Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Inspiration


I’m very excited to be blogging for ERWA. Back in the early days when I was just getting started as an erotic author, ERWA was not only the go-to site for all of the latest calls for submissions, but it was also a place to go for inspiration and encouragement. Now, here I am writing what I hope will be inspiring and encouraging.

Today, I want to talk about inspiration, because like most writers, I think about it all the time, and crave it constantly. I want to talk about one of my favourite stories from Greek Mythology, one that made me think more about inspiration than any other, and that’s the story of Daphne and Apollo. In a nutshell, Apollo, the God of Light, falls in love with Daphne, a woodland nymph. But Daphne flees his advances, and when it becomes clear to her that she can’t escape him, she calls upon her father to help her, and he turns her into a laurel tree to save her from Apollo’s lust.

Perhaps it’s my naughty nature, but I’ve always thought to myself, if I were Daphne, I would not only have let Apollo catch me, I would have pursued him. After all, he is the god of poetry and music and art and wisdom and all those wonderful things that we writers long for. A good fuck for a little wisdom and inspiration - a fair exchange, I’d say. For some reason, I could never quite get my own private version of that myth out of my head, nor the idea of that masterful exchange of power, becoming the lover of the divine in exchange for divine gifts.

That got me to thinking about other lovers of the gods, lovers who hadn’t been turned into trees before they were ravished by the divine. Most of them got knocked up, true enough, and since the Greeks were pretty misogynistic, that was the end of the story for the women-folk. In short, they were pretty, some god took a fancy to them, knocked them up, and there ya go! But, the result of their ‘inspiration’ was a child that was more than human, a child with special powers, a child that was a savior or a hero. Of course, Psyche didn’t get knocked up. She just married a god, bested her mother-in-law at her own game and was made a goddess for her troubles.

But it’s when I started thinking beyond the misogyny of the day to the archetypal message of the story that it hit me. Daphne is really a tragic character because at the end of the tale, she misses out on divine inspiration. She becomes rooted in one place, unmoving, never able to do more than passively endure the changes of the world around her. All she’s left with is her chastity. But Danae, when seduced by Zeus, gives birth to Perseus, and Leda, also seduced by Zeus in the form of a swan, gives birth to Helen of Troy and Pollux.  And the stories of the children they give birth to are larger than life, exciting adventures, stories that cause the rise and fall of empires, and all are the result of divine and human coupling. Granted there was often no choice for the women, or the men, the gods took a fancy to. Who could really argue with a god? But the result was no less amazing.

Inspiration is like that, I think. We can bargain for it. All of us writers have our techniques, the things that we do, the rituals that work to get us to the story we need to tell. I walk and grow vegetables. Some people listen to music, some people cook. I love hearing the stories of how people get their inspiration, how people open themselves to the Muse in an effort to get knocked up creatively. But I also love those times when inspiration broadsides us, comes in a form we least expect and ravishes us until we’re full and overflowing and we give birth to a story that we didn’t see coming, a story that has a life all its own far more than we could have given it if we’d simply sat down and planned it out.

Even leaving the Garden of Eden is a story about seeking inspiration, about seeking to discover more, about becoming more than ourselves, and about the price we pay when we’re willing to take that risk – powerful stuff, all of it. And because the creative force will not be controlled, it often doesn’t work out the way we planned it. It’s often expansive, explosive and dangerous. It’s hardly any wonder that Daphne is seen as virtuous, and chastity is the surface message for the rule of the properly behaved. But the subversive message, now that’s another matter. The subversive message launched a thousand ships, killed the sea monster, grabbed divinity and claimed it in mortal hands, and wow! Writers do that every day, every time we yield to inspiration, or grab it by the hem of its toga and refuse to let go until it ravishes us, we re-create that archetypal story all over again.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Live Chat with Janine Ashbless

EVENT ALERT!
Erotic Fantasy Live Chat with the Pros
Featuring Janine Ashbless

WHEN:  Saturday, September 15th, at 3:00pm EST, (12 noon PST; 8:00pm GMT)
WHERE:  ERWA chats are held on the ShadowWorld chat server, channel, #erachat.
DIRECTIONS: Go to ShadowWorld chat server. On screen you'll see 'Connect o ShadowWorld IRC'. In the Nickname box, key in your name. Leave the channels box at #ERAChat, and click 'Connect'. A chat text box will appear at the bottom of your screen. Those who prefer a modern interface with way-cool functions, follow the directions at ERWA Chat Access.

Janine Ashbless has a reputation for writing erotic fantasy and paranormal stories and novels, and for putting her own twist on fairy tales, mythology and folklore. She is published by Black Lace, Cleis Press, Ellora's Cave, Samhain Publishing, Mischief Books and Sweetmeats Press. Recent publications include a story in the much anticipated Thrones of Desire: Erotic Tales of Swords, Mist and Fire edited by Mitzi Szereto, with a Foreword by Piers Anthony (Cleis Press, September 2012; ISBN: 157344815X). If you read and/or write within the Fantasy genre Janine is the lady to talk to.
Read about Janine Ashbless at: www.janineashbless.com

Mark your calendars and be there for ERWA's Live Chat with Janine Ashbless!
Send questions to Adrienne

Monday, August 27, 2012

Magic-Realist Erotica

by Jean Roberta
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please excuse me if I seem a little distracted. (For one thing, I’m posting this a day late. I hope I’m not intruding.) I’ve spent much of the last few weeks in the 1860s.

Historical fiction fascinates me, especially when it includes more explicit sex than the “serious” literary works of the time generally did. At about the same time I joined the Erotic Readers Association (as it was called) in 1998, I read The Mammoth Book of Historical Erotica, edited by Maxim Jakubowski. The table of contents (and authors) was like a who’s-who of noteworthy erotic writers of the time, and several of the characters were famous people from the past. Most of the stories seemed to answer questions about history and the game-changers in it that most readers had been afraid to ask (e.g. What did Personage X really do in bed? How Freudian was Freud?).

Like several recent Hollywood movies, historical erotica shows the past more clearly and apparently more accurately than it could have been shown at the time.

Among movies that show a kind of photoshopped version of the past is Goya in Bordeaux, a 1999 biopic about the Spanish painter Francisco Goya (1746-1828) which uses the same colour palette and chiaroscuro (dramatic contrast between light and shade) that Goya used in his paintings, suggesting that Goya might have made a film like this if the technology had existed in his time. There is also Schindler’s List, a heartbreaking 1993 movie about the Holocaust which was shot in black-and-white to give it the flavour of the 1940s. Although actual films from that era still exist, they don’t look nearly as good.

There seems to be a bottomless appetite for books, films, plays, musicals and even roleplay set in an interesting era in the past which is shown with attractive clarity, and often with some degree of historical accuracy, but without certain disappointing restrictions. (For example, the four-course “medieval feast” which was put on by the local Society for Creative Anachronism several years ago was delicious because all the food was fresh. How likely is it that even royalty in the centuries between 600 and 1600 ate that well?)

Quite a few works of historical fiction with explicit sex scenes have appeared since Maxim Jakubowski’s “mammoth” tome (part of a series of “mammoth” erotic anthologies). British author “James Lear” has written a series of “Mitch Mitchell mysteries” about a crime-solving American medical doctor living in Edinburgh in the 1920s. While investigating murders on the side, as it were, “Mitch” has an amazing number of sexual encounters with other men, even though male-on-male sex was strictly illegal in Britain at the time. These books, published by U.S.-based Cleis Press, have acquired a cult following. Several of these novels seem to be based on older books that are thought of as “classics” (Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson). The allusions to the “classics” are part of the author’s game (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

In 2011, Cleis Press published Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts by Mitzi Szereto, a good-natured romp through Jane Austen’s most popular romance novel. The frequent and varied sex scenes in Szereto’s version actually seem to suit the characters and the plot, and the sex exaggerates the social satire which is present in the original novel. Mitzi Szereto’s version was not the first rewriting of Pride and Prejudice since 2000.

Therefore I was not surprised to read that British publisher Total E-Bound has launched an erotic imprint, “Clandestine Classics.” Here is the publisher’s description:

“There is no doubting the fact that the classics remain an inspiration to writers, even today, with many complex and thought-provoking storylines. But if we are honest with ourselves haven’t we heard the same reserved tale told time and time again?

Our collection of Clandestine Classics is about to change that. This is a collection of classics as they have never been seen before.

The old fashioned pleasantries and timidity have all been stripped away, quite literally. You didn’t really think that these much loved characters only held hands and pecked cheeks did you? Come with us, as we embark on a breathtaking experience—behind the closed bedroom doors of our favourite, most-beloved British characters. Learn what Sherlock really thought of Watson, what Mr Darcy really wanted to do to Miss Elizabeth Bennet, and unveil the sexy escapades of Mr Rochester and Jane Eyre. We’ll show you the scenes that you always wanted to see but were never allowed. Come on, you know you can’t resist...open the pages and delve inside.”

Of course, this imprint is controversial. Some readers are uncomfortable with fanfic (the rewriting of someone else’s work) even when it does not include vivid descriptions of sex or desire. However, I think there is some truth in the line “the scenes that you always wanted to see but were never allowed.” Explicitly sexual novels were written in English in past centuries (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, better known as “Fanny Hill,” was first published in 1749), but these publications were so plagued by legal and social persecution that writers (especially “lady writers”) who wanted to avoid trouble generally avoided describing physical expressions of lust. I think it’s fair to speculate on what certain dead writers would have written if they could have been assured that they would get away with it.

Personally, I would feel uncomfortable writing a sexually-explicit version of an actual novel which is still popular in its original form, but so far, I’ve enjoyed reading such books.

So why have I spent several weeks in the 1860s? Because I’ve had two months away from my classroom job, and therefore I’ve been able to finish writing my raunchy pirate novella, The Flight of the Black Swan, in which a rag-tag crew of gay-male exiles from Her Majesty’s Navy (plus one lesbian and one transman) cross the Atlantic in a stolen sailing ship to intercept a blockade-runner carrying precious tobacco and bales of cotton during the American Civil War. Emily, the heroine, feels at first like a mermaid on the ship, a member of an alien species, but as things turn out, she finds the perfect woman to share her life with—along with the lives of her husband and his lover.

Even though I was inspired by the comic tone of Gilbert & Sullivan’s unbelievable Victorian operettas about sailors and pirates, I’ve tried to keep historical inaccuracies down to a minimum. Google is definitely my friend, and I’ve actually learned more than I needed to about the technology of the 1860s.

Would a journalist of the time have ink-stained fingers? Yes. Commercially-available typewriters were not available until E. Remington & Sons sold the first model in 1873. Could news of the Union victory in 1865 be sent to England by Morse telegraph? Yes, but not right away. The first transatlantic message went through in July 1866. Would the British Navy really be willing to retire a wooden sailing ship in the 1860s? Definitely. The ironclad HMS Warrior of 1861 marked the end of the Age of Sail. Luckily, sex itself (as distinct from culturally-specific words) is fairly timeless, and that includes the same-gender varieties.

My novella is currently in the hands of the publisher. Time will tell whether readers will find its version of realism to be magical enough.
--------------------

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Engaging the Senses

By Lisabet Sarai

How do you make your stories come alive for readers? One important factor is your ability to engage their senses. When you give readers some idea of how your fictional world smells, sounds, tastes, and feels, their vicarious experience becomes more vivid and compelling. (I left the sense of vision off the list above because most authors already describe how things look.) In erotica and erotic romance, of course, sensory details become even more critical, because sex is such an intensely physical activity and because arousal depends so much on non-visual stimuli such as touch and smell.

Personally, I find it quite difficult to come up with effective sensory descriptions. All too often, I sit there at my computer, a scene playing out in my mind, knowing how it would feel, smell and taste, but finding myself at a loss as to how to convey those impressions in language.

The fact is, words can never adequately capture the nuances of sensory perception. Actually, all you can hope to do is trigger the recollection of sensation on the part of your reader. Your words must act as cues that evoke a kind of recognition. Ah, yes, you want your reader to think, I know how my nipples feel when I'm turned on - like I'll die if someone doesn't touch me. I remember how my husband smells when we've been working out in the yard all day and he hasn't showered. I can call up the slightly bitter taste of semen, the salt-and-iron flavor of blood. I know the crinkly sound a condom packaging opening and the gasp of lube spurting into a palm. Actually, of course, conscious thought isn't what's going on. Descriptions evoke emotion via recognition or imagination.

Starting this post (without really knowing where I was going) led me to consider what strategies we authors have at our disposal to work this little trick. It seems to me that there are three basic methods for engaging the senses: adjectives, metaphors, and mirroring.

Adjectives, of course, exist to describe. The trouble is, the most obvious adjectives are frequently overused. Again and again, I find myself describing skin as "smooth", voices as "low","rich" and "melodious", the scent of arousal as "musky", the taste of muscular flesh as "salty". Bring out the thesaurus, I can hear you say, and I do. However, it's not necessarily a better solution to use some other term that is less frequent in the language (and thus more difficult to understand) or perhaps not exactly right for the sensation I'm trying to convey.

Let's try "smooth", as an example. When I dig out my trusty Roget, I find three inches of entries in the index under "smooth". I guess "smooth-textured" is the closest to my meaning when I'm writing (for example) about the feel of a man's erect organ in one's hand or mouth. I flip to entry 287.9 (287 as a whole is "smoothness") and find the following:

sleek, slick, glossy, shiny, gleaming; silky, silken, satiny, velvety; polished, burnished, furbished; buffed, rubbed, finished; varnished, lacquered, shellacked, glazed; glassy.

Aside from silky, silken, satiny, and velvety, which are metaphoric, which of the above adjectives would be a better description for my hero's penis than "smooth"? It might be "slick", but only if I've already dispensed the lube (or I have a ménage going on). "Sleek" seems to me to have a different meaning, and also to be a strange description for part of a man (though you might talk about sleek hair). "Gleaming", "shiny" and so on refer to the sense of sight, not touch. I would imagine that my hypothetical penis would be "rubbed", but not in the sense mean here! I rather like the notion of a "laquered" penis, but that would have to be a sex toy, not the real thing!

So in fact, my hackneyed adjective "smooth" may be the best choice, at least among the options here. Sigh. (I'd be interested in hearing other suggestions.)

Metaphors work by explicitly stating or implying a comparison between the sensation being described and some other well-known or prototypical sensory experience. (Actually, an explicit comparison is called a simile, but the effect is the same.) "Silky", "satiny" and "velvety" are all metaphorical when used to describe skin. They refer to three different textures, associated with different types of fabric. I've used all three of them - a lot. In general, I rely on metaphor for the bulk of my sensory descriptions. Excitement is likened to electricity or fire. Pleasure is described as melting or boiling, compared to slow-pouring honey or breath-stealing race cars.

Metaphors offer a far wider variety of options for sensory description. First, one can draw on the full range of natural and artificial phenomena as potential sources of metaphor. Second, we already understand and describe our experiences in metaphorical terms. We talk about "burning" pain, a "heavy" heart, "biting" sarcasm or a "bitter" argument. Strictly speaking, these are all metaphors.

But metaphor can be overdone, too. I know, because this is one of my weaknesses. Over-reliance on metaphor to describe physical sensations can end up distancing the reader from your character, rather than bringing her closer. This is particularly true if the metaphor is "strained" (a metaphor in itself) - if basis of the implied comparison is not immediately obvious or possibly inappropriate. Overuse of metaphor can also make writing sound overly precious and "literary".

Mirroring is the third alternative for engaging the senses. Don't go looking up this strategy in your writing text books; I just came up with this name, though I'm sure many of you use this technique, consciously or unconsciously. What do I mean by mirroring? Instead of describing the sensations themselves, you describe the character's thoughts and/or reactions to those sensations.

Here's a short excerpt from my BDSM erotic romance novella The Understudy. It uses all three techniques, but relies quite heavily on mirroring. I've highlighted in red the sentences where I'm using the character's reactions or thoughts to imply sensation.

****

Geoffrey positioned himself between my splayed thighs. “Remember, Sarah,” he said. “Be still.” Then he rammed his cock all the way into my cunt in one fierce stroke.

The force drove the breath from my lungs. The fullness made me suck the air back in. If I hadn’t been so wet, he would have torn me apart, but as it was my flesh parted for him as though sliced open.

My pussy clenched reflexively around his invading bulk, but otherwise I managed to avoid moving. His eyes, locked with mine, told me he approved. His hardness pressed against my engorged clit. A climax loomed, then faded away as he kept me there, motionless, pinned to the bed.

He pulled mostly out. My hungry cunt fluttered, empty for an instant. He drove back into me, harder than before. I strained against the bars, struggling not to jerk and writhe as his cock plunged in and out of my cunt like a pile-driver.

God, it felt good! His roughness somehow heightened the pleasure. I was his, to use and abuse. His fuck toy, just as he had said. At that moment, that was all I wanted to be.

****

I am not holding my own writing up as a model here. I'm merely trying to illustrate what I mean by "mirroring". There's very little direct description of sensation in this passage but I hope that it evokes the intensity of this experience for my heroine.

I don't know if this analysis is any help. It's still agony to come up with vivid, original sensory descriptions. I remember recently, for instance, I was trying to describe the smell of freshly brewed coffee. How would you convey that unique sensation? You recognize it in an instant, but what are the characteristics of the smell?

Warm. Rich. Dark. Earthy. Sweet? Stimulating. Mouth-watering (that's mirroring, really). Complex. Chocolatey (a metaphor). Roasted (but can you really smell that)?

I'm getting nowhere here. Maybe you'd like to give it a try. Maybe you'll be more successful that I am. And I'd love to know what techniques you use to engage your readers' senses!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

All About Pleasure: What You Need to Succeed


Talent.  Luck.  Hard work.  If you have all three, you will definitely be published.  With only two, you have a good chance of seeing your work in print.  With just one, your chances fall considerably, although it’s still possible, especially if you’re blessed with luck. I’ve forgotten exactly where I read this advice when I was a novice writer, but it’s stayed with me for over a decade (my apologies to the veteran who wrote this—I hope the sharing of your wisdom will partially make up for the lack of attribution!)


Interestingly enough hard work is the only one of these elements within an individual writer’s control.  Talent is something you are born with and much harder to determine in yourself than another, so an aspiring writer must soldier on without sure knowledge she has It to complete the magic three.  While it could be argued that preparation paves the way for luck, by its very definition, luck is something we can’t really order on demand.  But, and perhaps I’m being romantic, in almost every case you can become a better writer by writing--a lot, day after day, year after year—whether or not the muse is with you or money and fame reward you.  Much like a musician, you will improve if you practice. 

Yet hard work is the element that is also glossed over in the popular portrait of the Real Writer, who spends her days by her swimming pool giving interviews to the press about her lastest critically-acclaimed bestseller.  Naturally, since celebrity is the modern manifestation of aristocracy, such a being doesn’t sweat or get dirt under her fingernails.

I lay part of the blame for this misconception on the cinematic montage, the classic way to show major growth and progress in the movies, which, let’s face it, reach a far greater audience than books.  The writer, frustrated, yanks a piece of paper from his typewriter and tosses it in trash—or in a more modern incarnation frowns at his laptop and deletes a huge block of text.  In the next ten-second scene, he repeats the procedure (perhaps downing a blender full of raw eggs for strength).  On the third pass, he smiles at his work, and in the fourth, he’s typing merrily.  In the next instant, he’s shaking hands with a prominent editor and being taken off to lunch, concluding with a book signing with a mob of adoring fans.

Intellectually we know this is supposed to represent a year’s worth of effort, or more practically ten, but emotionally, I wonder if we don’t all think that writing a bestselling book takes all of two minutes.  That’s how it happens on the screen after all.  And while we can all agree this is a convenient fiction and shouldn’t be taken seriously, I believe these fantasies can have an unfortunate influence on our subconscious.  If the words, money and fame don’t come easy, then we don’t have It.  We aren’t Real Writers.

In grappling with my own relationship to the hard work of writing—beginning with the fact I only had the courage to devote the necessary focus and effort to writing at the less-than-precociously-talented age of thirty-five—I’ve come to realize that I don’t want to waste my time reading something that is not the result of hard work.  Perhaps the actual writing of the story took but a day (which has happened for me only once in a hundred stories I've written), but the preparation, the gestation of ideas, the apprenticeship took years of focus and dedication.

That’s why I so appreciate stories of the writing life that celebrate the hard work, rare as they are.  That’s why I’ll freely admit I spent fourteen fallow years between minoring in creative writing in college and sending out my first story, took five years to write my first novel and five-and-counting to write the second.  It’s not glamorous.  It’s not the most efficient way to “achieve” fame or money.  But it is deeply satisfying to see a long-term dream come to fruition.  

I still agree that talent, luck and hard work do play a role in the mysterious equation that leads to publication.  Yet for me, true success requires more—respect for your ideas, your reader's time, and the process of storytelling itself.  That's all you need to be a Real Writer, swimming pool not required.

Donna George Storey has 150 publications to her credit, most recently a collection of short stories, Mammoth Presents the Best of Donna George Storey. Learn more about her work at http://www.facebook.com/DGSauthor

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Change you Missed

Chances are, if you ever drank to get drunk, once or twice you've drank to the point of regret.  I certainly have.  It's a terrible feeling to awaken to the knowledge that you're not where you usually expect to be, then wonder what transpired.

The little story that follows tells of such a situation, and a surprising outcome, and through it all, a change in a life, or at least the possibility of one.





Stop, Slow, Stop, Slow

©  Craig J. Sorensen




You promised yourself it would never happen again.  Promised that you’d soothe your restless mind in another way.  Promised you never again wake up in . . . well

It looks like a doublewide, at least a quarter century old.  Neat as a pin, but showing its wear.  A train comes by so close, you can feel it in your ass.

She’s turned away, a sheet over her jackhammer frame, and you work to recall her face, but the dryness in the mouth and mammoth need to piss are the only indication of what went on last night.  You remember, bit by bit, the bar you migrated to starting at a classy pub downtown, just a stone’s throw from work.

You recall the bars, descending strata.  Never happy where you are, move on.  You lose count.  You wish you could remember.

You check the floor, expecting underwear next to the bed, socks half way across the room, t shirt in the door, the rest an ant crumb train to the front door, you do it like this.  Impatience and passion, yes, but also it makes for an orderly retreat.  Step, clothe, step, clothe, step, clothe until the door closes gently in your wake.

So unlike you, the neat stack of clothes on the Samsonite chair, a suit and tie, t-shirt, underwear, socks, and her threadbare jeans and tank top over the back.  What a pair you two must have been when you left that last bar.

Birds’ songs ascend as the train rumbles its last.

She stirs. 

You freeze, knowing that she’s at that state where your jostling the old bed will probably wake her.  You lay still as a worm thrust from the ground by a sudden rain, the caught in a cymbal crash of sun.  She turns in profile, still sleeping.

A little more haze lifts, and you recall later last night, pool played in a dive bar.  A girl who said she held up construction signs on road repairs.  Stop, slow, stop slow.  She beat you at nine ball again and again.  Not a thing about her was your kind of woman, and you wonder how you got here, no matter how much you drank, no matter how deep your need.  And that need was deep last night.

That much you remember clearly.

She sighs, and you start to get hard.  Surprise at how you respond after what must have passed last night.  Your desire is deep, like it was before you left the office, maybe even more.  It is not the predictable drained sensation steeped in regret that takes form when reason and cottonmouth set in.

You are harder.  Harder.  It actually starts to hurt.  Piss boner.  That’s it.

But you want her, want her bad.  You shouldn’t, especially when you already had her.  Especially when she’s so . . . so . . . so wrong.

She casts the sheet aside and shows off her muscular body.  You try not to look at the golden pubic hair and note the way her knurled knuckles rub there.  Her eyes are on you, her lips are smiling as her gaze drains down to the tent between your legs.  “Mornin’.”

“Hey.”

Her fingers slide under the covers, up your thigh, and cradle your balls.  The cool of her hands is perfect, both soothing and exciting.  “I’m glad you suggested we wait until the morning.”

Probably couldn’t get it up.  As much as you drank . . .

Those cool hands join forces, one on your balls, the other stroking your rod.  “Seem’s you’re glad we waited too, but I must say, I never had so much fun just hanging out and talking.  Especially when I was as horny as I was last night.  And falling asleep with that hard cock against my back?  Amazing!  Don’t know how you could stand it, but it made me hot.”

“Uh, yeah, uh, that was great.”  You’re pretty sure you mean it.  You do know, that, as morning after regrets go, not remembering what you talked about is a first.

She smooths the pre come that has drooled into her hand up and down your shaft.  Licks it, with a smile, from her palm like a cat cleaning herself.  She opens her body.  “God, I can’t wait to feel you in me.”  Her fingers feel perfect as she rolls a rubber down your shaft.

You position between her thighs and savor her slick walls.  She gives a huge, deep, resounding, toe curling, lip stretching, jaw cracking sigh. 

You nearly come instantly.  You’re glad when she says.  “Just hold still so I can feel it all.”  You stay still until the come that threatened to escape eases back.  You need to come, you need to piss, you need water, you need to eat.

You need to breathe.

But you don’t do any of them.  You obey.  You only obey.  Never your strong suit, yet you do it well.  Buried to the balls in her, and yet you push tighter, and are met with an approving grunt.  It’s strangely tender, strangely rough, painful and yet you don’t want it to end.  Your arms around her back, your legs entwined in hers.  Still and full of need.

It is Saturday, your day to rush around and get things done at home.  Well, every day is a day to rush around, you’re never stay still, never patient.  So many reasons to rush, and really, do you need one?

But your bodies begin to move together.  Slow, stop, slow, stop, she seems to turn that construction sign, and you obey.  You are happy, strangely happy.

“God yes, you feel so good in me,” she whispers in your ear.

Slow, stop, slow, stop, you listen to her breaths, her moans her sighs as they ascend to a strangely gentle orgasm like a refined lady sneezing.  Bad as your needs are, they are superseded by the need to bring her another, see if you can make her writhe and come like a grenade.

And you do, pounding hard in her, but slowly, slowly ascending, your balls are hard as a wrecking ball.  You don’t want to come, but your body won’t listen, and you shoot so hard in the rubber you feel you must have burst it.

She unfurls the rubber, and lets you go to the bathroom first.  While she cleans up, you could leave.  You look back at the bed.  Looks nice, and you lie down and wait for her.

Waiting, not your strong suit.  Glad when she comes to bed, and curls up against you.  “Mind if I stay a little longer?”  You ask.

“I was kind of hoping you would.”

You wonder how long it might be, and for once, you don’t worry about it being too long.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Finishing What You Started


Last month, fate and a friend gave me an ultimatum: finish my novel, Beautiful Losers, or lose the opportunity to see it published by a prestigious press.

As much as I say I don’t care about being published, the confrontation was a reality check. Was I going grab opportunity by the balls and get this book out there, or let it wallow in the digital swamp forever? Was I a competent writer or just a pretender?  It seems, to my surprise, that a deadline is my friend.

So I finished it: the four final chapters in two weeks.  Admittedly, I had known how the book would end for over a year (come on, you KNOW how it ends), but the motivation to sit my butt down and write it had eluded me.

I suspect I’m not alone in this strange hesitation to close what’s been opened.  Some writers fervently create and cling to outlines as a way of making sure they push themselves to the last period.  I sequentially put my inability to finish down to a lack of planning, a fear of saying goodbye to the characters, a lack of discipline as a writer, etc.

It turns out that none of these were the problem at all.  My problem was a fear to revisit a level of writing that I believed I had surpassed. I didn’t want to spend time in the pool of my own earlier inadequacies.

But when the two-week deadline forced me to get my head back into the work, I found a vibrant, optimistic, and charming voice there. Perhaps a little over-exuberant, perhaps a little addicted to adverbs, but nothing that a stiff bout of editing could not cure.  I made peace with the fact that this was a younger writer.

So here, for what it is worth, is the recipe to how I edited and finished the book:
  1. Chapterize the objectives
    I knew how the story would end, but I knew I would lose interest in doing the job if I thought about it to much.  So I didn’t really outline the ending. I simply typed sentences of WHERE the story needed to be at that point.  That would allow me to be creative about how the characters got there, but still forced me to get there.
  2. Revise and Edit.
    I knew one of the challenges was going to be getting back into the headspace, storyspace and the voice of the story. I spent one whole week revising and editing the first 50,000 words.  When I say ‘one week’, I don’t mean a 40 hour week. I figure this phase took me about 70 hours.

    a.     First read through with a pen in hand, noting every time I winced or shuddered and why.

    b.     First edit to fix discontinuities or plot issues that needed earlier strengthening. I used my notes from the first read-through and would jump back to shore up character traits, reactions, settings.  I fixed any discontinuity issues, and sometimes I added nuance. Dialed down foreshadowing in places, strengthened it in others.

    c.      The second edit was all about language: grammar, punctuation and style. I have a propensity to over-use certain words, phrases and sentence structures.  I used http://www.writewords.org.uk/word_count.asp to identify repetitions.  Then I’d search for the word and fascistically decide if it really needed to be there at all, or if a synonym might do (‘very’ and ‘really’ are two of my sick addictions). I also searched the whole document for *ly . I looked at every adverb. Did it need to be there? Was there a better verb?

    d.     Read-through again for fluidity.  I work on a mac, so I use the read-aloud function, but you could easily just force yourself to read aloud.  I listened for jarring rhythm, overly long sentences, and anything that interfered with smooth reading.  It also is good for listening critically to dialogue.  I corrected as I went along.
  3. Write the final chapters.
    By then, I was deeply into the zone. I felt comfortable about the tone of the writing and wasn’t so worried that the last chapters would sound too different, writing-wise.
  4. Repeat step 2 a, b, c and d with the new writing.
  5. Last read-through.
    At this point, I knew I wouldn’t recognize a good novel if it crawled up my nose and took a bite out of my brain. All I was concerned with was ensuring it held together fairly well.
  6. Other eyes.
    I sent out a call for beta-readers. Luckily, because I had serialized Beautiful Losers on my blog,  there were many people willing to read the draft, because they wanted to know the ending. In exchange, I asked them to note down any typos, grammatical errors, and anything else that really jarred them storywise.
  7. Went through all the crits, reader by reader, and corrected any errors they found. Thanked the readers profusely.

This did not make the perfect novel. And, had I had the time, there were some plot structure things I would have liked to change, but my two weeks were up and my deadline loomed. I sent the MS in to the publisher.

In an even midly sane world, I would have really liked a professional editor, but I knew I didn’t have the time to work with one.  I would have received great feedback and been unable to incorporate it. And I knew that would make me feel like shit.

I’m pretty sure there is a better way to finish a novel. But this was the way I did it. I hope there is something of value in my experience for other writers.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: "Oh, how beautiful."



Funny that these columns are called Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker because ... well, I have a confession to make. 

I'm very much on the fence about the whole thing, and am still dealing with doubts about whether or not I've made the right decision but - in the end - I think it will end up being a good thing.


I know, I know: I've been a rather vocal - if not strident - opponent of that particular corner of the social media universe, but a very good friend of mine pointed out that, to call down The Bard, I "doth protest too much."

It hasn't been easy: I tell ya, nothing like having a nearly (gasp) twenty year writing career resulting in only 433 'friends' and 68'likes' on my author page to really make the dreaded depression demon really flare up. 

But I'm sticking with it - not because I think that I have to, or that Facebook is the end-all, be-all solution to all my publicity needs - but because it was something I really, honestly, didn't want to do.

Obviously, explanations are in order.  See, I'm a firm believer in pushing yourself in all kinds of ways: as a person and, particularly, as a writer.  Sure, you have to like what you are doing - both in how you live your life as well as the words you put down on 'paper' - but growth comes not from comfort but from adversity, from challenge. 

I didn't set out to be an pornographer, but then an opportunity presented itself and (surprise!) I was actually pretty good at it.  I didn’t plan on being a 'gay' writer - because, no duh - I'm not, but (surprise!) I not just did it but came to really enjoy it.  I didn’t think I could be a teacher, but (surprise!) I've found that I really get a kick out of it.

I may have hated Facebook - hell, I still hate Facebook - but I had to at least try it.  Maybe it will work out, maybe it won't, but at least I'll have stretched myself.

For creative people of any ilk, that’s extremely important.  For one thing, it can keep your creativity rip-and-roaring, key to avoiding deathly boredom and staleness.  Professionally, it's essential: writing just what you want, what you’re comfortable with, can really limit where you can sell your work.  That you love to write, say, erotic romances is fine and dandy but if you do then there will only so many places to show off, or publish, your work. 

You want examples?  Fine: I'm now on Facebook – we’ve already discussed that uncomfortable fact - but since I've written quite a few queer novels I've decided that my next one is going to be (you ready for this?) straight - and not just straight but with a 'happy' ending.  My short story work, too, has a tendency to be, let's be honest here, bittersweet at best - so my next collection is going to be much more uplifting.  I've never written a play, so I'm planning on writing one sometime this year.  I've never written for comics - well, I wrote one - so I'm going to work on more.  Will these projects be tough?  Sure they will: but who knows what I may discover about myself and what I'm capable of?

Who knows, maybe even Facebook and I will become fast and good friends and will walk down the social media aisle together, skipping merrily and holding hands.

And if not ... well, I tried.  There is nothing wrong with giving something a shot but then deciding it's not for you.  Rejection, both internal as well as external, is part of a writer's life.  There's nothing wrong with it.  Trial and error is how we learn, how we grow. 

Writers far too often think that the 'names', the celebrities, the legends sat down and created wonders of the written word, masterpieces of story, with no trials and tribulations.  But - as I've said before - writers are liars and very few will admit that they might have been an overnight success ... after failing for decades. 

For example, take a look at the subtitle of this little piece: "Oh, how beautiful."  It comes from a wonderful quote by one of my favorite authors, Rudyard Kipling.  The whole thing reads: "Gardens are not made by singing 'Oh, how beautiful,' and sitting in the shade."

In other words, to bloom you have to work; you have to be brave and try new things, to push yourself, to challenge yourself personally and professionally – and, equally, you have to accept that periodically things just won't work out.

Back to Mr. Kipling.  Sitting on my desk is a reproduction of a letter he received after a submission to the San Francisco Examiner: a reminder not just to keep trying, to never give up, but that you have to be willing to face, and surpass, internal doubt, outside criticism.

The letter reads: "I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you don’t know how to use the English language."

Monday, August 6, 2012

Writing Exercise - Ode



 By Ashley Lister

The ode is one of my favourite styles of poetry, partly because it can take whatever form the poet decides. Traditionally the ode is written in praise of something.  One of the most famous odes in poetry, Keats’s ‘Ode to Autumn’, begins with the following lines:

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;

I could go into a pretentious poet mode here, discuss the fact that this is written in iambic pentameter and mention the a-b-a-b rhyme scheme in these opening four lines.

But, really, there’s no hard and fast rhyme scheme for the ode. And there’s no definite metre. And, rather than discuss immaterial points of poetry, instead I’d prefer to dwell on the obvious reverence Keats is bestowing on his beloved season of autumn.

Note the affectionate language used in this piece. In the first two lines we have:

‘mellow fruitfulness’
‘close bosom-friend’
‘maturing sun’

This is the language of someone who adores autumn. This is the work of someone who has used the concept of the ode to fully lavish praise on what he perceives as the most deserving of seasons.

I’m discussing the ode this month because I think it’s singly the most appropriate form of poetry for erotica. It somehow feels right to lavish ode-worthy praise on an erotic partner or some aspect of eroticism because they’re deserving of such high esteem.

Elevated language is no longer a necessary requirement of this type of poem. All that’s needed is the desire to write with adoration about something that deserves praise. Below is my humble attempt.

Broad and boundless round backside
Cheeky cheeks just made to twerk
Built to bounce and buck and slide
Help me put your ass to work.


As always, I look forward to reading any contributions that appear in the comments box this month.

Ash

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Erotic Lure Newsletter: August 2012

From the Erotica Readers & Writers Association
By Lisabet Sarai
_______


Dear Erotica Addicts,

Don't go to the Erotica Readers & Writers Association website this month! Unless you're on vacation, that is! The August edition includes so much fabulous content that, I'm warning you, you'll get sucked right in and not be able to escape. On the other hand, if that sounds like something you might enjoy - well, then, read on.

The August Erotica Galleries are perhaps the biggest, stickiest trap of all. Headlining a stellar line-up is our featured guest, feisty author/editor Delilah Devlin. Delihah serves up a tasty trio of erotic tales ranging from sizzling sapphic explorations to marital power games. Our prolific Storytime members add a half-dozen never-before-published stories that run the gamut from noir to desperately kinky, including a bawdy historical novella set during the American War of Independence. Then there are some fabulous flashers, complete erotic tales in two hundred words or less - some more tongue in cheek than others. Finally, don't miss the poetry section: a generous portion of hilariously raunchy limericks plus a page of more serious poems that drip with desire.

I'm incredibly impressed - and let me tell you, that's not easy to accomplish!

Get lost in literary lust:
erotica-readers.com/GD/S/Erotic_Fiction.htm

If, like me, you're a willing slave to the written word, our Books for Sensual Readers section should be your next stop. In the short story category, let me recommend PICTURE PERFECT: THE BEST OF DONNA GEORGE STOREY (published by the Mammoth Books people) or Rachel Kramer Bussel's latest anthology ANYTHING FOR YOU: EROTICA FOR KINKY COUPLES (which includes a story by yours truly). Then there's STRETCHED: EROTIC FICTION THAT FONDLES THE IMAGINATION, edited by Tinder James and featuring contributions from several ERWAers.

Fairy tales seem all the rage these days. NAMED AND SHAMED by Janine Ashbless is a lavishly imagined and beautifully illustrated foray into a dark fairy tale world of the flesh. Jason Robert Macumber gives us NEVER AFTER, a revisionist version of Snow White in which the brutalized princess turns assassin for hire, wielding a dagger carved from the famous magic mirror.

Lily Harlem, writing from the male POV for the new Ellora's Cave for Men erotica imprint, presents the transgressive, orally-focused DESSERT. If you're looking for pure erotic romance (though not "pure" in the sense of "chaste"!), pick up Lynne Connolly's latest foray into the world of music, IN THE MOOD.

I was thrilled to see that gay erotica legend Simon Sheppard has finally published a novel. THE DIRTY BOYS CLUB: THE SOAP OPERA MURDERS is going near the top of my TBR list. And if you're craving some hot woman-on-woman fiction - and don't object to spankings or bondage - check out Miranda Forbe's new lesbian anthology KINKY GIRLS.

As you all know (unless you're new to the Erotic Lure or have been living under a rock) all the erotic goodness that is ERWA is supported by commissions from our affiliates. So if you're going to buy any of the hundreds of books we feature (and, really, how can you resist?), please use the convenient links to our partners Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Gutenberg had no idea what he started:
erotica-readers.com/ERA/EB/Erotic_Books.htm


And where do all these wonderful erotic works come from? In many cases, from members of the ERWA community. Our Authors Resources pages are designed to help you (yes, YOU!) write and publish your sexy masterpieces. Month after month, we provide guidance, inspiration and information for authors both new and seasoned. This month, my ErotoGeek series on technological aspects of modern authorship continues with "I Want to Be Alone" - suggestions to help you protect your identity and your privacy on-line as you promote. Check out Cindi Meyers' market news for the latest on new publishers as well as inside dope on what different editors are seeking. The Writers' Resources link leads to a full page of links to other blogs and websites, including review sites, craft-related sites, and on-line reference sites.

The ERWA Submissions and Guidelines page is THE place erotica authors go to look for publishing opportunities. Updated throughout the month, our listings include print and epublishing venues in every sub-genre of erotica. We can help you find a market for your work, whether it's BDSM (e.g. Blushing Books), GLBTQ (e.g. Dreamspinner, Toquere, JMS Press), taboo erotica (e.g. ForbiddenFiction), speculative erotica (e.g. Circlet Press), literary erotica (e.g. OC Press), or erotic romance (too many to list!). We can even help you give it away to charity. (Check out Coming Together altruistic erotica if you want to "do good while being bad"!)

This month, our new calls include ebook anthologies being assembled by the new Mischief imprint, under editorship of Adam Nevill. There's also a call for GLBTQ stories from newcomer Riptide Publishing, offering starting royalty levels of 50%. Circlet Press is assembling an anthology, "Under Cover of Darkness", focused on villains. Shane Allison has a gay call out with the title "He Looks Like Trouble". These are just a few of the possibilities we list.

You deserve to be published:
erotica-readers.com/ERA/AR/Erotica_Authors_Resources.htm

Although our name focuses on "reading" and "writing", here at ERWA we're just as keen on action as on words. In the Sex Toy Playground this month, the folks from Good Vibrations present the "Top Ten Anal Sex Facts". (One or two surprised even me.) Mr. and Mrs. Toy join in the backdoor enthusiasm with their review of the Aneros Vice vibrating anal toy. Our regular Sex Toy Scuttlebutt column keeps you informed about the many popular and innovative amorous implements available. (As my Master would point out, knowledge is power.) And should you feel the urge to acquire any of these masterpieces of modern erotic technology, ERWA has arranged discounts for you from Adam & Eve, Adult DVD Empire, Good Vibrations and Babeland. Just include our special promotional code when you order.

Explore every erotic artifact you can imagine - and more;
erotica-readers.com/ERA/ST/Sex_Toy_Playground.htm


Of course sex toys and adult movies go together like - oh, like blindfolds and hand cuffs. Our Adult Movies pages offer everything from tasteful, tender couples porn to total filth unredeemed by the slightest shred of plot. My top pick this month is the sex-drenched adult comedy "Love, Marriage and Other Bad Ideas", about a marriage counselor who is wholly opposed to the institution. In the dirty smutty porn category, check out "The Pill", in which voluptuous Bibi Jones offers up her body to medical research, testing the effects of a new aphrodisiac. Yes, I know that premise sounds flimsy, but that's not the point, is it? In searching the classic porn category, I was distressed to see some of the listings were films I consider recent releases... how time flies!  I honed in on "Two at Once", a French erotic flick released in 1978. Now that's what I call classic.

These are just samples of the fabulous films you can browse at ERWA. Dig deeper and you'll find AVN award winners, sexy how-to flicks, porn parodies, and lots more.

Get visual:
erotica-readers.com/ERA/AM/Adult_Movies.htm

Inside the Erotic Mind this month, ERWA visitors discuss the thorny question of finding love online. We have three fascinating pages of frank confessions on the topic. Want to share your own thoughts or experiences? Just click on the Participate link.

Dare to venture inside the erotic mind:
erotica-readers.com/ERA/ITEM/Inside_The_Erotic_Mind.htm

Our August Web Gem is Eden Fantasys online adult emporium. Whether you're looking for your first sex toy or your twentieth, something vanilla or kinky, a product large or small, Eden Fantasys has choices for you. Enjoy a secure shopping experience and a wealth of inspiring resources that include forums, advice, reviews, and product videos for the web-savvy shopper. Stop by to shop, and enjoy the welcoming community at Eden Fantasys. They even have an erotic book club!
www.edenfantasys.com

So, are you still with me? Or did you get hung up, leafing through our book reviews or drooling over something outrageous in the Playground? Don't say I didn't warn you!

Hard to believe that it will be September next month, with the first day of autumn and the first day of school. Time to dust off the desks, get out the ruler and the cane, and make sure I have a fresh supply of white cotton panties...

But I digress. May the remainder of your summer be sizzling and satisfying! (If you follow my recommendations, I'll almost guarantee it.)

Obsessively,
Lisabet

____
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Write, learn, and play on ERWA email list. Details at:
erotica-readers.com/PRIVATE/index.html