Monthly Archives: September 2017

K D Grace

Sometimes the sexiest part of a story is the sex that doesn’t happen. Let’s face it, half the fun in novels is imagining what would happen if the villain and the heroine got together … just once, or maybe the villain and the hero, or even all three. You get the picture. It’s very difficult to read a novel, watch a television series, see a film and not do a bit of shipping or fantasize about a little slash. I figure that’s why dream sequences of the sex that doesn’t happen are so commonly used. It’s a way of giving a nod to the fans’ fantasies. I think it’s also a way of letting fans know that the writer was thinking the exact same thing.


My novel, Blindsided was just released yesterday, and it’s very much the reason I am thinking about the sex that didn’t happen. Blindsided is a steaming cauldron of the sex that didn’t happen, but gets fantasized about by both my characters and me. Oh don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of sex that does happen too, but a great deal of the plot momentum comes from the sex that doesn’t happen. That’s a part of what made the writing, and I hope the reading of it, so damn much fun.


In my early days of writing erotica, when the old ‘sex scene every 2K’ was the standard expectation from editors, my efforts were all about telling a story in spite of the sex that I knew most people were reading it for. My challenge was engaging readers beyond the one-handed read. The sex was most often simple, straightforward and graphically written. Perhaps that doesn’t get boring for the reader — especially if all she wants is a one-handed read — though I have my doubts. I guarantee it gets boring for the writer who wants to explore sex and relationship at a deeper level, who wants to tell a story that takes the reader beyond basic porn-sex.


The power of sex has always been that it is about so much more than just procreation or recreation. I’ve written multiple posts about sex as magic, sex as transcendence, sex as a creative force. But as I’ve begun work in earnest on the Medusa’s Consortium novels and stories, I’ve become more and more intrigued with the sex that doesn’t happen. Sometimes that’s the sexiest bit. Intercourse is not necessary for a relationship between characters to be sexual. And the lack thereof can serve to make their journeys even more intriguing.


There are things, experiences, moments that ‘take us there’ in far more powerful ways than getting just naked and fucking. Music, scent, spoken word, watching the way someone moves, listening to the way someone describes what matters to them, and so much more — these are the things that get us inside a person’s head. The convoluted path inside each person that leads to what turns us on at a more visceral level than just the physiology of sex is the journey of story. It’s the journey that makes the sex act a part of something greater than itself. Following the characters down that winding path makes for more than just a fascinating read. It offers a three dimensional experience for the reader/watcher, it offers a much deeper connection with the characters and their stories. When it’s done exceptionally well, the sex that doesn’t happen creates an empathetic experience that allows the reader/watcher to identify, to connect with, even to vicariously become the character.


The sexual nature of characters is intrinsic in who they are and in the way they view the world and the people they care about. It is so closely tied to their self-worth and their view of self that it’s impossible to tell their stories without in some way exposing that sexual taproot of identity. The more closely the story is tied to that view of self, the more that link is exposed, the more readers see the true nature of those characters. And when the true nature of a character is exposed, there may very well be a lot of powerful sex that doesn’t happen.


Let’s say you’ve been bitten by the Writing Bug and you want to be the next J. K. Rowling or Stephen King. You bought a writing program, took a couple of classes – or even majored in English or Creative Writing – and you’ve attended a writer’s conference or two. Or three. Those things can be addictive. You’ve joined a writers group. Your mom loves your stories although she wishes they were less violent or didn’t have so much smut in them. So now you are ready to take the literary world by storm. You are on a high like you’ve never experienced before.

I’m about to burst your bubble. Are you ready for the facts about your chosen career?

Rather than take the literary world by storm, you’re more likely to run into a very unpleasant drought. Here are five realities of being a writer.

  1. Book publishing is about sales, not about how great a writer you are. Getting a publisher or agent won’t guarantee you a best seller.

I read a depressing article about actress Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark on the hit HBO series Game Of Thrones. She was auditioning for a new role and it was between her and a woman she described as a much better actress. Turner got the part, not because she was a better fit for the role but because she had a much stronger social media presence. She has thousands of followers on Twitter whereas this unknown woman couldn’t match that. Turner’s fame could help bring in an audience – and that translates to sales and big box office. So although she was not the better actress – and the other woman likely would have been a much better fit – the studio went with Turner because she had pull.

You may be the most talented writer in the world, but if you don’t have a following, it will be harder for you to make your way in the writing world than it is for George R. R. Martin to not kill his characters. Agents and especially big publishers are reluctant today to take on unknown talent. They are in the business of making money and they don’t like to take risks. That’s why you see so many Harry Potter knock offs. That’s why 50 Shades of Grey became so famous. Yes, that should piss you off. The writing in 50 Shades is atrocious, but E. L. James had a built-in following when she wrote her Twilight fanfic Master of the Universe. That alone made an agent’s job easier. In order to make it big-time as a writer you already need to have made the big-time as a writer. It’s the ultimate Catch-22. An agent and big publisher will help such a writer make bigger time. That said, there is no guarantee landing an agent will result in a best seller. The average U.S. book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime.

  1. You need a good editor and a good cover artist.

There is an old saying that goes, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.”

Whoever said that has never published a book. The cover matters. The cover is the first thing a potential reader sees when looking for a new book to read. If it looks like a 3 year old pasted clip art all over your dust jacket, that will sink your book. If you are not a master of Photoshop, it is vital you pay an expert to create a kick-ass cover for your book. No, you are not an exception. Put up the cash for a good book cover artist. Look at the covers that person has designed. Choose someone who has won awards. Know your book inside-out so you know what to stress to the artist when creating your book cover. Look at book covers in your chosen genre to see what they may have in common. Common styles, common themes. You don’t want heaving bosoms or oiled male bodies on a horror novel cover. You don’t want blood and guts on a romance novel cover. Know your readers, and give them what they want. Catch your reader’s attention and make him or her grab your book. That’s what the cover does. It catches the reader’s attention and leads to a sale. Make that cover count.

One big mistake many self-published writers make is that they do not hire an editor to edit their works. They think since they aced English 101 they don’t need to spend roughly one hundred (or more) dollars for a professional editor. Take my word for it – you do. One of the biggest gripes readers have outside ugly covers is poorly edited books. If your book is full of misspellings and grammatical errors, you won’t sell another book. Pony up the cash for a good editor. Get referrals from writer friends online or talk to people in a local writers group for recommendations. A good editor will save your life and that person will come in handy for future books. Look into asking writer friends to be a beta reader for your book. Beta readers are not substitutes for good editors, but it’s a great idea to have a second or third pair of eyes look at your work. Do an exchange – you’ll beta read a book for them if they beta read yours. The key is to get outside opinions to improve your book. After a long period of time you could write entire passages in Greek and you wouldn’t notice since you’re too close to your own book. Get an editor. It’s an investment in your future.

  1. Promotions don’t guarantee sales. In fact, most of your promo work is for naught. Sell your persona, not your book.

Face it. You must engage your audience to promote your books. That sentence probably scared the piss out of you because if you are like many writers you are a social klutz. Writers are often insecure, awkward and anti-social – and that’s on a good day. You must carry on conversations with potential readers on social media like Facebook and Twitter. And by “engage your audience” I do not mean spam everyone within earshot with book promo. That is a huge way to turn off people. No one will buy your books if you dup book spam in their mail boxes. Instead, talk to them like they are right there in the room with you. Treat them like people and not potential sales. Give people something worth seeing and reading. Keep in mind that due to Facebook’s algorithm, you are really reaching about only 1 or 2% of the people on your friend’s list. Make your posts clever and worthwhile so people will talk to you.

  1. Your friends and family may not support your endeavors and when they do they may expect free books from you.

Your Catholic family may take umbrage to you writing erotic dinosaur porn. Don’t look for praise and acceptance there. Look to other writers who write erotic dinosaur porn. Even if you write something as innocuous as romance, there will be critics and those critics may be your friends and family. They may expect you to give it up and get a “real” job. They may treat your writing work as a hobby and not take you seriously. Let them. Find others in writers groups and online in places like Facebook and Twitter who support your chosen field. Do you write fantasy? Find other fantasy writers and make connections. The same applies to all other genres. If you do have support from your friends and family, more power to you and consider yourself fortunate.

On the other hand, when you do get support, some friends and relatives may expect you to give your books to them for free. Don’t do it no matter how much pressure you feel. They are not entitled to a freebie just because you share the cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving every year. A truly supportive friend or family member will buy your book from you. Now, if you want to give your book away for free, be my guest. I’m talking about those who expect a freebie from you and have a hissy fit if you refuse. Don’t feel guilty for wanting to make money from your books. Grandma likely can afford a couple of bucks for a paperback or Kindle version. Just don’t tell her about the dino porn.

  1. You probably won’t make much money.

Chances are, you won’t make millions. You may have already accepted that realistic scenario but also realize you likely won’t make enough money in quarterly royalties to buy gas for your beat up old Honda. Most publishers, especially indie publishers, do not offer an advance against royalties. For the most part, you are on your own. According to an article at Publishing Perspectives, “a survey [of over 9,000 writers in the 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey] revealed that 54% of “traditionally-published” authors (and nearly 80% of self-published authors) earn less than $1,000 a year.” Let that sink in.

Now that I have thoroughly depressed you, here is some good news.

While according to that survey most traditionally-published writers barely break even, nearly half are able to earn enough money to satisfy themselves and even live off their earnings. Self-publishing is a much harder route to take, but a 20% success rate is rather high considering the hurdles you must pass in order to publish your own books.

If your family and friends don’t support you, find people who do. Join a local writers group. Not only will you gain much needed valuable support and criticism, you will make new friends. Turn yourself into a social butterfly on Facebook, Twitter, and the like. Engage your audience. Post items designed to get a response such as asking people what they are reading at the moment or ask what books influenced them the most when they were children. Ask their opinions of current movies, TV, and music. Are you a fan of Game Of Thrones or Preacher? Let everyone know and find other fans. Just don’t bring up spoilers without warning (don’t do it at all) or you will make enemies. Talk about stuff other than your books. Nothing turns off potential readers more than a Facebook page full of nothing but book promo. Screaming “Buy My Book!” guarantees no one will touch it.

While many of your books may bomb, you may be surprised to find one or two you didn’t expected to be a hit take off. Take full advantage of that. Write another book in the same genre (or write a series) and get the new book out there as soon as possible. Then, offer the hit book for a sale price temporarily as a promotion for the new book. You’ll draw in new readers that way. Try to write one or two books per year if you can. The more works you have out there, the more you’ll be in the minds of readers and authors alike.

Create a newsletter and send it out no more than once per month. Get to the point in it and keep it brief. Readers like updates from their favorite writers.

While you will likely not be the next George R. R. Martin, there are ways to be happy as a writer. Relish the positive reviews and fan letters. Don’t respond to negative comments or reviews. That’s unprofessional. Don’t let rejections get you down. Everyone gets them. Even J. K. Rowling was rejected numerous times before her Harry Potter series found a home. Have a realistic view of the writing world and you won’t let yourself down.


by | Sep 21, 2017 | 2 comments


During my sex goddess years (somewhere between my introverted bookworm period and my semi-respectable married lady period), I delighted many lovers with my willingness to try new things. I’m not talking about dangerous stuff here, just sex in unusual circumstances. Whipped cream, for instance (the kind that comes in pressurized spray cans). A peep show booth in the seedy part of town. A blow job delivered on the ramparts of a historic Canadian castle. Another under a blanket on a Greyhound bus. Hot wax. Olives eaten out of my pussy. I was open to almost any sexual adventure, and indeed, I had many.

Those days are long gone (though they live on, thinly disguised, in my books). I’m still experimental, however, when it comes to my erotic writing. Indeed, I am constantly tempted by new themes, new sub-genres, and new markets. For example, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing some futanari fiction (even though I’ve never read any), after enjoying Sally Bend’s fantastic reviews of the subgenre. I find the mixture of female and male sexuality to be intensely arousing, so I believe I could make it work. (If I really plan to do this, though, I should probably do at least a little research!)

What else calls to me? Would you believe monster erotica? For some reason, I have this mad urge to write a BigFoot story. I suspect that fad has long since sputtered out, but I’ve never been one to be influenced by trends.

Then there’s adult incest. Talk about ignoring current events! At this very moment, booksellers are scrambling to crack down on this theme (see, for instance, Smashwords’ recent announcement), but hey, I think it could be hot. I’ve definitely read incest erotica that got my motor running. I’ve only written one such tale however (A Breed Apart), which is in any case a bit of a cop-out because the brother and sister are paranormal creatures for whom coupling between siblings is the normal practice. I’m sure I could do better (or worse . . .)

The last experimental itch I actually scratched was an impulse to write a pure stroke book. I’d been reading and enjoying Larry Archer’s lively, warm-hearted smut, and decided to try my hand at a book in the same genre – indeed, set in the same world. I expect to publish that in the next month or so. My erotic romance readers will probably be scandalized – as will the folks who enjoy my “literary” erotica.

But so be it. People probably didn’t approve of my defending my dissertation without a bra either.

I recognize that my tendency to jump all over the genre map does nothing to help my sales. My back list includes romance, suspense, steampunk, science fiction, paranormal, historical, fantasy, gay erotica, lesbian erotica, humor and of course lots of kink – M/f, F/m, F/f, M/m . . . In a world where readers crave predictability, I’m like the weather in New England.

I can’t help it, though, anymore than I could stop myself from agreeing to lick ice cream off my lover’s erection. I mean, I could force myself to choose a genre and build a brand, writing one book after another of the same basic type. But why should I? I’d be miserable. The books probably wouldn’t be much good either, especially the third or the fourth or the tenth.

In the real world, I work as a scientist/engineer. Maybe that’s why I love doing experiments. Or perhaps I’m just easily bored.

So what do you think I should write next?

Whatever it is, I’m willing to consider it.

One of the chief pleasures of writing a historical novel is discovering the details of daily life in the past so we can recreate the texture and flavor of the time. The clothing of the period is, of course, an essential focus of research to put our characters in proper attire. But because erotica writers carefully undress our characters as well, we must also learn exactly the sort of undergarments an impatient lover will encounter for full authenticity.

Most of us know about corsets, petticoats and pantalettes from historical dramas. However, mainstream movies and TV leave out one important aspect of ladies’ drawers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—they had no crotch. Indeed they were almost completely split from end to end, two free-standing leg tubes held together by little more than a waistband as you see below.

Frederick’s of Hollywood doesn’t even dare to go that far.

I first found out about this unspoken feature of female undergarments of the last two centuries when I was assembling a corset-friendly costume for a boudoir photo session a few years ago. I went to a local lace and antique clothing store called Lacis in the hope of finding a pair of old fashioned bloomers. To my delight, I found a pair in exactly my size for a reasonable price pictured in both photographs here. The open crotch was a surprise, but when I put the drawers on, the gap disappeared into a sort of short petticoat. Unless the wearer made an effort to spread the split seam, if you didn’t know, you’d never guess what did–or rather didn’t–lie within.

But of course, the women and men of the 1900s knew. I’ve read in several sources that working-class lovers rarely undressed fully when they had sex in Victorian times. Open-crotch drawers certainly support the logistics of that custom.

In An Intimate Affair: Women, Lingerie, and Sexuality, Jill Fields provides further illumination about the history and sexual politics of open-crotch underpants for women. Until the nineteenth century, women didn’t wear any sort of protective clothing between their legs, although surely there was some provision for menstruation. (In the time period I’m studying, women wore diaper-like pants lined with cotton wool or rags; disposable pads were just coming on the market). Little girls and boys, who were dressed alike in feminine fashion until about the age of five, wore closed pantalettes under shorter dresses. Boys then were “breeched” and wore knee-length britches, then long trousers at puberty. When girls were old enough to put up their hair and lower their skirts—more or less at puberty—they also started wearing open-crotch drawers.

Fields acknowledges that the split crotch made it easier to answer daily necessities for a woman swathed in layers of undergarments and long, heavy skirts. Some experts claimed exposing the female genitals to the air was healthy. However, Fields also emphasizes the symbolic value of the female version of drawers. Women were not supposed to wear trousers—Joan of Arc’s cross-dressing preferences were part of her heresy. If a woman wore closed-crotch garments, she would be veering too close to the appropriation of male privilege, and no real lady would dream of such transgression. Thus, the gap at the crotch symbolized an adult women’s physical difference, her availability to men, and, ironically to our modern sensibility, her feminine modesty.

Around the late 1910s, the world began to change. Skirts shortened. More women were employed outside the home in offices and factories. Women went on “dates” outside the home, danced the tango in public halls and cabarets, and rode bicycles. Modesty in public now required closed-crotch step-ins, more like our tap pants, duly decorated with lace and wider at the leg to distinguish them from men’s drawers. From the end of World War I until the present day, open-crotch panties, once the sign of submissive and respectable femininity, became associated with naughty eroticism instead.

Fields writes: “The sexual access open drawers provided could coexist with woman’s propriety only in the context of an ideology of female passionlessness and social structures of masculine domination. When women publicly asserted their own claims to sexual pleasure, political power, and economic independence, an open crotch was no longer respectable.” (p. 42)

By the 1920s, ladies were now allowed, even required, to experience sexual pleasure in marriage to keep their husbands from straying. While I view this as a positive development, Victorian prudery did allow some women the power to control the number of marital sexual encounters due to their spiritual delicacy, as well as a desire to limit families. Now a woman “owed” her husband regular sex and an enthusiastic response. For the middle-class at least, with their greater access to birth control such as the new latex condoms and diaphragms, intercourse had fewer consequences to fertility than earlier.

Fields even describes a comic novel (1926) and film (1937) called Topper by Thorne Smith where the plot revolves around a prudish wife’s conversion to the modern underpants of a “forward woman,” which improves her sex life with her husband but deprives her of her power as the moral arbiter of the family.

Nonetheless, it would be several decades more before the average woman dared to wear slacks rather than skirts over her closed-crotch undies. At a family reunion last fall, my 96-year-old aunt described the momentous day she wore pants for the first time in her life during an evening stroll with her husband through the neighborhood–with his express permission of course. In the 1950s in the summer, small-town families still gathered on their front porches after dinner to seek relief from the heat. My aunt’s heart was pounding with anxiety as she wondered how the neighbors would react to her brazen outfit. But there were no earthquakes or riots, everyone simply nodded and wished her a good evening as they had the day before.

Some revolutions are quiet, yet significant, like the closing of the crotches on ladies’ drawers.

Reggie Jackson was asked by a reporter of my acquaintance what would have happened if a particular game-winning hit had not gone his way. It was a stupid question, asked by someone who, while he was a very decent human being, just wasn’t too bright.

Reggie’s forbearance was admirable. The hit did go his way; there was nothing else to be said.

But the reporter persisted, “but, Reggie, what if …?”

Reggie’s patience finally evaporated. “If? If don’t mean shit. If the Pilgrims had eaten a cat instead of a turkey, then we’d all have pussy for Thanksgiving!”

Reggie’s point was succinct. What’s the point of pondering what never was?

I generally adhere to Reggie’s point of view, but still, like the rest of us, I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if only history had meandered along a different course.

I was brought up in a working-class home, but I should have been a rich kid. I don’t say that in the sense of, Well, gee, I shoulda been a rich kid. I mean, I really should have been a rich kid. My father was a rich kid. Unfortunately, he was also an orphan. His mother was carried off during the 1918 influenza pandemic. His father died just a couple of years later.

His parents were wealthy. My dad’s sisters had ponies for pets.

His father and his brothers were principles in a high-end furniture manufacturing and retail business. They sold their furnishings to very discriminating, wealthy customers. After his father died, my dad became the ward of his very rich uncle, who was president of no less than three interrelated companies centered in New York City and Boston. My dad was sent off to an expensive Catholic boarding school.

But alas, his millionaire guardian was a skinflint – the kind who tossed nickels around like they were manhole covers. He used to tell of writing to his uncle for spending money because the other kids at school enjoyed sweets and going to the movies. His uncle wrote back, stating sweets were bad for his health, and watching movies in the dark was bad for his eyes.

So my dad said he needed a new suit. His uncle had him go to Brooks Brothers in Boston and order up a suit on his account. My dad got the suit, then promptly took it down to the next street corner and sold it, and that’s how he got his spending money.

Then came the Crash of ’29 and the ensuing Great Depression. My dad had inherited stocks that, while at the time had a good piece of their value knocked out of them, nevertheless recovered. The companies that issued them survived the rough times and continue today in one form or another. But his uncle persuaded him to sign them over to him during the downturn, in the belief they would rebound quickly. They didn’t rebound quick enough. His uncle died in his room at the elegant National Republican Club in midtown Manhattan, across from Bryant Park. A will was read, but creditors pounced like locusts. My parents found themselves in the midst of the Depression dead broke, except for a couple of hundred bucks.

Throughout his life, during which he worked hard as a construction laborer, my dad amused himself by tracking his lost stocks, chuckling that we’d all be rich if only he hadn’t listened to his uncle and held on to them.

Ah, what might have been.

I like to think of myself sometimes as a dissolute scion, a playboy. Sports cars and trophy chicks sunning themselves naked on my private yacht. A one-percenter, perhaps blowing scads of dough on visits to exclusive sex clubs, in pursuit of the next shocking level of debauchery. A well-heeled, licentious libertine: Let them eat cake; I’m having my cake and I’m eating her too.

Ah, but then, would money alone make my tastes any more extravagant? This is a guy who gets sweaty and uncomfortable in fancy restaurants. Not that I frequent many of those.

Nah, I’m too pedestrian, too damned catholic (yeah, with a small c). You can only spend so much money in a lifetime. I’ll be satisfied with enough to get me to the finish line.

Still, it’s fun to imagine keeping a stable of pony girls. Nah … forget I even brought that up.


by | Sep 11, 2017 | 5 comments

Ian Smith

ERWA Gallery Flasher Editor


I’m always intrigued by the wide variety of ideas people come up with for stories. How do they think of them?

Yes, of course there are strong similarities in many genres. Where would a billionaire erotic romance be without (a) a kinky and implausibly young billionaire, and (b) an innocent young lady with an unsuspected taste for being spanked?

And let’s face it, most romance stories are broadly similar. Boy meets girl and they overcome hassles before finding true love. Hassles might be a love rival, abduction, being involved in a war, family or cultural hostilities, misunderstandings, being separated by cruel fate, or simply not liking each other to start with. But if they met, fell in love and lived happily ever after, who’d want to read it?

I’m sure you know how the modern detective is almost required to have some personal problems, like over-fondness for drink, sex or gambling, a missing limb or a personality fault. 

The classic crime thrillers actually had rules to be followed. SS Van Dine listed twenty in 1928, and Ronald Knox published ten in 1929. These are still broadly followed, for instance in the popular British “Midsomer Murders” TV series. Even though these are contemporary, they seem to be set sometime in the past, and often revolve around a rich but dysfunctional and mad family, or a village/community/club generously stuffed with slightly potty people.

But writers still need some inspiration for a story, whether it follows genre conventions or not. They need characters, events, and a story arc. Readers enjoy following the adventures as the characters experience things and develop, and hopefully feel satisfied when the story ends. 

Some of my stories are probably inspired by others I’ve read or watched, even if I can’t actually remember them. But some ideas seem to come completely out of the blue, or grow from an idea for character, a phrase, or even by writing the story to suit an ending I’ve thought of. I’ve even had an idea from my local paper’s “police report” column, about which I will say no more until I’ve written it!  

Many writers admit to using family, friends and acquaintances as the basis for characters. Real people are a great source of the sort of mannerisms and patterns of speech which could really bring a character to life for a reader. And thinking about how to briefly describe them in writing is an interesting exercise too.

I’ve created two characters based on real people. One was a former manager, whose literary alter-ego has an, er, colourful demise. But that’s nothing to do with our unhappy working relationship…

The other character appeared briefly in my third novella. About 20 years ago, I saw a report on my local TV news show about a second-world-war Spitfire which had just been converted to a two-seater. The team involved tracked down a delightful elderly gentleman who’d actually flown that very aircraft in the later stages of the war, and invited him to take a flight. The brief interview he gave afterwards has  stuck in my mind ever since. He said it was just like it had been when he was a young man, except it didn’t smell of fear.

I’ve not thought of a story where I can really explore how I feel about his comments. Well, not yet.

If you’ve seen the film “Shakespeare In Love”, you may recall a brief scene where Shakespeare walks through London and overhears snatches of conversation, all of which are well-known from his plays. A nice idea for an amusing short scene. I don’t believe for a second that the Bard “invented” all the words which appeared for the first known time in his writing, but he had an awesome knack for putting them together in ways which still work four hundred years later.

But that’s not a bad idea, keeping your ears open and making notes before you forget.

My wife was once given directions to a conference being hosted in a museum. The phrase “turn right at the elephant” certainly stuck in her mind. And I’ve used it in one of my own flash-fiction stories, too.

I’ve used another example in a draft novella I’m working on, inspired by a real-life conversation where someone said something which all-too-easily be taken to mean that her sister’s late husband had been put down by a vet. 

I noted a brief conversation a couple of years which I’d love to use, but it’s a challenging to find a suitable context. But I will. I walked past some burlesque dancers chatting during a break between performances and overheard one of them say, “He wanted her to ride in on a pony, bareback and only wearing a tangerine thong. I mean, you just can’t do it.”

Is it me?

What’s the problem with tangerine?

 by Ashley Lister 

Dark, dangerous
succumbing, submitting, surrendering
We want this badly


We’ve looked at the traditional cinquain in the past, but I don’t recall us looking at the modern cinquain. Whilst the traditional cinquain is based on a strict syllable count, the modern cinquain is based on particular types of words, as illustrated below.


line 1 – one word (noun) a title or name of the subject
line 2 – two words (adjectives) describing the title
line 3 – three words (verbs) describing an action related to the title
line 4 – four words describing a feeling about the title, a complete sentence
line 5 – one word referring back to the title of the poem


long, slender
testing, touching, teasing,
delving deeper and deeper

Remember – you’re not counting syllables with this form: only words. As always, I look forward to reading your poems in the comments below.




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