Reaching Out from a Mind as Dirty as All Outdoors

If you get lucky enough, I might post adult-only material from time to time, so be 18 or over, or please be elsewhere.

I'll be discussing erotica here, the writing of it and the people who write it, as well as what we've written. I find all these aspects stimulating, but if any of them bore you, feel free to skim. You never know what you might miss, though.




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Friday, June 30, 2017

The 13th and final Blog Tour post for Witches, Princesses and Women at Arms! Allison Wonderland-"SFW Seeks FGM"


Allison Wonderland spins words and puns and witticisms like a master juggler keeping a dozen plates spinning in the air. Her story here begins with a classified ad--'

"Single Wicked Female Seeks Fairy Godmother
for shoe-shopping companion
and sappily-ever-after.
Must be able to work
family unfriendly magic with wand."

Intrigued? Her post on her blog begins:

"Told from the purr-spective of the catty Wicked Stepmother, the story enables its leading ladies to experience wiggle room and breathing room from sitting room to bedroom, as you'll see queer -- that is to say, here -- in this excerpt..."

But you'll have to go on over there to read that excerpt. And while you're there, you might as well leave a comment and be entered to win a free copy of the book.

aisforallison.blogspot.com

THE GIVEAWAY and LINKS

Anyone who comments on any of these blog posts will be entered in a drawing for a paperback copy (in North America) or an ebook (elsewhere) of Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms. Each blog you comment on gives you one more entry.

Here’s the lineup of blog posts—the links may be adjusted as we go along, so check back here every now and then.

June 14th: Sacchi Green-“Trollwise” (plus the Introduction)
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 15th: Cara Patterson-“Steel”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 16th: Michael M. Jones-“The Miller’s Daughter”
michaelmjones.com

June 19th: H.N. Janzen-“The Prize of the Willow”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 20th: Annabeth Leong-“The Mark and the Caul”
http://annabethleong.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-mark-and-caul-origin-story.html

June 21st: Brey Willows-“Penthouse 31”
https://breywillows.com/2017/06/21/be-your-own-sexy-as-hell-heroine/

June 22nd: Salome Wilde-“The Princess’s Princess”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 23nd: Emily L. Byrne-“Toads, Diamonds and the Occasional Pearl”
writeremilylbyrne.blogspot.com

June 26th: A.D.R. Forte-“Warrior’s Choice”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 27th: M. Birds-“Woodwitch”
mbirds.tumblr.com

June 28th: Madeleine Shade-“Robber Girl”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 29th: Lea Daley-“The Sorceress of  Solisterre”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 30th: Allison Wonderland-“SWF Seeks FGM”
aisforallison.blogspot.com

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Blog Tour Post 12, Witches, Princesses and Women at Arms: Lea Daley-"The Sorceress of Solisterre"


All these decades later, their voices echo in memory: My mother, the singer. My father, the storyteller. How many hours did she rock me while crooning? How many times did he grant my fondest bedtime wishes, rereading “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” or “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” until he must have dreaded the coming of nightfall? The poetry of Mom’s music, the stately rhythms of those fairy tales, took up permanent residence in my heart.
They were an atypical—almost radical—couple for their time. My mother was a proto-feminist, a role model whose every act suggested I could forge my own future without fear. My father, orphaned early and raised in an oppressive institution, was all-too-aware that bad things befall good people. Harsh experience taught him that rescue can only come from within. His heroism didn’t reside in a capacity to defeat dragons, but rather in his willingness to surrender male privilege, entering into equal partnership with the woman he loved. And the two truly did live happily ever after.
Their romantic relationship, their insistence on living without regard for convention, left a profound mark on me. Their bold example paved the way for my embrace of lesbianism. And their infatuation with language and literature influenced every sentence of “The Sorceress of Solisterre”. Without their uncompromising individuality, this story would not exist.
May I now introduce Aivlynn Janisdottir, a sorceress in training, whose emergent talents make her second to none? May I likewise present Queen Ilyaviere the Third, a rightfully proud sovereign, not too arrogant to recognize her equal at first meeting? To claim their destiny, they have merely to overcome the traditional barriers society establishes between commoner and queen, between two women in love.
It was my great pleasure to imagine their journey to eternal fealty. With luck, you’ll take some joy from making their acquaintance.

THE SORCERESS OF SOLISTERRE

By Lea Daley

The polished torchwood table seemed to stretch to infinity. Seated at its head, Ilyaviere the Third—Queen of Solisterre, Venestria, and the Prithian Islands—counted the councilors in attendance. All present, twenty grave faces turned toward their sovereign. But aligned with one another, in opposition to her.
Conscious that too much conflict might cause the immense table to ignite, the monarch faced the prime minister and chose her words carefully. “Marriage is a weighty matter, not to be undertaken hastily, Lord Nestrington.”
“Yet not to be deferred forever,” he countered.
That was true. After ten years on the throne, Ilyaviere understood that certain obligations were non-negotiable. She belonged to Solisterre, existed only for its purposes, had less freedom than any laborer. Now at five-and-twenty, the pressure to wed increased with each passing day.
The prime minister regarded his queen from beneath hooded eyes. Rumor had it she was lusty between the linens, but had never given her heart to a lover. Ilyaviere was like high summer’s afternoon—resplendent, golden, fiery, seductive, flowering. Always too warm, she dressed in the gauziest of robes, threw open windows, flung off coverlets. Her intemperate heat was a perilous distraction, Nestrington thought, capable of warping sound judgment. And actively dangerous in concert with the torchwood table. “Moreover, Majesty,” the prime minister said cautiously, “with Helgartha gone to Summerland, your empire is at ever greater risk.”
Ilyaviere’s amber eyes blazed. How dare Nestrington patronize her? Who knew better that Solisterre—so rich, so desirable—was dreadfully vulnerable to attack now. Without Helgartha’s intuitive powers, her impregnable spells, enemy forces would soon be on the march. If they weren’t already massing at the borders. Then Ilyaviere’s subjects, young and old, would be hostage to fortune. The table grew warmer, the queen’s voice cold. “I have summoned a new witch, as well you know. She is due within this week. Taliander assures me she possesses the skills necessary to safeguard our lands.”
At the mention of the high priestess, Lord Nestrington changed tactics. Steepling his fingers, the prime minister spoke delicately. “There is also the matter of an heir, Majesty. Which is another form of security.”
An inarguable statement. The line of succession in Solisterre stretched back some three-thousand years unchallenged, every monarch blood kin to Ilyaviere. She could delay no longer. “Very well. Make the arrangements. We shall begin receiving candidates forthwith.” Twenty sets of shoulders relaxed.
But twenty pairs of eyes narrowed when the queen raised a regal palm. “However, I will only accept someone who sees me truly, loves me deeply, strengthens me where I am weak, accepts such gifts and faults as I may possess. I will marry one who venerates neither my wealth nor my position, but only my spirit—in bed and out. Find such a suitor, high-born or low, rich or poor, and I will wed.”
She pressed judicious fingertips to the tabletop, which was gathering fire as her councilors fought back angry rejoinders. Rising, Ilyaviere smiled upon them. “Pray forgive me, gentlemen. I must take my leave before we induce a conflagration.”
Head in his hands, the prime minister sat alone in the council hall until the gleaming table cooled. Thinking, At least when Helgartha was alive, Solisterre had a mature presence guiding the helm—even if she was only a woman, subject to every female caprice and vagary. It’s past time for a man to rule the empire again... And I know just the fellow for the task...
Back in her chambers, the queen was far too heated to wait for assistance. Tossing the ancestral diadem to the bed, throwing off her formal garb, she asked her ladies, “Has the white witch yet arrived?”
“No, Majesty. Perhaps she is delayed by poor weather to the north.”
Ilyaviere paced impatiently. “Having lost my dear Helgartha, I am in dire want of her talents.” And for the first time, the queen admitted to herself how much she needed the counsel and support of another shrewd old woman, another surrogate mother. “Present her to me as quickly as may be, no matter the hour. She may dine here.”

In fact, Helgartha’s successor was only a witch in-training, albeit an Estrellian adept, able to freeze time and motion at will. She had also an emergent flair for sensing trend lines, the tilt of cosmic probability, the faintest strands of interconnection. Still, Aivlynn Janisdottir seemed a peculiar choice for the Queen’s Court—nay, for Her Majesty’s most essential advisor—and an extremely unlikely channel for the awesome powers required of a royal sorceress. Certainly she thought herself too green to defend an ancient empire. And this was a time of great hazard. Unguarded Solisterre was the jewel of the continent, with a thousand miles of coastline, deepwater ports, mild climate, fertile fields, unparalleled craftsmen, and coffers overflowing. Wherefore Aivlynn wondered what Taliander had been thinking to anoint someone so untried. Again and again she reviewed the high priestess’s parting words. “Fear not, my daughter. You are more than ready for the tests that lie ahead. You are right for them. And your capacities will only gain potency over time.”
  Yet how wrenching it had been for Aivlynn to leave the only home she remembered! The venerable Wiccan community, that small world of wise women and their aspiring acolytes. The Grandaliese Forest, where she’d spent her girlhood studying whitecraft. The sheltering stone dormitory, where the Four Rules—LIVE, LOVE, LEARN, ENJOY—were carved above the entrance, and unfailingly observed within. Even now, her friends remained there, happy and carefree, unburdened by the weight of encroaching responsibility.
Despite the urgency, though, despite impending danger, Aivlynn had declined transport to Denethra—royal seat of Solisterre—choosing instead to walk the Hallowed Way. For she needed the length of that transit, needed time to ponder the mystery of her appointment. Much too soon she’d be a captive of the queen’s court, imprisoned in unsought luxury by her own extraordinary aptitudes.
Each noon, she supped at some local inn. And afterward, she amused herself by playing her flute in the marketplace for an hour. Releasing a deceptively simple minor-key tune into the air, a song designed to strip passersby of pretense. Many mistook her for a busker, a few tossed coins her way—some from generosity, others for show. Aivlynn never had to guess at their motivations, for in the presence of her music, a person’s true essence was revealed. She watched a scold stroll past, and a peacemaker. A miser and a misanthrope. A meddler and an altruist. But only she saw the secrets of their hearts.
On her last night of travel, she slept outdoors, on the generous bosom of fair Gaia, under the protection of Mother Moon. Sheltering below the downward curving branches of a kibko tree, she was little more than a shiver of loneliness concealed beneath her thick cloak, awaiting the turn of the world, the comfort of the sun. When day broke, Aivlynn made a meal of succulent kibko berries, bathed in a nearby stream. Then she gathered her courage and pointed her feet toward Castle Paschendrale.

***


Lea Daley wrote fiction while raising children, claiming a lesbian identity, earning a BFA, teaching, and heading a nonprofit agency. She now writes full-time. Daley’s debut novel, Waiting for Harper Lee, received an Alice B. Lavender Certificate and was short-listed at the Golden Crown Awards. In 2015, her second book, FutureDyke, won a Goldie and was a Lambda finalist.


THE GIVEAWAY and LINKS

Anyone who comments on any of these blog posts will be entered in a drawing for a paperback copy (in North America) or an ebook (elsewhere) of Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms. Each blog you comment on gives you one more entry.

Here’s the lineup of blog posts—the links may be adjusted as we go along, so check back here every now and then.

June 14th: Sacchi Green-“Trollwise” (plus the Introduction)
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 15th: Cara Patterson-“Steel”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 16th: Michael M. Jones-“The Miller’s Daughter”
michaelmjones.com

June 19th: H.N. Janzen-“The Prize of the Willow”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 20th: Annabeth Leong-“The Mark and the Caul”
http://annabethleong.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-mark-and-caul-origin-story.html

June 21st: Brey Willows-“Penthouse 31”
https://breywillows.com/2017/06/21/be-your-own-sexy-as-hell-heroine/

June 22nd: Salome Wilde-“The Princess’s Princess”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 23nd: Emily L. Byrne-“Toads, Diamonds and the Occasional Pearl”
writeremilylbyrne.blogspot.com

June 26th: A.D.R. Forte-“Warrior’s Choice”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 27th: M. Birds-“Woodwitch”
mbirds.tumblr.com

June 28th: Madeleine Shade-“Robber Girl”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 29th: Lea Daley-“The Sorceress of  Solisterre”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 30th: Allison Wonderland-“SWF Seeks FGM”
aisforallison.blogspot.com



Blog Tour Post 11, Witches, Princesses and Women at Arms; Madeleine Shade-"Robber Girl"

Madeleine Shade writes erotic fairy tales and cross-pollinated mythic fiction drawn from her extensive studies in folklore and mythology. In addition to her steamy short stories, she is also the author of the interconnected novellas in the Shady Lady Fairy Tales series. Madeleine can be reached online at http://shadyladyfairytales.com.

Here's what she has to say about her gripping story and its inspiration:

“The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen is one of my favorite fairy tales, so when the submission call went out for Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms: Erotic Lesbian Fairy Tales, edited by Sacchi Green, I jumped at the chance to tell the tale of the relationship I wanted to see between Gerda and the robber girl in the fifth story of Andersen’s epic tale – “Little Robber Girl.”

I never much cared for the original fairy tale where Kay is taken away by the Snow Queen and Gerda travels north, always north, to save him. In my version, “Robber Girl,” Gerda is no innocent girl hoping to bring her beloved childhood friend back from the coldness piercing his heart. In my take on this tale, Kay is the monster, not the Snow Queen, who was Gerda’s first lover. Shackled by marriage at the demand of her grandmother, Gerda is locked up and abused by Kay. When the Snow Queen comes to take Kay as her consort, Gerda is finally free. But instead of fleeing back to her southern homeland, this girl with the blood of wolves in her veins, tracks Kay with the intent to kill him for the crimes committed against her. On her travels north, Gerda meets Alice, the robber girl who also shifts with the moon.

While writing “Robber Girl,” I kept returning to the stories “Wolf Alice” and “The Company of Wolves” by Angela Carter. The entire collection of stories in The Bloody Chamber features strong women, which was something I wanted to speak to in my own work. I know “the carnivore incarnate.” I’ve lived with the wolf that “cannot listen to reason.” I’ve known more than one man with “a wolf’s heart.” And I think Carter did too. I think she knew the wolves intimately. But, instead of letting the company of wolves devour her, she picked up a pen and wielded it like a knife. “Since her fear did her no good, she ceased to be afraid.”  And with that, Carter let the forest close “upon her like a pair of jaws.” I like this image.

“Robber Girl” is about forbidden love and strong women. It’s about lust and longing. It’s about revenge and determination. But above all else, it’s about staying true to your heart. I think we should all be a little more like Carter’s version of Little Red Riding Hood, more like Gerda and Alice. After all ladies, we are “nobody’s meat.”

THE GIVEAWAY and LINKS

Anyone who comments on any of these blog posts will be entered in a drawing for a paperback copy (in North America) or an ebook (elsewhere) of Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms. Each blog you comment on gives you one more entry.

Here’s the lineup of blog posts—the links may be adjusted as we go along, so check back here every now and then.

June 14th: Sacchi Green-“Trollwise” (plus the Introduction)
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 15th: Cara Patterson-“Steel”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 16th: Michael M. Jones-“The Miller’s Daughter”
michaelmjones.com

June 19th: H.N. Janzen-“The Prize of the Willow”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 20th: Annabeth Leong-“The Mark and the Caul”
http://annabethleong.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-mark-and-caul-origin-story.html

June 21st: Brey Willows-“Penthouse 31”
https://breywillows.com/2017/06/21/be-your-own-sexy-as-hell-heroine/

June 22nd: Salome Wilde-“The Princess’s Princess”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 23nd: Emily L. Byrne-“Toads, Diamonds and the Occasional Pearl”
writeremilylbyrne.blogspot.com

June 26th: A.D.R. Forte-“Warrior’s Choice”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 27th: M. Birds-“Woodwitch”
mbirds.tumblr.com

June 28th: Madeleine Shade-“Robber Girl”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 29th: Lea Daley-“The Sorceress of  Solisterre”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 30th: Allison Wonderland-“SWF Seeks FGM”
aisforallison.blogspot.com

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Blog Tour Post 10, Witches, Princesses and Women at Arms; M. Birds- "Woodwitch"


M. Birds is a glam femme writer and filmmaker living in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Her stories have been published by Freaky Fountain and Hot Ink Press.  She likes speculative fiction and witches and princesses and red wine, if you're buying.  You can track her down at http://mbirds.tumblr.com where she writes little of importance.

Her story puts a new twist on a princess disguised as a warrior, and a witch as deeply human as she is wise. These are captivating characters you'll remember. Go read the excerpt M. Birds shares and see what I mean. http://mbirds.tumblr.com/post/162330877124/witches-princesses-and-women-at-arms

THE GIVEAWAY and LINKS

Anyone who comments on any of these blog posts will be entered in a drawing for a paperback copy (in North America) or an ebook (elsewhere) of Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms. Each blog you comment on gives you one more entry.

Here’s the lineup of blog posts—the links may be adjusted as we go along, so check back here every now and then.

June 14th: Sacchi Green-“Trollwise” (plus the Introduction)
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 15th: Cara Patterson-“Steel”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 16th: Michael M. Jones-“The Miller’s Daughter”
michaelmjones.com

June 19th: H.N. Janzen-“The Prize of the Willow”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 20th: Annabeth Leong-“The Mark and the Caul”
http://annabethleong.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-mark-and-caul-origin-story.html

June 21st: Brey Willows-“Penthouse 31”
https://breywillows.com/2017/06/21/be-your-own-sexy-as-hell-heroine/

June 22nd: Salome Wilde-“The Princess’s Princess”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 23nd: Emily L. Byrne-“Toads, Diamonds and the Occasional Pearl”
writeremilylbyrne.blogspot.com

June 26th: A.D.R. Forte-“Warrior’s Choice”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 27th: M. Birds-“Woodwitch”
mbirds.tumblr.com

June 28th: Madeleine Shade-“Robber Girl”
https://www.facebook.com/carina.bissett.5

June 29th: Lea Daley-“The Sorceress of  Solisterre”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 30th: Allison Wonderland-“SWF Seeks FGM”
aisforallison.blogspot.com

Monday, June 26, 2017

Blog Tour Post 9, Witches, Princesses and Women at Arms; A.D.R. Forte-“Warrior’s Choice”

Here’s what the author says about herself:

"ADR Forte writes a variety of short fiction for adults. Her fantasy, erotica, and erotic fantasy appear in various anthology collections. http://www.facebook.com/ADRForte"

I happen to know that “various anthology collections” is an understatement, since I know of many books where you can find her work, but I’ll let you find those for yourself. What I will do is show you why you should care, with an excerpt from her story here that just begins to hint at how gorgeous her prose can be. It can also be scorchingly hot and gorgeous at the same time, but for that part you’ll have to read the entire story in the book.

____________
Warrior's Choice
A.D.R. Forte

Another tourist attraction in the impatient midst of the bustling, honking downtown, the palace dreams its dreams. They have pulled down the old ruins of the walls now, and anyone can get to the gardens, a shrubby fragment of their former glory. But it was not always this way.
Once, the walls towered, crowned with iron spikes. Once, only the faintest scent of roses wafted out into the night. Borne by the wind. Blown by the breath of a princess.
***
She leans her head against the window arch, letting the night cool the ache and heat of the revelry below. A few, precious minutes of escape. A respite from excess, from glittering, smiling duty. She lifts a hand to her head, to the confection of gold mesh and filigree birds with eyes of jewels. It is heavy, this towering artistry of the hairdressers' guild, and it weighs on her neck with the burden of an iron ring. It cages more than her dark hair.
She would tug at the coif, send the birds flying to a watery grave in the fountains far, far below. If she dared. But she cannot. No more than she can forever say "no." To her father. To the state. To the bonds of birth.
But she can reach her arms to the distance that unfolds beneath her, away from her, into a destiny she cannot imagine. She can sing of all she cannot say, of all she cannot even think, to the night wind that carries her song across the plains and out into the wide world, to fall where it may.
***
Maevyn wakes, shivering in her furs. The stars are bright pinpoints in the darkness, but their light is not what has wakened her. Nor is it the cold, though her breath turns to steam as she gets to her feet and reaches for bow and knife. Snow mutes her footsteps and pine branches brush, sharp and pungent, by her face until she reaches the wooden bridge where the river churns, still and sluggish, between its banks.
In this season, there is no travel. The Hadrai huddle close to their fires, within the shelter of stone and wood. The warriors take their skills to the foothills in search of meat, and even they share the fires of the small folk when they can. As she does now, following the sound of pipes to the vale below. There is a song playing in her head, but not one of the folk. Not a song of the Hadrai. Not one she's ever heard before.
And yet it goes on, a ripple of notes so exquisitely joined they might almost hide the sorrow in the melody, the loneliness in this song she doesn't know. The call that drives her to search for something, somewhere, against all good common sense.
"Who is it that calls?" says a voice in the dark.
"It is I," she replies as she steps into the edge of the fires' glow.
"Maevyn. And how fare you?"
She nods her head at the small, greybearded man, but in the way of his kind, he senses what she doesn’t say. He holds out a pitcher and mug, gestures to the nearest fire ring.
"Come," says he, "and tell me what disquiets your soul.”
If only she could. If only there were a way to describe this nameless, faceless longing. This compulsion, this knowledge that she must go. Though to do so is madness. And folly.
"If the wind calls to you," says the wiseman, "you know you must follow it. The wind never speaks for nothing."
If only it would tell her: Why her? If only it would tell her what path it wants her to travel.
Before first light, she leaves the valley and the mountains dreaming in the last stillness of winter night.
I go, she thinks, to almost certain death. But surely the wind cannot be so capricious, so devious. Instinct tells her the trail she follows is not false, and she believes it, though everyone has judged her insane.
"But where do you go?" Commach has asked. No, demanded, as he thinks he has a right to. And with a stifled sigh, she has, out of kindness, tried to explain. The expanses of land flat as a pancake, jeweled with rivers and great swaths of water. Like lakes, but so flat. Not even a hillock in sight. Buildings and walls of towering, golden stone, sprawling in every direction. Sand and dust everywhere the rivers and strange lakes don't touch. A land for giants.
West, the wind seems to whisper. West, where nothing lies but frost and impassable peaks. But perhaps beyond the peaks. What then?
Commach has turned away in disgust, not bothering for the first time to try to touch her hand. To boldly brush his shoulder against hers. Realizing at last that his bid is lost. You go to your death.
And maybe she does. She hasn't told Commach or anyone about the flowers. Red like blood, ringed by thorns. But beautiful, so beautiful. Petals soft as fur. She aches to touch them, willing to brave the thorns, to bleed on them for the chance to breathe their sweetness, to rest her skin against silken blooms. Maybe that will be her demise.
In the logic of dream, such a death seems worth it.
____________

And it just gets more intriguing from there.

Now it’s time for—you guessed it—

THE GIVEAWAY and LINKS

Anyone who comments on any of these blog posts will be entered in a drawing for a paperback copy (in North America) or an ebook (elsewhere) of Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms. Each blog you comment on gives you one more entry.

Why are so few people commenting to join the drawing? I’d be feeling paranoid, sure that hardly anybody had any interest in this book, if I hadn’t just done a reading last Saturday night at a bookstore in New York where it was selling well, and then, at the New York Pride March on Sunday, I visited my publisher’s vendor’s table and was told that they’d sold out of the copies they’d brought and had sent back to their office for more. So somebody’s interested.

Here’s the lineup of blog posts—the links may be adjusted as we go along, so check back here every now and then.

June 14th: Sacchi Green-“Trollwise” (plus the Introduction)
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 15th: Cara Patterson-“Steel”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 16th: Michael M. Jones-“The Miller’s Daughter”
michaelmjones.com

June 19th: H.N. Janzen-“The Prize of the Willow”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 20th: Annabeth Leong-“The Mark and the Caul”
http://annabethleong.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-mark-and-caul-origin-story.html

June 21st: Brey Willows-“Penthouse 31”
https://breywillows.com/2017/06/21/be-your-own-sexy-as-hell-heroine/

June 22nd: Salome Wilde-“The Princess’s Princess”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 23nd: Emily L. Byrne-“Toads, Diamonds and the Occasional Pearl”
writeremilylbyrne.blogspot.com

June 26th: A.D.R. Forte-“Warrior’s Choice”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 27th: M. Birds-“Woodwitch”
mbirds.tumblr.com

June 28th: Madeleine Shade-“Robber Girl”
https://www.facebook.com/carina.bissett.5

June 29th: Lea Daley-“The Sorceress of  Solisterre”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 30th: Allison Wonderland-“SWF Seeks FGM”
aisforallison.blogspot.com


















Friday, June 23, 2017

Blog Tour Number 8 for Witches, Princesses and Women at Arms--Emily L. Byrnes's "Toads, Diamonds and the Occasional Pearl"


That title rings a bell, fairy-tale-wise, right? But this story rings a whole lot more bells. Anthology covers rarely showcase any particular story, but in this case the cover comes close.
Go read the generously long excerpt, and comment to be entered to win a free copy of the book. We're more than halfway through the tour, and comments have been almost as rare as diamonds on the ground.

writeremilylbyrne.blogspot.com


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Blog Tour Post 7, Witches, Princesses and Women at Arms: Salome Wilde-“The Princess’s Princess”


Salome Wilde has published dozens of erotic stories across the orientation spectrum, in genres from hard-boiled/noir to kaiju exotica. She is editor of Shakespearotica: Queering the Bard and Desire Behind Bars: Lesbian Prison Erotica (Bella Books), with coauthor Talon Rihai. Find Wilde at www.salandtalerotica.com or on Twitter @salomewilde.

When I said in my introduction to the anthology that some of the stories had a subtle aura of fantasy, “The Princess’s Princess” was the one I was thinking of. It has a fairy tale feel, combined with believable characters, which turns out to make a delicious combination. Here’s an excerpt from near the beginning:  

____________
The Princess’s Princess
Salome Wilde

A few weeks into their stay, Queen Yiin formally presented my father with a vast, elaborate wall-hanging that depicted a map of her kingdom—which turned out to be thrice the size of my father’s. I fumed but had to attend the ceremony. As I gaped at the tapestry, I felt my earlier condescension with an inward cringe that I could only hope would not show outwardly as the radiant Jiin smiled into my eyes and said, as if we were continuing a conversation from our first meeting, “And these are this one’s humble walls.”
I muttered, “Humble indeed,” in response to her taunt in the guise of false modesty, and she murmured back, “That is just what this one was going to say.”
“Twit,” I snapped.
“Brat,” she hissed.
“Idiot.”
“Child.”
With that, we suddenly found we had everyone’s attention in the room. My father’s stern glare was mirrored in the eyes of my mother and Jiin’s. We were in trouble. But Jiin spoke up immediately:  “Please forgive these childish games, Your Highnesses. The Princess and this one are just like sisters; and thus, like sisters, we squabble. The outburst was this one’s fault entirely.” And she made a pretty little bow that had my father and the two queens beaming.
My competitive streak had me wanting to outdo the princess in humility, of course, but I could not think of anything to say. I was too unhumble to fake it. So, I reached out and embraced her. At first she stood, stiff as a pike: not only had we never hugged, we had never so much as touched. But then she softened, wrapped her arms around me, and brought her lips to my cheek for a kiss. I felt a tingle and marveled at it. Before I could make more of the strange sensation, however, Jiin had moved her mouth to my ear and whispered, “You are no child to have such soft, lush lukshas.”
I was entirely shocked as she released me, but there was no question that lukshas meant my bosom, which she had pressed against so warmly. The tingle quickly became a flush down my throat and out to the tips of my heretofore-unnoticed breasts. They were only of average size and I had never thought them special, but to Jiin they were apparently worthy of comment. I relished the praise more than I could say and for a reason I could not name. In fact, I cannot remember anything else that was said as we hung the tapestry in the Great Hall that day, and I retreated to my chambers as swiftly as I could when dismissed. I think my mother quipped something about my looking chilled, but I could not remember ever feeling more overheated.
Back in my rooms, I began to rethink the matter in my barely-adult way. What did Jiin mean by her remarks? Was she simply taunting me, increasing the stakes in our ridiculous rivalry? That did not ring true, and I did not want it to be true. That Jiin’s voice had been a soft, lusty purr unlike any voice ever addressed to me only made me more confused. I decided the only way to resolve my feeling of discomfort was to confront her. I made my way down the long hallway to Jiin’s rooms, passing a chambermaid and a guard, both of whom I was sure could see the stirred fluster in my bearing, though neither did more than show the usual signs of deference to their Princess.
When I burst into Jiin’s room without so much as a pause to knock, she turned from her work with a gasp. She was painting a nude female, and her model, sitting on a small platform opposite her, seemed to be one of the palace chamber servants. The creature's red-gold cloud of hair was done up with the kind of decoration Jiin wore, and her plump pale arms sported bracelets like Jiin’s. The servant quickly reached for a cloth to cover herself. Worse, I could tell there had been some light merriment in conversation that I had interrupted. The woman lowered her eyes, and asked Jiin quietly if she should go.
“Forgive me for intruding, Princess,” I said, too loudly, feeling foolish and out of place. I turned to leave.
“Please, do not go,” Jiin hastily replied. “It is time that one gives a break to one’s companion from the dull work of modeling. Thank you, Dani.” She smiled warmly and the servant smiled back through lowered lashes and bowed.
I saw the friendship between them and was hotly envious. I would never have spoken with such affection to a servant, or even to others, like the Chamberlain, to whom I owed respect. And that Jiin even knew the creature’s name was mortifying. My father had taught me haughtiness—perhaps more than he meant to—and it had left me alone and standoffish. Yet, here was Princess Jiin, my equal in stature and my superior in maturity, gentility, beauty, and tact, and I had thrown away a chance at friendship with her. I flushed again and, again, felt my nipples tighten beneath my garments.
The servant slipped out the door at the back of the room, bowing as she went. I stood, waiting for Jiin to speak again. As she fiddled with her paints, I took in the room around me, a room that I had perhaps ventured into a time or two in my life but to which I had paid little attention, save to note its similarity to so many guest chambers in the palace. Jiin had transformed it. With sheer draperies, a musky incense that lent a smoky warmth to the room, and tapestries like the one her mother had given to my parents but featuring unfamiliar landscapes and unfamiliar birds of bright plumage, Jiin had made this cold, high-ceilinged chamber her own. I turned back to note more closely her work area in the corner, full of paints, brushes, and canvases.
“Would you like to model?” Jiin asked, bringing me out of my reverie, her voice low and playful.
“M-me?” I stammered, shocked but uncharacteristically tempted, lured by the delicious note of seduction in Jiin’s sweetly accented voice. “You want me to…let you paint me?” I could not say the final phrase—“without my clothes”—nor could I imagine she meant this. Though the servant Jiin had taken as her model was of low station, she was surprisingly lovely. Even as the idea that status did not determine beauty or grace flashed through my mind for the very first time, I felt Jiin’s eyes upon me and rankled at the restrictiveness of my heavy, royal garments.
____________

Wouldn’t you like to read about what happens next? You could buy the book, of course, but you could enter a drawing to win a free copy by commenting on any of the posts in this blog Tour.

THE GIVEAWAY and LINKS

Anyone who comments on any of these blog posts will be entered in a drawing for a paperback copy (in North America) or an ebook (elsewhere) of Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms. Each blog you comment on gives you one more entry.

Here’s the lineup of blog posts—the links may be adjusted as we go along, so check back here every now and then.

June 14th: Sacchi Green-“Trollwise” (plus the Introduction)
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 15th: Cara Patterson-“Steel”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 16th: Michael M. Jones-“The Miller’s Daughter”
michaelmjones.com

June 19th: H.N. Janzen-“The Prize of the Willow”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 20th: Annabeth Leong-“The Mark and the Caul”
http://annabethleong.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-mark-and-caul-origin-story.html

June 21st: Brey Willows-“Penthouse 31”
https://breywillows.com/2017/06/21/be-your-own-sexy-as-hell-heroine/

June 22nd: Salome Wilde-“The Princess’s Princess”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 23nd: Emily L. Byrne-“Toads, Diamonds and the Occasional Pearl”
writeremilylbyrne.blogspot.com

June 26th: A.D.R. Forte-“Warrior’s Choice”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 27th: M. Birds-“Woodwitch”
mbirds.tumblr.com

June 28th: Madeleine Shade-“Robber Girl”
https://www.facebook.com/carina.bissett.5 

June 29th: Lea Daley-“The Sorceress of  Solisterre”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 30th: Allison Wonderland-“SWF Seeks FGM”
aisforallison.blogspot.com


Blog Tour Post 6, Witches, Princesses and Woman at Arms: Bred Willow-"Penthouse 31"


Blog Tour Post nimber 6!

Brey Willows titles her post "Be Your Own Sexy-as-Hell Heroine," which says it all, right? Except that she has even more to say about her story, "Penthouse 31." Who better to rescue a long-haired captive in a tower than a high-rise window inspector?

Go on over to read her post, and comment there to be entered to win a copy of the book.

https://breywillows.com/2017/06/21/be-your-own-sexy-as-hell-heroine/

THE GIVEAWAY and LINKS

Anyone who comments on any of these blog posts will be entered in a drawing for a paperback copy (in North America) or an ebook (elsewhere) of Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms. Each blog you comment on gives you one more entry.

Here’s the lineup of blog posts—the links may be adjusted as we go along, so check back here every now and then.

June 14th: Sacchi Green-“Trollwise” (plus the Introduction)
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 15th: Cara Patterson-“Steel”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 16th: Michael M. Jones-“The Miller’s Daughter”
michaelmjones.com

June 19th: H.N. Janzen-“The Prize of the Willow”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 20th: Annabeth Leong-“The Mark and the Caul”
http://annabethleong.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-mark-and-caul-origin-story.html

June 21st: Brey Willows-“Penthouse 31”
https://breywillows.com/2017/06/21/be-your-own-sexy-as-hell-heroine/

June 22nd: Salome Wilde-“The Princess’s Princess”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 23nd: Emily L. Byrne-“Toads, Diamonds and the Occasional Pearl”
writeremilylbyrne.blogspot.com

June 26th: A.D.R. Forte-“Warrior’s Choice”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 27th: M. Birds-“Woodwitch”
mbirds.tumblr.com

June 28th: Madeleine Shade-“Robber Girl”
https://www.facebook.com/carina.bissett.5 

June 29th: Lea Daley-“The Sorceress of  Solisterre”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 30th: Allison Wonderland-“SWF Seeks FGM”
aisforallison.blogspot.com


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Blog Tour Post 5 for Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms: Annabeth Leong-"The Mark and the Caul"


Today Annabeth Long writes on her website about her fascinating story "The Mark and the Caul," and links to a lovely, sexy excerpt where the princess self-conscious about her birthmark and the strong, practical commoner, linked in marriage by magic they don't understand, begin to explore each other tenderly and passionately. You don't want to muss this.

http://annabethleong.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-mark-and-caul-origin-story.html

THE GIVEAWAY and LINKS

Anyone who comments on any of these blog posts will be entered in a drawing for a paperback copy (in North America) or an ebook (elsewhere) of Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms. Each blog you comment on gives you one more entry.

Here’s the lineup of blog posts—the links may be adjusted as we go along, so check back here every now and then.

June 14th: Sacchi Green-“Trollwise” (plus the Introduction)
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 15th: Cara Patterson-“Steel”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 16th: Michael M. Jones-“The Miller’s Daughter”
michaelmjones.com

June 19th: H.N. Janzen-“The Prize of the Willow”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 20th: Annabeth Leong-“The Mark and the Caul”
http://annabethleong.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-mark-and-caul-origin-story.html

June 21st: Brey Willows-“Penthouse 31”
breywillows.com

June 22nd: Salome Wilde-“The Princess’s Princess”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 23nd: Emily L. Byrne-“Toads, Diamonds and the Occasional Pearl”
writeremilylbyrne.blogspot.com

June 26th: A.D.R. Forte-“Warrior’s Choice”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 27th: M. Birds-“Woodwitch”
mbirds.tumblr.com

June 28th: Madeleine Shade-“Robber Girl”
https://www.facebook.com/carina.bissett.5

June 29th: Lea Daley-“The Sorceress of  Solisterre”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 30th: Allison Wonderland-“SWF Seeks FGM”
aisforallison.blogspot.com

Monday, June 19, 2017

Blog Post Four for Witches, Princesses and Women at Arms-H.N.Janzen, The Prize of the Willow

Blog Tour 4.

H.N. Janzen’s “The Prize of the Willow” is an exquisitely written and ultimately haunting story that combines mythology, traditional fairy tale tropes, and characters you can love. I had asked writers to be original, creative, showing me things I hadn’t seen before, and this piece blew me away.

The author is a Canadian writer who says that she typically does her best work when she’s supposed to be doing something else. Her favorite mythical creature is the succubus, but there’s no succubus in this story. She currently manages a live-action roleplaying group in Kelowna and can be reached at hilary.n.janzen@gmail.com. She’s also the author of  “No Man is a Promontory,” a short story in Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse, and if you come across any more of her work, don’t miss a chance to read it.

 Here’s an excerpt from fairly near the beginning of the story:
____________
One warm summer night, after she had finished in the fields, Agatha decided that she had time to wander the woods. Past the birch with the crow’s nest and through the shortawn meadow foxtails grew what Agatha estimated to be the oldest tree in the forest. The weeping willow sat in the center, long branches hanging like a veil. On the edge of its perimeter was a large rock that stretched from the earth like a giant’s thumb, and it was behind this that Agatha was seated when she saw the dryad.
First a foot emerged, then a leg, then hips. A woman’s hips. Agatha was transfixed as the dryad materialized out of the tree as easily as if she were stepping through a waterfall. Her skin was a deep brown, like the bark, but as smooth as a petal, and instead of hair, she had long, hanging branches just like the willow itself. As she lit on the roots of the tree, her full breasts bounced, and Agatha felt something stir within her that had never awoken before. She gasped, the sensation searing her, and immediately the dryad turned to the rock. Before Agatha could react, the dryad had closed the distance between them. The moment her eyes set on Agatha, she drew back.
“Wait!” Agatha cried out.
The dryad paused.
“My parents told me stories of the fair folk. By what manner do I keep your company? Is there a riddle or a quest? I will do whatever it takes, for I am all alone on my farm,” Agatha said.
The dryad stepped back tentatively.
“You are all alone?” she asked.
Agatha nodded.
The dryad smiled. “I am also alone,” she said.
The dryad claimed to not have a name, so Agatha called her Willow. She said that she did not remember the fire, but it had devastated the forest, killing the previous dryad and leaving only a handful of sprouting trees alive. As such, Willow, too, was alone. All she had learned about herself and her situation, she had learned from a nymph passing along the small creek that flowed through the copse. The nymph had advised her to avoid the violent humans, too, but like Agatha, she was lonely, young, and eager. Against any reservations she may have had, Willow agreed to see Agatha again, then again, and by the end of summer, Agatha had worn a path to her favorite tree in the middle of the woods.
Willow asked the question when the air had just ripened with the sweet, full smell of autumn. She and Agatha both sat with their feet in the creek, for Agatha’s were tired after her day in the field. As they conversed, Agatha gradually removed all of her garments until she was naked as a forest animal. Willow’s eyes strayed in fascination at the similarities between them whenever Agatha turned away, and finally, when Agatha lay back on the moss, Willow could not remain reserved any longer.
“Agatha, does humankind do as the other animals do in the springtime?”
Agatha sat up. “Pardon? ”Willow shifted on the rocks, and the moss grew further to cushion her. “To make young,” she said.
For a moment, Agatha was startled. This was a topic her parents had told her about in detail so that she could not be fooled by anyone who might try to prey on her innocence in town. “Yes,” she said finally, “But we do not always do it to make young.”
Willow’s leaves perked up with confusion. “Why else would you suffer a man?”
Agatha searched the dryad’s face. “I would not suffer a man,” she admitted, “But some women find it pleasurable.”
“What could be pleasurable about it?” Willow asked.
Agatha’s heart sped up. Slowly, so that Willow might pull away if she wished, Agatha put her right hand on Willow’s jaw and leaned forward. Tenderly, almost chastely, Agatha pressed her red lips to Willow’s deep brown ones and kissed. Only the hot breath that ghosted across Willow’s mouth before Agatha pulled away indicated that the touch had been one of desire and not tutorial.
____________

Would you like to read the rest? Well there’s always this:
https://www.amazon.com/Witches-Princesses-Women-at-Arms-ebook/dp/B01M5FCKY1/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1492172248&sr=1-1 

But here’s information on entering a drawing for a free copy.

THE GIVEAWAY and LINKS

Anyone who comments on any of these blog posts will be entered in a drawing for a paperback copy (in North America) or an ebook (elsewhere) of Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms. Each blog you comment on gives you one more entry.

Here’s the lineup of blog posts—the links may be adjusted as we go along, so check back here every now and then.

June 14th: Sacchi Green-“Trollwise” (plus the Introduction)
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 15th: Cara Patterson-“Steel”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 16th: Michael M. Jones-“The Miller’s Daughter”
michaelmjones.com

June 19th: H.N. Janzen-“The Prize of the Willow”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 20th: Annabeth Leong-“The Mark and the Caul”
http://annabethleong.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-mark-and-caul-origin-story.html

June 21st: Brey Willows-“Penthouse 31”
breywillows.com

June 22nd: Salome Wilde-“The Princess’s Princess”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 23nd: Emily L. Byrne-“Toads, Diamonds and the Occasional Pearl”
writeremilylbyrne.blogspot.com

June 26th: A.D.R. Forte-“Warrior’s Choice”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 27th: M. Birds-“Woodwitch”
mbirds.tumblr.com

June 28th: Madeleine Shade-“Robber Girl”
https://www.facebook.com/carina.bissett.5 

June 29th: Lea Daley-“The Sorceress of  Solisterre”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 30th: Allison Wonderland-“SWF Seeks FGM”
aisforallison.blogspot.com




Friday, June 16, 2017

Blog Post Three for Witches, Princesses and Women at Arms: Michael M. Jones-"The Miller's Daughter

Today's post is by Michael M. Jones, so go over to his web site to see and enjoy it. "The Miller's Daughter" is a brave, strong, altogether sympathetic character, worth more than any heaps of straw spun into gold. Don't miss Michaels's intriguing excerpt, and his take on why he wanted to subvert the traditional Rumpelstiltskin tradition.with a villain who is no villain at all, but a beautiful, powerful sorceress. Go comment for a chance (or a additional chance) to win a copy of this book.
michaelmjones.com

THE GIVEAWAY and LINKS

Anyone who comments on any of these blog posts will be entered in a drawing for a paperback copy (in North America) or an ebook (elsewhere) of Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms. Each blog you comment on gives you one more entry.

Here’s the lineup of blog posts—the links may be adjusted as we go along, so check back here every now and then.

June 14th: Sacchi Green-“Trollwise” (plus the Introduction)
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 15th: Cara Patterson-“Steel”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 16th: Michael M. Jones-“The Miller’s Daughter”
michaelmjones.com

June 19th: H.N. Janzen-“The Prize of the Willow”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 20th: Annabeth Leong-“The Mark and the Caul”
http://annabethleong.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-mark-and-caul-origin-story.html

June 21st: Brey Willows-“Penthouse 31”
breywillows.com

June 22nd: Salome Wilde-“The Princess’s Princess”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 23nd: Emily L. Byrne-“Toads, Diamonds and the Occasional Pearl”
writeremilylbyrne.blogspot.com

June 26th: A.D.R. Forte-“Warrior’s Choice”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 27th: M. Birds-“Woodwitch”
mbirds.tumblr.com

June 28th: Madeleine Shade-“Robber Girl”
https://www.facebook.com/carina.bissett.5

June 29th: Lea Daley-“The Sorceress of  Solisterre”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 30th: Allison Wonderland-“SWF Seeks FGM”
aisforallison.blogspot.com

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Witched, Princesses and Women at Arms Blog Tour 2: Cara Patterson, "Steel"

Moving along on our two-week Blog Tour. Scroll down for previous posts.

Cara Patterson is an Edinburgh-based Scottish writer who has been telling stories since before she can remember, and progressed on to writing them down as soon as she had a grasp of the alphabet. Now she’s publishing her stories, and I’ve been lucky enough to have two of them for my anthologies,  “Steel” in this book, and “The Girl at the Window,” a chilling, eerily lovely, unforgettable historical piece about Russian women snipers during Siege of Leningrad, in my anthology Thunder of War, Lightning of Desire.  Don’t miss a chance to read her work wherever you can find it.

You can find a little of it right here, with this excerpt from “Steel,” not quite at the beginning, but far from the end.

____________

  Steel

Cara Patterson

She knew she had no hope of reclaiming the citadel from Talbot, not as long as the dragon lived, but there were sorcerers and mages who could enchant a blade, and make it strong enough to kill a dragon. That was what she would seek.
She followed whispers and legends and rumors.
If Talbot’s men crossed her path, she fought them. Her battles were clumsy at first, but by and by, she learned. She blooded her blade. She strengthened her sword arm. She smiled quietly in the darkness of taverns as people spoke of the brave knight with no sigil who stood against the tyrant.
Talbot’s men were everywhere, though many of them were not seeking the lost royals.
She had no doubt they sought the same thing as she did.
If some enemy could learn how to slay a dragon, then Talbot’s advantage would be gone. What he did not think on was the fact that she could follow his men, find where they hunted, see who they sought, and when they set a pyre for a witch—save her.
Three soldiers were little enough challenge, the rest of their legion still bent on subduing the village.
She cut them down, and hacked through the bonds pinioning the witch.
The witch stared at her, bruised and shaken, but defiant. “I am not your prize,” she said through bloodied teeth and lips.
Sianna smiled mildly. “No,” she agreed, “but you will come with me.”
The witch had no strength to fight, beaten as she had been. Sianna lifted her up onto her own gelding, Tar, mounting up behind her, and galloped away. There were shouts from other soldiers, who gave chase. Sianna cursed through clenched teeth, spurring her horse onward.
“You’re a witch,” she snarled at the woman before her. “Do something.”
The witch laughed, the sound racked with pain. “Save you so you can make use of me?” she whispered. “I think not. No man commands me.”
Sianna was in no mood for words. Instead, she snared the witch’s hand and thrust it between her thighs, then returned her grip to the reins. The horse was flagging, weighed down by two, and the countryside was wild, the terrain treacherous.
The witch jerked her hand back. She was staring. Sianna could feel her eyes boring into her face. Tar leapt beneath them, over a fallen tree, and the witch grabbed at Sianna, holding tightly with one arm. Her other hand extended toward the sky, burns from the rope visible on her pale skin, while her fingers twisted and curled as if snatching dust motes from the air.
Clouds poured together, thick and black, and thunder cracked. Blades of lightning cut down from the heavens, catching on nearby trees. Sianna’s horse screamed in terror, picking up speed, and behind them, the burning trees fell, blocking their pursuers.
Sianna’s heart was racing.
She’d heard rumors of how powerful some witches could be. It was said they were element weavers, spinning the elements as some would spin thread. But to manipulate the weather so easily, and bend it to her will? Suddenly, armor and a sword and shoulders as solid as steel meant nothing.
____________

Want to read the rest? And many more stories?

THE GIVEAWAY and LINKS

Anyone who comments on any of these blog posts will be entered in a drawing for a paperback copy (in North America) or an ebook (elsewhere) of Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms. Each blog you comment on gives you one more entry.

Here’s the lineup of blog posts—the links may be adjusted as we go along, so check back here every now and then.

June 14th: Sacchi Green-“Trollwise” (plus the Introduction)
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 15th: Cara Patterson-“Steel”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 16th: Michael M. Jones-“The Miller’s Daughter”
michaelmjones.com

June 19th: H.N. Janzen-“The Prize of the Willow”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 20th: Annabeth Leong-“The Mark and the Caul”
http://annabethleong.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-mark-and-caul-origin-story.html

June 21st: Brey Willows-“Penthouse 31”
breywillows.com

June 22nd: Salome Wilde-“The Princess’s Princess”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 23nd: Emily L. Byrne-“Toads, Diamonds and the Occasional Pearl”
writeremilylbyrne.blogspot.com

June 26th: A.D.R. Forte-“Warrior’s Choice”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 27th: M. Birds-“Woodwitch”
mbirds.tumblr.com

June 28th: Madeleine Shade-“Robber Girl”
https://www.facebook.com/carina.bissett.5 

June 29th: Lea Daley-“The Sorceress of  Solisterre”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 30th: Allison Wonderland-“SWF Seeks FGM”
aisforallison.blogspot.com

Or, if you don’t win a copy, there’s always:
https://www.amazon.com/Witches-Princesses-Women-at-Arms-ebook/dp/B01M5FCKY1/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1492172248&sr=1-1

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Have a Taste, Enter to Win a Copy: Blog Tour for Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms: Erotic Lesbian Fairy Tales




From The Library Journal Review: "There is one creative hit after another...An excellent series of Sapphic fantasies. Highly recommended."

Welcome to the Blog Tour and Book Give-away for Witches, Princesses and Women at Arms: Erotic Lesbian Fairy Tales. For the rest of June, the contributors to this anthology of fantasy stories with a fairy tale aura will be posting about their stories, themselves, the world, and whatever else they want to say, plus excerpts from their work. In the few cases where authors can’t fit blog posts into their schedules, I’ll fill in for them, and some will send me their contributions to post here.

I usually begin a Blog Tour for an anthology with my introduction to the book, and I’ll do that here, but I’ll also take this opportunity to add another thought: even though these complex, well-written characters are lesbian, the stories are well worth reading no matter what your personal preferences are when it comes to protagonists.

____________
Introduction

How often have you tried to envision “he” as “she” when you’re reading fairy tales? Those flights of imagination can sweep you up into worlds of magic and sensual delights—or would, if only so many heroes winning the day (and, of course, the girl) didn’t get in the way. Do you long for heroines who win each other?

I certainly do, so in this anthology I wanted erotic romance and wild adventure with women who use their wits and/or weapons and come together in a blaze of passion. These wonderful writers gave me all I hoped for, and even more. Some adapted traditional tales, and some updated old stories to contemporary times, not merely changing the gender of a character but making the female aspect essential. Some created original plots with a fairy tale sensibility, while some wrote with merely a subtle aura of fantasy. Their heroines are witches, princesses, brave, resourceful women of all walks of life, and even a troll and a dryad. There are curses and spells, battles and intrigue, elements of magic and explorations of universal themes, and, yes, sex, sensuality and true love, all bound skillfully together into complex and many-layered stories.

Royalty or a miller’s daughter, a woman warrior passing as a man, a sorceress in flowing robes, even a window inspector dangling in harness on a high-rise building—who better to rescue a long-haired captive in a tower?—all of them are made so real that you long to touch them, and be touched. The relationships are intense, sometimes quick to ignite, sometimes all the hotter for restraint that flares at last into a fierce blaze.

In all my years of editing anthologies, I’ve never read so many submissions that were beautifully written and just what I’d asked for. And I’ve never had so much trouble choosing which to use to fill the finite space in this book. I can only hope that readers will get as much pleasure from these stories as I did, and that Witches, Princesses and Women at Arms turns out to be, to quote a certain beloved film with a unique take on fantasy traditions, exactly, “As you wish.”

Sacchi Green
____________

 Here’s a very non-representative excerpt from my own story in the book, but really, the stories are so varied that it would be‬ hard to cite one as being representative. I went for humor in this one, but with more than humor at its core.

____________
Trollwise
Sacchi Green

Trip, trop, trip, trop. Hjørdis stood back in disgust as Princess Tutti pranced across the bridge, hips swaying, the false tail strapped to the seat of her gown twitching. A coy toss of Tutti’s head knocked the goat horns on her headdress slightly askew. “Oh, Mr. Troll,” she piped in a falsetto voice, “are you there today? Don’t you want to eat us up? Look, this time there is a meatier prey than just we little goats!” She cast a mocking glance back toward Hjørdis. “A buxom brood mare!”

Hjørdis would have swatted the silly girl’s rump if there had been enough of it to be worth the trouble. Or, more truthfully, if she herself had not been bound by oath to abide peaceably among these puny southerners. For now. As it was, she took a threatening stride onto the wooden planks. Tutti ran off giggling toward the meadow, from which sounds of pipes and laughter and occasional playful shrieks rose above the lazy burbling of the stream.

Princess Vesla, also adorned with horns and tail, came up timidly beside Hjørdis. “There truly was a troll under the bridge a week ago,” she said in a tremulous voice. “When Tutti called out, I heard its voice, like the rumbling of stones. She thinks it was Werther, the dancing master, trying to frighten us, but I’m sure it wasn’t!”

“Oh? What did it say?” Hjørdis made some small effort to tolerate Vesla, who was not so spiteful as her sister Tutti. She felt also a slight sympathy for the girl, who had formed a hopeless passion for Hordis’s captive brother Harald. At least accompanying them on their outing, however nasty it promised to be, was an excuse to leave the castle.

“It said, ‘Scrawny bones not fit to pick my teeth! Get you gone!’” Vesla shivered. “But we haven’t heard anything since.”

Hjørdis knew a great deal more about trolls than these little twits ever could. More than anyone could who had not known Styggri. That sounded all too much like what Styggri would say, in a humorous mood. But Styggri had crossed into another world from which there was no return.

Hjørdis looked more closely at the bridge. Its sides and the pillars beneath were stone, with wooden planking wide enough for two carriages to pass side by side over its double arch. And wide enough for a troll to lurk beneath, although why one should wish to, or venture this far south at all, was beyond her. Still… She gazed far upstream to where water surged from a cleft in a rocky hillside. Nothing to compare with the jagged mountains and plummeting rivers of her home, but still part of a long arm of hills and ridges reaching out from those same mountains.

“You go on to your frolicking.” She gave Vesla as gentle a shove as she could manage. Gods, these pampered southern girls were brittle, twiggy things! And their brother the prince—her husband under duress—was no better. “I’ll sit a while here in the shade of the birches. This heat annoys me.”

“Oh! Are you, then…already…”

“No! And if I were, it would be too soon to know. Go along now!”

Vesla went, trying to keep the gilded wooden heels of her shoes from making as much noise on the bridge as Tutti’s had done. Once safely across she looked back over her shoulder. “Give Werther a few stomps from me,” Hjordis called. The foolish dancing master deserved whatever he got, with his tales of ancient times in foreign lands where satyrs danced on goat hooves and bands of women ran wild under the spell of a wine god.
____________

THE GIVEAWAY

Anyone who comments on any of these blog posts will be entered in a drawing for a paperback copy (in North America) or an ebook (elsewhere) of Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms. Each blog you comment on gives you one more entry.

Here’s the lineup of blog posts—the links may be adjusted as we go along, so check back here every now and then.

June 14th: Sacchi Green-“Trollwise” (plus the Introduction)
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 15th: Cara Patterson-“Steel”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 16th: Michael M. Jones-“The Miller’s Daughter”
michaelmjones.com

June 19th: H.N. Janzen-“The Prize of the Willow”
www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 20th: Annabeth Leong-“The Mark and the Caul”
http://annabethleong.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-mark-and-caul-origin-story.html

June 21st: Brey Willows-“Penthouse 31”
breywillows.com

June 22nd: Salome Wilde-“The Princess’s Princess”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 23nd: Emily L. Byrne-“Toads, Diamonds and the Occasional Pearl”
writeremilylbyrne.blogspot.com

June 26th: A.D.R. Forte-“Warrior’s Choice”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 27th: M. Birds-“Woodwitch”
mbirds.tumblr.com

June 28th: Madeleine Shade-“Robber Girl”
https://www.facebook.com/carina.bissett

June 29th: Lea Daley-“The Sorceress of  Solisterre”
sacchi-green.blogspot.com

June 30th: Allison Wonderland-“SWF Seeks FGM”
aisforallison.blogspot.com







Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Erotic Lesbian Fairy Tales--Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms

It's a book at last! Available right now in the Kindle format, coming in paperback May 9th. My writing roots are in science fiction/fantasy, and after years of trying I have an anthology of fantasy stories coming out. Erotic, yes, but above all, complex, imaginative, intriguing stories by excellent writers.

I'm not the only one who thinks so. The Library Journal Review says, "There is one creative hit after another...An excellent series of Sapphic fantasies. Highly recommended."

The Table of Contents:

Introduction     Sacchi Green
Steel     Cara Patterson
Robber Girl     Madeleine Shade
The Princess’s Princess     Salome Wilde
Woodwitch     M. Birds
The Prize of the Willow     H. N. Janzen
Toads, Diamonds and the Occasional Pearl     Emily L. Byrne
SWF Seeks FGM     Allison Wonderland
The Mark and the Caul     Annabeth Leong
Penthouse 31     Victoria Villasenor
The Miller’s Daughter     Michael M. Jones
Warrior's Choice     A.D.R. Forte
Trollwise     Sacchi Green
The Sorceress of Solisterre     Lea Daley


 


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Call for Submissions: Best Lesbian Erotica (possible extensions)

I'm posting this again as the March 20th deadline gets closer. A few extensions to April 1 are possible, but only if you let me know that you're working on a story and may need a little more time.

Here are the guidelines again. Bear in mind--not everyone has, so far--that at least one and preferably both (or more) of the protagonists need to be lesbians, that my word limits are 2000-4000 words (a little longer might be okay,) and that reprints will be considered as long as you tell me right away about previous publication.

I'm not picky about formatting, other than the requirements listed below, and even then I'm perfectly capable of changing font, etc., to my own preferences.

 Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year Volume 2
(Best Lesbian Erotica 2018)
Editor: Sacchi Green
Publisher: Cleis Press
Deadline: March 20, 2017 (earlier encouraged)
Payment: $100 and 1 copy of the book within 90 days of publication

Rights: non-exclusive right to publish the story in this anthology in print, ebook and audiobook form. Authors will retain copyright to their stories.

Is there a story inside you burning to be written? Now’s the time to let it out. Or is there one you published during 2015-2016 that you think is the best thing you’ve ever written? I’ll consider just a few reprints. Up to two submissions per author are allowed, preferred length between 2000-4000 words. No simultaneous submissions.

I want a variety of themes, voices, and tone. A diversity of ages, ethnicities, cultures, and physical attributes and abilities is welcome. The central figures must be lesbian, believable, fully developed characters. Give me vividly drawn settings, and plots or story arcs that grip the reader and don’t let go. Originality is especially valued; write the story that only you can write. And, of course, I want intense sex scenes that flow naturally from the story as a whole. All flavors of sensuality are welcome, from vanilla to BDSM to edgy frontiers that surprise and startle the reader. A few stories with a speculative fiction bent, science fiction or fantasy, might fit in.

Send your submission to sacchigreen@gmail.com as an attachment in .doc, docx. or .rtf format, double spaced, Times New Roman black font. The story title, your legal name, pseudonym (if applicable), previous publication information for the story (if applicable), and mailing and email addresses, should be included on the first page.
Queries are welcome.



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Writing Erotica

This seems to be a good time for me to toggle together some of the blogs and interviews and general opinions on erotic and the writing threof that I’ve written over the last decade or so. There’ll definitely be a lot of repetition, and I started out thinking I’d fix that, but what the heck, if I repeat it, it must be important. Right? That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Why is this a good time? First, I’ll be at the Arisia science fiction/fantasy/ media/lifestyle convention in Boston this weekend (January 13-16.) Since I’ll be on two panels about writing, one, of course, about writing erotica, it feels like a good idea to have somewhere I can point to for an extensive view of my own views on the subject.

Also, the fact that I’ve just issued my call for submissions (see my previous post) for Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year Volume 2 (actually the 22nd in the BLE series, this one for 2018) makes another good reason to revisit my ramblings on the topic, so here goes.

I
’ll start with a piece I wrote for an interview on the subject of “Why Read Erotica,” which deals just as much with “Why Write Erotica.”

Why Read Erotica?

I come to praise erotica, not to define it. Considering who’s likely to be reading here, erotica doesn’t need any cheerleading from me, but I’ll do it anyway. The erotic is such a subjective concept that I don’t need to define it, just know it when I see it, and know what I like. It also happens to be my business to know a certain amount about what other people might like. As editor of twelve anthologies categorized as lesbian erotica (two of them Lambda Award winners,) with more in the works, I get to decide which submitted stories work as erotica for that particular niche-within-a-niche. My publishers have the final say on all the stories, but they’ve never yet rejected one of my choices on the grounds of not being erotic enough. Come to think of it, I’ve very seldom rejected a submission for not being erotic enough.

My basic requirements for erotica are a high level of sexual tension, and an orgasm for at least one character. Explicit language is fine, but not required; a really good writer can make a scene intensely hot without having to make decisions about what to call various body parts, or even to list those parts. Get your characters’ feelings and sensations across well enough, and the reader’s imagination will do the rest.

For me, though, the best erotica is about more than sex. Just because a story provides enough of an erotic charge to be called erotica doesn’t limit it, or mean that it can’t do more besides. I know all too well how little respect erotica gets—“Plot? What Plot?” And there are the surprisingly numerous reviews that start out with, in essence, “I never read erotica because it’s all trash, but this book, to my astonishment, is an exception!” Clearly they’ve been reading the wrong erotic books, or more likely not reading any at all. And I know all too well the condescending attitude of “Erotica? Surely you could do better than that!”

Better than what? Than a full-frontal approach to an essential, complex facet of human existence? Besides the physical stimulation, erotic interchanges can be as revelatory of character as any other basic human activity, and more so than most, since they deal with heightened emotions and senses and, in some cases, heavily weighted baggage from past experience. They can also provide ways to slip in details not revealed in calmer moments; shyness or confidence, impulsiveness or self-control, tenderness, aggression, vulnerability, repression, or raw, unapologetic sensuality. The various flavors of BDSM are about more than sex as well, even though they’re intensely bound to sexual fulfillment. In LGBT erotica, which is most (though not all) of what I write and edit, there are the added complexities of gender presentation and cultural taboos even more deeply rooted than the general squeamishness about sex.

Fiction that deals explicitly with sex can be as well-written, thought-provoking and creative as that in any other genre (or the non-genre that likes to call itself “mainstream” or “literature.”) Settings can be as varied and vividly evoked; different periods in history can be as well-researched and essential to the plot or story arc; characters can be as multidimensional. There’s nothing wrong with short, sharp, no-frills, cut-to-the-chase-and-clinch erotica, but that too can be done with consummate skill.

My point here is that erotica can and often does go beyond its stereotypical reputation. If our wider culture weren’t so obsessed with sex as “sinful,” some of the best writers in our genre could be publishing their sexually-explicit work in venues outside the erotica ghetto. The flip side of that, of course, is that the perception of sex as sinful draws many readers to erotica, and I’d never discount the way a sense of transgression and flouting (even mooning) authority can spice up sex of any flavor.




Here’s another piece, written for writer and reviewer Ashley Lister’s blog about his book How to Write Erotic Fiction and Sex Scenes. He asked some writers and editors to contribute suggestions of their own. We were limited to five suggestions each, which was a good thing; otherwise I'd still be going on about it. Anyway, here are my suggestions.

1) Tell a story as only you can tell it. Be familiar with other writing in your genre, but don’t imitate anyone else. As an editor I look for an original approach and a distinctive voice; something to set a story apart from all the thousands I’ve seen before. Surprise me!

2) Make your characters so real that the reader can tell them apart just by the way they act and speak, even when you don’t specify who’s speaking.

3) Pay attention to the rhythm of your prose. Vary the length and structure of your sentences (unless, of course, you use short, choppy sentences or long, rambling ones to make a certain point or define a character.)

4) Don’t assume that grammatical constructions you see over and over must be correct, or should be used over and over. There’s no need for sentence after sentence, or even paragraph after paragraph, to begin with a participial phrase such as “Opening the door, she crossed the room.” Think about that. Is the room so small one could cross it while still in the process of opening the door? Even when there’s no such grammatical problem, overuse of “ing” looks amateurish (and is, obviously, one of my pet peeves.) There are other more varied ways of avoiding too many sentences that start with “she” or the character’s name.

5) And speaking of pet peeves, particularly when dealing with erotica, PLEASE be sure you know whether your character’s movements and actions are physically possible. I’m not talking about superhuman endurance, or strength; I’m just considering logistics. Remember whose various parts are where, and don’t tie the reader’s (and editor’s) mind in knots trying to figure out how what was up is suddenly down, and why what faced one direction (and was, in fact, tied that way) is suddenly available for full frontal play. This sort of thing can apply to any scenes of concentrated action, erotic or otherwise, but interrupting the flow of a sex scene is especially, well, frustrating.




This next question-and-answer piece is from an interview I did with superb editor Rachel Kramer Bussel for an article she was writing.

Rachel: Do you have any advice about the specifics of writing historical erotica and romance? Your guidelines for Thunder of War, Lighting of Desire say "research it until you know it more intimately than you remember yesterday." Can you elaborate on how an author can go about doing that? For those that do have a grasp on the time period they are writing about, is there any leeway to bend convention in terms of what probably would have happened for the sake of a good story?

Sacchi: My statement about research was a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. When you’re into the actual writing process, part of you does need to be, in a sense, deeply submerged in the time period you write about. You can do a lot of research online, about the geographical and political and cultural aspects of the place and time you write about, but it’s also essential to read works by people who lived in those times and places, if at all possible. You want not only the facts of their history, but the idiosyncratic style and cadence of their speech as it comes through in their writing, even though you’ll need to balance the authenticity of their prose with your own sense of what your readers will find comprehensible. Memoirs are especially useful. And you need to know the small details, too; I remember a story that had a character wearing nylon stockings at least ten years before those were invented. While it’s true that very few readers would notice that, why take a chance when you could Google it? What you can’t Google as easily is the erotic component of people’s lives in different time periods, so we have to use our imaginations. They obviously had sex, or we wouldn’t be here, and despite what every generation seems to think, there’s nothing we do now that hasn’t been done before (unless it requires advanced technology.) As far as bending conventions, my preference is not to pretend they didn’t exist, but give the characters credit for managing to get what they want in spite of the obstacles.
   
Rachel: Since these calls are for 3000-5000 or 6000 word pieces, how much of the story should be focused on the erotic and romance vs. the historical aspect? Is there an ideal balance between the two, or does that depend on the story?

Sacchi: This varies, of course, according to the editors and publishers. Ideally the romance and erotica blend seamlessly with the plot and historical aspects. You don’t want an info-dump of everything you know about the history, just the parts that are necessary to your story and the atmosphere you want to construct. And you don’t want—or at least I don’t want—sex scenes that don’t flow naturally from the structure of the story and the characterization. But you can fit a lot of sexual tension between the lines, so to speak, and build up to the explicit parts so that they feel inevitable.  

Rachel: This is actually an issue I had when attempting to write a story for your Lesbian Cops anthology, which I never completed: how can an author tell if their story sounds authentic if they haven't personally experienced the topic they're writing about?

Sacchi: Sometimes we just can’t tell, but we do write about plenty of things we haven’t experienced. In the case of the Lesbian Cops book, I knew that many readers would be looking for stereotypes, or even caricatures of cops, but I didn’t want to go that way. It was more important to show the human side of being a lesbian cop, a woman in a job more usually held by men, the conflicts, stresses, emotional trauma, and the way sex gets intertwined with these factors. Police procedural details could be left a bit fuzzy, but any of us who write about the emotional and sexual lives of women could extrapolate to the special intensity of being a strong woman facing crime, danger, mayhem, and crude misogyny on a daily basis.(It also wouldn’t hurt to have watched TV shows like Hill Street Blues, Homicide: Life on the Streets, NYPD Blue, and/or any of the many police procedural shows currently showing.) If you’re interested enough in a topic to want to write about it, chances are you can find ways to learn enough of the details.

Rachel: What makes a particular story stand out for you as an editor and select it for your anthologies?

Sacchi: I like work that feels original, told in a distinctive voice, without appearing to strain to be different. Writing that flows with the right pace for the moods being evoked is always a plus. Characters should have enough individuality that it’s clear in much of the dialogue which one is speaking, even without telling the reader. Sex scenes can be described at first in terms of what an observer might see, but the focus should eventually be on the sensations of the central character so that the reader can be swept along by the rising tide of passion—and the writer had better find some fresher image than “the rising tide of passion.” Stories that manage to be about more than just the sex stand out, too, and depending on the theme of an anthology, sometimes they really have to be about more than the sex. It’s also perfectly possible to ignore all these things and still write a story that startles me into loving it. One more factor to bear in mind is that the anthology as a whole needs to have the right balance of types of stories, so even an excellent piece can turn out not to fit into the shape the book ultimately develops. If it’s good, it will fit some other book, so keep on trying.

Rachel: As an anthology editor, is there anything you can share about what you'd like to see in addition to your guidelines you can share? Pet peeves or things you wish people did with their writing that you don't see enough of?

Sacchi: I usually cover quite a lot about what I want in my guidelines, but it’s true that sometimes I don’t know exactly what I want until I see it. I do have pet peeves, mostly about habits writers pick up from other writers until it seems like it must be right because everybody’s doing it—but it isn’t right. The prolific (and often incorrect) use of participial phrases is a major pain I see too often. “Knocking on the door, I strode across the room…” Really? You kept on knocking while you were striding? But even if the phrases are used correctly, piling them up two or three to a paragraph and a dozen to a page will make me cringe. I know writers are sometimes trying not to start too many sentences with “I” or “she,” but this isn’t the way to do that, at least not if you’re writing for me. Another thing I see too often is the use of terms that might have seemed fresh and original the first time you saw them, like the rather archaic “delved” applied to the actions of tongues penetrating mouths, but when you see them time after time they get to standing out like, well, sore tongues. If you absolutely must use them, don’t do it more than once in a short story.

Rachel: Any other thoughts?

Sacchi: No matter what I’ve said above, write your story the way you think it should be written. And pay attention to work by other writers that really impress you, not so you can copy them, but to remind you how many different and unexpected ways there are to write memorable fiction. I’m still startled by that “wow” factor every now and then, and sometimes the feeling is almost better than sex. Almost.




I’ll end, at last, with a chapter I contributed to Fran Walker’s Lavender Ink: Writing and Selling Lesbian Fiction from Bedazzled Ink (Chapter 10), titled, obviously, “Sex Scenes”.


Sex Scenes

What is it about sex scenes in books? Our culture’s conflicted attitudes toward sex are not only reflected, but magnified, in our reactions to the very idea of writing or reading about sex.   No other section of a book, except, possibly, the ending, inspires so much flipping through the pages. Some readers will be avid to find the “good parts” and devour them first, while others will want to make sure they know which pages to avoid. And it’s equally true that some writers can’t wait to get working on the erotic bits, while others, pressured to include them by editors or by their own assessments of the market, avoid writing them until everything else has been done and they can’t procrastinate any longer.

I won’t try to tell you, as a writer, that whatever method you use is wrong. If you can make it work, that’s great. But I will tell you what kind of reader you should write for: one who opens herself to your characters, gets drawn into their lives and emotions, and follows wherever the story leads because it’s so compelling that she can’t bear to miss a word. Not even words she might usually avoid.

Your first responsibility is to give this reader what she needs. Being true to your characters is just as essential, but you’ve seduced the reader into some degree of identification with your POV character, so it amounts to the same thing. And what she needs, besides an emotional bond that intensifies into a physical one, is a scene that flows naturally from what comes before and advances the characterization and story arc at least as much as any other element of the work.

Sex scenes serve many purposes beyond satisfying an editor who believes that they sell books. Erotic interchanges can be as revelatory of character as any other basic human activity, and more so than most, since they deal with heightened emotions and senses and, in some cases, heavily weighted baggage from past experience. If you’ve already developed your characters fully, aspects of their personalities and histories can be emphasized in sex scenes, but you may also find that these scenes provide ways to slip in details not revealed in calmer moments. Shyness or confidence, impulsiveness or self-control, tenderness, vulnerability, repression, unapologetic sensuality; these are only a few of the traits that can be surface in the heat of a sexual encounter. The characters may even surprise themselves with their own reactions.

The sex scene can also serve less complex purposes. Sometimes your characters (and the reader) just need to have a really good time, whether as a counterpoint to the stresses of whatever else is happening in your story or as a pacing device to vary the mood from scene to scene. And eventually you have to deliver the implicitly promised payoff to all the emotional and erotic tension you’ve been building.

You have been building erotic tension, haven’t you? It’s a huge mistake to think of a sex scene as a single obligatory lump of action inserted into your story with no relevance to the rest, sticking out like a sore thumb. (Yes, that’s an unforgivable cliché. Yes, I could think of several metaphors more in keeping with our topic, but I’ll leave those as an exercise for the reader.)

When it comes to building toward sex scenes, foreshadowing is like foreplay. It’s not going to be convincing for your characters to leap suddenly into a passionate clinch without ever having given hints, in thought or deed, of a growing sexual attraction. Even if your plot involves repression or denial, you need to find subtle ways of showing that something is simmering under the surface. The reader, as well as the characters, has to be ready for an eruption. In a novel that isn’t specifically erotica you don’t want to overdo the sensual foreshadowing to the point of distraction from the other essential elements, but it does need to be part of the blend.

So now your characters, setting, and emotional connection with your reader have been established. You’ve drawn on all the senses, using sight, hearing, scent, touch, and taste wherever they might be appropriate. Erotic tension has mounted, and you’ve reached the point when a sex scene is the natural next step in the progression of their relationship (and your story). Many writers, as well as readers, would prefer to leave the rest to the imagination, but if you’re reading this we’ll assume that for one reason or another—editorial pressure, personal inclination, recognition of the importance to the story as a whole--you intend to create a fully developed and explicit sexual encounter.

Just how explicit is explicit enough? I used to say, when asked, that a story crosses the line into erotica when the writer has to make decisions about what terms to use for parts of the body. It was a stupid answer. It’s quite possible (and an intriguing challenge) to write intensely arousing and satisfying scenes without naming body parts at all. Anyone reading your work is likely to be familiar with the anatomical territory, and will understand what’s going on from the context and the reactions and dialogue of the characters (assuming that “Yes, there, please, right there,” counts as dialogue).

Nevertheless, the language you use to describe sex can have nearly as much impact on the reader as the actions you’re describing. For better or for worse, sex has accumulated so much baggage in our culture that “dirty” words can carry an erotic jolt of their own, positive for some people, negative for others. You can’t predict how each reader will react. All you can do is be familiar enough with your characters to know whether they’d say “cunt” or “pussy” or “vulva”; “clit” or “clitoris”; “labia” or “lips”; “ass” or “buttocks”; or…well, you get the picture. Even the choice between “breasts” or “tits” or “boobs” says something about the character’s personality, background, and mood.  “Tits” is a perfectly good colloquial version of “teats”, a term currently more in use in animal husbandry, but these days “tits” has a certain edge to it that might or might not be what you’re looking for. “Boobs” feels to me like a more casual, flippant usage, which can have its place as well. Just be glad that in lesbian fiction we don’t have to deal with labels for male genitalia, unless in a metaphorical sense, but really, let’s not go there right now.

My advice, from the perspective of just one reader/writer/editor, is to get as much mileage as you can out of non-controversial terms, and then use the others, but sparingly. Hands, fingers, tongues, thighs; few descriptions are more erotic than getting any of the first three moving between a pair of the fourth. When the focus inevitably becomes so narrowed that you do need more specific (or “explicit”) language, keep it short and non-clinical. I know readers for whom “clitoris” triggers book-against-the-wall syndrome because it seems to them too stilted and affected. Others prefer it. Go figure.

The one time above all others when you don’t want to throw the reader out of the scene (or have the book thrown against the wall) is in the full heat of a sexual encounter. Or a good fuck, if you prefer blunt to stilted. The word choices mentioned above might have that unfortunate effect on a few readers, but an even surer way is to get carried away by a desire for originality. If you’re going to try your hand at new ways to describe, say, hardened nipples, you might come up with something creative and right to the point, but you’d better run it by an unbiased beta reader or two. (Acorns and berries and snails and pencil erasers have already been overused, just so you know.) Even a term that might be successful in the context of poetry or high fantasy could interrupt the erotic flow for a reader if she has to stop and think about it. I’m not saying that you should never be creative, but you need to be aware of the hazards. All of the other advice you’ve seen about keeping adverbs and adjectives to a minimum applies here, as well, and ellipses, especially tempting in erotica since so much reaction is non-verbal, need just as firm a hand.

Another word-choice issue, one inherent in same-sex erotica, is the problem of pronouns. Which “she” is touching which “her” with whose hand?  Maybe this is a trade-off for not needing to describe the reproductive apparatus of the opposite sex. In any case, a scene won’t work well with confusion as to these vital details. A first person point of view takes care of the problem, but deciding what kind of POV works best for a story should be based on other factors.

So what can you do? Ideally the context, the individualized personalities of the characters, and their relative positions at a given time (if one is standing and the other is sitting, we know who’s reaching down and who’s looking up), will make some of the interactions clear. When these aren’t enough, don’t be afraid to use their names, even if it seems repetitive. Don’t give in to the urge to use too many adjectives, at least not in the form of “the darker woman” or “the whimpering girl”; these distance the reader from the action at just the worst time. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get away with some physical descriptions to indicate who’s doing what—“dark hair brushed her skin”, “her large hand moved faster”—but don’t rely on them too often. When you need to use a name for clarity, do it. If you’re handling the rest of the scene well enough, the reader will be too involved to notice.

This brings us to writing the scene itself. You’re getting tired of so many warnings of what not to do; now let’s try to focus on what you should do, and how to do it. “Focus” is the key word. Focus on what your characters are feeling. You do this throughout the book, of course, but it’s especially important in scenes dealing with romance and sex.

People read for the sensations it arouses. The stimulation might be intellectual, or something along the lines of sense-of-wonder, but far more often they’re looking for an emotional and sensual charge, something that stirs the body as well as the mind. A romantic scene can do this as well as an erotic one for many readers. There’s a physical reaction; the heart seems to swell, the pulse quickens, the face may flush, there may even be a hint of tears. It’s no accident that something with emotional appeal is often termed “touching”. Taking it to the next, erotic, level should build on this physical response, extend it to more areas of the body, and intensify it.

There’s no single required structure for a sex scene. For one thing, the scene doesn’t stand alone, unless it constitutes the entirety of a short story. You may have got your characters (and the reader) so worked up that they go right at it the moment they’ve made it to a private corner, or the tone may not even be overtly erotic at the beginning, until some catalyst triggers a reaction that becomes an irresistible force. You’ve been leading up to this, building erotic tension at various strategic points, sometimes subtly, sometimes with more emphasis. You may have established a pattern this way that echoes the overall structure of the plot, with advances, retreats, and barriers to overcome, but by the time you reach the “real” sex scene the flow should be almost entirely forward. There can be exceptions; your plan for character development might call for one or another of the lovers to show hesitation, or experience painful flashbacks, or something along those lines; but your ultimate goal is an uninterrupted stretch of accelerating heat that comes to a satisfying conclusion. You don’t necessarily want to reach that point too fast, though--getting there is a whole lot of the fun.

While there’s no single approved structure, and we’ve all seen far too many scenes that seem to follow a porn-by-numbers formula, there’s one type of progression to bear in mind and to follow unless you have some clear artistic or plot-building reason to depart from it. Think of it as concentric circles of awareness, with the POV character’s focus progressing from outward to the center. The focus of the other character in the scene—or more, if you have them, but it makes my head hurt to imagine the complications then in describing which “she” is doing what to which proliferation of body parts—will be narrowing similarly, as perceived by the first character.

You begin with an awareness of the setting. This may have been already established before the scene begins, but a few details can help to set the initial mood. Distant sounds of music or voices, perhaps, or the pinging of an old radiator; the scent of hay in the loft or rain on the night breeze; whatever fits your setting. Then the focus retracts to a small space containing only the characters themselves, and then to parts of their bodies (at this point clothes probably come off, although not necessarily), and then to the POV character’s sensations as she touches individual body parts or is touched. At the ultimate point of inward focus, her consciousness is fixed on her own center, her body’s needs and the sensations that finally fulfill them.

This pattern is only one among many possible scenarios, and runs contrary to certain perceived traditions. In lesfic especially, there’s often an emphasis on paying as much attention to your partner’s pleasure as to your own, and simultaneous orgasms are portrayed rather more frequently than actual experience would indicate. That’s fine; we’re talking about fiction, after all. But my preference is for letting the reader focus most intently on entering into the POV character’s experience, and then, after a pause for breath, sharing that character’s pleasure in fulfilling her partner’s needs. The more non-simultaneous orgasms, the better.

I’m not going to go into any more explicit detail about how to make your sex scene hot. The crucial point is to make it hot for your characters, and to get their feelings across well enough to draw your reader into them.

Writing about what turns you yourself on is the best bet, but good writers share the secret superpower of imagination. If you can expand your mind to the point of understanding how someone else could find certain things arousing that you would never actually want to do, and have drawn your characters accordingly, a reader who has followed them this far will probably be primed to go the rest of the way. You must, though, be sure you know what you’re talking about, especially when it comes to BDSM and related kinky practices. Your research can involve books or observation rather than personal experimentation, but there are complex nuances to such concepts as consensual power play, and uninformed assumptions can get you into trouble.

Don’t feel that you have to include acts that you actually find distasteful. If, for instance, the thought of using teeth on tender parts makes you cringe (and assuming that cringing is not something you enjoy on any level), or anal sex squicks you out, or feather-stroking strikes you as merely annoying, don’t use them. There are plenty of other options. A scene where everyone remains fully clothed and the major friction comes from thighs pressing into crotches can be as erotic as naked slippery bodies performing complex contortions. You just have to do a good enough job of showing how intensely the participants are enjoying it to convince the reader and take her along for the ride. Focus on the feelings.

But what do editors look for? Don’t they require a certain amount of explicit language and hotter-than-life sex? Probably some do. There are anthologies, for instance, with themes like bondage or fetishes or one or another edgy practice, but if you’re aiming at those, you already know what you want to write and what audience you’re writing for. Some publishers, especially of e-books, do seem to have fun devising colorful rating systems to describe the “heat” levels of their various lines, which tends to strike me as silly. I can’t speak for editors of novel-length work at all, since all my experience is with writing and editing short fiction.

I can only speak, of course, from that experience. I’ve edited or co-edited a dozen erotica anthologies, and I’ve never consciously established any kind of quota for sexual content. Well, if it’s an erotica anthology, there should be sexual tension, and someone, at some point, should reach orgasm, but I’ve never tried to quantify any of it. An involving story, interesting characters and setting, and any other creative quality that makes a story stand out from a sea of same-old-same-old pieces does it for me more than a specific percentage of pages involving explicit sex. Sex has to be a significant part of the story, but it needs to have a good story around it, and I especially like it when even the sex is about more than sex.

Many other editors feel the same way. Time after time I see guidelines practically begging for creative, convincing, diverse work. Readers can sometimes have a comfort zone—or arousal zone—that draws them to choose the same kinds of stories over and over, but editors have to slog through so much material that it takes something different to catch their attention, even if the difference is in how well the story is written and just how intensely the reader is made to feel the emotions and experiences of the characters.

That’s really all I can tell you in general terms about writing sex scenes, and I suspect you knew it all already, on one level or another. Create characters, setting, plot, and sensory details that will draw the reader into the story, and when a sex scene is the natural next step, focus on feelings. Do it just as you would in any other part of the story, but even more so, because there is something special about sex scenes.



So that’s all I have to say about that, not that I haven’t written more such things, but there is such a thing as too much repetition. Maybe the best advice of all is to write a story as only you can write it, the way that feels right to you, and don’t bother with any advice at all.