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.
THE SEXY LIBRARIAN PRESENTS: FOR THE MEN AND THE WOMEN WHO LOVE THEM
Editor: Rose Caraway
Publisher: Stupid Fish Productions
Submission Deadline: May 1, 2016
Publication Date: Approximately July 2016
USD for Non-Exclusive Rights
Stupid Fish Productions purchases accepted stories for $50 for inclusion in this anthology. Authors will retain the rights to their individual stories.
Authors will also receive: 1 E-book copy, 1 Audible download code of the audiobook upon publication. If the book goes to print, contributing authors will also receive 1 print copy.
“For The Men”
Men love a good story. They communicate in story. Ask any man near you and he’ll have a tale to tell, about
that one time when…
This “For The Men” erotic collection is intended for the fellas and the women who have an appetite for something other than “Romance”. These stories are for a heterosexual audience, but might contain elements of bisexuality, gay or lesbian characters, or ‘other’.
I am seeking stories with purposeful plot and developed characters. ALL FIVE SENSES should be engaged. Writers should focus on capturing action and emotion, transition and transformation. Their stories should revolve around expected/unexpected intense sexual encounters. Story movement is key. The where and when of your story should include detailed elements of that specific environment and your character’s mind. Show both, action and reaction.
“Romance” isn’t the focal point. Characters should be affected and effective. Let them be strong, weak, smart, clumsy, egotistical or emotional. Play with power dynamics. Put your adventurous characters ‘anywhere’ or in ‘any time’ you want them, but remember that “happily ever after’s” aren’t required here. If “Romance” is a strong
element in your story, show it. Give more than nuanced feeling descriptors. Show the behavior.
For inspiration, think:
Mad Men, Sopranos, Ex
Machina, Avatar, Star Trek, The Anchorman, Pain & Gain, The
Exorcist, The Shining, House of Cards, Rocky, The
Wire, etc. You know, think adventure: crab fishermen, astronauts, professors, senators, aliens, gold miners, athletes, soldiers, drug dealing gangsters…you get the idea. All genres and ‘kinks’ are open.
Example Story Prompts:
- A trucker finds the perfect road companions; damsels in distress. (multiple women)
- Guaranteed pregnancy. A scientist develops the perfect fertility serum. (Seed for sale)
- She entered the Harley Davidson bathing suit contest. What she won was more than a motorcycle. (vouyerism/lesbian) [Cliché is okay, if done well.]
- A WWII soldier saves a new mother, but they have to stay out of sight for a few days and the nights are cold. (lactation)
- He caught the smallest fish, but she promises not to tell if he agrees to ‘satisfy’ her boyfriend. (forced bi/glory hole/anonymity)
- His boss just pulled into the driveway and, once again, he’s sneaking out of the wife’s upstairs window. (infidelity)
- A senator needs her ego stroked. (power play)
- A married couple goes camping and the couple in the next tent over are very friendly. (wife swap)
- Astronauts discover a new, aggressive reptilian species. (alien breeding/world domination)
Rose Caraway will not accept stories featuring:
Scat-play or pedophilia.
How to Submit: (1 Story per author)
Early submission is strongly encouraged.
Please send your submission to:
*Email: forthemenantho at gmail dot com
*Subject Line: Submission
Please format and submit your work as follows:
Word document with your name in the heading of each page and all pages numbered. (.doc or RTF) Do not paste your story in the body of your email.
Use double spaced, Times New Roman, 12 point, black font
Up to 4000 strict word count.
Indent the first line of each paragraph 1 inch
Do not add extra lines between paragraphs
Only submit the final version of your story (Beta Readers can be found at The Slush Pile)
Include your full contact information (legal name/pseudonym, web address, mailing address and phone number) and a bio of 100 words or less, written in the third person. Do not list your previous works, or any contact information in your bio, because that would be boring. Write something fun, about you.
**If you are using a pseudonym, please make it clear which name you want to be credited as.
Please note that Publisher, (Stupid Fish Productions) has final right of refusal on all submissions. No simultaneous submissions. Please do not submit a story that is being considered elsewhere.
Authors will be notified of acceptance upon final approval of the manuscript from the publisher.
They’re making my book, Babysitting the Baumgartners, into an adult film.
Yep, you heard me right! 😀
Am I the first indie author to have their book made into an adult film? Oh wait, no – Kay filmed her book, Safe Landings, as an adult film last year, and she was nominated for an AVN award to boot for best director. Adam and Eve is venturing into new, exciting territory, folks. I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship – perhaps even a marriage made in heaven!
We all know Fifty Shades of Grey was made into a mainstream, much-anticipated film, but many fans were left a little… disappointed. Why? Well, let’s be honest – because all the “juicy parts” of the book had to be left on the cutting room floor. And the juiciest parts never even got filmed!
I’ve been approached before about making my books into adult films, but I’ve never felt right about it until now. Why now? Because it’s in the hands of Kay Brandt, who has won awards for directing adult films, and Adam and Eve, a long-standing brand I know and trust.
Like fans, I have been rather protective of Doc and Carrie, Ronnie and Gretchen–these characters are part of my psyche, and kind of part of my family. (Granted, a really naughty family that frolicks disease-and-chafe free in the fantasies that roll through my dirty mind… :D) I didn’t want to do a disservice to them – or to the fans who loved them as much (maybe more!) that I do.
So when Kay pitched the idea of her vision for Babysitting the Baumgartners, I have to admit – I hesitated. But the more she talked, the more I realized she really understood the Baumgartners. She “got” the book. (A lot of people don’t – they think it’s “pure filth” – and hey, everyone’s got a right to their opinion, eh?) This book is about sexual awakening. It’s a coming-of-age story about a vivacious but naive college girl and an adventurous, caring couple who allow her to blossom under their tutelage.
That’s not to say there’s not a lot of damned hot sex in it. 😀 Because, trust me, there is! This book could never be made into a mainstream film – like all good erotica, if you take the sex out, the whole story falls apart. The sex in Babysitting the Baumgartners is integral – in all its wet, messy, juicy, yummy glory! But that isn’t all Babysitting the Baumgartners is about. And that’s the part that Kay Brandt understands, which is why I was willing to trust her with this family and these characters that so many fans have fallen in love with since I first published it back in 2008.
That’s why I’m so excited to make this announcement, you guys! I will be posting here often, updating you on how things are going, letting you know about filming schedules and release dates, but the very first thing I’m going to reveal (aside from our very bright and awesome GREEN LIGHT on this project!) is that the roles of Doc, Carrie and Gretchen have been cast and are listed below. And I couldn’t be more thrilled with them! There will be a casting call for the all-important role of Ronnie – and you guys will get to vote on which one you like best!
Carrie Baumgartner (“Mrs. B”)
Hello Mrs. B!
Mrs. B in a bikini, of course!
Oh. My. Word.
Steven “Doc” Baumgartner
Hey, what’s up, Doc?
Doc on the beach…
Can’t you see him playing Doc?
A.J. Applegate – the perfect Gretchen!
Pretty without makeup!
All made up!
Dat lip bite tho!
*fanning self* Whew! Is it HOT in here?
Shooting starts in March – but I’ll post lots of awesome stuff about the casting call for our girl, Ronnie, before then.
This is going to be an amazing, exciting, and totally FUN journey! I can’t wait to take all of you on it with me!
Here’s to the Baumgartners – our favorite family! 😀
Want to be a Star?
Director Kay Brandt is holding a casting call on Wednesday February 17, 2016 for the lead role of “Ronnie,” our favorite babysitter from the Baumgartner series.
If you’re a California girl and have always wanted to be in an adult movie – you can even audition! It’s an open casting call, no RSVP needed. They’ll be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Free Speech Coalition offices, located at 8399 Topanga Canyon Blvd. Suite 302, Canoga Park, CA 91304.
Ronnie is our star–the pivotal role that the entire book (and, I imagine, the movie) hinges on. The perfect Ronnie (as perfect as we can get, I suppose, outside of our imaginations!) is essential. She has to be young (Ronnie was just nineteen when Doc and Carrie took her with them to Key West) and have an air of freshness and innocence about her.
“The ideal candidate would be brunette and petite,” Kay says. “I can’t have someone with a lot of piercings, a lot of tattoos or breast implants.”
*Selena nods in agreement.* Amen to that.
As an author, I’ve got it easy. I can paint images with words. My favorite way to do this is in broad strokes, to allow you, the reader, to fill in the picture with your own imagination, which is a powerful thing. I’m not the type of reader (or writer) who goes in for paragraphs of detailed character description. That means most of my readers have strong ideas of what my characters look like, because they’ve used their own imaginations to fill in the blanks.
But a movie isn’t a book. And directors don’t have the luxury of painting with broad strokes, at least when it comes to actors. Directors have to cast real people. And matching a real person up to everyone’s idea of Ronnie is simply an impossible task. No one will be “perfect,” because my image of Ronnie likely differs from yours, and your neighbor’s and your book club friend’s.
I remember when I read Harry Potter – I had an image in my mind of what he looked like. After Daniel Radcliffe played the role, and I saw the movie, I’ve never been able to unsee him as Harry, or regain my image of what I’d imagined before he was cast. The same goes for Katniss from Hunger Games. Jennifer Lawrence will now always be that character for me, even when I re-read the books.
That makes casting a very important part of movie-making. Maybe the most important part. The good news is that Kay is a seasoned director, she knows this business and the talent, and she knows my book. She’s also graciously given me a great deal of input in the casting, and so far I think we’ve made some pretty great choices. I have no doubt we’ll find the best possible Ronnie we can.
That said, I’ve already heard a few fans say, “I don’t know if I want to see it – what if it ruins my image of X character?” Hey, I get that. Believe me, I do. I’ve turned down other offers to make movies out of my books in the past because I felt it wasn’t right, that they didn’t really understand the storyline or the characters. And I understand when something you’ve read becomes an experience for you, one that you can’t help but be a little protective of.
Look, let’s face facts–we all know that very few movies ever live up to their book counterparts. They’re simply a different experience, and comparing them is like apples and oranges. And while I had a completely different idea of who Katniss, Peeta and Gale were in the Hunger Games, I could put that aside and still enjoy the movie.
I think the same will apply to Babysitting the Baumgartners. I had to let go of my own vision of the characters and the story, to some degree, because until we can 3D-print actors (please God, don’t ever let us go that far…) no author will ever be able to completely bring their characters fully onto a screen as they’ve described or pictured in their mind’s eye.
Ryan Driller is as handsome a Doc as I could have imagined, and that smirky smile of his is just perfection. Anikka Albrite as Mrs. B has that bright, gracious quality about her I always associate with Carrie. (And dat booty tho!) A.J. Applegate as Gretchen is, in a word, simply stunning. So I’m really looking forward to who and what Kay discovers and uncovers next Wednesday at the casting call for Ronnie!
I just know that the Ronnie who’s finally cast will fit our collective vision as closely as we can get–and here’s the best news of all. Once Kay has narrowed the choices, YOU are going to get to vote for your favorite!
So stay tuned… I’ll post more as soon as I can!
The Erotica Readers and Writers Association has been around since 1996. It pre-dates my foray into the erotica genre by ten years, and is coming up on its twentieth anniversary. Adrienne Benedicks has run it from the beginning, and I remember finding my very first publisher (Stardust, now defunct) on their Author Resources page. Adrienne is now retiring – and moving to greener pastures and a warmer climate! She felt it was time to pass the baton, and I was honored that she thought of me.
In recent years, as Amazon (and other retailers) have pushed back against erotica authors, I have seriously considered giving up on the genre altogether. But in the end, I simply can’t walk away from something I’ve invested nearly ten years of my own time and energy into. Besides, I love erotica as a genre. And I love erotica authors. I have never met a more fun-loving, open-minded, good-hearted crowd of people. Erotica authors are the first line in the defenders of the freedom of expression. They go places others are often afraid to venture, and tackle topics that far too many shy away from.
I have some great ideas about how to develop the Erotica Readers and Writers Association into an even stronger community and resource for both readers and authors that I’m sure I will be implementing in the future, but truthfully, what’s in place right now is a gold mine that, I’m afraid, too many people don’t know about!
For instance, did you know that the Erotic Readers and Writers Association has a lively discussion list? In fact, they have several! The Parlor is a place where everyone can discuss whatever’s on their mind, Storytime is where authors can offer their work for critique, and the Writers’ List is a place where authors can network and talk about all things writing related. I’ve been a part of those discussion lists for the past year, and it’s been a great experience to connect with new erotica authors and erotica lovers.
For readers, there’s a huge library of erotic fiction available for free in the Treasure Chest! There’s straight erotic fiction, queer fiction, kinky erotica, the softer side, quickies, flashers, and even poetry. It’s not just erotic books, either. There are a wide array of articles in the archives, plus adult movies, sex toys, even suggestions for erotic music to set the mood. It’s an erotica lovers dream!
For those who are already a part of the ERWA, I want to assure you that I have no intention of dismantling the site or bringing a bunch of new changes in too quickly. The site has grown and changed organically over the past twenty years, and I imagine it will continue to do so over the next twenty years.
Self-publishing and the rise of ebooks have given erotica a newfound freedom of expression that was unheard of twenty years ago. If I look into my crystal ball to see what the next twenty-years holds for erotica, I have to admit, it’s a bit cloudy. But I do know one thing – as a genre, erotica isn’t going anywhere. As long as there are humans, the expression human sexuality in all its forms will be explored by the most daring and adventurous of writers, and read by the most curious and open-minded readers. That much I do know.
My hope is that erotica’s future is so bright, we’ll all have to wear shades.
But wherever the future of erotica as a genre may lead, I intend to be a part of that for a long time to come.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news twice in a week, but here we go again. This time it’s the folks over at Barnes and Noble. I’ve had reports (that I’ve now verified) that erotic keywords are being severely restricted. A search for “menage” comes up with a total of 3,661 titles. BDSM returns 6,988 titles, and incest comes back with just over 1,000 titles. Subkinks (like father-daughter or mother-son incest) are coming up at 20 to 40 total. Now, I haven’t checked the erotica keyword search results on Barnes and Noble in over a year, I admit, but back then, menage returned somewhere around 175,000 results, BDSM 110,000, incest about 80,000. For menage to suddenly come back with less than 4,000 books – it’s pretty clear that something’s happened.
Another interesting search restriction that’s been verified is that searching for a publisher on Barnes and Noble returns no results (unless the publisher’s name is in an anthology or listed somewhere other than the “publisher” field – our Excessica anthologies come up, for example, but none of our books do, and yes, they used to!) From Excessica to MacMillan – no results. For small publishers, this is a disaster. Many small pubs have spent years building a brand, and have readers who search those publishers for new books on the larger distributors. This eliminates that as an option (unless you do a search from Google – the results clearly come up there – which serves to prove further that this is a Barnes and Noble restriction.)
The conclusion we can draw here is that publishers and keywords are now restricted from the general search on Barnes and Noble.
My guess is this – Barnes and Noble is using a nuclear “quick fix” option. (Like when they dropped ranks on books by 1000 a few years ago – or anchored other books to keep them out of the Top 100…) They wanted to make keywords unsearchable going into the holiday season and in doing so they had to turn off publishers as a search term. I think keywords and publisher search were linked in their system somehow. So when they shut off one, they shut off the other–like throwing off a breaker to turn off one light in the house.
And now, we’ll see – but I think they’ll move on to individual books that have keyword-stuffed titles still coming up in searches. Because those are the books still showing when you search for things like “menage” and “BDSM.” Most of them have long keyword-stuffed titles that Barnes and Noble’s search engine is still finding. Suppressing publisher and keyword searches decimated the titles available that come up in a search – and made less work for them. Now instead of 200K titles they have to comb through, they have to go through only a fraction of that.
If you’re an erotica author thinking, “Ohhh! I’ll just keyword-stuff my titles then!” let me say one thing – I wouldn’t if I were you.
Earlier this year, Barnes and Noble threatened to close Excessica’s account if we didn’t get rid of keywords in parenthesis after our titles. We had to go through and remove them all and clean things up or face being banned from publishing on Barnes and Noble. I didn’t blog about it at the time because we seemed to be targeted as a publisher – I didn’t hear anything through the erotica grapevine about it happening across the board. I’m sure a few others were targeted as well, but it didn’t seem to be widespread.
This, however, is a sweeping change I think all erotica authors need to know about. I know, in the wake of KU 2.0, many erotica authors went wide with their books and were starting to gain some traction on Barnes and Noble. I have a feeling this is going to ruin Christmas for quite a few.
Thanks, Barnes and Noble. Amazon didn’t give us any warning or use any lube, but just because you got sloppy seconds doesn’t make it hurt any less.
Pass the eggnog, erotica authors. We’re gonna need it. Because while the storefronts will be safe “for the children!” this holiday season, none of the grownups will be able to find your books. Again.
Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, and dark
fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and three cats. Visit her web site, her Facebook page, and her Amazon Author Page.
People who know me know I write horror and dark fiction as well as erotica and erotic romance. I’m going to meet writer Jack Ketchum in mid-October at the Stanley Hotel Writers Retreat. That’s the hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, where Stephen King stayed that inspired him to write The Shining. While Ketchum is a horror writer, what he had to say about digging down into dark recesses of your soul to get to the meat of your characters applies to any genre. This excerpt is from an essay he wrote for the book Horror 101: The Way Forward:
“Dig into the dark mean night of your soul.” Remember Peter Straub’s line in Ghost Story? What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? Well, what its it?
What god-awful things have you fantasized doing but would never do?
What’s the worst thing you can imagine actually happening to you? To your loved ones?
What breaks your heart?
Use your damage. Write from the wound.
Go as deep as you dare. Stare into your own abyss and report back. No need to reveal everything – children have to learn how to lie a little, or else they grow up without protection, and so do we writer types. But you need ot embrace the damage as a co-conspirator, as uniquely you, as something you can use. Throw it out there into the light, to a place where it can do some good for others and maybe even for yourself.
You need to be honest. Really good fiction is always an attempt at total honesty. Be true to both the good and the
downright dangerous inside. See them as clearly as you can, use your empathy, search out your characters in your own heart and write them as though they were you. They are you, you know. Every one of them, if you do it right.When I dig down into my soul to get to the heart of my characters, I feel exposed and vulnerable. There have been a few stories I’ve written I decided against publishing because they feel too close. Too personal. Some of the stories I have published make me feel over-exposed. Although a publisher liked the story enough to publish and sell it, I don’t necessarily feel comfortable letting people read it because I feel like the reader will get a glimpse of me I’d rather keep private. My short story Longing in Coming Together: Among The Stars and my novel Don’t Call Me Baby are excellent examples of my picking at a festering wound in my soul I won’t let heal, and I allow everyone on earth to read about it.
Longing is about my fear of growing old and forgetting who I am. Or my husband losing his faculties and losing his memory of me. The story is about a woman whose husband suffers from dementia and he can’t remember who she is. I based the husband on my husband and on a friend who suffers from dementia. I watched this friend devolve from a vibrant and genius-level intelligent human being to a shell of his former self. I don’t like to think about it anymore, but I needed to express my profound distress at watching what had happened to him. Likewise, I am over 50 and my husband is over 60. Aging is very much in the forefront of my mind, and I am terrified of losing the sense of who I am and who he is. I know it’s a normal rite of passage for someone my age, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Don’t Call Me Baby is semi-autobiographical. I deal head-on with two affairs with married men I had when I was in college. What possessed me to do something as self-hating and stupid as that? The book was in part about my fear of losing my identity to another man’s wishes and demands. I watched some of my girlfriends turn from independent and interesting women to creatures who lived to please their boyfriends and fiancés. I didn’t want to turn into a Stepford wife. I was afraid that to fall in love meant having to turn my will completely over to a man, and I didn’t want to do that. So I chose men who were not only unavailable, but who also couldn’t complain when I chose to date multiple men at once. I couldn’t get too close to them, and they couldn’t get too close to me. I’m very much aware of how selfish this all sounds. Catherine Stone, my heroine in the book, is also very selfish as well as a bit pig-headed. She does meet a man who doesn’t interfere with her freedom, and how she learns to trust him is an important part of the book. At that time in my life, I had not yet met that man, and I wouldn’t meet him for several decades.
I’ve noticed the common thread between both stories – my fear of losing the sense of myself. Growing old, losing my sense of myself, ending up alone surrounded by my dozens of cats, and becoming homeless are four of my greatest fears. I’ve looked into them in some of my stories, especially the horror stories.
What are you afraid of? What fears drive you throughout your life? How would you answer Jack Ketchum’s questions? What god-awful things have you fantasized doing but would never do? What is the worst thing you can imagine happening to you? To your loved ones? Use the raw emotions behind the answers to bring your characters to life. Like Ketchum said, you don’t need to reveal everything in your writing. However, you need to know that side of your character to make that person human.
Escapism is a wonderful thing to enjoy, especially in erotica and erotic romance. Every woman who enjoys a good sexy story likes being swept off her feet and taken to a fantasy world. I’ve written escapist fantasies as well. These stories are driven by some of my fears but they aren’t gut-wrenching. My two erotic fairy tales Trouble In Thigh High Boots (Puss In Boots) and Climbing Her Tower (Rapunzel) as well as my short lesbian erotic romance Like A Breath Of Ocean Blue and my erotic fantasy A Dance Of Ocean Magic fall into this category. The main characters in those stories have their weaknesses and faults, but the stories have an otherworldly and magical quality to them that helps the reader escape her mundane, daily concerns. She can get lost in another fun world for a few hours.
When it comes to raw and uncomfortable emotion, I prefer the realistic approach, even if the story is fantasy or science fiction. If I wonder if the reader will disapprove of me or not like me, I know I’m on the right track. I know the reader may criticize my character’s choices, but those choices led my character down the path toward her maturation. Sometimes that maturation is found through trusting a partner in a vulnerable sex act. At few other times are we more vulnerable than when we are spread out, naked and exposed, before someone we care about. How will your partner treat you? Will you be cared for or abused? It’s all a matter of trust.
A Dance Of Ocean Magic will soon appear in the erotic anthology Forbidden Fruit, to be published by Sweetmeats Press.
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.
by Donna George Storey
I haven’t seen the Showtime! series Masters of Sex yet and probably should as part of my ongoing research on sex and culture, but I did recently plough through the book that inspired the series, Masters of Sex: William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America to Love by Thomas Maier (Basic Books, 2009). I don’t intend to give a full book review, but let’s put it this way: there’s still plenty of room for an intelligent, nuanced study of the lives and work of Masters and Johnson in the future. Yet in spite of its sensational-journalistic sensibility, Maier’s book did make me ponder yet again the deeply-rooted obstacles erotica writers still face decades after Masters and Johnson compiled their ground-breaking data.
William Masters began his career as a gynecologist specializing in fertility problems. Although he and his colleagues used all of their intellectual and surgical powers to help infertile couples conceive, they were forbidden to study the natural process by which human life was created. Clinical experimentation on human sexuality was not only scandalous, it was illegal in some states. The book quotes one doctor as, more benignly but with due disgust, asserting that a clinical study of sex as Masters and Johnson undertook in their laboratory would take the “mystery” out of it. Another gynecologist said that when his patients complained of unsatisfying sex lives, he had no help to offer but a warm hug, insisting that the hug did wonders. (To which I reply either “a hug” is a euphemism for much more, or this particular doctor was way gone in his god fantasy.)
Possibly we’re so used to regarding sex as a sacred mystery or a lawless instinct in need of severe legal and cultural restriction that this willed medical ignorance does not at first seem as horrifying as it truly is. What if the medical profession decided cancer was clearly a mark of god’s retribution and thus we should not destroy the “mystery” of the affliction by attempting to understand and treat it? A warm hug would surely provide the cancer patient with adequate intervention?
Very fortunately, William Masters had the courage to begin to study this taboo but fundamental aspect of human existence. Virginia Johnson’s initial key contribution was recruiting women to be subjects for the higher good of replacing myth with fact. Many eagerly participated for just that reason (I believe them—and thank you, sisters!) Johnson and Masters were, for a time, media stars. Their books were best sellers and did indeed overturn a lot of myths about sexuality, female and male both.
Still I’m sad to say that while sex guides and manuals are readily available in the present day, scientific studies of sexuality are still seriously underfunded. You can get grants for any kind of weird diet study in the name of the “obesity epidemic,” but to my knowledge, there’ve been no major breakthroughs in our understanding of human sexual response since the publication of Masters and Johnson’s work. (Please correct me if I’m wrong—even the discovery of the G spot is still controversial and not supported by the few later studies.)
So here’s my question—why don’t people WANT to know about sex? Why aren’t we insisting that our doctors and scientists delve deeper into this important aspect of our lives? Now I’m the first to admit that science has its own severe limitations, but isn’t it sad that we’re still held hostage to an ancient fear of sexuality? How ironic indeed that the Biblical word for sex is to “know” another person, when religion is so often used to perpetuate sexual ignorance.
In mulling this over, I came up with a few ideas—all based on fear. Fear of finding out we don’t measure up sexually. Fear of female sexual response if women were more educated about their potential. A continuing fear of the chaos that would ensue if science confirmed that the sexual urge and its satisfaction are just plain good for you.
In her comment on my April column here at ERWA, Remittance Girl introduced a concise and elegant explanation for all of this fear and willed ignorance and how it affects the response to erotica, which I will now define as writing that seeks to delve deeper into the truth of sexual experience, a study that can be taken on by any sincere amateur who will nonetheless learn much about her own sexuality in the process. RG paraphrases Slavoj Zizek thusly: “You can either have explicit sex, or you can have depth of meaning in narrative, but you can’t have both. That is forbidden.”
Is this refusal to give sex deeper meaning (beyond procreation) why scientific studies of sex are still severely circumscribed as well? Can you imagine the NIH enlisting subjects to participate in laboratory sex for the sake of a greater good?
In fact, I do believe there is a link between the work of Johnson and Masters and the efforts of erotica writers to explore the complexities of the erotic experience, to give it a broader and deeper meaning, to take it seriously in the pursuit of greater knowledge, as any scientific study implicitly does. What we do as erotica writers has meaning, it is important, and it carries on the legacy of all doctors, philosophers and writers in centuries past who chose sexual knowledge and self-knowledge over fear and ignorance. So there, I was a little depressed about all this when I started writing, but I see now there is truly hope and it’s in our vivid imaginations and the fingers tapping our keyboards.
Donna George Storey is the author
of Amorous Woman (recently released as an ebook) and a new collection of short
Presents the Best of Donna George Storey. Learn more about her
work at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com
|If we wore these everyday, no one would think they were sexy.|
The term ‘normalization’ (and the verb ‘to normalize) has become very popular of late. It has a number of meanings, but its most current use in the media refers to a process by which exposure to something renders it ‘normal’ in the minds of those who are exposed. For instance, it has been proposed that the preponderance of photos of women’s legs, showing them with a gap between their thighs has ‘normalized’ a body type that is not normal (Jones, 2013), and video games ‘normalize’ violence against animals (Hochschartner, 2013).
Of course, we’ve spent years hearing about the way pornography – any kind of pornography – normalizes the view of women as sexual objects and encourages violence against them (Horeck, Days, & Don, 2013). Attempts to verify this through research have resulted either in highly ambiguous results, or actually contradicted these claims. A literature review of a large number of studies has concluded that porn is not even a co-relational factor in violence against women (Ferguson, 2013). In fact, there is good data to suggest the opposite; that the more widespread the access to pornography, the lower the violence to women (Amato & Law, n.d.).
As of January, 2014, it will be illegal in the UK to possess material that contains eroticized depictions of rape. Not possession of photographs or videos of actual rape – that was always illegal, but material containing fictional depictions of rape (Zara, 2013). According to many sources, including the Prime Minister, David Cameron, exposure to this kind of pornography ‘normalizes’ sexual violence against women (Morris, 2103).
My problem with the word ‘normalize’ is that it has been widely interpreted to mean that exposure to whatever it is that is currently offensive to us will cause us to think that it’s okay. They’ll stop having negative feelings about it, and embrace it as part of their everyday lives. I’m not disputing that constant exposure to something will change the way we think about it – that would be cognitively impossible for that not to occur. What I’m disputing is our assumptions about two things.
The first is a widespread assumption that fictionalized versions of horrific realities are interpreted by the brain in the same way as witnessing or experiencing those realities. I can accept, for instance, that small children might have difficulties telling the difference between a fictionalized, mediated version of war and war itself. But adults reading “War and Peace” or watching “Saving Private Ryan” don’t believe they are actually experiencing war. Admittedly, we do suspend disbelief when we read or view fiction, but we don’t mistake it for reality.
The second assumption is that repeated exposure to mediated forms of real horrors will cause us to feel neutral or even positively about them. This has no basis in fact either. Indeed, in the last century, we have been exposed to more mediated versions of reality than in the whole of human history. More war, more death, more rape, more everything. And as much as the media would like you to believe you live in a terribly dangerous time, the truth is that we are safer, healthier and longer-lived than we have ever been.
As a woman, a writer of erotic fiction and a questioner of received wisdom, I do believe that the widespread availability of explicit sexual imagery must, indeed, be having some effect on us. I just don’t accept that it is either wholly positive or wholly negative. For instance, I’m pretty sure that far fewer people today feel that there is anything fundamentally evil about sex; I think porn has played a part in this. I think the quantity of mediated sex out there has allowed many more people to admit to watching and enjoying it.
I also believe – although I have no hard evidence of this – porn has served to ‘model’ what sex should look like. After all, for many people, it’s the only sex they see (other than their own). And porn sex is, by its nature, exaggerated and dramatized. I think there are people who may (because they aren’t having the sort of sex that looks like the sex in porn) feel a greater sense of dissatisfaction with the sex they do have.
In the Middle Ages, children learned what normal sex looked like by witnessing it – either seeing it, or hearing it in a darkened room because private space was at a premium. Today we’d call that child abuse. These days, other than porn, the only way to see real sex between real people is by being a voyeur, which is loaded with its own taboos. It’s hardly a wonder that amateur porn became so popular. There is some sense that this is real sex. Sadly, because of the fact that it needs to stand up against produced porn, more and more commercial porn memes creep into amateur porn. Conversely, commercial porn producers have sought to make their product look more ‘amateur’ in order to appeal to amateur porn viewers. They tend to fail miserably.
What I’d really like to dig my inquisitional fingers into is the idea of ‘normalization’ as it applies to the erotic. I want to make a distinction between the sexual and the erotic, because I am increasingly coming to believe that there is the biological urge to scratch the itch, which requires nothing other than a relatively functional body and no imagery or semiotics at all, and something else. This something else is the intersection between that biological imperative and language. Not language in the sense of words, but language in the sense that, as our brains mature, we process reality through the veil of language. There is nothing fundamentally sexy about a black, patent leather, high-heeled shoe. It is language in the larger sense, in the way we make relational linkages and chunk feeling and meaning together, that has made the ‘fuck-me-pump’ the iconically sexy item it has become.
I’m going to call this ‘the erotic’ as distinct from ‘the sexual.’ The erotic is heavily dependent on limits: on what is allowed and what is forbidden (Bataille, 1962; Foucault, 1980; Paz, 1995). There is a reason for why the adjectives we use about the erotic ideas that turn us on are negative: naughty, filthy, dirty, forbidden, nasty, sinful, obscene, perverse, wanton, illicit, etc. We want, most passionately, the things we shouldn’t want. It doesn’t mean that we act to get them, or need to transgress socially accepted behaviour in order to be sexually satisfied, but our mind goes there. Of course, positive things can also be erotic: beauty, love, devotion, affection, perfection, purity, faith, truth… but even as I type these words, and even as you read them, it starts to become obvious that erotic desire feeds more voraciously off the forbidden than the allowed.
Here’s the paradox: things that become ‘normalized’ can no longer be the stuff of erotic fantasy. So, I’m not arguing that normalization doesn’t occur. I’m suggesting that it is a self-limiting phenomenon. I’m suggesting that we are twisted little creatures who don’t get off on the ‘normalized’. And so our fears as to its consequences may be somewhat hyperbolic.
My greatest antipathy towards the ‘normalization’ of the erotically forbidden is that it will lose its power to be erotic. I believe that our inner, transgressive, politically incorrect and ugly erotic desires are part of who we are as human beings. Our ability to understand that these things we want, things that when acted out in the real world would be atrocities, are part of the mechanism that preserves our inner and outer worlds as separate. Like fantasy, fictionality affords us a playground for our deeply unsocial selves. It doesn’t school us in what is acceptable in the real world. It underscores and helps to contrast between the two.
- Bataille, G. (1962). Death and sensuality: A study of Eroticism and the Taboo. New York: Walker and Company.
- D’Amato, A. (2006). Porn Up, Rape Down. Northwestern University School of Law: Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series, 1–6. Retrieved from http://anthonydamato.law.northwestern.edu/adobefiles/porn.pdf
- Ferguson, C. J. (2013). Pornography. In Adolescents, Crime, and the Media: A Critical Analysis, Advancing Responsible Adolescent Development (pp. 141–158). New York, NY: Springer New York. doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-6741-0
- Foucault, M. (1980). A Preface to Transgression. In Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews (pp. 29–52). Cornell University Press.
- Hochschartner, J. (2013, November 29). Video Games Normalize Animal Cruelty. Retrieved December 8, 2013, from Counterpunch.org: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/11/29/video-games-normalize-animal-cruelty/
- Horeck, T., Days, S., & Don, B. (2013). Public rape: representing violation in fiction and film. Routledge.
- Jones, A. (2013, November 22). Sexualization Thing Gap Retrieved December 8, 2013, from TheWire.com: http://www.thewire.com/culture/2013/11/sexualization-thigh-gap/355434/
- Morris, C. (2103, November 17). ‘Rape porn’ possession to be punished by three years in jail, David Cameron to announce. Retrieved December 8, 2013, from Metro.co.uk: http://metro.co.uk/2013/11/17/rape-porn-possession-to-be-punished-by-three-years-in-jail-david-cameron-to-announce-4189512/
- Paz, O. (1995). The double flame: love and eroticism (p. 84). New York: Harcourt Brace. Retrieved from http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AeKEAAAAIAA
- Zara, C. (2013, November 18). Rape Porn Ban Comes To UK: Possession Of Images Depicting Simulated Rape To Be Punishable By Jail. Retrieved December 8, 2013, from International Business Times: http://www.ibtimes.com/rape-porn-ban-comes-uk-possession-images-depicting-simulated-rape-be-punishable-jail-1474952