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.
writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, horror,
and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son,
and her three cats. Visit her web site, her Facebook
page, and her Amazon Author Page.
Her new m/m erotic medical thriller Roughing
It is out! This book is a sexy cross between The X Files, The Andromeda
Strain, and Outbreak. Read her short erotic story Babes in Begging For It, published by
Cleis Press. You will also find her new novel No
Restraint at Amazon. Enjoy a good, sexy read today.
Halloween is my favorite holiday. Even more so than
Christmas. I love the decorations, the candy, the parties, and the movies
playing endlessly on TV all month long. I have recorded scads of Hammer Films
and even a few Universal Pictures. Today
I’m going to watch “Horror of Dracula” and “Frankenstein Must Be
Here’s what I do for Halloween – I bake. I make gingersnaps,
pumpkin bread, maple candy, shortbread cookies, sugar cookies with sprinkles,
pizzelles and more. I buy mead. I make hot buttered rum and hot cocoa,
sometimes with a dash of cayenne. In honor of the Day Of The Dead (Mexico), I
sometimes make candy sugar skulls. Fall is soup time so I make turkey noodle,
chicken noodle, leek and potato, and oyster stew.
Here’s what else I do for Halloween – I decorate. I have a
“Biohazard Research Facility” plaque hanging on the front door. Skull
and ghost candles are scattered about the house. I don’t burn them. I keep them
as is and use them as decorations. My Yankee Candle votive holder depicting
ravens at the entrance to a cemetery looks very classy. I use festive dish
towels and oven mitts. I even have a black cat on a pumpkin magnet on the
fridge. My large terra cotta carved Jack-O-Lantern sits outside my bedroom
window. I use an electric light that flashes so that it looks like candle flame
inside the Jack-O-Lantern. You can see it front the street. I should buy mums
to place around it to give it that extra special fall look but I haven’t bought
any yet. I get out my snow globes. I have snow globes depicting scenes from the
movies “Halloween” and “Fargo”. I’m especially proud of the
“Fargo” snow globes. One depicts the car crash scene and the other
depicts the wood chipper scene. The “Halloween” snow globe depicts
heroine Laurie Straud sitting on the floor in front of a couch reacting in terror to seeing Michael
Myers standing over her behind the couch brandishing a butcher knife.
You may think horror movies have nothing to do with romance
and sex, but oh boy do they ever! There was nothing more exciting than curling
up on my boyfriend’s arms in the movie theater when Christopher Lee homed in on
a nubile victim. It was more fun to be scared with someone to be scared with. I
later attended a horror film convention every year in my hometown of Baltimore.
I flirted amid discussions of dismemberments and decapitations in the
Australian zombie horror comedy “Dead/Alive” and debates over which
Italian director was scarier, Dario Argento or Lucio Fulci. I voted for
I met my husband thanks in part to horror movies. I met him
at a science fiction convention that included panels on horror. When we started
dating, I made him watch “Dead/Alive”. I told him if he couldn’t get
through this movie in one piece we weren’t meant to be together. He loved it!
Every year on our anniversary we watch it. He teases me about my love for
horror movies, but he often occasionally relents and watches one with me. Then
we cuddle and I pretend to be scared. Just like when I was in college.
Horror movies and books
have their place in romance. Sex, too. Science
proves it. Dopamine levels rise when we’re scared, even in an artificial
setting like a horror movie. Dopamine’s nickname is the “cuddle
hormone”. So the next time you want a romantic evening, ditch “When
Harry Met Sally”. Choose Hitchcock’s “Psycho” instead. And enjoy
the cuddling – and more!
UPDATE: This is a Halloween display I made about 10 years ago in front of the 200 year old house we were renting. I was into Asian horror movies, and I made a life-sized display of Sadako coming out of the well from the movie “The Ring”. I stuffed an old white gown with newspapers and plastic grocery bags and made a head out of plastic bags and duct tape. I put a long wig on her head. She wears my white leather gloves. The well was made out of boxes spray painted to look like granite. I scared the little kids silly with that display. One little girl asked me, “Will that lady eat me?” I almost said, “No. She’ll come out of your TV and chase you around your living room until she catches you and kills you,” but I’m too nice to do such a horrible thing. LOL
I’ve been having a rough few weeks and a scorching case of
writer’s block has set in. My parents (both sets) have health problems. For
that to make any sense, you must understand that I have parents who raised me and
an older couple who adopted me of sorts a few years ago. I call them Mom and
Dad. That Mom is having severe vertigo problems due to a possible serious inner
ear infection. My mother who raised me died two years ago, and now my dad who
raised me is in the hospital with a heart problem aggravated by his COPD. I
know the parents labels gets confusing. It’s like Neal Gaiman’s Coraline – I have Mother and Other Mother. Then there
are my biological parents and cousin since I’m adopted. My birth mother died
about four years ago and I’m in regular touch with a blood relative, a cousin. I’ve
turned family into a three-ring circus.
I’m not processing all this mess very well. On top of it,
my two latest books aren’t selling. That’s a severe disappointment. I don’t know what to do about it. The weather is getting colder and
winter is coming. The cats won’t stop fighting. The books not selling well is
hitting me especially hard since I see no point in writing at the moment. Why
bother when next to no one will read my books? I’m working on a horror novel at
the moment as well as a short erotic romance story, but the words simply aren’t
I know I’m not the only one feeling this way about my writing. A fellow horror writer on Facebook just said pretty much the same thing about his own aspirations since it’s harder for him to reach his goals now than when he was younger. One commenter pointed out that maybe when he was younger he set the bar for his goals too low. I wonder if that could be my problem. I used to be happy simply being published. Now, I want to be published by bigger, better houses, get lots of great reviews, get huge sales, and eventually win awards. Not only is a lot of that out of my hands, it’s harder to achieve. I have accomplished the first of those goals for the most part but not the others. Not yet. Maybe I just need time. In the meantime, I have no desire to write at all.
What to do?
I haven’t had writer’s block in awhile, but I haven’t
forgotten how I’ve dealt with it in the past. The best thing for me to do is to
not fight it. Just give in to it and find something else to do that I enjoy that
will improve my bleak mood. I know this won’t work for everyone. This is only
about what has worked for me. My point is to find what works best for you. If
writing through the block works, do it. If getting away from the keyboard for
awhile works, go for it. This is what has worked for me.
I’m still going to the beach nearly every day. Walking on
the beach is my primary form of
exercise. I’ve lost 15 pounds since the beginning of summer. The
difference this year is that my husband and I intend to join the local YMCA to
use their exercise machines and the pool. I lost 15 pounds last summer and the
summer before that, but gained it all back and then some because I had no
exercise regime set for the fall and winter. So there’s something to be happy
about. I’ll likely reach my target weight (130 pounds) by next summer. Good.
I’m concentrating on my new radio show, Into The Abyss With Elizabeth Black. It’s about horror and dark
fiction, my other literary loves. My first guest will be Josh Malerman, who
wrote Bird Box, a scary-as-shit novel.
I loved it. He’s going to be on my show Thursday Oct. 6 at 4 PM EST. I still do
radio shows for Blog Talk Radio and that includes shows about erotic romance
and writing. My past guests include women from Broad Universe, Madeleine Shade
(who specializes in fairy tales), Cherry Wild and Sophia Soror (they also
specialize in fairy tales), and Melissa Keir. Doing these shows keeps me afloat
so that I don’t feel as if I’m floundering without direction.
I’m reading more. I like erotic romance and erotica
collections by Cleis Press and Xcite Books. I have quite a few books by these
publishers, and they inspire me when I write erotic fiction. I’m working on a
call for submissions for Cleis that isn’t due until December, so I have time to
come up with a story. I would love to be accepted by them again. I also enjoy
books that scare the crap out of me. I’m about to begin Snowblind by Christopher Golden, which takes place in Massachusetts
in the dead of winter. Perfect timing. I’ve also decided to reread a classic to
inspire me while working on my own horror novel, Hell Time. I’m rereading Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar.
Finally, I’ve been watching plenty of TV and movies. I’m
binge-watching Mr. Robot, and I’m on the season finale now. Rami Malek deserved
his Best Actor Emmy for playing the lead in this show. I’m also enjoying
American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare, although it’s not the best thing
I’ve seen. The new TV version of The Exorcist is very predictable but the first
episode held my attention. Nice Easter Egg with the brief glimpse of a
newspaper article about Chris MacNeil from the original movie. Lucifer is back! Love that show. My husband and I can’t get enough of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. It’s my favorite TV show.
I’ve been baking. I made lemon poppy seed quickbread, angel
kisses cookies, hobnobs (British oat tea cookies), maple candy (it is fall
after all) and lime spritzer cookies. The lime spritzers taste exactly like the
same cookies Pepperidge Farm used to make. They were sold only over the summer
and they’ve been discontinued a long time ago. I loved those cookies, and now I
can make them myself.
In a nutshell, I’ve been doing things I enjoy to take my
mind off my worries and the writer’s block. When I’m ready to write, I’ll write.
I’m not going to put undue pressure on myself since I know that will only make
the situation worse. Next week I attend a Writers Coffeehouse New England
meeting, and I intend to learn how I can get word out about Into The Abyss With Elizabeth Black, including
possibly getting it into syndication. This coffeehouse is chock full of
valuable information, and I go every chance I get. I’ve been to one before and
I learned a great deal there. After we return, I decorate the house with
Halloween gack. I have two Fargo snow
globes and a Halloween snow globe.
All three depict scenes from the movies. Those are my pride and joy, and I love
showing them off. I’m looking forward to Halloween and the fall season. I can
at least enjoy myself until this dreadful mood and block lift. Maybe my parents (all of them) will be better soon. Until then, I’ll
binge-watch more movies and TV and bake stuff. Once I begin writing, I know
I’ll be fine.
In the meantime, I will continue to watch this video, which I can’t watch and be unhappy at the same time. It’s Cab Calloway and the Nicolas Brothers doing Jumpin’ Jive. This is said to be the greatest dance number ever recorded, and I sure agree with that. Get those happy feet moving!
by Jean Roberta
Is erotica a genre unto itself, or does the term just refer to sex scenes that could appear in any work of fiction? Most book-length works of “erotica” can also be classified as something else, and since words that refer to sex can result in books being sold only in an on-line version of under-the-counter, all of us who write about sex have a motive to define our work as romance, or contemporary fiction, or paranormal suspense, or dark fantasy, or some other thing.
When I was invited to co-edit an annual anthology, Heiresses of Russ: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction, I wondered how much sex, if any, could be allowed in an anthology that was not designated as “erotica.” Steve Berman, publisher and co-editor, told me that sex was fine as long as the stories fit the mandate of the series (speculative and lesbian in some sense, which I interpreted to mean that female characters had to have primary relationships with other girls/women). Several of the stories were chosen from erotic anthologies, and the fantasy elements fit in well with the fantasy elements in the less-explicit stories.
While choosing stories, I realized once again that there is really no such thing as a completely non-erotic story. Any situation in which sentient beings interact is potentially erotic. Human beings (not to mention shapeshifters, strange hybrids, androids, and extraterrestrials) tend to have sexual feelings, and these often form a subtext or a kind of bass line under the melody of plot.
Some calls-for-submissions that don’t appear here on the Erotic Readers and Writers site include a paragraph stating that “gratuitous” sex and/or violence is not welcome, but explicit sex scenes are okay if they fit the context, help to show character and further the plot. Well, duh.
So the question a writer must consider is not whether sexual explicitness would be accepted by an editor and a publisher, but whether it would fit a particular story – which it could, depending on how it is approached. In a way, calls for “erotica” per se are easier to respond to, because they require plots on a particular theme (e.g. men in uniform, women in college dorms) in which sex is the goal and the climax.
I have sometimes surprised myself by passing up a chance to include a sex scene in order to focus on other aspects of the relationship, or of the social context. Back in the 1980s, when I was not yet writing “erotica,” I wrote a collection of lesbian stories, including one with the working title “Love and Death in the Canadian Novel.” (My better judgment led me to rename it “Winter Break.”) I was trying to show why two women are attracted to each other, yet too divided in various ways to spend their lives together. The story includes the steamiest scene I had ever written (literally – it is set in winter, when outdoor breath becomes steam). The sex is followed by mutual accusations based on misunderstandings, which lead the pair to realize that moving in together would not be a good plan. Ironically, this is their most serious agreement.
The one-woman publisher put the steamy scene on the back cover as a teaser, although there was no more where that came from. A friend of mine who read the book asked me why I didn’t “come to the point.” Clearly, the point she wanted to come to was not exactly the one I wanted to make.
Do I plan to rewrite that old story and try to resell it? No. It was based on an actual relationship that didn’t last long, and I could hardly give it a Happy-for-Now ending (let alone a Happy-Ever-After) without changing the characters to make them more compatible. I might as well write a new story.
More recently, I wrote a story set in the imaginary world of H.P. Lovecraft, in which the central character is a young woman attending normal school in the 1920s,and enjoying sex with her fiancé, who wants to speed up the wedding date so their pleasure can be legal, respectable, and reproductive. This relationship is also doomed, but I absolutely believed what both characters told me about how much they enjoy their hard-won privacy. I was tempted to spend a page on their joy, which is destined to end because she, newly privileged with income-earning skills and the right to vote, wants a more exciting future than marriage, children and church. He, as a man of his time, thinks she is like a skittish colt who needs to have her first baby in order to “settle down.”
Ultimately, though, I wanted to go somewhere else with the story, which needed to stay within a limited word-count. So although it includes a sexual relationship, it doesn’t really qualify as “erotica.” If anything, the heroine’s first away-from-home adventure is anti-erotic for her, although she recognizes the value of expanding her horizons and calmly respecting other beings whose strangeness terrifies her until she controls her fear.
Years ago in the ERWA lists, someone posted a discussion of percentages (percentage of sexual description vs. percentage of narration and dialogue) as a way of determining whether a piece of writing qualifies as “erotica.” I’m sure some of the best-known novels we think of that way would fail the test. Yearning and sensuality can be expressed even when no one is having “sex,” as it is generally understood. And sometimes a fuck isn’t what is needed most, at least in the moment.
Am I trying to escape from the erotic writers’ ghetto altogether, so as to get more respect? I can’t absolutely deny it, since the persistent myth that erotic writing is sub-literary tends to be hard on one’s Muse. Yet the pressure of a story that wants to be written – or the voice of the character who wants to tell it – feels sexual in a broad sense.
The amount of sexual description in a story or a novel ultimately has to conform to the nature of the story. Whose story is it, and what does the narrator want the reader to know? One good way of finding answers would be to write a story with passing references to sex, then to expand the sex scenes to see if they fit the general tone of the piece. Or conversely, a sex scene could be written first, and then the backstory and the logical aftermath could be added to see if they form a coherent whole. If not, something needs to change.
The best stories, of course, don’t come only from one’s conscious mind. The writing process is more visceral than that, and characters sometimes need to take over.
What do yours tell you?
Want to come to a
book party? My new contemporary erotic romance novel No Restraint was released recently, and I’m hosting a book party in
its honor. I’m giving away some prizes including free Kindle erotic romance
books, some fancy schmancy soaps, and a Jack Rabbit vibrator!
I haven’t decided
which ebooks I’m giving away, but most likely they will be my two erotic fairy
tales Trouble In Thigh High Boots
(Erotic Puss In Boots) and Climbing Her
Tower (Erotic Rapunzel).
I love parties, especially where books are concerned. The most fun one I went to was for Broad Universe. I brought some of my horror books with me for a reading. Everyone brought a treat. We brought chili. There were also brownies, cookies, and soft drinks. The crowd was small but it was worthwhile. I got to practice my public speaking skills and mingle with strangers, which is no mean feat for me since I’m very introverted. I’d love to attend another public, live, in person book party soon, but for now, Facebook will do.
Here is the link for
my Facebook party:
It runs from 9 AM EST until midnight PM EST on Sept. 6.
Here is some
information about No Restraint, which was published by Xcite Books in the U. K.
Blurb and excerpt
from No Restraint. Buy this book at
Craig accepts a new job at a high-end sex doll company called Babes. Babes’
dolls are high-end, expensive silicone love toys. Working at Babes is like
working for a bacchanal. The company’s culture is all about decadence, enjoying
the good life, exciting sex, and enticing food and drink. Alex meets Jackson
Beale, one of the company’s vice-presidents. Jackson takes Alex on a new and
exciting journey of carnal pleasure. He introduces her to new tactile and kinky
pleasures, and she relishes her excitement. The world takes on an entirely new
meaning and importance to Alex as she learns what she’s been missing in her
walked hand in hand down the wooden pathway and across the bridge to the fine,
warm sand. Hot sun beat down on her shoulders, making her sweat. The heat was a
bit overpowering, and she wanted to swim to cool off from the sweltering
weather as well as her own arousal.
chill from the waves lapping at her feet made her jump; the water was colder
than she expected it would be. Jackson took her by the hand and the two of them
ran headfirst into the waves, splashing water all about them. With a flying
leap, Alex plunged into the waist-deep water, shrieking as the chill shocked
her. Once immersed in the water she felt cool and comfortable. She enjoyed the
much-needed relief from the smoldering heat.
smoothed her wet hair as Jackson approached her to wrap his arms around her
waist. Holding her so tightly she couldn’t escape, he lowered his head and
kissed her full on the mouth. Not expecting the embrace, she struggled to pull
away from him but soon surrendered to her passion. She wrapped her arms around
his back and sank into his kiss. His tongue slipped into her mouth and she
greeted him in kind, tongues dancing a duet to music only the two of them could
hear. Her head spun and sparks exploded behind her eyelids as her blood rushed
through her veins.
man had ever gotten such an excited response from her from his mere kiss.
pulled away from each other, lips unlocking, and she stared into his eyes. She
couldn’t read his expression. He gazed at her with an intensity she hadn’t seen
before. It was as if he wanted to see through to her very soul and possess it.
she would let him if he insisted.
warm breeze brushed her skin as she and Jackson walked along the beach.
Bubbling surf washed over her feet, cooling her in the hot sun. They walked
hand in hand as if they had been partnered for years instead of only days.
Amazed at how comfortable she felt in Jackson’s presence, she strolled by his
side, not talking, but only enjoying his company and the smell of the ocean
surf. Her other lovers paled when compared to Jackson. He was all she ever
wanted in a man – worldly, handsome, accomplished, and drop-dead sexy. He
treated her with respect and gentleness; not that she expected anything less.
If he had been less kindly toward her, she never would have taken up with him
in the first place. She wasn’t one to believe in soulmates, but Jackson came
very close to being hers.
squeezed her hand, bringing her back to the real world. Pulling her toward him,
he wrapped his arms tightly around her and kissed her lightly on the lips. What
started out as a gentle caress grew into a fevered embrace; fingers entwined in
her hair, her hands massaging his back. She wanted to implant the memory of his
body and his touch in her mind forever so she could easily remember him when he
was away. Their romantic setting set her head spinning with delight. A handsome
man on the beach. Her dream come true.
Elizabeth Black –
lives a dream life in a small home on the Massachusetts coast. She tries to go
to the beach every day. When in the Zone, she writes erotic fiction, romance,
dark fiction, and horror. She aims for la Dolce Vita and lives every day as if
it were a feast. She shared her life with her husband, son, and three cats. She
is published by Xcite Books, Cleis Press, Circlet Press, Bold Strokes Books,
and other publishers. You may find her on the web in the following locations:
SIGN UP FOR MY
MAILING LIST ON MY WEB SITE
Elizabeth Black –
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– Erotic Fiction Amazon Author Page
by Jean Roberta
My original plan for this post was to discuss words for sex acts and sex organs, as did Lisabet Sarai earlier this month. Context is very important to me, and this is why some of the shorter pieces that have been posted in ERWA Storytime make me uneasy, especially if they refer to such characters as “the office slut.” Has any woman who works in an office ever considered herself The Office Slut?
I don’t object to the word “slut” per se, but context is crucial. The purpose of most offices is to produce a product or a service other than sex. If someone in the office is known as the official Slut, she is probably not taken seriously as an assistant or editor, or whatever role she was hired to fill. (For more on this subject, see Nine to Five, the 1980 movie about working women in which Dolly Parton plays the role of a private secretary who is ostracized by everyone in the office because everyone thinks she is having an affair with her boss. She isn’t.)
Even literary erotica sometimes implies what porn films explicitly promise: that viewers/readers can visit a kind of alternative dimension, where great sex is always happening, and it is available to everyone who visits there. Rumors about actual places on earth where, supposedly, anyone could have consequence-free sex with anyone else at any time flourish best in real-world environments where sex is hard to get (e.g. high school, most workplaces, jurisdictions where “obscenity” is broadly defined and highly illegal). In the Land of Blooming Orgasms, supposedly, no one has to experience the frustration, rejection, humiliation, or competition for mates that characterize the real world.
A traditional double standard of sexual morality lends itself to belief in the Land of Blooming Orgasms. An extreme division of women into the good and the bad, based on sexual history, usually divides Virgins from Sluts as though these words defined different personality types rather than phases in a life. (Everyone starts out as a virgin, but anyone who stays that way for a lifetime has been deprived of much valuable experience.) Sluts can be imagined as having constant sex with random strangers whenever they are out of sight, not doing something more mundane.
The biological differences between males and females might encourage males (straight, gay or bi, but not trans) to believe that some women have sex constantly. Men know that they simply aren’t equipped to get aroused, ejaculate, then repeat the process again, and again, and again. Even the mightiest stud has his limits. Females, however, can be penetrated in every orifice as many times as they want – and if their desire has limits, the ability of others (armies or gangs) to rape them has no limits.
And therefore the myth of the constant Slut pops up in various contexts, and is often treated more seriously than it deserves. When I had sex for the first time with a boy I liked, it was a fumbling affair of mutually-missed opportunities. I was a teenager, and I had only a vague idea of what to do. Nonetheless, as soon as the boy had caught his breath, he said: “You must have done this a lot.” Apparently one fuck had transformed me from a nice girl with no experience into the eternal Slut. I was tempted to respond with teenage snark. (Well, I’ve spent the last five years in a whorehouse in Tiajuana.) Luckily, I didn’t say what I was thinking. I realized even then that the school gossip network would have accepted that statement, embroidered it, and circulated it throughout our small town.
This leads me back to erotic writing, a more wholesome exercise of imagination than gossip about actual people. References to the Office Slut, the Town Slut, the Wild Slut of the Jungle, or the Interplanetary Slut suggest fantasies about the Land of Blooming Orgasms. This is escape literature or masturbation material, and its charm is obvious. It’s not realistic, and intelligent authors don’t intend it to be mistaken for realism.
However, the tone of a piece of erotic writing isn’t always clear, or consistent. (If your goal is to write something entertaining and unbelievable, snark is good.) References to the Office Slut can sound negative, not because sexual skill or experience are necessarily bad, but because women are so often accused of being Sluts instead of whatever they appear to be: secretaries, administrators, students, teachers, mothers, faithful companions.
If I’m reading a piece about Captain Luscious of the Starfuck Fleet, I would like to see some reference to her actual ability to fly a space vehicle, even if it’s only mentioned in passing. This information would raise her above the level of a cartoon, or an insult. In the real world, even sex workers eat, sleep, do laundry, pay bills, meet friends for coffee, and raise the children for whom they need to earn money.
Besides, the sexiest stories are those that suggest the possibility of good sex in the messy, complex world where people actually live.
by Jean Roberta
I’ve been pondering the word “metronormativity” ever since I reviewed a diverse collection of essays, Queering the Countryside, for The Gay & Lesbian Review. The word is used throughout the book, and it looks parallel to “heteronormativity,” the assumption that “normal” sexual attraction is between males and females.
For several generations, the children of rural folk have been migrating to cities, openly looking for jobs they couldn’t find elsewhere, but also seeking identities and lifestyles they couldn’t imagine having in the country: queer, non-monogamous, radical or creative. Fiction, especially erotica, often seems urban by default. Characters meet in nightclubs or coffee shops, get stuck in traffic, have trysts in hotels, and even have sex on or near famous landmarks. English-speaking culture seems to have become “metronormative.”
The Canadian town I live in, which features a government building with a gleaming copper dome, has been described by writers I’ve met in larger cities as “very small.” In fact, London, England, had the same size population (200K) when William Wordsworth described the cityscape he was leaving in “Lines Written Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802.”
How do we as writers conceive of cities, and how does an urban or rural setting influence our narratives? Smaller towns provide fewer potential playmates or lovers, but easier wsys to meet them. In small towns, neighbours usually talk to each other.
In “small” towns (compared to urban centres of at least one million people), finding kindred souls can be surprisingly easy, since one can strike up (non-sexual) conversations with strangers without being perceived as crazy or dangerous.
In any case, no one actually knows a million people or more, and this includes people who have dozens of “friends” on Facebook. Communities based on ethnicity, religion, sexuality, profession, or shared passion (e.g.: writing) could be defined as towns within cities, and members of different towns might as well be living in different regions.
I’m currently spending two weeks in Vancouver, on the Canadian west coast, catching up with old friends. It’s tempting to describe the spectacular natural setting of the city (cloud-topped mountains meet the Pacific Ocean) and the colourful urban gardens, but as a writer, I’m more interested in how local culture affects relationships.
I often wish I could live in a different place each year, just long enough to get a feel for it, to stretch my imagination. Making a conscious effort to break free of assumptions based on one environment seems like a good start.
By Lisabet Sarai
Back in the days when I was a sex goddess, a fair fraction of my life was devoted to the erotic. If I wasn’t involved in some sort of delightful sexual activity, I was replaying the last such experience, or anticipating the next one. It would be an exaggeration to say that sex was the most important thing in my life, but certainly the notion of life without sex was horrifying—unthinkable.
I remember a conversation with my mother around that time. She would have been in her fifties, past menopause I believe, but considerably younger than I am now. After a rough struggle with addiction, she had embraced religion. “I’m so glad,” she told me, “that I don’t have to worry about sex anymore.”
I was appalled. She had always been an extremely sexual person. Her nude drawings exuded sensuality. I’d acquired my taste for slinky clothes and flashy jewelry from her. That she would willingly give up sex—it was inconceivable to me.
Now I understand that she always felt guilty about her sexuality. For her, a decision to forgo sex relieved the discomfort of those feelings (though I wonder whether she really succeeded in sublimating her libido as completely as she would have liked). At the time, however, I really could not imagine a life without sex.
Now, well into my sixth decade, I have a confession to make. I haven’t had sex in months. Even more astonishing, I’m neither totally miserable nor crazy with unsatisfied lust.
The sad truth is that my sex drive has declined as I’ve gotten older. This shouldn’t be surprising, but it surprised me. I guess I underestimated the importance of hormones. There’s also the fact that it’s more difficult to feel desirable as your body ages. I’m moderately well preserved, but still, I’m acutely aware of all the previously perky places that now sag, all the flexible parts that now feel rusty, all the hair that has migrated from attractive to unattractive locations.
Meanwhile, my husband is more than a decade older than I am. His libido has dwindled as well, much to his consternation. Fortunately we’re both intelligent enough (not to mention busy enough) not to dwell on the question to the point of misery, or to blame one another.
It’s not that I have lost interest in sex. I still become aroused when I’m writing, or reading, a steamy scene. And I still have intensely erotic dreams, in which I desire and am desired by both men and women. In fact, as I’ve become older, my dreams have become more explicit and more taboo.
It’s just that, more and more, my sex life takes place in my mind as opposed to in my body. This means I don’t have to deal with annoying physical issues like arthritic joints or a lack of vaginal lubrication. I can imagine myself back in my sex goddess years, or later, during the period when my husband and I were experimenting with swinging and polyamory. I can revel in dreams in which I’m a willing slave, offered by my master to a room of strangers, or a mature but not decrepit woman seducing a delicious young thing who’s drawn to my aura of experience.
Occasionally in my dreams I remember my age. Mostly, I’m still in my twenties, nubile and eager.
As my physical sex life ebbs, my writing takes on a new importance. Writing erotica and erotic romance keeps the flame alive. I can summon the dangerous thrill of an anonymous encounter or the deeply fulfilling connection with a love-time lover. I can revisit my many adventures, reshaping them for my readers, or create new ones.
It’s all happening in my mind, but my body reacts, too. I’m not usually aware of my arousal while I am writing, but later I often find myself drenched. And fundamentally, that’s the mystery that keeps me coming back to erotic fiction—the near magical way that a story, a mere figment of my imagination, can trigger physical reactions.
So ultimately, I don’t have live without sex after all. And hopefully, I never will.
Happy Summer! It’s time to turn up the heat with another round of Sexy Snippets!
The ERWA blog is not primarily intended for author promotion. However,
we’ve decided we should give our author/members an occasional
opportunity to expose themselves (so to speak) to the reading public.
Hence, we have declared the 19th of every month at the Erotica Readers
and Writers Association blog Sexy Snippet Day.
On Sexy Snippet day, any author can post a tiny excerpt (200 words or
less) in a comment on the day’s post. Include the title from with the
snippet was extracted, your name or pseudonym, and one buy link.
Please post excerpts only from published work (or work that is free for
download), not works in progress. The goal, after all, is to titillate
your readers and seduce them into buying your books!
Feel free to share this with erotic author friends. It’s an open invitation!
Of course I expect you to follow the rules. One snippet per author,
please. If your excerpt is more than 200 words or includes more than one
link, I’ll remove your comment and prohibit you from participating in
further Sexy Snippet days. I’ll say no more!
After you’ve posted your snippet, feel free to share the post as a whole
to Facebook, Twitter, or wherever else you think your readers hang out.