Tempted by Monsters

Muscular torsoWhen it comes to writing, I’m influenced by trends, but usually only in a negative way. If everyone is writing Mafia romance, or reverse harem, or billionaire’s babies, or hotwife/cuckold kink, my immediate reaction is to write something that twists the genre so thoroughly that it’s unrecognizable.

This doesn’t do much for my sales, of course; someone who’s looking for hunky alpha billionaires and pretty, susceptible virgins is not going to get off on

But I have to admit that I get perverse satisfaction out of torturing tropes. Furthermore, I find the exercise of turning fads on their heads to be an excellent stimulus to the imagination.

I’ve recently noticed a newly popular sub-category of monster erotica. The stories I’ve seen mostly feature big, bad, burly humanoid creatures – orcs, ogres, and the like – who have lots of muscles, enormous cocks and a strong partiality for barely legal girls in short school uniforms. Furthermore, these monsters get their jollies from punishing their sweet little victims as well as screwing them silly. As for the young ladies, well, they’re terrified, but when you’re a teenager you’re also so very horny…

And I have to admit, I’m tempted to try my hand at this sub-genre. I’m pretty sure I could nail it (so to speak), if I took it seriously. I’ve thought about a setting – too many of these take place in high schools, so I’d want something at least a little different – and come up with the notion of a run-down diner somewhere out West, where the cook and owner is an ogre. The heroine will be an eighteen-year-old headed to California, looking for stardom, but marooned on the highway to nowhere. Her old car dies and she’s stuck in the dusty, nearly deserted town, where she takes a job as a waitress to earn money for repairs. I see lots of opportunities for spanking and other chastisement in this scenario, as well as abundant filthy sex, of course.

Of course, this temptation isn’t helping me complete my work in progress, a novel which still has at least ten chapters to be written. Still, I find myself sketching out scenes while I’m swimming my laps, or waiting in line at the bank. If I keep following these lines of thought, I might not be able to resist.

Meanwhile… I thought I’d share a short, tongue-in-cheek tale that involves a monster, and speaks to the question of tropes. Enjoy!


By Lisabet Sarai

Laurel gazed out at the lake from the cabin porch and released another sigh. A full moon silvered the water. Little ripples murmured as they kissed the narrow beach. A gentle wind stirred the pines. Otherwise, silence reigned. She ran her fingers through her long, blonde locks. Pain knotted under her lush breasts. The night was achingly beautiful, but so very lonely.

Of course, she had wanted solitude. That’s why she’d fled, after Harold’s funeral. Her step children circled like vultures, ready to attack, determined to contest his revised will. She had to get away. Let her lawyers handle them She understood why her husband had cut them out and left his entire fortune to her. He was trying to assuage his guilt, to apologize for his failures. No amount of money, though, could ever compensate for those lost years.

She had always loved this place, buried in the forests of the Upper Peninsula, ten miles from the nearest settlement. “Aren’t you worried, Lauri, up there all by yourself?” her best friend Marissa had asked when Laurel announced her plans. “A woman on her own? What about wild animals? Criminals? Rapists?”

I’ve got the satellite phone, hon. And the Farleys in the next cabin are barely a mile away. Jim checks by every day to make sure I’ve got everything I need.”

The haunting call of a loon echoed through the stillness A chill shiver ran up her spine. During the day it was easy to forget how alone she was, but at night…

I’m fine, she told herself. There’s absolutely nothing to be afraid of.

A sudden noise arose, as if to contradict her self-reassurance, the crackle and pop of something moving through the underbrush along the shore. Shrinking back into the shadows near the cabin wall, she scanned the thick vegetation. The racket grew louder, snapping twigs and a huff that might have been the breathing of some great beast. A moose? she wondered. A bear?

She gripped the rifle Jim Farley had pressed on her. Laurel had no idea how to use it – what romance heroine would? – but the cold metal under her palm blunted the razor edge of her terror. If I just stay quiet, it will probably go away. She knew she should slip back into the cabin and lock the door, but fear held her paralyzed. Quite simply, she couldn’t move. Standing barefoot on the rough boards, wearing only brief shorts and a tank top – why bother with undergarments when there was no one around? – she’d never felt so vulnerable.

The intruder was close now. She could see the bushes shaking, off to the left. Any instant, it – or he – would burst into the clearing in front of the hut.

She found herself whispering a childhood prayer.

Ugh! Damn roots!” It was a man’s voice, confident and mature, deep and rich as milk chocolate, with a hint of a drawl that brought back memories from her youth. A decidedly masculine body stumbled out of the brush onto the beach. He pulled himself up to his full height – easily six three or six four – and gazed around him. Broad -shouldered and narrow-waisted, that lithe, powerful form set alarm bells ringing in Laurel’s mind and a current of heat swirling through her body.

No. It couldn’t be.

The interloper peered into the darkness and sniffed the air. All the lights in the cabin were off. He seemed not to see her. He raised his face to the moon.

There was no doubt. She would never forget those perfect cheekbones, that arrogant nose, that chiseled jaw. Moonbeams lit his bottomless blue eyes, making them glow like sapphires. A strangled moan escaped her throat. Her nipples beaded under her thin top and a growing hunger throbbed in her core.

Grant. Grant Steele. The one man she’d ever loved.

Laurel? Laurel baby! You are here, after all.” In two athletic bounds, he’d scaled the porch and stood towering over her diminutive frame. He was solid, real – this wasn’t one of her eternal fantasies. Without preliminaries, he gathered her into his arms. He smelled of balsam, damp earth and grease from his favorite french fries. The all-too-familiar scent left her limp and increasingly damp.

His firm lips pressed against her, mastering her in an instant. Molten need flooded her as he pulled her more tightly against his rock-hard body. His tongue invaded her mouth and tangled with hers, brazen and insistent. Meanwhile his always-bold hands traced her bountiful curves, kneading her well-toned buttocks and tickling the side of one full, tender breast.

Lightning sparked through her with each of his touches. His massive erection prodded her pubis as he continued to ravage her mouth. All she wanted was to sink to the ground and open herself to him. It took every ounce of will she could muster to push him away.

Grant – Grant – wait a moment, please!”

I’ve waited half a lifetime for you, angel. That’s long enough!” Nevertheless he backed off a bit. She pressed her hands against his chest, needing to catch her breath for a moment, to increase the distance between them. If she didn’t, she’d go mad.

Under his tight tee shirt, ridges of unyielding muscle rose and fell under her fingertips, like a bumpy road. She fought down a sudden wave of nausea. “Grant, how did you ever find me?”

Instead of answering, he bent to kiss her again, nibbling at the corner of her mouth, sliding his burning lips along her jaw, sucking on her earlobe until electric sparks sizzled down to her moist center. His hands busied themselves, too, slipping under the waistband of her shorts to cup her bare rear cheek.

The shock of his flesh on hers made her see stars. He kindled delight in every cell of her being, but she had to hold on, at least for a moment. She had to know. She trust her palms against his chest once more, ignoring the shudder that crept through her.

Grant! Please! Who told you I was out here?”

Nobody told me. I just knew. You’re my soul mate, Laurel. I always know where you are. Of course, getting to you might not always be that easy.” He glanced a bit ruefully at the biceps bulging out of his short sleeves, which were scratched and raw from fighting his way through the woods, then favored her with one of his irresistible, boyish grins. “But it’s worth it…”

The sight of his torn, pneumatic flesh made her a bit queasy. She ducked away before he could descend on her mouth once more. She wanted him – oh, how she wanted him, with the pent-up urgency of fifteen years apart! But first they had to talk. Communication was important. She wasn’t going to just give herself to him like some slut. She had to know how he felt, why he’d left town so suddenly after that night, so long ago…

Still. His soul mate, he’d called her. Passion flared in her heart and between her thighs. It was too wonderful to be true!

If you felt that way – why did you leave me – you know, after…”

After you refused to give me your cherry?”

Come on, Grant, you know we couldn’t. We were barely seventeen. We were romance characters. It’s just not allowed.”

He didn’t try to disguise the bitterness in his voice. “I ran away from the hurt. I thought I could forget you. That I could bury myself in other bodies and burn out the need.” With a gentleness that almost made her sob, he trailed his fingers through her luminous golden tresses. “And I tried, baby. Believe me, I tried. I whored my way from Mombasa to Bangkok. But you were with me the whole time. Every woman I ever fucked was really you.”

His crudeness made her own desire flare. “Oh, Grant…”

Then, when I heard your husband had died, that you were a widow now – I had to track you down. To make you give me what you’ve owed me for so very long… what we both need and deserve…”

He seized her with new roughness. “I’m finally going to make you mine, baby.” Her clothing tore like tissue paper under his assault. She sprawled backward onto the porch, bare as the day she was born. The night air, cool on her fevered skin, both thrilled and terrified her.

Her nakedness stunned him for a moment. He gazed at her with something like reverence. “God, you’re beautiful, Laurel! You’re a dream come true.” He dabbled his fingertips in her moist cleft, barely revealed by her gracefully parted thighs. “And so wet, darling! You want me as much as I want you.”

He knelt between her legs and she held her breath. The moment – the moment was coming. But she had to tell him the truth.

Of course I want you, Grant. I always wanted you, no matter what I said or did. That night up on the hill above town – you have no idea how much I wanted you to be my first. How difficult it was to say no.”

I should have been.” Anger and regret both rang in his voice. He was fiddling with his jeans, trying to get his zipper open. Laurel held her breath. “But it’s too late now.”

She propped herself up on her elbows, her eyes glued to his fingers. “No, Grant. It’s not.”

What?” He sat back on his heels to stare at her. “What are you talking about?”

Harold – he – well, let’s just say that he and I never consummated our marriage.”

You mean – are you trying to say….” he whispered.

Yes, my love. I’m still a virgin.”

Praise the Lord and the saints!” He dragged her back into his arms, kissing her all over. “I can’t believe it. After all this time… Oh, baby, I’m going to make it so good for you, so very good. Just lie back and let me take care of everything!”

With exaggerated care he settled her onto her back once more. Her legs flopped open and her musky aroma pervaded the atmosphere. Never in all her thirty three years had she been so drenched, so aroused, so ready.

Grant gave her a devilish grin. He grabbed the bottom of his shirt and pulled it over his head to reveal his naked torso.

Laurel screamed. Terror drowned out every erotic thought, every lascivious sensation. “No! No! Get away from me!”

The vision before her was more monster than man. Unnaturally smooth, totally hairless skin stretched taut over the swollen contours of his massive pectorals. Puffed-up deltoids merged into the ballooning biceps she’d glimpsed earlier. Ropy veins twisted around the contoured flesh of his arms, like tubing installed to nourish some artificial life form. Below his nipples, his abdomen rippled, wavy crests and valleys, all hard and burnished. The sight made her ill, made her weak. She closed her eyes, unable to bear the horror.

Laurel, honey. What’s wrong?” Grant bent closer to her face. One rubbery nipple brushed against her own breast.

Aye! Get away from me…!” Crab-like, heedless of the splinters embedding themselves in her bare butt, she scooted backward, trying to get away from that unbearable ugliness and the awful fear it kindled. Fear was her only reality now. She clambered onto her feet, stumbled down the porch steps and raced off into the night.

Of course, Grant could have stopped her – he outweighed her by sixty or seventy pounds, easily, and he had all those muscles – but he was so astonished by her reaction that he didn’t even think about it. What was wrong with her? All the women he’d had over the years had raved about his physique. He’d expected Laurel to go weak with lust, as they had…

He shook his head. She had always been a bit nuts. A virgin at thirty three! Maybe she wasn’t his soul mate after all.

Meanwhile, Laurel crashed through the forest, heedless of the branches tearing at her naked flesh. Her only thought was to put distance between her and the disgusting reality of Grant’s over-inflated body. She ran and ran, until she was totally lost. Finally, when her strength failed her, she collapsed on the mossy bank of little stream that ran through a moon-dappled clearing.

Tears streamed down her cheeks as she gasped for air. Sobs shook her ripe, vulnerable body. Was she crying for her lost love? Her lost innocence?

Gradually her breathing slowed. She drank deeply from the crystalline rivulet, to soothe her raw throat. Then she lay back and closed her eyes, focusing on the faint sounds of the night and the sweet, spicy scents of the nature. Gradually a kind of peace stole over her. She had escaped. She was free.

Her fingers drifted to her bare sex. She was still wet, still tingling with residual want. Not for Grant, though. Never. Dreamy and relaxed, she stroked her moist folds and savored the ripples of sensation kindled by that light touch. Perhaps she didn’t need a man at all.

The sound of breaking branches roused her from her erotic reverie. Grant! But whatever was forcing itself through the underbrush was bigger than Grant, more powerful.

Her heart in her throat, Laurel rolled onto her knees. She was ready to run if she had to, but for the moment curiosity held her fast.

A hairy form at least seven feet tall burst from the trees into the open area and stood, sniffing the air. The beast stood on its hind legs like a man, but its immense stature and shaggy pelt made it clear this creature was not human. Its tufted ears swiveled, trying to locate the source of Laurel’s shallow breathing. Saliva dripped from its maw, which bristled with vicious looking teeth. Meanwhile, jutting from its groin was a rigid and very human-looking male organ – aside from the fact that it was half again as long and thick as any penis that had ever appeared in an erotic romance story.

The creature’s ferocious growl changed to some more ambiguous vocalization when he finally noticed Laurel’s naked form crouched on the earth. He took a step forward, his erect member bobbing like a conductor’s wand. The rhythmic motion held Laurel transfixed. Rekindled lust flickered through her, tightening her nipples and moistening her virgin cunt.

Her fur-covered companion made another sound, grunting with a rising intonation that seemed to signal a question. He took yet another step in her direction.

He didn’t seem inclined to attack her. Laurel almost wished he would.

Finally, worn down by too much terror, frustrated with waiting, she flopped over on her back, raised her knees and gave the creature a good look at her wet and gleaming sex. Enough was enough.

Come on, big boy. Let’s see what you can do.

Fact or Fake?

“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as much as you please.” – Mark Twain

I’m not sure how closely Mark Twain followed his own advice, but that quote can apply just as well to news writing as it does to fiction in this age of distorted truth. It’s getting to the point where you can’t tell the real news from the stuff people seem to make up based on things they overheard while waiting in line at Starbucks. The new mantra has become “I can neither confirm nor deny that I had any knowledge of this event which may or may not have happened.” Huh? When I watch a press briefing, I can tell they’re lying because their lips are moving, and it’s likely I don’t believe most of what they say anyway.

The problem isn’t the reliability of the mainstream news media. There are so many social media outlets that anyone can record something on their cell phone, post it online and call it “breaking news.” They’re not required to do basic fact checking, and people are so enthralled by made-up stories that they don’t seem to care. It used to be that the only place you found “fake news” was standing in the checkout lane of the grocery store, thumbing through the National Enquirer. There was also Mad Magazine, but they were honest enough to call it satire.

By the way, did you know that the toilet paper shortage during the first few months of Covid was caused by a group of cross-dressing Haitian immigrants who snuck into the U.S. and planned to exchange the toilet paper for visas? A Georgia politician said so on YouTube, so it must be true.

It’s been a longstanding practice in the entertainment industry for publicists to tweak someone’s bio to make them more appealing to the public. A lot of dark celebrity secrets have been hidden thanks to fictionalized life stories. Unfortunately, the practice was picked up by political campaign managers, and people stopped checking to see what was true or false. I absorb most of what I hear on the news outlets with a skeptical ear, until the anchor person says “According to our fact checkers…” When they say that, I pay attention to find out what they got wrong.

That reminds me of another public service message that made the rounds. I heard that you can avoid the flu by drinking an ounce of Mr. Clean before going to bed at night. Of course, the odds aren’t good that you’ll wake up the next morning, but at least you won’t catch the flu. Someone in Washington, D.C. posted that on Twitter, so it must be true, right? At least they didn’t recommend sitting on a cactus as a cure for hemorrhoids.

I’m a fan of shows like “Law & Order,” where they flash the disclaimer “Although inspired by actual events, this story is fictional…” I occasionally watch crime re-enactment shows like “Dateline” and “Unsolved Mysteries,” too. The ripped-from-the-headlines concept has inspired many crime fiction writers, myself included. Looking at it realistically, though, you have to ask “Who do they think they’re kidding with that work-of-fiction bull? If it’s fictional, why do the names sound like the actual participants, and why are the locations the same as where it really happened?”

Like many writers of contemporary mystery/thrillers, I get ideas from current events or my own life experiences. Publishers make it easy for us by putting that nifty little disclaimer at the front of the book, the one about it being a work of fiction. I rely on that disclaimer, and I even consulted an attorney about it once. He informed me that when describing a location, I could use the actual name of the establishment, as long as I didn’t say anything derogatory about it. For example, I can name the Marriott Key Largo Bay Resort as long as I don’t say that it’s a front for drugs, gambling or prostitution. It may very well be, but I can’t make the claim.

I’ve found that I have to exercise caution when it comes to characters, too. How many times has one of your friends or family members sworn that you based a character on them or someone you both know? It’s happened to me a few times. Likewise for the things I have my characters doing. Has anyone ever asked you how much of your story is fictional and how much of it is based on personal experiences? Been there and done that. I won’t deny that many of the plot twists I use were inspired by an actual life event, but I never give away the store when answering that question. And I flat out refuse to answer if it pertains to the sex scenes.

Did you hear that a group of radical Canadians launched a satellite armed with a laser beam? It’s pointed at the American side of Niagara Falls in case they get more tourists than the Canadian side. It must be true because I read about it on Instagram. They even had a video.

As a wise old scholar once told me, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” Of course, that same scholar was convinced that JFK was assassinated by renegade CIA operatives employed by Castro, and that NASA staged Neil Armstrong’s moon landing on a Hollywood soundstage. Remember those rumors in the pre-internet age?

Sometimes, fake stories can have destructive consequences. How about when actor Burt Reynolds injured his jaw while filming a fight scene that got out of hand? It resulted in TMJ, he was restricted to a liquid diet and lost thirty pounds. The painkillers he took led to addiction, and he was physically unable to work for a long time. In spite of those well-documented facts, the tabloids claimed he had AIDS. He didn’t, but his career comeback was delayed a few years because of it.

Speaking of celebrities, I read on Facebook that Elvis Presley was spotted leaving a Krispy Kreme in Cleveland, Ohio with a box of jelly donuts tucked under his arm. It was online, so it must be true.

I once gave an interview to a newspaper in the Florida Keys, which is the setting for my Nick Seven spy thrillers. The reporter gave me a wonderful write-up, and e-mailed me the PDF so I could get a sneak preview before the print version hit the stands. The original headline was “Former spy finds paradise in Ohio man’s novels.” I was thrilled. When the print copy arrived, they had trimmed the headline to make it fit the page. The new one was “Former spy finds paradise in Ohio,” right above my head shot. I laminated a copy to use at personal appearances, and the reaction I get from people is priceless. They read the headline, see my face, then look up and see me. Their eyes shift back and forth a few times, then someone will invariably ask me if I’m the former spy. I just smile and shrug. Sometimes I really have fun by saying “If I answer that question, I’ll have to kill you.”

There’s a line in the classic Western film “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” A newspaper reporter is writing the life story of the title character, who parlayed the shooting of a vicious outlaw into a political career. When the reporter exaggerates the man’s accomplishments, he objects to them embellishing the truth. The reporter’s response is “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

How you doin’?

by Ashley Lister

It’s that time of year when my students are graduating and receiving their degrees. It’s a time of mixed emotions for me as I’ve known some of these folk for more than three years and, as they move onto bigger and better things, it might be the last time I see them. I’m particularly proud of the current cohort as these brave educational adventurers managed to achieve their success during the restrictions of Covid – and that can’t have been easy.

But, instead of viewing this as a sad time, we rightly choose to see it as a cause for celebration. It’s a time to celebrate the accumulated results from all the hard work and study and it’s a chance to look forward to the bright future that’s awaiting each graduate.

Which is what I’d like to do on this post. I’m not going to spend the remainder of this post bragging about my personal achievements (other than to mention I’ve published a book of my incredibly rude poetry and recorded an audiobook version of that title).

What I’m more interested in is: what have YOU been doing over the past couple of years that is worthy of celebration? And yes, dear reader, I’m talking directly to YOU.

Please shout about your reasons to celebrate in the comments box below, share links to your work if that’s possible, and give us all a chance to congratulate you for your success.

When You Don’t Want to Hear What She Has to Say

I'm Tired of Explaining ConsentOur bodies are strange things. They can be wondrous, pleasurable, even astonishing. But they can also be downright weird. And it often takes us time to understand what our bodies are trying to tell us.

Consider, for a moment, a pencil. Just a plain, ordinary Ticonderoga. Now, if I were to jab you with said pencil, it would hurt, right? You’d feel it instantly? Well, that’s a good thing. It means your body is doing what it’s supposed to do. Our bodies are giant nerve clusters and they’re designed to react instantly to stimuli. ‘Instantly’ being the keyword here because if it takes your body ten minutes to tell you that your shoe is on fire, that’s bad, and you should lodge a complaint with your manufacturer (if you can find them).

But while these alerts and transmissions may be instantaneous, how we decipher them (how we feel about what is happening) can take much longer. Often, the way our body reacts to something can be at odds with how we feel about whatever it is we’re reacting to.

For instance, consider a man and his erection. Men do not always achieve erections due to arousal. They can wake up with them, get them due to an intense need for urination, simple fidgeting, or for no real reason they can explain. Teenage boys understand this on an intrinsic level, especially if they have ever had to hunch or hobble when called to write something on the board in high school. (Not that this every happened to me).

Unexplainable bodily reactions are the purview of all humans, and they even come with their own medical terminology; “Arousal Non-concordance.” It’s the disconnect between our bodies reacting in ways that we might categorize as sexual but there being no accompanying desire or consent for the stimuli to continue. Essentially, if you rub something, it’s going to react to you. But that doesn’t mean you should keep rubbing.

If you need a further example to understand this concept, I don’t blame you (I’m convinced that medical terminology is designed to be inscrutable) but I want you to consider that self-same pencil we talked about earlier.

If I were to jab you with said pencil again, only this time you achieved an erection, would you say I should continue jabbing you? Or would you say this was weird, maybe even frightening, and would you ask me to please stop?

How we feel about something is often nebulous and should come with its own warning label. (I suggest, ‘Subject to Change.’) It’s the difference between ‘Yes, I loved that!’ and ‘Please don’t do that again. You’re scaring me.’ It is the difference between thinking that we’re ready and actually being ready, which unfortunately for many of us, is a certainty we only achieve when we’re actually in the moment.

Whether we are a man or a woman or anything in between, our bodies can fool us, lead us on, and put us through the ringer. But before anyone tries to get impatient or pushy or disbelieving of what a potential partner is trying to tell you, I want you to keep thinking about that pencil. Think about being jabbed and shocked and confused and maybe even a little bit frightened. Hold onto that feeling. And then stop whatever it is you’re doing. Because clearly your partner and their body need to have a little talk before things go any further.

Henry Corrigan
People come to erotica for the heat, but they stay for the heart.
Twitter: @HenryCorrigan

Reader Beware

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

To what extent are we authors responsible for protecting our readers from negative emotional experiences? Any fiction runs the risk that it will make readers uncomfortable. Indeed, some books do so intentionally. (Have you ever read anything by Chuck Palahniuk?)

Can we assume that readers are mature enough to walk away from books that offend or upset them? Or do we need to provide warnings when some content we write might trigger unpleasant memories, cause emotional distress or violate personal norms or expectations?

Society at the moment is so hypersensitive, politically correct and litigious that some publishers bend over backwards to avoid ruffling reader feathers. My publisher tacked the following warning onto the blurb for my 2014 erotic romance novel The Ingredients of Bliss:

Reader Advisory: This book contains female dominance and submission, anal sex, public sex, ethnic slurs, threats of violence and a scene of attempted rape.

Actually, the book also includes M/f D&S – wonder why they didn’t mention that?

Personally, I felt this warning was excessive. I wouldn’t have objected to mentioning the attempted rape (by a criminal character, also responsible for the “ethnic slurs” – the heroine is Chinese), but lumping that together with anal sex? This is clearly identified as erotic romance, folks! You get what you pay for.

I just finished reading a humorous MM erotic romance from the same publisher that has the following warnings:

Reader advisory: This book contains mention of physical abuse and a racist comment.

I saw this when I started the book, and I tried to notice these supposed red flags. The only “racist comment” involves a character who’s deliberately trying to seem like a nasty person asking an Australian citizen of Turkish ancestry where he’s “really” from. If there was any mention of physical abuse, it flew right by me.

The question of racist language in literature is particularly thorny right now, in midst of Black Lives Matter anger. I take very seriously the notion that language has power, that it shapes our perspectives and prejudices (as well as reflecting them). On the other hand, I believe we need to distinguish between the prejudices of the author and those of her characters.

I have a speculative fiction story I wrote not long after Trump was elected, envisioning deliberate attempts to foment hatred between ethnic groups. One of the main characters is a young Vietnamese woman, the other a Black man. They live in their respective ghettos, in a near-perpetual state of war. The story uses some very strong negative language, with each character hurling racist epithets at the other. This is important to the narrative. It illustrates how the two have been taught to view one another.

When I posted an excerpt from this work, I received some ferociously critical comments about the language. Without the racial slurs, however, the story wouldn’t work. It would be neither genuine nor effective.

Then there’s the recent movement to ban historical classics like Gone with the Wind, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and To Kill a Mockingbird because of their racist content. The racism in these books probably does reflect the authors’ own attitudes. One has to remember, however, that these views in turn mirror the beliefs and assumptions of their times. It makes no sense at all to castigate an author for racial prejudice when she was embedded in a society where racial inequity was an unquestioned norm.

Far better to use such books as examples that illustrate how much more aware we have become. Language perpetuates belief which in turn influences language. Banning these books in an attempt to insulate people from offensive content throws away an opportunity to observe, analyze and learn about this dynamic.

Besides, these books are not mere racist polemics. They’re powerful, engaging stories with memorable characters. They have enduring value which I believe is not negated by their admittedly racist elements.

Would I object to a reader advisory mentioning the racism in Gone with the Wind? Probably not, though I’d wonder if a brief warning is in fact too superficial. Far better, perhaps, to include a preface discussing the issue in greater depth, including its historical aspects.

Of course, most people don’t read prefaces.

Do they pay attention to reader advisories?

One reason I dislike advisories is that they prime the reader to look for certain story elements. In some cases this can interfere with suspense or surprise. In The Ingredients of Bliss, I wanted the reader to be shocked when Le Requin attacks Emily Wong. The reader advisory spoils that.

Very occasionally, though, I will include an advisory on the books I self-publish. If the book is a reprint, I want to be upfront about that. No reason to aggravate people who’ve read a previous edition. And for my most recent release, Incognito, I included a rather extensive reader advisory, because the novel is marketed as an erotic romance but severely strains some of the genre’s conventions.

Reader Advisory: This novel is an erotic romance featuring a committed relationship and culminating in a wedding. Nevertheless, the main characters participate in a wide range of taboo sexual activities, both together and separately.

I felt it necessary to include this because I’ve experienced the ire of some romance readers when they come across any behavior they consider to be “cheating”. If readers consider monogamy or fidelity to be a fundamental requirement for their romance, they should definitely steer clear of this book!

So this warning is more about marketing than anything else. I really don’t want to offend readers or make them unhappy. (And I don’t want them leaving bad reviews!)

On the other hand, I also believe that the people who read my books are adults who won’t be permanently traumatized if they encounter something that’s personally objectionable or sensitive. If something squicks or triggers them, I hope they’ll simply stop reading. Close the book. Turn off the app. They are, after all, ultimately in control.

A Pretty Good Year

1972 was a noteworthy year for many things that are still part of our lives 50 years later. Numerous puzzle pieces came together to form an interesting kaleidoscope of cultural events. Unlike today, most of them didn’t revolve around politics, half-truths, and bizarre conspiracy theories. If you were around during that time, some of these things may bring a wistful smile of remembrance. If you weren’t there to witness it, read on to see what you missed.

Hollywood was on a roll, and contributed some landmark movies. We were treated to “The Godfather,” which is still regarded as one of the finest American films ever made. “The Poseidon Adventure” defined the all-star disaster movie, complete with soap opera elements and a top-ten pop song, in this case “The Morning After.” Martial arts master Bruce Lee may have been passed over for the lead in TV’s “Kung Fu,” but he made up for it on the big screen with “Fist of Fury” and “The Way of the Dragon.” “Last Tango in Paris” was a critical and commercial hit, but its controversial content nearly tanked Marlon Brando’s career, right before he refused the best actor Oscar for “The Godfather.” “Deliverance” was a career-maker for Burt Reynolds, and came on the heels of his infamous nude centerfold in Cosmopolitan magazine. And no, he didn’t play the character who was told to “Squeal like a pig!” That dubious distinction went to actor Ned Beatty, who got teased about it for the rest of his life.

It’s interesting to look at the top ten films and realize how we were spending our entertainment bucks. Besides “Godfather,” “Poseidon” and “Deliverance,” the other seven top grossers were “What’s Up, Doc?”, “Jeremiah Johnson,” “Cabaret,” “Deep Throat” (seriously!), “The Getaway,” “Lady Sings the Blues,” and “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask).” In case you couldn’t tell, that last one was courtesy of Woody Allen, inspired by Dr. David Rubin’s bestseller. “Deep Throat” also had the distinction of ushering in what was labeled “porno chic,” basically moving adult films from seedy bookstores to theaters on Main Street.

The pop music world provided songs that are still fodder for oldies stations, class reunions, and the occasional beer commercial. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (Roberta Flack) was initially released in 1969 but didn’t find an audience until Clint Eastwood used it in his movie “Play Misty for Me.” It took home Grammy awards for both Song and Record of the Year. “American Pie” (Don McLean) is as much a pop quiz as a pop song, a musical riddle with veiled mentions of Elvis, Bob Dylan and other music icons. The song’s refrain—“The day the music died”—is a reference to the 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper.

This year also gave us Helen Reddy’s feminist anthem “I Am Woman,” Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water,” “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash, “Love Train” by the O’Jays, and Bette Midler’s breakout hit “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” The inspirational “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers topped the charts, along with Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” “Without You” (Harry Nilsson), and “Nights in White Satin” (The Moody Blues). For better or worse, ’72 introduced the pop group ABBA. Their name is an acronym for members Benny, Bjorn, Agnetha and Anni-Frid. Did you know it was also the name of a Swedish canned fish company?

Television continued to search for new ways to attract viewers. “Sanford and Son” debuted, where veteran nightclub comic Redd Foxx played a Black version of Archie Bunker. Speaking of which, the “All in the Family” spinoff “Maude” starred Broadway actress Beatrice Arthur as an outspoken feminist. The show used dark humor to take on taboo sit-com topics like alcoholism, domestic violence, infidelity and unplanned pregnancy. “The Bob Newhart Show” gave the popular stand-up comedian a new audience, while “The Waltons” provided a down-home family contrast to the turmoil in the world. Cable network Home Box Office began broadcasting that year. For the first nine years it was available, HBO provided only about nine hours of programming a day, until Showtime came along and offered a 24-hour schedule.

In September of that year, audience members were invited to “Come on down!” for the first time with the reboot of “The Price is Right,” still the longest-running TV game show in history. “The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson” permanently relocated from NYC to LA (actually Burbank), where it would remain until 2014. In keeping with the adage “crime doesn’t pay,” more than half of the weekly network primetime schedule consisted of private eye and police dramas. The venerable children’s program “Captain Kangaroo” aired its 5000th episode, and the Korean war comedy “M*A*S*H” debuted. As all good things must come to an end, the beloved sit-com “Bewitched” lost its magic after eight seasons, when it was scheduled against “All in the Family,” then the most-watched show on TV.

Do you have a drip coffee maker or Keurig in your kitchen? You can trace its origins back to 1972, when a new home appliance called Mr. Coffee hit the market. They hired baseball legend Joe DiMaggio to be the on-air pitchman, despite his preference for instant Sanka. Have you ever served Egg Beaters for breakfast? The 99-percent egg white product that was intended to reduce cholesterol first became available that year. Also introduced was the Honda Civic, a sub-compact auto which turned a company best known for motorcycles into a car brand. Sales of the fuel-efficient import soared as the price of gasoline hit then-record highs. To put that in perspective, it was $.36 a gallon in 1972. Those were the days…

Pong, the first arcade video game from Atari, let players imagine what it was like to play table tennis without actually holding a paddle. On the real tennis court, yellow tennis balls were introduced. Research showed that the bright yellow color was more visible on TV than the traditional white variety. This was also the year we first heard George Carlin’s comedy routine “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” I can’t say them here, either!

How many of these do you remember: “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” (from an Alka-Seltzer commercial); “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” the United Negro College Fund slogan famously mangled later by Vice President Dan Quayle as “What a waste it is to lose one’s mind”; Ms. Magazine, Gloria Steinem’s New York magazine spinoff, which she originally considered naming Sisters or Bimbo; Carnival Cruise Line, which started off with one ship and enough fuel to make it from Miami to San Juan, but not back; the unanimous passage of the Equal Rights Amendment; and the popular children’s book “Watership Down,” conceived by Richard Adams for his two daughters while on a long family car trip.

Speaking of literature, you can tell a lot about society by what people read. The top selling book that year, according to Publisher’s Weekly, was “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach. Other bestsellers included “The Odessa File” and “The Day of the Jackal” (both by Frederick Forsyth), “The Winds of War” (Herman Wouk), “The Word” (Irving Wallace), “My Name is Asher Lev” (Chaim Potok), “Wheels” (Arthur Hailey), and “Semi-Tough” (Dan Jenkins).

Of note is that a second-rate self-help book with crude illustrations and the titillating title “The Joy of Sex” spent 11 weeks atop the NYT bestsellers list. Other popular books that year included “The Terminal Man,” “Elephants Can Remember,” “The Scarlet Ruse,” “All Creatures Great and Small,” “The Friends of Eddie Coyle,” “The Stepford Wives,” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

I wonder what people will remember about us in 50 years?

Things That Get My Back-Up

On the third of June I was sat in front of my PC, wrestling with edits from a recently completed chapter. The document itself was roughly 23,000 words of a developing idea: a WIP I’m currently calling Seagulls from Hell.

The seagulls in my story had just been getting frisky. They’d done something that only the naughtiest seagulls in the world would be likely to do. And I felt as though the story was progressing in exactly the right direction.


The screen died, as did every other electronic device in the house. The silence was sudden, eerie and inescapable. “Powercut,” I muttered. I smiled because I didn’t know those were still a thing. Deciding I was probably wrong I checked the fuse box to see if the safety switch had been activated.

A neighbour came to tell me his daughter had been on the phone to the electricity company and they expected to have the power back up by 9.00pm. I glanced at my PC monitor to see what the time was then, and realised the PC monitor wasn’t working because of the powercut.

It transpired I had two hours so I elected to use that time wisely. My desk had been buried under a mountain of paperwork whilst I went through the process of marking dissertations and exam scripts. I figured it was time to give the office a little TLC. I finished the desk swiftly, cleaned a couple of windows, put away some laundry that had been waiting on me and then read a paperback.
The lights came back on without any ceremony and I sighed with a little relief, switched my PC on and tried to remember where I’d been up to with my Seagulls from Hell.

An error box appeared claiming I was trying access unreadable content. I thought, if this is a criticism of my writing style, Microsoft Word have suddenly become brutal and more than a little hurtful. The error box gave me options to try and, like the well-trained Pavlovian rat that I am, I installed devices that were guaranteed to open my unreadable file and patiently tried each one.
I’m exaggerating a little when I use the word ‘patiently’. The truth is there was a lead weight in my stomach and the idea that I’d lost 23,000 words was making me sweat like a priest in a playground. None of the software downloads worked and, with rising desperation I tried one new fresh alternative after another. When I finally managed to get the corrupted document open the contents were nothing but hieroglyphics and gibberish.

It’s no exaggeration to say I was on the verge of tears.

By a strange coincidence, a pop-up box on my laptop asked me for feedback, wanting to know how likely I would be to recommend Word for Windows. My response was: “Since Word for Windows has just crashed and lost 23,000 words of a story I was writing, I think it’s highly unlikely that I’d recommend this product to someone unless I hate their f***ing guts.”

Then my wife came to the rescue. She was calm, patient and just what I needed. I had no backups of Seagulls from Hell. With it being stored on a cloud, I wasn’t even sure I had a copy of the damned file. But she went to the corrupt file and managed to go through the version history. By the time she’d finished her magical computer shenanigans, I was looking at all 23,000 words of my original story. I was still on the verge of tears, but this time they were tears of relief.

And I mention this as a cautionary tale for any writers who are reading this. To be safe, and not have to worry that you’re going to lose a huge chunk of valuable data, you’ve got two options: either regularly back up, or marry someone f***ing awesome like my wife, Tracy.

Inspiration and Obstacles

For the past few years, I’ve been privileged to teach several creative writing classes in the university where I have taught literature-and-composition since the twentieth century. I’m currently teaching an intense class in a six-week semester, and the students have to try their hands at various genres: fiction, drama, poetry, non-fiction.

I’m not sure if all the students know I write erotica. I never bring that up at the beginning of a course, partly because male students often have conceptions of sexiness that would have driven me out of the room if I were their age.

Let me offer an example. Fred, as I’ll call him, is slightly older than my other students (late thirties?). For his dialogue scene, he described two men in a truck, both employees of a construction company. The younger one is eighteen, and the older one is a supervisor in his fifties As the truck is stopped at an intersection, the younger man points out a woman crossing the street. He claims that she has her “headlights on” (her nipples are showing, and her breasts are described as large, even though she is slim). Then the observant young man also admires her “caboose.” The older man chuckles, apparently with approval.

The older man is reminded of “the ironing board game,” which he used to play with his best friend in high school. Both boys agreed that because there were a lot of girls in their school, they would have to learn to remove a girl’s bra with one hand, and with impressive speed. To develop their skills, the two boys borrowed the bras of a very indulgent mother and fastened them around her ironing board, then practiced undoing them as quickly as possible. The construction worker who remembers this game gives his friend credit for being a “ladies’ man,” presumably because he perfected his ability to remove a bra from the rigid object that represented a living girl.

There is no indication in the written scene that bras should only be removed with the consent of their owners, or that even casual sexual encounters require a minimum of civility on both sides. As I pointed out in class, there needs to be some negotiation before underwear comes off.

The student who wrote this piece said he hoped that no one else in a largely-female class would be offended. The temperature in the classroom  seemed to drop by at least ten degrees when we began discussing the dialogue between the older man and the younger man, and the older man’s fond memory of his own youth.

I’m not sure if the writer of this piece is aware that universities tend to be hotbeds of sexual abuse and sexual misunderstanding because they still attract students between the traditional post-secondary student ages of 18 and 22. Despite the general aging of the student population due to the increasing expense of a university education, many students are relatively young and single. Dating relationships are the norm for those who seek human companionship as a break from studying—and, in too many cases these days, working to stay out of debt. Female students have told me about the double danger of going to the campus bar with fellow-students, and working as servers in various watering-holes, where their youth and attractiveness (which got them hired in the first place) make them magnets for predatory male customers. And in general, women now outnumber men in post-secondary institutions.

Entry-level creative writing classes in this university have traditionally been run as workshops, so my students know that their works-in-progress will be critiqued by their peers. So far, the critiquing in this class has been reasonably polite and constructive. When the piece about the two men in the truck and the ironing-board game was up for discussion, I noticed that the rest of the class seemed to be speechless. I had a one-to-one conversation with the student who wrote it, and he indicated that he hoped his piece was funny. I explained as tactfully as I could that I thought it would need to be considerably revised before it could tickle the funny bones of anyone who knows that bras are generally worn by living people.

I couldn’t help wondering if members of the generation currently in high school really believe that an ability to take off a girl’s bra quickly is a primary requirement for a “ladies’ man.” As a woman who dated men in my own far-off youth, I remember taking off my own bra, as often as not, when the time seemed right. Once things had progressed to a certain point, my date had only to ask for access to my breasts, and I usually preferred to slip off my bra as efficiently as possible than to put up with his efforts to find the hooks or worm his fingers underneath a snug band of stretchy material or an underwire.

Of all the qualities I looked for in a date, an ability to take off my bra with panache was not even on my list. And the tendency of high school boys to snap or undo the bras of their classmates in public places encouraged me to sidle down the hallways like a crab, keeping my back to the wall. I was not amused or aroused, and I never met another girl who claimed to enjoy this “joke.”

I suspect that my older male student now believes that I have no sense of humour, and that too many of his classmates are like me in that sense. Sigh. At least my own education has paid off.

Does Size Matter? The Final Showdown (According to One Man)

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Does size matter? It’s a question which has stumped philosophers, philanderers, and horn-balls for centuries. Historically, there’s been very little middle ground involved in the debate. People tend to break down into one of two camps. Those who say it doesn’t matter at all, and those who stridently shout that it matters a whole bunch, while pointedly shaking their heads at those in the first camp.

Even the very question itself is brimming with anxiety (at least, for men) because along with the question comes the implication that we’re afraid we won’t measure up. Personally, I have never known a man who hasn’t broken out a ruler at some point in his life. But while this may be one man’s opinion (and it totally is), one thing I’ve learned after years of listening to both camps, is that the real answer to this age old question lies somewhere in the middle.

Does size really matter? Answer: It depends on the person.

It may seem odd to consider this, but one of the greatest determining factor which often gets overlooked when it comes to the measure of a man, is the measure of a woman. Because just as every man’s endowment is as unique as his fingerprints, so too is a woman’s.

Some women (and it should go without saying that I am speaking of straight women here, but there is always someone who thinks lesbians are nothing but cold fish who never had their ashes hauled properly) would absolutely love to have a man with a shlong like a Pringles can. Others would run a mile rather than go near him because it would hurt too much.

Unfortunately for many of us, this debate has long been one-sided because our culture is obsessed with size. It influences everything from the cars we drive to the drinks we order, to how we feel when we look in the mirror. It is an obsession which is especially entrenched in porn, which does absolutely nothing to resolve the matter.

Now, please don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against porn. Porn is fantasy, pure and simple, and one of the most prominent fantasies is the idea that all a well-endowed man needs to do is drop his pants to make every woman within drooling distance say, “Oh, I must touch it.”

But it is the prevalence of this fantasy, and our own inability to distinguish it from reality, which drives so many men to send unsolicited dick pics, getting them into far more trouble than they are capable of dealing with.

We rarely, if ever, discuss penis size when it comes to body image, but the fact remains that having an unhealthy image of ourselves is detrimental to our way of life. There is no cream, device or (God help me) One Weird Trick pop-up ad which can permanently adjust the human anatomy. Whether we like it or not, our body is our body, and there is only so much we can do with it.

So if there is one lesson we can take away from all of this, it is that we need to be focusing less on size and more on skill, because just as there is only a small percentage of women who are capable of climaxing from vaginal sex alone (25%), I’d imagine that there is an equally small number of women who would be happy if you did absolutely nothing but lie there like a fleshy bump on a log.

Performance is a real thing. Just because a man may happen to have a large package, it does not in any way, shape, or form guarantee that he will be good in bed. Even those who have a natural talent for something, still need lessons to become great at it, and true masters never stop learning. Sex is like any physical activity you do for the first time. You will not be phenomenal at it, and any man who says he was, is either lying, or left the woman to do the lion’s share of the work.

The debate around size, for all its shouting and blushing, fears and body dysmorphia, teaches us to think more about “the box,” rather than outside of it. It tells us to apply our fingers, our tongues, and the myriad toys available on the market. Because the truth is, if you are attentive, if you care about her pleasure, and if you are willing to be taught, then odds are good that most women will be perfectly happy with whatever size you are. And if what you have is enough for her, then brother, it should be more than enough for you too.

My Secret Life

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

When I published my first novel, I didn’t realize how profoundly it would change my existence. After all, I’d submitted to Black Lace on a whim, intrigued by the fact that someone might be interested in reading stories inspired by my forbidden fantasies and my real-world sexual adventures. Since my book took place in the mysterious and exotic orient, I devised a pen name to match, with a hint of foreign glamor.

I even concocted a fake biography for “Lisabet Sarai”. The only child of a Lebanese belly dancer and a French army officer stationed in the Middle East, Lisabet split her childhood between the souks of Marrakesh and the cafés of Montmatre. As a precocious teenager, she danced for princes and sultans, one of whom financed her higher education. As much in demand for her exquisite erotic poetry as for her sensuous danse de ventre, Lisabet has traveled all over the world, capturing her impressions in her daring stories. Her dozens of lovers remember her with nostalgia and affection, years after their brief but incandescent liaisons.

Little did I realize that Lisabet would take on a life of her own.

There are some grains of truth in my tall tale. I did perform as a belly dancer in my youth. I’ve visited every continent except Australia, and now live in Asia. And I did go through what I like to call my “sex goddess” period, in the golden age after the invention of the Pill and before AIDS, when I seemed to be overflowing with sexual exuberance which I shared pretty broadly. I like to believe that if my former lovers think of me, they do so fondly.

However, my public reality is far more prosaic than Lisabet’s. I’m in my late sixties. I’ve been happily married for nearly forty years. I work in teaching and tech, occupations which do demand a certain sort of creativity, but which call on a different set of skills than my erotic writing. Most people who know me have never heard of Lisabet (though I occasionally fantasize that some of my friends or family might actually be Lisabet’s readers, without my knowing).

Although I’m genuinely proud of my body of work, stretching over more than two decades, I can’t brag. I can’t even tell most people. Both my parents were avid readers—it’s no accident I’m a book worm—but they went to their graves not knowing about my alter-ego. They wouldn’t have disowned me or condemned me or anything like that, but I know my preferred subject matter would have made them uncomfortable. Once I went so far as to inscribe a print copy of Raw Silk (second edition) for my father, intending it as a birthday gift. At the last minute, I returned the book to my hidden stash of author’s copies, recognizing that my dad’s peace of mind was more important than my own desire for recognition.

Meanwhile, the need to keep my alternative existence a secret has become far more critical since I took up residence in a fairly conservative foreign country with strict anti-pornography laws. I love my adopted home and enjoy living here. If I were exposed as the notorious Lisabet Sarai, I could be kicked out, even put in jail. So I take precautions. I use a different computer for my Lisabet work and communications than for other tasks. I encrypt all my files. I don’t use the same social networks for my two identities. I never do anything related to Lisabet on my phone. I bite my tongue when someone starts talking about self-publishing.

I have friends here who are literary, creative types. I am so tempted to tell them about my carefully hidden career. I really have to watch myself. After more than twenty years of writing and publishing smut, I want to shout from the rooftops, give away copies to friends and family, do signings and readings like other authors. I don’t dare.

So my existence as Lisabet Sarai is pretty much limited to the cybersphere. I email. I blog. I participate in the Erotica Readers & Writers Association lists. Very rarely I get the chance to meet some of my erotica colleagues in person. When I do, it’s a tremendous high.

I love connecting with fellow erotic authors. To be honest, I feel closer to many of my on-line friends in the erotica community than I do to my meat space acquaintances. I suppose that’s because with them, I can be honest. I don’t have to hide behind a veil of respectability. I can be myself—experimental, iconoclastic, taboo, still chronicling the thrilling variations of desire even though I’m a senior citizen.

The thing is, Lisabet Sarai really is me, a hugely important part of me that I have to keep a secret from most of the world. It’s difficult, even a bit painful, to conceal my true nature. I’m grateful that with you, at least, I don’t have to hide.

Hot Chilli Erotica

Hot Chilli Erotica


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From Adam & Eve - Based on the Book by New York Times Bestselling Authors Selena Kitt



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