Dear readers and friends, “Become a Space Slut in Thirteen Easy Steps” is becoming a reality.
I took three months to write it, six months to edit it, and another four months to query agents and publishers. The result? In today’s publishing market, there’s not really room for something that doesn’t fit in a tidy box. Erotica. But not romance. Science fiction, but not speculative. And tentacles? In the first chapter? You’ll scare away readers. Agents and publishers of erotica are looking for the next “Fifty Shades”, and ‘Debbie Does Dallas Meets the Mos Eisley Cantina’ doesn’t really fit in the box.
It came down to three options. I could throw it away. I could change the entire story to make it more commercially viable; delete tentacles and BDSM, give it a romantic bent, etc etc. Or I could self-publish. I don’t want to be one of those authors with the attitude that my art is worth more than the opinions of publishing agents and editors or that the reader just doesn’t understand my work, or that I know too much to be told how to write. The truth is that I believe in this story. My beta readers believed in this story, and even the ones who don’t like tentacles thought mine were sweet. (Schluvenph is an absolute sweetheart.) If I believe in something, and if those who read it in its rough-draft, unrefined, mangled punctuation state enjoyed it, then I feel that I can’t allow it’s lack of viability in the commercial publishing market to strangle it.
It’s time to self-publish, and to share this tale with the rest of the world. Stay tuned! And if you want to know more about “Thirteen Steps”, check out a hot and sexy excerpt here!
Naming Body Parts in Erotica
(WARNING! MAY CONTAIN SEXUAL CONTENT!)
Everyone knows that throbbing swords just won’t do, unless you’re writing a fluffy historical romance, and face it, if you’re putting ‘erotica’ in the description, it really shouldn’t be fluffy. Unless your writing about a fluffer, in which case, well, there you go. (If you don’t know, look it up.) So when the word cock just won’t do, or you’ve already used it a dozen times in one paragraph,what do you use?
One of the advantages of having a partner who also dabbles in writing is that there’s often a good deal of silliness involved in our coffee-fueled weekend brunch conversations. Unfortunate suggestions from this weekend included rumpus rod, waving wand (of mystical proportions), bitchin’ bat (perfect for sports-related stories), little imp, shagging stake, dashing dart, plunging poptart (unfrosted, of course.), thumping thruster, tickle-dick, driller, dasher… Oh, the list goes on and on and gets sillier and sillier the longer it gets.
So seriously, what do you do? Especially if you have a menage or multiples? His cock is going to get confused with the other one’s cock, and your reader won’t have a clue what’s in whom! I’ve seen awkward, and obviously last-minute, edits to stories where suddenly one player has a cock and the other has, randomly, a dick, but that looks contrived, and, as I mentioned, awkward. Once it’s erect, of course, it’s easy to tuck ‘erection’ or ‘hard-on’ in there without making it look like an obvious last-minute change.
And when you really must get creative, try to avoid the alliteration games. Plunging pops have no business near anyone’s tart. Ever.
When in doubt, consider your characters. A Viking warrior deserves better than a ‘stick’, but he just might have a rod or staff. If your setting is historical, avoid using more modern words like bat (especially if you preface it with ‘bitchin”), but if you’re writing science fiction, try to take it a step further and use terms that will fit in the universe you’re writing in. As one of my Meteor Detective agency character blurts out in an adrenaline packed moment, “Those aren’t his legs! They’re his … his… THINGEES!” (In her defense, she was under the influence of a hallucinogenic aphrodisiac at the time.) The point is, don’t jar your reader out of the world you’ve taken them to by using something that feels contrived or doesn’t fit your setting. If you read through and think it feels a little awkward to have his rainbow laser-rod in her happy hot-pocket, no matter how awkward it seems to you, the person who wrote it, it’s going to feel even more awkward to your reader.
I just uploaded my short piece “BlackStone Woman” to Amazon, and tossed a copy to my friend who likes to read under the covers with a flashlight. “But, Liz…” the text turns up on my phone, “This is het! EW!”
Ew is not the reaction you want readers to have, especially when the tale is supposed to be sexy and (just a little!) sappy and sweet. I was kind of hurt, honestly. Ew?
Bracing myself for creative injury, I messaged back. “Ew? What do you mean ‘ew’?
Well, it turns out that not only is the story plain old male/female missionary position sex (give or take the wings), but the reader was also enamored with the idea of one of the characters actually hooking up with someone else. Plain old het sex, AND I had to go mess up the dreams of my readers? Oh, the inhumanity! Well, okay, that second part will happen to any author. Readers make plans that we can’t follow. That’s what fanfiction is for. It takes on the side-scenarios so I can pack up and move on from the ‘but he should have done x’ complaint. I trust my characters know what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.
But why not het sex? I did a quick tally of the FeyWarden stories that I’ve cleaned up enough to present thus far. There are two M/F/M, one M/M (or Elf/Kobold with man-parts at any rate) and one M/F.
I know that some authors have one thing. That’s their thing and what they’re known for. Lacey Thorne, for example, writes one chick and a gaggle of men. One chick, many guys. All steamy and all tasty. Z. Allora writes M/M, and often angsty M/M with happy endings. (I’m not sure about the Zombie thing that’s coming up, though…) The rule for ‘standard romantic erotica’ has always been one man, one woman. And there are other authors who declare that the only real romance is one man with two women.
Part of my decision to self-publish had to do with what I write. Was even the hardest hard-core erotica publisher going to pick up a book full of alien encounters that run the gamut from het sex with a robot to a mad melange of blue alien babes? There are tentacles, for crying out loud! And I don’t even like tentacles. (I love Schluvenph, though, and I can’t wait for you all to get to meet him.)
Here’s the thing, though. I write what inspires me. I write what falls out of my brain and my fingers at the end of the day. Sometimes, that’s going to be plain old heterosexual male/female humptinumpty, and sometimes it’s going to be man-on-man blowfest, and once in a while it might be ladies night at the cunnilingus corral. A virgin might be seduced. A man might be kidnapped by dark creatures that take advantage. It might be one woman, all alone with an oak tree and a handful of acorns. I don’t shy away from BDSM scenes or scary things. Now, I won’t even mention the tentacles here, but hey, I have aliens! Aliens with extra manparts and prehensile tongues, aliens with giant breasts and belly-button vaggies. Naked aliens and furry aliens. And don’t forget the robots! Oh the wonderful things that robots can do… *sigh*
Sure, I could limit it. I could ensure that my readers get exactly what it is they want to read. I could probably even poll here or on Facebook and say, “Hey, look, should So-And-So get with You-Know-Who?” and cater to specific audiences.
But I’m a bisexual woman living in the Bay Area. I love choices and being free to make them. And I want my readers to have as many choices as I can give them without limiting my own imagination.
In the future, I’ll try to be very clear about labels. “This is M/M”, “This is M/F” This is “M/Tentacles/F”. And if you need to ‘Ew’, that’s okay, too. Everyone has ‘ew’s, and even reviews with ‘ews’ are better than no reviews at all. As to getting ‘so-and-so’ with ‘you-know-who’, well, I’m afraid that’s just something they’re going to have to work out all on their own. Variety is spice.
“Alien on Spaceship” By pixbox77, published on 04 May 2013
Stock Image – image ID: 100164469
“Robots in Bright Colors” By Victor Habbick, published on 16 March 2012
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My latest short story, “Feeling UnSeelie”, is now available through Amazon!
This one I blame on Facebook and the comment of a fellow erotica author mentioning that they needed to figure out what underwear their characters were wearing.
What underwear WERE they wearing? I wasn’t even sure that they HAD underwear in the FeyWarden universe! Prince Tibon, the Stone Elf, I mused, must wear something under that tunic. He’s THAT kind of Elf, after all. Ah, but he’s just had an adventure, playing with Peiko and Bronwen. What sort of trouble could he get into now?
It turns out that my darling Stone Prince just had to trespass on lands under the guardianship of a Kobold, who takes him captive. Like most Kobold, this one doesn’t like to be seen. How does one convince a captor to let you go when you can’t even see their face? Somehow, our Prince manages it, and we get a glimpse of his undergarments in the process.
Fun write, fun read, but alas, now it is time to return to the mad mad world of Turing Station. I can’t wait to bring In Thirteen Steps to light and share it with everyone, but editing is sooooo dreary! If I didn’t have the FeyWarden project on the side, I fear I’d go stark raving run around in the rain naked eating a Nestle Ice Cream Sandwich singing “I Got You, Babe”.
Or I’d sit and cry. Not sure which.