Sunday, June 30, 2013
Friday, June 28, 2013
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Free Live Interactive Web Event
Sat. June 29, 2013
5:00–6:30 pm East Coast time
2:00-3:30 West Coast time
Anyone with web access can join-in free from anywhere in the world and participate through microphone, webcam, or text chat. Participants can get expert guidance from writing professionals – without having to drive to and from a crowded, noisy event facility and with no costly fees.
Current and aspiring writers of erotica, erotic romance, and sexuality-themed nonfiction won’t want to miss this live, interactive, online discussion and Q&A with three highly successful editors/authors, hosted by Sizzler Editions and Creative Sexuality.
Editors M.Christian, Sascha Illyvich, and publisher Jean Marie Stine will provide insight into trends and taboos in the field. They will offer writing tips and tricks, and advice on marketing and promotion of books. In a live, interactive session, they will take and answer questions from those who have logged in for the event.
· Hear expert advice on formatting, submitting, and publishing your book; Develop and strengthen writing, plot development, and characterization;
· Learn the most effective ways to market and publicize a book;
· Have the opportunity to ask questions about the writing and publishing process;
· Be able to pitch their own erotic story, novel or nonfiction.
All three panelists are writers as well as editors/publishers, with several decades of experience to their credit, and are well-versed in the craft and business of writing. They will address topics and questions such as:
· Trends in Erotic Romance and Erotica
· Writing your book
· Promoting and Publicizing
…and it these are only some of the issues to be covered in this multifaceted opportunity to interact live over the web with professional editors.
Who will benefit? Anyone who:
· Is thinking of writing hot romance or erotica.
· Is writing their first erotic novel, story or work of sexuality-related nonfiction.
· Has finished writing one or more erotic books, but doesn’t know what to do next.
· Has questions about the writing process.
· Has questions about the publishing process (including self-publishing).
· Is seeking effective ways to publicize and grow readership for their books.
· Is already published or self-published, but wants to know more about the business and craft of writing erotica.
For further details visit: http://crsex.org/meettheeditors
Or contact: email@example.com
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
by Jean Roberta
There has been much on-line discussion about the differences between literary erotica and erotic romance, whether one genre can be folded into the other, whether romance always requires a happy ending, and whether erotic writers who want to make a profit from their writing must sacrifice their integrity by writing fluff or mush.
Here are some things I have learned simply by living among other human beings: humans are social animals who need companionship as well as physical pleasure. Even in the sex trade (I’ve been there), men pay temporary companions (dancers, “models,” escorts, streetwalkers, pro Dommes, etc.) for more than the brief pleasure of skin-to-skin contact. Human beings want to feel understood, admired, and forgiven for our faults. The assumption that men with official secrets tend to whisper them to the call girls they party with is not simply a myth.
So if “romance” per se is that genre of fiction that focuses on “relationships,” broadly speaking, an erotic writer who does not want to go there must make a strenuous effort to eliminate all traces of “romance” from his or her descriptions of “sex,” whatever that means to the writer or the reader. (I’m imagining a story along the lines of The Stranger by Albert Camus, a widely-translated French novel in which the central character is almost completely emotionless.)
Even a comedy about sexual disappointment or a dark and gothic tale of sexual compulsion, sex that leaves marks, or sex that reveals the ultimate truth that each of us is alone must incorporate the other truth that each of us wants to connect with someone else, and not just physically.
Consider a case in point. I wrote a story that I considered erotic, not romantic. The occasional incompetence of Canadian mail carriers is the plot premise that results in the misdelivery of mail. The narrator, Woman A, receives letters intended for Woman B. A wonders if the same thing is happening in reverse: OMG! What am I missing? A (an “out” lesbian) knows that B receives handwritten letters from someone in New York with a masculine name. Is this B’s boyfriend? Over a period of months, A speculates about B’s life, and watches her on the sly. A doesn’t think she has the right to simply discard personal mail intended for B. So A rings B’s doorbell, a bundle of mail in her hand.
This is a variation on the theme of the wrong-number telephone call that enables two strangers to hear each other’s voices, develop a mutual curiosity and eventually meet in the real world, rip each other’s clothes off and agree that the dialling the wrong number was the best thing one of them could have done.
In my story, A is delighted to learn that B (a local artist) is also a lesbian who has learned all about A’s previous relationship via A’s misdelivered mail. B knows that during the past year, A has experienced a messy breakup. B has gone through a long dry spell of no sex. B gives A an experimental kiss, and when that bold move is accepted, B invites A into her bedroom for a good time. Neither of these women is offering each other a “relationship” at this point. It is too soon for either of them to know whether they have enough in common to share their lives. Both of them are willing to continue getting to know each other (in the Biblical sense and in other ways) to find out where this process will lead.
The climax of this story is an explicit sex scene, so I sent this story to the editor of an erotic lesbian anthology. The story was rejected. I wondered whether the editor was looking for more detailed sexual description as distinct from backstory and emotions other than lust.
This year, I sent the story to a lesbian romance anthology, and it was chosen for the shortlist. Whether or not my story finds its way into the book, the editor clearly thinks it fits into the genre. Never mind that the two characters are more-or-less strangers when they first meet in person, and they carefully avoid making any premature promises. They live in a country where two women could legally marry each other, but these characters are a long way from moving in together, let alone exchanging vows, even by the end of the story. The “happy for now” ending simply involves hope on both sides, and a certain amount of faith that their intimacy could deepen in the future. (“Faith,” in fact, is the title of the story.)
So apparently this is romance. And even if at least one central character in an erotic story is a man, the writer has to acknowledge the fact that men, too, crave love. The widespread belief that men just want to fuck, and that an artificial orifice in a plastic doll would provide the protagonist with the friction he needs is less of a myth, IMO, than a half-truth. If Captain Manpants just wants to fuck the available “girl,” he probably has more complex feelings about the wife he argued with in the morning, or he is wrestling with his secret crush on his male buddy, or he can’t forget the former classmate or coworker he left behind. In fact, he might be hoping to use the “girl” as a substitute for any of the people who have real significance in his life. Trust me. I’ve been the “girl,” and I’ve seen this process in action.
One line that sex workers hear over and over is: “If we had met some other way, we could have had a beautiful relationship.” This is when an honest sex worker gently reminds her customer of how they actually met, and for what purpose.
So do relationships, as distinct from sexual encounters, satisfy the needs of all the participants? In many cases, no. Breakups and divorce are a fact of modern life. Human beings disappoint each other over and over, but human beings reach out to each other over and over. The general advice given to the lovelorn or to those who lost everything in the interpersonal wars is that one must get up, get out, meet new people and climb back on that horse.
Even if a willingness to try once more to establish emotional intimacy with another person looks like the triumph of naïve hope over bitter experience, the only alternative looks like death in some form. So if an erotic story is to exude life, it must also include room for hope that the characters can or do connect on some level beyond the physical. I hesitate to suggest that the most hard-boiled stories about fucking must include spirituality in some form, but I’m not sure what other term would work better.
Most erotic writers of a certain age – I should probably speak for myself – can make sarcastic references to the temporary insanity that caused us to assume that our past relationships would work. Hindsight is perfect. Yet to summon up the desire and the curiosity that motivates one person to seek carnal knowledge of others is to enter a state of mind, heart and loins in which all things seem possible. Even a noir tone suggests that innocent hope and tentative trust existed before they were destroyed.
So am I advocating for romance in literary erotica? Apparently so. “Romance” is certainly not what I wanted to write when I rolled my eyes at my teenage friends’ favorite paperback novels of boy-meets-girl. Yet there it is.
So now you know: in any war between Romance and the kind of literary erotica that features epiphanies about Truth, I'm the traitor to both sides who huddles in a trench somewhere in the middle.
Monday, June 24, 2013
by Kathleen Bradean
I watched the premier episode of Da Vinci's Demons last night. The historical inaccuracies drove me a bit bonkers, and I'm no history student, so you know they were obvious and bad. Don't even get me started on the bare chests and women's clothes that were about as period as a Klingon at Ren Faire. But if I approach the show as alternate history/ steampunk renaissance, I suppose I can forgive how sloppy it is. What I can't forgive are the multitude of "As you know, Jim" speeches. Whether its television or a novel, writers should do everything they can to avoid them.
So, what's an "As you know, Jim," speech? If you've watched any of the CSI shows, you've heard these. It's when a character says something along the lines of "As you know, Jim, I'm going to take this piece of crime scene evidence and try to find latent prints on it. I will do this by..." But Jim isn't a sentient squid from outer space who has never heard of a finger, much less a finger print. He's another CSI tech and he knows damn well how evidence is processed because it's his job. So why is it being explained to him as if he knows nothing about it? Because the other character isn't explaining it to Jim. He's really explaining it to the viewer/reader who presumably doesn't know (although, after how many seasons of CSI? if you're a fan, I would hope you know). On CSI, "Jim" usually responds with "Yes, and then you'll match any latent prints you find against our suspects, thus hopefully linking one to the scene of the crime," while in real life, Jim would say, "No shit, Sherlock. Want to explain breathing to me next?"
"As you know, Jim" conversations unfortunately happen a lot in science fiction and fantasy because there's a whole world with different rules, technology, politics, religion, flora and fauna, etc. that the reader needs to know about. A common way around this is to drop an outsider into the world so they can ask "What's that animal?" or "Why are those dudes in red livery shooting arrows at us?" without seeming like an idiot.
In Harry Potter, he's raised in a muggle household, so everything about the wizarding world must be explained to him. He has a muggle's reaction to the things he sees and frames them in a muggle POV in the first few books. Later, as Hogwarts becomes his world (and the reader is just as familiar with it) the explanations drop away except when something extraordinary happens. (such as the tri-wizarding tournament). Hermione, in almost every situation, serves as Harry's interpreter. She understands his muggle POV since she comes from the same place, but because she's made a huge effort to understand everything about the world around her, she knows what's happening and why. Someone raised in the wizarding world wouldn't think of such things as extraordinary so they wouldn't know that Harry was unfamiliar with it, nor would they know how to explain it in terms he'd immediately understand. Hermione does.
But what do you do if your characters are all from that world? How are you going to explain things without resorting to awkward "As you know, Jim," speeches like CSI? How do you stop your reader from shouting "Why are you telling him something he already knows?"
A great example of how to deal with a character who isn't an outsider is Doctor Watson from the Sherlock Holmes novels. He only explains the extraordinary, but the rest of the story he tells as someone familiar with his world and he seems to expect the reader to also understand it. He never explains what a hansom cab is, or what India has to do with England. But when Sherlock analyzes a chemical clue, Watson asks the same questions the reader would and reports the answers to the reader. Not everyone in a world knows everything, so an "As you don't know, Jim" explanation is fine if the information isn't common knowledge.
If the information is common knowledge among the characters (two CSI lab techs, for example), the best way to inform the reader is to show the character lifting prints from crime scene evidence and comparing them to the suspects' prints. (Everyone sing with me: "We need a montage") Show your world's second sun, the cryochambers on your spaceship, the dragons, or the elves. Show someone breaking a taboo and how the other characters react. Show the magic of technology and what it does. You don't have to explain how it works (unless that's part of the plot) since most readers are willing to suspend disbelief and trust that it does work if you show that it does.
But how does this tie to erotica? Instead of Hogwarts or the crime labs of CSI, imagine a story about bondage. (and yes, I'm aware of the amount of HP fanfiction that includes bondage.)
Case 1 - someone is doing a shibari (rope bondage) demonstration. This is the 'drop an outside into the world' scenario where it's cool to have the basics explained, but you don't want to write a how-to manual either. Show a few details, explain a few basics, but dwell on the emotional and physical reaction of your MC to the bondage.
Case 2 - an experienced practitioner is using rope bondage on an experienced fetish model or sub and the scene is between them. Show the MC tying knots but focus on the emotional and physical reaction to it. You might be tempted to 'educate' your readers about the history of shibari in the story, but you'll probably end up writing dialog such as: "As you know, Jim, rope bondage in Japan is known as..." And you really, really don't want to go there.
The real problem with "As you know, Jim," isn't just that it's lazy writing. No. Its worse sin is that it's a lecture. A paragraph or two is the most any reader will tolerate of off-topic chat forced into a story. And as you know, Jim, in erotica, anything that isn't about sex is off-topic.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
After that, though, I wrote a story fully from my own head, which was about a couple that end up getting down to it on a balcony in the pouring rain. So, pretty vanilla by some standards, but still, outdoor sex! Following that, I penned military erotica, more outdoor erotica, rubenesque, classroom sex (between consenting adults), vampire sex and first-time lesbian sex. Which, thinking about it, isn't too bad for a beginner. Looking at my past publications, alfresco sex and military sex is a recurring theme... I can't think why ;)
I'm definitely glad I've branched out. My author tagline is "Erotic and Romantic Fiction... Whatever Your Fancy!" because there's so much variety in my work. From straight, to lesbian, to gay. Vanilla to medium and hardcore kink, indoors, outdoors, military, at home, abroad, second chances, paranormal... the list goes on. I love that there are so many topics, likes, dislikes and kinks I can write about as I've gotten over my fear and always push myself to write something new, something that may involve lots of research, or even something I don't agree with. There are quite a lot more things on my mental list that I want to cover, but hopefully I've got plenty of time yet.
Friday, June 21, 2013
By Lisabet Sarai
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Back in 1983, when I’d just finished writing a novella as part of my creative writing certificate in college, my older sister (who knows everything and more specifically everything I should do to be a true success in life) told me with confidence that what I now needed to make real progress in my writing was a mentor.
My resistance to the idea was practical rather than philosophical. There wasn’t anyone around who seemed at all interested in becoming my mentor. My thesis adviser, Stephen Koch, was a pleasant enough fellow. He’d been assigned six of us creative writing seniors to shepherd through a year of independent literary effort, but he didn’t show any desire to go above and beyond his professional duty, at least as far as I was concerned. I assumed that I wasn’t talented or special enough to merit a mentor. Convinced I had nothing interesting to say, I stopped writing for thirteen years after graduation. When I took it up again, I relied on the help of a writing group of peers to improve my craft (see Garce’s very useful post on peer critiques, which are indeed invaluable to a writer).
Still, I was mildly envious whenever I heard of anyone with the good luck to connect with a mentor. It seemed the easiest way to realize the greatest dream of every aspiring writer—the literary establishment’s crown of “exciting new American voice,” which meant of course that one would be worshipped unconditionally and live happily ever after.
I am envious no longer.
That’s because I just finished reading Mentor: A Memoir by Tom Grimes. In the spring of 1989, thirty-two-year-old Grimes was your typical romantic starving artist, working as a waiter in Key West, when he got a phone call from Frank Conroy, director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Conroy adored the novel excerpt Grimes had sent with his application and said he would do anything to entice him to join the program. Not that Grimes needed enticement. All the other programs he’d applied to, including his local safety school, had rejected him flat.
When he arrived in Iowa, Grimes found that he was already famous as the “guy who was writing the baseball novel.” Conroy had raved about it to anyone who would listen, although it meant most students kept their distance from the rising literary genius. The first day of class, Conroy invited Grimes to his office and offered to introduce him to his agent, New York’s best, Candida Donadio, with the implication that Donadio would snap him up (ah, how often have aspiring writers emailed me asking me to introduce them to my agent—alas, I have none). Grimes asked for a rain check, but he did come to rely on Conroy’s support and favor in class and out, for example, accepting a chance to observe the Mets’ spring training as research for his novel thanks to Conroy’s friendship with the manager. When the long-awaited baseball novel was finished, Donadio passed the project to her assistant, but the novel received bids from every major literary publisher in New York. Grimes’ novel had gone to auction—every writer’s wet dream.
Unfortunately, any published writer of modest experience will recognize the cruel realities that soon brought the dream crashing back to earth. Grimes’ agent pressured him to make a decision on his publishing house in fifteen minutes on a Friday afternoon to be polite to the editors—unfortunately Conroy was not available to give his mentorly advice at the time, which doubtless would have been to resist the agent’s pressure and think things through. Grimes went with the editor who seemed most genuinely enthusiastic about his book, not a bad choice in any case, but a better one still because it was clear that some of the other editors were more excited about Conroy’s sponsorship than the work itself.
Predictably, the enthusiastic editor soon changed houses and the next editor assigned to the book also left during a merger. The orphaned book languished, got tepid reviews and didn’t even rate a paperback edition. The world apparently did not share Conroy’s opinion of Grimes’ talent—or was it just bad luck and bad marketing? Determined to soldier on, Grimes had a standing offer for his next book from one of the other prestigious publishers he’d turned down but the man died before the novel was ready. That book, too, was published with disappointing results. In the meantime, Grimes was hired to direct Texas State University’s creative writing program, again with strong recommendation from Conroy. Despite his initial reluctance to follow his mentor on this path, the program flourished and now hires some of America’s most acclaimed writers like Tim O’Brien (although Grimes still has to shore up O’Brien’s confidence at times by reminding him he wrote one of America’s greatest books, The Things They Carried, which makes me wonder if any writer is truly at peace with his achievement). But in spite of those impressive credentials, Grimes feels like a failure as a writer and is much humbled by his experiences since he arrived full of hope at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
Yet the literary establishment is ever full of irony. Denied his dream of a starred Publisher’s Weekly review for his first three novels, Grimes’ memoir about his relationship with Conroy finally earned him that coveted honor.
Although he probbly still isn’t living happily ever after. Just a hunch.
So what does this have to do with erotica writers?
Well, while my illusions about my life as a writer have been eroding for many years now, Mentor reminded me of the dangers of putting ambition and a belief in the importance of external validation before the pleasures and challenges of the writing itself. Apparently I still need to be reminded—not because I believe I will ever become the Chosen One, America’s first woman writer to be lauded as the greatest writer of our time—but because I still nurtured the fantasy that someone else might attain that lofty position with ease and grace due to her transcendent talent and possibly the help of a devoted mentor. Grimes also reminded me that a mentor serves his own needs as much as his protege’s. In spite of the best intentions, a mentor’s attention might well become a burden and a hindrance to the younger writer’s development. Lucky breaks and grand successes always come with a cost.
Besides, for all of us who do not have a mentor, we still have a wonderful option. We can immerse ourselves in the magic of telling a good story and explore all the ways the English language can help us in our cause just by sitting down at our computers and giving our imaginations free rein. With this simple act, we can live a dream no person or random twist of fate can destroy.
Donna George Storey is the author of Amorous Woman (recently released as an ebook) and a new collection of short stories, Mammoth Presents the Best of Donna George Storey. Learn more about her work at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com or http://www.facebook.com/DGSauthor
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Why Doing Crits at ERA-Storytime is good for the Soul
First Do No Harm
My Little Yellow Notebook
Deeper Critiques and the Treasure of a Good First (“Beta”) Reader
DEEP CRIT Standard:
Posted by Garceus at 12:30 AM