Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Latest Posts

writing

Smiley balloons

About a week ago, I had an “aha!” moment. I’d been feeling terribly stressed due to increased demands at my job and my author commitments, plus some impending travel that will make it all the more difficult to fulfill my obligations. I was obsessing about everything, when it hit me: even though I have way too much to do, I enjoy almost all of the tasks on my long list —writing, teaching, research, making covers, reading, writing reviews, creating blog posts, entertaining friends, sending birthday cards, cooking, even exercising. When I asked myself what I’d give up, if I had to make a choice, I really didn’t have a good answer.

That realization flipped my thinking and drained some of the stress. First, I felt a surge of gratitude that my life is so full of meaningful activity and so rich in joy. Second, I understood that joy is a reliable signal as to whether you’re on the right path.

If it’s not fun, you’re doing it wrong.

Am I talking about sex? Yes. Writing? Yes. Keeping fit? That too.

The Calvinistic/Puritan tradition views life as bitter and hard, an exercise in self-denial, a continuous series of trials one must endure in order to reach the promise of Paradise in the hereafter. I just don’t buy that. It doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t match my personal experience.

For me, life is something to celebrate, a continuous unfolding, a twisting and often surprising path. And when I’m wondering which branch to follow, I’ve learned to turn within first, to ask myself how the path feels. Does it feel right? Does it generate joy?

I remember when I got my first job in my second career. (I’ve had several since.) I had no prior professional experience in this field, just a couple of university courses. I got hired on the strength of my academic credentials. When I started working, though, something clicked. I really “got” the concepts. I found I had an aptitude that I would not have expected. The job tapped into my creativity and developed my interpersonal skills. It was definitely the right path at that time.

When I met my husband (at a technical conference), I tried to give him the brush-off. We lived on different coasts and I didn’t want a long-distance relationship. Besides, I was already juggling four lovers. When he persisted, however, I discovered that being with him felt inexplicably comfortable. We spent the first three weeks of our life together driving across the US, a trip that could strain even a well-established couple. We had a fantastic time—and despite the newness of our relationship, the whole process turned out to be incredibly easy and natural.

Thirty nine years later, I understand: it was so much fun because we were obviously doing it right.

Note that joy is not exactly the same as happiness. It’s not about pleasure or entertainment. Joy is something deeper, a spiritual quality, a sense of satisfaction, order and symmetry. Sometimes it’s a quiet, soothing warmth humming under your solar plexus. Sometimes it’s laughter bubbling up out of nowhere, an urge to sing or to dance. Joy can be wordless, or it can spill out in poetry or paint.

I believe we are meant to feel joy and that when we do, we can trust we’re being our best and truest selves.

The fact that something kindles your joy doesn’t mean it will be easy. Climbing a mountain, running a marathon, getting a degree, raising a child, or writing a book all take a huge amount of effort, but joy is the ultimate reward. And of course every life has its pain and its tragedies. But joy makes you more resilient.

Writing can be tough, frustrating work. We all complain when the words don’t flow or the characters don’t obey. We fight with incompetent editors, flinch at poor reviews, feel discouraged when our royalties don’t even begin to reach the level of minimum wage. In the face of all these negatives, why do we—why do I—keep writing? Out of love. Because of the joy.

Almost nothing compares to the sense of delight when I am in the groove, the words are flowing and the story is unfolding just as I’d imagined. It’s worth every bit of aggravation and every ounce of effort.

At least that’s how I feel. Your mileage may differ. But if you are truly suffering for your art, why bother? If what you’re doing doesn’t fundamentally satisfy you, give you that deep level feeling of rightness, maybe you are doing the wrong thing.

Not that I’m counseling my fellow authors to give up. Just stop and ask yourself: is it fun? And if not, what can you change so that it will be?

Squirrel!

Looky there. It’s a flying rat.

I know you already knew it.

It was here that I knew that Colonel Plum did it in the bathroom with the pipe wrench and “WHAM!” That is how it happened.

I have some type of attention deficit disorder; however, I have not been diagnosed, but I do know…

SQUIRREL!!!

Write over it.

Ok. Wait.

Where was I?

I ain’t got no clues present to get me back to the beginning, but I don’t want to start at the beginning because it is way too long ago and I can’t catch you up to speed.

Anyway, this was to get you to understand that holding the audience’s attention, maintaining good grammar and the story structure are the three very important parts to writing a story. The audience is your fan base and beyond. You know not to tell your audience anything unless it will not come out. Your audience is who you write for and make sure that the plot moves along. Make sure that you’re writing for your intended audience instead of trying to please everyone.

We always talk about speech tags and their overuse of speech tags like “she hissed,” “he snapped,” “she stammered,” get irritating fast. Likewise, reading a character’s name too often in dialogue can be a turn off. Avoid more than the occasional “um” or “well,” or “er,” and keep dialogue realistic, but more coherent. Also, make sure the words that are grammatically correct. IF the language that you are relaying your story in is not your first language or you’re not completely fluent, make sure to get assistance.

Your writing style, tone, character motivations, or even plot might begin one way and, unintentionally, change at some point in the book. Be especially aware of small details like names, occupations, physical descriptions of people or places, which can all fall prey to inconsistencies over the course of 300+ pages. Something to look at for writing style is “Eats Shoots & Leaves” by Lynne Truss and reading a few articles from Michael Hauge will assist in this category.

Make sure that when telling your story begin at a point that can be referenced back to in the story. Chronological stories are good, but there are some times the chronological order of the story will not bring the story to where it needs to be. If all the good stuff happens at the beginning, or if nothing exciting happens until the end, your reader will be frustrated with the rest of the book.

This is what gets me. Knowing when and where to begin your story. There are some that say that you should begin your first major plot point within the first 25% of your story or you can jar the balance of how the story arc falls. Some say that you can start your story chronologically and then work backwards to the event. Within each set of “rules” there is always time. Time is a factor in everything. If you give the audience too much too soon, then there is nothing else to read. If you make the audience wait until the last chapter to find out anything, you may lose your audience. You want to provide just enough, but no one ever knows when to say when and that is why we have editors.

I have gotten better at finding a balance in the information that I do provide my readers; however, that is after a lot of help from people in ERWA who help hone my skills for writing. There are other resources that can assist you if you have not subscribed to our Storytime List and those resources are:

“Damn Fine Story: Mastering the Tools of a Powerful Narrative” by Chuck Wendig and “The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface” by Donald Maass.

There is a TedX video that brings in circularity, symmetry and a few other things to light for writers. That link is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUT6GQveD0E (I do not own the rights to this video, I am just sharing it.)

All in all, in order to write something that someone else wants to read, make sure that you can capture and keep their attention, make sure your vocabulary fits your scenery, that you are aware of small detailed changes so there are no mix ups, and start at a good place in the story so that it can keep going and then finish it with something memorable.

SQUIRREL!

Made you look!

 

 

Orphans

by | May 29, 2018 | General | 3 comments

By Jean Roberta

[Note: please excuse me for missing my regular day to post, May 26. I hope this late post doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s.]

Have you written a story, a poem, a play, or some experimental hybrid that doesn’t fit any call-for-submissions or journal guidelines that you know of? Welcome to the club.

The divisions between erotica and other genres seem thinner now than ever before. Romance novels can be drenched with erotic tension and even include explicit sex scenes, although an unspoken rule in the “romances” of the past was that the wedding had to appear on the last page, and sex couldn’t take place before then. Speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, slipstream, steampunk, horror, etc.) can include sex that doesn’t have to obey the laws of the natural world we know. Suspense narratives, including murder mysteries, can include erotic tension as part of the suspense: Will the central characters solve the mystery and/or take their flirtatious partnership to the next level?

While the definitions of genres, per se, seem fairly fluid, every editor or editorial team has guidelines: lots of sex and magic, but no horror. Realistic character development and sex, but no magic. Elaborate world-building, including sexual traditions that would seem exotic to most readers, but no info-dumps. Horror required, but with minimal bloodshed. Violence okay, but no explicit sex.

And there are usually minimum and maximum word-limits which indirectly define the categories that will be considered. An erotic story of under 3,000 words can include one fairly detailed sex scene, but usually no more than one. A story of at least 10,000 words is pushing into novella territory, and therefore it needs at least two complex characters interacting in a plot which is about something besides– or apart from– sex.

It’s very easy to follow a plot-bunny down its rabbit-hole and write something that might appeal to certain readers, but which doesn’t completely fit the guidelines for a collection, website, or journal.

I still have a few orphan stories on my hard-drive which were rejected by the first editors to whom they were sent, usually for very logical reasons.

I know my weaknesses. The editor of a sci-fi anthology said she loved my story, but it didn’t include any technological revelations. (No surprise there. I’ve never had a very firm grasp of either modern technology or the nineteenth-century steam-driven type. I couldn’t explain to a visitor from another planet how I am able to transmit these words through a machine to people living far away from me. My version of the “sci” in “sci-fi” more closely resembles magic. )

Early versions of some of my stories resemble the feet of Cinderella’s stepsisters in the non-Disney version of the story in which they cut off their toes or their heels to fit into the glass slipper, then leave a trail of blood behind them. In a few cases, I’ve been able to prune a potential novel down to under 6,000, 5,000 or even 4,000 words. This usually requires leaving out something that needed to be left in: a character’s motivations or emotional responses, or the juicy details of a sex scene. Improving the story usually requires reattaching the toes or heels (or the heart, lungs, and brain, which is easier to do with stories than with human bodies), even if that means the story will no longer fit into a certain market.

Languishing in my “documents” are three different versions of an erotic lesbian story in which I experimented with viewpoint. The two central characters are so different (but complementary, I hope) that I didn’t simply want to describe one through the eyes of the other, so the story is divided into alternating sections told by the two narrators. This tends to interrupt the plot in much the way a supposedly true story is interrupted when someone offers a different version of events.

(“We met when you were still a barista at the coffee-shop.”

“No, honey, we didn’t really meet then. I first noticed you when we were in the same class at university.”

“You were so innocent. You weren’t a lesbian, and you weren’t into BDSM.”

“I didn’t have much experience, but I knew what I wanted.”

“You were so uptight because of the way you were raised.”

“Excuse me. My parents gave me everything they didn’t have, and they always encouraged me to think for myself.”)

Will any version of my story ever see the light of day? That remains to be seen. I like both the characters, and the way they resolve their differences. I think the sex is hot. I can also see why the divided viewpoint might prevent a reader (or an editor) from smoothly following the rising tension to a satisfying conclusion.

As usual for me, I probably need to expand the story into something longer, in which different sections or chapters wouldn’t look like unnecessary interruptions.

Occasionally, a story will be posted in the “Storytime” list in the Erotic Readers and Writers Association which includes great lines, great characters, great sex, and sometimes a fascinating plot, but something about the whole piece doesn’t gel. In some cases, character motivations look unclear or unconvincing to several of the readers who offer critiques, and in some cases, sex seems to be inserted into a plot without enough preparation. (The usefulness of lube in real life seems relevant here.)

Self-publishing offers a solution to the problem of where to place writing that doesn’t fit neatly into existing categories, and the Excessica site provides a marvelous combination of writer independence with technical support. However, I’m not willing to post a story for public consumption before it seems ripe enough.

I’d like to encourage all the writers reading this not to abandon your orphan pieces. Some of them probably have good bones. Leaving a first draft for awhile before coming back to it can enable you to see what it needs.

Think of it this way: there is no real failure. Some projects are thrown away, when they could have been recycled, and some just haven’t found the right home yet. Some are never finished, for various reasons. You had a reason for writing the first draft, and it might be calling you to come back to it.

Red Ink

by | Mar 21, 2018 | General | 4 comments

Although I don’t try to make my living through my writing, I consider myself a professional author. The Internal Revenue Service agrees. Every year for the last decade and a half, I’ve dutifully tallied up my royalties, subtracted my expenses, and reported my income on Schedule C.

Every year, I’ve managed to make a small profit—until 2017. When I finished the computations for this past year, I discovered that for the first time ever, my writing business is in the red. I spent more on promotion and publicity than I received from sales.

Strangely, I’m not upset by this. For one thing, I know that independent authors everywhere are seeing their incomes decline. Plus I haven’t had as many releases as I’d like, mostly due to outside demands on my time.

Also, I realize that I’ve been less than frugal in my expenditures. For instance, I spent over $200 on gift certificates and books used as prizes for my fans and blog followers. What can I say? I get joy from giving things to people who take the trouble to read my stuff. Next year I plan to cut back on this. I’ll offer free books that don’t cost me anything as prizes where I can. I will also reconsider some of my advertising choices. This past year I devoted quite a bit of cash to promoting two major releases. It’s not at all clear that the costs justified the benefits. I’m sure that with more judicious management of my funds, I can turn my red ink to black in 2018.

The main reason I’m not depressed, though, is that I’m having more fun writing than I have in years. My main difficulty is finding the time to write, given my real world responsibilities. When I do manage to sit down with a work in progress, my stories seem to flow—perhaps not effortlessly, but with far less friction than a few years ago. I’m writing in a variety of styles, each one aimed at a different audience. My intuitions are stronger. I revel in my sense of control over my craft. I’m not sure whether my readers would agree, but I feel as though I’ve become significantly more skilled as a writer.

I’ve moved almost entirely to self-publishing. Why not? The work I’ve released in the past through established publishers has never done particularly well, and I have sufficient editing and graphics skills to either do things myself or barter for editing and art services. Of course, the profits are higher on self-published books, as well, and the turnaround time a lot faster.

Meanwhile, I can now write what I want, even if my books don’t fit neatly into the established genre categories. I find this freedom truly exhilarating.

No longer do my lusty heroines need to restrict themselves to only one lover—even if they ultimately end up in a committed “romantic” relationship. No longer do I need to worry that an editor will object to my mixing lesbian or gay or even transgender content in with straight sex. I can write dark sex, taboo sex, silly sex, or deeply meaningful sex, depending on my mood. Not every reader will be comfortable with my erotic visions, but that’s okay. At least what I’m producing now is genuine, not a compromise based on genre “rules”.

I never planned to be an author. When I published my first novel, almost as a lark, I didn’t expect I’d become addicted to the thrill of sharing my fantasies with the world. Sure, the money is nice, a concrete validation of my talent, but the real payoff is the occasional rapturous reader email or breathlessly enthusiastic review.

I can’t afford to treat writing as an expensive hobby. If I started to lose a lot of money, I’d have to stop. As long as I can break even, though—or close—I’ll do it for the joy.

(My latest releases, in case you’re interested, are Butterfly: Asian Adventures Book 4, and Hot Brides in Vegas. The former is romantic literary erotica with a transgender theme. The latter is a light-hearted, smutty romp with very little redeeming social value, set in the world of swingers created by Larry Archer.)

Greetings fellow writers of smut, Larry Archer here. For this post, I’d like to talk a little more about the self-publishing game.

A lot of authors have mentioned the concern they have of the self-publishing mechanics which may be holding them back from taking the plunge.

I realize that it’s easier to just type up your manuscript and send it off to the publishing house and let them deal with all the dirty work, but you may be leaving a lot of money on the table when you do this.

From what I can see, sending in your manuscript for possible inclusion in an anthology results in about a $50 payment plus a copy of the book. Certainly, you may be offered more or less, but typically you will be given a fixed amount of money for your labor.

Think about a possible alternative, divide the money you could potentially receive by two and that’s roughly the number of stories you would have to sell to break even. Then once you break even, it’s all gravy after that.

Assuming that your sales ranking for the story is between 500,000 and a million which is a decent figure for an erotic story that captures the reader’s eye. This ranking should result in sales of 5-10 copies per month at Amazon or $10 to $20 per month income and the same from SmashWords. Personally, I normally make two or three times as much from SmashWords, but let’s assume the same sales.

Before you start rolling your eyes, consider this. A sales ranking of 100,000 should result in the sale of 30 to 40 copies per month or $60 to $80 per month profit per published story.

When your ranking drops into the top one-hundred, you could easily be selling thousands of copies per month and be waited on hand and foot by nubile scantily clad servants who are busily stuffing grapes into every one of your orifices.

Rank To Sales Estimator from David Gaughran estimates your sales as follows:
#1 to #5 = 5,000+ books a day (sometimes a lot more)
#5 to #10 = 4,000–5,000
#10 to #20 = 3,000–4,000
#20 to #50 = 2,000–3,000
#100 = 1,000+
#200 = 500
#300 = 250
#500 = 200
#1,000 = 120
#2,000 = 100
#3,000 = 80
#5,000 = 40
#10,000 = 20
#25,000 = 10
#50,000 = 5
#100,000+ = fewer than 1 a day

From what I’ve seen, this estimate is relatively close. A 100,000 sales rank should return sales in the 30 – 40 per month bracket, but your mileage may vary.

But let’s not get carried away here, the cold, cruel truth is that assuming you are a decent writer of material other people want to read, you’ll likely have a sales ranking around a million. At least that’s what you need to shoot for initially.

My point is simply that if you take the plunge and try self-publishing, then it is possible that with a number of stories published you could be pulling in a few hundred dollars per month. This would easily vault you past the single payment you receive when publishing in an anthology.

In an upcoming post, I’ll talk more about tools that can help you determine where you stand in the various rankings but I just want you to consider self-publishing.

Another benefit of self-publishing is that you have complete control over your story. When you deal with a publisher, then you have to first convince them to accept your work, and often beyond that point, there is a limited amount of control that you can exert.

A good example is search keywords to allow your readers to find you. Often these are determined by someone who may or may not have read your story and realized what a wonderful writer you are.

We all have a fear of the unknown, especially when it involves whips and chains, but that’s a whole different post. It’s sort of like a guy sitting at the bar, two stools over from a woman who is drop-dead gorgeous.

While he’s trying to build up his courage to talk to her, another guy slips in between them and sits down. The new guy leans over to the beautiful woman and asks, “Would you like to fuck?”

To which, the woman slaps the guy as hard as she can, calls him an asshole, and walks away.

While the cad is rubbing his cheek, the first guy says, “I bet you get slapped a lot with that line?” To which, the other guy replies, “Yeah, but you’d be surprised at how often I get laid!”

The moral of the story is you don’t get if you don’t ask. Your customers are not going to bang on your door and beg to buy a copy of your latest story.

For those who are hesitant about self-publishing, ask yourself this question, “What’s the absolute worst that can happen to me?”

Aside from the ones who write you and say, “You Suck!” or the old blue-haired lady who cancels your library card, that’s about the worst of it. It’s not like some guy with a broken nose is going to show up at your front door.

If you need further reassurance and cover, tell them, Larry, made me publish my drivel and then they can tell me that I suck! So now that you don’t have anything to worry about, dust off that manuscript and let’s see if we can make you rich.

After all, 50 Shades made millions and most of us would be ashamed to admit that we wrote crap as bad as that. Certainly, you can do better, can’t you?

Going forward, I’d like to help you with the process. Now, I can’t guarantee that I can help with your English, but I can help you package your story and get it out to your adoring fans.

See you next time and remember to stop stroking when you start needing glasses. Otherwise, you might find out that your Mother was right!

Now on a personal note, I’d just like to give a shout out to Lisabet Sarai, who I consider a good friend and inspiration. She and I published two stories concurrently at the end of last year, Hot Brides in Vegas and Nina, The Fallen Ballerina.

The two stories were well received and both were themed in Foxy and Larry’s world of swingers and strip clubs. It was fun and certainly interesting on how Lisabet portrayed the regular characters in my Foxy and Larry series.

I’ve published some 15 or so stories using these two characters whose roots grew out of our experiences swinging. Working with Lisabet taught me to make sure and flesh out your characters in every story to ensure your reader understands and can picture them instead of assuming they have read about the character in a previous story.

F&L series stories tend to flow from one to the other and characters are often introduced and built up from story to story. The whole chain of stories is sort of like a Roots or Godfather series except not on television. What I didn’t take into consideration was that readers may not have read all my books. Shame on you!

Another lesson in the road to becoming hopefully a better writer.

She’s helping me with one of my latest books based on an actual event where one of our neighbors crashed our annual New Year’s Eve party. While the actual event didn’t turn out quite as perverted as the resultant story, it could have. Lisabet has been instrumental in helping build a number of the chapters and helping to brainstorm the storyline. Thanks, Lisabet!

Wifey and I still laugh about that episode. We try not to make friends with our neighbors as bad things can happen innocently. But we had become friends with this straight couple, who live a couple of houses down from us. Our lots are pretty big and they were a little over a block in distance from us, so not like they are right next door.

After every New Year’s, they would always comment on the number of cars parked around our house and we would excuse not inviting them because they had said they were going to another party.

Then one year, sometime after midnight the doorbell rings and I stupidly answer the door. I find the couple from down the street, all decked out in a suit and fancy dress. Keep in mind that these people are really straight!

Not knowing what to do, I invite them in. At this point, there are over 100 people in various stages of undress or modeling Victoria Secret underwear with an impromptu orgy going on in the living room.

I’m wearing a bathrobe and Foxy is in long johns, unbuttoned down the front and with the back flap open. There is a picture of her with some of the girls here. Voyeurism at these parties is worth paying for. LOL

They were standing in the entry foyer with their mouths hanging open looking at the pile in the living room. After leading them to a quiet corner, we told them that they were welcome to stay but not to talk about what they saw or experienced. Anyway, our shocked neighbors soon departed except I got the impression the wife wanted to hang around.

That’s a thumbnail sketch of how the idea for the story got started and you’ll have to buy a copy to find out who did what and to whom. The title is still up for grabs, “The Neighbors,” “Our Nasty Neighbors,” or “Crashing a Swinger’s Party.”

See ya next month,

Larry Archer – LarryArcher.com for my blog or for the catalog of my stories – LarryArcher.blog/stories.

P.S. If you have any topics you’d like me to opine on or any suggestions, email me: Larry <at> LarryArcher <dot> com. For a laugh, check out my Twitter ads: http://bit.ly/2FtFzpG

In what city does Fifty Shades of Grey take place?

I had to look this up. The answer is Vancouver, Washington, but does anyone care? Does the setting matter at all in erotic fiction?

Many authors (and I suppose readers) might argue that it does not. Certainly quite a lot of the erotica and erotic romance I encounter is set in a generic urban or surburban environment without any distinctive geographic or cultural features. These tales focus entirely on the characters and the action, which apparently could be happening anywhere. The background is an undifferentiated blur.

Personally, I prefer stories that provide a strong sense of place. I guess that’s because I read erotica for the total emotional experience, not just for the sex. However, I also find that a specific, vividly depicted setting can heighten the erotic charge.

One time-honored technique in writing erotica is to use all the five senses. Our bodies are located in space, and our senses bring us messages from that space. So the roughness of the cheap blanket in the seedy hotel room—the fragrant fresh-mown grass clinging to our sweaty bodies—jazz, drifting in the window from Bourbon Street—the sticky sweetness of the ice cream we shared, before you dragged me into the cool shadows under the pier (which smells of rust and seaweed)—the distant orb of the full moon sailing above as I lie on my back with you pounding into my cunt— all these sights, sounds, scents, tastes and textures combine to bring an erotic interlude to life in the imagination.

Of course, you can provide sensory details without specifying exactly where it’s all happening. As an author, though, it’s easier to conjure these details if you have a particular setting in mind.

Setting complements and enhances both character and plot. Where you come from, where you live, strongly influences who you are. A person from Boston thinks, speaks and acts quite differently from someone who comes from Los Angeles (not to mention Marseille or Singapore). Even when I don’t mention it, I almost always know my characters’ geographic histories. Not infrequently in my stories the major conflict flows from background or cultural differences between the protagonists.

Meanwhile, certain events can occur only in certain places. For instance, a devastating landslide is pivotal in my MMF tale Monsoon Fever, providing a catharsis that pulls the characters into three-way sex. That story is set in hilly Assam, India. It just wouldn’t work in Bangkok, or Venice, or Minneapolis.

I guess I’m known for my evocative and varied settings. My novels take place in Thailand, in Boston, in London and LA, in Pittsburgh, in rural Guatemala, in Paris, in Rajasthan, in Manhattan, in Worcester MA, and in northern California. I’ve written stories set in Provence, in Newport RI, in Nebraska, and in Amsterdam. I do tend to return in my writing to places I’ve lived or visited often, as I can describe them with greater ease, but I certainly haven’t been to every location that shows up in my fiction.

I wonder if readers can tell which of my settings are based on real experience, which on research and imagination.

For me, the joy of reading is being pulled into a new world, rich in detail, intense and believable. So I want to know where a story is happening—even if that location is totally fictional. George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series has the strongest sense of place I’ve ever encountered in a book. That’s one reason why I love it.

I try to offer my readers the same joy. I know some of you don’t care. I’m writing for those of you who do.

(If you’re one of those people, check out my new Asian Adventures series—short erotic pieces set in different Asian locales. The most recent title, set in Thailand, is Butterfly.)

 

Ian Smith

ERWA Flasher Gallery Editor

  Pretty well every story has action scenes.

  Action scenes as in action and adventure stories?

  Well, yes, obviously. But I meant action scenes in their most general sense. Scenes in which the characters do things the writer needs to describe to the reader.

  It could be as simple as picking up a pen, or taking a sip from a drink. Or it could be a rather more complex act, like engaging in fisticuffs, enjoying an amorous engagement, or piloting a space craft which defies the laws of physics through a ludicrously busy asteroid belt.

  Think of a scene from a TV drama or a movie. How often do the actors just stand still and talk? They’re usually doing other things, even if that’s only sitting around a table. They might move around while sitting in a chair, turn towards each other, pull faces, pause for a second or two in a conversation. The actors show you more of the story with these actions than their words alone do. Hopefully, it makes the scene more believable to viewers, too.

  Actions can also help flesh out a character. A tough guy handling a weapon will seem rather more menacing than one just talking. And your readers already know about that weapon if you want to liven things up for your characters a little later.

  In an ideal world, your description of the action will include enough detail to convince your reader that the character did it (or is doing it, if you write in the present tense). It’s one of the times when “show not tell” can really work, even if it’s harder to write. You may have done some top-notch research, but think carefully. You don’t want to bog the story down, or tempt your reader to skip a bit, or worst of all, decide they’ve something else to read which will be far more lively.

  For simple things, you can use sneaky little “action tags” to describe what your characters are doing and show who’s talking. These may save you from the dreaded overuse of “said”…

  Inspector Jones pulled out a notebook and pen. “What did you see?”

  Sophie looked away. “Whatever.”

  Gregory turned to his computer. “Let’s see what the CCTV recordings show.”

  Where a scene requires more detail, you’ll have to rely on a more conventional mixture of narrative and dialogue to show the action unfolding.

  When thinking about a scene I want to write, I often try to imagine I’m watching it, as if it were a scene in a TV drama. Then I try to figure out the “choreography”.

  Choreography?

  I mean what happens, who does what, when, how, and with which hand or foot, and so on. Then there’s clothing, furniture, other people and objects around them.

  Once I’ve got all this straight (or straight-ish), then I’ll try to describe it in writing. And usually realise I need to think about it a bit more…

  One thing I’ve come across not infrequently in romance and erotica are confusing descriptions of what the characters are doing.

  Examples:

  • If there are two women involved, which “she” or “her” does the writer mean?
  • If a couple are getting amorous while sitting in a booth in a diner, how much could they do without removing the table? Likewise cars and steering wheels, or the cramped seats in a typical passenger aircraft.
  • A guy cuddling a woman only has one hand free, and that has a limited range of movement.

  In any action scene, there’s obviously a balance to be struck between details and the big picture, and keeping the scene moving is an obvious way to go.

  One approach I’ve come across for dramatic action scenes is for the character or narrator to be quite matter-of-fact. Len Deighton and Lawrence Block narrate their violence in such a way. Admittedly, with Deighton, it’s more plausible and realistic.

  One thing you might find helpful is to remember that unless your character has been very carefully trained, anything sudden and dramatic will be pretty confusing and they’ll probably notice specific details far more clearly than the whole scene.

  I’ve read two books which described conventional action scenes in quite different ways. Actually, they were both audiobooks.

  Incidentally, if you’re wondering if audiobooks might be a new outlet for your fiction, you may be right. I feel that while the right narrator can really bring a book to life, the wrong one can totally ruin it. I found Rosario Dawson’s performance of Andy Weir’s “Artemis” utterly entrancing. And after getting wound up enough to shout at my car audio system, I’ll avoid anything narrated by the British actor Martin Jarvis like the plague.

  Back to my examples…

  One was a period story I will refrain from naming. It attempted to be light-hearted and jolly, and the writer appeared to be trying to use a style which “felt” 19th century. There was a particular scene where the main female character was the cause of a major punch-up between two gangs, one protecting her from the other. Despite the furious action, the writer described this character picking her way between the combatants in an almost leisurely fashion, as if the fighting around her was in slow motion. I very nearly gave up on it, but I didn’t have another audiobook to listen to at the time.

  The other was “Stay Cool” by Elmore Leonard. There’s a point in the story where the main character is having some difficulties with two lots of gangsters simultaneously. With each unaware of the other’s existence, he manages to engineer them into a well-populated shoot-out in a nightclub, with him right in the middle of it.

  So how did Mr Leonard show us this scene of death and mayhem?

  The character told his girlfriend about it afterwards.

  As first person dialogue, we only had what he chose to relate, and only from his point of view. Like almost any witness giving a statement to the police, he’d be an unreliable narrator. Let’s face it, a noisy, dirty fight like that is going to be really confusing and you’d really want to keep your head well down.

  So, say your character is riding a horse, flying an aircraft, driving a tank, involved in a high-speed car chase, parachuting, firing a bow and arrow, or a firearm, fighting, fencing, wearing armour… Not all at the same time, obviously. How can you make your more lively action scenes more engaging and believable to your readers? Or get them to imagine that’s how it feels?

  Research.

  If you know of other people with suitable experiences, you could talk to them, read their accounts in books, watch interviews on TV, and so on.

  Or you could find out for yourself.

  Have a go at horse-riding, sailing, power-boating, flying, or driving a tank or fast car. Join a paintball game and find out how confusing a multi-party shoot-out can be. A fencing coach, martial arts or self-defence teacher can give you some pointers and hands-on experience. Archery or gun clubs may well let you shoot holes in targets (safely).

  So, think about what you want your characters to do, find someone willing to let you do something similar (at a reasonable cost, ideally), and go off and have some fun. Then you can use your experience to help convince the reader that your character’s doing it.

  The action, not the fun.

  Unless they’re having fun too, of course…

My name is Larry Archer, and I’ve been asked to be a guest blogger at ERWA. Hopefully, I’ll write something that may be of interest to those who read and/or write erotica. On my first post, I’d like to tell you a little bit about my ideas on writing, myself and how I got here.

I’ve been writing smut since 2012 and have self-published 24 erotic novellas and novels to date. I write what is colloquially called stroke porn, but I’d like to think it has somewhat of a plot. My stories are generally pretty heavy on the sex side and generally get decent reviews.

While most of my stories stand on their own, the Foxy & Larry stories typically involve the same set of core characters and will often have a storyline that continues from story to story. Since my stories are always heavy on the sex part, don’t be surprised if someone gets laid on the first page. But I’m still working on how to do that on the title page.

I always have self-published my smut and personally believe in self-publishing as the best avenue for myself as a practical method of getting my stuff out there. I’m somewhat different from authors who go the print or anthology route. I’ll give you my reasons why and leave it up to the reader to make a decision for themselves if they are trying to make a choice on which way to go. There is no absolute right or wrong path to take, and so you can decide which way to take. I’ve done one 300 page print book to better understand that process, but that’s worthy of a blog post all its own.

A little background on Wifey and myself, we are swingers in real life and have been in the Lifestyle for some time. A lot of the things we’ve seen and done may very possibly show up in my stories, with the names changed to protect the guilty, of course. In fact, most of the reoccurring characters in my stories are based on real people that I know and are portrayed as closely as I can make them and still protect their privacy.

One of the reasons I do this is to add variety and a different perspective to my stories. I think authors often write using their personal beliefs and by using “real” people as a starting point, it adds a different slant on things. As an amateur psychologist, I find it fascinating to study other people and being in the Lifestyle brings me a lot of patients to lie on my couch.

Our lifestyle adds a different outlook on my writing as I approach stories from a different direction from other authors and hopefully, it’s of interest to my readers. While I realize that we’ve taken a different path than the average couple, I’m not here to convince you into doing the same.

My views on life and things, in general, may also seem a little skewed for a lot of people, so just remember there is always the off button if you don’t agree with me. I’ve been told that my sense of humor is a little strange, but I can’t do much about that either.

We are a committed couple, which may not seem to agree with our lifestyle but you’d be surprised at how few divorces or cheating occurs among our friends. We don’t consider sleeping around as cheating since we are always in the same house and never do things like end up at Motel 6 with Tom Bodett, because he always keeps the lights on.

Not trying to dwell on convincing you and your spouse to get in a pile with a bunch of naked people but simply that you may have to take my advice on life with a grain of salt.

My stories generally revolve around the swinger lifestyle as I have experience in it and have always found it to be a lot of fun. Most generally have a lot of sex in them from start to finish but very little drama. For the most part, our experiences have been positive, and for that reason, my stories don’t include cheating, fighting, or divorce which is common in a lot of swinger related stories from other authors. So typically my stories are all HEA, well except for parts with my wife and her whip!

I write some BDSM but generally no noncon, underage, or family stuff. Not that I have any objections to them, but I have enough trouble staying out of Amazon’s Adult Dungeon without trying to thread that needle. I’ve toyed with the idea of creating a pen name to write more hardcore smut under SmashWords and other more forgiving sites but right now just don’t have the free time to manage two different pen names.

I do not have any formal training in writing beyond Technical Report Writing in college and personally up until I started writing smut, hated to write. What I’ve found is that I really enjoy the process and typically write from the seat of my pants, or completely off the cuff. If you would happen to read one of my stories then treat my use of the English language with forgiveness.

My good friend and fellow writer, Lisabet Sarai is always trying to fix me, which I’m afraid may be a losing battle. She’s been trying to teach me how to write correctly, and it has been a struggle. Since I never had any formal training in writing, breaking my bad habits have been difficult. In many cases, I’m not convinced that the “correct” way is always the “right” way, but I’m always open to new things. Well, except for the time my wife got a new whip and a pair of real handcuffs from one of our cop friends. My butt hurt just from thinking about it and was glad to offer the services of a girlfriend, whose into that kind of thing, “Thanks, Gretchen.”

I’m told that I need conflict, resolution, someone to hate, and someone to love, but typically my stories have none of the above except maybe someone to love, but that’s touchy as, beyond our spouse, we shouldn’t be loving on anyone.

It probably seems strange to straights, but we have a fairly strict moral code even while we are coveting our neighbor’s wife. I’m allowed to screw someone, but I better not get caught giving a foot massage as that would put me in the dog house for sure.

Kissing is another no-no. We frown on kissing the opposite sex as kissing is personal and generally verboten. Certainly, you can kiss someone but don’t spend an hour examining their tonsils. A big percentage of the women are bisexual and kissing between women is encouraged and not considered cheating but a spectator sport.

My story is like a lot of other writers, I was reading smut on Literotica one day, and the thought hit me, “I can do this!” Fast forward five years and yet my new Range Rover is still sitting in the dealer’s showroom, but it’s been a fun trip.

Initially, I started writing about what we’ve seen and done in the Lifestyle and used Foxy and Larry as it was coming from a first-person perspective. Now some twenty plus stories later, if I’d been smart I would have picked different names for my regular main characters. This was one of my faux pas, but that’s water over the bridge.

The fictional Foxy and Larry own a strip club in Las Vegas, The Fox’s Den. Clever play on words don’t ya think? Most of my swinger stories involve the strip club as it’s a good place for everyone to take their clothes off and easier to work in than the Bridge Club.

We have several cuckold-Hotwife couples as friends in real life, and their alternate selves typically inhabit our stories or serve as a bad example of what people should not do at home. Cuckold – Hotwife couples are a study in itself and have a relationship that is surprisingly common. The common joke among swingers is that “straights” have no idea what is going on around them.

Foxy and Larry in the stories are as true to life as I can make them. Possibly a little more over the top but still true except for owning a strip club and having more money than God. They are a reasonably correct picture of a happily married couple who dabbles in the dark side.

We were lucky to fall in with a good group of people and learned the ropes from pros when we got into the Lifestyle. That’s a blog post that I keep telling myself to write and probably will one of these days.

My Thoughts on Self-Publishing

Why do I self-publish? The simple reason is cost and control. Every time you pick up a book or someone who’s written Writing for Dummies, they generally advise you to get an editor, get a cover designer, get, get, get.

It makes you wonder how they got started? Mom and Dad said, “Honey, here’s fifty thousand dollars, start writing porn stories.” I don’t think so, that’s maybe the 1% but the 99% of us, say to ourselves, “I wonder if I could write smut? But will it be okay to take my husband’s beer money to hire an editor?”

The problem with this approach is typically simple, you write a story that you may give away or at best sell for $2.99 yet you have to lay out hundreds of dollars in support help to get your story out the door. I’m an engineer by training and taught to make decisions by weighing good and bad options.

If you are a new writer, and unless you have a rich uncle you probably don’t have a bunch of money squirreled away to pay for all this help. Note that I didn’t tell you that you shouldn’t have an editor, cover designer, advertising firm, and publishing house to cover your back but that for many people and me, this is not financially viable. At some point in the game, you need to at least break even or hopefully make money.

I think most people who are reasonably intelligent can handle the job with minimal outlay until you get rich and famous. At which point, money is no object, and you can just hire everyone and retire. But until that point, you’re going to have to carry a majority of the load yourself.

The days of 4 and 5 figure monthly sales died years ago before everybody, and his brother started writing a book. I hate to burst your bubble, but 50 Shades was probably the last break out hit that made any real money, and my Frenchie could write better than that with one paw tied behind her back.

According to a recent survey, 80% of self-published authors make less than $1,000 per year or roughly $100/month. But before you hang yourself with your mouse cord, there is hope. First, go out an get a real job to keep the wolf away from the door and write in your spare time or have a generous spouse. If you’re a glass-half-full person, then you can say well what about the other 20%?

If you really want to be successful writing smut, beyond writing something other people want to read, is publishing on a regular basis. You should publish at least once a month, and before you fall down laughing, I’m telling you what I recommend and not what I do. My publishing cycle is typically every few months, and I fully realize that I don’t publish often enough but work and our social schedule eat up a lot of my keyboard pounding.

The search engines will typically throw you under the bus after about a month so don’t despair if your ratings fall off the cliff in 30 days. It’s like the old saying, “Publish or Perish.”

What I do is carry my laptop with me virtually 24 hours a day. Then when I’ve got a few minutes, I whip it out and type some. With many businesses that provide WiFi, you can get a connection most places or use the HotSpot feature on your phone. Be careful with logging into a public WiFi and disclosing personal information.

Publishing is sort of like wealth in the United States, just a handful have most of it while the rest of us have to scramble for their next meal. Sort of like your dream to play for the Harlem Globetrotters, and you’re five foot tall, while possible it will probably be a stretch.

As my Dad always tells me, “Faint heart never sold a vacuum cleaner.” Which in plain English means, be realistic with your assumptions but always try as hard as you can to achieve your goals.

Assuming that you sell your masterpiece for $2.99, typically the top price for a novel or novella, your takehome is about two bucks a copy. Out of that you have to deduct any costs you encounter such as cover design, editing, Internet porn, etc. Unless you can get your wife to strip off for the cover picture, your one fixed cost is likely to be the stock photo used. Your wordprocessing and photo editing software can be free if you use public domain software or a few hundred dollars for more professional products. One of my goals is to help you get into the game at the lowest cost.

Your first target should be to figure out if you can write or not. If writing were that easy, everyone would be Earnest Hemmingway or James Patterson. If you haven’t already joined ERWA, then do this next as you’ll have a host of other writers who can offer encouragement and advice in the craft of writing.

A lot of us started our initial publishing career at Literotica or a similar site that allows you to publish your stories for free without all of the problems of getting a cover, correct formatting, etc. You simply publish a plain text story and hope for good reviews.

I recommend this to new authors or those sticking their toe in the deep end of the pool for the first time. You get feedback and have to go through most of the process while skipping the hard parts.

As an engineer by training and not an English major, I am brutally aware of my shortcomings with the English language, and so you’ll rarely see me correct your sentence structure unless it’s so atrocious that even I recognize it. As I like to say, I always thought that when you had a dangling participle, you needed Viagra.

One of the things I hope to help people with is the mechanics of creating your masterpiece. Things like using the correct tools and getting started in a way that minimizes the grunt work required to publish. There are a number of things I’ve discovered which may be of interest to people. It’s not sexy but a job requirement.

A simple example is publishing to multiple publishers. We will typically publish to Amazon, SmashWords, Excessica, Apple iBooks, B&N, Nook, and others. The simple process of creating separate versions for each publisher can eat up a lot of time that could be better-served writing or jerking off.

Just try forgetting to delete a reference to SmashWords in your document and see what happens when Amazon catches it.

Well, I’ve killed enough electrons for now and will return control of your laptop back to you. See you next month on the 24th. Let me know your thoughts.

Larry Archer – LarryArcher.com

I read an interesting post on Facebook in which the writer asked everyone for their 2018 goals. Not resolutions. Goals. He said most people broke resolutions or never even bothered to attempt to meet them. Goals? More realistic and more likely to be attempted and fulfilled. So I asked myself, what are my goals for 2018?

Here are a few:

Finish my erotic fairy tales collection and self-publish it.

Publish my two erotic fairy tale novellas in print. These two books are Trouble In Thigh High Boots (erotic Puss In Boots) and Climbing Her Tower (erotic Rapunzel). You may find the ebooks at Amazon and Smashwords.

Finish my horror novel Hell Time.

Find an agent for my thriller novel Secrets and Lies.

Find a home for my bisexual werewolf erotic romance novel Full Moon Fever.

Send out my newsletter regularly.

Submit to a minimum of 5 submission calls in 2018. Bonus points if I publish at least 5 stories.

Join the YMCA and make an effort to swim and work out this winter and spring. My husband and I are joining the Y next week.

Head to the beach every day in late spring and summer to swim, walk, and otherwise get some fresh air and exercise especially after being cooped up in at home all winter.

Save enough money each paycheck to fund a trip to Europe most likely taken in 2019 or 2020.

Sell more books!

Make an effort to attend more book events like readings and conventions but only when money permits. Those events tend to cost more than I can afford.

Bake more. I didn’t bake enough in 2017 which is a shame since I enjoy baking very much. I didn’t bake as many cookies this year as I usually do so I shall remedy that in 2018. Here are the last two recipes I made – pumpkin bread and pizzelles. Pizzelles are anise-flavored Italian waffle cookies.

Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup olive oil ( can sub with canola or vegetable)

2 eggs, Beaten

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Sift together flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda.
  3. In a separate bowl combined pumpkin, oil, eggs, water, and spices.
  4. Then, combined with dry ingredients but, do not mix too thoroughly. Stir in walnuts.
  5. Pour into a well-buttered 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until a thin skewer poked in the very center of the loaf comes out clean. Turn out of the pan and let cool on a rack.
  6. Makes one loaf. Can easily double the recipe.
  7. If desired, you can use them in a muffin tin as well. They come out just as moist. If you use muffin tin bake for 20-25 minute.

Pizzelles

You need a pizzelle iron to make these cookies. I’m sure you can find one on eBay or at Amazon. I have an electric one that makes four pizzelle cookies at once. It’s over 30 years old. My mother gave it to me when she saw how much I loved those cookies. An Italian neighbor made them all the time.

Ingredients

3 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

3/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon anise extract

1 tablespoon anisette liqueur or Sambucca (optional)

1/4 cups anise seed

1 3/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) melted butter

Instructions

Beat the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla until well combined.

Stir in the flour and baking powder, mixing until smooth.

Add the melted butter, again mixing until smooth; the batter will be thick and soft.

Heat your pizzelle iron. Grease it as directed in the manufacturer’s instructions. As the iron heats, the batter will stiffen.

Cook the pizzelle according to the instructions that came with your iron. In general, they’ll take between 45 seconds and 2 1/2 minutes to brown.

Remove the pizzelle from the iron, and cool on a rack. If desired, use a pair of scissors to trim any ragged edges.

Dust cooled pizzelle with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

Now that 2017 is drawing to a close, I’m ready for next year. 2017 was a bit of a slow and rather uneventful year for me writing-wise. I need to be more proactive. I plan on that starting Jan. 1 with my stint at Night Owl Reviews. I’m in an author chat that day at 8 PM EST. I’ll talk about my erotic romance novel No Restraint. Here’s the link to join in:

https://www.nightowlreviews.com/v5/Chats

See you there, and have a fantastic 2018!

I returned from Necon this past Sunday. Necon is the Northeastern Writers Conference which is for horror writers but what I learned applies to any writer. The conference was held in a conference center in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

I was on one panel: Heroes Like Me: The Importance of Representation in Genre. There is more of a problem with representations of women in horror fiction and films than in romance or erotica. I’m happy to see that strong female characters who aren’t doormats or shrinking violets are much more popular in romance and erotic fiction now than they have been in the past. Women in these stories know what they want and they go after it. Sometimes, especially in the billionaire genre of romance, the heroine is inexperienced and rather naïve, but I’ve noticed she comes into her own as the story progresses. The hero often learns quite a bit from her. Hero and heroine are on equal footing in many of the stories.

Other panels included Guest of Honor interviews, Collections, and Editing. I was especially interested in the editing panel since I enjoy writing for anthologies. Some of the panelists were editing anthologies I had submitted to. I managed to snag some fine guests for my podcast Into The Abyss With Elizabeth Black. I took July off and I’ll start up shows again in August.

The best part about Necon was the same thing I liked about the Stanley Hotel Writers Retreat – socializing. Everyone was friendly and on equal turf. The casual atmosphere was very relaxing. I didn’t have to pay $50 or more to talk to an author and have him or her sign a book. There was a pre-Necon party I attended at one guest’s house. I saw old friends and made new ones. The BBQ ribs and chicken were delicious and I even had stuffed clams. You can’t live in New England and not eat stuffed clams. There were gatherings in the outdoor courtyard every evening with saugies, which are hot dogs well known in Rhode Island. They’re longer than most hog dogs and they have casings. They were delicious on the grill. I mingled and chatted which isn’t easy for me since I tend to be on the shy side. I talked to other writers about what they were working on. I did not ask the editors of the anthology I submitted to when submitters would hear back. That would have been in bad form. I know the rejections and acceptances will come soon enough. The networking opportunities were very good.

I liked Necon and I will attend again next year, money permitting. I do highly recommend writers attend conferences and conventions when they can. Some good ones are Viable Paradise, Clarion, Readercon, Arisia, and the RWA convention. Some of these cons include agents and publishers. The opportunity to pitch yourself is more than welcome.

Hot Chilli Erotica

Hot Chilli Erotica

Archives

  • 2018 (88)
  • 2017 (103)
  • 2016 (137)
  • 2015 (160)
  • 2014 (155)
  • 2013 (144)
  • 2012 (110)
  • 2011 (14)
  • 2010 (5)
  • 2009 (31)
  • 2008 (8)
  • 2007 (3)

Categories

Babysitting the Baumgartners - The Movie
From Adam & Eve - Based on the Book by New York Times Bestselling Authors Selena Kitt

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Latest Posts

Pin It on Pinterest