Sunday, August 29, 2010

What's Your Real Net Worth?

You'll never believe this. I'm actually doing a blog post that does not involve some sort of promotional push for a book I'm in. Yep, this is just a "sit around on a Sunday and contemplate the writing life" kind of post. It's a nice change.

My motivation for this musing is a blog post, "How Writers Really Make Money," that a writer friend forwarded to me. It's from the blog of Tim Ferriss, the author of The 4 Hour Workweek. Ferriss' book is a NYT bestseller because, as far as I can tell, it taps into the fantasies of working men (and maybe some women, too) to have more while working less. Very American. As another type of writer who deals in fantasies, I certainly respect his ability to please his audience.

Business-oriented though it is, I found this post to be very educational for a number of reasons. Ferriss discusses making the choice between self-publishing and trying to score a spot with one of the Big Six publishers. While self-publishing may be the better choice if you have an audience in place and money is the main object, the advantage of the latter, he says, is that you get access to the big media and can make better connections. Good common sense, that, but what really made me like Ferriss was a comment he made in the Youtube video about "net worth," which he defines as what you have left if you take away every penny you own. That is, your real worth is your experiences, knowledge, wisdom, friendships, all the things money can't really buy (although it can help you along for sure).

He also talks about e-books and suggests that the headlines announcing the death of print are overblown, but that in the genre market, e-books seem to be gaining fast on print. That includes erotica, folks, and as Herr Doktor observed, it certainly makes sense that downloading a dirty book on your Kindle is a lot more discreet than carrying around a copy of Amorous Woman with that "Adults Only" label on it!

Often the hard truth about publishing is pretty depressing, but Ferriss' post did not depress me at all. It gave me a clear sense of what "success" in publishing really involves--catering to readers' desires--and reminded me that I personally write to enrich my life in other ways than cold hard cash.

Always good to be reminded of the the message! Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fast Girls Who Wax Eloquent

Late summer is the height of the harvest when the summer crops like nectarines, green beans and melons are still sweet, and the fall vegetables such as grapes, tomatoes, peppers and even early apples are piled high in the greengrocer's to tempt our palates. This golden abundance is one of life's pleasures, and I'm happy to say my harvest of erotica anthologies this season is equally delicious. Today I'm going to give you a sneak peek of one of my sentimental favorite stories--no doubt because it's about another randy academic--that appears in Rachel Kramer Bussel's marvelous Fast Girls anthology. The quality of stories in this book is extremely high, not a bad apple in the basket--and you know how picky I am about my fruit! Rachel has made a sexy book trailer for Fast Girls, which you can see here, and you can also follow the blog tour which makes a stop at Emerald's Green Light District on August 30. That's where you'll find me come the end of the month with a juicy peach in one hand, a sweet tomato in the other.

And now an excerpt from "Waxing Eloquent":

This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. I wasn’t planning to fuck anyone during the two weeks I was house sitting at my brother’s condo in Manhattan Beach. And the only hair removal on the schedule was to figure out how to yank my bearded—and very married—boyfriend out of my life for good.

Unfortunately, the plan started going wrong about an hour after my brother and his fiancée left to catch their flight to Barcelona. I was surfing on my laptop in Mike’s airy kitchen when an email from my advisor, Professor Connors, popped up in my in-box.

He wanted to know if I’d arrived safely. This was a perfectly collegial question, except that he tacked on a little P.S. asking me what I was wearing. Was it that filmy dress that showed off my sweet little raspberry nipples?

I was just about to type back: Don’t forget I’m in L.A so I’m wearing a string bikini. My thong’s pressing up into my tender slit like a man’s finger, and I’m so worked up, I’m juicing all over my brother’s chair….

Fortunately, at the last minute I had the good sense to shut down the computer instead, but I was still trembling like a junkie. It was so fucked up, and yet I couldn’t resist him. Carl Connors had taken an interest in my intellectual development from the day I started grad school last fall. The bond was purely platonic. Except when we “lost our heads.”

We lost our heads in the grove behind the library--and I lost my panties somewhere in the leaves when he took me up against a tree after an evening lecture on “The Fluidity of Gender in Internet Chat Rooms.”

We lost our heads on the way back from a conference in San Jose after he confessed he’d never fucked a woman in the ass. We both agreed it was a necessity for his career that he grease up his cock with Vaseline from Seven-Eleven and shoot his load in my backdoor in a cheap motel room that very afternoon.

That doesn’t even include the day asked me to stop by his office to show off the sex toys he collected from the woman-friendly vibrator store on San Pablo. It seemed like research at the time, to let him bend me over his desk, a pink butt plug in one hole, a purple dildo in the other, while he buzzed my clit to multiple orgasms with a battery-powered silver egg. But, to be honest, afterwards I felt a little used and empty.

Part of the reason I’d jumped at my brother’s offer, even though I hate the L.A. beach scene, was to find my head and glue it on good.

Of course, Carl and I had decided that the cyber-sex part didn’t really count as cheating on his wife. Our habit of exchanging sexually explicit messages was merely an extension of our common fascination with the construction of gender and eroticism in the Internet age. But here, under the relentless L.A. sun, it was painfully obvious that all my professor and I were doing was preparing for second careers as porn writers.

This vacation was definitely time for a fresh start. From now on, I’d only share my body—and my words—with a lover who could be open and honest with me and himself. I decided I should mark the occasion with a proper ritual, something very L.A. Maybe a spa purification treatment involving avocado pulp?

Suddenly an earthy female laugh roused me from my saintly musings. I glanced across the courtyard that separated Mike’s house from its neighbor to see a tall, good-looking couple in beach wear groping each other outside their patio door. Actually, the slinky red-haired woman in the thong bikini was doing the grabbing. Muscle Boy was mostly trying, unsuccessfully, to fend her off.

“Come on, Cody, let me suck it here.”

“Cool it, Jess, we’ll be inside in a minute.”

“You might be saying ‘no’ up there, but down here you’re saying ‘yes, yes, yes’!” She giggled again and I wondered if she was drunk or high.

He finally got the door unlocked and she pushed him inside, still laughing. The guy shot a quick look across the courtyard. I almost ducked, but he didn’t seem to see me, because his expression was blank as he slid the glass door closed and let the redhead back him up against the wall that separated the living room from the galley kitchen.

It occurred to me that I’d merely switched perversions, from Internet sex addict to salacious voyeur, but I couldn’t stop staring. The woman fell to her knees and yanked the man’s swim trunks down to reveal a rather impressive baton that seemed to wave hello to its kneeling admirer. She grabbed his erection in one hand and leaned forward, her tongue extended like a brat on the playground. The guy looked down at her, his face shadowed, unreadable. She gave the head of his cock a few quick licks, then immediately gobbled him up in her mouth as if she were starving. Given her 100% fat-free figure, she probably was. That’s when his head lolled back and I could see his handsome face. But the expression was strange, less ecstasy than a grimace of resignation.

It was the saddest blowjob I’d ever seen.

I slipped out of my chair and crept up the stairs to the bedroom, aroused and disturbed at the same time. I remembered Mike had mentioned his new neighbor: a struggling actor who finally scored a supporting role in a popular series. The show was called “Family Secrets,” a comedy about a gay man and his whacky family. The neighbor played the straight brother who was always falling into bed with a new woman to prove his heterosexuality. Apparently this Cody Cheyenne was now much in demand, and Mike guessed he’d be moving up the coast to a better place soon.

If the scene outside the window was any indication, the poor guy was getting sucked dry both on the job and off.

I flopped down on the bed, still reeling from the X-rated reality TV show I’d just witnessed. Maybe this was the L.A. ritual I’d wanted, my own wake-up call to renounce pathetic, meaningless sex?

So then why was I all tingly down there
, my mouth and fingers itching to make that pretty boy sing a different tune? Without really thinking, I slipped my hand between my legs and imagined I was on my knees sucking his strawberry Popsicle cock, raking his muscled belly with my fingertips. All the while he moaned and babbled I was the best cocksucker ever, a veritable goddess of fellatio. Sure, I felt a little guilty diddling myself to thoughts of my brother’s neighbor, but Professor Carl was always saying that celebrity fantasies were a safe way to work out our complex sexual desires. Millions of young women masturbated while dreaming about Cody Cheyenne. One more couldn’t hurt anybody.

To read on and learn about Brazilian waxes (based on real experience--ouch!), fast L.A. sex and how to seduce a T.V. star with tricks of the tongue, get your own copy of Fast Girls. Believe me, you're in for a very speedy ride!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Names and Nudity

Hey, it's Sunday, my first back at home in a while, and what should greet me upon my return but a witty new post at F-Stop by Lucy Felthouse on the exposure erotica writers face when they use their own names, along with musings on the questions we're all asked about the work we do.

The most popular--"Do you write from experience?" Lucy has her illuminating answer, and I know it's different for each writer, but it being Sunday and all, I thought I'd share mine over coffee and my neighbor's delicious homemade banana bread. (Here, have another slice, it's good isn't it?)

And my answer is... yes, yes, YES!

I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Now I haven't done absolutely everything I've written about in terms of the actual partners, settings, and details, but I guarantee you the spirit and sensibility of my stories all come from something very real that I've experienced, felt, fantasized, lived and above all care about. I believe I owe that to my readers. Perhaps it does limit me to write about things that did happen and that could happen to an ordinary jill or joe, especially in a genre that is very much about breaking boundaries, but "realistic sex" is, perhaps not surprisingly, a fairly unpopulated corner of the erotica genre. But I've always preferred open spaces to crowds....

That said, I also agree with Lucy that our imaginations are the key to writing a good story, whether it's transforming material from real life into a narrative or shaping fantasy into a compelling realistic scene. What is sex without imagination after all?

Thanks to Lucy for another thought-provoking F-Stop post (and be sure to check out the link to her full list of annoying questions!)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Legacy of a Catholic Girlhood

My grandmother used to have religious pictures like this all over her house, and I'll admit I found them both soothing and strange, as if the past and my future in heaven (or so I hoped) existed in cartoon-like color. My Catholic upbringing lingers on in my memory in other ways as well, some that definitely inform my writing today! If you're curious just how that might be, check out my guest post over at the ever-provocative blog Oh Get a Grip!, entitled "A Dash of Delicious Sin: The Legacy of a Catholic Girlhood."

Now you don't have to have been raised Catholic to enjoy dashes of delicious sin, other religions qualify, too, so head on over to the Grip and vanquish your guilt the gourmet way!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Summer Fireworks at F-Stop

F-Stop is back with one of the most provocative pieces yet, by that timelessly prolific author with thousands of titles to his name, Anonymous. I found this essay especially touching because it deals with the intimate relationship between a writer and his/her material with great honesty. "Erotica is not just about sex, it's about feelings," Anon writes, "Wonderful feelings, terrible feelings, important feelings." How often have I been asked to describe the difference between erotica and porn and wished I had such a succinct reply. Because the feelings surrounding the physical act are what make sex worth writing about. The courage to take on the terrible as well as the wonderful makes erotica worth reading. And most of all, these feelings are profoundly important, although society seems determined to undermine the power of human sexuality by demeaning it in every way it can. Today's essay is sure to elicit complex feelings. The attendant photographs are guaranteed to do the same.

Be there or be square, baby.