To tempt you fully, the fabulous Kay Berrisford is hosting a Shakspearotica eBook GIVEAWAY! Hurry over and read my blog post about The Diversity of Desire and comment for a chance to win!
I'm thrilled to announce that Shakespearotica: Queering the Bard is now available for your Thanksgivukkah, Xmas, Solstice, and other holiday gift giving (especially those vital self-gifting needs). The book is available eBook and paperback editions at the Storm Moon Press website, Amazon, and other online vendors.
To tempt you fully, the fabulous Kay Berrisford is hosting a Shakspearotica eBook GIVEAWAY! Hurry over and read my blog post about The Diversity of Desire and comment for a chance to win!
As a published author and editor in both fiction and nonfiction, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, yet I’m reticent to give advice to fellow writers. We all have our own methods and styles, and learning to write and following through with it varies by individual, level of experience, age, background, culture, and so many other factors. Recently, however, I’ve come to some important conclusions that I feel confident enough about to share. I feel there are three central weaknesses that most adult authors suffer from, and I feel the need to address them. So, though advice is cheap – and this advice is free (unless it inspires you to buy some of my published writing) – I hope you find the following words useful.
1. The first weakness that affects almost every author at some point in their writing trajectory is perhaps the most troubling. No matter how dedicated or creative, how well organized or determined, it is difficult not to suffer from the weakness of needing money to survive. Having a job simply takes up time, and that time would be better spent writing for most writers. Imagine how fabulous it would be to decide what days and what times of day we would write without having to worry about being thrown out of our apartments or homes. Consider how much more you could write if there were no bills to be paid at all! It amazes me that so few advice columns do not address this simple but important weakness that affects so many of us who have not yet become independently wealthy, are not successful gold-diggers, or who haven’t had our writing made into a wildly successful Hollywood blockbuster. So obvious yet so easy to forget
2. Other people are the second weakness in many writer’s lives. Maybe you live with family members. Maybe you made a family. Or you are in an intimate relationship with one or more other people, or trying to be. Or maybe you are isolated and alone and wishing you were in a relationship with someone else. Or you have, I hate to say it, friends with needs. Even superficial needs – like making lunch for a child or talking on the phone with a pal – can really cut into writing time. Just think about how much more writing you could do if you neither had people around you nor cared to. All the people in your creative mind could come out on paper and make you gloriously prolific. Sure, life experience and socialization are important for content, they say, but we’d write a lot more if instead of having that experience we were writing about it.
3. The final limitation in most people’s writing life is thinking time. Even if we got someone else to support us and that someone required absolutely nothing whatsoever of us, we have to think before we write. Even if we eliminate both the lived experience of work and that of relationships, consider all that wasted time coming up with ideas, creating imagined scenarios, well-developed characters, and that terrible bugaboo, plot. Worse yet if you care about such matters as logic, vivid and precise language, or originality. How much we could write if we just didn’t have to think anything through! (And there are authors who have mastered this weakness; we’ve all read them.)
Now that I’ve illuminated these stumbling blocks, I must confess I have no easy solution. It took long hours of thought I might have spent on my own novel just figuring this all out. And then vital minutes I could have devoted to editing that story with a looming deadline. In the end, it is up to each of us to create our own answers, to blaze our trail despite them, to recognize and obliterate all that may be holding us back from success at NaNoWriMo or finishing that epic autobiography. As we fight the good fight, fellow authors, we must carry on…as often as possible.
To follow up my recent post on women’s desire, I’m pleased to feature author and editor Leigh Ellwood today, to share the details of her recent collection Coming Together: Girl on Girl, which I’m proud to say includes my story “The Princess’ Princess.” Take it away, Leigh!
Thanks for inviting me. Coming Together: Girl on Girl is Coming Together Press’s first collection of lesbian erotica and erotic romance. Many of the contributing authors are well-known in the genres, some have contributed to past Coming Together books, and there are a few new faces.
I write many genres of erotica and romance, and have a few bestselling lesbian titles, including She Loves Me, a finalist for the Goldie Awards. And knowing that lesbian erotic romance is a growing genre in digital publishing led me to choose this focus to do something on a larger scale for Coming Together, a charity press to which I have contributed in past.
The specific charity I have chosen to receive all profits from the book is the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which helps all LGBT people with legal and social issues. I became aware of the NCLR when it fought to help an elderly same-sex couple who faced separation after one was hospitalized. If you’ve seen the first part of If These Walls Could Talk 2, it’s a similar story. A couple not legally recognized could face the loss of their partner, their home, and other property. Some of these stories are heartbreaking to read, and this book will help NCLR in their efforts to put an end to such injustice.
The contents of the book include an introduction by Lambda-winner Debra Hyde and the following stories:
The eBook sells for just $2.99 and is currently available at Amazon, ARe, and Smashwords. (Click the link to take you to the book at the site of your choice.)
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For more about the prolific Leigh Ellwood, visit http://www.leighellwood.com or http://leighwantsfood.blogspot.com. She can also be found on Facebook (www.facebook.com/leighellwoodauthor) and on Twitter @LeighEllwood.
Women in Lust: Erotic Stories. Editor, Rachel Kramer Bussel. Cleis Press, 2011. $9.99 ebook.
Coming Together: Girl on Girl. Editor, Leigh Ellwood. Coming Together Press, 2013. $2.99 ebook.
Little good has come for women when men, such as Sigmund Freud, ask, “What do women want?” We should applaud that the father of modern psychotherapy asked the question at all, of course, but more comes when we women ask ourselves what we, as individuals, “want,” and better still when we answer the question multifacetedly, in our own diverse and unique voices. In particular, as the author of erotic and romance fiction, I want to talk about how erotic and romance fiction can answer the question, with focus on two recent books that take up the question in different but overlapping ways.
I find this question especially relevant in the context of the increasing popularity of gay (or, more precisely, mm or yaoi) erotica and romance written by women. However diverse we may be in gender performance/identity and sexuality, if we are women, we are not gay men in love. Or we are in our minds and that’s where gender most resides, but unless we’re trans we’re not gay men and not identifying as women. You know what I mean. And I adore the pleasures of being a pansexual woman writing mm romance and erotica in many ways because it takes the historical/political/psychological quandary of such questions as “What do women want?” out of the equation so I can write about other things.
But I am a woman, inescapably and proudly (depending on moment and context), and I love writing about women’s desire. In this context, and because mm sells better than ff/lesbian and het sells best when its gooey romance or wild kink, I devote this post to Rachel Kramer Bussel’s Women in Lust: Erotic Stories and Leigh Ellwood’s Coming Together: Girl on Girl. The first is a predominantly heterosexual collection of contemporary erotica, and the second is a lesbian anthology raising funds for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, featuring historical, contemporary, and futuristic erotica and romance. Both collections include a variety of pleasures, from vanilla to kinky, and offer interracial and culturally diverse couples within their contents. And both center on women’s pleasures throughout, making them must-have books for those who want to know What Women Want.
In Women in Lust: Erotic Stories, twenty authors devote their energies to considering what and how women desire. From the objects of their desiring to how they want to be wanted, the collection offers a delicious array of women’s lust to choose from. Most generally, I find the anthology’s success to be in the way it plays with the question of women’s desires that so many men have posed and pries it open to find many and varied truths. The volume is full of delightful clichés, finding the hint of truth in stereotypes of horny women, and running with them, from the waitress riding a cowboy in the diner to the older woman returning to college, hot for teacher. In capable writers’ hands, we dive in and ride the vicarious waves of lust fully, falling prey to confessions both easy and difficult, old and new. And happily, within this collection, there is some stellar writing.
Like all readers (and writers), I have my favorites, and for these stories alone you should buy Women in Lust. There are also several clunkers, where style or subject does not pull me in and lift me from the page, but this is very much a matter of personal preference and taste, and I can’t imagine anyone regretting this indulgent purchase. (Indeed, never regret buying erotica: desire can transform our minds, our bodies, and the world, if we let it.)
But what if you want fewer men in your lustful fantasies? Then, of course, you spend the paltry price of $2.99 for the ebook of Coming Together: Girl on Girl, the newest anthology by Coming Together Press, with all profits donated to the National Center for Lesbian Rights. With this collection, you unite women’s desire with progressive politics and good karma, and you receive stories with toys, spanking, public sex, BDSM, and delicious romance by wonderful writers.
Because my fiction is included in the anthology, I don’t want to provide a review. I can say that reading the book has been a great pleasure, and quote the editor, Leigh Ellwood, who wants readers to know that “Girl on Girl, as you might expect, is a work of lesbian erotica and romance, but it’s much more than that. It’s a collection of some of the finest short stories in the genre that I’ve had the pleasure to read and edit.” I agree, and hope you will, too.
I will also note that the collection features my story, “The Princess’ Princess,” which offers a pseudo-medieval fantasy setting and the subject of a first-time sexual experience that becomes far more between a spoiled young heir to a throne and the visiting princess whose humility, wisdom, and lust changes the protagonist forever. It’s lush and escapist in setting and prose, very different from my contemporary erotica, but a labor of love and a pleasure to see included in the Girl on Girl anthology.
I hope sales numbers are soaring for both of these collections as they provide diverse fictional answers to the question of What Women Want and take their readers on glorious, lustful rides. Why not dive in right now?
Determined to watch a comedy last night, I made my way through the first 20 minutes of La Casa de Mi Padre before giving up and attempting Sacha Baron Cohen's The Dictator. While I can lowbrow with the best of them (have seen Talladega Nights more times than I care to count), I was truly hesitant about The Dictator because of its below-crappy reviews.
Surprisingly, I enjoyed it enough to be blogging about it in via this erotica space I share with Talon Rihai. Why, you may well ask. First and foremost, I confess, it's because I have a serious thang for Sacha Baron Cohen. Though his humor is hit-and-miss and his political zingers sometimes don't zing, I love his acting and the obvious pleasure he takes in it, plus I find him truly handsome, a combination of goofy and sexy that I just can't resist.
Like the best of comedians, he is willing to look like an asshole for a joke. From Borat's thongs to Bruno's liederhosen, I love his slapstick. And as a fellow Jew, I love his Jewishness. Even as he ventures into xenophobic shtick, he lets us in on the joke, for he isn't speaking Arabic or Kazakh, he's babbling nonsense with heaping doses of Hebrew.
Certainly, no one is going to call SBC a champion of women's issues, but I love that, alongside a Woody Allene or Mel Brooks type of sexist cluelessness, he doesn't hesitate to queer up his act. He may be a hubby and father of two, but he actively makes himself available for the queerest of fantasies by the roles he takes and the characters he creates.
The Dictator was an uneven film, to be sure, but it was, for me, memorable enough to be writing this. With a speech that links US capitalist democracy to a dictatorship, he pays homage to Chaplin (another trickster hottie) in The Great Dictator. And we can see not only Woody Allen mockumentary and Mel Brooks excess in his style, but more than a hint of Marx Brothers.
All this is to say, SBC: I'm diggin' what you're layin' down. And I'll be having you in a threesome with me and Sarah Silverman in my mind tonight.
Here at Sal & Tal erotica, we're thrilled to announce Salome's new m/m/m romance novel series about the wild adventures of three hot male models, Flotsam, Jetsam, and Jism. They're oh-so-pretty everywhere they go, in everything they wear. And when they strip down for naked fun, three's never a crowd! Whether they're showing off their abs, wearing sunglasses, or sporting watches on their ankles, you won't want to miss a moment or this spellbinding trilogy of boy on boy on boy! Let Flotsam, Jetsam, and Jism will make all your tackiest m/m/m dreams come true. Now available exclusively from Poor Quality Press.
Got additional ideas for Salome's pretty, horny boys? She's always looking for new ideas, so drop a comment and who knows, maybe it'll be the next title in the series!
We’re pleased to share our first guest blog post, by K. Piet of Storm Moon Press. The post was originally intended for a review blog within the erotic romance community. While the blog originally agreed to host the post during Storm Moon Press’s current mini censorship blog tour, the site recanted, stating it wasn't a good “fit” for their moderate-to-fluffy site. You can guess our response to that bullshit. If you know us, you know we not only enjoy but champion erotica that pushes boundaries and challenges norms. As the editors of SMP note, “A post on censorship can do nothing less than tackle these themes, and we thank this blog for appreciating and embracing that.”
As long as people have been writing things down, there have also been people trying to say what is and isn't appropriate for people to read. When it comes to erotic fiction, this is especially true. What is permissible? What is too explicit? What is too kinky to be acceptable for a given audience? Do publishers need to warn or label their books a certain way, or are the themes simply unacceptable, even if they are labeled? Censorship is a topic that isn't about to go away when it comes to fiction, especially fiction that in any way showcases the varied reality of human sexuality.
In my experiences, especially with our Fraternal Devotion anthology at Storm Moon Press, there are always going to be some people who don't want to read your book. All of us at our press knew there would be a limited audience for our collection of brother incest short stories (duh), but what we weren't prepared for were all the hurdles and hoops we would have to jump through to get the book out in print and distributed. Some distribution channels have strict rules about content, and they're perfectly within their rights to work that way. The trouble comes when those rules are only applied to books the higher ups don't like, rather than systematically applied to all titles containing the 'objectionable' content. When companies get into that tug-o-war situation, there are a few things that I wish they would keep in mind:
A Fictional Act Isn't Real
Oh, there will be a ton of debate on the role of fiction in shaping the minds of the public and being responsible or not responsible for the actions of people in reality, but when you keep it simple, the fact is that an act written in a work of fiction is, by definition, not real. Fiction provides a very unique playground in which many themes can be explored in relative safety. Taboo topics typically have a home in fiction, and that includes a lot of things that will push the boundaries of readers, be it incestuous content, harsher BDSM practices, or full-out non-consensual and dubious consent fiction. In the real world, such things would be looked down upon quite a lot (e.g. non-con situations would be rape, no ifs, ands, or buts about it), but fiction allows us to divorce the acts from reality and enjoy them in ways we definitely wouldn't in the context of reality. Fictional acts cannot be judged in the same terms that those same acts in reality are. That would make the fiction real in a way it simply isn't.
The Market Typically Regulates Itself
When it comes to 'questionable material' in fiction, it strikes me as interesting that companies state there is no market for it, and then pull it from production. Pulling it from distribution wouldn't be necessary if there was no market for that fiction, right? I think the fear is that there is a market for the fiction that some people find inappropriate. The flip side of the statement 'There will always be someone who dislikes your work' is that there will also always be someone out there who does like your work. The fear that there are readers who enjoy content others don't is sometimes what keeps books off the shelves. The trouble is, there is a legitimate market for many of those topics. Incestuous content, as an example, is a legitimate kink in the fiction community. You see a lot of daddy-daughter kink (Big and little play when it comes to role-playing) in the het erotica community. And twincest kink has been popular for a long time (I first became a fan in the context of anime and in the Lord of the Rings fanfiction community). There is a market for books like Fraternal Devotion.
The logical move for companies is to simply let the market regulate itself. If there is truly no market for the fiction that is provided by publishers (or even self-published authors who put their work out all on their lonesome), then no one will buy the book, no hype will be generated, and those authors won't make money off their work, which for some, will be enough of a deterrent to writing more fiction like it in the future. If, on the other hand, there is a market for the kink or taboo that some find 'objectionable', then the fiction will find that market, and those who don't like it will usually ignore it. The market drives itself. Those who don't like the material in a book (assuming it is clearly labeled as having said material) will usually not bother buying, and that's just as well. Most writers don't want people to buy their book when those people know right off the bat that they won't enjoy it. Let the books find their audiences or let them fade into obscurity.
Inconsistency Makes You Look Incompetent
Every company out there has its own set of rules. When it comes to distributors like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and All Romance eBooks, they all have rules against specific topics being included in the fiction that they distribute. This is normal. This is perfectly acceptable. The trouble is, these rules are very seldom imposed consistently across the board. Incest is permissible if it is non-consensual, forced on siblings or other family members in extraordinary circumstances, an extension of torture, etc. Non-consensual is fine, but the minute you have two siblings consenting to having sex with one another, then people freak out and demand it be censored. Rape and violence abound in erotic fiction as well as other genres like suspense/thriller and horror. All manner of torture is allowed in graphic detail, but that consensual golden showers scene? Oh, that's just going too far.
There is a certain double standard in many policies, not so much in the way they are written for distributors, but in the way they are enforced. For the most part, they aren't enforced at all, but the moment you mix erotic content, especially if it's GLBT erotic content, with any of the topics that might be skirting the comfort zones of some readers, you wind up with a suppression notice and have to find another place to take your fiction, no matter how legitimate it is or how big an audience is looking forward to purchasing it. It's not that the policy is problematic, but the lack of consistency in its enforcement certainly is, and that kind of inconsistency just makes the company look silly. Now, I'm not saying that people will stop going to Amazon or Barnes & Noble just because they're inconsistent with their policies and censor books almost arbitrarily, but it still doesn't make them look good. When the market could theoretically regulate itself, their inconsistent regulation through unclear policies isn't doing them any favors. In fact, it's making them miss out on potential sales for legitimate titles containing legitimate kinks enjoyed by legitimate people.
That's a lot of legit, and it makes me sad that so many distributors of fiction don't keep an open mind and try to be inclusive of fetishes, kinks, and taboo topics, things they might not completely understand but at least could see have substantial audiences if they took an honest look. The refusal to carry such titles when there's no reason that stands up to scrutiny means they're censoring.
But only titles that freak the mysterious 'them' out.
Luckily, there will be publishers who keep their doors open to the taboo and the unusual. Tentacles, incest, non-con... Those sorts of themes might not have the huge audiences that your traditional romance novels have, but they still have audiences, and I hope that those audiences manage to get their hands on the books that they love, even if they have to go through unconventional distributors or through the publishers' websites. It might not be the most convenient thing, but it's what we have at the moment. We can only hope that legitimate kinks are treated more fairly in the future.
K. Piet is the Marketing Director of Storm Moon Press and author of Making Ends Meet and 'On the Edge', which is included in the Fraternal Devotion anthology. She can be found on Twitter @k_piet or on her blog.
What literate lover of the erotic doesn’t lust after Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray? Who doesn’t fantasize all the details Wilde didn’t and couldn’t include? (Certainly not someone who’s taken her pen name from Wilde’s Salomé!) And why not go a step or three further, updating the tale, bringing Dorian into a paranormally-inflected version of our world…
From the graphic opening threesome of S. L. Armstrong and K. Piet’s new erotic romance serial Immortal Symphony (from Storm Moon Press), we’re in a world that kinky, pansexual dreams are made of. Just try to resist the moment the incomparable Dorian tops a woman while moaning over his shoulder for the man behind them to “Fuck us, pet.” I dare you. Dorian is the hedonist supreme, and even in this first installment (“episode”), there is more delicious sex—including lush, spot-on dirty talk from Dorian—than in many a lengthy novel. Plus, there is his unstoppable selfishness and dark past, looming.
Into this world come twin psychic investigators, Gabriel and Michael, bringing complications into the lust-drenched episode. Gabriel, the first man to pique Dorian’s immortal interest in ages, enters the first episode in straight-forward, wish-fulfillment fashion. He has a vulnerable inner monologue that makes me like him from the first. For those with an aversion to a hint of Mary Sue in the air, I say get over it and bask in the adventure; it’s delectably easy to do. I frankly clapped my hands with glee at how quickly Dorian has Gabriel—and everyone else (occasionally with a dose of heroin)—at his mouthwatering mercy.
My disappointments in this first episode are few, and fade quickly. Primarily, the opening paragraphs did not grab me as tightly as I would have liked. The use of “click” as single-word paragraphs to signal when photographs were being taken was too heavy-handed for me. Similarly, the italicization of “he” so readers can distinguish between Dorian and the other male lover from the perspective of the woman in the scene was understandable, yet it called attention to itself, pulling me out of the moment. Once past this, however, and into Armstrong and Piet’s luscious take on Dorian’s inescapably hot, self-indulgent debauchery and troubled mind, I was riding high through the rest of the episode…and prepared to beg for more.
Immortal Symphony can be purchased by episode (99 cents for the first and the rest priced by length) or by Season Pass, entitling readers to each episode as released and an ebook upon completion ($11.99).
The Next Big Thing Blog Hop is a way to learn about an author’s current project and be led to other authors and their work. Each tagged author answer the following set of ten questions about their newest or upcoming release. Here’s the news from Sal and Tal…
What is the [working] title of your book?
Turning Trick: A Boywhore Tale
How did you come by the idea?
Sal did this digital drawing of a prettyboy sucking a man's finger based on yaoi-style manga art (see image at top of blog), and we started talking about fantasies of hot gay boywhores and brainstorming a novel about them. We didn't want to do a realistic exposé or anguished confessional, but rather a contemporary fairy tale of sorts, blending hurt/comfort, playfulness, hot sex, and happily ever after for the protagonist Jen, a young, professional hooker with a rough past --see image above, and Patrick, a.k.a. Trick, the street kid he takes in and teaches the trade.
What genre does your book fall under?
Yaoi meets contemporary gay romance. Unless "pretty boywhores in luv" is its own genre, which it should be.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters if it were a movie?
Kim Jae Wook
Ko (the transwhore with a heart of gold):
(with a dash of Barbra Streisand added)
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When young male prostitute Jen decided to take in an eager street kid and make him his protégé, he had no idea how their time together would change them both.
[start sexy dance music]
Will your book be self-published or traditional?
Storm Moon Press has expressed interest, and we're thrilled.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
We haven't finished it, but we're estimating about a year: Boywhores, they're what's for Christmas 2013.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
It’s probably most like the playful hard yaoi manga of Youka Nitta or Yamano Ayane. And, of course, it’s somewhat like our novella After the First Taste of Love because we love writing hot m/m hurt/comfort tales featuring beautiful boys.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Yaoi manga, fanfiction, and each other. We spur each other on…as often as possible.
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
> Lots of detailed, yummy, m/m sex--
for pay and for play.
> Our characters aren’t all whiteboys.
> We rite gud.
To keep this party flowing, we tag the awesome Kate Kinsey. Be sure to take a gander at what she’s got in the works!
The blank page is no less filled with promise (in our case, erotic promise) when it is virtual than when it is tangible. We're thrilled to be here. Our blog will be filled with news and naughtiness, and we hope you'll take the ride with us.
Right now, we're working on the final edits and heading toward getting cover art for our novella, After the First Taste of Love, due out in September 2012. We'll post links so you can save 20% when you pre-order and so you can check out the coolness of Storm Moon Press!
Sal & Tal Erotica is now live!
Sal and Tal are pansexual erotic writers and beings. This blog will provide information on forthcoming publications and offer various musings. Posts are by Salome unless otherwise noted.