Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What Makes Us Human?

As luck would have it, I was driving home earlier today and wondering what to write for my post on OGG. There was an item on the radio featuring Peter Tatchell and his thoughts on what makes us human, and as I listened I thought, well, that's it.. 

For those who haven’t heard of Peter Tatchell, he’s a well-known and lifelong human rights activist known mainly for his campaigning on LBGT rights though his repertoire is a lot wider than that. In the opinion of Mr Tatchell., what makes us human is our propensity for protest. And, he goes on to argue, this is a Very Good Thing. I tend to agree.

Little in the way of social progress or enhanced rights and freedoms were ever freely given by those in power. Rather, they were won by the tireless and courageous struggles of campaigners such as Peter Tatchell who saw an injustice, something that needed to be put right so they stood up for themselves – and as often as not for a whole lot of others too.

I think perhaps my favourite stander-uppers were the Pankhursts. It is one hundred years this year since some women in the UK got the right to vote, and only because of the unswerving determination of the suffragettes. There had been women’s movements campaigning for political equality in the 19th century, but they were relatively quiet and peaceful about it. They were polite middle-class ladies.

Not the Pankhursts and their ilk, though. These were still middle-class women, but they had an altogether more belligerent approach. They were downright stroppy, heckling politicians, breaking windows, chaining themselves to railings, slashing paintings, setting fire to buildings, throwing bombs and went on hunger strike when they were imprisoned. One suffragete, Emily Davison, ran out in front of the king’s horse during the 1913 Derby and was killed.

All of this civil disobedience eventually combined with the exigencies of the First World War which had the effect of escalating the importance of women’s contribution to running the country while the men went off to die in the trenches. The government gave in, and women over 30 got the same political rights as men. It wasn’t until 1928, though, that suffrage was extended to all citizens over 21.

Mr Tatchell also mentioned another of my favourites, which I believe is linked to the votes for women movement. There was massive public protest in the UK in the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher tried to introduce her deeply unpopular new system of financing local government. The Poll Tax as it was known linked payment of a local tax to the right to vote and it caused outrage. I wonder if the memory of the struggles of the suffragettes still lives in many of us, certainly women, and any threat to that hard-won right was not to be tolerated. The people – including me - took to the streets in their hundreds of thousands. They refused to pay. They protested, and this flagship of Tory policy collapsed. The combined efforts of Her Majesty’s Opposition had failed to prevent this piece of nonsense becoming law, but people power saw it off within months.

I wonder if we are all sort of hard-wired to want things to be good, or at least better, and to reject what we don’t like. The pace of change can be slow, and obviously we differ in our opinions of what is good and desirable and what needs to change, but all of that leads to healthy debate. Peter Tatchell argues that nothing is more democratic than protest, and I think the freedom we have when we live in a country where any one of us can stick our hand  up and say ‘hey, that’s not right’  and live to tell the tale is not to be underestimated.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Lewd and Proud - #pride #smut #erotica #reputation @Archer_Larry

Porn cartoon

By Lisabet Sarai

Hello! My name is Lisabet, and I write smut.

Oh, sometimes I call it erotic romance, or literary erotica, or even speculative fiction, but as far as the world is concerned, those fine distinctions don’t mean anything. As long as my work focuses on the experience of sexual desire and includes explicit depictions of sexual activities, I’m simply another pornographer. Certainly that’s Amazon’s position. Unless I’m especially careful, clever and/or duplicitous, my work is likely to be shuffled off to the adult dungeon where it will languish forever in obscurity. (Of course, that may happen even if my stuff doesn’t get quarantined, but the adult label is the final nail in the coffin.)

Meanwhile, in the enormous, financially powerful romance genre, so-called “steamy romance” is still viewed as the red-headed step child. This is the attitude of authors as well as (I assume) readers. Plenty of my romance colleagues won’t host me as a blog guest because my characters get down and dirty, even if I offer to create a purely PG post. Indeed, I’ve read (and fumed over) ignorant comments on romance writers' forums that dissed the entire erotica genre as nothing but gratuitous sex with no plot or characterization.

Then there’s my brother, also the creative type, who tells me I’m incredibly talented and wants to know why I don’t write a “serious” book. Oh, he also says he doesn’t want to read something that arouses him.

Well, guess what? Lots of people do. And I’ve decided that maybe I should be courting those readers.

After years of feeling embarrassed and apologetic about my chosen literary niche—although I often feel it chose me rather than the other way around—I finally decided it was time I really did write some porn. 

Last year I released my first book that I’d say was pure stroke fiction. Hot Brides in Vegas actually does have a plot, and lots of characters (mostly bodacious babes, with a few insatiable studs), but it’s a pretty big stretch from my more “literary” endeavors. Set in the outrageous world of strippers and swingers created by my ERWA colleague Larry Archer, Hot Brides tells the story of three young women who come to Las Vegas for Francesca’s lavish wedding.

While Fran’s fianc√© Jake and his buddies set out for a stag night, exploring the fleshpots of Sin City, she and her bridesmaids Laura and Chantal are stuck at the resort under the watchful eye of her stern Aunt Giulia, who has promised Fran’s father that his daughter will come to the altar a virgin.

Frustrated and annoyed by these double standards, the girls hatch a plan to escape their chaperone and have some fun of their own. With the help of a susceptible concierge, a butch ex-cop limo driver and a scandalous French couturiere, they find their way to The Foxs Den, the most exclusive gentlemen’s club in the city. Owner Larry Archer and his crew of strippers, bouncers, voyeurs and sluts are more than happy to welcome the delectable trio as contestants performing at the club’s famous Amateur Night.

Writing Hot Brides was a breath of fresh air for me. I turned the censors and critics off and simply wrote the wildest scenes I could think of. I produced the 30K novella in record time (for me), banging out (so to speak!) 3-5K words at a sitting. Furthermore, it’s remarkably goodin my own unbiased opinion!for fiction with no redeeming social value whatsoever.

My reviewers agree. One called it “pure wicked escapism”, which really sums up the story well. Meanwhile it has sold better than anything I’ve written in quite a while (though I wouldn’t say I’ve really conquered the obscurity problem).

In fact, I enjoyed writing Hot Brides so much that I’m working on a sequel. More Brides in Vegas reunites Fran, Laura, Chantal and their swains with Annie, another contestant they met at Amateur Night, for Annie’s wedding to Jake’s friend Ted. Since Annie and Ted don’t have a lot cash, they’ve organized the wedding at a vintage eighties motel on the outskirts of town, one of those sprawling places where the rooms are arranged around a courtyard with a big swimming pool. The newlyweds don’t realize this is a favorite site for swingers’ parties.

I’m hoping to finish the first draft of More Brides this weekend, and to publish it by early June. And I’m proud to say that it has even more sex than the first book.

I think it’s about time I lived up to my bad reputation!

You can check out a couple of excerpts from Hot Brides in Vegas at the links below.

And if you’re actually interested in buying a copy...

Friday, May 18, 2018

Respected Novelist Fan-girling on Dragons

Hi everyone! I’m K D Grace. I’m very honored to have the opportunity to write for Oh Get a Grip. BTW, the respectedbit in the title of my post is my neurotic effort to boost my self-confidence because I’m the new girl on the blog, taking over for Willsin Rowe. Big shoes to fill much??? I’m sure you can see why I’m a little bit nervous. 

I’ve written erotica, erotic romance and erotic PNR, but right now I’m trying my hand at Sci-Fi/fantasy and just generally having some fun with words as I try to find my way in the ever-changing market. While I hope you’ll read my bio on the About Us page and then head on over to my blog to learn a little more about me and what I’m up to, I’m really excited to get on with the delectable topic of this cycle. If there’s one thing a writer loves almost as much as writing a stonking good tale, it’s reading one … and then sharing the excitement with everyone else. That’s the part I’m really looking forward to today. 

Honestly, I never much thought of myself as a fan girl. Oh, I’ve often imagined what happens to characters in my stories after the obligatory 80K with an HEA. I’ve even written subsequent novels about some of my more interesting secondary characters. While I’ve imagined, at the end of a really good read, what might happen next, I’ve never even thought about writing fan fic for books, or films, I love. But, oh Gawd! In my head I am SO imagining fan fic for Naomi Novik’s absolutely stunning Temeraire series. 

What’s not to love about an alternate history of the Napoleonic War with an air corps of dragons …
highly intelligent dragons who talk. At first the talking bit took me by surprise, but now I can’t imagine reading a story involving dragons who don’t talk, because it would appear, dragons have quite a lot to say, and I have a burning desire to listen in.

I’ve always thought dragons got a bum rap in Western literature. But beyond that, I never gave them much consideration until I watched Game of Thrones and fell in love with the Mother of Dragons like almost everyone else on the planet. But how could I not fan girl over a free-thinking polyglot of a Celestial Dragon whose favorite book is Pricipia Mathematica. This extraordinary beast enjoys Chinese poetry, is a foodie at heart, and has a love hate relationship with a fire-breathing Kazalik dragon whose name means “little Sparkle?” 

It all starts when British Navy captain, Will Laurence’s, ship captures a French frigate carrying a rare dragon egg, which is about to hatch. There’s a shortage of dragons in England at the time, and with a war going on, they are desperately needed. However it’s a common belief that dragons must agree to be harnessed as soon as they hatch or they become feral and uncontrollable. With weeks to sail to the next port and the hatching imminent, one of his crew will have to attempt the harnessing. But when the blessed event occurs, much to Laurence’s dismay, the dragon chooses him. In a matter of minutes, Will Laurence’s hard fought for career in the navy is over, and he finds himself the chosen companion, and captain, to the young dragon, Temeraire. Their strange bonding is the beginning of an extraordinary friendship and a journey that shatters Laurence’s orderly, respectable life, and alters the course of England’s history. 
Dragons are not the sidekicks in this series. They take center stage again and again, and rightly so. Novik has created a voice and a worldview for her dragons that is both alien and intriguing enough to makes me want to pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and just sit and listen while they chat among themselves. Whether they are arguing mathematic or politics, planning battle strategies or financial strategies, whether they are gossiping about treasure or food or simply being overly protective of their captains, they are just fun to spend time with. There is a complete otherness in their society that is both unsettling and fascinating as, in the course of nine novels, they evolve from being the creatures humans most fear, and yet most need, into a world-changing, war changing, force that can no longer be marginalized. For me, one of the key ingredients in Temeraire and Laurence’s tale is that fascination with, and fear of, the “other,” which changes our perception of self. 

The novels are neither romantic nor are they erotic, though there is romance and sex and a great deal of humor at the expense of both. Turns out dragons are very matter of fact about sex, and Laurence, being a product of his aristocratic, rather prudish, upbringing is not. 

“We are at least as able to control ourselves as you are,” one of the dragons in charge of training tells Laurence, concerning Temeraire’s sexual maturity. In one of my very favorite scenes, poor straight-laced Laurence realizes Temeraire has just masturbated while bathing in the lake, missing the affections of the lovely imperial dragon he has had to leave behind after visiting China. He asks, innocently if that isn’t how Laurence deals with being so far away from his lady love. 

Novik is not afraid to kill off her characters and allow her readers to mourn their loss. It’s a time of war, after all. People, and dragons die. But what sets these novels apart for me is that Novik boldly deals with the messy, uncomfortable fears and doubts and ambiguities of human nature on a draconic scale. She is not afraid to let her characters – dragon and human – disappoint her readers, and each other, and then flounder about in their own neuroses of disappointing themselves. That means some passages are incredibly painful to read because it’s too easy to see my own flaws in gigantic proportion. But those flaws in a neurotic dragon with a heart as big as a house are incredibly endearing and somehow manage to give me hope. 

One of the best parts of these novels is watching the wonderful interplay between the dragons and their human companions and seeing how that interaction makes their companions more human in the best possible way. Novik does this without taking away the wild savage otherness of the dragons while at the same time raising that wonderful question all writers and readers love to ask; just exactly who are the real monsters? Again and again the novels addresses this issue as the tale is played out against the backdrop of the Napoleonic War, in which campaigns are often commanded behind the lines by incompetent, power-grubbing, officers, and the politics of the day, just as now, are often brutal and self-serving. Novik’s novels are a tale of duty, our perception of it, and how far we are willing to go before our conscience will no longer allow us to confuse duty with blind obedience. 

From a writer’s point of view, I would happily worship at the Temple of Naomi Novik. While the editing in the British version of the novels leaves a bit to be desired, the tale is gorgeously and brutally written. But best of all, Novik is a damn good story-teller. I heartily admit, I’m a fan girl! And while I may not write fan fic, I am happy to browse through the glorious body of Temeraire fan art and imagine in my head what happens next to my favourite characters – both dragon and human.  

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Aftermath and Appearances ( #AmReading #YA #SaintsAndMisfits #SKAli

by Annabeth Leong

Saints and Misfits
S.K. Ali

This book hits many of the common YA themes--coming of age, friendships, navigating family relationships and crushes. But at its core, it’s about how the main character deals with the aftermath of an attempted rape, both as far as how it affects her feelings and attitudes and as far as she navigates the boy’s presence in her community and among her friends.

As serious as that subject is, the book was also fun to read. The main character’s world is well described, both familiar and unfamiliar to me. She’s a typical American teenager, but her cultural and religious background (Muslim) introduce different issues from what I experienced myself growing up. The theme of saints and misfits touches on common questions in YA about fitting in, and it also points to the complexities of what it means to be a good person, what it means to “do the right thing,” and how that interacts with appearing to do the right thing.

I particularly loved that the main character navigates a bunch of complicated relationships with other girls in her life. For example, she starts out the book irritated by the seemingly perfect “Saint Sarah,” but finds common ground with her by the end. The snappish Sausun becomes both a friend and a foil--I don’t want to say too much about that particular subplot because it’s both surprising and fantastic. And the main character’s longtime friend Tats is drawn with a sense for the affection and conflict between them, as well as ultimate sweetness and true devotion.

The reason the book will really stay with me, though, is the way the main character’s feelings about the attempted rape are portrayed. All too often, I see simplistic treatments where rape makes people angry and gives them a desire for revenge. That’s never rung true for me. In my own experiences with sexual abuse and violence, I’ve found myself mired in self-loathing and denial, sadness and loss. I’ve wanted to be understood or comforted or acknowledged. It’s never really been a thing for me to wish for pain for the perpetrator or to desire vengeance. I don’t think that’s about being saintly myself, I think it’s that it just doesn’t feel useful. It doesn’t feel like it would give me anything at all.

In Saints and Misfits, I can identify with the way the main character feels about what happened to her. The arc of the book isn’t about revenge. It’s about the sense of pollution she feels and what it takes for her to stop claiming that sense of pollution for herself, and to see that it belongs to the perpetrator rather than her. When she feels angry, she often takes that feeling out on a third party, which feels true to me as well.

The theme is heavy, but the resolution felt satisfying and optimistic without being saccharine, unrealistic, or uplifting in a cheesy way. I’ll be looking for more from S.K. Ali for sure.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

My Summer Reading List

By Tim Smith

It’s time to compile that annual list of summer beach reads, the books you didn’t get around to reading when you were snowbound over the winter-without-end. The books you promised yourself you’d read, including the ones you received as Christmas or birthday gifts. Then there are the freebies from fellow writers, the ones you reluctantly agreed to read then post an online review.

The reading table next to my favorite chair has a continually revolving stack of books with bookmarks throughout. I have to be in a certain mood to read a book, mainly because of what I do all day. I’m the editor of a weekly newspaper, and I spend my days reading and editing the work of freelancers. I also have to write the occasional feature when someone bails on an assignment. This has caused me to not only ignore my own creative writing when I get home, but I usually don’t read anything longer than a newspaper or magazine article. This year, I’ve decided to get through some of the books that piqued my interest, while revisiting a few old favorites. Here goes, in no particular order.

“Dead Last” by James W. Hall. Hall is one of my favorite thriller writers, and I gravitated to him originally because we share a common theme in our writing. He lives in southern Florida and sets his stories in The Keys, like I do. His characters are well-drawn and his plots are suspenseful. No matter what his anti-hero, a former soldier of fortune named Thorn (no first name) gets into, it will grab my interest and hold it until the last paragraph.

“Dirty Money” by Donald E. Westlake, writing as Richard Stark. Westlake’s “hero,” a professional thief with a moral code named Parker (again, no first name) appeared in a dozen or so novels. Westlake/Stark had a way of depicting the action with a sparsity of words, and you actually find yourself rooting for the bad guy. In each installment, Parker is usually after someone from the gang who ripped him off after the robbery, and all he wants is his cut. His code of ethics is what sets him apart from other criminal characters, as in his assertion “You never kill someone unless they deserve it.” And in Westlake’s universe, someone always does.

“The Garner Files” by James Garner. I’ve enjoyed the late James Garner’s memoir since it was first published in 2011 and I still dig it out once in a while. Garner is one of my all-time favorite actors, and the backstage tales of his film and TV work, from “Maverick” to “The Great Escape” and “The Rockford Files” portray an average guy who never took himself or his work all that seriously. This is the only autobiography I’ve read where the main character gives all the credit to his co-stars. According to Garner, he never gave a good performance in his life and couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. I think his fans would disagree. 

Selected books by Raymond Chandler. From “The Big Sleep” to “The Long Goodbye,” Chandler gave us an iconic private eye, Phillip Marlowe. Marlowe wasn’t your typical gumshoe. He was middle-aged, world-weary, cynical about the human race, and distrusting of just about everyone he met until he got to know them better over a drink. He had a code he lived by, but he wasn’t above breaking the rules to crack a case. Marlowe’s personal credo when dealing with the opposition? “My favorite weapon isn’t a gun or a knife. It’s a twenty-dollar bill. Sometimes you can get more with that than you can with a gun.”

“His Guilt,” by Shelley Shepard Gray. This one showed up at my office one day, sent by a publicist hoping for a review. The book is labeled as an Amish romantic thriller, which caught my interest since I’ve never read one of those before. I skimmed the first few pages and was intrigued enough to give the whole thing a try. I’ll let you know what I think after I’ve read it.  

“A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway. Only because it’s part of a set of first edition Hemingway’s I inherited, and I’ve never read it, but I think I should.

“Hurricane Punch” by Tim Dorsey. This is one of those favors I mentioned earlier. I met Dorsey during an author gathering in Key Largo a few years ago, he autographed his book for me, I signed one of mine for him, and we promised each other we’d read them. If he’s read my book, I have yet to hear about it. I know how to keep a promise, though, even if it is overdue. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Movie is Better Than The Book

Image Credit: Tom Gauld

It's rare. But it happens.

Sometimes the movie is better than the book.

That's super rare, though, as most people will tell you.

Anyone can name books they've read that are better than their movie counterparts. For example, I've read (and watched the not-as-good movie or TV show of) Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, The Relic, Game of Thrones / A Song of Ice and Fire, and The Expanse, to name a few.

But can you name a case where the movie is better than the book?

That's a little harder.

I have two: Children of Men and Love, Simon / Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda.

I watched Children of Men as soon as it came out -- it looked like my kind of sci-fi. While I read and watch an awful lot of Star Trek, I'm actually not a fan of science fiction with aliens. (I think it's because all too often the aliens are bent on destroying Earth, turning it into a horror movie (like Alien) or an action movie (like Independence Day).)

Children of Men -- the movie -- sees a near future world where humanity can no longer have children. The youngest person in the world is an adult. And then a woman gets pregnant. What follows is a harrowing and tense movie as they try to get the pregnant woman to safety with a humanitarian group. I loved the movie.

Shortly after watching it, I picked up the book... because the book is always better, right?

Unfortunately, not the case here. Well, I shouldn't be so absolute in that statement. The issue was that the book took a far different approach than the movie, and I preferred the movie's approach much more. The book focussed on the sociological aspect of a world no longer having children. Dolls become a treasured thing, with fully-grown adults purchasing expensive lifelike dolls to treat like real babies. It's definitely an interesting thought experiment and is definitely a good book. I just though the movie was better.

I had been eyeing the book for a while before buying it -- but it was the strength of the movie that finally made me make that purchase.

I don't think I would have read it if the movie was bad (or if the movie had never been made). And I don't think I would have watched the movie if I had read the book first.

Anyway, this was several years back in 2006.

To find a movie that's better than the book is a rare thing and I never expected it to happen again.

Then I watched Love, Simon. (I wrote about this a few weeks back -- I, along with most of the theatre, sobbed through the whole thing because it's such a touching movie.)

Love, Simon is a rather typical teen rom-com, but with a gay romance at its core. It's super cute and speaks a lot to the "gay experience" that really gets lost in media. In the movie, someone posts on an anonymous blog that's popular with the school that they are secretly gay. Simon, the protagonist, is closeted and feels alone for being gay -- so he reaches out to this anonymous person. From there is a movie full of trying to figure out who this secret person is as he and Simon develop an over-email-relationship, to the point where they express their love for each other, despite not know who the other person is. (Well, the love interest eventually learns who Simon is, but Simon doesn't learn who the other boy is until the end of the movie.)

I loved the movie on so many levels.

So, naturally, I had to read the book.

Like with Children of Men, the book (Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda) takes on a different approach... and I didn't like it.

I wouldn't have read the book if I hadn't seen the movie. And I wouldn't have seen the movie if I had read the book first.

The book takes a different approach -- which is really good on it's own, but I was expecting the approach the movie took. There's still the same secret love and there's a blackmail subplot in both the book and the movie. But the book really doesn't focus on the romance -- it's almost a background thing. Instead, the book seems to really focus on the message that "gay kids are normal kids", which, of course, they are. Most of the book follows Simon doing normal things that teenagers do, with him keeping the secret that he's gay. It's a damn good book -- but I was expecting something like the movie.

Seeing Love, Simon and reading Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda has been an interesting experience. As soon as I walked out of the theatre, I decided I want to write a YA gay romance. Four weeks and 66,000 words later, I have a first draft that has made a beta reader cry and is already super polished. (It's been a hell of a long time since I've written anything without a sex scene.) I'm busy submitting it to agents now. With YA, I think the market is really in physical bookstores, and you need to access the traditional publishing market to get there. My writing group (and my husband, an editor) feel this is strong enough to get a publishing deal -- fingers crossed -- but if that doesn't happen, I'll be self-publishing it and cracking into another YA.

I wrote this book because I had been inspired by the movie. But if I had read Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda first, I likely wouldn't have bothered with the movie. And if I hadn't bothered with the movie, I wouldn't have written my own book.

Sometimes the movie is better than the book. And when that happens, it's a rare and treasured thing.

Cameron D. James is a writer of gay erotica and M/M erotic romance; his latest release is Silent Hearts. He is publisher at and co-founder of Deep Desires Press, member of the Indie Erotica Collective, and hosts two podcasts, Deep Desires Podcast and Sex For Money. He lives in Canada, is always crushing on Starbucks baristas, and has two rescue cats. To learn more about Cameron, visit http://www.camerondjames.com.

Monday, May 14, 2018

You Call That WHAT?

Sacchi Green

I’ve been using all my reading time lately on books I’ve been asked to blurb, just needing a few lines suitable for back covers or Amazon quotes, not full-fledged reviews.  The one I’m in the midst of now is something new to me, Terrence Aldon Shaw’s The Erotica Writer’s Thesaurus (with notes on usage.) But before I dive into discussion of this dense, lengthy (508 pages) work, I’ll just touch briefly on two of the novels. Both are by writers who have written for my anthologies, and I read them from beginning to end, but won’t reveal any spoilers here.

In brief, Potions, by R.G. Emanuelle, is an absorbing story along “mad scientist” lines, about a woman in Victorian-era Boston who had assisted her late husband in his experiments and is now determined to concoct a transformative potion of her own, but with complications when the widow of another scientist asks for help and together, with romantic attraction growing, they try to solve an increasingly dangerous mystery.

The other novel is science fiction, what I might call a step above “space opera”, although I’m no expert on that genre. Emily L. Byrne’s Medusa’s Touch is a thriller with a protagonist who pilots her spaceship via high-tech tentacular implants that let her mind plug in to its controls and feel at one with the ship and the galaxy. This may sound on the squicky side, but it turns out to work very well, and the far-future world-building and associated vernacular are convincing enough to keep the reader intrigued—plus there’s plenty of sex, both with and without tentacles.

Now back to the meatier matter of Shaw’s thesaurus, which is an amazing achievement, with research on terms used in thousands of sources that took many years to ferret out and organize. I haven’t read it word for word yet—there are so many of them!—but there are links at the beginning to the alphabetical headings, so one can search reasonably well for the terms that most interest one, which for most of us, of course, means the ones specifically concerned with sex. Shaw mentions in his introduction that he includes plenty of words that “at first glance, would seem to have little to do with erotica or the erotic. Take a closer look, though, at the type of words included here. Beyond the obvious words for body parts…one will also find: (1) Words representing a wide range of gesture and emotion. (2) Words that can help establish erotic context, that is; synonyms for various colors, articles of clothing and furniture, rooms and their fixtures, items of everyday use, and common expressions including expletives, “swear words,” and insults. (3) Words that can be employed to build erotic metaphors. (4) Commonly-used words and phrases (often overused to the point of clich√©) encountered in erotic fiction (words like “hot”, “throbbing”, “big”, “round”) with long lists of creative alternatives.”

This makes the book all the more useful, and so do the extensive notes on usage at the back of the book, but come on, what words would you look up first? What words do you suppose I went for right away?

I’m not going to do much in the way of spoilers here, either, but there are some entries so overflowing with entertaining goodies that I’m going to share a single term each that stands out for me from a few categories, and leave you the fun of reading the rest when you get your hands (or maybe just one hand) on a copy of the book.

Let’s see. These aren’t necessarily in the order I searched. As an editor there are certain descriptive terms that I see too often, so I was especially curious as to what other choices were presented from Shaw’s research.

Let’s go for Nipples first. One term that I hadn’t come across is “bees” or “bazingas” (which is literary Portuguese for “bees.”) I’d actually seen the word “bazingas” but not known the translation. Bees. Huh. Ouch, even. I think I’d choose something else from his list, or make up some metaphor of my own.

The entry for Anus is quite a bit longer, and it’s hard to choose just one to share, but I think I’ll go with “Cadbury cul-de-sac.” You could have a lot of fun making a choice more to your own taste.

Onward to Aroused. Yes, I got stuck for a bit in the “A” section. What’s another way to say “aroused?” How about “Foaming at the gash?” Go ahead and choose your own.

Then we have Ass, of course. Some really great stuff here, but the one I find irresistible is “Dutch dumplings.” Oddly, well, appetizing. Or not. And for the closely associated Analingus, I’ll choose the British “bog snorkeling.”

For a change of pace, let’s look at the Attractive Man section. Or, no. let’s proceed to the Attractive Woman. I’m in the mood for rhyming, so I’ll go with “trouser arouser,” which could appeal to many men, too.

Proceeding to “B”, we have an extra-long and entertaining category, Breasts. Boy, have I seen a whole lot of words for breasts in submissions to my anthologies—“orbs” makes me groan, and not in a good way—but I’ve never seen “moon balloons” before, so that’s my choice, even though I would probably red-pencil it in a submission.

Not in alphabetical order any more, but let’s check out Penis. Wow, an even longer list than Breasts. This is a hard choice, of course. I was surprised at so many references to musical instruments—I’ve been around, but never noticed that much in the way of tuneful sound effects—but I’ll go with “spunk trumpet” just because I like the sound of that.

Next, of course, Vagina, not quite as long a list of choices as Penis, but that’s the Patriarchy for you. There are still plenty of terms, and I’m having trouble deciding, but I guess “squish mitten” caught my attention the most.

Finally, let’s tackle Masturbate. Since this is the last one I’ll do, I’ll cheat and pick two, first “audition the finger puppets” and then “strum the old banjo.” I’ll never think of the old song “Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah” the same way again.

In my editorial capacity I should point out that in fiction, sexual terminology, just like any other variety, has to fit the point-of-view character who uses it in speech or thought. Would your character say “spunk trumpet?” It would probably go over best in a humorous vein. Another thing to take into account is whether a reader will understand a term. “Dutch dumplings,” for instance, would need just the right context, and that too would call for a humorous interchange. Sometimes the simpler, traditional terms work best and are the least likely to throw a reader out of a sex scene.

All levity aside, this Thesaurus is a major work of reference that also manages to be highly entertaining, and I’ve only referenced a tiny fraction of the information here. It’s an aid to reading as well as writing; if you come across a term that puzzles you, just look it up here. And for we writers, whether or not we write erotica, chances are we can do it even better with the help of Terrance Aldon Shaw’s book.