Friday, June 29, 2007

fine flickering friday

My ADD/OCD is in overdrive. I need pharmaceutical help. I doubt I'll get it, but I need it. So, I'll blog my distractions cum obsessions. (Beavis voice: I said cum. Heh heh. Heh heh.)

First, I've again been tagged on the 8 Things meme. The first time, I replied on MySpace. I totally ignored the other tags. Rude of me, I know. I have anti-social tendencies -- not to mention bitch tendencies -- and a maddeningly short attention span for fluffy stuff.

However, since I'm unable to focus on the WIP at the moment, I shall again share 8 things ... 8 ADD/OCD things. There my cooperation ends. I refuse to tag others. I'm a rebel. Deal. Here goes:

  1. If I get stuck on a song (see below), I tend to play it on loop for days at a time. (I told you I needed medication, didn't I?)

  2. If I get stuck on a food, I tend to eat it 3x/day for days at a time. (Are you seeing a pattern here?)

  3. If I find an article of clothing I really like, I have to have one in every color -- maybe even two. (Just for backup, y'know?)

  4. The collection of skin care products -- lotions, creams, oils -- in my bathroom could stock a Walgreens for several months.

  5. Let's not talk about sex toys in this context, but I'm sure you can guess.

  6. I go through at least one box of Ziploc bags every time I travel. Everything spillable must have it's own bag. Um, I'll also admit to occasionally even double bagging.

  7. My collection of blank journals is most impressive. I can't bring myself to write in them, though, 'cause if I made a stray mark, I'd have to start over. Blank, they're pure potential ... pristine and perfect.

  8. My random facts must have a theme. (There are DSM-IV diagnoses for me. That's plural: diagnoses.)

Next stop on the ADD/OCD train: I'm stuck on a song. It's looping on WMP & has been since about 6am. I love Natasha Bedingfield's voice, and there's one line of lyrics that just grabbed me and won't let go. I've got it on my MySpace profile, if you're interested in listening. Be the first to guess which line & I'll send you a signed copy of fine flickering hungers.

Moving on ...

I've been PaintShopping some of my poems -- the Hallmark-y ones. You can now buy me on postcards, greeting cards, and 11x17 posters. (See the latest on Implexity.) I have a burning desire to do more of these. It's quite *cough* distracting. However, most of my poetry is not well-suited, being fraught with more angst.

The whole graphic arts thing has me enchanted right now. (Notice the new blog banner/header up there?) The non-visually-stimulated part of my psyche is hovering between amused and annoyed.

Time for me to try to focus on the WIP. Have a fine flickering weekend, y'all.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

New stuff posted

Neither piece is erotic, but I've new poetry & prose posted at Literotica. The "story" arose from a 100-word flash fiction challenge. I wrote 7 of them, then decided to glue them together with an 8th.

Feedback welcome.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Only R?

What's My Blog Rated? From Mingle2 - Online Dating

*sigh* I'm slipping.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Author Interview

I'm interviewed today on the "Authors of MySpace" blog ...

Author: Alessia Brio

How long have you been writing, and what influenced you to get into it?
I penned my first fiction in the fall of 2003. I started writing because I couldn't find what I wanted to read on the free sites I visited online, namely well-written erotica. I started posting my stories at, and in less than two years, I had a publication contract. The rest, as they say, is history.

How many books have you published ?
At this writing (June 2007), I have thirteen published ebook titles. Four of those are Coming Together anthologies which I've edited. I have one title in print (fine flickering hungers), which is available from Amazon and other online booksellers. In its ebook form, it won the 2007 EPPIE Award for Best Erotica.

Have any of them been national releases, if so through which publisher?
They're all available online for purchase by any adult with Internet access anywhere in the world. Readers can find them at FictionWise, All Romance eBooks, Phaze, and Charles River Press.

What current book/books are you promoting?
I'm currently pimping ArtiFactual: Tales of the Erotique Mystique. It's a collection of four novellas written with Will Belegon about a unique sex toy shop & museum.

What projects do you have coming up in the future?
Will & I just finished a novella entitled Bound for Success that will be released in early September, and we just started working on a new series featuring a very sexually liberated woman named Andrea Spring. Double Header will be released in October, and its sequel in the spring of 2008. In addition, the print release of ArtiFactual is scheduled for September.

I'll have another volume of Coming Together released in ebook in August (and print in October) entitled For the Cure. It will benefit the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The Special Hurricane Relief Edition of Coming Together will also be released in print this fall. It benefits the American Red Cross and victims of weather-related disasters.

Amidst all that, I'm trying to find time to work on my solo projects.

What author/authors influenced you to start a writing career for yourself?
Bad ones. Seriously. I thought, "I can do better than THAT." I have, and I will continue to do so.

Are you a member of a writing group/organization?
I belong to EPIC and RWA, although I don't consider myself a "romance" writer.

What are some of your favorite hobbies other than writing?
I sew, do genealogy research, paint, and lose myself in SuDoku. And, of course, I read.

Has "The Authors of Myspace"/or Myspace itself helped you out with sales or networking/friends?
It's difficult to determine which online promotional activities are producing results. Other than website hit counters, we authors don't have much data with which to correlate our specific efforts & expenditures with sales. I'd like to think every little bit helps in some way, even if it's just increasing name recognition.

What tips do you have for beginning writers?
Proofread your shower shoes... erm, work. In the words of Crash Davis: "Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You'll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you'll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press'll think you're colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob." Don't expect an editor to punctuate your work or fix your homonymic errors.

Leave your Myspace URL below:
Alessia Brio's MySpace:
Coming Together's MySpace:
Artistically Inclined, LLP's MySpace:

Additional Comments:
Thanks for the interview opportunity!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

It's all about the focus

As a writer of erotica, I completely agree with this take on the matter by EPIC President, Brenna Lyons, on the differences between sensual romance, erotic romance, erotica, and porn (posted with permission):

What does sensual/erotic/erotica mean? It varies from person to person and company to company; there is not a standardized definition, in the publishing industry, for these terms, as much as readers and authors would like there to be one. A good portion of learning what fits a line...or which lines match your personal ideas about the terms...will come in the form of research/trial and error. When a company has a rating system, you might want to study it and start applying it to your own sensibilities.

Some companies are confusing the issue further by having lines that, for instance, state on the spine that they are erotic romance, state on their guidelines they are erotica and (in reality) accept both. This is not a good situation for readers, IMO...and there are plenty of blog posts complaining about it, as well. You see, it's not that the majority of readers of erotic romance would be offended by erotica, though some might be, since they prefer the HEA of a romance genre, which is not guaranteed in erotica. The problem is that they choose something that is REPRESENTED as what they are searching for, buy it and discover it's a bait and switch. Who would be happy about that? It is a disservice to the reader, the book and the author.

Back to the generally-accepted definitions, in most of the publishers I deal with. There are others, but we'll focus on the definitions from many indie/e-publishers. Independent press is where these genres first gained their popularity and audience. NY is the newcomer to the game, and I find their definitions range even further from the norm.

So, what is the difference? FOCUS is the important thing...and content to a lesser extent.

  • Sensual Romance- Take a traditional romance that doesn't fade to black. There is sexual tension between the characters, who definitely DO consummate the relationship, at some point in the book (unlike traditional romance, which may leave the characters, before that step occurs). In a sensual romance BOOK, it is expected that consummation will occur. In a sensual romance short story, it may not. Just thought I'd make that distinction clear.

    Sensual books, by definition, engage the senses of the reader. You have a moderate amount of detail in the sex scene and not amorphous emotional responses to unknown stimuli, as you find in some romances. In addition, such books may contain a bit of mild BDSM/bondage play, toys, etc. Sensual romance may also include more than one sexual interest for the main character, sometimes both realized sexual partners at some point in the book, usually not consecutively in sensual books. (Think of the woman who leaves a bad relationship and enters another. Or...a woman who has two sexual interests and settles on one, but usually not sleeping with both, if it's sensual.) As stated before, the development of the romance is the central (or in the case of cross-genre, co-central) plotline. I disagree with the RWA (as per the Passionate Pen definitions) that the scenes can necessarily be removed and still have a strong book. Since all sex scenes should advance characterization and/or plot, deleting sex scenes should (theoretically) make the book weaker. HOWEVER, I do agree that the scenes in a sensual romance can often be toned down. I've recently done this, and I don't think I lost much of anything, in the bargain, because I lost detail...not emotion, not characterization, not plot. Sensual romance MUST include a HEA, unless you are writing a sensual dark romance.

  • Erotic Romance- Erotic romance MAY include (but does not necessarily include in any given book): more frequent sex scenes than a sensual romance, more detailed sex scenes, multiple sexual partners (in the book or even at the same fact, poly relationships are perfectly fine in erotic romance), harsher language/coarser language, extreme sexual play/ long as it's consensual (it MUST be safe, sane and consensual), a more intense sexual/sensual experience. (In an erotic romance BOOK, it is expected that consummation will occur. In an erotic romance short story, it may not. Just thought I'd make that distinction clear.) An erotic romance MUST include a HEA, unless you are writing erotic dark romance. Contrary to what the RWA says, an erotic romance certainly CAN explore the sexual journey/discoveries of the individual and how that affects the individual, which they reserve for erotica. It may also explore the sexual mores and how they affect sexuality or how sexuality challenges them. This is one of the MANY reasons I think the RWA definition falls short of the reality of the offerings out there already. They are too narrow, by my estimate.

  • Erotica- Erotica does not have the requirement of a HEA. It does not have the requirement of a romantic relationship. In fact, many erotica stories are about f**k-buddies, mistresses, BDSM trainers, one-night-stands...even complete strangers. Erotica is sex for the sake of sex and what the individuals learn/experience, not always with a mind to the repercussions of said acts. It might be about the sexual discovery, the sexual journey, the challenge of sexual mores and expectations... It might simply be someone with a need to experience, to break out, etc. It depends on the needs of the plot and characters. Again, the sex scenes should serve a purpose. They should advance characterization and/or plot. They should be safe, sane and consensual. A modicum of respect between the characters is my personal rule, but some "erotica publishers" don't expect it. I do.

    Now, let me go back a moment. Erotica doesn't require a romance, but if it had one, some people would assume that would make it erotic romance. Wrong. Why? The proof is in the focus. Is the focus ON the relationship, as explored through sexuality? You have erotic romance. Is the focus on the sexual discovery, from which a romantic involvement evolves? You have erotica.

  • Porn- When you leave SSC behind...or respect...or sex scenes that serve a purpose and advance plot/characterization... When you sacrifice plot and characterization to "stroke fiction"... At that point, you delve into my personal definition of porn. You don't have to do all of them to accomplish that switch.

~ ~ ~

Friday, June 01, 2007

Fantasies I Reviewed at Erotica Revealed

Phaze Fantasies IFantasies I: Four Tales of Erotic Fiction
By Alessia Brio, Leigh Ellwood, Bridget Midway, and Ann Regentin
ISBN: 1-59426-556-9
March, 2007

Review by Lisabet Sarai

Short stories can be frustrating. Just when you're getting interested in the characters, really eager to discover what happens next, the story ends. Sometimes, too, a short tale can produce sexual frustration; there's rarely enough space for more than one steamy scene, and who can really be satisfied with just one?

Fantasies I, an eBook published by Phaze, offers a solution. This volume is comprised of four multi-chapter erotic novellas, each about sixty pages long, by four woman authors. Each can be read in a single sitting; each offers a generous helping of sexual shenanigans along with more plot and character development than could be crammed into the word limits of a typical short story.

Alessia Brio leads off with "¡Pura Vida!", a sizzling exploration of polyamorous, pansexual relationships. Charlie hasn't seen Stormy in a while, but has white-hot memories of their previous encounters. When his travel business brings him to Costa Rica to consult with Stormy about an advertising campaign, she meets Charlie at the airport with her handsome Latin assistant Pietro in tow. She makes it clear that Pietro is her lover as well as her business associate, but that doesn't bother Charlie - if anything, he finds it exciting. He's used to sexual groupings that are flexible with regard to both gender and partners, since his company back in the States is made up of individuals who tend to mix business with pleasure. In the course of this story, we don't meet Jess or Sam, while Mia and Richard are just voices on the phone, but we're told that:

"If intimacy was the sun, they orbited it like planets – each independent, but influenced by the pull of the others...While their interactions might seem seedy and tabloid-worthy to the unfamiliar, within their ranks they functioned much like a Heinlein family."

The reference here, of course, is to Heinlein's classic exposition of free love, Stranger in a Strange Land.

Stormy, Charlie and Pietro embark on a quest that takes them through the exotic landscapes of Costa Rica, trying to capture the essence of what makes the country so special as a travel destination. At the same time, they explore the sexual territory of their mutual interactions. Ms Brio treats the reader to a variety of couplings and menagés, including an intelligent, realistic and arousing scene in which Charlie and Pietro help Stormy to truly release control and simply allow her body to react. The tale climaxes with an incandescent male-male scene that is no less intense for its inevitability.

I grew up with Heinlein. I find nothing sexier than mixed gender, multi-person menagés, where inhibitions and prejudices drop away and nobody is jealous because everyone is sexually and emotionally satisfied. Hence, Ms Brio’s story strongly appealed to me. However, I felt that it suffered from excessive description and too much backstory.

Costa Rica provides an appropriately exotic backdrop for this amorous tale. Sometimes though, the author seems to forget that this is just the setting. I think she's personally in love with the place, and it shows. However, I occasionally found myself getting annoyed at all the cultural details. I wanted to focus on the action.

This story is clearly part of a series involving the same characters. There are too many references to these past adventures, including allusions to events that seem irrelevant to the current tale. It may be that Ms Brio is trying to influence her readers to go back and read the other installments. Personally, though, I think this made the current story less coherent and compelling.

The second tale in Fantasies I is Leigh Ellwood's "Midnight Passions". Colleen is a divorced single mother who's trying to balance her own sexual needs with the desire to be a responsible parent to her pre-teen daughter. Her self-centered boyfriend Daryl doesn't make life any easier, but he turns Colleen on so much that she doesn't dare to complain. She endures his crassness and sexual selfishness, until the night she discovers that he's also seeing other women. As she tries to throw him out, her rented duplex begins to rattle and shake and the air is filled with a menacing voice, ordering Daryl to leave. He scuttles away, terrified, clutching his jeans in front of his genitals.

Naked and dazed, Colleen steps out onto her front porch to survey the damage from what she supposes is an earthquake. But all is quiet. Just as she realizes that anyone in the neighborhood can see her nude body, her neighbor and landlord, Professor Spence, steps up and offers her a luxurious satin robe to cover herself. Thus begins a series of erotic surprises that ultimately bring Colleen more love and fulfillment than she had ever dreamed of.

The delightful and unexpected twists in this story are one of its best points, so I won't spoil the experience by revealing any more of the plot. All I'll say is that it involves literature, magic, and lots of sex. "Midnight Passions" turns out to be a genuinely fantastical story. The outrageous events later in the story, and its sexy fairy tale resolution, contrast sharply with the painfully mundane but realistic description of Colleen's relationship with Daryl. In fact, if I hadn't been working on a review, I might have given up the story in the face of Daryl's churlishness and Colleen's insecurity. They were just too real to be enjoyable. I'm glad that I kept reading.

"Service Recall" by Bridget Midway is the third story in this collection. This is more of a conventional romance; an impoverished, discouraged and sex starved divorceé meets the man of her dreams when she calls for a plumber to unplug her sink. Although this is familiar territory, the story is engaging and well written. Unfashionably voluptuous Carla is convincingly needy but has a bit of sass. Duke is competent, solid and warm, middle-aged attractive and believably unsure of himself. Their torrid couplings will raise your temperature, and you're guaranteed to despise cruel and sarcastic Roy (Carla's ex) and the cold, upwardly mobile Allyson (Duke's previous girlfriend).

The final tale in this volume is Ann Regentin's "Midnight Conversations". Although it includes romantic elements, this story is also a beautifully crafted exploration of individual and societal attitudes toward sex, as well as a sensitive portrayal of the effects of emotional abuse.

The story begins in the middle of a conversation between two unidentified voices:

"'He was amazing in bed. That's why I married him.'"

"'Tell me,' I said. I needed to hear as much as she needed an audience."

The story of seduction continues, the speaker and the listener both find release, and we still do not know the participants in this conversation.

Gradually Ms Regentin reveals the truth about the voices, ghosts in a house left vacant for thirty years because of its haunting. Little by little we get to know the narrator Cass, a frightened and angry woman pursued by her own ghosts. As Cass works on the old house, strips the wallpaper away and rips up linoleum to expose hardwood floors, we slowly learn more about Cass and her past and why it is so difficult for her to trust anyone. Meanwhile, the ghosts converse with her in the night, sharing their experiences of sexual highs and lows: audacious seductions, impossible attractions, extramarital affairs and forbidden loves.

Gradually, too, Tristan Millman, the former owner of the house who originally refused to sell it to her, woos Cass, tries to show her how the future could be different from the past. She resists him every step of the way, despite being drawn to his generosity, calmness and self-confidence. The story is over before the two of them actually climb into bed together. Still the growth of their mutual attraction mirrors the intensity of Cass' midnight conversations, and the result is a story at least as arousing as the three more explicit tales that precede it.

Together, the four tales in Fantasies I offer a welcome relief from short story frustration. I look forward to reading other offerings from Phaze.

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