Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Saturday, January 28, 2012

How It All Started

by Kristina Wright

Let me tell you a story about why you'll be seeing me here on the 28th of each month:

When I was invited to start blogging at the Erotica Readers and Writers Association blog, I said yes even though I didn't have a clue what I would write about each month. I also wasn't sure how I'd find the time. I'm kind of insanely busy these days, having had 2 babies in the past couple of years in addition to adding the title of anthology editor to my resume in that same time frame. But despite not knowing what I'll be writing about on the 28th of each month (because I'm really a fiction writer and nonfiction is hard for me) or when I'll even find the time to write (probably at 11:30 PM on the 27th...), I still said yes. And while it's an honor to be included in the same lineup with some of my favorite writers (some of whom, I admit, intimidate me more than a little) there's really only one reason I said yes: Adrienne Benedicks.

Adrienne is the woman behind the Erotica Readers and Writers Association. She's the reason ERWA exists (and I remember back in the day when it was just ERA) and I can say with all certainty that she was the catalyst that started my erotica writing (and editing) career. And I bet I'm not the only author who can say that. I have met many wonderful editors and authors in the more than a decade I've been writing erotica (and now erotic romance), but it was Adrienne who gave me my start. She is amazing and tireless and kind and there isn't much I wouldn't do for her or for ERWA. Seriously.

My erotica writing career started completely by accident in 1999. I had just published my first romance novel with Silhouette Books and my second novel had been rejected by them. It wasn't that there was anything wrong with the book (I was told), it simply wasn't what they wanted to see from me at that time. So I started down the tedious path of writing proposal after proposal (three-chapters-and-a-synopsis, ad infinitum) and having each one rejected. Part of it was I couldn't seem to deliver another romantic suspense novel like my first book and part of it was I would be assigned to an editor who loved whatever I was currently working on, only to be reassigned to a new editor by the time the proposal was delivered. And so it goes...

I was burned out on novel proposals when I wrote a quirky little story called “Service Entrance.” It was about a married woman who pays a man for the privilege of giving him a blowjob. The story was little more than a writing exercise--something entirely different than anything I'd been writing for the previous year or so, something really "out there" and beyond the rules and regs of romance fiction. After writing novel proposals, I had actually finished something, even if it was only a subversive little short story. That in itself felt good. Refreshing! I had no idea what to do with the story--it wasn't just sexy or erotic, it was downright dirty. I hadn't read anything like it before and as an author who'd been told to cut several love scenes from her steamy romance novel, I was convinced I wouldn't ever find a place that would publish it.

I might have filed "Service Entrance" away forever if not for my subscription to an electronic newsletter called Jane’s ‘Net Sex Guide and a timely call for submissions. The e-newsletter was put out by Jane Duvall, who was one of the first sex bloggers I ever read. The newsletter no longer exists, but Jane still runs the well-known adult website review blog Jane’s Guide. The editor of Jane's 'Net Sex Guide was none other than--ta da!-- the wonderful Adrienne Benedicks. Each month, she featured a short story in the newsletter. I sent “Service Entrance” to Adrienne and she bought it within days. Not only was my head spinning from the quick turnaround time (at this point, I was used to waiting months for a response to a proposal that had only taken me weeks to write), Adrienne also sent me a lovely, flattering note of encouragement. That sale, and her kindness, changed my writing career and probably my life.

After that introduction, I discovered Adrienne’s Erotica Writers Association and sent “Service Entrance” off to editor Marcy Sheiner about a month later for consideration in an anthology she was editing. I didn't think lightning could strike twice, but Marcy bought the story a few weeks later and "Service Entrance" went on to appear in the inaugural edition of Best Women’s Erotica (published in 2000). I was stunned. "Service Entrance" was my first erotica story and I had sold it twice in just a couple of months. I had not only found my niche, I'd found a home.

I have such appreciation and gratitude for Jane Duvall, Marcy Sheiner and--most of all-- Adrienne Benedicks and her Erotica Readers and Writers Association for starting my career as an erotica writer. I just signed my seventh anthology contract with Cleis Press and I feel as if I have come full circle, being able to buy those first stories and send those encouraging notes. Giving back to the community that has given so much to me.

Hey, what do you know? Maybe my monthly blog posts here will have a theme after all.

5 comments:

  1. Hi, Kristina,

    I didn't realize you'd been around ERWA for so long. Most of the time you've been pretty quiet, I guess!

    I joined in 2000, just after my first novel was published. And I second your praise of Adrienne. Without ERWA, there would be a lot fewer great erotic stories out there!

    Thanks so much for accepting the invitation to contribute, too! I look forward to reading more about your history - or whatever else toots your whistle!

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  2. Lisabet, I was pretty chatty the first year or so after I joined ERWA, then I think it was some sort of internet issue that kept me from posting on the mailing list for awhile. (Cannot remember exactly what happened, it's been too long, but I'm guessing it coincided with a couple of military moves.)

    And thank you for inviting me to contribute! I hope to give back to this wonderful community.

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  3. Kristina, I feel exactly the same way about Adrienne and ERWA. I got my first print publication through ERWA, and it remains my chief source of information about erotica, publishing and just hanging in there despite the ups and downs of writing (as your story of getting that second novel published so well reminds me). Adrienne is unfailingly supportive and encourages us all to give new things a try. She embodies the community spirit of erotica!

    Now, just your brief description of "Service Entrance" has got me so wanting to read it. What could be more beautifully subversive!

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  4. Such high praise for ERWA from people I admire a great deal, I am deeply honored. It took a village (full of people writing about sex - now there's a worthy image) to raise ERWA, and that community spirit and willingness to pitch-in time and effort, and amazing talent, is still going strong. I think together we helped moved erotica out of the smutty pit it was consigned to, and turned it into a viable genre.

    I'm often impressed at how the people of ERWA community help each other. It's not at all unusual to see well published authors help those just starting out. There's buckets of encouragement and support for each other, and the sharing of resources is truly impressive. That's one of ERWA's greatest strength. You're all awesome!

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  5. What a wonderful evolution! I'm so glad you found ERWA. I know that I would have never persisted in writing erotica without them, especially Adrienne and Bob.

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