Sex … In or Out?

You’ve written a great story. Do you need sex amidst the guns, fighting and mayhem, the psychological trauma and mystery, or the tenderness and promises?

When I say ‘do you need sex’ I’m obviously referring to the requirements of the story—not your personal urges. I digress … .

This blog post was born from the need to offer my opinion on a regular comment I see on social media, and if we’re all honest, it’s getting a bit tedious. The comment usually follows similar lines to: ‘… and when I reach a sex scene I move on …’

There is usually a bit more to it, but in essence, we have two main areas to address.

Question 1 – Is the reader a prude, or simply someone who knows when a sex scene could have been done more tastefully—if it were needed at all?

Question 2 – Did the author make a mistake by getting carried away, drifting from the primary genre, thus adversely affecting the plot of the story?

The answer to Question 1 is not as simple as it sounds. For some readers, if an author goes beyond: ‘… she stood with her back to the door and raised an eyebrow …’ it’s too much. For others, it’s frustratingly brief, and they want to at least know if one person is wearing matching underwear and if the other person is wearing underwear at all.

Now, Question 2 throws up a whole new dilemma. As authors, it is not simply a personal choice, but in my (humble) opinion, it is our duty to remain true to our craft. No, I’m not getting high and mighty because I’ve written more than two books—I’m simply telling it like it is. The reputation of indie authors is being destroyed from within by some people with low standards. Those of us who work long hard hours and go beyond the first draft must persevere to produce the best we can.

You cannot refer to yourself in your branding or promotional material (of whatever level) as a thriller writer if you have the main character kill someone and then for the rest of the book he/she beds every other person in the ‘adventure’. You can dress it up, or undress it if you wish, but one of the aims of any author should be to focus on the job—in this case, a good story based on the primary genre.

I write a wide variety of genre and among them is erotica. I may allow a kiss or a caress—even partial undressing in some stories but graphic, no-holds-barred sexual activity is kept for my erotica.

If an author writes thrillers, westerns, sci-fi or other genres there ought to be sufficient time invested in character development, dialogue, imagery, pace and the accurate choreography of action. Any mention of sex will usually be incidental, except, of course, for romance, some paranormal and fantasy where it may go further.

An author who writes erotica is not out to shock—they are aiming to indulge their readers in the type of material they sought. This is not to say that character development and those other ingredients I mentioned earlier are not required in erotica—they are just as important. The erotica author must avoid sex becoming the ‘story’; an opportunity to be self-indulgent with repetitive and meaningless scenes of gratuitous carnal jiggery-pokery (mainly pokery).

In my ‘mainstream’ genres, there may be terms of endearment, a kiss or an embrace but they are strategically placed. Occasionally, in my erotica, there is less need for such romantic overtures, activity or subtlety. The characters might be more interested in mutual physical gratification than an emotional rollercoaster ride but there will still be character development and the activities are created with a purpose. It depends on the story.

I believe the author should strive to be faithful to the principle genre and whatever extended subjects it entails whether it be an action-packed or psychological plot, and plot or character-driven.

If you’d like to see ‘erotica’ as it once was, read ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’. Like most other genres, erotica has moved on and readers are no longer satisfied with what was once considered shocking—people want to envisage themselves in scenes which will (in most cases) forever be a fantasy. With the greatest respect D.H.Lawrence, move over my friend.

I’m a great believer in the use of metaphor if it spells something out clearly. I’ll summarise with two questions to authors who are trying to work out if sex ought to be highlighted in a story?

Would you wear flip-flops and boxing gloves to run a marathon, or perhaps mask, snorkel and flippers to ride a bicycle?

Let’s be honest—if it doesn’t look right, it doesn’t belong.

Thank you for reading, and any comments.

Erotica: The Long and Short of it … Part 3 of 3


Give & Take 150516
FREE  weekend on Amazon –  Sat 30th / Sun 31st July 2016

In Part 1, I wrote about the titles and general description of my work in this genre.

In Part 2, I moved on to how I found myself venturing into this area of creative writing.

I’d like to use this final article to go under the covers ….


In the wake of Romance, the Erotica genre is the next big thing – in regard to sales. For this reason alone, it’s not surprising writers of other genres attempt erotica, and it might be why their trials are published with a pseudonym.

Many writers try producing this special genre. Having read widely in the indie and the traditionally published sectors, I’ve discovered a wide range of ability.

We all think we know what goes on behind closed doors, but how much of our ‘knowledge’ is actually supposition, imagination, or guesswork?

The first aspect of this topic to put to bed (pun intended), is about how wonderful other people’s sex lives are. We could look at examples, but in reality there are too many variables to examine sex life.

I’ll list a few examples to prove the point:

1. A person who has no sexual experience, but has read a few books which suggest sex should be enjoyed by anybody with anybody, doing anything. I remember a girl from my early 20’s who earned the nickname ‘Martini’. If you’re not old enough to remember the TV ad, the slogan was: ‘any time, any place, anywhere ….’

2. A person of limited sexual experience, but read widely, and is eager to try anything once.

3. A person who enjoys the early years of marriage, where there has been an occasional hot night between the sheets. Lifestyle calmed and the bedroom became a place for two things; frustration, or boredom – or both.

4. An older person who has been in a relationship for 50 years, had a lot of varied experiences before marriage, and has for far too long settled into a mundane ‘get it over with’ mindset.

5. A person in a long-term relationship, but is with a partner who has no desire to ‘experiment’. Opportunities may not have been taken when younger, and now one partner may spend time wondering about activities found in books, but never tried.SS2 - Coming Around 150516


What must a writer consider when publishing erotica?

Instead of producing a text-book answer, I’ll list a few of my personal criteria.

1. It is erotica, but it should not only be about the sex – a plot should exist.

2. I avoid sexual taboos, which I don’t believe have to be listed. If you have any doubts what is considered ‘taboo’ in erotic literature – use a search engine.

3. Colloquialisms for body parts and activities read better than creating a biology lesson with an underlying story.

4. Consent – or a fair idea of what is ahead is my preference. If a character sounds as if they didn’t know what they were getting into – or what was getting into them – it’s not non-consensual or innocence; it’s naivity.

5. Exceptional hygiene standards and preparation are occasionally mentioned in passing.

I have other minor points I keep in mind, but the aforementioned are the main ones.


Highland Games - 1 - CougarWhich erotica appeals to me?

I enjoy the tale if I find myself consumed by the story, embracing the characters (metaphorically), and reading for the story – not the genre.

Which erotica irritates or alienates me?

When the language used is stilted, and the body parts and activities are like a sex education class for those who speak English as a second language.

When the situation and dialogue is contrived and the ‘story’ goes from dialogue to action in an unrealistic time scale.

Two-dimensional characters usually combined with little or no back-story.


Where do I go from here with my titles?

I have erotica poetry within my Love and Romance volume, short stories in Coming Around: and other erotic stories and my novel Give & Take: A Tale of Erotica.

Highland Games is the series title of my erotica novellas. My first tale is an introduction to the series and the main location. In each successive book I aim to explore a different aspect of sexuality. As I do with all of my work, I’ll be taking note of feedback, and I’ll adjust my writing if there is good reason.

Coming soon ...
Coming soon …


Thank you for taking the time to read my posts, and particular thanks to those of you kind enough to leave your thoughts. I appreciate all feedback.


As a reward for your kindness, I’ll remind you my novel, Give & Take: A Tale of Erotica is FREE on Amazon over the weekend Saturday 30th July / Sunday 31st July 2016.





New Year … New Projects!

HF - 20

A location which will be recreated in my stories for young children.

Many writers enjoy the feeling of a new year, because it feels like a natural time to get fresh projects underway. I am one such writer.
For me, I believe 2014 was a successful year for my writing, so I’m going to push myself harder this year. I’ve already started.

Two days ago I updated the front end (sample pages) of all of my eBooks to give excerpts of recent reviews, so that they are all live and updated for the benefit of prospective readers.

Today, I updated the information on several sections of my author website:

Although I have a ‘coming-of-age’ novel already well underway, I am intending to write two sequels to other books, and I’d like to compile an anthology of military short stories.

My greatest self-imposed challenge is to create ‘Countryside Tales’, a series of stories for young children. As I write, I have already created the main human and animal characters, plus I’ve drawn a map of their environment. I have three authors in mind for when I require guidance as to whether or not I’ve got it right.

I’m intending to produce my own covers, but for now at least I am not using illustrations. I toyed with the idea of producing my own illustrations, but they are time-consuming to get right and to resize for an e-Reader. Apart from those points, I believe that I am capable of creating sufficient imagery within my words.

I will be making more of an effort to check out my fellow bloggers, so I’ll have to come up with a routine, because sporadic visits don’t seem to work well.
As always, thank you for checking out my scribbled thoughts.

The Art of Letting Go – a review

41o0Nt-NySL[1]This is a well-developed book, from the clever title and front cover, to the ending. Characters come alive as you read each small detail unfolding.

The imagery is vivid and enables you to sense the atmosphere of the various meeting places. The dialogue is so natural and well written, you can imagine the voices.

The technique of creating each chapter from an individual character’s point of view is used throughout to great effect. I first saw the method used in, ‘The Clifton Chronicles’ series by Jeffrey Archer.

I respect any writer who works at their craft by researching sufficiently, and that comes to the fore in this tale of intrigue and suspense. One minute you think you know the truth, but in the next character’s point of view, you start to doubt your own theories.

Chloe has created within this story, a small world for her characters to inhabit. By the time you reach the end, you will believe it exists. Kudos, Mrs. Banks.


Chloe will be making a guest appearance on this very blog in just a couple of weeks.

Stellar Cloud – a review

Cover_1[1]Before I mention the book, ‘Stellar Cloud’, I think it would be pertinent to put something in perspective. My reason for reading Science Fiction was no accident. I believe in broadening my horizons as a writer, by reading widely.

During the A to Z challenge, I enjoyed following Charity Bradford’s blog. The posts she used throughout the challenge were based on Dr Who, the classic British time-travel series.

In itself the topic could be given a light-hearted or devil-may-care treatment, but irrespective of anyone else’s opinion, the alphabet was followed and good posts appeared each day.

The relevance of those challenge posts is simply that Charity’s passion for the genre shines through in them. That same passion allows her to write not only entertaining, but convincing stories in a genre that I do not normally read.

Okay, the average person might think, Science Fiction is not for me, but consider something for a moment. If a story is well told, does it really matter if it’s set in Arkansas, Frankfurt, Rome, or on the planet Zorg?

In ‘Stellar Cloud’ I found a variety of stories that produced the same empathy I would expect for characters in a traditional tale. The imagery was well drawn, the dialogue was natural, and the stories were well told. I found myself believing in each story, and it was thoroughly enjoyable.

I was delighted to find that each story was different. Irrespective of genre, many writers tend to write repetitive tales and they only differ in location and character names. The situations and conflicts in the ‘Stellar Cloud’ collection are sufficiently different.

Charity brings her book to a close with a Prologue and Chapter 1, for her novel, ‘The Magic Wakes’.

I would suggest if you haven’t tried Science Fiction, then Charity’s offerings are a good place to start.

O … is for Observation

O[1] is for observation. If you think back to ‘I’, I wrote about imagery, and there is a strong connection to observation.

What is observation?

We see real scenes in life every day, but seeing those scenes isn’t detailed observation. It is casual observation; a glance, for example.

I believe that true, detailed, observation as a writer is deeper. It is this detail that we must employ in our writing; in our imagery. Now I suppose you’d like an example … well, okay then.

Let’s take a strategic military operation; the observation post, or OP as it’s called, manned by two soldiers.

Why is it called an Observation Post?

It evolves from the fact that the people involved are not just ‘watching casually’, or if you like ‘seeing’ the scene ahead of them. They are observing the scene. To truly observe something – not just ‘see’ it, we must stare, concentrate, and examine it. Let’s continue with the men in the OP.

Example 1. The two men could send a message that they saw; a few tanks and a couple of helicopters, with a whole load of troops standing in nearby woodland. It’s a vague report, but it’s what they saw.

Example 2. The same two men could watch closely, or observe, and then report; six main battle tanks, one light reconnaissance tank , two personnel-carrying helicopters and four attack helicopters, plus a full infantry battalion, battle-ready, in the woods.

Where does this come into writing, and imagery?

Let’s apply a similar strategy to a brief scene. You’re having a coffee and watching the world go by, making notes in your notebook, thinking of your latest story. Right before you, a scene opens up and you want to record it for later. One of the following is written by somebody who simply looks at things, but the other is written by somebody who ‘observes’ closely.

Example 1. Two men crossed the road to the car and jumped in. The vehicle drove off immediately.

Example 2. It was noon, when the two men ran to the red pick-up. Smoke was drifting from the exhaust. When the ski-masks were removed, I noticed one man was dark-haired and bearded, while the other was bald. The vehicle raced out of town towards the east.

Okay, it’s not too exciting, but imagine if it was in a story. Which of those two styles would create interest for you as a reader?

If any one of you suggests Example 1 in either of those two cases above – go back to ‘A’ and start reading again. LOL

Thank you once again for putting up with my way of looking at things. I’ll see you on my blog patrol again later, and then I’ll be going for a ‘P’ … for my next post of course.






I … is for imagery

I[1]  is for imagery.

What is imagery in the context of writing and storytelling?

It is the use of words by the writer to suggest a picture or scene in the mind of the reader. That’s a personal definition, but I think it’s close enough. Let’s look at some examples.

Example 1.

Marcus said: “You can’t do this to me Charlotte.”

“Oh, yes I can,” she replied and laughed.

Example 2.

Marcus said: “You can’t do this to me Charlotte.”

“Oh, yes I can,” she replied, and laughed as she sliced through the safety rope. Marcus screamed until he bounced off the rocks.

 Example 3. From my short story, ‘Simply Irresistible’

‘Mark’s attention was caught by the girl’s white blouse, or more accurately its contents, because the opening at the top provided a glimpse of cleavage and a hint of white lace. Mark raised his left arm pretending to check the time so he could look straight ahead.’

At one time, fictional literature was filled with gushing, flowery prose and carried the reader along on a slow and beautiful journey through the story. The modern reader is more inclined to expect a more rapid pace, and require fewer words to fire up their imagination. They want an interesting, well-told story, but with pace.

In essence, good imagery is about using as few words as possible to conjure up a sense of place, or scene, in the mind of the reader. It can be done in narrative, or effectively within dialogue. As with all passages of writing, don’t just write it and edit it; truly imagine it. If it takes three, four, or more attempts to get it right, just keep on going, because it will be worth it.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll be back tomorrow with my word and thoughts on ‘J’.


Keeping up Appearances

Attended my writing class / group tonight and once again enjoyed giving and receiving feedback on the written word.  Our tutor and leader, John, started the session by letting us know that our recent recital was appreciated by our audience.  We, as a group are known as the Inkerman Writers.   It feels good to me personally to ‘belong’ to an organisation, apart from work.  I’ve been a team player all my life so it feels right to be a part of something. 

A few of us have put forward stories for possible selection in a ‘talking book’.  Until now, I’ve never considered the idea that my imagery would have to be good enough to illuminate a story for a blind or partially-sighted person, but the thought of it has made me realise just how much the written word can mean… especially if it’s being read to someone who can’t see. 

My tale about a UN soldier trapped in an African town is developing well.  He finds himself alone after the loss of his comrades when their armoured vehicle is blown up by a rocket-propelled grenade.  I now have a title, ‘Photographic Memory’.  The first paragraph is completed, the final paragraph is roughly written and the ‘issues’ he has to deal with between the two points are coming together.

Have visited Chloe and Nari’s blogs to catch up with their progress and leave hopefully encouraging comments.

Finally, but important in it’s own right, I’ve almost completed the editing of Chapter 3 of the autobiography.  My aim is to have it posted on here by mid-February.