October and November are going to be busy months for me. This past weekend, I attended Supermegafest, which is a comic con held in Massachusetts. I went there with the sole purpose of selling books and learning more about comics and graphic novels. I know nothing about comics. The only comics I recall reading when I was younger were Archie comics. I later read Heavy Metal and Judge Dredd. I’m not into Marvel or D. C. Comics at all. Superheroes don’t do a thing for me.
That said, I’ve long wondered what some of my stories would look like in comic book form. In particular, I’d like to turn my work-in-progress collection of erotic retellings of fairy tales into comic books. This print book is going to be called Happily Ever After: A Collection Of Erotic Fairy Tales. I’d like to release several of the individual short stories as comic books. The problem is I have absolutely no idea where to begin to accomplish this feat.
One panel at Supermegafest helped a great deal. It was a beginners guide to making comics and graphic novels. I’m off to a good start since I have written most of the stories in my collection. I’ve written erotic retellings of the following fairy tales:
Little Red Riding Hood
Puss In Boots
The Shoemaker and the Elves
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
Thumbling (aka Thumbelina)
Mud Licker (based on a creature from Japanese folklore called an akaname.)
The Pied Piper
The Little Mermaid
Sweet Spot (based on an Irish legend)
Other fairy tales I’m considering are as follows:
The Boy Who Drew Cats
The Magic Paint Brush
The Mirror of Matsumaya
The Old Woman In The Wood
The Poor Millers Boy and the Cat
The Golden Goose
The Fox and the Cat
The Thief and his Master
The Girl Without Hands
Eroticism in comics is already a thing. You’ll find adult content in comics like Preacher, Sin City, Ironwood, and that aforementioned old classic Heavy Metal.
I have an advantage in that I have several stories that are very visual that lend themselves easily to a comic format. The first ones I’d like to tackle are Cinderella , Mud Licker, and The Shoemaker and the Elves. Some stories are meant only to be read while others work in an artistic viewing.
The challenge for me is finding an artist. Do I want to pay an artist up front for artwork at a flat fee per page or do I want more of a partnership/collaboration where we are both paid via royalties alone? What can I afford? How do I raise money to fund the projects? Pen and ink comics may start at about $75 per page. Color and dialogue will add to the price per page. I would like a more realistic and dark-themed artist to work with. I’m aware of some artists whose style resembles anime but I don’t think that style would work well with my stories. Maybe I could start with black and white pen and ink comics and as I make money upgrade to full color.
How to find artists? There are many ways. Network on Facebook and Twitter to talk to artists who are interested in creating erotic retellings of fairy tales. Go to conventions that feature artists and talk to the ones whose work I like the most. Look to Craigslist and Deviant Art. Set up a GoFundMe or Kickstarter to raise money to pay an artist. I’m not sure the last would work for me since I’m unknown and I’ve never done such a project before.
I majored in art in college so I could possibly create the comic books myself, but I’m not sure I have the proper skill set to pull it off. Pen and ink, maybe. Color, definitely not. I need to purchase comics in the styles I like to see how it’s done. I already own some comics including Tomb Raider, Ruse, Dawn, and The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I bought some comic books at Supermegafest. They are L. I. S. (Lesbians In Space), Awake: Volume 1, Gremon’s Wrath, Rapid City: Objects At Rest, and The Séance Room. All are in color except for Rapid City, which is pen and ink.
According to The 8-Step Guide To Creating And Publishing Your Own Comic Book, the first thing you need is the idea. I have that. The second thing you need is a script. While my stories are already written, I need to rewrite them in a script format that works with comics. That means designing each page with the relevant material from the stories – breaking them down into pages and blocks. Each page should inspire the reader to turn to the next page. One suggestion is to end each page on a cliffhanger. Create thumbnails, which are similar to storyboards. That way, I can see how the story progresses from block to block and page to page.
Next is to create the comic by drawing it. Some do it by hand and others use a program like Manga Studio Ex. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Worry about perfecting it later when it’s time for pen and ink.
The next step is inking and coloring. Create depth and perfect the comic at this stage.
When lettering, choosing a font is important. If the reader is unable to read your comic, it obviously won’t sell. Blambot is the biggest collection of comic fonts out there. You may find free and paid fonts at Blambot. Use fonts that are easy to read and fit the mood of your comic.
Finally, there is marketing, the bane of existence for many writers. Marketing is much the same for comic books as it is for fiction writers. Know your audience. Use social media like Facebook and Twitter to promote your project. Advertise in appropriate locations. I plan to ask Long and Short Reviews, Manic Readers, and Night Owl Reviews if they would take advertising for erotic comic books.
I have a lot of work ahead of me, but it will be fun. First, I want to finish my collection of erotic retellings of fairy tales and self-publish it at Amazon. I plan to release it in 2018. I’ve self-published two erotic fairy tale novellas a few years ago and they sold well. They are Trouble In Thigh High Boots (Puss In Boots) and Climbing Her Tower (Rapunzel). I would like to release the comic book versions of some of those tales a few months after the collection is published. This is going to be an adventure that I’m looking forward to.
writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, horror,
and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son,
and her three cats. Visit her web site, her Facebook
page, and her Amazon Author Page.
Her new m/m erotic medical thriller Roughing
It is out! This book is a sexy cross between The X Files, The Andromeda
Strain, and Outbreak. Read her short erotic story Babes in Begging For It, published by
Cleis Press. You will also find her new novel No
Restraint at Amazon. Enjoy a good, sexy read today.
It’s the last day of Women In Horror Month, and I wanted to
talk a bit more about erotic horror like I did in January’s post. Last month, I talked about eroticism in
horror. This month, I want to talk about setting a proper mood for writing
erotic horror. There is a lot of music out there that lends itself to both the
spooky and the sensuous. I didn’t want
to include the usuals like Mussorgsky’s Night
On Bald Mountain or Bach’s Toccata
and Fugue in D Minor since they’re a bit overplayed and are very closely
associated with horror, but not erotic horror. There are some classical pieces
that are great accompaniments to writing erotic horror because they are so
Stanley Kubrick used Bertok’s Adagio from Music For Strings, Percussion and Celesta in his hit
movie The Shining. Although The
Shining is obviously not erotic, this music can easily set that kind of mood.
Back to Kubrick, he used Ligeti’s Requiem in his movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. This haunting piece is perfect to set a darker mood for your erotica.
Sally’s Song from A Nightmare Before Christmas is a haunting and sad tune that will bring tears to your eyes. So when your hero and heroine are far apart, this is the song to listen to that will gain you access to their hearts.
Lustmord was one of the first dark ambient artists I discovered over 20 years ago. The music is very atmospheric and perfect for setting a dangerous albeit sexy mood. Lustmord’s Astronomicon sounds like something Emily Brontë or Daphne du Maurier would have liked. It has a Gothic and sensuous feel to it.
Now for something a bit more melodic. Enigma’s The Principles of Lust is perfect for any sexy mood. You’ll crack open the flavored lube listening to Enigma. You’ll have to go to Youtube to watch and listen to this video.
Enigma’s Sadeness (Marquis de Sade?) is another go-to piece. Here are parts 1 through 3. Same as above – you must watch and listen to this video on Youtube.
Now for something with a bit more bite to it. I can see listening to Lords of Acid while writing action-packed dark vampire erotica. Their album Voodoo U is especially sexy. Here’s Special Moments.
How can you resist a song with a name like Dirty Willy, also by Lords of Acid.
Now that you’re in a sinister but sexed up mood, grab a suitable book like Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty trilogy or Poppy Z. Brite’s Exquisite Corpse and give your dark side a treat.
I’ve been having a rough few weeks and a scorching case of
writer’s block has set in. My parents (both sets) have health problems. For
that to make any sense, you must understand that I have parents who raised me and
an older couple who adopted me of sorts a few years ago. I call them Mom and
Dad. That Mom is having severe vertigo problems due to a possible serious inner
ear infection. My mother who raised me died two years ago, and now my dad who
raised me is in the hospital with a heart problem aggravated by his COPD. I
know the parents labels gets confusing. It’s like Neal Gaiman’s Coraline – I have Mother and Other Mother. Then there
are my biological parents and cousin since I’m adopted. My birth mother died
about four years ago and I’m in regular touch with a blood relative, a cousin. I’ve
turned family into a three-ring circus.
I’m not processing all this mess very well. On top of it,
my two latest books aren’t selling. That’s a severe disappointment. I don’t know what to do about it. The weather is getting colder and
winter is coming. The cats won’t stop fighting. The books not selling well is
hitting me especially hard since I see no point in writing at the moment. Why
bother when next to no one will read my books? I’m working on a horror novel at
the moment as well as a short erotic romance story, but the words simply aren’t
I know I’m not the only one feeling this way about my writing. A fellow horror writer on Facebook just said pretty much the same thing about his own aspirations since it’s harder for him to reach his goals now than when he was younger. One commenter pointed out that maybe when he was younger he set the bar for his goals too low. I wonder if that could be my problem. I used to be happy simply being published. Now, I want to be published by bigger, better houses, get lots of great reviews, get huge sales, and eventually win awards. Not only is a lot of that out of my hands, it’s harder to achieve. I have accomplished the first of those goals for the most part but not the others. Not yet. Maybe I just need time. In the meantime, I have no desire to write at all.
What to do?
I haven’t had writer’s block in awhile, but I haven’t
forgotten how I’ve dealt with it in the past. The best thing for me to do is to
not fight it. Just give in to it and find something else to do that I enjoy that
will improve my bleak mood. I know this won’t work for everyone. This is only
about what has worked for me. My point is to find what works best for you. If
writing through the block works, do it. If getting away from the keyboard for
awhile works, go for it. This is what has worked for me.
I’m still going to the beach nearly every day. Walking on
the beach is my primary form of
exercise. I’ve lost 15 pounds since the beginning of summer. The
difference this year is that my husband and I intend to join the local YMCA to
use their exercise machines and the pool. I lost 15 pounds last summer and the
summer before that, but gained it all back and then some because I had no
exercise regime set for the fall and winter. So there’s something to be happy
about. I’ll likely reach my target weight (130 pounds) by next summer. Good.
I’m concentrating on my new radio show, Into The Abyss With Elizabeth Black. It’s about horror and dark
fiction, my other literary loves. My first guest will be Josh Malerman, who
wrote Bird Box, a scary-as-shit novel.
I loved it. He’s going to be on my show Thursday Oct. 6 at 4 PM EST. I still do
radio shows for Blog Talk Radio and that includes shows about erotic romance
and writing. My past guests include women from Broad Universe, Madeleine Shade
(who specializes in fairy tales), Cherry Wild and Sophia Soror (they also
specialize in fairy tales), and Melissa Keir. Doing these shows keeps me afloat
so that I don’t feel as if I’m floundering without direction.
I’m reading more. I like erotic romance and erotica
collections by Cleis Press and Xcite Books. I have quite a few books by these
publishers, and they inspire me when I write erotic fiction. I’m working on a
call for submissions for Cleis that isn’t due until December, so I have time to
come up with a story. I would love to be accepted by them again. I also enjoy
books that scare the crap out of me. I’m about to begin Snowblind by Christopher Golden, which takes place in Massachusetts
in the dead of winter. Perfect timing. I’ve also decided to reread a classic to
inspire me while working on my own horror novel, Hell Time. I’m rereading Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar.
Finally, I’ve been watching plenty of TV and movies. I’m
binge-watching Mr. Robot, and I’m on the season finale now. Rami Malek deserved
his Best Actor Emmy for playing the lead in this show. I’m also enjoying
American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare, although it’s not the best thing
I’ve seen. The new TV version of The Exorcist is very predictable but the first
episode held my attention. Nice Easter Egg with the brief glimpse of a
newspaper article about Chris MacNeil from the original movie. Lucifer is back! Love that show. My husband and I can’t get enough of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. It’s my favorite TV show.
I’ve been baking. I made lemon poppy seed quickbread, angel
kisses cookies, hobnobs (British oat tea cookies), maple candy (it is fall
after all) and lime spritzer cookies. The lime spritzers taste exactly like the
same cookies Pepperidge Farm used to make. They were sold only over the summer
and they’ve been discontinued a long time ago. I loved those cookies, and now I
can make them myself.
In a nutshell, I’ve been doing things I enjoy to take my
mind off my worries and the writer’s block. When I’m ready to write, I’ll write.
I’m not going to put undue pressure on myself since I know that will only make
the situation worse. Next week I attend a Writers Coffeehouse New England
meeting, and I intend to learn how I can get word out about Into The Abyss With Elizabeth Black, including
possibly getting it into syndication. This coffeehouse is chock full of
valuable information, and I go every chance I get. I’ve been to one before and
I learned a great deal there. After we return, I decorate the house with
Halloween gack. I have two Fargo snow
globes and a Halloween snow globe.
All three depict scenes from the movies. Those are my pride and joy, and I love
showing them off. I’m looking forward to Halloween and the fall season. I can
at least enjoy myself until this dreadful mood and block lift. Maybe my parents (all of them) will be better soon. Until then, I’ll
binge-watch more movies and TV and bake stuff. Once I begin writing, I know
I’ll be fine.
In the meantime, I will continue to watch this video, which I can’t watch and be unhappy at the same time. It’s Cab Calloway and the Nicolas Brothers doing Jumpin’ Jive. This is said to be the greatest dance number ever recorded, and I sure agree with that. Get those happy feet moving!
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,
her tuxedo cat, Lucky, and the two new feline additions Chloe and Breena. They
are Lucky’s new best friends. Visit her web
site, her Facebook page, and her Amazon
I admit it. I have written fan fiction. Stop laughing!
The first fan fiction I wrote was when I was in college. I
used to write Star Trek fan fiction
with my cousin, who was five years younger than me. She lived in Iowa and I
lived in Maryland, and we scorched the pages of letters to each other with this
crap. My favorite characters were Spock and Scotty. Her favorites were McCoy
and Kirk. We wrote long-winded and dreadful letters where we were the stars of
our own fantasies and the Trek
characters actions revolved around us.
Yes, we wrote Mary Sues. You’re laughing again!
We were perfect in every way. We were beautiful,
genius-level intelligent, vivacious, talented, knowledgeable in our fields (whatever
the hell they were), and the entire Enterprise crew was in love with us. Of
course, the bridge crew couldn’t get enough of us. Typical Mary Sue. I had no
idea the concept of the Mary Sue even existed, let alone we were splendid at
it. We kept these letters going for over a year, and both of us were hooked on
I had a blast writing those letters. Sadly, I never saved
them. I wish I had. I could laugh and cringe over them while downing a bottle
of bubbly. I went another ten years before I wrote fan fiction again. In 1993,
I became hooked on The X Files. I
wished I could have worked on that show. I was in an AOL fan chat that show writer
Glen Morgan used to stop in, and he gave me the contact information to send my
resume. That was very nice of him. At the time I was working local crew in
Maryland doing lighting, scenic art, and makeup (including prosthetics) for
movies, TV, stage, and concerts. I worked on Die Hard With A Vengeance, Homicide:
Life On The Street, and the movie 12
Monkeys. I loved my work. I had enough of a background to qualify for union
work in Vancouver, British Columbia where the show was filmed at the time, and I was willing to move not only across
the continent but to another country. I thought I could live in Vancouver,
Washington in the U. S. and commute to British Columbia but that wasn’t
allowed. I’d have to move there and become a citizen. It was a long shot, but I
wrote. Never heard back. But I tried. I loved that line of work and being in
that fan chat.
Anyway, a couple of years later I attended a science fiction
convention as a guest panelist and I met a guy who was helping to put together
some anthologies. One was gay, one was lesbian, and one was TV fan fiction.
None of the books were ever published to my knowledge. It was a good thing,
too, because I didn’t know at the time I could have been sued for publishing
and getting paid for a short story based on The
X Files without first getting the show’s permission. I did start the story
but didn’t finish it. However, I saved my file. I also wrote a lesbian story
for that other book and I saved that file as well.
Count about a decade into the future. I rewrote the lesbian
story and submitted it to Torquere Press for their Vamps anthology, and it was accepted! I was delighted. I had worked
on the X File for another half dozen
years or so. I changed Mulder and Scully to two gay men working on an outbreak
at a camp around a lake. I finally finished it a few weeks ago, and I submitted
it to a Men At Work call I saw at –
get this – The Erotic Readers And Writers Association’s Submissions Web
Page. Funny how things come full circle.
The story was accepted! I called it Roughing
It, and it’s due to come out in the spring. Although Jake and Lance are two
scientists, you can hear Mulder and Scully in their conversations. The story is
a cross between The X Files and The Andromeda Strain with a little sex
thrown in. The sex works, too. It doesn’t seem out of place. I like this story
very much, and it’s special to me since I have worked on it very hard for
nearly 20 years. The story in the Vamps
anthology is called Neighbors, and I
took the two characters in it – Charlotte and Lina, who could pass for
identical twins – and placed them in my work-in-progress Full Moon Fever. I hope to sell it to the same publisher that is
publishing my novel Alex Craig Has A
Threesome. Xcite Books is publishing that book late summer. If it sells
well, I hope to pitch Full Moon Fever
to them. I’ll do what I can to make Alex
Craig sell. I’m very happy to be with Xcite. Xcite has published four of my
short stories in anthologies so I’m not a stranger. This is my first novel in
several years and my first with Xcite. I need the boost. Keeping my fingers
I find it amusing I’ve written a story that originated as
fan fiction, and the final result is getting published. Hey, if it worked for
E. L. James, maybe it will work for me. Everyone knows those 50 Shades of Grey books started out as Twilight fan fiction. I can only dream
of selling as well as she has.
I’ve also written Once
Upon A Time fan fiction, but that’s another post. At least I stuck to Belle
and Rumpelstiltskin. No Mary Sue in those stories. I won’t give links. I’m too
embarrassed. LOL Look for Roughing It
in April and Alex Craig Has A Threesome
in late summer.
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
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
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!
What makes a really great sex scene?
Many authors will tell you it’s description—all the senses, touch, taste, feel, smell, sight, hearing. But it isn’t. The secret to great sex writing—are you ready? Wait for it… the secret to great sex writing is…
That’s it. Make your reader feel. That’s all you need to do.
How, you ask? Here are a few guidelines.
Your characters are alive and they are not the sum of their parts. They aren’t measurements or hair color or penis size. I’ve done sex scenes without mentioning any of the above. Don’t ask, “What would my character do in this situation?” Let them act. Let them decide. Let them speak. Let them feel. Especially let them feel.
GET TURNED ON
If you’re bored writing a sex scene, your readers will be bored. If you’re turned on, your reader will be turned on. The emotion you are feeling will be conveyed on paper. It’s a natural law of the writer universe. (This applies to any scene, not just sex ones, by the way. If it moves you to tears, it will move the reader as well).
If you’re turned on during a sex scene, really getting into it, your fingers flying over the keyboard, unless the house is on fire or we’re under nuclear attack, DON’T STOP. Never, ever stop in the middle of a sex scene. (This rule also applies well to actual sex). You will lose your momentum, and it won’t be the same when you come back to it. Your mood will have shifted, and the reader will feel it.
Human beings want. Our entire culture and economy is based on desire. We lust after the things we want. We dream about them. We fantasize about them. We want. And we want. And we want some more. Our bodies and our brains are hardwired for desire. We don’t just eat once and then we’re done. We don’t just have one orgasm and then it’s all over. We continue to crave what we want. Our emotions rule us, especially when it comes to sex. They’re naturally going to rule your sex scene, too. We don’t insert tab A into slot B because we’re following a blueprint manual. There’s a reason behind our physical responses, and that reason is always, always tied to emotion. Remember that. Use it.
Desire is what makes the sex hot. Make your readers wait for it. Foreplay begins with seduction, not with sex acts. It begins with eye contact. Flirting. Innuendo. It progresses, but slowly. Tease your readers. Tease yourself. Draw it out. Make it a long, slow burn. The best orgasms are the ones we wait a long time for. It’s no different when writing sex than it is doing it, really.
DON’T BE AFRAID
Don’t be afraid of the sex. Don’t be afraid of the fluids, the flesh, the human expression of our bodies. It is what it is. Some writers will tell you not to ever speak of bodily fluids. They’re above all that messy stuff. Thankfully, erotica and erotic romance have come a long way, baby. We can use the words cock and pussy now, and I would encourage you to do so. I wouldn’t suggest using the medical terms, however (i.e. penis and vagina) or euphemisms like “member” or “sheath.” Cock and Pussy are good. Think of them like peas and carrots. They go together. A few (and I mean a FEW) other words can work for a little variety. Prick or dick for example. Or cunt. No, don’t be afraid of the words we use during sex. It’s okay to talk dirty. “Please,” or “Now,” or “Suck me,” or “Lick me,” or “Harder. There. More.” These are words we’ve all spoken (I hope!) They naturally arouse. That’s a good thing. I’m not afraid of cum – I’m not even afraid of spelling it “wrong.” You shouldn’t be either.
THE GRAND FINALE
Once you reach the point of no return, you’ve built up to the sex, you’ve teased your readers (and your poor characters) enough, now it’s time to give them what they want. This is not the time to skimp. You can’t gloss over the orgasm. (Or orgasmS). We all (hopefully!) know what an orgasm feels like. Description doesn’t have to be technical here. There are spasms and contractions, there is throbbing and trembling, gasps, moans—the combinations are endless. You can and should include those, but don’t be afraid to move into the realm of metaphor. Sex can be like flying. It can be like falling. It can be like dying. This is the culmination of everything, the point you’ve been waiting for, working toward. Let your imagination go as wild as you would during an actual orgasm. Let yourself free.
DEFYING THE LAWS OF PHYSICS AND OTHER MISHAPS
On a practical note – your characters shouldn’t defy the laws of physics. Women cannot take twelve inches of hot man meat down their throats. An average vagina is only eight inches deep. 44DD breasts cannot defy gravity. And if you’re using any of the above descriptions in your sex scenes, you need a basic writing course, not a primer on sex scenes. Also, don’t let your character’s clothes go missing. She can’t be wearing pantyhose one second and be taking it from behind the next. The clothes have to come off and be accounted for somehow. Trust me, your readers will notice if they aren’t.
As deadlines loom for me, I’m having a bit of a struggle carving out time to write anything. But I thought I’d point you in the direction of a few writers I’ve come across in the process of putting together exemplars for my PhD on new eroticism.
So I thought I’d take the opportunity to invite you into the strange, dark erotic world of a couple of erotic writers you might not have heard of.
Paula Bomer’s Inside Madeleine is a collection of stories, mostly quite long coming of age stories that explore emerging female eroticism with an unflinching eye.
They are all set in the US and may resonate a little more with people who have grown up on that continent, especially in the Midwest, more than with me.
That being said, I cannot praise her highly enough for eschewing pretty much every erotica trope in order to get to the core of what it really means to be a young woman with growing sexual desire and being constantly under pressure to frame it in non-threatening, pretty and comfortable ways.
Bomer most importantly gets into the theme of desire and body image among women in a way that makes for a queasy and uncomfortable ride, and yet manages to bring the fierceness and singularity of how that desire, contorted into strange and erotic shapes emerges.
The novella, Inside Madeleine, ends the collection. I think more than story I’ve read, Bomer gets to grips with what it means to be a slut – a defiant, unrelenting, total slut – in the most visceral way. She unpacks the power of embracing the slur as well as the isolation that it can confer.
The writing is literary in that very post-modern, American way. Not particularly poetic. Stark and Protestant in its refusal of adornment and sentimentality. I would like to see us have the guts to be able to write about desire in perhaps a more measured way, move past this level of dispassion and yet resist the trap of insipid romanticism.
The second book, also a set of shorts, I’d like to tempt you into reading is Twentysix, by Jonathan Kemp. Although varying in length, some of the stories in this collection are actually flash fictions. One for each letter of the alphabet, Kemp offers intense, super-concentrated hits of gay male desire.
Unlike Bomer, Kemp luxuriates in language much in the way a poet does, and brings that writing skill to bear on universal themes like time, memory, abjection and the sublime. And although Kemp also acknowledges that unbridled desire has its dark side, he does, in my mind, find more exultant ways of facing down the spectre of that paradox. That’s not to say that his stories aren’t also intensely subjective. They are.
But, while Bomer’s stories are probably not going to find much appeal to a male reader, Kemp manages to transcend the aspect of sexual-orientation specific desire in his stories onto a more universal plane. While the characters are gay, and the sex is unapologetically homosexual, most of the pieces are going to resonate with everyone. He’s got a true gift for peeling away the wrapping and uncovering the kernel of the erotic – the engines that turn our wheels. Also, there is something almost redemptive in terms of the way he portrays erotic desire pulling us down into depths and up to heights of experience, and often revels in the paradox of doing both at the same time.
I have a confession to make: I’m a chronic over-writer. In fact, unless you are one of those very few people who do almost all your editing while you are writing the first draft, you do too. There isn’t anything wrong with over-writing. It’s a mistake to think that you can leave it as is. And this is a sin I do find a lot of new writers (and many old ones, too) commit.
To put it simply, over-writing is using too many words, and not the right ones. Or it is mistrusting language not to do its job or mistrusting your own use of words. Sometimes you’re too damn anxious to get your point across. Sometimes over-writing happens because you’re attempting to describe something complex and nuanced and you take a number of runs at it. So over-writing is very much part of the process of writing: it’s fertile, it allows you to play with the way you get things across, but it’s not okay to dump that onto a reader. This is where thinking poetically is very helpful. Poets often aren’t good at constructing a plot, or characters, but they are excellent at using language carefully and strategically, and we can learn a lot from them. I will get to an example of this in a minute, but first I want identify some of the common places where overwriting happens. I want to make it clear that this isn’t something you should ever be thinking about in your first draft. This is the test to which you should put a piece of writing once the first draft is written.
To be pedantic, let’s define what they are. Adjectives are words used to modify nouns. I’m not saying they’re bad. We need them often, to be precise about what qualities the noun has. ‘A soft bed’ informs the reader that the bed has the quality of being soft, not hard. But before you settle on the phrase, consider if there is a noun that will allow you to dispense with the adjective. Could you use nest, or cocoon? Could you use a noun that implies both bed and soft? Or could you use an adjective that did more work for you? Something that added more meaning to the phrase? A cosy bed? Cosy is an adjective that is going to imply soft, if we’re talking about beds, because hard ones aren’t cosy at all but, more than that, it’s also going to add a sense of rightness and belongingness to the phrase. Or what about ‘hard edge of the table’? Have you ever met a soft one? The hard here is simply not needed. Same with ‘a big gulp of coffee’ or ‘a big gulp of air’? A gulp IS a large amount of liquid or air taken down at once. You don’t need the ‘big’.
I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged on this one before, but I’m going to do it again because I read far, far too many erotic stories where someone ‘lightly brushes his fingers over her skin’. For some reason, I really overreact when I hit phrases like this. ‘Brushes’ implies light, soft strokes. You don’t need the lightly. Same with ‘whispered softly.’ A whisper is soft. You only need to use an adverb when you want to use the verb in an unexpected way, i.e. ‘he whispered viciously (hoarsely, harshly, gratingly).
The room was empty. There was no one there.
Yeah, don’t laugh. I’ve read this. And we all do this sort of thing while we’re writing a first draft. It’s the ‘circling around’ I spoke of earlier.
She screamed and screamed until her throat was raw.
I think I may have actually written this one. What’s with the ‘and screamed‘? I guess I wanted you to know she really did do a lot of screaming, but the modifying phrase ‘until her throat was raw‘ does the job.
He wept. The tears rolled down his cheeks.
I’m absolutely certain I’ve written this. It’s stupid. And either sentence is so much more powerful on its own than the two combined. More isn’t better. More gums up the writing for the reader.
One of the acknowledged problems for anyone writing erotica is that, although English offers us a wealth of options when it comes to many nouns and verbs, it isn’t particularly generous when it comes to sexual vocabulary. There is no other word for a kiss. Consequently, we do need adjectives and adverbs to fine tune the meaning. What kind of a kiss was it? Languid, intense, rough, studied, thoughtless, hungry? Sometimes, I try to do without it. She pressed her closed lips to his navel, his hip, his thigh. All the while watching his cock creep to life.
As much as the ‘again and again’ problem is giggle-worthy, it’s also important to recognize that repetition is a powerful form of rhetoric. Where would Churchill or Martin Luther King Jr. have been without it? We’re back at poetics: not what the words mean, but what impact may be had from they way they are used. Repetition can reveal character, it can deepen the immersive experience of a written description. And, as speakers, we repeat ourselves when we talk. It can signal indecision, insecurity, anxiety, desperation. It can alert us to a character at the edge of language, where it fails to be enough. Here repetition informs us, not of the meaning in the words, but of their inadequacy. This becomes an issue of a writer’s honour. Are you being lazy or are you making a conscious choice?
I call them evil, because they sneak into my writing all the time and I don’t notice I’m doing it. Some are common to many writers and some are highly individual. My evil words are just, really and even: I’ve (just) right this minute done a word search through this post and found five instances of ‘just’ that didn’t need to be there at all. WriteDivas has a lovely list of over-used and unnecessary words, as well as some examples of cliches and pat phrases. A good way to brutally edit your work is to take each of those words and phrases, and do a search for them in your document. You’re not going to want to delete every instance of the word ‘really,’ but at least 80% of them go. The 20% that you make a conscious choice to keep is the birth of your style as a writer.
Style is really one of the hardest things to define in writing. It is a combination of so many aspects of writing that, like porn, it comes under the ‘I know it when I see it’ headings. But what it isn’t is accidental. It might start off as accident, but by the time you get to call it style, you’ve recognized what you’re doing and made a conscious decision to keep on doing it. This is why it usually takes writers many years and a good deal of experimentation to acquire a ‘style’ of their own.
I bring this up because there are excellent reasons to completely disregard everything I’ve said above, in the right circumstances. When you, as a writer, judge the circumstance to be right to consciously over-write, then you are making a stylistic decision. That’s fine. Just don’t over-write because you were too lazy to edit.
Poetry as an aspirational exemplar for prose writers:
I’m going to offer you the second stanza of the poem “Men” by Maya Angelou. Her language is gorgeous and fierce. There is repetition, there are adjectives and adverbs, but they are all used consciously, to produce a powerful effect.
One day they hold you in the
Palms of their hands, gentle, as if you
Were the last raw egg in the world. Then
They tighten up. Just a little. The
First squeeze is nice. A quick hug.
Soft into your defenselessness. A little
More. The hurt begins. Wrench out a
Smile that slides around the fear. When the
Your mind pops, exploding fiercely, briefly,
Like the head of a kitchen match. Shattered.
It is your juice
That runs down their legs. Staining their shoes.
When the earth rights itself again,
And taste tries to return to the tongue,
Your body has slammed shut. Forever.
No keys exist.
Metaphor and simile:
The last thing I’d like to point out is that sometimes correcting your over-writing means writing more, not less. Notice in the stanza of the poem above, Angelou is opting to use similes and metaphors instead of resorting to adjectives or adverbs to deepen meaning. And it is so much more vivid.
One day they hold you in the
Palms of their hands, gentle, as if you
Were the last raw egg in the world.
The simile of the ‘last raw egg in the world’ is just so much more powerful than writing ‘he held me gently.’ True, she’s using more words, but she forces you to imagine exactly how precious, how breakable the last raw egg in the world might be.
Your mind pops, exploding fiercely, briefly,
Like the head of a kitchen match. Shattered.
Here we have adverbs galore, but it resolves into the simile of ‘the head of a kitchen match’ bursting into flame. It is a brilliant and terrible piece of imagery. Erotic, incandescent and also destructive.
It is your juice
That runs down their legs. Staining their shoes.
And here is the metaphor to end all metaphors. It’s just so fucking clever and so fertile. You probably recognize the allusion to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Lemon Song’ but they stole it from Robert Johnson and Arthur McKay. She’s appropriating the phallocentric metaphor of ‘squeezing lemons’ and juxtaposing it. Your juice, in this poem, is more than sexual body fluid: it is hurt and pride and hope and wasted love. And those stained shoes, in the next stanza, just keep on walking by.
My point in deconstructing that last piece of poetry is to remind you that even in prose, if getting rid of your adjectives and adverbs and redundant words is frustrating you, try building a metaphor or simile to get the meaning across instead. It’s almost always stronger writing.
Over-writing is only a problem when you don’t recognize it as an early stage of the writing process. Think of writing as trowing pottery on a wheel or sculpting. The first task is to shape it roughly and explore the possibilities that material has to offer. At this point, it’s important to have too much of whatever it is. You want enough to be able to go to the next stage, which is to judiciously refine it into a final version.
I meet so many first time writers that believe they can sit down and write something brilliant in a single sitting. It’s certainly possible to do it, but very unlikely. Be prepared to approach your work in three stages. Write it out in as full a way as you can and let it sit for a while. Go back with an eye to purging it of over-writing – get rid of all the repetitions, redundancies, cliches, memes, etc. Then let it sit a while longer. Finally, revisit it for a final proof reading and an eye to adding back the things that will make up your unique style.
Question from one of my students: “Isn’t there a quicker way to do this?”
My answer: “No.”
The first ever erotic story I wrote was about a young man and his teacher. But that was because I’d been dared to write an erotic story, and the “darer” gave me names and a plot. So I don’t include that one because the plot was from my friend’s imagination, not me.
After that, though, I wrote a story fully from my own head, which was about a couple that end up getting down to it on a balcony in the pouring rain. So, pretty vanilla by some standards, but still, outdoor sex! Following that, I penned military erotica, more outdoor erotica, rubenesque, classroom sex (between consenting adults), vampire sex and first-time lesbian sex. Which, thinking about it, isn’t too bad for a beginner. Looking at my past publications, alfresco sex and military sex is a recurring theme… I can’t think why 😉
Now, though, I’ve definitely branched out. For a long time, I wouldn’t even attempt to write BDSM. There was no particular reason behind it, other than I didn’t fancy writing it. But I eventually caved in and answered a call for submissions for sex toy erotica, which also ended up including bondage and spanking. That seemed to open the floodgates. I’ve now had between ten and fifteen BDSM stories published, with lots more written, submitted, contracted and waiting for release dates. I’m not quite sure how it happened. It certainly hasn’t been a conscious decision (except when answering calls for submission, of course), but I find it much easier to write BDSM now, to the extent that I’m coming up with some seriously wild and wacky scenes (see one of my future releases!) that even make me wonder where it’s coming from as I’m writing.
I’m definitely glad I’ve branched out. My author tagline is “Erotic and Romantic Fiction… Whatever Your Fancy!” because there’s so much variety in my work. From straight, to lesbian, to gay. Vanilla to medium and hardcore kink, indoors, outdoors, military, at home, abroad, second chances, paranormal… the list goes on. I love that there are so many topics, likes, dislikes and kinks I can write about as I’ve gotten over my fear and always push myself to write something new, something that may involve lots of research, or even something I don’t agree with. There are quite a lot more things on my mental list that I want to cover, but hopefully I’ve got plenty of time yet.
Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and
erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over seventy
publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include Best
Bondage Erotica 2012 and 2013, and Best Women’s Erotica 2013. Another string to
her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies.
She owns Erotica For All, and is book
editor for Cliterati. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. Join
her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her
newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9
By K D Grace
I’m a bit like a kid at Christmas when May rolls around. Why’s
that, you ask. It’s National Masturbation month, that’s why! I can’t tell you
how happy it makes me to see something as healthy, life-affirming, and
down-right fun as masturbation get a little much-needed positive press. So I
decided that, as National Masturbation month draws to a close (not that the fun
is ending, just the month) that I’d write a few words in praise of the much-maligned
Doesn’t it seem strange and more than a little sad that some of the world’s
best, most celebrated writers find themselves on the not-so-coveted short-list
for the Bad Sex Awards? Is there some misguided, unwritten rule that states a
story is only ‘worthy’ if it doesn’t
make the reader squirm deliciously in her seat, if it doesn’t makes her need to engage one hand in areas far south of the
novel in her grip? And where the hell did we get the idea that just that one
act, in fact the most crucial act of the human condition, sex, should not be
treated with the same weight, or the same tongue-in cheek irreverence or the
same heart pounding delight or wonder or horror as any other part of the human
If a writer gets the sex right, I mean gets it really right, then what other
response should there be but for our bodies to tingle and our hands to stray?
Which leads me to another reason why a one-handed read should be praised and
sought after by readers and writers alike. A well-written one-handed read
engages the reader on a physical level that no other type of read can. A
one-handed read takes the reader a level deeper than the voyeuristic experience
that reading tends to be. A one-handed read allows and demands reader
participation in solidarity with the characters, and, indeed, with the writer.
The story suddenly becomes interactive in a literal sense. And even more than
that, the story suddenly becomes a sexy ménage between the reader, the
characters and the writer.
I’ve always felt that just because a writer strives to give the reader a
well-rounded literary experience with a story that’s gripping (no pun intended),
pacey, thought-provoking and satisfying on some level; just because a writer
tries to offer the reader a well-written, stonking good story doesn’t mean that
stonking good story can’t involve a little one-handed pleasure mixed in. Why
the hell shouldn’t it?
Okay, maybe it’s that feeling of exposure; maybe it’s that
fear of being caught in the act, so to speak, that frightens writers away from
making the sex hot and squirmy. But it’s a lesson straight from the pages of
creative writing 101 that the place we most fear, the place we feel the most
vulnerable is the place where the most powerful writing happens. Embrace the
Those of us who love to read love a story we can be pulled
into. I love a good adrenalin rush, a good heart stopper, a good brain teaser,
a good tear jerker, a good happy ending, so why wouldn’t I like a good wank all
in the spirit of a sexy story? Why do we think that good writing is negated if
our stories make people want to go rub one out?
I’ve been involved in the world of erotica for enough years now to have seen
the quality of writing go through the roof, enough years to have been gripped
by heart-stopping, tear jerking, brain-teasing stories that STILL have
fabulous, seamlessly-written, deliciously sensual one-handed scenes. Why can’t
a good book be both a page turner and a one-handed read? We now connect with
story on so many more levels than ever before. We read eBooks, we listen to
audio books, we curl up with a good old fashion trade paper-back and a glass of
wine. But really, was there ever a time when reading a good book wasn’t
intended to be a sensual experience, wasn’t meant to make us FEEL things in our
body that we wouldn’t otherwise feel, wasn’t meant to scratch an itch that
nothing else could quite scratch? So why, oh why, should we exclude that best
of, most intimate of — that even better than a nice glass of wine sensual
experience of the one-handed read?
Oh no doubt there’ll always be a need for sexy snippets just
long enough and hot enough to get the rocks off, and I like those just fine
too. But why should one-handed reads be reserved for just such works? Why
shouldn’t the sex scenes in any type of novel or story be well-written enough,
steamy enough, raunchy enough to send one hand straying? It seems to me that if
a sex scene is well written, then we should at least feel something down in the
genital direction. I’m not saying that everything written about sex should be a
turn-on, but I am saying it should affect us in some way because sex affects
us. It affects us powerfully, uncomfortably, sometimes disturbingly, and it
often affects us the most because we don’t want it to and we don’t understand
why it does, nor do we understand its power over us. But it most definitely
DOES have power over us. It’s supposed to have, so to try to write sex that
excludes and banishes the one-handed read seems absurd.
Without getting all mystical and goose-pimply and bringing
on the sex magic; doing my best to keep it real and genuine, I have to ask;
when is there a time that a writer doesn’t want a reader to feel her work, to experience her story as so much more than words on a page? Why
should our sexual responses not be fully included in the experience of story?
So I’ll say it again: let’s hear it for the one-handed read!
Happy Masturbation Month! I wish you all gripping, touching,
deliciously squirmy reading. And writing!