you can relate, I don’t know.

I don’t think that my opinions about things are all that interesting so in the next several months I’m going to share everything I’ve found out so far that I know for sure is true about the act of story telling, and then I don’t know what I’ll do.  God I wish it were more.  Don’t ask me how to get a literary agent, I don’t have one and if you’re not making enough money to be worth stealing you probably don’t need one. Don’t ask me how to get published. I’m published and it’s not as big a deal as you might think. Don’t even ask me about blogging and self promotion because I’m not especially good at that either.

What I know is a good story when I read one.  Also, I have a lot of faith.  I fiercely believe that I have some bombshell stories down inside and anybody reading this has those stories within also.  The problem I have, and maybe you have, is that these really good stories are buried under a big pile of bad stories.  You have to dig them out.  You have to dig down to where they are by shoveling shit with a keyboard faithfully and persistently until the day you hit gold. 

That’s what I have faith in.  I believe the gold is down there, every day I pay my dues at the keyboard.  This faith has gotten me this far and from this day I find myself in the company of writers here at this very blog whose stuff I was buying and devouring long before Iever imagined I’d get to share the same stage with them.

Wow!

Next month:  “The Elements of Short Story Structure”

A long, long time ago, in a land far, far away, there was a guy named Nietzsche who had a hell of a time getting people to spell his name correctly. He also had an unfortunate way voicing his opinions that makes him, to this day, rather annoying to read. However, all that aside, some of his ideas were so phenomenally clever (some of them were crap, too, but we’ll leave that for now) that they radically influenced almost all the European thinkers that came after him. And they do, to this day, as anyone who has read Camille Paglia (another thinker with an awkward mode of address) can attest to.

Nietzsche wanted to get past the whole, very Judeo-Christian good/bad divide. He wanted to explore what forces were working on man to account for the way they behaved. Living during a time when people had begun to fear their cultural spirit was flabby and weak, he could see that a great many people were just too civilized for their own boots. And being trained in the classics, he reflected back on his early education and came up with the concept of the Apollonian and Dionysian dialectic. He felt (probably because he didn’t know much about how appallingly Greeks treated women and slaves) that the Ancient Greeks had found a much better balance between their instinctual selves and their civilized yearnings.

What the hell has this got to do with erotica? Bear with me.

Apollonian forces are all the civilizing factors that allow us to get along with each other. They favour control over nature, discipline over instinct, rational thought over emotional drive. Dionysian forces are… you know, the opposite: chaos over order, instinct over culture, creative, libidinous, wild, violent, etc.

At the center of every good erotic story is a battle between the Dionysian and Apollonian forces within the characters. This is how great erotica manages to have conflict without writing a sub-plot about battling Nazi zombies.

Now, you might think that something like modern porn is wholly Dionysian – it’s all about giving in to base instincts and indulging in wild pleasures, right? But step back. Porn does have a hidden Apollonian side to it. Porn tells you HOW to fuck. It shows you what you should look like, act like, sound like. It offers a ‘fuck ideal’. Although you may not notice that with your hand around your dick, while the large-breasted blonde gets it up the ass and sucks dick at the same time, believe me, subconsciously, you’re being schooled in how to do it right.  This is why crazy-like-a-fox Slavoj Zizek can say that porn is ultimately a conservative art-form and get away with it.

Similarly, a lot of erotic romance might look like two crazy fools engaging in ton-o-kink, and falling into the chaos of unending love (Dionysian). But actually, if they’re pairing up and planning on negotiating a mortgage together by the end of the story, they’re ending up in a very Apollonian place. Most romances offer the reader a ‘love ideal’.  Society likes those neat family units.

What, I argue, makes good erotica far superior an art form to either porn or romance, is that it refuses to offer ‘ideals’. It recognizes that tension between the Apollonian and Dionysian forces, celebrates it, focuses on the storm of it, and leaves the reader with that battle unresolved. 

Why do I think that’s good?

I think it mirrors our real, lived experiences far better than either porn or romance.  In truth, we live with those competing forces all our lives.  Even poor, uptight T.S. Eliot was left pondering whether he had the rakish temerity to eat a peach and let the juice dribble down his chin. 

Writing characters who are so wholly committed to either the Apollonian or Dionysian sides of their personality diminishes your ability to take them through a good, meaty story. If your character is too ready to take the plunge, too accepting of all the chaos that indulging in the Dionysian entails, it’s going to be hard to effectively write any tension in the story. On the other hand, if your character is too hell bent on finding the right man with whom to settle down and start a family (or too hell bent on populating the perfect BDSM dungeon), you’ve got the same problem.

Revealing the inner tension of each character’s Apollonian and Dionysian side (and fighting your own Apollonian or Dionysian preferences to get them to a place of static commitment to either camp) will allow you to leave your reader with characters who will haunt them beyond the end of your story, because although the story may have ending, you allowed the universal battle live on.

Now, if you’re a savvy writer who wants to sell books, then right about now you are thinking… I don’t care what you say, Ms Philosopher Name-Dropper, people want ‘ideals’. ‘Ideals’ sell.

Yes, they do. They absolutely do. The public has been fed so many visions of an ‘ideal’ in the media, they’re completely addicted to it. When they don’t get it, they get pissed off, just like any junky who finds out his fix is actually almost all baby laxative.

And this is why I bring up Nietzsche and Zizek, and why I feel erotica is a fundamentally revolutionary, political act. Because I believe that feeding people ‘ideals’ is like handing them smack.  And you can accuse me of being a patronizing, arrogant elitist – that’s fine. But all those unrealistic, ideal-driven narratives accumulate, and ultimately leave people constantly yearning for a reality that cannot exist, or comparing their lives to fairy-tale fictional worlds and feeling like, if only they were cleverer, smarter, richer, better-looking, thinner… everything would be perfect. And ironically, this tends to make them go out and buy stuff that promises to make them all those things. Corporate profits go up and people’s sense of self-worth, purpose and ability to cope with the ups and downs of a real life go to the wall.

When D.H. Lawrence published Lady Chatterly’s Lover in 1928, he did something utterly revolutionary. He wrote explicit sex scenes in a literary world that had never tolerated them. He wrote about sexual love between people from radically different classes in a world where that was a serious social transgression. He wrote the ending it deserved. Not a happy one, but one where the characters were left transformed by their experiences.

There is no use pretending that, in a world saturated in porn, writing explicit sex is transgressive: it’s not. And not only has fucking the help become acceptable, it’s a goddamned porn meme. But writing stories that offer no ideals, and don’t force the battle between the Apollonian and the Dionysian to a neat conclusion… that IS transgressive.

So do it.

The thought of that makes your blood run cold, doesn’t it?  Well, rest assured, there’s no reason to be scared … well, maybe not that much of a reason to be scared…

The thing is I haven’t really talked a lot about myself for a while so I thought it would be a fun little experiment to post a series of essays about little ol’ me: where I came from, my professional journey, being an editor, being a publisher … and even my hopes and dreams for the future.

Hope you like!

Queerer Than You Can Imagine

Wanna hear a funny … well, if not funny then at least odd … story?  In our previous installment you heard of my journey from amateur to professional writer.  Pornographic (mostly) but a professional writer, nonetheless.

Since I published by first story in 1993 I’ve been – to put it mildly – writing up a storm.  I’m not going to inflict my entire bio on you (that’s at the bottom of this piece as well as on my site at www.mchristian.com) but let’s just say that I’ve written quite a few stories – that have been collected into quite a few collections – as well as more than a few novels.

Onto the funny: quite a few of those stories, more than a few of the collections, and most of those novels – plus a serious number of anthologies where I’ve been an editor – feature gay or lesbian characters.  In fact I’ve had stories in the celebrated Best Gay Erotica, Best of the Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Bisexual Erotica, Best Transgendered Erotica, and I was even a finalist for the gay literature award, the Lambda’s…

Anyway, I think you get the build-up, so here’s the punchline:

I’m straight.

Not even bisexual.  Oh, sure, I’ve gotten more than a few offers (very flattering) but, as I like to say, Mr. Happy only responds to women.  Now I also like to say I’m politically gay in that I vote a very purple ticket and consider gay rights to be the litmus test for any politician, nation, city, and so forth; socially bi in that I have no problem kissing and telling my male friends that I love them; and sexually … like I said: straight.

Now I want to be very clear that my reason for being a non-queer author in a queer world did not spring from any kind of deception: I am very out about being a straight guy (though a few of my gay friends don’t believe me), and when I teach classes in smut writing I tell my students – with great emphasis – never to lie about who they really are to sell a story.

How I got to where I am is actually a simple – but important – story, especially for writers.  It started very simply: a friend of mine suggested writing a gay story for a special anthology.  Now, I had never thought about anything like that – hell, I’d only just selling stories so I hadn’t considered much of anything – so I gave it a shot.  Surprise: it was bought.  This put me on the gaydar, so to speak.  Soon I was not just writing gay (and lesbian) stories but editors and publishers were actively seeking me out to write for them.  No dummy, I wrote what people wanted to buy … which puts me close to where I am now.

While I may, at worst, be a literary opportunist – one of my taglines is, after all, is that I’m A Literary Streetwalker With A Heart of Gold – I truly feel honored to be not just accepted but in many ways honored by the gay and lesbian community.  I’ve been brought to the verge of tears more than once by a gay, lesbian, bi, or transgendered person telling me that anything I wrote has touched them, or when a member of the community asks me to write for them.

In this, I feel, is a lesson for any writer: I did not know – at all – that I could write queer stories until I tried.  Who knows what you could be good at until you try?  I tell my students all the time to try, experiment, with everything and anything – even if it’s something you may not even like.  The worst that happens is that you find out that a certain genre is not for you, but then you could be wonderfully surprised that you not only enjoy, but are quite good at, writing for that genre.

Stretch, play, have fun, try, experiment … in writing but also in life, to get a bit philosophical.

Before I close, I want to touch on one final thing.  Often I get asked is how I can write about characters that don’t share my sexual orientation.  Now, writing beyond yourself is what fiction is all about: horror writers don’t really kill people, science fiction authors don’t – mostly – come from other worlds … you get the idea.  Fiction is fiction, and good fiction suspends our disbelief to the point where we forget that what we are reading isn’t exactly true.

But I do have one bit of advice that’s come from being a straight guy in queer clothing: I don’t write about queer characters … I write about people.

While I may not know what being a gay man is actually like, and I’m not equipped to know a lesbian one, I do know about hope, fear, delight, wonder, the giddy thrill of arousal, the nervousness that comes with the first few moments of sex, the lightheaded joy that comes when lust turns into love … I may not know a few (ahem) details but I know what it means to be a human being, and no matter what anyone says we are all, down deep where it matters, more alike than not.

Yes, I write about gay characters, but – following my own advice – I am also constantly trying to expand my repertoire: challenging myself as much as possible.  I’ve tried my hand at romance, horror, science fiction, non-fiction, mysteries, historical … sometimes I succeed, sometimes I feel I need a lot more work … but no matter what I write, and where my life goes from here, I will always hold in the depths of my heart a love for all the gay men and women who have been so kind and supportive of me and my work.

I may not know everything about what it means to be queer – but I certainly, absolutely, totally know what love feels like.

 By Ashley Lister

 I’ll keep this short. Rhyme is denigrated by
snobs. Syllable based poetry becomes complicated by the inconvenience of
diphthongs and triphthongs (as well as the vagaries of pronunciation). And so,
I’ve gone for something short and sweet with my contribution to this week’s
excursion into poetic forms. I’ve elected to tackle the septolet.

Long Days

Days
that stretch

for

endless,
infinite hours

until
we are

together

alone
and naked.

The
septolet has fourteen words. It is broken between two stanzas that make up the
fourteen words. Each stanza can have seven words but that is not an essential requirement.
The division can take place where the poet decides.

Unclothed

Wearing
only

a
smile

you
have enchanted me

and
I offer

you
my heart.

Both
stanzas of the septolet deal with the same thought. Ultimately they create a
picture. Please take a shot at contributing a septolet to the
comments box below.

Hot Chilli Erotica

Hot Chilli Erotica

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