Call for submissions: Arthurian erotica

Edited by Jennifer Levine

Deadline: November 1, 2014

Everyone knows the story of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Tales of the world of Camelot, that fabled medieval castle, have been adapted into animated movies for children, dark television dramas for adults, Broadway musicals, fantasy novels, comics, historical fiction books, and epic musical scores. Children play at being Arthur’s knights, teenagers brood over the doomed romance of Guinevere and Lancelot, and historians debate which of the stories, if any, are fact, and which are simply legend or myth.

King Arthur. Guinevere. Uther Pendragon. Morgana le Fay. Merlin the Wizard. The Knights of the Round Table. Sir Lancelot. Sir Gawain. Mordred. Maybe you know all of these names and more; maybe you’ve only heard of a few. Maybe you’ve heard of sordid love affairs between some of these characters, or magic enchantments gone wrong, or murders and betrayals among even the closest of friends.

So many stories have already been written about the world of Camelot, and so many remain to be told. For this anthology, we are looking for both reimagined old stories and altogether newly invented ones; dalliances we are expecting and affairs we wouldn’t have imagined; familiar characters, new characters, and some we thought we knew but discover anew in your telling.

Your story must take place in the Arthurian universe, with at least one or two of the main characters we are familiar with, but beyond that, go wild. Maybe your characters are gender-swapped; maybe your Camelot is a futuristic world with knights wielding sugarcane; maybe your characters are powerful magicians, or maybe magic doesn’t exist in your world at all.

Remember that this is an anthology of erotica, so your story must have an element of sex in it (and not just any sex, but steamy sex, sexy sex, the kind of sex that leaves us hot and bothered after reading it). But this is also a collection of excellent fiction: your story needs a plot, your characters need to be fleshed out and fully imagined, your story needs to be about something.

For submission details, read on. Read the remainder of this entry »

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Circlet Presents #3 features Annabeth Leong,  prolific short-story writer, novelist, and editor of the forthcoming collection MakerSex, which is accepting submissions until the end of September. She chats with host Vinnie Tesla about story codes,  the art of reading aloud, and the role of the eerie and frightening in her work; and reads a poignant and erotically charged excerpt from her story “Dear Kim” in Like a Chill Down Your Spine.

LISTEN HERE

Some  more of her writing discussed:

Oh, by the way: We at Circlet have been discussing adding story coding to this site. If you have requests for how it could be helpful to you in finding what you want to read, we’d love to hear them.

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Passionate Plume Winner!

Passionate Plume Winner!

(San Antonio, TX) — Here at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) National Convention we have exciting news! At last night’s Passionate Ink party, HOUSE OF SABLE LOCKS by Elizabeth Schechter won the Passionate Plume Award in the Fantasy/SF category!

The book was up against some tough competition. Finalists in the category were:

Something New Under the Sun by L.A. Witt
House of Sable Locks by Elizabeth Schechter
Glory Dogs: Forged Through Glory by Dezré Storm
Fueled By Lust: Drusus by Celeste Prater
Legend Beyond the Stars by S. E. Gilchrist
Read the remainder of this entry »

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Our final Dirty Book is the multiple volumes of the Marketplace series, which, after a tangled and sordid publication history, is now available in its entirety from Circlet. We got so many requests to write about the series that we decided to do something a little special for this one. What follows is three (3) appreciations by three different Circlet writers. The eponymous first volume is reviewed by long-time Circlet writer Tammy Jo Eckhart, author of the Beyond the Softness of his Fur Furry BDSM series.

What drew me to The Marketplace was a simple fascination with the idea of a formal world out there where it was perfectly normal to be an owner or a slave. I bought the 1993 Rhinoceros edition and had it signed by the author using her then-pseudonym Sara Adamson. I later got the Mystic Rose Books edition from 2000, and now you can buy this book from Circlet Press in multiple forms.

There are plenty of kinky novels out there, but even after all these years, “The Marketplace” holds a special place for me because of its groundbreaking nature. It was written by a leatherwoman, not a romance author or a wannabe, but someone who knew her subject matter. Back in the early 1990s we didn’t have a readily available stream of dubious online experts we could glance through in an hour and pull out some ideas to toss into a novel. If you wanted to know how a riding crop felt, you needed to feel it; if you wanted to know how masters and slaves interacted, you needed to meet some and spend time with them. Antoniou knew these things because she had firsthand experience and lots of kinky friends.

Fantasy novels about leather or BDSM had been around for decades when “The Marketplace” came out, but for the first time I can remember, the focus wasn’t on the fantasy or the kink but on the characters. While the novel may seem to examine the training of four potential slaves — Robert, Claudia, Brian, and Sharon — it gives enough time to their trainers, Grendel and Alexandra, and their support staff, to fully develop them in the reader’s mind. While the program is harsh, they really care about their trainees, their business, and each person in that house. For a growing dominant like me this was very reassuring to read.

“The Marketplace” also went beyond the orientation limits of most books, not only in the 1990s but also today. This international community of slaves and owners has a few hard rules, and one of them is bisexuality for slaves, at least in practice. Once you’re in the system, once accepted for sale within that mysterious world, you never know whom you might be kneeling before, or what you might be asked to do. Gender identity and role identity are fluid and best personified in majordomo Chris Parker.

From the very beginning of the novel, Antoniou makes it clear that no one should be in this world unless they are geared toward serving, not merely getting off. For those of us who felt the same way, the look into what service really means was invigorating and affirming. Service isn’t about sucking someone’s dick or taking a good flogging; it’s about doing whatever is needed and desired and taking pride in your work without letting yourself be drawn into the me-me-me mentality so many of us find in public dungeons.

Antoniou uses just enough description to get your mind working and your groin geared up for action. While you might find yourself getting aroused, you needed to keep reading to see if our quartet of stereotypical slaves could become competent servants that you’d want helping around your house. If you were submissive, you wondered if you could handle training like they did. You felt this way because this is a well-crafted world with engaging characters that grow – a rare thing for the novels found in porn shops at the time.

While the world of “The Marketplace” doesn’t exist, the feelings and needs Antoniou reveals do. That is what keeps you reading as she expands the world.

Robotica author and Fantastic Erotica contributor Kal Cobalt writes about The Trainer:

For the longest time, I ignored The Marketplace. Somehow, I’d picked up the idea that it was just another unrealistic fluffy bit of pseudo-BDSM stroke fic, like Anne Rice’s Beauty series.

For once, I’m glad I was dead wrong.

I started reading just after I’d realized that “genderqueer” didn’t fit me anymore and “trans” did. As I zipped through the books, my Marketplace-loving partners kept snickering and eagerly asking me where I was in the series, oh, and who was my favorite character?

You see, I’m also a switch, and have heard often enough that I’m impossible. (Someone I knew refused that ANY switch existed, convinced that I simply hadn’t chosen or accepted my “side” yet. This lasted until they actually witnessed me playing both ways, at which point I was christened “real.” Sigh.) So watching Chris Parker be the uber-dom AND thrill to every moment of submissive opportunity…well, I went through a lot of underpants.

This also disabused me of a writing “rule” I had absurdly failed to shed previously. In the vein of Chekhov’s gun on the mantel in the first act which must be fired in the third act, I had decided that much of the lack of invisible-minority characters in pop fiction was a simple structural problem: mention on the page that they are trans, gay, invisibly disabled, what have you, and it must serve the story, which gets complicated, and so we don’t get mentioned. Thankfully, everything from BBC’s SHERLOCK to Netflix’s ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK have shown how to illustrate invisible minorities — or, indeed, have that trait serve the story — with a serious minimum of fuss. As it should be. I never made the connection, though, until Chris Parker.

Until him, I hadn’t been exposed to a trans character I could relate to who was not in the story to have Trans Problems. I had never read a trans character with whom I could truly identify. As a porn author in their 30s with all of fiction at my fingertips, I’m not sure whether this is a failing of my search terms or whether Laura Antoniou was a vanguard who remains unmatched.

The Trainer gives me a blueprint, a way to properly integrate people like me into fiction without focusing unduly on one particular set of traits that, honestly, don’t get too much airtime in my day-to-day. It opens up a new vista of writing for me — something that can be personal and honest without gazing too deeply into my navel.

All that said, The Trainer has to have one of the most satisfying endings I have ever read. I will not spoil it, but I do believe I pumped my fist and laughed out loud while reading, and smirked about it for days. You don’t even really know you’re waiting for it, but when it happens, you know it’s exactly what you’ve ached for all along — just like those slaves who are told, one day, that there is a Marketplace.

The Academy is reviewed by Madeline Elayne.

I have a confession to make: I’m a smut snob. If a dirty book isn’t well-written, with compelling, flawed and fully realized characters, and if the “good stuff” isn’t more about what goes in in those characters’ heads than about which bits go where, then no matter how amazing the premise or how delectable the plotline, my libido will be as limp as a wet noodle.

I also happen to be pretty damned kinky, poly, and queer, and my taste in the smut I prefer to consume tends to run that way as well. Unfortunately, I am a voracious reader, and while there is a lot of quality erotica out there, and a lot of kinky poly queer erotica out there, I find myself often having to sacrifice one for the other to accommodate my limitless cravings for more words to consume. Good, straight, vanilla smut or not-so-well written queer kinky smut can both be entertaining to read, but I have to admit that neither really does too much to make me very turned on, and isn’t that the point of one’s favorite dirty book?

Lucky for me, there occasionally comes along a book that has both my two arousal-inspiring criteria in spades. The Academy is at the top of that list. It also happens to be the only book in my list that can both turn me on, and make me cry. Word to the wise – don’t read the chapter “the Nurse” by Karen Taylor without a box of tissues handy.

The book is actually a collection of several short stories by some extremely talented contributors and woven into a cohesive storyline by the inimitable Laura Antoniou. The different voices are a huge asset to the re-readability of the book, and they have the added bonus of creating a dizzyingly diverse cast of character personalities, body types, gender identities and orientations. Best of all, it’s clearly diversity not for diversity’s sake, but because it’s more interesting, and by extension more titillating, that way. My favorite scene in the book is a conversation in which the cis-het characters bemoan the fact that they are actually in the minority in the Marketplace. Nothing has made me want to be part of a fictional world more, let me tell you!

Most importantly, though, the Academy makes me look at the fantastic tales woven into it, and say to myself “that is what I should be doing right now – making more of this!” Any writer who’s ever experienced writer’s block can tell you how important it is to keep those types of inspiration close to their nightstand…and to the bottle of lube.

Thank you for reading! Ten Dirty Books is now over, you can resume your ordinary lives as if this glorious week and a half was some marvelous dream.

However! If you want some free books to take back with you to Mundania, you can still participate in our giveaways. Post an essay about your favorite Circlet book or story below to win a print book, or connect with us on Twitter or Facebook to win the Circlet ebook of your choice. The Rafflecopter giveaway ends at midnight tonight, so act fast.

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The Dirty Books series is drawing to a close…or perhaps ascending to a climax. Today, sherlockian scribe Violet Vernet vividly evokes the carefree debauchery of her new favorite turn-of-the-century novel. At the bottom of the post, you can participate in our Dirty Book project yourself and win some dirty books of your own. And come back tomorrow when multiple essayists finish off the series with a classic of modern BDSM that is very dear to Circlet’s collective heart.

Ask any collector to name a favorite piece, and most will cite their latest acquisition. I discovered Memoirs of a Voluptuary only a few months ago and have since become thoroughly entranced with this charming Edwardian schoolboy romp. I’m an ardent fan of the pornography of this era, and especially that which includes homosexual acts. The very phrase “Edwardian schoolboy romp” sets my voyeuristic heart aflutter.

Though published in the early twentieth century, it is purportedly a memoir written years after the events described. It is a classic naughty Victorian schoolgirl tale, except with bisexual boys – rather more unusual for the era. As with most anonymous vintage porn, the provenance is murky; it was likely published in 1905 by Charles Carrington, neè Paul Harry Ferdinando. His connection to fin de siècle notables such as Oscar Wilde, A. C. Swinburne, Sir Richard Burton, and Aubrey Beardsley – who were then regarded as sexual outlaws, if not outright mollies – makes the question of Memoirs’ true authorship an intriguing one. Like most Victorian pornographers, the writer is well-educated, and probably a youthful person, if the carefree Edwardian slang and jargon are any indication:

“You are doing it a treat,” said Bob as he wriggled his bottom under my luscious caresses. “It feels ripping.”

The narrator is young Charlie Powerscourt, sent away to boarding school at some indeterminate age ‘past thirteen,’ and quickly learning the arts of love through his more experienced schoolmates: his particular friend Bob Rutherford; Jimmy, the Duke of Surrey; and the exotic dark-haired Gaston de Beaupre, nicknamed Blackie – the most experienced of the foursome. Blackie has “gone better than most of us and had had some adventures with girls.” After few chapters of delightfully frisky bedtime dormitory antics, Blackie regales them with tales of his many erotic adventures – not just sex with men and women, but flagellation, cross-dressing, bisexual threesomes, lesbian orgies, and other frolics favored by the naughty Victorians. Naturally his saucy bedtime tales provoke the school-fellows to even more frequent and enthusiastic bouts of mutual frigging, sucking, and bum-fucking.

Though content to frolic with his chums while on school grounds, during the holidays Charlie’s voluptuous nature drives him to even more risqué adventures with adult libertines. He takes every opportunity to expand his erotic horizons, first in Paris with de Beaupre and his insatiable friend Cecile, then in Northumberland with the aristocratic Jimmy and his erotomaniac bachelor uncle Lord Henry. There is hardly a variation of sexual congress not included in Memoirs. Admittedly some of it I had to skip over – a description of a live sex show includes not just racial stereotyping and uncomfortably young performers, but bestiality, the unsavoury bane of the Victorian “porntopia” orgy scenes. Well, next to rape and incest and… let’s just say the Victorians had some repellent tastes, but they were also uniquely adept at writing the most charming, witty, and light-hearted pornographic adventure stories, full of not just racy sex scenes but genuine affection between sexual partners. We shouldn’t be too quick to judge them by their bawdy fantasies, lest future historians make declarations of our own civilization based on Penthouse Forum or 50 Shades of Gray.

Although each of the highly descriptive scenes in Memoirs of a Voluptuary will not suit every taste, certainly there is something for everyone in this lusty and freewheeling tale. And, oh, the scenes that did catch my fancy, how well they buttered my parsnips! Particularly those set in the boarding school itself, because the four boys are lubricious and eager bedfellows with perpetual stiff-standers ever at the ready for a fond frig, a delightful minette, or breathtaking bum-fuck. Their schoolwork is conveniently scant, their dormitory cozy and private, and the lads are not only high-spirited and precocious but exceptionally good-looking, affectionate, well-bred young men: Gaston de Beaupre with his olive skin and dark lustrous eyes, “full of a reckless dare-devil fire,” Jimmy, the “splendidly-made boy” with sparkling blue eyes and “sweetly-curving, dimpled, rich scarlet lips,” Bob with his enormous cock and “habitual good humour,” and the narrator himself, whose “loveable face” and “enchanting form” not to mention his “jolly little cock,” are irresistible to others. And since this is turn-of-the-century porn, Charlie and his friends don’t just spend, but die away in page after page of delirious waves of nearly unbearable bliss, “the exquisite joy, the glorious, intolerable anguish of the boiling tempest of unbounded pleasure that overwhelmed my being.”

My frequent references to the work in question have had the usual effect. My copy of Memoirs of a Voluptuary is sitting on my coffee table, and I know exactly what I shall do with it.

***

Violet Vernet is the pen name of a writer who lives in New York City. Her Sherlockian pornography has previously been published in Circlet’s Elementary Erotica anthology as well as in another Sherlockian collection, My Love of All That is Bizarre. You can read her other Victorian writings, assorted fan fiction, and erotic short stories at archiveofourown.org/users/MissViolet and her GoodReads author page at www.goodreads.com/violetvernet.

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Today, multiple award finalist Elisabeth Schechter describes her relationship with a modern kinky erotic SF classic. And once you get to the end, you can do social media stuff to win free books from us. Come back tomorrow for Velvet Vernet’s appreciation of another Victorian classic

In 2001 or 2002, I received as a gift an autographed book. Actually, I received two copies of said book, both from the same people — friends who had gotten free books at the Book Expo in New York. I offered to give them back one copy, and brought it to their house. Waiting on their front steps for them to get home, I did what one does when you’re waiting and you have a book at hand — I started reading… and changed my life forever.

That book? Kushiel’s Dart, by Jacqueline Carey.

I have fallen into books before. I’m a reader. It happens. But this one… this one was sexy and kinky and all kinds of hot. And it was something that you could pick up at any bookstore. All of a sudden, sex, and more specifically, non-vanilla sex, was on the mainstream bookshelves!

I was hooked. I read the heck out of that book. I pre-ordered the next books in the series and read them voraciously. I joined Livejournal groups devoted to the Kushiel fandom. And when I heard about a play-by-email role playing group based on the series, one that was officially sanctioned by Jacqueline herself? I joined it.

Two years later, I was running it.

The Night Court ran for five years total, and I made friends there that I treasure to this day. It was the place where I learned how to put together a plotline, how to write so that my characters had different, distinctive voices (at one point, I had five separate characters, and one of them no one knew was me.) And, most importantly, I learned how write sex scenes. In early 2008, I posted a scene between one of my characters and another, and had someone later tell me that they forgot they weren’t reading something Jacqueline had written.

A few months later, I sold my first story to Circlet Press (for those of you keeping score, that story was The Hand You’re Dealt, which appeared in Like a Sacred Desire.) The characters in that story, Steven and Nick, are very loosely based on characters from The Night Court.

Now, five years later, I’m living a dream that I’ve had since I was a child. I’m a multi-published author, with three novels under my belt and more coming. I’ve been nominated for awards, and I have people who recognize my name and ask for my autograph. And I can honestly say that if it hadn’t been for Jacqueline Carey and Kushiel, it would never have happened.

And yes, I have told her it’s all her fault.

***

Elizabeth Schechter is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Central Florida with her husband and son. Her most recent work includes the Pauline Reage Award finalist House of Sable Locks, published by Circlet Press in 2013.

Elizabeth can be found online at http://easchechter.wordpress.com/

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Sorry for the late posting! We are all still reeling from Readercon last weekend, where a good time was had by all, except perhaps the people trying to discuss horror fiction next to the History of Butts in Art and Literature Panel.

Today’s essayist is the shadowy & mysterious C. L. Cuttner on a controversial, spankolicious fantasy classic. Participate in our giveaway at the bottom, and come back tomorrow for Violet Vernet on an Edwardian bisexual classic.

My book of choice is The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by A. N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice). I did not read Claiming when it was first released, but this was not my first dance with Mademoiselle Rice. I had encountered Lestat in high school and did not know what to think of a bisexual vampire who lived with his angst through the ages. All my heroes were out of the four color panels of comic books and there was always a woman to be saved by the white-knuckeled hero not sucked and slain.

I am aware of the fact that there are some dissenters who may consider this piece mainstream or kitsch and think themselves too cool, too hip, or too elitist for such things. My argument is only this: I was a virgin to erotica until a kindly schoolteacher, who became my girlfriend, recommended the book (no, I wasn’t her student, but that’s kind of hot too). I gave it a shot and was hooked, but the conceit is that I had enough imagination to co-create the world and meet the writer half way.

To dissenters and critics and those who are hipper-than-thou I say you are free to choose and my writing and my life are made of many dichotomies and paradoxes, such as mainstream versus fringe, but that’s what makes it interesting.

With that being said, it wasn’t the writing style, but rather the sexual charge that the book was able to generate in me. Reading every page was adding current and voltage to the copper coils of my gyroscopic sexual generator. Fortunately, my girlfriend would return from work rather early in the afternoon. As reading one chapter was enough for me to leap from the bed and ravish her. Don’t worry, she loved it.

The chapters were rather taboo for me and I read as if I was in the role of Beauty’s lover, Prince Alexi. The story contained the right balance of BDSM sexual themes and allowed me to explore the underworld of the fairy tale world. The fairy tale world was a well chosen setting as seething below the surface of most children’s fairy tales is sex, sex, sex.

These scenes elicited a sexual charge such that I had not known since Boorman’s Excalibur (1981) were Igrayne is taken by a shape-shifted Uther Pendragon–this was before the internet, of course. Sex and magic–what a great combination, but I digress. (Kubrik’s mansion scene in Eyes Wide Shut (1999) generates quite a charge too.)

I think the important thing to state here is that I saw these things with fresh eyes and hungrily wanted more, I wanted to see where the wandering road of the writer would take me and I enjoyed the journey and the process as well.

I saw the scenes as an adolescent: a little dirty and a little innocent but relatively open-minded. I saw them without the complexities of the post-modern age. I don’t give a shit if you are a feminist, or a republican or a Mormon; most importantly you are a human and should be treated as such.

As I read, it was simply as a horny observer, and an intelligent one. It was sex in a raw and visceral form. We are the same in that we all want and enjoy pleasure; it is how we get there which most interests me.

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My turn next! I’m Vinnie Tesla. I write dirty stories, some of which owe a very big debt to the Victorian pornographic novels that I loved and still love.

Pandemonium Unlimited, or, A Strained Analogy

Trying to assess my battered mass-market paperback of The Pearl is like trying to write a book review of a library. There’s a cacophany of voices, some reciting bawdy spoofs of forgotten drinking songs, one obsessively detailing the blood trickling down birched posteriors, another firing off arch jokes about the chance of catching a glimpse of a young lady’s ankles when she climbs out of her carriage. Originally it was a magazine, illegally printed and distributed, featuring a mix of silly poems, terrible jokes, and serialized novels in each issue. It occurs to me that my love of The Pearl and my love of anarchic online fora like ASSTR have something in common–a pleasure in a messy, exuberant excess that is reminiscent, almost, or real life.

The Taboo, or, The Passage of Time

One of the striking qualities of much Victorian porn compared to most contemporary commercial smut is the casual male bisexuality. Explicit portrayal of any sex at all is so taboo-violating that the border between normative sex and other varieties is trivial by comparison.

The unsavory flip side of this, that has to be acknowledged, is that rape is so routine as to be almost a formality. It appears to have been *literally inconceivable* to many of the authors that any woman might agree to sex with a gentleman friend she has not previously fucked. Once she protests and resists the first time, though, the ice is broken, and she pursues her affair with him with mutual enthusiasm. It’s kind of appalling, but it has about as much to do with the realities of sexual assault as a Road Runner cartoon does with the realities of wildlife predation.

Nostalgia, or, The Follies of Youth

I bought this book at an age where the purchase involved stomach-churning nervousness. Smuggling it into my bedroom was fraught and thrilling. And all this drama before I’d had a chance to do more than flip through it, agonizingly self-concious, heart in my throat, in the bookstore.

He Called it Macaroni, or, A Case in Point

The first story serialized, “Sub-Umbra, or, Sport among the She-noodles” (“noodle” is slang for fool) does a good job of exemplifying the book’s charms. It takes place in a stylized world of idleness and garden-parties that will be instantly familiar to anyone who had read “Importance of Being Earnest” or any P.G. Woodehouse. The protaganist seduces a succession of his cousins and their friends who exist in a state of almost Edenic innocence. Lacking any real notion of the mechanics of human sexuality, their hands-on lessons in the subject are devoid of any shame or sense of consequences.

All Cats are Grey, or, De Gustibus Ain’t What They Used To Be (with apologies to Henry Taylor)

Yeah, it’s cool that The Pearl is a glimpse into the raging id of another place and time. But what really makes me come back to it again and again is that it works for me–the silly, stylized seductions; the waltz parties that segue into orgies; the after-hours dormitory antics get me hot, they push my buttons, even a quarter century after I first found the collection. Will it push yours? Perhaps. Browse through–you will certainly find something to surprise and amuse you.

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Nobilis Reed is renowned as the host of the greatest English-language science fiction erotica podcast the world has ever known. In addition to often featuring Circlet fiction on his ‘cast, he has contributed to several Circlet anthologies. His story “A Vision in X-Ray and Visible Light” was part of Circlet’s recent best-of collection, Fantastic Erotica.

At the bottom of this post, you can do social media stuff to win free books from us. And come back tomorrow for my…uh… I mean Vinnie Tesla’s appreciation of, surprising no one, a Victorian classic.

My Secret Garden is a work of nonfiction, cataloging and
analyzing women’s sexual fantasies collected during the author’s
extensive research in the early 1970′s. Its scientific and scholarly
rigor has been challenged over the years, but its place in the women’s
liberation movement can’t be denied; it was an extremely important
milestone.

Here is an example of one of the fantasies documented in My Secret
Garden
:

I am on an absolutely deserted beach, lying on my back, sound
asleep. I am wearing only a bikini, the bottom part fastened on each
side with only a tiny bow, and the top fastened in front only with a
bow, too, between my enormous breasts, which are already almost
overwhelming the little bit of cloth that is the bra. I breathe deeply
and evenly, shifting positions lightly as I sleep. A man’s shadow
falls across me; he stands looking down at me as I sleep. He’s very
tanned and wears only swimming trunks. He watches, and as he watches
me sleeping he gets excited. He kneels beside me, very softly and
gently so as not to awaken me, and very carefully unties the bow at
one of my hips, then reaches over me to untie the other side. He lays
the bikini back, exposing me to his gaze.

For a moment he just sits there, taking me all in. I murmur in my
sleep and shift position slightly, separating my thighs somewhat,
which angles my slit upwards. His erection grows enormous; he slips
out of his shorts and then kneels over me with one knee on each side
of my thighs. Although I don’t even open my eyes, I glide one hand out
to his penis and caress it gently, and then glide it, to his surprise,
right into my cunt. He then fucks the bejesus out of me and I rock
along with him. But I never open my eyes, just murmur as if I were
sleeping and enjoying a good dream.

I discovered this book fairly early in my own sexual awakening. Like
many of the “dirty” books that I discovered around that time, it
belonged to my mother. The bedside table in her room had this,
Fear of Flying by Erica Jong, The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort,
and a number of other books whose titles have escaped me in the years
between. Whenever my parents left for an evening out, after my little
sister had gone to bed, I would go into my parents bedroom to read.
My Secret Garden was like a box of assorted seeds. I could open
the book to pretty much any page and find a little nugget of forbidden
thrill that could inspire my own fantasies for an entire evening. I
became quite adept at sprouting those seeds into full-grown scenes in
my imagination. Those evenings spent alone with those books were, I am
certain, one of the foundation stones upon which my writing career has
been built.

In addition to provoking my imagination into the sexual realm, the
book also taught me to see women and women’s sexuality differently
than most popular culture wanted me to. They weren’t really all that
different. Women craved many of the same things I craved. The girls
and women around me weren’t these mysterious creatures who could never
be fully understood, they were, by and large, sexual beings very much
like me.

My Secret Garden also taught me to treasure my own fantasies.
It wasn’t long after encountering this book that I began keeping a
notebook, hidden away under my mattress, for scribbling down the
details of these imaginings. One of them, I still remember to this
day: a half dozen or so of my high school classmates, all of them
girls, were on a trip, when their vehicle breaks down in an isolated
part of the woods. In a series of highly unlikely mishaps, their
clothes are lost or destroyed, revealing their bodies bit by bit to my
mind’s eye. I would repeat this exercise in college, and then again
when I took my first job after graduation. There were others, many
others, but that one was among the most elaborate.

In thinking back, I can see how this book interlocked with the other
titles. Fear of Flying taught me about how sex could serve a
story, complimenting narrative, character and setting. The Joy of
Sex
taught me about the mechanics of sex, in all its variety,
before I had any actual experience of it for myself. And My Secret
Garden
taught me about the importance of the erotic imagination.
All three of those aspects are critical to who I am as an author
today.

P.S. Mom, if you’re reading this? Thank you.

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Julie Cox is the woman of the hour. Her West Texas erotic fantasy serial Capricious just came out as a downloadable ebook (you can also still read all the episodes for free on this site); she is the featured writer on this month’s Circlet Presents podcast; and of course she is the author of today’s Dirty Book essay. This is the first Circlet book to appear in the series, and your ever-humble Dirty Books Series organizer is struggling not to squee too distractingly about this extremely gratifying appreciation.

After reading it, (or re-reading it five or ten times if you’re me), be sure to participate in our book giveaways at the bottom, either by connecting with Circlet on social media, or by leaving us an appreciation of your favorite Circlet book in the comments. And come back tomorrow for podcast maven Nobilis discussing our only Dirty Book usually shelved under nonfiction.

As an erotica writer, I read a lot of dirty books. People sometimes ask me why that’s my thing. I suspect my reasons for loving this genre of storytelling are a stark contrast to what draws people to video porn. Part of it is that it’s physically or emotionally exciting, of course. A massive part of the draw, however, is that the stories people tell when they are out to thrill each other are so much more intense, and frequently much more creative, than other kinds of stories. I get to experience emotions that I just don’t get to feel in my Real Life. My brain doesn’t know the difference, the chemistry is the same. The thrill of the first kiss, the first caress – or the last. That spark of initial interest, and the inflated sense of ego that comes with realizing the attraction is mutual. Passion of great intensity, rage leading to great angry-sex, make up sex, relief sex, comfort sex, they’re all allegories for catharsis, amped up by the creativity of a science fiction or fantasy setting where the characters are not only having great, explicit, detailed sex, they’re having IMPOSSIBLE sex.

One of my favorite examples of truly impossible and thrilling sex is Vinnie Tesla’s book, The Erotofluidic Age. I downloaded a copy of Tesla’s book on a particularly bad day, when I really needed to indulge in blatant escapism. It delivered on that, better than I had hoped for. The pseudo-Victorian atmosphere was pitch perfect, the characters were distinct and easy to attach to, the voice was consistent, the grammar was outstanding, and the sex was not only impossible, but at times perfectly, magnificently ridiculous. It involves shape-shifting, engines powered by sexual desires and expression, dimension hopping and Geoducks. Trust me. They’re grand.

It includes such lines as, “If we happened to have brought along a giant trebuchet, that would do very nicely indeed” and “I shall be yours, and you shall scream for mercy,” and “What is a gentleman’s club without buggery?” And they save the world. It’s delightful fun, at one moment stuffy and English, then ribald and wanton, but still English.

What makes it top the list as perhaps my FAVORITE dirty book, however, is exactly what drew me to the genre in the first place. The emotions and stakes of the story are amplified by the sexuality. The sex is not only necessary to the story but fulfilling and emotional. There are so many cathartic moments in this book it ought to be called “The Erotocathartic Age.” Unlike video porn, or bad erotica, with really good erotica you show up for the sex and stay for the story. With this one, I keep coming back for both.

Wow.

Um… What was I…?

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I’ll just stay here and re-read this a couple times…

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