Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The First Time

By Lisabet Sarai


Revealed wisdom – or perhaps unsupported mythology – states that it takes time to become an accomplished author. I wish I had a dollar for every blog I’ve read where the writer claims his or her first efforts were pure unadulterated crap. Not having been privileged to read these early tales, I can’t judge whether this is the truth or merely misplaced humility. However, I’ve been noticing recently that in erotica, at least, an author’s first novel often possesses a special quality that’s hard to recreate in subsequent work.

From a craft perspective, that first book might be flawed. Somehow that doesn’t matter. First erotic novels have a life, an intensity, that’s unique. They offer a riotous explosion of lascivious fantasy, unchecked and uncensored. The scope of imagination compensates for less than perfect execution. Passion carries these books, overwhelming other considerations.

I realized this anew when I read K.D. Grace’s post last month here at the ERWA blog. She was celebrating the four year anniversary of her first novel, The Initiation of Ms Holly. I’m a huge admirer of K.D.’s writing – check out her steamy contribution to the current ERWA Gallery to see why - but I found Ms. Holly particularly arousing. It’s full of offbeat characters involved in creative and kinky carnal activities. A delicious sense of sexual license pervades the novel. Reading it, I knew the author had not held back, that she’d poured all her personal desires and fantasies into her lovely fable.

In some ways, it’s hard to believe this was K.D.’s first novel. Certainly, I didn’t realize this when I read it. At the same time, the heady mix of prurience and innocence in the book is typical of first timers.

The book that inspired me to publish erotica has some of the same characteristics. Portia da Costa’s Gemini Heat aroused and delighted me with its diversity and sexual creativity. I became an instant fan, and I’ve read many of her other books, all good, some brilliant. Still, none of them, except perhaps Entertaining Mr. Stone, can compare with Gemini Heat, in terms of its effect on me.

Despite having a happy ending for everyone involved, the book totally shatters romance conventions. (Of course, it wasn’t written as romance, though it’s marketed that way now.) Everyone has sex with everyone else. Both gender identification and power exchange are fluid. The hero is half-Asian, slightly androgynous, a total sybarite who’s nevertheless ferociously intelligent – almost the opposite of a typical alpha male.

Just recently, Portia mentioned to me that Gemini Heat was her first attempt at erotica. If I’d known that when I first read the book, back in 1999, I would have been astonished. Now I think I recognize the hallmarks of one’s first time, the erotic charge released when an author bares her sexual soul and dares to write what pushes her own buttons.

My own debut novel has some of the same characteristics. Like many new erotic authors, I didn’t really have a clue about the publishing business, about writing for a market, about genre conventions. I’d read some erotica, mostly classics, but nothing (other than Portia’s book) that could really serve as a model. Mostly, I was burning up with self-generated arousal. I wanted to share my fantasies, to vicariously explore what would happen if I extrapolated on my (not insignificant) real life sexual experiments. In the previous decade, I’d had life-changing experiences with dominance and submission. I wrote the book to capture that intensity, and amplify it with what-ifs.

The creative process was intuitive and close to effortless (especially compared to writing now). I’d sit down at the computer and the words would flow unobstructed from my dirty mind onto the page. I penned 72,000 words in my spare time, over the course of about six months. I wrote an additional 10,000 words in a single weekend, after the publisher complained that I hadn’t honored my contract, which called for a minimum of 80K. (Newbie that I was, I thought that clause was just advisory!)

The result, Raw Silk, has been released by three different publishers and is still in print. I can’t say it’s a best seller, but it’s the only one of my books that ever earned out its advance. And apparently, people are still reading it. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting erotic romance legend Desiree Holt. The first thing she told me was that she had loved Raw Silk. (Needless to say, that was one of the high points of my so-called career as an author!)

Depending on how you count, I’ve written seven or eight novels since Raw Silk. From a craft perspective, all greatly improve on my first effort, which suffers from wooden dialogue, an overabundance of adverbs, excessively long sentences and word repetition that makes me cringe. Still, I have the uncomfortable feeling none of my later novels can compete, in terms of genuine passion.

The more I write, it seems, the harder it becomes to tap that well-spring of pure sexual excitement that fueled my first attempt. At this point, I’ve read and written so much erotica that I’ve become jaded, I know. I’m sure the ebb in hormones as I’ve grown older has an impact, too.

As I continue to write, I hope that other factors compensate: original premises, surprising plots, engaging characters, polished and evocative language. Still, I look back wistfully on that first novel – so fully of naive sexual energy.

I wonder how many other erotica authors feel the same.



Monday, October 20, 2014

Call for Submissions

SeX Files, the new erotica imprint of Comet Press, is seeking manuscripts in all genres and cross genres from 7,500-80,000 words. We are looking for stories that push the boundaries of erotica and we don't have any content restrictions (except for kiddie porn, of course).

Titles over 50,000 words will be published in trade paperback and ebook. 7,500 to 50,000 length works will primarily be published in ebook format. However, we will consider future print editions for longer works (around 30,000-50,000 words) with outstanding sales.

Our contracts are for four years and we offer 40% net royalties. Read all our guidelines at:
http://sexfiles.cometpress.us/guidelines

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Call for Submissions

Stacked
Editor: Brian Whitney
Publisher: BearManor Bare
Deadline: December 1, 2014
Payment & rights: 5% royalties. We ask for digital rights for 5 years.

Stacked is the first of 10 ebooks in a series. We are looking for short stories of roughly 2.500 words. For Stacked we ask for stories that have breasts as a main element. It can be fetish, softcore, or hardcore. All authors will be credited.

We do not accept stories that involve children or beastiality.

Please submit with the subject line "Stacked submission - title of your story" and attach it to your email as a word document.

Please send to: Brianwhitneywriting@gmail.com

Sexy Snippets for October




It's that time of the month once again... Time for you to share your Sexy Snippets!


The ERWA blog is not primarily intended for author promotion. However, we've decided we should give our author/members an occasional opportunity to expose themselves (so to speak) to the reading public. Hence, we have declared the 19th of every month at the Erotica Readers and Writers Association blog Sexy Snippet Day.

On Sexy Snippet day, any author can post a tiny excerpt (200 words or less) in a comment on the day's post. Include the title from with the snippet was extracted, your name or pseudonym, and one buy link, if you'd like.

Feel free to share this with erotic author friends. It's an open invitation!


Please follow the rules. Last month we had one author who posted a much longer excerpt. She is now banned from posting - but I don't like being the one who dishes out the punishment...

Still, if your excerpt is more than 200 words or includes more than one link, I'll remove your comment and prohibit you from participating in further Sexy Snippet days. So play nice!

After you've posted your snippet, feel free to share the post as a whole to Facebook, Twitter, or wherever else you think your readers hang out.

Have fun!

~ Lisabet

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Better than Famous (Or “Just Say No” to Celebrity Culture)

by Donna George Storey

This month my study of stardom comes to its long-awaited conclusion. I’ve argued that celebrity culture is the media age’s expression of a deep-seated human need to create mythical figures in our mundane lives, modern-day gods and goddesses who are in the end visions of our idealized selves. Indeed fame is more about the needs of the fan than any inherent superiority of the famous—if we all can become famous for fifteen minutes, then it’s fame itself that matters more than anything else, even truth.

Accordingly, although I’ve enjoyed throwing around names like Justin Bieber and Paris Hilton (and tipping my hat to Nancy Reagan) for comic effect, I do believe the most significant aspect of celebrity culture is its function as a mirror of our society’s yearnings, fears, and values. The dramas of the famous are our hidden hang-ups and fantasies projected on the screen for all to see. And while few readers of the ERWA blog probably invest much interest in the latest doings of Angelina Jolie, I believe that the illusions of fame impact every creative artist to some degree.

Even if you yourself have never dreamed of mobs of fans winding around city blocks, waiting for you to sign their treasured copy of your novel, perhaps you’ve dealt with the annoying responses at parties when you mention you write. “Are you published? I haven’t heard of you. Has your novel been optioned for HBO?”

Too many people confuse celebrity with quality. If you aren’t famous, you aren’t good. “Success” must be measured by spots on the bestseller list, Pulitzer Prizes, major motion picture adaptations. Or perhaps your party acquaintance is satisfied with a more modest appearance in Best American Erotica. Yet we’re still playing by the rules of fame. I for one was slow to figure this out. When I first started writing, I longed for the validation of publication, then of winning a place in the best-of’s. My circle of acquaintances would ask, “How’s your writing going?” and slowly but surely I had progress to report. Ten stories in a year. Fifteen the next. A novel.

It was never enough. “What’s next?” they’d ask. “Do you have an agent yet?”

I no longer give a list of the year’s accomplishments when someone asks me how my writing is going. Because I’ve realized at long last that those measures of success are an effort to find satisfaction in others’ opinions of me. That is what fame is—the opinion of others. Sometimes it is based on a good reason. Often it is just their distorted projection with no relation to who you are or what you’ve actually done. Frankly, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve accomplished in my writing. I don’t need to prove anything to myself anymore. That is indeed enough.

Thus the most important way to say no to the insidious influence of celebrity culture even in the lower ranks of writers: Never lose sight of the pleasure and aliveness of your creative process which can never, ever be properly valued by another person. If you write, you succeed.

Not unrelated to this point is the relatively passive role fame assigns us, whether fan or celebrity. Sure, a fan can be quite active in terms of chasing down the object of her worship or collecting memorabilia or the latest gossip. But the decision about who matters is made by the vagaries of the “star-making machinery” (to quote Joni Mitchell). Is there any other rational reason why Kim Kardashian is a household name?

The other day I was reading Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me, and I came across an inspiring antidote to this passivity in her essay, “Woolf’s Darkness: Embracing the Inexplicable.” Solnit describes her attempt to find or make a language to describe the things in our lives that can’t be quantified or categorized, an effort that lies at the heart of the revolt against capitalism and consumerism (the engines of modern fame). In short, Solnit urges us to become producers rather than consumers of meaning.

I like that because producing meaning is what writers do every time they create a story. So of course, the best way to do this is to keep writing. At the same time, whenever we encounter assumptions about success, fame, and what constitutes “good” writing, we can interrogate those assumptions, agree or disagree, and better still make up our own new measures of value. In other words, we move from letting the market and celebrity culture define creative success to, at least sometimes, defining worth for ourselves.

It takes a lot more energy to think rather than let someone else make the decisions for us, but it’s the easiest way to become the star of our own universe.

Thanks for bearing with me through Justin Bieber and Dolly Parton. Keep writing and shine on!

Donna George Storey is the author of Amorous Woman and a collection of short stories, Mammoth Presents the Best of Donna George Storey. Learn more about her work at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com or http://www.facebook.com/DGSauthor

Friday, October 17, 2014

Call for Submissions

Underwater (Subject to change)
Editors: Anthony S. Buoni and Alisha Costanzo
Publisher: Transmundane Press
Submissions Due: 15 May 2015
Release Date: Spring 2016
Payment & Rights: Payment will be discussed upon acceptance. We ask for first print and electronic rights for six (6) months after publication date, then you are free to resell it.

UNDERWATER is seeking stories about life underwater. This could mean mermaids, sirens, deep-sea crews, the sunk city of Atlantis, talking seahorses, malevolent water spirits...if it could live underwater, we want to read about it. We are looking for fiction that has a speculative lean or mystical undertones, although full-blown sci-fi and fantasy are welcome, too!

We are looking for submissions that create modern, realistic, or fantastical stories. We want real characters, real tensions, and real consequences. There is one clincher, don't make them cheesy. Make them humorous, violent, grotesque, sexy, suspenseful, or satirical—just keep the writing serious. This anthology is intended for mature audiences.  Sex and profanity are acceptable, however, not in excess.  If gory for gore's sake, or vulgar just to be crude, your story will be rejected.  Themes must be central to plot and character.

Submission details at:
http://www.erotica-readers.com/ERA/AR/Underwater.htm