Saturday, July 30, 2016
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
by Jean Roberta
I've been pondering the word "metronormativity" ever since I reviewed a diverse collection of essays, Queering the Countryside, for The Gay & Lesbian Review. The word is used throughout the book, and it looks parallel to "heteronormativity," the assumption that "normal" sexual attraction is between males and females.
For several generations, the children of rural folk have been migrating to cities, openly looking for jobs they couldn't find elsewhere, but also seeking identities and lifestyles they couldn't imagine having in the country: queer, non-monogamous, radical or creative. Fiction, especially erotica, often seems urban by default. Characters meet in nightclubs or coffee shops, get stuck in traffic, have trysts in hotels, and even have sex on or near famous landmarks. English-speaking culture seems to have become "metronormative."
The Canadian town I live in, which features a government building with a gleaming copper dome, has been described by writers I've met in larger cities as "very small." In fact, London, England, had the same size population (200K) when William Wordsworth described the cityscape he was leaving in "Lines Written Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802."
How do we as writers conceive of cities, and how does an urban or rural setting influence our narratives? Smaller towns provide fewer potential playmates or lovers, but easier wsys to meet them. In small towns, neighbours usually talk to each other.
In "small" towns (compared to urban centres of at least one million people), finding kindred souls can be surprisingly easy, since one can strike up (non-sexual) conversations with strangers without being perceived as crazy or dangerous.
In any case, no one actually knows a million people or more, and this includes people who have dozens of "friends" on Facebook. Communities based on ethnicity, religion, sexuality, profession, or shared passion (e.g.: writing) could be defined as towns within cities, and members of different towns might as well be living in different regions.
I'm currently spending two weeks in Vancouver, on the Canadian west coast, catching up with old friends. It's tempting to describe the spectacular natural setting of the city (cloud-topped mountains meet the Pacific Ocean) and the colourful urban gardens, but as a writer, I'm more interested in how local culture affects relationships.
I often wish I could live in a different place each year, just long enough to get a feel for it, to stretch my imagination. Making a conscious effort to break free of assumptions based on one environment seems like a good start.
Sunday, July 24, 2016
by Kathleen Bradean
Last month, I asked writers what they wanted to see addressed on this blog. One of the comments was about how to make your book stand out among the many others.
There's an answer to that, but first, I'd like to mention a few things not to do. I'm being realistic here, not touchy-feely. (Feel free to add to this list in the comments. I'm sure you all know bad writer behavior by now.)
1) You Are Not Billy Mays. If you don't recognize the name, he's an infomercial star. He sells things, and I'm sure he's good at it or they wouldn't keep hiring him. However, you are most probably not a professional pitchman with a team of experienced ad writers working for you. Yes, you're a writer, but that's not the same as being a marketing genius or even a great pitchman. So you're not likely to write such a great blog/ Face Book/ tweet that you're able to turn your ad into sales. That means that you're just adding to noise and clutter that is instantly forgotten.
2) People hate you - HATE you - if you friend them on Face Book or Twitter and instantly spam them. And by instantly, I mean anything from seconds afterwards to a month. You will be blocked.
3) Unless you're J K Rowling, no one is going to read your press release.
4) You will be damn lucky if your publisher does anything to promote your work. Getting readings, onto panels at Cons, etc. is up to you. It's even more difficult with erotica because people still treat it like it's toxic.
5) You can be really kind to other writers, help promote their work, review it, recommend it, and every other thing you can think of to help them but don't expect them to turn around and do you the same favor. I'm sorry, but it's true. So do it out of the kindness of your heart and because you really believe in their work, but don't for a second think that there's some sort of karma investment in helping other writers that will pay you back dividends.
I hope you're not too bummed out, because my best advice for getting your work noticed isn't going to make you any happier.
Think about how you find books to read. You might look for reviews or find the recent award nominees in a genre, but poll after poll shows that the large majority of readers buy books based on a recommendation from someone they know or trust.
So how do you get someone to enthusiastically evangelize about your book?
You are not going to like this answer.
It seems too simple,
And not very helpful.
But it's the one thing you have to do. Just one thing, After that, fate is in the hands of readers.
Are you ready for the big reveal?
Write a damn good story.
Posted by Kathleen Bradean at 12:00 AM
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Written anything hot lately?
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.
Monday, July 18, 2016
This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn. For a historical novelist, the museum’s collection of vintage subway cars housed in a retired subway station is a true treat. Basically subway cars did not change all that much in a century-plus of underground transport. There are a few notable differences. The earliest cars had ceiling fans, naked electric bulbs and a sort of rattan upholstery coated in shellac. But even in 1916, passengers were distracted from their boredom by subway advertisements, which the museum recreated in the proper historical period in each car as part of the exhibit.
Since my ERWA column always turns my mind towards sex (not that said mind ever wanders far from that topic) I made sure to capture the VD ad on my cell phone for your historical contemplation. This ad dates from the WWII era when public education about sexually transmitted infections—back then the main culprits were gonorrhea and syphilis—was first allowed.
In the 1970s, when I had my one week of sex ed in gym class in seventh grade, we spent two days on male and female anatomy (sans any mention of the clitoris) and the rest on venereal diseases and their devastating consequences. The general tenor was pretty much like the ad in the New York subway in the 1940s. Even then I knew the teachers were holding back some serious information about the more pleasant aspects of heterosexual coupling. Yet my research has revealed that VD-scaring took a relatively enlightened approach to the official provision of information on sexuality.
Back in the 1910s, it was illegal to produce and sell condoms in the United States thanks to Anthony Comstock’s anti-obscenity law, which targeted erotica, contraceptives, abortifacients, sex toys and even personal letters with sexual content or information. Comstock’s law was passed in 1873 and was in effect in some form until 1972 when unmarried people could finally legally obtain contraceptives. I would argue that we’re still recovering from its effects. Back in 1917, sexual prudery and denial were in full flower. When the United States entered WWI, French prime minister Georges Clemenceau generously offered the American troops the use of the French army’s regulated brothels, a centuries-old French institution that provided “clean” women for the recreation of their soldiers.
The US secretary of war’s response was “Oh my God, don’t tell the president or he’ll pull out of this war before we send the first troops!” (This quote and all others in this post are courtesy of the wonderfully informative The Humble Little Condom by Aine Collier).
Although quite the passionate erotic letter writer himself, Woodrow Wilson felt that the young men he was sending to Europe to fight and die should be higher-minded. As he wrote in an open letter to the troops: “Let it be your pride, therefore, to show all men everywhere not only what good soldiers you are, but also what good men you are, keeping yourselves fit and straight in everything, and pure and clean through and through.... “
While French and eventually English troops had easy access to condoms, American soldiers had to either borrow from their allies or take their chances. Or remain pure and clean through and through. Alas for Wilson and his ideals, there were almost 400,000 recorded cases of venereal disease among American troops by the end of the war. The French were also annoyed because the VD rate among their prostitutes soared as a result of American patronage. Prudery has its dangers.
The war had a more positive consequence for our still-illegal domestic condom industry. Germany had produced the highest quality condoms in the early twentieth century, but the war cut off the supply of these helpful devices along with hand-blown glass Christmas ornaments and well-crafted wooden toys. American manufacturers had to step in to the breach. Latex condoms made their first appearance in the 1920s. Before that time, condoms were literally made of rubber. Like that joke about the Scotsman who said he’d ask the regiment if they should all chip in to repair their battered communal condom, some types of condoms could indeed be washed out and reused. Fortunately during WWII, the bigwigs of our armed forces took a different attitude toward the sexual recreation of servicemen. They recognized that real men, especially those facing death in war, have libidos and readily supplied latex condoms and education about venereal diseases. According to Collier, U.S. soldiers had sex with an average of 25 women during WWII--with a much lower rate of disease.
Public health education had proved a success, but by the late 1950s, many thought continuing education of that sort would only encourage promiscuity. With the advent of the Pill just a few years away, ads like the one in the subway museum became a thing of the past. It took the HIV epidemic to bring public service STI ads back into the public eye.
Collier quotes Dr. William Holder of the Mississippi Health Department who said: “That’s what usually happens... When a disease control program reaches the point of near eradication, it’s usually the program that’s eradicated, not the disease.”
It is a lesson from history we’d do well to remember.
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
Monday, July 11, 2016
By Daddy X (ERWA Editor)