Thursday, June 30, 2016
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Coming Together: Under the Mistletoe
Edited by Delilah Night
Deadline: September 1, 2016
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow because we’ll be heating up this sexy December anthology.
I am looking for your best winter stories. Are your characters cuddled up inside while a blizzard rages, or are they snowbirds spending Christmas Day on the beach in the tropics? Who belongs on Santa’s Naughty List? Is your billionaire a Scrooge? Is this the year they come out to their family? Do they have a special someone to kiss when the ball drops?
While the theme is winter, you may also add in your favorite December holiday, but this is not mandatory. I’m looking for compelling stories with compelling characters and a rich plot as well as beautiful poetry.
- Your story should be set between December 1 and December 31 whether explicitly or implicitly.
- All orientations, ethnicities, pairings, and interpretations of “winter” are encouraged.
- All sub-genres and time periods welcome (contemporary, historical, paranormal, sci-fi, steampunk, you name it).
- All heat levels from sweet and romantic to down and dirty—as long as it is plot driven.
- HEA/HFN preferred, but not required.
- Stories up to 7,500 words
- Poetry is welcomed and encouraged
- No underage, no scat, no non-consent, no incest
Coming Together is a charity organization. You retain all rights to your stories, and previously published stories and poetry are welcomed (as long as you hold the rights).
Please use Times New Roman font, size 12, and double spaced with one inch margins. No extra lines between paragraphs. Set indentations to .5 – do not use tabs or spaces to indent. Use .docx, .doc .rtf formats only.
Submit your final, best version of the story by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Use the subject line “Under the Mistletoe [your story title] [your penname]”
Do not send multiple versions of the same story. Up to two stories/three poems will be considered from each author. Include your legal name (and pseudonym if applicable and be clear which one is which), mailing address, and up to 250 word bio. Do not paste your story into the body of your message.
You will be notified as to the status of your story by no later than October 1, 2016.
Coming Together is a non-profit organization, and all Coming Together authors and editors have generously donated their talents to various causes. Compensation for inclusion in this work is a PDF contributor copy of the finished product and your name on Santa’s Nice List (or Naughty, if that’s your preference). You retain all rights to your story. All proceeds go to Project Linus, which provides home-made blankets and hats to children in crisis.
Questions? Email me at email@example.com
Sunday, June 26, 2016
by Jean Roberta
As I frantically grade student essays from my spring class, which has already ended aside from the exam, I look forward to my sabbatical from teaching, which will last from July 1, 2016 (Canada’s national holiday) until July 1, 2017.
I will have a year to write a book of non-fiction, but I’ll also have time to write new stories and revise older pieces that are unpublished or no longer under contract. I feel as if I have inherited a fortune, counted in hours rather than dollars.
Like most writers of a certain age, I have a large pile of old work. I am usually amazed by the voice of my younger self when I reread something I wrote many years before. When I was in high school, I wrote a surrealistic one-act play about three teenagers: two girls who are very different, the good-natured boy who doesn’t really understand either of them, and their competition for his attention.
When I reread this piece with the intention of bringing it up to date, I was aghast at the retro slang and technology from the 1960s: blackboard and chalk in a high-school classroom with a portable record-player that could be plugged into the room’s one electrical outlet. Rock-and-roll blaring forth from a vinyl record revolving under a scratchy needle. Manual typewriters, like the one on which I first typed this piece.
Hopeless, I thought. This play was written in an era which will never return, and it can’t be made “relevant” (such a sixties term) to Generation Z (or whatever they are called now).
During the recent LGBTgenderqueer/2-spirited Pride Week in the prairie city where I live, I was interviewed in the media as a local Elder of the queer community. This has happened before, and it always amuses me. I was just old enough to drink legally when the first “gay” organization was formed here, but I wasn’t “out” yet. I sometimes point out that I am not one of the first-wave pioneers, the small brave band who are still alive at my age or slightly older (including the few men that survived the AIDS crisis of the 1980s), but who “came out” when this could mean losing everything: parents, children, friends, job, religious affiliation, a place to live.
The search for “roots” in communities that were formerly more marginalized and persecuted than they are now looks to me like a healthy respect for historical truth, and many ordinary people have a piece of it. Youth, in itself, could be considered a disadvantaged and misrepresented life-stage. Someday, the experience of growing up in the early 21st century will be valuable to those who weren’t alive then.
So maybe my older work needs to be “updated” by being presented as historical fiction. (The awkward phrases, like rotting boards in a “character house,” could still be repaired or replaced.)
To give a sample description of the “temps perdu” in my life, here is the opening scene from my out-of-print novel, Prairie Gothic, completed in 1998 and available as an e-book from 2002 to 2006:
The ugly concrete building in the warehouse district looked deserted, and it wore no sign of any kind. If Kelly hadn't seen glimmers of light from between the shutters at the windows and heard the bass thump of recorded music, she would have thought the address in the newspaper was a misprint.
In her second year of university, the fresh-faced young woman was developing a taste for research. She was learning that you could find out whatever you wanted to know if you looked in the right places. On this breezy spring night, the place she wanted to check out was the Den, more often called the club or the bar by the regulars. It was the only gay bar in town.
As Kelly pulled open the heavy front door, a blast of music hit her in the face, carrying the smell of beer and cigarettes. A spasm of anxiety made her breathe faster, and she wondered again how smart it was for her to come here alone. Bars didn't attract her as a rule. Booze and guys usually lost their appeal for her by the end of an evening, and hanging out with a horde of increasingly drunk and loud fellow students seemed like a waste of time to her.
However, the girl craved adventure. She hoped that this bar would be more like a decadent jazz club in Berlin in the 1930s than any of the hangouts she knew. She believed that she could best explore this exotic milieu without the burden of anyone else's fears or desires.
Kelly noticed the huge area in the wall of the entranceway where the plaster had been kicked in during a famous fight. Two months later, it had been badly fixed by a hung-over dyke who claimed to be a drywaller by trade. Since she had donated her time and was currently dating a woman on the board that ran the bar, no one complained openly about the look of the wall.
A very tall, very thin young man asked Kelly for ID, but he looked friendly. Besides, she told herself, she could never be intimidated by a man wearing lipstick and mascara, even if he did apply them better than she could.
The interior of the bar was so dark and smoky that it took a minute for the young woman to notice the eyes watching her. A young man in tight leather pants turned from the cigarette machine to look over the newcomer. Once his cool gaze had skimmed over her breasts, his narrow hips swivelled back toward the faded jeans of a much older, heavy-set man who stood beside him like a guard dog protecting his turf. Both men radiated a sensuality that Kelly had rarely noticed in males, and she felt strangely miffed by their indifference to her. She remembered wishing that guys would leave her alone. In this place, she thought, they just might.
So much has changed since this scene looked contemporary. Yet, considering the recent massacre in an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on “Latino Night,” no one can afford to be complacent.
What do other writers do with older work that expresses a bygone zeitgeist?
Friday, June 24, 2016
By Kathleen Bradean
As I was trying to figure out what to write about this month, my thoughts naturally turned to the question of what readers of this blog want to know. What advice or insights do they hope to glean from our entries? The answer depends on individual writers and where they are in their craft, or what they're stuck on right now. So what I'd like to know (and probably some of the other contributors here would also like to find out) is what topics would you like to see us delve in to? What do you need help with? From grammar to tales of how we got started, what is it that you'd most like us to talk about?
Posted by Kathleen Bradean at 8:31 AM
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Sunday, June 19, 2016
Happy Summer! It's time to turn up the heat with another round of Sexy Snippets!
The ERWA blog is not primarily intended for author promotion. However, we've decided we should give our author/members an occasional opportunity to expose themselves (so to speak) to the reading public. Hence, we have declared the 19th of every month at the Erotica Readers and Writers Association blog Sexy Snippet Day.
On Sexy Snippet day, any author can post a tiny excerpt (200 words or less) in a comment on the day's post. Include the title from with the snippet was extracted, your name or pseudonym, and one buy link.
Please post excerpts only from published work (or work that is free for download), not works in progress. The goal, after all, is to titillate your readers and seduce them into buying your books!
Feel free to share this with erotic author friends. It's an open invitation!
Of course I expect you to follow the rules. One snippet per author, please. If your excerpt is more than 200 words or includes more than one link, I'll remove your comment and prohibit you from participating in further Sexy Snippet days. I'll say no more!
After you've posted your snippet, feel free to share the post as a whole to Facebook, Twitter, or wherever else you think your readers hang out.
Saturday, June 18, 2016
The Long History Behind The Stanford Rape Case: Why Society Still Says Women Who’ve Been Raped Deserve It
Stories make us writers. And within our stories, we know that each of our characters has her or his own story to tell. I’ve always had a particular fascination with “he said, she said” stories, perhaps because of the delightfully humorous “Watching” by J.P. Kansas in The Mammoth Book of International Erotica, one of the first literary erotica anthologies I ever read. There is something especially satisfying about experiencing the same situation through different eyes.
Unfortunately, we’ve all had to make sense of a profoundly troubling “he said, she said, and then he said only six months” story in the recent news when Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to a surprisingly light sentence in the county jail (three months with good behavior) for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster in January 2015. The victim’s eloquent statement has resonated with millions of people. In a neighborhood parents’ discussion group, a woman wrote in and said that after reading that statement, her stepdaughter revealed that she’d been on a date with a man who forced her to perform a sex act against her will a few months before. Reading the victim’s statement made her feel she was less alone in an experience that had filled her with a sense of violation and shame. The woman wanted to know how she could convince her stepdaughter to press charges. I haven’t seen the community’s replies yet, but I don’t have much faith that victim would get justice from our legal system in a “date rape” situation that did not involve injuries or underage sex.
It is always difficult to get a conviction in a rape case, in particular an “intent to rape,” as happened with Brock Turner. His victim had convincing evidence on her side, although she was still subject to the same humiliating cross-examination about her character and dress that all rape victims must face in the legal process (you know, just to be sure before she passed out she didn’t actually consent to an act which resulted in lacerations and pine needles in her vagina, but then whimsically changed her mind later). She suffered documented physical injury and the assault happened while she lay unconscious behind a dumpster--a dirty, uncomfortable, public place. Most importantly, two male graduate students saw Brock Turner humping the victim’s inert body and realized something was wrong because the woman on the ground was not moving at all. Because the victim was unconscious, there was very little “she said” to the story, but the male graduate students provided a powerful additional “he said” to her side.
As my loyal readers are aware, I am currently doing research for a historical novel set in the early twentieth century. To a researcher, all things come to seem relevant to her work, and indeed I realized that attitudes towards sex and women’s behavior in 1910 provide a clue as to why Aaron Persky could be so sympathetic to Brock Turner. If we hope to make a real change in the way rape is viewed and dealt with today, we need to examine how the prejudices and assumptions of one hundred years ago are still with us.
The main attitude toward rape was, and apparently still is, that a woman who claims rape deserves what she got, because she put herself in the position where sexual activity could happen. There may be a few exceptions—if a stranger breaks into her house, for example, or a soldier from a hostile army treats her as war booty. However, a "respectable" woman always made sure to stay in a safe place under the supervision of her family, especially male protectors, to avoid sexual violation. Whether or not she was an actual prostitute, a woman who acted like one was giving up the security of that male protector of us all--the Law. Or in other words, if a woman was not respectable, a man could feel free not to respect her refusal or fear legal punishment when it came to having sexual relations with her.
In 1910, one slip on one occasion was enough for a woman’s swift demotion from the respectable to the available.
A woman was not respectable if she was under the influence of alcohol. Respectable women didn’t drink. Drinking alcohol in public was a sign of sexual availability.
A woman was not respectable if she wore make-up or dressed in a way that got attention. Prostitutes “painted” their faces and wore bright clothes as an advertisement of their business. Wearing make-up and dressing in a flashy way was a sign of sexual availability.
A woman was not respectable if she went out alone especially at night, if she agreed to go to a man’s room or retire to a place with him out of the sight of others. By placing herself in the company of men who were not her protectors, she was saying yes to anything they may care to do to her.
A woman was not respectable if she was African-American. All African-Americans were considered to be inherently immoral and African-American women were assumed to welcome sexual attention from anyone at any time. Not only during the period of slavery but well after, no white man was ever indicted for the rape of a black woman.
A woman was not respectable if she had sexual experience outside of marriage. And until recently, any sexual act initiated by her husband, no matter how violent or unwanted, was not legally defined as rape. As John Burnham writes in Bad Habits: Drinking, Smoking, Taking Drugs, Gambling, Sexual Misbehavior, and Swearing in American History:
“... Women were supposed to be pure or at least virgins until they married and men, who were still constrained to uphold conventional standards verbally in public, were presumed in actual behavior to be beasts who could not resist sexual temptation, who sowed wild oats when young and whose passions would impel them to commit adultery with any available woman on an occasion—with tacit community approval. As a YWCA spokesperson noted in 1899, ‘society excuses the sin in men; in the women never.’” (p. 179)
This is but a partial list of “she deserved it” behavior. If followed to the letter, any woman concerned for her safety must wear a gray sack and no make-up, never drink alcohol, never have sexual experience or desires outside of marriage, never go out in public without proper protection and never be alone behind closed doors with a man. These restrictions on an adult’s autonomy seem ridiculous today, but these same assumptions lie behind the questions Brock Turner’s lawyer asked the victim. Does the color of the cardigan she wore make a difference in determining whether or not she was raped? Indeed, such questions are designed to determine if a woman invited or otherwise "deserved" the rape according to the old-fashioned double standard of sexual morality. Were the clothes Brock Turner wore that night scrutinized as a key to deciding his guilt?
Because men controlled the law and moral discourse, and still control it to a degree that Aaron Persky well reveals, “he said, she said” always favors the “he.” A friend and I were discussing how traditionally a sexual encounter would only be termed “rape” if a male third party provided evidence or confirmation that the encounter did not appear consensual and/or the woman was verified to be too pure or high-status to say yes to sex with the accused. Screaming, resistance, and/or violence were necessary. A man doing sexual things to an unconscious woman would qualify as a violation for most observers as well, and it certainly helped her reputation if the woman was murdered during the encounter. If the woman was awake and suffered unwanted sexual advances quietly, consent was assumed. I wondered how things would be different if the opposite were true—what if every man required a woman eyewitness to confirm the encounter was consensual or it would be assumed he was a rapist? How would that change the nature of sexual encounters? And yet today most victims of rape face a similarly impossible bar of proof.
Aaron Persky’s sentence has ignited a passionate discussion on the internet—about drinking and sexual assault on campus, about the role of the legal system in victimizing the victim, about what can be done to change the status quo. Change will not be easy, but one positive step is talking more openly about sexual experiences, both good and bad, and challenging outdated assumptions that blind our judgment. Telling our stories honestly, as Brock Turner’s victim did, is the best place to start.
Donna George Storey is the author of Amorous Woman and a 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
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
“I like to use the cover of eroticism to entice the reader and make them emotionally and psychologically vulnerable to new ideas or discomfiting information. I hold out the reward of dirty talking in exchange for the reader stretching their political muscles.”
“With Cum Shots, people would text me (saying), ‘Oh my God, you broke my heart again.’ This isn’t happy writing a lot of the time. Sex is just a way to talk about other things. You poke sex and a bunch of stuff comes out: power comes out, abuse comes out, emotions come out, trauma comes out, race relations come out.”
Monday, June 13, 2016
Hope for Pulse – Hate Will Never Win
From the ashes of tragedy, hope will survive. When faced with hate, love
will survive. The constant balance of positive and negative is something
that lives in all of us. Help us focus on the positive and not the
negative; put aside politics and focus on the people; give strength and
hope to those that remain.
- All stories should all have hope and love as the focus of the story;
stories should be GLBT pairings
- Be a minimum of 5k, maximum of 10k – stories will be combined into a one
- Any subgenre is welcome and all prohibitive guidelines are observed
- Submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: June 25, 2016, anthology will release July 22, 2016
and all proceeds will be donated to Equality Florida’s fund for the victims
and families of the Pulse Shooting
Any questions can be sent to Kris Jacen at KrisJacen@mlrpress.com
***Permission to forward***
Saturday, June 11, 2016
By Ian Smith
One of the great features of being a contributor to the ERWA is the "storytime" mailing list, where we can post pieces of our work for constructive feedback. Of course, reading this can sometimes be disheartening, but I strongly believe that knowing what readers make of your work is a key step to becoming a better writer. Once I started offering feedback, I found it helped my own writing, particularly if I could mentally "step back" and be fairly objective about my work.
Thinking of a story isn't usually the hard part. Sometimes the plot doesn't work, or it's too much like everything else I've ever read or seen on the big or small screen.
But other times it just works. On those occasions, I can see the story and visualize it as a series of scenes. Parts of it are so clear they feel as though they were written right in the forefront of my mind. I know it's going to be good. That's wondrous.
Writing the story can be challenging, but it's not really hard. There are times when it's not what I've seen in my head, and it just falls apart: the words fail, the descriptions are tired, the great plot in my mind turns to crap on the page ... but then occasionally something else pops up, and something that was almost too small to notice in the original story flares up into a brilliance (if I do say so myself).
Don't ask me the secret, because I don't know it. Not everything I write is great and not everything is garbage. If there is a literary legerdemain, it might be that you just have to write ten pieces of crud to produce one priceless jewel. That's a lot of crud, but when you hold that jewel in your hand and know that you made it, the feeling is indescribable. That's why it's possible to keep writing, even when so many of the stories turn out to be awful: you know that if you keep working, one of them could be the special one. But that's not the hard part.
Polishing and re-writing can be a bitch, but that's not the hard part either. Sometimes it's quick and easy: my copy editor can't find any mistakes, my spell checker breezes through the thing without a beep or a hiccup, or maybe something better pops into my mind for a scene. Then there are times when I kick the tires and the engine falls out: I show it to a pal and that wonderful plot device bores him stiff. Beautiful writing suddenly reads clunky and overblown or just flat and lifeless. Sometimes I read it again and realize that what I thought was a jewel is a mud pie. But that's not the hard part, because I can put the story in a drawer and forget about it, or try again.
Finding a place to send a story can be hard, but it's not the most trying part of the job. There are times I work to spec: a call for submissions flashes across my attention, and—bang—the story gets written and sent out. Other times I work just because I want to. These are often great stories, but selling them can be a stone cold bitch. Maybe there's not enough sex, or maybe there's too much; maybe there's too much fantasy/science fiction/horror, or most often, not enough. So the story gets stuck in a drawer somewhere, and next time when one of those calls for submissions comes out, the story goes. Sometimes, they never find a home. Orphaned and unwanted, they sit in my various machines and gather digital dust. That's sad, but it's not terribly painful, because occasionally I take them out of their electronic sleep and fall in love with them all over again. Knowing they are there, and that I wrote them, somehow makes it all okay.
As for finding those places, I have a network of spies and friends who zap them to me, and I spend slow afternoons crawling the web. I look over publications that I think I might like to write a story for, or I might have a stored masterpiece that could work for them.
The hardest part happens after all the preceding come out just right: the idea gels, the writing flows, a perfect market opens up ... and then the rejection slip arrives. I say this often, and I really feel it's true: writing isn't for wimps. Unlike a lot of other hobbies or careers, writing is just you and your imagination alone in a little room. When that rejection slip comes you can't blame the back-up band, the guy who didn't deliver the package overnight, or even God. When that rejection slip comes it's your work, your imagination, on trial.
There is a commandment I try to follow: celebrate the story, not the sale. Relish the writing, and enjoy getting it right on the page. Focusing too much on publishing puts your happiness in someone else's hands. I try to put myself in the editor's place, but even when I recall some of my own decisions as an editor, and when I remind myself how completely subjective those acceptances can be, there's still that sting. They didn't like my story. I failed.
There is a better solution. It really works, and it's not even all that complex. You will still feel pain when the rejection comes, but if you do this little procedure I can pretty much guarantee the pain will fade.
Keep On Working. Dab your eyes and start again. Think of a story, write it down, try to find a place to send it ... lather, rinse, repeat. Do this enough times and I can all but promise that one day you'll get a contract rather than a rejection. Work, and try to advance: not in paycheck or status, but in the delight you take in writing. Your stories might sit in drawers, they might take up hard drive space, and they might bounce time and time again from one publication to the next, but if you feel good about yourself and your work, then it'll all get easier and better.
If all you care about is the sale, your writing career will be nothing but a series of rejections broken by the occasional sale. If you stop, breathe, and enjoy the art of writing, then the only hard part will be finding enough time to tell your wonderful stories.