It is Not Just Sex

Sex is exactly like magic, except for one very important difference. Both have an air of mystery about them, and practitioners who speak in hushed tones. Both have their rituals, their Words of Power, and both traffic in what some would consider to be dark secrets.

But the biggest, the most important difference between sex and magic is that the wizard who learns every conceivable spell known to man, becomes exalted. More often than not, they are elevated to the rank of grandmaster.

Nobody gets elevated for knowing everything about sex.

At least, not in the way that gets talked about at parties.

You see, while wizards are allowed to experiment, to test the bounds of human experience, the sex mage who screams, ‘I’ve mastered the reverse-cowgirl levitation technique!’ gets buried beneath Azkaban without a ceremony.

It’s not fair. It’s not even really funny, but…there you have it.

The ironic part about all of this is that sex is at its best when it is discussed openly, but even that open discussion can be twisted so easily.

I for one, have always been leery of those who speak of sex in metaphysical terms. Who talk of souls meeting, or celestial bodies, as though by speaking frankly about what they want, they might somehow sully themselves.

But equally as bad, if not worse are those who simply shrug and say ‘It’s just sex,” as though they can’t possibly understand what all the fuss is about.

Telling a devout Catholic newlywed who has to go from demure protector to wild, kinky sex-kitten in one night that it’s just sex, doesn’t do anything except undermine her faith and her identity.

For a woman who has never had a pleasurable experience in bed due to vaginismus, the words do nothing to alleviate her pain.

And for the guy who was so nervous the first several times he tried to have sex that he couldn’t perform, (unashamedly raises his hand) the phrase doesn’t eliminate the nerves. Because by that logic, sex is just a matter of ‘get up and go’ and if he can’t, then he’s left with the exact same fear as the newlywed who can’t turn on a dime, or the woman who can’t ‘just relax.’

The fear that there’s something wrong with me.

Sex, in a lot of ways, is actually better than magic, because it’s defined by the people who take part in it, which means its impact or relevancy changes depending upon the person. Whether it’s to fill a void, relieve stress or forge a connection (however celestial) sex is a pillar of any relationship. Not the most important pillar. Far from it. But neither dressing up sex, nor trivializing it will help those who dread being bad at something that society says they shouldn’t know too much about anyway.

Honest, awkward, flush-faced conversations are easy to talk about, not easy to affect.

(We can all be hypocrites, deep in our hearts. Let’s be honest here.)

But what problems these conversations come with are immediate and often fade just as quickly. The alternatives however, the shame and hushed tones and fear we’ve all lived with for far too long, those effects can last a lifetime.

And that, to me, is the real shame.

Gallows Hope

Not long ago, I sent a story off to some friends, one of whom came back and said she thought it was beautiful and powerful, but far too bleak. She said I dropped my main character into a brutal, misogynistic system, dragged her through hell and then killed her. That’s it. ‘Where’s the hero’s journey?’ she asked. ‘Where’s the moment when the main character sees the system for what it is, beats the thousand to one odds and then changes things for the better?’

I wrote back to my friend and said, ‘I get it, I do.’ We all need a hero’s journey, and every writer has their own literary hero. But by asking for a hero’s journey, my friend was missing the point of the story. Because in order for there to be one man who beats the thousands to one odds, there has to be nine hundred and ninety-nine others who don’t. Before there can be a Final Girl, you must first have victims.

Let me back up a minute.

When I was coming up, my literary heroes were King, Rice, Bradbury, and Stine. They not only taught me how to write, they showed me that magic, real magic, isn’t found in words like abracadabra or hocus pocus, but in smaller, plainer, less flowery spells like, it can be done.

And from the moment I first thought those words, they began to grow inside me. Stretching and reaching until they became a new spell altogether. One which had me sitting up far too late at night, gripped by the sense that I needed to whisper this spell, because even then I was afraid the words wouldn’t come out right. But into that darkness, I said, if they can do, I can too. 

And then I set out to beat the odds.

But for as much as adults might shun the idea of magic, there’s a secret to it which only we can know because we’ve lived with it long enough. Magic has no rules. There are no laws, no guidebooks, not even a roadmap. Just a series of mutually agreed upon arrangements wherein Harry Potter can be rejected twelve times, Carrie thirty and Roots two hundred before they could become classics. The same unfathomable arrangement which implies, but never states, that buried amongst all of those slush piles we secretly dread, are masterpieces which will never be found, not because the writers weren’t talented enough, or didn’t have thick enough skin but because they committed themselves to a system which is wonderfully, bafflingly, borderline abusively incapable of explaining itself.

Even in writing this article, I’ve broken several of the ‘rules’ of writing. I’ve started a sentence with ‘when,’ I’ve used ‘and’ far too many times and I’ve switched tenses so often that I’m sure it’s driving some of you to distraction. But if you’ve come with me this far, I’m hoping you’ll go a little further. Because whether this article works or it falls flat, isn’t the point. The point is that no one in the industry can properly explain to you why, one way or the other.

We are, all of us, very much on our own, which is exactly the reason it’s taken me days to conjure up an ending which falls somewhere between wish-fulfillment and nihilism because the bittersweet truth is that both of them are right.

In our quest to be the hero of our own journey, we might very well die trying, much like the main character in my story. She’s the one who doesn’t get away from the serial killer because there will always be more victims than Final Girls. But failure is only ever certain when we give up the fight.

So perhaps the next time we take up the pen, after our latest rejection or the dreaded ‘it’s just not what we’re looking for’ refrain, we do so not with a bright-eyed belief, but with a gallows hope. The sort of pitch-black resolve which drives us to take up the journey, while never losing sight off the bodies which litter the way. A plain, stark acknowledgement that while the odds against us are tragic and potently bleak, they are also true and most definitely…a hell of a lot better than the alternative.


Photo by Jeremy Bishop from Unsplash

What does an orgasm feel like?

An explosion? A tornado? A bursting balloon? Electricity short circuiting your body and brain?

A violent but welcome sneeze? A deluge? A little death?

It’s well nigh impossible to capture an orgasm in words. Part of the problem is the fact that different people probably experience coming in different ways. (I say “probably” because I can, ultimately, speak only for myself.) Indeed, climaxes for a single individual vary from one time to the next. Some are more intense and sharp, others fuller and more muted. (At least, that’s true for me.)

Then there’s the question of anatomical gender. I’m pretty sure that female orgasm feels somewhat different than male orgasm. It’s more “inside” than “outside”. Also, it’s often more difficult to achieve. For me, coming almost always includes a sense of strain, of reaching for something just out of reach. And even in these supposedly enlightened times, between 10 and 40% of women claim to have never experienced a climax. How can they know for sure, though, given that your account and mine might diverge a lot – and any attempt at description can do no more than approximate the reality?

The sensations involved in orgasm often get mixed up with the emotions. To describe coming, you need to consider both. Emotions may actually be easier, so it’s tempting to ignore the physical aspects – yet those can be overwhelming.

As authors of erotica, we’re expected to describe the indescribable. It’s tough. I find myself falling back on metaphors, often related to the natural world: tidal waves, earthquakes, storms, lightning and the like. Explosions and shattering glass, plunges over a precipice, whirlwinds and a temporary release from gravity: I find myself using these images again and again.

After a while this starts to feel hackneyed and stereotyped. I really hope my readers won’t notice, that they’ll be so aroused, they won’t be thinking about how often I utilize some words and comparisons.

Here are a few female orgasm snippets from my recent work:

The climax was like nothing Annie had ever known, sensation so raw and strong she wasn’t sure it could be called pleasure. It tore her open, ripped her apart, turned her inside out. The world turned black, edge with red flickers of bliss. Her spasming cunt was the only reality.

~ from Babes in Bondage

It all combined to push her into one more climax: the knowledge of her own depravity; the incredible sensation of being full to the point of bursting; her partners’ moans and cries, the swelling of the cocks plugging both her holes, and finally, the heat of their cum, simultaneously flooding her cunt and her ass.

Pleasure exploded in her depths, so sharp that it cut her loose from her body. She seemed to hover near the ceiling, looking down at the three bodies entangled on the bed. The ruddy-headed man drew back, his cock emerging from the woman’s anus with an audible pop. White streams of semen dribbled from the stretched opening. The man below rolled the woman off him, onto her back. More cum streaked her inner thighs. He gathered some of the milky fluid and smeared it on her breasts.

~ from The Slut Strikes Back

Then his beautiful brown eyes snapped open and snagged mine. His cock swelled in my depths. I felt the shudders that rippled down the shaft. He released a strangled cry as wet heat bloomed inside my pussy, and all at once I was there too, teetering on the edge of climax then tumbling over into bliss.

My clit thrummed; my nipples throbbed; my quivering channel clamped down on Dave’s cock, triggering moans and fresh floods of jism. Rich, ripe pleasure swirled up and spilled over, drenching me in sweet delight.

~ from Cherry Pie and Mistletoe

She opened to them both, riding the pleasure they conspired to bestow. Again and again, Archie buried his massive prick in her bowels. Though she was sure he’d been fully erect when they began, he seemed to grow larger each time he impaled her, until she feared she’d be torn apart by his monstrous organ. The fear only multiplied her lust. Meanwhile Ian plunged his fingers into her channel and sucked on her clitoris, setting up a circuit of bliss between her front and rear holes.

A sudden climax rose from her depths, seizing her and flinging her about like a leaf in a whirlwind. On and on it swirled, bearing her upwards, to a breathless, dizzying height where her body dropped away, leaving only bliss.

~ from The Pornographer’s Apprentice (WIP)

And here are a few excerpts describing male orgasms. The imagery is definitely different, more external, more concrete and focused more on the expulsion of cum.

“Wait—no, we can’t— Mrs. Thomas, please—oh!” He choked back a cry as the bouffant bombshell swallowed him to the root. Her agile tongue danced along his shaft, teasing, before she turned on the industrial-level suction. Jake didn’t have a chance. It took no more than thirty seconds for her to bring him to a boil. With a strangled yell, he let go, pouring his jizz into the lady’s eager mouth.

~ from More Brides in Vegas

My fingers tangled in her gorgeous coppery hair, I held her still so I could keep control as I ravaged her mouth. I couldn’t hold on much longer. I closed my eyes, savoring the building pressure. Yes, oh yes…

Skillful fingers tickled my balls, then gave them a gentle squeeze. Pleasure exploded, spiraling up and out from my taut groin. My cock shuddered and expelled a flood of cum into Jane’s welcoming mouth. Her muscles fluttered around my shaft as she swallowed, triggering another cataclysm. More jizz erupted from my rod. She turned up the suction. My cock produced another ecstatic spurt.

~ from Santa, Baby!

Without warning, or at least any that he recognized, yeasty fluid filled his mouth. He coughed and swallowed. Dylan’s cock convulsed, spitting out more gobs of warm liquid. Rafe gulped down as much as he could, the remnants leaking from the corners of his mouth. The odd taste, the unfamiliar sensations, and, most of all, the knowledge that he’d sucked his lover to climax, all combined to take him over the edge. With one last thrust, he let go.

The pleasure was round and full, different somehow from his usual wild, jagged orgasms. It surged up from his depths, powerful, irresistible, sweeping away every thought in a blissful tide of satisfaction. For what seemed like hours, the waves rolled through him, pleasure swirling up from his balls and out onto Dylan’s tongue.

~ from The H-Gene

Sometimes I feel so bored with my own descriptions that I’m tempted to get lazy, give up, and simply write “she came hard”. Indeed, that might be enough to evoke the experience of orgasm for some readers, but it doesn’t do justice to the myriad variations on the theme of climax.

Indeed, perhaps all erotic writing faces the problem of describing the indescribable. Orgasms are only one example. Our goal is to produce physical arousal, using only the most abstract of tools – language. We can sketch out the scene, paint pictures of the protagonists, their bodies and their facial expressions. We can invoke other senses, smell and taste and sound. Ultimately though, it is our readers who fill in the blanks based on their own experience or fantasies.

All literature, in fact, involves a collaboration between the reader and the author. In erotica, the connection is simply more – intimate.


In Praise of Flirting

I love writing flirting scenes in my romances. There’s something sensual and erotic about two people engaging in teasing and verbal jousting when the attraction is mutual. Sometimes you can radiate more heat with a few lines of suggestive dialogue than with a paragraph of in-your-face eroticism. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I write these encounters in all of my mystery/thrillers, even between characters where I’ve already established a relationship. Take this one, from “Warning Shot,” book three in the Nick Seven series:

Nick brought Felicia’s hand to his mouth and kissed it. “This is one of the reasons I’m glad I have you around. You always keep me focused.”

“Is that the only reason you’re glad I’m around?”

“No, but it’s a long list.”

She moved to Nick’s lap and kissed him while running her fingers through his hair. “I’ve got nothin’ but time, tough guy.”

He caressed her cheek. “You’re resourceful, self-confident, and independent.”

“You just described a Boy Scout. Can’t you do better than that?”

He kissed her. “You’re incredibly hot, passionate about everything, and waking up next to you makes all my teenaged dreams come true.” He paused. “Plus, you make a mean stir-fried shrimp.”

Felicia laughed and lightly smacked his arm. “Is that the best you’ve got? You were always better at foreplay.”

“You make me feel alive and I can’t wait to start every day all over again with you.”

She cupped his cheek and peered into his eyes. “That’s what I was gonna say. It’s kinda hard to explain, but when I first saw you, all that time ago in London, it was like a jolt of electricity went through me. When you quit the agency and I went back to Barbados, I felt this big empty inside, like somethin’ vital had been taken away.”

He traced her jaw with his fingers. “Same thing I felt.”

Then there’s this film noir-type exchange from “Lido Key,” book two in the Vic Fallon series. If this doesn’t put you in mind of films like “Double Indemnity” and “Body Heat,” you probably aren’t a fan.

When Vic locked eyes with Ariel Weston across the bar, there was no escape. He moved to the stool next to hers, drawn in like a marlin hooked by a determined fisherman.

“Excuse me, Miss, but I’m new in town. Could you please direct me to your house?”

She began with a chuckle that escalated into full-blown laughter, then she playfully smacked Vic’s forearm. “That’s so lame, it’s cute!”

“Thank you.”

Her eyes scanned him up and down. “I don’t think I’ve seen you around here before, have I?” she asked in a low, smoky voice.

“No. Do I need a reservation to sit here?”

She laughed again. “A smart-ass. I like that quality in a man. Where are you from, smart-ass?”

“A whole other world. Would you like me to provide references before we go any further?”

She placed her hand on his on top of the bar and locked eyes with him. “I don’t think that’ll be necessary, but since we’re going to be friends, I think I should call you something more formal than smart-ass.”

“Are we going to be friends?”

“Unless you think you already have enough of them.”

“You can never have too many friends. Why don’t you call me Blake?”

“Is that your real name?”

“No, my real name is Vic. I just use Blake to fool people. What should I call you besides totally hot?”

“I like that, but let’s go with Ariel.”

“Pretty name.”

“Thank you. I’m rather attached to it.” She massaged his hand. “I should tell you something, Vic. I’m married to a rich older man, we don’t have any kids and we’ve always had separate bedrooms. He doesn’t really notice if I’m not home, since he’s only there long enough to change clothes before he meets his latest girlfriend. He doesn’t ask me any questions and I don’t grill him about where he drops his pants. Does that bother you?”

“One man’s ignorance is another man’s bliss.”

“Ooh, a clever smart-ass. That’s another quality I like.”

“And we’re just getting started.”

And finally, this is from the romantic comedy, “The Sweet Distraction”:

“I should probably go,” George said. “I’m cutting into your tanning time.”

“Why do you have to run off?” Cookie teased.

“I’m working. Remember?”

“You know what they say about all work and no play.”

“I always make time to play.”

“Like what?”

“Poker, blackjack, the ponies once in a while…”

“Are you good at picking winners?”

“I find it depends on who’s holding the riding crop.”

“Ooh, is that a kinky side coming out of hiding?”

He winked. “I’ll never tell.”

“I like to play, too.”

“What games do you like to play, little girl?”

“Pass-out, strip dominoes, escaped convict and the Warden’s wife…”

“Those are a little out of my league.”

“Maybe you should move up from Little League to the majors. That’s where they play night games.”

“Is this where you ask me if I know how to whistle, then tell me to just put my lips together and blow?”

She raised her sunglasses and looked at him. “I can think of a much better use for your lips.”

If you liked those teasers, check out the full books for more of the same. Happy reading!

Writing – Craft, Science, or Magic

A mechanic has his impact wrench and a carpenter his hammer, but what tools does a writer use to accomplish his trade? We used to say a typewriter, such as a Royal or Underwood, but today’s writer likely uses a laptop or desktop to ply his/her craft.

I’ve been in the business of writing stories for going on eight years now without the benefit of formal training on the art of stringing words together in a coherent fashion. As a typical engineer, I’ve approached the English language in the same manner as you would a murder hornet. I honestly believe that engineers as a species are born with a genetic defect that renders us incapable of understanding the English language and manipulating it for our own good.

Born during the dawn of computers, the one thing that always sat on my desk was a dictionary or Word Catalog as my friend Maurice always called it. He loved to read the dictionary, but he always complained that the topics kept changing.

Later on, we had a speller to replace the dictionary as we knew what word we wanted to use but were unable to spell it. The “speller” is known under a variety of titles and can only be found these days as a used book. It contains only a list of words without definitions to minimize the size of the book.

My latest copy of Webster’s NewWorld Speller/Divider still sits on my desk as it’s often easier to look up a word that you can’t spell and can’t get close enough for the builtin spell checker program to guess. For instance, nymphomanic is a common word that I get wrong about half the time, or areola is another one I struggle with.

I live in awe of my esteemed colleges when they discuss sentence structure or parsing a sentence. My mouth hangs open at the thought of when to use a noun or adverb, or what that even means? As I always say, “I thought Viagra was used to cure a dangling participle.”

I grew up in what is called “Deep East Texas,” in piney woods country. I usually spent the summers with my grandparents on their reasonably large farm, hunting and exploring the endless woods around their house.

The one thing I learned from growing up in the Texas backwoods, besides the fact grass burrs hurt and being barefoot in a yard with chickens is no fun, was reading. My grandparents had a number of children, and for whatever reason, all of their college textbooks were stored at their home.

Consequently, when it was too hot to play outside, I would grab a textbook and read. That may have been what pointed my path to engineering was the reading of technical books as a child. As an only child, I learned to entertain myself, and my only friend during the summer was Blue, my grandpa’s blue tick hound.

I went to a well respected technical college, which no one has ever heard of outside of academics because we didn’t have a football team. Beyond the required English classes and one semester of technical writing, I had little experience with the English language. To this day, I consider English as a second language.

After a few years as a bachelor in Houston, I took a job in the Midwest, where I met my future bride. I’m not exactly sure how we ended up as swingers beyond the fact we both enjoyed experimenting and were not overly jealous of each other. From others in the Lifestyle, a lot of couples become involved after boredom starts to settle in. For us, it was an adventure where you got to see people naked and having sex without worrying about being arrested for peeping in your neighbor’s window.

The primary drawback to swinging is that you can’t talk about your experiences outside of your peer group. It’s not a topic that comes up around the coffee pot in the breakroom. LGBTQ folks used to be in the same category, but now it seems that we’re still the only ones still in the closet.

Fast forward to one day while reading Penthouse Forum letters that it dawned on me, “I can do this.” If I create a fictitious couple, then I can write about their wife swapping stories, and remain anonymous.

Now over thirty novels and novellas later, Foxy and Larry are the sex-crazed result of my fevered brain!

We were lucky to have surrounded ourselves with a diverse group of perverts to draw from, and there is no lack of story ideas to inspire the next tale. I tend to write somewhat “true” stories and will typically take something that we’ve seen or done and twist it into a stroke story.

We’ve been lucky in the fact that for most of our married life I was a reasonably successful business owner, which gives us a lot of free time. With a private plane, we travel the continental US to visit friends and clubs all over. Swingers are a diverse and exciting group of people and a never-ending source of ideas.

Supposedly the “Dirty Thirty” is a turning point in the career of an erotic writer. Once you have thirty books under your belt, then life gets better, or so they tell me. While I have no idea if that’s true, I have found that the ups and downs of my book sales are starting to flatten out to a relative level rate of sales.

My latest thought is to work on improving my craft, and to this end, I signed up for James Patterson’s Masterclass on writing. I’m partway through the course and have found it interesting, but so far, nothing earth-shattering beyond the fact he makes a hundred million a year, and I don’t.

I started the class as a cynic and so far have not been proven wrong. Like most “How to” books, there are certain basic things you must do to succeed. The first thing is obviously to do something. I am amazed at the number of people who say something like, “I’m going to write my first novel, then within two weeks, I’ll be able to buy my private island and retire.” Then a couple of months later, they disappear and you never hear from them again.

It doesn’t make a difference what you are trying to learn; it doesn’t happen overnight with the possible exception of being shot out of a canon! Having a piece of cardboard does not make you a breakdancer; only practice does.

“I didn’t know this was so hard?” is the first comment uttered by the next Stephen King. If it were that easy, everyone would be a writer!

The nice thing about self-publishing is that you don’t have to lick the boots of the editor. Anyone can publish their drivel, but will people buy it? The one thing Patterson said, along with Stephen King, is that no one bought their first book. You have to be able to accept rejection.

Patterson had over thirty rejection letters after submitting his first story. Stephen King offered the same advice in On Writing, which I highly recommend. Writers must be like the little engine who could, “I’ll never give up, I’ll never give up!”

Be leary of accepting advice from others unless they have the same mindset as you do. Certainly, when someone tells you that you need a comma somewhere, that is a solid piece of advice to heed. However, if it is, “I would have written that paragraph completely differently,” take that advice with a grain of salt.

No two writers will approach a story in the same way, and you need to develop your own unique style. Read the works of authors you consider your contemporaries or those you look up to. Don’t copy, but learn to emulate their style. When someone sells and is ranked higher on the lists, then they are doing something right. Your brother-in-law, who has never sold one of his writings, is not the person to learn from.

Pick wisely and use the advice that makes sense to you, then reject the rest. Above all, keep writing. Patterson recommends that you pick a time when you can write for an hour or two and do that every day. If it means getting up a five a.m. to have some alone time, you should do that.

I believe this but am not hardcore about it. What I’ve found is that if I don’t feel like writing, then forcing myself to write will result in crap. As an author, you must become disciplined about writing, but that’s not an absolute.

What I do is carry a laptop with me virtually 24×7 and have all my stories in the cloud. This way, if I’ve got a few minutes of downtime, I can fire it up and pound away. Now, if I don’t feel productive, then I open a story I’m working on and start reading it. When you open a story that you haven’t seen in a week or so, you will be surprised at the number of mistakes you’ve glossed over. We all tend to see what we want to see and not necessarily what’s actually on the paper.

The big thing that I’ve learned so far from James Patterson is persistence besides the fact he is a multimillionaire. To succeed, you need to try and continue to work until you make it. As a teenager, my father believed that if he could do something, then I could do it. When I said, “I can’t!” my father would say, “You can’t hardly.”

When you hit the wall, take two steps back, and hit the wall harder. My parents are a strange couple, my Dad is a blue-collar construction worker, and my Mom is a psychologist. Together they taught me that nothing is impossible if you want it bad enough. From my Dad, I learned never give up, and from Mom, intelligence will show you the way.

So if there is a story buried in your keyboard, it’s time to fish or cut bait. As Master Yoda says, “There is no try. Either do or do not!”

Well, I think I’ve about run out of paper for this month and will be back with you next month assuming COVID-19 or an angry husband doesn’t get me!

I’m Larry Archer, and I write explicit stroke stories. I don’t write mamby pamby erotica; it’s all about fucking and sucking! There is no other way to dress it up, like putting lipstick on a pig. I’m your guy when it’s time to lock the bathroom door and take care of business. Check out my blog https://LarryArcher.blog

Sex versus Story

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels


I’ve always been a story teller. I started reading other people’s stories when I was four. Without any particular prompting, I began to create my own. Of course, my dad served as a model, regaling my siblings and me with his wildly original tales of ghosts and monsters, and my early teachers encouraged my knack for narrative, but I probably would have written stories even without those influences. It’s just part of who I am.

During the third decade of my life, I began producing erotic stories – stories about the experience of desire, and its fulfillment. My own rather broad experiences as well as my still-unrealized personal fantasies inspired my early erotica. Those tales included a lot of sex. This didn’t get in the way of the plot or character development, though, because these books were in some sense sexual coming-of-age stories. They chronicled the heroine’s journeys as she explored and came to understand and accept her own sexuality – especially her interest in power exchange. In a sense, the sex was the story, the escalating intensity of the erotic encounters teaching the heroine who she was – a sensual, polymorphously perverse creature destined to live outside the bounds of conventional “morality”.

When I began writing erotic romance, the shape of my tales changed. Now the plot was about the development of a loving relationship, as is traditional in romance. Still, this was a sort of journey, and once again sexual interludes formed the milestones along the way.

In the last couple of years, I’ve been experimenting with a different sort of erotica: sex-first, over-the-top tales with many characters, all of whom are engaged in outrageously lewd activities with one another, without, in most cases, the societal whitewash of romance. For want of a better label, I’ll call this genre “stroke”, though this term has some negative connotations. The basic idea is to provide readers with plenty of heat and variety, without any angst. My Vegas Babes series epitomizes this genre.

It’s great fun to write stroke fiction, because I can let my dirty imagination run free. I don’t have to worry about delivering the sine qua non of romance: fidelity, a focus on the protagonists’ relationship only, and a long term commitment. Even when my characters are in love or married, they can enjoy themselves with other partners. Furthermore, I can mix up MF, FF, and MM interactions in the same book, a practice that romance readers seem to loathe.

So I just started a new stroke series. The genre is steam punk erotica, with tongue firmly in cheek. However, I appear to have a new problem. For the first time, story is getting in the way of sex.

Let me explain. My current WIP, set in an alt-Victorian world, follows the progress of a brilliant young female engineer, Gillian Smith, as she tries to win a place in the secretive Toymakers Guild, an organization that creates bespoke sexual devices on commission from the wealthy and influential. As might be expected from a group of people who design outrageous sex toys, a lot of carnal activity goes on in the remote Devon mansion where the Guild is located. Gillian is an enthusiastic participant – confirming the fact that she’s well suited to be a member – but her ultimate focus is on being accepted as an official apprentice, not on getting her rocks off.

My rough mental outline has her proving herself to the Guild, demonstrating not only her technical competence but also her resourcefulness and her loyalty. Along the way, she succumbs (willingly) to various lures of the flesh. That’s a good thing – I wouldn’t have a stroke book if she didn’t. However, my efforts to introduce the necessary characters and to sketch out the conflicts that will come to a head later in the book are making it hard to include as much sex as I’d like – or perhaps I should say, as much sex as the book requires.

As a rule of thumb, a stroke book needs some sex in every chapter. Otherwise, the folks who are reading only for the naughty stuff will start to get bored. But I find myself balking at the idea of throwing in truly gratuitous sex scenes that are unrelated to the plot. Even if I try, I can’t just write disconnected sex scenes. That’s not a story. There’s no build-up, no narrative arc, no crisis and resolution. And without those essential dynamics, readers who are looking for more than just sex are going to be disappointed.

Hence I find myself struggling, trying to figure out how to make each sex scene an organic part of the story, when for once my story is not fundamentally about sex.

Maybe that’s the crux of the issue. Perhaps I need to revisit my ideas about Gillian’s motivation. It could be that in order to make this book work, her journey has to become sexual, as much as emotional and intellectual. I’ve planned some femdom scenes for later – perhaps this book is really about Gillian becoming a Domme, not about her finding a place as a Guild apprentice.

Interesting thought. Maybe that’s a path to the synthesis of sex and story that I’m seeking.

Publishing for Fun and Profit

Cuckold Club – First Date

Today was a somewhat successful day of man over machine and software! Last week I promised myself that I would release my latest smut story, which required me to climb several hurdles.

The first was obviously to finish the story, which I did Saturday. My plan is to release it for preorder on Monday at both Amazon and SmashWords. To do that, you have to have two almost identical copies of the stories.

One has the frontmatter and backmatter for Amazon and the other, frontmatter and backmatter for SmashWords. You are not allowed to have links in a story that points to a different publisher. For example, if you have a link to a SmashWords site in your Amazon Kindle copy, then Amazon will throw you under the bus.

Once I had the body completed, then I had to create the frontmatter and backmatter for each publisher. As I’m using Scrivener to write my smut in, I had to translate my existing Word versions to Scrivener. While copy and paste is the obvious solution, trust me, its not that easy, especially when I’ve never published a story out of Scrivener.

I’ve put off digging into the Compile function and trying to figure out how to tell Scrivener to bundle the Amazon version with its files and then create a SmashWords version with its unique files, was a hill I didn’t anticipate having to climb.

Once I got it to work, it started to make sense, but it was a good thing we don’t have any small children as they would have their vocabulary increased with mostly four-letter words!

Scrivener doesn’t use Styles like every other word processing program, and there is apparently a way to do it with version 3 of the software, but I didn’t have time to dig into it. The same with the Table of Contents (TOC), and I did those manually, which meant I had to do them twice. Once for Amazon and once for SmashWords.

I think I’m about 90% of the way there and will try to figure out how to automate the final 10%, so Scrivener will spit out a complete file pretty much on its own. Maybe?

The SmashWords version slipped through their meatgrinder without an error, and I used Calibre to convert the .DOCX file to ePub, and that looked pretty good.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with Scrivener and how my first story in my Cuckold Club series turned out. The story is available for preorder now and will go live next weekend. I haven’t seen a big benefit to releasing a story for preorder, but I always release a new story on Friday as the publishers tend to hipe a story in the first few days, so I want to make sure the story is available on the weekend instead of letting it languish during the week.

Scrivener sells for fifty bucks for PC or Mac, and that, to me, is very reasonable for what it can do. True, they should probably hire a technical writer instead of using programmers. As a programmer, I can attest to the fact we create poor documentation.

In a past life, I did contract programming for several car manufacturers to create computer-based training courses (CBT). I worked with a team that included video crews and technical writers. I learned so much about technical writing from them, which has helped to this day.

Speaking of Amazon and SmashWords, I want to offer my latest thoughts on these two behemoths in the publishing world.

As I understand it, Amazon publishes about 70% of the eReader stories, and SmashWords is somewhere in the 30% balance of the market.

Depending on your story content, you need to utilize both to maximize your sales. Amazon is particularly sensitive to story content, and if your typical story is on one of the fringe topics, they will give you fits.

As we’ve discussed many times at ERWA, if your story is thrown in the dungeon, sales will suffer greatly. Buyers will have to have a link to the story or the exact title. Amazon will not offer up a story from the dungeon, which means the kiss of death in most cases.

SmashWords is extremely tolerant of story content and will often allow stories that violate their liberal limitations. A search of their bestseller list will usually include stories that would give Amazon censors the vapors.

Up to now, what I’ve done is to write a story that will skate through both publishers. This way, I don’t have to create two versions of the story. With SmashWords, there is a catch. If your story includes a fairly short list of no-no’s, then they will not push the story out for you.

If your SmashWord’s story is ranked premium, then they will publish it to Apple iBooks, B&N, Nook, Kobo, and others. Apple is somewhat sensitive to story content and the blurb. They have rejected several of my stories for being too explicit, and I’ve had no success in changing their minds.

Strickly from my personal sales, my SmashWords sales are solid from month to month, while Amazon varies with the length of time since the last release. In the last year, my Amazon sales have varied from 1 to 3 times my SmashWords sales.

SmashWords doesn’t seem to care how old a story is, just how popular it is. I have stories that are several years old and still relatively high on the charts. Amazon, on the other hand, will bounce all over the place.

When I release a story on Amazon, sales will shoot up and stay for several months. Then it will slowly drop until I publish a new story.

Having SmashWords push my stories out to Apple iBooks really helps me. Most months, my income from Apple is around 50% of my SmashWords sales.

Now that I’ve released my first story in the Cuckold Club series, I can go back and finish House Party 2, which is currently approaching 100,000 words. I’m looking to take Lisabet’s suggestion and break it up to two stories, HP2 and HP3.

That will help as I’ve tried to inject some angst into the House Party original story and now have to try and fix the problems I created. The primary characters, Foxy and Larry, in my stories, are fictionalized versions of Wifey and myself. In real life, we’re in the Lifestyle, and writing erotica was a way to talk about some of our adventures. While not trying to promote things we do, it has been a lot of fun for both of us.

In House Party, Foxy left Larry for another guy and moved to California. There was no fight, she just wanted to be on her own. Foxy and I met before she turned 21 and has never actually been on her own.

It’s difficult for me to write in problems as we’ve never had issues before, and my fictional Foxy and Larry are basic extensions of ourselves. They are pretty true to life beyond the fact I don’t have a strip club and more money than God. My wife is a gorgeous creature and exactly as portrayed in the stories, except not quite as far over the edge.

Anyway, I’m starting to ramble. In HP2/HP3, I’m trying to get them back together, while trying to deal with the extra women who have complicated the situation. Foxy now has a girlfriend, who is her love interest. Larry has a new squeeze and a MILF, who is his best friend’s wife.

If that sounds complicated, it really is, and I’m struggling to make everything work out. If I break HP2 in half, then I can publish the next excerpt, which will give me time to figure out how to make everything work out, without resorting to Judge Judy.

Plus, I’m glad that my wife is a Luddite and refuses to read anything that’s not made of paper, else I’m afraid that she’ll be pissed at me. I haven’t shared the details of House Party and the marital breakup yet and am not sure if she’ll be happy with me about it.

At least I’ve got her new iPhone working, and so maybe she’ll cut me some slack if she finds out what our fictional selves have gotten tangled up in.

Until this time next month, I’m off like a prom dress! Catch my blog at: LarryArcher.blog

Larry Archer (and Foxy!)

Other Eyes


Writing can be a solitary occupation. Sure, your characters may be clamoring in your head, haranguing you and trying to hijack the plot, but ultimately you’re sitting by yourself in front of the keyboard, making the decisions and turning those choices into (hopefully) engrossing and sexy prose. It’s your book, and when you’re stuck, you’re more or less on your own.

We’re all a bit in love with our own work – I am, at least, and I suspect if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll probably confess to the same feelings. To be emotionally invested in our writing makes sense. If we didn’t care about both the process and the result, why would we bother? However, this makes it very difficult to be objective about the stories we create.

We can edit from dawn to dusk, yet still might not see some of the glaring flaws in our masterpiece. No tale is so perfect that it cannot be improved. No matter how imaginative we are, no matter how experienced in the writing craft, we all have our blind spots. That’s why participating in a critique group can be so worthwhile.

Submitting your work to a critique group allows you to see it through the eyes of others. A story offered for critique must stand on its own. When you’re reading your own work, you can’t help being aware of the background: your intentions, the origins of the premise, the characters’ back stories, all the ideas you’ve considered but decided not to include. Someone reading to critique evaluates the tale solely on its own merits. For instance, a passage that’s crystal clear to you might be judged as confusing, because you have extra knowledge that didn’t quite make it into the text. No matter how ruthless you try to be in self-editing – no matter how willing you are to kill your darlings – you can’t completely separate yourself from the process of creation, a personal process that will never be accessible to your final readers. An insightful critique can highlight gaps where critical information exists in your mind, but is missing on the page.

In a productive critique group, members tend to have different foci and different skills. Some people excel at noticing typos, misspellings and grammar gaffes. Others are particularly good at pointing out problems with sentence structure: excessive repetition, awkward phrasing, run-on sentences, sentences that are too long or too short. One critique might highlight issues with pacing or continuity; another the use of anachronisms or terminology inappropriate to the time or setting; a third, “head-hopping”, that is, slips in maintaining a consistent point of view.

Members of the ERWA Storytime critique group also tend to comment on the sexual content of the submitted stories. Maybe the sex develops too abruptly. Maybe the erotic pace drags. Maybe the characters’ actions or reactions are not plausible. Perhaps some aspect of a tale has the potential to trigger readers’ traumas, or makes it more likely that a tale will be banned by more mainstream sales channels. Many crit groups won’t deal with sexually explicit content; the members are too embarrassed. Storytime may be unique in this regard.

Of course, every author wants to receive critiques that read like rave reviews. This is even more true for erotica than other genres, I believe, because authors of erotica can’t help but inject a lot of their personal sexual interests and emotions into their work. Storytime provides a unique opportunity to test the erotic appeal of our favorite sexy scenarios on a sympathetic and broad-minded audience.

Ultimately, though, objective criticism is more valuable than unbridled enthusiasm.

I’ve been a member of ERWA for more than twenty years, and during the first few was an active participant in the Storytime list. (Yes, Storytime has been around that long!) Then I stopped subscribing for more than a decade, mostly due to lack of time. I returned when we started working on the ERWA anthology Unearthly Delights, since we planned to use the list as the submission mechanism. I’ve stayed because I enjoy the diverse authorly talent represented in the group, and for the invaluable advice I’ve received on my own stuff.

I don’t have the time to read and crit every piece that comes through the list, and I don’t submit every story I write, but I try to maintain a good karmic balance. Meanwhile, I can say without reservation that every piece on which I have received crits has become much stronger due to the process.

Not that I follow all the advice I receive. Working with a crit group is different from engaging with an editor. With an editor, there’s a power differential, unless you’re paying out of your own pocket. The editor assigned by a publisher plays the role of enforcer. He or she is tasked with making sure that your work fits the publisher’s style guides and follows their content rules, in addition to correcting typos and grammaticos. I’ve had editors make some pretty ridiculous “suggestions”, which I was more or less forced to accept.

In a contrast, everyone in a crit group understands that a critique represents one person’s view, and should be viewed as advisory rather than prescriptive. We are a community of equals, dedicated to helping one another hone our craft.

I’m writing this on Sunday, 16 February, and feeling somewhat bereft, because Storytime has been offline since last Wednesday. The tech folks are working on the problem, but meanwhile, my Sunday is a bit emptier without the usual flashers. Indeed, I have a flasher of my own queued up, targeted at one particular member of the group whom I know likes this particular sub-genre. Alas, I’ll have to wait to share it.

I do hope that by the time this blog post appears, on Friday 21 February, the issue will be resolved. I can write and publish decent stories (or perhaps I should say “indecent”) without receiving crits, but I know my work will be both technically improved and more appealing to readers if I can have the benefit of other eyes.


Looking Forward

As the year comes to an end, I wonder where did 2019 go? It seems every year is shorter and shorter; I’m tempted to check the calendar to count the number of months and make sure it is still twelve. Did it use to have more, maybe?

As a writer of erotica, I see myself sometimes as a male version of Sybil, the woman with multiple personalities. Typically, our author’s side is hidden from the world as your neighbors and co-workers would be aghast at learning the fact you write stuff for people to jerk off to.

Now certainly, we can wrap ourselves in the guise of literary license, somewhat like our President wraps himself in the American flag, but let’s not kid each other, most people think we are perverts.

Are we perverts or just being honest with ourselves? In my lifetime, I’ve seen gays go from being people rednecks would beat up after leaving the bar to people who are your neighbors and friends who borrow your turkey baster.

Maybe in another thirty years, when people say what do you do to keep the wolf away from the door, we can say, “I write erotica!” Well, I’m not holding my breath!

Leading secret lives is something that Wifey and I had done long before I started writing with one hand. Being in “The Lifestyle” means that you have two separate and distinct lives.

One of the first things we learned was you have two sets of friends, straights, and swingers. In effect, we have two little black books and they are seldom joined. Initially, you may think that you can keep them straight but it has been a struggle for us.

When we lived in the mid-west, I had a photography studio in my basement. One wall was devoted to pictures I’d shot that I liked. One day, my sister-in-law commented that she’d recognized a nude woman on my photo wall as a swinger friend of ours. One of our closest couples, we partied with, lived about ten minutes away and we did a lot of things together that didn’t always involve the bedroom.

Consequently, they had met our in-laws, and while my sister-in-law never voiced the obvious question, “Why do you have naked pictures of some other guy’s wife?” I’m sure that the thought was there.

Likewise, we have huge New Year’s Eve Pajama Parties, and deflecting the questions about why they weren’t invited was always problematic. In fact, a story I recently published, Crashing the Swinger’s Pajama Party, was an adaptation of what actually happened when a neighborhood couple showed up at midnight to a hundred people, who were mostly naked and doing the nasty!

All things considered, we’ve been lucky to escape having our secret life exposed and none of our neighbors have shown up with torches and pitchforks. It hasn’t been easy to live a double life, but at least until now, doable. Relocating to Las Vegas has made that aspect of our life, easier to deal with.

Throwing your house keys in a bowl often results in wildly exciting and often humorous consequences that you are unable to share with your straight friends. This is one of the reasons that I got started writing smut, this time seven years ago.

Writing erotic stories allows me to talk about things we’ve seen and done while maintaining the anonymity of the guilty parties and being able to get it off my chest, so to speak. Even before we got into the Lifestyle, Foxy and I lived a questionable lifestyle (lower case).

I always encouraged her to dress sexy, and being an ex-model and exhibitionist wasn’t much of a challenge for her. For me, I love having the woman that everyone in the room wants but can’t have, and that’s a real turn-on. While I don’t consider myself a cuckold, it is a thrill to see everyone’s tongue hanging out when she stalks into the room.

Writing adventures has added another separate side to our lives, straight, swinger, and now an erotic author. When I started this, I promised her that I would keep my author’s life completely separate and have managed to do so, although it’s been a struggle at times.

As my seventh year of writing smut comes to an end, I feel that I’ve been relatively successful at it. I write what is colloquially known as “stroke erotica,” or stories you masturbate to.

A lot of my fellow writers look down their noses at stroke, but I don’t care and enjoy writing stuff basically aimed at getting my readers off. Stroke stories are typically short, yet mine are often novel or novella length. So I like to think my readers are getting their money’s worth.

Heading into the new year, I have over thirty published stories under my belt and am averaging about four per year. Should I be more prolific? Certainly, but life often gets in the way and writing smut is only one part of our sometimes hectic life.

Having a real day job means that I don’t have to publish but it does nag at me when I see my sales figures drop as the days since my last story pile up. Amazon, the company we love to hate, factors time between releases as a major component in whether they suggest your story or not to a prospective reader with his/her pants unzipped.

Luckily, I also publish through SmashWords which goes more by popularity and rating than when it was published. SmashWords also pushes out my stories to other outlets such as Apple iBooks or Barnes and Noble without have to do anything. My sales through iBooks generally match what I sell through SmashWords, so I get twice the bang for my buck.

I also need to give a shout out to Kinky Literature, who promotes my porn and other popular writers. If you write erotica, you need to set up an account with Kinky Literature. Your reader pays the same price and you get the satisfaction of knowing Richie and Randi doesn’t look down upon you, unlike the blue-haired lady who hands you the dirty magazine in a brown paper bag as she sprays you with Lysol.

And of course, the Erotic Readers and Writers Association (ERWA) offers a place for writers to get together and discuss the finer points of writing smut stories as well as letting me opine on life in general once a month.

In closing, I’ll reiterate my singular goal for 2019, “Focus on one thing at a time!” Once again, I’ve failed at this goal. I will be writing some story, and out of the blue comes a thought for another story, which I can’t seem to get out of my head. Often, I will tell myself, “I’ll just write enough to flesh out the storyline.” Then what typically happens is that I’ll end up writing 20,000 words or so before going back to the story I’m trying to finish.

If I look at my draft folder, it contains over one-hundred partially finished stories that I really should do something about. I just can’t seem to turn my mind off, but maybe one day?

Well, I’m off like a prom dress! Until this time next month, stay kinky, and for more from my feeble mind, check out my blog, LarryArcher.blog.

Closer to the Edge of the Amazon Cliff?

by Larry Archer

As a writer of erotica, I am painfully aware of the Amazon Cliff and how quickly I find my toes hooked over the edge, like a bird trying to hold onto a branch in a hurricane as nature attempts to blow you away.

The “Amazon Cliff” is widely discussed, and while not an official stated policy of Amazon, there appears to be almost undeniable proof of its existence. The Amazon Cliff is a term writers use to describe how an author’s ranking suddenly drops after the release of a new publication.

Previously, we have thought that the “cliff” was approximately 30-days after a new release, but I believe that has now changed to approximately 15-days (or two weeks), at least in my case. While I’ve tried not to be too anal about sales, I couldn’t help but notice the difference between daily sales, after the release of my latest story, Walk on the Wild Side, when compared to sales before the release.

The daily sales chart below shows how my daily sales increased at the time of release and, about two weeks later, dropped to the “normal” daily sales before the release of the story.

When you release a new story, there is typically a bump in your author’s and story’s rating, which translates into higher sales at Amazon, as the release date prioritizes the results of a search. Keep in mind that I’m looking at my sales data, which may or may not mirror the results of others.

A prospective reader goes to Amazon and searches for new smut to read. The results presented are based upon proprietary algorithms, but one of the components is the length of time since the author’s previous release.

The obvious and often stated takeaway from this is that you need to publish new stories frequently to keep you on the peak of the sales wave. However, for a lot of writers, this is not as easy as you might think.

Porn stories tend to be short because if the story is long enough to get you off, then that’s all you need. For me, this is a non-starter because I can’t seem to be able to type “The End.” When I start a new erotic story, I will only have a vague idea of where the story will go, and my characters take advantage of me to never stop doing the nasty.

When I compare my sales ranking at SmashWords, I see more consistent day to day sales figures. Below is a sales chart for the past 90 days at SmashWords. While there is a sales bump with the release of a new story, the overall sales tend to be a lot more consistent. Plus, if you dig into sales of popular stories, I have stories that have been out for over a year and are still in the upper section of popularity. This tells me that SmashWords places a priority on the popularity of a story and not just when it was released.

I think the bottom line is to publish as often as you can with Amazon to keep you higher in the SEO or search rankings. I use the Book Report web-based tool, https://app.getbookreport.com/, for my sales reporting, which is free if your sales are below a certain level.

That’s all for this month, and thanks for slogging through to the end. For more on erotica by Larry Archer, follow my blog at: https://LarryArcher.blog or https://LarryArcher.blog/stories for my list of HEA explicit erotica. Follow me on Twitter, @Archer_Larry, or MeWe at https://mewe.com/i/larryarcherauthor


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