Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Spring Has Sprung

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

Her new m/m erotic medical thriller Roughing It is out! This book is a sexy cross between The X Files and The Andromeda Strain. Buy it at Amazon!

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It's finally feeling like spring. The weather here on the northeast Massachusetts coast has been cooler than average for this time of year. It's also rather wet. I like the cool temps, though. Now that the leaves are sprouting and the forsythia has finished blooming, it's time for me to get into my warmer weather routine after being cooped up in the apartment the entire winter.

I look forward to spring every year. That's the time for me to replenish myself and to assess my progress in life. I've begun my beach walks again, complete with a stop at the beach ice cream shop. The shop has been open for about two weeks. I like to run plots and characterizations through my head as I walk in the waves. The very, very cold waves. LOL The ocean up here is far too cold for me to swim in even during the dog days of August. My husband and I are talking about moving to Hawaii when he retires in a little over three years. We can swim in that water. Pacific, here we come!

I believe writers need a safe space where they can listen to the quiet inside and work out their stories. The beach provides that solace for me. I worked out a horror story in my head over this past weekend, and I finished the first draft Monday morning. It's one of those stories where the movie version kept getting in the way of my imagination. I finally got past that. Think outside the box, as my husband says. I'd go today but there isn't enough time. Until Wednesday.

I also relax by gardening, which I'm into full swing now. Spring brings forth the herbs and veggies I like to grow that won't survive in the apartment over the winter. I'm growing tomatoes from seeds for the first time. If you write to University of Florida and donate $10, the horticulture department will send you tomato seeds. This department is developing tomatoes that actually taste delicious. Most mass-grown tomatoes you buy in the supermarket are so bland they'd might as well not have any taste at all. The two tomato strains I bought are Garden Gem and Garden Treasure. The seeds have already sprouted and are doing well. I bought more seeds in the hope they'll take and I can plant them in pots. I bought more tomato seeds (Roma and Best Boy), chamomile, and cilantro. They're planted but the seeds haven't sprouted yet. I also buy starter plants. This year I picked up sage, rosemary, oregano, and three varieties of thyme – lemon, orange, and English. Then there are the pineapple sage, tarragon, and marjoram. My jalapeƱo peppers from last year survived and they're just starting to flower. The peppers grow from the flowers. My bay plant needs to be transplanted since it's root bound and it's complaining. I have a huge plastic pot for it. My tiny avocado I grew from the pit three years ago is now almost five feet tall. That one is adjusting to a new pot and the great outdoors. Here are pictures of my herb garden, which I keep in pots since I can't plant them in the ground.




Getting outside myself and away from the computer only makes my writing flow easier. I need time away from writing so that I may continue to write. It's easier for me to do this in the spring, summer, and fall since there are so many opportunities out there for exploration and enjoyment. I don't get that sort of thing during the winter. It's too easy to hole up up here, and I'm reclusive by nature.  It also doesn’t help that I took on far too many projects recently, and I need to finish them before the end of the month. Hopefully by the time this article posts, I'll be mostly finished. One can hope. By getting away, I come full circle to meet my muse and the words flow. I need that.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Deal-Breakers

by Jean Roberta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of the appealing qualities of a short story, as distinct from a novel, is that not all questions have to be answered. The plot can end on a hopeful note, with an implication that the central character(s) will boldly go to an unknown destination. So I keep writing in order to discover new plots. Maybe some day I’ll have a clearer sense of when a happy ending requires an escape, and when it requires a commitment.
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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

All You Sexy Beasts

by Kathleen Bradean

As many of you know, I write a fantasy thriller series under another name. A character in the third book in the series suffers from arthritis so severe that he can barely use his hands. He's an elderly gent, recently retired, and still has an eye for the ladies. I got a very sweet thank you note about that.

While I wrote him as elderly, I knew a guy in high school with this problem. His fingers were permanently curled into fists even though he had several operations to cut the tendons in the hopes that his fingers could straighten out. And they would, for about six months, before slowly clenching again. A teenager stuck with the hands of an old man. Everyone past a certain age knows what it's like to feel like you're twenty or thirty until a mirror cruelly reminds you that no, you're not. Inside, you're a very different person than you are on the outside.

We don't see enough people like this erotica. We don't see them in real life and definitely not in our stories. In real life, we can't seem to bear the idea of anyone with physical problems being a sexual person. It seems a real taboo.

I'm not fond of fatal disease porn, those romantic stories about angelic people teaching important life lessons before dying from cancer. Mawkish sentimentality I think is the usual critique, but I think it's worse than that. It makes being ill and bearing it bravely all a person is. It makes illness seem like a key to higher insight about the human condition. It takes away a person's right to be furious that their body is betraying them just when things are getting good. And it might make a normal person who might have a real reason to complain about their plight from time to time feel as if they're somehow experiencing their life wrong.

So while I don't advocate that approach to characters, I think we need to push boundaries this way. We need to examine why the thought of a differently abled person having sex makes us so uncomfortable, and why sexy is the hardest attribute to accept for them.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Inexplicable Desire


By Lisabet Sarai

I recently read and reviewed M.Christian’s sci-fi erotica story Bionic Lover. This tale follows the disturbing and intense relationship between a shy, struggling female artist and a butch woman of the streets who, when the story opens, has a magnificently crafted artificial eye. Thinking about the book after I wrote the review, I realized one reason it moved me so deeply: the author never really explains anything. We see the near-irresistible attraction between Pell (the artist) and Arc (the increasingly bionic butch). We watch as Arc replaces one body part after another with prosthetics, as Pell falls ever more deeply under her spell, as Arc vanishes then returns to the arms of the woman who somehow makes her whole–but though the emotions feel genuine and true, we never know why anyone does anything. Unmediated by reasons, we experience the desire, the longing, the loneliness, directly. The tale remains hauntingly ambiguous as well as overwhelmingly erotic.

In contrast, much of the erotic fiction I read focuses considerable attention on explaining the source of the attraction between the protagonists. Sometimes it’s something as superficial as big breasts or washboard abs. In other cases, the characters clearly complement each other, in terms of personality or history or mutual fantasies or kinks. In all too many stories, the erotic connection is pretty much a foregone conclusion, because the author has made the reasons for that connection painfully obvious.

Desire isn’t necessarily like that, though. Attraction often cannot be explained—except by amorphous concepts like “chemistry”, which is no explanation at all.

I remember one of my lovers, from my sex goddess period, when I blossomed from a self-conscious nerd into a flaming nymphomaniac. I met him at a mutual friend’s wedding, and wanted him from the very first instant. This wasn’t due to his physical appearance. He was cute, but no movie star. It certainly wasn’t because of his personality. He turned out to be arrogant as well as somewhat dishonest. None of that mattered. I wanted him. He wanted me. We had sex within four hours of meeting. Over the next few weeks, we shared some wild times, pushing the envelope (as they say), until I came to the conclusion that I didn’t really like him that much.

Call it chemistry if you like, the inexplicable force binding two souls, two bodies, who by rights shouldn’t be together at all. Whatever it is, it cannot be predicted, or explained.

Another wonderful literary example of this phenomenon is Willsin Rowe’s searing novella The Last Three Days. If you’ve ever thought lust was trivial compared to love, read this book. Rowe’s protagonists are in some sense addicted to one another. Insatiable need draws them together again and again. The pleasure of their encounters tempers their mutual antipathy. The emotions become so tangled that neither the characters nor the reader can sort them out—but they feel incredibly real.

There’s a clever little acronym frequently cited in author circles: RUE, which stands for Resist the Urge to Explain. Usually, when someone invokes the RUE principle in a critique, she’s commenting on a back story dump or an excess of description that slows down the pace of the narrative. Meditating on these two exemplary stories, I see that the RUE particularly applies to the erotic attraction between one’s characters. The more surprising, unexpected, complex and inexplicable that is, the more compelling the tale.

Desire cannot be summoned at will, nor can it be reasoned away. Desire simply is. And we erotic authors are but its chroniclers.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sexy Snippets for May


It's May, it's May, the lusty month of May... 
That gorgeous month when everyone goes blissfully astray.
 
Celebrate the lusty month of May (which also happens to be National Masturbation Month) by sharing a sexy snippet!
 
The ERWA blog is not primarily intended for author promotion. However, we've decided we should give our author/members an occasional opportunity to expose themselves (so to speak) to the reading public. Hence, we have declared the 19th of every month at the Erotica Readers and Writers Association blog Sexy Snippet Day.

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

Please post excerpts only from published work (or work that is free for download), not works in progress. The goal, after all, is to titillate your readers and seduce them into buying your books!

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

Of course I expect you to follow the rules. One snippet per author, please. If your excerpt is more than 200 words or includes more than one link, I'll remove your comment and prohibit you from participating in further Sexy Snippet days. I'll say no more!

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

Enjoy!

~ Lisabet

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Peeping at Women in Their Underwear: John Sloan’s Windows into the Erotic Spirit of the Past

by Donna George Storey

The goal of the writer of historical fiction is to bring the past vividly to life with as much authenticity as possible. The materials we can draw from are varied: diaries, novels, oral histories, contemporary articles and advertisements, historical studies of political and social life, photographs and paintings. For those of us seeking a sense of the erotic, we often must read between the lines due to the conventions of respectability. But occasionally, as with the erotic letters of James Joyce, the past does hand us an illuminating gift.

This month, I’d like to share another favorite sexy treasure I discovered—the “peeping-at-undressed-ladies” drawings of John Sloan. Now on first consideration, you might think photographs would provide the most “realistic” visual inspiration to recreate life in New York City of one hundred years ago. And indeed, the photographs of that time are helpful in terms of setting the scene. However, when it comes to a sense of what it was like to be in the city, to encounter its vitality and variety by both day and night, the work of the Ashcan School—artists including John Sloan who strove to portray the truth of modern life in the city—provides the most satisfying glimpse into the libidinous desire of the early 1900s.

Take, for example, the drawing above, Turning Out the Light (1905). From reading Sloan’s diary, John Sloan's New York Scene, 1906-1913, I know that the artist drew material from intimate scenes he spied through New York's windows. As evening fell, a lighted room in a neighboring apartment could indeed provide a provocative show. Generally speaking, detailed accounts of what went on in bedrooms in the early 1900s are quite rare, but Sloan’s drawing is worth more than a thousand words. Women in those times were officially passive in bed, but the voluptuous woman in this drawing is clearly in control. It is she who takes the initiative to begin the amorous encounter by turning off the light while her lover waits in anticipation. The glance between them leaves no doubt at the pleasure to come. The petticoat over the chair, the stocking over the headboard, the fact she must hold up her shift, which had probably already been pulled from her shoulders during foreplay suggests that some of the preliminaries have already been observed by the artist. This glimpse of the moment before offers delicious food for the imagination.


 Roofs, Summer Night (1906) treats a city custom of the less affluent—seeking relief from the heat on a sultry summer night. Apparently the whole tenement building camped out on mattresses on the rooftop, the women stripping to their shifts (a long slip worn next to the skin). Here instead of being the sole voyeur, as we were in Turning Out the Light, we also observe another's voyeurism. Note the clear fascination of the man with the mustache at the right of the picture with a voluptuous woman who is not his wife (presuming the woman beside sleeping him is his spouse). The man’s desire imbues the scene with an extra kick of sexual tension that would not be present in a scene of only sleeping figures.


Sloan dials the voyeurism up even higher in Night Windows (1910). A dark male figure spies on a woman at her evening toilette, illuminated in her window as if she is on a stage, yet presumably innocent of the illicit pleasure she provides. Again it is hard not to connect the lurking male figure with the scantily clad woman taking down the laundry from the clothesline right below him, although of course the connection is less definite than the couple in the previously discussed community sleep out. But look a little closer and you'll see another man inside that apartment, appreciating his wife's shift-clad behind. Yes, life in the city is a feast of endless temptations for admiring eyes.

Of course, my favorite of these three is Turning Out the Light for its frank portrayal of female desire, pleasure and agency, but the erotic yearnings of the men in the early 1900s are just as pleasurably exposed through John Sloan’s windows into the male sensibility. Although I work in prose, I’m very grateful to him for sharing with the viewers of 2016 these visions of nights of long ago.

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