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Flappers, Jazz and Valentino

The Sin in Syncopation - Flappers, Jazz and Valentino

♦ As you may already have heard if you follow me on Twitter, I’ve been published again! Hurrah! This marks the sixth time that’s happened, which I’m pretty certain makes me officially addicted.

The book in question is Flappers, Jazz and Valentino, edited by my friend Jillian Boyd who is amazing. It’s an anthology of erotica set in and inspired by the 1920s, which is one of my favourite decades. Here’s the blurb:

Step back in time to a decade full of glamour, glitz and decadent sin with this collection of erotica set in the Roaring Twenties. With twelve stories, in all shades from romantic and sensual to burning hot, this collection is the perfect appetizer for a night out at the speakeasy. A journalist gets a sexy introduction to the sinful syncopation of jazz music. A three-way tango performance becomes the steamiest ticket in town. The owners of a speakeasy set up a very special audition for their new trumpet boy. All this jazz and more in Flappers, Jazz and Valentino, edited by Jillian Boyd.

See that bit about the journalist getting an introduction to jazz? That’s me! That’s my story! Without giving too much away, The Sin in Syncopation is the story of a challenge between self-professed flapper Mae Porter and Calvin Locke, a journalist who has written an article decrying “immoral” jazz. I think I’ll give you a little snippet from it at the bottom of this post, but until then, why not hear more about the story and how and why I wrote it?

Whilst I’m by no means a massive history buff, I really like the Twenties. The music, the style, the intrigue of a decade whose mythology is filled with speakeasies, flappers and gangsters. Elegant women with androgynous hair and fringed dresses, handsome men in braces and shirt sleeves. All this made me want to write for Flappers, Jazz and Valentino. Besides which, I’d never written historical erotica before and so there was an element of adding another challenge to my publication history, like I had with my zombie tale and my micro-fiction.

It turned out to be quite tricky! Whilst I knew the era in broad brushstrokes, I had to do a lot of research for the story. At one point near the beginning of it, I could barely go a sentence without having to look something up! Did they say that phrase back then (the Internet often mashes 20s and 30s/40s slang together horribly)? Is that right for the time? I notably spent half an hour researching whether ladies’ clothes shops had changing rooms and then changed my mind and decided not to even use that bit. Sigh.

What inspired my story was actually an article I came across during the broad research and brainstorming of the era. I’d of course heard of the idea of jazz as the “devil’s music” and all of the protective, disapproving mumbling about it during the era, but I stumbled on a piece written in 1921 for the Ladies Home Journal entitled “Does Jazz Put the Sin in Syncopation?”. Suddenly the idea for almost fictionalising that came to me. I’d write about a stuffy journalist who authored a similar article condemning jazz and about a willful young flapper who tried to change her mind through charm, knowledge and seduction.

Her mind? Indeed. I started out writing the tale as a lesbian love story with a female journalist, as in the real-world article. I love lesbian erotica, done right, best of all. But I quickly realised it wasn’t working out for me. Lilian “Lil” Locke didn’t fit under the skin of the character I’d created, but, for some reason, Calvin “Cal” Locke did. I try not to give all that much attention to gender, so that’s a weird one to explain to myself.

One of the questions Jillian asked in her little author questionnaire to promote the anthology was “Do you have a favourite jazz tune?” Well, though I love jazz, as well as its later swing and big band counterpart (I’m a big Glenn Miller fan), I have to say that it was one song in particular that was the soundtrack to The Sin in Syncopation. I wrote the entirety (yes, all of it) of the story to the sound of Duke Ellington’s East St. Louis Toodle-Oo.

I don’t work at all well in silence nor do I work well with anything too needy for my attention. What I need, as I mentioned in my blog post about my writing process, is either the fake sound of rain or one piece of instrumental music that isn’t too intrusive but which does fit the mood of what I’m trying to write. On repeat. Forever. East St. Louis Toodle-Oo was just upbeat enough to suit a speakeasy or a rent party, but didn’t have any musical equivalents of “sudden movements”, so it didn’t break my concentration. Plus, it’s a fantastic bit of music.

So, if you need an accompaniment to the following (finally!) extract, just hit play up above. After an evening of getting nothing but the cold shoulder from Cal, and a little straight-talking from a Harlem jazz singer friend, Mae finally snaps:

Elbowing my way through the throng, I strode towards Calvin Locke, face burning, fuming. No more futzing around.

I found a small gap in the crowd just in front of him and planted myself firmly, feet apart, right where he could see me. He looked either puzzled or intrigued, I couldn’t tell. His lips moved, but I couldn’t hear him over the blare of the trumpet. It didn’t matter.

Lunging, I took his collar in one hand and pulled, bringing his head down and levering myself up to almost his height. My other hand tangled in his hair at the neck and I brought my lips to bear on his, pressing into a kiss, giving him the best damn smooch I’m sure I ever managed.

He was stiff as a stone. I thought it was all over.

But then, before I had time to break away or even know what was happening, he melted. He softened. I found his lips starting to move against mine. I found his hands at my hips, nestling among the beads of my shift dress. I found a murmur of pleasure that I felt against my mouth more than heard, because all I could hear, still, was the wail of the band and the stomp of feet.

His hands brought my body in closer and now there was no mistaking what I was unsure of earlier: a stiffness below his belt prodded my belly. I purred into him and swayed my hips.

I’m sure if this had been the pictures – had a kiss like this even been allowed in the pictures – we’d have pulled apart to find an awed hush, an audience and a general fuss about our “licentious” behaviour. This being The Chapel at the top of the night, we separated at last to find, as expected, that no-one had even paid us any heed. The band played on, the dancers got hot and, all in all, the Twenties continued to roar all around us.

I exhaled and looked Cal in the eyes. Now they were finally meeting mine, I didn’t want to look anywhere else. He was grinning like a panther, though panthers didn’t usually wind up smeared with ruby lipstick.

“Come on,” he said. “I know somewhere we can go.”

If that tickled your fancy, or if the thought of oodles of jazz-era erotica does it for you in general, head over to get your copy of Flappers, Jazz and Valentino right now in eBook (US here) or in paperback (US here)!

Nerding Out

♦ Have I mentioned how much I love phone cameras? Man, I love phone cameras. It’s amazing how you can get quite decent and quite sexy shots without needing, or certainly getting, professional quality. I don’t know about you, but I grew up with dial-up, so I’m used to my porn not being the most HD you can get.

Like my recent Very Short Stories, it’s all about fitting blogging in where I can at the moment. Time is at a premium.

Nerding Out

Nerding Out 2

In any case, here are some hopefully sexy, and yet everyday, photos of yours truly just nerding out. A geeky t-shirt and jeans is practically my uniform. Here it’s my Wolverine t-shirt, which was an awesome find in the men’s section of Primark. Oh, my do I love the men’s section. That’s where you find all the good geek stuff, because obviously women hate that shit. Duh. Wolverine isn’t my favourite X-Man (that’d be Gambit), but he’s still really cool, especially in his 90s cartoon incarnation.

Speaking of 90s cartoons, those are my Teenage Mutant Hero (because Brits are allergic to Ninjas) Turtles manpants. Another reason to love the men’s section of Primark, in fact. Manpants might not be sexy to some (I think they are, because yay androgyny), but they sure as hell are awesome and comfy.

Got a favourite X-Man or Turtle (mine’s Raphael, because I had/have a thing for arrogant hot heads)? I’d love to know which! ♦

Sinful Sunday

Very Short Stories – Take Me

♦ It’s time for another of my Very Short Stories! If you haven’t read any of mine yet, I encourage you to go and check out Covered in Cream, Prometheus, If We Hadn’t Had Sex and The Quoit, if you have time. And they each fit on a single Post-It note, so I’m thinking you definitely have time.

And since we’ve established that time is a thing you have, here’s another one!

Very Short Stories - Take Me

Just in case you can’t (or don’t want to) read my handwriting:

I’m too wise to give myself away. Take me. Possess me. Grab your compass and carve your initials into me. Invade me; let me be your spoils of war. I am not a gift for you. I want to be stolen. Snatch fistfuls of me and stuff me into your pockets. You just can’t have me. But take me all the same.

The prompt for this one was very strange indeed. It’s not the title phrase. It’s not even mentioned in the “story”. Heck, it hasn’t even got anything to do with the story! I tried to get inspiration by hitting “Random Card” on Magic: the Gathering card database Gatherer and this is what I found: Master Transmuter.

And inspire me it did! The beautiful hair, the cool blues, the filigree body… Filigree, is there a way I could use that? Perhaps writing on skin? Or the filigree look of fine hair? No, wait go back to that last thing. Suddenly I had the idea of writing on skin, which lead to possession, which lead to… this.

Which is one reason it irks me to see people saying that the form for Very Short Stories is to take a one-word prompt which then becomes your title, or things like that. Not so! In fact, I don’t give a fuck what inspires you. One word, two, ten, a picture, a mood, a smell… Just get inspired! And when you do, write what you’re inspired to write on just one side of a Post-It note. That’s all.

Give it a title. Or don’t. It doesn’t matter. This “meme” (I never quite intended a meme, but people seem to be calling it such, which is awfully flattering) is just about getting writing onto the (very tiny) page. About the challenge of a tiny creative space juxtaposed with the ease of fitting the short writing time into your schedule.

Time that, hey, we’ve established you’ve got when it comes to reading a couple of these. So maybe read some more? Since my last one of these, there have been new Very Short Stories posted on Cammies on the Floor, as well as by Valery North and by F Leonora Solomon. Check them out.

If you have time left over when you’re done, why not write your own? All it needs is you, a writing implement, a Post-It note and whatever your imagination gives you. And if your imagination is too wise to give things away? Take them all the same. ♦

My Writing Process

I’ve been tagged in a meme-style thing that’s going around at the moment by SheBoppin. And it was really fun to do! I definitely enjoyed writing about writing, even if my writing at the moment is a bit different to how it might be normally.

I believe I’m supposed to tag people at the end to carry on the meme, but frankly I’ve no idea who hasn’t already done one and I’ve also always hated singling people out for stuff like this in case I leave someone out and upset them. So, if you’re reading this blog post and you haven’t done it yourself yet, consider yourself tagged!

Without further ado…

First Off: What am I working on?

I’m not! Or rather I’ve just finished something, so I’m actually between writing projects at the moment. The future, of course, holds more reviews, more Very Short Stories, more posts in general and more submissions to erotica anthologies. In fact, that’s what I’ve just finished. I’ve been a busy bee over the last week or so doing research, plotting, writing and self-editing for an anthology of historical erotica, specifically set in the 1920s.

It was hard! Not only has it been a little while since I’ve written erotic fiction of any real length but I’ve never done historical before. And I may never do so again! I very much enjoyed all my initial research (I’m quite a fan of the ’20s already, which helps), but I found myself researching a lot more during the actual story itself than I’d expected. At some points nearly every sentence required a Google search! Notably, I wasted at least half an hour trying to work out what 1920s department store changing rooms, if any, were like. Then I scrapped that bit entirely anyway. Yay.

In any case, the story’s been accepted, so watch this space for news on the anthology!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, that depends which of “my work” we’re talking about. when it comes to reviews, I think I probably go into a little more detail than most, which leaves my reviews thorough but perhaps a little lengthy. I’d love to be snappier and punchier with them, like some of my favourite reviewers, but I just can’t bring myself to leave anything out, just in case someone finds it helpful. I also don’t sugar the pill. I’ve seen some reviewers reviewing products that I just can’t believe they’ve actually enjoyed. Sure, people are different, but I sometimes wonder if they’re just much less critical than me.

When it comes to general sex blogging, I think I’m still a rambly but it’s more because of a sort of conversational tone than any thoroughness. Clearly I just can’t shut up. I also like to spatter the blog with geeky references, but, hey, that’s just my life. Full of nerd.

As for erotica, I actually don’t feel I’m really qualified to answer! I’d love to know! And, heck, if you think you know any distinctive features of my erotica, I’d love to know what you think they are. I won’t bite. For some of my erotica, especially my flash fiction, I’ve noticed a bit of a tendency to try to evoke and use nostalgia. I like that and I hope it works well.

Why do I like what I do?

Again, it depends. I’m not actually sure why I like reviews except that I love sex toys, I love having Very Important Opinions and I think I don’t actually suck at reviewing, which is nice. Plus, I enjoy setting up the photos of the toys too.

For writing about my actual sex life, well… I’m not actually sure I do any more. Yeah. Awkward. It’s not that Crush and I don’t have good sex any more, we totally do (and we also have sex which is just “fine”, because that’s relationships), it’s just that I don’t really think I’m interested in blogging about it any more. And I have no idea why. It’s something I’ve not really come to any decision on yet, sort of hoping to avoid it, but it shouldn’t stop me writing the blog.

At “worst”, the focus will shift even more onto reviews, erotica and stuff about sex rather than me going on about me having sex. Because I’m not actually sure what the point of that is any more. I started the blog to be sexual when I felt “real life” wasn’t fit for that. These days, well, I’m a fucking adult, I can talk about sex all I like in real life and anyone who doesn’t like it can go to hell. Not so much need for a specific space for it any more.

As for erotica, well, I’ve always loved to write creatively. I wanted to be an author for quite a chunk of my childhood. And now, whilst I’m not making a living off it (or really trying to at the moment), I guess an author is what I am. Which… still feels a bit fraudulent to say, but, hey, Amazon agrees with me. Writing creatively about sex, incidentally, still absolutely grabs me. I think I might be channelling all my energy for writing erotically about sex into fiction rather than fact, perhaps.

How does my writing process work?

Reviews are easy. During periodic testing, I first jot down anything that leaps out at me about the toy. It all goes into a draft post as it comes out of my head. I rearrange that to suit the flow of a review and then see what else I can mention about the toy when I sit and think about it. I then look back at a previous review of mine and follow that same rough structure, using my notes and adding more details where necessary. Then it’s a quick proofread and post. Done.

For fiction, it’s harder. Er, panic? If the theme of the story needs research (like my latest ’20s one), I research. I think over hooks and ideas for what the plot could be or what my angle on the theme might be. I make notes of snippets or inspirations that appeal to me. I try to find a story that grabs me. I can usually feel whether or not I can make an idea work.

Once I’ve got an idea, I try to hash out a vague order of events or scenes and then I just start writing, beginning to end. Rainy Mood is essential, because silence cripples my creative thought process (but not my other ones). If I’m on a topic that suits music (jazz for the ’20s or tango for Take Your Partner), I can work with one non-intrusive instrumental piece on repeat. No new stimuli.

When I’ve finally finished (I get quicker the further in I go), I get Crush to read over it for typos and inconsistencies. Then I send it to a beta-reader (or two) who is usually the divine and intensely skilled Lady Pandorah. If she likes it, I know it’s not crap. I work on any feedback or clarifications needed and then send it off!

Purple Worm

♦ Gosh, it’s been a while since I’ve participated in Toy With Me Tuesday, hasn’t it? I love good pictures of good sex toys and I have plenty lying around that I’d love to post as well as ideas for several more in my head. But I have, you may be surprised to learn, a relaxed schedule for this blog and whilst that includes minimum posts per time (ideally one a week, one a fortnight as an absolute low if I can’t help it), it also includes maximum posts per time. Whilst I don’t have a set number for this, I start to feel a little spammy if I post more than 2-3 times a week. I know I don’t have the time to read blog posts that regularly, so why should I assume that others do?

So I don’t join in every week, or even every other week, with memes because there are so many that I like that I’d soon end up with posts on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday alone without even considering any of my posts that don’t fit into memes. And I certainly don’t want this blog to become just memes (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But I should start contributing more to them here and there, so here’s a little picture for TWMT.

Purple Wurm

I couldn’t call this anything other than “Purple Worm”. The Tantus Purr is almost segmented just like a worm, curves like a worm and its colour, Purple Haze, is undeniably in the lilac camp of Team Purple. Even the background is a purple glitter paradise and I love the contrast between the sharp, in focus glitter in the foreground and the blurry bokeh at the back.

Of course, as a massive geek, Purple Worm is a phrase that brings an entirely different image than this one to mind.

D&D Purple WormYes, rather than an incredibly good textured dildo that I for some reason compared to Rattata, the thing that leaps into my head (dear God, I hope not literally) is the 80 feet long, 40,000lb, entirely made-up Dungeons & Dragons monster. Does that seem like something I want to put near my vagina? Let me quote, “In battle, a purple worm forms into a coil 20 feet in diameter, biting and stinging anything within reach.” So… NOPE.

Luckily, while the D&D Purple Worm has an attack which swallows you whole, this purple worm is instead often subject to an attack that swallows it whole… Ladies. Dear God, why do they let me have a blog again? ♦

Toy with me Tuesday

Very Short Stories – The Quoit

♦ It’s been a little while since we’ve had any Very Short Stories. Not content with the three linked just there, I’ve written another. And I’m not the only one! Please do check out these Very Short Stories by F Leonora Solomon, Cammies on the Floor and Adriana. They’re great!

If you’re still not sure how to get involved yourself, it’s easy: find a word or two (or really anything) to use as a prompt, get inspired, then write a teeny-tiny story on only one side of a post-it note. Hotel stationery works well too! When you’re done, let me know where it is so I can link to you. A link back would be nice too.

And write as many as you like! I find these a great little exercise to get your creative juices dripping or to just let out some writing in a way you perhaps don’t always have time for. I’ve even written one of these on public transport.

Anyway, here’s my latest:

Very Short Stories - The Quoit

“Down by the quoit we met and fucked. Your eyes, pricked by pollen, streamed as you came. Shallow white scrapes furrowed my shoulder blades; the granite had held me as hard as you had. That Indian summer couldn’t last. But I still carry the sound of still air peppered by your grunts, the thrill of something so vital perched panting on the dry rocks of the dead, the pressed gorse in my wallet from your hastily gathered bouquet.”

For those of you who don’t know what a quoit is, you may know them better by the name dolmen. Where I’m from, we call them quoits. In any case, they’re (mostly) neolithic tombs made from big-ass rocks. They’re pretty cool and we have quite a few notable ones in Cornwall.

Today’s Very Short Story is, I have to say, rather Cornish-tinged. Quoits, granite in general, gorse, all are vivid parts of my background, though I sadly never had sex up against one. I suppose there’s still time?

In any case, given that today is the day that we the Cornish have finally been recognised as a national minority group (for which I’m ecstatic) with the same rights and protections as the Welsh, Irish and Scots, I thought a bit of nostalgia for the land of my fathers (bro goth agan tasow) was apt. I hope you enjoyed it!

What would a Very Short Story tinged with your cultural heritage be like? I’d love to see some! ♦

View From A Blowjob

I took a Sinful Sunday recently that mentioned how I’d gotten both tips and confidence from Molly’s Eroticon 2014 session about photography. I took that photo the very morning after her talk and put her words into practice. But I didn’t tell you yet how that very morning I’d also turned them completely on their head too. We were told, and rightly so, that shots from above down the body tend to be far more flattering than shots from below going up the body. As I say, she’s completely right, especially for curvy (and booby) specimens like myself.

It’s just with Crush it can be a completely different matter.

View From A Blowjob

Look at him. You could barely pinch an inch (except there, obviously), damn him. And I actually find that shots up his body tend to do a little better than shots down it. It’s that lack of wobbly bits, I think. Plus (although it’s not really shown in this picture), when his body is curved slightly, shots up his body show a lovely flex of muscles and tilt of stomach. It just goes to show, not that Molly was teaching it as a hard and fast rule anyway, that there’s an exception to every one.

When I took this picture, I’d just paused mid morning head. It was early on the Sunday of Eroticon and we had a little time to spare in our hotel room before I had to leave for the day. As if being in a hotel wasn’t luxury enough for him, Crush was spending his blowjob alternately moaning softly and playing the boardgame Dominion on his phone. Because who doesn’t deserve boardgames and blowjobs now and then? Sadly, I never quite managed to throw him off, but Sunday morning blowjobs tend to be a lazy affair. He finished the game in relative peace and pleasure before we moved on to some good, old-fashioned hotel room sex. Bliss.

Have you ever had boardgames and blowjobs? Perhaps Carcassonne and cunnilingus? Fluxx and fucks? I bet we’re not the only ones to add some sex to our gaming! ♦
Sinful Sunday

Very Short Stories – If We Hadn’t Had Sex

♦ It seems my Very Short Stories idea has been catching on! When I last told you about them, one other, the lovely Innocent Loverboy, had joined in. Since then, four more have cropped up! So please go and read the wonderful posts by Jilly Boyd, Girl on the Net, Lady Pandorah and Ruby Goodnight.

I am, I have to say, absolutely thrilled and humbled that so many lovely people are joining in! Thank you, all!

For those who’ve missed what this is all about, it’s very simple. I started writing teeny-tiny flash fiction on Post-it notes. First, Covered in Cream, then Prometheus. Want to join in? Here’s how it works: Take a Post-it note, find a prompt word from anywhere you like, write a story no bigger than your sticky note. Then share it with the world and let me know! A link back would be lovely.

In fact, I wrote another, so here’s another example…

image

“Maybe if we hadn’t had sex, I wouldn’t have damp jeans on from not giving the dryer enough time to run. Maybe if we hadn’t had sex, I wouldn’t be out of breath from having to run for the train.

Perhaps, if we hadn’t had sex, I’d have an extra £1.60 in my pocket because I’d have waited for change. Maybe if we hadn’t had sex, my damp jeans and my damp knickers (nothing to do with laundry) wouldn’t be combining unsettlingly. Maybe if we hadn’t had sex, I wouldn’t be grinning. ”

I’m cheating a little, as it’s a sort of literary-ised (totally a word) version of a few real events from my mad dash to my train to get to Eroticon 2014 for the Friday.  But I think it still counts. If not fiction, then fiction-ish.

I managed with smaller writing (made more troublesome by the train I was writing it on, sorry) to make a grand 92 words this time, but it looks like I’d have to write very cramped to manage many more. But that’s fine by me. It’s the dinky aspect of this that appeals to me and I’ll likely try to write bigger next time.

Next time? Oh, yes, I’m certainly keeping these going. In fact, Eroticon gave me several ideas! What about you? Can you write a story on a Post-It? When will the inspiration for your next Very Short Stories hit? ♦

Eroticon 2014 – Sunday, Part 1

♦ The previous day at Eroticon 2014 had ended with a cocktail party to which I’d managed to buy Crush a ticket. After train shenanigans, he showed up shipshape and Bristol fashion and we headed to the bar. It was a great evening and I’m glad he was there as he got to say hello to old friends and meet exciting new ones and I frankly enjoy dragging him into my sex-based social world. He did so well there, too! The sheer amount of secret geeks he caught with his top was impressive.

The morning wake up was full of sleepy sex and sneakily snapped Sinful Sundays, making me only just on time for the first session and only managing a breakfast of yesterday’s sausage rolls as I left Crush lying in. But never mind! It was a lovely sunny morning to spend all day inside talking smut.

Again, I was conflicted. The flash fiction workshop sounded right up my street, but in the end I decided I could already kinda do flash fiction and so I should probably focus on an area where I need more help. So I took a seat in Kay Jaybee and Lucy Felthouse‘s Step up: making the move from short stories to novels. I’d met them both before a couple of times, notably at the awesome Kinky World Book Night held in Cardiff last year (which I briefly wrote some NaPoWriMo poems about), and they’re lovely guys, so friendly and encouraging. It was a bit of a shame that their self-introductions were so long as I already knew a bit about them and it took a fair bit of time out of the bulk of the session, but when we got to the crux of it, it was full of helpful advice. Short stories are a  brilliant apprenticeship, we were told, for novels and Kay and Lucy even thoguht they were harder to write!

I’m not sure I agree, but I haven’t written a novel yet, so perhaps I will when I have. In fact, we were told to write down a reason or two that we hadn’t yet written a novel so that we could discuss them. Time was a big factor for me and we were advised to set aside time every day or at least in a routine so that it becomes a part of everyday life. My other main problem is that I’m just not sure I can write enough content, specifically plot and “stuff happening” to fill a novel. Plus, I feel like it’s OK for a short story to be a glimpse, a mood, an idea, a narrative where we know we’re not getting the full picture, a flavour. Whereas I feel like novels are the whole story, a fullness, you need a complete story with all the trimmings and not just a flavour or a feeling.

Whilst those points were not directly addressed as such and I still came away a little unclear on them (running out of time was a major factor of the session, again leaving me wishing for less, admittedly pleasant, introductions),  I did come away feeling more confident. Do things that scare you, we were told, and also told that writing a novel still scares these novelists every time.

The next two short sessions didn’t really grab me. Sex toy reviews are a big interest for me, but I’d be assured that the session was more for beginners than for me. While anonymity obviously interests me, the idea of writing anonymity guidelines in-session really put me off. Luckily I met a few people from Kristina Lloyd‘s aforementioned Fiction in a Flash long workshop in the break who assured me that she’d welcome people in for the second half.

I nipped in and scribbled down some notes still left on the Powerpoint before the session restarted in earnest. Based on the previous ideas of starting in media res, of implied plot between the lines and behind the story, of a key image or visual heart, of yearning, of the twist or turn and of sexual specificity in describing what makes the encounter meaningful, we were given a very unusual collection of writing aids.

Eroticon Flash Fiction Workshop Prompts

The idea was to look through these nail varnishes and wall colours and find a name that evoked something and that we could use to prompt a piece of flash fiction. With names like Ruby Pumps, Savage Ground, It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere and Cat’s Paw, there were a lot of wonderful images that sprang to mind. I’m definitely going to be looking at these sources for inspiration in the future! It’s interesting in that when I was thinking of where to find prompts for my Very Short Stories, I’d actually stumbled on the idea of hitting “random” on Gatherer to find Magic the Gathering cards that might work as they often have evocative names. It’s a similar idea that I’m glad to see actual proper writers doing too!

We then used our selected names, I picked “Down Pipe”, to decide what elements based on that would appear in our proposed story. I had images of rain, brickwork and vertical space, of blow jobs and tumbling down the rabbit hole. The harder task was to pick some things that would certainly not happen. I struggled, but managed that they don’t leave the room and it doesn’t stop raining, as well as a few other things. Before the end of the session, we were asked, which of these might actually happen anyway? It was a fantastic session and I’m quite sad to have missed the first half, especially as I enjoyed Kristina’s session so much last year too.

With the pause for lunch comes a pause in my writing! I’ll have my post about Sunday afternoon at Eroticon 2014 up soon, though, so don’t go away! ♦

Eroticon 2014 – Saturday, Part 2

♦ After a busy morning, lunch was quickly eaten with friends old and new, tweets were duly caught up on and retweeted and then it was on to the afternoon. Much as I think the speakers are fantastic, there was no way I was going to the talk about sex and spirituality. As an atheist and as someone who tries to be rational, spirituality of any kind is just not something that applies to me. Even the closest I’ve got to writing about a sexual and spiritual experience was definitely not a spiritual experience.

Instead I headed over to the Photography workshop, which was being run by Molly after the original speaker had come up against urgent family problems. I have to say, I was very impressed by Molly’s ability to pull a very good session out of thin air!  Of course, when you know that much about your topic I suppose all you have to do is tell people it, but if you’d told me it had been planned all along, I wouldn’t have been surprised.

We got to see the impressive Lightroom program at work (I’m really going to have to get it), we learnt that essential self-photography items like tripods and triggers needn’t be expensive and I learnt perhaps my most valuable technical tip of the weekend: don’t upload photos bigger than 900 x 600 to WordPress and just use the WordPress photo percentages to resize them. Photos that big aren’t needed (for screen use, anyway) and using that method can make your site very slow indeed. It was sort of obvious once DomSigns said it, but it’d never occurred to me before and I do that all the time. Looks like I’m going to be going back through all my photos to resize them properly (and add watermarks) soon!

At the end of the session, Molly mentioned her photo idea of getting a bunch of attendees in a row, back to the camera and bare-arsed. The room figured now was as good a time as any to do it! I so, so, so nearly joined in, but nervousness just won out. It was a tough decision, on the one hand it would be an awesome, bond-forming and empowering thing to be part of and I’d get a great picture with me in for my efforts. On the other hand, I was shy and nervous and I felt it was a rare occasion that my arse looks good on camera. I didn’t want to hate the shot. Getting my bum out in a room full of people seemed scary but also thrilling, but there were so many people already volunteering and I took so long deciding that I chickened out despite geting myself 95% of the way to going “Fuck it!” and joining in.

It was probably a good decision, though, as I’d have had to have spent ages awkwardly easing up my tights way after everyone else had already re-robed and plus the final picture shows a lot more possibly-identifying clothes, body shape and back of head than I’d really be comfy with. Next year, though, if the opportunity arises, fuck it, I’m in. Someone make me if necessary.

The next session was a big toss up: do I indulge my tinkerer side and go for tech talk or my creative side and go for tension and conflict in erotica? Well, in the end I’d been to plenty of techy ones in previous years and conflict in writing is really something I’d like to get a better handle on, so I headed to Mirren Baxter and Judith Watts‘s Building tension: conflict and consent in erotic fiction.

I’m so glad I did, as it turned out to be my favourite session of the whole weekend. At first it was a little hard to see where the speakers were going. We were asked to list all of the reasons we could think of that someone, whether from this reality or another, might have sex. Here’s what we as a group got (click to embiggen):

Eroticon Conflict and Consent Reasons 1Eroticon Conflict and Consent Reasons 2

I managed almost twenty myself and felt like I’d pretty much exhausted the options, so it was amazing to see another 30 or so ideas pop out of other people’s heads.

The bulk of erotica, we were told, tends to unfortunately focus on only the first two of these reasons: love and lust. How boring! Here’s where the session started to turn, for me, revolutionary and yet so simple. Pick something else. Anything else! Any of these other reasons to have sex is much more interesting than love or lust in terms of narrative and any of these other reasons comes prepacked with conflict, whether it’s against the self, another character, society or nature. Just try it and you’ll agree. This is the wonderful method I learned for this session: pick a reason for a character to have sex, ask yourself “What type of conflict can arise from that reason? What stands in this character’s way?”. Boom, instant conflict, instant tension, instant narrative.

And that is what I absolutely loved about the session. So simple, but so inspiring, such a new way of looking at how to create a narrative. And so creative. That room was abuzz with energy, you could tell. I was so impressed that I went straight down to the Eroticon bookstore and picked up their Mirren and Judith’s book Get Started in Writing Erotic Fiction (also available for Kindle), because frankly if the rest of the book has even anything like that in it, it’ll be worth it.

Finally for the day, we headed in to watch A Place of Power – the exquisite grace of deep surrender, a demonstration of ecstatic BDSM by London Faerie and his partner Marti. I won’t go into too much as my clarity of detail fades the further from it I get and as I feel you really had to be there for it to have the same meaning. Faerie and Marti, though, are captivating, both as individuals and as couples. And their play together was beautiful to watch. Although I understood the significance of the head-shaving, it didn’t really resonate with me and left me a little cold, but the rest of the session certainly connected. I find myself jealous of their wonderful skill and connection in BDSM! The majority of the session was breathtaking, beautiful and even made me a little shy in places. I dearly wished I’d got a chance to talk to them after the day ended, but they were rightly very popular and I was feeling a little too nervous to approach. Next time!

Speaking of next time, do “tune in” then to hear a little about Saturday night and a lot about Sunday’s great sessions! ♦