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romance

Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, horror, and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and her three cats. Visit her web site, her Facebook page, and her Amazon Author Page. 

Her 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.

___

Opening a novel or short story can be a bitch. Elmore Leonard, author of Get Shorty and other novels, had advised writers to avoid prologues and to refrain from opening a story talking about the weather. Marc Laidlaw, an author who also helped develop the game Half Life, once tweeted the following advice about opening paragraphs of fiction works: The first line of almost any story can be improved by making sure the second line is, “And then the murders began.”

Normally, a writer would not begin a sentence with the word “and”. Laidlaw purposefully included that word because it “gives my use of the phrase an extra florid, self-important note that puffs it up just enough to be suitable for narrative frivolity.” My husband and I had argued about the title for my erotic romance novel Don’t Call Me Baby. He thought I should call it And Don’t Call Me Baby. I didn’t want to partly because that word dangled and irritated me and for the same reason Laidlaw laid out. It ended up not mattering since the book didn’t sell and it’s now out of print, so there’s that. I’d always done much better with my erotic fairy tales, and I’m working on a short story collection of them right now. One of my best-sellers, Climbing Her Tower (erotic Rapunzel), lends itself very well to this exercise.

 

Climbing Her Tower by Elizabeth Black

The warmth of the sun glowed on Rapunzel’s face as she stood before her window, awaiting Mother’s instructions. And then the murders began.

 

I also write horror. This exercise doesn’t work as well with that genre because it’s dark and bleak to begin with. However, when coupled with romance novels, the fun begins. Here are some examples of best-selling romance novels with that particular sentence added to them.

 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.  And then the murders began.

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught up by her charm as the Tarleton twins were. And then the murders began.

True Believer by Nicholas Sparks

Jeremy Marsh sat with the rest of the live studio audience, feeling unusually conspicuous. And then the murders began.

Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 1) by J. R. Ward

Darius looked around the club, taking in the teeming, half-naked bodies on the dance floor. And then the murders began.

50 Shades of Grey by E. L. James

I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror. And then the murders began.

Bared To You (Crossfire Book 1) by Sylvia Day

“We should head to a bar and celebrate”. And then the murders began.

Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard

The poet stood next to the bridge and watched as the young woman approached. And then the murders began.

 

You may see the point behind this exercise by now. Many writers, in particular fledging ones, have difficulties with exposition and telling instead of showing when beginning their stories. They ramble about the weather or describing backgrounds or pontificating about a character’s history or inner thoughts without providing a hook for the reader. Without a hook, your reader won’t continue reading. She will get bored and toss your book aside like so much garbage. You need to grab the reader in the first paragraph – nay, in the first sentence. That’s why agents and publishers often ask for the first chapter or first five pages of your manuscript when you submit to them. They want to see your hook. If you don’t have one or if it is weak, that is one reason you likely won’t get that joyous letter offering representation or a publishing contract. You need action and vibrancy to pique someone’s attention.

Sometimes, a writer’s story doesn’t really begin until the third or fourth page. If that’s the case with your story, delete the first few pages and begin your story where the action begins. Not only must you engage the reader from the onset, you must keep that reader engaged throughout every chapter of your book. Books are like fractals. There should be a hook at the beginning and end of each chapter as well as at the beginning of the book. The beginning hook holds the reader’s attention and the end-of-chapter hook encourages that eager reader to continue reading into the next chapter. Clayton Purdom described Laidlaw’s exercise in his article for A. V. Club when he wrote “the sudden introduction of murder provides a contrast with tone-setting exposition or an unexpected development to its more direct action.”

“And then the murders began” is a funny and effective way to get the point across. Watch your reader jump out of her seat with excitement over your works. Don’t let her sigh and become bored with exposition. That way, you’ll both attract and hold readers.

by Jean Roberta

Writing fiction set in the past (even a past era of the writer’s own lifetime) is a challenge because, as someone once said, the past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.

When writing a story set in the 1920s, I introduced my teenage female narrator to a handsome boy in her class in high school. His parents were friends of her parents, and now that her father is dead, his father is providing a salary for her mother, who works as his secretary. The boy likes the girl, and she is delighted to discover sexual pleasure with him when they are alone together. She is terrified of getting pregnant too soon, but he assures her that they are planning to marry anyway, so if they “start a family,” they only have to arrange an earlier wedding.

Realistically, my heroine knows she isn’t likely to get a better offer. She is also practical enough to know that she – a very intelligent person who is not male and not white – can’t leave home alone to seek her fortune and expect to be better off than she is in the relative safety of the community where she grew up.

In the real world, my young storyteller would probably settle, as so many women did in her time. Yet she really doesn’t want to marry her boyfriend. His chivalry often slides into condescension, even though she gets better grades in school than he does. Sex is a revelation to her, but does the ecstasy of his touch really mean that he is her soul-mate? She hasn’t had enough experience to know.

She has heard mutterings about sexually-experienced women: hoochie-coochie dancers who drink illegal booze in joints that cater to dangerous men. She doesn’t know how or where to apply for a job like that, but she knows how all her nearest and dearest would react if she did.

I don’t really know what better future I could provide for my character than marriage to her boyfriend, followed by childraising and membership in his church, one of the things they disagree about. The spell of historical fiction should not be broken by the intrusion of twenty-first century options and values.

Still, I want more for her. She wants more for herself, and she knows on a gut level that there must be a companion for her somewhere in the world who is more than “a good provider” with conventional beliefs.

I’ve always had trouble writing happy-ever-after endings, and I sometimes think this is because men and women still don’t really have equal status, even in Canada where we’ve had it in theory since the 1980s, according to a marvelous federal policy called the Charter of Equality Rights. However, the problem isn’t just a gender clash. Many a lesbian relationship has ended with hard feelings on both sides, and communities of gay men are also full of gothic stories about deception, heartbreak and violence – so I’ve heard.

In traditional romance plots, the lovers persevere despite threats to the relationship from other people and from each other. They have faith that in the long run, being together will be much better for both of them than being apart, and so it turns out. Most people claim to admire long-term relationships, but only if no one is being exploited, abused, or diminished in any way. That’s a big if.

In fiction, as in life, I worry about exaggerating the fault-lines that exist in every relationship, but I also worry about limiting a character’s potential by keeping her in a trap. There were several notable differences between my parents besides gender, but if they hadn’t stayed together for the first seven years of their marriage, I would never have been conceived. To honour my own roots, I should probably value sacrifice and compromise, even in a fictional world.

One of the appealing qualities of a short story, as distinct from a novel, is that not all questions have to be answered. The plot can end on a hopeful note, with an implication that the central character(s) will boldly go to an unknown destination. So I keep writing in order to discover new plots. Maybe some day I’ll have a clearer sense of when a happy ending requires an escape, and when it requires a commitment.
————-

By Lisabet Sarai

Reading Donna George Storey’s post about Fifty Shades last month, I had one of those “aha!” moments. Donna cited Alyssa Rosenberg’s observation that romance is one of the only areas of cultural expression that focuses on women and their lives. I suddenly understood that reading romance could be more than just an escape into impossible fantasy, easily dismissed as shallow and frivolous.

Modern romance, which has largely jettisoned the wimpy, passive heroines of its past, gives its readers (who are primarily women) the opportunity to vicariously experience female agency. The female protagonists of today’s romance tend to be feisty, competent and independent. They are firmly in charge of their own lives, and frequently are not looking for the soul mate who eventually and inevitably comes their way. It might not be too far a stretch to view them as role models.

Furthermore, in erotic romance, women bravely, sometimes brazenly, express their sexual selves. Today’s erotic romance heroines embrace their desires. Often they bed their partners long before they fall in love, and they’re just as likely to control the sexual action as the heroes. As Donna points out, even the virginal Ana is the true dominant in Fifty Shades. She defines (and redefines) the rules, which poor Christian tries to follow.

Romance is about female power—the power to make decisions about relationships, and the power to enjoy personal sexual satisfaction. No wonder it’s so popular, in a world where many women lack that sort of power.

So why doesn’t the genre get more respect? Why is it so easy and so fashionable to belittle romance—especially erotic romance? Why does Donna feel so uncomfortable writing “mushy” dialogue, blushing as if it were obscene? Sure, there’s a lot of poorly written romance out there, but that’s true of every category of fiction. Why do people feel the need to denigrate romance as “trash”, “bodice rippers”, or “mommy porn”?

Maybe because the female power is viewed as a threat.

In a male-dominated culture, it’s too dangerous to take romance seriously.

“Take romance seriously?” Some of you reading this are no doubt chuckling at the absurdity of this notion. And I suspect Remittance Girl will be sharpening her rhetorical blade, ready to assert that romance is in fact a product of male-dominated culture, an attempt to domesticate the socially-disruptive effects of lust by promulgating the myth of harmonious, monogamous, stable coupling.

Still, think about what the world would be like if women all began to act like romance heroines. Speaking out and acting on their desires. Insisting on respect and consideration from their lovers. Demanding to be taken seriously. Claiming a well-deserved, personal happy ending, without guilt or feelings of inferiority. Some men would be very threatened indeed.

“Hah. Illusions. There’s no such thing as a happy ending.”

Perhaps there’s no “ever after”. However, healthy, egalitarian, enduring, fulfilling relationships do exist, hard as that may be sometimes to be believe. And you know, based on my personal experience, it’s not just women who want that kind of relationship. Many men value independent, assertive partners. Men do not necessarily want a doormat as a companion. Or, for that matter, an innocent virgin!

The kicker is that despite the official perspective that romance is trash, readers of the genre have more economic power than any other market segment. The phenomenal success of Fifty Shades is only the latest demonstration of this fact.

This observation makes me realize that romance readers don’t really care whether the pundits view romance as unrealistic or superficial. They’re going to buy and read what they enjoy, losing themselves in stories of the women they’d like to be. It’s only authors of erotic romance, like me, who grumble about not being taken seriously by the literary establishment.

Well, you know what? I respect the romance I write. I know how difficult it is to create an original, compelling story that still adheres to the conventions of the genre. More difficult, maybe, than writing a so-called literary novel, where there are far fewer constraints.

So I’m going to stop griping and get back to writing. The only respect I really need comes from my readers.

Minotaur crouching over sleeping woman; Picasso, 1933

I’m going to begin this essay by asking you for the benefit of the doubt. I’m going to ask you to assume
I’m not an insane or immoral person. I’m asking this of you because I’m about
to wade into the uncomfortable, murky waters of consent, intentionality and
biological imperative when it comes to sex – both fictionally and factually.

Attempts to unpack these issues, to examine philosophical, historical,
institutional, artistic and socially constructed understandings of human
sexuality reveal uncomfortable realities. They don’t always accord with the way
we want things to be or live up to our ideals. But I’d like to argue that approaches that seek to present the issue as uncomplicated for the sake of clarity, are not realistic or productive ones.

I just watched the documentary “India’s Daughter.” It
chronicles the events of the 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder of a woman
identified in the film as “Jyoti”. Some Indian feminist have
criticized the film because it allows a number of the rapists, their defense
lawyers and a few others to air, what to most Westerners and many Indians, too,
are deeply misogynistic views on where women belong in society and the part
they play in their own victimization. These statements are not directly and
immediately rebutted in the film – it allows the audience to be appalled at
them. The strategy works well in the context of a Western liberal audience that
is probably unaware of the extreme schisms of social attitudes surrounding
women. But for an Indian audience, where these views are not uncommon or unknown,
it fails. The Indian Government has banned
the airing of the documentary
, ostensibly because it offers a platform for
views it wishes to eradicate. However, this decision might also have been influenced by a recent incident in which a
mob of thousands pulled an accused rapist out of a prison in Dimapur
, and
beat him to death. The event is more complex than it appears. The accused was a
Bangladeshi, so there are both issues of religious and immigration tension that
have played significant roles.

I’d like to examine the myth that humans are at the mercy of
their animal instincts, driven by their biological imperatives; how old and
widespread this fallacy is and how deeply it has embedded itself into many cultures;
and what part it plays in both our fictions and our social norms.

It’s all Aristotle’s Fault.

Not really, but at least in Western culture, Aristotle’s
Nicomachean Ethics has served, through the centuries as a font of great wisdom
on the matter of the human condition. In Part Seven of the Ethics,
Aristotle submits that, once in the thrall of sexual arousal, humans are no
longer capable of exercising reason, restraint or judgement. Historicity and
language is a bit of a problem. We don’t know what stage of arousal Aristotle
is referring to. Perhaps he was referring to the moment of orgasm, in which
case he’d be spot on. The problem is that our historical unease with the
specifics of the human sexual response led to very broad generalizations about
states of sexual arousal. This myth that a human in any given state of sexual
arousal is incapable of exercising choice, or control, or good judgment, has
been responsible for a millennial get out of jail free card when it comes to
sexual ethics.

Sorry, Different Department.

By the time we did get around to studying human sexual
response in the mid-20th Century, courtesy of Kinsey and Masters
and Johnson
, the sciences had specialized. People who were interested in
philosophy, ethics, sociology or psychology had all been given their own
departments – nay – buildings on another campus. Let me tell you, interdisciplinary studies of human
sexuality
are a rare, belittled, and underfunded species.

However, we know humans can and routinely do exercise
enormous control over their ‘animal’ instincts. We seem to be able to restrain
ourselves from peeing in our nests, we often find ways to negotiate our
territorial instincts, and unsurprisingly, we manage to restrain ourselves from
spending all our time mating – even though some of us spend an inordinate
amount of time thinking about it. There are men and women of diverse religious
orders who manage to live a life of complete sexual celibacy. Even
hormone-addled 16-year-olds don’t generally rampage through the countryside
raping every orifice they encounter. To look at it more quantitatively and at
more extreme levels of sexual arousal, practicing the ‘withdrawal method’ (27
pregnancies in 100) is still vastly more effective than using no birth control
method at all (85 pregnancies in 100). So, even at the abyssal precipice of
orgasm, it’s clear that we can and do have the capacity to exercise some
choice, some judgment.

Once We Were Dumb Mammals

Meanwhile, in the realm of society, we consistently ignore
that fact. Historically and to the present day, we create narratives about
humans helplessly carried away by the urgency of erotic bliss. Our literature,
drama and films are full of it. But, more darkly, so are our laws, our judicial
systems, our security structures. 
We may acknowledge rape as a crime in theory, but even in the most
‘enlightened’ egalitarian social systems, it is astonishing how often
responsibility is shifted from the person who refused to exert control over
themselves and onto something or someone else. It was the clothes the victim
was wearing, the fact that she was out alone, the fact that she wasn’t
accompanied by a relative, the fact that she (or he) came up to the rapist’s
apartment, alcohol, drugs, peer pressure, prison, porn, the prevalence of a
‘rape culture’. The list of reasons why an individual is not wholly, personally
accountable for their actions goes on and on. Whether you find yourself in a
culture that denies women autonomy, or one that offers them an equal legal
status, the
myth of the uncontrollable urge always rears its head
.

Mythological Beasts

We can control ourselves and we enjoy the lie that we can’t.
It’s not really that surprising: biological drives are compelling, and it takes
effort to refuse their call. It makes sense that humans would have fantasies
about respite from that control. In his book “Speaking the Unspeakable:
The Poetics of Obscenity,” Peter Michelson explains the liberating appeal
of pornography. It is, he says, a space where we can luxuriate in relinquishing
the very real control we have over our animal instincts. There is romanticism,
authenticity and empowerment in our fantasies of giving in to our animal
natures. I don’t wholly agree with Michelson on the specific mechanisms of
this, because I think our ‘animal natures’ are themselves a fantasy
construction.  Nonetheless, he
presents an excellent argument: there is erotic pleasure in the prospect of relinquishing
control only because that control is, in fact, so real and so often exercised.

Meanwhile, romance often features motifs of being swept
away, overcome, overwhelmed, desiring beyond the boundaries of social
acceptability. The pursuer can’t help but want the object of his or her desire.
It obsesses them; it drives
them to extraordinary and unruly lengths within the context of the storyworld.
And the pursued, it usually turns out, cannot refuse the pleasure of being that
object of desire and, if all is well, return the feeling.

Fictional Outposts

One of the reasons I champion
fictional, eroticized portrayals of reluctance and even rape is because to deny
that these ideations have semiotic power is dangerous. But also, to attempt to
force limits (i.e. to have rape fantasies is a betrayal of feminist ideology)
on what metaphors, what metonyms, what ‘signifieds’ might be is also futile. I
think fiction is a safe space in which to negotiate the uncomfortable fantasies
and nostalgias humans possess for the lawless, reasonless, unempathic animals
we used to be. I’m not convinced of the veracity of that earlier state of
natural ‘innocence’, but it haunts us and calls to us nonetheless. Fantasy and
fiction are the only safe places we should give it power or credence. To
situate this myth of the uncontrollable urge in fantasy and fiction is to put
it exactly in the place it belongs – beyond the pale of the everyday world and
civil society, and to underscore that it is the ONLY place it belongs.

One of the stark messages of “India’s Daughter” is
that it is social attitudes, the tolerance of real world inequities, the historical
absence of women’s voices, their lack of power and the perpetuation of utterly
baseless justifications that create an environment in which crimes like this
are possible. The shocking testimonies of rape-apologists in the documentary
are offensive as hell, but they serve to remind us that these attitudes don’t
survive and are not perpetuated through fictional works, but through entirely
real-world levels of tolerance that predate ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and even
basic literacy.

by Jean Roberta

We erotic writers have not yet been completely accepted into the literary or social mainstream. From time to time, someone in this blog points out that we Don’t Get No Respect, or at least not enough. This claim is hard to refute.

The good news is that the solid wall between Literature (which sometimes wins prestigious awards) and Porn (which was largely illegal in the recent past) seems to have been crumbling for years.

The genre called erotica can now be mixed with any other genre, not only romance. Much has been said here about the uneasy relationship between erotica (fiction that focuses on sex as a means of transformation, or the focal point of a plot) and romance (fiction about the development of a relationship, usually heterosexual, usually with a happy ending). There have been laments about the ways in which Romance, as the elephant of the publishing biz, has steamrolled over literary erotica so that brilliantly well-written, poetic, hot-yet-philosophical works on sex per se are now harder to find than ever before. There is clearly some truth in this claim.

However, if explicit sex scenes are the hallmark of erotica, these can be included in works of fantasy (e.g. rewritten fairy tales or ancient myths), science fiction and its various subgenres (e.g. steampunk), historical fiction, murder mysteries or detective stories, social satire, and every other genre one can think of. Sex is so central to human life that sex scenes don’t have to be forced into a supposedly non-sexual plot. They can now be included in a kind of organic way, so that they serve the plot and the development of the characters.

Circlet Press was founded in 1992 to publish fiction that combines explicit sex (often queer in some sense) with fantasy elements, and this combination has since been taken up by other publishers. It’s even possible to find novels that combine more than two genres.

To give an example, I recently had to replace a fantasy novel in my “Sympathy for the Devil” English course (four fantasy novels by women, all with male protagonists). Unfortunately, a novel by Tanith Lee about an immortal kind of devil was suddenly unavailable. I replaced it with Death by Silver by Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold (Lethe Press, 2013), a double-authored steampunk murder mystery with double (human) protagonists who must clear away a London fog of interpersonal misunderstanding while eliminating suspects in a complicated murder investigation.

I introduced this novel to the class by inviting my colleague, the local expert in the history of detective fiction, to discuss the genre. I suspect that his colourful, student-friendly, 75-minute talk was the condensed version.

If I knew any local experts in m/m romance as a genre (with its contested origins in Kirk/Spock fanfiction or slash, based on the original Star Trek as a television space opera), I would have invited her/him/them to speak. I would have given the same invitation to an expert in steampunk if I knew of any in my town. (I can easily imagine the English Department of the university where I teach acquiring a specialist to teach steampunk classes in the future, possibly as an offshoot of speculative fiction or Victorian studies.)

Death by Silver actually features a primary relationship which is sexual from the beginning, but IMO, the novel doesn’t qualify as erotica because the sex is dealt with in a traditionally British way, behind closed doors (usually in one line of coy dialogue or a short paragraph at the end of a chapter). None of my students seem shocked, and several have told me they enjoyed reading, despite the complexity of the plot. (This, rather than the frequent hints of “unmentionable” sex, seems to be the only thing that slowed them down.)

It is easy to imagine a sexually-explicit version of a similar novel, and m/m erotic romance is definitely a thing.

Cross-genre fiction seems to me to be the way out of the impasse created by the economic and cultural dominance of mainstream romance novels. (Not to mention the cultural dominance of Romantic Comedy as a popular film genre, i.e. “date movies.”)
Not only can descriptions of sex be smuggled into literary genres that are generally more respected than erotica, the importance of sex can be shown in work that can find its way out of a literary ghetto.

Rewriting “classic” novels to include explicit sex scenes is only one way to cross-breed genres. Those of us who started out as erotic writers, and who aren’t willing to ditch the sex for the sake of respectability, might not achieve critical respect any time soon, but we can have fun spreading our wings.
————-


Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica,
erotic romance, and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her
husband, son, and four cats. Visit her
web site, her Facebook page, and her Amazon Author Page.

—–

I’m putting together
a book of erotic fairy tales. I’ve already written several, including erotic
retellings of the usual suspects like Red Riding Hood, The Pied Piper, and
Cinderella. I’m often asked to tackle specific ones, and popular suggestions
are The Three Pigs and Beauty and the Beast.

I grew up with
Disney’s versions of classic fairy tales, but I have also read many of them,
and I’m very much aware of how dark and sinister most fairy tales are. I prefer
the stories in their original forms. Snow White was not only felled by a
poisoned apple. The wicked queen began her assault with a poisoned comb and
then a too-tight corset. The wicked queen also did not die in a fall off a
cliff per the Disney version. Granted, Disney’s version was pretty grim (pardon
the pun), but in the original tale she was tortured by being forced to dance in
red-hot iron shoes until she keeled over dead.

A friend of mine had
taken her daughter to see “The Little Mermaid” and she wanted to buy
the book of fairy tales so her daughter could read her favorite one. I warned
her The Little Mermaid does not get the prince in the end. I also told her about
how when The Little Mermaid walked she felt as if her feet were being cut by
sharp knives. Each step was excruciatingly painful. Neither fact was in the
Disney version.

Fairy tales are
chock full of symbolism that lends itself easily to an erotic retelling. Many of
these tales are about protecting the innocence of girlhood. Others were about
sexual awakening. Cinderella is one of the latter. Cinderella’s glass slippers and feet were small, hinting at her virginity and her intact hymen. Rapunzel is clearly
about a girl reaching womanhood, especially since she becomes pregnant in the
original tale. The tale dances around her pregnancy, though. The witch, unaware
of the prince’s visits, asks why her dress has become so tight. Then later,
Rapunzel is shown with two children. She had sex with the prince! Oh, horrors!
LOL Red Rdiing Hood was originally ravished by the wolf. In French slang, a
girl who loses her virginity is referred to as “elle avoit vû le loup” – she had seen the wolf. The connotation is
clear.

While it’s easy to eroticize fairy tales, it’s
also easy to fall into stereotypical traps. Cinderella’s prince has a foot
fetish. Snow White has a ménage with seven men. Red Riding Hood is accosted by
a rake. Rapunzel’s pubic hair grows out. It can be a bit tough to take these
tales in a non-stereotypical direction.

In addition to the
more common fairy tales, one friend suggested I eroticize The Dancing
Princesses, which is one I don’t hear very much about. That got me to thinking
about obscure fairy tales. Why not tackle one or two of those?

My favorite fairy
tale is very obscure. It’s Scandinavian, and it’s entitled “The Enchanted
Wreath”. This one is about preserving girlish purity in my opinion. Have
you ever noticed it’s always the youngest and most innocent of the daughters
who attracts the magic? Here’s the synopsis: (from Wikipedia)

A
man had a wife, and both of them had a daughter from an earlier marriage. One
day, the man took his daughter to cut wood and found when he returned that he
had left his ax. He told his wife to send her daughter for it, so it would not
grow rusty. The stepmother said that his daughter was already wet and, besides,
was a strong girl who could take a little wet and cold.

The
girl found three doves perched on the axe, looking miserable. She told them to
fly back home, where it would be warmer, but first gave them crumbs from her
bread. She took the axe and left. Eating the crumbs made the birds feel much
better, and they gave her an unfading wreath of roses, with tiny birds singing
in it. The stepmother pulled it off, and the birds flew off and the roses
withered.

The
next day, the father went alone and left his axe again. The stepmother was
delighted and sent her own daughter. She found the doves and ordered them off
as “dirty creatures.” They cursed her to never be able to say
anything except “dirty creatures.”

The
stepmother beat her stepdaughter, and was all the angrier when the doves
restored the wreath to its condition and the girl’s head. One day, a king’s son
saw her and took her off to marry her. The news of them made the stepmother and
her daughter quite ill, but they recovered when the stepmother made a plan. She
had a witch make a mask of her stepdaughter’s face. Then she visited her, threw
her into the water, and put her daughter in her place, before setting out to
see if the same witch could give her something to cure the doves’ curse on her
daughter.

Her
husband was distraught by the change in her, but thought it stemmed an illness.
He thought he saw his bride in the water, but she vanished. After twice more
seeing her, he was able to catch her. She turned into various animals, a hare,
a fish, a bird, and a snake, but he cut off the snake’s head, and the bride
became a human again.

The
stepmother returned with an ointment that would work only if the true bride had
really been drowned; she put it on her daughter’s tongue and found it did not
work. The prince found them and said they deserved to die, but the stepdaughter
had persuaded him to merely abandon them on a desert island.

Another obscure
fairy tale that made my radar is Hans Christian Anderson’s “The
Shadow”. This one could be turned into a tale of dark and light mistaken
identity. Here’s the synopsis (from Wikipedia):

Once a learned man from the northern regions of
Europe went on a voyage south. One night, he sat on his terrace, while the fire
behind him cast his shadow on the opposite balcony. As he was sitting there,
resting, the man was amused to observe how the shadow followed his every
movement, as if he really did sit upon the opposing balcony. When he finally
grew tired and went to sleep, he imagined the shadow would likewise retire in
the house across the street. The next morning however, the man found to his
surprise that he in fact had lost his shadow overnight. As a new shadow slowly
grew back from the tip of his toes, the man did not give the incident another
thought, returned to northern Europe, and took up writing again. Several years
passed by until one night there was a knock at his door. To his surprise, it
was his shadow, the one he lost years before in Africa, and now stood upon his
doorstep, almost completely human in appearance. Astonished by his sudden
reappearance, the learned man invited him into his house, and soon the two sat
by the fireplace, as the shadow related how he had come to be man.

The learned man was calm and gentle by nature.
His main object of interest lay with the good, the beautiful and the true, a
subject of which he wrote often but was of no interest to anyone else. The
shadow said his master did not understand the world, that he had seen it as
truly was, and how evil some men really were.

The shadow then grew richer and fatter over the
years, while the writer grew poorer and paler. Finally he had become so ill
that his former shadow proposed a trip to a health resort offering to foot the
bill as well, but on condition that he could act as the master now, and the
writer would pretend to be his shadow. As absurd as this suggestion sounded,
the learned man eventually agreed and together they took the trip, the shadow
now as his master. At the resort, the shadow met with a beautiful princess, and
as they danced and talked with each other each night, the princess fell in love
with him.

When they were about to be married, the shadow offered
his former master a luxurious position at the palace, on condition that he now
became his own shadow permanently. The writer immediately refused and
threatened to tell the princess everything, but the shadow had him arrested.
Feigning his distraught, the shadow met with the princess and told her:

“I have gone through the most terrible
affair that could possibly happen; only imagine, my shadow has gone mad; I
suppose such a poor, shallow brain, could not bear much; he fancies that he has
become a real man, and that I am his shadow.”

“How very terrible,” cried the princess;
“is he locked up?”

“Oh yes, certainly; for I fear he will
never recover.”

“Poor shadow!” said the princess;
“it is very unfortunate for him; it would really be a good deed to free him
from his frail existence; and, indeed, when I think how often people take the
part of the lower class against the higher, in these days, it would be policy
to put him out of the way quietly.”

When the shadow wed the princess later that
night, the learned man was already executed.

Here’s another
unusual one I’d heard of from years ago. It borders on bestiality. It’s called
The She-Bear“, and here’s the synopsis:

After his wife dies, a King decides that the only woman in the world
who matches his dead wife’s beauty is his own daughter Preziosa – therefore,
Preziosa must now marry her deranged father. He tells her that if she will not
marry him that very evening then ‘’when I am finished with you there will be
nothing left but your ears’’.

An old woman then gives the terrified girl an enchanted bit of wood
that will turn her into a bear when she puts it in her mouth. Preziosa – now a
bear—flees into the forest and resolves never again to reveal her true form
lest her father learns of her whereabouts. A prince discovers the wonderfully
friendly she-bear in the woods and takes her home to be his pet.

One day when she believes she is alone, Preziosa takes the bit of wood
out of her mouth to brush her hair. The prince looks out his window, spies a
gorgeous maiden in his garden and rushes out to find her, but she hears him
coming and quickly puts the wood back into her mouth. The prince searches
throughout the garden but he cannot find the maiden anywhere—in her place is
only his pet she-bear.

The prince becomes sick with lust for the bear-girl and begins to waste
away. On request from her son, the prince’s mother sends for the she-bear who
is now to reside in the princes bedroom, cook his meals and make his bed for
him. The prince becomes overcome with lust for the bear, and begs his mother to
let him kiss the animal.

While the mother watches and encourages them enthusiastically, man and
bear lock lips. They are kissing so passionately that the bit of wood slips
from Preziosa’s mouth and the prince finds that he now holds a stunningly
beautiful maiden in his arms. Rejoicing, they get married, and presumably
everybody lives happily ever after.

I may tackle these for
my upcoming new fairy tale anthology. There are others, too, many of them
Asian, that interest me. Look for my new book “Wicked Fairy Tales”
coming out in the fall.

Here’s information
and buy links for my two current erotic fairy tales:

CLIMBING HER TOWER
(Erotic Rapunzel)

Blurb: This isn’t your
mother’s Rapunzel.

This erotic version of Rapunzel, “Climbing Her Tower” depicts
Rapunzel as a voracious woman who discovers the joys of kinky sex with a sexy
prince with a few unusual kinks of his own. This story includes BDSM, M/F,
M/F/F, virgin fantasy, and erotic shaving. You’ll get so hot you’ll want to let
your hair down as well! Let Rapunzel and her prince take you on the sexual ride
of a lifetime. Absolutely only for 18 years and over.

“”Climbing Her Tower” is an erotic twist to the fairy
tale Rapunzel. I sure love a good fairy tale and this hot and steamy tale
doesn’t disappoint.” — Beverly at Sizzling Hot Book Reviews

Climbing Her Tower has all that and more. It is the story of
Rapunzel told with a bit of a BDSM twist.” — Hitherandthee from
Night Owl Reviews

WARNING: Rapunzel isn’t sweet and innocent. In this fairy tale erotica, she
tires of being a virgin and craves the touch of Prince Richard’s hands all over
her body. Although she begins naive, she blossoms with sexual excitement under
the watchful eye of her prince, who introduces her to BDSM, erotic shaving, and
deep penetration. He leaves her wanting more, and you will want more too!

Amazon US: http://tinyurl.com/climbing-amazon-us

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N33HFAM

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/climbing-her-tower-elizabeth-black/1113575061

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240609

“Climbing Her Tower” web page: http://elizabethablack.blogspot.com/p/climbing-her-tower-naughty-fairy-tale.html

TROUBLE IN THIGH
HIGH BOOTS (Erotic Puss In Boots)

Amazon US: http://tinyurl.com/trouble-amazon-us

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01MZ9DH2U

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/trouble-in-thigh-high-boots-elizabeth-black/1113575032?ean=2940044970694

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240534

Web Site: http://elizabethablack.blogspot.com/p/trouble-in-thigh-high-boots-naughty.html

Blurb: This isn’t your mother’s
Puss In Boots.

This erotic version of Puss In Boots, “Trouble In Thigh High
Boots” is a story packed with hot, sexy, body humping adult fairy tale
erotica.

Trouble in Thigh High Boots is a delightfully creative
retelling of the Puss in Boots tale. It is a tale that has been told myriad
times, but never in such a wonderfully imaginative way. The characters are
enchanting, and the story flows beautifully. The love scenes are
sizzling.” — Hitherandthee of Night Owl Reviews

WARNING: Tita isn’t your run of the mill Puss In Boots. She’s a cat
shapeshifter who turns into a mouth-wateringly sexy human woman with a sex
drive to match. This story includes M/F, F/F, M/F/M/F, light bondage, and
lactation. This erotic fairy tale will get you hot in all the right places.
Definitely for only 18 years and over.

Here’s where to find me on the web:

Elizabeth Black – Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/elizabethablack

Elizabeth Black – Twitter

http://twitter.com/ElizabethABlack

Elizabeth Black – Amazon Author Page

https://www.amazon.com/author/elizabethblack

I’ve got a confession to make. I’m addicted to House of Cards.  I remember being equally addicted to the original 1990’s UK series, but the US Netflix adaptation is, surprisingly, even better than the British original.

Yes, the writing is excellent and the characterizations are superb, but what I most like about House of Cards is that it represents a very realistic but seldom written-about form of relationship.

The relationship between Frank Underwood and his wife, Claire, is a strange one.  On the surface it appears to be a marriage of convenience – neither is sexually faithful and there appears to be nothing but a cool sort of companionship of purpose between them – but as the series goes on, we get glimpses into something more complex.

This is a portrait of two people who feed each other’s jouissance. Leaving the moral aspects of their individual actions and aspirations aside, this is love at its most powerful and revolutionary. 

In her amazing TED Talk on the secret to desire in long-term relationships, Esther Perel points out that distance is essential to desire. Being able to see your partner from a distance, doing what drives and impassions them, allows you to maintain the stance of an admirer. It allows for the preservation of a certain level of mystery and of uncertainty, which keeps the embers of desire burning hot. 

As married characters, Frank and Claire Underwood watch each other pursue their ambitions, execute their nefarious plans, as if they were each secret admirers of the other, aroused by their individual acts of ruthlessness.

When they finally come together, there’s an amazing erotic tension between them. It is never a ‘dutiful’ performance of marital obligation. They come together to give each other a sort of carte blanche absolution for being the reprehensible creatures they are.  It’s a bit like watching scorpions mate.

After the never-ending parade of superficially written, poorly characterized and formulaic love-bonds that seem to be the norm in almost all narratives these days, it is refreshing and exciting to see a well-wrought portrait of something that isn’t pabulum.

Another interesting and complex relationship I have stumbled across recently is the novelized version of Macbeth by A.J. Hartley and David Hewson. They’ve done a magnificent job of digging into and expositing the compelling power dynamics between Lord and Lady Macbeth. Again, ambition definitely comes into it, but so does desperation, mania and regret. In this case, although Lady Macbeth is the instigator who gets the transgression ball rolling, there is a clever portrayal of how one hideous act leads inevitably to another, and there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle.

So many modern fictional romantic narratives are offered and consumed as models to aspire to, especially in erotic fiction.  In this I see a tragic loss of  the potential of fiction to examine the places we should never go in real life. This current need to make all kinky scenes safe, sane and consensual; this obligation to never represent negative, abusive relationships without clearly condemning them within the fiction, places all our fictions within the genre of YA or as thinly disguised self-help paperbacks.

It is as if we have decided that adults have no capacity to distinguish between fiction and reality and must be guided in their fictional adventures by an overbearing, authoritarian hand whose job it is to constantly nudge the reader towards a post-modern sort of ‘right thinking’.

This might be tolerable if most contemporary fictional love relationships were represented with any realism and complexity, but they’re not.  Consequently, we are encouraged to judge our own relationships in the light of those that are not only fictional, but ones that aren’t realistic and revel in their own formulaic qualities. 

In her book, Hard-Core Romance: Fifty Shades of Grey, Best-Sellers and Society, Eva Illouz breaks down the phenomena of the erotic novel as self-help guide:

“some narratives are not only symbolic rehearsals of social dilemmas and of the solution to these dilemmas: they are also performative structures offering ways of acting and doing.”

To me, this is the anathema of contemporary erotic fiction. It is a closing off of the possibilities of using fiction as a refuge from the rules of social reality. Instead, it has become a place where we are schooled, counseled and given exemplars of how to ‘do it right.’

by Lucy Felthouse

Writing is a very solitary thing. Something you have to just sit down and do, all by yourself. Yes, you may have other people involved in the research stages, and you may have beta readers once it’s finished, then editors, publishers, cover artists… the list goes on. But the specific act of getting words down on the page is a lonely task. Nobody can do it for you, and unless you’re super-talented (and if you are, I’m very jealous), you probably can’t talk to people while you’re doing it.

Which is why it’s nice to have writer buddies. Whether you know them in real life or just online, they’re a valuable bunch. There to encourage, to rant with, offload on, ask questions, sympathise, celebrate, commiserate… as much as friends, partners and families may try to be and do all of those things, it’s really only other writers that truly get it.

I’m very lucky in that I have writer buddies living locally, ones I see on a fairly regular basis, as well as ones I chat to pretty constantly online. Some of those I get to see occasionally, too. One such example being last weekend (not the one just gone, the one before!). A whole bunch of erotica and erotic romance writers and readers descended on Scarborough on the east coast of England for Smut by the Sea, a day of smut, workshop, socialising and fun. And fun it was! There was lots of chatting, giggling and all of the above supportive-types things going on. It’s so nice to be reminded you’re not alone as a crazy writer that’s battling away on something that’s bloody hard work, often for very little reward.

Now it’s all over, I’m already thinking about the next such get-together. Which is in November. I’m sure it will be upon us within the blink of an eye. So if you’re in the UK and can get to Manchester… it’d be great to see you there!

Happy Reading,
Lucy x

*****

Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and
erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100
publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several
editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic
Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and
co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house.
She owns Erotica For All, is book
editor for Cliterati, and is one eighth
of The Brit Babes. Find out more
at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk.
Join her on Facebook
and Twitter, and subscribe to her
newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9

By Lisabet Sarai

After a solid week of roses and candy,
hearts and flowers, I’m just starting to recover from Valentine’s
Day. When you write erotic romance as I do, you are more or less
required to participate in the romantic frenzy. Over the past seven
days I was involved in two different Valentine’s blog hops
simultaneously. Every email I sent out to readers, every promotional
message or invitation to my blog ended with the obligatory “Have a
Happy Valentine’s Day”. All my publishers had contests dedicated
to love. Every day I received notices of Valentine’s release parties,
Valentine’s chats, Valentine’s treasure hunts, special Valentine’s
prices, et cetera. I spent more than an hour yesterday
collating entries to my own giveaways and sending out notifications
and prizes.

I’m exhausted. Not that I have anything
against Cupid’s Day, mind you. I enjoy a candle light dinner, a glass
of wine, and the intimate aftermath as much as anyone. It’s just that
my notions about romance aren’t exactly conventional. For example, in
contrast to the Happily Ever After crowd, I tend to find one night
stands deeply romantic.

I’m not talking about Erica Jong’s
zipless fuck here, a chance conjunction of bodies with physical
pleasure, and perhaps the shattering of conventions, as its primary
goal. I’m talking about the sense of erotic connection I’ve sometimes
experienced in the arms of a stranger. The one night stands that live
in my memory had a sense of rightness that amplified every sensation.
Two individuals blundering through life, we collided by chance, and
for a brief, beautiful time, we became one creature. Bound by lust,
and perhaps loneliness, together we lit up the night.

Traditional romance celebrates the
concept of soul mates. Some of the lovers who shared my bed just once
seemed to know me so well, I was almost ready to believe in that sort
of destiny. At the same time, bittersweet regret always lingered in
the background, the specter of inevitable parting. The shadow of
pending farewell threw the immediate pleasure and joy into sharp
relief.

For me, one night stands are erotic
exactly because they don’t last forever. The transience heightens the
intensity. Rationally, I understand that the magical feeling of
connection may be an illusion. Relationships based on chemistry alone
rarely survive. What if I’m not deluding myself, though? What if this
man really was “the one”? How deliciously tragic to know
that we’ll go our separate ways! And how sweet to imagine an
alternate, impossible future, a future of endless nights, equally
incandescent. The fantasy thrills me exactly because I know it will
never be fulfilled.

No wonder I have such trouble adjusting
to the tropes of romance .

I’ve tried to capture the eroticism and
transcendence of one night stands in some of my short stories (though
reviewing my back list, I’m somewhat disappointed to realize how
few). Perhaps the purest expression can be found in “Shades of
Red”, available in my collection Spank Me Again, Stranger. A
young woman, fascinated by the red light district in Amsterdam, rents
a window for herself. A stranger engages her services, seeking the
discipline her costume seems to promise, and she discovers that
indeed she does have a talent for dominance. The bond they share as
she beats him is not at all what she expected.

***

He’s shy and grateful afterward. I sit
in the armchair, watching him as he dresses. He’s definitely a
handsome man. When he pulls his wallet from his pocket and tries to
give me a hundred euros, I shake my head.

“Thirty. That’s what we agreed.”

“But you gave me so much – just
what I needed.”

“Never mind. Business is
business.”

“Please…”

“I said no. Are you going to start
disobeying me?”

He smiles, puts most of the money away,
and presses a ten and a twenty into my hand. “Thank you. Thank
you so much.” For a moment I think he’s going to kiss me. I wish
that he would. But that moment passes. He reaches for the door,
squeezes past me in the crowded room and is gone, into the night.

I lean back in my hired chair staring
at the bills in my hand. I’m sweaty. My hair has come loose from the
clip and is tangled down my back. My arms ache.

When I unlace my corset, my breasts
tumble out, the nipples as hard and sensitive as ever. I unsnap the
leather panties, drenched and stained from my juices. They make a
sticky noise as I pull them away from my pussy. The ripe smell of
cunt rises, mingling with the bitter scent of semen. I reach for the
vibrator, conveniently to hand in the tiny room. The cool stainless
steel cylinder slides deliciously into my swollen cleft. I flip the
switch to high and writhe helplessly as the vibrations trigger one
ragged, ecstatic climax after another.

Epiphanies? Revelations? I don’t think
he’ll forget this night. As for me, I know that the memory of his
red-streaked buttocks and tear-stained face, my power and his
surrender, will fuel intense orgasms long into the future.

I still feel high as I lock my door
behind me and step into the street. I’m naked under my coat. Every
sensation is frighteningly acute. A random breeze plays in my damp,
bare sex. The smell of spilled beer mingles with the tang of autumn
leaves.

The alleys are still crowded. I hear
snatches of conversation in a dozen languages, riffs of jazz and rock
and roll. I sense the beat of the men’s hearts as they congregate
around some red-lit rectangle of glass.

A lithe male figure in a turtleneck
brushes past me and my breath catches in my throat. Images flood my
mind, images of pale, pliant flesh, offering itself to me.

It occurs to me, as I make my way back
to my five star hotel and my ordinary life, that perhaps I am the one
who was marked this night.

***

I defy you to tell me that’s
not romantic.

by K D Grace

Confession time! I’ve been totally
gorging on J. R. Ward’s dark and sexy Black Dagger Brotherhood novels.
Honestly, I’m totally addicted! These seriously delish novels along with the
fact that I’m working on the final rewrite of an epic fantasy novel got me
thinking about heroes and villains. First of all, I want to be almost as afraid
of the hero and I am of the villain. Secondly I want to be almost as attracted
to the villain as I am the hero. Oh the angst! I honestly can’t think that
anyone could really fall for a vampire or a werewolf or a ghost or a powerful
witch, or any other paranormal or fantasy hottie and not be terrified at the
same time. For that matter, even in just a really good erotic romance, the hero
is so much hotter if he’s dark and dangerous.

A part of what makes good story that has
even an inkling of romance in it, work for me is knowing that the hero could
easily turn and destroy the very thing he loves and longs to possess. More
often than not, the best heroes are really antiheroes, striving, or being
forced by circumstances, to be greater than their nature, and the more
difficult the struggle, the more endearing I find them to be.

In fact, there
are times when the only separation between the hero and the villain is how
willing he is to do battle with his own flaws. The fact that the lover is not
safe raises the level of the tension and the excitement. And yet that danger
makes the sex all the hotter and the angst all the angstier.

I remember
seeing Frank Langella’s Dracula back in the day and thinking, as I watched the
horribly delicious scene in which he takes Lucy, even with the terrible truth
of what the end result of his sexy attentiveness to her would be, who could
possibly refuse even if they had not been under his thrall? He was a gentleman,
he was charming and mysterious, he was hypnotic, he was gorgeous, he was
terrifying. And I wanted him!

NBC’s new
steam-punkish re-think of Dracula
with Jonathan Rhys Meyers blurs the lines between the hero and the villain still
further in the battle with flaws. I want him too! In fact I want him much more
than I do Jonathan Harker, but then Jonathan Harker has always taken a sad
backseat to Dracula in his full glory.

Dangerous heroes and seductive villains
aren’t just for paranormalsies though. Writing as Grace Marshall, I found that
the villain in The
Exhibition
, the third of the Executive Decisions novels was an
evil nasty piece of work, and yet oh so fuckable, even though, like Dracula,
the chances of surviving such a shagging intact weren’t good. And yet …

It’s not so much that evil is sexy as it
is that nothing is really all that black and white. It’s the contradictions
that make for a good, chaotic story, and it’s the shades of grey (Oh please
tell me I didn’t just say that!) where the story takes place. If I want to shag
the villain and run from the hero, then how can I trust my own heart, and how
can I possibly keep from turning the pages? Those flaws are oh so sexy and oh
so scary and those endearing character traits in a truly delicious villain make
us squirm, makes us uncomfortable in our fantasies, and from a fictional point
of view, what the perfect place to be.

But what happens when I write the baddies? Why do I love
being in their presence so much? And even more to the point, what does it say
about me that I find them so easy to write? Am I all of those people, the
heroes, the victims, the incidentals and the baddies all rolled into one
neurotic, twitchy woman? Do I have all of those traits somewhere hidden inside
me — the fantasies about being the evil tyrant as well as the fantasies about shagging
him? I doubt there’s any way to peek into the strange depths of my own
psychology that’s quite as revealing as writing a baddie. I shiver at the
thought.

On some level we writers live on the page in all the
characters we create, whether they’re hot and gorgeous and deliciously flawed
in sexy ways or whether they’re evil and twisted and scary as hell. The darker
parts of me are kept in check and held in balance by all of the other parts of
me, all of the other parts that participate in the tenuous semi-democracy of my
inner workings so that the evil demon in me and the potential sociopathic
tyrant in me and the petty back biter in me are all channeled in full bloom onto
the written page. Instant therapy? Am I scaring you yet? I promise, I’m
harmless –ish.

Hot Chilli Erotica

Hot Chilli Erotica

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