Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Is Diversity a Liability?

By Lisabet Sarai

If I were looking for a logo, I might choose a Pu Pu Platter.


Do any of you remember those pseudo-Polynesian appetizer assortments, complete with the fiery wrought-iron cauldron in the middle to heat up all the finger food? Do they still exist? When I went searching for images on my favorite stock photo site, I came up with zero hits. Are PuPu Platters totally passé? Have they gone the way of granny glasses and lava lights?

Modern concerns with healthy eating have probably played a role in the platter's demise. It's difficult to imagine a more fat-and-cholesterol intensive repast than the traditional fried wonton, crispy egg rolls, barbecued spareribs, battered giant shrimp, cheese-filled crab puffs, and all the other delicacies that might show up ranged around the flaming Sterno. One PuPu Platter can undo weeks of toil at the gym.

But God, how I loved them! Indeed, I recall that on my first real date, my companion (with whom I was highly enamored) ordered us one. This may explain my lingering fondness; PuPu Platters are somehow mixed up in my mind with sex. (Not that I had sex on my first date, of course, but a teenager's hormones color everything in her world). And there are some similarities, after all. A PuPu Platter is decadent, all luscious flavor with little food value. You devour the components with your fingers and lick off the juices afterward. And you can't eat one all by yourself. PuPu Platters are made to be shared.

The real attraction for me, though, is variety. (I also adore mezze plates – Middle Eastern appetizer assortments.) A taste of this, a hint of that, never enough of any one dish to be bored – that's what I love. Diversity is my ideal in life. I want to sample a wide range of different experiences, rather than being forced to choose one dish, one path, even one person – although I have been married to the same guy for more than thirty years. (He likes variety, too.)

As a reader, I also seek out diversity. Anyone who scrolls through my books on Goodreads will find plenty of erotica, true, but also romance, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, classics, historical novels, biographies, plays, poetry, a bit of almost everything. If you focus in on the erotica, you’ll see I read and review work ranging from extreme hard core BDSM to sweet vanilla. I read and enjoy gay, lesbian, bisexual and multi-partner fiction – contemporary, historical, futuristic – really, whatever I can get my hands on.

Most authors write what they like to read. Hence it's not surprising my books are all over the map. At this point I’ve published nine novels (defined as works over 50K words). Two are gay erotic romance – one paranormal, one sci fi. One is M/F and F/F erotic noir. One is M/F paranormal. One is steampunk BDSM paranormal m√©nage. My first three are even harder to classify, offering a bit of everything, from a sexual perspective – from exhibitionism to enemas – with many assortments of gender and in one case, a parallel historical subplot.

I’m proud of my books. I like the challenge of tacking new genres as well as new forms. However, lately I’ve started to believe that diversity can be a liability to an author’s career. When someone asks you what you write, “almost everything” may not be a strategic answer.

Think about the authors whose names are household words. Steven King writes horror. Anne Rice writes paranormal. P.D. James writes (or wrote) mysteries. Tom Clancy and David Balducci write political thrillers. John Grisham writes legal thrillers. Nora Roberts writes romance. J.K. Rowling writes fantasy. (Remember how nasty the critics were when she published her realistic contemporary novel, A Casual Vacancy?)

I couldn’t think of any really popular writers whose books vary as much as mine do, from one to the next.

Meanwhile, my favorite authors are the ones who can write anything – and do. M.Christian comes to mind as maybe the best example. His backlist includes science fiction, horror, and just about every sort of erotica you can think of. I’ll devour anything by Kathleen Bradean/Jay Lygon. Jonathan Lethem’s wild imagination produces something different in every offering. And though I haven’t read anything by him in a long time, John Barth used to delight me with each new novel. I never knew what to expect – and that’s the way I liked it.

Of course, in answer to the question, “what do you write?”, I could say “erotica”. That doesn’t pin things down much, though. Some erotica readers are pretty picky about the themes and topics they want to read. I know people who find anything other than BDSM fiction totally boring. Others have complained they can’t find hot vanilla M/F stories anymore. The segment of the erotica market that’s reading primarily for arousal wants stories that push their particular buttons. Someone who gets off on water sports isn’t interested in femdom. And so on.

Anyway, the “erotica” answer isn’t strictly true. I also write erotic romance, which has a different audience. I’ve been told in no uncertain terms by some erotica readers that my stories were too tainted by romance. Meanwhile, I’ve had romance readers shy away from my work as “too hot” and “too much like porn”. I’ve considered adopting a new tag line: “Too raw for romance, too sweet for smut.” (I’m only halfway joking.)

I guess I have to accept the fact that the majority of readers does not value variety to the extent I do. Instead they are seeking predictability – the antithesis of enjoyment, from my perspective!

This is a bit depressing, if I allow myself to dwell on it.

Am I willing to focus on one sub-genre in order to become popular? If I were making my living as an author, I think I’d have to. Fortunately, I have the luxury of writing what I feel like – of indulging my love of diversity. As long as I don't care if my work sells...

Now all I have to do is find readers with similar tastes.

Anyone care to share a Pu Pu Platter?



Friday, December 19, 2014

Sexy Snippets for December




May I interrupt your shopping, cooking and other holiday preparations for a moment? Just in case you've forgotten, today is the 19th of December. In other words, it's 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, if you'd like.

Feel free to share this with erotic author friends. It's an open invitation!

Please follow the rules. 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.

Have fun!

~ Lisabet

Thursday, December 18, 2014

“Son, Don’t Rape Anyone at College!”

by
Donna George Storey

Sexual assault is very much in the news these days from Bill Cosby and the controversy around Rolling Stone’s “A Rape on Campus” to the Obama administration’s Title IX probe of the handling of sexual assault cases on many campuses across the country. This complex issue deserves thoughtful attention and meaningful action towards prevention, but the discussion also brings up strong emotions. Extreme opinions are easy to find on the Internet. On the one end of the spectrum are those who claim that all men are rapists waiting for their chance, on the other, those who accuse women who speak up about their experiences of assault of being liars and attention-seekers (because, really now, the kind of attention they receive is so much fun, right?)

Every commenter has her or his solution. One woman pointed the finger at parents, who should take their sons aside before they go off to college and tell them not to rape anyone.

My first reaction was to shake my head at the quaint custom of blaming individual parents rather than, say, broader cultural values, but then I got to thinking. Maybe the Internet Lady was right. Maybe if parents talked openly with their sons and daughters about sexual assault, that might change the environment enough to make a difference. Because preventing sexual assault in the first place is far better for everyone than trying to punish assault after it happens.

However, there has to be a lot more to the talk than, “Son, don’t rape anyone at college!” or “Daughter, don’t get inebriated, wear short skirts or get within groping distance of a boy!” The talk I have in mind would not only involve rape itself, but fundamental issues that nourish it and are likewise shrouded in silence. I’m talking about sexuality, status and power, and the ways group pressure can make you do things that are not in your own best interest.

Assault of any kind at any age by anyone, even say, a policeman, is a crime. But young adults (and not just college kids) are particularly vulnerable to becoming both perpetrators and victims because they are unsure about where they fit in and what good sex means to them personally versus cultural myths of what sex should be. If they have nothing else to go on but what their equally uncertain peers model as cool and fun, then they have to figure it out for themselves at great risk. What’s still happening on campuses today—and let’s not doubt that assault and date rape have always been there--is the result.

Where to start the discussion? For the sake of simplicity, I’ll speak mainly about heterosexual relationships, but the general principles apply across the range of orientations. The first myth to tackle is that being a cool stud means putting your penis in as many holes as possible. If the body you penetrate is unconscious, struggling, protesting, even ambivalent, it doesn’t matter as long as you get inside. But what if we all agreed to redefine the terms—a sexual encounter only gets you stud points if both partners willingly participate and experience pleasure? As many before me have argued, this means that men and women must be allowed to say “yes” to sex so that “no” has meaning. But we need to get the message out—if you have sex with an unconscious or unwilling body, you’re a creep and a criminal, not a player.

Another issue that struck me when I read the Rolling Stone article is that young men in fraternities face serious dehumanization as part of the pledging process. I’ve heard reliable stories about pledges being coerced into eating cat food, crickets, and vomit, of being forced to stand in a row, blindfolded, while they wait for the night’s assignment to prove their dedication to the group. This might involve running three miles to get pizza for a brother or sleeping on a hardwood floor in the frat house for several nights. I’m sure the worst parts were not shared with me. Secrecy and silence are crucial to the fraternal code and those who break it face the same consequences as victims of rape who speak out. Hazing tends to make the news when people die or are seriously injured, but the truth is, it damages and dehumanizes everyone who endures it and everyone who inflicts it on others. Colleges are condoning and enabling this behavior by ignoring it. Many of us are doing the same by romanticizing it. It’s time to shine the light on fraternity and sorority hazing and its effects on young adults before the next death from alcohol poisoning or the next party rape. Is belonging worth that price?

Finally, we must acknowledge that the taproot of this problem is shame. Not just shame about reporting incidents if you are a victim, which is certainly the cause of much tragedy, but also shame about expressing and experiencing sexual desire. Because we can’t share the truth of our sexuality, people can all too easily manipulate us through sexual shame. They can bully us for not being sexual enough or experienced enough, then turn around and call us names for being too sexual. Even in erotica, where fearless and frank sexual writing is the name of the game, many of us must seek protection behind pseudonyms--for very good reasons.

The commentator who blamed parents for sexual assault on campus was, I believe, oversimplifying the problem. But if we all could more openly discuss sexual myths, sexual shame and the ways vulnerable young adults can be manipulated by the desire for status, we could make progress toward creating an environment where nonconsensual sex is no longer business as usual on the college scene.

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, December 17, 2014

Call for Submissions

A Touch of Love
Publisher: Dark Hollows Press
Deadline: January 17, 2015
Payment: flat rate of $50 for each story

Dark Hollows Press is currently accepting submissions for Valentine's Day short stories to be released February 2015.

All stories will revolve around the theme of finding true love on Valentine's Day. Stories should revolve heavily around some aspect of Valentine's Day. For example, stories could be about meeting your true love on Valentine's Day, breaking up but reconnecting on Valentine's Day, spending Valentine's Day together with a true love, etc.

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

Call for Submissions

Silver & Gold
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Deadline: February 28, 2015
Payment: Flat payment of $200 plus one copy each of the ebook formats LT3 produces and two copies of the paperback compilation.

Silver & Gold — Anthology Call — All love faces challenges, but one of the most difficult can be time. The distance of generations can be a hard one to cross, and judgment is frequent and heavy when a lover is too old or too young for society’s tastes. But love is also precious, and timeless, and worth all obstacles. Less Than Three Press invites authors to submit stories of people not afraid to bridge the span of time.

Stories may be any pairing except cisgender heterosexual M/F (trans* M/F, M/M, F/F, poly, and all permutations thereof are acceptable).

Submission details at:
http://www.erotica-readers.com/ERA/AR/Silver_&_Gold.htm

Call for Submissions

Erotica Anthology 2015
Publisher: Ylva
Deadline: March 15, 2015
Payment: $60 (via PayPal), two complimentary copies of the anthology in print, plus a free e-book in each format (epub, mobi, pdf)

Here at Ylva, we obviously like romance. But every once in a while, we also want to read a story that sends our temperatures soaring—something not just passionate and romantic, but downright carnal.

Those are the kinds of stories we’re currently seeking for an erotica short story collection we’re publishing in 2015.

Writers, send us your most lustful, lascivious, even lewd stories for this one. Plot? Yes, we’d still like your story to have one. But this particular collection will focus on the sensual, red-hot delights of sex between women and the celebration of the female form in all its diverse hedonism. So what we want are tales of lesbians getting down and dirty in the bedroom (or any other place they find arousing) and having loads of fun doing it.

Details at:
http://www.erotica-readers.com/ERA/AR/Erotica_Anthology_2015.htm