Feb 272014
 
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My name is Chris – though my pseudonym is usually M.Christian – and I have a confession to make.

I’ve written – and write – a…what’s the technical term? Oh, yeah: shitload of erotica. Some 400 published stories, 12 or so collections, 7 novels. I’ve also edited around 25 anthologies. I even have the honor of being an Associate Publisher for Renaissance eBooks, whose Sizzler Editions erotica imprint has some 1,300 titles out there.

I’ve written sexually explicit gay stories, lesbian stories, trans stories, bisexual stories, BDSM stories, tales exploring just about every kind of fetish, you name it and I can all but guarantee that I’ve written about it. I like to joke that a friend of mine challenged me to write a story to a ridiculously particular specification: a queer vampire sport tale. My answer? “Casey, The Bat.” Which I actually did write…though I dropped the vampire part of it.

Don’t worry; I’m getting to the point. I can write just about anything for anyone – but here comes the confession:

I’ve never, ever written about what actually turns me – what turns Chris – on.

This kind of makes me a rather rare beast in the world of professional smut writing. In fact it’s pretty common for other erotica writers to – to be polite about it – look down their noses at the fact that I write about anything other than my own actual or desired sexual peccadilloes. Some have even been outright rude about it: claiming that I’m somehow insulting to their interests and/or orientations and shouldn’t write anything except what I am and what I like.

To be honest, in moments of self-doubt I have thought the very same thing. Am I profiting off the sexuality of other people? Am I a parasite, too cowardly to put my own kinks and passions out into the world? Am I short-changing myself as a writer by refusing to put myself out there?

For the record, I’m a hetero guy who – mostly – likes sexually dominant women. I also find my head turned pretty quickly when a large, curvy woman walks by. That said, I’ve had wonderful times with women of every size, shape, ethnicity, and interest.

So why do I find it so hard to say all that in my writing? The question has been bugging me for a while, so I put on my thinking cap. Part of the answer, I’ve come to understand, relates directly to chronic depression: it’s much less of an emotional gamble to hide behind a curtain of story than to risk getting my own intimate desires and passions stomped flat by a critical review or other negative reaction from readers. I can handle critical reviews of a story – that’s par for the course in professional writing – but it’s a good question as to whether I could handle critical reviews of my life.

But then I had an eye-opening revelation. As I said, I’ve written – and write – stories about all kinds of interests, inclinations, passions, orientations, genders, ethnicities, ages, cultures…okay, I won’t belabor it. But the point is that I’ve also been extremely blessed to have sold everything I’ve ever written. Not only that, but I’ve had beautiful compliments from people saying my work has touched them and that they never, ever, would have realized that the desires of the story’s narrator and those of the writer weren’t one and the same.

Which, in a nice little turn-around, leads me to say that my name is Chris – though my pseudonym is usually M.Christian – and I have yet another confession to make.

Yes, I don’t get sexually excited when I write. Yes, I have never written about what turns me on. Yes, I always write under a name that’s not my legal one.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel when I write. Far from it: absolutely, I have no idea what actual gay sex is like for the participants; positively, I have not an inkling of what many fetishes feel like inside the minds of those who have them; definitely, I have no clue what it’s like to have sex as a woman…

I do, however, know what sex is like. The mechanics, yeah, but more importantly I work very hard to understand the emotions of sex and sexuality through the raw examination of my own life: the heart-racing nerves, the whispering self-doubts, the pulse-pounding tremors of hope, the bittersweetness of it, the bliss, the sorrows and the warmth of it, the dreams and memories…

I’m working on a story right now, part of a new collection. It’s erotic – duh – but it’s also about hope, redemption, change, and acceptance. I have no experience with the kind of physical sex that takes place in this story but every time I close its file after a few hours of work, tears are burning my cheeks. In part, this emotional investment is about trying to recapture the transcendent joy I’ve felt reading the work of writers I admire.

When I read manuscripts as an anthology editor, or as an Associate Publisher, a common mistake I see in them is a dedication to technical accuracy favored over emotion. These stories are correct down to the smallest detail – either because they were written from life or from an exactingly fact-checked sexual imagination – but at the end, I as the reader feel…nothing.

I’m not perfect – far from it – but while I may lack direct experience in a lot of what I write, I do work very, very hard to put real human depth into whatever I do. I may not take the superficial risk of putting the mechanics of my sexuality into stories and books but I take a greater chance by using the full range of my emotional life in everything I create.

I freely admit that I don’t write about my own sexual interests and experiences. That may – in some people’s minds – disqualify me from being what they consider an “honest” erotica writer, but after much work and introspection I contest that while I may keep my sex life to myself, I work very hard to bring as much of my own, deeply personal, self to bear upon each story as I can.

They say that confession is good for the soul. But I humbly wish to add to that while confession is fine and dandy, trying to touch people – beyond their sex organs – is ever better…for your own soul as well as the souls of anyone reading your work.

 

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Feb 242014
 
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By Colin

Sometimes I fantasize about the very end of my life, that final moment when I’ll be called to account for all my misspent years. Only instead of seeing St. Peter looming over a giant ledger in front of the pearly gates, I go back to those old black & white crime films—particularly the final scene where the cops have caught the bad guy and are pressuring him for a confession. I play the bad guy (duh), but instead of armed robbery or sassin’ my mother, the fuzz got me for writing porn. And just before they take me away to the rockpile, the hot lady cop (well, they’re both hot lady cops, with really big bazongas), tips back her fedora and growls:

“One thing bugs me, Colin…why’dja do it? Why’dja throw away years and years of your life writing about boobies and handcuffs and chicks taking off their shoes? Smart guy like you. You could’ve been a real writer, like James Michener. So for Pete’s sake, why?”

I’ve never doubted what my answer would be. Why did I spend so much of my adult life writing pornographic fiction? Why were my first stories published in soon-to-be-sticky, over-the-counter mags, alongside phone-sex ads and grainy blowjob photos? Why did I spend 2001 alone writing and publishing nine novels which were, as much as they were about anything, about women’s feet?

Because it was fun.

Now, it might just be me, but I can’t ever remember a time when the population at large had so furiously dedicated itself to eradicating every speck of fun from its collective lives. When fresh-faced twenty-somethings didn’t just work eighty hour weeks, but actually needed to snivel and whine for the opportunity to do so. When husbands and wives would bitch at each other to take the kids on Saturday, not so they could sneak out to brunch with their buddies or lovers, but get in an extra hour of so of training for that marathon they signed up for. When diet-masochists tried to live entirely on salads and ice water, until their bodies were so starved for basic nutrients that they would drool over steamed kale in the same orgiastic tones once reserved for hot fudge sundaes.

We thought the ’80s were bad. The ’80s were The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus freaky-deakin’ Bosch next to this puritan-infested wasteland we’re stuck in now.

Like I say, though, maybe it’s just me.

Look, hard work does have its rewards, for writers as well as sane folks. There is real pleasure in taking on a project that offers challenge as well as indulgence, that stretches your abilities to make scenes and characters work against insurmountable odds. It might even be that that particular pleasure is the real point of undertaking a life of writing.

But fun—at the very least—has its place as well, and that seems especially apt when you’re talking about erotica. Porn embodies so many of the things beginning writers are taught by the mainstream to avoid or even to despise: abandon versus control, action versus thought, and most of all an emphasis on the sensual over the cerebral. Yes, yes, I know: Michel Foucault, Georges Battaille, Marco Vassi, blah blah blah…despite what some think, porn has never wanted for eggheads. But surely part of what makes erotica attractive to creative people is that feeling of hurling yourself into something that appeals to the gut over the noodle, which bypasses black and white moral divisions, which is even a little naughty.

In my early twenties, I became briefly addicted to fetish videos. This was in the early ’90s, when most of the product out there still clung to storylines, as opposed to cutting right to the chase (or the favored body-part). It was all big hair, big boobs, too much makeup, implausibly broad characters and criminally bad acting—a neon-colored world of crap. But I loved it. The same goes for the fiction and “true-life” letters in the porn magazines. For better or worse, the tropes and rhythms I found there would be a crucial influence on the fiction I would later write. Forget sword and sorcery paperbacks and horror movies: this was real escapism. I could put aside the agonies of forging a social life and career in Reagan’s America in favor of jealous girlfriends luring each other into bondage clubs or paying their rent with casual sex.

The very real pleasure I took in that world still lingers. It’s why I still have a smile on my face every time I sit down to start a new story or novel or comic. ‘Cause it’s fun, dammit. And sometimes—no matter what your professors or bosses or significant others or the hot lady cops hauling you off to the big house say, fun is enough.

 

Colin is a fetish writer and the single most prolific professional author of tickling erotica working today, with dozens of books to his credit. www.gigglegasm.com and www.ticklingforum.com.

 

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Feb 202014
 
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By Guest Blogger Sabrina Luna

 

I began writing professionally in 2006 and I’d like to share with you six lessons I’ve learned over the years.

1) Remember to tell your story. So another author is writing a similar story? It won’t be like yours. Only you can tell your story, so keep on writing.

2) Don’t compare your writing speed with another writer. It doesn’t matter how fast you type, only what you have written and how far you’ve progressed your story toward its completion.

3) Don’t take a reader’s book review too seriously. Most of the time, it’s just one subjective opinion of your story, nothing more. At the same time, their review might shed light on something about your writing (or your audience) that you hadn’t noticed: do you get a little too repetitive with certain words? Do some of your characters need some development? Are you marketing light, romantic BDSM to an audience that expects the heavier kind, leaving them disappointed (or vice versa)? Sometimes even an antagonistic review can contain a nugget of useful feedback once you rephrase parts of it to yourself and ignore its venting or snarky tone. This may help you grow as a writer. Take note and learn from the experience, if so, but do not mistake one reader’s voice for generalized popular opinion.

4) When searching for the right publisher, do your research and look for a company that does business in a professional manner. Remember, doing your research on a publisher may save you from headaches and problems in the long run.

5) There’s a fine line between promoting your books and overpromoting to the point of turning off potential readers by trying too hard to sell your book. Then again, if you’re underpromoting, your book may wind up getting lost in the flood of stories being published these days. Experiment, find the right balance, and discover what works best for you.

6) Treat others in your field—fellow authors, publishers, cover artists, agents, etc.—with respect and professionalism. And, hopefully, others will treat you similarly. Even when they don’t, however, if you can retain your professionalism it will be clear to many of your other, more respectful colleagues that you can be relied upon to act like a grownup when push comes to shove.

I sincerely hope these lessons I’ve learned will help you along your way…

 

Good luck and happy writing!

 

Sabrina Luna is an author of paranormal & erotic romances and, recently, became an indie ebook author, too. She enjoys haunting bookstores and coffee shops, listening to classic rock, and attending movies and munchies with her fellow geek-peeps.

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Feb 182014
 
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By billierosie

Hey You! Yes, you peeping through the keyhole. Yes, you, the guy masturbating in the peepshow booth, watching the lady dance her erotic tease.

And you, you, who thought you were safe looking at dirty pictures in secret, while your wife sips her tea from her favourite china cup; you’re not safe. And neither is the sophisticated lady cruising the National Gallery pretending to look at the chiaroscuro, form and line, in the masterpieces.

You’ve been spotted.

The naked females stare boldly back at you.

You’ve been caught out. You’ve been caught looking.

Your quest to fulfill your carnal desires has landed you in big trouble. Your desire to obtain knowledge of the female form cannot be obtained in any innocent way. In the vernacular, you are a Peeping Tom. To give you your polite name; you are a Voyeur. You are no better, no different to Tom, blinded for his crime of looking at his Lady as she rode, naked through the streets. Peeping Tom saw what was taboo; forbidden. So have you.

And you hetero girls, don’t think you’ve got away with it either; so wipe those smirks off your faces. That wonderful statue of David, by Michelangelo; did you know that David’s eyes follow you? He’s watching you looking at his beautifully sculpted cock. He may be flaccid, but you are dreaming of an erection. He can see the lust in your eyes.

And something else that has to be considered; the place of the Exhibitionist. There is something about Michelangelo’s statue that makes the viewer feel that David knows that he is being watched. The tables have been turned; the viewer is now the subject of scrutiny. Painters have responded to the theme, too. Goya’s nude Maja almost glares at the viewer with a sneer of irritation. And Manet’s “Le dejourner sur l’herbe”—the lunch on the grass was shocking at the time Manet exhibited it. A woman naked, casually lunching with two fully clothed men, was an affront to public decency. But the naked women in these paintings negate any suggestion of indecency. The women confront you with an expression that seems to find the viewer’s excitement boring. As if they are saying; “Oh, do grow up!”

Faced with that, the viewer’s lust is diminished.

Film has responded, too, to the place of the voyeur. I was watching the classic Hollywood film Rear Window a few weeks ago. Looking is what film is all about and Rear Window is about voyeurs and the pleasure of looking; the pleasure of looking that cinema offers. James Stewart’s character Jeffries is incapacitated by a broken leg and is confined to his apartment. To alleviate his boredom he takes up watching his neighbours—and here, Rear Window establishes a connection between cinema and television. There are cuts from Jeffries’ face to the shots of what transpires outside his window to the frame of Jeffries himself watching the man in the helicopter watching the women that Jeffries himself was just watching. This classic narrative film is a metaphor for cinema, but it is actually television that the film most identifies with. Jeffries’ viewing—and our point of view is most often that of Jeffries—is more like channel surfing than watching a film. Each window across the courtyard offers a different channel.

And yes, television has made voyeurs of us all. We live our lives through watching lives unfold before us on the screen. The hourly news programme directs us to people dying of hunger on the other side of the world. One man watches another man starving to death. I didn’t want to see the hanging of Sadam Hussein on my television screen. But I had no choice, the moment was there before me before I could switch off or change channels. Reality TV programs, Big Brother. And again the Exhibitionist. The desire to be famous has been well documented; but famous for what? It doesn’t matter; just being seen on television is enough.

 

billierosie has been writing erotica for about three years. She has been published by Oysters and Chocolate, in The Wedding Dress. Logical Lust accepted her story “Retribution” for Best S&M 3. She has also been published by Sizzler, in Pirate Booty and in their Sherlock Holmes anthology, My Love of all that is Bizarre, as well as Hunger: A Feast of Sensual Tales of Sex and Gastronomy and Sex in London: Tales of Pleasure and Perversity in the English Capital. She also has a collection of short, erotic stories, Fetish Worship, as well as novellas Memoirs of a Sex Slave and Enslaving Eli, both published by Sizzler Editions in 2012 and available for purchase at Amazon.
billierosie can be found at Twitter, @jojojojude and at her blog.

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Feb 132014
 
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By Dr. Amy Marsh

As a writer and in my career as a sexologist, the situations I find most personally challenging are the “hurry up and wait” experiences. These are usually the times when I’ve found myself courted (often out of the blue), urged to produce something which will be published or presented in what appears to be a desirable forum, and then once I meet the deadline—nothing. Time and again I’ve experienced a flurry of communication designed to elicit my favorable responses—plus a solid piece of work—and then, somehow, there are no longer any reciprocal exchanges from the person or persons who so avidly sought my acquaintance and professional expertise. Even brief, patient emails a month or two later may go unanswered. Phone calls are not returned. The publication dates, or other matters which have an impact on me and my ability to strategize, bootstrap, and promote, are simply left dangling. And I am left to twist in the wind.

Have I been dumped after putting out? Am I just another notch on an interviewer’s belt or a social media website? Or has a cascade of life crises interrupted the process and the reporter, publisher, or agency representative really will get back to me as soon as the carnage clears?

Sure, “sh*t happens,” but why does it so often happen after I’ve turned in a piece of work?

It’s very hard to know what to do in this case. Do I “squeaky wheel” it, become annoying and persistent in a way that is frankly foreign to my socialization and inclination? Or do I assume a Zen-like exterior of uber-professionalism while patching up my slightly shredded self esteem in private? Or is it just that people have lost the art and etiquette of following up?

Writers need aftercare and check-ins, too! It’s not just for BDSM anymore!

Perhaps there should be a self-help book titled Writers who Write Too Much… and the People who Exploit Them. If there were such a book, I’d be most interested in learning how to keep my sense of plucky optimism while still waiting for all those blogs, books, and other promised projects to come to fruition. I’d like to learn how to professionally and constructively convey my desire to know publication dates and other key pieces of information, and to be informed about delays in a timely manner, so that I can—you know—twitter and blog and facebook about it. In other words, do my share of promoting the whatever-it-is, which usually also includes promoting and boosting the company, website, or whoever is hosting the whatever-it-is…

Did I mention that much of what I’m talking about are writing projects almost entirely done on spec? Sometimes with a promise of a modest bit of change coming along later (always welcome in my pre-divorce world)? Did I mention that it’s awfully hard to know just how to separate the truly wonderful opportunities, chances to collaborate with people who have struck my fancy as creative, marvelous individuals, from those who are simply out for as much free content as they can get? And instead of choosing me for my expertise, do some people see me as a reliable fallback because they think I’ve got nothing much else going on?

I have been operating on the assumption that acting professionally would elicit professionalism in return. Sometimes it does. A couple of writers interviewing me for books actually do send me a copies when they are published. On the other hand, that New York writer who wanted a free session in order to write about it has yet to communicate clearly about when his article is appearing in that hip, happening fashion site. And there are other matters left hanging out there, ones which baffle me in strange, painful sort of way.

To redeem this blog post as something other than my own personal lamentations and frustrations, here are a few cautionary words:

1) Don’t count on, or wait for, the publication of an interview to handily coincide with your self-promotional efforts. Occasionally an interview will come out just at the right time, and you can use it to promote your classes or create more buzz about your book—the operative word here is “occasionally”; even if the interviewing party has promised its publication by a certain date, don’t build your marketing or other schedules around that interview ahead of time. Create several different promotion strategies for your projects so that when the promised article fails to appear, you won’t be crushed or left without options.

2) Remember that everyone is far too involved in pushing their own agenda and advancing their careers to focus too keenly, or sometimes even care, about yours. Even people working in good faith will often have so much on their plate that memory lapses and communication gaps are an inevitable part of the process. Find a way to accept that gracefully, and again, create a few different strategies for dealing with situations on a case-by-case basis.

3) If you are able, try to find out as many details as possible before committing to create content, especially for people and organizations you don’t yet know and trust. Not every opportunity is a good opportunity; if someone wants a large chunk of your time for free, you may be better off investing that time elsewhere.

4) If you haven’t seen a response two weeks after emailing or phoning the person who courted you, you’ve probably been dumped or the project has been shelved. Pick yourself up and move on. Be civil if they actually do get back in touch at a later date. Any delays may not have been their fault. Maybe there really were extenuating circumstances.

5) Don’t become obsessive about checking the places where you think your interview or work may still be published. Just do it every now and then, and then forget about it (or try your best to forget about it).

There are probably harsh industry realities which exacerbate these problems for writers and other creators of content. And we—being on the outside—may never know what they are. All we can do is carry on, stay fresh and frosty, and above all, never become excited about something that looks like a big break. It’s probably no such thing, and you may be better off looking for the little breaks to be found with trusted professionals.

 

—Amy Marsh

 

Amy Marsh, EdD, DHS, CH, CI, is a clinical sexologist and AASECT certified sex counselor, certified hypnotist and hypnosis instructor, and an associate professor of human sexuality at the world’s most radical sex school. She is a former Carnal Nation columnist. Learn more at dramymarshsexologist.com or follow @AmyMarshSexDr on Twitter.

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Feb 102014
 
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By Sherry Ziegelmeyer

Now that 2014 is well underway, you’re probably starting to get antsy about what kind of publicity you can generate to increase awareness of your books this year. As I said in my last Write-Sex.com column, used properly, press releases are a viable tool to generate public interest in your books—and in you, as an author.

The unwritten catch in that above paragraph is that first your press release must make it through the vetting process of an editor. …If you’re thinking of the benevolent and helpful copy editor who goes over your manuscripts before they’re published—you’d be wrong. News editors are only interested in a press release that catches their attention, tells them all they need to know within the first paragraph of the text and has enough “meat” to make the story newsworthy, or at least to make their readers stay on the page long enough to see their own advertisers’ sales pitches.

So how do you go about writing a press release that will evoke a positive reaction in an editor? One strong enough to convince them to do something with your press release, beyond deleting it? The following example will probably help you—let’s “deconstruct” a press release!

Since I happen to have a press release that the wonderful M. Christian put together for Sizzler Editions’ website launch a while back, let’s use that as the example…

Formatting for Professionalism

You will need to let the media know when your news is applicable, and that is handled by the release dateline notice (part one—there are actually two parts to the dateline, but we’ll fill in the second part once we get to the body copy), formatted as:

For Immediate Release: [Insert the actual date you are sending out your press release.]

Now you will need to let the media know whom to contact for more information concerning your news, so add this line:

Contact: [Insert your name and direct phone number or email, or those of another designated contact person.]

Within the body of a press release, there will be a couple of additional formatting rules you should keep in mind; however, it would be too confusing to jump ahead, so for now please focus on these two—they are the most important. Editors are a finicky bunch and they have been known to automatically delete press releases that do not follow standard formatting rules at the beginning of the copy they are presented.

Giving Good “Headline”

Now we can start building the actual press release.  We need a headline, which is a title that describes the information contained in your press release. A headline should be brief, yet it also should make the reader (the all-important editor!) interested in what you have to say in the press release that follows that headline.

Sizzler Editions Launches Exciting, New, Erotic eBook Site

Please notice that this headline uses proper grammatical form, and avoids the crime of “shouting” that would be committed if the entire headline were capitalized instead of in Title Case. It also has no exclamation points or other punctuation. All of those effects detract from a good headline, and annoy most editors.

However, what should be capitalized in title case is capitalized. This headline also fits on one line, which is important for most publications—and yet, it still tells you who the company is, and what the company does, so readers will have an idea of the information included in the press release.

Lead Paragraphs

Your lead paragraph should contain at least three of the necessary pieces of information essential for an editor to determine if your submission is worthy of their further attention.  These questions are termed by many editors as “The 5 W’s and the H”, which stand for Who, What, When, Where, Why and How?

Leading off the first paragraph of your press release, you’ll want to include the second part of the “dateline” that tells the editor where the news was generated. Sometimes it’s very important for an editor to know if your press release has a local news angle, and sometimes it doesn’t matter—but in either case you will look more professional and interesting to an editor when the location of your news is appreciable at a glance.

(San Francisco, California) Sizzler Editions, the premier publisher of erotic eBooks since 1998, announces a new site for erotic literature junkies to access their catalog of 1500 titles, sizzlereditions.com. [http://sizzlereditions.com]

The lead paragraph of this press release answers three of those journalistic test questions which determine whether a story is actually newsworthy: “Who” (Sizzler Editions), “What” (A publisher of erotic eBooks) and “Why” (they launched a new website with a catalog.)

This type of lead paragraph also gives the editor an idea of what the lead of their own story should focus on, should they choose to rewrite the press release for their publication. Remember this rule and you will make friends with many people in the press. Forget this rule and you will leave people wondering about your level of professionalism.

Guess what? The hard part is done! Now, let’s give our press more information to back up and expand on what we have already said in our lead paragraph. Let’s move to the rest of the body copy:

Built on a new, more flexible, platform with additional layers of subcategories, the new Sizzler Editions site features the ability to see related books by theme and series. Next to each book cover, readers will see convenient tabs featuring the book’s description, direct purchase links and other information. The updated site also incorporates video trailers for featured Sizzler Edition titles, and expanded Author Bio pages.

While the second paragraph is enough to fully cover all the “5 W’s and an H”, you still want to wrap up this story with some more supporting information, and make it more interesting. You can do that with quotations. Breaking up blocks of informational text with quotes also helps keep your press release from reading like an advertisement.

Of the new site, Publisher Jean Marie Stine says, “Perhaps the biggest change is the fact that we no longer host and sell books ourselves. Readers will instead find a link, which takes them directly to a book’s page on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and other such sites. At the redesigned Sizzler Editions site, readers can not only easily find the book they like, but they can buy it from their preferred vendor in a new tab—and have it downloaded instantly into their ebook reading device— without ever leaving the Sizzler Editions site.  It’s a win-win for both readers and for us!”

Stine reveals that the site is continuing to add improvements above and beyond the update unveiled April 2, 2013. “The new site is still very much a work in progress. We will add audio interviews with our authors, include even more features to enhance the visitor’s search experience and more titles from new erotic authors are always being added to our catalog!”

Debut releases at the new site include bestselling bondage author Powerone’s new Cold War spy shocker, Slave of the Kremlin, two novellas of paranormal romance by Sarah Bella, author of Bound by Blood, and a first-ever collection of Herotica editor Marcy Sheiner’s stories, Love & Other Illusions. Also scheduled for release in the coming weeks are Love’s Storm by Margie Church and K. B. Cutter, the second installment of their controversial trilogy about polyamory, plus a new collection of erotic science fiction stories, Skin Effect, by M.Christian. Coming soon to Sizzler Editions are the first of three books by sexologist Amy Marsh reporting back on Love’s Outer Limits, and new books by Terri Pray, David Jewell and other bestselling authors.

You’ll notice that the quoted bits of the sample press release are all flush left aligned and use block paragraphs with a single return between them. That’s the proper way to present a press release to an editor.

Calls to Action

Every press release should include a Call to Action at the end of the body copy. Remember though, a press release cannot read like an ad! So always keep your calls to action vague, such as “Bookmark sizzlereditions.com now…”, which is used in the last paragraph of this press release, as you will see next:

Bookmark sizzlereditions.com now, and start exploring the new features rolled out in the first phase of the update, and be sure to come back for the official grand reopening on May 1st, when there will be free eBooks, special prizes and other delights.

Wrapping Up

Let’s sign this thing off with the all-important sign that your story is now finished and let your editors get back to their deadlines, shall we? To give the press the signal that you are finished, use this traditional copy writing convention:

-30-

Please don’t bother yourself with what “-30-” means or where the convention came from; most reporters today are also clueless of its original origins, however they all know it when they see it.

If you still don’t think that you have included enough information for the press to consider your press release newsworthy, let’s add the optional “boilerplate” copy, in its required format (again, both paragraphs should be flush left aligned):

About Sizzler Editions:

Sizzler Editions is one of the leading ebook publishers of erotica on the internet. Sizzler issued their first ebooks in 1998, and since that time have published over 1500 titles. Sizzler Editions prides itself on presenting the finest in erotica for every sexual interest and orientation.

You never thought we’d finish that did you? Well, that’s the entire press release, with all of the formatting in place and enough information to convey to an editor that the news it contains will be of interest to their readers.

The truth is, anyone can write a press release. The problem is that very few people know how to write a good one; let alone one that news editors will find professional and credible. There are many other details (and potential pitfalls) that you should be aware of when writing press releases, from the adverse reaction editors have to “bullet points” in them, to the use of “hype”, to the appropriate length and number of topics that should be included in any single press release, to headlines, “burying leads” and much more.  If you’d like to learn more about these and other common “editor’s grievances”, with examples and explanations gathered directly from news editors, please visit The Press Wire Writing Tips page.

 

Do you have specific questions concerning how to generate publicity for your books? Please email questions and comments to Sherry; answers will appear as future WriteSex blog topics.

Sherry Ziegelmeyer is a professional publicist and public relations representative, who happens to specialize in adult entertainment (in all its various forms). She resides in Chatsworth, California, affectionately known as “ground zero of the adult entertainment industry.” When not working on writing press releases, arranging interviews and putting together review kits for her clients (among dozens of other career related activities), she reads a LOT, loves cooking, appreciates beefcake eye-candy, spending time with friends, family and with her assortment of furred and feathered “kids”.

Get to know Sherry at blackandbluemedia.com or www.facebook.com/sherry.ziegelmeyer.

 

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Feb 062014
 
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By Elizabeth Coldwell

One of the first pieces of advice given to aspiring authors is “write what you know”. This maxim implies that if you base your writing on your own personal experiences or areas of expertise, it will give the work an air of authority and authenticity. For erotic writing, sticking to What You Know has an additional purpose: it helps you avoid mistakes in setting and detail that might turn a reader off, dragging them out of the moment you’ve worked hard to create. And then there’s basic sex-ed knowledge—if a writer lacks it when they first enter the field of erotica, they’d do well to catch themselves up as quickly as possible. Having had letters submitted to Forum from readers who seemed to believe that the penis can physically enter the womb, it seems sex education is sadly lacking in some areas.

That said, so much of erotica is based in fantasy that if we all followed this principle to the letter, a significant portion (and purpose!) of that work would disappear, much to the deep disappointment of a vast number of readers. There would be no paranormal or fantasy erotica, and the only books featuring serial murderers would be written from behind bars.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with writing from personal knowledge. When I receive a story set in, say, the theatre or the music industry, I can often tell without having to read an accompanying bio that the author has spent time in that profession. Equally, when I’ve put out a call for submissions for an anthology of historical erotica, it quickly becomes obvious that some writers have a deep love for a specific time period. Whether you’re writing about American football or the gods of Ancient Rome, you need to know enough about the game, mythology or whatever else to be convincing.

Setting your stories in a time, place or professional background which you know like the back of your hand is usually a wise move; your knowledge of these settings will impart richness, believability and fascinating detail to the rest of the story. But there are a couple of caveats: first of all, if you are writing about a subject that’s very familiar to you, it’s always important to try to avoid using too much jargon. Readers will usually know less about the setting than you do, and you want to make sure they’re along for the ride throughout your story or book. Second, if there’s so much focus on the background that the sex and characterisation become incidental to the loving description of a last-minute touchdown or the braking system of a specific kind of truck, however, then your story needs a rethink.

If you decide to write about unfamiliar subjects or places, then you’re going to need to put in some research, and there are plenty of tools that can be used to help you. You don’t have to go quite so far as Michael Shilling who, for his book about a band falling apart during a disastrous European tour, Rock Bottom, actually walked the streets of Amsterdam to see whether his characters could get from one part of the city to another in a certain amount of time. And you probably won’t be able to do the kind of research author KD Grace joked about conducting for the third book in her voyeurism and BDSM-themed Mount Trilogy series, From Rome With Lust, when she said with a theatrical sigh, “I suppose that means I’ll just have to take a holiday in Rome…”

Thanks to the internet, you don’t need to go any further than your couch or desk to find the information you need for colorful, believable settings and characters—resources like Google Maps enable you to write about a city you may never have visited, as a 360-degree panorama of almost every street in the world is now available with a click of your mouse. Libraries are also an important research tool, as they can provide a good variety of encyclopaedias and more academic or obscure reference works than you can easily (or cheaply) find online. And don’t forget TV: thanks to the many and varied documentary series available on almost every channel, you can gain insight into the lifestyles of people who do unusual jobs. Fancy making your hot, alpha hero a ghost hunter, an antiques restorer or a man who tickles catfish for a living? Then tune in, take notes and, most importantly, have fun with your writing…

 

Elizabeth Coldwell is Editor-in-chief at Xcite Books, where the titles she has edited  include the National Leather Award-winning anthology, Lipstick Lovers. As an author, she has 25 years’ experience in the field of erotica, having been published by Black Lace, Cleis Press, Sizzler Editions, Total-e-bound and Xcite Books among many others. She can be found blogging at The (Really) Naughty Corner – elizabethcoldwell.wordpress.com.

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Feb 032014
 
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It turns out that I’m kind of a weirdo.

I know, no big surprise that the guy whose latest story series is about a woman who keeps tentacle monsters for sexual purposes considers himself a bit strange. I’m not talking about sexual proclivities here.

No, I’m talking about story structure. I’m a story structure fetishist. It’s gotta be there, or I’m totally unsatisfied. I don’t care how hot the sex is, how lush the descriptions are, how interesting the characters are—if there isn’t a beginning, middle and end, I am just not going to get a literary boner out of a story.

The weird part is, I didn’t really understand this particular paraphilia until I started writing and, therefore, studying the craft of writing. Sure, I had gotten the standard lectures in high school English class about exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement, known as “Freytag’s Pyramid,” but it wasn’t really internalized. I hadn’t learned to see those phases in a story, analyze it like a biology student dissecting a frog, and I certainly hadn’t learned about all the myriad alternatives to (and elaborations on) Freytag’s Pyramid. All I knew, starting out, was that some stories just didn’t do it for me, and that writing endings was really, really hard.

So I started studying.

To be honest, calling it “studying” is something of a misnomer. I wasn’t very diligent, at least at first, and I wasn’t very purposeful. But listening to podcasts about the craft of writing, and reading blogposts, gradually gave me the tools I needed to understand my little peccadillo, both as a consumer and as a producer of stories.

And since then, stories have become much easier to write. Understanding structure means that I know I have to have a solid vision of each of the plot elements before I start writing. Those things can change as I go along, but when I know what’s going to happen at each stage of the story, I write myself into fewer corners, down fewer primrose paths, and up fewer dead ends.

Another upside to this is that when I read or listen to something that clearly lacks these structures, I can be more specific in my criticism. Unfortunately, a significant proportion of erotic works feel this way to me; the structure of most of them boils down to “people have a reason to have sex, then they do it.” Bleah. There’s no tension in a story like that, no energy, no meaning. But I also realize that judging stories by my own personal kink isn’t really fair, so I usually don’t call out stories on it. I just write them the way I think they ought to be written.

For those of you who’d like to play along at home and study up on plot structures, here are some links for you:

MICE

Kishoutenketsu

Five act structure

Hollywood Formula

And once you’re done familiarizing yourself with those, here’s a story idea to fit into them:

A kinky pony-play “farm” gets raided by animal rights activists who don’t (initially) understand what’s going on. The handlers on the farm are expecting a new group of untrained “colts”, so the misunderstandings go both ways.

 

Learn more about Nobilis and his work at his…

Website: www.nobiliserotica.com
Podcast: nobilis.libsyn.com
Twitter: @nobilis

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