Thursday, February 28, 2019

Writing for the market - not! #market #smut #contrariness

best seller list

Market? Do I have a market?

I suppose I must. I mean, not all the rows on my monthly royalty statements are zero. However, I suspect that the people who buy my work don’t fit easily into any category, because my writing doesn’t either. They don’t constitute a Market with a capital M. I’m not particularly popular with Erotic Romance Readers, or Suspense Readers, or BDSM Readers, or Science Fiction Readers, or Steampunk Readers, though I’ve written in all those genres. Actually about the only identifiable group who seems to consistently like my work is the community of other erotic authors.

Definitely not what you’d call a large market, though I’ll admit it’s one I respect and for which I’m grateful...

The funny thing is, to a very large extent, I understand what’s popular in the different genres where I dabble. I believe that I could write exactly what the market wants, if I set my mind to it. Another lusty virgin seduced by a dark, seductive, haunted dominant? I cut my literary teeth on that trope, in my very first novel. (Okay, Kate wasn’t exactly a virgin, but she was a total newbie as far as BDSM was concerned.) Been there, done that. Although tales of power exchange push my personal buttons more than almost any scenario, the world now has more than enough books with that basic plot. I have little desire to write another.

In fact, I’ll admit that when it comes to my writing, I have a contrary streak a mile wide. I love to experiment with different genres. When I do, my first thoughts involve ways that I can give the genre an original twist. For example, I wrote a feline shape shifter romance in which the hero was originally an ordinary cat. I wrote another shape shifter romance about Quetzlcoatl the feathered serpent. In The Gazillionaire and the Virgin, the bossy billionaire is a woman and the virgin is a guy (a nerdy professor who is borderline Asperger’s). In my multi-genre opus RajasthaniMoon, I challenged myself to include the classic elements of as many genres as I could. I ended up with a steampunk/ BDSM/ multicultural/ menage/ werewolf/ Rubenesque/ Bollywood tale that I personally think is pretty brilliant (or at least, a huge amount of fun), but which apparently left readers puzzled.

These narrative choices do not endear me to the capital M erotic romance market. What about pure erotica, though? There are millions of readers looking for stroke fiction and thousands of authors publishing it. I can write fuck-and-suck stories with the best of them (with correct grammar, spelling and punctuation, too!) Perhaps that should be my target market.

Alas, sex for the sake of sex bores me, almost as much as love for the sake of the happy ending. If I were desperate for money, I’d probably try my hand at hard-core porn, and I suspect I’d be at least moderately successful, but writing as I do mostly for the pleasure of the experience, I want more than just the mechanics. I’ve received reviews from folks who bought my erotica collections, complaining that the stories weren’t sufficiently graphic. Yes, I know. They had characters. Conflict. Plot.

On the other hand, I find myself struggling to tone down the raw sex in my romance. I make my editors squeamish. Then there’s the problem that my characters always want to have sex with the wrong people, instead of staying focused on their soul mates.

In my latest books (the Vegas Babes series), I’ve dabbled in the shallows of porn, but I’m not sure I’m going to continue in that mold. I’m starting to find the process of writing unmitigated smut a bit tedious. I also feel sheepish about these volumes, despite the fact that they’re selling well; I wrote them really fast and I know they’re not up to the standard, craft-wise, of my best work. So what, right? But that bugs me.

I could write popular erotic romance or utterly filthy smut if I forced myself to do it. I’m quite certain. Despite my contrariness, I’m actually good at taking direction. (I am a sub, after all.) The commissioned stories I’ve written for CustomErotica Source have been highly praised. Clients have written comments telling me how I brought their fantasies to life, exactly as they imagined.

I understand how fiction works and how language can manipulate emotion. I feel as though I have decent control over the tools of my craft – better than the majority of published authors today. I’m confident I could bring those tools to bear in order to construct, if not a best seller, at least a series of books that would sell much better than what I write now.

The bottom line, though: I don’t want to do that. I’m not trying to make my living at this. I can write what I like – even if only a few people share my tastes. My true market consists of the relatively rare individuals who care about originality in fiction and who appreciate the way a story is told as much as the story itself.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

What Satisfies You? *wink* *wink* -#readromance #MFRWauthor #romanticcomedy #shortstories @VickiBatman

Vicki Batman

By Vicki Batman (Guest Blogger)

I didn’t begin my writing career by writing short stories. I started with my romantic comedy mystery, Temporarily Employed. However, when I began critiquing with a friend, she sent me six very short stories to read. I hadn’t read short stories in forever and reading six in a row became a crash course in writing short. All kinds of things inspired me and launched a work. A picture. A phrase. A look. For example in “Man Theory,” someone said to me, “I have a theory about love.” My brain went whoa! I had to scribble the thought down. And after the conversation had ended, I instantly opened a document and let the fingers fly.

With This Ring” came about when I attended a university event with Handsome. For a minute, I was in the hot seat as I had forgotten my little black dress. I had no choice but to buy one and made a faster than fast trip to the shopping drag. I have never had much luck at “have to find something to wear” at the last minute (and to this day, I haven’t worn the garment again). I kept a journal and wrote down what had happened. And then, the writing magic took over, my head began spinning, and the story almost wrote itself.

I should let Handsome make me go to more events because they were great inspiration. We attended a political dinner, and one guest at our table did not have the best manners. He gobbled his food, ate the absent person’s next to him, and two desserts. I wondered what if a young woman went to a dinner like this by herself and a good-looking man had been seated next to her. What if??? was a powerful tool for this writer. I opened a doc and started the story, “Just Desserts.”

In all three of these examples, there was a beginning, middle, black moment, and end—just like the components making up a book. When one writes 1,000 words, every single word mattered. Characterization may be briefer as well as setting. I analyzed which adjectives and adverbs to keep. Could I combine phrases. I did not delve into different points of view, many different characters, or had complicated middles, or complicated plots. Two people met, had something to overcome, and came together for a nice resolution, a Happy Ever After, at the end.

Just like a book.

Just shorter.

Did you read short stories in school? And were they a huge turn-off? I remember reading one about flesh-eating ants---ick. Was I turned off shorter works. Later in life, I had no idea short stories were still around. A lot of magazines didn’t publish them anymore. Only the romance genre had embraced them in anthologies and boxed sets. When I discovered those, the stories were quite pleasurable and found new authors.

Do you read short stories or only books?

I mentioned Man Theory above and here’s a fun excerpt:

"I have a theory about love.”

Ethan's statement knocked me from the proverbial mountain top. Eyeing him, I clapped my hand across my mouth to stifle a giggle.

From Day One at our new jobs at Prime Designs, Ethan and I had forged a friendship. I was the artsy heart-sy, emotional gal. Him--the technical, by-the-book pal. We ate an occasional dinner, watched a movie, whatever. Traded small gifts like coffee, a magazine, music. However, Ethan had never made an overture toward me.

Translated: Nothing intimate.

I'd said to myself, "Rats."

For work, we'd traveled to Colorado Springs to attend a workshop on web design innovations. After check-in, I'd joined him at the bridge crossing the lake to decide about lunch before the meetings commenced.

My six-one geek wearing rimless glasses, leaned against the railing and stared into the sparkling blue waters of the high mountain lake. The feathered fowl paddled by.

Have his feelings changed? I asked in disbelief, "R-really? A theory...about love?"

* * * *

To kick off my love for romantic comedy short stories, I am giving away two e-copies. One of Whispers of Winter, which features my homage to fruitcake, “The Great Fruitcake Bake-off.” And an e-copy of “Just Desserts…and other stories.” Sign up for my newsletter at: .

Have to have Just Desserts…and other stories now?

About the Author

Vicki Batman has sold many romantic comedy works to magazines, several publishers, and most recently, two humorous romantic mysteries. Along the way she has garnered awards and bestsellers. 

An avid Jazzerciser. Handbag lover. Mahjong player. Yoga practitioner. Movie fan. Book devourer. Cat fancier. Best Mom ever. And adores Handsome Hubby. Most days begin with her hands set to the keyboard and thinking, "What if??"

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Where love leads, a lady follows -- #HistoricalRomance #Giveaway #Travel @EllaQuinnAuthor


Even the Worthington least likely to wed may find her perfect match . . .

Marriage has worked out quite nicely for her older sisters, yet Lady Augusta Vivers is certain it would end her studies in languages and geography, and stop her from travelling. But when her mother thwarts her plan to attend the only university in Europe that accepts women—in Italy—she is forced to agree to one London Season. Spending her time at parties proves an empty diversion—until she encounters the well-traveled Lord Phineas Carter-Wood. Still, Europe awaits . . .

Phineas has studied architecture all over the world, yet Augusta is his most intriguing discovery yet. How can he resist a woman who loves maps and far-off lands? But her longing for all things foreign hinders any hope of courtship. When he learns her cousins have offered a trip to Europe, he secretly arranges to join their party. For he is determined to show Augusta that a real union is a thrilling adventure of its own. And when their journey is beset by dangerous obstacles, he gets far more opportunity than he bargained for . . .


Italy!” Her brother’s bellow could probably be heard all over the town house and in Berkeley Square. Possibly even farther.

From her position on the sofa, Lady Augusta Vivers stifled a sigh. She refused to allow her posture to sag or disappointment to show on her countenance. She had known her campaign to be allowed to attend university was not going to be easy. Perhaps she should have started her scheme earlier. Or given her brother a hint to temper his shock.

It is not as if Padua is some unknown place in South America or Africa,” she pointed out calmly.

Where on earth did you come up with such an . . . idea?” Her mother paled a bit and her faint voice pierced the deadened air.

I wish to further my studies.” Augusta fought to keep the exasperation from her tone. Why else would she want to go to university? Not only that, but traveling there and living in Italy for a time would allow her to see a little of the world she had been studying. “As educated as Miss Tallerton and Mr. Winters are, they long ago exhausted the limits of what they can teach me. Which is the reason I have been corresponding with professors in Europe and taking lessons from visiting scholars, hoping to learn more. It is no longer enough.” In fact, her thirst for knowledge had grown to the point that she needed to attend university as much as she needed food or air. “Yet it has become clear that the only way I am going to succeed is by studying with experts. For that, I must attend university.”

But, my dear”—her mother paused for a moment as if to gather her thoughts—“do you not wish to wed?”

Of course she did. Just. Not. Now. “I do not recall anyone asking Charlie if he was forsaking marriage simply because he wished to attend Oxford.” She wished Grace’s brother, properly called the Earl of Stanwood was here. He’d be able to help. Augusta turned her gaze back to Matt. As her guardian and Earl of Worthington, he was the final decision maker. “If I were a boy you would allow me to go.”

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Ella Quinn's studies and other jobs have always been on the serious side. Reading historical romances, especially Regencies, were her escape. Eventually her love of historical novels led her to start writing them.

She is married to her wonderful husband of over thirty years. They have a son and two beautiful granddaughters, and a Great Dane. After living in the South Pacific, Central America, North Africa, England and Europe, she and her husband decided to make their dreams come true and are now living on a sailboat. After cruising the Caribbean and North America, she completed a transatlantic crossing from St. Martin to Southern Europe. She's currently living in Germany, happily writing while her husband is back at work, recovering from retirement.

Ella loves when readers connect with her.

Author Contact and Social Media

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Ella Quinn will be awarding a $50 gift card - Amazon or iTunes (winners choice) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Monday, February 25, 2019

Review Tuesday Moved to Monday: Best Lesbian Erotica V3 - #lesbian #erotica #anthology #ReviewTuesday

BLE Cover

Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year: Volume Three edited by Sacchi Green
Cleis Press, 2018

These days, I don’t read many anthologies. In too many cases, I find that erotic short story collections feature one or two gems, surrounded by unremarkable, predictable tales that slip from my memory the minute I put down my e-reader. Anthology stories tend to have a sameness that, quite frankly, bores me. My own long history in erotica is part of the problem, of course. I’ve consumed so many sexy tales in my twenty year erotica career that I’ve become somewhat jaded. I’m difficult to impress.

Best Lesbian Erotica Volume Three turns out to be a welcome exception. Sacchi Green has assembled a dazzling assortment of stories that explore lesbian desire from a wide range of perspectives. Every tale is competently written, and most are arousing, but at least half go way beyond these minimal criteria. To put it colloquially, they knocked my socks off. I’d finish one of these amazing stories, take a deep breath, wait for my heart rate to return to normal–then go back and re-read it.

Morning Fog” by Scout Rhodes is a case in point. Almost a prose poem, this tale captures a moment in time, celebrating the profound physical and emotional connection between two women with histories and scars.

Here we are, she and I, two old queers who have endured long, curious, circuitous lives that have brought us to this place, this morning, this moment. We’re neither of us gold star anything, having fucked men, women, trans folk, and many, many people between the two of us. We’ve both borne, breastfed, and raised children created the “old-fashioned way,” which makes us pariahs in certain hard-line lesbian circles. We both identified as bisexual in our youth, we’ve both married men in our time, we’ve both been subjected to degradation and abuse at masculine hands, but
now we’re both butch dykes, and we’re both survivors. That’s it— we’re gold star survivors. Isn’t that enough? It sure feels like a lot, after far more than a century of combined years.

Two gold star survivors who found each other in this crazy, neo-fascist cesspool that America has become, and we hold on to each other for dear life while living in the crosshairs.

This story combines tender emotion with raw physicality in a one-two punch that left me dizzy with admiration.

Where There’s Smoke” by M. Birds, which comes next in the volume, offers a radical contrast in structure and tone. A small-town marijuana vendor finds a new customer, and a new lover, in a crippled city professor who needs the pot for pain relief. June, the dealer, is a practical, no-nonsense woman forced by circumstances to bury her dreams. The social distance between the two women makes their eventual connection all the more intense.

The woman in the woods didn’t shake June’s hand and June noticed the curves of her long fingers, the way they stuck tight together like she was wearing mittens, knuckles round and swollen. “What do you want exactly?”

I wanted to see . . . ” June paused, chewing her lip. “If there was anything you needed. Kyle said there might be.”

Kyle from the pharmacy.” Miriam crossed her arms. She glanced back into her cabin, and then out toward the path leading through the woods. “Did you walk here?”

Yeah. Didn’t take long. I live in the Wander-Inn. I mean, I own it. Or my family does.”

Is that the one that looks like an Alpine resort? It’s very . . . very, um . . . ”

June laughed and nodded. “Like a time warp, isn’t it? Like someone from the sixties saw one postcard of Switzerland and then dropped acid and thought ‘I should build that.’”

I was going to say—quaint.”

Sure you were.”

I’ve rarely read a story by Sommer Marsden that I didn’t love. Her tale “Husher” in this collection is no exception. More light-hearted than the previous stories, the story chronicles the hook-up between a painfully tongue-tied barista and the black-clad hair stylist she’s been crushing on for weeks. Angela, the stylist, seems like the dominant partner in the interaction. But appearances can be deceiving.

One thing that impressed me about this collection is the many varied definitions of “erotic”. In Pascal Scott’s “The Night Shift”, the protagonists the fifty-something night supervisor of a tour company call center and a lonely woman who mis-dials trying to reach a phone sex line – don’t even meet. Yet this story is just as hot as those that feature much more extended and explicit sex scenes.

An even more extreme example is Xan West’s astonishing piece “Trying Submission”. The point-of-view character is a shy, physically disabled, autistic trans woman of color who somehow summons the courage to ask a trusted acquaintance to top her. For Liliana, every touch is a potential threat, yet she craves the experience of submitting, of being owned and being cherished, of being called “girl” and calling her top “ma’am”. There’s no sex at all in this story, yet I found its emotional depth and honesty beautifully erotic.

Then there’s Raven Sky’s wonderful “Fuck Me Like a Canadian”, which chronicles a steamy affair between a dread-locked Canadian backpacker and an exquisite Moroccan haman attendant.

There is a heat to attraction. An energy. You can feel it. It’s undeniable. This is the last place I expected to feel it. Not least of all because it’s illegal here. Is it punishable by death? I strained to remember my online research predeparture. Morocco. Homosexuality. What did Google have to reveal about that? My mind blanked. Because her hands were on my naked flesh, lathering me in a traditional black olive oil soap. Something in her actions was more than indifferent. Something in her eyes, when they happened to catch mine, was not impersonal.

In Till’s culture, women can play, but penetration is forbidden, the prerogative of some future husband. The constraints only make the characters’ interactions more poignant.

I won’t tell you about every story I loved. I want to leave some discoveries for you to make on your own. However, I have to mention the last story in the collection, Anna Watson’s “Sweet of My Heart”. In this richly imagined and romantic tale, set in Depression Era New York, a penniless dance hall girl falls for one of the “Angels” attending the charismatic preacher who runs a network of soup kitchens. The life experience of Mimi La Rouge and Charmed Soul could hardly be more different, but desire draws them together and cannot be denied.

I lean into her and reach out to take up the very end of her braid. I pull off the string she’s tied it with, and slowly begin to separate the strands. When I’m finished, I place both hands on her cheeks and kiss her forehead between the wings of her hair. She blushes and stays very still. I move behind her on the bed, lean against the wall, and draw her close between my legs so her back rests against me. I spoon myself to her, the rough weave of her undershirt delicious on my nipples, the slick of her smooth slip lovely on my cleft. I do know to tread lightly with girls like my Charlie. I do know that. I press close, I rub my body on her. Oh, sweet of my heart the darling! She can’t hide it. She is breathing, sighing, and helping me to rub. She need not turn around, though, my skittish thoroughbred. For this first time, I will carry her and bring her along.

Butches and femmes, fresh young things and veterans of the cultural wars, experienced dykes and dreaming innocents, wealthy sophisticates and women barely getting by, rock stars and ballerinas, professors and truck drivers you’ll find all these and more in Best Lesbian Erotica Volume Three. Sacchi Green has done a remarkable job weaving these disparate narratives into a satisfying and coherent whole.

There are several series of anthologies entitled “Best”. All too often they disappoint. In the case of this book, the title definitely fits. Overall, these are the best lesbian stories I’ve read in a long time.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Charity Sunday: Project Gutenberg - #freebooks #classics #CharitySunday

Charity  Sunday banner

Do you love to read? Silly question, right? After all, you’re here, at an author’s blog. Seems pretty likely you’re the sort of person who can get lost in a book—like me. I’ll bet that, like me, you adore stepping into a fictional world, smelling its scents, touring its sights, experiencing the trials and joys of its inhabitants.

I started reading when I was four, and I’ve never stopped. As a kid, I was the proverbial bookworm. While other kids were outside playing, I spent most afternoons after school lying on my bed, exploring ancient Egypt or colonial America or the red plains of Mars. When I moved from North America to Asia fifteen years ago, I got rid of most of my possessions, but I shipped boxes and boxes of my favorite books.

These days, I’m usually in the middle of three or four titles, flitting from one to the other according to my mood. Ebooks make it easy and convenient; they don’t clutter up my bedside table the way the print volumes do.

I’ll assume you understand what I’m talking about, and that you’re a book lover too.

So, do you know about Project Gutenberg?

Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort that digitizes and distributes ebooks, in English and other languages. You can read about its history here. Founded by author Michael S. Hart in 1971, it is the world’s oldest digital library. The goal of the project is to make public domain works, especially literary classics, available to as wide an audience as possible. Currently the project offers more than 58,000 titles - every one of them free (and legal).

Browsing the catalog can be great fun. You never know what gems you will discover. On the other hand, it’s also a great source for classic books you somehow never read. Recently, for instance, I saw an early Tarzan film and was motivated to download Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original novel from the project archives. Right now, I’m reading the original Frankenstein, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.

Anyway, today I’m running a Charity Sunday for Project Gutenberg. The project is staffed by volunteers, but needs funds for computing resources, professional services and so on. If you love reading, leave me a comment. I’ll donate one dollar to the project for each comment I receive.

Meanwhile, as usual on Charity Sunday, I have an excerpt to entertain you. Here’s a bit from my erotic romance Miranda’s Masks. Miranda Cahill, the heroine, is one of the most “bookish” characters I’ve ever written – a PhD student in literature, writing her dissertation on Victorian erotica!


Miranda felt delightfully free as she strolled down Charles Street, enjoying the afternoon. It was only May, but already the trees were in full leaf, dappling the brick sidewalks with patterns of shadow. Girls passed her in tank tops and shorts, legs and arms bare and already burnished with sun. She felt warm in her long-sleeved pullover and denim overalls.

She loved this district, with its historic buildings and narrow lanes. Most of the townhouses dated from the middle of the nineteenth century. They offered a delightful jumble of architectural detail—wrought-iron balconies, fanlight transoms, stained glass, mullioned windows, Corinthian columns. Many of the brick-fronted buildings were draped with ivy. Some were traversed by aged trunks as thick as her wrist, twining around doors up to the many-chimneyed roofs. The tall windows offered glimpses of chandeliers, Oriental carpets, Siamese cats, and bookshelves that stretched floor to ceiling.

In Beacon Hill, gas lamps lined all the streets, burning day and night. Her own apartment looked out on a private alley, flanked by ivy-hung brick walls and lit by gas lights. Miranda appreciated the irony of her living in an environment that dated from the same period as her research. Perhaps, she sometimes mused, I had a previous life as a Victorian matron.

Most of Beacon Hill was residential, but Charles Street was lined with shops and cafés. There were many vendors of books and antiquities. Miranda loved to rummage through the crowded, chaotic shops, savoring the atmosphere of the past, although she rarely made a purchase.

She entered one of these places now, a dim, comfortable space half below street level. She had to duck her head as she entered. A silvery bell tinkled to announce her arrival.

The proprietor, an energetic, fussy old man with wire spectacles, knew her by sight. “Hello, hello,” he said as he emerged from a backroom. “Can I help you find anything today?”

Miranda smiled. “No, thank you. I’m just browsing at the moment.”

Well, if I can be of any assistance, just let me know.”

Miranda wandered happily through the shop. It was much larger than it first appeared, with several rooms stretching backward into the building. The front room, near the street, was crowded with furniture of obsolete categories, armoires, commodes, carved dressing tables surmounted by triple mirrors. There were other rooms with porcelain, jewelry, cutlery, iron fittings, tarnished brass.
Finally, Miranda found herself in the book room.

Books were piled everywhere, in boxes, on shelves, in pillars that reached up from the middle of the floor. Although most were in English, Miranda noticed volumes in French, Russian, and Arabic. The room was veiled in dust, but Miranda didn't mind. She loved the rich smell of the leather bindings, the tarnished gold embossing, the fragile texture of the old paper.

Rummaging through a box of miscellaneous tomes, she made her find—a leather-bound diary, about the size of a modern paperback book. There was a brass lock, crusted with verdigris, but it was broken. The leather strap that had sealed the diary shut now flapped about ineffectually.

The paper was wonderful, thick and ivory-toned. Miranda rifled through the heavy pages, which turned lazily under her fingers. She found no sign that the diary had ever been used.

Miranda wondered about the age of the volume. She held it to her nose, smelled oiled leather but no mildew. The cover was plain, save for a manufacturer’s imprint too small for her to read in the dim shop.

She wanted it, suddenly, knew that she had to have it no matter what the cost. She made her way back to the front of the shop, where the proprietor sat behind his desk.

How much are you asking for this?” she asked, trying to sound offhand.

The little man took the diary and turned it over and over in his hands. “A hundred dollars,” he finally said.

Miranda knew she would pay that, if she had to, but something made her object. “A hundred? That’s outrageous! There’s no text, so it has no historical value.”

The shop owner pursed his lips firmly. “It dates from the eighteen-eighties,” he said. “This is a real antique.”

The lock is broken,” Miranda insisted. “And corroded. I’ll give you fifty dollars.”

The watery blue eyes behind the wire frames looked at her fixedly. She stared back, unfazed. 
Finally, he shrugged. “All right, fifty dollars. It has been in my collection for years. It’s about time
that I got rid of it.”

* * * *

As it turns out, the diary isn’t blank at all, but contains contains the secret diary of a proper Boston lady who, like Miranda, has illicit, anonymous erotic liaisons. Intrigued? You can get your copy of here:

And don’t forget to leave a comment! Every one is a contribution to the world’s biggest library of free digital books.