Monthly Archives: July 2016
By K D Grace
I sometimes wonder what to reveal — on social media, I mean. People run the gamut from just the odd photo they took on
holiday, maybe an inspiring or funny quote, to every detail of every meal; every pet peeve, or gripe or maon, and every ache, pain and injury of every family member — complete with graphic piccies from the hospital. Then there are politics and religion – two places I refuse to go, because they seem inappropriate for me to discuss when I’m approaching the world of social media as K D rather than Kathy. I openly admit to scratching my head on occasion and wondering why someone felt something was significant enough share. Then there are definitely times when I get a bit queasy at major TMIs. It feels like we’re living with no boundaries and no secrets, and that we’re all performers and entertainers in the world’s largest, 24/7 reality show.
I’m aware of just how true that is when I find myself thinking, ‘oh, I need to post this on Face Book,’ or ‘that would make a good tweet,’ or ‘I wonder if I should blog about this.’ I freely admit to posting way too many shots of veggies from my garden and the odd injury pic from the gym. Guilty as charged. Then there are times when I’ve been pulled into the world of social media with the end result being so much fun and so much healthy connecting with fascinating people, that I’ll be the first to admit I wouldn’t want to live without it. I’ve made lifelong friends through social media, I’ve learned new stuff, experienced new things. But then there are other times when the introvert in me just doesn’t want to engage.
While I’ve never kept my real life separate from my writing life, and I’ve never really cared who knows my real name, I chose a pseudonym because I’m a fairly private person, and while KDG and Kathy are the same person in a lot of ways, their lives are not. Kathy has a private life, a life she doesn’t share on social media. Granted the boundaries between the two are permeable, but there are boundaries nonetheless — boundaries I need. I need space that belongs only to me, and I needed that long before I ever became involved in social media.
There are things about me that even Mr. Grace doesn’t know, just as there are things about him I don’t know. It’s not about keeping secrets so much as it is about “keeping Self.” There’s an inner space that belongs to me and no one else. No one is invited in – ever, simply because it’s mine. I’ve met people with whom that doesn’t seem to be the case, and I wonder how they survive without an inner fortress where they can go and regroup. I’m sure I’m showing my total introvertedness when I say that. Those people probably wonder how I can survive without being more open and more social.
The thing is that writers expose themselves in ways no one else does just by the nature of what we do, and it doesn’t matter if we write the filthiest erotica or the sweetest children’s story. I know that Freud would say “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” but I don’t believe for one minute that a story is ever just a story. There’s too much of the writer in those words, too much Self, even if it’s very well disguised. For me that means that every time I write something new and put it out there for someone to read, I’m opening the trench coat to expose the nakedness beneath. I’m never more vulnerable than when I send my stories out into the world. There are no pictures of wounds or bruises or scabs on Face Book that can compare to the soft, squishy, sometimes icky, parts of my inner workings and how they sometimes display themselves on the written page. The truth is that for a story to be good, there has to be blood on that page, and
sometimes guts and bone and marrow as well. On my good days as a writer, it’s all there, and I’m so far outside my comfort zone that it terrifies me to even think of sending my words out into the world, even though I know that’s exactly the place where the writing is the most powerful – outside my comfort zone, where the blood and guts are. On the bad days, I’m just too shy, too cowardly, too lazy and just not up to another plastering of my own innards into the work in progress for the world to see.
That being said, it becomes a very delicate dance to balance just how much of myself I’m willing to expose on social media after exposing so much on the pages of my stories. Sometimes I only want to hide a way and do little more than the minimal checking in to see if there’s anything I need to promote or anything I need to know. Other times I want to join in the big social media cocktail party of food and photos of pets and holidays, of links to interesting sites and good conversation. I want to join in for the empathizing and sympathizing and cheering people on and being cheered on. How much I’m willing to reveal is a crap shoot that all depends on how vulnerable I’m feeling and how much I’ve already bled on the page.
writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, horror,
and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son,
and her three cats. Visit her web site, her Facebook
page, and her Amazon Author Page.
Her new m/m erotic medical thriller Roughing
It is out! This book is a sexy cross between The X Files and The Andromeda
Strain. Read her short erotic story Babes in Begging For It, published by
Cleis Press. Her novel No
Restraint will be released by Xcite Books at summer’s end. Pre-order it
today. Find these books at Amazon.
I took special interest in Lisabet Sarai’s essay from last
month, entitled Life
Without Sex?, since I’m in the same boat. Sex is pretty much a part of my
past, but eroticism isn’t.
I won’t say how long it’s been since I last had sex, but
it’s longer than Lisabet’s experience. I,
like Lisabet, used to be a sex goddess, especially when I was in my 20s and
30s. I was a walking bundle of quaking hormones that needed constant release,
and I enjoyed myself. It wasn’t always a pleasant experience. My choice in
lovers sometimes left quite a bit to be desired, but for the most part I did
have fun. I based my New Adult erotic romance novel Don’t
Call Me Baby on those years in college. I had been loved and I had been
used. I met men who satisfied me (and I satisfied them) as well as men who used
me for sex without caring about me or my needs. I felt a strong attraction
towards women but I didn’t understand that I was bi until years later.
The emotional pain was part of the picture as much as the
soaring ecstasy. Some of the pain has lasted to this day. I recently discovered
a memoir written by one of the men I based a character on in Don’t Call Me Baby. I had an affair with
him for two years and he did not mention me once in his book, although
everything else in the chapter where I should have been discussed was very
familiar – and he embellished and lied about quite a bit of it. I was furious. He
erased from his life what was very important to mine. I now know he used me and
didn’t care as about me as much as I cared for him (he didn’t care at all – I
was a cum receptacle to him), and it hurt. Despite that sad era in my life, I
met men who taught me how to pleasure myself and how to give pleasure. The
person who taught me how to masturbate was my female college roommate. She gave
brief verbal instruction. When I asked, “How will I know I’ve had an
orgasm?” She only said, “You’ll know.” She was right! LOL I read
articles and books that aroused as well as taught. I met people I never would
have met if it weren’t for some of these men. I reveled in my sexuality and
enjoyed the exploration. If you want to know more about what I was like at this
time, read Don’t Call Me Baby.
Now it’s my turn to confess. I’m in my mid-late 50s. Ever
since menopause, I’ve lost a great deal of interest in sex. It isn’t an itch
that is in dire need to be scratched anymore. I know that part of the waning
interest is biological, but I also understand that it needn’t be that way. Some
of it is psychological. I am under the impression (wrong one, apparently) that
women are supposed to lose interest in sex once their periods stop for good.
While my libido has waned dramatically, it isn’t gone. I’m finding I, like
Lisabet, am neither totally miserable nor crazy with unsatisfied lust. I feel
as if I’ve mellowed.
Part of the problem is that my husband who is eight years
older than me is impotent. It makes him (both of us) unhappy, but it doesn’t
stop him from expressing affection or love. We just don’t have sex anymore. I
used to miss it a great deal pre-menopause. Now, not so much. I still review
sex toys and I love doing it. I use my JimmyJane Form 2 several times per week
so I’m definitely not a monk. We talk about the problem on occasion but it
isn’t a defining part of our relationship. We express our love for each other
in many ways. Sex simply isn’t one of them.
With the urgent need for sex on the back burner, I’ve found
I spend more time striving for other goals that are important to me. My
writing, for instance, it now front and center. It always has been, but with
age and maturity come discipline. I live my sexual fantasies through my
writing. I rely on my past, my imagination, and my present when creating my
characters and the situations they find themselves in whether the story is
erotic, dark, humorous or horrific. Like Lisabet, the sex happens in my mind
and is experienced through my imagination.
My body reacts to the sexy antics of my characters. What would I like to
have done to me? I put it in my stories. What turns me on that I’ve never tried
before? I put it in my stories. How would I have preferred a particular situation
in my past have turned out? I put it in my stories. My body reacts to my own
writing, which is what erotic writing is all about anyway. While I’m not having
sex, I’m still a sexual being. No wonder I still review sex toys. I love using
them. While I’m not a raging she devil in the sack anymore, I enjoy a mellow
bout now and then, and my fiction drives me in that direction.
I look forward to my old age. I shall wear purple, like the
woman in the poem. And I will continue to use my sex toys and write erotic
fiction into my twilight years. I’m still a sexual being albeit in a different
way than 50 years ago. And I’m enjoying every moment of it.
by Jean Roberta
I’ve been pondering the word “metronormativity” ever since I reviewed a diverse collection of essays, Queering the Countryside, for The Gay & Lesbian Review. The word is used throughout the book, and it looks parallel to “heteronormativity,” the assumption that “normal” sexual attraction is between males and females.
For several generations, the children of rural folk have been migrating to cities, openly looking for jobs they couldn’t find elsewhere, but also seeking identities and lifestyles they couldn’t imagine having in the country: queer, non-monogamous, radical or creative. Fiction, especially erotica, often seems urban by default. Characters meet in nightclubs or coffee shops, get stuck in traffic, have trysts in hotels, and even have sex on or near famous landmarks. English-speaking culture seems to have become “metronormative.”
The Canadian town I live in, which features a government building with a gleaming copper dome, has been described by writers I’ve met in larger cities as “very small.” In fact, London, England, had the same size population (200K) when William Wordsworth described the cityscape he was leaving in “Lines Written Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802.”
How do we as writers conceive of cities, and how does an urban or rural setting influence our narratives? Smaller towns provide fewer potential playmates or lovers, but easier wsys to meet them. In small towns, neighbours usually talk to each other.
In “small” towns (compared to urban centres of at least one million people), finding kindred souls can be surprisingly easy, since one can strike up (non-sexual) conversations with strangers without being perceived as crazy or dangerous.
In any case, no one actually knows a million people or more, and this includes people who have dozens of “friends” on Facebook. Communities based on ethnicity, religion, sexuality, profession, or shared passion (e.g.: writing) could be defined as towns within cities, and members of different towns might as well be living in different regions.
I’m currently spending two weeks in Vancouver, on the Canadian west coast, catching up with old friends. It’s tempting to describe the spectacular natural setting of the city (cloud-topped mountains meet the Pacific Ocean) and the colourful urban gardens, but as a writer, I’m more interested in how local culture affects relationships.
I often wish I could live in a different place each year, just long enough to get a feel for it, to stretch my imagination. Making a conscious effort to break free of assumptions based on one environment seems like a good start.
by Kathleen Bradean
Last month, I asked writers what they wanted to see addressed on this blog. One of the comments was about how to make your book stand out among the many others.
There’s an answer to that, but first, I’d like to mention a few things not to do. I’m being realistic here, not touchy-feely. (Feel free to add to this list in the comments. I’m sure you all know bad writer behavior by now.)
1) You Are Not Billy Mays. If you don’t recognize the name, he’s an infomercial star. He sells things, and I’m sure he’s good at it or they wouldn’t keep hiring him. However, you are most probably not a professional pitchman with a team of experienced ad writers working for you. Yes, you’re a writer, but that’s not the same as being a marketing genius or even a great pitchman. So you’re not likely to write such a great blog/ Face Book/ tweet that you’re able to turn your ad into sales. That means that you’re just adding to noise and clutter that is instantly forgotten.
2) People hate you – HATE you – if you friend them on Face Book or Twitter and instantly spam them. And by instantly, I mean anything from seconds afterwards to a month. You will be blocked.
3) Unless you’re J K Rowling, no one is going to read your press release.
4) You will be damn lucky if your publisher does anything to promote your work. Getting readings, onto panels at Cons, etc. is up to you. It’s even more difficult with erotica because people still treat it like it’s toxic.
5) You can be really kind to other writers, help promote their work, review it, recommend it, and every other thing you can think of to help them but don’t expect them to turn around and do you the same favor. I’m sorry, but it’s true. So do it out of the kindness of your heart and because you really believe in their work, but don’t for a second think that there’s some sort of karma investment in helping other writers that will pay you back dividends.
I hope you’re not too bummed out, because my best advice for getting your work noticed isn’t going to make you any happier.
Think about how you find books to read. You might look for reviews or find the recent award nominees in a genre, but poll after poll shows that the large majority of readers buy books based on a recommendation from someone they know or trust.
So how do you get someone to enthusiastically evangelize about your book?
You are not going to like this answer.
It seems too simple,
And not very helpful.
But it’s the one thing you have to do. Just one thing, After that, fate is in the hands of readers.
Are you ready for the big reveal?
Write a damn good story.
a novel is an heroic endeavor. It takes not only imagination and
creativity, but also more prosaic virtues such as perseverance,
discipline, and attention to detail. Anyone who can generate 60,000
to 100,000 words without giving up in self-disgust has my admiration.
I’ve done it myself, so I know how difficult it is. Yet many
novelists quail in the face of a far less daunting task: producing a
few thousand words for a synopsis of their work that is often
required by publishers.
think that one reason why so many writers claim to have trouble with
synopses is that they may have misconceptions about what a synopsis
is supposed to accomplish. Also, this may be a forest-and-trees
phenomenon. Novelists are so deeply involved in the complexities of
their fictional worlds, they may have a hard time pulling back and
taking a more generalized view.
is a Synopsis?
synopsis is a summary of a longer work—for
purposes of this article, a novel or novella. Publishers have
different standards for the length and format of a synopsis. One
common format is a chapter-by-chapter summary, with one or two
paragraphs per chapter. Assuming 200 words per paragraph and 10 to 20
chapters, the length of a typical synopsis will be in the same range
as the average short story: 2000 to 4000 words.
should of course always consult your target publisher’s guidelines
before creating the synopsis. Some publishers want more detail, while
others may ask for less.
a synopsis is of comparable length to a story, the similarities end
there. A synopsis does not need to establish the setting, set a mood,
or develop characters. Fundamentally, a synopsis is about plot. It is
a prose outline of the major events in your novel. Your synopsis
needs to introduce and identify your major characters, then explain
what they do or experience during the course of the novel. Given the
constraints of word count, your synopsis should not include much
description or backstory. It does not need to create suspense. It
should never contain dialogue.
purpose of a synopsis is to convey information to the publisher (or
editor or agent). The synopsis allows the publisher to evaluate
whether the action flow of your novel makes sense, and whether it
will be of interest to their target audience. If your novel is not
yet completed, the synopsis also demonstrates that you have worked
out the resolution for the conflicts and problems that you introduce
in your early chapters. (It’s sometimes possible to sell an
incomplete novel on speculation, based on initial chapters plus a
synopsis. In fact, I’ve sold four of my novels in this manner.)
synopsis is part of your marketing package, but it is not intended to
demonstrate your fabulous writing style. Your sample chapters should
do this. (Of course, the synopsis must be free of spelling and
grammar errors, but that should be true of every bit of writing you
show to the world.)
synopsis is also different from a “blurb”—the
few brief come-on paragraphs included on the buy page or the back
cover. A blurb is intended for readers, not publishers or editors.
Blurbs (which I find much harder to write than synopses) must be
clever and engaging. They’re designed to hook potential readers and
to make them want to read your book. A synopsis, in contrast, needs
does not need to be particularly snappy or creative. Rather, it needs
to be clear and comprehensible, communicating the essential structure
of your novel while leaving out extraneous details.
to Write a Synopsis
are a variety of strategies that can be applied to creating a
synopsis. They vary somewhat, depending on whether your novel is
already complete or you’re writing a synopsis for a speculative
submission. Different strategies might feel more natural, depending
on your cognitive style: linear and hierarchical versus non-linear
The outline approach.
strategy works well for linear thinkers. Create an outline of your
novel. Create a major item for each chapter. Within each major
section, list in order the most important events that occur in that
chapter as sub-items. Try to limit the number of sub-items to three
or four. Focus on the one chapter you are considering. Don’t go back
or forward in the narrative flow.
you have your outline, turn each major section into a paragraph. Each
sub-item should generate one or at most two sentences.
result of this process will be a synopsis, but it may be hard to
follow because it is missing transitions. Go back and add, as
necessary, sentences that link chapter events back to previous
you have tried this approach a few times, you’ll probably discover
that you don’t need to create the intermediate outline. You will be
able to move directly from a mental summary of the major events in a
chapter to the sentences of the synopsis.
variant to this approach is to use the scene breaks in your chapters
to identify the sub-items. In other words, one scene will become one
sentence in the synopsis.
The Post-it Note approach.
writers do not feel comfortable with outlines, either when creating
their stories or afterwards. Yet a synopsis is, structurally
speaking, an outline. For non-linear thinkers, the scene-based
strategy, in particular, may feel terribly artificial. For these
authors, the Post-it Note approach may be more natural.
down with a pad of Post-it Notes. Start thinking about your novel. On
each Post-it Note, write down one story point that you think is
important to your novel. Don’t worry about temporal order; just jot
down your first impressions. However, you should try to focus on
actions or events rather than characters or setting.
until you have twenty or thirty items on your Post-It Notes. Then go
back and arrange them into the time sequence in which they occur in
your novel. Next, survey your notes and satisfy yourself that all
items are equally important. Try to remove items that are not
critical to the plot, even if they illuminate the characters or
perform some other narrative function.
turn each of your notes into a sentence or two. Fill in transitions
as necessary. The result should be a reasonably coherent summary of
the major happenings in your book.
The dictation approach
lived with your novel for a long time. Now, tell the story of to
someone else. Record your narration. Then go back and transcribe your
oral recounting of the tale.
they tell a story out loud, people often discover a natural ability
to select relevant detail and to focus attention on the essentials. A
real audience will provide feedback, in their expressions and body
language, that will help you to realize when you’re getting into too
much detail and when you are missing connections.
strategy is particularly appropriate for unfinished novels. As you
tell the story, you may find yourself making decisions about the
course of the plot.
Common Problems in Creating Synopses
are a variety of issues that can arise when following the strategies
above. Some of these are general, while others are specific to
writing synopses of erotica or erotic romance.
The plot is not linear in time.
novels contain frequent flashbacks that reveal information important
for future events. Other novels (particularly in the science fiction
or paranormal genres) may include parallel time lines. The guidelines
above suggest that the synopsis should be linear in time; how can you
deal with these aberrations?
recommendation is to linearize as much as possible. Describe the
prior events that are contained in the flashback before the events
that they influence. For parallel time lines, try to deal with each
one as a separate thread, and then include coordinating information
that helps the reader to relate them. This approach can also be
applied to novels in which several characters pursue separate
activities which ultimately connect.
that your goal is to explain the events of your plot, not to build
suspense or gradually reveal the nature of the truth. The sequence in
which you describe events in your synopsis does not need to match the
exposition in the novel itself.
this being said, there are certain novels—for
example, Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveller’s Wife—which
can be extremely difficult to linearize. Even this novel, though,
could be summarized by breaking its narrative into several phases:
Claire’s childhood, Claire’s married days; Claire’s life after
Many characters need to be introduced.
presenting the strategies above, I haven’t said anything at all about
characters. Yet characters are responsible for most of the events in
the plot; where do they fit in to the synopsis?
a novel will have a few major characters. Your synopsis should
introduce them as early as possible, as soon as they begin to act or
affect others’ actions. You will need to provide some description for
each character; try to focus on the attributes and historical
information that is critical for the story. Usually, you can sum up a
character in a phrase or clause. Once you’ve introduced the
character, get on with the action.
your novel has many characters, you may not need to mention them all,
especially not by name. Restrict your introductions to the characters
who serve as the engine for your plot.
Most of your novel is sex scenes.
many erotic novels, the primary action occurs in bed (or on the
kitchen table, in the shower, in the back room at the office, and so
on!) Clearly you can’t summarize the details of each scene, and
probably you wouldn’t want to:
sucks George’s cock until he comes. Then Roger comes out from the
broom closet and takes Lisa anally while George jacks off”…
if you don’t want your synopsis to read like a list of body parts and
sex acts, what can you do?
each sex scene, ask yourself: what changed because of this scene? How
did this scene modify the relationship between the characters, or a
character’s self-image? This is what you need to describe in your
synopsis; the sex itself should get no more than a mention.
may want to highlight salient points. If this is a character’s first
experience with BDSM, for example, the audience may need to know.
However, it’s better to say too little about the sex than too much.
Once again, you’re not trying to arouse your reader (the publisher).
You’re trying to convey information, as succinctly as possible.
Your novel isn’t finished.
can you summarize a novel that doesn’t yet exist? Clearly, you as the
author must have a plan for the plot, even if you haven’t yet
implemented it. This plan should be what you describe in the
worry too much that you may change your mind later about the details,
or even about major issues like the ending. Your synopsis is not a
contract or a commitment. Publishers understand that writers
sometimes have new ideas.
anything you write, your first draft of the synopsis will probably
need work. My synopses are always too long. I need to go back and
consider what can be cut. Another common problem is lack of
coherence. You need to communicate not only the story’s events but
how they are connected.
someone else to read the synopsis, then find out if he or she has any
questions. That will help you identify points that you might have
omitted, or areas that you have not clearly explained.
you want to spell check your synopsis and make sure that your grammar
is correct. With the synopsis, you are not trying to dazzle the
publisher with your literary brilliance. However, you do want to
impress the reader with your basic competence.
article is already much longer than it should be. However, if you’d
like to see some examples of synopses which have actually sold books
visit www.lisabetsarai.com/synopses.html. And please feel free to
comment or ask questions here on the blog.
Written anything hot lately?
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.
This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn. For a historical novelist, the museum’s collection of vintage subway cars housed in a retired subway station is a true treat. Basically subway cars did not change all that much in a century-plus of underground transport. There are a few notable differences. The earliest cars had ceiling fans, naked electric bulbs and a sort of rattan upholstery coated in shellac. But even in 1916, passengers were distracted from their boredom by subway advertisements, which the museum recreated in the proper historical period in each car as part of the exhibit.
Since my ERWA column always turns my mind towards sex (not that said mind ever wanders far from that topic) I made sure to capture the VD ad on my cell phone for your historical contemplation. This ad dates from the WWII era when public education about sexually transmitted infections—back then the main culprits were gonorrhea and syphilis—was first allowed.
In the 1970s, when I had my one week of sex ed in gym class in seventh grade, we spent two days on male and female anatomy (sans any mention of the clitoris) and the rest on venereal diseases and their devastating consequences. The general tenor was pretty much like the ad in the New York subway in the 1940s. Even then I knew the teachers were holding back some serious information about the more pleasant aspects of heterosexual coupling. Yet my research has revealed that VD-scaring took a relatively enlightened approach to the official provision of information on sexuality.
Back in the 1910s, it was illegal to produce and sell condoms in the United States thanks to Anthony Comstock’s anti-obscenity law, which targeted erotica, contraceptives, abortifacients, sex toys and even personal letters with sexual content or information. Comstock’s law was passed in 1873 and was in effect in some form until 1972 when unmarried people could finally legally obtain contraceptives. I would argue that we’re still recovering from its effects. Back in 1917, sexual prudery and denial were in full flower. When the United States entered WWI, French prime minister Georges Clemenceau generously offered the American troops the use of the French army’s regulated brothels, a centuries-old French institution that provided “clean” women for the recreation of their soldiers.
The US secretary of war’s response was “Oh my God, don’t tell the president or he’ll pull out of this war before we send the first troops!” (This quote and all others in this post are courtesy of the wonderfully informative The Humble Little Condom by Aine Collier).
Although quite the passionate erotic letter writer himself, Woodrow Wilson felt that the young men he was sending to Europe to fight and die should be higher-minded. As he wrote in an open letter to the troops: “Let it be your pride, therefore, to show all men everywhere not only what good soldiers you are, but also what good men you are, keeping yourselves fit and straight in everything, and pure and clean through and through…. “
While French and eventually English troops had easy access to condoms, American soldiers had to either borrow from their allies or take their chances. Or remain pure and clean through and through. Alas for Wilson and his ideals, there were almost 400,000 recorded cases of venereal disease among American troops by the end of the war. The French were also annoyed because the VD rate among their prostitutes soared as a result of American patronage. Prudery has its dangers.
The war had a more positive consequence for our still-illegal domestic condom industry. Germany had produced the highest quality condoms in the early twentieth century, but the war cut off the supply of these helpful devices along with hand-blown glass Christmas ornaments and well-crafted wooden toys. American manufacturers had to step in to the breach. Latex condoms made their first appearance in the 1920s. Before that time, condoms were literally made of rubber. Like that joke about the Scotsman who said he’d ask the regiment if they should all chip in to repair their battered communal condom, some types of condoms could indeed be washed out and reused. Fortunately during WWII, the bigwigs of our armed forces took a different attitude toward the sexual recreation of servicemen. They recognized that real men, especially those facing death in war, have libidos and readily supplied latex condoms and education about venereal diseases. According to Collier, U.S. soldiers had sex with an average of 25 women during WWII–with a much lower rate of disease.
Public health education had proved a success, but by the late 1950s, many thought continuing education of that sort would only encourage promiscuity. With the advent of the Pill just a few years away, ads like the one in the subway museum became a thing of the past. It took the HIV epidemic to bring public service STI ads back into the public eye.
Collier quotes Dr. William Holder of the Mississippi Health Department who said: “That’s what usually happens… When a disease control program reaches the point of near eradication, it’s usually the program that’s eradicated, not the disease.”
It is a lesson from history we’d do well to remember.
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
By Daddy X (ERWA Editor)
What does fiction do for us? Take us to the outer reaches of
the universe? To new worlds? Inside technology? To a contrived history of the
pyramids? Do we, as writers, first experience our travels in the real world,
then relate the trip to our readers? Or do we create the journey from whole cloth?
What stimulates a reader’s mental and emotional synapses to trigger a
particular realization the writer has in mind? How to get readers to process
information the way we intend? Do we acknowledge sophisticated readers by subtle
tricks, isolating ourselves from their own interpretations? Or do we hold their
hands, explaining everything as we go along, leaving nothing to the reader’s
imagination. How do we make it all happen? How to keep it real?
Life experiences hint at ways a character may behave in a
given circumstance or what reactions may result from certain stimuli. Creating an
acceptably realistic scenario is a melding of what we know as fact with what simply
could be. It’s a matter of blending the universally accepted knowable with
conjecture. Sounds easy, as long as we’re simply writing what we know, what
While I certainly do make up shit, I can’t say that I’ve
ever been tempted to write anything too far out. By that I mean crossing erotica with Sci-fi, paranormal,
vampires, zombies (ick). I do have a couple thousand words set on another
planet, but there it sits, in the ‘what next?’ pile.
Fact is I’m not really conversant in the very fantastical,
except for those places I’ve traveled within myself and consequently still within
my world. Doors opened and thresholds were crossed under the influence of
psychedelics. Real life, whether interpreted within our conscious minds or not,
is all so interesting (and fantastic) that there’s enough internal space to
explore before I’d get to setting up other, unfamiliar, complicated societies.
It’s hard enough to
grasp the one we’re living in, for crissakes.
Clearly, a lot of readers do love these fantasy genres, and
the artists who create them can be quite affecting. The great storyteller
Stephen King is one who states the impossible and makes us believe it. The
writers of the ‘Star Trek’ series, endowed with the innate ability not only to
create new worlds, technologies, societal patterns, etc. also remembered to
take us along for the ride. As if a phaser was something everybody had in a
drawer somewhere. We felt we understood how warp drive worked.
Feeling one’s way around a created fantasy world is at once
a noble, frivolous, and difficult task.
Noble, in that alternative orderings of the human condition
potentially reside in the random cards of earthly imagination.
Frivolous, for those who lead a more simple existence—even
folk tales and creation myths, no matter how complex, tend to stay fixed within
Difficult—in that it all has to jibe for the reader.
We mustn’t forget the need for the human mind to create
fantasy. Even in the most removed tribes, the otherworldly has a way of
creeping into practical existence even though a moody, introspective state couldn’t
be sustained for long. Not at least without the cooperation of others of like
mind. It seems as though there’s a need in our species that requires flights of
fancy. Escapism? Metaphor? A need to explore the creative process? This is the
genesis of magical thought. To create an unsubstantiated story to explain who
we are, why we are, and where we come from. Births of religions would fall somewhere
within this realm.
The very complexity of our own way of life seldom makes
sense, so why, one may ask, does ‘real’ matter so much in fiction? Good
question, but fiction has to make sense relative to itself. Life doesn’t have
to follow any rules. A reader’s observation may suggest that a particular outcome
of a series of events would be impossible given the information provided.
At times it appears we accept such incongruities in our real
lives much easier than we endure errors in our fiction. Reality is a state of flux.
In the real world, we can’t always predict the effect of an action, whereas in
the world of fiction we must. We can surprise, but the surprise must be congruent
with what has come before.
My guess is it’s my own laziness, covering for some
perceived inadequacy that keeps me from the difficult stuff of research, which
would be necessary to any endeavors in writing the fantastic. Same as a historical
piece for that matter, so it’s not just a simple fear of the unknown that keeps
me from that noble task.
My lamest excuse would be that at this stage of life, there
isn’t time for researching something outside my experience. After all, I’m still
a long way from exhausting what I’ve learned thus far. Going forward, it
follows that research into esoteric and non-substantive issues could be a waste
Time better spent writing.
Dear Doyennes of Decadent Delights,
Welcome to the July edition of the Erotica Readers & Writers Association website. Summer has officially arrived, and here at ERWA, we’re turning up the heat. Time to strip down, boot up, and follow me for a lazy ramble through some of the juiciest spots on the web. (Try not to be distracted by my naked booty. After all, it’s hot out…!)
In the Erotica Gallery, we’ve got five Awesome Authors to keep your mind (and maybe your hands) busy. They’ll take you from steamy Africa to windy Scandinavia, a prison cell to the family living room, with every stop a lusty new adventure. Our Storytime contributors offer up more sexy fiction (plus some clever poetry), with tales of the sweet hereafter, the bitter fruits of pride, and the tangled webs desire weaves.
Savor words that sizzle:
Hopefully you’ll get some time off this summer. If you need beach reading, we’ve got you covered. (Or should that be uncovered?) Our new, expanded Books for Sensual Readers section offers hundreds of choices for the erotica aficionado. Like short stories? Check out Strokes by Delilah Devlin, Alison Tyler’s The Big Book of Kink, or one of the featured Excite Spice themed boxed sets. (Don’t worry, they onlylook heavy!) If you prefer something longer, scroll through our huge list of erotic novels. My pick for this month is Taint, by S.L. Jenning, a taboo-busting tale of a sex tutor who “turns housewives into whores”.
For those of you who crave a happily ever after, we’ve got dozens of erotic romance titles, including Fionna Guillaume’s Not So Square, with its deceptively ordinary accountant hero, and Giselle Renarde’s shocking and arousing Two Complete Strangers. You’ll find plenty of LGBTQ erotica and romance, too. I marked R.A. Thorn’s Untethered for my TBR list, a historical romance about a gay Air Force pilot during WWII. On the FF side, I’ve been wanting to read Ily Goyanes’ widely acclaimed anthology Appetites: Tales of Lesbian Lust since I first heard about it. I can also recommend—personally!—my lesbian fantasy The Witches of Gloucester, which is reviewed in this edition by Bob Buckley.
One of the great things about the e-publishing revolution is the new availability of many previously out-of-print erotic gems. In our Classics pages you’ll find everything from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs to Portia da Costa’s The Devil Inside.
This is only a small sampling of the books we list. And every single one can be yours with a few clicks of your mouse. If you do decide to satisfy your craving for any of these titles, please use our affiliate links. Everything you buy via those links helps keep ERWA gloriously free!
Feed your erotic imagination:
When you’re in the mood for something visual, head over to our Adult Movies section. Headlining this edition is Adam & Eve’s newly released feature “Babysitting the Baumgartners”, based on the best-selling novel by our very own Selena Kitt. Once you’ve snagged your copy, (you know you want it!) check out our list of twenty five other “must-have” porn features. From classics like Marilyn Chamber’s “Insatiable” to curiosities like “The Uranus Experiment Trilogy” (billed as offering the world’s first zero gravity cum shot), you’re bound to find something—um—stimulating! We’ve assembled recommendations in many categories: porn for women, porn for couples, best-selling porn… Hey, we’ve done all the hard work (and I use the word “hard” advisedly). All you need to do is watch and enjoy!
In this edition’s Sex Toy Playground, we highlight toys for men, including a wireless vibrating thong to make him squirm and a Fleshlight that’s an anatomical copy of super-star Anikka Albrite’s luscious pussy. Don’t worry, ladies—we have goodies for you, too. How about a pair of Nipple Play Pleasurizers? Or the Kgoal Smart Kegel Exerciser? Working out was never so much fun!
Toys that aren’t meant for kids:
Inside the Erotic Mind, we have a lively debate about the possibilities for long-lasting ménage/polyamory relationships. The general consensus: not easy but worth the effort. Come share your opinions and experiences. Just click on the Participate link to contribute your thoughts.
Musing about some other sexy topic? Check out the other, on-going forums in the sidebars. Our visitors are discussing everything from blasphemy to cybersex. Add your voice!
You’re in good company Inside the Erotic Mind:
Remember that ERWA is for erotica readers and writers. Of course, many of us play both roles. Whether you are a newbie author or a veteran, you’ll find information and encouragement in our Authors Resources section.
We offer up-to-date listings of submissions calls, contact information and guidelines for more than three dozen publishers; links to editors, cover artists, marketing companies and other author services; and much more. The ERWA Archives link gives you access to articles on the craft and business of writing, dating back as far as 2006—book and toy reviews, too!
If you are a publisher or provide author services, use our handy form to tell us about yourself, and we’ll get you added to the page!
And while I have your attention, authors, let me invite you to join the ERWA Writers and Storytime private email lists. On the former list we discuss writing-related topics such as research, language, publishing tips and ways to handle burnout. The latter is an on-line critique group for posting and receiving feedback on stories, flash fiction, poetry and novels-in-progress. Storytime submissions are also the source of our Erotica Gallery stories, flashers and poems. Sound like what you’ve been looking for? Just click the link on the Authors Resources page to subscribe.
Expose your fantasies to the reading world:
Find the treasures in ERWA’s past:
Well, we’ve reached the end of my tour of site highlights. I’ll leave you to explore the many other delights of the new edition on your own. Just don’t do it at work!
Meanwhile, I’m going to take a dip in the pool, then spend the rest of the afternoon naked in the hammock with an appropriately steamy book. Ah, summer!
P.S. If you’d like to be added to my VIP email list, just drop me a note: lisabet [at] lisabetsarai [dot] com. Every month I do an exclusive contest, just for my VIP readers.
by Ashley Lister
I’m keeping it short this month. I’ve got a book release on
July 7th and a launch party on July 10th. Raven and Skull is my first foray into
horror and, so far, I’m enjoying good reviews. (If you’re interested in finding
out more about Raven and Skull, please check it out on Amazon).
Because of this release and launch, I’m running round in a
haze of marketing and promotion that’s not giving me two full minutes to think
about poetry. Therefore, I thought it would be fun here this month to look at a
very short syllabic form: the lanturne poem.
The lanturne poem is a five line syllabic form that follows
the structure of 1, 2, 3, 4, 1. The idea is that a finished lanturne poem
should look like a lantern. I like this one because it’s so succinct. The
limited number of syllables forces a very strict use of language and there’s no
scope for waffle.
flesh touches flesh
followed by a
As always, I look forward to seeing your poems in the
comments box below.