Saturday, 7 March 2015

Five Tips from Madeline Moore

Five tips on how to write erotica from Madeline Moore:

1) 'Telling detail' and 'detail' are not the same thing. Many new writers describe every movement a character makes. These details aren't necessary. Readers know how to open doors, drive cars, get dressed and so on. What they don't know, when they begin reading a story, is the stuff your character is made of; that's the 'telling detail' you need to show (not tell) them.

2) While your story needs a beginning, middle and end, everything that happens in each scene (or chapter) does not. A character doesn't need to enter a room, engage in a conversation or series of actions and dialogue, leave the room, mull over what was said while he gets ready for bed and drift off to sleep. Start the scene or chapter as close to the point it is there to convey and end it as soon as possible after the information you want the reader to have has been provided. This is doubly important when writing erotica. Every erotic encounter doesn't have to start with foreplay and end with orgasm. Honest.

3) Avoid 'ing' words as much as possible. You'll still use a lot of them and that's OK but if you don't have to use one, don't. In particular, try not to start your sentences with 'ing' words. Often, new writers think they are  starting a new sentence with a verb when in fact they are starting it with a gerund. Gerunds are very tricky. Stay away from them. Subject Verb Object is the natural order of a sentence. Stick with that and you'll be fine.

4) Every verb doesn't need to be preceded by three, two, or even one adverb. Every noun doesn't need to be preceded by three, two, or even one adjective. Look at it this way: there are thousands upon thousands of words that are eager to appear in your story. Some of them are worthy of a place in your piece and others are not. New authors are particularly fond of writing: She smiled. Really, it's rarely required. Other oft repeated descriptions that are usually unnecessary are: He nodded. She shrugged. Or, even worse: He nodded his head. She shrugged her shoulders. Most of the time you don't need to write any of this and you never need to write: She shrugged her shoulders. There is no other body part that shrugs. This is also true of: He nodded his head, except in erotica, where on occasion a man might nod another body part. Simply put: Make words work hard to be in your story.

5) Most of the time, the only tag needed in dialogue is the name of the character who is speaking, or the pronoun representing that character and the word 'said.' Sometimes a writer might use 'asked' or 'replied.' Occasionally, characters may shout, whisper, or mumble. Almost all new writers overdo their tags. One character 'vehemently demands' to know what's going on, while another 'whispers coquettishly and batts her eyelashes' while saying a flirty line. This quickly becomes annoying. The truth is that 'said' is so common in literature that readers' eyes actually skim right over it. That keeps the dialogue and action moving and that's what you want. On this topic: people do not 'smile' or 'laugh' their dialogue. Ok?

Madeline Moore is the author of many pieces of fiction including Sarah's EducationMore of Madeline's work can be found by visiting:,

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Five Tips from Jeremy Edwards

Five tips on how to write erotica from Jeremy Edwards:

1) Be aware of the wealth of options at your disposal regarding vocabulary, sentence structure, imagery, etc. Exploit this decision-making aspect of the writing process, so that you're really *crafting* your story, making deliberate choices so as to utilize the literary building blocks that you think will work best.

2) Keep your ear on the rhythm of your prose. All writers are poets, in a sense.

3) Try to give the reader descriptions and associations that he or she wouldn't have thought of without you. Make the reader need you--*your* words, *your* voice. Stay in the driver’s seat as far as vocabulary is concerned: don’t automatically go with the first word that comes to mind. Is there a better word to plug into a particular sentence? A more precise or more evocative one? A less overused one? The impact of your scene will be greater if your words surprise, stimulate, and delight the reader with the fresh images and ideas they convey, rather than plodding along predictable paths.

4) Make your details count. Some well-written scenes have a rich carpet of thoughtful detail, and other well-written scenes play out in a sparser or more impressionistic style. If you’re doing the former, make sure your narratorial voice clearly guides the reader along, so that the lushness points somewhere rather than becoming a jungle to get bogged down in. If the latter, make sure those choice few details pull their weight in terms of their effectiveness. With either approach (or anything in between), watch out for detail "weeds" that can distract from detail "flowers."

5) Master the conventions of your art's technical aspect, but be wary of too many "don'ts" and "nevers." Writing--especially fiction writing--is a creature that needs room to breathe, stretch, and strike its pose. The paramount rule for a creative writer, or any artist, might be stated as "Do what works."

Jeremy Edwards is the author of many pieces of fiction including Rock My Socks Off. More of Jeremy's work can be found by visiting:

Saturday, 21 February 2015

What do editors look for? Brenda Knight

 Brenda Knight is a twenty-year publishing veteran, starting at HarperCollins and authored American Book Award-winning Women of the Beat Generation, Rituals for Life and Wild Women and Books. Knight has worked with many bestselling authors including Mark Nepo, Phil Cousineau, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, and Paolo Coehlo. Knight volunteers for the American Cancer Society as a counselor for the newly diagnosed and leads writing workshops “Putting Your Passion on Paper.” Founding editor of Viva Editions, a division of Cleis Press, Knight lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

1) Don't "over write." Less is more.

2) In fiction, the best trick is to make the reader intrigued by leaving something unexplained. Explain towards the end.

3) Erotic fiction is easy to go overboard into "purple prose" so let the anticipation build.

4) Truly, the art is in the details—the great Vladimir Nabokov said to fill the eye of the reader's mind with details that create a picture.

5) Stay fresh by reading a lot, especially the greats.

Brenda Knight is an associate publisher of Cleis Press,

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Five Tips from Tilly Hunter

A big thank you to Ashley for inviting me over here today. There are plenty of invaluable writing tips on the site already as well as a fair bit of advice on approaching editors or publishers, so I’ve tried to look at things from a slightly different angle with my five tips...

1. Turn off your inner censor...
You can’t write about sex with a projection of your mother, father, gran, uncle, priest or teacher sitting on your shoulder expressing shock or moral outrage at every sentence. If you have young children or a sensitive job, you’ll probably need to pick yourself a pseudonym and guard it closely. Then you can give yourself permission to write freely, unrestrainedly, uninhibitedly. Without anyone whispering to you that it’s not art, that it’s cheap and smutty, that it’s wrong or filthy.

2. ...then write dirty
I mean really dirty. Think of a sexual act that you, personally, find shocking, or weird, or distasteful, or even disgusting. Then write a short scene incorporating that act. And not in a shocking, weird, distasteful or disgusting way. In a way that is hot and positive and leaves you with that tight little feeling in your throat. Even if you never show this to another soul, I think it’s useful to get the worst you can think of out of your system rather than tiptoeing towards more and more risqué things and also to learn how to make anything sexy, even if it’s totally beyond your own experience or fantasies. Another useful exercise is to make something really mundane sound hot. Something like knitting, say...

3. Copy
I’m joking. You shouldn’t copy other authors. But you should read as a writer, working out what it is about other authors that you like and how you can take elements of that and make them your own. I love the deep point of view and breathless stream of consciousness of Charlotte Stein, the literate quality and filthy daring of Janine Ashbless, the realistic and authoritative descriptions of BDSM in Fulani, the playful humour of Justine Elyot. Whatever strengths your favourite authors have, take those as your standard and aim to write that well.

4. Don’t sell out
Related to the last point is to always produce work you can be proud of. I know it’s not the done thing, especially for us Brits, to admit that we actually think we’re any good, but for me it’s really important to feel a personal sense of pride in what I write. This means not churning something out and thinking ‘it’ll do’. Not writing to ape the bestsellers. Not avoiding moral issues (and not the ones your gran, priest, teacher etc would be on about). The moral issues I’m thinking of are the safety of casual BDSM encounters, how easy it is to unwittingly slip into scenes of dubious consent, gender stereotypes, presenting straight sex as normative...

5. Don’t let it get personal
There are, of course, erotic memoirs or diaries out there – Diary of a Submissive and No Ordinary Love Story by Sophie Morgan spring to mind and both are great reads written by someone who has been very brave to bare her personal story. But they’re different from writing erotic fiction. You can’t base an entire writing career on your own exploits, however varied and exciting. And, for me, I start to get uneasy when real life creeps in a little too much, however much my imagination embellishes it. I can’t reveal which stories that’s happened in, although I can tell you it’s not the m/m ones... I use all manner of observations and snippets of conversation and things I’ve read as inspiration and to add unusual little details to my stories, but for the big picture it’s all my imagination. And yes, that can be a dark and strange place.


Tilly Hunter is a British erotica writer and editor with short stories out or in the pipeline from Xcite Books, House of Erotica, MLR Press, Cleis Press, Storm Moon Press, Coming Together and Ryan Field Press. Her trio of BDSM short stories, Miranda’s Tempest, gives a kinky twist to Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Grimms’ Hansel and Gretel and Homer’s The Odyssey and is available at most online retailers or at Amazon or Amazon UK. Her editing and proofreading site is at and she blogs at

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Five Tips from Kyoko Church

5 tips by Kyoko Church

1.       Forget the world. I would say all fiction writing, when it’s done well, is intensely personal but is there any that is more so than erotica? The first thing I absolutely have to do when I write about sex is to completely forget about the fact that anyone else is going to read it. That’s a scary thing to do the first time! But if you believe that all the best writing is born of passion and a compulsion to communicate that passion, then it is essential that you not censor yourself. Write your truth. Worry about what Aunt Velma’s gonna say when she reads about your secret penchant for masturbating while wearing latex later.

2.       Well, maybe not the world. Okay, bring back one person. Maybe it’s your lover. Maybe your best friend. Maybe it’s Aunt Velma after all. Someone who you are 100% comfortable with and to whom you can confide all your darkest, grittiest, private thoughts. And write to her. Two things are possible when you write like this. As a reader I love when I get the feeling the writer is letting me in on a secret, something I haven’t heard before, like I’m eavesdropping on a private conversation or peering into someone’s bedroom. This is the feeling you are able to conjure when you write to one special person. You allow the reader that private, special glimpse which is thrilling for her. The other thing that happens is you develop a rapport with your reader. You want that. Treat your reader with respect. Time is precious and she is taking time out of her day to sit down and read your words. That deserves respect.

3.       Edit, edit, edit. And while I’m talking about respecting your reader, let’s talk about editing. We all know that with self-publishing now any Tom, Dick or Barbara can jot a few words down, throw them up on Amazon and think she is going to be the next EL James, taking the unsuspecting public by storm with her story about the time she let her boyfriend fuck her from behind while she was wearing a dog collar and fantasizing about Taylor Lautner. And it’s not that the dog collar thing is not a valid fantasy. Who am I to say what fantasies are valid? But if you’re going to write it down and want me to read and be entertained by it then do it or don’t but whatever you do, don’t do it half assed! Make it your best. And part of how you do that is through editing. And editing. And editing again. Like I say, it’s about respect for your reader. As a reader, it’s one thing if I read something and don’t like it but if it’s badly edited as well then I feel like, not only do I not care about this, neither does the writer! Way to punch me in the stomach and spit in my eye for good measure. Yes, outside of selfpub land mistakes will get caught when the publisher gets their editors to go over it but the more you catch yourself the less there is for later which means there will be a higher possibility that what comes out will be perfect, or as close as you can get it.

4.       Take classes. If you are an avid reader, like any good writer undoubtedly is, you might already have an instinctual ability to tell a story. But in my opinion it is good practice and also good fun to always be honing your skills. So take classes. Learn the technical stuff: show, don’t tell, POV, goal, motivation and conflict, character arcs, plot development, all of that. It’s inspiring, fun and educational all in one!

5.       Fantasize. What’s that you’re doing in bed there, KC, with that pillow between your legs and the faraway look in your eye? Well since you asked, that, my friend, is what I like to call research and development. Yup, it’s all part of the job. Nice work, if you can get it. Now go away. I’m busy. Ignore the buzzing.

Kyoko Church's books can be found on the following pages:

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Smut Luton 7th March 2015

Smut Luton 7th March 2015

The Hat factory, Luton will host the first smut event of 2015 sponsored by House of Erotica. Smut Events are fun, safe, inclusive days out when erotica & erotic romance readers and writers get together to socialize, exchange ideas and inspire one another.
The theme for Luton is Kinkification. We’ll be adding a little kink to your life with some great workshops, demonstrations and performances. Not to mention the book stall where you can pick up some sexy reading material and the erotic raffle where you’ll be able to win prizes from , and a special something from Smut UK.
Charlie J Forrest will be showing off some rope tricks and answering your questions on getting your lover all tied up, Zak Jane Keir will be talking about taking your hobbies and giving them a naughty spin for your erotic writing and sexy play and Victoria Blisse will be exploring all the senses and how they can heighten your sexual arousal on the page and in the bedroom.
We’ve got readings from Lucy Felthouse, Jennifer Denys, Charlotte Howard, Bella Settara, Charlie J Forrest, Meg Philip, Anna Sky, Cara Sutra and Victoria Blisse that are sure to tempt and tease.
Pick up your tickets at and join the facebook event to keep up with all the event news.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

What do editors look for? Sedonia Guillone

 Author and publisher, Sedonia Guillone has more than fifty novels, novellas and short stories published at Ellora's Cave, Red Sage, Loose Id, Torquere Press, and Total-e-Bound Publishing.

1. work as hard as you can on Improving your craft BEFORE you submit anything. The best way I have found to do this is 1. to get with a good critique partner who will be honest with you about your writing and not just tell you your writing is fabulous all the time and 2. to get a copy of Self-Editing For Fiction Writers, study it well and apply the lessons. if an editor has to renovate your work completely then you will find yourself getting rejection letters rather than acceptances.

2. Be a good writer to work with. Don't argue with your editor on his/her suggestions or reject any of them out of hand. Weigh everything thoughtfully. In other words: DON'T be a writing diva. Be polite and timely and respectful and editors will be happy to work with you and even help you along to push up release dates and things like that.

3. When going over your work, out yourself in the reader's place. Is what you're trying to say coming through clearly? In other words approach your writing with objectivity. Many authors know what they mean in their head but the meaning doesn't come through clearly in the words they choose.

4. This tip is for erotica writers: make sure your erotic scenes are sensual. Don't use words for body parts that are gross and crude. Make sure your erotic scenes are part of the natural flow of the story and not artificially stuck into the story. Also make sure you don't have people doing things that in reality are physically impossible or out of character for that person.

5. It's always good to make a print copy of your work and read it on paper when revising. You'd be surprised at how different the pacing is on paper as opposed to the computer screen.

Sedonia Guillone now owns and operates Ai Press, an erotic romance publisher of e-books and trade paperbacks. You can find her work at and

Saturday, 17 January 2015

What do editors look for? Sharazade

1) Do your research. Only submit a query or a manuscript to an appropriate publisher. That means you familiarize yourself with their current published works—reading some, if at all possible—and make sure you know what sorts of things they publish. If they only publish ebooks, don’t insist on a paperback. If they publish mainly erotic romance, they’re probably not going to take your edgy tale of non-consent. If you’re not sure, of course you can ask—but your questions will come off a lot better if you clearly know who they are. A publisher can tell when you’ve just gotten a list off the Internet somewhere and cut and pasted the same submission letter to each one. And that’s not really more efficient for you, because it’s going to lead to more confusion and rejections.

2) Submit what they ask you to submit. If they want a query letter first, send a query letter first. If they want two sample chapters, send two sample chapters—not one, not the whole book. You are not a special snowflake. Follow the directions.

3) Submit how they ask you to submit. Some publishers don’t want attachments. Some only want attachments. If they want Times New Roman, 12 point, then use that. If they want it hand-written with pictures of clowns on odd-numbered pages, then do that if you want to be published by them. If you don’t find yourself willing (or able) to comply with their query or submission process, you’re not going to want them to handle your book. (If they don’t say at all, then you can’t go wrong with Times New Roman, 12 point, ragged margins, double-spaced, in a Word .doc or a .pdf. Don’t do the clowns thing unless asked.)

4) Please, oh please, check your cover letter for typos, and also tone. It’s nice to sound human, but not so casual you seem inattentive.  Be positive and confident, but arrogance rarely goes over well. Don’t apologize. If you don’t have a degree in writing or you’ve never published before or you secretly worry that the manuscript everyone in your critique group loves is actually crap, keep all that to yourself. Explain the qualifications and publication history you do have, if any; but don’t point out any lacks if you don’t. Ultimately, it’s your book that’s going to be judged—not what sort of life you led in order to write it. Remember too that publishers are more interested in authors who have more than one book in them. They’re easier to promote, and all their books sell better. If you have more than one finished manuscript, or you have published in other places, or at least have ideas for future books, mention that.

5) Don’t submit a rough draft. Yes, you’ll get edited—although increasingly I see fiction editors giving a manuscript a copy edit, and not a content edit. Even if you’re lucky enough to be assigned the sort of editor who will work intensively with you, you should always submit your best effort. Someone should have read it in addition to you (and not someone romantically involved with you) and provided feedback, which you should have at least considered, if not taken on board. It goes without saying that you used a spellcheck, and also read it carefully for typos and errors with homonyms. This is your tryout. A publisher wants to see your very best writing.

6) (I was going to cheat and add this to one of the other five, but that would only be confusing.) Allow at least two months to hear back. If you don’t hear back after four months, it is perfectly fine to send a polite follow-up query.


I’ve worked as an editor for about ten years, three years in-house with a New York publisher, and the rest freelance. I’ve worked with three of the “Big Six Five” and numerous smaller presses. I’ve worked as a content editor, development editor, production editor, copy editor, and proofreader. I’m also a published author, with about 40 books (non-fiction) to my passport name, and to my pen name (erotica) one single-author anthology, a few single short stories, and short stories in anthologies with Cleis Press, Sizzler, and the Erotic Literary Salon. In 2010 I launched 1001 Nights Press, a small erotica publisher that I’d describe as “cautiously open” to new writers (cautious because of time commitments, not because you aren’t a fantastic writer).

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Five Tips from Nikki Magennis

 from Nikki Magennis

1) Write poetry. Poetry can help a writer focus on rhythm, sound and pacing and encourage you to be rigorous about your word choices at a sentence level. These skills will spill over into your other writing, too. 

2) Record conversations. Real life dialogue is a fascinating, messy beast. I love writing and reading transcriptions, and it'll help your dialogue to look closely at how people really speak.

3) Edit. I'm tempted to write this for the last three points, but that would be cheap, so I won't. But let me say as strongly as I possibly can that every piece of good work has to be edited over and over again, preferably with a bit of time lapsed between drafts so you can come to it with fresh eyes.

4) Find at least one good beta reader. Critting other people's work as well as sharing yours with peers is scary, dangerous and invaluable.

5) Never stop questioning everything, particularly your own work. I've been writing professionally for years and I still feel like a shitty beginner. This is good. I hope I always feel like a shitty beginner - 'may my heart always be open to little birds', to put it more poetically. You should be constantly challenging yourself on all fronts - whether on subject matter, style, structure, form, purpose. Everything.

More of Nikki's work can be found here:

Saturday, 3 January 2015

What do editors look for? Saachi Green

 Sacchi Green is an award-winning writer and editor of erotica and other stimulating genres. Her stories have appeared in scores of publications, including Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica, Best Lesbian Romance, Best Transgender Erotica, Best Fantasy Erotica, and Penthouse. In recent years she’s taken to wielding the editorial whip, editing nine lesbian erotica anthologies, most recently for Cleis Press.

A collection of her own work, A Ride to Remember, is out from Lethe Press. Five of her books were Lambda Literary Award finalists, and Lesbian Cowboys, co-edited with Rakelle Valencia, won the Lambda for lesbian erotica in 2010. Two books, Lesbian Lust and A Ride to Remember, were winners of GCLS awards.

Below are Sacchi Green's tips for writers, and a couple of her pet peeves:

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.

Find Sacchi online at, FaceBook. Live Journal ( ), and the Lesbian Fiction Forum (