Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Sunday, April 28, 2013
"The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed." - Ernest Hemingway
Eric stepped out of the shower and a foul stench—mingled with the crisp peppermint of his shampoo—smacked him in the face and left a coppery taste in the back of his throat. His stomach heaved. Confused, he looked around the room to figure out where the smell came from, but he couldn't pinpoint it. Dread clung to him, dark and sticky, ruining his relaxed mood. The light bulbs over the sink hummed, casting harsh yellow light about the room. He shaded his eyes against the glare, trying to see.
Why were those lights so bright? Something was terribly wrong in his peaceful world, and not knowing what it was frightened him.
His wife Alicia brushed her teeth as if nothing was unusual, while the stink of rot lurked beneath the cool mint of his shampoo. Why didn't she notice the smell?
He leaned towards her to place his hand on her shoulder, and she turned her face towards his for a kiss on the cheek. Ugly, purple bruises darkened her eyes. He pulled away, repulsed and alarmed, not quite sure what he was seeing. One side of her face had swelled to a dark mask, not unlike a pumpkin that had been left outside in the damp earth to rot. An angry red welt encircled her throat like a bloody ribbon wrapped around her neck. Frightened, he reached out one hand but he couldn't bring himself to touch her swollen face. Touching her would make the vision real and it couldn't be real.
Alicia spat in the sink. Two of her teeth bounced against the porcelain. Blood tainted the paste.
"The girls are running late again." Alicia's bloodied mouth leaked crimson and white toothpaste. Why did she act as if nothing strange was going on? He gaped at her, not understanding what was happening. The safety of his home evaporated as she spoke with her raw, torn mouth. "Make them wolf down their cereal, and toss them out of the house before they miss the bus."
"Alicia, who did this to you?" Eric asked. She did not answer him. She brushed her teeth, running the brush over her ragged gums where the teeth had been knocked out. His stomach heaved again, and he swallowed hard to keep from vomiting. He wanted to knock out the teeth of whoever had assaulted her, but she acted as if nothing was wrong. Why?
The phone rang. Who would be calling him at this hour? It wasn't even 7:30 yet. He asked Alicia again who had done this to her, but she didn't answer him. She dried her torn mouth, and then she smeared foundation over her face. To his horror, the foundation did not cover her bruises. It only made them look uglier and even more purple.
Eric walked to the phone and answered it.
The phone continued to ring. Eric's steam-hazy mind knew that that wasn't supposed to happen.
Eric woke up in bed to the ringing of the telephone on the dresser next to him. His wife, Carol, stirred at his side.
ABOUT ELIZABETH BLACK
Friday, April 26, 2013
by Jean Roberta
“Menage,” a French word meaning household, is the current term for sex scenes and erotic romances featuring more than two people. In some cases, this term seems parallel to “bisexual,” since ménage scenes or polyamorous relationships are never strictly heterosexual. Either one (or more) person has sex with one (or more) person of the same gender, loosely speaking, at least some of the time, or the whole group is gay-male or lesbian.
I haven’t tried living in an actual ménage that features multiple, simultaneous sexual relationships. In my reckless youth, I took part in a few sex scenes that involved multiple bodies. Just the logistics of such a scene make it harder to write about than a traditional coupling between a female and a male. (For one thing, as several other writers of queer sex have pointed out, pronouns can get confusing when there is more than one “he” or “she.”)
What intrigues me most about the subject of ménage, however, is the emotional complexity of a group relationship which is meant to be more committed and long-term than a casual hookup. While I have never assumed that an erotic writer has to live the lifestyle that she or he is writing about, approaching the chosen category with respect (whether it is BDSM, fetish, male/male, female/female, transgender, cross-dressing, or polyamorous) seems absolutely necessary to produce a story that doesn’t seem like a dirty joke told by an idiot, signifying nothing. (Apologies to Shakespeare.)
I haven’t written much about actual households that include multiple sexual relationships because, for a long time, I was skeptical about whether such arrangements ever actually work. A female friend told me about a failed threesome involving herself, her husband, and the woman who wanted a sexual relationship with her. The Other Woman would have liked Friend to ditch the husband, but instead, Friend told the Other Woman that she had to have a sexual relationship with him too, and then they would be a happy family with Friend in the centre. The Other Woman apparently said a few things that Friend didn’t choose to repeat, and raised a cloud of dust leaving them both behind. No surprise there.
At about the same time, I went to a women’s dance where I flirted with another lesbian who flirted back. Xena (as I’ll call her) was there without her long-term partner Gabrielle. Xena and I went as far as possible in a parked car before her guilt kicked in when she remembered her girlfriend at home. Xena suggested that we should have a threesome some time.
The next time I saw Gabrielle, she didn’t seem happy to see me. I realized that the loving threesome would only happen after the Apocalypse, and possibly not even then.
A young gay-male friend told me his plan to move to another part of Canada to live with a man he knew and liked. Friend told me that the other man (I’ll call him Joe) showed clear signs of being sexually attracted to him, but he was “in the closet.” This actually meant that Joe was married to a woman, Josephine. When I asked my friend if he thought he could also seduce Josephine so that both spouses would get equal time with their co-tenant, he seemed horrified. Friend made it clear that he was not at all attracted to any woman, let alone Josephine, but he couldn’t understand why she didn’t want him to move in. He assumed she was homophobic. Yoy.
Several months later, I heard that my friend was back in town. His ménage experiment had not worked, and the husband had chosen to stay with his wife. How shocking.
In Canada, government signs and notices must be in both official languages: English and French. A sign in the local post office reads: “Demenagez-vous?” which translates roughly into “Are you moving?” The notice goes on to advise those who plan to move to send out change-of-address cards. It always makes me wonder how many people who have tried to live in a ménage have left quickly, with hard feelings on all sides.
Jealousy is not an emotion that can simply be banished by means of a conscious decision, and it is not necessarily an expression of paranoia. Human beings need to feel liked, valued, admired and trusted, and no one wants to be ignored or left behind by a lover who prefers someone else. The challenge, both for those who want to be in a ménage and for those who want to write about the development of one, is to acknowledge the jealousy and cope with it realistically.
Since I began writing erotica, reviewing the work of other erotic writers, and exchanging information with them, I have read some persuasive stories about real and fictional ménages. Writing Skin by Adriana Kraft(www.amazon.com/Writing-Skin-ebook/dp/B003XRF5HU) tells the story of a ménage involving a bisexual wife, a heterosexual husband and a single, bisexual woman who is chosen by the couple because they like her erotic writing. Alternate chapters describe the development of the relationship of the writer with the wife (at first), then the writer’s growing bond with the husband, with some backstory about how the married couple fell in love with each other. There is some honest talk about feelings and expectations. It all works out because each of the three lovers has good intentions toward the other two and is genuinely turned on by both of them.
A few details in this plot stretched my ability to believe. (All three characters seem almost impossibly glamorous, and the husband is never a sexist jerk.) However, the ménage itself worked for me. I could imagine the three of them hosting a dinner party, and laughing together in the kitchen as they help each other cook and serve each course with a suitable wine.
My recent novella, The Flight of the Black Swan (www.amazon.com/Flight-Black-Swan-Jean-Roberta/dp/159021417X) deals with a “front marriage” in the 1860s, a necessary social illusion to protect both the man-loving husband and the woman-loving wife from the drastic penalties for “alternative” sexuality in the Victorian Age. (Women who were even suspected of losing their virginity outside of marriage were excluded from guest lists. Men found “guilty” of sex with other men were executed.)
When I began writing, I thought of this story as essentially queer, to use a broad term. The narrator is a lesbian, and the man she protects from the gallows by marrying him already has a devoted male lover when he proposes to her. As I got to know them better, however, the characters told me things I needed to know. (If you are a writer, you know how this works.) What begins in the story as a strictly legal arrangement develops into a kind of friendship with benefits. When the husband and the wife each have lovers, these Significant Others need to be reassured that they are important members of the ménage, not to be used and thrown away.
Making this kind of arrangement work requires courage and generosity. It requires thinking outside whatever “box” is offered to the participants as normal and inevitable. Writing a ménage story with a happy ending was an interesting challenge. I recommend it.
Posted by Jean Roberta at 2:44 PM
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
By Lucy Felthouse
I've been published for a few years now, mainly in the short story arena, though I have novellas available and others contracted, as well as a novel out on submission. I always keep my eye on what's out there, what's coming soon, how people are working, their achievements, and so on. And one thing that's caught my eye several times has been co-authoring. To me, it looked like a brilliant way to work on a project with someone, have fun and then end up with a piece of work at the end of it. But I admit I didn't really understand how it worked, so it just bubbled away in the back of my mind, and I didn't do anything about it.
However, towards the back end of 2012, my good friend and fellow writer Lily Harlem suggested co-authoring something together. I explained I had a few projects on, so I couldn't start right away, but I would definitely be interested. She was busy too, so we said we'd start in the early part of 2013, when all the New Year festivities were over and done with, and life was back to normal.
The writing bug bit Lily, however, and in December she sent me a chapter that had just come to her, so she'd written it down. I managed to read it quickly, but knew I still wouldn't be able to do anything with it until January. I was eager to try out co-authoring, but other commitments had to take priority.
Then 2013 arrived. I'd cleared my commitments and was free to start something new - hurrah! I read the chapter again and then bombarded Lily with a million and one questions about the process of co-authoring, how she thought it would work, our intended publisher, and so on. I was very lucky in that a) Lily had co-authored many times before so knew how it worked b) she was very, very patient with me and answered all my questions c) that our writing styles are quite similar, so that although we wrote from separate character viewpoints, our respective sections would still fit together well and d) we know each other well enough to give constructive and honest feedback that will be truly helpful, rather than trying to sugar coat anything for the sake of being nice.
And so we began. The chapter Lily had written back in December was from the female perspective and I was happy to write from the male perspective. I've done it many times before and enjoy it very much. We'd already agreed that if things didn't work out, we wouldn't worry too much about it, so I opened the document and began to write without thinking too hard. We had no plan, no idea what on earth the book was going to be about, really, just that it would be an erotic romance. Despite this, the words came. Fast.
After writing a chapter of roughly the same length as Lily's, I skim read it and sent it back to her. And thus the mad email exchange began. Prior to this project I'd only written one full-length novel by myself and found it a learning curve, albeit it a fun and very satisfying project, but often I had to force myself to carry on and not procrastinate. With this book, however, it was totally different. It was full of surprises - because we hadn't planned it, the chapters we sent back to one another were a total surprise, and we both had to think on our feet to work out where the plot would go next. We'd agreed not to rush one another for chapters as we both had other things on, too, and although we didn't pressure one another, we still produced the words at lightning speed (for me, anyway!). I grew eager to read Lily's next chapter, to see where the characters - which I'd quickly grown very fond of - would go next, what they would do. There was very, very little procrastination!
The only thing we'd really planned was that the book would be longer than 50,000 words - to make it novel length. We did discuss how it would end, but never made a set decision, we just decided to keep writing and hope it came to a natural conclusion. We agreed that because Lily had written the first chapter, that I would write the last. That was the only time throughout the project that I felt pressure - and it was from myself, not my co-author. I had to write the last chapter, therefore the ending, therefore it had to be good, and satisfying! I put my fingers to the keys of my laptop and hoped that what came out would be good. When I finished the final chapter I read it again and made tweaks, then decided that no benefit would come of me staring at it - so I sent it to Lily. And waited with baited breath for her reply.
She loved it!! She even said that it made her cry. Naturally, I was incredibly relieved that she liked it - and the fact it made her cry was a huge bonus. Poor Lily was suffering with a bad cold at the time so she wasn't feeling her best, but I decided to take the compliment anyway. And voilà - our novel, which had been through what felt like a bazillion title changes throughout the writing process, was finished. We smashed our 50k minimum and ended up with 70,000 words, roughly. In five weeks (with me even doing two chapters in one day - one in the morning, then one in the late afternoon as Lily sent hers back in the early afternoon) we penned a novel that we were both absolutely delighted with, and characters we adored.
Next, we made ourselves leave it alone for a while. We both agreed that jumping in with edits and polishing too soon wouldn't help. We'd made comments on each other's chapters as we went along, asking for clarification of certain points or even just saying parts had made us "LOL" and that helped immensely. So much so that after our waiting period, we didn't change very much at all.
Then came the discussion on submission. We'd had a publisher in mind all along - Ellora's Cave - and we submitted to them. Thankfully, they said yes. Cue much happy dancing from Lily and I! As we waited for news, we had a bit of a debrief and agreed we'd both loved the process and were amazed at how quickly the book had come together - and even discussed making it into a series.
Now we have contracts, a cover and are waiting for edits. As the book is themed around tennis, we're hoping to see our novel - titled Grand Slam - release in August, in time for the US Open. I don't want to say too much more and give the game away (no pun intended), but the novel is an erotic romance with a sports theme and some BDSM and seriously hot sex in there, too.
I totally adored the process of co-authoring with Lily. It was genuinely fun and we just seemed to work really well - and quickly - together. We've already got some time carved out to write another book in the series - and who knows what will happen after that?
So if you've been thinking about co-authoring, I would say go for it. If you know someone that you can work well with, and you will be honest with one another and complement one another, then it's a great way to write a book. You'll have to ask lots of questions to make sure you're both on the right wavelength, but it's worth it in the end.
Keep an eye on my website and social networks for news of my first co-authored novel and a peek at the cover, and I'll see you again next month.
Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over seventy publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include Best Bondage Erotica 2012 and 2013, and Best Women's Erotica 2013. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies. She owns Erotica For All, and is book editor for Cliterati. 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