Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Monday, November 24, 2014

.... But Then, Magic

by Kathleen Bradean

Thank you, Donna George Storey, for your latest post about the pleasure of trying hard. I’d already decided on my topic, and here, you provide the salt and garnish to my thoughts!

Writing is hard work. When it’s great it looks effortless. The letters appear on a page that’s a flat plane of two dimensions, so the reader can never see what lies beneath. The words evoke dimensions in the reader’s imagination, but that’s the story, not the underlying structure that delivers it. And certainly not the process that built that structure.

All this talk of work makes writing sound like a chore. (It can be) A drudge (oh, it is sometimes). Torture (don’t get me started). So non-writers wonder why we do it. It’s not enough to say we’re driven. Non-creative types don’t get driven.  Let’s not worry about them.  Instead, let’s think about the aspiring writers. All they seem to hear about is the agony. The wrist-to-forehead sighs. The existential torment. We never talk about the joy. So let me tell all you aspiring writers about the magical moments:

The first time you finish writing a novel.

You finish a story and it was exactly what you set out to do.

The serendipity of dashing off something from your imagination then doing some research and not only did you get it right, but the research adds depth and richness to your story and now it’s at a whole new level of totally awesome.

That word. *snaps fingers* That word -- it’s so elusive, the only one that will do.  It’s out there, roaming around in the periphery of your mental vision but you just can’t get it to… Oh! Yes! That’s it.

You’re crying your eyes out as you write because this scene with these characters is so moving, and you’re a wreck the rest of the day.

When a beta reader points out exactly what’s wrong with your story and you realize that deep down, you knew it all along. But what’s even better, you know how to fix it!

That first acceptance.

That eightieth acceptance.

When out of nowhere, a scene drops into your brain, and you realize you can build an entire story around those few seconds.

You’ve just written the truest story you could.



Writers with some experience, what are your moments of writerly joy?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

My NaNoWriMo Novel by Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985)


This post has been reblogged from my website, but I thought it was incredibly fitting given the month we're in :)


If you’d have said to me two years ago—maybe even just a year ago—that I would “win” NaNoWriMo, I’d have laughed at you. For those of you that don’t know, NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a yearly challenge which takes place in November. Writers sign up via the website and challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in a month—in order words, a novel. Or at least a good chunk of one. Sadly, I haven't been able to take part this year.

I’m not a fast writer, but then nor am I a slow one. I sit comfortably somewhere in the middle. But for some reason, last year I decided I was going to give NaNoWriMo a go. I’d already done a ton of research for the novel I intended to work on next, all I needed to do was getting the planning done and I’d be ready to go. And so, having worked out that I’d have to write 2,500 per day for twenty days (I don’t work weekends, so I had to remove weekend days from the equation), I figured it was still achievable.

Come the 1st of November I was signed up, had everything planned out and once I opened that Word document, I quickly started to fill it with words. I’m a bit of a word count watcher when I write, anyway, so the only difference was, rather than simply updating the widget in my website’s sidebar, I would also update on the NaNoWriMo website. I started off really well, and was achieving my target each day. Of course, I dropped behind my “buddies” at weekends, but soon caught up again on weekdays.

I have to admit, it was addictive. Granted, I’d already done an awful lot of hard work before opening that Word document, but it didn’t mean the writing was easy, especially as it was the most complex piece of work I’d written to date. But somehow, come the 29th November (the 30th was a Saturday, and so the 29th was my finish date), I did it. I hopped over that 50,000 word mark, copied and pasted the text into the NaNoWriMo site to get it validated, and received my winner’s certificate and badge. It was a fantastic feeling—I’d done it!

However, the novel was far from finished. The challenge had really broken the back of it, but I knew I still had a long way to go. I didn’t stop writing, but I admit from the 50k mark until the end was a lot slower going because I didn’t have that urgency pushing me to write faster. Not to mention during November, I’d rejigged my days to make writing my priority.

Finally, in the New Year of 2014, I finished the book. It was almost twice the length it had been at the end of November—95,000 words. So personally, I still think I did pretty damn well to write it in that period of time, and I’m delighted to see it out there for people to read and hopefully enjoy.

The book has been incredibly well received so far, with lots of four and five star reviews—so if you’re a paranormal romance fan, I hope you’ll check out Pack of Lies.

*****

Author Bio:


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

Friday, November 21, 2014

What Was Lost

By Lisabet Sarai


A few days ago I finished reading The Sweetest Thing, a new short story collection by fellow ERWA member Julius Addlesee (and edited by another ERWA member, Nan Andrews). This isn’t a review – that will be coming at the beginning of next month, over at Erotica Revealed – but rather a reflection on the contrast between the sex in this book and the sex we tend to see today, both in the real world and in a lot of erotica.

The book is unabashedly vanilla. Although the characters and situations in The Sweetest Thing vary, all the tales focus on mutual heterosexual lust, seasoned by serendipity, affection, and, in many cases, lingerie. The stories feel a bit old-fashioned because the characters experience desire in such an enthusiastic, uncomplicated way. No one takes sexual pleasure for granted, but no one questions it, either – no guilt, no angst.

There’s an innocence about these stories. The narrators (all male) display a sense of wonder when confronted with the glory of women. The characters linger over foreplay, delighting in the tastes, smells, textures of their partners, who tend not to be model-thin or movie-star handsome but who are nevertheless almost unbearably desirable. Sex is special, a delicious mystery to decipher, a gift waiting to be opened.

I remember when sex was like that – powerful and intimate. To a heart-breaking extent, I feel like that kind of sex has been lost. When I was in my teens and twenties, stores hid magazines like Playboy and Penthouse under the counter. Porn movies arrived by mail in plain brown wrappers. A nude photo shoot like the one I did with the friend of a friend would be considered outrageous and daring. BDSM was shockingly perverse. To discover my own inclinations in that direction was a life-changing revelation.

In today’s mobile-obsessed, painfully public world, nude photos are commonplace. Teenagers broadcast them to their friends – kids who are not even their lovers. Porn is never more than click or two away. Sex is everywhere: in movies, in video games, in rock music, in advertising, in popular best sellers. I remember the thrill of reading James Bond in study hall, passing around a volume that marked the spot where the virile spy stroked his hand across the smooth, flat belly of his bikini clad partner. That was all – imagination filled in the rest – but oh, how that made me yearn!

What would Ian Fleming have thought of Fifty Shades of Gray?

I wouldn’t complain, if more sex meant better sex. However, I get the impression that many people find sexual satisfaction as elusive as ever – perhaps more. Casual sex has become more accepted and more available, but close, mutually enjoyable sex is another story. Divorce rates have soared. Rape occurs at least as frequently as when sex was rationed and forbidden, and my observations suggest that it is actually more likely to be tolerated in our sexually-desensitized world.

As I discussed in a previous post on this blog, an explosion of information on sexual technique has stolen the spontaneity from sexual encounters. When I was in my sexual prime, I never worried whether I was good in bed. All I knew was that being in bed with a lover felt good.

Even “deviant” behavior like BDSM has become ordinary and accepted rather than shocking. Fetishism influences popular culture. I can’t count the number of fashion ads I’ve seen where the model is wearing a leather corset and wielding a whip. These days everyone seems interested in kink. My master grumbles that everybody gets spanked now, or tied up. We’re not special anymore.

It’s not surprising that today’s erotica and erotic romance reflect the same trends. Authors include ever more extreme sexual activities in their tales, trying to get noticed. Voyeurism, exhibitionism, age play, infantilism, blood and water sports, body modification, bondage, threesomes, foursomes, orgies, gang bangs – you’ll find it all and more, not just in self-identified stroke fiction but also in anthologies released by publishers of “literary erotica”, and indeed, even in romance, once the bastion of coyness and traditionalism.

One of my readers complains that she can’t find any vanilla erotica anymore.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against outrageous sexual acts. I’ve written a few myself. My concern is that these acts have come to have no meaning. They don’t feel dangerous or brave or transgressive anymore. They scarcely influence my emotions or my physical reactions, unless they’re extremely well written. Meanwhile, warm, bawdy stories of straight sexual pleasure – like Julius’ tales – have become as rare as penny candy.

I know I sound like a curmudgeon – like my mother, railing against “the new generation” and praising the good old days. This change isn’t even generational, though. It encompasses a mere decade or so. When I wrote my first novel, the acts I portrayed were unusual, scary, and exciting. Now they’re ho hum.

You can’t stop time, nor control cultural change. You have to learn to live with the world as it is today, without pining for yesterday. I’m glad the market for erotica has expanded, offering more opportunities for us all. Still, I mourn the loss of sexual innocence, and the corresponding incandescence of sexual experience – in life and in fiction.

[The title for this post was stolen from a story by Robert Buckley, which features an aged bootlegger from 1920’s. Thanks, Bob! That tale is included in his charitable anthology, Coming Together Presents Robert Buckley, which I had the privilege of editing.]

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sexy Snippets for November



Whoa! Almost slipped by me, what with everything else I'm doing, but I realized last night that today is 19th of November, which means that it's Sexy Snippets Day!

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. If your excerpt is more than 200 words or includes more than one link, I'll remove your comment and prohibit you from participating in further Sexy Snippet days. I'll say no more!

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

Have fun!

~ Lisabet

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Pleasures of Trying Hard

By Donna George Storey

"Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’ve long been aware of the many derogatory terms used to describe people who enjoy intellectual pursuits. “Brain,” "egghead," "nerd" and "geek" come to mind. But in the past few years, my academically-oriented sons have mentioned another label they are sometimes given by peers because of their genuine interest in their classes—"try-hard."

I looked up "try-hard" in the Urban Dictionary and the official definition suggests a person who is trying to be something he or she is not. However, it seems to me that the high school version of the insult is less complicated. It merely refers to someone who makes an extra effort when she does something, someone who cares about the quality of the result rather than simply completing an assignment with as little investment as possible.

I can see an argument for doing as little as you need to do to get by when it comes to a required subject you don’t connect with on a deeper level. A lot of what we do in high school and even college involves pleasing the teacher and not necessarily ourselves. However, this put-down seems to be directed at any effort to excel. While this attitude might seem the height of cool in school, it can mean trouble later on, especially with a creative endeavor like writing erotica.

Perhaps because reading a well-written story is an effortless experience, too many people believe that writing it must be effortless, too. Those of us who actually write stories know better, of course, but there’s still a small part of me that buys the myth that true artists are beguiled into a trance by their muse and great art thus flows effortlessly from their souls. Or in other words, it is in-born talent, not hard work that makes a creative work soar.

This disdain for creative sweat reminds me of an Italian word, sprezzatura, that I stumbled upon back in my high school days when I was both a nerd and a try-hard who loved to read anything I could get my hands on about the Renaissance. Sprezzatura was described in Baldassare Castiglione’s sixteenth-century bestseller, The Book of the Courtier, as “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.” The perfect noble courtier should appear to dash off a brilliant sonnet on a whim or execute a high-stepping court dance without breaking a sweat. Of course to pull this off, he had to practice and ponder in private for hours on end. Thus, ironically, the perfect courtier’s sprezzatura made him a try-hard in the official sense of the word.

The movie montage might be another culprit in our lack of understanding of how much time and effort it takes to excel. How many movies have you seen where the protagonist aspires to a lofty goal, but for the sake of cinematic flow, months or even years of hard work must be condensed into a minute of brief scenes showing her transformation from raw novice to skilled expert? Intellectually we know it was supposed to take a year, but emotionally we internalize the sense that just by wanting something, we can get good enough to wow the world in sixty seconds.

Again, I know that anyone who’s actually tried—hard—to write a story knows how much musing and shaping and word-crafting and editing is involved. Anyone who’s written many stories knows that skill increases with experience, but it’s still hard to face that blank document and make magic on the page, harder still to draw something fresh from within. And I’d bet many of us wonder if this challenging task is easier for other writers, those who are more talented or lucky or truly touched by greatness as we must not be since we have to try so damned hard.

Sure, maybe there are demigods like that out there, but I’d suspect not. And the truth is, I don’t want to read a story that was dashed off with little thought or effort. I want sweat and doubt and endless revisions. Now and then a story might flower beautifully in an afternoon, but that can only because the seed of it was germinating for months, maybe years. As a reader I give an author my precious attention--minutes, hours, even days of my life I can never get back. The author had better deserve it! And because I deserve this effort as a reader, then I owe it to my readers to give them the same.

Besides, no matter what those high school kids say, sweating and striving and and learning and caring about our writing is one of the most profoundly pleasurable and deeply satisfying ways to spend our time on this earth.

Don’t you agree?

If so, then keep trying—hard!

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

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Call for Submissions

The First Line Literary Journal

We love the fact that writers around the world are inspired by our first lines, and we know that not every story will be sent to us. However, we ask that you do not submit stories starting with our first lines to other journals (or post them online on public sites) until we've notified you as to our decision (usually two to three weeks after the deadline). When the entire premise of the publication revolves around one sentence, we don't want it to look as if we stole that sentence from another writer. If you have questions, feel free to drop us a line.

One more thing while I've got you here: Writers compete against one another for magazine space, so, technically, every literary magazine is running a contest. There are, however, literary magazines that run traditional contests, where they charge entry fees and rank the winners. We do not - nor will we ever - charge a submission fee, nor do we rank our stories in order of importance. Occasionally, we run contests to help come up with new first lines, or we run fun, gimmicky competitions for free stuff, but the actual journal is not a contest in the traditional sense.

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