Monthly Archives: February 2016
writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, horror,
and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son,
her tuxedo cat, Lucky, and the two new feline additions Chloe and Breena. They
are Lucky’s new best friends. Visit her web
site, her Facebook page, and her Amazon
I admit it. I have written fan fiction. Stop laughing!
The first fan fiction I wrote was when I was in college. I
used to write Star Trek fan fiction
with my cousin, who was five years younger than me. She lived in Iowa and I
lived in Maryland, and we scorched the pages of letters to each other with this
crap. My favorite characters were Spock and Scotty. Her favorites were McCoy
and Kirk. We wrote long-winded and dreadful letters where we were the stars of
our own fantasies and the Trek
characters actions revolved around us.
Yes, we wrote Mary Sues. You’re laughing again!
We were perfect in every way. We were beautiful,
genius-level intelligent, vivacious, talented, knowledgeable in our fields (whatever
the hell they were), and the entire Enterprise crew was in love with us. Of
course, the bridge crew couldn’t get enough of us. Typical Mary Sue. I had no
idea the concept of the Mary Sue even existed, let alone we were splendid at
it. We kept these letters going for over a year, and both of us were hooked on
I had a blast writing those letters. Sadly, I never saved
them. I wish I had. I could laugh and cringe over them while downing a bottle
of bubbly. I went another ten years before I wrote fan fiction again. In 1993,
I became hooked on The X Files. I
wished I could have worked on that show. I was in an AOL fan chat that show writer
Glen Morgan used to stop in, and he gave me the contact information to send my
resume. That was very nice of him. At the time I was working local crew in
Maryland doing lighting, scenic art, and makeup (including prosthetics) for
movies, TV, stage, and concerts. I worked on Die Hard With A Vengeance, Homicide:
Life On The Street, and the movie 12
Monkeys. I loved my work. I had enough of a background to qualify for union
work in Vancouver, British Columbia where the show was filmed at the time, and I was willing to move not only across
the continent but to another country. I thought I could live in Vancouver,
Washington in the U. S. and commute to British Columbia but that wasn’t
allowed. I’d have to move there and become a citizen. It was a long shot, but I
wrote. Never heard back. But I tried. I loved that line of work and being in
that fan chat.
Anyway, a couple of years later I attended a science fiction
convention as a guest panelist and I met a guy who was helping to put together
some anthologies. One was gay, one was lesbian, and one was TV fan fiction.
None of the books were ever published to my knowledge. It was a good thing,
too, because I didn’t know at the time I could have been sued for publishing
and getting paid for a short story based on The
X Files without first getting the show’s permission. I did start the story
but didn’t finish it. However, I saved my file. I also wrote a lesbian story
for that other book and I saved that file as well.
Count about a decade into the future. I rewrote the lesbian
story and submitted it to Torquere Press for their Vamps anthology, and it was accepted! I was delighted. I had worked
on the X File for another half dozen
years or so. I changed Mulder and Scully to two gay men working on an outbreak
at a camp around a lake. I finally finished it a few weeks ago, and I submitted
it to a Men At Work call I saw at –
get this – The Erotic Readers And Writers Association’s Submissions Web
Page. Funny how things come full circle.
The story was accepted! I called it Roughing
It, and it’s due to come out in the spring. Although Jake and Lance are two
scientists, you can hear Mulder and Scully in their conversations. The story is
a cross between The X Files and The Andromeda Strain with a little sex
thrown in. The sex works, too. It doesn’t seem out of place. I like this story
very much, and it’s special to me since I have worked on it very hard for
nearly 20 years. The story in the Vamps
anthology is called Neighbors, and I
took the two characters in it – Charlotte and Lina, who could pass for
identical twins – and placed them in my work-in-progress Full Moon Fever. I hope to sell it to the same publisher that is
publishing my novel Alex Craig Has A
Threesome. Xcite Books is publishing that book late summer. If it sells
well, I hope to pitch Full Moon Fever
to them. I’ll do what I can to make Alex
Craig sell. I’m very happy to be with Xcite. Xcite has published four of my
short stories in anthologies so I’m not a stranger. This is my first novel in
several years and my first with Xcite. I need the boost. Keeping my fingers
I find it amusing I’ve written a story that originated as
fan fiction, and the final result is getting published. Hey, if it worked for
E. L. James, maybe it will work for me. Everyone knows those 50 Shades of Grey books started out as Twilight fan fiction. I can only dream
of selling as well as she has.
I’ve also written Once
Upon A Time fan fiction, but that’s another post. At least I stuck to Belle
and Rumpelstiltskin. No Mary Sue in those stories. I won’t give links. I’m too
embarrassed. LOL Look for Roughing It
in April and Alex Craig Has A Threesome
in late summer.
by Jean Roberta
I’ve been reading two related books about art in the cultural margins:
Memories of the Revolution: The First Ten Years of the WOW Café Theater, edited by Holly Hughes, Carmelita Tropicana, and Jill Dolan (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2015), a standard-sized paperback, and
The Only Way Home Is Through the Show: Performance Work of Lois Weaver [one of the founders of WOW Café Theater], edited by Jen Harvie and Lois Weaver (published simultaneously in 2015 by Intellect Books in Bristol, UK, Live Art Development Agency, London, UK, and the University of Chicago Press). This is a large paperback coffee-table book, full of photos and illustrations.
I volunteered to review these books about the history of an amazing, grassroots women’s theater collective in New York City, which has survived despite the odds since 1980. I went to one of their performances in February 2003 when I was in New York for a reading from Best Women’s Erotica at Bluestockings Bookstore.
The WOW performance was topical and full of energy. (The official paranoia that followed the events of 9/11 was soundly ridiculed.) The performance space was not a conventional theater, but the intimate venue suited the subject-matter. I was able to find my way there alone because of the good directions provided by a local arts publication.
The acronym WOW originally stood for “Women One World,” and it stuck. There was clearly some overlap between the WOW collective and a more overtly political group formed in 1990s New York: the Lesbian Avengers. Kelly Cogswell, who wrote a book about the Avengers after the group’s demise, met and entered a long-term relationship with Cuban-born writer Ana Simo, who wrote a fairly structured, Checkovian play about painter Frida Kahlo and the assassination of Leon Trotsky in Mexico in 1940, which was performed by WOW. The versatile writer Sarah Schulman was also in both groups.
All these books about performance art with clear feminist and lesbian themes do a remarkable job of capturing something ephemeral: a zeitgeist, or the spirit of a particular time and place. Nonetheless, the women who were interviewed for the books claimed that their shows have rarely been reviewed in the Village Voice, let alone The New Yorker or The New York Times. Apparently, WOW stayed below the media radar for decades.
Both WOW and the Lesbian Avengers functioned as collectives with no government ties whatsoever. (This impresses me, as a Canadian.) The WOW women who were interviewed for the two books explained that they decided early on not to apply for government grants from funding bodies such as the National Endowment for the Arts because the application process would take up valuable time and energy, the applicants would probably be refused, and if they were accepted, they would have to conform to the funder’s rules. In other words, they would be forced to tone things down.
Can revolutionary art ever be accepted by the cultural mainstream? Much cultural history shows that this happens a lot, especially when the radical art is no longer cutting-edge (e.g. jazz, Impressionist paintings).
Here in Canada, every struggling writer/artist I know has applied for a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts (the Canadian equivalent of NEA). “Explorations” grants, in particular, seem intended for experimental art created by fledgling artists. (As a published writer, I’m not eligible for one of these.)
Is radical art more accepted in some countries than in others? There are mixed reports. The recent claim that African-American actors are not adequately represented in the list of Oscar Award winners raises the question of whether racism in Hollywood has persisted in subtler forms than in the era of Gone With the Wind. (Apart from the arts world, however, there is nothing subtle about unarmed civilians being gunned down by uniformed police officers, as documented by concerned bystanders with cellphone cameras.)
Here in Canada, the survival of the film industry is more overtly political, since Canadian filmmakers have traditionally relied on government support in various forms, including tax deductions. When the right-wing government of the province I live in abolished the Film Tax Credit here, the local film industry died.
Who becomes famous, where, and why? The claim has been made that lesbian fiction-writers are routinely ignored in the U.S. media, but not in England, where Sarah Waters and Jeanette Winterson are widely known, and where a lesbian poet, Carol Ann Duffy, was made Poet Laureate. Canadian culture, as distinct from U.S. culture, is rarely mentioned in these discussions, but I could point out that two lesbian novelists here, Ann-Marie MacDonald and Irish-born Emma Donoghue, currently seem as visible and well-reviewed as any of their straight male brothers in the field.
It would be interesting for someone to do a survey of “successful” writers (whom I would define as those who can live on their royalties) in various countries in terms of gender, race/ethnicity, and sexuality. Do gay-male writers (being men) have greater access to resources than do lesbian writers, all else being equal? If so, where?
Even if someone had the time, energy and funding to do this survey and publish the results, conservatives could object that talent has nothing to do with identity politics, and that artists without talent will always be rejected by the reading/viewing/listening public, or at least by the gatekeepers who represent the public’s best interests. Feh.
When I write my review of the books about WOW, I’ll be doing my part to alert readers to a performance-art scene that deserves to be better-known. But then, I’m probably below the radar myself.
by Jean Roberta
Please forgive me for not posting anything on my assigned day. I have a post planned, and I’m hoping it won’t be too discouraging, since it’s about unrewarded writing (or writing which has to serve as its own reward).
Life intervened with mysterious insistence. This morning, the furnace in the basement of my house sounded like a buzz saw which could be heard from the second floor. I seriously wondered if it would explode while Spouse and I were at work. I considered cancelling my classes, then compromised by calling a plumbing & heating company and rushing home as soon as possible to meet the repairman at my door.
Repairman examined the furnace, which was quiet, and found nothing wrong. Nothing. The loudest thing in the house was our guard dog, a little Pomeranian who barks at strangers.
In due course, I was told, an invoice will be mailed to us for the repairman’s visit. Since he left, the furnace has been as quiet as a cat burglar.
Then I had to meet my Teaching Assistant to go over some student assignments.
Then Spouse filled me in on an ongoing situation at her work.
As long as the sun rises as usual, and my roof doesn’t cave in (fingers crossed), I will post something here on February 27.
by Kathleen Bradean
If you’re struggling with your writing, I feel ya. Family drama of ludicrous proportions has stolen my ability to write. (So much for the theory that one must suffer for art.)(Hey, that sounds like next month’s blog entry. Hmmm.) Finally, I was able to drag a first chapter out of myself, but it kicked and screamed the entire way, digging it’s claws into the ground. It’s a mess, but at this point I’ve decided to leave it be and circle back to it when the rest of the piece is done.
Which leads me to the second chapter. First chapters are difficult, but second chapters have challenges. If you’re writing multiple POVs, do you keep your reader in the same POV for one more chapter to acclimate them better to the world you’ve created for your characters, or do you switch to a “meanwhile, back at the ranch” scene? Do you stay with the same POV character or introduce new ones? I’ve read novels with both approaches. If I’m really invested in the first chapter, I get grumpy when I’m unceremoniously escorted out of a setting and given a bunch of yahoos to follow from then on. I keep waiting for the writer to get back to the “real” story. Sometimes, they never do, and then I’m really angry. But should you care about reader expectations? Or should you just tell your story? That’s a decision that’s up to you. As a reader though, I’m asking you to give me something in the new setting or characters that’s as or even more compelling than your opening chapter so I lose that grumpy feeling quickly.
If you’re writing a linear story with a single POV, then your next move is to follow your character on their journey. It sounds easy, but even that presents a quandary. Do you help anchor your reader by starting them off in the setting you established in the first chapter, or do you heed the advice to start a scene in the middle of action and plunk your character into a new setting?
This is what I’m struggling with. The first chapter was hard, and this second one isn’t coming any easier. While I suspect that much of my fretting has to do with many things other than the story I’m trying to write, it’s still effectively blocking me from moving on. I’m trying to convince myself that like the first chapter, I should simply throw whatever down to get on with it and take care of the mess when I’m done writing the first draft.
If chapter three is like this, I won’t give up, but maybe instead of not writing because I can’t seem to do it, maybe I’ll not write because I think it’s better to put it aside for a while.
Share your writer’s block woes with me. You’ll get tons of sympathy.
By Lisabet Sarai
A few nights ago I woke from a vivid dream with an idea for a new story. Consumed with excitement, I grabbed the notebook I keep on the shelf in my headboard and scribbled down a synopsis, in the dark. When the next day dawned, I was delighted to find that (a) I could actually read my notes, and (b) the story premise still struck me as really promising.
Having just released a novel, I’ve been wondering what project I should tackle next. This new concept—a scifi tale that resonates with a lot of contemporary issues—really got my mental wheels turning. Though the dream was little more than a single scene, with hints of a back story, I could see how to expand it, and how to focus its harrowing emotional intensity. Tragically romantic—intellectually challenging—distinctly different—the idea really sank its claws into my psyche.
Then I realized that although what I’d envisioned was a love story, it definitely did not have a happy ending. So if I wrote and published it, I couldn’t sell it as romance. And at this point in my publishing carreer, romance is what I know how to promote. The readers on my 300-odd mailing list, the daily visitors to my blog, the people who enter all my giveaways, are readers of romance. They crave an ending where the characters ultimately get what they want, not a finale where the hero dies. Yet that’s the natural way my dream would play out, if I spun a story from it.
Could I make it into a romance with a HEA? Probably, though finding a believable solution to the hero’s impending demise would take significant creativity. As a romance, I suspect this would sell, at least among the readers who have come to appreciate my unconventional approach to romance tropes. Did I want to turn this notion into a happily ending tale, though? Wasn’t that a betrayal of my midnight vision?
I could always keep the original ending and market the book as erotica, of course. Although the thematic core of the tale is not primarily about sex, I expect it to contain a significant amount of carnal activity, since the hero is a prostitute. Even erotica readers tend to shy away from dark endings, though. They might not require the characters to make a commitment, but they like it when everyone ends up satisfied. Heartbreak, injustice, terror—these aren’t favorite topics in erotica.
In any case, I don’t know how to market erotica these days, at least not stuff that would probably be more literary than smutty. Blue Moon is gone. Cleis (and just about everyone else) wants romance. In the old days, Circlet would have been the perfect publisher for this tale. But even Circlet seems to have largely climbed on the romance bandwagon.
What about turning the dream into mainstream fiction? Tragic endings are always welcome in literature. Or genre science fiction? But then what would I do about the sex? Play it down? Leave it out? I’d probably need to create a new pseudonym, too, to avoid being tarred with the opprobrium of also writing “porn”. I’d be starting from scratch, in an environment about which I know very little, at least as an author.
Let me be clear. I don’t make my living from my writing. Heaven forbid. I don’t write primarily for the money. On the other hand, I have very limited time to write, so I try to produce books that I think people will actually read. That’s the payoff, for me—emails like the one I received a few weeks ago, from a guy who absolutely loved Rajasthani Moon, or gushing reviews like I’ve been getting for The Gazillionaire and the Virgin. I write to be read. So I don’t want to put effort into creating something that will go over like a lead balloon.
It’s a dilemma. Do I follow my muse down a barely-trodden path, or divert her onto a more well-traveled highway? I go back and forth about this. Is it principled or foolish to stick to my original notions? Or maybe a bit of both?
A lot of authors read this blog, so I’ll ask: what would you do? Which would you choose, the muse or the market?
It’s that time again! Time to share bite-sized nuggets of your steamiest stories. That’s right. Today is Sexy Snippet Day!
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.
Please post excerpts only from published work (or work that is free for download), not works in progress. The goal, after all, is to titillate your readers and seduce them into buying your books!
Feel free to share this with erotic author friends. It’s an open invitation!
Of course I expect you to follow the rules. One snippet per author, please. If your excerpt is more than 200 words or includes more than one link, I’ll remove your comment and prohibit you from participating in further Sexy Snippet days. I’ll say no more!
After 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.
THE SEXY LIBRARIAN PRESENTS: FOR THE MEN AND THE WOMEN WHO LOVE THEM
Editor: Rose Caraway
Publisher: Stupid Fish Productions
Submission Deadline: May 1, 2016
Publication Date: Approximately July 2016
USD for Non-Exclusive Rights
Stupid Fish Productions purchases accepted stories for $50 for inclusion in this anthology. Authors will retain the rights to their individual stories.
Authors will also receive: 1 E-book copy, 1 Audible download code of the audiobook upon publication. If the book goes to print, contributing authors will also receive 1 print copy.
“For The Men”
Men love a good story. They communicate in story. Ask any man near you and he’ll have a tale to tell, about
that one time when…
This “For The Men” erotic collection is intended for the fellas and the women who have an appetite for something other than “Romance”. These stories are for a heterosexual audience, but might contain elements of bisexuality, gay or lesbian characters, or ‘other’.
I am seeking stories with purposeful plot and developed characters. ALL FIVE SENSES should be engaged. Writers should focus on capturing action and emotion, transition and transformation. Their stories should revolve around expected/unexpected intense sexual encounters. Story movement is key. The where and when of your story should include detailed elements of that specific environment and your character’s mind. Show both, action and reaction.
“Romance” isn’t the focal point. Characters should be affected and effective. Let them be strong, weak, smart, clumsy, egotistical or emotional. Play with power dynamics. Put your adventurous characters ‘anywhere’ or in ‘any time’ you want them, but remember that “happily ever after’s” aren’t required here. If “Romance” is a strong
element in your story, show it. Give more than nuanced feeling descriptors. Show the behavior.
For inspiration, think:
Mad Men, Sopranos, Ex
Machina, Avatar, Star Trek, The Anchorman, Pain & Gain, The
Exorcist, The Shining, House of Cards, Rocky, The
Wire, etc. You know, think adventure: crab fishermen, astronauts, professors, senators, aliens, gold miners, athletes, soldiers, drug dealing gangsters…you get the idea. All genres and ‘kinks’ are open.
Example Story Prompts:
- A trucker finds the perfect road companions; damsels in distress. (multiple women)
- Guaranteed pregnancy. A scientist develops the perfect fertility serum. (Seed for sale)
- She entered the Harley Davidson bathing suit contest. What she won was more than a motorcycle. (vouyerism/lesbian) [Cliché is okay, if done well.]
- A WWII soldier saves a new mother, but they have to stay out of sight for a few days and the nights are cold. (lactation)
- He caught the smallest fish, but she promises not to tell if he agrees to ‘satisfy’ her boyfriend. (forced bi/glory hole/anonymity)
- His boss just pulled into the driveway and, once again, he’s sneaking out of the wife’s upstairs window. (infidelity)
- A senator needs her ego stroked. (power play)
- A married couple goes camping and the couple in the next tent over are very friendly. (wife swap)
- Astronauts discover a new, aggressive reptilian species. (alien breeding/world domination)
Rose Caraway will not accept stories featuring:
Scat-play or pedophilia.
How to Submit: (1 Story per author)
Early submission is strongly encouraged.
Please send your submission to:
*Email: forthemenantho at gmail dot com
*Subject Line: Submission
Please format and submit your work as follows:
Word document with your name in the heading of each page and all pages numbered. (.doc or RTF) Do not paste your story in the body of your email.
Use double spaced, Times New Roman, 12 point, black font
Up to 4000 strict word count.
Indent the first line of each paragraph 1 inch
Do not add extra lines between paragraphs
Only submit the final version of your story (Beta Readers can be found at The Slush Pile)
Include your full contact information (legal name/pseudonym, web address, mailing address and phone number) and a bio of 100 words or less, written in the third person. Do not list your previous works, or any contact information in your bio, because that would be boring. Write something fun, about you.
**If you are using a pseudonym, please make it clear which name you want to be credited as.
Please note that Publisher, (Stupid Fish Productions) has final right of refusal on all submissions. No simultaneous submissions. Please do not submit a story that is being considered elsewhere.
Authors will be notified of acceptance upon final approval of the manuscript from the publisher.
By Donna George Storey
It’s a deliciously “dirty” job, but a writer of historical erotic fiction has to do it. As part of my ongoing research for my novel, I’ve been reading the romantic and erotic correspondence of couples whose private letters have been published due to their literary and/or historic value. Sometimes both sides of the correspondence have been preserved, but this is rare. Intimate letters tended to be destroyed by at least one of the partners; more often it is the man’s that survive. If the woman’s do, frequently the racier portions are missing, no doubt for modesty’s sake. Still, many fascinating examples of both lovers’ seductive words remain for our curious modern eyes to enjoy.
Napoleon and Josephine, Thomas Jefferson and Maria Cosgrove, Mabel Loomis Todd and Austin Dickinson, Michael Collins and Kitty Kiernan, Elizabeth Bowen and Charles Ritchie, Maud Hart and Delos Lovelace, my voyeur’s list may grow further still as I continue my research. But I doubt new examples will challenge my main conclusion: Romantic love and sexual passion are timeless human experiences. Of course there are references to split drawers and dressing gowns in these letters, but the words and emotions truly transcend any particular time and place.
Most of all these letters prove that people in olden times–even prominent, “respectable” people–did enjoy sex, as much as the guardians of moral order would like to erase such evidence.
On that note, I must mention one unwitting member of this immortal erotic letter-writing tribe, a man named Godfrey Lowell Cabot, who was mentioned in a number of works I’ve consulted on sexuality in nineteenth-century America including The Humble Little Condom: A History and Devices and Desires: A History of Contraceptives in America. Mr. Cabot was from a very distinguished Boston family and a member of that city’s Watch and Ward, a group of gentlemen who reviewed pornographic images and writings in order to censor them for the good of the community. While protecting the lower orders from lustful thoughts and deeds in his public role, Mr. Cabot himself was the author of a number of intense sexual fantasies written in letters to his wife, Minnie. These letters are certainly the most transgressive (not to say “sickest”) of my sample—“dreams” wherein Mr. Cabot urinated in his wife’s mouth or was swallowed whole by her, his entire body pleasurably lodged inside hers. Of course, he wrote these fantasies in German, so perhaps that made them less obscene by Mr. Cabot’s measure. One does wonder if Minnie, reportedly a social climbing snob who complained of her husband’s incessant sexual demands, bothered to get out the German dictionary or was fluent enough to understand the “dreams” without such an effort.
In any case, there are some who question whether modern readers should intrude on a private, intimate correspondence by an otherwise respected historical figure. Perhaps they worry that the dignity of the personage and of the very value system that elevates great men over the rest of us will be compromised. Mr. Cabot is an excellent argument for openness because it benefits us all to know how hypocritical the guardians of public morals can be.
But most of the time, reading sexy love letters from the past is just plain fun.
My favorite example of historical love and lust comes in the letters James Joyce wrote to his common-law wife Nora while he was away on a long business trip in Dublin. The letters date from December 1909 and only appeared in print in Richard Ellmann’s Selected Letters of James Joyce (1975). Thanks to the Internet, we can read some of the letters in one form or another. I think they’re well worth reading for the boyish, uninhibited pleasure the letters convey. Joyce is not editing himself for public consumption, he is revealing his fantasies and desires to the woman he loves. Many call them “dirty,” but I would characterize them as “sincere.” Occasionally Joyce worries his “fuckbird” will find his fantasies perverted, a nice touch of reality, but although her replies have not survived, it is obvious she was a passionate partner in the exchange and not just doing it to keep him away from Dublin’s brothels.
However, rather like the controversial tampon scene in Fifty Shades of Grey, James Joyce’s “dirty” letters draw disgust for one natural physiological aspect in particular–his obvious joy in his partner’s farts during intercourse.
“You had an arse full of farts that night, darling, and I fucked them out of you, big fat fellows, long windy ones, quick little merry cracks and a lot of tiny little naughty farties ending in a long gush from your hole. It is wonderful to fuck a farting woman when every fuck drives one out of her.” (Excerpted from December 8, 1909)
A goodly number of online commentators are really grossed out by this (they are less vocal about Joyce’s delight in the image of Nora masturbating while she defecates, but perhaps that one was too much to tackle in a public forum). Surely anyone who’s read Ulysses–and haven’t we all?–could have guessed that Joyce is a butt guy:
“He kissed the plump mellow yellow smellow melons of her rump, on each plump melonous hemisphere, in their mellow yellow furrow, with obscure prolonged provocative melonsmellonous osculation.” (“Ithaca” chapter, Ulysses)
And dare I suggest that anyone who has experienced heterosexual intercourse knows that the insertion of a rigid penis into the woman’s pelvic region results in the passing of gas on occasion? Joyce’s celebration of his lover’s farts during intimacy could be seen as endearing, an unconditional acceptance of her body and all of its qualities in the throes of passion.
In American Taboo: The Forbidden Words, Unspoken Rules, and Secret Morality of Popular Culture, Lauren Rosewarne contends that farts and fart jokes are allowable in low humor genres and as a way to portray male characters as unrefined and undisciplined. However farts invariably decrease the sexual attractiveness of women. Desirable women simply never fart, although they are supposed to endure with patience the farts of their male partners. Above all, one is never supposed to couple a towering god of twentieth-century literature such as James Joyce with something as crude as farting.
Now, if you find farts during sex disgusting and unspeakable, that’s fine. One should be no more judged for that reaction than the opposite preference. But I’d also suggest that this glimpse into other couples’ intimate lives does give us a chance to acknowledge how sex and the taboo are closely linked. Rather than recoiling in disgust, why not wonder at the variety of humanity’s sweet perversity? And be grateful to these lovers whose words show us we are all connected through time in our erotic desires?
Donna George Storey is the author
of Amorous Woman and a collection of short
Presents the Best of Donna George Storey. Learn more about her
work at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com
I love musicals, have for most of my life. There’s this
thing that people sometimes say when you talk about musicals, usually rather
derisively: “I don’t understand why people just burst into song!” The folks who
say this often don’t care for musicals much, and don’t know them very well.
They assume the songs are inserted, are distractions, are pointless. They
assume that the songs don’t do anything in the story, aren’t part of the
movement of plot, make it less serious or important artistically, could easily
just be taken out and everything would be much better. The songs make them
uncomfortable. Embarrassed, even. They feel like they are too full of feelings, too
unabashed, too much.
People say similar things about sex scenes. They assume that
they are inserted, that they distract from the story, that they aren’t part of
the movement of the plot, make the story less serious ahrt, could easily be
taken out (and should be). They imagine story to be inherently better without
explicit descriptions of sex, much like people assume theater to be inherently
better without song and dance numbers. They are uncomfortable with fiction that
integrates the reality of sexuality into the stories it tells about people’s
lives and relationships; it feels too unabashed, too much, too intense.
So, as erotica and erotic romance writers, we have at least
one thing in common with the folks who write show tunes: we experience a
similar kind of derision. But I think we have more common ground than that. I
think folks like us who write sex scenes could learn (or be reminded of) some
important things about our craft from examining what makes a really good show tune.
One of the first things about show tunes is that you have to commit. In musical theater, the song won’t work unless
the writer commits to it, unless the actor brings all their intensity and
concentration to the performance of it. You must go all out. The writer and the
actors can’t be tentative, can’t sit in the muck of insecurity or
embarrassment, can’t just put a toe in. The writing will fall flat, will feel
awkward. The audience will notice the actor’s unsureness and the breaks in
performance, instead of being caught up and carried along.
Let’s watch an example of what I mean. The writer of “Quiet”
from the musical Matilda really
commits to the internal experience of the character, to showing that to you in
the lyric and the music and pacing. There’s a bunch of risk taking in this
song, of not holding back. The actress also deeply commits to her performance.
They both go all out, and you get a song that is intense and powerful and full
of rich characterization and movement.
It’s the same with writing an amazing sex scene. You have to
commit. You can’t get caught up in nerves about language, or trepidation about
being that kind of writer. You have to get over the lump in your throat and
make your characters do and say the kinds of things that are needed for this
sex scene. You have to be brave. You have to get dirty with your characters, be
in the moment with them in their vulnerability and desire and fear and love and
rage and whatever else they might be feeling as they fuck.
Another part of what makes for a really good show tune is when the
writers let it get as big as it needs to
be. When it really takes up space in the moment, is deeply embodied, is
treated as important by the characters. When the music builds and grows and fills
you as you listen to it. When the dancing is given real size and space and
evocative movement and deep expression. Basically, when folks break into song
in a musical it’s a Go Big or Go Home moment.
For example, check out Jennifer Hudson’s performance of “I Am
Changing” in Dreamgirls. This song
takes up space. It’s an important turning point in the story, and it is a
showstopper, a gorgeous blend of musical styles, a pivotal moment in the
character arc where you really feel for Effie big time. It also really builds,
emotionally, musically, and her performance takes that up several notches. The
way she’s so deeply embodied and in the song, the way she owns its size and
intensity and moves with it, makes me hold my breath when I watch.
I would argue that our sex scenes can only be improved by
letting them get as big as they need to be. What do I mean by that? Letting
them be intense. Letting them take up space in the story, both in word count
and in actual importance to the characters and the narrative. Letting the sex
scenes have big feelings and be deeply embodied in big sensations. Letting them
build and build and take over the way really amazing sex takes up all your
As I mentioned earlier, one of the deep misunderstandings of
both musicals and erotica is the idea that show tunes and sex scenes are
extraneous. In my favorite musicals, the
songs are critically important, necessary to the movement of plot, the
illumination of character, the setting of tone and scene, the creation of
In the musical In The
Heights, the song “Breathe” is where we first really meet Nina, a central
character. This song shows who she is, her concerns and fears and conflict. It
illustrates the central tensions in her life and her character arc in the play.
It’s an incredibly rich and layered song, both musically and emotionally. That helps us get to know her as a character, to see the ways she is struggling,
and also sets a tone for the play as a whole, the layers of voices and musical
styles and concerns that are central to this specific story, the raw truth that
is right out there in this musical. This song makes the story move, gets us
invested in her and what she’s dealing with, helps us connect and care about
how she’s going to grow throughout the play.
I would argue that the best erotica and erotic romance does
this as well. That our sex scenes need to be this necessary. That our stories
are better when the sex moves the plot, makes us care about the characters,
shows the reader some of the tensions and conflicts inherent in the story.
Ideally, our sex scenes are not extraneous, cannot be excised without
destroying the story. We do our best work when we make each moment count, make it show the reader something
critically important about the characters or setting or plot or conflict, make
the sex mean something, do something in our story.
One of the things
that show tunes do really well is use
repetition. They repeat musical themes, words, choruses, dance moves, and
they do this with purpose. They build story through this repetition, moving the
plot at each point so that the thing that repeats catches us in its net and
drags us along. They build intensity through repetition, layering it on top of
itself, each time gathering more tension, holding more emotion. They draw
attention to important themes or metaphor through repetition, so you are
prepared for the crisis, can hold the twists and turns of story because it
makes more sense, feels right.
Take a look at the Deaf West production of Spring Awakening, and their performance
of “Touch Me”, a crescendo moment in the play itself, where the sexual tension
that has been building throughout the play releases in ensemble. There are so
many layers of repetition in this performance, from the words “touch me” and the
morphing of “where the figs lie” to “where the sins lie” to “where the winds
sigh”, to the musical themes that build and repeat, to the way the dancing
shifts and keeps evoking earlier moments in the song. The repetition helps to
build and build through an orgasmic experience, and it is beautiful and intense
and evocative and complete.
Erotica that uses repetition can create a similar kind of nuanced
and evocative reading experience. There is a certain kind of satisfaction that
comes with repetition, when used judiciously, that’s why it’s a favored tool
for musicians and orators and poets. I’m personally quite fond of it, and I
think it has made a real difference in my own erotica. I would argue that
repetition can be used to help create hot and beautiful and emotional and
intense sex scenes. That we can repeat and morph repeated phrasing to good
effect. That we can illuminate important things about character and story by
drawing attention to them through repetition. That we can build, and build, and
build to orgasm, through repetition.
In musical theater,
songs often hold tension, nuance and
complexity. They have multiple layers, different elements working against
each other to show the complexities and nuanced specificities of a particular
situation. In particular, melody and tone can work in counterpoint to lyric and
emotional valance, in ways that make a song gorgeous in its complexity.
I want to share two examples side by side, because I think
they play with similar contrasts. “Ladies Who Lunch” from Company is classic Sondheim at his writing best, where the cheerful
refined melody is deeply contrasted with a bitter rage that is numbed by
alcohol and expressed through biting, self-deprecating humor. This performance
of the song by Carol Burnett is deeply nuanced, illuminating the complex
contrasts of emotion and tone. It’s a song that holds the emotional center of the
musical itself, with all of its tensions and fears about marriage and
“Paradise” from the new musical Allegiance, has a similar counterpoint, between the upbeat cheerful
tune and bitter rage at the oppression of Japanese American internment. The song holds
so much complexity and irony in it. It shines with all of the tensions
contained in the play and the ways that the characters survive the oppression
they are experiencing. The bitter comedy, the way the dancing enhances the
supposed cheer with an underlying rage at injustice…this song is deeply nuanced.
These elements work in the song because they are interwoven; it makes it
possible to hold all of it because of the ways these things play off each
Like a showtune, sex is better when it’s complicated, even
if it appears simple on the surface. When our sex scenes can play with contrast
and tension, hold many different emotional realities at the same time, or sink
into the nuances of how our characters connect, they are better for it. We get
to know the characters more, we have a richer palate to play with as we explore
desire, and we have ample opportunities for humor, all of which can heighten
sexual tension and create deeper more satisfying story.
You may have noticed that many of the examples I have given
above are deeply rooted in setting and context. I firmly believe that this is
one of the deepest strengths of musicals, the way they can be so culturally
specific, so deeply contextualized, so grounded
in a very specific time, place, and cultural context. Instead of aiming for
generalities, these songs choose to illuminate deep specificity, rooting it
very concretely in a particular context.
“Ring of Keys” from the musical Fun Home is another song that does just that: we connect with it as
an audience because it is focused and specific and sets its roots deep in the
actual childhood experience of Alison Bechdel, telling a detailed story about
an intensely beautiful moment of connection. This is a deeply queer story about
her seeing a butch for the first time in her life, the ways she recognized
herself in this stranger, felt connected and held. It is gorgeous, and it works
so well precisely because it is planted so very firmly in the cultural context
of her particular upbringing. It is the details and the nuances that make the
When we write sex scenes that are rooted in a particular
time, and place, and cultural context, they are richer, more complex, more
beautiful because of it. The very specificity of them creates so much possibility
of recognition and connection for our readers, makes things more clear and
concrete, brings senses alive. Putting the sex we write in deep context can be
As a writer, I soak up influence and knowledge from so many
sources, and other art forms feel like they contain so much to learn from. I
talked show tunes here because I love them, but it is my firm belief that we as
writers can learn so much from visual art, from all forms of music, from
theater and dance, from other genres of writing, and that our work will be more
layered and beautiful because of those influences. In summary, I recommend
applying the following lessons from show tunes to writing sex scenes:
- Go Big or Go Home
- Make it Count
- Repeat Yourself
- Hold the Complexity
- Put it In Context
*To access the songs I used as examples all in one place, you
can check out my
They’re making my book, Babysitting the Baumgartners, into an adult film.
Yep, you heard me right! 😀
Am I the first indie author to have their book made into an adult film? Oh wait, no – Kay filmed her book, Safe Landings, as an adult film last year, and she was nominated for an AVN award to boot for best director. Adam and Eve is venturing into new, exciting territory, folks. I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship – perhaps even a marriage made in heaven!
We all know Fifty Shades of Grey was made into a mainstream, much-anticipated film, but many fans were left a little… disappointed. Why? Well, let’s be honest – because all the “juicy parts” of the book had to be left on the cutting room floor. And the juiciest parts never even got filmed!
I’ve been approached before about making my books into adult films, but I’ve never felt right about it until now. Why now? Because it’s in the hands of Kay Brandt, who has won awards for directing adult films, and Adam and Eve, a long-standing brand I know and trust.
Like fans, I have been rather protective of Doc and Carrie, Ronnie and Gretchen–these characters are part of my psyche, and kind of part of my family. (Granted, a really naughty family that frolicks disease-and-chafe free in the fantasies that roll through my dirty mind… :D) I didn’t want to do a disservice to them – or to the fans who loved them as much (maybe more!) that I do.
So when Kay pitched the idea of her vision for Babysitting the Baumgartners, I have to admit – I hesitated. But the more she talked, the more I realized she really understood the Baumgartners. She “got” the book. (A lot of people don’t – they think it’s “pure filth” – and hey, everyone’s got a right to their opinion, eh?) This book is about sexual awakening. It’s a coming-of-age story about a vivacious but naive college girl and an adventurous, caring couple who allow her to blossom under their tutelage.
That’s not to say there’s not a lot of damned hot sex in it. 😀 Because, trust me, there is! This book could never be made into a mainstream film – like all good erotica, if you take the sex out, the whole story falls apart. The sex in Babysitting the Baumgartners is integral – in all its wet, messy, juicy, yummy glory! But that isn’t all Babysitting the Baumgartners is about. And that’s the part that Kay Brandt understands, which is why I was willing to trust her with this family and these characters that so many fans have fallen in love with since I first published it back in 2008.
That’s why I’m so excited to make this announcement, you guys! I will be posting here often, updating you on how things are going, letting you know about filming schedules and release dates, but the very first thing I’m going to reveal (aside from our very bright and awesome GREEN LIGHT on this project!) is that the roles of Doc, Carrie and Gretchen have been cast and are listed below. And I couldn’t be more thrilled with them! There will be a casting call for the all-important role of Ronnie – and you guys will get to vote on which one you like best!
Carrie Baumgartner (“Mrs. B”)
Hello Mrs. B!
Mrs. B in a bikini, of course!
Oh. My. Word.
Steven “Doc” Baumgartner
Hey, what’s up, Doc?
Doc on the beach…
Can’t you see him playing Doc?
A.J. Applegate – the perfect Gretchen!
Pretty without makeup!
All made up!
Dat lip bite tho!
*fanning self* Whew! Is it HOT in here?
Shooting starts in March – but I’ll post lots of awesome stuff about the casting call for our girl, Ronnie, before then.
This is going to be an amazing, exciting, and totally FUN journey! I can’t wait to take all of you on it with me!
Here’s to the Baumgartners – our favorite family! 😀
Want to be a Star?
Director Kay Brandt is holding a casting call on Wednesday February 17, 2016 for the lead role of “Ronnie,” our favorite babysitter from the Baumgartner series.
If you’re a California girl and have always wanted to be in an adult movie – you can even audition! It’s an open casting call, no RSVP needed. They’ll be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Free Speech Coalition offices, located at 8399 Topanga Canyon Blvd. Suite 302, Canoga Park, CA 91304.
Ronnie is our star–the pivotal role that the entire book (and, I imagine, the movie) hinges on. The perfect Ronnie (as perfect as we can get, I suppose, outside of our imaginations!) is essential. She has to be young (Ronnie was just nineteen when Doc and Carrie took her with them to Key West) and have an air of freshness and innocence about her.
“The ideal candidate would be brunette and petite,” Kay says. “I can’t have someone with a lot of piercings, a lot of tattoos or breast implants.”
*Selena nods in agreement.* Amen to that.
As an author, I’ve got it easy. I can paint images with words. My favorite way to do this is in broad strokes, to allow you, the reader, to fill in the picture with your own imagination, which is a powerful thing. I’m not the type of reader (or writer) who goes in for paragraphs of detailed character description. That means most of my readers have strong ideas of what my characters look like, because they’ve used their own imaginations to fill in the blanks.
But a movie isn’t a book. And directors don’t have the luxury of painting with broad strokes, at least when it comes to actors. Directors have to cast real people. And matching a real person up to everyone’s idea of Ronnie is simply an impossible task. No one will be “perfect,” because my image of Ronnie likely differs from yours, and your neighbor’s and your book club friend’s.
I remember when I read Harry Potter – I had an image in my mind of what he looked like. After Daniel Radcliffe played the role, and I saw the movie, I’ve never been able to unsee him as Harry, or regain my image of what I’d imagined before he was cast. The same goes for Katniss from Hunger Games. Jennifer Lawrence will now always be that character for me, even when I re-read the books.
That makes casting a very important part of movie-making. Maybe the most important part. The good news is that Kay is a seasoned director, she knows this business and the talent, and she knows my book. She’s also graciously given me a great deal of input in the casting, and so far I think we’ve made some pretty great choices. I have no doubt we’ll find the best possible Ronnie we can.
That said, I’ve already heard a few fans say, “I don’t know if I want to see it – what if it ruins my image of X character?” Hey, I get that. Believe me, I do. I’ve turned down other offers to make movies out of my books in the past because I felt it wasn’t right, that they didn’t really understand the storyline or the characters. And I understand when something you’ve read becomes an experience for you, one that you can’t help but be a little protective of.
Look, let’s face facts–we all know that very few movies ever live up to their book counterparts. They’re simply a different experience, and comparing them is like apples and oranges. And while I had a completely different idea of who Katniss, Peeta and Gale were in the Hunger Games, I could put that aside and still enjoy the movie.
I think the same will apply to Babysitting the Baumgartners. I had to let go of my own vision of the characters and the story, to some degree, because until we can 3D-print actors (please God, don’t ever let us go that far…) no author will ever be able to completely bring their characters fully onto a screen as they’ve described or pictured in their mind’s eye.
Ryan Driller is as handsome a Doc as I could have imagined, and that smirky smile of his is just perfection. Anikka Albrite as Mrs. B has that bright, gracious quality about her I always associate with Carrie. (And dat booty tho!) A.J. Applegate as Gretchen is, in a word, simply stunning. So I’m really looking forward to who and what Kay discovers and uncovers next Wednesday at the casting call for Ronnie!
I just know that the Ronnie who’s finally cast will fit our collective vision as closely as we can get–and here’s the best news of all. Once Kay has narrowed the choices, YOU are going to get to vote for your favorite!
So stay tuned… I’ll post more as soon as I can!