Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Monday, January 30, 2017

Sex is a Scary Thing

Sex is a scary thing. That’s pretty obvious in the present political climate. But Sex really is a scary thing. I had a conversation once with another writer who wrote cozy crime. It wasn’t actually a conversation so much as it was a rant. She didn’t understand why sex was such a big seller. What was all this erotica stuff about anyway? Why did sex always have to be dragged out in a novel for the whole world to see? Why couldn’t it just stay in the bedroom where it belonged? Surly proper educated, intelligent grown-ups should prefer proper literature. This was in the halcyon days of 50SoG and the resulting erotica boom. The woman was not someone’s grandmother parading out her Victorian sensibilities. This was a person who was a good deal younger than I am. Seriously, sex is scary stuff! 

I don’t want to talk about obvious reasons why sex is scary. STDs, unwanted pregnancies, sex as abuse – sadly the fear of those is a constant. What I want to talk about is why sex is a scary thing just by the nature of being what it is.

Sex makes us vulnerable. We’re quite literally exposing our tender parts, the parts we keep hidden from public view, the parts we sometimes have disturbing dreams of exposing in the super market or the office. More than that physical exposure, we make ourselves vulnerable to another person, and that experience of opening ourselves is something we can never take back, something that permanently changes our perception of each other.

I remember my first view of split beavers and hard cocks in the pages of a dog-eared Hustler magazine that a friend and I had surreptitiously taken from her parents stash. My first response was 'gross!' I remember the little knot in my stomach. I remember the feelings below my stomach that disturbed me and at the same time intrigued me. All these years later having gained a healthy appreciation for the view of the tender bits hard and slippery and ready for action, I often find myself thinking about that first response, that first sense of shock that both disturbs and intrigues.

Sex is governed by something other than our rational mind. Anyone who has ever watched dogs or other animals mating understands that what’s happening is a primal imperative rather than a hot date. That we have a good bit of that primal urge in us just below the surface just waiting to kick aside the rational self and rut like rabbits is pretty scary. That we can somehow convince ourselves that sex among humans is more civilised, more easily controlled is even scarier still. 

Finally sex is scary because it offers an altered state that nothing else can. It feels as though we’ve been transported either to a deeper place in our bodies or someplace beyond.

I was eleven when I had my first orgasm, quite by accident. I was extremely ignorant of what touching my own body could lead to, and I thought I was having some sort of seizure. I was terrified. But then when it passed into little tremors, and I realised I wasn't going to die, I was intrigued enough to wonder, in scientific fashion, of course, if my results could be replicated.

I wish I could say that it was all smooth sailing from there on, but those of us who grew up in the western world all live with the religious and mythological shaping of our civilisation, whether we grow up in a liberal family or not. I had to fight the battles with guilt and shame. I had to fumble and faff about in those first sexual experiences with none of the elegance and aplomb we always read about and imagine. I had to decide for myself what it meant to be a ‘good girl.’ I had to find a way to claim and own my own scary sexuality. That, to me, is the scariest thing of all. Even now female sexuality is shamed and vilified. Even now tremendous lengths are gone to in order control it – efforts that are inadvertently just as damaging to male sexuality.

In many ways, I think, erotica and erotic romance are about rebelling against that control. Mind you I
don’t think erotica is our effort to tame sex and make it safe and toothless. I think it’s our way of walking with the wild beast and never forgetting that it is dangerous, that it is and always will be wild. The written word, story, is a safe place, in essence a container, in which to approach what will never be safe and yet what by our very nature, we long to embrace. Having said that, those of us who have been moved, disturbed, intrigued, changed by what we read or write can vouch for the fact that even in the written word, sex is a scary thing. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Erotic Horror – February Is Women In Horror Month

Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, horror, and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and her three cats. Visit her web site, her Facebook page, and her Amazon Author Page. 

Her new m/m erotic medical thriller Roughing It is out! This book is a sexy cross between The X Files, The Andromeda Strain, and Outbreak. Read her short erotic story Babes in Begging For It, published by Cleis Press. You will also find her new novel No Restraint at Amazon. Enjoy a good, sexy read today.

Next month (February) is Women In Horror Month. I thought I'd write something a little different for January in preparation for this fun time since my first love is horror. I've written erotic horror, and I though I'd tell my readers about how enjoyable and sexy it can be.

Erotic horror is a small niche in a big field. I've noticed that most romance and erotic fiction readers don't like horror in their smut. Most horror readers don't like smut in their terror. However, there is a small group of people who do like it, and I suspect that group is larger than I assume.

I wasn't allowed to read horror when I was a kid although I did manage to get my hands on my paternal grandmother's Alfred Hitchcock Presents horror anthologies. They scared the piss out of me. I loved every second of it. My maternal grandmother was hooked on The Twilight Zone and Dark Shadows. When my sister and I would stay over night at her place, we'd watch both shows. They gave me nightmares but I couldn't get enough of them. I loved being scared. My mother, on the other hand, was not pleased at all. She repeatedly told my grandmother to knock it off but the woman never listened. So I enjoyed some scary shit when I was a kid. I was affected by horror movies before horror books.

There are some very sexy horror movies out there. Four of them are The Hunger, Innocent Blood, the Nosferatu that stars Klaus Kinski as the vampire, and The Vampire Lovers, a movie version of the very erotic tale Carmilla by J. Sheridan Lefanu. That one has lesbian undertones. It was my first exposure to anything remotely lesbian, not including Theo in 1963's The Haunting. Theo's lesbianism was so understated in the movie to my 10 year old mind I didn't make the connection until I was in my late teens. It also helped when I read the book to catch on to that.

Anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher has written that scary movies encourage intimacy between partners. So if it's movie night with your sweetie, rent a scary movie rather than a romance, chick flick, or action movie. Fear releases dopamine, the same brain chemical that is released when you are infatuated with someone. So fear (like watching a scary movie together) can bring a couple closer together. All you need to do is choose the right movie. I recommend a horror comedy if you aren't into horror movies that much. Movies like Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, and Dead/Alive may just be the ticket. The jump scares in some movies make you jump into your partner's arms. What a great excuse to get close! When I first started dating my husband, I told him if he couldn't make it through Dead/Alive, we weren't meant to be together. He loved it! That movie was made by Peter Jackson long before he directed the Lord Of The Rings movies. Dead/Alive is rather notorious and it has a very bent sense of humor. And gore. Lots of comic-book-like gore. Fun movie!

Some erotic horror stories include the aforementioned Carmilla, which is one of my favorites. It's a vampire story with lesbian undertones. I've written some erotic horror including Asphodel which is available on my horror web site as well as Maneater which is available on my romance web site. Before you read Asphodel, read Edgar Allan Poe's horror story Berenice. My story is inspired by that one. Both of my stories are free reads.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s Playboy published an occult erotica series. Other books you may want to look into if you wish to try out erotic horror are Poppy Z. Brite's Love In Vein series (vampire erotica) and Anne Rice's Lestat books (very erotic vampires). You may have noticed a theme here. Vampires and eroticism mix very well. There are many reasons for this – the intimacy of the embrace inherent in the act of drinking blood. The Svengali effect of a vampire on the victim's psyche. Vampires as romantic creatures came about with Bram Stoker's novel Dracula and continued with Lestat, Christopher Lee as Dracula, and even Twilight. Beforehand, they were undead ghouls the like of Nosferatu starring Max Shreck from the silent movie era. Even that movie has been romanticized with Kinski in the vampire's role.

Looking for some good erotic  horror? Here are some more suggestions:

Cthuluerotica by Carrie Cuinn (cosmic H. P. Lovecraft horror with some smut thrown in)
Hot Blood: Tales of Erotic Horror by Jeff Gelb
Dark Seductions: Tales of Erotic Horror by John Scognamiglio and Alice Alfonsi
Mistress of the Dark by Séphera Giròn
Dark Fuses's new erotic horror stories. Erotikós.

So cuddle with your partner and read some of these fine books. Take a walk on the dark side of erotic horror for February – Women In Horror Month.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Call For Submissions: Best Lesbian Erotica Volume 2

Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year Volume 2
(Best Lesbian Erotica 2018)
Editor: Sacchi Green
Publisher: Cleis Press
Deadline: March 20, 2017 (earlier encouraged)
Payment: $100 and 1 copy of the book within 90 days of publication

Rights: non-exclusive right to publish the story in this anthology in print, ebook and audiobook form. Authors will retain copyright to their stories.

Is there a story inside you burning to be written? Now’s the time to let it out. Or is there one you published during 2015-2016 that you think is the best thing you’ve ever written? I’ll consider just a few reprints. Up to two submissions per author are allowed, preferred length between 2000-4000 words. No simultaneous submissions.

I want a variety of themes, voices, and tone. A diversity of ages, ethnicities, cultures, and physical attributes and abilities is welcome. The central figures must be lesbian, believable, fully developed characters. Give me vividly drawn settings, and plots or story arcs that grip the reader and don’t let go. Originality is especially valued; write the story that only you can write. And, of course, I want intense sex scenes that flow naturally from the story as a whole. All flavors of sensuality are welcome, from vanilla to BDSM to edgy frontiers that surprise and startle the reader. A few stories with a speculative fiction bent, science fiction or fantasy, might fit in.

Send your submission to sacchigreen [at] gmail [dot] com as an attachment in .doc, docx. or .rtf format, double spaced, Times New Roman black font. The story title, your legal name, pseudonym (if applicable), previous publication information for the story (if applicable), and mailing and email addresses, should be included on the first page. 
Queries are welcome.

Doing It Wrong

by Jean Roberta

Over the years, I’ve read a lot of advice on how to write, what to write, and how to promote it. Some of that advice has been contradictory, while some of it might have been brilliantly relevant to current trends, and for particular writers who are not me.

During the Feminist Sex Wars of the 1980s, I was warned by sister-feminists that “porn” was a male writer’s genre, and that its goal was to reduce live women to objects, or sex toys without wills of their own. There was evidence to support this theory, and “jokes” about the sexual abuse of women have not disappeared from the culture. They probably never will.

However, I discovered that sexually-explicit fiction is as diverse as fiction in general. In fact, since most human beings secretly or openly want sex in some form, it’s hard to imagine a narrative about humans in which sex is absent. In some cases, the sex shows up in a central character’s dreams and fantasies. In nineteenth-century fiction, it often shows up in Latin/legal terms. (“They were caught in flagrante delicto.”) In “literary” fiction, the sex used to appear in euphemisms (“And that night, they were not divided”) and metaphors (“The earth moved”).

Since the sex is already there, I thought, coyly lurking between the lines, why not bring it out into the light so we can see it? If the sex is meant to violate the will of one or more of the participants, an explicit description makes that clear, and readers can respond.

Writing about sex felt thrilling when I first tried it. I knew that most of my relatives, not to mention friends, coworkers and other acquaintances, would probably disapprove and consider me misguided at best, but it was still a big relief to describe things I had actually done as well as things I had only imagined. Okay, I thought, call me a slut if you want, but if you never think about such things, why do you read my stuff?

The Erotic Readers Association (as it was called in 1998, when I joined) was a great source of support. Other members consoled me when I complained on-list that my stories seemed to disappear into the Bermuda Triangle when I sent them off to editors in response to calls-for-submissions. (My first three erotic stories had been “accepted” in the 1980s by a small publisher that mailed me a letter, then immediately went bust.)

I began getting stories published in anthologies, and I thought the thrill would never wear off. It never completely did, but as Lisabet has mentioned, books are more ephemeral now than we bookworms of the Baby Boom generation ever believed in our youth. Having dozens of erotic stories in anthologies has not made me famous on any level, nor has it provided a reliable income. Thousands of books are published each year, and most of them probably won’t be remembered in another generation.

Besides all that, as M. Christian has said somewhere (probably in a blog post), there are only so many ways to describe sex. Characters, situations and plots can be different in every story, but body parts are limited, and what can be done with them fits into a few categories. I grew tired of repeating myself, and I hesitate to go far beyond my own experience in describing elaborate scenes that might be physically impossible. (And on that note, unclear sentence construction can suggest that a character has three arms, three breasts, or three balls, or that two characters can grope each other from across a room. The logistics of a sex scene have to be carefully managed.)

My age has probably played a role in my desire to write about something other than sex. I doubt if I will ever completely turn off like a burned-out lightbulb, but I no longer feel as if I will just die if I don’t get some. And if I don’t need it desperately, it’s hard to convince myself that my characters do.

In short, I have begun to stray into other genres. According to those who advise writers to discover their “brand” and stick to it, this is a problem. If I have a brand at all, it is clearly erotic fiction.

During the past two years, I’ve written several stories that are not sexually explicit, and most are still unpublished. My story for an anthology that is meant to tweak the imaginary world of a famous horror writer was tentatively accepted, but I haven’t been offered a contract, and this project seems to have no clear completion date. I wrote a queer mystery story for a Sherlock Holmes-flavoured anthology, and I haven’t had a response yet. (In fairness to the editor, he probably hasn’t had time to make decisions yet.) I sent a fantasy story to an editor who said explicitly in the call-for-submissions that the anthology was not meant to include erotica. This editor sent me a flattering rejection (“This was an enjoyable read, but it’s not quite right for this collection”), so I sent the story to a speculative-fiction magazine that rejected it.

I feel as if I have started over. If I continue to write fiction without sex scenes, I will continue to send it to editors and venues that probably don’t recognize my name. The competition might be even more intense than it is in the erotic fiction market, though this is debatable.

I am grateful that the “Writers’ Block” I thought I had when I was responsible for a child and for too much unpaid work, while scrounging for a living, seems to be permanently gone. As Virginia Woolf put it so well, a woman writer needs a room of her own, and I now have several. And while I’m on sabbatical, I’m not distracted by the day job.

What I didn’t expect, and what writing coaches never seem to acknowledge, is that the Muse changes over time. For that matter, individual identity changes over time. As long as that is the case, I’m not sure how more “successful” writers (in terms of royalties and name recognition) manage to promote their “brand” for a lifetime without burning out. That seems to be one fate that ever-changing writers don’t need to fear.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Rain! Rain on Me!

by Kathleen Bradean

For those of you who don't live in the western United States, it's hard to explain what this drought has meant to us. I live in Southern California, which either stole, swindled, or skillfully negotiated water rights years ago that make us the villains of the west (See the movie Chinatown for a glimpse into this). Northern California suffered far worse in the drought than we did simply because we'd been sold the rights to the rivers up north. They had to eat of paper plates for several years rather than run the dishwasher and limit showers to once or twice a week, again, for several years. We simply turned off our irrigation in our back yard and let everything back there die, but were still able to avoid penalties for over usage when we continued to water out front (albeit on a reduced schedule). But then, it started to rain. Northern California got the brunt of it first and came out of drought months before we did, which seemed only fair. Now, it's pouring outside and several times this week I've had the rare (for LA) pleasure of falling asleep to the sound of rain spattering on  the patio.

Metaphorically, that's pretty much what happened to my writing the past few years. I simply couldn't write. I wanted to. I had a manuscript due, but there was nothing that could drag those precious drops of creativity from a dry well. Then, finally, something happened and I was able to write again. I wish I could tell you what it was. Nothing in my life circumstances changed. The horrible things are still dragging along, and the good things are also unchanged. For those of you suffering from writer's block, I wish I could offer you some magical solution, but I rally don't know what made it possible to write again.

Okay, maybe I do, but it's no magical bullet.

I forced myself to write. It didn't matter how crappy it was. Things can be rewritten, but only if there's something to rewrite, right? It wasn't a smooth return. I would write a sentence or two then take a month to get back to it. I took a stab at several opening chapters and discarded all of them. (This is, unfortunately, my writing style. It's wasteful and slow and awful and I don't recommend it to anyone.) Then I went to visit another writer and she gave me an amazing idea that I ran with for a while until I decided it wasn't going to work, but when you know something isn't going to work, you have to have a vision of why not and that's as close to an idea of what I wanted to do as I could find, so I tossed out those two chapters and began over again. Now I'm on the threshold of chapter three. It's a dam bursting in slow motion, perhaps like the infamous Great Molasses Flood in January 1919, only not nearly as quick.

It's relief to be writing again. Only now that I'm wading back into the waters, I'm remembering things about writing that I'd conveniently forgotten. Writing a novel is a hell of a thing. Every character is a moving part with their own motivations and personalities. It's not so easy to shove dialog into their mouths and make it seem natural, and they never seem to naturally do what they need to to move the plot along. Unless, of course, you've created the right character, in which case of course they're going to say and do those things you need them to. That means backing up and recasting parts, which is also a slow painful way to write that I don't recommend, so try to start out with the right characters.

The main thing I'd forgotten is how long it takes to write action. It's a quick little movie in my imagination that takes maybe ten seconds to play. Describing it in words takes forever. For-ev-er. But I hate it and I love it in ways that no non-writer could ever understand. It's like a rain storm after eight years of drought. I knew something was missing, but I didn't remember until the tortured drip-drop of words began to form lakes on my pages.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Erotic Lure - Winter 2017

Erotic Lure banner

Dear Lecherous Literati,

Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays has past, we can get back to serious matters. Like sex. Sure, mistletoe and champagne can ramp up the romance , but seriously, during November and December one hardly has the time to indulge.

We’re deep into January now, with short days and long nights—perfect for erotic exploration. Here at the Erotica Readers & Writers Association, you’ll find everything you need to turn up the heat and keep the thrills coming until spring.

Being an author myself, I always like to start in the Erotica Gallery. In this edition, we have a steamy half-dozen Awesome Authors (left sidebar), each of whom shares a sexy short story or book chapter. Selections in this edition range from paranormal lust to rough power exchange, with everything in between. Meanwhile, original erotica from the ERWA Storytime community is featured in the right sidebar, including ERWA’s trademark flash fiction. Don’t miss these elegant and arousing nuggets.

More than just dirty stories:

If you’re like me, the Gallery (wonderful as it is) just won’t be enough erotica to keep you happy. Satisfy your hunger for arousing reading in our Books for Sensual Readers section. It’s dangerous for me to do the necessary research for the Erotic Lure; I always end up adding more titles to my want-to-read list.

This month I honed in on the steam punk collection Valves & Vixens, edited by Nicole Gestalt, as well as Giselle Renarde’s Best Fetish Erotica. Nobody does kink like Giselle! Looking at the novels section, I immediately honed in on Fionna Guillaume’s Tokyo: A Job with a View, about a young woman who takes a position that requires extensive travel—plus much more unorthodox activities. (Check out Fiona’s magnificent story in the Gallery for a sample of her style.) A Little Too Far by Lisa Desrochers also grabbed my interest, with its theme of a woman torn between two taboo attractions. We have a huge selection of gay and lesbian titles for you to sample, including gay fantasy The Woodwose by Nicolette deSada, habus gloriously literate gay collection Creampuffs, Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year Volume 1, edited by the legendary Sacchi Green, and Selena Kitts collection of naughty lesbian shorts, Girls Only.

When I tell you this is only the tip of the iceberg, believe me, it’s true! We have scores of titles in every sub-genre for your browsing pleasure, with quick links so you can grab copies of anything that takes your fancy.

Indulge your literary libido:

What about movies? We’ve got you covered there, too. (Or maybe I should say, uncovered?) In this edition, we feature a top ten list of films starring the delectable Latina, Sara Luvv. I was particularly intrigued by “The Faces of Alice”, about a closeted young lesbian who makes a deal with the devil to win back her out-and-proud lover. (Sara does het porn, too...) Scanning some of the other sections, I noticed “The Doll Underground”, a wild tale about four angry women who become sexual revolutionaries to fight the evils of big business. I also love browsing through the Classic Porn section (since I’m a classic myself). Digital technology allows older films to be restored and remastered so they can be enjoyed by new generations. Henry Paris’ 1970 masterpiece “Maraschino Cherry”, which set the standard for intelligent porn, is a case in point.

Porn for couples, porn for women, porn with a plot, porn parodies, totally unmitigated smut... whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it (conveniently categorized) at ERWA. Plus we’ve got links to the very best places to acquire the films you crave, including Gamelink, Adult DVD Empire, and SmutNetwork.

Get visual:

All you need to fully enjoy your new adult film is some popcornand a sex toy or two. Our Sex Toy Scuttlebutt column keeps you in the know about the latest innovations in self-stimulation. Many of these items are high tech gadgets that wouldnt be out of place in your typical computer store. (Geeks loveem!) For instance, theHot Octopuss Vibrating Duo Stroker for Couplesoffers a 9 speed oscillator, 5 vibration modes with adjustable frequency, a remote control unit and a USB charger. Fortunately one can still find good old-fashioned manual erotic implements like the Büch Dich (Bend Over) Paddle Dildo. An ingenious combination of a multi-textured silicon paddle with a versatile phallic handle, this toy does not require batteries, controls, or anything else other than toned biceps and a good imagination!

Of course we have the links you need to get your hot little hands on any of these items. Let me remind you that everything you buy via our affiliate links helps support the best free adult site on the web. (That would be ERWA, of course.)

Come play!

Inside the Erotic Mind this edition, people are discussing “Spicy Sex”. Altoids? Peppermint oil? Ginger? Chili peppers? Ever tried spicing up your sex life with this sort of fiery additive? What were the results? Come read what others have to say, then share your experiences and opinions. Just click on the Participate link.

There are lots of ongoing discussions on other topics of perennial interest to the prurient. Just make sure you have plenty of time to exploreand some privacy!

Dare to venture into the erotic mind:

Last, but certainly not least, we come to the Authors Resources section. If you are an erotic writer, you can’t afford not to take advantage of this rich compendium of knowledge and news. Our Calls for Submission listings are the most complete and up-to-date on the web. The current edition features new calls for femdom erotica, fetish erotica, and erotica on the theme of gluttony. We have guidelines for four new e-publishers seeking erotic romance and literary erotica. The CFS and publisher guidelines are updated regularly, not just when we create a new edition of the site, so bookmark us and visit regularly.

In addition to the CFS section, we have dozens of links to marketing and promotional services, editing services, review sites, author communities really, everything you need to get your sexy stuff out there where the world can read it.

Meanwhile, for the latest advice on craft and commentary on the erotica writing community, follow the ERWA blog. Written by some of the top authors in the erotic writing industry, the blog discusses everything from character development to dealing with rejection.

The world wants to read your work!

Is that all there is? Hell, no! I figure youll have fun exploring the rest on your own. I’ll see you again in April. Or if you really can’t wait... well, you know where to find me! (You can probably guess what I’ll be doing when you do, too!)

Stay naughty!

Salaciously yours,

Visit me at my blog Beyond Romance: