Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Saturday, February 28, 2015

50 Shades of Grey - Women Expressing Sexual Fantasies

Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and three cats. Visit her web site, her Facebook page, and her Amazon Author Page.


I read "50 Shades of Grey" when the book first came out since the feminist e-zine ON THE ISSUES had wanted me to review it. I felt the same way lots of people felt about it. I thought it was poorly written. It started out as "Twilight" fan fiction so it wasn't even an original idea. It was not a realistic depiction of BDSM, and I had read better erotic books with BDSM as a major theme. Although some disagreed with me, I thought the relationship between Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele was abusive and stalkerish. This is a very polarizing series of books. You either hate them or you love them. There seems to be little middle ground.

Now that the movie has become a huge box office hit, "50 Shades of Grey" is back in the news again – with a vengeance. The books and movie are a cultural phenomenon that has brought erotic fiction and talk about sex into the forefront. Make no mistake – women have been reading erotic fiction for aeons, but they read furtively. The Kindle helped bring about increases in sales of erotic fiction in part because of the privacy the device gives the reader. Woman no longer worried about getting the hairy eyeball from strangers (or friends or family) who saw a strapping, shirtless man on the front cover of the book. "50 Shades of Grey" expanded on this. Sexologist Dr. Patti Britton wrote on her blog that the book series "normalized the discussion about sex and especially about the holy grail of BDSM: Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sado Masochism. It allowed kinksters to come out of the closet and claim their orientation."

What "50 Shades of Grey" also did was bring the average straight woman out of the closet. Women aren't hiding their love for the series and movie as if they are ashamed of it. It's wonderful women feel comfortable enough thanks to "50 Shades of Grey" to be so open about the sexual needs and wants. It has also introduced an entirely new population to BDSM, despite critics accurate assertions that the books and movie are not accurate depictions of the lifestyle. When the first book initially exploded into public consciousness, sex toys sales skyrocketed by 400%. According to an article in Cosmopolitan, ben wa balls (sex balls) in particular became popular because Christian Grey gave a pair to Anastasia Steele. Check out this description from the book: "He holds out his hand, and in his palm are two shiny silver balls linked with a thick black thread … Inside me! I gasp, and all the muscles deep in my belly clench. My inner goddess is doing the dance of the seven veils … Oh my … It's a curious feeling. Once they're inside me, I can't really feel them—but then again I know they're there … Oh my … I may have to keep these. They make me needy, needy for sex." Both men and woman wanted to re-enact the sexy scenes the women read in the book.

Women online have talked about the effect "50 Shades of Grey" has had on their sex lives. They're enjoying sex toys more often. Some have found new and creative uses for household items such as chip bag clips in place of nipple clamps. They've discovered the joy of bondage tape, including humorous astonishment at the fact that the tape sticks only to itself, not to skin and hair. That stuff isn't electrical tape, which sticks to everything. Keep in mind most of these women are very vanilla, and this book series and movie are their first exposure to BDSM. Two subscribers to the kink website Fetlife hand-crafted a paddle and flogger. Other fans described their favorite scenes in the books.

Readers have even felt compelled to re-enact scenes from the book. One man on Fetlife who is new to the BDSM lifestyle with his wife talked about how his wife has introduced a wide variety of sex toys to their play since reading the book, including dildos, vibrators, hot wax, and ben wa balls. He and his wife planned to see the movie, and he wanted to prepare a sexy surprise for her once they returned home. He asked for advice on how to proceed. One person recommended acting out a scene where Christian tied Ana to the headboard and blindfolded her. He put headphones on her ears so she couldn't hear – opening her to expand her horizons through using her other senses.

Another Fetlife subscriber described enjoying being spanked. Like Ana, she enjoyed the sting but leaving marks was not okay. One thread discussed songs that reminded fans of the book, including Lucinda Williams' "Sweet Side", "Dark Side" by Kelly Clarkson, "Love Is A Battlefield" by Pat Benatar, and "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails. The books and movie have introduced the general public to BDSM, and Fetlife offers tips on exploring the lifestyle to anyone who's interested.

Women are writing "50 Shades of Grey" fan fiction, which is ironic since the first book started out as "Twilight" fan fiction. Storylines range from pure sex to loving relationship to even marriage between Anastasia and Christian, complete with a baby. Here's an excerpt from one of the stories at
I know she loves it when I tell her how much I lover her and need her, it gets her all riled up and she will do anything "You're so ready Ana. I love it when you're so ready for me." I slide two fingers into her as my thumb strikes her clitoris and I can see her building. "Not yet Ana. Not yet." She moans and I can't help but let out a little giggle "be patient. Not long now." I move my fingers in a rotating motion to build her up even more and she arches her back to push her breast in to my hand and lets out a cry "oh. Please Christian. I. Need. You!"
Women are openly discussing what they want from their partners when it comes to sex. This book series and movie have fired up imaginations, resulting in an uptick in purchases of sex toys and erotic fiction as well as the creation of fan fiction. Despite criticism, "50 Shades of Grey" must be recognized for the positive effect it has had on women's expression of their sexual likes and dislikes.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fireworks of Yore

by Jean Roberta

Erotica, fantasy and historical fiction seem to overlap in all sorts of delicious ways. If there is a fairy tale left in any of the traditional collections that has not yet been rewritten in a sexually-explicit version – or several – it must be fairly obscure. Greek and Roman mythology have also been heavily mined for modern-day erotic plots, and so have famous works of fantasy by known authors. The calls-for-submissions on this site usually include at least one that calls for stories about sex in the land of Faerie or on Mount Olympus.

So far, so good. However, much of the sex that occurred in Western culture in the actual past was necessarily forced or forbidden due to Christian laws. Any couplings that did not involve a husband and a wife had to be hidden, and were likely to result in drastic punishment for at least one partner if discovered. Marital sex was based on a husband’s legal ownership of his wife, who had no recognized right to refuse sex or pregnancy.

In short, what we know about traditional attitudes toward sex in the past few centuries is quite a bummer. (And on that note, laws against anal sex were widespread.)

Of course, fantasy literature doesn’t have to be based on historical reality. Authors and their characters can grow wings and fly away from anything that kills the buzz. But what if a certain authentic flavor is called for?

Ancient Greek and Roman myths and legends involve quite a bit of sex, even as written by contemporary Greek and Roman authors (Homer, Aristophanes, Ovid). However, the “affairs” of male gods, especially Zeus, tend to involve the capture and rape of mortal maidens, followed by further abuse by other deities (e.g. Zeus’s wife Hera) or mortal relatives. Attraction that is really mutual is likely to be illicit and therefore doomed.

Traditional British and European ballads, as recorded in a literate era (1700s-1900s), tend to be more violent than I remembered from having studied this material in the 1970s. I recently skimmed through one of my old textbooks, The Ballad Book, for inspiration, and found plots dealing with incest, with illegitimate, murdered babies, with the murders of women by the men who had seduced them, and of husbands by their wives, as well as a few lighthearted accounts of rape as a joke and abduction as a plot device. At one time, ballads were like tabloid newspapers for the common folk who couldn’t read or write. And as they say, no news is good news.

Then there are early written versions of older stories such as the Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory of the 1400s, about King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table. I recently skimmed through my old copy of this book after reading a call-for-submissions for “Arthurian” erotica.

The story of Arthur’s mother is intriguing in Mallory’s very brief version as well as in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s doorstop of an “Arthurian” novel, The Mists of Avalon. Igraine, before she becomes Arthur’s mother, is married to the Duke of Cornwall. He and the King of England, Uther Pendragon, wage war. Uther, aided by his court magician, Merlin, appears to Igraine disguised as her husband, “lies” with her, gets her pregnant, and then marries her after it is revealed that her husband was killed by the King’s forces before the crucial act in which Arthur was conceived. In due course, Arthur is able to establish his legitimacy as the rightful heir to King Uther.

Igraine’s feelings about all this are not recorded by Mallory. Does she ever love her husband, the Duke of Cornwall? If so, how does she feel after discovering that she has been deceived? Does she welcome her child by the imposter? (In Mallory’s version, Igraine has borne at least one earlier child, Arthur’s half-sister.)

In my version of the story, young Igraine is married to the much older Duke of Cornwall for diplomatic reasons, but King Uther has the “right of the first night” with the new bride. She finds him attractive, but she is still taken aback to discover that she is not to be deflowered by the man she has just wed. And then there is the siege in which the two men in Igraine’s life square off. Whatever the outcome, it will be bad news for at least one of them. Then there is the scene in which the King appears under a “glamor,” shouting a medieval version of “Honey, I’m home!” Does Igraine believe this man is really the Duke, her husband, or does something about him seem off? How does she react?

I sent my first version of this story to an editor, who responded by saying gracious things about my writing style, which she found suitable to the period. However, as she pointed out, the sex was not sexy enough. I saw the editor’s point. The problem seemed to be Igraine’s ambivalence. She needed to be more enthusiastic in the sex scenes with at least one of the men in her life. She couldn’t just be shown submitting to the inevitable.

Mutual orgasms – fireworks of the flesh – were required.

I did a substantial rewrite after getting the editor’s permission to ignore the original maximum word-count. I tried to show more ecstasy in the scenes of Igraine with the King, who is much more of a dream lover than one might expect because he is under a curse: a witch has ensured that if he ever ravishes an unwilling woman, he will die. To live long enough to beget an heir, he must become an accomplished seducer, and he must stop the moment his partner is really turned off. He has come to enjoy the challenge that this curse presents, and therefore he is in no hurry to be released from it.

Since the witch has placed her curse on King Uther’s whole army, an Age of Chivalry is born. Is this detail suitable to the historical period? Not on your life.

Like the inhabitant of a castle under siege, I am waiting for news about whether my story is now fit to survive the editor's weeding-out process. I can only hope that the fantasy elements – specifically the female-centered sexual pleasure – don’t cancel out the period flavor.

Writing about Days of Yore appeals to me, but some aspects of the past simply don’t mesh with modern concepts of equality and consent. A touch of glamor seems necessary.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hand Me My Smelling salts, Myrtle

So, to recap, there was a book that many people enjoyed reading and many people enjoyed critiquing that was made into a movie that many people saw this weekend. It had strong sexual content. The wimmenz were the main audience. How can this be? *clutches pearls* *sinks onto fainting couch* *uncaps the smelling salts* Has the world gone mad?

No. It isn't possible. I refuse to believe that any woman could make the personal decision to enjoy such a thing. Ever.

Western culture teaches us that women don't enjoy, much less think about, sex. Unless they're bad. Oh so very bad. *delighted shiver* And we all know that Western culture never gets anything wrong about the way women think and feel, ever, because it was written by manly men and some women who know stuff. They said so, so they must be experts. I mean, you couldn't take each women's word for what she thinks because women are notorious liars about their sexuality and need to be told what they think about such matters. Not to mention that they don't have a clue in their pink, fluffy little brains about how women are. Completely clueless.

But why else would they be reading this book? It's perplexing, isn't it?

Oh that's right. For the romance angle. It's perfectly okay for women to like romance because that's what they're into. Whew! Here these women were, innocently picking up a book recommended by their friends, thinking that they were about to read a sweet romance, when Boom! They're ambushed by sex! Surely they all flipped quickly past those pages and got back to the loooove, instead of lingering over the sex scenes and getting all moist down in their girly bits. No, they couldn't have possibly done that. Of course they were repulsed if they happened to read part of the sex scenes by mistake. They didn't go out and maybe buy a little something to try in the bedroom with their lovers husbands, because women never initiate sex, and they never, ever think of it as fun.

And even if they did find themselves *whisper* aroused by it, surely it's because they lack the capacity to distinguish between fantasy and reality. If they enjoy this story, they're immediately going to search for a billionaire lover and do all the things in the book exactly as they are portrayed. Because, you know, wimminz.

This must be a vast conspiracy to fool us into thinking women actually have inner sexual lives and are capable of independent thought. We know this simply isn't so. An expert told me.


All kidding aside, I have no problem with people criticizing a book. Erotica deserves to be well written. So go ahead and critique FSOG. Lament its shortcomings. Weep that it darkens the name of erotica, and sneer at how poorly it portrays BDSM. Write parodies of it. Trash it in blogs, Laugh at it. Use it to sell your own work. It's open season; do as you will- with the book.

However, I have a huge issue with judging the readers who liked it. There is a disturbing tone that creeps into those conversations, with hints that fans of FSOG are somehow less sophisticated, stupid, sexually repressed, frumpy, middle aged, or simply lower class than the "real" fans of erotica. They get scolded from everyone for liking it, and I'm tired of it. So here's my guide to surviving what remains of the FSOG madness:

1) it's just a book. A fucking book. That's all.

2) if your panties get in a bunch thinking about women getting wet over the idea of an emotionally abusive asshole who malpractices BDSM, or any fantasy you disapprove of, then just stop thinking about it.  Just. Stop. Problem solved.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Dreaded Sucknopsis

by Lucy Felthouse

Ahh... the dreaded sucknopsis. Otherwise known as the synopsis. I'm sure many of the writers reading this post are already groaning or resembling the man in the photo at the mere mention of the word, and I don't blame them.

A necessary evil, the synopsis is basically one big fat spoiler of your work. Describing your tale from beginning to end, including any plot twists, surprises and things to make your readers gasp. I hate writing them. There are several reasons for this. One, because of the spoiler aspect. I know that a synopsis is not something ever intended for a reader to see - otherwise what would be the point of them reading your book? They already know what's going to happen. No, these are aimed at publishers who may potentially publish your work - they want to know that your work has a plot, a point, a beginning, a middle and an end, and so on. And they're absolutely right. They don't want to end up contracting something that's crap. But it feels so wrong to me to write something down that's saying what's going to happen, especially since, for the most part, a synopsis is written before the actual story.

And, following on from that, often with my work I don't know exactly what's going to happen until I start writing. Even if I've done character profiles, chapter by chapter planning, etc, my creative brain often throws things in at the last minute, literally flowing from brain to fingers to keyboard, which may alter what happens next, throwing me off the line of the synopsis. Mostly, it's a change for the better, too, so it makes sense to go along with it.

Also, writing a synopsis for something, especially if you haven't written the book yet can make you lose all enthusiasm for the work. You've written four pages on exactly what's going to happen, ending and all, and now you're bleurgh about writing the thing. Hence the term sucknopsis - which I didn't coin, by the way. It's been around for a long time, and it's easy to see why ;)

So, how do you feel about writing a synopsis? We're all different, so maybe there are some of you out there that actually like writing them. Speak up!

Me... nah! Give me a blurb any day. Let me tease you, taunt you, and, above all, not give the plot and any surprises away! I want to make you gasp... in the best possible way ;)

Happy Reading,
Lucy x


Author Bio:

Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100 publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women's Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house. She owns Erotica For All, is book editor for Cliterati, and is one eighth of The Brit Babes. Find out more at Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at:

Saturday, February 21, 2015


By Lisabet Sarai

I used to be such a good girl. I don’t know what happened.

In the old days, I followed all the rules. I got straight As. I adhered to the high school dress code. I was an expert at figuring out what people wanted and giving it to them. In every area of my life, I aimed to please.

How did I get so contrary?

I guess I got bored. Bored with the same old plots and characters, the same tropes, conventions and clichés. Overwhelmed by ennui when I looked at the best seller lists. The longer I spent in the world of publishing, the more frustrated - even disgusted - I became by the tyranny of genre and the overwhelming influence of whatever is Currently Hot.

Over the past decade and a half (has it really been that long?), I have become progressively less interested in pleasing the masses. Instead, I seem to have cultivated my own personal imp of the perverse.

In the first vampire story I wrote for publication, my hero is a blond, blue-eyed, Midwestern frat boy who doesn’t have Goth bone in his undead body. Unlike Lestat, Edward Cullen or the many recent incarnations of Dracula, he’s not in the least ancient or world-weary – he became a vampire just five years before the tale begins.

My soon-to-be-released paranormal romance The Eyes of Bast turns the traditional “shifter” paradigm on its head. The male protagonist was actually born a cat. A sorceress gave him human form in order to have a vehicle for satisfying her lusts. And if the heroine succeeds in freeing him from the witch’s curse, will he revert to his original feline nature? This is not a typical concern in a shape-shifter tale.

In reaction to the hundreds (thousands?) of gorgeous, athletic, thirty-something Doms crowding the BDSM genre, I have stories that feature a middle aged, overweight master and slave (“Never Too Late”, in my new D&S Duos Book 2) and a dominant who’s half paralyzed from a stroke. I’ve even started writing a tale where the Dom is a quadriplegic, though so far I haven’t had the guts to push that one very far.

Of course, dominant billionaires and submissive virgins are all the rage at the moment. Right now I’m working on a novel entitled The Gazillionaire and the Virgin in which the heroine’s the one who’s richer than Croesus, and the hero is a brilliant nerd with deep theoretical knowledge about sex but no actual experience. Probably it won’t sell any better than my historical novella Challenge to Him, about a filthy rich Gilded Age industrialist and a labor activist.

I can’t blame anyone but myself. I’m just too contrary to write what sells.

When I see a call for submissions that seems worth my consideration, my first thought is “how can I twist this into something different?” This isn’t always the route to getting my work accepted. For example, one editor just couldn’t see the Hindu goddess Parvati as a succubus, despite her consuming the sexual energy of the aspiring ascetic hero. I thought it was a great, original take on the theme, but hey, that’s just me.

One trope that’s been bugging me lately is the Natural Submissive. I’m sure you’ve encountered her. Despite never having had any prior experience with D/s, she surrenders immediately and completely to the charismatic Dominant. Without training, she kneels with perfect grace and wears her bonds without complaint. Oh, and she’s got incredible pain tolerance, too, just what the nasty Dom likes. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve read recently where the dominant canes the sub in the very first scene, despite the fact that caning is quite an extreme form of discipline.

Now, I’m somewhat guilty of this cliché myself, especially in my earlier work. “You were born for this,” my slightly cheesy dominant Gregory tells Kate in my first novel, Raw Silk. It’s thrilling to believe that your Master can see through your everyday facade to the kinkiness at your core. To be known – accepted – valued because of one’s dirty desires – that’s intoxicating.

My subs are always conflicted, though, unlike the classic Natural Submissive. They’re shocked by their own behavior. Furthermore, they’re not ready all at once for the worst the Dom can throw at them (and of course the Dom knows this).

So now I’m toying with the notion of writing a story where submission most emphatically does not come naturally. I’m thinking about a female character who really does want to be a competent slave, but who keeps making mistakes – due not to lack of motivation but lack of aptitude and training. Maybe she has joint problems, so she can’t stand being on her knees or suspended from the ceiling. Or perhaps she’s just a natural klutz. Her poor Dom is actually embarrassed to take her to his favorite kink club. He loves her, though, and appreciates her sincerity, so he can’t bear to send her away.

Yeah, I know. Sounds like another best seller, right?

Ah well. At this point, I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. I’ve reached official curmudgeon age, hence I have license to gripe with impunity about “the industry”. And as long as I’m writing – and enjoying the process – I’ll continue to seek originality over marketability. That’s just the way I am.