Editing Corner

Why Writing the Wrong Thing is Better Than Nothing

The thing that I have learned about writing is that even bad work is useful.

Because whether we agonize over our words or produce them explosively with a mind to go back later and assess the damage, odds are good that whatever we’ve written will either be excised or heavily retooled by by the time we get down to revision. In fact, the odds are good that the very lines I am writing at this very moment, will vanish in the final edit. Such is the nature of the beast.

But one of the few goods things about this beast is that it is much like the Island of the Dead from Pirates of the Caribbean. Cannot be found except by those who helped create it.

Nobody sees the rough drafts. The pages and pages and pages of ideas that don’t pan out. The directions we carve a path towards only to suddenly course correct for reasons we can’t properly explain. This beast belongs solely to the writer and neither looks, nor acts the same from story to story.

Because the funny thing that happens when you write something down, give it form and shape, is that by the end, you at the very least have something to show for it. Now, your beast might be misshapen, or crude, or downright ugly, but however it may look, it still belongs to you. And the hard part that comes when you’ve lived with it long enough, is that if you wait, if you listen to this beast, to the click of its claws and its guttural whispers, you find you’ve got something more.

You’ve got an idea of what the right thing to do is, what the story could look like, if you keep going. Now, this is not a road map, far from it. It’s barely even a compass. But it is a feeling, a pull in a certain direction that you were only able to find by going off in the wrong way. Because sometimes, when you’re not sure which way to go, the only thing you can do is pick a direction and see how it goes, for good or for ill.

Sometimes, if you’re anything like me, you start out with a great plan. Or at least a part of one. You know how a story begins and ends but you get lost somewhere in the middle. The details don’t match up, or change even as you’re writing them, and suddenly you’re lost.

All at once, you stop and you grouse. You moan and you whine. Maybe you even punch a tree (a terrible idea, I speak from experience. But then, after you’ve rested, and taken another look around, you realize that while you might not get to where you wanted to go, you can still get somewhere, even if it is far from where you expected.

Because in writing, unlike almost any other profession, it is only by doing the wrong thing that you figure out what the right thing to do is. And while I know that sounds cliché, like a quote emblazoned across one of those ridiculously expensive journals they sell in trendy bookstores, it is still the truth. And whether we gussy it up or say it plainly, we all need to hear it.

Especially on those nights when all we have is the beast, and no real idea of where we’re going.

Speech Tags, Quotation Marks, and the Meaning of Life

One of the downsides of being an editor is the inability to ignore other writers’ errors. I can be reading a thrilling erotic tale or a gripping mystery, only to be suddenly kicked out of the fictional world by a spelling, grammar or punctuation error.

(If only my own mistakes stood out so clearly!)

Anyway, in my recent reading I’ve encountered a number of authors who seem somewhat confused about how to capitalize and punctuate dialogue. While this isn’t as important as getting the grammar right (in my opinion), this sort of error can be distracting. So I thought I’d do a quick post reviewing the rules.

Speech Tags

In order to correctly punctuate dialogue, you need to understand speech tags. A speech tag is a phrase that includes a subject plus a verb related to speaking: “said”, “asked”, “exclaimed”, “commented”, and so on. The object of a sentence with a speech tag is the dialogue content itself. In many cases, the subject and speech verb can be in either order, and it’s possible, though less common, for the tag to come before the dialogue content.

“You’re the hottest little tramp who’s walked into my store in a week,” said Herve, rubbing his hands together.

“Where were you on the night of the thirty first?” Sergeant Morgan asked.

Martin Luther King said, “I have a dream.”

In dialogue, speech tags serve two distinct functions. Most importantly, they identify which participant in a conversation is associated with a particular utterance. Without speech tags, dialogue can become confusing, especially if there are more than two people talking.

As a secondary function, speech tags can also convey information about the manner of speaking:

“You’re nothing but a slut,” Martin shouted.

“Please, Master – let me come,” she whimpered.

There are many speech verbs that can be used this way: “whispered”, “whined”, “blurted”, and so on. They do double duty by identifying the speaker while also giving the reader some clues about his or her emotions or state of mind.

Be careful, though. Some verbs that might seem similar to my examples are not in fact speech verbs, but writers sometimes punctuate them as if there were. For instance, “laughed”, “whistled”, “smirked”, etc. do not specify speech acts.

Also, it’s often desirable to opt for simpler, less conspicuous speech verbs (like “said”) and use actual action verbs to convey manner.

“You’re nothing but a slut.” Martin slammed his palm down on the table.

But that’s another post…

Quotation Marks

When you want to record what a character said, in his or her exact words, you must surround those words with opening and closing quotes. If you’re writing in U.S. or Canadian English, you use double quotes; British English uses single quotes.

“I’m forever true to the Red, White and Blue,” Jenna swore.

‘Give me a pint of your best bitter, Jake,’ ordered Detective Smythe.

If you need to put a quote inside another quote, you use the opposite type of punctuation.

“Who was it that said ‘even bad sex is good sex’?” asked Jeremy.

Putting the Two Together

If you don’t use speech tags, life is simple. You put your characters’ words inside the appropriate style of quotation marks, using the same punctuation you’d use for a normal sentence: full stop for a statement, question mark for a question, exclamation mark for an exclamation, and so on.

“I’d sure like to see what you have on under that dress.”

“Can you give me a hint?”

“Hot damn! You’re one hell of a looker!”

Things start to get messy (and writers start to make mistakes) when speech tags come into play, either before or after the direct quote. I see cases like this:

*** WRONG ***

Maribelle whispered “Meet me at the gazebo in twenty minutes.”

*** WRONG ***

“Meet me at the gazebo in twenty minutes.” Whispered Maribelle.

*** WRONG ***

“I’d sure like to see what you have on under that dress.” said Howie with a leer.

The rules are actually simple.

1. If the speech tag comes before the quotation, put a comma after the speech verb, then include the quotation, punctuated as you’d expect if it were standing alone.

2. If the speech tag comes after the quotation:

  1. If the quotation is a question or exclamation, punctuate the quotation as if it were standing alone. Do not capitalize the next word after the quotation marks (unless it’s a proper noun).
  2. If the quotation is a statement, end with a comma rather than a full stop as you would if it were standing alone. Do not capitalize the next word after the quotation marks (unless it’s a proper noun).

Examples of Each Rule

Rule 1:

Her Master declared, “You’re mine, pet.”

The vampire whispered, “Wouldn’t you like to live forever?”

Rule 2a:

“Wouldn’t you like to live forever?” whispered the vampire.

“Get your hands off her!” the guard shouted.

Rule 2b:

“You’re mine, pet,” her Master declared.

“I got your letter,” said Joyce.

That’s it. Easy!

I hope this is helpful. If not, you might want to check out this link.


However, they have a lot more rules than I do!

And feel free to ask questions in the comments.

Everything I Know About Amazon Keywords…

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I learned from Belinda LaPage. Truly, I’ll be forever grateful to her for explaining how to leverage this aspect of Amazon’s algorithms.

In fact, she wrote a post herself that included information about this topic: https://www.erotica-readers.com/blog/2019/02/11/raising-the-dead-your-story-doesnt-suck-necessarily/

However, in that post she didn’t give the blow-by-blow how-to she shared with me… which I am now going to share with you.

Let’s start out with the goal: getting people to buy your book. Obviously, in order to buy your book, people first need to find it. And hey, there are only fifty million erotica titles on Amazon. Okay, I made that up, but you and I both know that the ‘Zon is dripping in dirty books, with thousands more being added every day.

When you set up a new title on the Amazon KDP site, you’re asked to select up to two categories. However, the available categories are rather broad and limited. (You can find a list of the erotica sub-categories here.)

You can also specify up to seven keywords, which will be used to match search strings entered by potential customers. Smashwords, similarly, asks for keywords (ten in their case). When I first started self-publishing, I’d use the same keywords for both platforms, single words or phrases like “bdsm”, “lesbian”, “dominance and submission”, “anal sex”, “steampunk”, and so on.

I don’t know anything about Smashwords’ algorithms. I learned from Belinda, howver, that Amazon allows up to fifty characters for each “keyword”. Hence you can have multiple different strings in the same keyword slot. Furthermore, the individual words influence each other to create or match ad hoc search categories. Each fifty character “keyword” acts as a “word cloud” and will match against search terms that relate to the core concepts in that cloud – even if the exact words entered for the search aren’t in your keyword set at all.

The best way to understand this is by example. (Warning: dirty words ahead!) Here are the seven keyword strings I used for my recent release, The Pornographer’s Apprentice.


The numbers along the top (suggested by Belinda) help me keep within the 50-character limit for any keyword. I use a mono-spaced font to make sure that the characters of my keywords correspond to these numbers.

Each of the seven lines below the numbers is intended to capture a concept or topic that might be of interest to a certain segment of the market. Line 1 deals with power games, especially femdom, which is featured in several chapters of the book. (I probably should have used “Mistress” rather than “Master” but I didn’t quite have the character count.) Line 2 obviously relates to lesbian activity. There’s little subtlety about line 3; it contains our favorite terms related to anal sex (which is rather prevalent in this story). Line 4 focuses on varieties of multi-partner sex. Line 5 plays to the readers who are looking for MM activity; there’s a bit of this in The Pornographer’s Apprentice, though it’s not the primary focus since the protagonist is a woman. Line 6 celebrates sex toys, the creation of which is the vocation of my heroine and her colleagues. Finally, line 7, which has no dirty words at all, encapsulates the setting and sub-genre. Adding “VICTORIAN” has the advantage of linking the book to genuine Victorian era erotica like The Pearl. In fact this book is currently ranked as #435 in Victorian erotica, on all of Amazon… even though it actually isn’t.

How can I be so explicit in my keywords? you might be wondering. What about the dreaded adult dungeon which awaits books that violate Amazon’s unwritten policies on sexual content?

Amazon, it turns, is severely schizophrenic when it comes to erotica. On the one hand, using a word like “cock” or “fuck” in your title or showing a bit of naked boob on your cover will get you whisked away to the dungeon before you can say “Take me, Master!” On the other hand, it appears there are no standards whatsoever regarding the content of keywords. Of course the keywords are not visible to readers; they’re digested and linked and stored in Amazon’s database (or used to train its AI). But they have (I believe) a lot of influence.

How do I know? Well, of course, none of us know anything certain about Amazon’s mysterious ways. I do know, however, that my Amazon sales have improved noticeably since Belinda gave me her lesson on keywords. It might be that I’m writing better books. However, I’m willing to give the keywords (and Belinda) a significant chunk of the credit.


The World According To Larry Archer

Today as we attempt to deal with COVID and its impact on our lives, I am reminded of the Grateful Dead’s “What a long strange trip it’s been.”

As I mask up, then put on my raincoat and rubber gloves. No, I’m not going to the park with a bag of candy for unsuspecting children and pigeons. I’m going to the grocery store to try and buy toilet paper. Masks and disinfectant I can see in short supply but toilet paper? Did everyone suddenly get the runs?

Now that we are six-feet apart, it’s more than ever, our responsibility to take care of ourselves. Suddenly, my favorite saying, “If you want some strange stuff, use your left hand,” makes more sense. Today in the world of IoT (Internet of Things), everything is connected to the cloud, and that’s not always a good thing.

Alexa and Siri are two names that we have to be careful about saying as we may be deluged with a box of dirty movies from Amazon or the unapologetic harrumph from Alexa when we ask her what size her boobs are?

I refer to Alexa as my girlfriend to keep her from butting into my conversations or giving me a dirty look when I use an explicative next to her name.

Speaking of IoT, now your vibrator is controlled by your partner’s cell phone. It’s a somewhat unusual looking device with a bulbous part which goes in the who-haw with a smaller tube that sticks outside. Then through the magic of the Internet, your partner can whip out his/her cell phone and give you a tingle when they think of you.

Of course, those of us who are more traditional can continue to utilize the penis-shaped devices that are guaranteed to give a “deep penetrating massage.” Nowadays, you don’t have to run to the 7-11 at 3 AM to purchase batteries. But you have to wait a couple of hours for it to recharge. I’m not sure there is an advantage besides having to get dressed.

COVID has hit those of us who throw our house keys in a bowl particularly hard. Like Moses wandering in the wilderness for forty years, we’ve suddenly had to make do having sex with our spouses.

For Wifey and I, the sex part wasn’t as big of a deal as the camaraderie of fellow perverts with similar desires. Well, maybe it was a big part for me, at least. More and more, I miss the interaction with our gang of party animals.

Zoom parties are not as much fun as the real thing, so I’ve had to resort to living my sex life vicariously through dirty movies. Italian women continue to be one of the highest-ranked searches for porn movies. Along with MILF, Lesbo, mature, tranny, and stepmom.

Personally, I love Italian porn, and while I don’t understand anything they say beyond a moan, I usually just turn the volume down and watch. I guess it’s my love for dark-haired women that I gravitate towards Italians. On the other hand, it could be because of our short Italian girlfriend who loves to give head.

Transexuals have always been popular, and I know that I should stop using the term “tranny” as that’s disrespecting of them, but I mean no harm. Foxy picked up a girl once who had won a bikini contest at a bar. She was surprised to find that the girl was transexual.

Foxy saw her for a few months but was disappointed to find she couldn’t get it up. It was interesting to find a whole list of bars, restaurants, and clubs geared towards trannys. It’s funny how every kink has its own set of spots that cater to a specific genre.

Wifey’s lesbian spots were on a completely different list, and our gay friends on yet another list. When you think about it, our proclivities often determine the people and places that we frequent.

If I had to pick a specific kink, I’d have to say that gay bars are the most fun, with transexual a close second. I’ve been to my wife’s favorite lezzy bar and felt uncomfortable there. It’s unusual to go to the men’s bathroom and find women there who give you a dirty look, rather than the other way around.

She will sometimes ask me to drive her to the bar and then pick her up. She doesn’t like to drive if she’s been drinking and prefers me to carpool her. I once tried to sneak in afterward and sit in the corner, but the hostility I felt was noticeable. When she decides to have a girl’s night, I’ll drop her off and sit at an all-night restaurant with my laptop until they kick me out.

Gay bars are always a lot of fun. The guys are generally in good spirits, and it’s kind of like being at a Village People reunion. While I don’t think I have any inclination to be gay, I do like gay guys, and we have a number of gay friends. However, I’m not brave enough to go to the leather bar in the basement. LOL

I know that I should be writing more smut now that I’m working from home, but it seems like my boss feels that if I don’t have to drive to and from work, I can spend that extra time with my nose to the grindstone.

Plus, a lot of my ideas come from things we see and do. With COVID, our social life is absolutely zero, and with our new incoming president, I feel that he’s going to lock down the country so we can attempt to get a handle on the pandemic.

I understand his likely actions, and our state governor has ruled Nevada with a somewhat iron fist. This has kept our death toll down, especially considering that Las Vegas is a tourist hot spot.

I’m Larry Archer, a slinger of smut for your wanking pleasure, and this is my time of the month for drivel. My erotica is designed to appeal to your most basic instincts, like watching South Park when even they tell you not to!

If you’re still interested, check me out at LarryArcher.blog. See you next month.

P.S. – The image included in this month’s post has absolutely nothing to do with the article beyond the fact that I love that image, and it speaks to me.

How to Make Your Own Cover

Designing a cover for your masterpiece often involves a lot of hand wringing and angst or the exchange of hard-earned loot. I’m going to walk you through how I use open-source (i.e., Free) software to create a cover image file to send to your publisher.

A lot of people use a cover artist to create a cover, but you have to pay for the service, and sometimes if a book doesn’t sell, then you never get into the black. First, let’s talk about finances.

I’ve always created my covers but assume that a writer is going to spend somewhere between $50 – $300 per cover. You may pay more or less but adjust the numbers to match your unique situation. For the purpose of this explanation, let us assume a price of $50 for a cover. I would think that you are going to pay at least $50.

If your story is going to sell for $2.99 as that’s the lowest price you can charge and get a 70% commission on each sell. Three bucks means that every copy you sell will put about two dollars in your grubby hands

Complicated math tells us that you have to sell 25 copies of your story to pay for the $50 cover design fee. Twenty-five copies may mean that you’ll be working for the cover designer instead of yourself. For a new author, having to sell twenty-five copies may mean that you will never make a penny on a story, much less be able to buy that new vibrator you’ve had your eye on.

I’m going to attempt to create a cover with InkScape for my upcoming story, House Party 3, to show you how easy it is.

First, download the development copy of InkScape 1.1 at InkScape.org. The current released version is 1.0 but go into the development section and download the latest version. You will also need to download 7zip if you don’t have it. 7Zip or another type of decompression program will open the file.

Unzip the file and place it on your computer. Using the Windows explorer look in the \bin folder and double-click on InkScape.exe. The development version doesn’t have an installer yet so you have to manually start it. What I did was create a link on my desktop to run the program.

I create simple covers with typically an image, a text box with my name, and a text box with the name of the story. So it’s three things mashed together.

  1. Double-clicking on InkScape.exe should start the program.
  2. Click on File | Document Properties.
  3. I always make my covers 1600 pixels wide x 2400 pixels high. If you use different size covers, enter the width and length as appropriate. Change the Display Units to Pixels (px).
  4. In the middle of the Page document properties, first change the Units to Pixels (px). Then enter a width of 1600 and a height of 2400. Your Document Properties should look like this.

    Then click on the X to close the window.
  5. After closing the Document Properties, you should see a wireframe and checking the rulers; the size should be 1600×2400.
  6. Using the Windows File Manager, find your cover image. Left click on the image and holding the left mouse button down, drag it over and drop it inside the frame. Just okay the default import options.
  7. The image will likely not fill the wireframe of the cover.
  8. Point in the middle of the picture and holding down the left button, drag the image until the top left corner snaps to the corner of the frame.

    Using one of the corner handles, drag the image until it fills the frame. I’m assuming that your image is the right ratio of width to height. If your image is not a 1:1.5 ratio, then you’ll need to open it with GIMP or PhotoShop and crop it. I’ll save that exercise for another time.
  9. At this point, our wireframe should have the background image fully filling the frame.
  10. Click on the A on the left hand tool box to creat a tex box. Click inside the background image and you should see a blinking vertical bar. Type in “House Party,” without the quotes. Select the pointer tool (the arrow at the left side, top). Then drag the handles until the text looks reasonable. As the background is dark, click the White square on the bottom, which will change the text to white and better contrast the letters against the background.
  11. Pointing in the middle of the text box, drag the words around until they look good. Remember you can drag the handles to change the size of the words.
  12. Using the same method, add a three on the dude’s shirt.
  13. Across the bottom, type in my name, Larry Archer. Our cover is complete!
  14. That wasn’t hard, was it? Now we just need to export the image. This is an area of InkScape that needs to be cleaned up, in my opinion. First, save your cover to the computer.
  15. Click on File | Export PNG Image. Set the Image Size DPI to 300. Then change the width and height to 1600 x 2400. Note that the DPI changes to 96 but ignore that for now.
  16. Click Advanced in the export section, then change pHYs to 300 DPI.
  17. Click the Export As button and select a file name and location.
  18. Then finally, click the Export button, and we are done.

If you right-click on the exported image, it should be 1600×2400 pixels and ready to ship off to your publisher. Pat yourself on the back for saving money and you’ll be able to pocket all that loot rather than sending it off to the cover designer.

What is nice about object software such as InkScape, everything is an object, which can be moved, resized, or deleted easily. Once you have a starting cover, save it as a template. By opening a template, all of the setup steps are already done for you to minimize the amount of work to create a cover.

Until next month, this is Larry Archer, signing off and reminding you that National Masturbation Month is almost over, so keep practicing. If your credit card is burning a hole in your pocket, grab a dirty story to read from Larry Archer. Some of my stories are on Kindle Unlimited and can be read for free. Check out my blog at: https://LarryArcher.blog

Pesky Participles

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When I’m reading, editing or critiquing others’ work, improperly deployed participles are a pet peeve. I’m utterly incapable of ignoring them. Other readers notice comma confusions, tangled tenses, or missing modifiers. They might be especially sensitive to excessive alliteration. I can sail past a lot of nits without noticing, but an incorrectly constructed participle modifier will jump out at me like raincoat-clad pervert from behind a tree.

I know grammatical terms make a lot of people wince, so let me give you some examples from recent reads:

a) No longer aware of her physical surroundings, uncaring of the others watching them, he had become her world.

b) Nearly blinded, instinctively, Callie’s hand went for the gun in her purse.

c) Measuring the length of his dick still waiting to ravage her burning cunt, Nina’s eyes flew open.

Here are a few simpler, synthetic examples:

d) Panting with excitement, her heart pounded like a bass drum in her chest.

e) Entering the room unannounced, Joel’s attention flew to the naked woman sprawled on the couch.

f) Silenced by embarrassment, my cheeks flushed bright red.

I know some of you are probably thinking: What’s the problem? These are perfectly fine sentences. The meaning is crystal clear.

I beg to differ. The author’s intent is clear in most cases. However, if you apply the conventional rules of English to interpreting these sentences, you end up drawing some strange, even nonsensical conclusions. Silent cheeks? A blinded hand?

The complexities of English grammatical structures are the bane of many. There are dozens of different ways to express the same idea. A single sentence may consist of many clauses as well as modifying phrases.

In the face of this complexity, we fall back on the principle of proximity. When you have a modifier, that is, a phrase that describes some entity in the main clause of the sentence, we assume that the modifier is describing the subject of the main clause, which normally follows right after the modifier.

If the modifier is a participle (that is, a verb turned into an adjective by adding “ing” or “ed”), it is assumed that the implied subject of this verb is the subject of the following clause.

Here’s the crux of the issue in the ungrammatical sentences above. If we follow this convention in our interpretation, the results are silly or confusing.

In a), both the adjective (“no longer aware”) and participle (“uncaring”) modifiers clearly have a female subject. Yet the subject of the main clause is “he” – not the person who’s “uncaring”.

In b) the conventional rules would indicate that Callie’s hand was blinded.

Example c) is a bit more nuanced, since Nina’s eyes might well be what she used to estimate the length of her partner’s cock. More likely though, the true subject of “measuring” is Nina herself – not her eyes as suggested by the interpretation rules.

The three synthetic examples make the problem more obvious. In each case, the real subject is a person, while the implied subject is a part or aspect of the person.

Now at this point, you might be thinking: who cares?

Well, that’s your right. However, when I encounter this sort of ungrammatical construction, even in an otherwise well-written story, I cringe. Furthermore, my opinion of the author’s skill declines a bit. Perhaps that’s not fair, but I expect serious authors to be conscious of the rules of the language – implicitly if not explicitly.

Elitist? Maybe. However, I can’t help my reactions. I suspect I’m not the only reader who feels this way.

So – assuming you’re editing your tale, and notice one of these errors – what can you do about it?

There are three basic solutions:

1) Change the subject in the independent clause to match the modifier;

2) Expand the modifier into a clause that explicitly specifies a subject (which can then be different from the independent clause);

3) Make the modifying clause into a separate sentence.

Let’s look at example (b) and apply each of these solutions.

Solution 1: Nearly blinded, Callie instinctively reached for the gun in her purse.

Solution 2: As the flash nearly blinded her, Callie’s hand instinctively went for the gun in her purse.

Solution 3: The flash nearly blinded her. Instinctively, Callie’s hand went for the gun in her purse.

The best revision depends on stylistic concerns, as well as on the specific sentence. For example (a), I think the sentence should be split, since the subject of the modifiers and of the main clause are totally different.

She was no longer aware of her physical surroundings, uncaring of the others watching them. He had become her world.

In addition to fixing the grammar problem, this revision (I feel) increases the impact of the sentences.

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

If you’re willing to admit that this sort of construction is a problem, how can you improve your ability to notice your own errors?

Alas, we’re all somewhat blind to our own faults. You can begin, though, by becoming more conscious of your choices when framing a sentence. Should you use a modifying phrase at the start of a sentence? A dependent clause? Would your ideas be better expressed by splitting the thought into two sentences?

Normally people use modifying phrases like this to convey a relationship. When you use a participle, you are implying a temporal relationship. A present participle (“ing”) indicates two concurrent actions. For instance, Joel noticed the naked woman on the couch at the same time as he entered the room. A past participle (“ed”, or “en” for some verbs) suggests sequential actions. A flash blinded Callie, then she instinctively reached for her gun.

Be sure that this implied temporal relationship makes sense, and is what you really want to convey.

You probably should not try to think about this sort of issue when you’re writing your first draft, or you’ll get bogged down. However sentence structure alternatives should be one of your considerations when you’re self-editing.

Of course, the best approach may be to have someone else read and critique your stories, helping to shine light on your blind spots. You can offer the same service to someone else, since their weaknesses are likely to differ from yours.

Luckily, you can do that easily at ERWA. Just sign up for the Storytime email list. Get sincere, balanced critiques from your colleagues. Share your own opinions and insights.

And get the chance to read some steamy and original erotica in the process!

Stay Safe, Jerk Off

I hope everyone is working from home or sheltering in place. Foxy and I are lying low, like most people, and trying to ride this out. Our social life has ground to a complete halt, but at least we are not sick yet. If you’re thinking about publishing a story, now is the time as everyone has time to jerk off.

Las Vegas, a.k.a. Sin City is a ghost town, which is really weird. The governor of Nevada jumped on this like a duck on a June Bug and closed the entire town, except essential services. Casinos, restaurants, and most businesses are closed. At least the price of gasoline is close to breaking two bucks. Average prices in Nevada are about seventy-five cents above any other place, except for California. It’s too bad, we can’t go anywhere.

Even the strip clubs are closed, but Little Darlings hasn’t lost their sense of humor. Their sign says, “We’re Clothed.”

I often opine on urging people to write smut and stop talking about doing it. Shoulda, woulda, coulda!

Since next month is National Masturbation Month, I’ve been practicing every day and sometimes more often. I’ll be ready in a week or so to do justice with self-abuse. At least nowadays, most vibrators are rechargeable, which keeps me from having to go to the 7-11 at 2 A.M.

During those times, when I’m resting my hand, I’ve been working with InkScape, which is an open-source graphics design program like CorelDraw. I use CorelDraw to create my story covers as well as Instagram, Twitter, and other advertising images.

Certainly, I realize that you can do the same thing with PhotoShop or GIMP but the “right tool for the right job,” as my auto shop teacher always told me. CorelDraw is not cheap, and if an open-source program can do what I want and is free, that sounds like a winner.

InkScape works well except that the export process to create a JPG for posting has some size issues that require a little post-processing to fix but not too bad. Someone else I know is trying the CorelDraw Home version, which is $60 at Amazon, and getting good results with it. I’m going to stick with CorelDraw, at least for now, as I know it and have been using it for years. It costs me one-hundred bucks a year, and they send me all the new versions, which is not too bad.

I still have a day job, and writing smut is just a fun exercise. My goal is to make enough money to keep me in computers and camera gear. That’s been working pretty well, but my sights are set on a new Canon R5 system, which is going to blow my savings in one fail swoop.

My other long time hobby is photography, and I shoot a lot of models in town. It’s incredible the number of girls who will take their clothes off for pictures. Everybody wants to be a star, and Las Vegas is almost like LA. I trade pictures for modeling, and everyone is happy. The girls are all looking to have photos to post on Instagram. With digital cameras, you don’t have to spend hours in the darkroom and just have to pop the SD card into the computer and, voila, there are pictures.

I got started when I was in high school, and things are so easy today. The new generation of cameras is capable of outstanding results. I used to use a Hasselblad when I shot film, and my Canon digital is so much easier.

Now I’m shooting mostly landscapes, flowers, inanimate objects, Wifey as social distancing makes it more challenging to work with people you don’t know. When COVID-19 is finally behind us, I can go back to shooting girls. Of course, I still shoot tons of shots of Foxy. She was a model when we met, and I’ve got tens of thousands of pictures of her, but variety is the spice of life. She’s my best critic and always helps me edit the photos I take.

Hunker down and stay safe. Read a dirty book and get ready for next month. Foxy and I hope that you stay safe. We’ll get through this!


Publishing for Fun and Profit

Cuckold Club – First Date

Today was a somewhat successful day of man over machine and software! Last week I promised myself that I would release my latest smut story, which required me to climb several hurdles.

The first was obviously to finish the story, which I did Saturday. My plan is to release it for preorder on Monday at both Amazon and SmashWords. To do that, you have to have two almost identical copies of the stories.

One has the frontmatter and backmatter for Amazon and the other, frontmatter and backmatter for SmashWords. You are not allowed to have links in a story that points to a different publisher. For example, if you have a link to a SmashWords site in your Amazon Kindle copy, then Amazon will throw you under the bus.

Once I had the body completed, then I had to create the frontmatter and backmatter for each publisher. As I’m using Scrivener to write my smut in, I had to translate my existing Word versions to Scrivener. While copy and paste is the obvious solution, trust me, its not that easy, especially when I’ve never published a story out of Scrivener.

I’ve put off digging into the Compile function and trying to figure out how to tell Scrivener to bundle the Amazon version with its files and then create a SmashWords version with its unique files, was a hill I didn’t anticipate having to climb.

Once I got it to work, it started to make sense, but it was a good thing we don’t have any small children as they would have their vocabulary increased with mostly four-letter words!

Scrivener doesn’t use Styles like every other word processing program, and there is apparently a way to do it with version 3 of the software, but I didn’t have time to dig into it. The same with the Table of Contents (TOC), and I did those manually, which meant I had to do them twice. Once for Amazon and once for SmashWords.

I think I’m about 90% of the way there and will try to figure out how to automate the final 10%, so Scrivener will spit out a complete file pretty much on its own. Maybe?

The SmashWords version slipped through their meatgrinder without an error, and I used Calibre to convert the .DOCX file to ePub, and that looked pretty good.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with Scrivener and how my first story in my Cuckold Club series turned out. The story is available for preorder now and will go live next weekend. I haven’t seen a big benefit to releasing a story for preorder, but I always release a new story on Friday as the publishers tend to hipe a story in the first few days, so I want to make sure the story is available on the weekend instead of letting it languish during the week.

Scrivener sells for fifty bucks for PC or Mac, and that, to me, is very reasonable for what it can do. True, they should probably hire a technical writer instead of using programmers. As a programmer, I can attest to the fact we create poor documentation.

In a past life, I did contract programming for several car manufacturers to create computer-based training courses (CBT). I worked with a team that included video crews and technical writers. I learned so much about technical writing from them, which has helped to this day.

Speaking of Amazon and SmashWords, I want to offer my latest thoughts on these two behemoths in the publishing world.

As I understand it, Amazon publishes about 70% of the eReader stories, and SmashWords is somewhere in the 30% balance of the market.

Depending on your story content, you need to utilize both to maximize your sales. Amazon is particularly sensitive to story content, and if your typical story is on one of the fringe topics, they will give you fits.

As we’ve discussed many times at ERWA, if your story is thrown in the dungeon, sales will suffer greatly. Buyers will have to have a link to the story or the exact title. Amazon will not offer up a story from the dungeon, which means the kiss of death in most cases.

SmashWords is extremely tolerant of story content and will often allow stories that violate their liberal limitations. A search of their bestseller list will usually include stories that would give Amazon censors the vapors.

Up to now, what I’ve done is to write a story that will skate through both publishers. This way, I don’t have to create two versions of the story. With SmashWords, there is a catch. If your story includes a fairly short list of no-no’s, then they will not push the story out for you.

If your SmashWord’s story is ranked premium, then they will publish it to Apple iBooks, B&N, Nook, Kobo, and others. Apple is somewhat sensitive to story content and the blurb. They have rejected several of my stories for being too explicit, and I’ve had no success in changing their minds.

Strickly from my personal sales, my SmashWords sales are solid from month to month, while Amazon varies with the length of time since the last release. In the last year, my Amazon sales have varied from 1 to 3 times my SmashWords sales.

SmashWords doesn’t seem to care how old a story is, just how popular it is. I have stories that are several years old and still relatively high on the charts. Amazon, on the other hand, will bounce all over the place.

When I release a story on Amazon, sales will shoot up and stay for several months. Then it will slowly drop until I publish a new story.

Having SmashWords push my stories out to Apple iBooks really helps me. Most months, my income from Apple is around 50% of my SmashWords sales.

Now that I’ve released my first story in the Cuckold Club series, I can go back and finish House Party 2, which is currently approaching 100,000 words. I’m looking to take Lisabet’s suggestion and break it up to two stories, HP2 and HP3.

That will help as I’ve tried to inject some angst into the House Party original story and now have to try and fix the problems I created. The primary characters, Foxy and Larry, in my stories, are fictionalized versions of Wifey and myself. In real life, we’re in the Lifestyle, and writing erotica was a way to talk about some of our adventures. While not trying to promote things we do, it has been a lot of fun for both of us.

In House Party, Foxy left Larry for another guy and moved to California. There was no fight, she just wanted to be on her own. Foxy and I met before she turned 21 and has never actually been on her own.

It’s difficult for me to write in problems as we’ve never had issues before, and my fictional Foxy and Larry are basic extensions of ourselves. They are pretty true to life beyond the fact I don’t have a strip club and more money than God. My wife is a gorgeous creature and exactly as portrayed in the stories, except not quite as far over the edge.

Anyway, I’m starting to ramble. In HP2/HP3, I’m trying to get them back together, while trying to deal with the extra women who have complicated the situation. Foxy now has a girlfriend, who is her love interest. Larry has a new squeeze and a MILF, who is his best friend’s wife.

If that sounds complicated, it really is, and I’m struggling to make everything work out. If I break HP2 in half, then I can publish the next excerpt, which will give me time to figure out how to make everything work out, without resorting to Judge Judy.

Plus, I’m glad that my wife is a Luddite and refuses to read anything that’s not made of paper, else I’m afraid that she’ll be pissed at me. I haven’t shared the details of House Party and the marital breakup yet and am not sure if she’ll be happy with me about it.

At least I’ve got her new iPhone working, and so maybe she’ll cut me some slack if she finds out what our fictional selves have gotten tangled up in.

Until this time next month, I’m off like a prom dress! Catch my blog at: LarryArcher.blog

Larry Archer (and Foxy!)

Non-Traditional Writing or The Meaning of Life

Recently a thought struck me that I guess has been buzzing around in my head for years, but I’ve consciously or subconsciously been ignoring it. I don’t think I write traditional books as my stories are more a slice of life rather than something with a beginning, middle, and end.

When I say a slice of life, my stories tend to be a day in the life of Foxy and Larry, the fictional pervert couple in my books. Just as an average person gets up in the morning, goes to work, comes home, and goes to bed, my stories tend to be that way.

I’ve always struggled with two words, “The End,” which elude me most of the time when I’m writing.

I started writing to give myself the ability to talk about fictionalized versions of our adventures in the world of wife swapping or swinging, also known as throwing your house keys in a bowl.

So far, most of my stories have ended up with a vague ending as I never really had a final chapter in the story but more of, “I’ve got an idea for a new story, so somehow I’ve got to kick this one out the door!”

One of my latest WIP’s is House Party 2, which is an effort to correct the problems I created in the original House Party. In HP, my fictional wife runs off to LA and becomes a porn star. Now in HP2, I’m struggling to be a marriage counselor and patch things up. The original was 85,000 words, and the sequel will likely approach 90,000 words, which is way too long for a smut story, but I just can’t seem to quit.

HP2 is my first serious attempt to write something with Scrivener, the word processor for writers. I’ve pretty much figured it out except for the output process, which I haven’t really looked at yet. Scrivener allows you to break up your story in blocks such as chapters.

Rather that one long file, the story can be broken up into sections (chapters), and the writer only deals with that section at any time. For me, it works well as I get tired/bored working on a scene and can instantly jump to another chapter for something new.

One of my faults is that I’m easily distracted by a shiny object or a short skirt and have problems keeping my focus on the job at hand or possibly in my hand. I guess to be a writer, you should have a vivid imagination, which I seem to be guilty of but have absolutely no control over.

There was a moment of sadness and reflection when I learned of the passing of Terry Jones, one of the key people behind the silliness of Monty Python. I first became aware of the British comedy series of Monty Python and Benny Hill back when we lived in the mid-west. Our public television station would run shows from these two series during fundraising weeks.

The British people have a wonderful sense of offbeat humor and a weird fascination with spanking but to each, his own. Every time I see Spam in the grocery store, I think of those crazy people and wish we could return to a simpler time where our biggest problem was determining the airspeed velocity of an African swallow and what is the best way to tie a migratory coconut to it. At least we learned how to determine if someone is a witch or not. That would have made things a lot simpler for the Pilgrims in Salem. Watch out for the Killer Rabbit!

Once again thank you for struggling to the end of this post without resorting to beer, and as always if you’re in the bathroom with nothing to do, grab one of my stories: https://LarryArcher.blog/stories

XOXO Foxy and Larry

Dirty Words: Body Parts & Body Fluids


For authors who write dirty stories, making the sex scenes ‘sexy’ is surely our ultimate goal. It’s no use having a clever plot that brings together a gorgeous babe and a well-hung stud if the nitty-gritty of their coupling doesn’t arouse the reader. Nobody enjoys an anti-climax.


When I submitted a story to Storytime a few months back, one reviewer mentioned that I’d referred to body fluids more than was necessary, and it was their comment that gave me the idea for this post.


So, how much of the sticky details do readers want in a dirty story? And how should we refer to the parts and fluids of the body?


I don’t know the answer, and suspect there probably isn’t one that satisfies all readers. Some people will be happy with: ‘He slid inside me and held me close until our souls collided in mutual bliss’, while other readers want something along the lines of: ‘I felt his huge cock forcing its way in, stretching me like I’d never been stretched before. Once inside, he fucked me with abandon, shredding my cunt with his onslaught and flooding me with his jism.’



Authors have their own views on how much detail they give for the ‘ins and outs’, and also have their own preferred terms. For me, both are equally important.


As a reader, I like to know the sensations that the characters experience during sex—both physical and emotional. I also like to be told exactly what’s happening at the business end of their coupling, and so that’s what I try and put into the stories I write.



While romance readers may prefer less explicit prose, I don’t think readers of erotica are offended when they come across words like ‘cock’ and ‘cunt’. They’re my go-to nouns for gentleman- and lady-tackle, though I do slip in the occasional ‘dick’ and ‘prick’ for variety.



I’m also fond of the word ‘minge’. I’m a British writer, so ‘pussy’ just doesn’t sit right on my tongue (heh), though as a reader I have no problem with it. In the UK, I think the most common slang term for the lady-parts is ‘fanny’, but that doesn’t translate well in the US (imagine my reaction whilst visiting Chicago when an American referred to my wife’s ‘fanny pack’).


I find anatomical names like penis and vagina in erotica to be mood killers, so I avoid those.


For male ejaculate, I use ‘cum’ or ‘jizz’, and occasionally the Brit-friendly ‘spunk’. Semen’s okay, but I think ‘seed’ and ‘sperm’ are more appropriate if possible fertilisation is the kink. Women have ‘juices’.


Every writer has their preferences and, for the most part, I’m happy to follow a story without getting too wound up on their choice of terms unless they’re something ridiculous, like ‘his love truncheon’ or ‘her scented love grotto’.

And I guarantee I’ll never use dialogue like, “Hey, Penelope. How’d you like to ride my purple pony to Pleasure Town?” or “Yo, Errol. Can I take that choo-choo of yours all the way to Orgasm Central?”


Another aspect of body parts is how much detail you go into when you describe them.


A couple of years ago, a guy wrote to me to say how much he’d enjoyed a cuckold story I’d written. I was actually in the middle of writing the sequel at the time, so when I replied to thank him, I offered him the chance to read what I’d written so far. He eagerly accepted and we swapped emails regarding the story until I’d finished it. One thing he suggested was that I had my hotwife mention the different smells and tastes of the bulls she experienced as she pulled back their foreskin. I confess that I didn’t follow his suggestion because I don’t find those details sexy. Where cocks are concerned, my description tends to be minimalist, leaving things to the reader’s imagination. At most, I might refer only to size, where the kink makes it relevant, or make the occasional mention of a curve one way or another. I don’t think I’ve ever specified whether or not there’s a foreskin. Where women are concerned, I tend not to go any more detailed than boob size, nipple shade and pubic hair appearance (or lack of).



Physical descriptions of their relative positions are important because I like to visualise the scene. I also like to read the sensations of the POV characters, and the physical reactions and expressions of the non-POV characters.


As for the emotional side: Who cares?


Just kidding. What’s going on inside the characters’ heads is a big part of the sexiness. Much of what I read and write is in the wife-sharing genre, and these stories thrive on the characters’ feelings. Whether a husband is watching his wife with another man, or the hotwife’s experiencing her bull while her husband watches, their thoughts are just as sexy to me as the slippery pink parts.


Body Fluids

Returning to the opening question, do we actually need to mention them at all?


I suppose the answer is ‘no’: I’ve read some wonderful sex-scenes where the descriptions are super-erotic without any explicit mention of the body fluids produced. Then again, the nature of the kink in the story does create some reader expectations. If you’re writing a story about creampies, or the story involves a cuckold clean-up scene, then a focus on the fluids becomes mandatory.


The pace of a scene also dictates how much description you can get away with; while the choreography might be moving too fast to be thorough about including details like taste and texture, the physical appearance and placement of a well-aimed dollop can contribute a lot to a scene.



Some authors are really good at making the most basic of human instincts and actions sound sexy. Of many examples, one that still sticks in my mind (about a year and a half after I first read it) is a description from Belinda LaPage’s Group Therapy in the second ERWA anthology, Twisted Sheets:


‘He snugged his convulsing balls tightly between the woman’s labia, and with a groan and some long, arching heaves, he painted two, three, four coats of high-gloss white on her ceiling.’


I think this is fabulous; while neither explicit nor crude, this conjures up the image of him coming inside her in a unique and very sexy way.


For me, good erotica involves a detailed description of the sex scene. If the author can express the feelings, sensations and reactions of the characters in a sexy way, it makes the scene work. If they can also describe the physical ‘comings and goings’ in a way that’s implicitly erotic, then it elevates the scene into something much more arousing than a Readers’ Wives confession-type thing.


I guess I can’t let the subject of body fluids pass without the mention of condom-use in erotica. There are two sides to the argument: some readers dislike the characters who take unwarranted risks, and others say they read for escapism, not realism.


I’ve written stories where the characters use condoms and stories where they don’t. I’ve also used plots where condoms are discussed but then discarded because their use does not fit the kink (such as the taboo of a married hotwife taking a bull bareback). It comes down to the author’s preference for that particular story.


However much I argue for author’s personal choices, it does appear that there are some things which readers don’t want to see in any dirty story. When I was doing some research for this post, I looked at a few websites that list elements in ‘bad erotica’. Below is a short list, in no particular order, of things readers don’t like:

  • writers who refer to the phallus entering inside the cervix or the womb or uterus
  • writers who confuse “prostate” and “prostrate”
  • hands, feet and dicks which undermine the characters’ brains and do things all by themselves
  • bad choreography (forgetting critical things like height difference)
  • lengthy flashbacks about exes in the middle of a sex scene
  • terms such as ‘exploding nipples’ and ‘weeping vaginas’
  • the term ‘cock snot’

It’s a relief not to have committed all these writing crimes, though it’s a shame I have to go back to my WIP and remove every single reference made to my MC’s cock snot…



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