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 ….

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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

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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.

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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.

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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 …

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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.

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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.

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How Far Should We Go?

 

No, it’s not a question about bedroom antics – but I have written a few stories in that area.
Yes, it is do with journeys, but not merely in space, the final frontier – some of the journeys are much closer to home.

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How far are we prepared to allow our imaginations go?

A reader should enjoy more than one genre, even if they tend to lean more to a main one.
Yes, I’m a lover of adventure stories, and thrillers, but I’ve read and enjoyed romance, paranormal, horror, YA, sci-fi, dystopian, and a few more besides.

How does a variety of material reward me as a reader?

Apart from enjoying the variety, I believe it helps me to focus clearly when I return to the bedrock of my reading – the thriller, or adventure story.

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A creative writer ought to try something similar. In my humble opinion, a writer should occasionally get out of their comfort zone, and stretch. They should exercise the main accessory in the toolbox of their craft – imagination.

In the previous section, I mentioned being able to focus clearly on my return to reading thrillers or adventure stories. Switching genre also aids me as a writer.

How can altering my reading assist me as a creative writer?

Until recently, I looked upon Science Fiction as a genre beyond my reach, but one day when my caffeine levels were particularly high, it struck me that it had more to do with imagination than knowledge of the genre.

I will tackle any genre for two reasons.

1 – to find out if I enjoy the writing.

2 – to find out if I can entertain in that particular area.

In the same way a reader might choose to stick with what they know, so too can a writer, but if you’re a single-genre writer, let me, as a multi-genre writer put an idea to you.

Think about the excitement of setting up a new story. Now, imagine trying a new story in a genre you’ve never tried before.

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Let’s go full circle, and get back to where we came in to this article.

How far should we go?

In my efforts to push myself and to entertain those people kind enough to try, or continue to support my brand – I am prepared to go to considerable lengths.

My thrillers and erotica are laced with incidents from my life, some big, some small, but my latest venture has taken me to the stars … and I’ve landed characters on some of them.

The Welcome: and other sci-fi stories

This is not only my work, but includes the efforts of a handful of guest authors who have each been kind enough to indulge me by donating a story.

Why did I invite guest authors?

I didn’t do it because I wasn’t confident to produce my standard 12 stories for a collection.

I didn’t do it because I wasn’t confident in writing a genre I’ve only dabbled in previously.

My aim was to produce the best and most varied collection I could on such a wonderful topic. I want readers of this collection to sit back and think about the stories and the theories long after reading our efforts. I know that my guests would echo the sentiment that we want readers of this collection to truly enjoy the journeys.

I sent out an open invitation a few weeks ago, to give fellow authors an opportunity to join me in this venture. At the time of this article, two of my six guests are novice writers, and four are experienced writers, but all will have their own take on what makes a good sci-fi tale, and for me, that is the exciting part.

This book will have three key components, apart from the running theme of the genre.

1 – Six stories are penned by me.

2 – Six stories are penned by my guest authors.

3 – Three ‘bonus’ stories by me will be added at the end. These three extra stories are already featured in other collections.

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I will not be posting the guest authors’ names on the Amazon page when I publish, because this will connect us in the complexities of Amazon’s referral system. It’s not a topic to deal with here.

I decided it would be more beneficial to put those authors’ names where they belong – right there on the front cover, where I have my name. They will also be supplying personal contact information to be included in the book.

I feel that this is the fairest way to repay and market my guests.

How did I work out whose story goes where?

I considered the various hi-tech methods of dealing with this quandary, and in the name of fairness I’ve interspersed my work with my guests’ stories. I’ve placed the guest work in author / alphabetical order.

Whether or not you are a Sci-Fi aficionado, I would ask you to consider taking a look through your reading telescope at our joint effort when I publish – Sunday 20th December 2015. Perhaps having seen the sample in your telescope you’ll decide you’d like to take a shuttle to our many and varied destinations.

If you should decide to try our work, I’m sure I speak for all when I ask that you be kind enough to leave a review of your findings.

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As always, you have my sincere thanks for reading my thoughts, plans and intentions. All comments are ‘Welcome’.

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Book cover - You're Not AloneIncludes ‘Goals‘.

Smoke & Mirrors - 030714 2Includes ‘Down to Earth

912FmvSHzYL._SL1500_Includes ‘Out of this World

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A Review of Reviews

A Review of Reviews?

An Amazon Author Page

My Amazon UK Author Page

For creative writers the review is a necessary evil. We want feedback so that we can see if weeks and months of effort stand up to the challenge of entertaining our readers.

We must be prepared to take the rough with the smooth, which for some writers is easier said than done. Personally, although I feel annoyed when I see a negative point within a review, I don’t feel annoyed with the reviewer, as long as they have justified their comments.

I am most annoyed at myself if I can see that a negative comment is justified.Ten Days in Panama - the cover 2904

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What is my average review across all of my titles?

I have so far published: four novels, two short story anthologies and five anthologies of poetry, and my average review: 4.7 stars. Over the full spectrum of my titles, I’m happy with that result, but I aim to improve on it.

Yes, it’s great to read a five-star review that praises one of my books. Irrespective of the rating, when I see comments that are less than complimentary I still tend to question my work, even if the reviewer has not qualified their reasoning.

Up until now, when I’ve read a comment that suggested that any part of one of my stories could be improved, I’ve made a mental note for the future. This is something I intend to amend in the coming months.

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What is my new strategy?
Beyond The Law - the cover 2904

I am planning to start with the reviews of my most popular book, Beyond The Law. I will read each of the reviews in detail, including the five-star rated, and then I will make a list of both the good and bad points.

A well-written piece of feedback will give both positives and negatives, but where there are negatives, the review author will suggest why they’ve raised those particular issues.

My intention is to locate, analyse and amend any offending dialogue, narrative or plot issues.

Yes, it will be time-consuming, but if it means the reading experience will be improved for my future customers, then it will be worth any time I invest.

If I find that there is a point made that nobody else has highlighted, and I believe it’s simply a personal dislike of that particular reviewer, then I’ll leave the issue unchanged.

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Why have I not done this already?

I have made several minor adjustments in the past, if I thought an issue warranted it, but this time I will revise whole sections of a story, not simply content to change a word here and there.Amsterdam Calling - the cover 260714

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Do I have a sequence for how to prioritise my titles?

My plan is to start with my most popular book, and then deal with the next most popular and so on. At time of writing, I have four novels to work through.

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How soon do I intend to get underway with my plan?

A Taste of HoneyI am working on two novels simultaneously at the present time, and for the first time I’m using more than one beta reader prior to publication.

My aim is to have both of my current stories published by October 2015. My review of reviews plan will begin a week after the second of my latest stories is published.

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Do I have a target date for my first in-depth revision?

Yes, my target date for the revised edition of Beyond The Law is December 2015.Smoke & Mirrors - 030714 2

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What are the reasons for performing such an overhaul?

First of all an improvement to any book must be a good thing for readers.

Secondly, if my undertaking to improve my previous titles then produces predominately good reviews, then it will strengthen the case for multiple beta readers instead of paying an editor. Although my books are selling, I don’t earn enough to pay the rates of an editor.

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912FmvSHzYL._SL1500_As always, I will follow up this article with any tangible results when the time comes.
Thank you for reading, and if you have anything you’d like to add, or comment on about the topic, please do.

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Beautiful People

Jan 1986 - CopyOne of the joys of being a creative writer is forming a person from imagination. It can be a short, spectacle wearing, ginger-haired Londoner who depends on the support of a walking stick.

It could be a 21-year-old girl, with blue eyes, long dark lashes, and auburn hair that almost reaches her waist. Her favourite outfit might be T-shirt, Daisy Dukes, and training shoes.

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Whatever the age, background, profession or appearance, it’s up to the writer to portray what is required for the character in question.

I like to create good-looking characters, although I’ve found it necessary to give birth (metaphorically speaking), to big, bald, muscular men who have a livid scar near the left eye, and a serious issue with people defying them.

On occasion I’ve created a quiet little woman who slips from scene to scene practically unnoticed. March 1985 2

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Why have I decided to write about this aspect of writing?

I had a review not long back which suggested that my characters were all too good-looking. Well, I’m sorry for populating a story with such characters, but sometimes that’s just the way it goes.

Forgive me dear reviewer, whoever you are. I didn’t have a picture of you to use as a character description!

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Have you ever been reprimanded in a review for creating people who are too attractive?

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Have you ever been asked why a certain character has a certain idiosyncrasy?

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While I’m here today, I thought I’d bend to demand and prove that I can draw the male form as well as the female.

If you don’t like the look of the people in the drawings that accompany this post, I’m really sorry.

One of the sketches is a self-portrait … not!

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As always, I thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings and rhetoric, and for leaving any feedback.

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Dangerous Liaisons by Sarah Stuart – a review

A dynasty of dreams and deception        Dangerous Liaisons

I expect a story to have well-rounded characters, good imagery, and a level of detail which conveys an air of authenticity. In a word, I want – entertainment.

The dialogue should reflect the period in which the story exists, and if there are any outside influences, then they must fit into the tale and be unnoticed, because they belong. For example: car models, locations, or journeys are things that I expect to sound matter-of-fact.

I believe Sarah Stuart has a fair grounding in more than one area covered in this story. It would otherwise be difficult to cover such diverse topics as 16th century royal lifestyles, present day highland country estate life, and modern showbiz; complete with the trimmings – both positive and negative.

There is a premise from the outset that there is a personal journal which has been handed down through the centuries to the females of the family lineage. Okay, that’s a nice touch, but to carry off such a conspicuous vein throughout an entire novel is risky. Sarah not only does it well, she tailors the language of the journal to sound appropriate for the period it was written. She also enables the modern characters to reflect on the similarities of then and now.

If you enjoy your story relationships with a good dose of love, loss, deceit, sexual tension, and even mildly erotic scenes – treat yourself and indulge in this book.

Amazon UK                                         Amazon US

Y … is for You

Y[1]  is for you. Yes, you if you are a writer!

What can we do?

All the rest of us can offer advice, give constructive criticism, and as much support as we possibly can.

What else can we do?

We can buy into your brand. We can buy the end product; your book, and then we can read. How hard can that be? Well, the response to that particular question rests again with you. Have you done your job properly?

What can you do to affect our response to your writing?

1.  You can come up with a good, preferably original idea for a story, and write it.

 2.  You can take your time and tell it well, remembering to edit, print it, read it aloud and edit again.

3.  You can put it away to let it simmer in your files for a few weeks … yes, I’m serious.

4.  You can get on with other projects for a while, and perhaps start another idea, or simply read up more on the main theme of your masterpiece.

5.  You can go back to your story, and go through it to see where you can improve it. More editing? Yes, and never believe it stops. As an artist, even when I finish a piece of artwork, it may be completed, but I’m never totally satisfied with the result.

Is there any more that you can do?

Yes, if you want us to read it and give it a glowing review, you can keep the effort going right on through the final stages, when you get to the presentation stage.

 1.  Don’t settle for the first title you think of.

2.  Don’t settle for the first cover idea you think of.

3.  Don’t waste all your literary efforts by throwing the manuscript and supporting information together.

4.  Don’t allow somebody else to do the formatting, unless you know they are capable.

 5. Don’t forget to keep a ‘safe’ copy of your completed work before formatting and final stages.

What do you get out of that brief list of do’s and dont’s?

In simple terms, you will end up with a better product to sell to us. You will also be rewarded.

 1.  You will gain financially by seeing the book sell.

2.  You will be looking forward to the reviews and confident they will be mainly positive.

3.  You will have the satisfaction of knowing you did what was expected of you, by the people who paid good money.

4. You will have the confidence to move on with your next project, and you will have learned many lessons.

5.  You will feel so good about the whole experience, you will want to help others as much as you can.

I would like to thank you for dropping by and taking these tips on board, like the good writer that you are.

If you should decide to come back to read my final post on the A to Z Challenge 2014, you might be in for a surprise.

I’ll be seeing you tomorrow, for ‘Z’ … .

W … is for Write

W[1] is for write. When we feel confident about being a ‘writer’, it’s nice to admit. It’s like going to one of those meetings in a quiet room in a community centre.

“Hello everybody,”

“Hello Tom,” all the others cry in chorus.

“My name is Tom … and I’m a writer.”

Everybody nods and smiles as they burst into spontaneous and sincere applause. Why? They too are writers of course. Okay, that’s a bit extreme, but I’m sure you get my drift.

We all have our own time for ‘coming out’ as writers. There are those that say they won’t admit it until they are ‘published’, or win a competition, or some other obscure excuse. No not reason, I mean excuse.

How did I come out?

I joined a poetry site and a writing site, published a few stories and poems online, and as soon as I had a handful of comments; I was a writer. I treated it with the same nonchalance as when I stopped smoking in 1977 (after smoking only six years).

The day after I gave up smoking I wasn’t apologetic and passive. I didn’t say, ‘I’m trying to give up …’ or any of those other lame lines that draw pity and let people see you could really do with a cigarette. I simply said, ‘I don’t smoke.’

Sometimes I got the response, ‘You did smoke though, didn’t you?’ and I would reply confidently, ‘Yes, but I’ve given it up.’

Let’s get back to writing.

Nobody, including you, is going to believe in you as a writer, if you don’t believe in yourself. If you have any doubts, shake them off. Don’t be afraid to let people see you jotting ideas down with your pen, or tapping away at your keyboard – these are things writers do – so do them, right out there in the open.

Do I believe I’ve improved as a writer?

Yes, in many ways and some may be surprising. I think that a positive attitude is the first step, but I only embraced other disciplines through a desire to widen my horizons and succeed. A personal foundation is a good way to go.

What do I mean by a foundation?

If you enrol on a ‘foundation’ course in art, you’d be introduced to drawing, textiles, painting, design, desktop publishing, history of art, etc. When you’ve tried out a variety of disciplines you have a better idea what appeals to you, but you still have a grasp of the others in the same environment, or topic.

How did I create my foundation?

1.  I subscribed to an established writing magazine.

2. I joined two writing sites and a poetry site.

3.  I attempted writing competitions.

4.  I tried writing to the  ‘Reader Letters’ pages in newspapers and magazines.

5. I listened when I was given constructive criticism.

Like my other lists, that one is a sample.

What did I achieve?

 1.  Got a ‘Reader Letter’ published in a newspaper. My fourth letter achieved ‘Star Letter’ in a newspaper.

 2.  Letters published in writing magazines were then followed by ‘Star Letter’ status on more than one occasion. This year I’ve already won a year’s free subscription to a top writing magazine.

3. I won a national short story competition and had my tale, ‘Decision at the Abbey’, added to an anthology, ‘Whitby Abbey: Pure Inspiration’.

4. I came joint-first in an International short story competition. Yay!

 5. I now have a solid platform to work from, and apart from continuing to do all those things mentioned above; I still read widely.

Have I got advice for novice writers?

First of all, let me clarify that I’m not an expert. I’m still working hard to improve my craft, but in light of experience I have a desire to help my peers. With that in mind, I will now give one of my short lists.

 1.  Don’t just write what you feel comfortable with. Attempt: reader letters, poetry, short stories, a user’s guide, a formal letter, a screenplay, or the opening chapter of a novel.

2.  Subscribe to a good writing magazine, or online writing magazine.

3.  Enter some writing competitions.

4.  Build a platform online, a little bit at a time.

5. As writers we are in a ‘solitary’ world when working. If you ever feel ‘lonely’, which is very different to ‘solitary’, please get in touch with one of us out here.

Bonus point today. Read as widely as possible. Don’t just go for your regular thriller or romance, read as many genre as possible, old and new, and try writing reviews too.

Okay, I think that’s enough for today’s session. Just as I once tried as a chat-up line, I’m not going to apologise for this being a long one. lol

Thank you once again for putting up with me, and I hope to see you again for the final posts next week.

Did I mention that my first anthology of short stories went live on Amazon this morning?

No, I know I didn’t, but if you’re interested;

‘Smoke & Mirrors and other stories’

Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

I’ll see you on Monday with the ‘X’ factor.

F … is for feedback

F[1]  is for feedback.

When I use the word feedback, I don’t mean a spontaneous comment. Look at the construction of the word; it is a response.

A review is a good example of feedback, and I have my own set of rules when writing a review. Yes, I know there will now be some of you that will not be surprised by that admission.

I believe that in life, if you don’t have something constructive to say, then don’t say anything. When still in the retail management role I held by the maxim: ‘Praise in public, reprimand in private’. A combination of those two trains of thought takes us some way to understanding my attitude to writing, or not writing reviews

1.  Even if I don’t like  book or story, I make a point of not demeaning the author, or their efforts.

2.  If a piece of writing is particularly bad, whether it be a story or book, I do not write a public review.

3.  If I find; typos, incorrect syntax, or a glaring error, I make an effort to give the author a private ‘heads-up’ by email.

4.  When I write a public review, it normally takes the form of a ‘praise sandwich’. My intro will be a positive statement, followed by the body of the comment which may have some constructive criticism (if appropriate), followed by a summary which will be another positive statement, even if it’s only a couple of words of encouragement.

All of us that call ourselves writers enjoy what we do, otherwise we wouldn’t do it. Nothing damages confidence and self-esteem more than a completely negative review. If we write a mainly critical review, we should try to find something positive to say.

As writers, we shouldn’t be competing with each other; we should be supportive. I believe that those of us who have learned lessons should be prepared to help others. I came to writing seriously in my mid-50’s and I continue to take heed of other writers of all ages.

Let’s go forward by using feedback as a positive tool, to enhance our community and improve the relationships in our chosen profession, (or hobby in some cases). Together we can take the joy and success to new heights. This is a call to arms my literary friends.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see some of you tomorrow for G, let me think …

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