Positive Erotica

There is a big appetite at the moment for positive erotica in literature – that is, overtly consensual sex. Quite possibly in the wake of the ‘Me Too’ movement, sexual violence for entertainment, especially against women, is quite rightly frowned upon more than ever.

Perhaps that goes some way to explaining the increasing popularity of positive erotic writing . Forward-thinking publishers and tech companies are providing the modern female reader with what she’s looking for – short erotic stories featuring women, written predominantly by women.

One such company is Sunsette, www.thesunsette.com, an app which sends subscribers a short (10 minute) erotic read to their phones four days a week at sunset. The stories are diverse in theme and category, and come with a ‘kink’ rating so readers have an idea of what’s in store!

Sunsette pledges 10% of profits to ending sexual violence, and has been featured in several media articles about the importance of making erotica positive, such as this one in Bustle http://tiny.cc/au5s8y.

I had my first story published through Sunsette two days ago. Entitled ‘Perks’ it’s about a young female whizz kid who founds out her new job offers certain benefits she hadn’t expected. It was great fun to write and I’m interested to see the reader feedback metrics that Sunsette sends its writers.

Writing for Sunsette was a very good experience. Their communication was excellent and the publication journey certainly wasn’t drawn out, so it’s an avenue I would recommend for writers of erotica. If you are interested in submitting to Sunsette, you can find out more here https://www.thesunsette.com/authors.

How to write sex scenes – top 10 tips

In just a few weeks’ time my fourth erotic story will be published, so I thought now was a good time to share my top 10 tips for writing raunchy scenes. Here they are:

  1. Choose words that fit your heat rating: The language you use and detail you go into depends on the ‘heat rating’ of your story. If you’re aiming for a romance sprinkled with a few naughty scenes, then words such as ‘her centre’ or ‘his length’ might be more appropriate than words you would use in an openly erotic novel, such as ‘pussy’ or ‘cock’.
  2. Keep it aspirational: Remember that romance is fantasy not reality. Readers want beautiful sex, even if it is graphic. They don’t want to hear about wet patches or dodgy noises, so keep it rosy!
  3. Shifting perspectives is OK: Any writer will know that head-hopping in between scenes is a big no-no. I’ve found the only exception to this is sex scenes. Editors tend to be more lenient on shifting between perspectives in erotic scenes as it’s such an intense moment that readers can benefit from seeing it from both points of view.
  4. It’s all about the senses: In sex scenes more than any other, senses are really important as the characters’ sensitivities such be heightened. What does their partner smell like (pleasant, hopefully), what do they taste like, what do they feel like?
  5. It’s not a documentary! I always have a bit of a chuckle when reading sex scenes when the man goes all night like some sort of horny teenager. It’s fun to read though, and that’s the main thing. Unlike real life, when we’ve often had hard days, and have another hard day to look forward to, in literature that’s irrelevant. If your reader would like to think it could happen – make it happen. It is escapism, after all.
  6. Know what’s allowed: Publishers are generally very brave and accept – and actively seek – same gender sex scenes, orgies (not easy to write – you get confused with who’s doing what to whom) and fantasy sex scenes featuring vampires and the like.

    Study your intended publisher’s guidelines before embarking on writing a sex scene to ensure you know what’s allowed and what isn’t. Usually, for example, if it’s legal, you’re OK. Non-consensual sex is, in the romance genre, usually disallowed for good reason. My latest novella features a menage with werewolves, which are in man-form at the time – otherwise it would be bestiality, which would just be too weird.
  7. Who needs words? Actually, as a writer you do. It’s not all about the actions – what your characters say, and the noises they make, in the heat of the moment are just important a part of the sex scene as the sex itself. A sexy moan or mutter of a name (as long as it’s the right name!) can really ramp up the passion.
  8. Mix up the pace: If you’ve got a story with several sex scenes, be careful not to fall into the trap of them all being the same. This will bore your reader and have them skimming through the hotter sections, and you don’t want that. A good way of mixing things up is by changing the pace. You might have one scene where the characters can’t rip each other’s clothes off fast enough, whereas another time might be slow and sensual, and the next might be fuelled by an emotion, such as love, possession or anger, for example.
  9. Relax: For some writers, sex scenes are the easiest to write, whereas others really struggle. The more relaxed you are, the better your sex scenes will be. Write these scenes when you’re chilled out, know you won’t be interrupted, can relax that someone won’t be sneaking a peek over your shoulder and can even have a glass of wine or two.
  10. Just go for it: I know how it feels to think people are reading your sex scenes and most likely making all sorts of judgements about you. I use to care about this. Now I don’t. So what if people think you actually do that stuff you write about. Who cares? Let ’em think it. My usual response is ‘I wish my life was that crazy!’ Like I always say, no-one thinks Martina Cole goes around torturing people or JK Rowling can actually perform magic. It’s fiction. Get over it and write it all down. Writing sex scenes is brilliant fun – so what you waiting for?

Dead Interesting

Next week I’m going to the theatre in Worthing to watch the latest book-turned-play from crime writer, Peter James. This will be third play I’ve seen from the Sussex-based author, who sets all his books in the county, especially in and around the city of Brighton, and I’m very excited to see it.

Unlike the others I’ve seen, which have been murders, this one is a ghost story. Last week I went to the Ropetackle Centre in Shoreham – close to where Peter James was born and raised – to listen to him speak and sign copies of his new book, Dead at First Sight.

I understand Peter James often does talks and I’d say, even if you haven’t read any of his stuff, if you get the opportunity to go, go! He didn’t particularly talk about book writing, but rather about his experiences of working with Sussex Police. His accounts of dating fraud (the topic of his new book) were fascinating, as was hearing about some of the inspiration behind his characters.

The most interesting for me was listening to him talk about how he based The House on Cold Hill around his own haunted house. Some of the stories he told were extremely creepy so although I’m really excited about seeing the play, I’m seriously considering taking a cushion to hide behind.

Peter James’ plays always attract a good – and often famous – cast, and are usually a sell-out, so if you see one advertised and fancy it, don’t hang about.

Here’s a pic of me getting my book signed. We were first in the queue, even reaching the table before he did, and last, as my friend decided she wanted more books signing. Maybe his next book will be about crazy lady fans!

Latest Review Trio

As I haven’t done a book review for ages I thought it about time I got on with one. I read loads of romance but love a good thriller and gobble up anything to do with psychology in business, so this round of recommendations has one of each!

Sweet romance
Jane Lovering’s Little Teashop of Horrors is set in a historical country house in Yorkshire, now open to the public. Main character Amy runs the cafe and feels stuck in a rut, unable to leave the village she’s grown up in due to having to look after her elderly grandmother.

The unlikely hero, Josh, tends to the birds of prey, and has his own challenges caused by a turbulent past. Amy has the added challenge of coping with her exuberant best friend, Jules.

What I most enjoyed about this book was the setting and the characters. Finally a romance which doesn’t involve an exotic location or a billionaire alpha male – see, there is hope for normal people. Amy and Josh are easy to relate to as Josh suffers from terrible shyness and Amy is no model-like waif.

Good on Jane Lovering for having the guts to turn traditional romance on its head and create loveable, ‘normal’ characters.

I hesitated before choosing this book as couldn’t really understand the title. Even after reading it I’m not sure where the ‘horror’ comes in as it’s a lovely sweet romance, so don’t let that put you off – it’s a super read.

The Joy of Work
Not that I’ve got anything at all against US business writers (I’ve read plenty and many are excellent), but it’s refreshing to read a book in this genre by a UK author.

There are some fascinating insights in this book by Bruce Daisley, all of which is based on research, about what makes teams and individuals tick. The chapters on the use of earphones in the office, walking meetings and open plan spaces are particularly interesting.

As normal for a business book a lot of the content doesn’t apply to SMEs – and we don’t all work for Google and Twitter – but this book provides a very modern and alternative view to best practices in the office, many of which can be applied across industries.

Definitely worth a read if you’re a MD, middle manager or just interested in what motivates people and results in maximum engagement and productivity.

Sleep
Having had a marathon few months reading romances by different authors I decided I need a break from the genre. I’ve recently been to a talk by crime writer Peter James (I’ll blog about that later) and it inspired me to read something to get my heart pounding. I recalled reading a book review in Prima magazine which featured the new release by CL Taylor, Sleep.

I was hooked from the start. Far from being full of paragraphs brimming with description (which I’ve encountered in thrillers before), this is fast paced from the get-go. There’s loads of dialogue, which moves the story along nicely, and the characters are three dimensional and realistic.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to give any spoilers, so I’ll just say the story line centres around a 32-year old woman called Anna who’s involved in a serious accident. Haunted by the incident, she escapes to the Scottish Isle of Rum to work in a small hotel, but even in the remote landscape of Rum, she’s convinced someone is after her.

I’m listening to Sleep on Audible, and the narrator, Clare Corbett, is excellent at mastering the different characters’ voices. If you’re looking for a book to listen to, this one comes highly recommended!

Coming soon…The Curse of Camelot

I was thrilled last week to hear that the lovely people at The Wild Rose Press are publishing my new mediaeval erotic novella!

I originally named the story ‘Guinevere’ but it’s being released as The Curse of Camelot, which I think is much better.

The Curse of Camelot is a complete departure from me as not only is it historical and mythical, it’s also a story I hope will raise the questions: is Guinevere justified at how she treats the knights of The Round Table; are the knights really victims; and is Vivien good or bad?

I’m not even sure I know the answers, but I’d be interested in others’ opinions – once it’s out of course, which I expect will be in a few months’ time. I’ll keep the blog updated with news on the release!

One more thing I’ll say about The Curse of Camelot, which at 30k words is about half the length of a normal novel, is that it is very, very ‘out there’, both in terms of story line and heat levels. That is, it’s extremely graphic. So, maybe not the best choice if you prefer a sweet romance. But if you like a bit of a romp, then you’re in luck!

The Curse of Camelot will be available in digital formats and downloadable from Amazon.

Could it be Magic?

If you have a spare five minutes and want to feel warm and cosy inside, here’s a short, feel-good story for you…

Melanie’s shoulders sagged as she gazed around her gran’s cellar.  “Just this room left to clear out. Then Gran’s cottage can go on the market.”  

“Come on, you.” Her best friend Lizzie squeezed her arm.  “We’ll have it done in a jiffy.”

“Oh, Liz,” said Melanie, the tears starting to flow.  “It breaks my heart having to sell this place, but now I’ve lost my job, I can’t afford the upkeep.”

 “Chin up, lovely.”  Ever-cheerful Lizzie smiled sympathetically.  “It’s just a house. You have a lifetime of memories of your gran.  That’s what matters. Besides, the flat you’re renting is perfect for a single girl.”

“Thanks for the reminder,” Melanie said drolly.  She was having a bad year. First, her wonderful gran had passed away, then she’d broken up with her long-term boyfriend, and, to top it all off, her pet cat, Missy, had got run over.  

Two hours later they were still boxing up her gran’s belongings when she spotted a pile of small glass phials tucked in a corner, each filled with coloured liquid.  Trust Grandma Maude to keep a hoard of lotions and potions, she thought, remembering fondly how her gran had always believed in magic. She used to tell Melanie about spells she and her friends had cast that had miraculous and sometimes hilarious consequences.  Melanie had loved the stories as a young girl, but as she’d grown into a teenager, she’d rolled her eyes at Gran’s far-fetched tales.

Tears threatened to fall again.  I’d do anything to listen to one of her stories now.  She placed the bottles in a box and realised they’d been sitting on top of an old book.  Curious, she blew off the dust, and opened the cover.

“Ooh, what’s this?” Lizzie crouched next to her, black bin liner in hand.

“Spells to bring good fortune,” Melanie read from the inside page.  “Hmm, definitely for the skip.”

“No way!” Lizzie pulled the book from Melanie’s grasp, and looked pointedly at her.  “We’re keeping this one. I know someone who could do with a dose of good luck.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Melanie tutted.  Just because I was made redundant and split up with Jason doesn’t mean I need to resort to witchcraft.”

“And don’t forget your cat got run over.”

Melanie pulled a face.  “I could hardly forget, could I?  Anyway, all that magic malarky is a load of rubbish.  Just something Gran used to do with her friends for a laugh.  It doesn’t really work.”

“We’ll see,” said Lizzie, nestling the book in the box marked ‘KEEP’.

***

“That wine tastes a bit funny.”  Melanie wrinkled her nose and peered at her glass.  

“It was on offer at Nice Buys,” Lizzie replied.  She took a sip from her own glass. “Tastes okay to me.”

Melanie shrugged.  “After all the clearing out we did today, I’m just grateful for a drink.”  

Lizzie plonked herself down at Melanie’s kitchen table, just in time to see a sleek, dark creature sneak through the open front door.  “Ooh, look! That moggy’s come to see you again. I think she wants to move in.”

“Oh, not her again,” said Melanie, her harsh words contradicting the reassurance she felt as the black cat curled her soft warmth against Melanie’s ankles, and purred.  

“I thought you’d be pleased,” said Lizzie.  “Since you lost Missy, you could do with a new feline friend, and it would be good to give a stray a home.”

“No way,” said Melanie.  “I can’t bear to fall in love with another pet, only for something to happen to her and it break my heart again.”  

Lizzie patted her hand.  “With all that negative thinking, you’ll create your own bad luck.  Maybe you should give your gran’s spell a go…”

Melanie nearly choked on her wine.  “I’ll do you a deal,” she said, wiping her chin.  I’ll consider keeping the stray if we agree there’ll be no more talk of magic.”

Lizzie bent down and scooped up the cat, who nuzzled her furry head under Lizzie’s chin.  “I knew you couldn’t resist,” she grinned.

***

Melanie pushed the vet’s door open with one hand, while juggling the cat carrier in the other.

“Ah, who have we here?  Melanie and Maude, I take it?  The question is, which is which?”

Melanie looked up into the brownest eyes she’d ever seen.  Wow! She wasn’t expecting him.  The handsome young vet introduced himself as Rob, Doctor Green’s son, who had taken over the surgery after his dad’s retirement.  

She explained Maude, whom she’d decided to name after her gran, was an adopted stray she’d brought for a check over.  Rob was so gentle with the cat and—much to her surprise—seemed interested in her owner too. Before she knew it, she’d told him all about her recent run of bad luck.

“I think you need cheering up,” he said, as he gave Maude a clean bill of health.  “How about I take you out for dinner tonight? My treat.”

Feeling chirpier than she had in months, Melanie practically skipped all the way home.  Perhaps her luck was changing after all. Despite the sorry state of her bank account, she decided to stop at her favourite boutique.  Grandma Maude was always richer in love than money, but she’d left Melanie a small amount that she’d kept aside. A new outfit for her date tonight might be just what she needed to pull her out of the doldrums.

There was a lovely lady working in the shop, who she hadn’t seen before.  

“I have just what you need for a romantic night out,” the lady said, and pulled out a beautiful black dress that Melanie instantly fell in love with.  

“Do you know, love,” she said to Melanie, “I could do with someone as smiley and cheerful as you to work here.  The girl who used to manage the shop for me has left to have a baby. Would you be interested?”

Melanie jumped at the chance.  A new pet, a hot date, and a job in her favourite boutique, all within twenty-four hours.  With money coming in, she might not even need to sell Gran’s cottage. Her luck was definitely changing.

***

A car’s horn beeped, and Melanie peered out the window.  Rob had arrived exactly on time. She caught her reflection in the glass.  She had to admit, she looked and felt amazing in her new dress. Stopping briefly to pick up her handbag from the kitchen counter, she spied her gran’s old spell book.  She’d keep the book in memory of her beloved grandmother, but there was no point in every trying a spell—it was all a lot of old nonsense. You made your own luck. Today was proof of that.

***

It was gone midnight when Lizzie received a text message from Melanie saying what an amazing night she’d had with the handsome young vet she’d met that day.  He’d even asked to see her again at the weekend. Lizzie smiled. After her terrible year, Melanie deserved some happiness. She’d felt a bit guilty yesterday about mixing up a magic potion she’d found in Melanie’s gran’s book, and slipping it into into her best friend’s wine.  But she knew the spell would bring Melanie good fortune, because, unlike her friend, she believed magic really did work. And today was proof of that.

The End

On the shelf

Soooo happy today that Saving Alice, my Pocket Novel for My Weekly, has hit the shelves today! They bring a new one out every two weeks, so it won’t be out for long. They’re stocked by bigger stores such as WH Smiths and supermarkets. I’m hoping there’ll still be a copy in the shops when I next manage to get there on Saturday.

In the meantime, my lovely best friend has gone out to get a copy and even took a picture of the newsstand for me – orrrr.

Saving Alice is a sweet, modern romance. Here’s the blurb:

Naomi Graham is the best family lawyer in the country. But beneath her professional demeanour lies a broken heart. When the man who caused that heartache – billionaire ex-husband Toren Stirling – returns to her life after a 10-year absence, Naomi doesn’t want to know. But then Toren reveals he is fighting a custody battle over his young daughter Alice – and needs Naomi’s legal expertise to help him win.

Saving Alice might be a fairly quick read at 50k words, but it took a long time to write. I actually wrote 70k words, but had to cut 20k to fit the number of pages required for a Pocket Novel. I loved writing this book and was delighted when it came second in a romance writing competition in Australia.

If you do read Saving Alice, I hope you enjoy getting to know the characters as much as I enjoyed creating them. Especially the silver fox, Toren. He’s quite a dish!

An ambition realised – well, two!

It’s been a good week in my writing calendar. When you’re busily trying to write your next book, it comes as a wonderful surprise when you get a copy of your last book through the post – all front covered and ready to read!

Saving Alice has been published by the same people who create the magazine My Weekly as one of their fortnightly Pocket Novels. It’s a sweet romance about a woman who is asked by her ex-husband to help him fight a custody battle for his young daughter – the child she could never give him.

I can’t wait to see it in the shops, but it’s only on the shelves for two weeks until the next one is out so I’m imagining racing around all the WH Smiths and Tesco just to find one who stocks it so I can get a glimpse. I’m going to cry if I can’t find it. : )

The second piece of awesome news I received this week is my first ever novel, The Virgin’s Gamble, which was published in print last year, is now available on Audible. I love audio books, so this is a huge personal ambition of mine. The narrator, Fiona Honan-Bowes has done a tremendous job bringing the characters to life.

I hope you had a good week too and that next week proves even better…!

La Isla Bonita

We’ve recently returned from a family holiday in Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote which, despite often being referred to as ‘Lanzagrotty’, is actually rather lovely.

We went self-catering and were lucky enough to be able to stay in my mother-in-law’s apartment – just a stone’s throw from the centre of the resort. For a family holiday Lanzarote is great. Being close to North Africa it has all year round sunshine, plus lush beaches and plenty of bars, restaurants, and things to see and places to go.

You can walk around safely day and night (as safe as it gets, anyway), so unlike some parts of the Caribbean where you’re restricted to your resort, in Lanzarote you’re freer to explore.

Lanzarote is famous for its dormant volcanoes and there are plenty of family-friendly trips you can go on to go and see them and learn more about them.

We were too busy drinking sangria and eating tapas to do this, but we heard from others the trips were good.

We did however do plenty of walking including to Los Pocillos, where we enjoyed mussels and calamari in a beach-side restaurant. We also took the well-known ‘zig-zag path’ to Puerto Calero, where we mooched around the pretty harbour-side market. If you’re going to do this walk, it’s not difficult, but definitely opt for trainers over flip-flops as it’s uneven underfoot.

Our favourite part of Puerta del Carmen is the Old Town. Here there are plenty of good restaurants with picturesque views. Our son loved playing in the park there, which is very conveniently situated next to a few of the restaurants, so you can watch your kids from where you’re sitting.

We’ll definitely be heading back to Lanzarote as soon as we can, maybe to a different part of the island. If you’re thinking of checking it out for a family holiday it’s worth also considering Playa Blanca, which probably wins over Puerto del Carmen in the scenic stakes as it has a lovely marina. It also doesn’t attract as many of the ‘let’s go on holiday to get slaughtered’ types, which transforms Puerto del Carmen into somewhere not quite so desirable after 10pm.

Kudos goes to my mother-in-law’s attitude of ‘who cares about Brexit – I’m off to buy a pad in the Canary Islands anyway’. Fabulous!

New Mediaeval Erotic Story

Last week I finished my latest book – a 25,000 word novella set in mediaeval times. Writing an historical – and alternative myth – story is a first for me, but this book has been burning in my head for ages and I was desperate to get it onto the page.

The story centres around Queen Guinevere who, after ordering the murder of her husband King Arthur, rules over Camelot. The pendant she wears around her neck transforms her into a sexual siren no man can resist.  

Still reeling from the way Arthur treated her when he discovered her affair with Sir Lancelot, Guinevere has her Sorceress, Vivien, conjure a spell which ensures the Knights of the Round Table experience physical weakness unless they regularly take to the Queen’s bed and renew their strength with her magical milk and nectar.

Guinevere summons the knights when she pleases, sometimes several at a time, and forbids them from having sexual contact with anyone else, including their wives.

The wives of the knights can take no more and plot to overthrow Guinevere, even if they have to distract a pair of werewolves protecting her chamber in order to get at her.

Guinevere is currently under consideration with a publisher, so fingers crossed it gets to see the light of day!