Monthly Archives: August 2018
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 two cats.
Web site: http://elizabethablack.blogspot.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/elizabethblack
Summer is nearly over, and I can tell fall is coming. The signs are all there. I’m going to miss summer. While I enjoy spring and summer, I also enjoy fall. I am not fond of winter since we get nor’easters that dump tons of snow on us. I like snow that looks pretty and doesn’t clog up the sidewalks and roads. I hate ice. But it’s coming and I must prepare for it.
The air is getting cooler following August’s ripe heat here on the northeast coast of Massachusetts. The farmer’s markets are wrapping up for the season. I’ll know for sure when fall is over when Dairy Maid Ice Cream and Seaside Subs & Pizza close for the season. I like to get a kiddie-sized twist soft serve in a cup from Dairy Maid. Seaside Subs has the best pizza I’ve ever tasted. It is called the Surfside Six and it includes the following toppings: sea clams, basil, bacon, parmesan, mozzarella, all in a garlic sauce. This was my first garlic sauce pizza and I’m hooked.
The moment I saw my first titmouse of the season is when I knew for sure fall was coming. Titmice are little birds that I often see hanging around with the chickadees which also tend to disappear here during the summer. This is a titmouse:
I also see the purple loosestrife along the roadsides. That plant is an invasive species that can crowd the earth but it’s a very pretty plant. Tall purple spikes stand out amid all the green and brown alongside the road. This is purple loosestrife:
Goldenrod also signals the end of the summer season. I’m seeing it more often on the roadsides and in meadows now. People are not allergic to goldenrod despite somewhat popular belief. They are allergic to ragweed, which looks similar. Goldenrod gets a bad rap. Here is some goldenrod.
The last way I know fall is on its way and summer is winding down is when I see sandpipers on the beach. For some odd reason I don’t see them here during the summer. Only in the spring and fall. I thought they were year-round birds but I guess they aren’t. They’re adorable. They travel in flocks and they never sit still. I always see them at the water’s edge, pecking around for any morsels they can find. Her are some sandpipers at Good Harbor Beach, which isn’t far from my home.
I’m sorry to see summer go, but fall brings pumpkins, apple cider, maple syrup and candy and my favorite holiday – Halloween. I will walk on the beach as long as I can before the temps freeze too much to go outside. Until then, I’m enjoying what’s left of summer.
[Note: living trees look more inviting.]
by Jean Roberta
The most recent topic of discussion on another writers’ blog, “Oh Get a Grip,” was “chaos.” Each contributor interpreted this term differently. Some discussed the chaos in the world which can be inspiring to a writer, some described the chaos in a writer’s mind which can lead to unexpected connections which form a plot, and some talked about the apparent randomness of a writer’s luck in getting published (or not).
I’ve been dealing with the physical chaos in the second-story bedroom that my spouse and I call “the library.” It used to be filled with books in bookcases made of particleboard that were buckling under the weight. When I got a new, shelf-lined office in the university where I teach, I moved our whole fiction section there, along with much of the non-fiction. The empty bookshelves at home were so decrepit that I took them apart and recycled them.
Taking three-quarters of the books out of the “library” should have created more space, but it simply cleared more room for more stuff. At this point, I can’t remember how I managed to keep all my stuff in an apartment.
The home library has become an unofficial storage unit for stuff that doesn’t clearly belong anywhere else: paid bills (which might be needed as proof), framed artwork (which we haven’t decided where to place), two sewing machines (one a treasured antique from 1916 which first belonged to my grandmother), thread, ribbons, pins and fabric, a filing cabinet for important legal/financial documents, musical instruments (spouse comes from a musical family), greeting cards, stationery, envelopes, etc. Every few years, I reorganize, yet my organization plans don’t last.
Lately, I started sorting out the stack of papers related to my writing. One of my filing cabinets in my office at school contains numerous containers for correspondence with various publishers. One of my shelves is labelled “Dead Publishers,” and it includes material I can’t bear to throw away.
In the home library, I have two envelopes for two publishers I’ve dealt with at home during my time away from the classroom. One of them is Excessica, the writers’ co-op run by Selena Kitt where I have several pieces for sale, and really should post more. I also keep a running list of calls-for-submissions with deadlines which I keep updating and reprinting. Under that, I keep a list of my fiction pieces (short and long stories) in alphabetical order with word-counts, listed by content (het erotica, lesbian erotica, bisexual and ménage erotica, gay-male erotica, realistic-contemporary, historical, fantasy). I keep two lists of submissions: fiction and non-fiction, with dates and the places where I’ve sent them. When/if one of my submissions gets accepted or posted, I circle it.
Atop all this, I had a large pile of blank sheets of paper on which I had scrawled useful information: email addresses of writers and publishers, buy links for books, event listings, promo information, research notes. In the last week, I’ve managed to turn most of this handwritten material into files in my “Documents” on the home computer.
I probably sound well-organized, but I still feel lost in a paper forest. Any serious writer needs to stay on top of the business of writing while also making time to write and revise material for publication. I’ve noticed that several of my stories have been rejected once and haven’t been sent out again. Clearly, that needs to change, but I need to decide whether to revise them, and if so, by how much.
The last three years’ worth of fiction submissions show me that several editor/publishers gave me vague promises that they wanted to hang onto my stuff for publication sometime in the future. How soon should I send another query, and when should I give up hope and send these pieces somewhere else?
Or should I put everything else aside to write stories that need to be submitted SOON because deadlines are speeding toward me? I don’t have much time left before I have to start teaching three classes and marking assignments.
The Welsh poet Dylan Thomas described writing as a “lonely craft,” and I’ve seen it visually represented by images of empty boats and boats with one person in each, surrounded by vast bodies of water. These visual metaphors are not encouraging.
However, writers’ groups such as Erotic Readers and Writers bring writers together to critique each others’ work, kvetch, inform, and compare notes. I’m curious to know how other writers organize writing-related material so that everything can be found when needed.
If you have a job that doesn’t occupy the entire day, have you thought about writing porn at work but were afraid that the IT department would catch you? Portable versions of LibreOffice might be something to think about.
You’ve likely heard of LibreOffice, an open source or free replacement of Microsoft Word but what is a “Portable” version?
PortableApps is a software package that allows the user to run Windows programs on a USB jump drive without requiring software to be installed on a desktop PC. What does this mean for the typical worker in a corporate environment?
Most of us, as a minion of corporate America, use a computer that is locked down. Without Administrative privileges, a user cannot install software on their desktop PC. Plus the fact that corporate IT regularly sweeps user PC’s to see what their serfs are up to.
This reminds me of the scene in Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail when King Author rides through a field with several workers. One of the workers asked, “Who’s that?” A worker replies, “Must be a king?” First worker, “How do you know he’s the king?” Answer, “He doesn’t have shit all over him.”
What’s a worker bee to do? Into the ring, PortableApps steps up to solve a problem. Keep in mind that what I’m about to tell you might get yourself into trouble with your employer, and so I have no responsibility for anything that happens to you.
Using a USB jump drive or thumb drive, you can install applications which run off the USB drive without requiring installation on your desktop PC. Furthermore, when you exit a program, it deletes the temporary folder created to completely erase any trace that it ever existed.
In plain English, this means that you can pull a jump drive out of your pocket or purse and plug it into your locked down work computer. Then run word processing and graphics applications that allow you to do work that would normally require Word, Excel, or PhotoShop. Then after you exit the programs, pull the jump drive out, and all traces of what you’ve been doing are erased.
There are a ton of programs, which have portable versions, that can be run from a thumb drive. It is a little slower than having the software installed on your PC, but slower is better than nothing. The program itself runs at typically the same speed, it just loads slower as a USB drive is slower reading than the hard disk.
For an Indie author, especially the paranoid type, being able to work on your latest masterpiece without worrying that your employer might find out that you’re a pervert can be a definite advantage for those who have free time at work.
If you haven’t tried LibreOffice, it is an open source clone of Microsoft Word and can easily read and write Word files. A Word user should feel right at home with LibreOffice, and it’s completely free!
Portable applications are available for GIMP, a PhotoShop clone, along with most of the other programs used by Indie authors to create and publish their stories. It typically takes 2gb of space to install a full suite of programs, which leaves plenty of space to store your work with an 8gb or larger jump drive. With jump drives selling for under twenty dollars, consider giving this a try.
Below find step by step directions on installing PortableApps onto a jump drive along with a common suite of useful programs.
Installing PortableApps On a Jump Drive
- For Windows PC’s, go to https://portableapps.com/ and install the PortableApps program on a jump drive. I suggest at least an 8gb drive or larger. For this article, I downloaded “PortableApps.com_Platform_Setup_15.0.2.paf.exe” to the Downloads folder of my desktop running 64bit Windows 10 Professional.
- Run the program you just downloaded, which in my case was version 15.0.2 (the latest as of 8/18/18). Go through the normal installation questions and select “New Install” when prompted.
- Plug a USB Jump Drive into your computer and select “Portable” as the Install Location. The installation program should default to the jump drive but if it doesn’t, select the appropriate Jump Drive. Okay the “are you sure” question to Install. Then click Finish when the installation is complete. This should automatically run the PortableApps program on the Jump Drive.
- Go through the list of available programs and check the ones you’d like installed. I’d suggest you include LibreOffice, GIMP, Note++, IrfanView, JPEGView, Fotografix, Inkscape, Scribus, Sigil, Kaspersky TDSSKiller, 7-Zip, Don’t Panic, and FastCopy to start. Feel free to add any others that strike your fancy. After you click Next, wait for the apps to be installed. Depending on the speed of your computer and Internet connection, this could be a while. There should be an icon in your taskbar showing the progression of the installs. I’m on a 300 Mbit cable connection and using an i7 computer, and it still took me 10-15 minutes to install the apps selected above.
- Assuming that you don’t get any errors, installing at a minimum the above list of programs will enable you to read/write Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, edit graphics (aka PhotoShop) and create covers (aka CorelDraw). You will probably have to agree to a few license agreements along the way, and hopefully, you don’t end up like Kyle from South Park when he agrees to be a HUMANCENTiPAD! Much less the cuttlefish!
- One of the recommended programs I installed in this How To guide is “Don’t Panic,” which is what we used to call a “Boss Switch” that hides your work. If you’re doing something that you shouldn’t and your boss or co-worker starts heading towards your desk, press the hotkey combination, and your program(s) are instantly hidden. Remember that I’m not recommending you screw off at work!
Currently, my story de jour is still House Party about surprisingly a house party. House party is an acronym of a swinger’s party with a number of twists and turns from my normal fare. I’m still not sure how it’s going to turn out but will hopefully be HEA in the end!
House Party is currently over 52,000 words and going strong despite all efforts to end the story. Amazon has a 30-day cliff, and if you don’t publish on a regular basis, you get kicked to the curb. But my characters don’t seem to appreciate the fact that it’s Publish or Perish!
Thanks for reading and if it’s the 24th, it’s another bit of smut from Larry Archer. Visit me at LarryArcher.blog for more pervy stuff. Sorry, I can’t offer any cooking or house cleaning tips but if it involves abusing yourself, drop me a line: Larry [at] LarryArcher [dot] com.
I have to apologize. Through most of my life as Lisabet Sarai (which began in 1999 when I published the first edition of Raw Silk), I’ve been something of an elitist snob. Despite having written a great many extremely filthy sex scenes, I’ve always considered myself as an author of “literary erotica”. If you’d asked me what I meant by that label, I’d have launched into a spirited explanation of how my work focused on “the experience of desire” and the “emotional and spiritual aspects of sexuality”, not just on the physical acts involved. I would also have talked about how much I hate the stereotypes of porn, and how hard I’ve tried to use original premises, perspectives and characters in my erotica. Finally, I’d mention (maybe a bit shyly) the fact that I view style and craft to be at least as important in erotica as sexual heat.
All of this is true. Nevertheless, if you listened closely, you might have detected a bit of defensiveness in my exposition. My work is not porn, reads the subtext. It’s not obscene. It has redeeming artistic value. Sure, Amazon might be ready to throw me into the adult dungeon along with the authors of Gang-bang at the OK Corral and Taking Daddy’s Big Cock Up My Ass, but my stories are different—more thoughtful, nuanced and complex, less exploitative and nasty. Better… or at least more socially acceptable.
Nearly twenty years after coming out as an erotic writer, I’m starting to realize that as far as the world is concerned, I’m just as guilty of writing dirty stories as the author of Lezzie Virgins Violated by Extraterrestrial Octopi or Stealing My Sister’s Smelly Panties. The richness of my descriptions, the depth of my characterization, the vividness with which I evoke my settings—none of this changes the fact that, at the end of the day, I write what most people would call smut. Furthermore, my most dedicated fans read my stuff at least partly for the arousal, not because of its literary merit.
In addition, I’ve come to understand that my fears of being viewed as nothing more than a stroke author have held me back. There have been times, especially when I was aiming at a romance market, when I’ve censored myself, turning down the heat or at least mitigating the rawness in my tales for fear of alienating my readers. My fear and my snobbishness combined to make my work less than genuine.
Last year, I started to deliberately write stroke fiction. So far I’ve published two novellas (Hot Brides in Vegas and More Brides in Vegas) that are basically wall-to-wall, no-holds-barred, every-combination-and-position sex. While these books do have a plot and what I hope are appealing characters, my main goals are to entertain my readers and to get them hot and horny. I have no deeper message, aside from the general position that sex is tremendous fun and everyone should get as much as they want.
I’m working right now on the third volume of the series, Sin City Sweethearts. It’s both easier and harder than writing so-called literary erotica. On the one hand, I don’t have to censor myself (much – I’m so tempted to introduce taboo elements like sister-sister incest into the current book, but I do want to avoid the dungeon if I can). On the other hand, it’s sometimes a struggle to turn off my inner critic and just let my fantasies out onto the page. I really have to stop over-thinking things like narrative structure, balanced POV and the Aristotelian unities, because that just slows me down.
Aside from the volume of the sex and the eager horniness of my characters, these porn books are actually less transgressive than some of my more literary work. There’s some mild BDSM, but none of the edgy power exchange action that shows up in my earlier books. I don’t know whether that will change as I continue to explore this corner of my imagination. Having opened this can of worms, I’ll be interested to see what crawls out.
One thing I’d like to try is writing some futa fiction. I’m also personally turned on by some incest scenarios, despite the official prohibition. There are other forbidden but titillating topics that call out to me.
I don’t know if I’m brave enough to respond to those calls. I’m afraid my existing fans would drop me in disgust. Obviously I could create a new pen name for the taboo stories, but I already find managing one pseudonymous identity takes more time and effort than I have available.
Anyway, I’ll have to see where my Muse leads me. She has a very dirty mind.
Meanwhile I’m forced to acknowledge that the boundary between erotica and porn is sufficiently subjective and fluid that it might not exist at all.
Last month, I talked about my dreams by day. Even before I honed my skills as an erotica writer, my waking reveries were vivid and explicit.
Yet I can’t recall a single explicit sleeping dream. At best there’s been a kiss and an embrace. No one has ever taken off any clothes. I feel a bit like the Meg Ryan character in When Harry Met Sally—although of course, only at night.
In pondering the nature of my night dreams, I realized there is a lot of suspense and implied sexuality. I know some people think dreams are boring—I find them endlessly fascinating, like a secret code where the same message has many translations. For those of you who do like dreams, I’d like to share two recent examples that have stayed with me to see what you think.
In one dream, I was lying on a single bed in a small bedroom, rather like a maid’s room in an attic. A man walked in and started opening the drawers of my small dresser over against the wall. I felt mildly violated, but said nothing and stayed motionless on the bed merely watching and waiting. Then the man came over, sat down beside me at the edge of the bed and looked down at me.
That’s it. But when I woke, I thought, “What a weird sex dream.”
In another, a man asked me to meet him in his hotel room for a meeting on political issues. I was worried he might take some sexual advantage, but he was perfectly professional, even though we were sitting on beds while I asked him questions about political action. Still uncomfortable, I excused myself to get something to drink and found myself in a huge hotel lobby complex, like the endless mall lobbies they have in Las Vegas or the train stations in Japan. I wandered through stores and bakeries and restaurants in an effort to get back to the meeting. When I finally found the man’s room, it was occupied by someone else, as if he’d never been there. I never found him again.
“Wow, I think that was sort of a sex dream,” I thought when I woke up.
My night dreams are more like old-fashioned romances than modern erotica: the simmering tension between me and a mysterious man, the unsettled nature of our relationship, the fade-to-nothing before anything actually juicy happens. Is it because I was raised in a time when sex was rarely openly discussed? Or is that I deal with explicit sexuality in my waking life so it’s other things that need working out at night?
Each of these men had the name of someone I’ve dealt with in real life, but I know the dream was not about that person, rather more of something he represents: the sense of a power differential and my being in a world where he has more control than I do.
Last month I argued that our waking dreams have interesting things to tell us. Night dreams do as well, but the listening requires even more patience and curiosity to find the truth at their heart. I remember one dream analyst recommending that you pay attention to the feelings a dream evokes rather than any of the “factual” details. I also find that approach more illuminating than a list of symbolic meanings—dresser drawers symbolize my vagina and hotel rooms sexual intimacy (although you could argue for both).
In any case, I can feel when a dream drips with sexual politics even if everyone keeps his/her clothes on. A good erotic story can achieve the same. (In case you’re curious, yes, as in the photo above, I always sleep in lipstick to look my best 24/7!)
Are your night dreams different from you daydreams?
I recently caught up to a much-acclaimed movie that I had missed when it arrived in theaters last year and came away wondering what all the fawning critics were thinking of when they praised it to the heavens. The movie was so full of improbable events and exaggerated characters that I just couldn’t take it seriously. One character in particular was portrayed as a violent, and intellectually challenged cretin through 90 percent of the film, but by the end had abruptly – and jarringly – changed 180-degrees to a savvy hero.
No … no way. I’m not believing this.
My disappointment got me to thinking of the many times I’d taken a book I had invested my time in, only to fling the damned thing across the room because I’d run smack into a wall of disbelief.
My wife devours mystery novels, but I avoid them. Too many times I’ve been disappointed by denouements that wrapped up the case using characters or clues that hadn’t been mentioned anywhere in the previous pages.
For me, a story is also ruined by a character who abruptly acts out-of-character. “Tis’ a far better thing I do …” without any foundation, but rather a sudden decision to stick one’s neck in the guillotine because it seemed like a good idea at the time, just makes me bitter for wasting my time.
It makes me suspect the writer got lazy after failing to tie up loose ends.
It’s also disrespectful to the reader, since the writer seems to think they’re idiots and won’t notice the glaring improbability.
Erotica asks readers to suspend disbelief to a degree even beyond what readers of science fiction or fantasy are willing to allow. Science fiction and fantasy asks us to believe in worlds that could exist. The important word there is could.
But erotica asks us to believe unlikely erotic encounters could happen in this world. And since we all live in this world, we all have a sense of what’s likely, unlikely, or just wishful thinking.
That’s why straight stroke stories never appealed to me, particularly the kind where two absolute strangers decide to go at it on the spur of the moment. Forget the mile-high club, too; what, with all the news about passengers groped on airliners?
I realize it’s fiction, but as G.B. Shaw once said, if it’s fiction, you can believe every word is true. Um … unless I can’t.
Looky there. It’s a flying rat.
I know you already knew it.
It was here that I knew that Colonel Plum did it in the bathroom with the pipe wrench and “WHAM!” That is how it happened.
I have some type of attention deficit disorder; however, I have not been diagnosed, but I do know…
Write over it.
Where was I?
I ain’t got no clues present to get me back to the beginning, but I don’t want to start at the beginning because it is way too long ago and I can’t catch you up to speed.
Anyway, this was to get you to understand that holding the audience’s attention, maintaining good grammar and the story structure are the three very important parts to writing a story. The audience is your fan base and beyond. You know not to tell your audience anything unless it will not come out. Your audience is who you write for and make sure that the plot moves along. Make sure that you’re writing for your intended audience instead of trying to please everyone.
We always talk about speech tags and their overuse of speech tags like “she hissed,” “he snapped,” “she stammered,” get irritating fast. Likewise, reading a character’s name too often in dialogue can be a turn off. Avoid more than the occasional “um” or “well,” or “er,” and keep dialogue realistic, but more coherent. Also, make sure the words that are grammatically correct. IF the language that you are relaying your story in is not your first language or you’re not completely fluent, make sure to get assistance.
Your writing style, tone, character motivations, or even plot might begin one way and, unintentionally, change at some point in the book. Be especially aware of small details like names, occupations, physical descriptions of people or places, which can all fall prey to inconsistencies over the course of 300+ pages. Something to look at for writing style is “Eats Shoots & Leaves” by Lynne Truss and reading a few articles from Michael Hauge will assist in this category.
Make sure that when telling your story begin at a point that can be referenced back to in the story. Chronological stories are good, but there are some times the chronological order of the story will not bring the story to where it needs to be. If all the good stuff happens at the beginning, or if nothing exciting happens until the end, your reader will be frustrated with the rest of the book.
This is what gets me. Knowing when and where to begin your story. There are some that say that you should begin your first major plot point within the first 25% of your story or you can jar the balance of how the story arc falls. Some say that you can start your story chronologically and then work backwards to the event. Within each set of “rules” there is always time. Time is a factor in everything. If you give the audience too much too soon, then there is nothing else to read. If you make the audience wait until the last chapter to find out anything, you may lose your audience. You want to provide just enough, but no one ever knows when to say when and that is why we have editors.
I have gotten better at finding a balance in the information that I do provide my readers; however, that is after a lot of help from people in ERWA who help hone my skills for writing. There are other resources that can assist you if you have not subscribed to our Storytime List and those resources are:
“Damn Fine Story: Mastering the Tools of a Powerful Narrative” by Chuck Wendig and “The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface” by Donald Maass.
There is a TedX video that brings in circularity, symmetry and a few other things to light for writers. That link is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUT6GQveD0E (I do not own the rights to this video, I am just sharing it.)
All in all, in order to write something that someone else wants to read, make sure that you can capture and keep their attention, make sure your vocabulary fits your scenery, that you are aware of small detailed changes so there are no mix ups, and start at a good place in the story so that it can keep going and then finish it with something memorable.
Made you look!
By Ashley Lister
Back in June, I mentioned that characters can be built through four elements: appearance, speech, action and thought. We looked at appearance in June and I touched on dialogue in July. The wonderful Lisabet Sarai shared an example of her dialogue writing in the comments on that post and it’s well worth checking out as an exemplar of how to construct character through dialogue.
I want to briefly touch on dialogue again this month, just because it’s such an important element of what we, as writers, produce. And the message I want to share is: know who you’re writing for.
When we’re reading, and we grow weary with a text, most of us flick through the pages until we reach the next piece of dialogue. If it’s good, we’ll carry on with the story. If that bores us as well, then the story gets put aside.
Which suggests, if we want to make sure our readers stay with the story we’ve written, the dialogue needs to be intriguing, credible and engaging for the audience we want to satisfy. Characters chatting about the weather and engaging in the sort of banal exchanges the linguists describe as ‘phatic communion’ can be used to give a frisson of reality to your story. But keep in mind that some readers are reading your story to escape from reality.
Whilst this might sound like conflicting advice, what I’m trying to say here is: know your audience. Write short snappy exchanges that engage your reader, OR write slices of reality that allow your reader to hear the soul of your character – but always be aware of what you’re writing and who you’re writing it for.
The reader who wants snappy dialogue is going to grow bored with the banality of a real-world exchange, just as the reader who wants a true reflection of reality will not be content with punchy one-liners and witty comebacks. I try to write with one particular audience type in mind, as can be seen in the following exchange from the early part of my recent novel, Doll House.
Ben didn’t want to be intrigued but he couldn’t help wonder about the building.
“Where are you taking me?”
“You sound like a fucking kidnap victim,” John yawned.
“It worries me that you know what kidnap victims sound like. Where are you taking me?”
“I told you where I’m taking you,” John spoke with weary resignation. “For the next three months I’ll be giving you what every lazy writer needs. I’m putting you in my personal country cottage. You’ll have the solitude and the isolation necessary to finish your latest novel. I’m taking you back to your writing career.”
Ben stared out of the window. He scowled at the sign saying WELCOME TO SANDALWOOD.
As always, I look forward to reading your comments in the boxes below.