Richard Bacula's Blog
May 14, 2018
This is quite a few years ago, and I’m sitting in a car with girl. I was giving her a ride, but now we’re pulled over on the side of the road. It’s raining, and the windows are fogging over. The girl is thin, and so is the fabric of her dress. She has pale blonde hair, a pretty smile, and a pleasing frame. We’re talking about sex, and there is zero possibility of us having it with each other.
We both have girlfriends that we’re committed to, for starts. I don’t know if she’s flat-out gay, or if she’s bi, but it doesn’t matter. Our excitement in this conversation, the gleam in each of our eyes, isn’t about each other--it’s about sex itself. It’s the kind of thing that happens when you get two enthusiastic and informed hobbyists together, and they babble back and forth about the object of their mutual interest. Strong mutual interest in a topic doesn’t necessarily translate into strong interest in each other.
In addition to being into BDSM, she’s a cutter.
I don’t find that appealing, but I do find it fascinating. I’ve never talked to a cutter before, not about cutting. She’s explaining how it works, the physiology and psychology of it, and she really knows her shit on this topic. She’s researched the fuck out of it. I’m learning a lot.
A decade or two into the future, I’m going to strain to remember the exact things she told me, and how she phrased them. I’m going to fail, and I’m going to just say ‘fuck it’, and I’ll fake it, writing this blog post as if I have the kind of mental precision of memory required to accurately dictate something that happened so long ago.
“It’s not just about the pain,” she’s telling me. “And it’s not just about the control.”
I’d brought up the subject of control, the idea that one part of self-cutting was that the cutters were looking for a way to exert some kind of power over their own life. She’d given me the kind of physical, non-verbal response that you get when you’ve said something that’s perhaps in the right direction, but only part of the answer.
“When the body suffers trauma, when it feels pain, there are physical responses that take place. Pain lets you know that there’s an emergency going on, and the body starts responding to that emergency immediately. As soon as there is pain, the body starts pumping out painkillers to deal with it.”
She mimes cutting herself, using a single long fingernail to draw a thin line across the pleasantly pallid flesh of her forearm.
She uses the technical terms, naming the emergency hormones and what they do. The specifics will get lost with time, but the lessons remain burned into my brain. I’d read any number of things about people who were into pain, but none of them had really addressed this kind of root cause. The simple truth of it all--or of one key aspect--was that when the body experiences pain, the body produces painkillers, and people can use painkillers for recreational and/or medicinal purposes.
“These painkillers not only help numb you physically, and to give you a physical buzz, but also help do the same thing on a mental level. That’s why cutting and BDSM are popular among people who suffer from depression--they’re using the chemical results of physical pain in order to battle their mental suffering. That’s why I got into it--I have pretty severe depression.”
I haven’t yet realized that I suffer from depression, because it doesn’t generally manifest as sadness, and I haven’t realized that sadness and depression aren’t the same thing. I know at this point that I have periods of inactivity where getting out of bed in the morning seems like a horrible fate. I’ve often felt as if life was hollow, pointless, and cruel, but it hasn’t yet occurred to me at this point that the problem lies at least partially in my own brain. At this point in my life, I’m still young enough and foolish enough to think that I’m the one who sees things clearly, and all those happy people are the ones who are wrong. This outlook will change over the next decade or two, but in the moments of this particular conversation in the rain, I’m taking notes on self-medications that I naively believe are applicable to other people. I don’t consider self-medication, because I don’t yet consider that I have any form of mental illness or disorder.
Time will pass, and this will change.
I’ll remember the girl and the conversation many times in my life, particularly when I get my first tattoo. I’ll sit in the chair for an hour or so, having my flesh punctured repeatedly, enduring the pain, and I’ll ride a kind of semi-euphoric high for the next several days. I’ll feel like life is good, like things are right, and like it all makes sense. After the direct chemical high fades away, I’ll look at the tattoo from time to time, and I’ll have an echo of that high flash through my memory because there’s a Pavlovian link in my brain now between that particular piece of art and those feelings of well-being. I’ll remember this conversation, and I’ll understand what’s happening to me. I’ll wish that more people could have that kind of education into the nature and nurture of pain.
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May 8, 2018
Occasionally I’m asked if Twitter is good for promoting one’s work, and the short answer is that no, it’s not. Granted, I’m not good at optimizing self-promotion. Granted, self-promoting via Twitter is better than nothing. Still, in my experience, it doesn’t yield very much in returns.
For a stretch of time, back when I just had ~10 titles on Amazon, I spent about an hour on Twitter every morning, and another hour every evening, faithfully tweeting and retweeting and interacting and such. The net result was that for as long as I kept up that level of activity, I’d make about $10/month. Then when I slacked off, sales would trickle down to zero, or very close.
As I said, Twitter is definitely better than nothing. $10/month is--looking at straight numbers--infinitely better than $0/month. The problem is that it’s still just $10/month.
I figured okay, but I only have 10 titles right now. That’s about an average of $1/title/month, so if I get 100 or 1000 titles, I’ll be pulling in much more money for the same effort. But I don’t have that many titles. I ran into a bottleneck in my production, one I’ll talk about later: cover art. I still believe that IF one has enough titles, and IF one is active enough on Twitter in the right ways, it CAN get a decent financial return for the effort. But there are most likely other, better returns out there for the same amount of effort.
Twitter’s strength is quite simply NOT promotion.
Twitter’s strength is making connections.
It’s not hard for any indie writer on Twitter to fall into a network of other indie writers. We all occasionally (at least) ask people to buy our books, and most of us don’t do much buying of other people’s books in return, because most of us are poor and/or don’t have as much time to read as we’d like, and/or are picky bastards who became writers in the first place because most writing isn’t up to our standards.
While Twitter friends might not overall be the best buyers, they can become invaluable assets in one’s writing career. You can find beta-readers, editors, writing partners, and business opportunities that you might not be able to find otherwise. I’ve made a number of friend connections that aren’t just fun, but that help me focus on what I need to focus on most: writing.
My friend @AngoraShade, for example, is fun to shoot chitchat or food pictures back and forth with, but she’s also an invaluable beta-reader, somebody to exchange tips and information with, somebody to help boost morale, and so forth. We’ve passed ideas back and forth, tipped each other off to tempting anthology calls, discussed experiences about different formats and websites to share our writing on, and so forth.
A good friend/contact can be more important than finding dozens of customers. I have made dozens or hundreds of dollars over the past several years trying to use Twitter to self-promote, but I have made thousands of dollars by making connections via Twitter.
Most of this came from a single opportunity in the form of an encounter with erotica writer, AVN-nominated, and webmaster Kelli Roberts. We ran into each other online, and I ended up shooting her a link to my free erotic Halloween story “Corn Hold.”
She was impressed enough with my writing that she brought me in on a project she was working on, a romantic BDSM novel called “Letting Go,” a work designed to ride the wave of the “50 Shades” popularity, only with better sex scenes, and written not only for those unfamiliar with BDSM, but also for the more experienced crowd.
While the project didn’t turn out as profitable as we had hoped, due to our major promoter all but backing out of the deal, it’s still my most profitable endeavor to date, as well as some of my best work. I was able to pay some bills when the book debuted, and again when it got a mention in Women’s Health Magazine.
(Incidentally, the ebook version of “Letting Go” is free until May 11. So get a copy now!)
That’s the best way to use Twitter: use it to connect with the right people and opportunities. You don’t want to spam out random pitches to everybody, but you can get to know all sorts of people over Twitter. People are accessible on Twitter in ways that you just don’t get on other social media. You can tweet at a celebrity or a large business, and you have a chance--maybe a very tiny chance--of them responding to what you’ve said, compared to a cold email that would likely just end up in the spam folder.
Twitter is a useful tool, but it’s better for the precision work of pointed, deliberate connection-making than it is for just spamming out blindly and hoping for results.
At least, that’s my personal experience with it.
May 6, 2018
What you’re supposed to do is to come at things a bit more sideways than that. You have to create a “platform,” some kind of format or forum where people come for something other than your for-sale writing. Once you have the crowd good and hooked on whatever free thing or things you’ve been giving them, then you casually mention that oh, you’ve happened to have written something that happens to be for sale, in case anybody is interested. By this time, the people all know you, and they presumably like you, and they’ll be much more likely to be interested in whatever it is you happen to be selling.
Conventional wisdom is very likely to be correct again… but it doesn’t do me any real good at this point.
I’ve put in the time and effort to study my craft at a national university. I got my degree, but it’s not bringing me any money, so I have to have a day job to pay my bills while I try to fend off the student loan jackals repeatedly. I’m not asking for pity here--it’s all perfectly normal, and I’m not exactly a starving artist. But if I had it all to do over again, I’d do things differently, because the only real skill I picked up in college is writing itself.
I have the skills it takes to weave (hopefully) compelling stories, full of interesting characters and/or situations. I do not have the skills required to make a podcast, or to have a YouTube channel, or whatever else it takes to build a decent platform. So it seems to me a bit like going to law school, then graduating to discover that all lawyers must hand-build their own office before they can take any new clients. It’s a bit frustrating.
Not only do I lack the skills it takes to build a pre-existing audience for my work, I also lack the time. It can take years of dedicated work to build up a decent base of potential consumers who are all interested in you and what you have to say, and I’m in my mid-forties. Taking on what is essentially an unpaid second job, in a field I’m uninterested in, and spending a few years at it before seeing real results, just doesn’t seem like something that I’m realistically able or likely to do.
All of which means that I have to find other ways to let the world know that I exist.
I mean, sure, I’m going to try to work on my platform, and my brand, and so forth. That’s one reason why I’m dedicating this entire month of May to adding to my much-neglected blog. Blogs, actually, because in addition to my old Goodreads blog, I’ve set up another blog on WordPress, and it’s seeing some activity already. I only started my WordPress blog five days ago, and I already have 13 followers. That, plus my 150 followers from my Goodreads blog means that I have a potential platform of 163 people. Maybe it’ll increase significantly by the end of this month, and much of my irritation and hand-wringing about platform-building will turn out to have been for naught. I doubt it, but that’s okay--I have other plans.
Because I don’t envision much success with building my own platform, I plan to try to figure out ways to use other people’s platforms. For example, this year I’m focusing more on submitting work to anthologies, because while I only get a one-time fee for that kind of work, the people putting together and selling the anthologies are going to do the heavy lifting when it comes to promotion. The people will hear about the anthology because of the antho-makers’ platforms, and when they buy the book, they’ll read it, see one of my glorious stories, and think to themselves, “My! Who IS this Richard Bacula chap, and where can I read more of his wonderful writing?” Then they’ll go to Amazon, see my 30-something titles currently available for sale for as low as 99 cents (ahem!), and perhap make a purchase or two.
Similarly, I plan to look into doing some guest blog posts on other people’s better-supported, better-promoted blogs. If you’re reading this, and you have a blog with any kind of decent following, and you might like a guest post from yours-truly, let me know.
For that matter, I’m always open to co-writing short fiction with other authors. There are plenty of authors who have the opposite problem that I do--they’re significantly better at promotion than they are at the actual writing part. For that matter, there are non-authors who have a platform and a following, and who haven’t really considered breaking into the erotic fiction market, and who could use a talented co-author like myself. Again, if this sounds like it might describe you or somebody you know, contact me or have that person contact me.
As things are, I feel that my main obstacle is simply getting the world to know that my writing exists. My sales currently make my writing a fun hobby that brings in beer money, or the occasional minor windfall like when my BDSM novel “Letting Go” was mentioned in Women’s Health Magazine a couple years back.
I guess that’s all that I’ve really got to say at this point. I’ve got some other irons in other fires, and some secret schemes to rocket me to the top, but nothing really worth discussing at this point.
See you next time!
May 5, 2018
But I'm not going to do that.
The show does far too many things, far too well, for me to try to sum it up in such a way as to get the right people to understand that they not only might enjoy the show, but that they might well need to watch the show. At the same time, this show is definitely not for everybody.
If you want to know more about the series, and if you'll like it, google around. I'm betting there are plenty of articles on it. You can also go to YouTube, and try watching any number of the musical numbers from the show, or perhaps start with Rachel Bloom's song/video Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury.
In fact, even if you have seen that one before, I encourage you to watch it again. It's a classic.
Initially I was too busy watching the show to really notice how good it was. The songs were funny, sweet, sad, and often were skillful parodies of songs, singers, or genres. I was just going along, watching this show, making note of good aspects here or there, minding my own business, having a good time.
Then the dangerously talented Rachel Bloom reached out of the television, grabbed me, threw my emotional self into a goddamned wall, and I was crying.
I don't cry often.
I'm not saying that this song will make you cry. You may very well not have the same emotional buttons and triggers that I do, and you probably don't have the same view of the same world that I have. But what set me off was a painful recognition of captured truth unleashed into my heart and my brain. I'd never seen that episode before, and I'd never heard Rachel Bloom sing that song before, but I knew it by reputation.
I knew it because I've seen women that I love singing their own version of it to themselves.
I knew it because men have our own versions of this song, and I've heard those playing in my head many times after making a horrifyingly painful mistake. The song itself is part of the pain, the self-inflicted insult to the injury.
This song "You Stupid Bitch" is about "self-indulgent self-loathing," and takes place after the character Rebecca Bunch (played by Rachel Bloom, of course) has her zany romcom-style stalking antics blow up in her face.
This is the point where you, my readers, need to either click on that link and watch the video, or to consciously decide NOT to. I'd have some kind of trigger warning here, but I believe that the sort of people who are likely to be triggered by this song have already sung their own variations countless times, personalized versions just for them, that would hurt much more than listening to this song will.
When you've watched the video, come back here and scroll down to read more.
The first time I watched this song, it started off being kind of amusing. Then it became a bit uncomfortable. Then it was amusing again, then suddenly insightful into one of the largest problem in many doomed relationships ("Yes, Josh completes me, but how can that be, when there's no me left to complete?").
It goes right back to amusing again, as she invites the audience to sing along with her, to help heap abuse on her, because "Yes, I deserve this!".
The part that got to me--that still gets to me, every time I listen to this song--starts with "he sees me for what I am," as Rebecca launches into a stream of familiar words that have been weaponized against women, using those words to cut at herself the way I've seen far too many other women attack themselves after fucking something up somehow.
Bloom plays things perfectly, using the word "bitch"--that sharpened sword of a word--sparingly at first, then increasingly to the point of discomfort, then holding off for one final pointed stab at the end. There’s the playful kick to the side, the “and lose some weight,” the kind of pointless, gratuitous, self-hating thought that occurs to people when they're in that kind of self-abusive mood.
With this song, she crafts the image of a demon that we’re all familiar with either first-hand or second, and by doing so she captures this demon into a less harmful form. Women will watch this song, and it might sting them, but it’ll sting less than the song that their own demon sings. And the next time their own demon starts singing to them, they’ll remember this performance, and the dark humor will undercut the damage of their own self-flagellation. By skewering this demon in painful parody, Rachel Bloom is creating a tool that countless people will be able to use in their real lives, to help survive and endure some very harsh moments.
And she does this while singing beautifully, looking stunning in her glamorous dress.
Rachel Bloom is a force to be reckoned with, and she's spent three years attacking some of the biggest chains and torture implements that women are subjected to, both by themselves and by society at large.
This show deserves more attention.
May 4, 2018
The situation is this: I’ve embarked on a May Challenge where I write a new Blog post every day, it’s Friday, I’m fried, all I’ve had to eat today is half a bag of pork rinds, and as SOON as I got home I drank the 10 oz of dry red wine (burgundy) that my new diet allows me.
THEN I remembered that I have to write a blog post.
But, fuck it!*
(*Not to be confused with “Butt-Fuck It!”, although sure, that too)
The very first post on my GoodReads blog was basically me drunk on Jager, typing whatever came to mind, so I’ll just pretend that this post is responsible, or thematic, or whatever.
I do tend to drink a lot, more than I should. So this diet (the Slow Carb diet, from the book “The 4-Hour Body”) is both kind of a strain, and probably a good idea for me. I mean, I might joke, but I don’t think I’m actually an alcoholic or anything, just more of a heavy drinker. I got diagnosed with a fatty liver a while back, and that could either have been because I’m just kind of a fatty in general, or because of heavy alcohol abuse.
I wasn’t sure which, so I took the next seven weeks off from drinking, and I didn’t have any real problem doing so. I mean, things were less fun, and I had to lean on other medications to get to sleep at night, but I didn’t get shakes or serious cravings, or anything like that. Also, they say that the measuring stick for alcoholism is whether or not you’re able to have just a drink or two, or if once you start drinking you have to keep drinking until you pass out or run out of alcohol. While the latter is fun, I’m perfectly capable of sticking to the 10 oz of wine that my diet allows me. Okay, some days I’ve done 3 oz of vodka insteads. The point is, it’s not enough usually to get me tipsy or drunk. Unless I’ve gone a whole day without eating anything--then it’s pretty darned pleasant.
I tell people that I drink to relax, and that’s true, but it’s not true the way that most people mean it. Like, a lot of people can have a beer or two, or a glass of wine or two, and be “relaxed,” but me… I like more than that.
See, there’s this point with alcohol where enough kicks in that my thoughts slow down, most of my emotions just go to sleep, and I can feel something inside me not just relax , but unclench . There’s this point where enough of my brain lies dormant, and I can become stupid enough to Just. Be. Happy.
If you don’t get where I’m coming from--if you’ve never experienced this delirious, temporary alcohol-induced bliss--this might be a good time to explain that I have significant levels of both depression and anxiety. I can’t speak for everybody, but part of my personal barrier to happiness is simply thinking too much. It’s nice to be able to temporarily kill off large portions of my brain. More than “nice,” actually, it’s a relief , a physical and mental relief that has on many more than one occasion had me thinking (or saying aloud) the word “Oh, thank GOD! I’m drunk !”
That’s the best and funnest part of drinking, reaching that point. More often, I don’t get there. This is in part because that sense of nigh-orgasmic intoxication often comes with some form of hangover, and that would interfere with my Fucking Day Job. It’s also because alcohol costs money. It’s also because I tend to be paranoid about my own bad habits, warily watching them lest they run out of control.
Usually, I drink for just a bit of fun, and to shut my mind up enough that I can go to sleep. Insomnia is another problem that I have, and when I don’t treat it with alcohol, I treat it with over-the-counter meds. I’ve tried prescription meds, but none have seemed to work very well for very long. Ambien, for example, worked for about a week. After that, it was only good for 4 hours.
Anyway, I’m almost completely sober now. It’s taken me less than an hour to write this, and already I’m almost completely sober. Shame. I was hoping for more of a result than that. The nice thing though, is that tomorrow is my Cheat Day, where I can eat and drink as much as I want to. This starts at Midnight, so tonight if my insomnia boots me awake at any time after midnight, I can drink myself back to sleep.
I should probably edit this post, yadda yadda yadda, but I’m going to play it as it lies, and just post it. It’s not my best blog post, but it’s kind of personal, so maybe people will find it interesting or entertaining. If you read this far, and you got anything from this rambling, let me know. If you’ve read this far, and you think it was a waste of your time, definitely let me know that. Feedback of any kind can help me produce better stuff in the future.
For now, I’m going to pop a diphenhydramine tablet, watch some TV and hopefully get to sleep in a bit.
May 3, 2018
Disclaimer: This blog post contains spoilers for my short story “Multiple O,” as I break down how I turned my starting Idea into an actual plot.
So you have an Idea. You’ve got some kind of notion that could make for a good story. What’s next?
That depends on the writer and the idea. A lot of the time, for a good writer, having an Idea is enough. In previous years, I succeeded in my May Challenges by becoming skilled at taking an Idea, and being able to turn it into an acceptable short story just by sitting down at the keyboard and typing by the seat of my pants.
Pantsing works well for a lot of writers, and it works well for me most of the time. When I wrote “Satisfied By A Stegosaurus,” all I had in mind was the title, along with the notion that I’d have human/dinosaur sex be consensual instead of the standard rape fantasy scenario. With “An Innocent Haircut,” I just had the setup in mind--a young man is seduced by the woman who’s cutting his hair--and the inspiration to try to write the story about a male losing his virginity as detailed as possible, to try to craft it in such a way that males who hadn’t lost their virginity (and females who hadn’t been male) would be able to live the experience vicariously through my words. Both of those stories turned out very well, still some of my best work, and they were pantsed.
Then there are those other times.
My story “Multiple O” is set in my Serpent’s Gifts setting, a world where the appearance of a giant snake in the sky grants various people comic-book-style super-powers. I’m a big comic fan, and there are certain powers that are staples for superheroes (or villains) and that also lend themselves well to erotics. One of those powers is the ability to make instant copies of yourself, along the lines of The Multiple Man, Silent Majority, Triplicate Girl, or Multiplex.
That was my Idea: write erotica about somebody with that kind of self-duplicating power.
But it needed refinement, because “One day, a person with duplication powers did some sexy stuff” isn’t a good story. It’s not even good micro-fiction.
Once you have your Idea, I find that it’s pretty good to start working through the Five Ws of Journalism: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. My Who in this case is my main character, my protagonist. I toyed with making a male character named “Gangbang,” and having him multiply in the middle of sex with a woman who was open enough to roll with suddenly having sex with two or twenty guys instead of just one, but my personal tastes go the other way, and I decided that I’d rather write about a woman who could turn into multiple women. So that’s my basic Who--the protagonist is female. I came up with the title of “Multple O,” and went with the first female name that sprung to mind that started with O: Olivia.
The Ws don’t have to be in order, and often the Idea itself will fill in at least part of one of them anyway. If I’d been doing them in order, I’d have focused on “What” next, but I didn’t. Instead, I focused on that sixth important question, that honorary W just because it hangs out with them so much. I asked myself How.
Specifically, I asked myself how her power functioned. Multiple Man produces copies from kinetic impact. Other characters seem to be able to do it at will. I think one character could pull alternate-reality versions of himself/herself, or maybe I just dreamed that. I needed a mechanism for my character’s power to work. Where did the copies come from?
I mulled this over for a couple days, I think.
A lot of the time, shaping and refining the Idea is mental work that I do while I’m on a long drive, or trying to beat my insomnia into submission by letting my mind wander, and so forth. Eventually, I hit on the idea of her power being the ability to pull her own image out of mirrors, into the real world. That gave her a vulnerability (her power only works when there’s a reflection nearby), it gave her a limitation (only one copy per mirror), and it gave me a start to the story: a woman is looking at herself in the mirror, when suddenly she pulls her own reflection out into the real world.
As soon as I had the How, the rest of the Ws all fell into place.
Who? Olivia and a single copy of herself.
What? A solo scene that turns into girl/girl fun.
When? Sometime shortly after December of 2012, because that’s when this setting splits off from the real world--That’s when the powers start manifesting.
Where? In the bedroom, on the bed.
Why? Because Olivia was trying to do the female empowerment thing of looking at her own vagina in the mirror, to get in better touch with herself and her body, but when she drops the mirror and tries to pick it back up again, she accidentally grabs her mirror self and pulls it into the real world. Once she adjusts to this new event, the two of her go back to doing what she was doing moments before: getting better in touch with her own body (or, in this case, bodies).
I asked myself if this story would work, and the first snag I hit upon was the issue of whether or not a person who was confronted by a doppleganger of themselves would try to have sex with it so quickly. I went back to thinking about How the power worked, and decided that since the copy was in fact a different version of the main character, that Olivia would be perfectly comfortable with her mirror-clone--it was her , after all.
This wasn’t two strangers--it was two of the same person, and they’d known themselves for their entire lives. You can’t get much more intimate than that; the sex is just a formality. It’s more like masturbation with access to a second body. Which fell nicely into the general themes of the story--a woman who is uncomfortable with herself gets to lover herself a bit more.
That’s the kind of thing that many writers tend to leave out of short erotica, by the way. They come up with characters, a plot, and a sex scene, but they leave their story at that. That’s a mistake, because stories have to be about something important. Yes, sure, sex itself is important, but not always in its own right. Creating a story about two bodies fucking is like creating a story about two people eating a meal together--if that’s all that happens, don’t bother writing it.
The meal, or the sex, or the walk through the park, or the fight in the alleyway… it has to mean something to somebody. It has to be important enough that the story is worth telling, and the reader knows it. In this case, the main character grows to accept herself a bit more. Yes, she has her first lesbian experience (kind of), and she discovers that she has superpowers, but while both of those events are exciting, a really good story needs an extra layer of significance to make it really shine.
The story “Multiple O” is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Multiple-Richa...
May 2, 2018
Like most authors, I’m frequently asked where I get the ideas for my stories. Often the person asking has a sense of curiosity or awe, and other times--like after stumbling onto one of my odder stories--it’s more like an accusation.
There’s no one easy answer to the question, so I’ll give several.
First and foremost, as well as recurring, I have a very busy mind. I become bored easily, and I don’t like it. Since I was a child, I’ve filled countless periods of boredom by either reading (or watching) some kind of story created by another person, or by making up my own stories. If, for example, I’m sitting in the waiting room to see the dentist, and I don’t have a book with me, and I either don’t have my phone or the internet is simply boring, I’ll let my mind wander about freely to see where it takes me.
Another factor to keep in mind at this point is that I’m kind of a pervert. So my mind very often wanders toward sexy places.
Now, it helps that I mostly write short stories, and that I tend to be quite descriptive. This means that a very simple idea can end up becoming a good story. I can (and have) literally walked through a grocery store and come up with dozens of ideas:
Ooh! There’s a choke chain and leash for sale in Aisle 3. That could make for some kinky fun. Who wears it? Probably a naked girl. Why? Has she done it before? Let’s say she’s never done it before, because novelty makes for better erotica, and let us therefore say that she’s doing it… for a bet. But what kind of bet? And with whom?
I can just go on from there, filling in the questions as they come into my brain, until I have a fleshed-out plot. Then I write it. Just from walking through a store. Or, in this case, from thinking about walking through a store.
At the other end of the store is the veggie aisle. Cucumbers… well, that’s obvious, isn’t it? A girl masturbates with cucumber. But that’s been done, probably a LOT. So let’s make it different somehow. The cucumber isn’t for her. Who’s it for? A girl friend? Still cliche. How about her boyfriend? There we go. Because he’s got a massive penis, and before she’ll let him have anal sex with her, she wants to show him what it’s like to be on the receiving end. So the story opens with her in the grocery store, looking at cucumbers to judge if they’re the same size as her boyfriend’s penis. Maybe she fondles a few of them, gets some odd looks from other customers. Not the clerks; they’ve seen it all. They’re jaded...
And so forth.
The seed for an erotica story (so to speak) can be very simple, very small. It can be anything.
I listened to some TED Talks on technology the other day, and I came up with the idea for a phone app that matches people for sexual hookups not only based on their sexual compatibility, but also based on how much money they could make by filming themselves hooking up, and uploading the product to the internet.
That’s not just a story idea--it’s a story generating idea. I’ve written one story about this app so far (“That Syncing Feeling”), putting it in a cyberpunk setting, and I’m already mentally working on a second story. I can--and most likely will--be able to fill my own anthology with stories based all around that app.
I do like to have more than just sex go on in my stories, so once I have a seed, a basic idea, and a plot, I try to come up with additional ideas to make it stand out. With the cucumber example above, you can see that I often come up with things based simply on a desire to avoid the completely cliche.
My story “Corn Hold” (Just “Cornholed” on Literotica) for example, was written for a Halloween story contest. I wanted to avoid vampires and werewolves, because I figured that most stories would be covering those Halloween tropes. Same with ghosts, and to a lesser extent Frankenstein-type monsters. I tried to think of a Halloween creature that wasn’t done-to-death, and I came up with scarecrows. They show up in the occasional horror movie, but I’d never seen one in erotica before. Which made sense, because they were just rags stuffed with hay. What kind of penis would one even have…?
When I answered that question, I not only had the physics of the sex, but also the twist ending. The fact that the story turned out to be a decent exploration into the main character’s personality as well as the spirit of Halloween was all bonus.
Ideas are easy.
They’re in things you see, places you go.
They’re in the people that you meet, when you’re walking down the street.
Ideas are everywhere.
Shaping those ideas, cutting and polishing them so that they’re unique and memorable? That’s a bit trickier. Maybe I’ll talk about that later down the road.
See you next time!
May 1, 2018
In 2015, I issued myself a personal challenge: write one brand new erotic short story every day in the month of May. I set myself a 700 word minimum per story, and told myself that the stories didn’t have to even be GOOD, just not horrible.
It was a struggle, but I succeeded, and I turned those stories into my “Short Strokes” series, which is available on Amazon (I suggest “Short Strokes: The Complete Collection,” simply because it’s the best value for money by far).
I did this challenge for a number of reasons. For one thing, I wanted to have more titles for sale under my name. The more titles I have, the bigger chance somebody stumbles onto one, and the bigger the chance that they fall in love with me as an author. Or, at least, that they enjoy what they read enough to pick up a second title.
Also, I did it to improve my writing.
One of the problems that I had as a writer early on was my own perfectionism. I could--and did--sit and tinker with a single short story for years. I had trouble knowing when a story was finished, because I could always revise it to be just a bit better than before. As an author hoping to make a living with my work, I needed to be able to actually finish my work, and to do it in a timely manner.
That’s the other issue--time. I wanted to practice meeting deadlines. I wanted to be get better at not only finishing a story, but finishing it within a specific timeline.
My first May challenge was a good growth experience, one that sharpened my skills as a writer in both of those areas, and more.
In 2016, I issued myself another May challenge. This time, I’d again try to write a short story for every day in May, but I’d up the minimum word count to 2,500!!
Again, I succeeded.
It was rough, but I hammered out 31 new short stories in one month, and most of those are up for sale on Amazon.
On the final day, late at night, I still had one story left to write, and only a couple of hours left before midnight. I was completely out of ideas. I was fried. I was damn-near brain dead. I’d learned that the only way to do this kind of challenge was to force myself to get out of my own way, and to
Desperate for an idea, ANY good idea, I went to twitter and started reading through the tweets by @MagicRealismBot, a plot-generating bot that I follow. Almost immediately, I found an idea that I knew I could work with.
From memory, it was “A game-show host is climbing an octopus. She will never make it.”
About an hour and a half later, I’d finished writing “The Octopunishment,” my first tentacle-erotica story, a pornographic Greek myth about an afterlife of sexual torment for a woman who dared insult a god.
I’m particularly proud of that story, especially considering the pressure that I was under. It turned out damned good, and I’ve gotten quite a few compliments on it.
In 2017, I again issued myself a May challenge. Same as before, but this time I swore to have a minimum word count of 5,000 words!!!
And I utterly failed to accomplish my goal.
Like, it was pathetic.
I wrote two stories that month, and only because anthology submission deadlines were due. My life upheaved, and I found myself in the midst of several crapstorms that I won’t even get into.
The point is, WOW, did I fail!
So here we are. It’s May again, and I’m going to try another challenge. I’m low-balling it a bit, because my defeat last year stung, and because my life is pretty busy due to my current Fucking Day Job.
This year, I’m going to focus on my much-neglected Blog that I started in 2015. Currently, I have something like five posts. If I meet my challenge, I should have 31 more blog posts to add to that by the end of the month.
Starting with this post right here.
I’m thinking that I’ll aim for 800 words minimum per post. Word-count usually comes pretty easily to me, so I should probably have a ceiling as well.
What’s a good limit? 1,200 words? 1,600 words?
I guess I’ll figure that out.
Got any other advice for me?
If you’d like more information on my previous challenges, I did a couple of interviews about the subject with my friend and fellow erotica author Angora Shade for her blog back in 2016. I encourage you to check both interviews out, along with the rest of Angora’s blog!
January 7, 2016
"Merry Christmas, Richard." The woman handed me a $100 bill. "But you have to promise to have fun with it. Don't just spend it on bills like you always do."
I need the money just to survive in this economy--the IRS has me bent over a table, and the local water company is psychotic about late payments--but okay, I guess she's right. I need something to boost my morale. I need some fun. Everybody needs some fun now and then, just to keep from sitting too long in the dark with the bottle or the barrel of a gun in their mouth.
Less than a week later, I'm with this other girl, and she wants to get out of the apartment. She wants to do something fun. This triggers my memory, and I remember that I've still got that $100 bill in the pocket of my pajamas (yeah, sometimes I still wear them).
"Want to go to the sex store?" I ask.
She squeals, and we head out.
We take a tour of the place, and she picks out a nice trio of anal plugs. We look at the riding crops and such, but they're all just toys. For a cheaper, better product, you can buy the real thing from a farming goods store. I end up looking at the sleeves & stroker section because I've never found one that's just right. Most of the things are only four to six inches long, and that's just not deep enough. When I use one, I'm either poking out the far end, or I've got inches still sticking out at the base. I don't like that. I like going all the way in, feeling that cushy pseudoflesh push right back against my balls and my pubic bone, especially when I come.
This place has some strokers that look less than four inches, and I have no idea what they're supposed to do other than just be a cruel tease. I guess they’d be good to use as a kind of bump-stop around your base when you’re fucking a girl, and you don’t want to go too deep. Might be good for anal. The Fleshlights look plenty deep enough to fit all of me, but I can't say for certain, because I've never bought one. They're too damned expensive.
I'm about to give up, when I spot the Doc Johnson "Balls Deep" stroker. Unlike most of the strokers, it says the overall size on the box: nine inches.
"That should do it!" I think.
I read the box, and I find out more.
The thing is translucent, which is cool if you want to see your cock sliding back and forth inside the thing. That's sometimes nice. I like watching the physics of sex, even when there's only one participant and a toy. It's important to know how things work, how they move. It's not a big bonus, but it's a minor plus.
It's ribbed on the inside, which is also nice. Some strokers have weird little nubs and tendrils in them, then have the gall to proclaim "Feels Like The Real Thing" on the packaging. Sometimes I wonder if these toys are built by people who have never actually felt a real pussy in their life. Tendrils? Who comes up with that shit?
This thing, though... it's just ribbed inside. If that's the right term. The tunnel has a nice, tight entrance, of course. The entrance has the normal faux-labia exterior, and a hole that looks to be about the diameter of a pencil, but it's silicone--it stretches. Maybe a quarter or a half of an inch inside, the tunnel opens into a marble-sized cavity, then it starts to close up again, but there's another of those cavities. It repeats this pattern the rest of the way. It's like looking at the mold for a set of anal beads.
I picture it in my head, my cock slipping into the fake lips, feeling that nice tightness around my girth, then feeling my head slipping into the first chamber, expanding a bit to fill the void, then hitting the next micro-tunnel. It'd be like slipping into a pussy within a pussy, within a pussy, like fucking a full set of Russian Dolls all at once. At least, that's the theory behind the design, I can tell. Maybe it'll work at least a little like they intend.
Unlike most sleeves, this thing has a dead end. The tunnel just comes to a stop, and there's no way to slip out the other end of the thing. That's appealing, because a lubed up stroker that's too short (and virtually all of them are too short, really) just leaves the head of your cock sticking out into cold air. That's good if you like aiming your comeshot someplace specific, but I'd rather get the sensation of coming INTO something, of feeling the head of my cock as tightly gripped as the rest of the shaft.
Also, the closed end means that if you do it right, there'll be suction. I like to lube a stroker up, push all of the air out, then slide my cock into the entrance while holding it closed tight enough that no air gets into the works. That creates a bit of a vacuum, adding to the sensations and helping you stay hard. That's particularly enticing right now, because the other thing I’m looking at in the store is a vacuum pump.
See, I’m not just shopping for solo play. The girl I'm with at the store, she likes to take turns holding the crop from time to time. I'm not into pain, but I'm into sex, and I'm into her, so I'm looking for a way to make it work.
Part of the trick to BDSM for people who don't truly get off on pain (and even for some who do) is that the endorphins released by sex help relieve and mask pain. When you're turned on, minor impacts, shocks, and so forth that would normally register as pain, instead just register as extra sensation. Like if you eat a raw jalapeno, that's mostly just going to hurt, but if you mix it with the right amount of chili and/or cheese, the burn just highlights the flavors that you're already enjoying, and vice-versa.
The problem is, she's impatient, and not fully trained in the art of the tease. Also, I'm getting older. So when we're together, I can't just lay there rock-hard excited just because she's naked and going to have sex with me, and she stroked me to fullness a minute or two earlier. I kind of need something to keep me stimulated sexually while she's got me cuffed, gagged, and blindfolded, and she's whacking my ass with that crop.The burn alone just doesn't do it for me without the metaphorical beans and queso.
It’s easier for her. I can slip a vibe into her, or a plug, or both, and that keeps her special places entertained enough that the pain blurs with the sex. I’m looking for something that works for me like that. A vibe won’t work well with a cock, and a plug just doesn’t work the same for me as it does for her.
So I've been thinking that if my cock was inside a stroker or a pump while I'm lying there, that might keep me turned on enough that the crop would stay on the good side of interesting. A pump specifically would have the suction to keep me at least hard, even if it lacked the stimulation to feel good. I figured it was a long shot, but maybe this dead-end stroker would work even better. The suction might help me stay aroused, and it might feel real nice when I'm getting cropped on the ass. I mean, when your ass is smacked, you jolt forward. I figure that if my cock's in a nice, slick stroker, then every time I'm whacked with that crop, my ass is going to flinch, my hips will buck forward, and I'll be sliding into that nice pseudopussy.
Worth a shot anyway.
But I saw the price tag, and I thought that maybe I could get the same thing cheaper at Amazon. We bought the plugs, and I waited on the stroker until I could check online prices.
Anyway, I get the thing at some point, but it’s on a day where she isn’t in the mood to play with toys. She's had a long day, and after we watch a movie together, she just heads off to my bed to sleep.
"Mind if I play with the toy without you?" I ask.
"Go for it!" she says.
A score of minutes later, I've got some porn pulled up on my computer, and I've got the stroker near me. I pick something that should work for me, some of that quasi-forced, "I'm embarrassed and vulnerable, and I'm oh-so-pure, but what you're doing feels so damned good that I can’t stop you from having your way with me" Asian stuff. Live-action, not anime, and I manage to find something that doesn't pixel out the best parts.
Asian girls are one of my go-to fantasies, ever since that girl lived down the hall from me in college. Of course, Hispanic girls are a thing for me since grade school, and black girls have been a hot-button since Junior High, and redheads have done it for me since... fuck it. I like women. Pretty much all of them--a thousand flavors, and they're all my favorite. Tonight's flavor is Asian.
I use my hand to start. No lube, just bare skin on skin, holding the loose flesh of my shaft and moving it gently back and forth. Sometimes I grip tight, sometimes I grip gently. Sometimes I let go, and just glide my hand over the outside of the skin, but I have to be careful because my hands have callouses, and that can turn rough and scrapey.
There's an art to all of it. I'm in the teasing stage, where I'm getting myself hard, turning myself on, and priming the pump so to speak.
After I'm good and ready, I reach for the toy. I lubed it up first, before I started. No point in slowing things down during the session. I used generic water-based lube, the kind where you sometimes have to spit to add moisture when it starts to dry out and get tacky.
The stroker is bulky, and floppy. That's a negative, because it means that I have to use both hands just to maneuver the thing. It's not an uncommon issue with the larger strokers--the ones that are deep enough to take all of me inside of them--but it's still annoying. I like to keep one arm free so that I can use the other to play with the nips, or slap my face, or tell myself in sign language (or with a sock puppet) that I'm a dirty whore, or whatever else suits my particular mood. Point is, it's important to have a hand free for other stuff, okay?
So I have to use both hands with this thing, but it feels pretty nice. The suction definitely works. The chambers? They're a mixed bag. The idea is nice, but it's kind of intense to the point of being distracting. I mean, it's interesting, but it sure as hell doesn't feel like pussy.
The Asian chick on the screen is sucking a guy's cock, and I pull back a bit with the stroker, trying to wade back to shallower depths to replicate the blowjob, but it's more unwieldy at that level. If I go in too deep, then it messes with the fantasy a bit because most good head only works the first few inches, and while this thing sure doesn’t feel like pussy, it sure as hell doesn’t feel like a throat. If I go too shallow, then it's physically awkward to handle the thing, and that messes with the fantasy as well.
After a while, I'm not getting much out of it. This thing was interesting at first, but now it's just too much: too much pressure, too much weight in my hands, too much flopping around if I don't use both hands to line it up right. I try laying the stroker on the desk, and just fucking it while standing up, watching the screen. The Asian girl is in doggy-style now, so that works out alright, but the motion isn't as natural as just moving my hands as well as my hips. This kind of work is only worth it for real pussy, and this stroker isn't real pussy. No stroker is.
I get kind of tired, and think about just quitting and going to sleep, but at this point I'm too horny to hit the hay, and I'm too bored with the toy to get an orgasm. That's kind of disappointing.
So I check my email for a bit, and I play around on Twitter.
After a while, my cock starts telling me that it's bored, and that I'd better do something to tire it out, so we can both go to sleep for the night. I click back to the tab where the porn is still pulled up. The Asian girl is frozen mid-fuck where I left her, the guy’s hands on her hips and his stomach against her ass. Her mouth is frozen open in the start of a moan, and her eyes are lightly closed. It’s a good moment, the kind of moment that I often wish I could freeze-frame my own life at. All good things come to an end, though. I click the mouse. The screen unfreezes, and her moaning body instantly thaws back into sound and motion.
She's not fully shaved down there, just around her entrance. The rest of her pussy is neatly groomed. The couple changes position. Now the guy she's with is going down on her while she protests, her face red with shame, but her legs are open wide, and he's not holding them there. Her hips are bucking, pushing her pussy against his face. His hands reach up under her buttocks, grabbing her ass and pulling her body closer to him, getting his face right in there so close that I can’t see the immediate action any more. That’s okay, because sometimes I don’t need to--my imagination is enough, along with the look on her face and the jiggle of her body.
Yeah, okay. I'm getting hard again.
This time, I start off with a different stroker, a translucent sleeve that's not long enough to fit all of me--and that's too well-worn to be all that tight--but that's familiar, and it works well to get me started. This one is ribbed too, but the ribs are gentler, less distracting. I watch the Asian girl's breasts shake as the man starts fucking her again, her perfectly round nipples sticking out like candy, her supple flesh so smooth and sexy.
There's a close-up of the guy fucking her, of his large cock slipping into those tight nether-lips of hers, pulling back slick, then sliding forward into her again. I try to time the movements of my hand to each thrust that he makes, but that's a tricky game to get right to begin with, and pretty soon my body craves a faster tempo.
I'm pretty turned on now, so I grab my Doc Johnson "Balls Deep" stroker. I squeeze the air out, and I spit on the entrance. I relax my hand a bit, watching the saliva get sucked into the entrance, mixing with the lube that's already in there. I place the head of my cock right against the entrance, and I relax my grip on the stroker as I slip my cock into it.
There's that suction again. It's pleasant.
I slide in deeper, and there are those ridges that demark each chamber. It's a bit like entering all of those Russian dolls after all. It's pleasant too.
The thing is still cumbersome. It's too soft to be so long, and I still have to keep both hands on the thing, one at the base and one at the end. Sometimes it's one at the middle and one at the end. Once I'm worked up enough, I can switch to a hand on the base, and one in the middle. The dead-end to the tunnel keeps me from slipping out, and it prevents those irritating squelching noises that sometimes happen with an open-ended stroker.
This time it's better. This time it's good. There's a close-up of the Asian girl's face as she reaches orgasm (or fakes one), and I'm right there myself, so I let loose, and I come. It's not a fantastic orgasm, but it's not bad either. It's about average. My legs try to shake a bit, and my head leans back, and I think I let loose a brief grunting noise as my semen shoots out of me into the stroker. I'm glad it's got a closed end--cleanup will be easier that way.
The girl at the store told me that I should really buy their $15 cleaning product that's specifically for toys, but I didn't bother doing it then, and I didn't even think about it when shopping online. That stuff might extend the life of a toy, but for the price of two or three bottles of the cleaning product, you could probably just buy a brand new toy. When I declined, she told me that soap and alcohol both degrade the material (which I knew), and that I should just use hot water (which I do anyway, but it’s good to have professional confirmation). So after I pull the stroker off of me, I keep it tilted upright, with the labia toward the ceiling, and I go take a shower. I dump the contents down the drain as I stand in the hot water, mildly surprised at the quantity. I fill the stroker up with hot water, empty it, and repeat a few times. I hang it up to dry in the shower caddy, lips-down so it can drain, then I clean the other one. When I'm satisfied with the toys’ sanitation, I clean myself.
Next, I mix some Everclear and orange juice, and I write this review.
I look at the stars for a while, the review stars on the screen in front of me.
One star is “I hate it,“ and I don't hate this product. I'm used to some disappointment with sex toys, especially with sleeves and strokers. I also don't "don't like it," which is the two-star option. It got the job done, even if it needed a bit of help. Hell, maybe it was me. Maybe I wasn't in the right mood, or I haven't practiced enough with this particular toy.
I start to click on three stars, for "It's okay," but heck... I've only given it one test run. I remember that well-worn sleeve I have, and that it was a little awkward starting out as well: a little too tight, and a little too intense. But I adjusted to it, and it adjusted to me, and now we've got a good thing going. I'm going to give this thing four stars. I can't give it five, just because it's too bulky. Maybe that's why Fleshlights and other toys come in those hard plastic outer layers. That probably makes them easier to handle.
Four stars is "I like it," and that seems fair. How could I not like something that helped me reach orgasm?
As far as strokers go, it's pretty decent. It's got very nice depth. It's got a bit of natural suction. It's got easy clean-up. The heft of it feels nice when I really do go “balls deep” inside of it. Those are all quite important. I think I just need to learn the best ways to use this. Maybe if I hump it while lying down. Maybe if I use it while that girl crops or flogs me. Maybe I can figure out some one-handed technique that works with it.
It's not perfect, but neither am I.
It's a four-star product, but it's a three-star world.
February 11, 2015
I tend to think that straight measurements in description are usually a bad idea.
When audience members aren't familiar with the measurements being used, details like "5 feet" or "8 inches" or whatever are useless, because the readers cannot visualize what is being described, and the entire point of description is specifically to get readers TO be able to visualize things.
On the other hand, when readers ARE familiar with the measurements and the kind of thing being described, then you risk them second-guessing your measurements if you're too specific.
In erotica, for example, I never describe a man's penis as being a specific number of inches long. Some readers won't be able to accurately visualize the size. Other readers won't be impressed by whatever number is used. Still other readers will find whatever the number is to be too high.
Same with a woman's breasts- I never refer to her bra/cup size, because it ends up either being meaningless, or implausible, or unimpressive.
Instead, general and relative descriptions work best.
A penis can be "thick," "long," or "massive" without any specific measurement, and the description is vague enough to be meaningful to everybody. One reader might picture an "enormous" erection being 7" long, and another reader might picture it being 13" long, but they'll probably each picture something pleasing to them specifically, without getting caught up in numbers.
Same with breasts.
Same with almost anything else.
One good (and obvious) alternative to specific numbers is to have loose numbers. Instead of "three and a half feet," try "several feet."
Instead of "twenty minutes," go with "Many minutes ."
Most of the time, whichever character we're viewing the story through isn't going to know the specific measurements anyway.
An often better alternative to loose numbers is to use relative measurements. If a woman is reaching out to grab a man's erection, telling the readers his exact length and circumference in inches isn't nearly as useful to the readers as comparing the man's erection to the woman's own body. It's an easy visual, and it's right in the mind of either the man or the woman, assuming that they're watching the action.
It also means that you're being vague twice, which gives the readers more opportunity to insert their own experiences and tastes into the equation.
"As I hesitantly wrapped my fingers around him, I realized that his erection was as thick as my wrist."
How thick is his penis in inches?
There's no way to know, but there's no reason to really care either.
All we need to know is that it's impressive on the scale of this particular woman's body, and that's really the only scale that matters. Maybe she has really tiny, dainty wrists. Maybe she's got thick, meaty wrists.
It doesn't matter either way, because every reader is going to visualize the scene in proportion to itself.
Same with breasts.
"Her breasts were so large that I could barely fit them in my hands" is far, far more interesting and useful than "Her breasts were 38DDs."
It puts an image into our heads, an image of action. We can visualize his hands on her breasts, and that's one hell of a lot better than trying to visualize a bra's dimensions.
Same with almost anything else.
"His fist was the size of a grapefruit"
"My gun lay a coffin-length away."
"It was only minutes until dawn."