From Erotica Readers & Writers Association
By Lisabet Sarai
Dear Erotically-Inclined Elves,
'Tis the season! You know what I'm talking about. Mistletoe. Rum-spiked eggnog. Champagne. Office parties that generate plenty of heat, memories and remorse (not to mention opportunities for blackmail). Snowy nights cuddled in front of the fire with your honey - naked on the rug with all the toys scattered about...
It's time for joy to the world and deck the halls, and the Erotica Readers & Writers Association is here to get you in an appropriately festive mood. I've donned my crimson, fur-trimmed mini skirt and shiny black boots in preparation for the traditional holiday tour through the wintery, wanton wonders awaiting you in the ERWA December edition. Step carefully - things could get slippery!
Let's start in the Erotica Gallery, where ERWA authors have served up a Claus-sized portion of the sensual stories that are our speciality. Some are light-hearted, some less so, but all are guaranteed to warm you up in all the right places. We've got sparkling flashers and a steamy page of seasonal erotic poetry, too, including a silly but sexy contribution by yours truly. When you're burned out from shopping or cooking, stop by to sample a bit of our holiday cheer. You'll soon be glowing like Rudolph's nose.
Our visions, our stories - our gifts to you:
Of course you're all finished with your Xmas list, right? No? If you're looking for last minute inspiration, spend a few minutes wandering through our Books for Sensual Readers section. December usually marks the release of many "best of" anthologies, and this year is no exception: BEST WOMEN'S EROTICA 2014, edited by Violet Blue and featuring (for some reason) a delightful black cat on the cover; BEST GAY EROTICA 2014, edited by Larry Duplechan; BEST LESBIAN EROTICA 2014, edited by Kathleen Warnock - and so on! Other collections worth noting include COMING TOGETHER: IN THE TRENCHES, a charitable anthology of military-themed erotica edited by Lady Grey, and LUST IN LATEX, the latest from Rachel Kramer Bussell - with a cover that will have your tongue hanging out even if rubber sex doesn't float your boat. Jennifer Kacey's A VERY MENAGE CHRISTMAS may inspire some holiday shenanigans, while Jay Crownover's erotic romance RULE sounds as hot and sticky as melting candy canes. And don't miss Arsenal Pulp Press' gorgeous translation of the classic 17th century Chinese novel THE EMBROIDERED COUCH.
I'm just trying to help, you understand, by giving you some ideas - no, not that kind of idea!- ideas for presents that will be truly appreciated. You'll find many more titles in our conveniently categorized listings, all available at the click of a mouse (or the touch of a finger tip, if you're out and about). Please share the blessings this holiday by buying from our affiliates. It doesn't cost you a penny extra but by using the links on our site you'll insure that others get to enjoy ERWA's many sexy delights.
Even Santa likes to read:
When I was a kid, I'd spend hours poring over the Sears Christmas Catalog, drooling over all the fabulous toys. You too? Okay, I know some of you are too young to remember Sears and Roebuck, but believe me, that catalog fueled a lot of happy fantasies. Now that you're grown up and your fantasies have changed, check out the amazing offerings in the Sex Toy Playground. I'd love it if someone would buy me a Wink Vibrator (featured in the Sex Toy Scuttlebutt column) or a We-Vibe-4 couples vibrator (reviewed by Mr. and Mrs. Toy). Santa, I've been very good. You can ask my master...
What do you want to see under your tree?
I mustn't forget the movies! Watched "Miracle on 34th Street" just one time too many? Actually, I'm surprised no one has made a porn parody. Not yet, but maybe soon... Featured in this month's Adult Movies pages you will find "Not the Wizard of Oz" (complete with songs, dances, flying monkeys and the legendary switch from black and white to lurid color) and "Grease XXX", with a cover practically indistinguishable from the original. If you're in the mood for something darker, check out the lesbian kink in "The Vampire Mistress" (I get chills just reading about it). Our classic porn pick for the month is the original MILF Juliet Anderson, in her 1978 debut "Pretty Peaches". She was nearly forty when she started her illustrious porn career. Guess there's hope!
Camera! Lights! Lust!
Inside the Erotic Mind this month, we have an extensive discussion of individuals' experiences at swing clubs and swing parties - five full pages of fascinating confessions. You're welcome to contribute your own thoughts or stories. Just click on the Participate link.
Dare to share:
Authors, I haven't forgotten you. As usual we've got lots of opportunities in Authors Resources for you to flog your tales to possible publishers. (That's not what I meant and you know it!) Recently announced calls include space opera erotica; rock and role fantasy (Circlet Press), tales of wild darkness (Muse It Hot), best bondage erotica (Cleis), best lesbian romance (Bold Strokes); and the annual Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica (volume 13). This is just a small sampling from our extensive lists of current calls and ongoing submission guidelines.
If you've got a bit of time, click over to the ERWA blog for motivation, education and entertainment. Starting in January 2014, we'll be adding some exciting new features to the blog, but we'll have the same high quality content from our illustrious contributors.
And don't forget the Archives links - your portal to some incredible columns about writing from past ERWA editions, penned by erotica luminaries like Ashley Lister, Shanna Germain, Louisa Burton, Donna George Storey, Vincent Diamond and M. Christian.
Let's make 2014 be the year we all write best sellers:
Our sponsor for this issue of ERWA is Stiff Rain Press. Stiff Rain Press is a publisher of erotic literature written by adults, for adults, featuring adults. While some might not agree with the artistic merits of Erotica, we, like many before us, simply wish to present our art without censorship. Our authors work very hard to provide high-quality, well-written erotic literature that is both titillating and notable, and it is our sincerest pleasure to present these compelling stories that will leave our readers wanting more.
Please visit Stiff Rain Press for more information about our authors and their upcoming SRP releases.
I happen to know the folks who run Stiff Rain - they're the real deal.
That rounds out my tour, and the year, too! I wish you all a holiday season of love shared, joy multiplied and fantasies fulfilled. I'll see you in January, with lots more risque allusions and amorous alliteration.
Visit Lisabet Sarai's Fantasy Factory
Check out blog
Join Lisabet's List
Write, learn, and play on ERWA. Details at:
Saturday, November 30, 2013
From Erotica Readers & Writers Association
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
by Jean Roberta
When I was in my last year of high school, I won a major award in a national contest for student writers, and then lost my boyfriend. This was not a coincidence. He accused me of being on the “bad trip” of focusing too much on my writing and not enough on Life, then he promptly found a new girlfriend. (Boyfriend had taken a few “bad trips” that were more chemically-induced.)
He and I had met in a special two-year Fine Arts program, and he had told me that he planned to launch a writing career after graduation. During our two-year relationship, I revised and typed his essays for our English classes; I hoped that he would love me better if I helped him get better grades. (His grammar was shaky, and he implied that this was because he was all about big ideas rather than trivial details).
Soon after our English teacher announced the contest, Boyfriend and I both mailed in our short stories. This time, he didn’t ask for my editorial help, and I didn’t offer it. Weeks later, I won $500 (worth approximately a year of university tuition) and a three-day trip to Toronto, headquarters of the financial company that had sponsored the contest. Boyfriend got nothing. He complained bitterly that the judging had been unfairly biased, and he expected me to agree with him. Even before I learned that he had replaced me, I knew our romance was over.
Why am I recounting this historical episode? Because the race is on. Several major writing contests are still open for a short time, and award-winners will be announced at annual conferences in the spring and summer of 2014. The results remain to be seen.
Let’s start with (arguably) the biggest awards for writers of romance fiction (including erotic romance): the Ritas, sponsored by Romance Writers of America and named after its first president, Rita Clay Estrada. There is an entry fee for members of the organization, and a higher fee for non-members, but the prizes are substantial, not to mention the fame involved. The categories have been controversial, especially when “romance” was defined as a genre that excluded same-gender relationships. That restriction has been lifted, but “romance” as a genre definition is still sufficiently arbitrary to trigger debate. For more contest details, go here: www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=528 before the deadline: January 2, 2014.
The annual writing awards that especially interest me are the “Lammies,” given by the Lambda Literary Foundation for the best works of the year (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama) featuring lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender content. The deadline for nominations is December 1, 2013, so if you are interested, you have a week to decide. Find “awards” here: http://www.lambdaliterary.org
The categories for the “Lammies” are debatable and overlapping, and I am always somewhat surprised to find work I consider erotic entered as “fiction” or “romance.” Of course, the fewer entries in a given category, the more likely it is that a particular title will win.
Then there are the “Eppies” and the “Arianas” (given by EPIC, the organization for e-published writers, for e-books and e-book covers). These annual awards have a summer deadline.
I looked in vain for information about the Rauxa Prize for erotic fiction and poetry, awarded by a Rauxa Foundation (apparently based in Englewood, Colorado) up to 2007. This prize seems to be a thing of the past.
Penthouse magazine used to give annual awards for the kind of sexually-explicit fiction published in its pages. The name of the award, the “Baudelaire,” was hotly debated in the Writers list of ERWA (possibly also in Parlor) on grounds that Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), an innovative French poet, would be appalled to have his name associated with the formulaic stories for which Penthouse was known. Even still, any writing contest which provides cash prizes for writers seems better than nothing to me.
If I have neglected to mention a currently-open contest that will accept sexually-explicit writing, I hope someone will fill in the gap.
Why do writers enter contests? The shocking, immediate side-effect of winning is that other writers (especially contestants who didn’t win) are likely to sneer. (If my ex-boyfriend is still alive and if he ever mentions my name, he probably remembers our art-student romance as one of the disillusioning experiences of his youth.) Before contest results are even announced, the guidelines, the restrictions and the judges can all be accused of bias. The problem here is that literature (published writing) must be subjectively judged, based on criteria which are specific to a certain value system. I can’t imagine how writing contests could be run otherwise.
Do writing awards result in increased sales? I don’t know of any wide-ranging surveys which show a correlation (or not). Common sense tells me that an award is likely to raise interest in a particular title--and to a lesser extent, in everything else the author has written. Experience tells me that winning a writing contest is literally its own reward, since nothing further can be expected. (The award that lost me a boyfriend did not gain me a single publication.)
It has been argued that because the judging of writing contests, like the evaluation of story submissions, is necessarily subjective, winning or acceptance doesn’t prove the merits of the chosen work. We’ve all heard this.
Yet winning, like acceptance for publication (or both combined) feels downright orgasmic. It shows that at least one person (outside the writer’s circle of intimates) read, understood and chose to honour the work. May everyone here whose work is nominated for an award be prepared for the outcome, whatever it is—and may hope and determination never fade.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
by Kathleen Bradean
I've sold about seventy to a hundred short stories so far. I stopped keeping track several years ago, so I have no idea what the real number is. It doesn't matter though because all that's important here is that I'm somewhere between none and zillions and have some experience with the art form. Yes, experience, both as a reader and a writer, but I still think I barely know anything.
While reading an anthology last week, a short story that took place over a span of time-- let's say a week although I don't remember-- didn't work for me. As I set the anthology aside, I decided the reason why was that short stories work best when confined to a short period of time, say over an hour or so. Hills Like White Elephants, I thought. But that's just stupid thinking because A Good Man is Hard to Find.
It isn't just short stories that send me into long bouts of contemplation. I frequently muddle over the problem of the erotic novel. Many readers want sex in every chapter. Pages and pages of sex each chapter, with more and more partners thrown into the mix and some kink as well, and oh what the heck, lets fall on our swords with that old trope that sex equals love, shall we? The problem with erotic novels like that is that the sex scenes tend to become skimmable. They're wank fodder and while there's nothing wrong with that, the characters in those sorts of stories tend to have as much depth as a hologram.The plot, what there is of one, is a thin excuse to string together sex scenes. To be mean about it, they simply aren't good writing. Damn it people, erotica can be well written! We deserve better quality.
I look for something more contemplative and literary in erotica than a wankfest. Although, of course, I love to be aroused by a story. But because most published erotica tends toward a standard 'let's go on a sexcapade' escapist fantasy, I often think erotica is at its best in short form where, strangely enough, writers seem to do a better job of addressing deeper issues and building dimensional characters than in long form.
But then I think of Donna George Storey's Amorous Woman and Remittance Girl's Beautiful Losers and change my mind. And oh, I wish the incredibly talented Teresa Lamai's (ERWA veterans will correct her name for me) story set in Venice with the Russian dancer and American painter was available to readers because it was such an amazing work. It is possible to produce an erotic novel that's literary, that's art, that transcends. It's just that they're rare and don't tend to find publishers because they are sensualist fiction rather then sexual.
This isn't a terribly coherent post because this is one of those hamster on a wheel debates I have with myself. My thoughts run and run but only end up going in circles. Are short stories best confined to a short time frame? My thinking now is that confined, rather than time, is the operative word. Everything in a short story must be confined to the pertinent data. The story may occur over a long period but we only get the glimpses of things that matter, delivered in tightly written paragraphs where every word pulls its weight. The same is true maybe of erotic fiction in the novel form. No matter how long the work is, there's no room for gratuitous sex scenes.
But you know, I'm not set on that. I could be easily convinced that I'm concentrating on the wrong things, that confined writing is the opposite of what's needed, and that erotic novels work on a literary level more often than I think. Convince me. Give me examples.
Meanwhile, I'll be puttering around inside my brain muttering "Hills Like White Elephants" and wondering how much I can leave off the page, as if writers can adopt the zen philosophy of art where we could make as much use of white space between as we do with words. Which is a different topic. Maybe.
Posted by Kathleen Bradean at 5:00 AM
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Thursday, November 21, 2013
[This post appeared a few months ago at the Oh Get a Grip blog. I apologize for double posting, but it's the end of term, I have four sets of exams to grade, plus thesis proposals and project reports... so it was either this, or skip my spot this month. And I definitely didn't want to do that! I promise fresh content next month!]
Monday, November 18, 2013
Write what you want to write instead of what you think you’re supposed to write.
That’s what I’m hoping to do, as I discussed in my last column here at ERWA, but I know there’s no quick and easy way to make the big switch. It takes time to discard old habits, to trust inner voices, to take risks. As part of this process, I’ve been thinking back to the messages I’ve gotten over the years about “good” writing from teachers, how-to books, famous writers, literary critics. Or in other words, the specifics of my supposed-to’s.
Back when I first started writing seriously, about sixteen years ago now, I was talking with a friend who had signed up for a pricey writing workshop with the former editor of a national magazine that published fiction. She mentioned that this teacher’s highest praise for a student’s story was “this is writing that will last.” And indeed, he urged all of his students to aim to write “something that will last.”
At the time, I took this as simple wisdom from an expert. After all, wasn’t that the dream of every writer—to be so amazingly talented that we attain immortality like Shakespeare? That guy lived four hundred years ago and everyone still knows his name! Of course, as I became more familiar with what the writer’s life really involves in our commercial age, I realized that “lasting” means your book is reprinted many times or that it’s taught in high school or college classrooms year after year. Unfortunately, authors who achieve either of these goals are rare, and in the latter case, most are already dead. Gradually my goals became more modest. I was satisfied—in the best way--if someone told me that my story lingered for a day or so after s/he read it. Perhaps I would never be immortal, but whenever a reader confessed that s/he read a particular story of mine many times for erotic inspiration, I knew I’d made a true connection, the highest praise an erotica writer can hope to hear.
Yet I still believed that there were “important new voices” up there in Literary Land, penning gorgeous and unforgettable literary prose that would earn them a throne next to The Bard for all eternity. I didn’t really question this (I’m now somewhat embarrassed to admit) until very recently when I happened to read a book by Leslie Fiedler, a renegade English professor who both entertained and scandalized academia in the latter half of the twentieth century by embracing popular literature as worthy of analysis. (He is also credited with coining the term “postmodernism” among other things). I originally sought out his book What Was Literature? for an essay on Rhett Butler as a symbolic Black Stranger in Gone With the Wind, but I ended up reading the whole book with great enjoyment.
I was hooked at Fiedler’s opening redefinition of the classic distinction between literary (high) and popular (low) fiction. He wrote that literary fiction could in fact be seen as “minority” literature, read by few and penned by tormented, introverted male artistes to stimulate the intellect, whereas popular literature was “majority” literature, mainly scribbled by female hacks to drug us with cheap sensationalism. More amusing was his description of popular fiction as “optional,” whereas, for most readers, literary fiction was “compulsory,” as in school assignments that needed professional explication to be understood fully.
But what really struck a chord with me was Fiedler’s insistence that “writing that lasts” is not about the quality of the prose. It is what he calls the mythopoeic power of the story, with characters that live on in our minds long after the beautiful metaphors (if any) are forgotten. This got me thinking about which stories have indeed lasted over time, stories our culture returns to again and again in modern riffs and movie remakes. My Anglo-centric list would include the Bible, some of Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth), Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, A Christmas Carol, Huckleberry Finn, Dracula, The Great Gatsby, and Gone with the Wind. Harry Potter, Twilight, and Fifty Shades of Grey certainly define contemporary popular tastes, but I’d need to reconsider their lasting impact in about 30 years. By this measure, all the towering literary figures of my youth—Hemingway, Faulkner, Bellow, Updike, Roth—are still reasonably famous as names, but rarely read except in class or by a small minority of literati with historical inclinations.
I know my particular list is open to argument—maybe you’d delete Macbeth and Huck Finn and add King Lear and To Kill a Mockingbird--but the specific examples are less important than the redefinition of “writing that lasts.” Because I now see it’s not about the world’s admiration for a writer’s brilliant prose, fresh metaphors, and carefully structured chapter breaks—although many of these works are beautifully written and a pleasure to read because of it. The immortality belongs to the story for its power to connect deeply with readers across cultures and time.
As a writer myself, I was also very interested to learn that Harriet Beecher Stowe was inspired to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin when she had a vision during a church service of an aged black slave being beaten to death by a cruel master. The image rose up in her mind, demanding a novel to be written around it. I also remembered that Charles Dickens was planning to write a political pamphlet about poverty and injustice in the fall of 1843. However, inspired by the rousing response to a speech he gave to a workingman’s club in Manchester, he walked the dark streets of the city, possessed by images of a redeemed miser. In a few short weeks of feverish work, he wrote one of the most retold stories ever, A Christmas Carol.
So what does this mean for a writer who seeks to create works that linger if not last forever? For me it means taking one more step away from writing as ego gratification, as proof of my worthiness or cleverness--because really, let’s face it, no one cares if I can turn a phrase or not. It also means taking one step closer to stories that move me, that draw me in to their magic, that beg to be told through me.
Which stories beg to be told through you?
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
Friday, November 15, 2013
When does my little tea house tryst happen? Around a hundred years after the fall of the Minomoto dynasty, I figure about 1185 AD.
A tea house? Tea houses had not been invented in 1185. Partly because tea had not been invented.
The Japanese were just learning about tea from China, and it was regarded as an aphrodisiac (as what has not?) and reserved for males only of the highest rank. The Emperor or local feudal lords might indulge in a cup to put some wood in their ink brush before visiting their consorts, but not a woman, much less of mid level rank such as Lady Dainagon. And with a impoverished Biwa-Hoshi? Not in your dreams, gai-jin san. For a woman of even so-so rank, a peripheral member of the Imperial family in a backwater place, to be left alone in the company of someone regarded as below common would be scandalous. . (Aie-ya! Oushikuso!) Impossible. It would like Princess Diana inviting a homeless man to spend the night in her room. It will not do. So how would they meet if this thing were done right?
Or as a Kindle book at Amazon:
If you're curious about Lady Dainogon before the events of The Color of the Moon, this week at the Oh Get a Grip blog, where the theme is "Fairy Tales", I've composed a Japanese fairy tale in which she appears with ladies of the court , back in better days:
Posted by Garceus at 12:30 AM