Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Five Things I Never Expected About Being a Novelist


The 26th of this month was my very first novel, The Initiation of Ms Holly’s, 4thbirthday. A lot has happened since then. Ten novels, four novellas and multiple short stories later, it’s not so unusual that I would find myself reflecting. In so many ways, Holly is a watershed. Life before Holly was a different animal than life after Holly, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way are often not the ones I would have expected to learn. In fact, there’s a lot I never expected about being a novelist.

Writer’s block is NOT the problem! The real problem, at least for me, has always been not having enough time
to write all the stories in my head. In fact, my best writer’s wet dream is to have a month in which all I have to do is write. Ah yes! I can picture the place in my head. Well, actually, the place is far less important to me than the schedule. I can picture the schedule in my head, though. I get up in the morning. I have coffee, breakfast and write until I need a break. Then I go for a walk or work out followed by a good wallow in a nice bathtub – that’s the days inspiration sorted. Then … Well, then I write some more. And I keep writing. Add food (That I don’t have to prepare) drink, and sleep as needed. There would be no PR or marketing to be done, no laundry, ironing, or shopping of any kind. I would write … just write. Ooooh! I’m all aflutter just thinking about it.

Writing takes up all the space. I don’t mean that writing takes up all the space I allow it, I mean that it takes up ALL of the space. Before Holly, I seem to recall that I had a life, of sorts, that I had fantasies and plans and holidays and free time like everyone else did. After Holly, all of me was consumed by the writing life. I don’t mean just writing the story. Would that that were the case! I mean nurturing the stories that I’ve already sent out into the world, seeing that they get the attention and support that they need, making sure that my brands – K D Grace and Grace Marshall are known as far and as wide as I can possibly shout out the news. That takes time and energy – especially for an introvert.
It isn’t so much that the writing life consumes all of my time as it is that it consumes all of my thoughts. If I’m folding laundry, I’m writing in my head. If I’m walking, I’m writing in my head. If I’m sleeping, I’m writing in my head. Writing has become the oxygen that surrounds everything without displacing anything, while at the same time making me wonder how I survived without it. 

I’m totally ravenous to read! I am SO greedy! I just can’t get enough time with a good book. And here’s the really amazing thing about time spent reading: the more time I spend reading, the more the time I spend writing is quality time. I learned my craft by reading, by analyzing, by trying to understand what other authors did that worked or, in some cases, didn’t work. I suppose that technically I’m never really reading for pure pleasure. I would be really amazed if any novelist ever did. But it doesn’t really matter, because it feels like pleasure to me. And how cool is it that such a pleasure can also make me a better writer.

Being a Writer is Messy. I’ve had this vision in my head about becoming a writer since I was a kid. In my mind’s eye it was always sort of a caterpillar to butterfly  transformation that I imagined happening in my life. In my mind’s eye with the publication of my first novel, I would suddenly be glamorous, poised, outgoing, sexy. In my mind’s eye, the transformation was glitzy and polished to a dazzling sheen.
But being a writer is so much messier than I’d expected. The self-doubts didn’t go away. They just invited a whole new circle of friends. I quickly discovered that thhe only thing truly more frightening than failure was a little success. Writing plays on all my fears and neuroses. Okay, sure, I then turn them around and shove them onto my characters, but I still twitch and squirm while I’m doing it, and I’m still astounded at how totally unpolished and awkward I am! And doubts. OMG! I doubt everything about myself all the time! It wasn’t supposed to be like that – at least not in my fantasies. But the truth is, after four years, I realize I’m not the woman in my fantasies and I never will be, and it’s okay. Well at least most of the time it’s okay. And on the good days, I understand that if I were to become the woman in my fantasies, I would most likely have nothing interesting left to write about.

I’m not fit to do anything else. Every once in a while I read a post or a news article about some writer who has
given it up for good because it’s just not working for them. I sympathise, really I do. God it gets hard sometimes. But on the days I doubt my choices the most, the cold slap in the face that brings me back to myself is that I’m not fit to do anything else but write. I’ve never wantedto do anything else but write. And it’s still the passion that gets me out of bed early in the morning and keeps me up late at night. It’s still the passion that excites me and leaves me breathless and plotting and scheming for just the right words until my brain hurts. I may not be fit for anything else, but this craft, this skill of building a story one word, one sentence, one paragraph at a time, well, it suits me. It really does, even in the Post Holly Era.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Call for Submissions

Desire Behind Bars: Lesbian Prison Erotica
Editors: Salome Wilde and Talon Rihai
Publisher: Bella Books
Length: 2,000-6,000 words
Deadline: 15 December 2014 (early submissions welcomed)
Payment: $50 USD by PayPal and 1 copy each of paperback and eBook upon publication

With the incredible popularity of Orange is the New Black, the subject of prison romance and sex is hotter than ever and in a new fashion sensitive to power inequities and the diversity of lesbian desire. This collection will ask, How does prison life complicate (and at times create) lesbian romance? From self-aware dykes to first time players, from Daddy/girl duos to lipstick playmates, we want to see the rich desire and hot sex you bring vividly to life among women behind bars. We welcome backstory and memories, intimate romance, wicked fantasies, risky tussles, secret trysts, and self-pleasure in a restrictive space with little to no privacy. Whether your imprisoned protagonist is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt or a poor little lamb who lost her way, we want to meet her, to see how she lives and loves.

Submission details at:
http://www.erotica-readers.com/ERA/AR/Desire_Behind_Bars.htm

Call for Submissions

No Safewords II ­ - A Marketplace Fan Fiction Collection
Editor:  Laura Antoniou
Publisher: Circlet Press
Deadline: November 15, 2014
Payment: $25

In brief - write me a Marketplace story by November 15! You can be in a collection, make some lunch money and... something SPECIAL.

Yes - I am opening the doors to the Marketplace once again and inviting writers to come in and play. My world, my set-up, even my characters - but your imagination. Your twisted, delightful, scary and oh-so-different style.

Yes, you can write a Marketplace story ­ and this is your chance to really push the limits! Use any character, any setting. Delve into the online Marketplace wiki to brush up on existing characters or create your own.

Fit the story to what already exists or imagine a sort of alternative universe to my alternative universe. You can even add elements that do not exist in the books ­ want to make it paranormal? Set in the past/future? Care to ship characters you thought should have hooked up, or show the dire endings that happened after that relationship I was so clearly wrong about? Now's your chance. Do you think there should have been more gay/lesbian/straight/rubber/steampunk/food fetish/historical/Canadian/sexy accountant stories in the books? You can correct that glaring empty space in the Marketplace universe.

Submission details at:
http://www.erotica-readers.com/ERA/AR/No_Safewords_II.htm

Do Authors Need A Support System?

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 four cats. Visit her web site, her Facebook page, and her Amazon Author Page.

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Writing is essentially a solitary activity. We are alone with our thoughts. We research in solitude. The act of writing itself is done alone, even if you collaborate with another author. Writing is also a very stressful field to get into. Competition is fierce and rejections are a part of the game. Some days a writer is on top of the world, and other days that same writer is ready to toss the entire business across the room onto a wall and watch it go "splat".

There is a glut of erotica and romance out there now with everyone and her aunt self-publishing. Kindle Unlimited also figures into the problems since writers aren't paid unless the reader reads a certain percentage of a book. Because of the glut, there are piss poor books out there with the cream of the crop. The problem is finding the cream. Many writers have seen their earnings drop over the past few quarters.

Since writing is such a difficult field to get wrapped up in, would it help to have a support system so that you don't end up thinking writing is nothing more than a soul-crushing fool's errand? I think having a support system does help a great deal, and it's vitally necessary to keep a writer plunging forward.

I'm fortunate in that I have a very supportive family. My husband is my biggest cheerleader and my 25 year old son also supports me, although he is much quieter about it. He told his friends I write "naughty words" with a smile on his face. While I got my start writing erotic fiction, I also write dark fiction, horror, and fantasy. My family supports me all the way.

My parents and sister? Not so much. They really aren't interested. They never ask how my writing is going. That hurts quite a bit but I've accepted it. However, if I didn't have my husband and son's support, I don't know what I'd do. I'd probably have given up a long time ago.

I also get support from the writers group I'm in. We meet every Wednesday. Not only do I get critiques, I get friendship and moral support. That all of us have writing in common is icing on the cake. I also have friends who support me. They're online because we live far from each other, but the support is there.

I think writers need a support system. I can vent about the business whenever I like and not told all I do is whine. I can write some pretty smutty stuff without my support system going all Church Lady on me. I can also write some pretty gruesome stuff without anyone clutching pearls and dropping in a dead faint. The drive to write is so strong I pick myself up after a pitfall, with the help of others.


What about you? Do you have a support system and how well does it function for you?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Romance of Doomed Attraction

by Jean Roberta

Lately, I showed the latest erotic anthology* that includes a story of mine to several fellow-writers in the university where I teach. One of my colleagues said the title (Forbidden Fruit: Stories of Unwise Lesbian Desire) is enticing. He jokingly said he wouldn’t want to read stories of wise lesbian desire. I assume that a lot of readers would agree with him.

The longer I write erotica, the less my fiction resembles my life. This is partly due to the amazing degree to which love between members of the same gender has become socially acceptable. I’ve been legally married to my female spouse since 2010, but our relationship started in 1989. We are both over sixty. We have steady jobs, as an academic and a kind of social worker for a non-governmental agency that enables disabled people to live as independently as possible. We own a house, where we live with dogs and cats. We have grown offspring who occasionally need—and get—our financial help.

My story in Forbidden Fruit, by contrast, is about a young woman who just can’t resist the “bad girl” who was once a ragged foster child in elementary school. The narrator’s willingness to share a reckless night of passion with Ms. Wrong is tinged with guilt because the “good girl” never helped or befriended her classmate, who is now running from the law and from folks with less mercy. Any sensible advice counsellor would have arranged an intervention for the “bad girl” years before, and would have advised the narrator not to open her door for her.

The other stories in the book are about other women on opposite sides of the law or from cultures that clash like the Sharks and the Jets in West Side Story, that classic musical from the 1950s that was based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. At one time in the recent past, lesbian desire was considered unwise by definition. In our time, the stakes have to be raised: the women can’t just both be female in a world where heterosexuality predominates.

In the September 29 issue of Maclean’s, a weekly Canadian newsmagazine, lesbian columnist Emma Teitel writes about “The Power of Erotic Nostalgia.” She says:

“At the Toronto International Film Festival this month, I saw Breathe, French actress Melanie Laurent’s directorial debut about an intense, erotic friendship between two adolescent girls that ends in catastrophe. I’d feel guilty about spoiling that last bit for you, were it not for the fact that nearly every mainstream lesbian-themed movie ends the same way.”

By contrast, Teitel describes her own monogamous relationship of five years: “At 20, we fell in love and carried on a clandestine affair until we were discovered—and lived relatively happily ever after. That is, so far, at least.”

So if lesbians (and other formerly-marginalized lovers) of different generations are living in relative peace, not hunted down by the police, the mental-health establishment or the Inquisition, why are stories about dysfunctional, “forbidden” affairs still so popular?

According to Teitel, this phenomenon can’t be completely explained as an expression of homophobia and/or misogyny in the culture at large. She says:

“It’s not as though horny frat guys are responsible for the thousands of YouTube tribute videos dedicated to Natalie Portman’s twisted, erotic bond to Mila Kunis in Black Swan, or Amanda Seyfried and Megan Fox’s literally demonic relationship in Jennifer’s Body.”

Teitel speculates that: “It may be that nothing beats erotic nostalgia.” Most queer adults can remember a first-time, coming-out affair as a scary, hidden, but very sexy experience. Living it is painful, at least some of the time, but remembering it can be exciting.

I suspect that for many readers, including the heterosexually married, “forbidden” attraction carries the same sexual charge. It also enables a reader to vicariously experience more danger than he/she would seek out in real life. No matter how many publishers seem to prefer erotic romance with happy endings to edgy erotica per se, the latter seems unlikely to die out completely.

A walk on the wild side has always been a popular theme in erotica. The middle-class assimilation of same-sex, different-race, or generation-gap couples, and even polyamorous households (in some hip circles) may be minimizing the real danger of formerly “forbidden love,” but not the popularity of stories about it. And of course, there is still enough conservative prejudice to ensure that any love that is not strictly white-bread might really be threatened.

So is the theme of “forbidden love” inherently offensive? I don’t think so. We all crave excitement, as well as security, and we have to find some way to balance our clashing desires. I expect to write about the dangerous attraction of opposites for as long as I have the luxury of time and space of my own. I couldn’t write if I were dodging bullets.


*Forbidden Fruit: Stories of Unwise Lesbian Desire, edited by Cheyenne Blue (Ladylit Publishing, 2014)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

More Ideas Than Time


I know this is something any writers reading this will identify with... and that's having more ideas than time.

As I mentioned in last month's post, writing, although it provides some of my income, isn't my full time day job. I just squeeze it in when I can. Within that squeezed time, I answer calls for submissions, write stories regularly for certain editors, work on projects ad-hoc, and so on. On top of all that, I have my brain saying "well, what about this? Or this? Or even this?" Idea after idea pinged at me, with no consideration for the fact I'm already juggling several projects.

This isn't a complaint, not really. If I didn't have any ideas, I wouldn't be a writer. But I just wish I could write more, write faster, get all those ideas down and hopefully published. Of course, once those ideas are written, my brain has more, so it's a never-ending kinda thing.

What I've had to do, recently, for my own sanity, is really start prioritising things, and also figuring out what's easiest for me and my life right now. I really dislike having things unfinished - although my brain will occasionally get on at me to start something new, I like to get something finished and sent off, first. After all, I can't have half a piece of writing published! So I prioritise what needs to be completed, in what order - i.e. do I have a deadline or not - and what will likely give me the best return financially. It sucks to look at it that way, but I have to be businesslike to keep my head above water.

Also, I have to figure out what is best for my current lifestyle. My brain has a paranormal series idea floating around currently, and although part of me wants to crack on and start it, I won't. Not just yet. I have too much other stuff, both writing, work and personal, going on and I don't want to put the additional pressure on myself, not just yet. So what I'm going to do, once I've completed the other projects on my list and it's time to start something new... I'm going to pen a standalone novel which requires next to no research. I want to write it, it'll be lots of fun, and much less high-maintenance that an entire series which will need researching, planning and so on.

Yes, I'm taking the easy route, for now. But you know what? I'm not going to beat myself up. Because it's what right for me at the moment. That, and writing isn't easy, anyway. Not even a short story is easy - so writing a standalone novel instead of a series isn't exactly copping out ;)

*****

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 http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9