Sacchi Green thinks that erotica - especially LGBTQ+ erotica - can serve as vital a function as any other genre in literature. In Sacchi's writing career, what experiences have contributed to this innovative view? Where does she get her inspiration for so many well-written and erotic stories?
Sacchi began her writing career later in life with short stories in several science fiction/fantasy publications including a pair of anthologies for the youth market. For her first sale of erotica to Best Lesbian Erotica in 1999, it seemed wise to use a pen name to mask her identity from her previous titles. After writing that first erotic story, though, she became entirely seduced by the erotic side of writing and now only occasionally looks back from her current writing focus.
Once Sacchi had accumulated a thigh-high stack of contributors' copies from her growing collection of erotic writing, she felt it was time to wield the editorial whip and she hasn’t stepped back from editing since. Her edited anthologies continue to accumulate with carefully chosen stories that fit her innovative approach that erotica can be as moving and well-crafted as any branch of literature. Applying this belief has led to seven edited and co-edited anthologies of lesbian erotica, with three being named as Lambda Literary Award finalists, and one of them, Lesbian Cowboys from Cleis Press,winning the Lambda Award. A collection of Sacchi's own racy writing has also just been released from Lethe Press.
Aside from managing the day-to-day operations of her eclectic stores in Amherst and Northampton, and writing and editing, Sacchi also enjoys raising flowers and vegetables. She occasionally gets away to hike, relax, and think about writing while enjoying the outdoors in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
What editing projects does Sacchi have in place for the future? Does she plan to branch out into other types of erotica? What advice does she have for someone who wants to write erotica for mass-publication? How does she find inspiration for her intricate stories? We're looking forward to finding out! Please join us in in welcoming Sacchi Green to the Community Interview!
First off, thank you so much for being here and sharing yourself with us.
Much of your writing seems to have sci-fi roots. What is it that draws you to sci-fi, was there a specific book that made you fall in love with the genre? Do you find it difficult to incorporate into your erotica?Thanks for inviting me! I love to hold forth on writing and publishing in general, and science fiction/fantasy and erotica in particular.
I think people often read for the thrill of something a notch or two above what happens in their daily lives. Even if their lives are exciting, there are times when they want some variety, some revelations from someone else's imagination that can spark their own. Science fiction and fantasy filled that need for me when I was a kid--Heinlein, Asimov, Tolkien, and later Ursula LeGuin--and in adolescence I searched out whatever racy bits I could find in any genre (usually historicals) and shared them with friends who didn't have the patience to read the whole long books.
When I finally realized that I'd better get writing if I was ever going to, I turned to sf/f, partly, I suppose, because that was one of the few genres where you could publish short stories. Then I discovered that erotica was a good genre for short stories, too, and at lest as much fun. It's not very difficult to incorporate sf/f into erotica, but it's somewhat difficult to find markets for the blend, so I haven't done as much as I'd like, but I'm doing it when I can. I've edited one anthology of alternate history (a subgenre of sf) called Time Well Bent, for Lethe Press, under my sf name, Connie Wilkins. I've also managed to slip some fantasy into various other stories along the way. In fact, I'll have an erotic gargoyle story in Kristina Wright's upcoming anthology Dream Lover.
Staring in a field like sf/f, where story structure and plot and attention to detail are important, is actually good training to bring to the field of erotica. Actually, reading widely in all kind of genres is good training for erotica. (Can you tell I get pissed when I hear the "plot what plot" line about erotica?)
Hi welcome! How do you go about collecting different stories from people? Second what kind of garden do you have, I just planted my first one and absolutely love the way I can just sit outside and gather my thoughts.First things first! I live in New England and can't do a whole lot of sitting outside yet (although I could today!) but I have literally hundreds of seedlings growing under plant lights indoors. I have flowers like impatiens, petunias, browallia, violas, coleus, and lobelia, which will go into window boxes and out door planters, and about a dozen varieties of tomatoes and four kinds of eggplant which will go into the ground around the end of May. Beans and squash go directly int the ground. I gave up on corn when the raccoons would get it all before I did, and besides, there's plenty grown in the valley where I live, so I can get it fresh in season.
Onward to collecting stories. Whenever I get a gig for a new anthology, I write up a Call for Submissions explaining what I'm looking for, the deadline for submissions, the desired word count, the payment, etc. Then I post this on a few sites that specialize in erotica markets, and others pick it up and spread it around. You can find the CFS for my newest project, Girl Fever: 69 Stories of Sudden Sex for Lesbians, on my blog site: sacchi-green.blogspot.com (scroll down a bit.) As the submissions come in I usually divide them into folders like "Yes", "Maybe" and "No", but when I'm making my final choices I usually go back over everything, trying to get the right balance and tone and variety.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "That is quite the garden! I am a little envious, my gardening talents are limited to artfully arranging live plants, and then watching them die because I am terrible at the nurturing bit. Hopefully my stubborn determination to try will win out and success will find me. ."
Hi Sacchi, first of all thank you for your many anthologies, I enjoy them immensely and have learned so much about writing from them.
So on to my questions - Do you come up with the ideas for the anthology or are they assigned to you? Secondly what do you look for when choosing a story for a themed anthology?Hi Deej, thanks for being in two of my anthologies (and hopefully more.)
The idea part varies. When I was co-editing with Rakelle Valencia, we pitched ideas to publishers who did't know us at all, or had maybe used one of our stories in another anthology. Our first was Rode Hard, Put AwayWet: Lesbian Cowbpy Erotica. for Suspect Thoughts Press. It did pretty well in terms of small press, and was a Lambda Award finalist, but plans for a third printing fell through because the company sank under the weight of adverse publishing conditions (independent bookstores failing, etc.) Eventually, after two more anthologies, I was recommended to Cleis Press because I could handle the administrative parts of editing reliably, and they were looking for someone like that. Cleis has a great track record and long experience in publishing and marketing, so they have there own ideas for themes and titles, although they do consider proposals as well. So yes, sometimes I come up with the ideas, and yes, sometime they're assigned to me.
What I look for in a submission is, first, whether it fits the theme (or is such an original take on the theme as to broaden my concept of what the theme is.) Then I look for clear writing, originality, and that very subjective quality called "voice." I like to be surprised. When it come to making final choices, I'll agonize over which stories fit together to provide the right balance and variety. I'm willing to work with a writer who has intriguing ideas but somewhat uneven prose. Once in a while, though, I find that an otherwise plausible story has a major sex scene so convoluted and/or awkward that the reader literally can't figure out how one or more body parts can have got themselves into one or another position without breaking or passing magically through some piece of furniture, or otherwise transgressing some law of physics. So I'll have to say that I also look for sex that's not only arousing (and fulfilling) but is also clear to the reader. Trying to figure out who's hand is where and how the heck it got there (particularly difficult in same-sex pairings where everybody shares the same pronouns) is sure to throw the reader right out of the scene, and a sex scene is the very last place you want this to happen.
I was about to say that mostly, I look for stories that I like, but that isn't always true. I need to admire the craft of the writer, but I don't have to personally enjoy what she's writing about. Having a good variety of works is more important than including only those practices and kinks that appeal to me. If they don't turn me on beforehand, though, a good enough writer can make me at least understand the appeal, and maybe even come to share it.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "This is great information for those of us who love to write. It may even be enough to inspire some people to submit! If anybody is interested you can check out [www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com|Sacchi Green's Site] for opportunities (Conveniently linked for those of us who are lazy)"
My girlfriend and I want to attempt anal sex. We've tried it once before and went slowly with plenty of lube, but it still caused some pain. Are there any additional techniques or preparations we should do before attempting anal intercourse again?My first impulse was to say that while I've been my nearly everywhere, my area of expertise is at the other end of the body, in the mind. On reflection, though, I suspect that your answer is partly there, as well. Attitude is important. What you need most is to relax. That said, you really should consult one of the real experts on anal sex. Read (or watch) books or videos by Tristan Taormino, for example. And don't worry if it still turns out not to be your thing, or appeals to one of you more than the other. Everybody's different. That's why, for example, they make butt plugs in many different sizes and shapes. But some people just don't happen to like it as well as they like other things, and there's nothing wrong with that. After a fair trial, if you don't like it, move on to things you enjoy. No point in forcing yourself to enjoy, say, boiled carrots, when you'd rather have zucchini or corn on the cob presented in quite a different way.
Hi Sacchi! Welcome to the interview! I'd love to know about your transition from writer to editor. Which do you enjoy more?I'll share a deep, dark secret. When I was very young, other kids assumed that I would be a teacher when I grew up (this was not a complimentary assumption back then, trust me.) So I swore to myself that I would NOT be a teacher, and I kept that vow. except...well, when it came to writing, I did in fact want to share what I'd learned. And there was certainly a power component there, as well. I wanted some measure of control. I joke about deciding to wield the editorial whip, and even though beginning writers have often told me that Im very easy to work with, I do get an extra kick out whatever measure of power I have. And it's somewhat addictive.
Hello Sacchi! My question is, What is the hardest thing about being an editor?Hmm. Well, there's a lot if hard work to it, but the single hardest part of the editing process is having to reject many stories. I do my best to handle it gently, and really sometimes the quality of the writing isn't the deciding factor--I may, for instance, have two pieces that are too similar, and one just happens to cover more bases than the other. If that's the case, I'll say so, and if I say so, it's true. But I know what it feels like to get story rejections--it still happens to me--and I hate to do it to anyone even when I clearly have to reject well over half of what I get just for space considerations.
When you start harvesting your garden; what is the very first recipe you love to make out of your veggies?Ratatouille! In fact that's almost the only recipe I make from them; mostly it's just a matter of briefly boiled beans when they're ready, maybe with a few herbs, and fresh sliced tomatoes with just about anything, and zucchini and/or eggplant sauteed with mushrooms and onions. Just throw-togethers. But that long-awaited moment when zucchini and eggplant and tomatoes are all ready at the same time in enough quantity to make a big batch of ratatouille (with onions and garlic and olive oil, of course) is the culinary highlight. Uness I get enough eggplant to also make caponata, and eggplant parmesan.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "I have never had ratatouille, but it sounds really healthy and delicious...
Perhaps I will suggest a ratatouille fest in the next Eden lives healthy meeting, you can expect full credit!"
Out of the many you have edited; What is your very favorite erotic short story? And why?You're asking me to choose among my children! Or apples and oranges and pomegranates!
Yes, I'm hedging, but there's considerable truth to it. I go for variety. I might have one favorite when it comes to lyrical prose, another for raw power, another for inventive scenarios, another for pushing buttons I didn't know I had... It goes on and on. I hadn't thought of it before, but I suppose editing could be compared to polyamory.
Tell you what. On my blog, scrolling down quite a bit, you can find my introductions to all the anthologies I've edited for Cleis Press. As far as I can recall, I mention each story in each one. Can you tell from those which ones I liked best?
You've done some anthologies with different themes--cops or bikers, and some with the thread of an idea like coming out or lust. When you begin, do you have a firm concept of what you want the stories to be or does that come into focus as you get the submissions?Hi Proof,
A lot of it comes into focus as I see what I've got to work with. One of the great things about anthologies is that I get to deal with other people's work, other viewpoints and imaginations and brilliant insights, other ways of getting right down to the primal physicality of sex. It's really a privilege to be given all these wonderful materials to build into a whole that is not actually greater than its parts (which are terrific) but a setting that gives them a chance to shine.
Without the writers, I've got nothing. Thanks for your contribution to Lesbian Lust!
did you find it difficult to begin writing erotica?
I mean did you find it difficult to start sharing your stories with others?Maybe it was matter of fighting against the bookworm/future teacher image I had as a kid, but I never remember being reluctant to write about explicit sex. In college a friend and I decided to try to make some money writing for skanky men's magazines. Our first adventure was going to the city to buy sample magazines; the clerk took a great deal of interest in our project (which my friend blurted out,) and I expect he was imagining more of the subgenre I write in now (lesbian erotica) than what we had in mind at the time. I recall a couple of ribald remarks about college girls. We didn't succeed in our plan. She got an outright rejection, and I got a rejection for making the male character seem too predatory (I thought that was the whole point!) with a request for more. And then it was time for final exams. (My friend went on to be a noted investigative journalist and managing editor of a well-known progressive political newsmagazine. I'm editing erotica. Maybe there's a lesson there somewhere.)
Once having written stories that I believed in, I had no problem sending them out in hopes of publication. And once I'd had a bit of success, I didn't have much problem--well, maybe some at first--in reading my stories in public when the occasion offered. There were two factors here; one was my urge to override my image and shock people, and the other was the impulse to give my characters a voice. Well, there came to be one more, as well. Erotica writers, especially LGBTG writers, come to be a community in some ways, and being part of that community was important to me. It also built a pool of writers I could call on when I turned to editing, wonderful writers who could trust me with their work because we'd been in so many books together.
One last word on the shock factor; I don't think it was ever my words that had that impact as much as the fact that I was old enough to be the mother of most of the others I read with. At my first reading in NYC for Best Lesbian Erotica, I announced that I was there to attest that there was life after 50--and got a standing ovation. Maybe it's easier that way than starting out when you're younger--but I wish I hadn't wasted all that time.
Hi Sacchi! I've got three questions ;-)
1. Does the "Green" in your name reflect your green thumb?
2. I've noticed that in a lot of lesbian erotica anthologies, the authors have names that are clearly pen-names. When you are reading stories submitted to you as an anthology editor, does the author's choice of pen-name have any bearing on your decision? (I ask because, as a reader, I sometimes find an author's name to be so silly or dumb that it prejudices me against their story before I even start reading it.)
3. What advice *do* you have for someone who wants to write erotica -- specifically, lesbian erotica -- for mass publication?Hi Fran!
1. Maybe. At the time I was casting about for a pen name, I'd recently written a (still unpublished) science fiction story called "A Study in Green", about a plant-based sentient alien doing research on Earth and shocked at the fact that humans eat plants. I suppose that story may have reflected my interest in gardening, so in a roundabout way my not-all-that-green-thumb had an influence.
2. The story's the thing. I know what you mean about the silly ones, and I see some, but in general their stories aren't that good anyway. Uh oh--maybe I've been prejudiced by the names, after all!
3. Well, I happen to know that you're perfectly capable of writing excellent lesbian erotica when the spirit moves you. My advice in general is to write a good story, with enough sex to be called erotica (and there's no exact measure for this; it's more in how you make the reader feel than in the words you use.) Don't "write down" to your audience. And write something that you yourself could enjoy (I won't tell!)
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "I am wondering if perhaps you would be a good person to invite to an Eden Lit Meeting or two. You seem to be a really great source of both wisdom and enthusiasm. You could also give some great tips from an editors perspective, and might even find something to add to an anthology or two! Win / Win!"
Hi Sacchi! When you've chosen a story and it doesn't get into the final manuscript due to page count, etc., how do you approach notifying the writer? Also, has it ever happened to you as a writer, where one of your stories was chosen by the editor, but didn't make the final cut?Hi Ily!
Well, rejections have to be written, and editors have to do it. I know there'a trend these days for some editors not to bother to respond if they're not accepting a story, but I hate it, and wouldn't submit to them again. I tell the truth as well as I can without it being any more painful than I can help. If I can;t say anything else, I just say, truthfully, that the story didn't fit in with the shape the anthology eventually took. A rejection doesn't mean a story isn't good; it just means that it didn't work in this particular instance. There's one writer I've met who has published fairly widely but never quite hit what I wanted in submitting to me three or four times. Every time I've seen those same stories later, either in the TOC for another anthology or as Kindle stand-alones on Amazon, where they've earned her far more than I could have paid her. (I know this because she's told me, and I believe it because I check the lists of best-sellers in the genre far more often than I should.)
As far as the final cut goes, sure, I've been cut at the end, several times. Once or twice my name was even in the promo blurb (these things have to go out in catalogs, etc. months in advance of the books) but my story didn't make it into the book. The story that gives my new collection of my own work its name, "A Ride to Remember" (just out from Lethe Press) was cut at the last minute from D.L. King's Carnal Machines (Cleis; steampunk sex toys.) I was very disappointed, of course. On the other hand, it gave me an unpublished piece to use in my collection, which I needed (there are a few others, too,) so all was not lost. With stories, all is seldom lost. Keep going, and sooner or later you'll find a place for almost any story, or a way of turning it into something there's a place for.
Hi Sacchi & Welcome! Thank you for being here. What erotic authors do you enjoy reading? Also which author would you love to meet and why?
I love writing whether it be in my journal or writing my own short stories so I was wondering what is the the best writing tip you’ve ever been given? Or what is your best writing tip to give others like myself?Thanks! I'm glad to be here.
I have to admit that these days I don't read a lot of erotica beyond what's submitted to me and stories by friends in other books that I'm in as well. Still, that amounts to a lot of good reading. I don't like to choose favorites among writers--in fact I really can't pick favorites with so much variety available--but I will say that I think anything written by Cheyenne Blue is bound to be a literary treat. Cheyenne has had a story in every one of my anthologies, and many others as well. Every single time I think she's outdone herself, and her piece in my latest antho, Lesbian Cops for Cleis Press, is no exception.
As far as authors I'd like to meet--well, anyone who's ever written for me, for starters. If we can go back a bit in history, I think I'd choose Colette. That choice may be unduly influenced by the fact that I'm currently re-reading Claudine at School, though. Next week it could be someone else entirely.
Best writing tip...well, it depends on the context. For erotica, one of my first editors came down hard against overuse of ellipses. I do try now to limit them. The very best advice, though, is to sit down and write, dammit! Get it down, do the best you can, have friends beta-read it if you're so inclined, and then send it out. it's all a learning experience, and the sooner you start learning, the sooner you'll be experienced.
Hi Sacchi! As you've continued to write erotica, do you prefer to set your stories in locations that you know or have visited, or do you find the location makes that much of a difference?Hi Sammi! Nice to see you here!
I do think that location makes a difference, and I like stories with that sort of difference. Locations that I know well or even slightly are my preference for writing, but I do go farther afield when I can do enough research to get by. I'm more likely to do this for historical settings. I wrote one fictional piece about Marlene Dietrich entertaining the Allied troops in Europe during the battle of the Bulge in WWII; I've never been there, but there's plenty of information available, including Dietrich's own memoirs. Then there's a new one set at a group of standing stones in northern England (Long Meg.) I was there, once, briefly, long ago. I did online research and found plenty of information, as well as photographs in different seasons, so I hope I got it well enough to get by. (Both of these stories are in my collection.) Then there's my story set during the Stonewall uprising; I wasn't there that night, but I did know the territory during those times or not too long after.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "I am definitely impressed by how much research goes into a lot of fictional writing. You seem to be quite well traveled as well, which certainly cannot hurt."
Hello and welcome to the interview! I'm curious how you got your start writing erotica? What was/is your inspiration, and what has kept you writing this whole time?Sorry to take so long getting to this one! I just started at the top, which turned out to mean the most recent questions.
I mentioned upstream a bit about having delusions of writing erotica (well, actual porn, in fact) when I was in college. That was just transitory. But when I started writing science fiction and fantasy short stories for places like Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine and others I found that most of my stories had at least a hint of sensuality, and some might even have been classed as erotica. One published online in Strange Horizons, "One-eyed Jack", was pretty close, and is probably still in their archives. I also found (not with much surprise) that many of them had an undercurrent off alternate sexuality. (Not, though, the SH one I just mentioned.) I did an e-book on disc of erotic sf/f stories for a very small publisher, which never sold more than 100 copies and is now unavailable, although one piece from that is in y new collection, and one is coming out in Kristina Wright's Dream Lover, and another (my rare attempt at m/m, because the story demanded it) is in the first if Circlet Press's Best Fantastic Erotica anthologies.
In any case, when I discovered a call for submissions for Best Lesbian Erotica, I was hooked. In that first one (1999) my story was pretty rough, with slight science fictional aspects; I think it was accepted because it was different from what they were used to seeing, and that'd been my strength ever since. As far as inspiration goes, some of it has been from real people--possibly too much--but some has just percolated up from my subconscious without any clue as to how it got there. All of us have a lot more going on deep in our minds and memories than we realize, and I think the ability (often unconscious) to bring that to surface and meld it with current life, and thing you've learned, and observations of everything around you, is a mark of a good writer. As iong as I can do this, I will.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "I hope that having people as your inspiration hasn't caused any problems for you. Sometimes what may seem obvious to one person means nothing to another.
I find that when inspiration comes, it is difficult to get away from, you either express your ideas or you struggle with how to make it work until something else comes along and pushes the original idea out of the way. Even then it will linger in the back of your mind."
Are most of your authors lesbian themselves? I know lesbian erotica appeals to a very wide audience, including a great many non-lesbians. (I just added Carnal Machines to my Amazon cart, here's hoping Eden stocks it soon!)
Do authors of any specific orientation or experience set tend to be more relatable?
How does your work fit in with the lesbian community and equal rights movements?I don't keep a tally, even of those whose sexual orientation I know. My general impression is that most of my writers are lesbian, but I know that some of the best are bisexual or mostly straight. I don't think being lesbian is an absolute necessity for writing convincing lesbian erotica, although it might be for some kinds of stories or books involving a great deal of introspection. Having respect for lesbians and their lives _is_ absolutely necessary. I don't try to set boundaries; many of my best writers and closest friends no longer write lesbian erotica because they've moved along into identification as transgender. They know as well as anyone in the world what it's like to be lesbian, and i wish they'd still write for me, but they don't feel comfortable doing it.
Erotica can speak for the rights of lesbians and the reality of their lives as well as any other genre, if it's done well enough. Apart from the writing and editing, I personally support LGBTQI rights movements, with contributions and actions, without emphasizing the lesbian side over other points on the spectrum (although I do make a habit of putting the "L" first rather than the "G" in "LGBTQI" When it comes to equal rights, we're all rowing the same boat (unless male privilege becomes an issue, at which point I'd bail out.)
Thank you so much for your willingness to answer our questions, it is much appreciated. What did you have to overcome to be as successful as you are now?Mostly I had to overcome my own inertia, and get writing. I live in Massachusetts, where attitudes are not perfect, but much more liberal than many places, and being self-employed I haven't had to worry about job security or that sort of thing. I do know from friends about the struggles that many women encounter, and just hope that helping to give them a voice does some good in the long run.
When writing your eroticas, do yo use your own fantasys/experiences or is it just random thoughts that go good together?
What would you tell people who want to write erotic novels that have never written before?I think that for all writers of fiction, their own fantasies and experiences play the largest role, and I'm no exception. But writers are also compulsive observers, and we pick up on other people's experiences, too, and meld them into whatever form our stories insist on taking. For instance, I learned a great deal from joining a women's BDSM club in the Boston area (originally because I had a huge crush on someone there.) Even though I'm not active with them now beyond paying my dues, I gained enough of an understanding from what I observed (and sampled) and the good friends I made to portray the feelings and drives of someone deeply involved with kinks that I don't personally share.
I'd probably tell someone who wanted to write erotic novels that they might think about starting with short stories, but I've never written a novel, so I can't speak to that with any authority. If that's what you want to do, the best thing is just to start writing. Figure out who your characters are, how they feel, how they'll react in various situations, and what story you want to tell about them, and go for it. If you can find a supportive writer's group that specializes in novels, try it out.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "This is great advice, (and if you haven't already Elise, I highly suggest that you check out the writers club (Eden Lit) here on eden. You can find it on the forum under the clubs section).
It seems like your experiences in life play a very large role in what you enjoy writing about, even though the stories are fictional. It has me thinking perhaps I should get out more."
Welcome, I would love to start a garden but I live where its very hot in the summer (S.C.) I have never had a green thumb so to speak I either water too much or not enough. Do you use and special food for your garden and what would be the best way to get nice size squash? The best time to plant them? Thank you.I'm in New England, so I can't tell you much about planting times in S.C. except that they're much earlier than they are here. I wouldn't be surprised if right now would be the time for you to plant squash. Is there a garden center near you to give advice? I don't use anything fancy for fertilizer, just a commercial 5-10-5 mix along with compost from my own pile. Good luck! As with anything else, trying is the best way to learn.
Dear Mrs. Green,
thank you to be here with us today...
I always found amazing how reading a good book stimulate my fantasy much more then watching in a video something matching the written story. The mind of people is full of potential and I think the modern pornography is fast and to much simplified on showing with images more then giving a chance to people to use their fantasy. Most of the women I asked if they prefer a porno movie or a good erotic story style Harmonie collection books, they always answer the second. And that is also true for me. I love erotic stories and I do not understand why most of the men are different from me and don't spend time reading what women like and especially from book that other real women write. Here is my question. What is the intimate secret in the woman mind behind the excitation that can cause a well written erotic book? Do you think is more physiological because of the different brain connectivity that historically men are missing or do you think is society standard that depend from the different education of men and woman? thank you for your possible answer....Men and women do seem to be different in their reactions to erotic stimuli, but I don't think anyone had yet come up with a definitive answer as to why. It's pretty clear that men react more to visual stimuli while women appreciate more complex and nuanced stimuli like stories, and brain differences that evolved from different roles throughout history are probably involved. You'd think, though, that men would see the benefit in checking out what turns women on, and learning from it. Some do, in fact, but all too many (I've heard from friends) still have the mindset that even rejects porn movies if "there's too much talking!"
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "Haven't they heard of a mute button?
...and then she remembers porn she saw recently and had the same reaction to...
I bet there are probably psychology papers on this. You might even be able to find them if you look hard enough...everything is online these days."
I would love to grow vegetables, but right now I am living in a basement. Are there any plants/herbs I could easily grow in a cool, shady environment in smaller pots?If you get any light at all, you might be able to grow decorative plants like coleus and possibly some lettuce or other greens, but even then they'll get too tall and spindly without enough light. You could install some plant lights and grow flowers like African violets and some others, but there aren't any vegetables or herbs that come to mind that don't need quite a bit of light. Sorry! I hope your next home will give you more opportunities.
Hello! Do any of your stories have situations that you personally have found yourself to be in? Whether you have written them, or later to have realize while reading someone else's work "Hey, Ive done that/been there"I do draw on my own experiences to some extent, and often write about places I've been and things I've done (but amped up to make good story material.) It's a special thrill when someone reads one of my stories and tells me later that I captured their own feelings and made them understand them better; they may be projecting more into the story than I knew I put there, but that's really a prime function of a story teller, after all.
A question about your garden: What can be grown in a hot, dry climate like Arizona? I don't have grass in my backyard, I have dirt. And gravel. But I would love to have a garden. Any tips?Hot climate gardening is beyond my experience, but it does sound as though the first thing you'd need to do is mix a whole lot of topsoil (available in bags at garden centers) into your soil. Or you could take another tack, and plant herbs and flowers in big containers--terra cotta would be nice--and have a different sort of garden, nice for sitting in and relaxing. Why don't you look around and see what kinds of gardens other people have in your area? You could even learn from the landscaping at motels and shopping centers. Good luck!
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "I would have never thought to look at commercial landscaping for ideas but that is pretty smart. After all, they do landscape to maximize appearance year round and minimize investment."
Have you written, or edited anything that you have not had the chance to experience, but would love to one day? What situation would that be?Oh yes. Writing about things you'd like to experience is a big part of being a writer. Just doing the research can be fun. I'd like to travel more than I have, for one thing, and to be younger than I am now while still knowing what I know, for another, but that's more of a scenario for a science fiction story, I'm afraid.
How do you feel about oral sex during menstruation?As long as both participants are in favor, fine, but I'd certainly limit it to partners who re either "fluid-bonded" (not exchanging fluids with anyone but each other) or using dental dams. How do you feel about it?
What made you so interested in the world of sex toys?I'm really most interested in the sex toy thats the human mind, but anything that provides stimulation for mind or body is worth considering. I'm here right now, though, as a writer and editor of erotica, not an expert on sex toys.
How could I become better at making a girl orgasm?You know what Im going to say, right? Ask her. And listen to her. Meantime, read erotica that appeals to women to find out exactly what appeals to women. Reading lesbian erotica is a plus, because you get the viewpoints of two or more women at once.
How could I become better at making a boy orgasm?Ask/listen/repeat. And read gay erotica.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "Perhaps these are questions that would be better asked in the forum?"
Should I use an egg or a regular vibrator for the most powerful orgasm as a female?
Should I use an egg or a regular vibrator for the most powerful orgasm as a male?
What would be the best way to surprise my women and make her want to have sex with me?
What would be the best way to surprise my manand make her want to have sex with me?
What would be the best way to surprise my man and make her want to have sex with me?Different strokes for different folks. Experiment.
Wow how did you do it?Well, I like variety--oh, wait, are you talking about the writing and editing?
I just kept at it. I love writing, I love sex, and I enjoy working with writers. It seems to come naturally.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "And we are glad that it does."
Since, the rates of women being diagnosised with HIV/AIDS is going up so, esp. women over the age of 50 ( http://www.womensenews.org/), how are you going to incorporate safer sex into erotica? Everyone needs ideas.That's a tricky one. Now that I think about it, we were including more details about safe sex in erotica several years ago than I've noticed recently. I remember using the sound of latex gloves going on as a spur to arousal back then, and I've seen similar things, but not so much lately. With straight or gay erotica, I think condoms are still widely mentioned, but I could be wrong. With lesbians, it should be easy enough to be sure to mention condoms with dildos, but the whole dental dam process for oral sex is so awkward that it's hard to include without bringing the story to a standstill. Maybe that's why I like best to write about historical periods before the dangers were as great as they are now. It's also easier to write about established couples who are fluid-bonded (I mentioned that somewhere upstream,) and having newly-met sexual partners make a point of guaranteeing that they've been tested and careful shouldn't be too hard to do. I know I've done it a time or two, although I can't recall now exactly which stories those were.
Thanks for the reminder, Jeanne!
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "This is something that I am sure many of us take for granted, but it would certainly help serve as a reminder to take precautions. If written in as Sacchi mentioned, in a way that makes their use erotic, I'm sure that we would start associating them with sexiness more often."
Thanks for being here, I loved the story you shared with kawigirl about picking up samples and writing for men's magazines in college.
Which authors were most inspiring to you through the course of your life, both when you were growing up, and now? I'm a big sci-fi fan myself---do you still read sci-fi? Is there a lot of crossover between the sci-fi and erotic literature communities?As a kid I read just about anything I could get my hands on, good or bad. Heinlein juveniles, mysteries, historical novels, Sherlock Holmes, whatever. I loved Tolkien and Anne McCaffrey, and grew into Ursula Leguin and Samuel Delaney, and, later, Nicola Griffith.
There isn't as much crossover between sci-fi and erotica as there should be, which doesn't mean there isn't plenty of sex in sci-fi/fantasy and fantasy in erotica. It's mostly a matter of self-labeling, I think, and erotica comes at the bottom of the stack in terms of prestige.
One exception is Cecilia Tan's Circlet Press, which concentrates on the bending of sf/f and erotica. Hard times in publishing and distribution have made Circlet retreat into mainly e-books, but those are working out well.
I was wondering if you have a least favourite part of your job?To out the record straight, I have more than one job, and the writing/editing one is more a labor of love than a living. These days all writers except the top-selling 1% or so need to have a "day job" for support.
The worst part of the editing, as i think I've said previously, is sending out rejections. The second worst is seeing a book you know is full of excellent writing fall short of sales expectations. These things happen, but the good parts certainly outweigh the bad. And I love what I do.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "Sounds similar to dating.... I am not interested in dating you because...."
I was wondering why you ended up writing and editing mainly lesbian erotica.That one's easy. My muse is entirely lesbian, and never (or very seldom) gives me other kinds of story ideas. Which is another ay of saying that that's what interests me. I've written straight fiction, including a bit of erotica, but not for the last ten years or so. Well, maybe a couple of exceptions, just recently, but my heart--or whatever part counts--wasn't really in it, although other aspects of the stories did interest me.
You seem very much at peace with your sexuality. How can others become less ashamed or their sexuality and be made to feel more comfortable?Reading fiction that portrays your sexuality in a positive way does a lot of good in that respect. Writing it helps, too. So does the simple fact of growing older and becoming more self-confident in other ways, so that it's easier to shrug off the ignorant and mean-spirited opinions of other people. I also recommend living where there's a higher level of acceptance, but I know that isn't always possible. These days, though, it's possible to find like-minded communities online, which is certainly an advance from when I grew up.
Stranger in a Strange Land was a landmark piece of science fiction and very important to the Polyamory movement. What are your thoughts on that book if you've read it?I read Stranger in a Strange Land when it first came out (yes, I'm that old) and was intrigues by the ideas, but the older I get the more I agree with those who see a vein of misogyny in the book, so the less I like it. Maybe I just get the feeling that in Heinlein's take on polyamory, I'd be at the bottom of the pecking order, and I'd never put up with that.
Polyamory is hard. I don't say it can't succeed, but in most of the cases I've been familiar with, it didn't succeed for very long.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "Now I want to read this book.
It is unfortunate that those relationships did not succeed, and hopefully the people who were a part of them have found happiness. There are a few successful poly individuals in the Eden community who's relationships seem to be thriving which should be reassuring though."
I, too, am a fan of your stories.
The question I'd like to ask in relation to erotica is whether you see any differences in erotica writing that correlate to the age of the author. I realise you can't know the age of many of the authors, but you know the age of the characters. Are there some things that change with age? Are older sexual participants more adventurous, or more likely to have a sense of humour during the action? Are younger characters, say, more orgasm focussed? If you were to compile an anthology of erotica stories to illustrate a woman's life span, what themes would you expect to see emerge in the collection?Hi Baker!
An anthology about older women has been one of my wishlist projects for a long time, and may yet take place (in which case you'd better write for me! Not that you're old, from where I stand.) I hadn't thought of doing one with a life span theme, though. Interesting. There are certainly some things that change with age; in terms of the erotic impulse, the biological imperative (the "ticking biological clock" cliche) would be one of them, perhaps better described as changes in hormones. I actually ran pretty wild in my fifties, kind of a second adolescence, but I know others who had the opposite reaction. Maybe it's harder to generalize about the stages than I thought at first.l
That said, I do think that older women with their accumulated experience do have advantages, and a more nuanced, complex approach to sex. Confidence does enable humour, and adventurous impulses, and, if you're lucky, tolerance for other tastes. Some things don't seem as urgent when you've got some maturity under your belt, although I wouldn't necessarily include focus on orgasms among them.
This calls for some further pondering.
Do you find the editorial process or the writing process more enjoyable? Or do you enjoy them equally in different ways?Writing is both more enjoyable and more painful, depending on how it's going. Other writers will understand what I mean. Editing, although it does have its ups and downs, is more even, possibly because it's less profoundly personal. Sometimes I'll do almost anything to keep from getting down to writing, even when I really want to, but I can take up editing tasks whenever they need to be done.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "That makes a lot of sense and I think that it probably pertains to most creative people. I know from experience with art, it is sometimes much easier to work on commissioned art where the subject matter and specifics are predetermined, than it is to come up with something on your own and be happy with the results."
What is your typical day like? Do you write every day, just on the weekends, when the mood strikes?Hi Kristina!
My typical day is more about the day job than about writing; I do most of my writing in the evening, and even then I noodle around online much more than I should. I write the most when deadlines loom, although I plan out stories in my head any time they come to me, and there's always something simmering just below the surface. I'm really not a very prolific writer (which is one reason I've never tackled a novel.)
Have you ever had a specific idea which you are in love with, but unable to translate into a story that you are satisfied with? How long do you work on most of your stories before you are happy with them?I do have pet ideas that I carry around in hopes of finding a way to do them justice. Sometimes I end up using them in a different way than I'd intended, when a likely anthology comes along, and theres a lingering regret even when I'm happy with the way the story turns out. One example is my lesbian figure skating story, "The Outside Edge". For years I had an image that relied on a particular song as music to skate to, but I never got up the nerve to ask the copyright holder for permission to use it, and in any case without the melody it wouldn't have worked very well. (The song was a touching, romantic one called "The Girl in the Red Velvet Dress", adapted. with permission, by a local folksinger to have lesbian focus.) Eventually I took the figure skating theme in a different direction, with a skater coming out as a butch lesbian during her exhibition skate at the Olympics. I used music references that everyone would know, Elvis, "Unchained Melody", "Mack the Knife", things like that. It was edgier and more dramatic than my original idea, and I'm very proud of it, but there's still a bit of nostalgia in my mind for the version I carried in my mind for so long. I sold the story to a drag king antho that never made it into print, and then used it in my own Girl Crazy anthology for Cleis Press. It must have come over as romantic, too, because it was also accepted as a reprint for Best Lesbian Romance 2010, even though the erotic component was definitely intense. (It's also reprinted in my new collection, A Ride to Remember, from Lethe Press.)
A short story usually takes me at least a couple of weeks to write, not counting research time. As far as being happy with them, I don't think I've ever written a story I didn't wish I could tweak a bit more, even when they're already in print.
First off I have to say I absolutely love your name, it's so adorable! I also want to say thank you so much for making yourself available to answer so many of our questions! I was wondering what are the most rewarding parts of your work? Do you have any moments or memories that make all of your trouble worth while?Well, it's rewarding when people tell me they like my work, and it's almost as rewarding to help a new writer without much confidence to develop her potential. Hearing (and watching) my wrters do a kickass job at public readings, with the audience enthusiastically cheering them, is certainly a high point. And I've had people at a reading tell me that they read my stories to each other at bedtime, while at another reading an aspiring writer told me that that they'd never realized before how much could be done with an erotica story. I'm not sure which memory pleases me most!
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "That sounds absolutely wonderful. I am glad that your fans are letting you know just how valuable you are within the erotica writing community. Sometimes the greatest gift a person can give is one they don't know they have given:)"
As an anthology editor what role do you play in marketing your books? What role do you have your "collected" authors play? Do you tour or do readings? What support does the publisher offer?It depends--but you knew I was going to say that, didn't you?
In the current climate you have to do everything you possibly can to market your books. I'm lucky in that my current erotica publisher does a great job of getting books distributed, with catalogs going out to distributors and bookstores well in advance of publication, and marketing directors working with arcane methods that I don't entirely understand. Many publishers can't do as much. But the markets are in flux, and traditional methods aren't enough any more. I do arrange readings wherever I have enough readers available in an area, but that isn't always the case. I've done events in NYC and Boston and Philadelphia and at Women's Week in Provincetown, and some of my readers have participated in group events in London, but there's a limit to how much travel I can afford to do. For my current book, Lesbian Cops: Erotic Investigations, I did a blog tour for the first time, with each of my writers contributing a blog about their own stories and experiences. Those appeared on either their own sites or on my blog, www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com, where you can also find a schedule of the tour with links. I found these contribution nearly as fascinating as their stories, and well worth reading.
What is the achievement/happening as a writer or editor you are most delighted with or entertained by?
(Mine were often silly things. At one book conference I held the door to the ladies room for Dr. Ruth --OMG she was short!-- and Susanne Lucci squinting at my name tag, demanding to know whether I "was anyone important". I shrugged and responded "We can't all be Susanne Lucci.")
What is the thing as an editor, you hate from writers? (Poor spelling, handwritten submissions, unreadably creative fonts, death threats, marriage proposals, bribes, missed deadlines?)I guess I got the most sense of achievement when the anthology I co-edited with Rakelle Valencia, Lesbian Cowboys, was announced as the Lambda Award winner in the lesbian erotica category. Getting up on that stage, saying a few words, and getting back down without tripping over ourselves certainly felt like an achievement, too. As far as entertainment value goes, getting together with a group of witty and voluble erotica writer for dinner and drinks after a reading certainly has its highpoints, but the better the time we have, the harder it gets to remember the details.
I wouldn't go so far as to say I hate anything from writers--spelling can be fixed, after all--but I do get annoyed at some of the grammatical blunders I see time after time, and I know it's because the writers have seen the same thing so often in unedited work online that they assume it must be all right. But those too can be fixed.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "Some days I really understand why people believe that the educational system is failing students. Sometimes I wonder if they are failing the system... especially when I see them texting ... during everything..."
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "Some days I really understand why people believe that the educational system is failing students. Sometimes I wonder if they are failing the system... especially when I see them texting ... during everything..."
What writers do you think influence you most?I'd like to think that writers like Jane Austen, Joanna Russ, Mary Renault, and Colette influence my writing, but in truth I can't really aspire to those heights. I do think that it's better to find your own voice for writing than to consciously try to emulate someone else's.
As predominantly a writer and editor of short stories, do you come back to the same characters or world/setting?I do, although sometimes they're thinly disguised as different characters and settings. Some of my characters obsess me to the point where I probably should be writing novels about them, and when I've done a great deal of research on places and/or historical period, it seems like a shame not to get more mileage out of it. There are a few sets of characters I've used in multiple stories, most notably, I think, the pair that appear first in WWII London (a U.S. Army nurse and a woman pilot ferrying planes for the RAF) and meet again thirty-five years later in Alaska. I used those pieces to begin and end my collection that's just out from Lethe Press, A Ride to Remember.
I've noticed very few erotic anthologies are offered in e-book, don't you think the publishing industry is loosing out on some major market/sales???Deej, I don't actually know what the publishers are thinking, but I imagine it's a complicated line to walk between selling more copies as e-books and selling fewer as hardcopy print books. Traditional book stores are wavering, but still significant, and they base their stocking of books to a great extent on an author's sales figures on previous (hardcopy) books, so if you sell a good number of e-books but very few print books, you'll have a hard time getting your next book into book stores. This may soon not matter, if print books disappear altogether; I hope some sort of equilibrium can be reached. (It does seem that most erotica anthologies are available for Amazon's Kindle, but I know that's not what you're talking about. Actually, I would have thought there were more erotica anthos out there in e-book than in print, but I think you know more about that than I do.)
To everybody with questions waiting for answers, I apologize for slowng up, but I'm on vacation in the mountains right now now with only a very slow dial-up connection to link me to the greater world. I'll do my best.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "I hope books never disappear. I love my books. I love the smell, the sound of the pages as I turn them and they brush against my skin, I love looking at them all lined up on my shelf, dragging my finger along the spines trying to decide which one to read. I love wondering who has read my used books before I got to them, and what they thought of them.
As much as I hate the idea of them contributing to deforestation, I pray that technology does not destroy the industry. And what happens if the world runs out of power? everything written in the last 100 years just disappears, half of what was written prior to that has already been lost? Scary."
When did you decide to start writing stories like thisI mentioned in a previous answer that I toyed with the idea of writing pulp porn when I was in college, but that wasn't what I really wanted to write. I wanted real, fully-developed stories, with interesting characters and ideas that could expand the imagination and perspectives on the world. I turned with delight to lesbian erotica when I saw a Call for Submissions for the Best Lesbian Erotica series, since that's where my own leanings and my characters wanted to go, and I hadn't previously found much of interest in what few lesbian-themed stories I'd managed to find. That was in 1999. I have writer friends who feel that they've grown beyond erotica, used it up, but I still have stories to tell that demand to be told in that genre.
Thank you for giving this interview!
Do you have moments when you need to write, but lack inspiration and/or desire? How do deal with them - do you put the writing off until a better time or start writing and the inspiration comes in process?It can go either way. If I've got the inspiration, the time, and a deadline, I can get rolling, but you're asking about the other times, which are far more numerous. If it's a matter of something I've absolutely promised to complete, I can start with a single image or character quirk and inspiration will usually take hold, but there are many ideas I still have simmering (and sometimes have even begun) that probably won't be completed until just the right place to publish them comes along. I'm far from being a good role model as a writer!
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "Role model or no, you are a great inspiration to many."
How much time did you spend in deciding to use a pen name? This is a matter of debate in publishing circles. What are the advantages/disadvantages of being "multiple people"?
I fall into the one name for all occasions school of thought, I trust readers are capable of navigating away from my erotica if they are looking for my children's books. Leslea Newman is an excellent example of a writer successfully doing both. I've wondered how much a role family plays in the decision to non de plume or primary job concerns (such as K-12 teacher, military, employee of a religious organization or some job which requires one to be closeted, requires a security clearance or a "morality" clause.) Or if one's significant other has such concerns. (I was in an award-winning nonfiction anthology with a writer whose lover insisted she use a pen name since she feared a lawsuit for potentially embarrassing the writer's parents.)
Did any of these concerns play a part in your decision?
*As an aside to the reader who mentioned silly pen names: the names you think are silly may not have been invented for erotica's sake, there is a lesbian tradition of "renaming yourself" ie Alana Dykewomon, etc. I personally know nearly as many women named Otter or Phoenix as Jennifer or Angie.It took me about one day to decide to use a pen name, and I've regretted it for several years now. When I got my first acceptance for lesbian erotica (Best Lesbian Erotica '99; I've been in seven volumes by now) I had to make my mind up fast, since the contract asked about pen names, and had to be mailed out pronto. I couldn't be sure the sale wasn't a fluke, and I'd had some luck with anthologies for kids and figured I'd be going in that direction, so I made a more-or-less snap decision. As it turned out, my erotica persona had a lot more success than my original one, not too strange since I concentrated almost exclusively on erotica after that. There's one more aspect, though, that might be worth considering. Taking on a pen name is in some ways like allowing yourself to be a different person from the one you've always been. It can affect your writing in positive ways, although many people don't need that, and I'm not sure that I did. Still, my "Sacchi" name was taken from a character in a sf/f story I've never yet published; I've come close a few times, but never got the whole thing exactly right. Maybe that's because I stole the character's name and gave her another that didn't fit as well! Feeling more like that character when I write may make my writing better, even though, as a character I created, she must be part of the real me.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "I'm sure many people have never considered the downsides to taking a pen name, though many have considered the benefits. This is a very helpful and interesting tidbit.
Perhaps you could give her back her name? Surely there is room in the world for two Sacchis?"
You seem to have published through many different publishing houses---do you know which press you'll use for which anthology before you begin? Do you have any thoughts on the structure of the publishing industry?Oh, I have many thoughts on the shifting structure of the publishing industry, none of them particularly insightful or useful.
Of the publishers I've edited anthologies for, two are effectively no longer in business and one merged with an academic press and dropped all its fiction. Another press where I'd contributed quite a bit of my own work is also no longer in business. I don't assemble an anthology without first getting a contract from a publisher, because I don't think it's fair to the writers, and the most experienced of those wouldn't think so, either. I've been lucky with Cleis Press, which is better managed and more successful than most erotica publishers, but there are some things I want to do that don't fit with their general pattern, so I may do some more speculative fiction projects with Lethe Press, which has expanded over the last few years to fill a niche left by the demise of so many small sf/f presses. Lethe published my alter-ego's alternative history anthology, Time Well Bent, after the publisher who first contracted for it dumped all their pending fiction. Lethe also reissued my erotica anthology Hard Road, Easy Riding: Lesbian Biker Erotica (co-edited with Rakelle Valencia) when the above-mentioned press dropped that as well. Now I have a new erotica collection of my own work, some of it sf/f, out from Lethe (A Ride to Remember) and hope to do some paranormal or outright fantasy anthologies with them.
I want to add that many presses have closed not because of any lack of quality, but due to shifting market forces and changes in the distribution system. Some, too, served their audience too well, publishing wonderfully worthy and engrossing books that the community they were aimed at (LGBTQ, in the case I'm most familiar with) wanted and needed to read, but couldn't buy in enough quantity to pay the bills.
What role, if any, do race and class play in your stories?I don't generally approach a story with the intention of making points about race and/or class, but sometimes they turn up there anyway. I'm not interested in writing about the very rich or famous, and stories with office settings and women who are high-powered executives leave me cold unless they're especially good at turning up the heat before I drift away. I like the idea of women handling the CEO types of jobs every bit as well as men can, but I'm not interested in reading about it.
Several years ago, when I was reading the introduction written by that year's guest editor for Best Lesbian Erotica, Cheryl Clark, I was startled to find that she considered my story to be an exploration of class issues (I'm paraphrasing wildly here.) The POV (point of view) character had worked her way through college mucking out stables and then tutoring rich girls in equestrian classes. I just thought of her as being a more interesting (and sexy) character than any spoiled rich girls could be. (That story, "Bull Rider", has been reprinted several times.)
Race is a trickier question. I've included some Native Americans (and done a good deal of research), but not as the POV characters. That would seem, somehow, more presumptuous, and so would portraying an African American POV character. In the extensive "racefail" discussons of racism that have spread throughout various social media like Live Journal, particularly among writers, the fine line between being inclusive and being appropriative has been one I haven't been sure I could manage. I do like to have different ethnicities (and classes) represented in my anthologies, and I'm glad to get stories by writers who can handle that.
Does SciFi/fantasy give you the opportunity to sidestep politics or reinvent them? Do you prefer Utopian or Distopian societies?SF/F gives you the opportunity to do anything your imagination can handle. Politics are often involved, but I haven't done much along those lines. As far as utopias versus dystopias, I find it hard to believe in either concept as more than a transitory stage between other arrangements, but as a reader and writer I suppose dystopias provide more range for the imagination. In fiction, after all, the protagonists need to change during the course of the story, and to make changes in the world around them. They need to accomplish something. I don't say a character trying to subvert a utopian world couldn't be interesting, if only as a change of pace, but fighting against dystopian forces does seem like a more satifying course for a story to take.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "It's been a while since I have submerged myself in an entirely alternate reality, it is sounding very inviting. I think I may just have to crack open one of the books that have been calling my name from their places on my shelves."
Do you think, on the whole, having free erotica available online (such as literotica) helps or hinders publishers of erotica? Does it increase exposure and inspire new writers and readers, or does it take people who would have been paying customers out of the market?People only have just so much time (and patience) to read. I know I read less in the way of books now that there are so many online places to hang out, and I'm not even talking about reading fiction. So yes, I do think free online erotica (or any other genre) hinders publishers of erotica. I'm not making a value judgment here; it's just the way it is. It can also help beginning writers to learn their craft, and gain confidence, and that's a good thing, although sometimes they learn the wrong things when nobody is getting editorial help.
Which do you think are the best online sources for free erotica? I'm asking this as a relatively old fogy who wouldn't mind posting some pieces as reprints on free online sites, but hasn't researched the best places to do this. I do have a story on the Royal Academy of Bards ("Healing") that I posted as an example of a lesbian cop story when I was circulating my call for submissions for the Lesbian Cops anthology, and I have a piece deep in the archives of Clean Sheets ("Home from the Sea"), and some other stray bits here and there, including a Christmas themed story ("Reindeer Games") on my blog: sacchi-green.blogspot.com.
To tell the truth, I worry more about the huge quantity of fan fiction on the web than about free original erotica. Some terrific writing goes on in fan fiction, and it has such an appeal that many writers who could be publishing original work may never move on from their addiction. Considering how hard it is to make much from traditional publishing, though, I suppose it makes sense to do what lets you have the most fun.
What are people's reactions when you tell them what you do? Are they pleased or do people ever have negative reactions?
Also how did you like Mt. Holyoke?Reactions vary, and you learn to try to judge this ahead of time. Since I make my actual living doing something else, my writing doesn't always come up in conversation. When it does, I sometimes get a kick out of the shock value when people have to rapidly readjust their assumptions about people who write erotica (especially lesbian/gay/transgender erotica.) Other times, when I've thought old college friends would think it was great, I've been surprised at which ones did think so and which had to struggle to repress dismay. We all have our hangups, one way or anther.
So onward to Mt. Holyoke. I loved it. This was a very long time ago, and things have changed a lot, but I still miss the college years. I spent all four of my years there living in a cooperative dorm (Woodbridge, no longer there; it was replaced long ago by a parking lot for faculty) where fees were reduced because we did the housekeeping work, so most of my friends were on scholarship, as I was, and working at whatever we could find to make ends meet. That way we had the advantage of the educational experience without much friction due to differences in economic status. I did have friends among students from wealthier families, but we were all on a level basis in educational terms.
I live not far from the college now, and go back every now and then to visit the college greenhouse and art museum and for some events, but I feel rather like a ghost there. I imagine that's how it is for everyone.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "I bet you have watched some pretty entertaining shifts in facial expression as people absorb and contemplate what you do for a living. I hope that the majority are understanding and supportive.
Co op buildings are excellent, and it is unfortunate that your old dorm was replaced by a parking lot.... as if there aren't enough of those in the world."
I was wondering, as a fellow writer, what is the best way to get yourself into print? I am trying to get my own writing published and know it's hard.
Also, how is it being a writer of erotica? Does your family know? Do you tell everyone of you know that you're an erotica writer or do you tell them other things to keep it private and keep your family life private?To get into print, first you have to write. Then you have to search out markets for your writing. For sf/f, I recommend www.ralan.com; there are many others. For erotica, http://erotica-readers.com/ERA/AR/Erotica_Authors_Resources.htm is the main source for calls for submission and guidelines. If you write novels, I can't give you any first-hand advice, but there are many forums out there for writers where you can learn a great deal and keep up with the latest publishing news.
As you know by now, there seem to be a whole lot more people writing and trying to get published than there are markets for their work. There may even be more aspiring writers than there are readers. The best I can tell you is to write what means the most to you, try to do it in an original way that only you could do, and keep on, and on, and on. It really is true that a rejection only means that one particular editor at one certain time didn't think your story fit her current project. There have been quite a few times when I've had a piece rejected multiple times, and finally sold it to a much better publication that any of those that rejected it. It can take a long time, but meanwhile, keep on writing. And researching publishers, whether you're trying to publish sf/f, romance, erotica, horror, or the kind of literary work that appears in literary reviews from university presses.
Good luck! We all need some of that.
I can't write sex scenes. I'm just terrible at it, and it makes me embarrassed and squeamish. Do you think this is a skill that can be learned, or just a talent that some people have and some people don't?The first thing you need to do is to give yourself permission to write about sex. It's not really a matter of skill, any more than most other aspects of your writing. If you think you're terrible at it, that's because the subject makes you embarrassed and squeamish. It's hard to get past the internalized taboos of most of our culture, and there's no reason you have to write sex scenes (unless a publisher demands it.) Romance sells better than erotica, and many readers would just as soon skip the parts that make _them_ squeamish as well.
If you really do want to write sex scenes, though, here are some points to consider.
First, you're writing about your characters, not yourself. (Forget, for the moment, that parts of yourself that you didn't even know you were there often go into your characters. It's not always true, and nobody else needs to know for sure.) You've built up characters with an appeal for your readers, who will willingly follow wherever you lead them. You know enough about your characters that you know how they'll react in any situation. You've already established that there's a physical attraction between them, even when they don't seem to be completely aware of it themselves. You've built up some erotic tension. If you haven't, you'd better go back and do it!
Which brings us to ny second point. A sex scene isn't an island unto itself, or, depending on how you look at it, a sore thumb intruding on the flow of the story. A sex scene has to be an integral part of the whole, an interaction that furthers the story, provides added insights iinto the characters, and draws the reader even more deeply into their lives. Does one feel reluctant because of past experiences, or inbred inhibitions, or self-doubt? This tells us something about her, and the process of working around the difficulties shows us growth and change. How her partner handles this tells us a great deal about that character, too. Sometimes an initial reluctance overcome by irresistible physical drives and deep emotions can be even sexier than a casual "let's fuck"--"sure, why not" setup.
Third, speaking of "let's fuck", language plays a big part in sex scenes, but not always in the same ways. "Talking dirty" is just one kind of verbal sexual stimulus. I used to say, when asked how you know what you're writing is erotica, that I defined it as when you have to decide on the terms you'll use for various bodily parts. (The terms the characters use, even in thoughts, is another clue to their own personalities and backgrounds.) I think now that I was wrong about that definition. I've seen many beautifully written stories that don't use any "taboo" terms, but are every bit as hot as any others. The real point, I think, is to make the reader feel as much intensity as you say your characters do, and to leave all of them in a state of erotic fulfillment (not necessarily post-orgasmic, but profoundly moved.) If you can do that without "dirty" words, go for it.
I've written about this subject a number of times, including a chapter on sex scenes in a book called Lavender Ink, edited by Fran Walker for Bedazzled Ink press. I've included some of that on my blog, after having used it for a column I wrote for the Women and Words website. If you feel like it, check my Feb 17th entry on my blog, at sacchi-green.blogspot.com.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "I am tempted to start reading back through my anthologies and find stories with no taboo words in them. I know I have read one or two... but now I want to give them a better look over:)
And I would like to say... I cannot get over how good your advice is."
Do you have any suggestions for writers who experience "writer's block"?I'm afraid I'm as prone to that as anyone else. Something always comes along to prod me past it, though, usually someone else's anthology with a theme that triggers my muse. That's for short stories, though; I don't know what would help when it comes to novels.
What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in life (outside of writing and editing)?Just keeping on keeping on. I have a lovely imp of a granddaughter, now five years old, but I can't really claim her as my own accomplishment.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "Sure you can. :P"
Have you overcome any huge obstacles in your writing and editing career?
What do you think has presented the biggest challenge to you in your success?Not huge obstacles, just failing to take advantage of some possibilities, and getting a late start. The shifting nature of publishing right now is a challenge, when the old ways of distributing books to bookstores are still in effect, but more and more books reach readers through different channels.
Do you feel that your editing career affects your relationships with loved ones? Have you ever gotten so caught up in your work that you missed an important family event or dinner? Or is your approach more relaxed when it comes to work?I haven't missed important family events, but the amount of time I spend on writing and editing does cause some friction. Well, actually, it's more a matter of how much time I spend on the computer and online, which sometimes is only very marginally connected to the work.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "We actually have a thread somewhere on here about how long people will willingly stay away from their computers.... most of us wont go more than 2 days, and some less than that. You will definitely get a lot of sympathy on this one."
If you weren't an editor/writer, what other profession would you see yourself in? (Perhaps you might not be so hesitant to go into teaching?)Actually I am in another profession, co-owner of two eclectic college-town stores in Amherst and Northampton, MA. Writing and editing are close to my heart, but they can't support me.
As far as teaching goes, I do see in retrospect that I might have made a contribution in that profession, but I don't regret the different paths I've taken.
First and foremost major Congrats on "Lesbian Lust" being a finalist in the GCLS Erotic category. Well done. Now onto my question. I know you've said how difficult it can be at times to pick a specific story, has there ever been a story you wished you "had" selected and went back later to use it in another anthology?I wouldn't be surprised if that happens at some point, although the best stories that I don't pick almost always sell somewhere else before I'm in the market again. Usually fitting the theme and providing variety are the deciding factors when the writing is equally good.
Thanks for all your answers so far!
I don't know how to answer your question except by posing another "question," but don't feel like you need to post a new reply. The first name I always hear in free online erotica is literotica.com , and that's the one I visit most often. Another that I'm aware of but less intimately familiar with is asstr.org .Thanks! I do appreciate the info. I hadn't heard of asstr.org.
I am both an avid scifi fan, as well as an avid fan of erotica. Have you ever combined the two genres in your writing, or do you have fellow writers that you'd recommend for someone interested in reading erotica in a scifi setting?I'd recommend anything from Circlet Press, which is specifically known for combining erotica and speculative fiction. Some of the traditional erotica publishers are moving in that direction, too, although more toward fantasy than science fiction. Cleis has published fairy-tale themed anthologies edited by Kristina Wright and Mitzi Szereto, and also steampunk edited by Kristina (Steamlust, coming out this fall) and D.L. King (Carnal Machines, just out.) Kristina also has a paranormal antho just out, Dream Lovers, which includes one of my own very rare m/f pieces featuring a gargoyle. Delilah Devlin will have a lesbian vampire antho out from Cleis in the fall, and is now reading submissions for a shapeshifter one.
I've combined the genres several times, and four of the stories in my Lethe Press collection, A Ride to Remember, are arguably speculative fiction. Lethe has put out quite a few speculative fiction anthologies with some erotic content, and Catherine Lundoff's collections from that press always have some sf/f/paranormal pieces.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "The Naked Reader Book Club members are anxiously awaiting several of those titles. And you KNOW that means they will be excellent. It also means there will be some reviews popping up on them eventually.
I am liking the sounds of this lesbian vampire anthology, even the shapeshifter one sounds good. I am sure you will have many people searching titles out after these suggestions!"
do you relive everything you write?I neither prelive nor relive my stories, but if I could bring my characters to life I'd certainly give it a try. (Of course there a few based on real people, but that's another story that I'm not about to tell.)
So are you seeing anyone?Oh yes. Most definitely. We have a pact to keep our relationship out of my public persona, though.
What is one of your biggest pet peeves when it comes to stories you receive for the anthologies you edit?Hmm, just one? Well, writing quality apart, it does annoy me when people don't put their names and contact info on their manuscript documents, so that I have to go back to their e-mails to figure out who is who. But that's my own fault, because I never remember to add that requirement to my submission instructions.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "That must be quite time consuming. Perhaps a post it note on your monitor or desk would help?"
I've been on both sides of the equation: submitting author and editor. I started submitting my writing first and later found that having an editor's perspective helped influence my own writing and subsequent submissions. Which was first for you, writing or editing other's work, and how did that influence your perspective on the other?I was writing and submitting for a long time before I got into editing. That certainly gave me the writer's perspective when it comes to the way editors communicate with writers, and I do try to avoid things that irritated me as a writer. Sometimes, though, there's just no way around it.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "I'll bet that the writers you deal with appreciate it. I'm sure it helps tremendously to be able to see the situation from the other side, and probably prevents a lot of misunderstandings as well."
What is one of the erotic stories that you've become most attached to? Is there a particular reason?That's a tough one. I suppose one way to approach it is asking myself which characters I'd like to write more about, but that's tough too. I often feel like there are more stories to be told about my sets of characters. Some I've already written about twice are from "To Remember You By" (Originally in Hanne Blank's Shameless, reprinted in Maxim Jakubowski's Best New Erotica 3) and "Alternate Lives" (originally in Best Women's Erotica 04 [I think]) The characters meet in London in 1943, one a US Army nurse, one an American pilot ferrying fighter planes for the RAF. In the second story, they meet 35 years later in Alaska, both having lived full lives in between. I'd like to write a third piece, about the pilot in Alaska rescuing the Russian woman pilot (from the women bombers group the German's called "Night Witches) who crash lands on an ice flow off Alaska, and becomes her life partner. All three women appear in "Alternate Lives", which is as close as I've ever come to writing a threesome.
These stories are also reprinted as the first and last in my new collection, A Ride to Remember, from Lethe Press.
There are a few other characters I've written about more than once, although sometimes I find that in the second story a character turns out no to quite match her previous incarnation.
What is the biggest piece of advice that you could give to people who want to write erotica that is unique to erotic literature? What piece of advice would you give someone who wants to edit an anthology?If you're writing erotica, make sure the sex is at least marginally believable. Enhanced, magnified, even outright fantasy fulfillment, okay, but don't lose track of the lovers' relative positions and where you've said their various body parts are. If the reader stops to think, "Wait, she was just face down, and the other was on top going the other way...how could [whatever] be happening that way? How many arms and hands do they _have_?" you've thrown them right out of any suspension of disbelief. Reader connection interruptus. You don't want to do that. Keep track of where the furniture is, too; if a character is bent over a heavy table, hands bound behind her back, there are things her partner isn't going to be able to do without superhuman gyrations.
As to editing an anthology, you're best off to have been published in quite a few, so that other writers will trust that their work will be in good hands, but having credentials that apply to a specific theme will probably do you just as much good in attracting a publisher. These days a big online presence and following will do you the most good of all. Once you're working on the book, remember what it's like to be a writer, make each story you choose be the very best it can (working with the writer on changes, if necessary) and turn in as cleanly proofread a manuscript as you can. The publisher should also have copyeditors to catch anything you missed and suggest changes to fit in with their own vision and house style.
On the administrative side, get contracts sent out and signed in good time, and send the writers their payments as promised (unless the publisher has contracted to handle the payments.) Likewise with the contributors' copies.
Do you ever have plans to write a book about how to write good erotic stories? I think the world needs more of those.I don't know. One small publisher wants me to do that, but currently I can't even keep up with all the fiction I want to write, so it's kind of on a back burner.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "Well I think you would do a wonderful job of it, you have given people some really incredible advice here, and I doubt there is any shortage when it comes to what remains in your arsenal."
What (other logistical impossibilities) really kills an erotic story for you?I think I just covered that in another question, but I could add sex scenes that go on forever and try to include every move and technique and kink known to erotica readers and writers. Better to focus more on what the characters are feeling, and not interrupt an arousing progression with too many twists and turns.
We have a traditional question here at EdenFantasys, so I'd love to have you finish this sentence.
"Sex Is..."Sex is the thing that makes life possible, and also makes it worth living.
Is there anything that you would advise writers to NEVER EVER EVER do when writing erotic short stories?Never, ever use more than one adverb or two adjectives per sentence--no, make that per paragraph--in describing a sex scene. Less is more.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "You have got me imagining all sorts of overly descriptive writing and chuckling to myself now."
What's the one piece of advice you've received that has impacted your life the most?I have a bad habit of not paying much attention to advice, so I don't remember it well. Let's see what I remember. "Don't distract the driver" was the main piece of advice my mother gave me about sex (mostly she just gave me books to read, and knew perfectly well that I was finding other juicier ones on my own.) Still good advice, though.
Emma (Girl With Fire) (host): "That little tidbit just made my day. Very true and very important."
I remember my very first rejection letter for writing. I tried to brush it off and act like it didn't bother me but it really did. Do you remember the first rejection letter you received? How well did you handle it?I don't remember which one was first, but I'm sure I didn't handle it well. I do have a desk drawer stuffed with rejection letters from back in the days when they came on paper rather than in e-mail. I had brief thought of digging them out to see which was the oldest, but...nope. Not going there. Let bygones be bygones.
I still don't handle rejections very well, but I can hide my disappointment. It does help to have some acceptances to balance things out and build your confidence. It helps even more when that same story eventually sells to an even better market (often, admittedly, years later after considerable spiffing up.)