Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Femmes and Foals: An Interview with Sacchi Green and Rakelle Valencia, Editors of Lipstick on Her Collar

by Teresa Noelle Roberts




And now, for something a little bit different...Lipstick on Her Collar, a wonderfully juicy anthology of short lesbian fiction celebrating the fabulous femme and the women who love her. It’s brought to us by Alison Tyler’s Pretty Things Press, features stories by Lusties Shanna Germain and Teresa Noelle Roberts (as well as Lustie friend and April 7 guest Rachel Kramer Bussel), and boasts a danged cute, yet sexy cover.

It also has two exceptionally cool editors, Sacchi Green and Rakelle Valencia, who’ve agreed to talk with us today about erotic writing and the small alternative press, as well as horses, Marlene Dietrich, and other topics we don’t hear nearly enough about on Lust Bites.

Sacchi Green spends her time in western Massachusetts and the mountains of New Hampshire, with occasional forays into the real world. Her work has been published in six volumes of Best Lesbian Erotica, four volumes of Best Women's Erotica, Best Transgender Erotica, Best S/M Erotica 2, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 3, Penthouse, On Our Backs, and a thigh-high stack of other anthologies with inspirational covers. In addition to Lipstick on Her Collar, her co-editorial ventures include Rode Hard, Put Away Wet: Lesbian Cowboy Erotica and Hard Road, Easy Riding: Lesbian Biker Erotica. Another book, Time Well Bent: Queer Alternate History, is scheduled to be published this fall by Lethe Press, and she’s currently taking submissions for Girl Crazy, due out from Cleis Press in 2009.

Rakelle Valencia, when not cowboyin’, (yes, she’s a real-life horse trainer and breeder) has co-edited four erotic anthologies. One, Rode Hard, Put Away Wet was a finalist for a LAMBDA Literary Award. She has had many erotic short stories published, which can be found on the bookshelves of the most excellent bookstores. Her non-fiction, technical articles on Natural Horsemanship, has been printed in the most discriminating rags. And she was also a 2006 semi-finalist in the Project: Queer Lit Contest. She's still hoping to publish a novel. Photos and free-lance artwork have appeared on puzzles, advertisements, and logos. This year’s motto is to “always keep the hairy side up”.


LB: Tell us about the inspiration behind Lipstick on Her Collar.

SG: The inspiration was all Alison Tyler’s. She offered the title to my co-editor Rakelle Valencia, and Rakelle brought me in on the deal, since we’d worked so well together on our first two anthologies. Alison told us to interpret it any way we wanted to. Since the subtitle was “And Other Tales of Lesbian Lust”, we decided to emphasize the “lust” aspect, and asked our writers to be sure getting there was at least half the fun.

RV: The brainstorm for Lipstick was entirely Alison Tyler’s, of Pretty Things Press. She asked if I’d like to work on it as the editor. And at that time, I felt it only fair to request that, my then co-editor came on board with me.
Total inspiration for the work was Alison Tyler’s.

LB: Define femme, just in case anyone isn’t clear on the concept. It has to do with a certain fashion sense, but there’s more to it than that, I’d think.


SG: “Femme” is such a subjective term that I don’t think there can be a single definition. If you feel femme, you are, even if it’s just on special occasions. Joan Nestle writes of femmes “showing color," which is as close as I can get to describing the particular bright aura femmes radiate. Fashion sense can enter into it, but it’s also a certain awareness of your female attributes, a way of carrying yourself and presenting yourself to the world, and it can be done with just devastating an effect in jeans and a T-shirt as in a bikini. Okay, maybe not quite as devastating, but close.

LB: How did you choose the stories...sometimes with such a narrow-seeming topic and a very specific character type— "femmes"— it would be hard to keep the diversity. Did you have trouble with that, or did it just turn out that everyone had a different idea of what femme was or meant?

SG: We didn’t feel that the topic was all that narrow, and, as it turned out, neither did our writers. While the lipstick was associated with femmes, the collars in question were just as likely to be worn by proud representatives of the butch tradition. Not that lipstick (or collars, for that matter) appeared in every story. I think of the lipstick/collar pairing as more of a yin/yang motif, but with the subtle shadings made possible by the lesbian focus.

As to how we chose the stories, it was a matter of using the best work, period. No matter what the central theme, we were lucky to have fine writers who could have taken any subject we’d thrown at them and given it their own original, enthralling, entirely distinctive treatment. The characters, the story arcs, the writing styles, are all very different, and when it comes to diversity of setting, well, what could be more diverse than a vanilla plantation in Mexico, Vietnam in 1969, and Teresa's own ruined castle in Wales?

RV: Here’s where it got sticky. Alison Tyler wanted a femme/femme anthology. But we begged of her to allow it a slant past the boundaries. We had some fantastic stories pouring in, albeit not femme/femme! Some of these stories could not be passed up! Should not have been passed up! Alison Tyler agree—though might have been a smidge disappointed at first to do so—you’d have to ask her. I do think all of us are now excited with the outcome! It’s hot! And it has a bit of everything—that is—everything we could pack in the limited space to make readers taste buds salivate!

LB: Is "femme" a state of mind, an attitude, or are the trappings required?

SG: I’m no expert on femmes, really, being more of a basic earthy-crunchy type, but I do see “femme” as representing a state of mind that projects an attitude, with or without the trappings. The trappings can be a lot of fun, though. (I should add here that despite my personal shortcomings, my characters can manage considerable expertise at being, recognizing, lusting for, and loving femmes. Funny how that works out.)

LB: And following from that, anyone can put on a dress and makeup (although probably some people just shouldn’t), but can anyone be a femme, regardless of sexual preference or physical gender, if she or he has the right attitude?

SG: Definitely. If you get the mind-set right, the rest follows naturally. And I also think that it’s possible for some people to emphasize different aspects of their sexuality at different times, according to mood, circumstance, and, possibly, the availability of extra-fine trappings.

LB: Say you’re at a fancy-schmancy party where a lot of the women are in dresses and heels. What signs might tell you that the woman you’re talking to might be a femme, rather than a “random straight woman who’s dressed up because it’s that kind of a party”?

SG:
Hmm, well, I don’t think I personally would be particularly good at reading the signs, but I’d guess that the true femme would be truly inhabiting the fancy clothes, “working” them, while the others would be merely wearing them. And the femme would be more elegantly graceful in the high heels (and less likely to kick them off at the first opportunity).

RV: Does it matter? Is there a secluded area at this party? A bathroom with a lock? (Lock is optional.) And do all of the dresses have underwear beneath them (thongs not included)? Love a party!

But, to the question…

Are you marrying her or fucking her? That’s the only way the question would come into play for me. Even then, people change—hourly, by the minute, within seconds. Just work it!

LB: Name some iconic femmes, either real people or fictional characters.

SG: Some of my gay male friends know a lot more about iconic femmes than I do, but the top of my list would be Marlene Dietrich. I did quite a bit of research on her for a story I wrote for Mitzi Szereto’s Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers (Cleis Press). My piece was about Dietrich’s hard work entertaining the Allied troops in the field during the Battle of the Bulge in WWII, and, even though my title was “Dietrich Wears Army Boots”, the soldiers would put up home-made signs for her performances that used no words, only a drawing of long crossed legs in nylons and garters. Now that was a femme. (And she was proudly bisexual.)


LB: Before Lipstick on Her Collar ended up with Alison Tyler’s Pretty Things Press, it had at least one unfortunate publishing “adventure.” Could you use this as a lead-in to talk about the state of GBLT publishing, especially small press, today? [Teresa on behalf of Lust Bites: I misremembered—I had thought Lipstick had started out with a press that folded. My bad. But the question provoked some really interesting answers on the state of GBLT publishing so I’m keeping it as it.]


SG: All I know about the title’s history is that I saw it in a Call for Submissions several years ago, and then it seemed to disappear. Maybe Alison can tell us more.

I do know something about the state of GLBT publishing, though. Many traditional presses have disappeared in recent years. Some, like Carrol & Graf and Thunder’s Mouth, were shed like old skin when their parent companies were assimilated by large corporations that saw no profit in having more than one imprint serving that niche (and sometimes didn’t want any at all). Some are barely hanging on because of losses elsewhere in the parent conglomeration. Others, like Haworth’s former Harrington Park Press imprint, have closed down because of a merger with a bigger company that didn’t want any fiction. That particular situation left two of my books orphaned, as well as many other fine works, some of which are being picked up by smaller presses.

The small presses moving into this void are up against great challenges, but some may have the flexibility to adapt to the shifting world of publishing. Some have been around for a while, and are now expanding with caution, like Lethe Press, which has rescued several of the Orphans of Harrington Park, including mine. Others are newer, sometimes begun by writers with solid previous publication credits and a proven readership who decide to start publishing their own work and expand to include other authors. Bedazzled, Inc. appears to be one of these. Then there are several successful publishers specializing in lesbian romance. In all of these undertakings there’s a large component of “for the love” rather than an expectation of huge profits. As noted above, the corporate bean-counters have largely turned their backs on these niche markets.

RV:
Lipstick was always Alison’s brainchild. It hadn’t been anywhere else.

Rode Hard, Put Away Wet might have had an adventure, but it was positive. We had hit Haworth up first but hadn’t heard a word from them. Then we sent the idea to Suspect Thoughts—they grabbed it! At the same moment, practically, Haworth decided to get back to us—they wanted it! Ah…wish these unfortunate publishing adventures happened every time. But Haworth was offered Hard Roads, Easy Riding to smooth any ruffled feathers.

The GBLT publishing industry has always struggled, from my take on it. And recently we have lost some of the bigger houses that supported GBLT works. It’s much more important now to buy from small presses like Pretty Things, or Suspect Thoughts, or LETHE (hosting our motorcycle-themed anthology)…

Without these talented, vivacious, courageous people, we would be gagged (which might be super for an evening event but truly no good for book-lovers) and our voices would not be heard as individuals with varying tastes. Check out the small presses! They need all of us!

LB: You’re both writers as well as editors. Do you find it easy to write? Do words and the translation from thought to page flow effortlessly for you or is it a discipline (lovely word....)

SG: There’s nothing effortless about my writing, or Rakelle’s, either, I think, except in those rare few minutes when, after agonizing hours (or even days or weeks) of inching along, the ideas finally click into place and the characters take charge. As for discipline, it’s a great concept, and I wish I could manage it, instead of watching so many deadlines float by for projects I’d hoped to send work to.

RV:
Writing is a passion for me. I’ve been inducted with all of the clichés—“if you’re not a good reader you cannot write” or one of my all-time favorites—“you must cut open your veins and bleed onto the page” (a bit fetishy, but messy with the actual writing I’d think).

No, I just love to tell a story. That’s the important part—first, be a good storyteller, then learn your Ps&Qs to writing. Editors will help with the nitty gritty if you’ve polished your story and are open to learning. It’s crucial not to marry yourself to your work. Everyone says things differently, but we all get there. As a writer, I need to stay open-minded to the suggestions that come back to me (wow, isn’t that difficult). As an editor, I need to be conscious of individual voice and prose—but I’m a total hard-ass on technical correctness (yet another difficulty to work with).

Getting back to writing though…for me, it’s easier to spin up a story when a little bit (amount not always measured correctly) rubs the truth. Most, but not all, of my short stories are of cowboy/cowboi characters. I am a cowboy all of the time with my heart and soul. I also tell a good story with the passion fueled by reality. Writing is obnoxiously easy for me! I don’t angst (I’ve found it ruins the journey). Sometimes an event nags at the back of my brain until I get it out!

Hey, vomit on the page first, then work it into something worth submitting—but get those ideas down before you lose them.

LB: What do you sacrifice (if anything) to write and edit? You know, lambs, virgins…


SG: What I really need to sacrifice is too many hours noodling about online, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I do find that editing cuts way down on my personal writing, but that may be more a matter of focus than of time.

RV:
I’m fresh out of virgins (not my type)--I like someone who brings their own tricks to the table.

As for sacrifices, I don’t feel my writing creates any. It’s a total pleasure I can get off on.

LB: Trying to write a really good erotic story with fresh descriptions and valid plot is harder than most people think. Got any tips?


SG: Don’t force it. Only write it if the characters and theme and setting really grab you; otherwise they won’t grab anybody else, either. If they’re real enough to you, the erotic parts will flow naturally. Above all, take pride in what you’re writing. Don’t write down, don’t think that writing erotica is “slumming”. Some experience in reading and writing in other genres that require plot and well-developed settings, like science fiction or mysteries, can be very useful.

And also take pity on the poor editor who has seen the same thing time after time, and will really perk up and take notice of a fresh approach that only you can provide. (Remembering, of course, tip # 1: Don’t force it.)

RV: Don’t make it that difficult on yourself! Yes, it’s hard to write for publication, especially when you are required to create an entire scene from beginning to ending in 1,500 to (sometimes) 8,000 words and have it grammatically correct.

I personally envision the scene in my head, or have made sure that the specific events work, but I always start with that one nagging character that has something to say, then I let them say it. I don’t mean to make writing sound easy—it’s not. And I don’t wish to make my process sound vague--it has to be. The writing comes from you. Let your audience hear YOU. Or you’ll just get caught up in another one of those clichés—“emulate your favorite author.” (Of course, if you’re already emulating me, I’m totally flattered!).

LB: What’s next in the works for you, as both as writers and as editors?

SG: Not a “next,” exactly, but our Hard Road, Easy Riding: Lesbian Biker Erotica, orphaned by Haworth, is being reissued by Lethe Press with a new and sexier cover. I have a queer alternate history anthology, Time Well Bent, coming out from Lethe Press this fall, and Rakelle has a great anthology called Drag Kings, co-edited with Amie M. Evans, lined up at Suspect Thoughts Press. We both have new stories turning up in other books every now and then. I’m angling back toward my science fiction and fantasy roots a bit, with a ghost story in Catherine Lundoff’s forthcoming Haunted Hearths and Sapphic Shades, coming soon from Lethe Press.

As for Girl Crazy, I’m thrilled to have stumbled into an opportunity to edit this lesbian first-time themed book for Cleis Press. The guidelines are available in all the usual places, or anyone can e-mail me at sacchigreen@gmail.com for information.

RV: Foaling season is next on my agenda. Those long, lonely nights of foal-watch vigilance offer a great opportunity to write.

Believe it or not, my first love of writing is and always will be, the full-length novel. I can let the characters go where they want, when they want, for however long they want! And I can mix it up with new characters that torture the emotions and relationships of my main character (sometimes horribly sadistically). Now that can get exciting!

After foaling season, is breeding season, then breaking/gentling colts, which takes me away from the ranch where you might find me out on the road somewhere in the USA doing demonstrations and clinics, by fall, I might be lucky to find some play time at one of the International Gay Rodeos (which have day and evening events, not all in the arena. Check one out!)

Traveling always makes for memorable stories—that I’m of course compelled (sometimes by threat) to say are never, never, ever true in the least. (Names are changed to protect the innocent—me.)

Have laptop, will travel, so the writing never gets left behind!

As for anthology works, Suspect Thoughts has a finished manuscript edited by Amie M. Evans and myself on the theme of Drag King erotica scheduled for publication, with another themed proposal in their hands. So, sweeties (and not-so-sweeties!) let Suspect Thoughts know via email, snail mail, or however, that you’d like to read some drag king smut—you won’t be disappointed!!!

LB: Is there any erotic theme you haven't yet written about but feel you want to, or a prospective anthology burning in your brain?

SG: There are certainly some ideas simmering in my brain, but I’m too busy right now for them to boil over, and I’d rather not toss them out into the world half-baked. Or, um, soft-boiled. You’ll be the first to know, though, if/when I have a new Call for Submissions to share.

RK: My brain is always on fire! I’ll admit, my thoughts are mostly burning with eroticism, but how can I keep you…er um, the writing coming if I give away all of my secrets today?

Suffice to say, I’ll try most anything once. If it hurts, I’ll try it again. I’m such an adrenaline junky! (Or something.)

LB: Cats or dogs? Werewolves or vampires? White wine or red? Femmes or butches? Feel free to answer “yes” to any of the above!


SG: Dogs. And horses, in Rakelle’s case. Werewolves for me. Wine personally mixed into just the right blush of rose; Rakelle is partial to Mexican beer. And Yes. (Although I think I have the most fun writing from a butch perspective. Wish I had the “presence” to pull it off in person the way some of my close friends do.)

RV: YES! And more YESes!!!

Sacchi included a personal message: This has been fun, Teresa! Thanks for the chance to sound off! See you soon at readings for Lipstick on Her Collar (note from Teresa: Northampton, MA on April 18, Good Vibrations in Boston, MA, May 18, and possibly more. Teresa will post dates in her blog); you always do such a fine job of upholding the Femme side of the Force.

To the rest of you, go ahead and toss questions if you’ve got ‘em. I’ll do my best to answer.


PS: Comment to win a copy of this anthology (many thanks to Alison Tyler!)

Important PPS: Since this is rather long, but we loooove those teasing excerpts, I've posted a couple of short ones on my blog.

57 comments:

Kathleen Oxley said...

Great interview! Sounds like an awesome anthology - I can't wait to see it!

~Kathleen
kat.oxley@gmail.com
katoxley.blogspot.com

Janine Ashbless said...

Wow - great, informative interview.

vomit on the page first, then work it into something worth submitting YES - that's what it feels like sometimes: it has to come out. It's not a nice metaphor but it's incredibly accurate.

And Rakelle! I now have a little crush...

Jeremy Edwards said...

What a nutritious and delicious mixture of creative, editing, personal, and publishing-world insights! Kudos to all parties involved in this interview.

And kudos to Alison, for continuing to deliver small-press books that are so erotically big!

LOHC is next on my to-buy list. (I'm cheerfully addicted to lesbian erotica.)

Victoria Janssen said...

Thanks for doing this interview! It was a pleasant surprise to see something about an anthology I'm actually in (as Elspeth Potter, that is).

limecello said...

What an interview - thanks for that! :-P Difficult to read while trying to pay attention to trusts and fiduciaries.
This sounds like a great book!

TeresaNoelleRoberts said...

Wanted to let everyone know that since this ran so long, I've posted excerpts on my blog, teresanoelleroberts.blogspot.com.

Sacchi said...

Teresa, you've just got to take a firm stance about word length when you interview me. And a bit of knife play might come into it. (For trimming, you pervs! intriguing image, though)

Alison Tyler said...

Oh, how cool to learn more about these two fantastic editors and writers! And Janine, I agree with you... I have a little crush, too.

XXX,
AT

Sacchi said...

Victoria-also-known-as-Elspeth (and other names I won't reveal), I would have loved to hold forth on each story, but, as you can see, the blog would have sunk under the weight.

I mentioned the diversity of settings, and I'd also like to add another vector of diversity; history. Your lovely piece, "Poppies Are Not the Only Flower", is set on the verge of a European battlefield during WWI, and we have one set in South Vietnam in 1969, as well. There are some others, too, that evoke a fine sense of "period".

Anonymous said...

Which way to the Chunnel!!!!
Rakelle

Smut Girl said...

Oh what a wonderful interview. I love to read about other writers and how an anthology came to fruition. And I am not surprised at all that AT had a big hand in this. She's such a pro-writer editor/publisher. And I love the cover.

Of course my favorite part was hearing how easy/difficult it is for both Sacchi and Rakelle to write. That always fascinates me because we're all so different in that area. That part always satisfied my nosy nature.

Thx for lovely interview!
xoxo
Sommer

Madeline Moore said...

Fascinating.

Anonymous said...

Hey all! I've had the great pleasure of being a writer for Rakelle and Sacchi and they are great to write for and work with... When we're all out promoting the lastest antho, Sacchi MC's with flair and Rakelle makes the readings Fun! Fun! Fun! (I still have the photos Rakelle!!! I won't blackmail but perhaps a little barter in that unlocked bathroom you mentioned...???)

~Val Murphy/Mal Lapin~

Anonymous said...

Time and place, babe. Time and place. Bring the photos--and I want digital copies to share with friends and family.
Rakelle

Anonymous said...

Say, I thought this was supposed to be about erotic writing?

So, I'll start. I'm sure we could all use a little practice.

It was a dark and stormy night. (No, too overdone.)

Well, I'm a cowboy so let me start there...

Her horse set the pace as they turned toward the ranch at near dusk. The day had been hot. Too hot. Streaks of sweat mixed with dust slid in trails down her face. She swiped the back of her forearm across her brow, sopping the cotton sleeve. The big sorrel gelding tossed its head, demanding more rein to quicken its pace.

Who's next?
Rakelle

Angell said...

Amazing interview! Very informative, and fills out my book list very nicely.

I love the title of the anthology.

Leatherdykeuk said...

It sounds utterly delightful!

Alison Tyler said...

The title comes from this song from the 80s that I cannot find. The band was called something like "Beatnik Beach," and the line was:

She's got lipstick on her collar
All our dreams have been in vain

XXX,
AT

Jeremy Edwards said...

A bit of vanguard lightning split the sky. The flash seemed to wink at her own aching split, which anchored her to her saddle as she raced forward. The first droplets of hot rain also greeted her as a comrade, tapping on her shoulder to inquire about the drops of wetness she was beginning to produce in her own right as she rode her desire.

Anonymous said...

Phew... I think I need to opena window I'm getting the vapors....

"...The first droplets of hot rain also greeted her as a comrade, tapping on her shoulder to inquire about the drops of wetness she was beginning to produce in her own right as she rode her desire..."

...Her pelvis danced her gelding into the 3-beat canter. The pace echoing the memory of her last night in the bunkhouse before heading out to ride herd.

~Mal Lapin

Kate Pearce said...

Rakelle, of course you know that as soon as I read you trained horses, I was ready to sit at your feet :) I LOVE to write about cowboys!

I also loved the whole interview and how both you amazing ladies balance life, writing and editing.Thanks so much for sharing. Now I wish I could write lesbian erotica :)

Anonymous said...

Kate--don't limit yourself! Cut loose. I'm sure Ms. Tyler can vouge for the fact that I do not strictly right lesbian erotica.

And right here, right now, is your chance to give it your all.
Jeremy and Mal Lapin are heating the e-waves but they have not yet gotten anywhere further than a lonely, horny ride.

Come on Kate, give it to us!

(And my feet are yours any time, darling.)
xx
Rakelle

Anonymous said...

oopsie, type-o

try VOUCH

my brain just wasn't on my spellin'.
My, where did I go?

Rakelle

Sacchi said...

For cowboy lovers like Kate, I'll mention here that Rakelle and i both have stories in Cecilia Tan's anthology Cowboy Lover. And they're het in nature. Well, hers is; mine is about two thirds het.

Actually, I'm pretty sure more Lusties have stories in that book, as well, but I'm too rushed right now to check.

Alison Tyler said...

Ha! I think that's about how I'd describe myself:

two thirds het

XXX,
AT

Anonymous said...

She had thrown the girl down onto the lower bunk, gripping her own fingers into the board of the top bunk. The girl got busy. She had ripped the gritty zipper down after plucking the brass button on tight Wranglers.
The girl, her name may have been Kathe, set back a moment as skin, bare and slick stared back at her with a slanted smile.

Rakelle

Anonymous said...

And, um, Alison...would you be telling us what the other third might entail?

R.

Sacchi said...

Might it entail any other tail that happens to be handy? (Kinda makes you thing twice about a cat-o-nine-tails...)

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I'm new to this internet stuff---especially the interview thingy.
But I do realize that there is a larger number than I can count of erotica writers, editors, publishers and readers watching this. Cool!
So why was it left to just three of us to begin an erotica legacy story on Lust Bites?
Sacchi?
Alison?
Teresa?
Elspeth?
Cheyenne Blue?--cuz I know you're out there
Kate?


Rakelle

dejaynovl said...

I thoroughly enjoyed the interview, great questions and better answers.

I have a question too. When calling for stories for an Anthology, have you ever received a story not right for the project your doing but great for another one, if so how do you handle it.

Another question on average what's the comparison of stories received vs actual stories used?

Thanks again great reading.

Sacchi said...

Just wait, Rakelle. I'm a night writer. And right now I'm hustling around working on details for our readings.

Anonymous said...

Hustling? You nasty thing. Why, I never...

Now are you going to answer the questions from dejaynovi or shall I?

Rakelle

Sacchi said...

Rakelle, what, never?

Go ahead and answer Dejay's question your way (which I'm sure will be more entertaining), and I'll take a stab at it too, 'cause Deej is a pal of mine.

Anonymous said...

Comparison of stories received vs actual stories submitted?

Wow, you put some nitty gritty thought into this one. So I'll despise myself later for saying that the numbers are subjective.

First, there is a manuscript word count set (probably) by the publisher (say about 60,000), then there will be a range to the word count that editors are looking for for this particular antho per story (1,500 - maybe 3,500 but might go as high these days as 8,000). Then you can do the math. But you can't because each story comes in at different word counts---and its really the story that makes it or not. Word count is not everything. Story IS!

So, you really cannot win the numbers lottery. You still have to be a good storyteller and a good writer. Then leave the hashing of word count to the editors and publishers.

Just a rough guess---there are probably 24 stories on average in an antho, or 20...
I haven't really kept a numbers check.

Sacchi?
Alison?

Sacchi said...

Hey Deej! Glad you made it!

In answer to your first question, I've suggested other markets for some stories I couldn't use, and it's often wprked out well. Once I published one of those in another project I was doing, a guest-editor gig for Suspect Thoughts Journal.

As to percentage of submissions used, that varies with the ratio of submissions to the number of stories needed. With a fairly narrow theme, the percentage might be 20%, because not as many writers would tackle it. With a broad theme, it seems like some folks will send anything they have lying around, including their grocery lists. We've never received the sky-high pile of submissions you might find at, say, Best Lesbian Erotica, but we get more as our anthologies become better known. Even starting out, we had connections with many excellent writers we'd shared Tables of Contents with in other books, so getting quality material wasn't difficult. I especially like to find newer writers with fresh approaches, though, and we've always found some golden (and more or less virginal) needles in the haystack.

Anonymous said...

Excuse the interruption...

Received vs Used?

There again it is subjective. Truly.

The subject plays a big part in how many responses are recieved.
And so does time of year, position of the moon, any satelite or spaceshuttle lands...
Basically there are WAY more stories than one antho could hold and therefore we are cads in telling folks that we cannot use their story. However, Sacchi is the local hero with those acceptance letters (she does the correspondence stuff---I'm really not that good at it and prefer the background---she's excellent at it!)

Rakelle

Alison Tyler said...

I've definitely told authors that I loved their story, but want to hold the piece for a different collection. I do this all the time. I'm always mentally trying to fill slots in a slew of different ABC books.

As to numbers received vs. stories accepted—depends on if we're talking about an open call. But I'm not stretching the truth when I say that I read nearly 900 stories for the 60 slots in Flash Fucking. Luckily, I was able to slip certain ones into other books, but still... I was shocked by how many writers responded to that call!

XXX,
AT

Sacchi said...

I'm the rejection Queen, too. I've even had quite a few writers thank me for my encouraging rejections. It's true that the more submissions a book gets, the harder it is to find time for personal notes, but I try.

Anonymous said...

And you are truly sooo good at it Sacchi!
But I got hit with the very few who would probably send hate mail with anthrax.
Guess I haven't got the golden touch so I leave the chatting to you.

R.

TeresaNoelleRoberts said...

Then the girl got to the point.
Work-hard hands and a tongue as determined as a cat with particularly rich cream.
And it was good. Hell yeah, it was good.
Too damn good, brought her off almost too fast, digging her nails into the board and biting her own shoulder so she didn't scream to wake the dead. But there'd be time for more later.

Now she wanted to give the girl a little something special, because even if she was bad with names, she was good with other signals.
Grabbed her belt, wrapped it around the girl's wrists. "Nice," she'd said. "But I have other plans for you."


Sorry to chime in late on the smut--was writing smut-for-pay!

Dayle and I are both in Cowboy Lover; mine's an uncharacteristic het fem-domme story. (Usually I get my female characters into the interesting and fun predicaments involving leather, but this one insisted on being different.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, y'all. Interesting, informative, and insightful.
HH

Anonymous said...

hey! when are you going to get back to writing the erotic story by many authors that was started earlier? inquiring minds want to know.

Anonymous said...

The screendoor squeaked, then clapped shut as a shadowy figure filled the dim opening. It was Flint. He leaned his tall, rangy figure against the door frame. She could almost feel his smile.

They had grown up together. He was her brother's best friend. And while her brother Chet left for the Army. Flint stayed behind to work the ranch. He had also stayed behind for her, she knew. He had made that clear from the age of ten and still hadn't gotten what he wanted.

She heard his working belt unbuckle and the characteristic snaps of his cotton shirt ripped open in one long ragged series of pops.

Rakelle---and weren't you being studious, Teresa.

Janine Ashbless said...

Woah. You guys are like fireworks going off all over!

I'd join in the story but am so sleepy right now all I can think of is puns about cow pokes...

Deanna Ashford said...

Fascinating interview. Thanks for visiting us.

Anonymous said...

Hey, its been super! I thank everyone who allowed me to chat with them or who were so positive and gracious in their comments!
Biggie thank you to Teresa!!!!
And thanks also to Alison Tyler (actually one of my favorite erotica writers since eons b4 I even thought about writing) and to Sacchi (also one of the favs--in a newer long list of many--but at the top Sacchi)!

I need to finish up the ranch chores and get a head start for tomorrow--picking up my new horse trailer from CT, USA and have two foals overdue.

Hope to check in when I get thawed out from the cold. But if not, its been fun and a new experience for me!!!
Cannot thank everyone enough.

Rakelle Valencia

Eden said...

This sounds absolutely delightful. Great interview!

Eden
http://edenseternal.blogspot.com/

Sacchi said...

Okay, I said I was a night writer, but some nights get late sooner than others. Anyway, here's my token addition to the tale.

But first, a recap, ‘cause who remembers where the hell we started out and where we’ve got to now? Our heroine, R, is riding back to the ranch after a hard, hot day, and flashing back to a hot, hard night. First there’d been the girl, eager, skilled, submissive, getting her off with slam, bang intensity. Then, just as R’s belt was wrapping around the girl’s wrists in preparation for more leisurely pursuits, Flint had slouched through the door, smiled at what he found, and begun to shed his clothes.
Got it.

R eyed Flint with as steely a gaze as anybody could muster with their Wranglers sagging down their butt and a smeary-mouthed girl crouched in front of them with her bound wrists raised high. “What do you think you’re up to, cowboy?” she gritted, although a glance at the bulge in his now-unbelted britches showed clearly enough what was up.

“Just bein’ a gentleman,” Flint said, “offerin’ my belt to a lady who could surely use an extra, her own bein’ otherwise occupied.” He made as if to hand her his belt, but drew it back at the last second and then snapped the leather strip like a whip, catching her just where the retreating denim left a curve of tender flesh.

[Now all you need to do is get her to the next night, riding back to the bunkhouse, just the way the story started. Good luck.]

Sacchi said...

Thanks to all for having us here, as Rakelle said, and thanks especially to Rakelle and Alison for taking the book from dream to reality. It's been a great ride.

Eden said...

She jumped at the stinging line the belt left against her skin. She didn’t think, reacting in anger at his intrusion. She scrambled out of the bunk, ignoring how her jeans slid lower and snatched an abandoned whip from under the bunk. It had been kicked there weeks ago, but she just kept forgetting to take it back into the saddle room. She was grateful for it now.

“Get out, Flint,” she snarled menacingly, advancing on the smirking cowboy. He wasn’t taking her seriously. He should have known her better, all those years watching her. “Get out!” she said again, bringing the whip down.

He caught her wrist as she brought it down, the that was what she knew he’d do. While he was distracted, she stepped into him and brought her knee up. Flint yelped and curved over, moaning. She gripped his shirt and towed him to the door. “You never were a gentleman, Flint. Stay outta here, or I won’t be so nice next time, ya hear?” She opened the door and shoved him out, slamming the door and turning back to the girl who watched with wide eyes. She rubbed the burning line on her skin as she moved back to the bunk.

Kathleen Oxley said...

She balanced with a hand on the top bunk and pulled off her boots, then kicked off her jeans. She looked down at Kathe who was lying still and quiet, eyes watching her expectantly. "Now, where were we?"

She moved onto the bunk, straddling the girl with a knee on either side of her hips. She unbuttoned Kathe's shirt and spread it, exposing creamy skin and small, firm breasts. She kneaded the left under her rough palm and leaned her lips to the other. Her warm breath floated across the peak and the nipple rose and darkened.

Anonymous said...

Alright, how did the "She" get to be R? Did I miss something?
And what about my neat little threesome set-up?
Damn.
But okay, what happens next?

Rakelle
back from checking some HEAVY mares.

Eden said...

Kathe moaned and writhed, lifting her bound hands, but they were caught and pushed back down onto the mattress. “Leave ‘em there,” came the muttered command, lips brushing the pebbled peak. A moment later and the heat of her tongue started to lap at it, wetting it thoroughly before she pulled back and blew a stream of cool air onto it.

Kathe bucked her hips in reaction, making her breasts wobble prettily and her hands fisted as she struggled to keep them over her head. “Sandy,” Kathe moaned, arching up as if offering herself.

Anonymous said...

Sandy---that's better than R.
Thank you.

Did you know that my sister's name is Kathe and my mother's name is Sandy???

Too much info.

But its getting a little freaky from my perspective.

Wow, I think I need a cold shower regardless.
Steppin' out for fresh air

Rakelle

Anonymous said...

"Come on," Flint said from behind the screen door. "Sandy, please?" He sounded like a mewling kitten, not the rough, tough cowhand he was. "Can't I at least watch?" he asked. "Kathe would let me."

Rakelle

Anonymous said...

Goodnight all!
And thanks again.
Special thanks to everyone who wrote on Lust Bites/Lipstick Interview erotic story.

(Eden, you're very funny! ;~} )

Rakelle Valencia

Kathleen Oxley said...

"You sound pathetic," Sandy snarled.

"Sandy," Flint whined in earnest.

Sandy ignored him as she turned her full attention back to the girl beneath her. She unfastened Kathe's jeans and slid them down her hips and legs.