Jun 172014
 
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One of the questions beginning writers ask us most often is: “How do you know if you have captured the love in your characters’ lovemaking, and aren’t just writing a run-of-the-mill sex scene?” To answer that question, twelve writers offer their own thoughts and advice in this unique WriteSex Author’s Roundtable. Each week a well-known romance author will discuss the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and show us how to charge an erotic encounter with romance. Look for personal insights and how-to tips from our participants in this first ever WriteSex Authors’ Roundtable. —Ed.

***

By Emma Paul

Today’s erotic novel has changed greatly from the old days of porn and sex-driven plots. What was once a “male”-dominated genre has evolved to encompass the romantic element of popular literature, and has brought this taboo writing to store shelves and women’s bedside tables.

It was only after the mid-eighties that former adult star Candida Royalle created her first adult movie aimed at women, titled Femme. The film centered on the woman’s pleasure through explicit sex scenes that did not include shots of external ejaculation.  Thanks to Ms. Royalle, the porn industry opened its doors to a whole new genre to target a female audience. I believe this helped women explore—and see themselves as central to—their sexuality and bring a more romantic flavor to pornographic media.

Pornographic literature has been around since Roman times and although I have done little research past that era, I’m sure there are cave drawings somewhere of our earliest modern human ancestors getting it on.

As an author of erotic romance, I feel that the appeal of a good erotic story lies in the relationship between the main characters, and its emotional effect on the reader. Sex is a very important part of erotica—and when that sex is portrayed as romantic, I believe it only emphasizes the scene’s excitement. It means a lot to me to be able to connect sex with love—or in the case of erotic romance, love with sex. In my books, one cannot occur without the other. Love and romance are pivotal parts of my writing and, to me, they’re the most important forces driving the plot to the end.

To understand what this means, it’s necessary to understand the difference between a sex scene and an erotic romance scene. What is the difference? A sex scene in and of itself gives little attention given to the emotional connection between the characters. Although I have written such scenes into my novels, I still believe that they need to fit into the context of the story. When I hold back on describing their emotional connection during a sex scene, I ensure that the main characters will express their love for each other far more effectively during subsequent encounters.

Romantic erotic scenes are more geared toward progressing the relationship between the main characters. The focus should be placed on the emotional bond between the lovers, and on sex as an instrument that strengthens that bond. Every sex scene in an Erotic Romance should move the story forward. At the same time, it should be sexy, titillating and hopefully make the readers tingle. After all, reading Erotica and Erotic Romance is all about getting in the mood.

***

Emma Paul is the alter ego of a happily married, middle-aged woman. She has been writing short stories all her life and loves bringing her wild imagination to others. She writes Romance, Erotic Romance, Paranormal & Fantasy Erotic Romance, and is the author of Kaden’s Breeder, Corbin’s Captive, Soulmate’s Touch and Prisoner of Darkhavenwith more books coming soon!

 

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Jun 132014
 
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By Jean Roberta

I write in several genres, including blog posts and reviews. I also teach first-year university students to write academic essays, which is a particular, ancient art form related to the art of debate. (When universities were first established in Europe in the 1200s, “logic” and “rhetoric” were high on the list of subject matter that scholars were expected to learn.)

I’ve learned a lot from my students. I like to think I can recognize problems in my own writing more readily because I’ve seen the same groaners in student essays. Most of the mistakes I’ve circled and commented on can be summed up as a general lack of coherence. Some students even contradict themselves within a paragraph, apparently without noticing it.

To be articulate, whether in speech or in writing, literally means to connect the dots, to show connections between a premise and the evidence that supports it, between events and their aftermath in a narrative, or between analogies. (For instance: Putin’s recent annexation of part of Ukraine for Russia is parallel to Hitler’s annexation of surrounding territory for Germany in the 1930s – or not. Discuss.) An articulate approach to anything requires work.

Some literary critic once said that bad writing consists of missed opportunities. This sounds similar to incoherence, or a failure to articulate. A good plot premise doesn’t necessarily lead to a good story, because the writer might miss a chance to show where the central character’s value system or motives are likely to lead, or to connect different themes or viewpoints within the story.

Part of the reason why “pornography” has traditionally been considered bad writing is because it leaves out so much of reality. A loosely-plotted story that consists of one sex scene after another might make a great fantasy, and it might inspire a great wank-session, but it doesn’t resemble anyone’s actual life. Even full-time sex workers have things to do that aren’t the least bit sexy – and selling sex to strangers is not the best way to have an endless series of peak experiences.

The challenge of writing about sex, even if it takes place on Planet X or involves supernatural beings, is to integrate the physical activities with the emotions involved, with the cultural context, and with the circumstances that lead to sex. Behind every set of double-D-sized breasts is a human heart. To describe the breasts as part of a tempting body, without acknowledging that every human body of every size and shape includes a complex human psyche, is to be an amateur cartoonist. The anti-porn feminists of the 1970s had some reasonable things to say about this type of writing. Unfortunately, much of what they said has been forgotten or drowned out by conflicts over censorship, which has continued in various forms to this day (Amazon.com, for example, needs to be watched).

When reading over a rough draft of a story, I ask myself: do all these characters belong in the same imaginary world? Even if the plot twists aren’t predictable (a good thing), are they believable (another good thing)? Have everyone’s feelings been clearly represented? What am I leaving out?

Setting a manuscript aside for at least 24 hours, then looking it over with these questions in mind, can lead to useful insights.

If not everything fits together, you might actually have two stories disguised as one. In that case, you can thank your Muse for being so fruitful, and start rearranging.

————————

Jean Roberta writes in several genres. Approximately 100 of her erotic stories, including every orientation she can think of, have appeared in print anthologies. She also has three single-author collections, including The Princess and the Outlaw: Tales of the Torrid Past (Lethe Press, 2013). www.jean-roberta.livejournal.com

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Jun 092014
 
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One of the questions beginning writers ask us most often is: “How do you know if you have captured the love in your characters’ lovemaking, and aren’t just writing a run-of-the-mill sex scene?” To answer that question, twelve writers offer their own thoughts and advice in this unique WriteSex Author’s Roundtable. Each Monday a well-known romance author will discuss the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and show us how to charge an erotic encounter with romance. Look for personal insights and how-to tips from our participants in this first ever WriteSex Authors’ Roundtable. —Ed.

***

By Mary Marvella

I remember several years ago I met an older man who thought he was writing romance or erotic romance. He said he needed an editor, so I agreed to edit his books. Contrary to his idea of them, his stories were all about sex with no romance involved. He had all the sex acts of porn and none of the finesse of erotica or erotic romance. Not once did his writing make me want to be part of his sex scenes. I tried to help him and finally found someone who could tell him where he might get his books published, if anywhere—and even they suggested his books were similar to the ones sold for men in truck stops. Today, if the dear man still lived, his stories might be self-published, or he’d need to let me just rewrite his books for a fee.

A sex scene is about bodies commingling in various ways—part A goes into slot B; there’s some licking, some sucking and a lot of coming—but isn’t required to include meetings of minds or points of view, let alone emotions. As such, the idea of a standalone sex scene bores me to tears; so far I haven’t let a sexual encounter continue in any of my books without also describing the emotional connection or need that motivates it.

In my book about a 40-year-old who lost her virginity in a one-night stand, I thought I had done it—I thought I’d written a sex scene between two strangers who met, briefly rocked each other’s worlds, and then parted ways, never to see each other again. But I thought wrong. The “stranger” character was hurting, but I didn’t know it at the time. I had intended for him simply to make the heroine feel beautiful and have a sexual experience to remember, as a new chapter of her formerly-repressed life. The man I had chosen to give this woman a baby—yes, I did, and she was grateful, too—turned out to be a man in pain and a responsible man. The next time they had sex, there was love neither could admit.

When I write a sex or love scene, I make sure my characters want each other and need that connection to the point of emotional pain. They move from old-fashioned kissing and petting to doing what comes naturally. My readers must also want the characters to finally consummate their passion with vividly described, rather than just implied, sex—I’m no more inclined to write a “sweet” romance any more than I am to write straight-up porn. I don’t have my heroes “take” the heroines and “make them theirs”, especially if the men don’t love the women. I never let my characters actually consummate the sex scene the first time they think they will, and they tend to think of that sex as lovemaking by the time they finally “go all the way”. My guys worship the heroines’ bodies. They don’t use the old trite terms. Their encounters are not just about being horny and gettin’ some ass. They are drawn to their sex partners for more than tits and long legs to wrap around the men’s hips and scream with…

Protective Instincts was the first book I wrote and edited and rewrote to give it stronger romantic suspense. I also added as much emotion as I could each time I worked on any scene where the two main characters were together.

They are considerate of each other. Since they have fears and self-doubts, they are vulnerable. Brit, the heroine, has been attacked twice by a man who planned to rape and kill her. Several women who had worked with rape victims warned me Brit would have issues and not likely have sex with Sam early in the book. That led me to remove two early sex scenes.

Sam wants Brit, but he doesn’t want to frighten her. Her fear that she can’t let a man dominate her from the “man on top” position leads to a sex scene where she must take control and he must allow her to do that:

Excerpt:

With a moan, he moved both hands to her bottom, pressing her against him. She wanted to feel his touch all over her body. She wanted all he could offer – now!

She trembled in his arms.

“Brit,” he whispered. “Scared?”

She brushed her cheek against his chest, kissed his throat. “No,” she said against his skin, “not as long as you hold me.” She unbuttoned the top button of his shirt, branded his chest with kisses, then his neck, then his chin.

“Make love to me, Sam.”

“Not so fast, Teach.” Sam touched his lips to her forehead. “Take it easy, love.”

“But I need you. I need for you to make love to me.”

“We have all night.”

Brit shivered again. “But what if I can’t? If I wait too long I might lose my nerve. What if I can’t, what if I panic?” What if I disappoint him?

“We’ll take things slow and easy. If you need to stop, we’ll stop,” Sam’s voice rasped. “So, sweetheart, take charge. Make love to me. Take me, take me now!” He flung his arms wide and grinned. “I’m all yours.”

Brit chuckled against his chest. “You got it, bud, I’ll take you to heights you’ve never been before.”

She kissed his throat again, unbuttoned another button.

Tunneling his hands through her silky hair, he tilted her face up. Lowering his head, he kissed her slowly, gently, thoroughly.

Brit needed this man. Sam was so different from Tommy. Was she disloyal to want this man so much? Surely not! She needed to feel alive and clean. She needed to enjoy a normal sexual experience with someone who cared. She needed to know she could stop whenever she wanted to.

Kissing Sam made her feel cherished. He made her feel he needed her as much as she needed him. He was handsome, manly, sexy as all get out, gentle, in control, and caring. If Sam can’t help me through this, no man can. I can do this. I can. I must.

Sliding her hands inside Sam’s shirt, Brit absorbed the rough texture of springy chest hair between her fingers, against her palms. She gasped into his mouth when he picked her up and moved to a couch. Without breaking the kiss, Sam seated them, with her in his lap.

Kissing Sam, nipping at his lips, Brit tried to stoke his passion. She wanted him to make love to her but he held back. Why was he waiting? If he would just make love to her, she would know she wasn’t scarred for life.

Changing positions, she became more aggressive. She straddled his legs and faced him. “Too many clothes,” she yanked his shirt from his jeans. Gliding her hands up his chest and over his shoulders, she exposed his sculpted torso.

Gripping the bottom of her blouse, she yanked it over her head. Heat and moisture spread through her loins. Sam’s emerald eyes glittered. She knew she was tempting him. His heat burned through their clothes.

Emboldened, she slowly unclasped the front catch of her lacy bra, freeing her breasts to press against him.

“Come to the bed, lie with me. We need to slow down.”

“Why? I need you now.” Snaking her arms around his neck she pressed her breasts against him.

“Hang on.” He rose with her. “Lock your legs around me.”

She knew making his way to the bedroom wasn’t easy while she kissed his face and rubbed against him.

When Sam reached the large bed, Brit leaned over to grab the satiny coverlet and toss it back. He toppled them onto the bed.

He lay on his side facing her. He kept his touch gentle. Her pebbled nipples begged for more than his touch. Dipping his head, he stroked his tongue over a nipple, then its mate.

She clutched Sam’s shoulders. Tension built to an unbearable peak. When Sam’s hand moved between her thighs, touching her through her jeans, she felt heat spiral inside. Her world flashed, went dark. She floated and she wanted him with her. He pushed her over the edge.

Sam hadn’t taken his pleasure. If she could just rest for a few minutes, she would show him real earth-shaking pleasure.

***

Mary Marvella has been a storyteller for as long as she can remember. She made up stories for the other children and created the details for their “let’s pretend” games. Sometimes the details were so real they scared the other children away; sometimes she even scared herself. The arrival of the book mobile was as exciting as hearing the music of the ice cream truck. It was more exciting, since she could check out books but seldom had the money for the ice cream.

Mary was born in Augusta, Georgia to two eighteen-year-olds. Her daddy, a young Mississippi man, was stationed at Camp Gordon and fell in love with a young girl selling flowers. The story of this particular romance is told further in Mary’s blogs.

When Mary’s daughter was small, story time often meant Mama made up stories. Now retired from teaching the classic works of the masters, Mary writes her own stories and reads modern novels. Sometimes she writes books with steamy sex and danger.

Georgia raised, she writes stories with a Southern flair.

Get to know Mary and her work at the blogs linked above, and at her Amazon author page, website, and Facebook page.

 

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Jun 052014
 
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By Nobilis

There are a lot of things authors have to write that aren’t stories—and because they’re not stories, we often we have a hard time with them. If we are seeking publication with a publishing house, we have to write summaries and query letters. If we’re self-published, or writing for a small publisher without much of a marketing department, we often have to write cover copy ourselves, as well as bios. For some of us, even coming up with a title can be a trial. And, uh…some of us also write blog posts.

This is kind of weird when you come right down to it. I mean, we’re writers, right? Writing ought to be easy across the board, right? But for many of us, it’s not. Writing fiction feels different than writing all these other things. Fiction is fun, fiction allows us to live in that special place inside our heads for a while, the place where miracles are an everyday occurrence. Writing marketing material, however, is firmly grounded in the realities of the commercial world and our attempts to carve ourselves a place in it. We’re not writing from the inside, we’re writing from the outside. We’re focusing first on how the reader—now cast in the role of potential customer—will interpret the words we put down, and how those interpretations are going to affect our careers. There are real consequences.

It’s intimidating.

But keep in mind, we learned to write fiction. We can learn to write this other stuff well, too. With experience comes skill, with skill comes confidence, and with confidence comes accomplishment. We just have to DO it, remembering the three laws of getting sh*t done as writers:

1. Write.

2. Finish what you write.

3. Submit what you finish.

It’s that simple.

What? I haven’t hit my wordcount yet? Okay, alright…

Step one is write. That means put words together. Don’t worry about using the right words, don’t worry about style or spelling or anything else. Just write purposefully in pursuit of your goal. Don’t worry about whether it’s good, just write. This even applies if you’re trying to figure out a title; write one title after another, even the stupid ones, until you’re all titled out.

Step two is finish. That means not only writing through to the end, but also revising, polishing, and editing, almost always with at least three other good pairs of eyes looking at your work. It’s not finished until you’ve polished it—unless you’re Roger Zelazny, and you’re not.

Step three is submit. Chances are, if you’re writing something like this, it’s because you need to, so this step is pretty straightforward.

Okay, how are we looking for wordcount? Good? Alright, then we’re done here. Go write.

—–

Learn more about Nobilis and his work at his…

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

 

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Jun 022014
 
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One of the questions beginning writers ask us most often is: “How do you know if you have captured the love in your characters’ lovemaking, and aren’t just writing a run-of-the-mill sex scene?” To answer that question, twelve writers offer their own thoughts and advice in this unique WriteSex Author’s Roundtable. Each Monday a well-known romance author will discuss the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and show us how to charge an erotic encounter with romance. Look for personal insights and how-to tips from our participants in this first ever WriteSex Authors’ Roundtable. —Ed.

***

By Sally Swanson

In the not-so-distant past, erotic stories favored male readers and relegated women to the role of Object of Desire, rather than characterizing them as sentient and sensual beings. The comparatively new genre of erotic romance, however, empowers women to be in control of their bodies, their hearts, and most importantly their desires.

Erotic romance is hot and graphic, letting instincts run over the conventions of polite society. This titillating variation on the time-honored romance novel intertwines sex with romance as a tool to advance the storyline. The style is provocative—what some would call naughty.  Initially, a reader who is not familiar with the genre could perceive the sex scenes as gratuitous, yet they are integral and meaningful to the story. A good erotic romance author will share their characters’ feelings and insights before, during, and after sexual encounters—sharing intimate knowledge of their most fiercely guarded secrets.

Today’s heroine has a career and daily challenges, and these common experiences resonate with the reader. She is independent and accepts her sexuality, whether she is with a man or another woman—and no matter how dominant, submissive or versatile she likes her partners, she’s willing to go out and find them if need be. She takes charge of her life, unlike the traditional swooning, gothic heroine found in many romance novels, waiting for her One True Love to come and rescue her. Erotic heroines don’t have time for that. Their lives are often hectic and overbooked—qualities which, for some characters, some in handy as excuses to avoid intimacy.

Having sex isn’t nearly as intimidating as falling in love, and the heroine shares her subversive emotions of insecurity and doubt. The pain of love lost, unrequited love or a past relationship gone wrong can sully her ability to trust a new love interest (or indeed anyone), and drive her behind a shield of indifference. However, true love is the strongest force known to humankind and energizes even the most jaded soul. Being in love makes her vulnerable and strong at the same time.

With a variety of characters, the reader can see themselves in the participants or be a voyeur; in either case, that connection creates a bond with the characters and keeps the reader engaged. Women and men can enjoy erotic romance, and a well-written novel shares a variety of their perspectives. Erotic romance blends hedonistic sex scenes with tender passion, and the combination sizzles on the page. The reader feels this heat right alongside the characters as their growing tension tightens into tingling awareness. Wanton hedonism takes charge, revealing the core of their carnal desire and tender emotions to the reader—and together, they experience ultimate satisfaction.

But erotic romance doesn’t end with an orgasm—sometimes it begins with one. The heroine continues to battle antagonistic forces until love triumphs. Sometimes the heroine and her lover will decide that their future is together; sometimes one of them will move on. Either way, love unearths the most hidden and vulnerable aspects of the heroine and allows her to grow stronger from the experience—a “happily ever after” ending in its own right. In the end, she emerges confident and courageous.

Erotic romance empowers women to be the heroines of their own lives.

***

Sally Swanson is the author of the Soul Desire trilogy and the Ghost Lovers series. When she was twelve, she started to write her life story and realized she needed to live life before launching a writing career. To that end, she’s lived in or visited 46 of the 50 states and learned to speak Spanish while living in Mexico City, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico. If you haven’t yet guessed, she loves to travel—and, while doing do, she discovers strange-yet-true stories to provide fuel for Ghost Lovers, her latest paranormal romance series. If you like ghosts and steamy sensuality, you will love Ghost Dreams and Ghost Emerald, now available in multiple e-book formats.

 

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May 292014
 
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By M. Christian

There’s a deep, dark secret that no writer wants to talk about. Oh, sure, in our braver moments we will talk about depression, anxiety, envy, frustration, spitefulness … the whole dark rainbow of negative emotions that come with being a professional author. And by professional author I don’t mean actually being paid for your work but, rather, being brave enough to send it out into the big, wide—and far too often cruel and uncaring—world.

This secret is lacking of mention in most books on writing—though it should have at least its own chapter, or maybe an entire volume, dedicated to it.

Okay, I won’t string you along any further. You’ve probably guessed it, anyway, by the one-word title of this article. We may not talk about it much, but luck is a powerful force in the life of a writer.

I wrote career in the last sentence before scratching it out and replacing it with life because, as I’ve said many times before, writers don’t have careers: this is not a profession—or even an unpaid pursuit—that you can plot and plan like many other occupations. You can’t, for example, say that this year you will write an award-winning story that will open the door to a major book contract, and then that book will be made into a flick starring Liam Neeson. You can dream about stuff like this all you want, but you can never, ever plan for it.

All because of luck.

Personal story time: I wrote—totally unsuccessfully—for ten years before I sold my first story (an erotic one … and so here I am). My wife at the time signed me up for a class taught by Lisa Palac, of the late-lamented FutureSex Magazine. At the end of the class, I brazenly handed her a story that I had written.  If I hadn’t taken that class, if I hadn’t handed her that story, if I hadn’t mentioned that Pat Califia and Carol Queen were pals of mine … I seriously doubt that she would have even glanced at it.

Personal story time (2): about this same time I was best friends with someone—who, sadly, I am no longer close to—who introduced me to all kinds of other writers and, more importantly, editors and publishers. Without his help, I don’t think I’d be where I am today.

I think you can see where I might be going with this.  If, if, if, if … looking back on my writing life I can see far too many branches that just happened to work out in my favor. Am I a good writer? I like to think that I am a capable writer—with a lot of learning still to do—but I’m not so arrogant as to think that my work is so absolutely brilliant that it would transcend the slush pile or get past the insecurities and nepotism of far too many editors and publishers.

In short, I am where I am today because of luck.

Dig around in any writer’s life—or the life of any creative person, for that matter—and you will see a lot of these branches that just happened to work out in their favor. Friends-of-friends, right-place-right-time … it’s pretty clear that ability is only one part of what can mean the difference between renown and obscurity.

This is just one reason why I despise arrogance in writers. Oh, I can certainly understand it: writing is damned hard—so it’s far too easy to protect a bruised and battered ego by lying to yourself, and the rest of the world, that your blistering talent got you where you are instead of admitting that it all would have been very different if the dice had landed ones instead of sixes.

But luck doesn’t just magically appear. You can’t summon it with “likes” on Facebook or by chugging bourbon.  A cosmic alignment didn’t get me from where I was to where I am now. Luck is about circumstance but it’s also about people. My wife, that one friend who helped opened doors … they were my horseshoes, my rabbit feet, my four-leaf clovers.

Not to sound too Machiavellian, but it’s very important to look at the people in your writing life and think—at least on some level—how have they helped me? …or are they a hindrance? Writing can be hard, almost miserable, but it can be a glorious way to live when you have people surrounding you who are kind, supportive, and encouraging.

Another reason I can’t stand arrogance is that it’s ultimately self-defeating. An old stage maxim says that you should be careful of who you step on while on the way up—because you’ll be meeting them on the way down. By pissing off all kinds of people you are also severing your connection to all kinds of opportunities—luck in the making. Some of these rolls might work out, some may not, but none of them have a chance if you don’t have anyone out there to hand you the dice.

Skill? Very important. Dedication? Extremely important. Flexibility? Absolutely. Luck? We might not want to talk about it but, yes, luck is a key factor … but luck can only find you through friends.

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May 272014
 
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One of the questions beginning writers ask us most often is: “How do you know if you have captured the love in your characters’ lovemaking, and aren’t just writing a run-of-the-mill sex scene?” 12 writers offer their own thoughts and advice in this unique WriteSex Author’s Roundtable. Each Monday (or Tuesday, if Monday is a holiday) a well-known romance author will discuss the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and show us how to charge an erotic encounter with romance. Look for personal insights and how-to tips from our participants in this first ever WriteSex Authors’ Roundtable. —Ed.

***

By Clarice Clique

As a writer, I enjoy imagining vivid and hot sex scenes. I draw sketches, look at photos online, gossip with my friends, read my old diaries, and have a drawer of dolls that have been put in much more interesting positions than your average Barbie.

Overall, though, when writing I derive the most excitement from creating believable characters. Whichever fantastical world they inhabit, whatever strange activity they are engaged in, and whomsoever they are entwined with, I always want my characters to feel real.

It is when the reader is connected to the characters, and cares about their fate, that porn becomes erotic romance.

Many of my longer pieces, including my two published novels, have contemporary settings which make it simpler from a creative perspective to develop very recognisable characters. Because so many people are familiar with working in an office and having secret crushes on a special colleague, or the budding sexual tension of a first date in a fancy restaurant, the reader can immediately relate and empathise, twisting their own hopes and dreams around the fictional scene. And through a small amount of dialogue, the meeting of eyes followed by shy turns away, the accidental brush of a hand against a muscled arm…it is possible for a writer to easily covey the attraction between two people. On top of this I often borrow and sneak in little quirks and incidents from my own life, which makes the characters more three-dimensional and their relationships feel more realistic.

For example, my novel Hot Summer Nights contains lots of very graphic sex and BDSM. When dealing with bondage and domination, I think it is incredibly important that the characters have some kind of truth within them. Even when my leading lady, Vanessa, is involved in an orgy with complete strangers whose names she’s never going to know, all the emotions she experiences are based in the love and trust she has for her best friend, Penelope. Penelope acts as her Mistress, guiding and pushing Vanessa to explore her sexuality to the fullest.

Hot Summer Nights contains many couplings, but at its centre it is about friendship and support between women. I hope that alongside the obvious thrill of erotica, my readers are invested in Vanessa’s journey and, with that investment, get a different sort of satisfaction from how her story concludes.

 

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May 222014
 
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This month’s Fetish Column takes an introductory look at one of the most potentially dangerous forms of “edge play”: autoerotic asphyxiation. While the editors of WriteSex are pleased to include this information among its other fetish-related posts—we feel it will inform our readers’ writing and general knowledge—we would like to remind readers that neither this nor any of our “edge play” posts serve as endorsements for reckless behavior in real-life bedrooms or dungeons. Which is also to say: do not attempt autoerotic asphyxiation without the supervision and assistance of an experienced, highly-trained expert, and/or without having attended a class/workshop given by an experienced, highly-trained expert. At the very least, do not do it alone.

Both the writer of this post and one of our editors have lost dear friends to unassisted autoerotic asphyxiation and have no desire to see any of our readers numbered among them.   —Ed.

 

By billierosie

What is Autoerotic Asphyxiation?

Autoerotic Asphyxiation is the intentional restriction of oxygen to the brain for sexual arousal. It is also called asphyxiophilia, autoerotic asphyxia, hypoxyphilia or breath control play. Colloquially, a person engaging in the activity is sometimes called a “gasper”. The erotic interest in asphyxiation is classified as a paraphilia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. Psychiatrist Joseph Merlino states that it meets the criteria for a disorder because it has the potential for death or serious injury.

The carotid arteries, on either side of the neck, carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the brain and the accumulation of carbon dioxide can increase feelings of giddiness, light-headedness and pleasure, all of which will heighten masturbatory sensations.

When the brain is deprived of oxygen, it can induce a lucid, semi-hallucinogenic state. Combined with orgasm, the rush is no less powerful than cocaine, and like cocaine, can be powerfully addictive.

Various methods are used to achieve the level of oxygen depletion needed, such as a hanging, suffocation with a plastic bag over the head, or gas or volatile solvents. Sometimes, complicated devices are used to produce the desired effects. The practice can be dangerous even if performed with care and has resulted in a significant number of accidental deaths in the United States, the United Kingdom and across Europe.

Death from Autoerotic Asphyxiation

Deaths often occur when the loss of consciousness caused by partial asphyxia leads to loss of control over the means of strangulation, resulting in continued asphyxia and death. While often asphyxiophilia is incorporated into sex with a partner, others enjoy this behaviour by themselves, making it potentially more difficult to get out of dangerous situations. Victims are often found to have rigged some sort of “rescue mechanism” that has not worked in the way they anticipated as they lost consciousness.

In some cases, the body of the asphyxiophilic individual is discovered naked or with genitalia in hand, with pornographic magazines nearby, with dildos or other sex toys present, or with evidence of having orgasmed prior to death. Bodies found at the scene of an accidental death often show evidence of other paraphilic activities, such as items of fetishistic clothing (e.g. corsets, harnesses, frilly underwear) and masochism. In cases involving the discovery of deceased family members, parents/siblings/spouses might disturb the scene by “sanitizing” it, removing evidence of paraphilic activity.

The great majority of known erotic asphyxial deaths are male. The typical age of accidental death is mid-20s, but deaths have been reported across a wide range of ages, from adolescence to the mid-70s. Very few individual cases of women with erotic asphyxia have been reported.

Autoerotic asphyxiation has at times been incorrectly diagnosed as murder, especially when a partner is present. Some hospitals have teaching units specifically designed to educate doctors in the correct diagnosis of the condition.

Lawyers and insurance companies have brought cases to the attention of clinicians because some life insurance claims are payable in the event of accidental death, but not suicide.

Famous and Fictional Deaths

The composer Frantisek Kotzwara died from erotic asphyxiation in 1791, which is probably the first recorded case.

Albert Decker, the stage and screen actor, was found in 1968 with his body graphitized and a noose around his neck in his bathroom. The artist Vaughn Bodé died from this cause in 1975. Stephen Milligan, a British Conservative MP for Eastleigh, died from autoerotic asphyxiation, combined with self-bondage, in 1994. Kevin Gilbert, songwriter, musician, composer and producer, died of apparent autoerotic asphyxiation in 1996. The actor David Carradine died on the 4th of June, 2009 from accidental asphyxiation, according to the medical examiner who performed his private autopsy. His body was found hanging by a rope in a closet in his room in Thailand, and there was evidence of a recent orgasm; two autopsies were conducted and concluded that his death was not caused by suicide, and the Thai forensic pathologist who examined the body stated that his death may have been due to autoerotic asphyxiation. Two of Carradine’s ex-wives, Gail Jensen and Marina Anderson, stated publicly that his sexual interests included the practice of self-bondage.

The introductory scene of the film The Ruling Class shows the death of Ralph Gurney, the 13th Earl of Gurney (portrayed by Harry Andrews), from accidental autoerotic asphyxiation. Autoerotic death was also used in the Robin Williams film World’s Greatest Dad.

A Final Word

And death by Auto Erotic Asphyxiation isn’t just the reserve of those with celebrity status. The tragedy hit close to home when my friend George found his older brother Charlie hanging from a coat hook on his bedroom door. The Coroner’s Report registered Autoerotic Asphyxiation as the cause of death. They played Don McLean’s Starry, Starry Night at Charlie’s funeral.

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May 192014
 
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One of the questions beginning writers ask us most often is: “How do you know if you have captured the love in your characters’ lovemaking, and aren’t just writing a run-of-the-mill sex scene?” 12 writers offer their own thoughts and advice in this unique WriteSex Author’s Roundtable. Each Monday a well-known romance author will discuss the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and show us how to charge an erotic encounter with romance. Look for personal insights and how-to tips from our participants in this first ever WriteSex Authors’ Roundtable. —Ed.

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By Blake C. Aarens

My first thought was that there isn’t any difference between a sex scene and a romantic sexual encounter.  Both describe the selfsame event with fake notions of good and bad, right and wrong, coming down to nothing but the use of language to try and tabulate and limit by judgment some forms of sexual expression. That’s my default setting these days, to try and emphasize—as often as possible in as many arenas as possible—that we humans and the animal things we do are more alike than unalike.

But that’s not an honest answer to an honest question, ‘cuz just as I say out loud, as I read the question off my phone and mutter “there is no difference”, the split screen in my head plays two scenes:

On the right-hand screen, a couple, A and B, are at each other in the dimly lit corner of a club. A has at least one body part inside at least one opening in B’s body. Tab A in slot B. Penetration and friction. That is the essence of a sex scene. But on the left-hand screen in my head, and playing at the very same time, are the same two people, in the same corner, in the same club, with the very same lighting, tab A in slot B, even. But here is where the romance comes in: in the way they strain in the darkness to see the expression on the other’s face as they move together, in the way the owner of slot B holds their breath to hear the noises coming from the owner of tab A, in the way their focus on each other makes the bouncer’s mouth water and he leaves them alone and lets them love each other up.

If you look the two words up in the dictionary—as I did—you’ll discover that both have entries as a noun and as a verb. They can both be either an action, or a person, place, or thing. But for the purposes of this roundtable discussion, I want to concentrate on several very specific dictionary entries:

romance1—n.  4. a baseless, made-up story, usually full of exaggeration or fanciful invention.
—v.i.  10. to think or talk romantically.
—v.t.  11.  Informal.  a.  to court or woo romantically; treat with ardor or chivalrousness.

sex n.  3. the instinct or attraction drawing one sex toward another, or its manifestation in life and conduct.
4. coitus.
—v.t.  8.  sex up, Informal a.  to arouse sexually

For me, it’s all about focus.  And not just the focus of the writer. If my characters are primarily about body parts and positions—and there ain’t nothing wrong with that—it’s more of a sex scene in the way I craft it and the details that it makes sense to share. But if I’m writing a romantic sexual encounter—George Carlin would hate the wordiness of that phrase—the focus is about cause and effect. This is what I’m doing to you, with you, and this is how it is making me feel, and breathe, and arch my back. The difference seems subtle, but is in fact, huge.  It is the canyon that exists between intimate physical contact, and intimacy itself.

They say you don’t fall in love with another person, but you fall in love with the person you become when you’re in the presence of your love. You fall in love with how they make you feel about yourself. Within yourself.

I wrote a story called “I Want You Back” where one of the characters is having a sex scene while another is involved in a romantic sexual encounter. The interesting thing is, they’re in the same scene. The story was published in my erotic collection Wetting the Appetite.

To quote the introduction I wrote to the story,  it “deals with the uncontrollable urges some lovers are able to arouse in us”, particularly “that lover we know isn’t a damn bit of good for our head, or heart, or self-esteem, but who does something to us that we can’t live without.”

The point-of-view character—who is never named—becomes the object of badboy Nick’s focused sexual attention the day they meet in a bowling league.

He made me nervous, made me conscious of my own body, made me ask him to come over just to get a break from all the sexual energy he was aiming at me.

The narrator is already off into a romance, inventing a connection between them and exaggerating its meaning, based on nothing more than how Nick’s attention makes him feel.

Nick, on the other hand, is just doing what he’s done with every other member of the league. He meets a bowler he hasn’t had sex with, and he does the obvious thing: he makes sex happen between them. That’s what Nick does.

The story details their first sexual encounter. An encounter completely dominated by Nick’s timetable and tastes.

When we arrived at my place, he pushed me inside.  He kept on pushing until he had me on my back on the living room floor.  His dick was in my face before I knew what was happening.  I lunged for it with my mouth, but he put his hand on my forehead and pushed my head back onto the carpet.

“Open,” he said, and I parted my lips.

He put his dick in my mouth, but he wouldn’t let me suck it on my own time.

The narrator is turned on by his own openness, his quick obedience. Nick seems to take it as his due from a sexual partner. The narrator relaxes and just lets him, focusing on the pleased murmur that comes from Nick when he registers the narrator’s surrender. He can’t get his pants down fast enough.

When they move to the narrator’s bedroom, it’s still a two-tier encounter. Nick has found the bedroom and waits on top of the comforter, stroking himself back to hardness for round two. The narrator, on the other hand, is on an expedition through his own apartment, trying to find where his newfound lover has gotten to.

I walked to the door of my bedroom and found him lying naked on the bed. He had his own fat cock in both hands and was taking long strokes up and down it.

“C’mere,” he said.

Of course I went to him.

When I got close enough, he let go of his dick and grabbed me by both wrists. He snatched me off my feet and onto the mattress, then dragged me to lie on top of him. We were belly to belly, our cocks pressed between us and just touching.

I could barely look him in the eye. He put one of his hands behind my head and the other in the small of my back and made me kiss him for a very long time.

They are having two very different experiences. The narrator’s is amorously familiar; he’s submitting to things and showing sides of himself that make him feel vulnerable. Nick is doing what he likes, when and how he likes, to get himself hard and get himself off, end of story.

And therein lies the difference between the two. Romance is about more than the interaction of genitalia. It’s more than just the act itself. Romance is about breath and eyes and feelings. It’s about the stories we tell ourselves about what the intimate physical contact means. It’s about the actions we take and the thoughts that propel us into action. And it’s those details—above and beyond and beneath what characters are doing with their naughty bits—that carve out the difference between romance and sex.

 

Live fully, keep reading, and don’t stop pressing those keys!

BCA

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Blake C. Aarens is an author, playwright, poet, screenwriter, and former college theatre instructor. Her play, The Prince of Whiteness, was the Invited Play at the 56th Conference on World Affairs.  Her solo performance piece, My Great-Grandmother Had a Sex Life, debuted at the “Have I Got a Story for You/Solo Performance Showcase” at The Studio Theatre, College of Marin. Excerpts from her erotic poetry collection Words on Fire appeared in the Milvia Street Art and Literary Journal. Her script, Still Life with Android, won a Judy Award for Achievement in the Thriller/Horror/Sci-Fi Screenplay division.

Blake is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who writes award-winning erotic fiction.  Her work has appeared in the Herotica series; Aché: A Journal for Lesbians of African Descent; Best American Erotica 1993; Penthouse Magazine, and numerous other anthologies.

Blake has seven letters after her name and more than two decades’ experience teaching classes on everything from Principles and Theory of Acting (Laney College), to Dramatic Technique for Fiction Writers (Berkeley Story Workshop), to Writing Life’s Moments: The Craft of Personal Narrative (The Writing Parlor, SF), to How to Write and Read a Dirty Story (San Francisco Center for Sex & Culture).

Her first collection of stories, Wetting the Appetite, has been published by Sizzler Editions both as a paperback and an ebook.

She lives in the Bay Area with Kazimir, the Crown Prince of the Universe.

 

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May 152014
 
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By Colin

Not too long ago I sat down with an anthology of new horror fiction I’d picked up at the library.  The lineup included some writers who were old favorites of mine, as well as a few I’d heard good things about. One of the latter had contributed a story with a particularly intriguing title, one that really got my horror-fanboy Spidey senses tingling. So when I sat down that night in my easy chair, that was the story I turned to first, cackling in gleeful anticipation.

It wasn’t long before I realized that fifteen minutes had gone by. Normally that’s a sign that the writer has done a masterful job of pulling you into the story. Unfortunately, in this case I had spent those fifteen minutes reading the opening paragraph over and over again, trying to make sense of it.

See, the story was written in a very artful, literary style, one that made heavy use of stream of consciousness, creative misspelling to indicate dialect (not jest in dialogue, y’know, but in thuh actual story isself), and a fine contempt for its rather dimwitted redneck protagonists. It was a style I probably wouldn’t have blinked at under other circumstances, even in a book of horror yarns—today, the line between genre fiction and literary fiction is often eyelash-thin. Heck, I’ve used that style in stories of my own. The problem was that in this case I wasn’t expecting it. I was expecting a fast, dirty monster story with a good, gory payoff. When I found myself eating at McSweeney’s instead of McDonald’s, I had to shift gears…and your correspondent is a little slow these days, poor old thing.

Now, when I did shift gears and read the story on its own terms, I liked it just fine. I even wished it was longer, which is the highest praise I can think of, so this is not going to be a straightforward screed against writers Getting All Literary when they should be Getting On with the Story. But this little episode hit me harder than I would have expected, maybe because I’ve known plenty of writers who love going off on that very topic. One guy I used to pal around with would hold forth on it quite regularly. Thing was, his choice of poster-child for the Virtues of Simple Storytelling was ’50s crime writer Jim Thompson. Now, no question about it, Thompson wrote a hard, mean line, and his abilities as a pure storyteller have never been in question. But he’s remembered as much these days for his pioneering use of postmodern experimental techniques as for anything else. Holding him up as a God of No-Frills Narrative is a bit like celebrating Thelonious Monk as a champion of traditional jazz.

Nonetheless, it brings up an interesting question for writers: at what point does a “literary” approach work against the purposes of your writing? Since erotica, like horror, is based on creating a specific response in the reader, it seems very relevant here. But first, another crime-writer anecdote: once upon a time, the great French detective novelist Georges Simenon was trying to sell short stories to the great French literary author Colette, who at the time was editing at the great French paper Le Monde. The (apparently not-so-great) manuscripts kept coming back, and when Simenon finally buttonholed Colette and asked her, in effect, WTF?, she told him (apparently with some exasperation), “Look, your stories are too literary.”

In general, erotic fiction that is less focused on plot offers more room for experimentation and unconventional technique. A story focused on, let’s say, a young woman alone in her bedroom, fantasizing about past lovers seems like a good example. The opportunities for using stream-of-consciousness, fantasy, allegory and literary misdirection are endless.

But the opportunities for plot in such a story are also endless. The young woman might be presented early on in the story as having some kind of sexual hang-up—let’s say a general fear of losing control, as you often see in bondage scenarios. That hang-up becomes the focus for the “plot.” As she runs through her fantasies, the fear would be present in each one, gradually coming into sharper and sharper focus, until we understand not just what she’s afraid of, but also why she’s afraid of it. This approach makes it rather like an erotic detective story (there’s crime-fiction again…jeez) with a character’s sexuality instead of a robbery or murder as the central element. It could be every bit as satisfying as a well-constructed detective tale. You could even make it novel-length, with a bit of planning. But even if you made all these concessions to Storytelling, I suspect you’d find it a tough sell to, say, the romance markets. It’s still an inside story, whereas most romances are firmly based in a “real world,” where thoughts and fantasies don’t just segue endlessly into other thoughts and fantasies; they tend to lead to actions, which have direct consequences on the plot, even though the “real world” in question might be an alternate Victorian England or a future interstellar empire. I think you could probably still make it work, but you’d most likely need to cut a certain amount of “literary” trimmings.

Now imagine a story planned specifically as a romance, with all the trimmings: shape-shifters, a smouldering alpha-male hero, a spicy spitfire heroine, and sex, sex, sex. You would probably have a much harder time turning that story “inward,” than you would turning an inside story “outward” as in our example above. There are certain expectations in romance stories, many of which revolve around the hero and heroine interacting in (say it with me, kids) a real world. Fantasy sequences could be an effective means of spicing things up in the background, but sooner or later you’ve got to get back to that real world where things are “really” happening. And stream of consciousness passages or artfully misspelled dialogue would probably just get in the way. You’d hit the same roadblocks I did when I tried to read that horror story as a straightforward monster yarn. And your readers might or might not be willing to regroup and reread the story on its own terms (and if they’re reading it to satisfy specific sexual or emotional yearnings, the likelihood of regrouping may decrease).

None of these speculations are to be taken as hard and fast rules, of course. I’m sure a number of examples could be found of “literary romances” that worked (and sold) just fine. But in general, “literary” technique works best “inside,” and “storytelling” works best “outside.” What constitutes inside and outside and how you make your approach work in your own novels and stories, of course, is up to you.

 

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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