Losing the Light

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At this point, I’m finishing CALL FOR BLOOD on principle, but I’m not at all confident in it as the end of the Sanctuary trilogy. I might have to give up on that goal entirely, since I can’t imagine a different ending to their stories. It’s not awful, but I don’t feel it’s something I can put out there in good conscience.

I keep telling myself it’s not because my writing abilities have gone away. The first two Sanctuary novels were unique little things, with prominent bisexual characters and an established polyamorous mini-society. I also managed to churn out the still awesome Arcanium series, and I’m hoping the Meridian universe continues to yield just as good fruit.

Still, since mediocrity is all I’ve managed to write this year, I do wonder whether my time is over – burn bright, burn out. I wrote more books last year than most people write in a lifetime. Maybe I wrote the lifetime.

It’s hard to have any confidence in what I do, second- and third- and fourth-guessing my talents at every turn, sure that I’m doing so much wrong or so much worthless, or that it doesn’t matter anyway, because I’m just not going to be heard, even if I had value to hear.

To tell the truth, I’ve lost my light. It’s not the muse that’s gone – that’s still around, giving me ideas. It’s the light. Something – my job, my unchanging situation, my loneliness – something has sucked all the light and color and joy from everything I loved, leaving very little behind. And even that little is disappearing. If life is just living and no more, I have to wonder what the work is worth, whether I have to do it or not. I try to make my own joy, but it’s about as fleeting as creating new and unstable elements. Everything is dull, flat, not terribly bad, just… dun, and slightly unreal.

Writing used to be one of my havens, but without a spark – not of inspiration, but of drive, of life, of joy – it just isn’t the haven that it used to be. There’s only disappointment that my escapes are increasingly my world, but can never truly be the world. I’m disappointed that I need to escape so much at all, until the oases themselves lose their charm.

I want a change, but I’m notoriously bad at it, and there’s no certainty in that change – that I can have it or that the change will do me any good. I’ve lost what little optimism for the future I had.

I’ll continue trying, because I’m used to working without light. NaNoWriMo’s coming up, and that’s something I simply have to do. But I have little confidence that anything I manage to produce will be any better than what I’ve done this year.

Ringmaster (Arcanium Book 4) Trivia

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ringmaster_exlargeAs usual, I feel compelled to share some of the behind-the-scenes tidbits from the Arcanium series. Here’s a look at the interesting trivia for Ringmaster. (Highly recommended that you read the book before the trivia.)

1. Kitty’s story was the second story I came up with as a potential sequel, but the fourth Arcanium book written.

2. I originally revealed her secret relationship with the Ringmaster as a ‘Behind the Curtain’ short story in the first Arcanium novel FORTUNE. Most of that short story ended up in RINGMASTER.

3. Kitty’s full name is Katharine Clanahan. The Ringmaster doesn’t have a name.

4. I came up with the character of Kitty as a reactionary response to my form of OCD, typically called trichotillomania or excoriation disorder. I’m obsessive-compulsive about plucking, shaving, and pulling hair from my body, to the point where I have scarring and have to shave my head. I’m understandably resentful of social grooming norms. Kitty is my complementary opposite, and I love her to pieces. I was going to write her an erotic novel, no matter what.

5. Some of the ways she does her beard in this story are inspired by Captain Jack Sparrow and Albus Dumbledore.

6. Victor didn’t have a name for the first 8,000 or so words of the story. I just called him ‘&.’ Seriously.

7. The ending changed several times before I finally reached it.

8. A new oddity turned up in RINGMASTER that wasn’t been explained in the novel or in previous novels: Marcus, the rotting man. He’ll get an explanation eventually.

9. Two sexual encounters Kitty has are referenced but not expounded upon. Those stories will be in the accompanying ‘Behind the Curtain’ short stories for RINGMASTER.

10. Many thanks to bullwhip expert Anthony De Longis for his Youtube video. I’ve used a bullwhip myself and have one in my closet (from a cattle ranch, not for play), but it’s been over fifteen years since I’ve wielded it, and I really needed a refresher.

Aerial (Arcanium Book 3) Trivia

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aerial_exlarge_5It’s been a rough set of months, so I haven’t put up a trivia collection for Aerial. I love reading movie trivia and getting tidbits of information about TV shows and music. I continue the tradition with my novels. Enjoy! (As you might imagine, this is best read after you read Aerial.)

1. The only Arcanium prequel, set three years before FORTUNE. So the timeline is out of sequence, yet AERIAL just felt right as the third book. It wouldn’t have made sense as the first one, since everyone would have expected Arcanium to be a primarily MM series. But AERIAL is only one of two Arcanium novels with a prominent MM relationship. The other is SILK (Arcanium Book 8).

2. Often through the sex scenes, I’d get so into it that I’d forget Seth and Lars had to be touching each other. I’d have to go back and change the choreography to reestablish the connection.

3. Seth is inspired by Simon Baker, Lars by Taye Diggs, the twins by Jewel Staite.

4. Lars’ name used to be Lance. I decided against the puns.

5. This is my first primary MM novel ever, and my first story written entirely from a male POV. It was nerve-wracking to write, to say the least.

6. By the time I’d worked a while on this book, I realized I like putting characters in mobile homes, even though I’ve only been in one once in my life.

7. There were many times while working on AERIAL that I just wanted to shake Seth and Lars, throw the Kinsey scale at them, and say, “Bisexuality exists!” But as straight-identified men, they have a bit of a mental block against the sexuality spectrum. To them, it’s either straight or gay, period. It makes for wonderful but not particularly enlightened angst.

8. I often wrote ‘Seth and Lars’ in AERIAL to the point where my brain started combining the two while I typed, and I’d want to write ‘Sars and Lars.’ Not sexy.

9. Seth and Lars had their characters first fleshed out in a ‘Behind the Curtains’ short story in the original FORTUNE. I integrated most of the aspects of that short story into several scenes in AERIAL. I also integrated parts of the Joanne and Jane ‘Behind the Curtains’ short story from FORTUNE into AERIAL.

10. The hardest part about this story was the choreography—in the ring and in the bedroom.

Greetings from Aurelia Brain

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1263440_49661335tortureThere’s this thing my brain does. It takes a completely innocuous occurrence and proceeds to spin out possibilities year ahead based on that interaction.

The tales that emerge aren’t based on my hopes and dreams. They aren’t fantasies, per se. They just…happen. My brain likes to be prepared, so it gives me 21 possibilities for 21 steps ahead before I even realize I’m doing it.

This same quality makes my anxiety especially problematic, because it means I can tell you all the ways things can go wrong. It makes my fear of the apocalypse persistent. It offends my anti-romantic sensibilities when my brain jumps ahead and imagines me in a relationship before I even know someone, and I have to rein it in with a certain amount of disgust.

But this same quality also makes novel and series writing a lot easier. So, qualities that are maladaptive in my social situations are more adaptive in others. Take, for instance, dissociation. That’s kind of a job requirement for a writer.

Also, my sense of empathy, which inspires a great deal of my dissociation–and which also makes creating opinions on major issues and ethical concerns difficult–makes me good at slipping out of me and into my characters.

I wish more of these traits could be more adaptive in my real life instead of just my writing life.

Carousel (Arcanium Book 2) Trivia

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carousel_800I love learning movie trivia, so I thought I’d share some interesting facts about Carousel (Arcanium Book 2). As you might imagine, these might be best after reading Carousel.

1. When I was thinking about all the Arcanium stories I wanted to tell, Carousel popped up out of nowhere, with none of the established Fortune cast or the possible oddities or skill sets that I have in my list. But it took on a life of its own at the last minute. I was excited to start it.

2. Caroline is named after the main character in the movie The Skeleton Key. Whenever someone calls her by name, I tend to imagine Gena Rowlands calling it in that creepy, horror-movie voice with her Louisiana accent, even though Caroline is from Oklahoma.

3. Riley is a conglomeration of inspirations, but Colm is inspired by Julian Sands.

4. The female clown Tragedy, in look and behavior, is partially inspired by Emilie Autumn.

5. While I knew the clowns were going to be a part of Carousel, I hadn’t planned on the clowns playing quite as big of a role. That kind of just…happened.

6. Tragedy and Comedy’s names are self-explanatory. The male clown Murphy is named after Murphy’s Law.

7. Colm started out as human. Then I got bored. Changing him to demon made everything better.

8. Caroline is my youngest protagonist so far.

9. I wrote Carousel and Aerial (Arcanium Book 3) back to back, more than half a year after writing Fortune.

10. I’d really love to ride the Arcanium carousel.

Book Tour: Wild After Dark Anthology

The Coffeeholic Bookworm

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You Always Hurt the Ones You Love

“He kill them when they love. That’s how it is every day. That’s how it is all over the world.” –John Coffey, The Green Mile

Not the most inspirational way to start a post about an erotic romance story, I know. Sometimes I wonder how a practical, pessimistic, suspicious cynic such as myself ended up fated for the romance genre. I can’t decide whether it’s because I’m secretly a disappointed romantic or whether fiction is the only way I can have the wonderful things the romance genre promises. I suspect (and hope) it’s the former.

There are some things that cynics bring to the romance table, though. One of them is a clearer look at love. Wonderful as it feels, it’s a neutral abstract. And like most neutrals, it can go really good. Or it can go really, really bad. Love—by its very nature—makes…

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Fortune (Arcanium Book 1) Trivia

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fortune_800 (2)I have a ridiculous fondness for movie and music trivia, like when you go to IMDB and click on a movie’s trivia to see interesting little behind-the-scenes facts. So here’s some trivia about Fortune (Arcanium Book 1) – best read after the book, of course, but whatever floats your boat.

1. Fortune was originally called Arcanium and was intended to be a one-shot story. Then I thought about maybe doing a sequel with Kitty, maybe another with the aerialist boys Seth and Lars. I talked about the possibility with my editor, and she said to send in a series synopsis, which meant I had to have actual elaborated ideas. Then everything just sort of snowballed from there. Arcanium became the series, and I renamed the first book FORTUNE.

2. Actor Zeljko Ivanek inspires many supporting appearances in my stories. In the Arcanium novels, he’s Misha, the sword swallower.

3. Arcanium was partially inspired by the Wishmaster movies–among many other ‘be careful what you wish for’ tales, such as the wish episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Goosebumps book Be Careful What You Wish For, the short story “The Monkey’s Paw,” musical Into the Woods, Aladdin, and more. FORTUNE and the Arcanium series hold several homages to them.

4. The primary inspiration for the Arcanium series, though, was a dream I had of a mother telling her bad child that she’ll leave her at the circus if she doesn’t behave and the bad child saying that she would rather stay at a circus. Then she’s left behind and learns that the circus folk are actually demons. This theme gets played out even more in Carousel (Arcanium Book 2).

5. One of my most sex-dense stories ever.

6. Arcanium arose from an experiment: Can I write a story that is both horror and romance? They’re usually diametrically opposing genres. Turns out, I can. And I can make a series out of it. They’re darker than your usual romance, with some truly weird elements to them, but it’s still romance.

7. In the original novel, I had short story ‘Behind the Curtain’ vignettes of other members of the Arcanium cast, what their wishes were, and who they’d paired off with. They were interspersed between every few chapters or so. I’d intended to carry that out through the whole series. Now they’re free stories that will pop up a few at a time to promote the series.

8. This book made me question my personal declaration that I’m not a size queen.

9. Maya is of Italian and Hispanic heritage. She’s the first religious protagonist that I’ve written for an erotic novel, but she’s certainly not the last.

10. The language Bell speaks is Farsi. He hails from the area of ancient Persia. Though he’s nomadic, he’s kept up with the changes in the language because he values his roots. Being psychic helps with the language adjustments.

11. I developed my best and most efficient editing process while editing Fortune. I use that process every time now.

12. Bell’s navel is anachronistic. He was never in utero, so no umbilical cord. Fun fact.

FREE Behind the Curtain short stories

Here’s a bonus to reading Arcanium: FREE Behind the Curtain short stories/vignettes about some of the other cast members as well as extra scenes that didn’t or couldn’t make it in the books.

These are best read AFTER Fortune (Arcanium Book 1).

Torso and Tattoos: https://www.totallybound.com/torso-and-tattoos
Tumbled and Twisted: https://www.totallybound.com/tumbled-and-twisted
Lions and Tigers: https://www.totallybound.com/lions-and-tigers

fortune_emailAnd today’s Day One of my blog tour, so drop by Erzabet’s Enchantments for some details on the BDSM aspect of Fortune, a delicious excerpt, and a chance to enter Totally Bound’s May Blog Tour Sweepstakes.

FORTUNE (Arcanium Book 1) is now available!

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Welcome to Arcanium, the Circus of Lost Souls. Be careful what you wish for.

Book 1 in this erotic horror romance series, Fortune, is officially out everywhere and about half off at most vendors right now.

Totally Bound
Amazon US (print)
Amazon CA
Amazon UK (print)
Barnes & Noble
All Romance Ebooks
Kobo
Goodreads

Aurelia T Evans_Fortune_socialmedia_403_0003_finalIn addition to that awesomeness happening, I’ve been interviewed about the start of the Arcanium series by Totally Bound for their Author Spotlight and on Goodreads.

Also, I wrote a long, soul-baring post for Lisabet Sarai’s blog on why I wrote erotica about oddities, in spite of the many anxieties I had about tackling such a sensitive, fraught subject.

“A person doesn’t decide to write about a circus best known for its oddities, some of which are human and others demon, lightly—especially with erotica. There were times when I wanted to hide Arcanium and never let it see the light of day for fear of doing it wrong.

The same issue cropped up to a lesser degree while I was writing the Sanctuary trilogy, when it came to Renee’s mental illness. I drew from my own experience, adding some legitimacy to the fantasy. But did I have a legitimate claim to marvels and oddities, and if I didn’t, what did I have to do to write the subject right? I had to look at this from every mortifying angle to make sure it was the right thing to do. I’m neurotic that way. It’s not always a bad thing.

I eventually realized I was overlooking many cases of the obvious. The biggest one was that asking the questions at all suggested I was writing in the right direction.”

Read the rest HERE.

Coming up this week: free Arcanium Behind the Curtain short stories (which you shouldn’t read until you read Fortune, so dive right into the fray, loves), Fortune trivia, and a blog tour.

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Can I Write Lesbian Fiction?

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Please welcome the lovely Lisabet Sarai this month of Nostalgia. As a fellow omnisexual writer, it’s a pleasure to host her as she discusses the contentious universe of FF erotica.

1192054_72267207byobyvatelI’ve been publishing erotica and erotic romance for a decade and a half, but recently my so-called career has taken a new turn. I’ve begun focusing more on erotic encounters between women.

I’d written some short stories for lesbian anthologies over the years, and always enjoyed the process. However, the outright hostility to any sort of F/F interaction that I encountered in the erotic romance world had me shying away from the sub-genre, even when my imagination pulled me in that direction. Then I received a call for submissions from Cheyenne Blue, an author I’ve always admired, for her collection Forbidden Fruit: tales of unwise lesbian desire. Cheyenne’s theme of forbidden couplings inspired me to write “The First Stone”, about a nun working at a women’s shelter who falls for a ex-junkie whore. I was thrilled with the way the story turned out—indeed, the whole collection is amazing—and then I heard that Laura Antoniou was editing the 2015 edition of Best Lesbian Erotica. I pulled out a story idea I’d been nursing for a long time, determined to submit, though I doubted that a kink-loving editor like Laura would enjoy my rather sentimental tale about second chances in a small town. I was wrong, as it turned out. There’s nothing like an acceptance to give you a feeling of validation, right?

I started toying with the idea of collecting and self-publishing all the F/F stories I’d written over the years. When I mentioned this in a blog post, Caroline from LadyLit (the publisher for Cheyenne’s book) left a comment inviting me to submit that collection to them.

HerOwnDevices_300Motivation! Someone wanted to publish my F/F stuff! I assembled a manuscript, including a brand new 12K fantasy ménage I wrote to balance the more serious tales in the volume. LadyLit accepted the book but asked to pull out that new story, The Witches of Gloucester, as a separate publication. Witches, released in March, was my first stand-alone F/F title. Her Own Devices, the short story collection, is due out this week.

Of course this flurry of F/F publishing means that I need to get busy marketing. I have a problem, though. What should I call these books? My first impulse would be to say they’re lesbian erotica or erotic romance. But am I justified in using the term “lesbian”?

Personally, I’m bisexual, or maybe omni-sexual—not lesbian. I’m attracted to men, women and people in-between. I have lesbian friends, but I’ve little or no experience with lesbian culture, with its types and roles. And while I’ve written characters who are interested exclusively in women, I have others who are nominally straight or even (in the case of my nun) celibate. My stories often focus on women just discovering the appeal of other women, women who have boyfriends or husbands, who might very well continue to have heterosexual interactions even after their initiation into Sapphic passion. If I call these stories “lesbian”, will I be offending women who have appropriated the term to describe a more circumscribed phenomenon?

On the other hand, what’s the alternative? The term “F/F” sounds coy, maybe even exploitative. I’m not writing porn-style “girl-on-girl” scenes to titillate the male imagination (though I would hope that both men and women could enjoy my writing). “Sapphic” has a pretentious quality that bothers me. “Women loving women” covers the ground, but then what happens when I decide to write a trans character?

I hate cubbyholes and cliques and political correctness. I’d rather just say I write erotica and let my readers discover the genders of the individuals involved. In my first two novels— written before I knew anything about the tyranny of genre—I have M/F, F/F, M/M, M/M/M/F and M/F/F/M scenes. (Have I forgotten anything?) I was writing what turned me on personally, and as I note above, I’m omni-sexual. I really couldn’t have cared less about the labels.

Now, alas, I know better.

So what do you think? What should I call my recent work that features sex and love between people of the female gender? I’m taking suggestions.

(Response from Aurelia: Because of the problem of labeling something as bisexual, lesbian, gay, etc. in a lot of fiction – since they almost seem to be genres in and of themselves, and then it calls how the author identifies into question as well – I do tend to go the MF, MFM, FF route. That way, it speaks more to the actual sexual encounters than it does to identity. When I started writing erotica, I was a lesbian, but now I’m an I-don’t-know, and I never really got into any culture but the stay-at-home-alone-eating-ice-cream one. I’ve got that culture down.

If identity is important to the characters, I might label it according to orientation—as in, if being gay or bisexual is a point of plot. But so often the sexuality in my erotica is fluid and mostly not as much of an issue as who the characters are falling for, rather than what, or the orientation is too peripheral to the central plot. So I label according to who the main characters are doing rather than who they are, if that makes sense.

But that’s just personal preference.)

WitchesOfGloucester600x960The Witches of Gloucester by Lisabet Sarai

Blurb

It’s not about power. It’s about love.

The historic port of Gloucester, Massachusetts has a special charm, due at least in part to its resident witches. For decades, raven-maned Marguerite and red-headed Beryl have lived among its hard-working inhabitants, making magic and mischief. Love and sex fuel their supernatural abilities, but duality limits their power. To reach their full potential, they need a third witch to complete their circle.

Rejected as a nymphomaniac by her puritanical boyfriend, Emmeline escapes to Gloucester to work on her PhD thesis. From the moment she arrives, Marguerite and Beryl sense her erotic vitality and unrecognized paranormal talent. The platinum-haired beauty may well be the enchantress they have been awaiting for so long. Now they need to show Em that her prodigious libido is a gift, not a liability, and to persuade her that her destiny lies in the sea-girt town they guard, and in their arms.

Excerpt

In the sweet darkness, every sensation grew more acute. Marguerite deepened the kiss, sucking Emmy’s tongue into her mouth, while Beryl stroked Emmy’s back, belly and thighs. The wandering hands barely touched Emmeline’s body but everywhere they traveled, delicious heat followed.

Sparks danced along Em’s naked skin in the wake of Beryl’s fingers. Naked? When had she removed her clothing? Her eyes fluttered open. Shadows hung in the opulent room, shaped by candles that flickered on the mantel. It was nearly midsummer. How could the night have come so quickly?

Embarrassment, wonder and need warred within her.  Arousal coursed through her body in shimmering waves, so intense it was almost pain. She found herself splayed nude upon the carpet, arms flung out and erect nipples pointing at the ceiling. Her knees were bent, her thighs spread wide in lewd invitation. Moisture seeped from her exposed cleft, dampening the silky nap of the rug beneath her.

Beryl knelt in the gap between Em’s legs, equally naked, her porcelain-pale skin gleaming in the dimness. Candlelight struck glints from her coppery crown. Emmeline couldn’t help staring at the matching tangle hiding the woman’s sex. She ached to part that auburn curtain and taste the moist flesh it concealed.

The older woman grinned. Mischief glittered in her emerald eyes. “Time enough for that later, girl. The first climax must be yours. Trust us. We won’t harm you. We just want to teach you who you are.”

We. The plural made Emmeline wonder about Marguerite.

“I’m here, darling.” The lilting, cultured voice came from behind her. Em twisted backward. Marguerite knelt just above her head, thighs parted, buttocks resting on her heels. The tawny beauty’s pubic curls were mere inches from her own silvery locks, releasing clouds of tidal perfume. Flawless butterscotch-brown skin stretched over Marguerite’s lush breasts and swelling hips. Sleek muscles shifted under the smooth surface as she leaned over to brush her lips across Emmeline’s.

Even that brief contact sent lightning sizzling to Em’s cunt. For an instant she teetered on the edge of climax, before the luscious pressure subsided.

“Shall we take you, Emmeline?” Maguerite’s question wound its way into Emmeline’s consciousness, through a haze of lust. “You must ask us. The ritual requires it.”

Buy Links

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About Lisabet Sarai

LISABET SARAI writes in many genres, but F/F fiction is one of her favorites. Her lesbian erotica credits include contributions to Lambda Award winner Where the Girls Are, Ippie-winning Carnal Machines, Best Lesbian Romance 2012, Forbidden Fruit: Stories of Unwise Lesbian Desire, and Lammy-nominated Coming Together: Girl on Girl. Her story “The Late Show” appears in the recently released Best Lesbian Erotica 2015.

Lisabet holds more degrees than anyone would ever need, from prestigious educational institutions who would no doubt be deeply embarrassed by her explicit literary endeavors. She has traveled widely and currently lives in Southeast Asia, where she pursues an alternative career that is completely unrelated to her writing. For all the dirt on Lisabet, visit her website (http://www.lisabetsarai.com) or her blog Beyond Romance (http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com).