Friday, December 30, 2016
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Monday, December 26, 2016
by Jean Roberta
‘Tis the season when other obligations take time away from writing. I had good intentions of writing this post a week ago, but shopping, cleaning, decorating, and cooking with my spouse, plus socializing with other people, took over most of the time. My apologies for the lateness of this post.
For traditional Christians, today is St. Stephen’s Day, feast day of the first Christian martyr, who was supposedly stoned to death by pagans for daring to proclaim that baby Jesus was the Messiah. For the secular hordes in Britain and all the Commonwealth countries (including Canada, where I live), today is called Boxing Day.
When I first moved here from the U.S. with my parents and sisters, nearly fifty years ago, I was puzzled that the day after Christmas had a name, and was officially a holiday in itself. (If I were getting paid to write this, I could demand time-and-a-half.) At first, I thought maybe it was a day for professional sports, including boxing. (I wasn’t completely wrong.) Then I thought maybe it was a day for all the tension of the holiday season to result in physical fights between relatives, spouses, and even lovers and friends. (I wasn’t completely wrong about this either.)
I was told that December 26 is when you box up all the Christmas presents you don’t like, or which don’t fit, and take them back to the store to exchange for something you do like. For everyone who works in retail sales, today is clearly not a holiday.
In a more openly class-divided era, Boxing Day was apparently when servants, delivery-men and the like were given Christmas boxes of money and leftover food by their employers, along with a day off, to compensate for the underpaid and overworked nature of their jobs.
In the last fifty years, though, Boxing Day has become increasingly known as a day of shopping madness, when everyone who is not too hungover and exhausted to brave the weather and the crowds rushes out to buy things on sale to stock up for next year.
Boxing Day sales probably benefit the community here that practises the Orthodox Catholic tradition of celebrating Christmas on a day in January which was known to Western Christians of Shakespeare’s time as Twelfth Night or the Feast of the Epiphany, the day when the magi or the three kings (not sure which) arrived in Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus. While the rest of us are glumly going back to work in the cold, when the hours of daylight are still short, a few programs on local TV feature choirs singing hearty Ukrainian hymns, and wishes for a merry Christmas in the Cyrillic alphabet.
This brings me back to reasons for boxing, fighting, or arguing with your nearest and dearest—or simply snubbing them and hoping they understand your reasons for not showing up and not speaking to them.
As far as I can see, there is no easy way to integrate holiday traditions when family members acquire Significant Others, but don’t want to completely ditch their own parents and siblings on holidays. I felt lucky to hook up with a Latin American in 1989, when I was a single mother with a daughter who looked forward to Christmas Day with her grandparents every year. As a secular Protestant (agnostic with Protestant roots), I had grown up opening presents under the Christmas tree on December 25, when my mother served a holiday brunch of apple strudel and eggnog or coffee, which adults could get spiked with the booze of their choice. My Chilean spouse had grown up with the Catholic tradition of having a big meal on Christmas Eve, then attending Midnight Mass, and opening presents afterward before collapsing into bed in the wee hours.
After some uncomfortable conversations with my mother, in which she claimed that my daughter’s routine shouldn’t be changed at all because my relationship with a Chilean woman and her two sons was not equivalent to a marriage, my new nuclear family settled into a two-day tradition of eating roast beef on Christmas Eve in the home I shared with Spouse, passing the time until midnight by chatting, playing games and watching movies on TV, then opening presents. The next day, my daughter went to her grandparents (where she could also see her aunties if they were in town), and my two stepsons went to spend the day with their father, his wife, and eventually, their half-sister. It worked out.
My daughter left town to attend art school, then moved to a bigger city, and my parents both passed away in 2009. The absence of my blood relatives simplified things and also made it possible for us (lesbian couple) to start a new tradition of making a roast turkey dinner on December 25 and bringing it to the local gay (LGBT) club for those who have nowhere else to celebrate, or would prefer to avoid other company. Other club members bring ham, side dishes and desserts. We spread the word that everyone we know (regardless of gender or sexual expression) is welcome to join us. The crowd is usually small, but it works out.
Clashing traditions and/or families don’t always integrate well. If someone in my extended family grew up celebrating Hanukkah or Ukrainian Christmas (as it is usually called here), that might extend the holiday season, or result in uproar and feuds that could last for years. I won’t mention dashed plans that I’ve heard of, involving people I know who would undoubtedly claim I am telling it wrong.
The expectation that peace and love will prevail in the holiday season is unrealistic, and the effort involved in trying to avoid open conflict is one of the causes of holiday exhaustion. Made-for-TV movies about family reconciliation (hard to avoid in this season) are feel-good expressions of wish fulfillment, and they need to be recognized as such.
The great thing about the life of a writer, however, is that all experience can be used in some way. If Uncle Ned got sloppily drunk and sexually harassed his niece by marriage at the family get-together, or if Mom burst into tears and refused to come out of her room after cooking all day, or if the controversial couple (same-sex, different-race, different-religion, whatever) was kicked out by the conservatives, or left after being insulted, these events probably can’t be described on the page exactly as they happened. Writing about this stuff and including the real names of people and places might get you sued, and would probably get you written off a guest list or two.
However, conflict is a great engine for moving the plots of stories, novels, and plays. When the dust is settled, and when the winter holidays are over (thank the Deity of your choice), the drama of the season can be artfully worked into a narrative that can entertain a variety of readers for years.
It’s hard to imagine a better holiday gift for the writer, or for the readers who understand.
Saturday, December 24, 2016
by Kathleen Bradean
Are you an artist?
If you write, the answer would appear to be yes, but do you think of yourself as an artist? It might seem a egotistical thing to say to yourself, much less out loud. Allow yourself to accept your place in this world as an artist, no matter how uncomfortable it might make you.
Do artists owe anything to the world?* As Donna discussed in her post, some readers seem to think it's our job to be sexually enticing to them on top of writing stories that stir their libidos. I'm not interested in the delusions of entitled fools. What I'm talking about is the position artists have in society and how we bear a responsibility to that society.
We can weave subversive messages through our creations. Hope is a subversive thing. So are rebellion and conformity. Acceptance of our desires and sexuality are themes we use to reach our readers and help them feel less alone. In the coming years, it may be even more important to give those things to our readers. So be an artist, and create.
* I'm not so sure that artists owe it to the world to share their art. It's perfectly fine to create for yourself, for the love of it, and for no one else.
Posted by Kathleen Bradean at 5:25 PM
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
|From Annabel Smith's Blog|
Monday, December 19, 2016
If I can interrupt your holiday preparations for a moment... I'd like to remind you that today is the 19th of December. No, it's not just six days to Christmas. Today is Sexy Snippets Day!
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. No extra promo text, please!
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.
Sunday, December 18, 2016
The following quote is the sole reader comment on an article in Good E Reader entitled “Cleis Press, Penthouse Collaborate on New Line of Erotica Books” published on April 11, 2014:
“Looks like our hyper-sexualized culture is growing again. I'll bet most of the authors in this genre are fat and ugly, fantasy based [sic] women with a serious case of penis envy. Rather than writing about anything scientific or useful in business, they'll write to create boners and fake desire in readers. Trite content for the most part - even if it does make a few bucks here and there. I'm sad for all Americans who value this kind of crap in books.”
I copied the comment and filed it under “mean troll comment,” thinking perhaps I would use it as a discussion point for my ERWA column one day. From the information available, the commenter is (was?--he looked pretty old) a skinny, geriatric gentleman with a white mustache. Nonetheless, I was very impressed that he managed to include every negative stereotype lobbed at female erotica writers in an admirably concise paragraph.
Cleis Press as we knew it then is gone and perhaps the series of “quality erotica” for “’discerning’ readers” is history as well. However, the custom of shaming and insulting women who dare to claim a public voice still flourishes, today more than ever. Thus, it seems the perfect time to dust the cobwebs off the “mean troll comment” and give it a closer examination.
First let’s talk about the fact that all of us female erotica writers are “fat”—and the geriatric gentleman with the white mustache knows this to be true without seeing or meeting any one of us.
My historical research continues to lead me down fascinating byways, and this past month I happened upon a book called Fat Shame: Stigma and the Fat Body in American Culture by Amy Erdman Farrell. Farrell presents a compelling argument that our culture’s disgust for “fat” preceded the flapper-era craze for androgynous female bodies, which is generally seen as the start of dieting and weight obsession as women responded to externally-imposed pressure to look good in clothes meant for lanky frames. However, while in the pre-industrial period only a wealthy minority had the resources to put on flesh, with the rise of consumer capitalism at end of the 19th century, consumption of all kinds became problematic. Mass culture and industrialization meant that a greater segment of the population was able to buy ready-made “fashion,” processed food and entertainment. Merchants encouraged consumers to indulge their desires to make profits. But in turn, the unleashing of these new markets and longings threatened the established power structure.
Labor unions, the end of slavery, and feminism meant that people who were traditionally excluded from positions of power were speaking up to demand fair treatment. It is in this context that fatness came to symbolize a person who was out of control—a lazy, gluttonous, greedy, immoral, uncontrolled, ugly, primitive subhuman (Fat Shame, p. 27). In the media, fatness was identified with threatening (mostly Catholic and Jewish) immigrants, former slaves and women. Any white Protestant American-born man who was “fat” had shown a revolting lack of self-control and had thus fallen from the pinnacle of humanity. This view was fully in place long before the health risks of obesity became a focus of medical science (a view some fat activists question as skewed by cultural bias and the tyranny of arbitrary insurance charts). But of course, being “fat” still carries a physical and moral stigma in our culture today.
Thus, even in the twenty-first century, a woman who dares to write about sexuality, especially in a positive way that might turn a reader on, is indeed “fat” no matter what the scale says. May I say that I am proud to be so. I’m proud to be ugly, too, which is also an extremely common criticism of women who step out of their God-given people-pleasing role and have an opinion of their own. Because indeed, what the geriatric gentleman with the white mustache is really saying is that we erotica writers dare to take on an ancient taboo—speaking honestly about female sexual desire. That automatically add fifty pounds to any frame.
I feel as if I could write a seminar paper unpacking all the assumptions of my oh-so-economical mean troll comment—such as the fact that everything identified with the female in our culture is called “trite”--but I know you all have holiday preparations to attend to, so I’ll touch on just one more point: the terrible insult of calling us female erotica writers “fantasy based” [sic].
I’ve long taken issue with the denigration of fantasy and masturbation as an integral part of human sexual expression. Hurling insults at losers who masturbate and have to think about sex rather than have it starts with schoolboy bullies and continues unabated as a way to shame us and keep us all quiet about our actual sexual interactions with the world. Let’s examine the fantasy behind this taunt—because it is very much a fantasy of its own.
This view assumes that somewhere there exists a group of “winners” who never have to masturbate or fantasize because the moment they have a sexual urge, they are so slim and beautiful and high-status that a willing and equally attractive partner of the opposite sex (I’m sure the geriatric gentleman with the white mustache would insist that acceptable sex always be of the heterosexual variety) materializes to provide a satisfying sexual outlet that involves no mental activity whatsoever. The rest of the time, these supermen are thinking about scientific or business things, you know, important stuff like how Wall Street can screw over credulous investors and how climate change is a hoax. The boners of these ideal beings are always real, because, remember, there are “fake” boners, so be sure to invite the geriatric gentleman with the white mustache to evaluate your arousal next time to be sure that it’s the right kind or otherwise you’ll be a sad loser--and he'll be sure to tell you so. Not to mention that you're fat and ugly and trite.
And remember, if you're fat or ugly, you have no right to speak.
I’m sure the geriatric gentleman with the white mustache thought he was being very perceptive and original in his critique of erotica writers, but of course, we at ERWA have heard it all before. However, we actually value and proudly enjoy "this crap," otherwise known as the exploration of the full experience of human eroticism.
To be honest, I kind of pity this guy. Rejecting all the pleasures of fantasy, flesh and self-discovery--he clearly doesn’t know what he’s missing.
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
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Sunday, December 11, 2016
By Sam Kruit (ERWA Editor in Chief)
Saturday, December 10, 2016
In case you might be wondering what I've been up to lately, check out this link to the articles I've been doing for the great Future Of Sex site. Other things brewing, but writing about the sexuality of tomorrow has been a blast!
Please read this if you just had something rejected:
It's part of being a writer. Everyone gets rejected. Repeat after me: EVERYONE GETS REJECTED. This does not mean you are a bad writer or a bad person. Stories get rejected for all kinds of reasons, from "just not the right style" to a just plain grouchy (or really dumb) editor. Take a few deep breaths, do a little research, and send the story right out again or put it in a drawer, forget about it, remember it again, take it out, read it, and realize it really is DAMNED good. Then send it out again.
Never forget that writing is subjective. My idea of a good story is not yours, yours is not his, and his is not mine. Just because an editor doesn't like your story doesn't mean that everyone will, or must, dislike it as well. Popularity and money don't equal quality, and struggle and disappointment don't mean bad work. Keep trying. Keep trying. Keep trying.
Think about the rewards, about what you're doing when you write. I love films, but I hate it when people think they are the ultimate artistic expression. Look at a movie – any movie – and you see one name above all the others: the director, usually. But did he write the script, set the stage, design the costumes, act, compose the music, or anything really except point the camera and tell everyone where to stand? A writer is all of that. A director stands on the shoulders of hundreds of people, but a writer is alone. Steinbeck, Hemmingway, Austin, Shakespeare, Homer, Joyce, Faulkner, Woolf, Mishima, Chekhov – all of them, every writer, created works of wonder and beauty all by themselves. That is marvelous. Special. That one person can create a work that can last for decades, centuries, or even millennia. We pick up a book, and through the power of the author's words, we go somewhere we have never been, become someone new, and experience things we never imagined. More than anything else in this world, that is true, real magic.
When you write a story, you have created something that no one – NO ONE – in the entire history of history has done. Your story is yours and yours alone; it is unique and you, for doing it, are just as unique.
Take a walk. Look at the people you pass on the street. Think about writing, and sending out your work: what you are doing is rare, special, and DAMNED brave. You are doing something that very few people on this entire planet are capable of, either artistically or emotionally. You may not have succeeded this time, but if you keep trying, keep writing, keep sending out stories, keep growing as a person as well as a writer, then you will succeed. The only way to fail as a writer is to stop writing.
But above all else, keep writing. That's what you are, after all: a writer.
Please read if you just had something accepted:
Big deal. It's a start. It's just a start. It's one sale, just one. This doesn't make you a better person, or a better writer than anyone else out there trying to get his or her work into print. You lucked out. The editor happened to like your style and what you wrote about. Hell, maybe it was just that you happened to have set your story in their old hometown.
Don't open the champagne; don't think about royalty checks and huge mansions. Don't brag to your friends, and don't start writing your Pulitzer acceptance speech. Smile, yes; grin, absolutely, but remember this is just one step down a very long road.
Yes, someone has bought your work. You're a professional. But no one will write you, telling you they saw your work and loved it; no one will chase you down the street for your autograph; no one will call you up begging for a book or movie contract.
After the book comes out, the magazine is on the stands, or the Web site is up, you will be right back where you started: writing and sending out stories, just another voice trying to be heard.
If you write only to sell, to carve out your name, you are not in control of your writing life. Your ego and your pride are now in the hands of someone else. Editors and publishers can now destroy you, just as easily as they can falsely inflate you.
It's nice to sell, to see your name in print, but don't write just for that reason. Write for the one person in the whole world who matters: yourself. If you like what you do, and enjoy the process: the way the words flow, the story forms, the characters develop, and the subtleties emerge, then no one can rule what you create, or have you jump through emotional hoops. If a story sells, that's nice, but when you write something that you know is great – something that you read and tells you that you're becoming a better and better writer – that's the best reward there is.
But above all else, keep writing. That's what you are, after all: a writer.
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
She might like CBT
But now my balls are now hanging
From her Christmas tree