Monthly Archives: February 2014
by K D Grace
There are few things I enjoy as much as a
good read. I don’t read like I used to. I now read like a writer. I realized
this after reading a short story that completely enthralled me for the course
of several thousand words. When I came back to the real world, I found myself
not only analyzing what made the story so amazing, but analyzing how I as a
writer read it differently than I would if I didn’t write.
I always think back over the story after
the fact and try to figure out what made it work for me or not. That process
within itself can’t keep from changing the story making it a story of multiple
plots and constructs the writer never intended, but my mind can’t keep from
creating. If in my analysis there are lots of changes I would make, things I
would have done differently as the author, at some point it becomes my story, the one I’m writing in my head,
and no longer the story the author intended.
For me, the big clue to how I esteem the
story is the point at which I begin to analyze. If I’m analyzing the story as I
read it, then it’s clearly not going to get five stars on the K D story
critique scale. The sooner I begin my analysis while I’m reading, the fewer stars
the story rates from me, until at some point it becomes an exercise in editing
and recreating it as my own story rather than reading for pleasure. When that
happens, the whole process becomes a different experience than the one the
If, however, I get totally lost in the
story, then my whole internal landscape changes. The writer in me is temporarily
replaced by the ravenous reader who simply loves a good story. When I am pulled
in, rough and tumble, to the world the author created, the story becomes multi-dimensional
and experienced twice, sometimes thrice over, sometimes even more. When I’m in
the queue at the supermarket, or in bed waiting to fall asleep, when I’m
waiting for the bus, I can have the secret pleasure of reliving that story over
Being pulled in is the first part of
experiencing a great story. The second part, the analysis part, happens after
the fact. When the story moves me, excites me, changes me, then my analysis of
it is a different process. Because I don’t feel I can improve on it, analysis
then becomes taking the story into myself from a write’s point of view. In
other words, what is it that makes this story so fantastic, and how can I
incorporate some of that fantastic-ness into my own writing?
A perfect story, a story that pulls me in
and devours me whole is a lingering experience. I’m a firm believer that a good
story should somehow change the reader. But a good story should change a writer
even more so. A good story should be like discovering a view from a mountaintop
that we didn’t know was there before, a view that changes everything, the
waterfall we didn’t see, the storm we never expected, the castle that dominates
the landscape. A really great story has the potential to make me a better
writer, a better weaver of story, a better seer of nuance, a better wielder of
But a good story should change more than
just my views of my writing world. It should touch and stimulate in ways I
would not have expected. It should open up the landscapes in my unconscious and
my imagination. In some ways, a good story acts as a Muse, and that is the
pinnacle of what a writer can glean from a story. I won’t say that doesn’t
happen with badly written stories as well, after all the Muse chooses her own
time and place. But with a good story, somehow the appearance of the Muse seems
more numinous, more dressed for the occasion.
For me, the most powerful element of any
story is the key relationship and how it expresses itself. That expression is
often sexual, and a well-written sex scene carries with it the weight of human
emotion. It carries with it the drive to reach that magical point where two
become one, where we are as close to being in the skin of ‘the other’ as it is
possible to be. The power of sex and relationship in story can hardly be
overstated. Even in mediocre stories, the power of love and relationship can
still pull me outside of the editor-me and into the roil of the archetypal
story of human need. To me, that means we erotica writers wield one of the most
powerful tools in the writing craft; sex in story. Use it poorly and it just
sounds stupid and crass. But use it well and it’ll be the moment in the story
that the reader remembers while in the queue at the grocery store, while
drifting off to sleep, while waiting for the bus. And it’ll be remembered with
that ache of commonality of all humanity, the driving force within us all.
Keeping that in mind, I don’t think it’s any wonder that so many writers fear
Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of
genres including erotica, erotic romance, and dark fiction. She lives on the
Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and four cats. Visit her web site, her Facebook page, and her Amazon Author Page.
I discovered the coolest writers’ getaway – Amtrak,
which is setting up writers’ registries in the U. S. What a brilliant idea!
Choose a destination – for me it would be Boston to Baltimore and back – and
write during the entire round trip. The Paris Review article I linked to
described the author’s trip:
I am in a little sleeper cabin on a
train to Chicago. Framing the window are two plush seats; between them is a
small table that you can slide up and out. Its top is a chessboard. Next to one
of the chairs is a seat whose top flips up to reveal a toilet, and above that
is a “Folding Sink”—something like a Murphy bed with a spigot. There are little
cups, little towels, a tiny bar of soap. A sliding door pulls closed and locks
with a latch; you can draw the curtains, as I have done, over the two windows
pointing out to the corridor. The room is 3’6” by 6’8”. It is efficient and quaint.
I am ensconced.
I’ve never been on a writers’ retreat. I have set up my own
writers’ garret, though. My first apartment was a delightful little hovel in
Laurel, Maryland. It was one and a half rooms, one bath, living room, kitchen,
and a balcony. I was on the third floor facing a courtyard, the pool and very
tall trees. I’d get home from work and have a glass of wine every night on my
balcony (when it was warm enough) and watch the bats flying around the
courtyard. They came very close to my balcony. I lit the balcony railing with
twinkie lights during the Christmas season. Watching the sun set after work in
this fashion every night was sheer bliss.
My half room was my garret. I had a Brother typewriter. This
lets you know how long ago this was since personal computers had not yet been
invented. I also had plenty of paper, and lots of ideas. I was never published
the whole time I lived in this place although I was a member of a writers’
group. I pounded out fiction on that contraption every night except I didn’t
write on weekends. I imagined myself to be Edgar Allen Poe in his garret on
Amity Street in Baltimore writing his little heart out.
I’ve always been fortunate enough to have A Room Of My Own,
to steal from Virginia Woolf, but I’d never left home to get away and write. I
did apply to Yadoo once but I wasn’t
accepted. I guess my mystery/thriller novel wasn’t highbrow enough. So imagine
my delight to learn of Amtrak’s
plans. These writers’ residences would be either free or inexpensive,
considering how many writers are in a perpetual state of being broke. I plan on
taking a trip once Amtrak gets things settled.
That said, I’m going on my first writers’ retreat in
October. It will be held at the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, the very same hotel
that inspired Stephen King to write “The Shining”. He stayed in room
217. The movie wasn’t filmed there. It was filmed on a sound stage and
exteriors were of another hotel. Still, the Stanley Hotel is an impressive
place to write. It has it all – atmosphere, ghosts (it’s haunted), nice rooms,
and lots of space to get lost in. This place has “writers apply”
written all over it!
I signed up for the retreat about a month ago, and my
husband and I are turning it into a vacation – our first real, long-term
vacation ever. I will finish or at the very least make a huge dent in a horror
novel I’m currently working on. The organizer of the Stanley Hotel Writers’
Retreat is also hosting a Stanley
Hotel New Year’s Eve Party, so if you’re game and want a nice getaway where
you can write and celebrate the coming of 2015, go for it. Signup time is short
so be aware of that.
I wondered what other places would make great writers
retreats. Here are a few in the U. S.
Writers Retreat – 4 days, 3 nights.
Intensive. In upstate New York.
Clarion West –
Speculative fiction. Past faculty has included Samuel R. Delany, Octavia
Butler, Chuck Palahniuk, John Crowley, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Connie
Willis, Paul Park, Elizabeth Hand, Kelly Link, Ellen Datlow, and Gordon van
– In western Massachusetts near the Berkshires. Get lost in the mountains and
forests while you write.
Cape Ann, Massachusetts – Rent a room or house in Rockport, Gloucester, Ipswich, or
other Cape Ann locations and write your heart out over a summer or winter. This
area is typically New England. Relax on the beaches or shop in the quaint beach
boutiques. And beach chocolate. Did I say beach chocolate? This could be
expensive since you’d come here during the summer tourist season, but some
homes are open for rent during the winter. Still it’s pricey but beautiful. I
know about this place since I live in Rockport. It’s the perfect writer’s
location. Plus you’re near Salem (yes, witch trials Salem) so you could make a
day trip out of that place.
Yadoo – I mentioned this
one earlier. It’s one of the premiere writers’ retreats in the U. S. It’s
located in Saratoga Springs, New York. You need to apply for this one and get
accepted. I suspect competition is fierce.
I’ll update on my Stanley Hotel writer’s retreat when I’m
there in October. My ERWA blog post date falls when I’m in the hotel writing.
I’ll report back how awesome it is. 😉
by Jean Roberta
Earlier this month, there was a thread in the Writers list of Erotic Readers and Writers about whether the association is “straight” in any sense.
Originally, this term seemed to mean conservative or mainstream. People who share a love for (or an addiction to) certain consciousness-altering substances refer to stone-sober outsiders as the “the straights.” People who identify as any shade of “queer” (gay-male, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, bi-curious, etc.) describe heterosexuals as “straight.” Those who are into bondage, discipline, Dominance, submission, sadism, masochism or fetishes distinguish themselves from the “vanilla” mainstream, and this means approximately the same thing as “straight,” even though a sizable section of the kinky crowd is heterosexual, and many have a sensible rule against getting high when they intend to “play.”
Considering that people join the ERWA lists because they like to read and write sexually-explicit literature, and considering that this taste is definitely not conservative, it could be argued that no one in this group is “straight” in the narrowest sense. Erotic writers have been discriminated against in various ways when they are openly identified, and this gives them something in common with all other victims of social prejudices.
By now you can probably see the problem with labels. A person who has one identity which is not universally accepted may be perfectly “straight” in another sense. From the outside, all “queers” may look similar, but I know enough transpeople to be aware that as a white lesbian married academic, I am much more privileged than someone whose sexual plumbing doesn’t match hir (his/her) outward appearance.
And then there is racial and cultural identity. Despite some very real, tangible signs of “advancement” for “the colored” (as in the name of a venerable organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), racism in various forms persists. Are those of us who look white therefore relatively “straight?” Is a kinky, polyamorous brown person who grew up in a privileged family in a Third-World country more or less “straight” than a white vanilla queer professional, raised in an urban slum, who likes crystal meth as a recreational drug and lacy lingerie as a secret indulgence? Does it make a difference if one of them is male and one is female?
In organizations that aim to be fairly diverse, there are always rumors that “they” are “taking over.” When I was on the board of a major, government-funded feminist organization, I heard from my mother, of all people, that someone who didn’t know she was related to me had warned her that the lesbians in the group were taking over. This was news to me. The past president, a married woman with much organizational experience, still seemed to be setting the tone in much the same way that the feminist movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was influenced by Emmaline Pankhurst (in England), Elizabeth Cady Stanton (in the U.S.) and Nellie McClung (in Canada) while all three had husbands and children. Anyone who believes that votes for women were won by a perverse, male-bashing cabal of bitter dykes needs to do some reading.
Years ago, someone in “Parlor” here at ERWA complained that the BDSM crowd seemed to be changing the tone of the group – for the worse. The complainer waxed nostalgic for the “good old days” of a few years before when, presumably, everyone in ERWA shared a common view of sexuality, and it did not include leather. Several long-term members referred her to stories and posts with a kinky flavor, some of which dated back to the founding of the group in 1996.
As an old-timer here (since December 1998), I haven’t seen any sudden change of the culture due to the invasion of any particular community. If anything, the charge that the group as a whole is “too straight” seems more credible than the suggestion that a hot chili-pepper clique is quietly spiriting the vanilla beans away and keeping them bound and gagged in a cellar. “Straightness” could be defined as a default category. Anyone who is not familiar with a community or a lifestyle that doesn’t get much airtime in the media is, by default, relatively “straight.” The price of diversity is a shortage of in-group familiarity and the need for education. (Those who don’t understand need to learn, and those who aren’t understood are often called on to teach, for better or worse.)
There are times when those who are alternately ignored and singled out for attack prefer the company of their own tribe, and this is understandable. Some members of ERWA probably feel more at home somewhere else, at least occasionally. However, a diverse group that attracts new members is one that can survive over time. The greatest degree of general acceptance (short of accepting injustice) seems like the key to sustainability.
I think of ERWA as a hub for overlapping categories of writers, some of whom have added sex scenes to their romances, mysteries or literary stories, while some have learned to expand sex scenes into whole plots, or poetic meditations. This place is the Times Square or Speakers Corner of the erotic writing world. Even when I lurk, I can’t imagine dropping out entirely. There is just too much going on here, and I wouldn’t want to miss it.
Once upon a time, I was nominated for a Silver Clitoride – seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. The story that prompted this honor didn’t have a single sex act depicted, no intercourse, no fellatio, no cunnilingus – none of the activities that most people, not including Bill Clinton, would define as actual sex. But enough readers thought it was erotic. Alas, not quite enough to push it over the top and earn me the coveted Golden Clitoride.
The story is a bit of a downer too; not only no sex, but it occurs on the very last day of a marriage of two “best friends” who had shared a bed for ten years, but are splitting because the woman has met her soul mate, a possibility each had accepted going into the marriage. The man won’t stand in the way of his wife’s/friend’s happiness, but on their last day together he offers to give her a backrub … yeah, a backrub … just a backrub.
Okay, you’re thinking, but backrubs can be sexy. Well, yes, any application of warm hands on bare skin can summon the blood to the erogenous zones. But anyone who gives a good backrub, and I unabashedly number myself amongst such artists, knows a backrub as foreplay has an inherent downside; it tends to put the recipient to sleep. If your partner cajoles you into giving a backrub, you have to know that you are investing in morning sex. For the nonce, you’re hugging your pillow out of frustration.
The woman in my story also falls asleep. She awakes feeling ten years younger, but also alone. He’s left the divorce papers on her kitchen table, signed, and taken his broken heart and moved on.
A friend pointed out to me recently that many of my stories don’t have sex scenes. I begged to disagree: “Ah, go on!”
But when I surveyed my story archive I was mildly astounded. She was right. Not that I can’t write an arousing sex scene, but I have to admit that when I do, they are work. Most depictions of the act, to borrow that running gag from “Betelgeuse,” read like stereo instructions. One could easily substitute the mechanics of a piston engine for a sex scene and I doubt anyone would be the wiser.
So not only have I come to a realization that I’ve been penning stories with no, or perfunctory sex scenes, it’s also occurred to me that I tend to read past those scenes in other’s books and stories. I suppose I should be drummed out of the ranks of erotica writers, but really, how many ways can you describe screwing? A novice may fall back on florid language – how many times have you read the term jackhammer used as a verb? But even old hands can slip into that trap. I admit to concentrating on the viscosity of pussy secretions to the point where I had to stop and think: He’s screwing her; he’s not changing her oil.
Actual sex is less important to me than how characters get to having sex, or not having sex. The best stories I’ve read unfold like extended foreplay, and I’d rather describe over multiple paragraphs how a man kisses a woman’s leg or licks her belly button. Oy! Don’t get me started on belly buttons.
I’m content to end a story with a hand slipping under a sweater, or a kiss applied to a knee exposed by a tear in a lady’s jeans.
But actual penetration? Hey, a paragraph will do.
And what if there’s no chance of penetration? I’m at an age now when things aren’t as easy, nor as frequent. Still, you like to think you’ll die in the saddle, or go down fighting. More than likely, you’ll have given up your guns long before you go knock-knock-knocking at Heaven’s door. And Viagra, with the myth of a hours-long erection? I’m convinced it is all a marketing ploy.
I’ve used erotica to look mortality in the face, imagining an elderly man who can still appreciate a young girl’s beauty and yearn for her. He’d rather yearn for her in vain than not feel anything. A form of masochism to be sure. Sex isn’t going to happen, and it doesn’t in that story. Is it erotic?
How about a couple holding hands on a bench savoring the sights of beautiful young women in summer attire? He’s a straight widower; she’s an elderly lesbian who has recently lost her partner of many years. Together they appear like any old couple slipping into their twilight, when in fact they’re a pair of friends who share a hobby. I dunno … you think that’s erotic?
Is there anything more erotic than a broken heart? I’ve peeked in on a couple, a guy and a girl, who are also best friends. And because he is the one person she trusts implicitly with her secrets, she asks him to give her an enema in preparation for the anal sex she plans to have with her boyfriend. It’s slapstick; but it’s also heartbreaking for her devoted friend. Erotic?
Over on the ERWA discussion lists we can count on the latest newbie to raise the question: what’s the difference between erotica and porn? And everyone sort of heaves a sigh and says, well, here we go again. I make no attempt at definitions. To borrow from Justice Brennan, I can’t define it, but I know it when I read it … and write it. And, you don’t have to agree.
2001 Golden Clitoride nominee
He had offered to massage her shoulders … a parting gesture. She had let him, knowing better, knowing where it would lead. Now she lay on her bed, on her belly, stripped to her panties as his hands roamed, not randomly, but deliberately over her shoulders, then down, thumbs pressing deeply but gently along her spine until the heels of his palms pillowed up against her tailbone.
His hands began their return track up her back, trailing a wake of friction … heat that saturated her flesh and sought out every knot, every muscle made tight by frustration, stress or anxiety. She felt herself dissolve under his hands and enter a state of total relaxation.
His hands pressed over her hips and up her sides. His fingers subtly ploughed the valleys between her ribs. Then farther up to where he kneaded the soft flesh just beneath her arm before sharply turning, pressing over her shoulder blade, a thumb and pinky finger gauging its width.
His cock grazed her right thigh like a velvet wand, dabbing and streaking precum that had already cooled at the tip. She wondered when he had shed his trousers, but in the state he had put her in, she hadn’t noticed much.
He could take her now. She would not, could not resist. Warm syrup flowed out of her pussy that would coat his cock and slicken its way to her pulsing center. He could also toss her over on her back as if she were a rag doll. Either way made no difference … she was open, unguarded, utterly pliant.
Her mind darted to the day they met. They had been tossed together, the only two responsible for an impossible task. They had cursed their lot with humor and teasing and shared the camaraderie of the “screwed over.” Somehow they had completed the project on deadline. Their superiors made them a permanent team.
They were the best of friends. Their bond was that of two people who had endured against the odds and met a challenge arm-in-arm. Friendship became something deeper and marriage seemed like a good idea at the time.
They had carried their teasing and humor into their married life. She believed in soul mates, and flatly pronounced that he wasn’t hers. They had laughed about it then, even though she said if she found her true soul mate she would be torn to leave him. He said he could accept it if it meant her happiness. They decided then that the odds were that they were stuck together in this lifetime, best friends, lovers and companions.
That was ten years ago. Today she had called him home from the apartment he had taken recently. The divorce papers were ready to be signed. In defiance of the odds, her soul mate had stepped into their lives. She knew immediately, and explained to her husband.
… “I feel complete with this man, I won’t be complete without him,” she said.
She told him even as the aroma of the sex she had shared with her lover lingered about her. He drew deep breaths of it and replied, “Looks like I’m yesterday.” He said it as a statement of fact, no bitterness, no anger. He was like that. He would not fight the facts.
He insisted on a no-contest divorce, one lawyer for both. He didn’t want to take anything out of the marriage. It was all hers. He would shed himself of her entirely, except the memories. He had already lined up a new job more than a thousand miles away. …
He had sensed her anxiety as she greeted him at the door. Before she even had a chance to make small talk, he said, “You’re a bundle of nerves. You don’t have to be that way.”
“I guess I can’t help it,” she replied.
“Let me massage your shoulders … one last time.”
She knew she should have said no. His hands were magic. He called running his hands over her naked body “worship” and approached her not so much as a lover, but a supplicant. It was as if he entered a zone of spirituality, while she absorbed his total attention. She felt venerated. It was a heady, erotic elixir that his hands served.
The heat from his touch had opened her pores. Her skin became moist. Now he just lightly grazed his palms over her back, then ever more lightly still. Her body was a feather, inanimate on the bed.
She awoke just two hours into the new day. She lay on the bed for a long moment before she tested her muscles’ ability to lift herself into a sit. Her panties were still on. He hadn’t fucked her.
She stood and pulled on a robe that she let hang open. Her skin tingled and felt new. It seemed like ten years had been filtered out of her. As she started downstairs she looked at herself in the mirror on the landing. She nearly glowed and had to say to herself, “I’m beautiful.”
Stepping off the stairs she sensed at once that she was alone in the house, but more than that she sensed his absence.
She found the divorce papers signed on the kitchen table. Beneath his signature he had written, “Goodbye.”
A single tear fell from her cheek and smudged the ink. She knew she would never see him again.
About the Author
Bob Buckley was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a hospital that doesn’t exist anymore, but was a conveniently short ride over the Prison Point Bridge from the Charlestown housing projects, in the shadow of the Bunker Hill Monument, where his family lived. He may even have passed Malcolm X, who was finishing up his time at the old state prison, when his parents took him home.
When he was four they moved to a brand new project in Boston’s Columbia Point, the site of a former WWII prison camp for Italian prisoners, and hard by the city dump. It’s now the site of the JFK Library and the University of Massachusetts. So wherever he went he came in touch with history, or history in the making.
Finally leaving the projects behind, he lived in a series of triple-decker houses in Boston’s blue collar Irish-Polish neighborhoods where one identified oneself not by the neighborhood one lived in, but what parish. It was a boisterous place peopled by folks who were casually violent and racist, tribal, spiteful, gossip-ridden, intensely loyal and unconditionally loving. The parish church and the greater Apostolic Catholic Church held sway over all aspects of life, so it was a repressed place, but the stronger the repression, the more likely renegade ideas and—Oh, my heavens!—questions are spawned.
Saturday afternoons one was obligated to confess not only actual sinful deeds, but also thoughts. Can you imagine how many times a day a young boy might visualize a naked girl? Never mind that he might have no foundation at all for his imaginings of what a girl might look like without her clothes on. He still had to tell the priest.
Every so often, one of the neighborhood kids would swipe his older brother’s or bachelor uncle’s Playboy.
Wow! Did they really look like that? Then how come Mary Theresa O’Halloran or Anya Wisniewski looked so unfilled under their parochial school uniforms?
Bob had his suspicions that the girls in Playboy were not precisely representative of real girls, so while he enjoyed sneaking peeks at the pictures, he noticed the short stories and fiction that surrounded those pictures. And that began his fascination with words in general, but especially erotic words. And it’s a fascination he’s maintained long since escaping the old neighborhood and finding out for himself what girls look like when they’re naked.
Today he still finds himself a stone’s throw from history, living up the hill from the spot where they hanged the victims of the Salem Witch Hysteria. He enjoys using words to uncover the erotic in places you might never expect to find it—like everyday, mundane life. He especially enjoys writing about ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary erotic situations. So, far, it’s been fun.
I haven’t written much erotica lately. I’m generally a private person, plus I was raised in an emotionally repressive family, so admitting publicly to any weakness is extremely difficult for me. But I’ll admit that personal stress is just about killing me. I know other writers who are going through much worse times now, so I feel a bit like a whiner even mentioning the death in the family, the company I worked at for so many years closing its doors, a bit of a health scare, and other family drama on top of all that.
Misery isn’t a contest. We’re all winners at this race to unhappiness, and at the same time, things could always be worse. That’s what keeps you up late at night, tossing and turning. It’s the great monster that eats up the hours of darkness and makes you watch them disappear with eyes wide open– that things could always be worse. And you have imagined every possible variation on worse, haven’t you?
Sometimes, don’t you wish you could hang a sign around your neck that says, “I’m really fragile right now. Please be gentle with me.” So that when you start daydreaming at a traffic light about the list of things you must do that you’ve never done before and start panicking a little about ‘how on earth am I going to take care of this’ and don’t see it turn green that the person right behind you wouldn’t sit on their horn. Or that you didn’t feel such crushing shame for breaking into tears because some little frustration like the market carts being stuck together overwhelmed you?And wouldn’t it be nice if the entire world would just pause while you deal with your troubles so that you don’t have to run to catch up later?
So many things can stop your ability to write. It doesn’t have to be extreme grief or one of you worst fears coming true. Things can be going great and you can still be blocked. The stories, they’re always with you. The technical skills, the craft of writing, that’s in your muscle memory now. But the desire to write? That’s the thing that eludes us when we’re blocked.
It may be worse for erotic writers because how do you write passion and desire when you don’t have any? My emotions have practically flatlined from the strain at this point. I cant summon it no matter how hard I try. So if your writing portfolio is fat and sassy right now, if seduction twinkles from your fingers like rubies from a maharajah’s rings, and you pass me on the street looking dispirited and unstoried, spare an ounce of desire for me, won’t you? Because I’m tapped out.
For just under a year now, I’ve been part of a group called The Brit Babes. We are eight British erotica and erotic romance authors that have clubbed together for several purposes. One, to promote all of us as a group, rather than just ourselves as individual authors. Two, to have a street team that reads, reviews and promotes all of our books. Three, to stand out from the crowd and establish a benchmark for quality. Four, because we’re good friends and it’s nice to have seven other women to rant with, exchange ideas with, ask favours of, and so on.
So far, it’s been fantastic. The workload for administering the street team has been divided, and the reach of us, our books and our members has increased many fold. The street team itself is fantastic, as they read and review our books, spread the word and are also a lot of fun. There are some extremely fun conversations that go on in our private group, let me tell you!
Aside from that side of things, though, it’s been fantastic having a group of like-minded women just at the other end of an email. Of course, they were always at the other end of an email, but now we have this official group, it’s made us more, well, official. We don’t just talk about books and the street team, but we exchange ideas – writing related and not – life news, rants, good news, bad news… the list goes on. It’s a support team that totally gets it. Yes, our personal lives are different, but we all have the same struggles writing-wise that only fellow writers truly understand.
So, as we draw closer to the anniversary of The Brit Babes Street Team, I want to say what a brilliant experience it’s been for me, one I’ve appreciated in so many different ways. Here’s to many more years, ladies.
For any writers out there who have been toying with the idea of a Street Team but are worried about going it alone, I’d definitely recommend getting together a group of other writers in your genre that you trust and having a group street team. It’s benefited us in so many ways.
The Brit Babes are: Lucy Felthouse, K D Grace, Kay Jaybee, Victoria Blisse, Lexie Bay, Lily Harlem, Emmy Ellis and Tabitha Rayne.
See you next month!
Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and
erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100
publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several
editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic
Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and
co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house.
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
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By Lisabet Sarai
After a solid week of roses and candy,
hearts and flowers, I’m just starting to recover from Valentine’s
Day. When you write erotic romance as I do, you are more or less
required to participate in the romantic frenzy. Over the past seven
days I was involved in two different Valentine’s blog hops
simultaneously. Every email I sent out to readers, every promotional
message or invitation to my blog ended with the obligatory “Have a
Happy Valentine’s Day”. All my publishers had contests dedicated
to love. Every day I received notices of Valentine’s release parties,
Valentine’s chats, Valentine’s treasure hunts, special Valentine’s
prices, et cetera. I spent more than an hour yesterday
collating entries to my own giveaways and sending out notifications
I’m exhausted. Not that I have anything
against Cupid’s Day, mind you. I enjoy a candle light dinner, a glass
of wine, and the intimate aftermath as much as anyone. It’s just that
my notions about romance aren’t exactly conventional. For example, in
contrast to the Happily Ever After crowd, I tend to find one night
stands deeply romantic.
I’m not talking about Erica Jong’s
zipless fuck here, a chance conjunction of bodies with physical
pleasure, and perhaps the shattering of conventions, as its primary
goal. I’m talking about the sense of erotic connection I’ve sometimes
experienced in the arms of a stranger. The one night stands that live
in my memory had a sense of rightness that amplified every sensation.
Two individuals blundering through life, we collided by chance, and
for a brief, beautiful time, we became one creature. Bound by lust,
and perhaps loneliness, together we lit up the night.
Traditional romance celebrates the
concept of soul mates. Some of the lovers who shared my bed just once
seemed to know me so well, I was almost ready to believe in that sort
of destiny. At the same time, bittersweet regret always lingered in
the background, the specter of inevitable parting. The shadow of
pending farewell threw the immediate pleasure and joy into sharp
For me, one night stands are erotic
exactly because they don’t last forever. The transience heightens the
intensity. Rationally, I understand that the magical feeling of
connection may be an illusion. Relationships based on chemistry alone
rarely survive. What if I’m not deluding myself, though? What if this
man really was “the one”? How deliciously tragic to know
that we’ll go our separate ways! And how sweet to imagine an
alternate, impossible future, a future of endless nights, equally
incandescent. The fantasy thrills me exactly because I know it will
never be fulfilled.
No wonder I have such trouble adjusting
to the tropes of romance .
I’ve tried to capture the eroticism and
transcendence of one night stands in some of my short stories (though
reviewing my back list, I’m somewhat disappointed to realize how
few). Perhaps the purest expression can be found in “Shades of
Red”, available in my collection Spank Me Again, Stranger. A
young woman, fascinated by the red light district in Amsterdam, rents
a window for herself. A stranger engages her services, seeking the
discipline her costume seems to promise, and she discovers that
indeed she does have a talent for dominance. The bond they share as
she beats him is not at all what she expected.
He’s shy and grateful afterward. I sit
in the armchair, watching him as he dresses. He’s definitely a
handsome man. When he pulls his wallet from his pocket and tries to
give me a hundred euros, I shake my head.
“Thirty. That’s what we agreed.”
“But you gave me so much – just
what I needed.”
“Never mind. Business is
“I said no. Are you going to start
He smiles, puts most of the money away,
and presses a ten and a twenty into my hand. “Thank you. Thank
you so much.” For a moment I think he’s going to kiss me. I wish
that he would. But that moment passes. He reaches for the door,
squeezes past me in the crowded room and is gone, into the night.
I lean back in my hired chair staring
at the bills in my hand. I’m sweaty. My hair has come loose from the
clip and is tangled down my back. My arms ache.
When I unlace my corset, my breasts
tumble out, the nipples as hard and sensitive as ever. I unsnap the
leather panties, drenched and stained from my juices. They make a
sticky noise as I pull them away from my pussy. The ripe smell of
cunt rises, mingling with the bitter scent of semen. I reach for the
vibrator, conveniently to hand in the tiny room. The cool stainless
steel cylinder slides deliciously into my swollen cleft. I flip the
switch to high and writhe helplessly as the vibrations trigger one
ragged, ecstatic climax after another.
Epiphanies? Revelations? I don’t think
he’ll forget this night. As for me, I know that the memory of his
red-streaked buttocks and tear-stained face, my power and his
surrender, will fuel intense orgasms long into the future.
I still feel high as I lock my door
behind me and step into the street. I’m naked under my coat. Every
sensation is frighteningly acute. A random breeze plays in my damp,
bare sex. The smell of spilled beer mingles with the tang of autumn
The alleys are still crowded. I hear
snatches of conversation in a dozen languages, riffs of jazz and rock
and roll. I sense the beat of the men’s hearts as they congregate
around some red-lit rectangle of glass.
A lithe male figure in a turtleneck
brushes past me and my breath catches in my throat. Images flood my
mind, images of pale, pliant flesh, offering itself to me.
It occurs to me, as I make my way back
to my five star hotel and my ordinary life, that perhaps I am the one
who was marked this night.
I defy you to tell me that’s
It’s that time again! Time for you to post your Sexy Snippets!
The ERWA blog is not primarily intended for author promotion.
However, we’ve decided we should give our author/members an occasional
opportunity to expose themselves (so to speak) to the reading public.
Hence, we have declared the 19th of every month at the Erotica Readers and Writers Association blog Sexy Snippet Day.
On Sexy Snippet day, any author can post a tiny excerpt (200 words or less) in a comment
on the day’s post. Include the title from with the snippet was
extracted, your name or pseudonym, and one buy link, if you’d like.
follow the rules. If you post more than 200 words or more than one
link, I’ll remove your comment and ban you from participating in further
Sexy Snippet days. So play nice!
you’ve posted your snippet, feel free to share the post as a whole to
Facebook, Twitter, or wherever else you think your readers hang out.
by Donna George Storey
NWWTHYWM? What the hell am I talking about? Allow me a few paragraphs to set the stage.
I’m sure most readers of this blog have heard of National Novel Writing Month, known fondly as NaNoWriMo. Begun in 1999, NaNoWriMo is an annual event that challenges everyone who feels they have a novel in them to write 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30 each year.
I know many writers who’ve tried this, and I did myself a decade ago. I’d been wanting to develop a recently published literary short story into a novel. NaNoWriMo got me cranking out the prose, but by December 1, I’d realized the short story didn’t have as much potential as I’d thought. Thanks to NaNoWriMo, it only took me a month to figure that out, so I’d say it was a good investment.
I haven’t done NaNoWriMo since because I also figured out that I do my best writing when I edit myself as I go. A slower, thoughtful pace is more satisfying to me. However, I do appreciate other aspects of the program, namely, that NaNoWriMo gives you permission just to write, intensively, day after day, for the sake of the writing itself. That permission to write without rules and self-imposed restrictions (content-wise anyway) is an appealing concept to me at this stage in my writing life.
Equal thanks for the conception of NWWTHYW must go to Lisabet Sarai and her January column here at ERWA, “Writing Commando.” Lisabet eloquently describes the published writer’s “education on the tyranny of genres, what sells and what doesn’t, what you can and cannot include in a book aimed at a particular market niche.” And yet, as she writes:
“I yearn for the freedom – the innocence – of my first years writing erotica. I’ve started to realize I’ll never be a best seller (and I’m not even sure I want to be). So why should I care about pleasing a mass of readers? I know there are some people who’ll appreciate my particular approach, my personal blend of romanticism and filth. I should strip off my official author’s uniform and just write to please myself, and them.”
“Hear, hear,” I actually said aloud as I read this passage. Writing just to please myself and the audience who “gets” me? But… what would that even mean? Then I got to thinking–what if erotica writers, or all writers as a matter of fact, banded together to join in a Write Whatever the Hell You Want Month? (Feel free to change the “H” to an “F.”)
Yes, Fellow Writers, that’s one whole month when you can write whatever the hell you want without feeling you have to meet some external standard of worth or profitability. Your ending doesn’t have to be happy or edgy or ambivalent–it can be as many of these things as you can manage. The protagonist doesn’t have to be attractive or likeable or complex or sexy. There can be as much or as little sex as you like and the length can be “too” long or short. The taboos—and isn’t it interesting that supposedly transgressive erotic expression has more publishers’ rules than any other genre?–need not apply because publication and pleasing someone else is not the goal here.
The goal is simply to please yourself. For one whole month.
Yet, even after happily fantasizing about the idea of NWWTHYWM (or should it be “NaWriWhaTHeYouWaMo”?) for about a month, I’m still not even sure what I would write if I truly could write whatever I wanted. Which is, perhaps, the very reason I should try it.
Won’t you join me?
Donna George Storey is the author
of Amorous Woman (recently released as an ebook) and a new collection of short
Presents the Best of Donna George Storey. Learn more about her
work at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com
(I’m writing this at a time when I’m determined to be published in Weird Tales magazine, the Valhalla of my literary heroes. Wish me luck.)
The door is being held open by a polite old lady waiting for her family to
catch up. I slip into the lobby and the popcorn smell passes over me like
mosquito fogger, while I lean against a fluted pillar and look down at my
shoes. My shoes actually appear to be spinning. I’d put my head between my
knees but it would embarrass my kid who is ecstatic and already negotiating in
my ear for the Blue Ray disc when it comes out. Not for nothing is this film
genre nicknamed “queasy cam”. The effect of the movie “Cloverfield” on me is
not so much horror or empathy for its long suffering characters as . . . car
sickness. I feel like a James Bond martini – shaken but not stirred.
Cloverfield is more or less about an alien invasion by some hulkingly gigantic,
rarely viewed sort of monster knocking sky scrapers over. It’s filmed by the
protagonist using a hand held video camera, such as you might pick up for a
hundred bucks at Sam’s Club. He does this while running for his life, grieving
for his girlfriend and being oppressed by stern jawed military types Who Are
Gettin’ It Done Mister. Sort of like Godzilla on an amateur budget. The frame
is constantly swinging wildly in different directions, just like your own home
movies, while dodging deafening, strobe light explosions. Two hours of this and
you’ll ralph your Skizzles or maybe have an epileptic seizure.
Queasy Cam is that greasy area where fiction collides with reality TV. The
first Queasy Cam was a movie about ten years ago called the “Blair Witch
Project” (BWP). I have a lot of respect for the BWP. It is one of an elite few
scary movies that managed to genuinely disturb me. The power of the BWP back in
its halcyon days was that for a while no one knew if it was a documentary or
fiction. Controversies raged over it on the evening news. There were grim web
sites like this one devoted to it:
The premise was that several cans of film had been recovered in an
archeological dig of an old colonial era house in an isolated area of the Black
Forest Hills near Burkittsville Maryland. The film turns out to be hand held
camera footage made in real time by three film students who vanished without a
trace in the woods one year previously. We see these doomed kids film
themselves over a period of five days as they run out of food, smokes and
eventually lose their map after becoming hopelessly lost in the woods (“This is
America! People do not get lost in the fucking woods anymore!” wails one of
them.). None of these kids are getting any sleep either, as the forest at night
is becoming more and more alive with odd laughter, whispers, snapping twigs and
occasional distant screams. And then – they’re gone. Just like that. And I’ll
tell you what – the last two minutes of their camera footage is the most subtly
frightening element I have ever seen in a horror movie, and I mean flat out.
BWP project has the power to get in your head if you watch it under the right
circumstances. When my wife and I saw it in the theater she left angry. Why did
I take her to see this amateurish, slapped together piece of shit? Could we get
our money back? A few months later I rented the video to see it again, and left
it out and went to bed. She had ironing to do, nothing to watch, so she put it
on, alone late at night while the house was asleep. After the first hour she
was jumping at shadows and whimpering. She was too freaked out to sleep. The
magic was humming.
I’ve been thinking a lot about haunted houses these days. The BWP is in fact a
haunted house movie, though it takes place in the woods. So is “Alien” and
“Solaris” though they take place on space ships far from home. A house is that
place where you’re supposed to be safe from the world. Its family and sanity
and personal. When something unknown invades that space its disturbing right
down to the part of the brain we inherited from reptiles. It’s the ultimate
invasion. Especially when its someone you know who is going off the rails. The
thing about BWP, when you’re not sure what you’re watching, is that it is
deeply disturbing to think that the world you thought you knew and understood
can really be so different from what’s really going on out there, and what’s
out there can make this world disintegrate right out from under you.
I hope someday to write a really excellent horror story. As an apprentice
writer I think I’ve come close once or twice, but never really gotten it. Not
yet. So when I see something like BWP that succeeds in making me squirm, in
making me think to myself “Son of a bitch, this isn’t fun anymore!”; a scary
movie that is to other scary movies what eating small Thailand chilies raw is to
Taco Bell, I ask myself – how do the magicians do their tricks? How did they
get to me?
Sigmund Freud doesn’t always get the credit he deserves, but he made some
critical discoveries that relate to what we do here as writers. Freud observed
that the subconscious does not know the difference between fantasy and reality.
Stop. Think. Conjure on it.
That’s an amazing observation.
That is the white-hot core of the art to which we aspire. One more time, O
Friends of the Inner Sanctum –
The subconscious mind does not know the difference between reality and fantasy.
It’s easy to prove. The subconscious governs many non-voluntary functions. Such
as boners and wetties, for instance. Someone reads something erotic, or has a
sexual fantasy. If the magic is working, the man gets hard and urgent. The
woman gets wet. But there’s no one there, the act of copulation is in the
imagination, but the subconscious doesn’t know or care. As far as the
subconscious is concerned baby – You’re Gettin’ Some.
The vicarious experience of fear is the same. Something threatening is
happening and the subconscious thinks you’re in danger. So the technical
problem is, how do you get in someone’s head? How do you convey to the
subconscious the experience of mortal danger and horror?
When you study the masters, like Edgar Allen Poe, you find that Poe worked very
hard at constructing atmosphere and description, the dream like experience of a
nightmare unfolding around you. There’s not a lot of action in his stories
compared to, say, “Cloverfield” with its harried camera man. His best tales,
such as “Masque of the Red Death” and “The Fall of the House of Usher”, are
structurally very simple stories, little more than vignettes. Instead, Poe
devotes himself to the patient creation of the story’s environment, the slow
drip drip drip of escalating dread. Both of these are haunted house stories,
and he describes everything right down to the rugs and curtains in tremendous
detail and ominous language. It’s all about making you feel like you’re there
and when the Very Bad Thing happens you’d better run.
The other thing I’ve discovered about horror (and the news is not good) is
that, like erotic fiction, it’s a very personal thing. What gets the machinery
moving in my subconscious will not always be what works for others for reasons
outside my control. The erotic stories which have excited me in the past tend
to be the odd stuff, about human beings in collision with each other. Likewise
horror is very personal. It requires the suspension of disbelief, and a
willingness to be reminded that security and life and love are illusions that
can vanish in a day or an instant.
There is this wonderful film shot on Market Street in San Francisco in 1906.
You can see it here:
or by googling “Youtube Market Street San Francisco 1906”.
Take a minute now to look it over.
In 1906 one of the Miles Brothers, who owned a photography studio by that name
on Market Street, stood in the cabin of a trolley car with a brand new
invention that was taking the country into a new age, the movie camera. As he
leaned the wooden box camera out the front window of the street car and turned
the hand crank, the lens caught the daily flow of a typical ride from one end
of the street to the far end of the other, about a three mile trip on a fine
spring day right after a good rain. Newspaper boys mugging for the camera.
Horse drawn carts crossing fearlessly in front of the trolley car. A few open
top automobiles. Other Trolleys scuttling like roaches on each side. Ladies in
voluminous dresses. Men standing in doorways of shops, smoking, chatting and
watching the world go by.
A film historian did some investigating through old newspapers and weather
reports of the day and discovered the exact date this film was made. It was
filmed about April 15th of 1906. The film was then developed and sent on a
train to New York City to have some copies made. That is why the film survived.
Most of the people watching the trolley car and its Blair Witch style cameraman
ride by in real time, the news boys, the pretty ladies in dresses, the working
men making deliveries – in three days two out of every three of the people
you’re seeing, man and boy, woman and child, those people are going to be dead.
Three days. Many of them will have died roasting to death while trapped in
rubble. Three days after the film was made, while the only copy was in transit,
the great earthquake and fire struck. That is the part about life that our
subconscious understands and we don’t.