Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Monday, December 28, 2015

Fun New Jobs Writing Non-Fiction: Sex Toys, Travel, and Ghosts!

Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, horror, and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, her tuxedo cat, Lucky, and the new feline additions Chloe and Breena who are now Lucky's best friends. Visit her web site, her Facebook page, and her Amazon Author Page.


I'm happy to announce I have a new permanent writing job! I can't go into detail because I signed a non-disclosure agreement, but I'm doing some travel writing. It's fun! I'm reading about places I want to visit now, especially the haunted hotels. Some I've heard of and I was excited to write about them.

Non-fiction has always paid better for me than fiction. My last long-term non-fiction writing job was with the British sex toys company Bondara a few years back. I wrote product descriptions using SEO (search engine optimization) verbiage. If it is made of silicone and went into a fun orifice, I wrote about it using all kinds of fun descriptions. This company specialized in high end bondage gear, and I learned a great deal about how the products work, what they were made of, and what was high quality vs. low quality. I wrote for the company blog. I pretty much did whatever my boss Chris wanted me to do. When we needed to speak in person we used Skype. I was paid by direct deposit into my bank account. I worked from home. This was the perfect, ideal job for a writer. I worked for Bondara for about four years. I made a decent amount of money, and when my husband was laid out and out of work for five years, this job kept us afloat. It was one of the most fun jobs I'd ever had, and I used to work as a gaffer (lighting) making movies. That says something.

I like writing non-fiction. It's a nice break from fiction and a completely different mindset. When I'm working for a steady paycheck, I feel much more confident and productive. When I'm working for a steady paycheck and paid to write, I feel much better about the endless rejections for fiction manuscripts I submit. It also takes the edge off of selling a book only to see it crash and burn when it comes to sales, although that still hurts like hell. While writing non-fiction, I keep hope alive for my fiction which is much harder for me to succeed at.

I interviewed mojo storyteller Joe Lansdale on my radio show The Women Show in mid-December. He used to do non-fiction writing. It's not unheard of for fiction writers to do this, especially since it does seem lucrative IF you find the right job. I was lucky enough to find one that paid a reasonable fee per hour for the current travel writing or – in the case of Bondara – paid a reasonable monthly flat fee. I have a better grip on my career now that I'm actually making money at it.

My husband and I visited Kennebunkport, Maine the day after Christmas for a little get-away. This is the ritzy town that is home to the Bush family compound. We didn't see that – didn't want to – but we did stay at a haunted inn – The Kennebunk Inn, which is in Kennebunk, Maine, next to Kennebunkport. Rumor has it that Silas Perkins, one of The Inn’s clerks who passed away in the mid-twentieth century, continues to inhabit his place of former employment—his presence being made visible occasionally by flying or falling wine glasses and other objects. Like the Stanley Hotel, I didn't see any ghosts, but we had a lovely time. Our room had a fainting couch! That was delightful. I sprawled on it with my hand to my forehead, trying to imitate the Edward Gorey drawings from Masterpiece Mystery.

My husband and I brainstormed the idea for a wonderful non-fiction book about traveling the haunted venues in New England. This kind of book has been writing before many times, so we had to find a new twist to make our book unique. We thought of turning it into a travelogue where the reader may follow our directions and repeat our experience on their own. Each chapter describing a haunted inn, restaurant, forest, or whatever would be followed by a short fictional story set in each particular location. I could write any kind of story I like. Romance. Light horror. Mystery. Comedy. I've already decided what I'm writing about for the Kennebunk Inn. We decided the characters in each story would be the same two, most likely my husband and I in fictitious form. I'd write the stories as E. A. Black, my dark fiction and horror pen name, but publish the book with my real name. A gimmick would be that the reader would quickly figure out both persons are one and the same. I took lots of pictures so I could start on this book now. It would likely take us a year to visit most of these spots, take pictures, notes, and write a chapter and a short story. I came up with a very silly working title which we will of course not use: Maniacs and Massholes: A Haunted Tour Of New England.

Here's the Kennebunk Inn, all dressed up for Christmas. There was an outdoor skating rink right next door. It looked like fun, but my body would splay out on the ice if I even attempted that. LOL

I've already visited one haunted location here in Rockport, Massachusetts, the coastal town where I live. Three months ago, I went hiking with my writer's group in Dogtown, which is an abandoned colonial settlement. I did this with the intent to write two short horror stories set there, which I have yet to do but I have no deadline. Still working through plot bunnies and characterization. When searching for "Haunted New England", Dogtown was listed in the first article to come up on my search. I'd heard Dogtown was haunted, but I'd never experienced anything odd although the location is very creepy. The thing is, while hiking, I injured my right leg something fierce, and I was in physical therapy for three months until a week ago today – Monday. It took that long for the injury to heal. I already have lots of pictures and I vividly remember the place, which I've been to before the injury. Dogtown will go in the book.

Here's a shot of one of the Babson boulders in Dogtown. These boulders were carved in the 1930s, and they dot the landscape. They're deep in the woods, and they are carved with inspirational words and sayings. 

This is an exciting project and I'm looking forward to the research and the writing. I don't know if I should try to find an agent for it first or just write it and search for the agent after it's finished. Probably the latter. I could also look for medium or small dark fiction/travel publishers. There's a small set of haunted New England books published here, and I own a few of them. They're a fun read, but our book will be better. I could easily write to the publisher of those books to pitch this one. I do like writing non-fiction. I don't think it's for everyone, but it is a good way to make steady money if you can find a long-term gig. I'll keep everyone posted regarding my new job and this wonderful new project. I feel very confident about 2016. Things are looking up for me.


  1. Hi, Elizabeth. Congrats on the new job. New England is full of haunted locales. You should check out the Quabbin Valley.

  2. Thanks, Lisabet. I'm enjoying the new job very much. I've heard of the Quabbin Valley, but I've never been there. You're right - there are lots of haunted places in New England. I've known about a lot of the locales for years so visiting them for a book will be great fun.


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