Warning Non-PC Message Follows
One of the first things you realize about Las Vegas, a.k.a. Sin City, is vanity and show. Nowhere else in the world, except maybe on Rodeo Drive will you find as many boob jobs and fancy cars prowling the streets.
Being in the Lifestyle, it’s common to see women who’ve had some work done, as the saying goes but here everywhere you go they are in your face. We moved to Vegas from the mid-west, where things move at a much slower pace, and the women and cars are much plainer except maybe my wife, but she’s an exception. I had to throw that in, or she’d be pissed.
Our plastic surgeon friend Doctor Jim and his demo wife are a typical example. I doubt if there is an original part on her body except for maybe her heels, and nicely rounded they are. For a fortyish MILF Hotwife, she has the best body money can buy, and she even gets an employee discount.
He keeps telling me that a couple of 500cc implants would fill Wifey out nicely but I’m terrified that something will go wrong. Plus, I’m more of a leg guy than a boob guy and like her just the way she is. This is laughable in several ways, two of our closest girlfriends (a.k.a. Unicorns) have ginormous hooters, one real and one not. But, I love them for their minds!
Here you go to the grocery store, and it’s all you can do to not get an eye poked out. One of our neighbors is a dancer at a local gentleman’s club. She’s a little Asian who is so top heavy I don’t understand why she doesn’t fall over when she stands up. She told me that a big rack is worth at least $50K a year and I can believe her. We men are so easy to manipulate, show me your tits and I’ll follow you anywhere!
She’s one of the few dancers I’ve ever known with a decent brain and doesn’t just stuff her money up her nose or give it to a drug-addicted boyfriend, who is jobless and plays in a band. She owns five houses and drives a new Denali. Plus, she just gave her boyfriend a new Infinity. She’s 28 and at the tail end of her career. She figures that she will last maybe another five years, so she’s already planning for retirement.
In Vegas, strippers/dancers have to pay to work, and it costs every girl typically one-hundred dollars a night to work. What other profession makes you pay to come to work? It just shows how much money passes through the typical club. You hear stories all the time of bouncers who drag an indebt customer to the ATM so he can get money to pay off the dancers and not suffer a broken leg.
There was a big lawsuit, a couple of years ago, about a guy from Kansas who was beaten up so bad that he’s now partially paralyzed and won a settlement for several million dollars from the club. So let that be a lesson to you, make sure you have enough money to pay for that lap dance beforehand.
Now that we’re in Sin City, we seldom go to a strip club as they are not the same. Back home, clubs were much friendlier, with less high pressure. We knew a lot of the dancers, and they would often come to our house parties. One girl, Linda, looked exactly like my wife, close enough to be twins, and they always told people that they were sisters (incestuous sisters at that)!
Another thing you’ll notice is that everyone drives a Mercedes, Beemer, or other fancy set of wheels. A business associate of mine drives a new blue Mercedes GLC, and I know for a fact that she’s spending a big chunk of her paycheck for her ride. I like to have a nice car, but I don’t need to spend the majority of my pay for one. Wifey has a red Lexus ES350, but I have simpler tastes and have downgraded from my usual Suburban to a Honda CRV EX-L.
Foxy is extremely outgoing and as my Mom says, “Would talk to a fence post.” We hadn’t been in town long before she met two women on the Strip, who are prime examples of Vegas excesses. One girl drives an SL class Mercedes convertible and the other a beautiful baby blue Bentley. They are both a product of too much money and too much free time but I love them both, and so far they’ve kept my wife somewhat out of trouble.
So if you ever consider moving to Sin City, put enough money aside for a boob job and a nice set of wheels.
Changes at SmashWords
The other thing in the news is that SmashWords has redone their site and hopefully it doesn’t screw up author’s sales too badly. Now what you see is about a 100-pixel wide cover image along with the story title and author’s name. The description is gone and allows the prospective reader to see more stories at a glance as they scroll horizontally.
I browsed the section on Men’s Erotica – Best Sellers and found five or six of my stories, so at least for me, I’m currently happy. SmashWords has published over 500,000 stories, which is amazing in itself after being in business for ten years.
They’ve changed their search and ranking algorithms and only time will tell how that works out. There’s a nice blog posting by Mark Coker on what they did. You can now make better choices on what you see or don’t see on their site, which hopefully will make readers happy and less offended by our smut.
Up until the last couple of months, about two-thirds of my meager author’s income came from SmashWords and their down market. But recently Amazon is running three or four times my SmashWords bucks. The only explanation I have is my latest two stories were released narrow and in Kindle Unlimited. So far it doesn’t seem to have hurt my SmashWords sells as my SW volume is up about 20% over average, but I need to finish up some stories that I can publish wide to keep my dogs in Blue Buffalo.
My last new novel, House Party, an 85,000-word novel of pretty much nonstop F’ing and S’ing was published narrow at Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. Previously, I’d poo-pooed distributing solely through Kindle and Kindle Unlimited, but have been amazed at my sales. While I don’t know how sales would have gone through SmashWords, they’ve been great at Amazon. House Party was released the first week of October, and for the next four to six weeks, my author’s rating has averaged below 1,000 and all the way down to a little over 100. The first couple of weeks, my author’s rating was in the 100-300 bracket. House Party hit a high best sellers rank of 30 in Erotica – Mystery & Erotica – Thrillers, and is the first story I’ve ever written that the best sellers rank was below a 100 and the story stayed in double digits for a long time.
While I haven’t ranted about it, I am amazed at the number of four-letter words in the titles of stories at SmashWords. I write strictly stoke material but would never use “fuck” or “cunt” in a story title. My stories are as dirty as the next pervert, but I do have my limits. Mark Coker of SmashWords is to be commended on his allowing the most juvenile of story titles to be published without complaint.
Several months ago, SmashWords implemented a voluntary categorizing of story content. When you publish a story (and previous ones), you have a checklist of about 10 categories that you answer a Yes/No question to things like “Does the story include screwing your Mother?”
At first, there was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth at the conspiracy theories about what Mark was really up to. I could see their point to try and maximize distribution while not offending those publishers with sensitive tastes.
So far, it doesn’t seem to have changed anything, but then my smut doesn’t usually involve large groups and Vaseline. Well, maybe the Vaseline and possibly the groups but you know what I mean.
The thing I love about SmashWords is they don’t nickel and dime you about story content or the cover image. I hate it when Amazon throws one of my stories into the dungeon, and I have to spend the next couple of weeks on my knees begging for forgiveness. Which usually means that I miss half of my maximum sales month.
Your first 30-days days at Amazon are typically when you sell the most copies because, after a month, you can watch the stories rating drop as Amazon starts to favor newer released stories. Plus, you are never told why you got dinged beyond vague hints as to what was offensive. While I write stroke porn primarily, I still try and meet Amazon’s restrictions. Then, when I get put on the cross down in the dungeon, it really pisses me off.
If you haven’t tried it, Amazon’s new beta report for sales and Kindle Unlimited pages read is pretty cool. It looks like they’ve been watching “Book Report” and have tried to emulate their reporting. There are two main pages, one for sales and one for pages read. I’ve posted a shot of each to give you a flavor of what they look like.
This is the sales page at: https://kdpreports.amazon.com/reports/sales
This screenshot is of the Kindle Unlimited pages read: https://kdpreports.amazon.com/reports/kenpc
This is the beta version of the new sales reporting tool and looks pretty sold so far. The report breaks down sales in a number of ways for all of you anal bean counters out there. The new report presents most of the things Book Report offers. The nice thing about Book Report as it gives you dollar sales figures for today, this month, last month, last 30-days etc. so it’s easy to see how your smut is going over with your adoring audience and when you’ll be able to afford your next lap dance.
Book Report is free and you can grab a copy here: https://www.getbookreport.com/ I think they start charging you for it after your sales hit $1,000 bucks a month, so for me, it’s a freebie.
I’m writing this month’s post on the Wednesday before Turkey Day and am sitting in the parking lot of a casino waiting for Foxy to emerge with her free bottle of liquor. When you have a casino player’s card, one of the regular inducements is free gifts to reward you for stuffing money in a slot machine or throwing it on the craps/poker table.
Wifey plays Texas Hold-Em primarily and does reasonably well at it, but I make it a point to never try and figure out what it costs me to keep her entertained. I am a firm believer in what you don’t know won’t hurt you.
If you run out of something to do, check out my blog at LarryArcher.blog for my latest theories on world domination and lesser topics. As most of the author’s on ERWA, I’m a writer of erotic literature, and my typical fare is primarily what’s called stroke porn for those of you with more base urges. Remember to think of me when you take yourself in hand!
See you next month on the 24th.
If you have a job that doesn’t occupy the entire day, have you thought about writing porn at work but were afraid that the IT department would catch you? Portable versions of LibreOffice might be something to think about.
You’ve likely heard of LibreOffice, an open source or free replacement of Microsoft Word but what is a “Portable” version?
PortableApps is a software package that allows the user to run Windows programs on a USB jump drive without requiring software to be installed on a desktop PC. What does this mean for the typical worker in a corporate environment?
Most of us, as a minion of corporate America, use a computer that is locked down. Without Administrative privileges, a user cannot install software on their desktop PC. Plus the fact that corporate IT regularly sweeps user PC’s to see what their serfs are up to.
This reminds me of the scene in Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail when King Author rides through a field with several workers. One of the workers asked, “Who’s that?” A worker replies, “Must be a king?” First worker, “How do you know he’s the king?” Answer, “He doesn’t have shit all over him.”
What’s a worker bee to do? Into the ring, PortableApps steps up to solve a problem. Keep in mind that what I’m about to tell you might get yourself into trouble with your employer, and so I have no responsibility for anything that happens to you.
Using a USB jump drive or thumb drive, you can install applications which run off the USB drive without requiring installation on your desktop PC. Furthermore, when you exit a program, it deletes the temporary folder created to completely erase any trace that it ever existed.
In plain English, this means that you can pull a jump drive out of your pocket or purse and plug it into your locked down work computer. Then run word processing and graphics applications that allow you to do work that would normally require Word, Excel, or PhotoShop. Then after you exit the programs, pull the jump drive out, and all traces of what you’ve been doing are erased.
There are a ton of programs, which have portable versions, that can be run from a thumb drive. It is a little slower than having the software installed on your PC, but slower is better than nothing. The program itself runs at typically the same speed, it just loads slower as a USB drive is slower reading than the hard disk.
For an Indie author, especially the paranoid type, being able to work on your latest masterpiece without worrying that your employer might find out that you’re a pervert can be a definite advantage for those who have free time at work.
If you haven’t tried LibreOffice, it is an open source clone of Microsoft Word and can easily read and write Word files. A Word user should feel right at home with LibreOffice, and it’s completely free!
Portable applications are available for GIMP, a PhotoShop clone, along with most of the other programs used by Indie authors to create and publish their stories. It typically takes 2gb of space to install a full suite of programs, which leaves plenty of space to store your work with an 8gb or larger jump drive. With jump drives selling for under twenty dollars, consider giving this a try.
Below find step by step directions on installing PortableApps onto a jump drive along with a common suite of useful programs.
Installing PortableApps On a Jump Drive
- For Windows PC’s, go to https://portableapps.com/ and install the PortableApps program on a jump drive. I suggest at least an 8gb drive or larger. For this article, I downloaded “PortableApps.com_Platform_Setup_15.0.2.paf.exe” to the Downloads folder of my desktop running 64bit Windows 10 Professional.
- Run the program you just downloaded, which in my case was version 15.0.2 (the latest as of 8/18/18). Go through the normal installation questions and select “New Install” when prompted.
- Plug a USB Jump Drive into your computer and select “Portable” as the Install Location. The installation program should default to the jump drive but if it doesn’t, select the appropriate Jump Drive. Okay the “are you sure” question to Install. Then click Finish when the installation is complete. This should automatically run the PortableApps program on the Jump Drive.
- Go through the list of available programs and check the ones you’d like installed. I’d suggest you include LibreOffice, GIMP, Note++, IrfanView, JPEGView, Fotografix, Inkscape, Scribus, Sigil, Kaspersky TDSSKiller, 7-Zip, Don’t Panic, and FastCopy to start. Feel free to add any others that strike your fancy. After you click Next, wait for the apps to be installed. Depending on the speed of your computer and Internet connection, this could be a while. There should be an icon in your taskbar showing the progression of the installs. I’m on a 300 Mbit cable connection and using an i7 computer, and it still took me 10-15 minutes to install the apps selected above.
- Assuming that you don’t get any errors, installing at a minimum the above list of programs will enable you to read/write Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents, edit graphics (aka PhotoShop) and create covers (aka CorelDraw). You will probably have to agree to a few license agreements along the way, and hopefully, you don’t end up like Kyle from South Park when he agrees to be a HUMANCENTiPAD! Much less the cuttlefish!
- One of the recommended programs I installed in this How To guide is “Don’t Panic,” which is what we used to call a “Boss Switch” that hides your work. If you’re doing something that you shouldn’t and your boss or co-worker starts heading towards your desk, press the hotkey combination, and your program(s) are instantly hidden. Remember that I’m not recommending you screw off at work!
Currently, my story de jour is still House Party about surprisingly a house party. House party is an acronym of a swinger’s party with a number of twists and turns from my normal fare. I’m still not sure how it’s going to turn out but will hopefully be HEA in the end!
House Party is currently over 52,000 words and going strong despite all efforts to end the story. Amazon has a 30-day cliff, and if you don’t publish on a regular basis, you get kicked to the curb. But my characters don’t seem to appreciate the fact that it’s Publish or Perish!
Thanks for reading and if it’s the 24th, it’s another bit of smut from Larry Archer. Visit me at LarryArcher.blog for more pervy stuff. Sorry, I can’t offer any cooking or house cleaning tips but if it involves abusing yourself, drop me a line: Larry [at] LarryArcher [dot] com.
Hook your reader. Keep her riveted to your story, so engrossed that she forgets to eat or drink—while tempting her to indulge in other cravings. Leave her feeling totally satisfied, or better yet with a powerful desire to go read something else you’ve written.
This is the dream of every erotic author, indeed every writer whatever the genre. Alas, grabbing and holding the reader’s attention is far from easy, especially in a longer work. What’s the secret to writing this sort of what-happens-next, can’t-put-it-down tale?
Of course, there’s no one foolproof method for keeping readers engaged. Plot, characters and style all contribute. In erotic fiction, there’s also the question of how well the sexual situations and activities match the reader’s personal interests or kinks. One technique that I use, though, is deliberate escalation.
Escalation means holding back at first, starting gradually, then building up the tension (both narrative and sexual) as the book continues. The idea is related to the concept of rising action in the so-called narrative arc. The early part of the story—the exposition—introduces the characters and the conflicts that will drive the plot. Then events occur that make things progressively more difficult, complex or challenging for the protagonists. Effectively written, the rising action portion of the arc will cause readers to becoming emotionally invested in the characters, so that when the climax and resolution occur, the reader experiences a pleasurable catharsis along with them.
Okay, this all sounds convincingly literary, but how does it apply to erotica, which usually offers many climaxes? Most readers who open an erotic book don’t want to wait until the end for satisfaction. You’ve got to create some arousal early in the tale, or they’ll just move on to something more explicit. One of the traditional recommendations for writing erotica suggests you need a sex scene in every chapter. While I don’t believe in slavishly following this sort of rule, it accurately reflects the typical reader’s impatience, especially with a “stroke” story. (Literary erotica can perhaps afford to delay the physical gratification of its characters, but even so, must provide some measure of erotic tension to justify the genre label.)
Hence, stroke fiction often starts out with a “bang”—sex in the very first chapter, maybe even on the first page. This creates potential problems, though. What do you do for an encore? Even the most dedicated consumer of erotica can get bored with a tale that’s just one sex scene after another. Without some sort of rising action, some progressive increase in emotional intensity, it will be difficult to keep the reader hooked.
Most of my erotic novels offer sexual situations within the first chapter. However, I carefully design these initial scenes to be less complete, less intense or less transgressive than scenes I plan for later. For instance, I might begin with the protagonist observing someone else having sex and feeling vicariously aroused. Or I might start with a sexual interaction that’s exciting but does not lead to full-out intercourse. As the book continues, I gradually raise the sexual stakes—adding multiple partners, taboo elements, or scenes that fulfill a character’s more extreme fantasies. I also play with the characters’ emotions. Early in the book, sex is more likely to be casual. Later, it becomes more serious, with more psychological impact on the characters.
For example, my most recent release, More Brides in Vegas, has the following structure of sexual elements in each chapter:
Chapter 1 – Public nudity, fetish clothing and BDSM references, FF cunnilingus
Chapter 2 – Skinny dipping, fingering to orgasm
Chapter 3 – Private penetrative sex between bride and groom
Chapter 4 – Public FF cunnilingus, FF strap-on penetration
Chapter 5 – Best man gets blow job from mother of the groom; public fingering to orgasm
Chapter 6 – Mother of the groom gets it on with brother of the bride
Chapter 7 – Private spanking role play between married couple (Laura and Steve, friends of bride and groom)
Chapter 8 – Public fingering to orgasm, spanking threats
Chapter 9 – Erotic musical chairs
Chapter 10 – Public Dom/sub lesbian penetration of the bride
Chapter 11 – Lesbian orgy
Chapter 12 – Spanking threesome with Laura and Steve plus the brother of the bride
Chapter 13 – Private masturbation, tit-fucking, multiple penetration scene between best man and mother of the groom
Chapter 14 – Voyeurism; Laura has multi-partner DP sex with husband and friends
Chapter 15 – Sex between the bride and the best man
Chapter 16 – Public lesbian BDSM strap-on sex
Chapter 17 – Gang bang where Laura takes on an entire rugby team
Chapter 18 – Female voyeur watching MM anal sex, also watching bride with the voyeur’s husband
Chapter 19 – Four-way partner swapping sex (bride and groom, best man and his wife); DP and lesbian interactions
Chapter 20 – Conclusion – the wedding – public orgasm – references to future adventures.
This book has many characters. The escalation is most pronounced for Laura, who starts out with a not-very-visible orgasm in the swimming pool and ends up taking on the Glasgow Gladiators rugby team. Between these two extremes, she fantasizes with her husband about being spanked and fucked by the bride’s brother, then makes this fantasy a reality, then further explores her inner slut with a few more friends.
Other characters have their own arcs of escalation. In addition to being more extreme or intense, the sex scenes later in the book mean more to the characters than the earlier ones. For instance, the partner swap in Chapter 19 fulfills long-held but never admitted desires for all four participants.
This book definitely falls into the stroke category (as if you couldn’t guess). However, I tend to use the same strategy when I write erotic romance or literary erotica. For instance, my first novel Raw Silk, which is really a romance, begins with a dreamily remembered sexual encounter and ends with a wild sexual contest in which each of Kate’s three lovers tries to convince her to choose him over the other two.
In short, if you’re looking for a technique to keep your readers interested, consider escalation. Don’t pull out all the stops in the beginning. Start slow, build the action, and make every scene more intense than the last.
Your readers will thank you.
What Am I Writing? Or Did I Forget My Meds?
By Larry Archer
Caution, this is another long post so get a fresh cup of coffee before starting.
This is my third blog post for ERWA, and I’ve been conflicted as DropBox calls it. You know when you forget to close a DropBox document on one computer then you open the document and edit it on another computer. DropBox raps you across the knuckles like the nun in third-grade with her ruler.
While I’ve never had the pleasure of going to Catholic school and feel they failed miserably with my wife. Maybe the fact that she skipped out and went to public high school that she now has a rekindled desire for little school girl outfits but hey, who’s complaining? Those white thigh socks, black shiny buckle shoes, and ruffled white ankle socks are so neat. It’s just hard to find Mary Janes with 6-inch spike heels.
I’m writing this on my new MacBook Air and trying not to choke my chicken when I see her lying there, all opened up like a beautiful woman, who’s begging me to touch her with my fingers, the MBA that is.
Like the guy sitting on a park bench, in his raincoat, clutching a bag of candy with greasy fingers waiting for school to be over, the MBA loves me, but we have to be careful because my wife’s getting suspicious about our “alone time” in the bathroom.
I’ve always been a Windows kind of guy and not like my friend Jack who likes to stand outside and watch his wife through the bedroom window. Like everyone else, I bought into the theory that Apple people had drunk the Kool-Aid else why would they spend a bunch more money for a laptop with a half-eaten apple on it?
Going on six years or 3-raincoats ago, I was frustrated with my then Windows laptop. Sort of like Ray Charles, I could close my eyes and let the fevered scene play out between my ears as my fingers tried desperately to keep up with the action.
Then I’d look down and realize that I’d written a page of garbage because I’d mistyped some prose with my fingers on the wrong keys. Mr. Rogers my high school typing teacher would rip the yellow sheet out of my Underwood and scream, “Archer, all you’re good for is writing shit they keep behind the counter in a brown paper bag!”
As we all know, when you’ve tried everything else to solve a problem, throw money at it! By this time, I’d been through three laptops, and Wifey was getting suspicious about the fact my credit card statement was starting to smoke when you pulled it out of the envelope. In desperation, I bought a 2012 MBA, and it was love at first sight. Open her up, and she would instantly light up like a drunk college girl, ready for action and no foreplay required. She never told me no and never had a headache. To touch her was exquisite, your fingers fall naturally on the keys, and the touch is like a mechanical keyboard, without all the clicking noises.
To be able to type with one-tenth the level of mistakes and a battery that never went down on you. I was hooked and wanted more, much more until I got seduced by a new line of Windows laptops.
Since the MacBook Air’s seemed to lose favor with their CPU’s slipping further and further behind, I jumped ship and bought a high-end Windows 10 machine with the top box checked in every category.
My wife being a Luddite and who struggles to understand how to operate a light switch, it only seemed natural to re-gift my trusted MBA to her. I was surprised to see how quickly she became adept with the 3-pound marvel.
I, on the other hand, started to beat my head against the wall. My new machine’s touchpad had a mind of its own and apparently didn’t need any help from me to make mistakes. I spent hours with tech support and even had the touchpad replaced to no avail. Others on the vendor’s website were similarly upset.
Foxy said that she’d give me my Air back, but I couldn’t do that and just struggled in silence. Certainly, my new machine was cool, huge hard drive, bunches of memory, fast i7 processor, but using it always managed to piss me off.
One day she asked me to help to do something on her computer, and as soon as my fingers touched the keyboard, I was back in love. It’s kind of like when you’re doing the neighbor’s wife and will steal little touches when no one is looking, but that’s a whole different post.
After that brief illicit moment, I went right down and bought a new MacBook Air with a 3-generation old CPU but no matter, I’m back in love again. Of course the day my new MBA was delivered, I read that Apple is going to bring out an updated Air in the next few months!
I know that you’re telling yourself, this post is supposed to be about what I’m writing and not about my forbidden love affair with my machine, sort of like Wifey and her LeLo vibrator, except without all the buzzing.
My latest story, “Crashing a Swinger’s Pajama Party,” is rapidly coming to a finish and I thought I’d share a little with you about the story as it’s been a real hoot to write.
Lisabet Sarai and I converse a fair amount off-list about writing and story ideas. I mentioned to her that we’d had a straight couple crash one of our New Year’s Eve Pajama Parties and she suggested that we create a story based on it.
We keep trying to write a story together, but our styles of writing bump heads and we can never seem to get our stories straight, “Fake News!”
But I’m slowly getting the impression that we’re starting to rub off on each other. I’m learning to type with my little finger stuck out, and she seems to be getting more comfortable with her mind wallowing in the gutter. Sort of like that little sailboat and the clown in the sewer drain.
Anyway, I was telling Lisabet about the time we had one of our straight neighbors crash our annual New Year’s Eve Pajama Parties. For some years now we’ve hosted a pajama party to welcome in the new year. It gives kissing under the mistletoe, a whole new meaning.
The PJ party is typically 50-60 couples plus an assortment of unicorns that we run with and 2-3 single guys thrown in for good measure. There are always people from around the country that we’ve met in our travels, for flavor. So by midnight, there are well more than one-hundred naked or semi-naked people in our house. Victoria Secret is proud of us!
We carefully select the invitees and make sure that no one is invited that could cause a problem. Most of the people are professionals, doctors, business owners, and a handful of elected officials, not including the cops. Cops, doctors, and nurses are some of the most perverted when they let their hair down. We have to be really careful who we invite as some of our party animals are also on the social pages and being outed would not be a good thing.
One morning after a New Year’s party, I was reading the paper and on the society page was a couple who’d also come late to our party. The woman was wearing an exquisite dress cut down almost to where the crack of her butt started. The society editor was buzzing about what a knockout she was and how that dress was scandalous. I laughed as I remembered that dress lying in a pile on the family room floor after my wife had pulled down her zipper and let it slide off.
Anyway, after midnight, the doorbell rings and me being the idiot I am, answer the door. Standing in front of me is an attractive couple dressed to the nines. It was the couple, we somewhat knew from down the street, and I’m standing there with a short bathrobe on and nothing else.
It was somewhat embarrassing, but they asked if they could join our party as theirs was a snooze fest. Not knowing what to do I invited them in. Foxy joined me, and she was wearing her typical New Year’s outfit of an adult sized pair of kid’s long johns with bunnies on it. Except she wears it with all the buttons undone and so is open down to her bellybutton.
You can imagine their shock to see an orgy going on in the living room and all the people running around in teddies or much less.
We invited them to stay, but I think the shock value was too much for the husband. His wife looked like she wanted to stay. This is where the story Lisabet and I are working on diverged from reality.
She fired back with a suggested list of chapters, and we were off to the races.
With our sick minds, it was easy to suck the new couple in and throw them to the wolves. Greg, the dominating always in charge husband quickly discovered that he really wasn’t in control at all, courtesy of Foxy and her assortment of painful toys. Greg’s new word for the day was “pegged.”
Samantha, the otherwise “normal” housewife, was quickly divested of clothes as she realized that she was at an all-you-can-eat buffet or maybe the main course, depending on which end was up.
My stories are always HEA, but I keep getting told that a story needs conflict and resolution, yet mine always seem to lack conflict as everyone is too busy getting laid to fight. So it only seemed natural for Samantha to give Greg his walking papers and move in with the swingers down the street. She quickly discovered that it was a lot more fun to play, “hide the weenie,” with the neighborhood perverts.
But poor Greg was sent home with our real life cuckold – Hotwife couple, Pam and Jack, who proceed to take him within an inch of his life while giving him a sunburn with studio lights. If you look up nymphomaniac in the dictionary, you’ll find a picture of our friend Pam, who is one of our resident MILFs. Jack is typically hiding in the closet watching or behind his movie camera.
So now I’ve gotten the neighbors split up, but so far they’ve not realized that they are the conflict part of my story. Greg has figured out that there is truth to the story of being screwed to death but is trying to soldier on. He’s afraid of coming back to our house as the last time Foxy and our redheaded Amazon Chrissy took turns pegging him. But he seems to be a good sport about everything, well except for the beatings!
Naturally, we didn’t want his wife to feel left out as she seemed to be enthralled by the idea of a gangbang and pulling a train. Why should we let her miss that experience? Now every time she hears a train whistle, she feels a tingle between her legs!
The story now stands over 40,000 words, and I’m trying to get the estranged couple back together again so the story can end up HEA. Lisabet and I are planning on co-releasing two stories in the next couple of months, so I should have time to finish it up. I’m looking at this blog post’s word count, and it’s at 1,700 words, and I’ve been trying to hold my posts down to under 1,000 words but not having much success.
You’ll have to wait a few weeks to see how the story comes out. Will Larry write his first non-HEA story, will Greg learn to love the sound of the whip? Or will Foxy sell Greg’s wife to a German Goo Girls movie producer? Check LarryArcher.blog for more ramblings from my perverted mind.
I promise Lisabet, my next blog post will be shorter!
In what city does Fifty Shades of Grey take place?
I had to look this up. The answer is Vancouver, Washington, but does anyone care? Does the setting matter at all in erotic fiction?
Many authors (and I suppose readers) might argue that it does not. Certainly quite a lot of the erotica and erotic romance I encounter is set in a generic urban or surburban environment without any distinctive geographic or cultural features. These tales focus entirely on the characters and the action, which apparently could be happening anywhere. The background is an undifferentiated blur.
Personally, I prefer stories that provide a strong sense of place. I guess that’s because I read erotica for the total emotional experience, not just for the sex. However, I also find that a specific, vividly depicted setting can heighten the erotic charge.
One time-honored technique in writing erotica is to use all the five senses. Our bodies are located in space, and our senses bring us messages from that space. So the roughness of the cheap blanket in the seedy hotel room—the fragrant fresh-mown grass clinging to our sweaty bodies—jazz, drifting in the window from Bourbon Street—the sticky sweetness of the ice cream we shared, before you dragged me into the cool shadows under the pier (which smells of rust and seaweed)—the distant orb of the full moon sailing above as I lie on my back with you pounding into my cunt— all these sights, sounds, scents, tastes and textures combine to bring an erotic interlude to life in the imagination.
Of course, you can provide sensory details without specifying exactly where it’s all happening. As an author, though, it’s easier to conjure these details if you have a particular setting in mind.
Setting complements and enhances both character and plot. Where you come from, where you live, strongly influences who you are. A person from Boston thinks, speaks and acts quite differently from someone who comes from Los Angeles (not to mention Marseille or Singapore). Even when I don’t mention it, I almost always know my characters’ geographic histories. Not infrequently in my stories the major conflict flows from background or cultural differences between the protagonists.
Meanwhile, certain events can occur only in certain places. For instance, a devastating landslide is pivotal in my MMF tale Monsoon Fever, providing a catharsis that pulls the characters into three-way sex. That story is set in hilly Assam, India. It just wouldn’t work in Bangkok, or Venice, or Minneapolis.
I guess I’m known for my evocative and varied settings. My novels take place in Thailand, in Boston, in London and LA, in Pittsburgh, in rural Guatemala, in Paris, in Rajasthan, in Manhattan, in Worcester MA, and in northern California. I’ve written stories set in Provence, in Newport RI, in Nebraska, and in Amsterdam. I do tend to return in my writing to places I’ve lived or visited often, as I can describe them with greater ease, but I certainly haven’t been to every location that shows up in my fiction.
I wonder if readers can tell which of my settings are based on real experience, which on research and imagination.
For me, the joy of reading is being pulled into a new world, rich in detail, intense and believable. So I want to know where a story is happening—even if that location is totally fictional. George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series has the strongest sense of place I’ve ever encountered in a book. That’s one reason why I love it.
I try to offer my readers the same joy. I know some of you don’t care. I’m writing for those of you who do.
(If you’re one of those people, check out my new Asian Adventures series—short erotic pieces set in different Asian locales. The most recent title, set in Thailand, is Butterfly.)
Want to discover an author’s most cherished fantasies?
Edit a collection of his or her erotic stories.
At this point, I’ve edited books featuring the erotica of seven different authors: C. Sanchez-Garcia, Amanda Earl, Bob Buckley, Teresa Wymore, Remittance Girl, M. Christian, and Daddy X. And I can tell you (if you were to ask), quite specifically, what turns each of them on. There are few activities as intimate as working with an author to sharpen the emotional focus and heighten the erotic intensity of his or her tales.
Of course, in editing a multi-author erotic anthology (which I’ve also done a few times) you’re also exposed to the contributors’ erotic visions. However, a single story might not tell you much about what personally pushes an author’s buttons. The best erotic authors, indeed, learn to mask their own kinks and preferences to some extent, in order to avoid being too repetitive. For instance, I like to push myself to create stories that do not include any BDSM content, both to prove I can and so my readers don’t get bored.
Still, I have a reputation for writing a lot of D/s, because that’s one of areas of sexuality that I find most arousing myself. A reader was recently astonished by my Asian Adventures series, which (so far) does not include any sort of power exchange. “For all the scary BDSM all over your author pages,” she wrote, “I had no idea you had such sweet lipstick in you!”
When you’re confronted with 50-60K of an author’s work, the patterns become obvious. Of course I’m not going to embarrass my former collaborators by telling you what they like, from an erotic perspective. You’ll have to buy their books, if you are curious. Even so, you might not appreciate the common themes or activities as much as I did, serving as their editor. This is because an editor reads each story many times, in many versions. Furthermore, as an editor I got to see the author’s reactions to my suggested modifications, which tells me a lot about what is and is not important to him or her.
I’ve spent a lot of time in my authors’ heads. I’ve waded through their imaginary sexual worlds, tweaking a clause here, clarifying a construction there, all the while watching their characters deal with love and lust. Sometimes I feel as though an author and I have actually been lovers. That’s not true of any of the individuals above, but it could be without too much of a stretch. I have to confess I have had erotic dreams about some of them. My unconscious reacts to the intimacy of the editor-author relationship, even if I consciously distance myself.
It’s funny, because my authors’ fantasies don’t always align with my own. Nevertheless, the close interactions involved in editing give me enough insight that I can vicariously appreciate the erotic charge in their stories, despite the fact that the themes or stimuli don’t push my personal buttons.
I wonder whether all editors experience this sense of intimate connection with their authors. Perhaps my experience has been closer and more intense because I too write erotic fiction. Or maybe it’s because I’m editing stories about sex. Perhaps editors of non-sexual genres remain more distanced from their clients.
Somehow I doubt it, though. We authors expose ourselves through our fiction, regardless of genre. We reveal what makes us tick. And editors need to get up close and personal with those revelations in order to do a good job.
I read an interesting post on Facebook in which the writer asked everyone for their 2018 goals. Not resolutions. Goals. He said most people broke resolutions or never even bothered to attempt to meet them. Goals? More realistic and more likely to be attempted and fulfilled. So I asked myself, what are my goals for 2018?
Here are a few:
Finish my erotic fairy tales collection and self-publish it.
Publish my two erotic fairy tale novellas in print. These two books are Trouble In Thigh High Boots (erotic Puss In Boots) and Climbing Her Tower (erotic Rapunzel). You may find the ebooks at Amazon and Smashwords.
Finish my horror novel Hell Time.
Find an agent for my thriller novel Secrets and Lies.
Find a home for my bisexual werewolf erotic romance novel Full Moon Fever.
Send out my newsletter regularly.
Submit to a minimum of 5 submission calls in 2018. Bonus points if I publish at least 5 stories.
Join the YMCA and make an effort to swim and work out this winter and spring. My husband and I are joining the Y next week.
Head to the beach every day in late spring and summer to swim, walk, and otherwise get some fresh air and exercise especially after being cooped up in at home all winter.
Save enough money each paycheck to fund a trip to Europe most likely taken in 2019 or 2020.
Sell more books!
Make an effort to attend more book events like readings and conventions but only when money permits. Those events tend to cost more than I can afford.
Bake more. I didn’t bake enough in 2017 which is a shame since I enjoy baking very much. I didn’t bake as many cookies this year as I usually do so I shall remedy that in 2018. Here are the last two recipes I made – pumpkin bread and pizzelles. Pizzelles are anise-flavored Italian waffle cookies.
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup olive oil ( can sub with canola or vegetable)
2 eggs, Beaten
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Sift together flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda.
- In a separate bowl combined pumpkin, oil, eggs, water, and spices.
- Then, combined with dry ingredients but, do not mix too thoroughly. Stir in walnuts.
- Pour into a well-buttered 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until a thin skewer poked in the very center of the loaf comes out clean. Turn out of the pan and let cool on a rack.
- Makes one loaf. Can easily double the recipe.
- If desired, you can use them in a muffin tin as well. They come out just as moist. If you use muffin tin bake for 20-25 minute.
You need a pizzelle iron to make these cookies. I’m sure you can find one on eBay or at Amazon. I have an electric one that makes four pizzelle cookies at once. It’s over 30 years old. My mother gave it to me when she saw how much I loved those cookies. An Italian neighbor made them all the time.
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon anise extract
1 tablespoon anisette liqueur or Sambucca (optional)
1/4 cups anise seed
1 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) melted butter
Beat the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla until well combined.
Stir in the flour and baking powder, mixing until smooth.
Add the melted butter, again mixing until smooth; the batter will be thick and soft.
Heat your pizzelle iron. Grease it as directed in the manufacturer’s instructions. As the iron heats, the batter will stiffen.
Cook the pizzelle according to the instructions that came with your iron. In general, they’ll take between 45 seconds and 2 1/2 minutes to brown.
Remove the pizzelle from the iron, and cool on a rack. If desired, use a pair of scissors to trim any ragged edges.
Dust cooled pizzelle with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.
Now that 2017 is drawing to a close, I’m ready for next year. 2017 was a bit of a slow and rather uneventful year for me writing-wise. I need to be more proactive. I plan on that starting Jan. 1 with my stint at Night Owl Reviews. I’m in an author chat that day at 8 PM EST. I’ll talk about my erotic romance novel No Restraint. Here’s the link to join in:
See you there, and have a fantastic 2018!
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.
By Lisabet Sarai
So what is the difference between erotica and porn?
Oh no! Not that old chestnut again! I’ve been a member of the ERWA Writers list for almost two decades. At least once or twice a year, some newcomer resurrects that question. Those of us who have been around for a while roll our eyes and grin to ourselves, already knowing how the discussion will go.
However, as I was thinking about my ERWA blog post for this month, I had an insight on this issue, which relates to writing craft.
Porn is easy. Erotica is hard.
I’m not saying that porn is easy to write. Though some people believe it’s a snap to throw together a great stroke story, I know that’s not true. Getting people hot and bothered takes talent and work, skill and imagination. This is true of erotica as well, of course, despite the disdain lavished on our genre by the literary establishment.
What I mean is that in porn, things are easy for the characters. The focus is on obtaining sexual satisfaction, the sooner the better. Readers don’t want the author to put obstacles in the way of the characters getting off. Hence, porn rarely features any significant conflict. The path from meeting to fucking is smooth and direct, with few if any stops along the way.
Erotica (and especially erotic romance), in contrast, thrives on obstruction. Erotica authors are more likely to put their characters through an emotional or physical wringer before the final consummation. Meanwhile, erotica readers tend to be more accepting of deferred gratification than readers of stroke fiction, in return for a richer and more complex narrative in which the characters overcome internal or external barriers in their journey toward release.
Conflict creates dynamic tension. It prevents the characters from rushing headlong into a sexual connection. As conflict keeps the protagonists apart—or at least denies them complete satisfaction—their level of arousal increases. When the conflict is finally resolved, the resulting experience, both for the characters and the reader, can be far more intense than the problem-free hookup in a stroke story.
Classic theory categorizes fictional conflict as man versus nature (or God, or demon – super-human forces at least), man versus man, and man versus himself. I hate the sexist terminology, but agree with the general breakdown. I’ve read (and written) erotica that used all three categories.
K.D. Grace’s recent novel In the Flesh offers a wonderful example of the first type of conflict. Her heroine Susan falls under the sway of an evil but mercilessly seductive disembodied entity who uses her natural sensuality as a route to destroy her. In fact, the perilous lure of supernatural sex is a common theme in paranormal erotica. It would be all too easy for Susan to succumb; she fights her erotic urges because she recognizes the danger.
Daddy X exploits “man versus man” (or more accurately, man versus woman) conflict in his fantastic short story “Spy versus Spy”. Nicolai and Lilya have been sexual partners for years. Their long acquaintance and shared history means each is still aroused by the other. However, neither trusts the other—for excellent reasons.
Conflict internal to the character is perhaps the most ubiquitous type found in erotica. Characters are often torn between their own deepest desires and their beliefs about what is acceptable, healthy or normal. Remittance Girl’s controversial novella Gaijin illustrates this pattern in the extreme. Kidnapped and raped by a Japanese gangster, her heroine still finds herself aroused—and hates herself for those feelings. In Cecila Tan’s Wild Licks, we meet rock star Mal Kenneally, an extreme sadist who never has sex with a woman more than once because he’s worried he’ll do serious physical or psychological damage. Uncertainty about sexual orientation or identity—religious guilt—memories of abuse —fear of losing control—struggles with fidelity—sex is an emotional mine field.
We erotica authors regularly take advantage of that fact.
How is this relevant to craft? If you’re trying to write erotica (as opposed to porn), you need to consider the question of conflict. All too often I find that stories I read in erotica anthologies are really just vignettes. They may be well-written, but ultimately they consist of sex scenes and little else. They’re not really stories. (Belinda made a related point in her Editing Corner post a few months ago.) Other readers may enjoy these tales, but I find them flat and unsatisfying. When I read erotica, I want something more complex and challenging.
Please note that I do not mean to denigrate stroke fiction. In fact, my observation about conflict can be applied to this sub-genre as well. If you want to write one-handed stories (and I’ve definitely done so), you should probably avoid conflict. Your readers very likely do not want characters who agonize over whether or not to do the deed.
Actually, it’s funny. Sometimes when I set out to write stroke fiction, I don’t completely succeed, because my characters’ motivations become too complicated. A good example is my story The Antidote. I wrote this very filthy tale in reaction to the self-censorship required by my erotic romance publisher (hence, the title). I wanted to create something full of no-holds-barred sex scenes. Instead, I ended up with an arousing but rather heavy tale about sex, society and deceit. Erotic, but not the porn I was trying for!
The distinction, of course, is not clear cut. That’s one reason we veterans sigh when someone brings up the porn/erotica debate. There’s really no black and white answer, only (please forgive me!) shades of gray.
Whichever direction your writing leans, though, you should consider the question of conflict. Are you going to give your characters what they want right away, or make them jump through hoops? Your decision makes a big difference in your readers’ experience.
by Jean Roberta
Over the years, I’ve read a lot of advice on how to write, what to write, and how to promote it. Some of that advice has been contradictory, while some of it might have been brilliantly relevant to current trends, and for particular writers who are not me.
During the Feminist Sex Wars of the 1980s, I was warned by sister-feminists that “porn” was a male writer’s genre, and that its goal was to reduce live women to objects, or sex toys without wills of their own. There was evidence to support this theory, and “jokes” about the sexual abuse of women have not disappeared from the culture. They probably never will.
However, I discovered that sexually-explicit fiction is as diverse as fiction in general. In fact, since most human beings secretly or openly want sex in some form, it’s hard to imagine a narrative about humans in which sex is absent. In some cases, the sex shows up in a central character’s dreams and fantasies. In nineteenth-century fiction, it often shows up in Latin/legal terms. (“They were caught in flagrante delicto.”) In “literary” fiction, the sex used to appear in euphemisms (“And that night, they were not divided”) and metaphors (“The earth moved”).
Since the sex is already there, I thought, coyly lurking between the lines, why not bring it out into the light so we can see it? If the sex is meant to violate the will of one or more of the participants, an explicit description makes that clear, and readers can respond.
Writing about sex felt thrilling when I first tried it. I knew that most of my relatives, not to mention friends, coworkers and other acquaintances, would probably disapprove and consider me misguided at best, but it was still a big relief to describe things I had actually done as well as things I had only imagined. Okay, I thought, call me a slut if you want, but if you never think about such things, why do you read my stuff?
The Erotic Readers Association (as it was called in 1998, when I joined) was a great source of support. Other members consoled me when I complained on-list that my stories seemed to disappear into the Bermuda Triangle when I sent them off to editors in response to calls-for-submissions. (My first three erotic stories had been “accepted” in the 1980s by a small publisher that mailed me a letter, then immediately went bust.)
I began getting stories published in anthologies, and I thought the thrill would never wear off. It never completely did, but as Lisabet has mentioned, books are more ephemeral now than we bookworms of the Baby Boom generation ever believed in our youth. Having dozens of erotic stories in anthologies has not made me famous on any level, nor has it provided a reliable income. Thousands of books are published each year, and most of them probably won’t be remembered in another generation.
Besides all that, as M. Christian has said somewhere (probably in a blog post), there are only so many ways to describe sex. Characters, situations and plots can be different in every story, but body parts are limited, and what can be done with them fits into a few categories. I grew tired of repeating myself, and I hesitate to go far beyond my own experience in describing elaborate scenes that might be physically impossible. (And on that note, unclear sentence construction can suggest that a character has three arms, three breasts, or three balls, or that two characters can grope each other from across a room. The logistics of a sex scene have to be carefully managed.)
My age has probably played a role in my desire to write about something other than sex. I doubt if I will ever completely turn off like a burned-out lightbulb, but I no longer feel as if I will just die if I don’t get some. And if I don’t need it desperately, it’s hard to convince myself that my characters do.
In short, I have begun to stray into other genres. According to those who advise writers to discover their “brand” and stick to it, this is a problem. If I have a brand at all, it is clearly erotic fiction.
During the past two years, I’ve written several stories that are not sexually explicit, and most are still unpublished. My story for an anthology that is meant to tweak the imaginary world of a famous horror writer was tentatively accepted, but I haven’t been offered a contract, and this project seems to have no clear completion date. I wrote a queer mystery story for a Sherlock Holmes-flavoured anthology, and I haven’t had a response yet. (In fairness to the editor, he probably hasn’t had time to make decisions yet.) I sent a fantasy story to an editor who said explicitly in the call-for-submissions that the anthology was not meant to include erotica. This editor sent me a flattering rejection (“This was an enjoyable read, but it’s not quite right for this collection”), so I sent the story to a speculative-fiction magazine that rejected it.
I feel as if I have started over. If I continue to write fiction without sex scenes, I will continue to send it to editors and venues that probably don’t recognize my name. The competition might be even more intense than it is in the erotic fiction market, though this is debatable.
I am grateful that the “Writers’ Block” I thought I had when I was responsible for a child and for too much unpaid work, while scrounging for a living, seems to be permanently gone. As Virginia Woolf put it so well, a woman writer needs a room of her own, and I now have several. And while I’m on sabbatical, I’m not distracted by the day job.
What I didn’t expect, and what writing coaches never seem to acknowledge, is that the Muse changes over time. For that matter, individual identity changes over time. As long as that is the case, I’m not sure how more “successful” writers (in terms of royalties and name recognition) manage to promote their “brand” for a lifetime without burning out. That seems to be one fate that ever-changing writers don’t need to fear.