Snowy Day

 A black-and-white photo from my high school years

When we moved from the US to Asia, more than a decade ago, I got rid of at least three quarters of my material possessions. One thing I kept, though, were photographs. We shipped two plastic crates of prints and negatives, plus a box of fancy photo albums where I’d pasted the very best of our travel and party photos, selected to showcase our adventures to others.

Photographs possessed a certain importance, a gravitas, as historical markers. They were artifacts to be preserved and cherished. Family photos adorned the walls in my mother’s and grandmother’s homes, not only of people that I knew, but also of people I’d never met. Our family marked important transitions with group portraits. My archives include the originals of at least two expensive studio shots of me and my siblings, one when I was around seven, the other aged twelve. In addition, my first lover was an amateur photographer, who taught me a bit about his craft. Among the boxes we shipped were envelopes of black and white “art” photos I shot in my junior and senior year in high school with my used Kodak single lens reflex – and developed myself.

Photos were precious then.

How things have changed! Now we all carry cameras in our pockets, and capture images of the most prosaic subjects. We flip through the pictures, allocating a few seconds to each – “sharing” them, deleting them, editing and enhancing them, rarely if ever printing them. Photos have become nothing but electronic data, ephemeral. We keep them on our devices, upload them to social media, and sometimes download them to our hard disk. If we don’t back them up regularly (and how many of us do?) they could all vanish with a single computer crash. Life’s history, gone in an instant. Maybe that doesn’t matter, but it’s quite a contrast to the thick-parchment, colorized, pricey studio photos of my childhood.

Books have followed the same trend. In that move halfway around the world, I also kept a selection of my favorite volumes from my youth. In fact, they’re still sitting on my shelves here, in some cases fifty to sixty years after I acquired them. Many are what I’d consider timeless classics: the complete Sherlock Holmes stories; Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass; Edgar Allen Poe; Shakespeare’s plays. I also have very old versions of books that have been important to me personally, including Anne Rice’s vampire books (a 1975 edition of Interview with the Vampire) and The Story of O.

A book was a magical object, back then. Opening the covers, you entered the gates to another world. This was still true when I published my own first novel, twenty years ago. I held the paperback in my hand – the paperback with my name on the cover! – and marveled that I had joined the illustrious ranks of real authors. Like all writers, I even fantasized about my book becoming a best-seller or a classic.

And now? Books are just bits. I have a box full of author copies I can’t get rid of, including four different versions of that first novel, and a hard disk packed with manuscript files. There are multiple different versions of many tales, published and re-published, tweaked, expanded, reworked. The notion of a book as a finished creation, whole and perfect, has disappeared.

I used to suffer from what I called “narrative inertia”. What I meant was that I found it almost impossible to make significant alterations to a book after I’d written “The End”. My work seemed to resist revision. Almost as if it were solid and real.

I’m past that now. I can slice and dice my books to suit the perceived market. They have no special status, and I have no illusions about their pretensions to longevity.

The notion of a timeless classic being published today almost seems laughable. Fifty years from now – nay, even twenty years – hardware and software will have evolved to the point that ebooks from this era may not even be readable.

Of course, according to Eastern spiritual traditions, change is the only constant. Everything is ephemeral, the universe a construct of our minds and emotions. It’s all Maya, the sparkling, ever-mutating illusion that masks the incomprehensible, eternal nature of God.

(Gee, am I really talking about God on the ERWA blog? Well, why not?)

Perhaps it’s a side-effect of growing old, but these days almost everything seems temporary. News. Crises. Fashions. Celebrities. Technologies. Scandals. The rate of change seems to be constantly increasing. I don’t even bother to pay attention to much of what flashes through my life, or across my screen. It’ll be gone before I can even grasp it.

In fact, one of the less ephemeral phenomena in my life happens to be the Erotica Readers & Writers Association. Next January will mark twenty years that I’ve been part of the ERWA community. (ERWA itself has been in existence for twenty three years! Nearly a quarter century!) There are actually a few people on the email lists whom I’ve known that entire time. I’ve been writing the Erotic Lure newsletter since 2004 – fifteen years. That’s a lot of alliteration under the bridge.

Of course, ERWA has changed. We have new blood – young, talented, energetic writers and editors who help keep things interesting. The feelings, though, remain remarkably constant: warmth, respect for others, a spirit of fun, and of course a lively interest in all things erotic.

It’s pretty amazing that a community that exists only in cyberspace could be so resilient and so real. Our communications are just bits – but they matter. I enjoy closer relationships with some of the friends I’ve made here than with people I know in “meat-space”. Watching the world rush by, buffeted by the winds of change, I am truly grateful for ERWA, a “place” that doesn’t even exist, but where I always feel at home.

Preparing For The Publication Of A New Novel

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 tuxedo cat, Lucky. Lucky needs playmates, so two kittens are in her near future. Visit her
web site, her Facebook page, and her Amazon Author Page.

This picture above is of me, doing the Happy Dance.

After two years of submitting, one of my erotic romance
novels has finally been accepted by an excellent small press. This press has
already published four of my short stories in four anthologies, so we weren’t
strangers to each other. I don’t feel comfortable naming the publisher or the
title of the book yet since the deal isn’t finalized. I need to get my
contract, sign it, and return it. I will say that I’m over the moon about this
acceptance. I sent this book to over 70 agents and all the good erotic romance
publishers. Everyone rejected it. If this particular publisher hadn’t accepted
the book, I was going to shelve it. I had nowhere else to send it, and I loathe
self-publishing. So to say I’m very thrilled is an understatement.

Now for the real work – preparing the book for publication
and preparing myself for publicizing it. I know the title has to change. Any
book with the word “Threesome” in the title will be slapped with the
“Adult” label by Amazon and other distributors and relegated to the
“Erotica” category where it will die a quick and lonely death. If any
of that sort of censorship happens, my book won’t sell because the publishers
would have hidden it from searches. My current and potential readers won’t be
able to find it.  So I need a new title.

I want my cover to be sexy but not tacky. I’m not sure I want
any oiled male torsos on the cover. I like the cover of “Fifty Shades of
Grey”. It’s subtle and hot. I’ll talk to the publisher, but I’ll trust the
pub’s suggestions as to what kind of cover will sell the book.

I’ve already decided who I’d like to write the forward for
my book, but I need to ask her first. I hope she accepts. She’s an excellent,
award-winning erotic fiction writer who’s a great seller. She’d be perfect. I
also have a list of writers I’d like to contact to write blurbs for my book.
I’ll send an ARC of the book if they need it, or I could send a PDF of several
short stories in the likely event they want to read my works first but want
something shorter.

I’ll write a press release to send out to the local
newspapers. I’ve done this before for a charity anthology, so I know how to write
it. Now to get newspapers to write about me and/or the book.

I need to set up a list of reviewers to review the book.
I’ll send it to Night Owl Romance, Manic Readers, Dawn’s Reading Nook, and The
Romance Reviews, to start. I’m not sure where else to send it at this point,
but I do have a list of review sites buried on my computer somewhere. I’m also
going to get the book set up with NetGalley. I’m a member of Broad Universe, a
networking group for women writers. Broad Universe has a very good deal set up
where I can submit my book to NetGalley for a reduced price. I’m definitely
taking advantage of that. I’ll submit the book to Publisher’s Daily anyway. You
never know. I may get a review.

I also need to set up a newsletter. I plan on sending
newsletters out monthly and at times when something unique is going on, like
the release or special sales. I need to create or pay someone to create a
newsletter header. If I can’t do it myself, I’ll ask the woman who made my
excellent covers for my two erotic fairy tales, Trouble In Thigh High Boots (erotic Puss In Boots) and Climbing Her Tower (erotic Rapunzel). I’ve
subscribed to MailChimp awhile ago, but I’m not comfortable using it yet. Then
I need to get subscribers. How do I create a “sign up for my
newsletter” link on my web site and on my Facebook timeline? I need to
figure that out. If there are easier and better newsletter programs out there,
please let me know!

I need to plan live readings. I can go to Broad Universe for
this, since that group does group readings. I need to find the local erotic
fiction audiences and give readings to them. I could go to conventions like I
do every year, but the ones I go to are for science fiction, fantasy, and
horror. Smut wouldn’t fit in, although some local SF/F cons do include erotic
works. I need to find the romance and erotica conventions. Hopefully some of
them will be nearby.

I’d like to pay for some advertising, but I’d like the
advertising to give me results. I don’t want to throw away my money. I may buy
a spot on Night Owl Reviews’ web site and magazine. The Romance Reviews has
reasonable rates for advertising. I’ve had good results there when I advertised
my two erotic fairy tales. Is GoodReads advertising a good idea? What about
Facebook sponsored ads? Any other suggestions for good places for book

I need to set up one or two blog tours. I’ve done these in
the past on my own and while they’re a lot of work, I liked the results. I have
my old list of contacts and I’ll contact those people again for my blog tours.

Any other suggestions of promotions I left out? I don’t want
to miss anything!

I’m very excited about this acceptance. It comes on the
heels of one of my publishers closing its doors. That pub was supposed to
publish my first family saga/thriller novel in 2016, and now I have to start
from scratch again to find it a new home. More agent queries and small press
submissions. Sigh. That closing really discouraged me as have the usual
rejections I’ve received during this period. I haven’t written a novel in over
two years. I’ve had a handful of short stories published in anthologies though,
in both erotic fiction and horror categories. So my work is out there. Just not
my long work. I have several unfinished erotic novels sitting on my computer
that I haven’t felt like touching in all this time. I was very discouraged with
my writing career, so I haven’t had the desire to write much.  Now, my mojo is back. I have a m/m erotic
werewolf novel to finish. That one is loads of fun. A food porn erotic novel
needs me.  That one has a touch of magic
in it. Then there is the m/m erotic romance set in an exotic location. It also
has a touch of food porn. The novel I sold has food porn in it. I like food
porn.  🙂

So my writing career is looking up for 2016. Here’s hoping
the publisher treats the book well (I don’t doubt it will), and my promotions
give me lots of sales. That’s what I want and need – readers to buy and read
the book. I don’t want to lose my mojo. Not now, when everything looks so good.
What a great present for the holiday season. I’m psyched!

Real Life Events

by Lucy Felthouse

As this post goes live, I’m at Sexhibition in Manchester, England – also known as “the erotic event of the year.” Myself, my other half, and Victoria and Kev Blisse are running the Smut UK stand, selling erotic books and generally waving the banner for smutty books galore. We also have swag, goodies and a charity raffle. Every time we do one of these events, we have a fantastic time. We get to spend time with each other, having a giggle. We get to see other friends we don’t see often. We get to meet new people, or people we may have only chatted with online in the past. Invariably, these people are interesting, and we come away from the events exhausted but inspired, and looking forward to the next time we can get together.

Which leads me to my question – what do you think of real life events? As an author, and someone otherwise heavily involved in the industry, I know what I get out of it – but I’d love to know what readers/visitors get out of it. The events I’ve been to so far are more general smutty events, or conferences, rather than pure signings (though I’m signed up for one of those next year, and am considering others), so the people that go aren’t necessarily there for the books… but they generally go away with at least one! 😉 So I’d just love to know, whether you’re into books specifically, or the lifestyle as a whole – what drives you to these events?

And for those of you that go to more traditional book signings – what drives you? Is it because you want to meet the authors? Get autographs? Buy more books? Meet new authors? See your existing favourites? Please, do let me know… enquiring minds, and all that 😉

Happy Reading!
Lucy x


Author Bio:

Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and
erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100
publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several
editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic
Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and
co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house.
She owns Erotica For All, is book
editor for Cliterati, and is one eighth
of The Brit Babes. Find out more
Join her on Facebook
and Twitter, and subscribe to her
newsletter at:

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