Showing posts sorted by relevance for query confessions. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query confessions. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, October 26, 2008

NEW Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker: Welcome To The New World

(I'm very happy to again be writing a monthly Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker for the wonderful Erotica Readers & Writers Association. Enjoy!)

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It doesn't seem that long ago. When Adrienne here at ERWA asked me … or did I ask her? … about a writing column when I'd only been a ‘pro’ for five or six years. I loved writing those years of Streetwalkers, because doing it was kind of a strike against all the bad writing books I'd read and the awful classes I'd taken—a way to say what I wish someone had told me when I was just starting out as a writer.

But not having enough time, not having anything left to say, and general this plus nonspecific that, I stepped away from doing my Streetwalker column a few years ago.

But now Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker is back. Not because I suddenly have a lot of time on my hands, or that general this plus nonspecific that went away, but because everything’s changed in the world of publishing and erotica.

Sure, I know: Change Happens, The Only Thing Unchanging Is Change, and all those other bumper stickers, but what’s happened over the past few years is pretty shocking. Disturbing in some ways—okay in a lot of ways—but there are also new and unique opportunities. It’s a totally new world.

And what’s what I'm going to write about. Well, mostly what I'm going to write about; I reserve the right to go on the occasional tangent. That, at least, hasn't changed.

Why should you listen to me? Well, aside from checking out at my full biography—that Adrienne will, no doubt, put a link to somewhere in this sentence—I can pretty easily say I've written quite a few stories, edited some anthologies, have more than a couple collections and novels on the shelves.

I'm going to use whatever space I have left here to give you some idea of what I plan to talk about in future columns:

  • Why a blog or a site is essential (and common mistakes to avoid)
  • The more-important-than-ever need to develop good relationships
  • When you need to write about yourself – and when you need to shut up
  • How the erotica genre has changed over the past few years – and where it might be going
  • To podcast or not to podcast
  • New erotica writing opportunities you might not be thinking of
  • Print is dead, or at least not the only game in town – and why that’s a good thing (including what to look for in an ebook publisher)
  • New publicity techniques for the new world of erotica
  • Believe it or not, sex has actually changed – so erotica has to, as well
  • and much more ….

As with the first incarnation of Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker, please feel free to write me at zobop@aol.com with comments and suggestions, and definitely check out my pro site at www.mchristian.com and my fun sites Meine Kleine Fabrik and Frequently Felt.

Hang on, folks: it's going to be a wild, weird, and informative ride as we explore how the world of writing and publishing, especially erotic writing and publishing, has evolved over the last few years.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: Confessions

Check it out: one of my fave Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker essay just went live on the fab Erotica Readers and Writers site:


My name is Chris – though my pseudonym is usually M.Christian – and I have a confession to make.

I’ve written – and write – a…what’s the technical term? Oh, yeah: shitload of erotica. Some 400 published stories, 12 or so collections, 7 novels. I’ve also edited around 25 anthologies. I even have the honor of being an Associate Publisher for Renaissance eBooks, whose Sizzler Editions erotica imprint has some 1,300 titles out there.

I’ve written sexually explicit gay stories, lesbian stories, trans stories, bisexual stories, BDSM stories, tales exploring just about every kind of fetish, you name it and I can all but guarantee that I’ve written about it. I like to joke that a friend of mine challenged me to write a story to a ridiculously particular specification: a queer vampire sport tale. My answer? “Casey, The Bat.” Which I actually did write…though I dropped the vampire part of it.

Don’t worry; I’m getting to the point. I can write just about anything for anyone – but here comes the confession:

I’ve never, ever written about what actually turns me – what turns Chris – on.

This kind of makes me a rather rare beast in the world of professional smut writing. In fact it’s pretty common for other erotica writers to – to be polite about it – look down their noses at the fact that I write about anything other than my own actual or desired sexual peccadilloes. Some have even been outright rude about it: claiming that I’m somehow insulting to their interests and/or orientations and shouldn’t write anything except what I am and what I like.

To be honest, in moments of self-doubt I have thought the very same thing. Am I profiting off the sexuality of other people? Am I a parasite, too cowardly to put my own kinks and passions out into the world? Am I short-changing myself as a writer by refusing to put myself out there?

For the record, I’m a hetero guy who – mostly – likes sexually dominant women. I also find my head turned pretty quickly when a large, curvy woman walks by. That said, I’ve had wonderful times with women of every size, shape, ethnicity, and interest.

So why do I find it so hard to say all that in my writing? The question has been bugging me for a while, so I put on my thinking cap. Part of the answer, I’ve come to understand, relates directly to chronic depression: it’s much less of an emotional gamble to hide behind a curtain of story than to risk getting my own intimate desires and passions stomped flat by a critical review or other negative reaction from readers. I can handle critical reviews of a story – that’s par for the course in professional writing – but it’s a good question as to whether I could handle critical reviews of my life.
But then I had an eye-opening revelation. As I said, I’ve written – and write – stories about all kinds of interests, inclinations, passions, orientations, genders, ethnicities, ages, cultures…okay, I won’t belabor it. But the point is that I’ve also been extremely blessed to have sold everything I’ve ever written. Not only that, but I’ve had beautiful compliments from people saying my work has touched them and that they never, ever, would have realized that the desires of the story’s narrator and those of the writer weren’t one and the same.

Which, in a nice little turn-around, leads me to say that my name is Chris – though my pseudonym is usually M.Christian – and I have yet another confession to make.

Yes, I don’t get sexually excited when I write. Yes, I have never written about what turns me on. Yes, I always write under a name that’s not my legal one.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel when I write. Far from it: absolutely, I have no idea what actual gay sex is like for the participants; positively, I have not an inkling of what many fetishes feel like inside the minds of those who have them; definitely, I have no clue what it’s like to have sex as a woman…

I do, however, know what sex is like. The mechanics, yeah, but more importantly I work very hard to understand the emotions of sex and sexuality through the raw examination of my own life: the heart-racing nerves, the whispering self-doubts, the pulse-pounding tremors of hope, the bittersweetness of it, the bliss, the sorrows and the warmth of it, the dreams and memories…

I’m working on a story right now, part of a new collection. It’s erotic – duh – but it’s also about hope, redemption, change, and acceptance. I have no experience with the kind of physical sex that takes place in this story but every time I close its file after a few hours of work, tears are burning my cheeks. In part, this emotional investment is about trying to recapture the transcendent joy I’ve felt reading the work of writers I admire.

When I read manuscripts as an anthology editor, or as an Associate Publisher, a common mistake I see in them is a dedication to technical accuracy favored over emotion. These stories are correct down to the smallest detail – either because they were written from life or from an exactingly fact-checked sexual imagination – but at the end, I as the reader feel…nothing.

I’m not perfect – far from it – but while I may lack direct experience in a lot of what I write, I do work very, very hard to put real human depth into whatever I do. I may not take the superficial risk of putting the mechanics of my sexuality into stories and books but I take a greater chance by using the full range of my emotional life in everything I create.

I freely admit that I don’t write about my own sexual interests and experiences. That may – in some people’s minds – disqualify me from being what they consider an “honest” erotica writer, but after much work and introspection I contest that while I may keep my sex life to myself, I work very hard to bring as much of my own, deeply personal, self to bear upon each story as I can.

They say that confession is good for the soul. But I humbly wish to add to that while confession is fine and dandy, trying to touch people – beyond their sex organs – is ever better…for your own soul as well as the souls of anyone reading your work.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: "Oh, how beautiful."

Check this out: I just wrote a brand new "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" piece for the always-great Erotica Readers and Writers site - all my previous columns, of course, have been collected in How To Write And Sell Erotica by Renaissance Books.

Here's a tease:




Funny that these columns are called Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker because ... well, I have a confession to make. 

I'm very much on the fence about the whole thing, and am still dealing with doubts about whether or not I've made the right decision but - in the end - I think it will end up being a good thing.


I know, I know: I've been a rather vocal - if not strident - opponent of that particular corner of the social media universe, but a very good friend of mine pointed out that, to call down The Bard, I "doth protest too much."

It hasn't been easy: I tell ya, nothing like having a nearly (gasp) twenty year writing career resulting in only 433 'friends' and 68'likes' on my author page to really make the dreaded depression demon really flare up. 

But I'm sticking with it - not because I think that I have to, or that Facebook is the end-all, be-all solution to all my publicity needs - but because it was something I really, honestly, didn't want to do.

Obviously, explanations are in order.  See, I'm a firm believer in pushing yourself in all kinds of ways: as a person and, particularly, as a writer.  Sure, you have to like what you are doing - both in how you live your life as well as the words you put down on 'paper' - but growth comes not from comfort but from adversity, from challenge. 

I didn't set out to be an pornographer, but then an opportunity presented itself and (surprise!) I was actually pretty good at it.  I didn’t plan on being a 'gay' writer - because, no duh - I'm not, but (surprise!) I not just did it but came to really enjoy it.  I didn’t think I could be a teacher, but (surprise!) I've found that I really get a kick out of it.

I may have hated Facebook - hell, I still hate Facebook - but I had to at least try it.  Maybe it will work out, maybe it won't, but at least I'll have stretched myself.

For creative people of any ilk, that’s extremely important.  For one thing, it can keep your creativity rip-and-roaring, key to avoiding deathly boredom and staleness.  Professionally, it's essential: writing just what you want, what you’re comfortable with, can really limit where you can sell your work.  That you love to write, say, erotic romances is fine and dandy but if you do then there will only so many places to show off, or publish, your work. 

You want examples?  Fine: I'm now on Facebook – we’ve already discussed that uncomfortable fact - but since I've written quite a few queer novels I've decided that my next one is going to be (you ready for this?) straight - and not just straight but with a 'happy' ending.  My short story work, too, has a tendency to be, let's be honest here, bittersweet at best - so my next collection is going to be much more uplifting.  I've never written a play, so I'm planning on writing one sometime this year.  I've never written for comics - well, I wrote one - so I'm going to work on more.  Will these projects be tough?  Sure they will: but who knows what I may discover about myself and what I'm capable of?

Who knows, maybe even Facebook and I will become fast and good friends and will walk down the social media aisle together, skipping merrily and holding hands.

And if not ... well, I tried.  There is nothing wrong with giving something a shot but then deciding it's not for you.  Rejection, both internal as well as external, is part of a writer's life.  There's nothing wrong with it.  Trial and error is how we learn, how we grow. 

Writers far too often think that the 'names', the celebrities, the legends sat down and created wonders of the written word, masterpieces of story, with no trials and tribulations.  But - as I've said before - writers are liars and very few will admit that they might have been an overnight success ... after failing for decades. 

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: The Four ... Well, Five Deadly Sins. #5: Oh, Shit

Check this out: I just wrote a brand new "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" piece for the always-great Erotica Readers & Writers site - all my previous columns, of course, have been collected in How To Write And Sell Erotica by Renaissance Books.  Here's a tease:



Back in the 'good old days' of smut – when pornographers had to haul their steaming piles of sexually explicit materials up four and five flights of stairs – a certain writer with a gleam of sexy potential in his mesmerizing green eyes ... okay, I mean me ... wrote a column for the fantastic Adrienne here at Erotica Readers & Writers called "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker."

Now one of the things I did was part of being a Streetwalker that really took off was a little series I did called "The Four Deadly Sins:" a playful examination of the things that smut writers could do but that could – to put it mildly – make their work a tough sell.

Fast forward a ... decade?!  Sigh.  Anyway, I had to put aside my Streetwalker days for other things but that little verboten list has always been by my side, especially since I'm now an Associate Publisher for the wonderful Renaissance Books (which includes Sizzler Editions, our erotica line).  By the way [COMMERCIAL WARNING] my old columns are now in a dead-tree and ebook collection called How To Write And Sell Erotica [COMMERCIAL ENDS].

The reason why those "sins" stay with me is because one of my Associate Publisher things is to consider books for publication – and still, today, erotica writers don't seem to understand that while, sure, you can pretty much write whatever you want there are still some things that will more-than-likely keep your work from seeing the light of day.  Just for the record, the four are underage (self-explanatory), beastiality (same), incest (ditto) and excessive violence (torture porn or nonconsensual sex).  But I'm here to talk about a new one that's popped up ... or 'pooped out' to blow the joke.


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Monday, August 18, 2008

M.Christian on M.Christian

I'm excited to be featured on Interviewing Authors. Here's what I have to say about myself:
CA: What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?

MC: Well, I like to call myself a ‘literary streetwalker with a heart of gold” meaning I usually write what folks – meaning publishers and editors -- want, which can mean anything from non-fiction to horror, from science fiction to humor, from advice columns to gay fiction, from blog stuff to smut, although most folk seem to want smut most of all. Not that I’m complaining, you understand: smut has been very, very good to me. In fact it’s how I got started and how I made my ‘name.’ Not to toot my horn … at least not too much … I’ve sold close to 300 stories short stories that have been in a whole lot of ‘best’ erotica books: Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Bisexual Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica … well, you get the picture. I also have four collections of my stories in print: Dirty Words (gay erotica), Speaking Parts (lesbian erotica), The Bachelor Machine (science fiction erotica), and Filthy (more gay erotica); and have edited 20 or so anthologies including Confessions, Amazons, and Garden of Perverse (with Sage Vivant), and the Best S/M Erotica series. I also have written five novels and am working on my sixth: Running Dry, The Very Bloody Marys, Me2, Brushes, and Painted Doll – of which only a couple are erotic.

CA: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

MC: I was in the fourth grade or so when I first realized that I liked the idea of writing, and that people could actually make a living at it, but it wasn’t until high school that I really gave it a shot. Alas, it took close to ten years before I sold my first story – a smut story, by the way – but after that I’ve been really working on getting stuff out there and working even harder on having fun doing it.

CA: Who or what was your inspiration for writing?

MC: I’d like to say some of the great and noble gods like Hemmingway and such but I found most of my true inspiration from, and admiration for, honest working writers in science fiction and comics. Okay, I really do love Steinbeck, Kipling, Hugo, and Dickens, but William Gibson, Alan Moore, Alfred Bester, Adam Warren, Ted Sturgeon, Alexander Jablokov, and Phil Dick are who I adore. I also really love classic movies, especially directors like Frankenheimer, Billy Wilder, and Wim Wenders.

I also can’t say enough for writers of simple, beautiful prose who are too often dismissed because they happen to write for things like television; Paul Dini, Hilary J. Bader, and Joss Whedon, and so forth. As I like to say: good writing is good writing, and it doesn’t make a difference if it’s for the New Yorker or a Saturday morning cartoon.

CA: When writers block attacks, what do you do to get back on track?

MC: I have a rather strange work ethic in that I don’t believe in talent, a muse, or suchlike. I’ve always just plain worked at my writing. Sometimes a story isn’t going well but I try to push through it nonetheless, trying to get to the heart at why it might be trouble. I also don’t wait for inspiration: most of the time what I’m doing is because someone, somewhere, asked for it. But that doesn’t mean I sell my soul. I really do simply love to write, to tell stories. When I get an assignment, or an opportunity crosses my path, I always try to make whatever it is ‘mine’ with a story I want to tell, no matter what the eventual market might be.

CA: What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

MC: I don’t really have a set schedule but I’m always very much aware of what has to be done and when it has to be turned in. Right now, for instance, I’m writing a bi-monthly article for Dark Roasted Blend (www.darkroastedblend.com), getting the word out about my four new books (Me2, Painted Doll, Brushes, and The Very Bloody Marys), and working on a new book for Zumaya – one I hope to get done in a few more months. Beyond that I’m trying to round up some new novel gigs and trying to find a new day job … after getting laid off recently from my last one, which I had for over ten years (sigh). Between all this I also have a wonderful partner in all things, Sage Vivant, who I adore, and various hobbies I’ve been regretfully ignoring. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to write for a living but until then I’m working as hard as I can to get myself out there: opportunities don’t come to you, you have to look for them.

CA: Your book is about to be sent into the reader world, what is one word that describes how you feel?

MC: One word: sigh. I’ve never been a huge self-promoter but I’ve been forcing myself to work harder at it. Like I just said: things don’t find you, you find them. Sitting in the dark hoping someone, anyone, will call just doesn’t work. That doesn’t mean I like having to send out press release after press release or do interview after interview (no insult) but to get where I want to be, which is to be able to write more books, it takes getting people to know who you are. It’s not fun, but it has to be done.

CA: What do you like to do when you're not writing?

MC: Alas, I’ve been ignoring a lot of my hobbies lately but I do plan on getting back to them eventually: robots and fun electronic stuff, little art projects, photography, food (eating and cooking), and travel. One of these days I’ll be able to get back to them but for right now the writing and the job search is taking up a lot of my time …probably too much of my time, but them’s the breaks.

CA: What is something shocking or weird about you that your readers don’t know about?

MC: Well, the biggest one I can think of is that even though I write a lot of gay themed books, for a lot of gay publishers and anthologies, I’m straight – but certainly not narrow, as the joke goes. I'm actually pretty proud of being able to make my projects, whatever they are, respectful of the audience and the ‘theme.’ I'm happy that my publishers don’t mind who I am, and that so many of my readers like my work --it's something that keeps me going. I just hope it continues because while it can be challenging, there’s a lot of enjoyment that comes with that challenge, and I really think it’s helped my writing.

CA: How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

MC: I’ve already nattered about what I’ve done, so I don’t need to do that again. As for my fave … well, I don’t really have one. Sure I thought that Me2 came out really well and Painted Doll, Very Bloody Marys, and Brushes were lots of fun – and collections are always a kick -- but I like to say my favorite is the one I’m either working on right now or will be working on next. I just don’t like to look back, I guess. Besides, if you think your best is behind you, it doesn’t push you forward. I like the books I’ve written but I also think I could do better, which is what I try to remember whenever I do something new. I also try to stretch as much as possible, taking risks each time so I can learn and grow.

CA: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

MC: That’s a toughie: I do but I don’t. I don’t put ‘real’ people in my stuff, meaning friends and such, but I do put a lot of myself into whatever I do. I’m not gay man – and I’m not equipped to know what being a lesbian is like – but I do know what desire, hope, fear, embarrassment, pride, and love feels like so I write all of that into my stories and books. I also try to project as much of myself as I can into whatever I’m doing, to really get into the people I’m writing about. Occasionally, though, I do borrow an actor or actress though it never feels … ‘real’ I guess you could say.

CA: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

MC: I once wrote a column called “Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker” for the Erotica Readers & Writers site, which I’ve been reposting on my own site at www.mchristian.com. Part of the reason I did those columns was because I was tired of the poor advice teachers and other writers were dishing out. Some of the more important topics I addressed was that writers, especially new ones, shouldn’t try and be the next ‘fill-in-the-blank’ celebrity author. Instead, they should work where there’s work and not be biased about different genres. I got my start in smut and am now writing novels for a wide range of audiences. I also think writers should focus on the writing and not spend too much time ‘playing the game’ of being a writer instead of actually writing. Finding publishers, agents, and such is important but doing the work is what it’s all about. Lastly, but not leastly, writing should be fun: if it’s not then you’re not doing it right. Being a writer sucks: the pay is cruddy; no one gives you any respect; and it’s a lot of hard, emotionally brutal, work – but if you enjoy writing then it becomes something truly amazing, and totally worth it.

CA: How can a reader contact you or purchase your books?

MC: All of my books are on Amazon.com under “M.Christian,” and I have links to all of them from my page at www.mchristian.com. I’d check that page out first and go from there. I’m also very free with my email address, so please feel free to write me anytime: zobp@aol.com or mchristianzobop@gmail.com.

CA: Is there anything you would like to add?

MC: Just that I also have a pair of fun blogs I post to quite often: Frequently Felt is a place for fun and strange sex stuff, and Meine Kleine Fabrik is for fun and strange stuff (no sex). I’ve been posting my “Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker” columns on my main site as well

CA: I’ll have to hop over and check out your blogs, Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker is an attention grabbing title : )

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: What's Erotic?

Check it out: one of my fave Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker essay just went live on the fab Erotica Readers and Writers site:



It's one of the most common questions I get asked – by budding writers via email or in person during one of my (ahem) Sex Sells: Erotica Writing classes: what makes an erotic story ...erotic?

But before I answer [insert suspenseful music here] a bit of exposition is in order: there is ahuge difference in writing for yourself, such as when you are first dipping your ... toes into erotica writing, and when you've made the very brave decision to throw your work out into the professional world.

If you are writing for yourself then you really don't need to be thinking about sex (or the amount of it) at all: you're writing for your pleasure, or just as practice.

But if you do decide to send your work out you really do need to be pay close attention to where you're submitting: when a publisher or editor puts out a call for submissions they are often – or should be – quite clear about the amount of sexuality they need or want from a writer.  If you're sending a story, say, to a site, anthology or whatever it's always a good idea to scope out the territory, so to speak: read what the editor has accepted before, take a gander at the site ... and so forth.  That, at least, should give you a ballpark feeling of what (and how much) they are looking for.

But [insert dramatic drum roll] as far as the right, perfect, ideal, amount of sex for a story that isn't just for your own pleasure, or a very specific market, goes ... well, what's sex?

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: A Universal Madness

This is very nice: the great Erotica Readers And Writer's site just posted a brand new Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker essay!


"Many people hear voices when no-one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing." Margaret Chittenden

Maybe it was because of a recent birthday – thank you very much, that's very kind – or perhaps it's because I just realized that I've been at this, being a 'professional' author for over 20 years – shocking, I know – or possibly it's because of a few .... (ahem) sad experiences recently but I want to revisit something I've said before.

I really wonder about writers.  Okay, internet, let's hear what you have to say: artists, musicians, actors ... how to you treat your fellow creators?  I used to have a wonderful roomie who was a musician.  We used to chat all the time about this, that, and other things but a lot about how even though there's a sense of competition among his fellows there was also a lot of camaraderie: he'd come home full of bright energy from playing for hours and hours with other musicians ... just jamming. 

Meanwhile I'd spent the night struggling with getting a stubborn story to cooperate, but mostly dealing with one insanely arrogant writer after another demanding they receive special treatment (oh, as a matter of transparency, I work as an editor and a publisher in addition to trying to deal with my own writing 'career').  This all came to a head when I realized that for those two decades of being a published about I currently have only a dozen or so fellow authors I consider to be 'friends' (and Facebook doesn't count).

Sure – as a writer myself – I can understand why ... but that doesn't make it right.  Again, I'm not sure what it's like to be a painter, actor, photographer, musician, or victim of any other creative pursuit, but writing is damned hard: we get little or no respect, no money, and everyone and their Great Aunt Maude thinks they can do it as well.  Our years of work, the care and concern we put into our stories and novels, are ignored unless we sell something – and then only if it makes millions – or if you take home some pretty little trophy.  If you have a day job – and every writer out there does, and if they aren't then they're either lying or a member of the rare 1% of writers – you know the deafening silence that comes when you mention finishing a work. 

But what's worse is that far too often it seems that the greatest barrier every writer must face ... are other writers. Like said, it's understandable ... but not excusable: we get our teeth bashed in, our souls crushed, our work ignored – or slammed by trolls – and so, wounded, we try to bolster our scarred egos by wrapping ourselves in a cloak of supposed superiority. 

Write erotica?  I'm better than a pornographer.  Write science fiction?  I'm better than a romance writer.  Write romance?  I'm better than a thriller writer.  Write thrillers?  I'm better than a science fiction writer.  Have 5,000 Facebook 'friends'? I'm better than someone with none.  Won an award?  I'm better than anyone who hasn't.  Write for a blog or site?  I'm better than anyone who doesn't.  Have an agent?  I'm better than someone who doesn't have one.  Write a novel?  I'm better than anyone who hasn't.  Sold to a 'big' publisher?  Then I'm better than anyone who hasn’t.  Sold a book for five figures?  Then I'm better than someone who hasn't.  A professional?  Then I'm better than someone who hasn't sold a word.  Become a 'name'?  Then I'm better than anyone who isn't.

It's pathetic. 

No, it's fucking pathetic.

Oh, I've heard all the lame justifications for this arrogance: if I treated everyone equally then I'd never have time to write, that everyone has to earn their stripes, that you should take public pride in your accomplishments.  But that's exactly what they are: excuses.  The bottom line isn't taking time, or the fear of becoming a full-time mentor or support system.  The awful trust is that treating other writers poorly makes weaker authors feel more important.

Like said, I understand it – and, I'm ashamed to say I've fallen victim to be on more than once occasion.  But that doesn't mean I'm not aware of it – as well as despising myself when I do it. 

But it doesn't have to be this way.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: Knowing Me Knowing You

Check it out: a brand new essay I did on smut-writing just went up on the great Erotica Readers and Writers site:



Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker:
Knowing Me Knowing You


On the surface it sounds like a ... well, no duh. But it's really quite remarkable how many writers – especially erotica writers – put huge amounts of work into their craft, yet neglect an essential part of the process of actually getting people to read their work.

They slave over characters, plot, setting, language; they set up sites, join Facebook and Twitter and Good Reads; they network and network and network; and, in the end, they may be very well known ... but only by other erotica writers.

Believe me, my own glass house has plenty of smashed windows: I'm far from immune to intimidation that can come from reaching outside your authorly comfort zone.

A certain level of anxiety is expected, after all: as I've said more than a few times, writing is a very tough life ... and far too often the only people we can get to understand and appreciate what we do are other writers. Yes, they understand and, if they are good people, they will be supportive but the cold hard fact is that writers just don't buy other writers' books ... or at least not often.

Sitting on the other side of the fence – as an editor and Publisher for Renaissance E Books/Sizzler Editions – I see the side effects of authors not willing or able to understand their audience: poor sales. As said, they pour massive amounts of time and effort into their books but when they put their work out there it's like they haven't spend a single minute trying to think about who the book was written for ... who the audience is.

Sure, it's uncomfortable – as I've also said, writing is a very solitary thing so it goes very much against the grain for us all to have to deal with publicity – but it really is vital to spend some quality time thinking about who your readers actually are.

And it's not exactly rocket science – though there are a few tricks, as you might expect. The main one, of course, is when you reach out to sell your work keep in mind that's what you are doing: selling ... and no one likes to be sold to. There is a fine line between letting people know about your kick-ass erotica book and becoming a spammer. That is why simply throwing ads about your stuff out into your audience pool is never a good idea.

Instead, try to meet your readers halfway. Example: you've written the greatest gay Western romance ever. Congratulations! So where should you focus your social media and such? Not to be rude but ... come on! The answer is right there: Gay. Western. Romance.

Join or reach out to queer sites -- especially gay western or romance ones. Reach out to romance sites – especially western or gay ones. Reach out to western sites – especially gay and romance ones. Not just book sites (and I can't emphasize that enough) but sites for folks who like what you have written. Send them announcements but also share other things as well.


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Friday, February 28, 2014

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: Confessions

Extremely cool: check out this brand new column I just wrote for the excellent Writesex site:



My name is Chris – though my pseudonym is usually M.Christian – and I have a confession to make.

I’ve written – and write – a…what’s the technical term? Oh, yeah: shitload of erotica. Some 400 published stories, 12 or so collections, 7 novels. I’ve also edited around 25 anthologies. I even have the honor of being an Associate Publisher for Renaissance eBooks, whose Sizzler Editions erotica imprint has some 1,300 titles out there.

I’ve written sexually explicit gay stories, lesbian stories, trans stories, bisexual stories, BDSM stories, tales exploring just about every kind of fetish, you name it and I can all but guarantee that I’ve written about it. I like to joke that a friend of mine challenged me to write a story to a ridiculously particular specification: a queer vampire sport tale. My answer? “Casey, The Bat.” Which I actually did write…though I dropped the vampire part of it.

Don’t worry; I’m getting to the point. I can write just about anything for anyone – but here comes the confession:

I’ve never, ever written about what actually turns me – what turns Chris – on.

This kind of makes me a rather rare beast in the world of professional smut writing. In fact it’s pretty common for other erotica writers to – to be polite about it – look down their noses at the fact that I write about anything other than my own actual or desired sexual peccadilloes. Some have even been outright rude about it: claiming that I’m somehow insulting to their interests and/or orientations and shouldn’t write anything except what I am and what I like.

To be honest, in moments of self-doubt I have thought the very same thing. Am I profiting off the sexuality of other people? Am I a parasite, too cowardly to put my own kinks and passions out into the world? Am I short-changing myself as a writer by refusing to put myself out there?

For the record, I’m a hetero guy who – mostly – likes sexually dominant women. I also find my head turned pretty quickly when a large, curvy woman walks by. That said, I’ve had wonderful times with women of every size, shape, ethnicity, and interest.

So why do I find it so hard to say all that in my writing? The question has been bugging me for a while, so I put on my thinking cap. Part of the answer, I’ve come to understand, relates directly to chronic depression: it’s much less of an emotional gamble to hide behind a curtain of story than to risk getting my own intimate desires and passions stomped flat by a critical review or other negative reaction from readers. I can handle critical reviews of a story – that’s par for the course in professional writing – but it’s a good question as to whether I could handle critical reviews of my life.
But then I had an eye-opening revelation. As I said, I’ve written – and write – stories about all kinds of interests, inclinations, passions, orientations, genders, ethnicities, ages, cultures…okay, I won’t belabor it. But the point is that I’ve also been extremely blessed to have sold everything I’ve ever written. Not only that, but I’ve had beautiful compliments from people saying my work has touched them and that they never, ever, would have realized that the desires of the story’s narrator and those of the writer weren’t one and the same.

Which, in a nice little turn-around, leads me to say that my name is Chris – though my pseudonym is usually M.Christian – and I have yet another confession to make.

Yes, I don’t get sexually excited when I write. Yes, I have never written about what turns me on. Yes, I always write under a name that’s not my legal one.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel when I write. Far from it: absolutely, I have no idea what actual gay sex is like for the participants; positively, I have not an inkling of what many fetishes feel like inside the minds of those who have them; definitely, I have no clue what it’s like to have sex as a woman…
I do, however, know what sex is like. The mechanics, yeah, but more importantly I work very hard to understand the emotions of sex and sexuality through the raw examination of my own life: the heart-racing nerves, the whispering self-doubts, the pulse-pounding tremors of hope, the bittersweetness of it, the bliss, the sorrows and the warmth of it, the dreams and memories…

I’m working on a story right now, part of a new collection. It’s erotic – duh – but it’s also about hope, redemption, change, and acceptance. I have no experience with the kind of physical sex that takes place in this story but every time I close its file after a few hours of work, tears are burning my cheeks. In part, this emotional investment is about trying to recapture the transcendent joy I’ve felt reading the work of writers I admire.

When I read manuscripts as an anthology editor, or as an Associate Publisher, a common mistake I see in them is a dedication to technical accuracy favored over emotion. These stories are correct down to the smallest detail – either because they were written from life or from an exactingly fact-checked sexual imagination – but at the end, I as the reader feel…nothing.

I’m not perfect – far from it – but while I may lack direct experience in a lot of what I write, I do work very, very hard to put real human depth into whatever I do. I may not take the superficial risk of putting the mechanics of my sexuality into stories and books but I take a greater chance by using the full range of my emotional life in everything I create.

I freely admit that I don’t write about my own sexual interests and experiences. That may – in some people’s minds – disqualify me from being what they consider an “honest” erotica writer, but after much work and introspection I contest that while I may keep my sex life to myself, I work very hard to bring as much of my own, deeply personal, self to bear upon each story as I can.

They say that confession is good for the soul. But I humbly wish to add to that while confession is fine and dandy, trying to touch people – beyond their sex organs – is ever better…for your own soul as well as the souls of anyone reading your work.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker: Writing Coaches and Teachers


Check this out: the fun article I wrote for the new - and wonderful - WriteSex site has just gone up at the equally wonderful Erotica Readers And Writers site.  Here's a tease:


For new writers, the temptation is obvious: after all, if you don’t know something, shouldn’t you seek out a way to learn about it? The question of how to educate yourself as a writer is a necessary and important one, of course, but an often-invisible second question follows: how do you sift through the piles of would-be writing coaches, teachers and other purveyors of advice to find the ones who will lead you toward genuinely better writing? The problem isn’t that there are over-eager teachers galore, but that far too many of them are preaching from ignorance—or just dully quoting what others have already said.

This is particularly true of erotic romance. Now, I have to admit I’ve been more than a bit spoiled by other genres, where you can write about whatever you want without much of a chance—beyond clumsy writing—of getting rejected for not toeing the line, so approaching erotic romance has been a bit more of a challenge. Romance authors, after all, have been told time and time again that there is a very precise, almost exacting, Way of Doing Things … and if you don’t, then bye-bye book deal.

But times have changed, and while a few stubborn publishers still want erotic romantic fiction that follows established formulas, the quantum leap of digital publishing has totally shaken up by-the-numbers approaches to romance writing. Without going too much into it (maybe in another column…), because ebooks are so much easier to produce, publishers can take wonderful risks on new authors and concepts, meaning that they don’t have to wring their hands in fright that the new title they greenlit will go bust and possibly take the whole company with it.

Because of this freedom, erotic romance can be so much more than it ever was: experimental, innovative, unique, challenging, etc. These are no longer the Words of Death when it comes to putting together a book.

One of the great, underlying tasks of teaching—one I love, but with some reverence and an occasional pang of dread—is challenging the boring, formulaic, way that so many talk about writing (which is also to say that a huge part of the reason I love to teach is that it’s a weird form of revenge against all the bad writing teachers I’ve had over the years). There are, however, far too many writing teachers who relentlessly parrot that erotic romance has to follow a strict formula to be successful. They spell out this formula in stomach-cramping detail: what has to happen to each and every character, in each and every chapter, in each and every book.

[MORE]

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: "Oh, How Beautiful-"

Check it out: I just posted a Streetwalker column on the always-wonderful Erotica Readers And Writes site. It might be an old one but it's also something a lot of writers need to hear. Hope you like!
 

Funny that these columns are called Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker because ... well, I have a confession to make.

I'm very much on the fence about the whole thing, and am still dealing with doubts about whether or not I've made the right decision but - in the end - I think it will end up being a good thing.
I've joined Facebook.

I know, I know: I've been a rather vocal - if not strident - opponent of that particular corner of the social media universe, but a very good friend of mine pointed out that, to call down The Bard, I "doth protest too much."

It hasn't been easy: I tell ya, nothing like having a nearly (gasp) twenty year writing career resulting in only 433 'friends' and 68'likes' on my author page to really make the dreaded depression demon really flare up.

But I'm sticking with it - not because I think that I have to, or that Facebook is the end-all, be-all solution to all my publicity needs - but because it was something I really, honestly, didn't want to do.
Obviously, explanations are in order. See, I'm a firm believer in pushing yourself in all kinds of ways: as a person and, particularly, as a writer. Sure, you have to like what you are doing - both in how you live your life as well as the words you put down on 'paper' - but growth comes not from comfort but from adversity, from challenge.

I didn't set out to be an pornographer, but then an opportunity presented itself and (surprise!) I was actually pretty good at it. I didn’t plan on being a 'gay' writer - because, no duh - I'm not, but (surprise!) I not just did it but came to really enjoy it. I didn’t think I could be a teacher, but (surprise!) I've found that I really get a kick out of it.

I may have hated Facebook - hell, I still hate Facebook - but I had to at least try it. Maybe it will work out, maybe it won't, but at least I'll have stretched myself.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker: Howdy!

I'm thrilled to have another one of my Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker pieces up on the excellent Erotica Readers And Writers site - here's a tease ... for the rest just click here.



Howdy

While it isn't the most important thing to do before sending off a story (that's reserved for writing the story itself), drafting an effective cover letter/email is probably right below it.

So here is a quick sample of what to do and NOT when putting together a cover letter to go with your story. That being said, remember that I'm just one of many (many) editors out there, each with their own quirks and buttons to push. Like writing the story itself, practice and sensitivity is will teach you a lot, but this will give you a start.

So ... Don't Do What Bad Johnny Don't Does:


Dear M. (1),

Here is my story (2) for your collection (3), it's about a guy and a girl who fall in love on the Titanic (4). I haven't written anything like this before (5), but your book looked easy enough to get into (6). My friends say I'm pretty creative (7). Please fill out and send back the enclosed postcard (8). If I have not heard from you in two months (9) I will consider this story rejected and send it somewhere else (10). I am also sending this story to other people. If they want it, I'll write to let you know (11).

I noticed that your guidelines say First North American Serial rights. What's that (12)? If I don't have all rights then I do not want you to use my story (13).

I work at the DMV (14) and have three cats named Mumbles, Blotchy and Kismet (15).

Mistress Divine (16)
Gertrude@christiansciencemonitor.com (17)

(1) Don't be cute. If you don't know the editor's name, or first name, or if the name is real or a pseudonym, just say "Hello" or "Editor" or somesuch.

(2) Answer the basic questions up front: how long is the story, is it original or a reprint, what's the title?

(3) What book are you submitting to? Editors often have more than one open at any time and it can get very confusing. Also, try and know what the hell you're talking about: a 'collection' is a book of short stories by one author, an 'anthology' is a book of short stories by multiple authors. Demonstrate that you know what you're submitting to.

(4) You don't need to spell out the plot, but this raises another issue: don't submit inappropriate stories. If this submission was to a gay or lesbian book, it would result in an instant rejection and a ticked-off editor.

(5) The story might be great, but this already has you pegged as a twit. If you haven't been published before don't say anything, but if you have then DEFINITELY say so, making sure to note what kind of markets you've been in (anthology, novel, website and so forth). Don't assume the editor has heard of where you've been or who you are, either. Too often I get stories from people who list a litany of previous publications that I've never heard of. Not that I need to, but when they make them sound like I should it just makes them sound arrogant. Which is not a good thing.

(6) Gee, thanks so much. Loser.

(7) Friends, lovers, Significant Others and so forth -- who cares?


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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: The Right Word






I'm very proud to have another one of my Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker pieces up on the excellent Erotica Readers And Writers site - and bit thanks to the folks at Erotica For All where the article first appeareed.





The Right Word

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter — it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.
– Mark Twain

No insult to Mr. Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens to his pals), but he’s a bit wrong there … but, more importantly, a lot right.

Wrong in when writing, slaving over just the right word can, too often, grind the process to a halt. When I hit that speed bump I usually just put the word I know isn’t the perfect, ideal, and – yep – right I just highlight it so I know, when I look over whatever I’m writing I can come back and fix it later. The key to keeping up your flow is not just writing well but to keep writing. Period. It’s far too easy to let niggling details get in the way of where you’re doing, and what you’re saying: it’s far better to just keep at it and then come back and do some tweaking after.

But Sam (Mark Twain to everyone else) is damned right about the damned right word. It’s been a very strange trip, going from writer to editor and, now, to publisher: I see a lot of things I wish that writers would get into their heads – and, similarly, try to get into my own thick noggin. The number one has to be to show and not tell: in more words, rather than less, it’s far better to be evocative and imagination-feeding than completely, unarguably, accurate.

Let’s try something: the brown chair. Not much there right? We know it’s a chair, we know it’s brown. End of story. But what if I wrote, “the chair was the color of a well-worn dirt road”? Immediately you not just see the chair but might even feel a bit about it: the road, and it’s color, overlaid with an image what a chair like that might look like, feel like, smell like, etc.

It’s far better to conjure the chair, with magical language and imagery, than carry it onto the stage. You can so much with so little if you take the time to think of words, and language, that is evocative and alluring that unarguably precise. The same, naturally, goes with sex: rather than saying that, say, someone’s breasts were perfect, or conical, or whatever shape you’re thinking of, try, instead to say they were “happily rich and full, tipped by the inquisitive arousal of umber nipples.” Okay, that might be a bit too much but I think you get my point: the first was dull, boring – the second says so much more happily at that.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

WriteSex And Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker

Busy little bee, aren't I?

Check it out: up on the fantastic Erotica Readers And Writers Association blog is a new Confessions of a Literary Streetwalker piece - AND I have a new article on the fun WriteSex site. Here are teases of both - just click on the [MORE] button to go to the full thing.



A pal of mine asked an interesting question once: what's my definition of erotica, or of pornography? Other folks have been asked these questions, of course, and the answers have been as varied as those asked, but even as I zapped off my own response I started to really think about how people define what they write, and more importantly, why.

It's easy to agree with folks who say there's a difference between erotica and pornography. One of the most frequent definitions is that erotica is sexually explicit literature that talks about something else aside from sex, while porno is sex, sex and more sex and nothing else. The problem with trying to define erotica is that it's purely subjective—even using the erotica-is-more-than-just-sex and porn-is- just-sex-analysis. Where's the line and when do you cross it? One person's literate erotica is another's pure filth. Others like to use a proportional scale a certain percent of sex content—bing!—something becomes porn. Once again: Who sets the scale?

What I find interesting isn't necessarily what the distinction between erotica and pornography should be but why there should be one to begin with. Some writers I've encountered seem to be looking for a clear-cut definition just so they won't be grouped together with the likes of Hustler and Spank Me, Daddy. While I agree that there's a big difference between what's being published in some of the more interesting anthologies, magazines and Web sites as opposed to Hustler and Spank Me, Daddy, I also think that a lot of this searching for a definition is more about ego and less about literary analysis. Rather than risk being put on the shelves next to Hustler and Spank Me Daddy, some writers try to draw up lists and rules that naturally favor what they write compared to what other people write: "I write erotica, but that other stuff is just pornography. Therefore what I write is better."

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Sure, we may all want to just cuddle in our little garrets, a purring pile of fur in our laps, leather patches on our sleeves, a pipe at the ready, and do nothing but write masterpieces all day and night – with periodic breaks for binge-drinking and soon-to-be legendary sexual escapades – but the fact of the matter is that being a writer has totally, completely, changed.I’m not just talking about the need to be a marketing genius and a publicity guru – spending, it feels too often, more time tweeting about Facebook, or Facebooking about tweeting, than actually writing – but that authors really need to be creative when it comes to not just getting the word out about their work but actually making money.

A lot of people who claim to be marketing geniuses and publicity gurus will say that talking about you and your work as loud as possible, as often as possible, is the trick … but have you heard the joke about how to make money with marketing and PR? Punchline: get people to pay you to be a marketing genius and/or a publicity guru. In short: just screaming at the top of the tweety lungs or burying everyone under Facebook posts just won’t do it.

Not that having some form of presence online isn’t essential – far from it: if people can’t find you, after all, then they can’t buy your books. But there’s a big difference between being known and making everyone run for the hills – or at least stop up their9 ears – anytime you say or do anything online.

Balance is the key: don’t just talk about your books or your writing – because, honesty, very few people care about that … even your readers – instead fine a subject that interests you and write about that as well. Give yourself some dimension, some personality, some vulnerability, something … interesting, and not that you are not just an arrogant scream-engine of me-me-me-me. Food, travel, art, history, politics … you pick it, but most of all have fun with it. Forced sincerity is just about as bad as incessant narcissism.

[MORE]

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: Definitive Definitions

Check this out: a new "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" piece for the always-great Erotica Readers and Writers site just went up.

All my previous columns, of course, have been collected in How To Write And Sell Erotica by Renaissance E Books.

Here's a tease:

 
Definitive Definitions 
A pal of mine asked an interesting question once: what's my definition of erotica, or of pornography? Other folks have been asked these questions, of course, and the answers have been as varied as those asked, but even as I zapped off my own response I started to really think about how people define what they write, and more importantly, why.
It's easy to agree with folks who say there's a difference between erotica and pornography. One of the most frequent definitions is that erotica is sexually explicit literature that talks about something else aside from sex, while porno is sex, sex and more sex and nothing else. The problem with trying to define erotica is that it's purely subjective—even using the erotica-is-more-than-just-sex and porn-is- just-sex-analysis. Where's the line and when do you cross it? One person's literate erotica is another's pure filth. Others like to use a proportional scale a certain percent of sex content—bing!—something becomes porn. Once again: Who sets the scale? 
 
[MORE]

Monday, April 15, 2013

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: Thinking Outside Your Box

Check this out: a new "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" piece for the always-great Erotica Readers and Writers site just went up.  This one originally appeared on the fantastic K.D. Grace's site.

All my previous columns, of course, have been collected in How To Write And Sell Erotica by Renaissance E Books.

Here's a tease:


Thinking Outside Your Box...
Or Writing Isn't Always About Writing
Sure, we may all want to just cuddle in our little garrets, a purring pile of fur in our laps, leather patches on our sleeves, a pipe at the ready, and do nothing but write masterpieces all day and night – with periodic breaks for binge-drinking and soon-to-be legendary sexual escapades – but the fact of the matter is that being a writer has totally, completely, changed.

I'm not just talking about the need to be a marketing genius and a publicity guru – spending, it feels too often, more time tweeting about Facebook, or Facebooking about tweeting, than actually writing – but that authors really need to be creative when it comes to not just getting the word out about their work but actually making money.

A lot of people who claim to be marketing geniuses and publicity gurus will say that talking about you and your work as loud as possible, as often as possible, is the trick ... but have you heard the joke about how to make money with marketing and PR? Punchline: get people to pay you to be a marketing genius and/or a publicity guru. In short: just screaming at the top of the tweety lungs or burying everyone under Facebook posts just won't do it.

Not that having some form of presence online isn't essential – far from it: if people can't find you, after all, then they can't buy your books. But there's a big difference between being known and making everyone run for the hills – or at least stop up their9 ears – anytime you say or do anything online.

Balance is the key: don't just talk about your books or your writing – because, honesty, very few people care about that ... even your readers – instead fine a subject that interests you and write about that as well. Give yourself some dimension, some personality, some vulnerability, something ... interesting, and not that you are not just an arrogant scream-engine of me-me-me-me. Food, travel, art, history, politics ... you pick it, but most of all have fun with it. Forced sincerity is just about as bad as incessant narcissism.

[MORE]

Monday, March 11, 2013

I'm Performing for 'The Razor's Edge' for Bawdy Storytelling

(from M.Christian's Classes And Appearances)


Very cool news: I'm going to be peforming as part of 'The Razor's Edge' for Bawdy Storytelling!


Here's the details and such:
When:
Wednesday, March 13th
Doors @7, Stories @8

What:
6 Stories of figuring out what turns you on.

How much:
$12 in Advance, $15 at the door

Where:
The Verdi Club
2424 Mariposa Street
San Francisco, CA

Why:
Because Bawdy shows you a very real side of San Francisco's Perveratti & that person you sat next to last month at the show. Next month, it's your turn!
When you have to choose between a story of someone sneaking out of a zen monastery to attend sex parties on the sly, or a story about a queer person making a deal with God to send her the right beautiful butch - if she only puts up with all those gay exorcisms. This Wednesday: 'The Razor's Edge'
Storytellers include:
- Sexuality Icon & Female Dominance Educator Midori
- Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser Author Clarisse Thorn
- Erotica Writer/Publisher/Author M Christian
- TechnoPagan & Seeker of the Divine Darrin Barnett
- Sex-positive Parent & Author Airial Clark
- God-loving Lesbian Sullivan
- Music by Mark Growden

Are you seeking the path to sexual enlightenment? So enlighten us: with so many options out there, how do you choose the one that’s right for you? No matter how you answer, take out that ball gag and get your yogapants-clad ass over to the Verdi Club this Wednesday night. From Doms to Tantrikas, from those who dabble on the weekends to those who live a 24/7 lifestyle, come enjoy an evening of ‘don’t’ ask DO TELL’ from three dimensional people who won’t be adding this information to their Linked In profile anytime soon.

Join us for this month’s Bawdy Storytelling – America’s original sex + storytelling salon featuring Real People & Rockstars - for an aural exploration into the darker, hotter, and REAL-er side of sex with an edge, and the search to find your true sexual calling. Whatever you’re expecting this evening to look like, forget it...remember, this is San Francisco: the truth is WAY more interesting than anything you could make up!
RSVP & See who's going on Facebook:
Or see more on our website at:
http://bawdystorytelling.com/razorsedgesf/

Performer Bios:
- Globe-trotting sexuality educator and writer, Midori is known for her hilarious and practical classes on amping up sexual fulfillment, boosting confidence and expanding personal growth. Originally from Japan, now based in San Francisco, she travels far and wide, teaching passionate bedroom skills. Among her many classes, the ever popular “JoyStick Secrets” is like cock-sucking comedy hour with tons of great tips. “How to Eat a Peach” is pretty much a pussy navigation manual and GPS for owners and lovers alike. On the kinky side – For women interested in cultivating their dominant aspect, don’t miss “ForteFemme” <http://www.fortefemme.com/> weekend intensive. Unique, transformative, elegant and effective.  Rope crazy? Check out Rope Bondage Dojo she leads three times a year around the country <http://www.ropedojo.com/>
Learn more about her at www.PlanetMidori.com & www.FHP-inc.com

- Clarisse Thorn writes and speaks about sex, gender, new media, and communities. Her writing has appeared across the Internet in places like The Guardian, AlterNet, Feministe, Jezebel, Ms. Media, The Rumpus, and Time Out. She has delivered lectures across the USA, from museums to universities to SXSW-interactive. In 2010, Clarisse returned to the USA after working on HIV mitigation in southern Africa. She has also volunteered as an archivist, curator and fundraiser for that venerable S&M institution, the Leather Archives & Museum, and for the social justice site Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. Clarisse's first book is called "Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser: Long Interviews With Hideous Men," and she has a collection of her best essays called "The S&M Feminist." Find Clarisse's blog at clarissethorn.com, or follow her on Twitter @ClarisseThorn.

- M.Christian is a renowned - and delightfully notorious - writer, editor, and publisher of erotica. His work has appeared in literally hundreds of anthologies (including Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Bisexual Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica and ... well, you get the idea), magazines, and sites - and he is the author of ten collections and seven novels. But Shar Rednour, author of The Femme's Guide to the Universe puts it best when she says that "M.Christian is a sick fuck: the reason I still read erotica." His site is www.mchristian.com

- Airial Clark is a San Francisco Bay Area-based parenting expert, sexologist and founder of The Sex-Positive Parent. She completed research for her master’s thesis on race, parenting, and alternative sexuality in 2012, all the while raising her two sons as a single parent, who are now pre-teens. Ms. Clark is a contributing writer for several award-winning online media outlets including the Good Vibrations Magazine, Shades Magazine, Oakland Local and Fearless Press where she writes on the intersections of parenting, identity and sexuality. In collaboration with organizations, including the Center for Sex and Culture and the Center for Research and Education on Gender and Sexuality, Airial has led workshops where she provides parents and caregivers with the tools they need to become the resident sexuality expert for their families.

- Sullivan is an aspiring epidemiologist who likes getting the shit beaten out of her, embroidery and communicable diseases.

- Darrin Barnett is a swordsman, itinerant warrior-priest, Pagan, singer, soldier, actor, tech geek, shrilly liberal political hobbyist, and armchair terrorist. Arrogant and erudite and entirely too gleeful with verbal legerdemain. You'd think he'd settle on one or two of these things and dedicate his life, but so far the closest he's gotten to "what he wants to be when he grows up" is a worshipper of Woman.

- "Mark Growden's music combines elements from classical jazz ensembles, New Orleans-style brass bands, cabaret fanfare, and circus troupes with the stark honesty of Appalachian folk ballads and African-American prison songs." - Taos New

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker: Seven M.Christians - Number 1: Intelligence Is Imagination With An Erection

Check it out: as part of my Seven M.Christian series (next one goes up tomorrow, btw) I just posted the first installment as part of my on-going Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker column for the always-great Erotica Readers And Writers Site:



Intelligence Is Imagination With An Erection

I didn't always want to be a writer. Sure, I was one of those kids: the ones who are too bright, too creative, too curious – and, yes, in case you're interested, I was bullied ... a lot – but actually doing anything with that brightness, creativity, curiosity didn't pop into mind until high school.

But, boy, did it POP. In retrospect it's more than a bit ... odd (to be polite) how enthusiastic and disciplined I became about writing. In hindsight a lot of it probably had to do with trying to find an escape from a less-than-perfect family dynamic – but another big motivator was that I'd always been the kid who didn't just talk about doing things: I did them. Perfect example: I remember, in early elementary school, discovering that the science classroom had a darkroom ... so I went home and over the weekend read every book I could on photography so when I came back on Monday I developed my first roll of film and did my first few test prints.

Alas, discipline and enthusiasm are fine and good – actually they are absolutely essential in a writer – but my discipline and enthusiasm was focused on Mount Everest: selling a story to the likes of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Early rejections didn't stop me – in fact nothing stopped me – and I kept trying, kept writing, kept submitting: my goal was a short story a week and/or three pages of writing or three pages of just story ideas.

And, you know, it worked -- sort of. I've never sold a story to Fantasy & Science Fiction but all that work, all that passion, paid off ... abet in a very unusual and totally unexpected way.

Eventually I made my way to the Bay Area, got married, and – on a total whim – took a class from Lisa Palac who, at the time, was editing a magazine called FutureSex. When I discovered ... well, sex, my stories got a little more (ahem) mature. It was one of those stories I was brave enough to hand to Lisa.

What happened next is, to resort to clich̩ Рand hyperbole Рis the stuff of legends: Lisa not just liked the story but bought it. A year later Susie Bright also liked the story and bought it for Best American Erotica 1994.

Sure, it took me ten years of trying (and, yes, you may whistle at that) but that wasn't important. People often ask me why I write what I write -- lesbian erotica, gay erotica, bisexual erotica, kink after fetish after stroke after stroke – and the answer couldn't be simpler.

I am a writer ... and for someone who lives to tell stories, who worked so hard to hang onto that brightness, creativity, curiosity, discipline, and enthusiasm, finding a way to do what I love to do and be recognized for it, in demand for it, and even paid for it there is simply nothing better.

My name is Chris, my main pseudonym is M.Christian, and I am a pornographer ... and I couldn't be happier.

(by the way, the quote that starts this is by Victor Hugo ... and is a kind of personal philosophy)

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Seven Weeks Of M.Christian: Week 4 - Being An Editor

Continuing my seven (possibly terrifying) weeks of M.Christian, here's my newest installment...

...my reasoning behind this is that I haven't really talked a lot about myself for a while so I thought it would be a fun little experiment to post - once a week, for seven weeks - a series of essays about little ol' me: where I came from, my professional journey, being an editor, being a publisher ... and even my hopes and dreams for the future.

Hope you like!



Unlike some writers I actually became an editor very quickly after selling my first story.  I wish I could say it was because of my staggering personal magnetism, overwhelming charisma, or through the brilliance of my talent as a writer but, to be honest, it literally was just matter of right time (1995, the beginning of what some call the "literary erotica" craze) and the right place (I knew someone who had already done books with the publisher). 

My first anthology was called Eros Ex Machina: Eroticizing the Mechanical (later reprinted by the late, lamented Erotic Book Club as Sex Machines) and, if you couldn't tell from the title, is was about people having ... well, sex with all kinds of devices, gizmos, and do-hickeys. 

As with a lot of things, once I'd done one another quickly followed – with a vengeance on my part: as of this writing I'd edited something like 25 anthologies, ranging from pure erotica like the three book deal I got with Sage Vivant (Amazons, Confessions, and Garden Of Perverse) to the non-smutty, and quite literary, pair of Mammoth Books I did with my pal, Maxim Jakubowski (Mammoth Books of Tales Of The Road and The Mammoth Book of Future Cops). 

Now I really wish I could say that there is some kind of trick, or extra-normal talent to editing an anthology.  Oh, sure, there are some things that take a bit of skill and training – which I’ll touch on in a sec – but, by and large, an editor's job boils down to reading, and then selecting, stories.

Of course just this simple part of the job can be the most problematic: what I like, after all, is often light years away from what you might like.  My usual rule of thumb when selecting stories is to look for an author who, first of all, is clearly having fun with the habitually crazy-ass theme I've given them, secondly, knows how to write, and – last but not least – tells a good story.

It shocks people when tell them that, usually, when I edit an erotic-themed anthology, I pay little or no attention to the sex itself.  In fact I typically skim over that part – focusing instead on what the writer is trying to say and how they are saying it. 

As I like to tell people in my Sex Sells: Writing and Selling Erotica class – and have said in my "Confessions Of A Literary Streetwalker" column for the incredible, and invaluable, Erotica Readers and Writers site (now – commercial starts – assembled in my new book How To Write And Sell Erotica – commercial ends): a good sex story has to be a good story, beyond anything else.  In fact when I make notes on submissions the worst comment I can make on a story is "just porn:" meaning that there is nothing in the story but page after page of bump-grindy ... and nothing else.

Beyond that I usually select stories that give the book some range and variety – within the limits set by the project, of course.  I'd like to say that I don’t pick stories because the author may or may not be famous but (sigh) I have to be honest that unless it is a very poor story a 'name' can actually help sell a book.  But that does not mean that I only take stories with this in mind – in fact most of the stories I feel are the best are often written by writers who, like I said, are having a fun time with the theme and know that an erotic story is not just about sex.

In addition to being an editor I am, of course, a writer so I really try to be the editor I'd like to be dealing with when I'm wearing that other hat – and because of that I am -- or try really hard to be -- a kind, polite, and conscientious editor: I answer every email, no matter how silly or even insulting, and I always send out rejection letters even though it is a very painful process ... because I am too well aware how much those things can hurt.  But I also take a certain amount of pride in sending out nice rejection letters – if there are such things.

As a writer as well as an editor I can tell you right off the bat that treating an editor as an enemy, approaching them like they are out to steal your work or whatever, is not the way to go.  If someone I reject reacts rudely ... I wish I could say that I turn the other cheek but, honestly, I doubt I will take anything by that author in the future.  Life is too short to deal with prima-donnas and, besides, there are usually stories just a good waiting in the wings.

It's a maybe-silly point of pride with me that many people I've rejected have actually become friends – and, as such, while it won't change a bad story into an accepted one – it does mean I might actually try and help them with their work, or at least encourage them to keep writing.

What can be frustrating about being an anthology editor – please allow me to vent here – is that very, very few reviewers know how to judge them.  The fact is that an editor often has to take what they get – or they've tried to create a spread of approach, style, content, etc. to make the book as well-rounded as possible – a fact lost on many reviewers, who forget this fact and pan a book because a few stories didn't work for them or because they feel the quality of the stories wasn't up-to-par. 

As a writer as well as an editor has also made me very sensitive to bad anthology editors, and so I try very hard act like they do.  As I already mentioned, I always reject – even though it may be a painful thing to do – and I when I say a story has been accepted then it's been accepted: I don't play games with short-lists or change my mind once I've told the author. 

I also feel that an author's work, and voice, is their own, and so I will rarely ask for any kind of rewrite – especially around the plot.  As I writer I honestly can't stand editors who think that, because they are The Editor, that gives them the right to dink with an author's work – with or without their permission.  For me, being an editor just means I'm an administrator of sorts, that my name on the book basically means I created the crazy theme of the book and picked the stories.  That's why I try and downplay myself when I talk about my anthologies and instead focus on the authors who contributed their wonderful stories: it's far more their book than it is mine.

Also being on both sides of the fence has made me very vocal about editors who I feel have let their egos get in the way of the project: I do not play favorites when I talk about my books – choosing to mention one author over another – and I always, to repeat myself a bit, do a book with an eye on being the editor I'd like to deal with as a writer. 

Now even though I said that approaching an editor as if they are some kind if enemy, or reacting poorly in regards to acceptance/rejection, contract terms and all that stuff that does not mean as a writer should not have some say in how things are done – but it's far better to do what I do, as a writer, when I come across an editor who is not being either professional or even just kind: I simply don't send them any more stories for any of their projects – and I tell my other writer friends about my experiences.

In the end, being an editor has been a unique and (to use a cliché) eye-opening experience and, I sincerely hope, has made me respect writers even more.  It means a lot to me that writers say that they like submitting to my books – accepted or not – and that I have a certain amount of respect among writers for being understanding and supportive. 

For me, that is a successful anthology: not sales, or reviews, but that the writers in the book had a good time dealing with me but even-more had a fun time exploring the crazy idea I set before them and had a blast writing their stories. 

Like I said: my name might be on the cover but it is – always – the authors who make an anthology ... and they are the ones deserving of not just recognition but also respect.