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2006 Authors Insider Tips

Beyond the Basics
With Tulsa Brown
The 30-Second Solution
Backstory vs. Flashback
Intimacy Begins With "I"
Hit the Ground Running
Make the Reader Leap
Meaningful Dialogue
Pulling the String
Central Image
Elegant Smut
Better Plots
Bitch Power

The Write Stuff
From Ashley Lister
Predefined Your Goals
Spell Ink Miss Takes
Plotting & Planning
Character Building
Speech Therapy
Talking Sense

Two Girls Kissing
With Amie M. Evans
Intro to Lesbian Erotica
3-Dimensional Characters
Submitting for Publication
Five Year Writing Plan
Setting Up Your Plan...
The Power of Naming
Language of Lesbian...
Sexual Description
What Can I say?

Hard Business
From Greg Herren
What Are Your Priorities?
How to Edit an Anthology
Follow the Guidelines...
A Cock is Just a Cock
But is it Still a Story?
Who Am I Fucking?
Potential Material
Rejection ...

The Business End
By Kate Dominic
Effective Cover Letters
How to Lose Contracts
Contracts: Agent Issues
Contracts: Read It!
Double Duty Bios
What's Sex?

Literary Streetwalker
By M. Christian
Ground Rules for Writers
No Muse is Good News
Effective Cover Letters
Location, Location
Say Something!
Dirty Words

The Erotic Book Docter
By Susie Bright
Marketing Your Book
Submission Concerns
Promotion Strategies

2006 Smutters Lounge

Pondering Porn
With Ann Regentin
Babes & Hunks of Erotica
Fantasy, Reality & Rape
Selling Ourselves Short
Selling Smut in Motown
The Frankenstein Bride
Frankenstein Revisited
Porn and Perfect Shoes
Porn's Passionate Pull
Instruments of Joy

Get All Worked Up
With J.T. Benjamin
Orwell's Eerie Parallels
Redefining Marriage
The Porn Menace
High-Quality Porn
About Profanity
Dirty Laundry
Big Brother


Wrong Reasons to do SM
by Midori

Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin

The Babes and Hunks of Erotica

Before I had my hour of fame on Jewel's Way Radio, I got a list of the interview questions I was going to face, and inevitably, a handful of them were about my first e-book, The Measure of a Man.

The Measure of a Man gets a certain amount of attention because the hero is paraplegic. He can't walk and his legs, as a result, are withered. He can barely get it up, and he can't keep it up without some inelegant pharmaceutical help. He works at a job that's below his capabilities and his self-sufficiency is limited. He is not, in short, the sort of man most people fantasize about when they think about hot sex.

I write about disabled or otherwise messed-up people a lot, and people ask me all the time why I do it. The simple answer is that like most writers, I write what I know and I've been disabled since I was young. Although I was diagnosed with lupus and fibromyalgia at twenty-two, I started having problems at puberty and although my physical limitations where sex are concerned are relatively minor, they're still there and always have been. Certain positions left me in pain even before I knew why, so in a sense, every time I write able-bodied people having sex, I'm going a bit outside of my experience. I've never done it.

Which is not to say that I can't write things I haven't done, because I do it all the time. I've never had gay sex, or been involved in BDSM, for example, but I write both. I also know that there are a number of other disabled erotica writers who write mostly able-bodied sex, and my bet is that they do what they do for the same inexplicable reason why I do what I do. For whatever reason, these stories are what I feel most deeply, so they're what I write. Precisely why is anyone's guess.

I'll be the first to admit, though, that they fly in the face of the parts of our brain that filter for Bad Mate Material, physical and behavioral symptoms that signal poor genetic material. The outer surfaces of our sexual responses are pretty primitive, and we tend to go for the human equivalent of the peacock with the biggest tail. A disabled person, in a sense, is a peacock with a ratty tail or no tail at all. Not very interesting to the peahens.

The fun thing about humans, though, is that sex isn't just a reproductive function. We don't hook up once a year, hatch a chick or two, and then move on with life. Although we do have an equivalent that usually doesn't involve offspring, most of us go through periods when we prefer the company of the same lover (or lovers) for a while.

For many of us, this is the default mode, and it throws a wrench into the more peacocky aspects of our mate selection process. The most attractive mate isn't always the best one over the long haul.

This is one of the most interesting things about how we're sexual.

What works short-term and what works long-term can be two very different things, and this is true for both men and women. A lot of mixed messages on both sides are accounted for by the fact that our criteria vary depending on our goals. What we swear we're looking for one minute may not be what we land the next, and not because we're confused, either. We know exactly what our priorities are, but those priorities change as our needs change.

Even worse, there's a lot of social currency riding on who we fuck.

That peacock brain isn't just interested in what happens in the bedroom. It's also highly invested in what we look like in the boardroom or the ballroom. Who is on our arm in public helps to define our status. A pretty woman and a rich man have a lot more impressing power than a gimp.

A lot of people say that erotica is fantasy, and although I've argued against that before, I'll be the first to admit that there has to be something compelling in the sex if we're going to want to read it. If the disabled and dishonored do not appeal to the parts of our brains often most immediately involved in our mate selection, then why on earth do people care about this little e-book with a paraplegic hero?

I suspect that there's a bit of a novelty factor involved but underneath that, I think, is a fantasy, a common one. We are all very much aware of our peacock-brain, sometimes painfully aware of it, because few of us match up. Few of us are 10s. Most of us have something wonky about our bodies, whether it's gray hair or no hair, a few extra pounds or maybe a few missing in strategic places, a bum knee leftover from high school athletics. Maybe we've had a few babies, or a few too many desk jobs. Or we're one variation or another on the emotionally walking wounded, nursing old scars from difficult childhoods or romantic disasters, or maybe we have something actually diagnosable. One way or another, we don't look anything like the babes and hunks from the centerfolds and book covers, and we don't act like them, either. And we know it.

We all like to daydream about sex with those babes and hunks, but we also have dreams of inspiring passion, not as we were when we were twenty, or as we might be if we lost weight or had a cooler job. We want to be adored now, exactly as we are, whether we think we deserve it or not. We want it to be okay for us to be imperfect.

Imperfect heroes and heroines feed that fantasy. It shows people with quirks, sometime just like ours and sometimes worse, who are being seen as sexy by someone else. Somebody likes these people enough to want to go to bed with them, perhaps even fall in love with them. If someone wants people like these in a story, maybe someone can love us in real life.

There is another fantasy involved here, also tied in with our self-image. Although  we're susceptible to the lure of that peacock-brain, we hate to think we're enslaved to it.

Few people want to be that shallow, at least not for all that long. We want to be good people, and good people are willing to overlook flaws, especially flaws that the other person cannot help.

So for those who say they want fantasy, I say that this is fantasy and one of the most enduring fantasies we have. These fantasies are just as human, just as much a part of us, as the sleek bodies and Alpha attitudes and it's why stories about damaged people can work. Most of us, at the very least, are ordinary. Many of us are also damaged in some way, whether it's the catastrophic results of an accident or just the normal deterioration of age. All of us still like sex, and still want to be wanted. Stories about people who are disabled, disfigured, or maybe have a few issues are stories about what we can actually aspire to. We might be loved in spite of our own quirks, or we might be the sort of person who loves another in spite of their quirks, even if for only one night.

Sometimes it seems that writing on sex and relationships is the province these days of twenty-to-thirty-something New Yorkers, beautiful people who have unlimited options. I hear a lot about deal-breakers, most of which boil down to something as inane as body hair, height, nervous tics, or breasts that have a more-than-passing acquaintance with gravity. Both sexes are being encouraged by dating advisors not to settle, not to compromise, to go for the perfect mix of looks, prospects and personality, but even those of us who have it to start out with don't keep it. We get ill, injured, old. The bottom line, for all of us, is that sexual perfection is fleeting, if we ever had it in the first place. Eventually, reality is going to sink in and we're going to have to deal with it.

I don't think this is bad, or even as difficult as we think. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune bring with them humility, and with that comes a particular kind of clarity. Suddenly, the things that seemed so critical to us fade into the background and other things come into focus, things like integrity, chutzpah, or a smile that lights up the wrinkles in the corners of the eyes. This isn't lusting over a movie star. It's the realization that the guy with the crutches is intelligent and funny, or the girl with the hearing aid is the sweetest in the world.

This is unconditional love, not in the gushy, romantic, happily-ever-after sense, but in a deeper, truer sense. This is the love we all aspire to, both to receive and to give, the love makes things work whether it's a one-night orgy or a fifty-year marriage.

This is a love that accepts good without idolizing it and evil without condoning it. This is love that hopes, endures and has faith, love that knows fully and sees face to face. Extending it to sex, which is so culturally and emotionally loaded, is in some ways the ultimate fantasy. For a while, for the time it takes to read a story, we are all the babes and hunks of erotica.

So to that end, I would like to announce the release last month from Midnight Showcase of Second Sight, a collection of thirty short stories of unconditional love. I would also like thank everyone at ERWA who critiqued those stories for their help. Invaluable doesn't even begin to describe it.

© 2005 Ann Regentin. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.

About the Author:  Who is Ann Regentin? Read her bio on the Erotica Readers & Writers Association.

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> 2006 Book Reviews

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Blood Surrender
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Bound to Love
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Mr. Stone & Lessons
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Oedipus & Rode Hard
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Orgasms & More
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Passion of Isis
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Sex in Uniform
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Six Top Picks
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Stirring up a Storm
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Sunshine and Shadow
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Surrender & Dying for It
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America’s War on Sex
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The Commitment
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International Exposure
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A Profane Wit
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Secret Life of Oscar Wilde
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Sex Collectors
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Sex Machines
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