She wanted to let the light in…

This week’s Wicked Wednesday prompt is an Ernest Hemingway quote, “We are all broken, that’s how the light gets in.” As my thoughts are now turning to what I’ll write after the Alchemy xii series is finished, I’ve found myself being drawn to explore something altogether darker. The Hemingway quote made the perfect prompt to take a little spin in that direction. 

The piece of flash fiction that follows contains an element of non-consensual sexual activity.

Woman in red cloak

She wanted to let the light in…

She wanted to let the light in, but she didn’t know how.

“I’ll help you,” said the priest.

She noticed a stain on his cassock, a trace of a meagre meal eaten too fast. Or semen, maybe, unconsciously wiped off his finger. But, no, this was Father Ulrich… She turned her attention back to what he was saying.

“You have ungodly thoughts, don’t you?”

“I…”

“I understand. Women are weak.”

She had ungodly thoughts, but not of the type he was referring to.

“I’ll help you banish them. We’ll let the precious light of God wash through you.”

“Thank you, father.”

“Kneel here.”

She dropped to her knees on the hardwood floor in front of him. The small parlour of the priest’s house was dark and airless, reminding her of closets in which she’d hidden as a child. It was hard to breath and the air she drew down into her lungs carried the stench of a man who lived on his own. She should have found a reason not to come here. At least, not on her own.

The priest laid a benedictory hand on her head. As he mumbled Latin words that made no sense to her, his hand weighed more heavily. She could feel the chill of his dry touch through her fine hair. She’d always found his hands ugly—the skin that stretched over his knuckles was white and papery, peppered with liver spots and bright, scaly patches where bone reared close the surface. Of course they would be cold to the touch.

He removed his hand and she waited. The timbre of his breathing changed and in the silence, the room became more oppressive. She swayed slightly on her knees, feeling the seam between two floor planks cutting across her kneecap.

The priest moved on silent feet. She’d noticed that before, during services. He walked without making a sound. No footfall. No click of hard leather on wood. She’d looked at his feet when she knelt in front of him to take the sacrament. He wore the same rough-hewn boots as the other men in the village. But they clumped noisily in theirs, while he trod with soft stealth.

He was behind her.

“This will be an act of cleansing. Contrition.”

His joints creaked as he bent, then his cold fingers brushed the flesh of her leg. He raised the back of her skirt and underskirt, bunching them at her waist. She took a sharp breath. What he did wasn’t unexpected, but there was still a ripple of shock as expectation became reality. She’d heard whispers of his cleansing rituals, even though Father Ulrich commanded the women never to speak of them.

“Hold this up,” he said, pushing the crumpled fabric harder against her.

She moved her arms back so she could grab hold of her skirts.

“Yes, Father.” It was hardly more than a whisper.

“My child.”

He hooked his fingers into the top of her underclothes and drew them down slowly. His nails scraped the curve of her buttocks. Her gut roiled and her hands, hidden in the folds of grey wool, clenched into fists. The garment held tight between her legs and he had to tug to free it, exposing her folds to him. A small sound escaped her mouth, and his. He let her drawers pool on the floor around her knees, the white cotton protecting the modesty of her calves.

His first blow came without warning and knocked her forward. She let go of her skirts and put out her hands to save herself, letting out a sharp cry as surprise was overtaken by pain. The heel of her hand skidded on the floor, picking up a splinter. Pain countermanded pain. Her head dropped forward and she sobbed.

The priest cleared his throat impatiently.

She resumed her position, this time with her knees further apart for better balance. She furled her skirts back up to her waist, exposing herself for him once more. He resumed the beating. She didn’t fall forward again, but she cried out each time he hit her. He murmured in Latin—cleansing prayers, no doubt, chosen to scour the inside of her mind.

When he finished, he touched her with his long, cold fingers, making a noise in the back of his throat like a rutting dog.

A few days later, as the bruises on her buttocks faded, the site of the splinter became infected. It swelled and reddened, pushing out globules of yellow-green pus until finally the tiny foreign body was ejected. The wound left a scar, a minute red triangle, which served to remind her, daily, of the first time Father Ulrich beat her. Of all the other times that came later, too many to count, none stood out in the same way, none left any permanent mark on her body.

But each time, her thoughts grew darker, the ungodly taking up a greater portion her mind. This was no way to let in the light.

Wicked Wednesday

The constant companion…

CowgirlThis week has been a bitch of a week. Last week was a pig of a week. And next week will be a bastard too. All courtesy to an explosion of demands from the day job. There’s no time for blogging, no time to write a piece for Wicked Wednesday, no time for stories. I’ve carved out a few short hours for Alchemy because I must – it’s another hungry treadmill I put myself on, which I won’t be able to get off until the end of the year. But other writing projects? Cast by the wayside. Promotion and marketing. Nada. Taking the time to read other people’s posts and support them as I’d like to? Not a chance. I don’t feel like I’m treading water – I feel like I’m swimming backwards. And it pains me.

Because everyone else, as usual, seems to be surging forwards. So here we have it. My old friend self-doubt rears its ugly head and waves cheerily. Then it does more than wave – it embraces me, because it’s so very fond of me. We are, after all, old friends.

That’s why today, given that I have no chance of writing something new, I’m revisiting an old post: On Writing and Self Doubt, which I first published back in the days when I wrote for One Handed Writers. If you’ve read it already, my apologies, but for me, the issue continues and I believe it probably does for most other writers too.

NB The successes of my Pillowtalk colleagues I refer to in the piece obviously happened some time ago. But the sentiment endures – there’s always someone, somewhere celebrating a success that makes you wish it were your own.

 

On Writing & Self Doubt

Do you ever suffer self-doubt as a writer? I do. I have a feeling that this is going to be a difficult post to write, not least because a little way in I’m going to be completely honest about a not particularly attractive facet of my character. As the title makes clear, I’m going to be tackling the subject of writing and self-doubt—and yes, self-doubt is already creeping in as I type this first paragraph.

I believe that every writer on the planet is plagued with self-doubt about their writing. Or maybe there’s a tiny fraction of a percent that have no self-doubt whatsoever, but I would question whether anyone that is at all times supremely confident of the worth of their words is actually a genuine writer at all. So, yes, we all suffer self-doubt and some of us are quite open about it, possibly more so than necessary, while others hide it behind a façade of confidence and bluster.

Self-doubt and writing have always gone hand-in-hand. Sylvia Plath said, “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” (I’ll explain why I don’t necessarily agree with her in this later.) This is what William Goldman had to say about it in Adventures in the Screen Trade: “Writing is finally about one thing: going into a room alone and doing it. Putting words on paper that have never been there in quite that way before. And although you are physically by yourself, the haunting Demon never leaves you, that Demon being the knowledge of your own terrible limitations, your hopeless inadequacy, the impossibility of ever getting it right. No matter how diamond-bright your ideas are dancing in your brain, on paper they are earthbound.”

However, prior to the internet, perhaps writers were a little easier on themselves. Yes, they would write in solitude, doubting every word, but when they submitted their manuscript and it was accepted for publication, self-doubt could conveniently evaporate. They had proved themselves.

Now things are different. Most writers have to do their own marketing, out on the Internet, across the social platforms, day after day. And why this feeds writerly self-doubt is perfectly obvious. Comparison. As I go about my daily business of posting and tweeting, sharing things on Facebook, adding images to Pinterest and Tumblr, I can hardly help but compare myself on an ongoing basis to other writers. There are thousands of them, all working away to achieve the same goals as I am—connecting with our readers and selling books.

Naturally, there’s always someone—in fact, a lot of someones—doing it better than me and achieving more. Making it onto the bestsellers list. Being nominated for and winning awards. Signing a new multi-book contract. Winning numerous plaudits and legions of fans. While I sit and wait to hear from the next publisher on my list and count my retweets on the fingers of one hand.

And now we come to the bit I alluded to at the beginning of this post. Thing is, it’s even worse, the closer you are to a writer who’s winning the game. Gore Vidal famously said, “Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little.” I can admit to feeling that. And I really hate myself for it—but it’s entirely true.

Last week was a superb week for my two Pillow Talk colleagues, Malin James and Jade A Waters. Malin wrote a searing and brilliant post about women, sexuality and feminine relations on her blog, Erotica, Sex, Culture. If you haven’t read it yet, I would urge you to go and read it. It was widely disseminated and commented on, and I was thrilled for her because I absolutely believe she’s one of the best writers, anywhere, in this field today. But deep inside, a tiny voice whispered to me, “Why don’t I ever get a reaction like that to anything I write?” My own post that week, on the problems of repeatedly writing descriptions of orgasm, barely raised a comment, apart from one reader who complemented the legs on my avi and asked me to wrap them around his head. A couple of days later, Jade announced on her blog that she’s been signed by an agent. I couldn’t be more excited for her and I’ve read the manuscript that got signed—it’s superb and when it comes out, because it will be snapped up superfast by a big publisher, I’ll be first in line urging you all to buy it and read it. So why was that little voice inside me saying, “Why don’t you have an agent?” Logically, because I haven’t submitted anything to an agent—but when you’re racked with self-doubt, where does logic come into it?

Please don’t get me wrong—I really love these two girls and they know it. And they know that I want nothing but stratospheric success for both of them. And I know they’ll understand that little voice because, I’m sure, they both have similar voices of their own. But it made me feel bad. I felt bad about my own work and (my perceived) lack of success. And it also made me feel bad, because there was something disloyal about harboring such feelings even for a moment.

Self-doubt brought about by professional envy. Not pretty is it? Why not throw in some self-loathing for good measure?

What can I do about it? In the past, I have found one way of easing self-doubt and making myself feel better about my writing. For a while I kept a little notebook and jotted down, each day, my own small successes. For example, when a short story was accepted for an anthology, when I got a good review, when someone tweeted something complementary about me or when I posted a contract back to a publisher. They’re not big things—but they do add up to the story of my success, step by step. However, they’re things so easily forgotten in the onslaught of self-doubt and the tidal wave of other people’s successes being broadcast across the net. So I need to start that little notebook again and remember that, actually, I’m doing okay.

And the other point I want to make, in direct contradiction to the Sylvia Plath quote at the beginning of this article, is that self-doubt is one of the things that spurs me on. I want to succeed. I want to become a better writer. I want to snatch as many of those joyful moments of success as I can. It’s up to me to harness the doubt that threatens to pull me down and actually use it to power my way forward.

It’ll always be there but I need to remember, I can rise above it if I set my mind to it. And, actually, so can you.

 

 

Best Sex on the Net: Elust #73

Ht Honey by a fence
Photo courtesy of HT Honey

Welcome to Elust #73

The only place where the smartest and hottest sex bloggers are featured under one roof every month. Whether you’re looking for sex journalism, erotic writing, relationship advice or kinky discussions it’ll be here at Elust. Want to be included in Elust #74? Start with the rules, come back September 1st to submit something and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!

 

~ This Month’s Top Three Posts ~

My shame
Has E L James broken erotica?
Sex Addiction is a Scam

~ Featured Post (Molly’s Picks) ~

Goodbye, I’m Gone
sharing my inspiration

~ Readers Choice from Sexbytes ~

*You really should consider adding your popular posts here too*

Eroticon 2015 Pay it forward

All blogs that have a submission in this edition must re-post this digest from tip-to-toe on their blogs within 7 days.

Re-posting the photo is optional and the use of the “read more…” tag is allowable after this point. Thank you, and enjoy!

 

Erotic Non-Fiction

Watching you
His Vulnerability Creates Magic.
It really was a Wicked Wednesday
Paper
His First Cuckold Experience
Humiliation of an ex-Nazi submissive 53
The Pole Dancer

Sex News, Opinion, Interviews, Politics & Humor

Gentleman Is the Opposite of Feminist
My Criteria for Rating Sex

Erotic Fiction

The Hunt’s Spectators
Peeping Tom
By the Sea, Part 1
Have You Been Naughty?
The Ritual
Triple Dog Dare
Eye Spy
Bound For Pleasure
Daddy Wants to Play

Thoughts & Advice on Sex & Relationships

Dealing With A Husband Who Can’t Cum
The Menopause Diaries
Balancing the Scales
On Cheating
On language learning and sex

Writing About Writing

What I Intend When I Write About Sex
Writing Erotica as a Disabled Top

Thoughts & Advice on Kink & Fetish

What else could be done with BDSM checklists?
Crafting Your Craft: Serving With Passion
Social Masochist
The Last Word
“Only submissive to someone special”

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Blindingly Obvious…

Some things about ourselves are blindingly obvious, some less so. And some we simply don’t realise for years and years until suddenly a lightbulb goes on in our head and – ping – we realise. Oh, yes, that’s it – I should have known that a long time ago… That was the premise behind today’s story, “Blindingly Obvious”, which appears alongside two others of mine and sixty-six by other people in Alison Tyler‘s latest Cleis anthology Bondage BitesIt came out yesterday apparently – and I thought for some reason it was going to be Saturday, which is why this post is late.

My three stories in the anthology have a little theme – “Blindingly Obvious”, “Speechless” and “A Word in Your Shell-like”. Rather than post excerpts from all three, I’m posting the whole of “Blindingly Obvious” as this was one of the stories picked out in Library Journal’s glowing review of the book.

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Blindingly Obvious

 

There are times when we fail to see what might have been blindingly obvious to others for a heck of a time. Here’s an example: It never crossed my mind that I might like to top. Or that I might be pretty damn good it. That it might, in fact, be my thing. But once I’d tried it and got a taste for it, when I told my friend Mercy she just laughed and asked me why it had taken me so long to find out.

Why? I suppose because it was just something I didn’t know anything about. In the three years I’d been dating Phil, we hadn’t tried anything more BDSM than the odd occasion when Phil would tie my wrists to our slatted headboard so he could tongue fuck me till I screamed the house down. And that’s only the B part of BDSM, isn’t it?

We went away for the weekend, to Paris, and we were playing one of our favorite games: fantasy role play. Phil had become my hot French lover, Pierre, and I had become his stern teutonic mistress, Anna. So, of course, when we stumbled across an up-market sex toy boutique, we had to go inside and get some props.

At first, I felt a little awkward. I didn’t know what to look at. But Phil’s eyes lit up with pleasure—he became randy Pierre and his enthusiasm was infectious. I browsed the store, trying to imagine myself using the toys on offer, inventing scenarios for Pierre and Anna. Then I saw the blindfold, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I picked it up, a wide strip of plush black velvet, narrowing at the ends where it would be tied behind the head. It slipped and flowed through my fingers like liquid. I told Phil I wanted to surprise him and sent him out of the shop.

Back at the hotel, Phil was jittery with excitement.

“So what’s the surprise, ma petite?”

His French accent made me laugh but then I became deadly serious. I took a step toward him and pushed him back until he had to sit down on the end of the bed. I glared down at him. I became Anna to his Pierre.

“It’s time I told you something, Pierre,” I said. “Your mistress is a dominatrix.”

Pierre looked shocked and his Adam’s apple bobbed up and down as he swallowed hard.

“You?” he said.

“Yes, me,” I snapped. “And I’m not best pleased with your behavior so far this weekend.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, I’m going to have to punish you.”

Pierre’s eyes widened and for just a second he went back to being Phil.

“I’ve never seen you like this,” he said. There was a slight crack to his voice.

“That’s because I’m Anna. Now, don’t make your punishment any worse than it needs to be.”

“Yes, mistress.”

He bowed his head and a shiver of excitement ran up through me. Good. The game was afoot.

“Strip,” I said.

While he shrugged quickly out of his clothes, I took my bag from the sex shop into the bathroom and transformed myself into my new role. The black corset was a tad on the tight side but I loved the way it made my breasts spill out over the top. Stockings, stilettos and slash of red lipstick completed the look—I smiled at myself in the mirror. Then I picked up the blindfold.

Pierre was waiting for me, kneeling on the floor at the end of the bed. I wondered if he’d played this game before. If he had, it didn’t stop him looking nervous. I paced the floor in front of him for a moment. I didn’t want him to miss out on any of the details—the vertiginous sharpness of my heels, the stocking tops caressing the soft, pale flesh of my thighs, the tight curve of my waist or the eruption of décolletage at the top of the corset. Or the blindfold hanging loose in one of my hands. I was rewarded by his sharp intake of breath.

“Stand up,” I said, going round behind him.

He obeyed, as I knew he would. His semi-erect cock bounced against his thigh, making my mouth water. I put one hand out to touch his shoulder and he flinched, only relaxing when I trailed my fingers down his back.

“Don’t be nervous,” I said. “I won’t hurt you.” Much.

Then I positioned the black velvet blindfold across his eyes and tied it securely at the back of his head.

“Anna?” he said.

“Did I give you permission to speak?”

He shook his head. He was always a fast learner.

“Now,” I said. “Give me a safe word.”

“But you said you wouldn’t hurt me.” He turned his head as he spoke, as if looking for me. But, of course, he could see nothing.

“Come on, play the game, Phil.”

“You…you just sound a little serious about it.”

“Safeword.”

“Okay…”

“Okay? That’s your safeword? That’s not going to work.”

“No. I just meant…okay. Bonaparte.”

“Okay. Bonaparte.”

I went back to the bathroom, where I’d left the bag from the shop. I decided to let him stew for a little. Build up the tension. Something inside me wanted this not to be a game. I wanted it to be for real. I wanted it to be Phil in that room, not Pierre, waiting for me with his heart pounding, a little bit scared and a lot excited by what I was about to do to him, even though he had no idea what that was.

I put my hand into the bag and withdrew my final purchase—a small, slim paddle, upholstered in matt black leather. I had tested it on my hand in the shop and it had left a strip of red across my palm. The thought of replicating that on Phil’s taut buttocks had made me wet then. Now, stroking the surface of the leather paddle, watching myself in the bathroom mirror, now it was making my heart clamor. I took a deep breath and went back into the bedroom.

I wondered how it would be best to position Phil to give him maximum pain and maximum pleasure and quickly decided to take him over my lap. It was such an intimate thing I was about to do that I wanted us close together as it happened. I took his hand and led him silently over to the bed. We both sat down on the edge and then I bent him across my thighs. He realized what was happening—his breathing became short and tight—but he was completely pliant in my hands. His buttocks were like two golden orbs on my lap, the muscles hard and sculpted from miles of running along the seafront. I stroked them slowly. So beautiful, so sexy. And suddenly I was overwhelmed with the desire to mark them as mine.

“Pierre?” I said.

“Yes.” His voice was barely a whisper.

“Your behavior these two days has left a lot to be desired. Are you ready to take your punishment?”

“Yes, mistress.”

I picked up the paddle from where I’d laid it next to me on the bed. I took a deep breath, drew my arm back and administered the first blow. The sound of the leather on his flesh was something between a slap and a crack. The sound that issued from his mouth was between a grunt and a yelp. Together they were such sweet music, ringing in my ears as I watched the red strip intensify across his ass. His cock was pressed against my thigh and I felt it hardening in response to the blow. Heat flooded the area between my legs. God, I was wet and we’d only just begun.

“Count for me,” I said.

“One.”

I hit him again, this time across the other buttock. His moan was louder and his cock bucked against my leg.

“Two.”

Again.

“Three.”

My breath was coming in short, sharp gasps now. It was so sexy to hear him cry out and to feel his hips grinding against me with longing. My nipples were tingling and a sharp ache had blossomed inside me. I wanted him more than I’d ever wanted him in the three years we’d been together.

I only made it far as seven. The need became too much. I pushed him off my lap and onto the bed on his back. I pulled off the blindfold and he smiled at me. Then I climbed astride him and guided his cock inside. We both came almost instantaneously, as loud and as long as I can remember.

And the luckiest thing about it? The day I discovered being a top was my thing was day that Phil discovered being a bottom was his. Fuck! How good does it get?

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The surface of the moon…

 

This piece for Wicked Wednesday uses the title prompt, Crumpled, though not the accompanying picture prompt.

Moon

 

The creases you left in my sheets have transferred themselves to my skin. It’s so long since you left my bed. Walked out of my life. Abandoned me.

Actually, thinking about you exhausts me. So I find distractions. Other lovers to cling to in the darkness. But their skin doesn’t smell like yours. Their touch isn’t right. The contours of their bodies are as alien to me as the surface of the moon.

Sometimes I wake and I think you’re in the bed with me. But then I breathe and I know it’s not you.

At other times I wake and they’re gone. Just like you were. But I don’t mind their leaving. Only yours. When you fucked off, the cut went deep. Now there’s not so much pain left for them to inflict.

Alone, I torture myself with thoughts of you. Where you are now. Who you’re with.

I bore myself with it.

I pretend everything’s okay.

I read a book, then put it down. When I pick it up again, I can’t remember any of the preceding pages.

Your face hangs in the ether in front of mine. Sometimes you laugh at me but most days you look right through me as if I’m not there. Only it’s you who isn’t there.

And the hollowed-out space in my chest misses you.

The sheets may be smooth now. But, like the surface of the moon, I am crumpled.

 

Tamsin! Why did you do it?

Zombie Erotoclypse cover“Tamsin! Why did you do it?” I get asked this all the time with regard to my small-but-beautiful zombie erotica collection, Zombie Erotoclypse. “Ugh! Nobody fantasizes about having sex with zombies. Nobody wants to read about zombies fucking!” Yes, I’ll admit it – the squick factor is high. This is really only a collection for the brave-hearted and strong-stomached.

But you know, someone had to do it…

Now, if you are indeed one of the brave-hearted and strong-stomached, you might like to read on. This week’s Wicked Wednesday prompt is “Peeping Tom” – and when I saw that, how it made my heart sing. You see, one of the stories in Zombie Erotoclypse is called “Peeping Zom” – and guess what it’s about? Ha! So now I get the chance to subject you all to a dose of zombie erotica – here’s the whole story.

Go ahead. Read it if you dare!

Peeping Zom

Stanley had always been something of a hound.  A booze hound when he was human, a blood hound now he was a zombie.  But over and above his drinking habits, Stanley was a pussy hound.  And that hadn’t changed one little bit since he became a bone fide member of the walking dead.

Stanley didn’t really care if the pussy in question was human or zombie; he wanted it all.  But he didn’t often get it, especially human pussy.  After all, there aren’t any chicks on this planet who are going to date a lecherous zombie.  Flaking flesh and wandering hands are too much to put up with.  But Stan got a bit of zombie pussy now and again.  Because even zombies that are pretty far gone, near the end of decay, have sexual urges and cravings.  Who hasn’t seen a couple of zombies going at it, hammer and tongs, in the middle of the street, not caring who sees or what falls off in the process?  Stanley would prowl the busiest parts of the city to find some old zombie broad who would beg him for it and then he’d give it to her good, fuck her to pieces.

But, ultimately, screwing zombies wasn’t that satisfying, wasn’t that much of a turn on, after the first few weeks.  He did it to scratch the itch but, more and more, Stanley found himself dreaming of wholesome, young, uninfected human flesh.  Ripe, peachy girls with a pink flush of health and no scabby scales or sores or missing body parts.  God, what he wouldn’t give for a piece of cheerleader squirming underneath him or a nice beach volleyball player he could lick and suck and eventually bite.

Truly, it was becoming a bit of a problem.  Yes, Stanley was an eating machine but even as he searched out rats or cats or little boys to feast on, all he could think about was having sex with luscious human women.  Even newly-turned zombies failed to hit the spot.  He wanted fresh, unbitten flesh so badly that he practically broke his cock off thinking about it.

And then, one day down on Bay Street, he saw her and in an instant all his longings crystallized into a burning obsession.  She was perfect in every way – tall, tanned, blond and beautiful, riding shotgun on the back of a dented jeep with a rifle and a crossbow propped beside her.  Stanley didn’t see who was driving the jeep and neither did he care.  Santa Monica was one of the last outposts of fresh humans in the city and more of them were leaving every day; but this jeep hadn’t been loaded for an exodus…

Stanley grunted and started to run down the road in pursuit.  But his knees were stiff and weak and, when the jeep skidded off round a corner, he knew he’d never be able to keep up.  He dropped down into a sitting position on the curb, panting with the exertion.  He needed to feed.  If he was going to search the area for the jeep and the girl, then he would need energy.  Feeding was easier at night when the rats came out to clean up the body parts the zombies had shed during the day.  So, as his mind raced to build and rebuild the image of the blonde with her hair streaming out behind her in the wind, Stanley retreated into a tumbled-down house near the beach to play out his fantasies.

 

It was after midnight when Stanley spotted the jeep, wedged up the side of a small property on Ashland Avenue.  There were no lights showing in the two-storey house but it didn’t smell derelict to Stanley’s nose and the windows were all boarded up, rather than hanging loose on their hinges or simply smashed.  Green tiles were missing off the roof and the yard was overgrown but that was the case with every property these days, lived in or abandoned.

Stanley snorted, wishing he could get the bitter taste of rat’s blood out of the back of his throat.  He lumbered across the lawn, suppressing his customary grunts, and clambered up onto the veranda that ran around the front and sides of the house.  He could smell food.  Real, human food, the kind he used to eat before raw flesh became the only thing that could satisfy his hunger.  Grilled beef, tomato sauce and something sweet for dessert.  The mixed aromas made his stomach churn but he felt a flurry of excitement flare through him as he remembered how delectable the woman on the jeep had looked.

His breathing was labored and his left ankle twisted, making him stumble against the stoop’s rickety railing.  He didn’t have a plan.  He’d lost his ability to think ahead and imagine consequences.  He just followed his urges, fuelling him on, powering up his motor for an assault.  He felt a surge of hot blood expanding his cock and a cooler sensation as drool evaporated from his chin.

There was no sound coming from the house.  He rested his ear against the front door to listen but even when he pressed it up against the keyhole, all he could hear was his own chest rattling with every breath.  He was angry, grinding his teeth until the pain of an exposed nerve made him stop.  Trying to be as quiet as he could, he went to investigate the windows as a way of forcing entry but they were all firmly boarded up and secured with metal grills.  A rotting zombie hand clung to one of the steel struts; he wasn’t the first to investigate this property.  He glanced down at his own hands.  There were a few fingernails missing but his fingers were still strong and flexible, still had a sense of touch and were still sensitive to pain.  There was a suppurating wound on his left thumb where a rat had sunk its teeth into him a couple of days ago.  But he’d more than made up for it in return with his own teeth.

The sudden sound of a woman’s laugh, cut off in the middle, drew him to the back of the house.  She was in there.  He knew it was her. The laugh sounded right.  Youthful and melodic, like music to his ears that were now so used to hearing only the grunts and groans of other zombies and the squeal of rats as he tore into them with his teeth.

There was a long, low window adjacent to the door at the back of the house.  It was secured just as well as all the others but as he inspected it, Stanley discovered a knot hole the size of a penny in one of the strips of boarding.  It was about a foot lower than his natural eye level, but if he rested his elbows on the sill and slumped at the knee, he could bring himself down to the right height to look through it.

At first he could see hardly anything at all.  The flame from a single candled glared in a pool of black. But as his eye gradually became accustomed to the dim light, he was able to make out the shapes of furniture.  And then bodies.  There were two people in what was obviously a bedroom, caught in a standing embrace, arms round each other and mouths locked in a kiss.  The woman had her back to the window and by the gold glint of her hair in the candlelight, Stan felt sure she was the Blonde from the jeep. He bit his lip as an appreciative grunt started to form in his throat.  He couldn’t afford to be caught now, not before he’d seen what was going on.

Couple, toplessThe man’s arms were working their way up and down the woman’s back and Stan could see her pushing her ass out as his hands skimmed the top of her butt cheeks.  She was horny as hell by his estimation.  They stumbled slightly so now Stan could see them both side on.  They were fully clothed, the Blonde in the same frayed jeans and scruffy tank she’d been wearing earlier, the guy in cargo pants and a dark t-shirt.  Stan had a better view of the kiss now, as well.  Open mouth to open mouth, the guy pushing down hard against her face, no doubt pressing his tongue deep inside, as she explored his mouth in turn.  The Blonde moaned and anchored her hands in the man’s unruly black hair.

After a minute or so, the guy stepped back from the kiss and dropped into a sitting position on a low bed to the left of the window.  He lounged back against the wall with his arms folded behind his head.

“Strip for me, babe,” he said, low and guttural.  “Show me what you got.”

The Blonde said nothing but acquiesced with a single nod of her head.  Stanley held his breath as he watched her hands skim up the hem of her tank top and started raising it slowly to reveal flat, hard abs.  God, he’d always wanted a girl with the body of an athlete and the Blonde looked beyond fit.  He felt his cock pushing up against the seam of the ragged cut-offs he was wearing and he ground his hips back and forward to build some friction.  Inside, the guy was obviously appreciating the show too; his hands were cupped over his groin and his mouth slumped open with slack lips.

The Blonde pulled the tank up further until Stanley could see the soft under-curve of her heavy breasts.  She paused for a moment to cup them in her hands.

“D’you wanna see more, Charlie?” she teased.

“I wanna see it all,” Charlie grunted.

Stanley gripped the steel struts of the window grill to stop himself sinking onto his knees.

The Blonde caressed her breasts, shoving the tank up over them as she did, tweeking the nipples as she revealed them.  Her areolae were small and dark, and they looked grainy in the soft light.  The nipples stood erect, pushing outwards, and Stan bit his tongue with his desperation to suck one into his mouth.  His cock bucked and he rubbed himself slowly against the clapperboards just under the window frame.  He tasted blood on his tongue and fervently wished it wasn’t his own.

With a swift sweeping move, the tank was over her head and discarded on the floor.  She stood in front of Charlie, circling her hips and still playing with her breasts, her head thrown back as she concentrated on her own pleasure.  Charlie was gently working one hand at his groin and Stanley heard him groaning as he pressed down on the growing bulge in his pants.

“Come on, babe,” he murmured.  “Don’t stop now.”

Stanley couldn’t have agreed more.

Still moving to unheard music, the Blonde slowly slid her hands down her torso to the fastening of her jeans.  In his mind, Stanley could hear the pop of the press stud as she released it and the rasp of the zipper as she tugged it down.  Then she gave a little shimmy as she pushed her pants down over hips and let them slip to the floor.  She wore nothing underneath and Stan could see that her pussy was shaved clean, just how he liked it.  Charlie’s own pants followed suit, and never one to be left out of a party, Stanley shoved his shorts down his legs without bothering to undo them, not caring as the waistband scraped away great tracts of grey skin from the outsides of his thighs.

The Blonde writhed and twisted in front of Charlie, exploring her body with her hands, letting them roam from breast to waist to the shadowy cleft between her long, slim legs.  Charlie struggled out of what was left of his clothes, his eyes locked on her moving form, his mouth still open.  Stan tore his gaze away from the Blonde to her partner–Charlie had freed his cock from his shorts to reveal a full erection that bobbed against his stomach as he kicked the clothing off his ankles.

“Come here, babe.”

The Blonde spun towards him and sank down astride his lap.  They kissed again as Charlie let his hands roam her body freely. Stanley caught hold of his cock.  It was rock hard and he tightened his grip as his pleasure heightened.  He could almost feel her soft, smooth skin under his touch, almost taste the warm velvet of her mouth, but it wasn’t enough… It couldn’t be enough.  He needed to touch her and taste her for real.

Charlie’s hands grasped the Blonde by the hips and raised her up.  Stanley could see his cock standing proud between her legs and when he lowered her, her sharp, little gasp told Stan that Charlie’s cock was ramming home.  Stan spat on his hand and worked it up and down his shaft, grasping the window grill ever tighter with his other hand for support.  This was better than the porn he used to watch on his computer.

Inside, the Blonde couldn’t have ridden Charlie any harder or faster if she’d been Paul Revere.  She bobbed up and down with his hands still on her hips but as Stan watched, his fingers slid round to claw at her buttocks.  In response the Blonde arched her back, pushing her buttocks out until Stan could see the dark pucker that lay between them.  His mouth watered and he jacked off harder than ever.  Inside him, every nerved tingled and his balls felt like they were burning as they tightened and hardened.

Charlie pulled hard on the Blonde’s ass cheeks and her moans turned into a breathy cry of pain when one of his index fingers slid into her ass.  Then she threw her head back and Stan could see her body go rigid and then judder as an orgasm ripped through her.  Charlie’s shout added volume to her moans and he suddenly slid his hands up her back to cradle her shoulders.  Then he lowered her to the floor in front of the bed and followed her down, swooping above her as he plunged back into her.  The round domes of his ass pumped up and down and the Blonde’s hands raked his back, leaving bloody scratch marks in their wake.

Outside on the stoop, Stan could hardly draw breath.  The smell of sex and smell of blood reached him through the chinks in the window.  Their joint moans penetrated his skull like a primal duet.  The fire in his loins spread up through his body as every nerve pinged and every muscle pulled tight.  As his orgasm broke, his knees caved beneath him and he let out a blood-curdling cry.  The window grill rattled under his weight as his hot zombie jizz spattered the clapboard side of the house.

Inside, Charlie collapsed onto the Blonde’s chest, panting, sweat slickened and exhausted.  Underneath him, the Blonde started to wriggle.

“What was that noise, Charlie?”

Charlie nuzzled her neck and she pulled his head back by handful of hair.

“Outside, Charlie.  I heard something.”

“What the fuck?”  Charlie snapped out of his post-orgasmic daze in an instant.

He was on his feet before the Blonde could reply.

“I heard a biter, real close,” she said, scrabbling to find her clothes.

Charlie came across to the window but Stanley was no longer aware of what was happening in the room.  In his mind he was riding the Blonde the same way Charlie had just ridden her, and nothing would stop him.  It was the ride of his life.

Charlie turned back to the Blonde.

“He’s out here, fucking little pervert.  He’s been watching us through a hole in the boarding.”

“Jesus, Charlie, fucking go after him,” said the Blonde, standing up and coming closer to look through the knot hole.

“Distract him,” said Charlie.

As Stanley opened his eyes again he couldn’t believe his luck.  The Blonde was still in the room, still naked, though Charlie seemed to have disappeared.  Now she was standing, facing the window, and as he watched she dipped a finger between her legs and then brought it up to her mouth and sucked on it.

Stanley gurgled with delight, blood surging back into his limp cock, reawakening it.

“You like that, biter boy?” said a voice from behind.

Stan whipped round to see Charlie standing at the far end of the stoop, the silver flash of an axe blade in his hand.  Stan forgot he was still holding tight to the grill and with a blaze of pain his wrist snapped, leaving his hand hanging on the metal struts.  Charlie flew towards him, pulling his arm back for a blow.  It arced above his head and before Stan could duck away the sharp blade sliced into his brain like a knife through butter.  The hand on his cock jerked away from his body, yanking it off as he fell.

Now Stanley was dead, properly dead, and he died as he’d always hoped he would, with his cock in his hand.  One happy zombie.

 

Wicked Wednesday

 

The Big Erotica Debate…

Recently, I wrote a post on the erotica market and why readers’ and writers’ expectations seemed to have come adrift from each other. At around the same time, Remittance Girl posted (far more eloquently than I) on what erotica has become and where she’d like to see it going next. Malin James responded to our posts with an intelligent analysis of authorial intent and how understanding it can help writers find a place for their work. It seems that the interlinked issues that we between us dissected struck a chord with with more than just a few of our writing colleagues and what I shall now refer to as the Big Erotica Debate was set in motion.

15571532_sOver the past couple of weeks since this debate got going, a whole host of other writers have contributed their thoughts on a range of problems facing erotica as both a market and a genre in the post 50-Shades wasteland. Following these disparate views makes for interesting and enlightening reading – and together they offer up a more comprehensive picture of the state of erotica now than any one single post could do.

Quite a number of these posts have linked back to the original posts, but following through on all that has been written is like entering an online maze, so what I’m hoping to do here is to list all the contributions to the Big Debate to make it easier for people to take it all in. If you write a post, or come across someone else’s post, on any of the issues being talked about, please let me know in the comments so I can add it to the list.

A Brief History of Erotica and What It Has Become – Remittance Girl

Remittance Girl traces the history of erotica since Ancient Greece, contextualising historic works in light of the times in which they were written. Analysing today’s canon, she calls for a new erotic genre or movement to embrace a return to “carrying on the legacy of erotic literature: using eroticism as a frame through which to look at, complicate, contrast, and destabilize how mainstream culture perceives ‘reality’.”

Why Publishing Doesn’t Matter to Me Anymore – Remittance Girl

In this earlier post, Remittance Girl explains why she’s given up on erotica publishers and finds it more satisfactory to publish her own work online.

 

What I Intend When I Write About Sex – Malin James

Malin discusses how identifying why you’re writing about sex, or why you’re writing at all, can help you to understand where your work might or might not fit in the market place.

 

Has E L James Broken Erotica? – Tamsin Flowers

My own ruminations on the multiplicity of issues facing erotica writers in bringing their work to a market that is no longer serving their needs.

 

A Broken Market – Sylvia Storm

Sylvia Storm compares literary erotica to the marketplace for art-porn, but finds equivalent options for erotica writers to be sadly lacking.

 

Anal. WHY??? On contemporary, literary, semi-autobiographical women’s mainstream (erotic) fiction – Sex Blog of Sorts

Charlie Powell writes on the difficulty she faces in trying to work out where her current WIP might fit in the market, and how her lack of clear direction has contributed to writer’s block.

 

Talking Shop: Why Can’t Erotica be a Real Genre? – Brantwijn Serrah

Brantwijn considers the issues surrounding the quality of writing within the genre, versus the ubiquitous one-handed-read. But, she argues, can’t it be both well-written and arousing!

 

On Writing Filth – Shannon Barber

Shannon Barber talks about her writing process and on why she won’t write to the strictures the genre now seems to be yoked with, as well as touching upon diversity in the marketplace.

 

Tamsin Flowers and the Elusive Billion Dollar Payday – Frank Lee

Sorry, but first I have to say how much I obviously love the title of this post – it sounds like an 80s comedy movie! Frank Lee writes on the vagaries of the market in choosing 50 Shades, and also the problems that have been created by the inexorable rise of self-publishing.

 

Explicit Scenes in Lesbian Fiction – Harper Bliss

Harper Bliss explores the requirements for explicit sex scenes in lesbian erotica, why she thinks mainstream lesbian fiction should also feature erotic content, but also why, for her, the emotional connection is always the most important element of the story.

 

It Is a Tough Job But Someone Has To Do It: The Perks of Being an Erotica Writer – Julia von Rist

Thankfully, amid something of a sea of gloom, Julia von Rist reminds us all about the enjoyable aspects of writing erotica!

 

Talking Shop: Writing Serious Erotica – Brantwijn Serrah

On the need for erotica writers to learn the craft of writing and to take the skills required seriously before they unleash badly-written porn on the world. This includes some excellent links to further posts on the craft of writing.

 

To write erotica…or not to write, that is the question – Sessha Batto

Sessha Batto analyses the reasons why she writes stories with erotic content, and why she doesn’t feel she’d want to write non-erotic stories – regardless of how tough the market gets.

 

“Let’s talk about genre”: Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro in conversation

I owe a big thank you to Malin James for drawing my attention to this wide ranging discussion on genre between Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s not about erotica but there’s an enormous amount in here of relevance to our own discussions of erotica as a genre and of possibly writing about sex in other genres – so for that reason, I’d urge people who are interested in this debate to read it.

 

A Porn Writer Walks into a Bar – Frank Lee

Strictly speaking, this isn’t about the state of erotica – it’s more about the state of erotica writers! If you feel like you need a stiff drink after reading all these posts, head over to Frank’s bar and join us for your favourite tipple…

 

Did Fifty Shades of Grey Kill the Erotica Revolution? – Donna George Storey

On the role that the ubiquitous book played in making erotica publishers even more risk averse and what that means for writers who follow their own beat…

 

So Now What? – Kathleen Bradean

Kathleen Bradean writes about what she sees as a bleak outlook for erotica, and her decision to write a sexually explicit literary novel. This is just the sort of move I called for in my original post on the subject, and very much where I’m going myself.

 

 

 

 

Not your best underwear…

In terms of new releases, 2015 has been a busy year for me, not least because a new episode in the Alchemy xii series comes out on the 1st of every month. But between times, I’ve also been lucky enough to have a continuing stream of anthology releases, too. The latest one is Best Erotic Romance of the Year, edited by the wonderful Kristina Wright and published by Cleis Press. It features a host of brilliant writers, including my Pillow Talk colleagues Malin James and Jade A Waters, and also Crystal Jordon, Renee Luke, Jillian Boyd, Annabeth Leong, Heidi Champa, Sommer Marsden, Emerald, Kiki de Lovely and plenty more.

 

My story in the collection, The Proposal, is unashamedly romantic – but then, that’s the point, isn’t it? Lyla doesn’t want to meet her friend Rick for a drink. After all, who wants to hear the man they’re in love with describing how he proposed to another woman? On the beach. In Hawaii…

Couple kissing

Excerpt from The Proposal

I hate going somewhere when I know I’m going to hear bad news. You know, like the doctor’s office for test results when you already know things aren’t right, or into class for exam results when you know you screwed up half the questions. Everybody hates those things, right? It was the same feeling I got about going to meet Rick over at Calli’s Bar a few nights after he got back from his Hawaiian holiday.

Of course, I’d met him there a hundred times before, either with the gang or even once or twice on our own. It was out at the back of the bar I tried to kiss him that one time. It hadn’t worked out quite how I wanted—it was a mistake of epic proportions, in fact—and we’d been pussy-footing around each other ever since. Actually, avoiding would probably be a better way of putting it. Three years of ducking and diving so we didn’t come face-to-face. And, of course, I’ve been in love with him all that time.

But then he called me unexpectedly and said he had something to tell me. I pretended my diary was full to bursting but he said it couldn’t wait. I knew deep down what it was he needed to tell me. He’d just spent two weeks in tropical paradise with his girlfriend and even before they left, his sister Tanya said she thought he was going to propose. He hadn’t been dating the girl long but they were desperately in love, according to more than one source. So, yup, he was going to break the news gently and say how much he hoped we’d still be friends. I’d congratulate him and smile, give him a hug, and go on my way after assuring him that, of course, we’d still be friends. And perhaps, if I could remember her name for more than a nanosecond, I’d say how pretty his girl was. And inside I’d be slowly dying.

What do you wear for bad news breakage, besides waterproof mascara? Not your best underwear, obviously.

I walked into Calli’s and scanned the room. Rick was sitting in one of the booths along the back wall. Good pick, we’d have some privacy if I started to cry. As I made my way across to him I became aware of a tremor in my right arm. I so didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to hear about the wedding to which I’d have no intention of going to. Please god, don’t let him ask me to be part of the ceremony, I thought as I reached the back of the bar.

“Lyla,” he said, with a smile that evaporated as quickly as it formed.

“Rick,” I said cautiously, as I slid into the booth opposite him.

He always looked good, but with a suntan? I had to concentrate on the pattern of his hideous Hawaiian shirt to stop myself openly drooling.

“Like it?” he said.

I looked up, puzzled.

“The shirt. I got it in Waikiki. It’s the genuine article.”

“It’s horrible,” I said. “I mean…I’m sorry…I’m just not big on floral for men.”

He signaled the waitress and asked for a couple of beers, though he still had a half-finished one on the table in front of him. He caught me looking at it and picked up the glass to finish it off. I noticed that his hand was shaking as he raised his arm.

“Rick, you said on the phone you had something to talk about.”

There was no point putting it off any longer.

He put down his glass and licked the foam from his top lip. My heart fluttered in my chest like an angry bird. We looked at each other for what seemed like an eternity.

“You ever been to Hawaii?” he said.

I shook my head.

“It’s nice. I took Teri there because I wanted to propose to her.”

Bam! He said it, just like that. I switched on auto-pilot, ready with my rehearsed lines.

“Congrat…”

He put up a hand to cut me off.

“Wait,” he said. “I haven’t finished.”

He took a sip of the fresh beer. I gulped down a third of mine.

“I booked a table in a fancy French restaurant. We went for cocktails first…”

“Look, Rick, I don’t need the details.”

His hand came up again to stop me.

“We had dinner and I took her down onto the beach.”

I squirmed in my seat.

“There was a full moon, the sea was calm, everything was perfect.”

“Stop, Rick…”

“I went down on one knee in the sand and asked Teri if she would do me the honor of becoming my wife. She said…”

I slid to the end of the banquette and started to stand up.

Best Erotic RomanceBest Erotic Romance of the Year

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Best Sex on the Net – Elust #72

An Erotic Adventure Image
Photo courtesy of Tabitha Rayne

Welcome to Elust #72

The only place where the smartest and hottest sex bloggers are featured under one roof every month. Whether you’re looking for sex journalism, erotic writing, relationship advice or kinky discussions it’ll be here at Elust. Want to be included in Elust #73? Start with the rules, come back August 1st to submit something and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!

 

~ This Month’s Top Three Posts ~

Broken
Invisible Pride: Bi Erasure
Disabled Gentleman

~ Featured Post (Molly’s Picks) ~

Erotic Fiction: “Passerby”
Overcoming resistance

~ Readers Choice from Sexbytes ~

*You really should consider adding your popular posts here too*

#AskELJames: The Poignant & Profitable Martyrdom of E.L. James

All blogs that have a submission in this edition must re-post this digest from tip-to-toe on their blogs within 7 days.

Re-posting the photo is optional and the use of the “read more…” tag is allowable after this point. Thank you, and enjoy!

 

Sex News,Opinion, Interviews, Politics & Humor

Tits, Ass, Monogamy, and Muscles
Numbers
ATVOD’s Preliminary View

Thoughts & Advice on Sex & Relationships

Perfect Stranger
Remembering my first sex toy
On Relationship Anarchy
In Defense of Big Toys
Unpacking Assumptions About Sex and Stoneness
A Thousand Miles
Six Important Reasons Not to Fake an Orgasm
Flying With Sex Toys
What is your preferred way to orgasm?
First

Erotic Fiction

kotw: anonymous sex
Breathe
Intrusion
A Firm Hand and Lessons
The Sounds Of The Night
Office Assistant

Events

Happy Bloomsday! What Would Molly Do?
Bare Reality: 100 women and their breasts

Poetry

Deacon Jones: A Lusty Limerick

Thoughts & Advice on Kink & Fetish

Trust Me: On Edge Play in Erotica
Come on Command

Erotic Non-Fiction

Chasing Orgasms
Did You Just Laugh At My Instructions?
I’m always going to get mine.
Humiliation of an ex-Nazi submissive 52
that was intense

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Has E L James broken erotica?

Girl plus books

So, has E L James broken erotica? Why am I asking that question? A few weeks back, due to an extraordinary combination of circumstances—mainly involving the heavy discounting of a pair of anthologies in which I have stories—I found myself riding high in Amazon’s paid erotica author rankings. With huge excitement, I watched my rank climb to number four. It made me feel as if I were, for the briefest of moments, the fourth best erotica writer in the world! (Which, of course, I’m not. Because these rankings have absolutely nothing to do with writing quality.)

Naturally, I grabbed a screenshot for posterity. I usually rank somewhere around 300 and I doubt I’ll ever get that high again. But when I got over my own glee, the one thing that struck me most forcefully was not my presence on that page but someone else’s. E L James’s, in fact. There she was, grinning out from the number one slot with the original FSOG. And now that she’s released a FSOG spin-off from Grey’s point of view, she’ll probably remain at number one for a good stretch longer. Don’t get me wrong—I certainly don’t begrudge her her inexplicable success or the money she’s made, and I personally think that a lot of the vitriol levelled at her by other writers is born out of if not professional envy (because of course, no one actually wants to write like her), jealousy of her success. Yes, the books are utter rubbish, but, dare I say it, so are the vast majority of erotica titles. However, it made me feel incredibly sad that, three years after FSOG was published, she was still at number one. It made me sad for my—our shared—genre.

What’s happened to erotica since FSOG became a world-conquering phenomena? E L James was supposed to be its savior, but did she in fact break it? Certainly, very few erotica writers are making a living. Of the ones I know (of which there are plenty, many at the top of the profession), I can think of less than a handful who don’t have a day job or other source of income. Erotica publishing is in disarray. And, after briefly appearing in a book shop near you at the height of the FSOG frenzy, erotica has once more been retired to the invisible pages at the back of Amazon and other book retailing sites. The millions of women who bought into FSOG have not, as predicted, purchased very much more.

Erotica has always gotten a bad rap—it’s the genre all the other genres look down on. Recently, a writer friend was hugely upset when a family member told her she was “too good to be writing erotica.” My friend felt insulted and slighted, and was very defensive of erotica and her desire to write it. I totally sympathized with her. But I didn’t tell her I’d said virtually the same thing—”You’re wasted in erotica”—to a mutual friend just days before. I had meant it, and thankfully it had been taken, as a compliment. Because what I meant was this writer deserved a wider audience and greater respect for her work than she would ever get writing in the current erotica market.

For those of us who write smut, it sometimes feels like we’ve been herded into a ghetto, and that the rest of the literary world would rather disown us. A lot of erotica writers feel very aggrieved by this—and they have a point. There are some hugely talented writers in the field whose work deserves recognition and corresponding sales. But I would suggest there are a number of very valid reasons why my chosen genre is looked down on. Which is why I felt justified in saying to my friend that she was wasted in erotica.

First, I’ll tell you what I think the contributing issues are. Then I’ll deal with them in turn.

  • The reasons why people read erotica
  • The inherent problems with long-form erotica
  • The assumption by inexperienced writers that because they have great sex, they can write great sex

The first thing to consider is why people read erotica. Here, I feel there’s a mismatch between why people actually read it and why erotica writers think they read it. To put it bluntly, readers turn to erotica as a masturbatory aid. They want one thing from a dirty story and it isn’t fine words, tight plotting, good characterization or enlightenment on the human condition. They can get those things in other genres. I look elsewhere when I want those things. Readers don’t care about grammar when they’re getting they’re rocks off, which is why bad erotica sells as well as good. For writers who care about their craft, this is galling. But it’s an undeniable truth—the market for literary erotica, or even decently written commercial erotica is very small. And if your audience doesn’t demand a quality product, there’s no pressure in the market to provide one.

Books and glassesI know other writers will disagree with me. As a group, we read each other’s work, cross promote and review it. Erotica is the most friendly and supportive of ghettos. But we’re writers. Of course, we love well-written erotica. We love well-written everything. And in our insulated little bubble, I think we’re in danger of losing sight of the reality about the marketplace for our work. I don’t write literary erotica—my work is populist and I’m happy to admit it. But I’ve had a reader criticize me for spoiling their enjoyment of a story by using too many big words—and believe me, I really don’t. I’m afraid the vast majority of our readers are not looking for literature. They want written porn and they want it cheap or free. And they can get it in droves. In other words, the erotica market needs high quality writing like a fish needs a bicycle—and that’s why good writers struggle to make money at it.

My second point on why erotica seems so broken is the problems inherent in writing long-form filth. It’s incredibly difficult to make a full-length erotic novel work. For romance, the plot follows the usual arc of rising conflict and resolution, with sex the reward at the end. Not so erotica. Our publishers admonish us if there’s no sex in the first few pages. No time for our protagonists to meet, fall in love, fall out of love due to a misunderstanding, and then get back together before finally sharing body fluids. No, we need them banging straight away. This requires the use of plot devices—our protagonist is sleeping with someone else at the start or dreaming of having sex. Perhaps the characters have been a couple for a while or there’s some novelty reason why they need sudden sex. But it all constricts a writer’s freedom and leads to unsatisfactory story arc. One of the main criticisms levelled at FSOG as an erotic novel was that the reader had to wade through 100 or so pages before they came to any sex. Possibly one of the few realistic elements of the book—it takes time to reach point bonk—but no good for an erotic masterpiece.

However, let’s suppose we manage to get our couple (trio or whatever) into bed with an awesome opening sex scene, then where to next? More sex. It’s erotica after all, so even if the writing’s good and the plot’s decent, we need plenty of bonking. And that, unfortunately, becomes a little repetitive. If your reader has used the first sex scene as a masturbatory aid, well, the subsequent sex scenes might droop a little. This is why erotica is the one genre in which short story anthologies work so well. Sustaining erotic tension through a whole novel while producing a satisfying read is bloody difficult. In other words, in writing long-form erotic, you’re beset with the problems inherent in the form before you’ve even put a word on the page.

Finally, the I-have-great-sex-so-I-can-write-great-sex issue. Self-publishing is wonderful. It’s democratized the whole industry. We can all be published writers—yay! But that doesn’t mean we’re all good writers. Take this analogy. Suddenly the price of Stradivarius violins drops. I can afford one and I can book a concert hall, so why not put on a concert and play a couple of violin concertos? A ridiculous notion, isn’t it? A world class violinist spends years perfecting their art. So why do so many people think the first thing they write is worthy of publication? That they don’t need to work at it? That they’re a natural? Even the most gifted natural musicians slave for decades before they take to the world stage.

Writing is difficult. Writing well is even more difficult. Writing good sex? It’s very hard indeed. (No pun intended!) There are somewhere in the region of 5,000 erotica writers on Amazon. 5,000. It bears repeating. Most of their output is execrable. The output of our head girl, E L James, is execrable. So why would anyone want to dig deeper? I read buckets of erotica for professional reasons and I hate most of it. I really do. Certainly there are good writers out there, brilliant writers who leave me in breathless awe of their work (Remittance Girl, Malin James, J T Louder). But how is the sliver of the audience who care about quality going to find the smattering of writers gifted enough to give it to them? Discoverability for new writers is hard in any genre. In erotica it’s harder still, with the dreaded Amazon adult tag rendering one invisible in searches.

Good writers should be able to make a living from their writing but they can’t. Amazon is awash with free erotica. You can read a new story every day and never pay for one. For writers, it’s a Catch 22 situation. How will anyone know they want to buy your work if you don’t give them a free read first? I’m guilty of it myself, with free stories on Amazon and around the net, not to mention regularly on my own blog. You can probably read your fill of me without paying a penny.

Yes, erotica is a broken genre. Great writers aren’t getting recognized, the market’s flooded with crap, and even publishers can’t seem to make a go of it—witness the recent debacles at Ellora’s Cave and Cleis.  But it’s not E L James who broke erotica—her enduring position at the top of the pile is merely an indication of the deeper issues.

So what’s the solution?

To be honest, I can’t tell you. I would certainly like to see fewer writers in the market and a better standard of writing—but I’ve already explained why that’s unlikely to happen. For individual writers, there’s the siren call of other genres and that’s certainly a possibility for me.

But one thing struck me when thinking about how to solve these problems. Why should erotica be a genre at all? Given that sex is so fundamental to all our behaviors and motivations, so universal and yet so diverse, shouldn’t it be in every story, in every book? And to a certain extent it is, just not written as graphically. There are a few successful mainstream writers who include sexual detail in literary novels but not many. So here’s my idea: let’s leave badly written porn in its own little cave, but why don’t better erotica writers storm the barricades of mainstream writing? Don’t leave grown-up sex writing hiding in the shadows—bring it out into the light. Don’t attempt the great erotic novel. Just write a great book that deals with sex as it should be dealt with—openly and explicitly, but in service to the story rather than the story being in service to the sex. Don’t label your book as erotica just because it contains sex. Don’t give it a blatant erotica cover. In other words, if you’re serious about writing sex, stop writing erotica. Write about sex in the mainstream! Tag it as literary fiction, contemporary fiction, women’s fiction…

This is an idea that I’d like to open up a discussion on with other erotica—and non-erotica—writers. Could this be the way out of the ghetto for writers who actually care about what they write?