Monthly Archives: December 2016

K D Grace

As 2016 draws to a close, I’ve been struggling, as I do at the end of every year, to think of the best way to put the old year to rest and see the new one in. While I don’t do New Years resolutions, I do tend to be a little heavy on the end of the year

navel gaze. But how many ways can you say, new beginnings, start over, bigger and better than ever, hope, happiness, reflection, blah, blah, blah? I’m not saying that the New Years navel gaze isn’t important, but I figure you really don’t need me to navel gaze for you when I can safely guess most of you will be doing your own version, as will I. 

Soooo! This year I decided to be silly, filthy and irreverent and write a really bad poem just for you lot. I wish you all a quickie before midnight, because, honestly, I can’t think of a better way to see the old year out and the new year in.


A Quickie Before Midnight 

Five minutes before midnight

You whispered in my ear,

We’ve time for one last fuck, 

What do you say, my dear?

We’ll see the old year out in style

And melt the winter ice

Cuz, Gawd, your tits are lovely 

And your bottom is so nice.

I know it’s just a quickie, 

But it would be so hot

To spend the last few minutes

Cock-deep inside your twat, 

So let me give you rug burns

Let me make you squeal, 

Nothing I can think of 

Could offer more appeal

Giving you a quickie 

To the tune of Alde Lang Syne

I have to be quite honest,

Is a fantasy of mine.

We’ll shove and hump the old year

And when it’s gone away,

We’ll greet the New Year coming

So, dear, what do you say?

Wishing you all the very best in 2017!

Elizabeth Black
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
is out! This book is a sexy cross between The X Files, The Andromeda
Strain, and Outbreak. Read her short erotic story Babes in Begging For It, published by
Cleis Press. You will also find her new novel No
at Amazon. Enjoy a good, sexy read today.


I got a
late start in the publishing world. I didn’t publish my first story until I was
47. That story was Happily Ever After,
which appeared in Scarlet Magazine in 2007. It was also my first erotic
retelling of a fairy tale. Suffice to say Cinderella had married her Handsome
Prince and all was not well in paradise. Her Prince preferred to torment the
peasants instead of spending time with her. Their love life was in shambles.
So, a Magical Sex Coach appeared to give her some tips in the lovemaking
department. This man was not her Fairy Godmother. That woman wouldn’t know what
to do with Cinderella’s problem if it came up and bit her on the ass.

I’m very
proud of that story.

I wonder if I waited too long to begin writing. After all, Billy Martin (known
professionally as horror writer Poppy Z. Brite) published his first novel to
critical acclaim when he was only 25. I’ve always been a late bloomer, but I
wondered there was too much moss on this stone.

It turns
out I’m not alone. There are many artists who didn’t get their start until
later in life. Here are a few examples.

Stewart found success at 41 when she published her successful book Entertaining. Seven years late at age
48, she launched Martha Stewart Living
and became synonymous with home décor.

designer Vera Wang started off as an accomplished figure skater. She didn’t
begin designing clothes until she was 40. I’m quite a bit like her in that I
started out in the theater as a stagehand. I worked as a union gaffer
(lighting), scenic artist and makeup artist (including F/X) when I was in my
30s. I didn’t have much interest in writing then. I was all about the movies
and television. I had wanted to be an actress until I discovered crew work 1)
was steadier, 2) paid better, 3) was less damaging to your self-esteem and 4)
had more respect than acting. I enjoyed my entertainment years and I don’t
regret the time I put into them at all.

my work in the entertainment industry, I was sidetracked into working as a
feminist activist. Primarily, I wrote political and feminist essays and opinion
pieces for publications like Sojourner, American Politics Journal, On The
Issues Magazine, the blog fo the National Organization for Women, and Alternet.
I was not often paid, but I found the work rewarding – for awhile. I was
writing but not fiction. Not yet. I gave up activism after several severe
disappointments in my chosen field that left me disillusioned with modern, mainstream
feminism. I still consider myself a feminist but I do not like what the
establishment and the mainstream large feminist groups have done to the
movement. I gave it all up cold turkey around 2007 – which was about the time Happily Ever After was published. At
that point, I switched from thankless activist work to working as a fiction
writer and a non-fiction sex writer. Both were more rewarding and more fun. I
also made money at it. That was an added, pleasant bonus.

Here are
some other late bloomers:

Tim and
Nina Zagat left their legal careers at age 42 to start their now famous
restaurant guides.

Sanders was an even later bloomer than I am. He had been fired from numerous
jobs and could be considered a failure career-wise. But… when he was 62, he
sold his first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise.

contemporary of Harland Sanders didn’t begin writing his first food and hotel
guides until he was 55. When he was at the golden age of 73, he licensed the
right to use his name to the company that developed cake mixes. You may have
heard of him. His name was Duncan Hines.

food-related news, Ray Kroc was past 50 when he bought his first McDonald’s
franchise. He expanded it to become the worldwide phenomenon it is today. Julia
Child published her first cookbook when she was 39. She made her television
debut in The French Chef when she was

Daniel Knauf, writer and co-executive producer for The Blacklist and creator of Carnivale, didn’t get his big break until he was in his mid-40s. I interviewed him for a podcast earlier this year. Here’s the link if you’d like to listen in. He’s a fun, fascinating guy who gave great information about the business of writing.–daniel-knauf–world-of-ink-network

Charles Bukowski was 51 when he wrote his first novel, Post Office.

Darwin was the ripe old age of 50 when he published On The Origin Of The Species.

finally, for my list (there are many more), Samuel L. Jackson didn’t start his
motherfucking career until he was 46 years old when he starred in Pulp Fiction alongside John Travolta.

I’m going
to turn 57 in March. I know I’m not too old to make it as a writer. I’m not as
successful as I’d like to be, but I see now I have plenty of time. You don’t
have to be a child star like Mary Shelley who was 17 when she wrote Frankenstein or Bret Easton Ellis who
was 21 when he wrote Less Than Zero.
You can be a successful writer at any age.

Holiday Drama

by | Dec 26, 2016 | 1 comment

by Jean Roberta

‘Tis the season when other obligations take time away from writing. I had good intentions of writing this post a week ago, but shopping, cleaning, decorating, and cooking with my spouse, plus socializing with other people, took over most of the time. My apologies for the lateness of this post.

For traditional Christians, today is St. Stephen’s Day, feast day of the first Christian martyr, who was supposedly stoned to death by pagans for daring to proclaim that baby Jesus was the Messiah. For the secular hordes in Britain and all the Commonwealth countries (including Canada, where I live), today is called Boxing Day.

When I first moved here from the U.S. with my parents and sisters, nearly fifty years ago, I was puzzled that the day after Christmas had a name, and was officially a holiday in itself. (If I were getting paid to write this, I could demand time-and-a-half.) At first, I thought maybe it was a day for professional sports, including boxing. (I wasn’t completely wrong.) Then I thought maybe it was a day for all the tension of the holiday season to result in physical fights between relatives, spouses, and even lovers and friends. (I wasn’t completely wrong about this either.)

I was told that December 26 is when you box up all the Christmas presents you don’t like, or which don’t fit, and take them back to the store to exchange for something you do like. For everyone who works in retail sales, today is clearly not a holiday.

In a more openly class-divided era, Boxing Day was apparently when servants, delivery-men and the like were given Christmas boxes of money and leftover food by their employers, along with a day off, to compensate for the underpaid and overworked nature of their jobs.

In the last fifty years, though, Boxing Day has become increasingly known as a day of shopping madness, when everyone who is not too hungover and exhausted to brave the weather and the crowds rushes out to buy things on sale to stock up for next year.

Boxing Day sales probably benefit the community here that practises the Orthodox Catholic tradition of celebrating Christmas on a day in January which was known to Western Christians of Shakespeare’s time as Twelfth Night or the Feast of the Epiphany, the day when the magi or the three kings (not sure which) arrived in Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus. While the rest of us are glumly going back to work in the cold, when the hours of daylight are still short, a few programs on local TV feature choirs singing hearty Ukrainian hymns, and wishes for a merry Christmas in the Cyrillic alphabet.

This brings me back to reasons for boxing, fighting, or arguing with your nearest and dearest—or simply snubbing them and hoping they understand your reasons for not showing up and not speaking to them.

As far as I can see, there is no easy way to integrate holiday traditions when family members acquire Significant Others, but don’t want to completely ditch their own parents and siblings on holidays. I felt lucky to hook up with a Latin American in 1989, when I was a single mother with a daughter who looked forward to Christmas Day with her grandparents every year. As a secular Protestant (agnostic with Protestant roots), I had grown up opening presents under the Christmas tree on December 25, when my mother served a holiday brunch of apple strudel and eggnog or coffee, which adults could get spiked with the booze of their choice. My Chilean spouse had grown up with the Catholic tradition of having a big meal on Christmas Eve, then attending Midnight Mass, and opening presents afterward before collapsing into bed in the wee hours.

After some uncomfortable conversations with my mother, in which she claimed that my daughter’s routine shouldn’t be changed at all because my relationship with a Chilean woman and her two sons was not equivalent to a marriage, my new nuclear family settled into a two-day tradition of eating roast beef on Christmas Eve in the home I shared with Spouse, passing the time until midnight by chatting, playing games and watching movies on TV, then opening presents. The next day, my daughter went to her grandparents (where she could also see her aunties if they were in town), and my two stepsons went to spend the day with their father, his wife, and eventually, their half-sister. It worked out.

My daughter left town to attend art school, then moved to a bigger city, and my parents both passed away in 2009. The absence of my blood relatives simplified things and also made it possible for us (lesbian couple) to start a new tradition of making a roast turkey dinner on December 25 and bringing it to the local gay (LGBT) club for those who have nowhere else to celebrate, or would prefer to avoid other company. Other club members bring ham, side dishes and desserts. We spread the word that everyone we know (regardless of gender or sexual expression) is welcome to join us. The crowd is usually small, but it works out.

Clashing traditions and/or families don’t always integrate well. If someone in my extended family grew up celebrating Hanukkah or Ukrainian Christmas (as it is usually called here), that might extend the holiday season, or result in uproar and feuds that could last for years. I won’t mention dashed plans that I’ve heard of, involving people I know who would undoubtedly claim I am telling it wrong.

The expectation that peace and love will prevail in the holiday season is unrealistic, and the effort involved in trying to avoid open conflict is one of the causes of holiday exhaustion. Made-for-TV movies about family reconciliation (hard to avoid in this season) are feel-good expressions of wish fulfillment, and they need to be recognized as such.

The great thing about the life of a writer, however, is that all experience can be used in some way. If Uncle Ned got sloppily drunk and sexually harassed his niece by marriage at the family get-together, or if Mom burst into tears and refused to come out of her room after cooking all day, or if the controversial couple (same-sex, different-race, different-religion, whatever) was kicked out by the conservatives, or left after being insulted, these events probably can’t be described on the page exactly as they happened. Writing about this stuff and including the real names of people and places might get you sued, and would probably get you written off a guest list or two.

However, conflict is a great engine for moving the plots of stories, novels, and plays. When the dust is settled, and when the winter holidays are over (thank the Deity of your choice), the drama of the season can be artfully worked into a narrative that can entertain a variety of readers for years.

It’s hard to imagine a better holiday gift for the writer, or for the readers who understand.

by Kathleen Bradean

Are you an artist?

If you write, the answer would appear to be yes, but do you think of yourself as an artist?  It might seem a egotistical thing to say to yourself, much less out loud. Allow yourself to accept your place in this world as an artist, no matter how uncomfortable it might make you.

Do artists owe anything to the world?* As Donna discussed in her post, some readers seem to think it’s our job to be sexually enticing to them on top of writing stories that stir their libidos. I’m not interested in the delusions of entitled fools. What I’m talking about is the position artists have in society and how we bear a responsibility to that society.

We can weave subversive messages through our creations. Hope is a subversive thing. So are rebellion and conformity.  Acceptance of our desires and sexuality are themes we use to reach our readers and help them feel less alone. In the coming years, it may be even more important to give those things to our readers. So be an artist, and create.

* I’m not so sure that artists owe it to the world to share their art. It’s perfectly fine to create for yourself, for the love of it, and for no one else.    

Ending It All

by | Dec 21, 2016 | 4 comments

By Lisabet Sarai

I have trouble with endings. In fact, I’m having trouble right now, trying to complete my Christmas erotic romance tale so I can get it published before Santa comes down the chimney. The story is currently in the 7K range. I had the main conflict resolved almost 1000 words back, but I can’t quite figure out how to actually wrap it all up, tie it in a nice bow, and write “The End”. Every time I think I’ve got a smart closing line, the characters continue to yack on, and I get increasingly frustrated.

Given my current difficulties, you might suggest that I’m not exactly qualified to give advice about good endings. However, when it comes to an effective finish, I know one when I see one—not to mention recognizing when an author has not succeeded in bringing her story to a clean and compelling end. So let me talk about my observations. Who knows, this might even bring me some insight into my own problem!

The end of a story is arguably less important the initial hook I discussed last month. After all, by the time the reader reaches that point, she has already bought your book, and consumed most of it. On the other hand, the ending is what’s going to stick in the reader’s mind after she shuts the covers or turns off her e-reader. A poorly executed conclusion may convince her not to buy your next book.

An example: I adored Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. It’s a thick, juicy, enigmatic novel full of unexpected synchronicities and challenging ideas. The last few chapters, however, left me deeply disappointed. Rather than shedding light on the peculiar and perilous alternative world he had created, Murakami simply shunted his main characters back to the “real” world. So many threads were left dangling, so many mysteries remained unsolved, that I wanted to scream. I dropped my rating from an enthusiastic five stars to a grudging four stars. And I started warning people away from the book, or at least cautioning them about its lame conclusion.

What lesson do I take from this experience? Your ending shouldn’t drop the ball. You don’t have to address every one of the reader’s questions (especially if you’re planning a series), but be sure you deliver on the promises you make earlier in the book.

Another no-no: avoid cliff-hangers. Readers hate them. Even if you’re planning a sequel, make sure that the ending gives readers a feeling that one episode has concluded.

I still remember (unhappily) the first book of a BDSM erotic romance trilogy I read three or four years ago. The novel was beautifully written, with a distinctive heroine and a dark, brooding alpha hero who somehow managed to avoid being a cliché. The whole thing was brilliant—until it suddenly ended with the Dom beating the sub until she lost consciousness. That was it. No further information. I was appalled. The Dom wasn’t an evil guy; his ferocity was due to the sort of misunderstanding that’s the common engine of romance. However, this was (in my opinion) a horrible way for the book to end.

I found out later that the trilogy had originally been a single long book. The publishers had cut it into three shorter pieces. I fault their editors, actually, for not realizing that the ending needed to be reworked after the surgery.

Then there are the books that just stop. No suspense, really, but you’re reading along, fully expecting more—and there isn’t any. Drives me absolutely crazy!

Some authors fall into the opposite trap. They continue the story long after its natural end. They appear to believe they must resolve every open issue, tie up every loose end no matter how trivial, explain the fate of every minor character. The book drags on, after the crisis and its resolution, becoming more diffuse and less exciting with each chapter. (This seems to be the problem I’m having.)

To write an effective ending, I think you need to have a clear view of the narrative arc in your tale. Every story—well, most stories in the Western narrative tradition, anyway—have five main phases. In the exposition phase, the author introduces the situation, the characters and the fundamental conflicts that will drive the tale. During the rising action phase, the conflict(s) motivate characters to “do things”. The characters react to each other and to events in or threats from the environment. The climax is where everything starts to fall apart. The literary excrement hits the fan, and the characters make fundamental choices that will determine their future. After the climax, things quiet down quickly, during the so called falling action phase. This is the mopping up stage. Finally, during the resolution or denouement phase, the author brings everything together, to give the reader a sense of satisfaction and completion. 

From Annabel Smith’s Blog

Stories that suffer from cliff-hanger endings stop the action too soon, in the climax phase. Stories that seem to drag on forever stretch the resolution phase beyond recognition. Stories like Murakami’s play bait and switch. They bring you to the climax, but then pull you down the slope of some different tale altogether.

There’s a symmetry to the traditional narrative arc, even though the earlier phases usually last longer than the later ones. I suspect that the best endings take advantage of this balance. Effective endings refer back to the starting point. They recognize and exploit the patterns of conflict and action from earlier in the book. Like a symphony that repeats a musical theme, but in a different key, the ending echoes or alludes to these patterns, but now they are transformed by the knowledge and progress that have emerged from resolving the conflict.

Writing this has helped to see what might be wrong with my own ending. At the point I am at now, the hero has disappeared off stage, back upstairs to his own apartment. The heroine is conversing with a secondary character, her daughter, who’s judging her for indulging in casual sex.

The story began with the heroine climbing to the floor above her apartment in order to investigate the racket emanating from there. I think it needs to end the same way, with her making her way up the winding stair to the hero’s place. But he’s not a stranger anymore. He’ll meet her at the door (naked, I’m thinking, except for maybe a Santa Claus hat), and draw her inside, where they’ll continue the carnal activities that were so rudely interrupted.

Yeah, that might work. At least it will get the daughter to shut up!

In any case, I think I’ve pontificated long enough on this topic. Happy holidays to all. May your days be merry and bright, and all your endings turn out tight!

Hello, Authors!

If I can interrupt your holiday preparations for a moment… I’d like to remind you that today is the 19th of December. No, it’s not just six days to Christmas. Today is Sexy Snippets 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. No extra promo text, please!

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.


~ Lisabet

by Donna George Storey

The following quote is the sole reader comment on an article in Good E Reader entitled “Cleis Press, Penthouse Collaborate on New Line of Erotica Books” published on April 11, 2014:

“Looks like our hyper-sexualized culture is growing again. I’ll bet most of the authors in this genre are fat and ugly, fantasy based [sic] women with a serious case of penis envy. Rather than writing about anything scientific or useful in business, they’ll write to create boners and fake desire in readers. Trite content for the most part – even if it does make a few bucks here and there. I’m sad for all Americans who value this kind of crap in books.”

I copied the comment and filed it under “mean troll comment,” thinking perhaps I would use it as a discussion point for my ERWA column one day. From the information available, the commenter is (was?–he looked pretty old) a skinny, geriatric gentleman with a white mustache. Nonetheless, I was very impressed that he managed to include every negative stereotype lobbed at female erotica writers in an admirably concise paragraph.

Cleis Press as we knew it then is gone and perhaps the series of “quality erotica” for “’discerning’ readers” is history as well. However, the custom of shaming and insulting women who dare to claim a public voice still flourishes, today more than ever. Thus, it seems the perfect time to dust the cobwebs off the “mean troll comment” and give it a closer examination.

First let’s talk about the fact that all of us female erotica writers are “fat”—and the geriatric gentleman with the white mustache knows this to be true without seeing or meeting any one of us.

My historical research continues to lead me down fascinating byways, and this past month I happened upon a book called Fat Shame: Stigma and the Fat Body in American Culture by Amy Erdman Farrell. Farrell presents a compelling argument that our culture’s disgust for “fat” preceded the flapper-era craze for androgynous female bodies, which is generally seen as the start of dieting and weight obsession as women responded to externally-imposed pressure to look good in clothes meant for lanky frames. However, while in the pre-industrial period only a wealthy minority had the resources to put on flesh, with the rise of consumer capitalism at end of the 19th century, consumption of all kinds became problematic. Mass culture and industrialization meant that a greater segment of the population was able to buy ready-made “fashion,” processed food and entertainment. Merchants encouraged consumers to indulge their desires to make profits. But in turn, the unleashing of these new markets and longings threatened the established power structure.

Labor unions, the end of slavery, and feminism meant that people who were traditionally excluded from positions of power were speaking up to demand fair treatment. It is in this context that fatness came to symbolize a person who was out of control—a lazy, gluttonous, greedy, immoral, uncontrolled, ugly, primitive subhuman (Fat Shame, p. 27). In the media, fatness was identified with threatening (mostly Catholic and Jewish) immigrants, former slaves and women. Any white Protestant American-born man who was “fat” had shown a revolting lack of self-control and had thus fallen from the pinnacle of humanity. This view was fully in place long before the health risks of obesity became a focus of medical science (a view some fat activists question as skewed by cultural bias and the tyranny of arbitrary insurance charts). But of course, being “fat” still carries a physical and moral stigma in our culture today.

Thus, even in the twenty-first century, a woman who dares to write about sexuality, especially in a positive way that might turn a reader on, is indeed “fat” no matter what the scale says. May I say that I am proud to be so. I’m proud to be ugly, too, which is also an extremely common criticism of women who step out of their God-given people-pleasing role and have an opinion of their own. Because indeed, what the geriatric gentleman with the white mustache is really saying is that we erotica writers dare to take on an ancient taboo—speaking honestly about female sexual desire. That automatically add fifty pounds to any frame.

I feel as if I could write a seminar paper unpacking all the assumptions of my oh-so-economical mean troll comment—such as the fact that everything identified with the female in our culture is called “trite”–but I know you all have holiday preparations to attend to, so I’ll touch on just one more point: the terrible insult of calling us female erotica writers “fantasy based” [sic].

I’ve long taken issue with the denigration of fantasy and masturbation as an integral part of human sexual expression. Hurling insults at losers who masturbate and have to think about sex rather than have it starts with schoolboy bullies and continues unabated as a way to shame us and keep us all quiet about our actual sexual interactions with the world. Let’s examine the fantasy behind this taunt—because it is very much a fantasy of its own.

This view assumes that somewhere there exists a group of “winners” who never have to masturbate or fantasize because the moment they have a sexual urge, they are so slim and beautiful and high-status that a willing and equally attractive partner of the opposite sex (I’m sure the geriatric gentleman with the white mustache would insist that acceptable sex always be of the heterosexual variety) materializes to provide a satisfying sexual outlet that involves no mental activity whatsoever. The rest of the time, these supermen are thinking about scientific or business things, you know, important stuff like how Wall Street can screw over credulous investors and how climate change is a hoax. The boners of these ideal beings are always real, because, remember, there are “fake” boners, so be sure to invite the geriatric gentleman with the white mustache to evaluate your arousal next time to be sure that it’s the right kind or otherwise you’ll be a sad loser–and he’ll be sure to tell you so. Not to mention that you’re fat and ugly and trite.

And remember, if you’re fat or ugly, you have no right to speak.

I’m sure the geriatric gentleman with the white mustache thought he was being very perceptive and original in his critique of erotica writers, but of course, we at ERWA have heard it all before. However, we actually value and proudly enjoy “this crap,” otherwise known as the exploration of the full experience of human eroticism.

To be honest, I kind of pity this guy. Rejecting all the pleasures of fantasy, flesh and self-discovery–he clearly doesn’t know what he’s missing.

Donna George Storey is the author
of Amorous Woman and a collection of short
stories, Mammoth
Presents the Best of Donna George Storey
. Learn more about her
work at

Cheers was the place where
everyone knew your name, a home away from home, where you could commiserate
with friends who shared a drink and a little time away from life’s cares.
Utterly unrealistic. Cheers, after
all, was a sports bar. Sports bars are loud, dominated by televisions,
sometimes multiple TVs tuned to multiple sports events. Talk is about sports;
talk is loud; participants talk over each other just to be heard or to make a
point. Their exchanges are determined by what they just saw or heard on the TV.

Not even close.

louder the din, the shallower the talk.

work with a lot of thirty-somethings. During breaks the males will coalesce and
begin to sputter on a limited topic: sports, particularly fantasy games.
Arguments will ensue over the relative worth of a player or coach.

share my desk with a work friend who, like me, is closer to retirement age.
We’ve come to regard the frequent outbreaks of guy talk as “Middle School lunch.” This is because they differ
not a whit from the conversations I remember that preoccupied boys of middle
school age.

so the sports bar is everywhere.

upon a time, you could have an actual conversation in a bar, or a coffee shop.
People went to such places just to converse, and some venues were designed
around the conversation. Anyone old enough to remember conversation pits?

places still exist, but I fear they are all in Eastern Europe. Some years back
my youngest took on an internship in Prague while she was in college. She told
me about a night she and her fellow students went out on the town and were
barred from entering numerous drinking establishments at the door. Why? Because
young Americans were regarded as loud, rude, and dullards. They interfered with
intelligent conversation.

me want to hop the next plane to the former Eastern Bloc.

been starving for a long, relaxing meandering conversation, the kind I used to
have with a late friend of mine, eclectic and fractured by an infinite number
of tangents. Oh, we might talk sports, but we’d also sound out religion,
history, literature, the price of eggs, who was and wasn’t gay. It would go on
and on and it gave a deep pleasure to one’s soul.

conversation has become a lost pastime, if not a lost art. Conversation – the
unhurried unraveling of thoughts and ideas, observations and gossip – just
doesn’t seem to fit in the social media age. Today a clever tweet passes as
something profound.

conversation allows two or more people to develop and illuminate ideas. It’s
akin to storytelling, but not quite. A storyteller, after all, speaks or writes
to a rapt audience who receive the tale, but don’t alter it. So while
storytelling might be part of conversation, all participants steer and adjust
the story, and through that process the initiator of the story might well reach
an ending he did not intend.

toyed with writing a story as a conversation. And while some books I’ve read
could be described as conversational, the only one I ever read whose style was
in the form of a long, meandering conversation with tangents shooting off in
multiple directions is “Son of the Morning Star” by Evan S. Connell.

its face an account of the life and last battle of star-crossed Western Icon
George Armstrong Custer, it is so much more. An entire review of late 18th
century America and the clash of cultures, but told in small morsels of
humanity, with accounts centering on minor as well as major players. By the
time I’d finished the book I felt like I’d spent a few hours in a corner booth
with a gifted conversationalist.

miss it. Conversation, that is. Quiet, unhurried talk.

miss talking with people generally; I miss talking to people without a gadget
in their hand.

guess I’m getting crabby.

In praise of reading out loud

By Sam Kruit (ERWA Editor in Chief)

It’s the end of the year, so I’m going to keep this short and
light and highlight just some of the issues that programmed spell and grammar
checks can never save you from.

If editors aren’t in your budget, and beta readers do things
in their own sweet time, read your work out loud. Seriously. It’s the best
investment of time you can make towards the end of the polishing process.

You’ll catch over-long sentences. You’ll catch awkward
punctuation. You may catch words spelt correctly, but used wrongly. You’re more
likely to pick up on formatting issues. And by focussing on each word
individually, hopefully you’ll rescue yourself from the kind of goofs that
continue to crop up in journalistic writing all the time—ones that even bypass
the section editor or editor in chief.

Read, learn, and giggle if so inclined! Have a great festive

Lesson 1:  one letter
out of place changes everything…

Before Miss
Colverson concluded her concert with a rendition of ‘At the end of a perfect
day’ she was prevented with a large bouquet of carnations by the Mayoress.

weather: A depression will mope across Southern England.

Unless the
teachers receive a higher salary they may decide to leave their pests.

The Red
Cross found a bed for him in an institution specialising in the treatment of

Mrs Norris,
who won a brace of pheasants, kindly gave her prize bark and this raised £5.50
for the funds [this one’s 30 years old… so about £35, really!]

The bride
was very upset when one of the bridesmaids stepped on her brain and tore it.

Lesson 2: keep an eye on the relationship between subject and

consuming about a hundred portions of chips, 28 pounds of sausages, rolls ice
cream and cake, the Mayoress presented the trophies to the boys.

A carpet
was stolen from Walsingham Hall over the weekend. Measuring six by six feet,
the thief has baffled the police.

Parents and
teachers are definitely to blame here. You find them playing on both main and
by-pass roads, throwing each other’s caps and dashing out after them, and many similar

Today’s tip
tells you how to keep your hair in good condition. Cut it out and paste it to a
piece of cardboard and hang it in your bathroom.

‘We saw
over thirty deer come to the forest to feed in the early morning,’ said Mrs
Boston, and added that they had thick sweaters and several flasks of hot tea
with them.

A quantity
of drugs were discovered by a sniffer dog hidden in a cigarette packet.

Lesson 3: Watch the juxtaposition of information…


body urged.

celebrated soprano was involved in a serious road accident last month. We are
happy to report that she was able to appear this evening in four pieces.

The boy was
described as lazy and insolent, and when asked by his mother to go to school he
threatened to ‘smash her brains out’. The case has been adjourned for three
weeks to give the boy another chance.

Lesson 4: there is such a thing as trying to say too much in
too few words…







Firemen in
Yorkshire received over 20 letters of thanks today thanking them for their
efforts which destroyed five houses yesterday.

In case you might be wondering what I’ve been up to lately, check out this link to the articles I’ve been doing for the great Future Of Sex site. Other things brewing, but writing about the sexuality of tomorrow has been a blast!

Emotional Survival Kit

Please read this if you just had something rejected:

It’s part of being a writer. Everyone gets rejected. Repeat after me: EVERYONE GETS REJECTED. This does not mean you are a bad writer or a bad person. Stories get rejected for all kinds of reasons, from “just not the right style” to a just plain grouchy (or really dumb) editor. Take a few deep breaths, do a little research, and send the story right out again or put it in a drawer, forget about it, remember it again, take it out, read it, and realize it really is DAMNED good. Then send it out again.

Never forget that writing is subjective. My idea of a good story is not yours, yours is not his, and his is not mine. Just because an editor doesn’t like your story doesn’t mean that everyone will, or must, dislike it as well. Popularity and money don’t equal quality, and struggle and disappointment don’t mean bad work. Keep trying. Keep trying. Keep trying.

Think about the rewards, about what you’re doing when you write. I love films, but I hate it when people think they are the ultimate artistic expression. Look at a movie – any movie – and you see one name above all the others: the director, usually. But did he write the script, set the stage, design the costumes, act, compose the music, or anything really except point the camera and tell everyone where to stand? A writer is all of that. A director stands on the shoulders of hundreds of people, but a writer is alone. Steinbeck, Hemmingway, Austin, Shakespeare, Homer, Joyce, Faulkner, Woolf, Mishima, Chekhov – all of them, every writer, created works of wonder and beauty all by themselves. That is marvelous. Special. That one person can create a work that can last for decades, centuries, or even millennia. We pick up a book, and through the power of the author’s words, we go somewhere we have never been, become someone new, and experience things we never imagined. More than anything else in this world, that is true, real magic.

When you write a story, you have created something that no one – NO ONE – in the entire history of history has done. Your story is yours and yours alone; it is unique and you, for doing it, are just as unique.

Take a walk. Look at the people you pass on the street. Think about writing, and sending out your work: what you are doing is rare, special, and DAMNED brave. You are doing something that very few people on this entire planet are capable of, either artistically or emotionally. You may not have succeeded this time, but if you keep trying, keep writing, keep sending out stories, keep growing as a person as well as a writer, then you will succeed. The only way to fail as a writer is to stop writing.

But above all else, keep writing. That’s what you are, after all: a writer.


Please read if you just had something accepted:

Big deal. It’s a start. It’s just a start. It’s one sale, just one. This doesn’t make you a better person, or a better writer than anyone else out there trying to get his or her work into print. You lucked out. The editor happened to like your style and what you wrote about. Hell, maybe it was just that you happened to have set your story in their old hometown.

Don’t open the champagne; don’t think about royalty checks and huge mansions. Don’t brag to your friends, and don’t start writing your Pulitzer acceptance speech. Smile, yes; grin, absolutely, but remember this is just one step down a very long road.

Yes, someone has bought your work. You’re a professional. But no one will write you, telling you they saw your work and loved it; no one will chase you down the street for your autograph; no one will call you up begging for a book or movie contract.

After the book comes out, the magazine is on the stands, or the Web site is up, you will be right back where you started: writing and sending out stories, just another voice trying to be heard.

If you write only to sell, to carve out your name, you are not in control of your writing life. Your ego and your pride are now in the hands of someone else. Editors and publishers can now destroy you, just as easily as they can falsely inflate you.

It’s nice to sell, to see your name in print, but don’t write just for that reason. Write for the one person in the whole world who matters: yourself. If you like what you do, and enjoy the process: the way the words flow, the story forms, the characters develop, and the subtleties emerge, then no one can rule what you create, or have you jump through emotional hoops. If a story sells, that’s nice, but when you write something that you know is great – something that you read and tells you that you’re becoming a better and better writer – that’s the best reward there is.

But above all else, keep writing. That’s what you are, after all: a writer.

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Babysitting the Baumgartners - The Movie
From Adam & Eve - Based on the Book by New York Times Bestselling Authors Selena Kitt

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