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'07 Authors Insider Tips

FictionCraft
by Louisa Burton
Formatting Your Manuscript
Scams / Choosing an Agent
Pitching Your Novel...
From The Call to Published...


Hard Business
From Greg Herren
Who Is Telling This Story?
It’s Work, Not A Hobby
Where Ideas Come From


Sexy on the Page
With Shanna Germain
Plotting Erotic Fiction
Seducing Your Muse
Creating Characters...
Description, Action & Dialogue
Fucking on Paper
Ten No-Nos of Erotic Fiction
Climactic Moments: First Draft
Critique Groups
Revising Your Erotic Story
Finding the Perfect Markets...
Just Submit Already
Rejections and Acceptances


Two Girls Kissing
With Amie M. Evans
Verb Tense Confusion
Coming Up with Story Ideas
Attend a Writers’ Conference
The Fundamentals of POV
Should I Sign That?
Etiquette for Authors
Erotica is Serious Work
No Body Writes for Free...
Shameless Self Promotions
The Myth of Writer's Block


The Write Stuff
From Ashley Lister
The Time is Write
The Beautiful People
A Book by Any Other...
Synopsis: the Necessary Evil
Erotica or Porn?
Feedback Whine


2007 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
What's it like being a writer?
Blog
An Apology to Salespeople


Get All Worked Up
With J.T. Benjamin
About Secrets
The Perfect Fuck
About Choices
The Age of Consent
The Kingmaker
Kids and Sex
M.Y.O.B.
The Price of Beauty
The G.O.P.
All Worked Up About Hate
Real Men


Pondering Porn
With Ann Regentin
Good Sex: A Physics Lesson
Meet Frankenstein
Thoughts on the Orgasm Gap
The Very Bloody Marys
The Doomsday Erection
Online Threesome Porn

Sexy on the Page
by Shanna Germain



Ménage a Trois:
Critique Groups and Others Who Can Get You Off



Shanna GermainRecently I decided it was time to have a bunch of semi-naked photos taken of myself. Mainly for erotica-oriented promotional purposes, but also because it's something I wish I'd done when I was eighteen. Of course, at eighteen, I thought I looked horrible. But now, at thirty five, I know better. I will never look that good again. Lest I arrive at fifty with my wish still unfulfilled (and I seriously doubt I'll be getting naked photos taken when I'm that age), I figured it was now or never. Enter photographer, lighting guys, make-up girl (who I promptly sent home) and my cat, all of whom seemed surprisingly thrilled to watch me in various states of undress.

Now, I've never been keen on baring my naked ass to strangers. It's not that I'm a prude, it's that I'm afraid. Would they shield their eyes in horror and tell me I broke the camera? Would they laugh? Would they snicker over martinis about that little tiny (ok, great big) pimple on my butt cheek?

Of course, none of that happened (well, the martini bit might have but I wouldn't know). Instead what happened was that they were encouraging and helpful. They put me in the best light. They gently pointed out my flaws and suggested poses that would help conceal said flaws (namely that cottage cheesy bit on my thighs). And after all was said and done, the photos came out amazing.

So, what does baring my naked ass have to do with getting feedback on your writing? Everything. The fear I felt when that photographer showed up at my door is the same that I feel every time I present my naked writing to my critique group: Will they laugh? Will they run screaming in horror? Will they pick apart that plot hole over herbal tea? Despite the fear, I know that getting good, helpful feedback is a necessity. And if I don't do it, I'll look back at my writing when I'm fifty and regret that I didn't get the help I needed at thirty-five to improve.

When it comes to getting feedback, there are a number of options. The three most popular are:

The Orgy (aka In-Person Critique Group): If you are lucky enough to live in an area that other writers call home, an in-person critique group can be rewarding, enlightening and infuriating. This traditional form develops a supportive group of writer friends. It works especially well if you're the kind of writer who likes verbal feedback and who can assimilate all of the feedback once you get back home.

There are a few main drawbacks to this kind of group, however. First is that, depending on where you live, it might be difficult to find writers that share your interest in erotica and who are at a similar level to you. And, then there's scheduling: trying to find a two-hour timeslot that works for everyone takes up a great deal of time. Lastly, it's one thing to write about sex. Reading it aloud can be...interesting. I still can't read lines like, "She licked the pink pucker of his asshole, tasting salt..." without blushing. But by now my group doesn't even bat an eye when they start debating whether my character would really say "asshole" or if there's another word she'd use instead.

Places to find in-person groups: bulletin boards at colleges, universities and coffee shops; online lists like Craigs List; and local writing classes or organizations.

Blind Dates (aka One-on-One): One-on-one critiques can happen in-person, via e-mail, online or in any combination of these. Sometimes this is a situation where you pay someone to give you feedback; other times you can find someone who'd be willing to exchange work with you.

The benefit is that you're likely to receive intense, focused feedback. The drawback is that you're only getting feedback from one person.

Before you sign on for a paid one-on-one critique, make sure you check the person out. Read their writing and talk to other people who've used their services. If you're trading pieces with another writer, it's helpful if that writer writes in a similar vein so that her critiques are likely to be beneficial.

Cyber Crits (aka Online Group): Cyber crits, like cybersex, offer many benefits and, of course, a few drawbacks. Bennies first: It's easy on the schedule. In most cases, you can drop in, post your story, and give feedback on others' stories anytime you like. In addition, there are erotica-specific groups out there, so you're getting feedback from people who are working in your field.

The negatives? It may take weeks or months to get feedback, depending on how the group works. Also, the critiques can roll in at any time. There's nothing worse than already having a bad day just to open an e-mail where some stranger is ripping apart your work. And that's the other thing: most people are virtual strangers; they use an online name and they may or may not have any critique or writing experience.

There are a number of online groups out there. Do a search and you're likely to find more than you could possible use. Some send crits via e-mail, others have their own webpage. Some expect you to to crit a certain number of stories before you can post your own, others have a more free-for-all system.

Hopping into Both Beds

Personally, I belong to both an in-person group and an online group. I like the camaraderie of meeting with other writers in my area, and I like the dramatic exchange of information that happens there. (And, yes, I still blush fiercely when I read my erotica out loud). On the other hand, I love my online critique group because it's focused specifically on erotica, and because I can give and get feedback on my own schedule.

How to Get the Most From Your Critique:

Give good head: Pretend crit groups are like oral sex. If someone gives you good crit, return the favor. In fact, go down on everyone with the same respect and enthusiasm as you'd hope for in return. You'll learn just as much from giving good critiques as you will from getting one.

Guide their hands: Before the critique starts, it's okay to let reviewers know what kind of feedback you're looking for. Are you struggling with the plot? Is this a final draft, and you just want them to point out any typos? If you're unsure, that's also okay to say. "I want any and all suggestions," is my common refrain.

Wear the gag: When others are giving feedback, that's when it's your turn to shut up and listen. Don't try to explain. Don't argue. Listen. Hear everything. You can't stand next to your readers and explain anything they find confusing or repetitive, so you shouldn't do it with your reviewers. After, you can decide what suggestions you want to take and which you want to throw away.

Get off on it: When you get positive feedback on your story, take a moment to savor it. Really savor it. Because the "constructive criticism" comes next and it can be hard to take. By letting the lingering "they liked it, they really liked it" orgasm-feeling blunt the hard edges, you'll be more receptive to their suggestions.

Take recovery time: Once you've gotten feedback on your story, put it away for a bit. Work on something else. Critique other stories in your online group. Have incredible sex. Giving yourself time away from your story will make it easier to come back refreshed and able to get right back at it.

In fact, take a month-long break. By the time you come back, it will be just in time to make use of my next column, Multiple Orgasms: Revising Your Erotic Story. And maybe I’ll even show you the shots of my near-naked butt.

Other beds to climb into for critique info:


Coming up next month: "Multiple Orgasms: Revising Your Erotic Story"

Shanna Germain
August 2007


  Get Sexy on the Page with Shanna Germain in ERWA 2007 Archive.

______
"Sexy on the Page" © 2007 Shanna Germain. All rights reserved.

About the Author: Shanna Germain’s erotic stories have appeared or are scheduled to appear in dozens of publications and anthologies, including Absinthe Literary Review, Aqua Erotica 2, Best American Erotica, Best Bondage Erotica, Best Gay Romance and The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica.. She is a fiction editor for Clean Sheets and 42Opus, as well as a poetry editor for the American Journal of Nursing. You can see more of her work, erotic and otherwise, on her website, www.shannagermain.com.



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'07 Book Reviews

Anthologies

A for Amour / B for Bondage
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Women's Erotica '07
Review by Ashley Lister

The Butcher, The Baker...
Review by Ashley Lister

C is for Coeds
Review by Ashley Lister

Cream: The Best of ERWA
Review by Ashley Lister

Cream: The Best of ERWA
Perceptions by Cervo

Coming Together for the Cure
Review by Lisabet

Cross-Dressing
Review by Ashley Lister

F is for Fetish
Review by Ashley Lister

Got a Minute?
Review by Ashley Lister

He's on Top
Review by Ashley Lister

Love on the Dark Side
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Lust: ...Fantasies for Women
Review by Ashley Lister

The Mammoth Book Vol 6
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Naughty Spanking Stories
Review by Ashley Lister

Quickies 1
Review by Angelika Devlyn

She's on Top
Review by Ashley Lister

Sixteen of the Best
Review by Ashley Lister

Novels

Amorous Woman
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Boss
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Burning Bright
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Call Me By Your Name
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Cockhold
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Continuum
Review by Ashley Lister

Dark Designs
Review by Ashley Lister

Equal Opportunities
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Enthralled
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Flood
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Gothic Blue
Review by Ashley Lister

Hotbed
Review by Ashley Liste

The Lords of Satyr: Nicholas
Review by Helen E. H. Madden

Love Song of the Dominatrix
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Ménage
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Riding the Storm
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Silver Collar
Review by Ashley Lister

Split
Review by Ashley Lister

Suite Seventeen
Review by Ashley Lister

Sweet as Sin
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Tiffany Twisted
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Top of Her Game
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Whalebone Strict
Review by Ashley Lister

Wife Swap
Review by Gary Russell

Wings of Madness
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Gay Erotica

Historical Obsessions
Review by Erastes

Homosex: 60 Years of Gay...
Review by Erastes

Mammoth Book of New Gay...
Review by Erastes

Standish
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Lesbian Erotica

Iridescence:...Lesbian Erotica
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Sex Guides

The Path of Service
Review by Ashley Lister

Secrets of Porn Star Sex
Review by Ashley Lister

Touch Me There
Review by Ashley Lister

Non-Fiction

Concertina: An Erotic Memoir...
Review by Rob Hardy

Daddy's Girl
Review by Ashley Lister

Dirt for Art's Sake
Review by Rob Hardy

Entangled Lives
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Impotence: A Cultural History
Review by Rob Hardy

I, Goldstein: My Screwed...
Review by Rob Hardy

In Praise of the Whip
Review by Rob Hardy

Insatiable: ...Porn Star
Review by William S. Dean

Letters of a Portuguese Nun
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Mississippi Sissy
Review by Rob Hardy

Ron Jeremy
Review by Rob Hardy

Virgin: The Untouched...
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The Year of Yes
Review by Rob Hardy