Saturday, November 29, 2014

Conflicts and Catalysts: Exploring Self-Awareness in Story and Life

By Emerald (Guest Blogger) 

When I was in junior high, I learned in English class about the three basic types of conflict in story: person vs. person, person vs. nature, and person vs. oneself.

Since releasing my first two single-author short story collections, If… Then: a collection of erotic romance stories and Safe: a collection of erotic stories, I have said that all the stories in both (they were originally submitted as a single collection and divided into two at the suggestion of the publisher) embody and exhibit a certain intangible energy that was both particular and also essential for me in discerning (and writing) the stories to include.

As I've contemplated this, it has occurred to me that the foundation of this intangible energy is that the “conflict” in each story is almost always in the "person vs. oneself" category. Even if there appear to be other issues or conflicts, this is the ultimate one that drives the narrative arc.

I have said before that in my perception, the importance of self-awareness can hardly be overstated. It may be partially due to this that "person vs. person" conflict doesn’t really resonate with me at this point. I don’t remember the last time I wrote an antagonistic character. This isn’t because I don't think such perceptions are part of experience sometimes but rather because I don’t want to emphasize things like vengefulness or unkindness or to perpetuate (what I see as) our tendencies to project onto each other without realizing it (which, as I see it, is where things like vengefulness or unkindness tend to originate). They just aren’t things I generally find on my radar screen at this point.

Person vs. nature, to me, has much relevance as a potential conflict realm (in Safe, "On the Rise" could arguably be seen as written around this one), but I think that in my perception, even if such is occurring, one’s internal perspective is an essential force in what that person perceives and how he/she/they behave—bringing it once again back to person vs. oneself. Truthfully, that might be the gist of it: it seems to me that one's inner landscape and level of personal consciousness is really the ultimate “conflict” in all circumstances—that regardless of what is happening, that is what it invariably comes down to. So perhaps I just want to cut to the chase. ;)

In exploring this in my characters, I admittedly don’t always think about it in terms of “conflict." I definitely don’t start writing and think to myself, “What is going to be the conflict in this story?” This may be because this kind of conflict naturally arises in characters since we all have our internal issues and unconscious patterns. These tend to be the things that interest me, both in life and in writing, and they are, more often that not, what drive or at least underly almost any fiction I write.

Since sexuality is a foremost topic of interest to me, it frequently serves as the catalyst for the deeper discovery of my characters' internal struggles and/or ways to heal them. Some stories in If… Then and Safe express this more overtly than others, but all of them involve it in some way, whether the growth and/or exploration are on the part of the narrator him/herself or another character(s) seen through whatever point of view the reader is witnessing.

While it may seem a tall order (or even wishful thinking on my part!), it is the case that ultimately, I write these stories from this place to invite an expansion of awareness, especially self-awareness, in the reader. Particularly in the context of sexuality, this has long been the overarching reason I write what I do. It is both my hope and my perspective that If… Then and Safe, my first two single-author books, exemplify this aim.

By the way - I have a $10 Barnes and Noble gift certificate to give away to one reader. Just leave a comment which includes your email address. I'll randomly draw a winner on December 2nd.

Blurb for Safe

In this collection of ten erotic stories, attraction, heat, and connection serve as catalysts to take characters to places of climax, revelation, transformation, and abiding – sometimes all at once. From hypnotizing dreams to life-changing tragedies to moving on after the end of a relationship, Safe explores the power of sexuality in its myriad forms and manifestations.

“To Make It That Way” shows older woman Cole taking young Zack on a seductive and wild ride, exposing him not only to a considerable sexual education but to more subtle life lessons as well. “Power Over Power” channels the intense energy of a martial arts session, while “Hers to Keep” offers Leslie a surprising lesson in so-called “casual” sex.

Polyamory, masturbation, and BDSM all make appearances in Safe, as do scorching vanilla sex and budding romance. These stories reveal how Eros has the power to bring us back to ourselves, propelling us ever deeper into the journeys of sex and life.


Ericka felt her cheeks flush, and Sam raised his eyebrows. Caught now in the inevitable awkwardness when this wasn’t handled correctly, Ericka ducked her head. Before he could ask a question, she spoke.

“I actually prefer not to have other people make me come.” She shrugged, her voice sounding casual even to her ears. To her, it was a casual revelation, though it had never failed to surprise everyone she’d told. Still, in most cases it hadn’t been an issue—once she said she’d rather just be fucked, most men had acquiesced.

Sam smiled a bit incredulously. “Why on earth would you not want to come?”

“I didn’t say I didn’t want to come. I just don’t like for other people to do it for me.” Ericka smiled, trying to keep her tone light. “I can make myself come just fine. Getting fucked is what I prefer. I can’t do that to myself—I can’t hold myself down and fuck myself hard like I like it.” Just saying the words made her breathing change, and she willed him to jump on her and do just that.

Her narration appeared to have a similar effect on Sam, who shifted a bit as his cock twitched. “Well, I would certainly love to do that for you.” His voice was low, and she felt the moisture increase between her thighs at the look in his eyes. “Do you mean though that you’d like to get yourself off first?”

Ericka shrugged. Whether or not she had an orgasm was not her main concern regarding sex. She’d meant what she said—an orgasm was something she could give herself. Being taken the way the way something deep inside her almost constantly seemed to want was something she could only get from someone else.

Sam looked perplexed at her hesitation, and she tried to ward off the impatience she felt. She just wanted him inside her. She said as much, and Sam gave a soft groan as he reached to grip his cock lightly.

“Show me,” he said, nodding to her as he slid his hand slowly up his shaft. “Show me how you come first. Then I’ll hold you down and fuck you till you can’t see straight.”

With that promise on the table, Ericka needed no further convincing. She fell back against the leather and reached between her legs, not surprised to feel the moisture dripping there. Her finger landed on her clit, and she pressed firmly.

It was striking how different her own method of making herself come was from what it took for someone else to bring her to orgasm. When she got herself off, it was rough, fast, no-nonsense—much like how she liked to be fucked. Solid pressure, firm rhythm, single-minded aim. With Sam watching, she began this ritual now, holding his gaze as she gasped and arched her back at the helm of her own fingers.

For a man to make her come, he could only barely touch her. Careful. Gentle. Delicate even.

Rarely did she allow it.

-from "Safe," the title story of Safe: a collection of erotic stories

If… Then at Amazon:

About Emerald

Emerald is an erotic fiction author whose short stories have been featured or are forthcoming in anthologies published by Cleis Press, Mischief, Logical-Lust, and Sweetmeats Press. She is an advocate for sexual freedom, reproductive justice, and sex worker rights, and she serves as the Facebook group moderator and an assistant newsletter editor for Marketing for Romance Writers (MFRW). Her first single-author books, If…Then: a collection of erotic romance stories and Safe: a collection of erotic stories, are out now from 1001 Nights Press.


Anonymous said...

BDSM is my favorite sub genre in erotica. I think I'd enjoy "Safe."

Thanks for the opportunity to win. And happy holidays to you and yours.

Audra said...

Sounds like a great read, especially when iread it to my hubby

PAdoglady said...

I would so like to read this.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Emerald,

Welcome to Beyond Romance, and congratulations on the release of your two collections.

The stories that interest me most are the ones in which the characters come to new realizations about themselves. I'm working on one right now, about an encounter between a wealthy but dissatisfied stud and a homeless young woman who saves his life. The focus is mainly on the male protagonist. He doesn't realize how miserable he is, or why, until he gets to know Daisy.

Great post!

Lisabet Sarai said...

BTW this is from Amy - paganlady0505 at gmail!

(Sorry about Blogger's idiosyncrasies, Amy!)

erin said...

sounds fantastic! Thanks for such a thoughtful post! Congrats on the new release!

orelukjp0 said...

Congratulations on the new release. It sounds like Erika really has person vs oneself conflict.

orelukjp0 at gmail dot com

Anne said...

I do like the covers and how they work with your pen name. I have a feeling Sam is going to change how Erika comes with a man.

Colleen C. said...

Congrats on your collections! Oh boy, I enjoyed the snippet you shared... thanks for sharing!
greenshamrock at cox dot net

Unknown said...

Opportunities like this don't come around all the timer. B &N isd my favorite book store.

bn100 said...

Interesting collection

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

H.B. said...

Congrats on your new release. It sounds like a fun read.

humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

Michelle said...

Congratulations on the new release...sounds like it will be an interesting read...

purrpurrkoshkamb at aol dot com

Emerald said...

Hi everybody, and thank you so much for coming by! I really appreciate all your lovely words. I'm a little late getting here today, as we were doing belated Thanksgiving hosting here today. :)

B&N is my favorite bookstore, too, Sharon! I'll be drawing a random winner Tuesday. Thank you all so much again for being here!

Emerald said...

Thank you, Lisabet, and thank you again for hosting me. It's an honor to be here.

"The stories that interest me most are the ones in which the characters come to new realizations about themselves."

Yes, I feel exactly the same way. Does your story have a publisher and release date yet, or is it something you're still working on before pitching/submitting? I hope I get to read it sometime!

Thank you so much again for having me here today. :)

Emerald said...

The winner of the gift card is Anne! Thank you again to everyone for coming by, and thank you to Lisabet for hosting me. :) Anne, I'll be sending you an email.

All best to everyone. :)

Gail Storm said...

Lisabet your own story sounds like the plot from the 1990 Richard Gere / Julia Roberts movie, Pretty Woman. Did you finish your project?

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