blogging, book promotion, marketing, Podcast, Writers Co-op

PODCAST INVITATION

  • by Joseph Carrabis

This is a wonderful opportunity to help trauma survivors get their stories and work out to a wider audience.

For those who don’t know, Katie Koestner was on the cover of TIME Magazine at the age of 18 as the first person to speak out nationally and publicly as the victim of “date” rape. She is now the Producer and Host of the Dear Katie: Survivor Stories podcast.

My function is two fold. One, to find any creatives (not just authors) whose work deals with trauma and healing, and engage them in podcast conversations regarding their work and their lives post trauma. Two, to help find trauma survivors who’ll share their stories for the main Dear Katie podcast, review episodes before they go to air, edit, and make suggestions as necessary.

Please leave a comment if you or someone you know has written a fiction or non-fiction book, article, or story about surviving trauma. Include the title of the published work, the publisher, a synopsis of the story, and a link to where I can find it online.

Thanks.
– Joseph Carrabis

My own work in this area can be seen in the material listed below. Your work doesn’t need to mirror or echo my subject matter to be considered; it only needs to be well-written and deal with survivor issues.

Post Title – Producer, Dear Katie: Survivors on the Page Book Club; Editor, Dear Katie: Survivor Stories I joined the Katie Koestner organization as Producer, Dear Katie: Survivors on the Page Book Club, and Editor, Dear Katie: Survivor Stories.

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book promotion, book sales, marketing, Publisher's Advice

Publishing trends 2022

You may have already come across this list of eight publishing trends singled out by WrittenWordMedia (who amongst other things are behind the widely used Free Booksy and BargainBooksy promotion sites), but if not, here’s what they predict:

  1. Direct sales continue to grow
  2. Indie Authors embrace next-gen tech
  3. BookTok goes mainstream
  4. Book prices will increase
  5. More success for small publishers
  6. Advertising becomes more inclusive
  7. Advertising becomes more expensive and difficult to track
  8. The audiobook market continues to evolve

As an indie author, some of these interest me more than others. The higher cost of advertising, for example, is somewhat discouraging, as this is the year I’ve decided I must take the plunge and give it a try (yes, I know, I’ve been saying that for the past three years, but I’m edging ever closer…).

It’s also worth setting up direct sales from a website, which isn’t complicated to do and costs nothing. I have no illusions about the number of sales that result, but it’s another outlet to add, so why not?

The audiobook market is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. The choice there is between going through a professional narrator, which guarantees a certain quality, but is (in my case prohibitively) expensive, and doing it oneself, which means not just mastering the technical constraints but having both the time and the skills for the reading itself.

BookTok? Hmm… At first glance, not for dinosaurs like me. I’ve just about heard of it but haven’t a clue how it works. The only time I visited TikTok, all I saw was young girls dancing or displaying their make up. But apparently it can get a ‘surreal’ number of views. So figuring that even a dinosaur can (to a limited extent) learn, I’ve signed up for Mark Dawson’s TikTok challenge, which starts at the end of this month. More out of curiosity than with any expectation of results. I’ll let you know how it goes.

And you? What are your plans this year for increasing sales of your books?

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book promotion, inspiration, wise-guy animals in pants, world-building, writing technique

You settle for the book you get – James Baldwin

Sly’s path across Europe. Hardly any stretch of this journey was planned. One thing led to another. Clockwise from Virgin Mary: Pedro, a runaway duke. An abused bear in a circus. Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Sha-Sha, Queen Elizabeth’s pet monkey. Queen Elizabeth. John Dee, her royal astrologer. A rat, in the Prussian town of Hameln. A crackpot frog who believes he’s an enchanted prince.

__________________________

From a piece on Joan Didion by David L. Ulin:

“. . .  even the most apparently intentional career is a matter of serendipity. We get ideas and they stick, or they do not. “You never get the book you wanted,” James Baldwin once observed, “you settle for the book you get.” We set out to write something and end up with something else.”

I know that’s true for me. I’m haphazard in my goals for my characters, in the way I tell their stories, in the way I present the material. I meander through my plots. My telling is full of ‘by the way’ and, ‘that reminds me’. I elaborate on points extraneous to the action, but so much fun I want to get them, in comical footnotes.

My writing style is a reflection of the way I’ve lived my life. I could call it ‘Half-assed’. Many of my relatives would agree with that. I could call it ‘Anything Goes’. That puts it in a better light. I’ll stick with Anything Goes.

Plotting a way forward is not for me. I know from experience, a few pages down the road I’m going to change my mind about something major, so why bother trying to outline? I add a new character to fill a short-term need, then fall in love with him and have to give him more to do so I can keep him around.

Gato, who I wrote about recently for Showcase, is a fine example. I needed him on my ship for a specific reason. Then I found it useful to imply he’s in the employ of Francis Walsingham, the head of Elizabeth’s spy network. He’s a career criminal, a Spaniard pulled out of an English prison to keep an eye on the Spanish captain of the Santa Clara, a merchant trader sailing a regular route from Spain to the low countries. He gathers intelligence on Spanish build-up in the south and sells it up north, and on English intentions and sells it to Madrid.

At the end of book two, Gato, as a result of an incident on a beach outside La Rochelle, heads back to England. What I’m going to do with him up there, I haven’t a clue. I don’t have to deal with that for a good while. I have time for ideas to fester in my brain. I’m going to pull some yuks out of him one way or another.

I smile to think a reader, having finished The Rogue Decamps, well along in book two, having a feel for the way I operate, learning there are seven books in the series, will share my glee: How many loopy malcontents does she have in store for me?

I’ve made bunches of disastrous decisions in my life. You can bet Gato’s going to do the same. Everybody in my story makes poor decisions. Entertainingly poor, that’s my one and only goal.

Nobody in my tale is satisfied with what they have. They all want something else.

Gato wants to be seen as a gentleman. His aristocratic captain wants to have the lifestyle of his affluent cousins in Madrid; he’s the poor relation. My runaway ten-year-old duke wants to join a circus, where he feels safe for the first time in his life. My archbishop, slated for the church from an early age (he’s the late king’s illegitimate son), wants to be a playwright in Paris. So it goes.

I would have preferred to have lived life without the crisis after crisis I’ve been through. I wasn’t capable of it, due to some mental instability I freely admit to. Calm and collected I’ve never been. I’ve lurched through life as I lurch through my plots: sad circumstances strung together that I eventually manage to sculpt into a semi-presentable narrative.

Plots are overrated. I want atmosphere. I want style. I want to sink into the world I’m reading about, make myself at home in it. I want to care about the characters. Bring them to life for me or you’ve lost me.

Plot is way down on my list. I’m glad to find folks on Youtube who agree with me. Chris Via, this guy Sherd, of Sherds Tube, and, I’m sure, many others. I’m going to track them down, pick their brains, be amused, and be inspired. Better Than Food, this guy is fabulous also.

There’s a community on Youtube I knew nothing about until Rick Harsch posted his piece on social media. Thank you, Rick. I’m watching your channel as well.

I love the this-and-that of life. That’s what interests me. Hell, that’s what fascinates me.

Maybe it’s a coping strategy, a way to live with the horrible choices I’ve made. Some of that was the result of being a loner and an introvert. Until I met my husband twenty years ago, I’d lived life without a safety net. It’s warped me.

I’m a warped human being. I’ve long been aware of it. I’ve finally made it work for me, with Sly. And Maisie. And Miss Spider. And a host of other lovely loony-tunes.

Screw normal. Me and my kooks and creeps are fine without it.

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book promotion, book sales, marketing, Uncategorized

Promotion Commotion

I’m creating the backmatter for Maisie in Hollywood. Above is the final page in my book, a promo for Sly! The Rogue Decamps.

I’ll have to have Decamps able to be found on Amazon when book one of Maisie is printed and ready to sell. Like Perry, I plan to sell at book and art fairs and to try to get it into local bookstores.

I’m researching promotional strategies on the web. Most of what I see might work for previously published authors with a following – and an email list:

  • Post a cover reveal – Run giveaways of ARCs – Send ARCs to major publications (For sure, in my dreams!)
  • Create bonus content. (For your hordes of dedicated followers, natch.)
  • Announce a title reveal. Have your book available for preorder in time for its cover reveal.
  • Build an author street team of volunteers to incite word-of-mouth buzz. (Again, in my dreams)
  • Create an inventory of book promotion images to promote the preorder and book launch. (This I can handle.)
  • Post fun photos of the book on social media. Publish posts on sites like BuzzFeed & Medium.
  • Your mailing list! Mailing list! Mailing list!

Screw it.

Carl has his path: Get your name known by submitting to anthologies. It seems to be working for him, and good luck to him. GD and Victor have also had success with anthologies and small publishers.

I’m searching for anthologies of humor. I see nothing that fits my stuff. One looked promising until I got to: maximum 700 words.

700 words are not enough to develop any appreciable characterization. I should try it, I guess, to see what I can do with 700 words. Maybe I’m wrong. But I don’t think so. I don’t want to write graphic-novel-style without the graphics.

Cover reveals on social media, do they work? I skim right past them. Does anybody pay attention to them?

Does anyone here have a substantial mailing list? How did you acquire it?

I’m counting on my eye-catching covers to drive sales. At an art fair, this may work.

I’d like to get a peek at that catalogue that book stores order from. I’m guessing a snappy title is your best bet there. Do you get to include a subtitle? How about a short description? *Sigh* Maybe the crucial piece of information is your name. Are you a known quantity?

Ah! It’s called ‘Books in Print’. I think I can get a look at it.

Speaking of titles, I’m googling titles of articles I’ve posted here and on Medium. A number of them turn up in a google search. The ones that don’t, maybe the wording is not individual enough, there are too many pieces called ‘And Away We Go’, etc.

I’ve just changed the title of this piece from blah to something more interesting.

I’ve known a lot of screwball characters in my time. I could work this or that name into a headline and have the individual folded into my story in a reasonable manner so it’s not an outright bait and switch. I might snag folks who’ve wondered, for instance, whatever became of that bad boy Richard Rheem?

Richard, a former lover of Andy Warhol, was my housemate for two years in Boston. Could I claim he inspired one of my slippery characters? He was sure he deserved more out of life than life was handing him. Yeah, he’d fit right in with my lovely bunch of malcontents.

I google him from time to time. I see a gelatin print of Richard, by Warhol, is selling on artsy.net. Asking price: $18,000! And photos from his days with Andy. I can’t find anything current. Is he still around? When I knew him he already had a couple suicide attempts under his belt.

Hey it’s just a thought.

My larger point is: we have to think outside the box, worm our way into widespread notice by any route available to us.

I’ll wrap this up: What else can I do to improve my chances of being discovered? I know, I know. Finish the damn thing.

This massive project overwhelms me. This is the way it goes with me. I start small, and my thing grows and grows. Sly, an eight-book series, started as a short story in 1985. I had drawn an image of a cat playing a fiddle for an illustration class. I decided it needed a story to go with it. Sly (his name at the time: Puss) was born.

That piece is long lost. I altered a well-known verse and explained the solid history behind it. (Many a childish rhyme was based on a real event.) I recall the verse. The story? Not so much.

Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle.
The cow jumped over Muldoon.
(A cow and a pig joined Puss’s attempt to obstruct an assassination plot. Muldoon was one of my villains.)

The little dog laughed to see such sport.
(Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, was known as Elizabeth’s ‘lap dog’)

Cavendish ran away with the spoon.

A spoon was coated with a clear glaze of poison that would dissolve when dipped in a scalding-hot mug of a treat only recently imported from the Americas–chocolate. This was the method by which Cavendish intended to commit regicide. A Catholic cleric, dressed as a member of his household, wearing his livery, was to serve the beverage and take the fall.

Book four, A Dainty Dish, was eighty-percent written. It will be substantially reworked. Why? Because I discovered John Dee, Elizabeth’s royal astrologer. My conception of the assassination plot has changed radically.

It’s just as well. The cow jumped over Muldoon . . . maybe that gem is best forgotten.

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About Writers, blogging, book promotion, book sales, editing, Freedom of Writing, Literary critique, marketing, Publisher's Advice, show case, Welcome, Writers Co-op

OPEN FOR BUSINESS

The Writers Co-op Show Case allows any writer to receive feedback about their writing. Click “SHOW CASE” for details.

The Rabbit Hole anthology is accepting submissions for our fifth annual publication of speculative fiction. Click “THE RABBIT HOLE” for submission guidelines.

Your blog may be featured here. You, your writing, editing, marketing, or publishing would be of interest . Keep it around 1600 words max and submit it to GD(at)Deckard(dot)one.

Got a question about anything related to the writing life? Feel free to ask it in the comments section.

The Writers Co-op includes fiction authors, poets, editors, illustrators, magazine and book publishers.

You are most welcome to join us.

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About Writers, book promotion, Uncategorized, writing technique

A Heroine’s Journey

  • by Mike Van Horn

I just started reading “The Heroine’s Journey” by Gail Carriger. I opened to the Intro and read this:

Here is the Hero’s Journey in one pithy sentence: Increasingly isolated protagonist stomps around prodding evil with pointy bits, eventually fatally prods baddie, gains glory and honor.

Here is the Heroine’s Journey in one pithy sentence: Increasingly networked protagonist strides around with good friends, prodding them and others on to victory, together.

This brought tears to my eyes; then I laughed out loud. The heroine’s journey is the way I write my stories. Her second sentence could be a blurb for my trilogy.

Hey, I even have a heroine—singer Selena M, who sings real songs. My stories are told from her perspective.

I’ve been so frustrated trying to cram my stories into the framework of the hero’s journey, and they just don’t fit.

I write science fiction. The standard sci fi trope is to fight the nasty evil aliens who are out to invade Earth and destroy humankind. Ray guns and blasters and dogfights in space using World War II tactics. Stories like this no longer grab my attention.

My heroine Selena is a renowned singer who’s reluctant to sing her most meaningful songs because they make her feel vulnerable. She rescues an injured alien whose spaceship crashed on her hillside. The alien is also a singer, who ran away from home because she wasn’t allowed to sing her heartfelt songs, and set out with friends to explore the galaxy. The two help each other recapture their passion for singing.

A theme of my trilogy is Selena’s efforts to come to terms with her singing. How to honor it as the passion of her life. How to balance performing with flying off into space. How to perform her music on other worlds.

On this journey she forms multiple partnerships. With the alien that crashed. With two other women; they become the Three Spaceketeers. With several powerful men, including one modeled after Elon Musk. With a raunchy country singer and a brash New York agent. With two aliens who rescue her when she’s marooned in deep space. She trains a small AI device to develop a personality so it can be her companion when she’s alone in space. All of these help her on her adventures, help her when she’s in a jam, and saves her life multiple times.

Her antagonists are not bloodthirsty alien monsters but officious government bureaucrats who want to grab the alien technology for themselves. She doesn’t kill them; she outsmarts them.

She strides around with good friends, and they prod each other to victory. Yes, I like that! Heroine’s journey.

*   *   *

I explore several ideas in my stories that I may share with you in future posts:

— Why are aliens friendly? What happened to the hostile aliens?

— If aliens come to Earth, what do they want?

— What do aliens look like? Not too humanoid, not too weird. Why? How does convergent evolution play out?

— Why haven’t alien races spread throughout the galaxy, including Earth?

— Do the aliens evolve higher and higher intelligence?

— How does one plausibly leap between stars?

*   *   *

Mike’s trilogy includes:

— Aliens Crashed in My Back Yard

— My Spaceship Calls Out to Me

— Spacegirl Yearning

He’s now working on “book 4 of the trilogy”:

— Alien Invasion: There Goes the Neighborhood

Check these out on galaxytalltales.com. Available as ebooks and paperbacks.

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book promotion, Freedom of Writing, marketing, Writers Co-op

Goodbye Facebook

In 2017 I discovered Facebook as a mecca for networking. Recently, Facebook has become a censored banality. In between, I was fortunate to find over 3,000 “friends” living the writing life. Many taught me, some edited and published my stories. I cannot thank Facebook enough for the opportunity to interact with so many talented people. But all things change and now the politicians have infested Facebook to get around the First Amendment and promote their own agenda while censoring that of opponents.

“U.S. Code § 230, (2)Civil liability, permits social media to censor content “whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/230
Yet, the First Amendment clearly states “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” Politicians have used their regulatory and financial relationships with big media to exert a control over public opinion that is otherwise denied to them.

The result is a leveling of public discourse to the lowest common denominator.

And then, of course, Facebook algorithms ensure that writers who don’t buy ads get scant exposure for posts promoting their books. I left Facebook after scrolling down my feed to find any “friends” book promotion to share on my own timeline. I spent literally forty-five minutes enjoying posts of pets, whines, humor, look-at-me-chit-chat, amazing science (I’m a sucker for amazing science,) and feel-good platitudes. Abruptly, it dawned on me: Not one book promotion! This is all gossip! Critical thinkers have crept away while I wasted my time pretending that I was still networking.

What a waste of time. Goodbye Facebook. Gossip bores me.

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blogging, book promotion, marketing, Uncategorized

I Don’t Know Nuttin’

A writer’s confession

by Mike Van Horn

I don’t know what genre my stories fit into. Yeah, it’s science fiction. Not hard sci-fi, since my heroine flies off to other stars. I know what it’s not. Not dreary dystopian, not vicious alien invaders, not far fuzzy future. 

But what IS my genre? Maybe friendly first contact with personal journey? But try to find that in the Amazon categories. 

Someone called my stories space opera. But there’s not even a fat lady to sing at the end. 

I also don’t know who my target readers are. As I see it, my target readers are people who like my stories. But who are they? How do we even find out? It’s not like I’m writing romance or YA or steampunk or zombies, which all have definable audiences. 

When I look at my Amazon reviews, they seem quite diverse: women and men, American and European. Amazon gives us no info on who buys our books. I’d love to interview my readers to see who they are.

I don’t know what the market is demanding. All the gurus say, scan the other books in your genre and see what’s selling the most, then write that. Ugh. First of all, there are so many sci fi books out there that I think are just terrible, or full of clichés. Of no interest to me at all. 

Secondly, I don’t see many others that are “friendly first contact.” When one woman learned I was writing about friendly aliens who came as tourists and traders, she said, “That’s unusual.” I responded, “That’s why I’m writing it.” 

Thirdly, I write what turns me on. For a long time I’ve been annoyed by the hostile alien invasion trope, and I wanted to write something different. I did no market research on the demand for this topic.

I don’t plan out my stories ahead of time. What I’m writing now started out as a short story, then it metastasized into a trilogy. And now I’m writing Book 4 of the trilogy. And in Book 4, I have no idea what’s going to happen to my heroine at the end. I’m waiting for her to tell me. 

I don’t spend all my time reading other people’s stories, as gurus insist we should. Where would I get the time to do that? Most of my reading is non-fiction. And the novels I’m drawn to are often from years ago. 

I don’t know where my story came from. Interviewers ask, “Where’d you get the idea for your book?” My answer, “I don’t remember.” “Well, how come you have a woman as your MC?” “I dunno. She just popped up in my mind, like my anima or muse.”

I’m doing all these things wrong. I don’t know whether I even count as a real writer. 

But I’m having a great time doing it! 

Mike’s trilogy includes Aliens Crashed in My Back Yard, My Spaceship Calls Out to Me, Space Girl Yearning, and Alien Invasion: There Goes the Neighborhood.
GalaxyTallTales.com

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book promotion, marketing, Uncategorized

Media Pack for The English Professor

A media pack is a document containing information about your book and used for launches as a package of information about your story. The point of a media pack is to catch the eye of publicists and reviewers and make them want to write an article or do an interview. It should be a one-stop shop for all of the information needed. Most media packs can be downloaded from your website or attached to an email. What should your media pack contain? Here’s a typical media pack. The author is Rachel de Vine and her latest book,  The English Professor, released yesterday, 19 Jul 20.

About Rachel (who also writes as Juliette Banks)
Rachel lives in a rural retreat in the countryside of England. Formerly a farmer, she now simply writes and lives, happily, in an old Victorian house, with a beautiful garden, which is another passion, other than writing. Her third passion is travelling to exotic foreign destinations—sadly now limited because of Covid-19.

She writes mainly erotic romance, with strong, sometimes imperfect characters, and often with some thrills and adventure included. She sees herself as simply a storyteller.

 The English Professor
I have written about 14 books to date, as both Rachel de Vine and Juliette Banks. This book is my third I have published myself. I love the whole process from start to finish – writing, editing, formatting, making the cover and the graphics – I love it all.

I honestly don’t remember where the idea for The English Professor came from. An idea springs into my mind from somewhere, I start to write, and then the story just unfolds. I am what is called a “pantser”. I plan nothing in advance. I also only write one draft. If it becomes stale, my writing suffers, and I believe my story loses its interest – especially for me. So I write the story, edit a few times, then it is complete (I hope.)

If my readers enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed writing it, then I am content.

Media Pack for
The English Professor
By Rachel de Vine

Genre: Erotic Romance
Published by Rachel de Vine
Publishing date: July 19, 2020

Universal Link:  mybook.to/TheEnglishProfessor

Blurb

Eleanor
From the moment I first looked into his eyes, I knew I was in trouble. He was a man I found impossible to resist—someone who drew me in like a moth towards the light. He found the part of me that craved the enticement he offered. But our relationship was forbidden. He was my university English Professor and he paid a high price for our affair. But would I pay an even higher price if we never met again?

Dan
I knew I should have walked away, but I was weak. At first it was just the thrill of the illicit sex. But it became so much more—until disaster struck. Our lives were destined to intertwine, but the timing was never right. Had I had lost the love of my life? Could I ever recapture the feelings I only had with her?

Note: This book contains some steamy excerpts. If this offends you, please do not buy.

Tag Lines:
She had the confidence of youth, that many men find hard to resist
He was willing to teach and she was eager to learn
She had the innocence of youth, but the sexual allure of a mature woman
Would they always remain ships that pass in the night?

Excerpt 1
Eleanor
From a distance of nearly twenty years, it is easy to see the mistakes we both made, and how it could have been different. But of course, hindsight’s a wonderful thing. I’m sure Dan too would want to rewrite history if he was able. It would have saved a lot of heartache. But we are where we are. As a writer, I decided to write down our story, as I remembered it. Having met up with Dan again, I asked him to write down his thoughts about the early part of our relationship. These are our stories.

 I thought the English professor was going to be old and staid and…boring—as we imagine an English Professor would be. Surprisingly he turned out to be younger than I was expecting, and somewhat intriguing too. No more than forty I guessed—which was, I suppose, old when compared to my youthful twenty-one. I was beginning my last year at university, and he was new to the faculty. As soon as we met, I knew there was going to be trouble. I was usually good at sensing trouble. He had beautiful hair and “come-to-bed eyes”, with a rich, chocolaty voice. I wasn’t as naïve as some of the girls in my year. He had the look of a predatory fox, let loose in the henhouse—although he never misbehaved in lectures, as some of the guys did. He was perfectly correct, in words or manner, no matter how provocative was the teasing by some of the students. They were cruel, knowing that if the Professor responded in kind, he’d be in trouble with the Dean. I hated their behaviour, which made what happened rather ironic.

I saw him a couple of times at lectures, although we never spoke. It was only when I went to his room to deliver an essay that we had our first conversation. I should have given it to him in class, and was worried about missing the deadline. He was one of the few staff who lived at the college, in a separate block from the students—perhaps because of his single status. It was cold, and he had an open fire burning in his room. There was a smell of toast and old books. Piles of papers and pamphlets lay on top of his desk, and his filing system appeared to be heaps on the floor. I quite liked that sort of disorder. I shared a room with a neat freak, and her obsession with reorganising our limited space drove me wild.

“How can you find anything among that lot?” she would wail, in despair.

“Easy. I rummage through the pile, and by a miracle it appears…eventually.”

Professor Jamieson, Dan, as I later called him, was lean and energetic, with eyes that seemed to see right through any defence his young students employed. He seemed aware that his youthful good looks would make him a target for flirtation by his students, but never responded to it, as far as I knew.

“Ah, Miss Grainger, please come in.” Professor Jamieson grinned at me, and swept a couple of old newspapers from a chair so I could sit down. Students were addressed more formally in those days than they are now, when staff and students are on first names – best mates – terms.

“I’ve brought the essay you wanted, Professor Jamieson. I’m sorry it’s late.”

He looked delighted to see me, however, and not at all annoyed by the lateness of my work. Was his subsequent behaviour in any way predatory? Perhaps, by some standards, it was, but if so, he wasn’t the only predatory person in the room. I had brushed my long, thick hair until it shone, and was wearing a short, tartan skirt with over-the-knee socks, which left a tantalising couple of inches of bare thigh, and my new black Doc Martens. Of course, I would shudder to dress like that now, even if, at the time, it seemed cool and sexy. We all dressed in what we thought was an individual, non-fashionable way—and ended up all looking alike. How I laugh now. Back then, however, we were desperate to make our mark; to look different from everyone else; especially the few older women on campus, who we mocked in our arrogant, juvenile way, as we swore we would never become as boring as them.

Perhaps I was naïve, but more likely I was a bit provocative as I flashed my bare thigh and maybe even a glimpse of my knickers as I sat down in my short skirt. I knew he was aroused. I could feel it in the air. And because he was aroused, I was too. There’s nothing that makes a person feel sexier, than to sense the effect they are having on another. It made me feel powerful, back then. In fact, it still makes me feel powerful, even though I know the power is slowly slipping away from me as I move away from youth and into middle age. Not that I consider nearing forty to be middle age. As an older woman, I still have a half-decent figure and attractive face; though I need to rely a lot more on my brain and personality these days—oh, and experience, of course. There’s no-one more powerful than a sexually experienced woman, in my opinion. The confidence radiates from us. No need for childish games any more. We tell it as it is. And if some men back away in fear, then we say “adios” and ask them to close the door on the way out.

Excerpt 2
He resumed his stance, leaning against the fireplace, while sipping from the beer. I studied him for a second. I had little – in truth, no – experience of older men, other than friends of my father, who I found decidedly unattractive, in a sexual sense. Dan’s presence and bearing, however, brought forward powerful feelings within me, that had no connection to my brain. I waited for him to say something, which he eventually did.

“I like you, Eleanor. I enjoy reading your essays. You have something interesting to say. And not all regurgitated from online sites, either. I can tell when a student’s work is original.”

I was touched. I knew I had a moderate talent, though rarely received praise such as this. His next words were completely unexpected.

“What are your reading tastes? Do you, by chance enjoy reading erotica?”

I was slightly stunned. Did he know about the book I kept in my underwear drawer? Of course not. Was he just guessing? Did I look like someone who enjoyed reading erotica? He smiled.

“I’ve embarrassed you now. I’m sorry.”

“No, not at all…it was just an unexpected question. But yes, I do read erotica from time to time.”

I was claiming experiences that were a little over-exaggerated. But he had hit a nerve. For the first time I felt I could admit to this without feeling embarrassed or ashamed. I told him about reading D H Lawrence, and we chatted for a while about the writer and his work—once considered so risqué, but now accepted by most as great literature.

Dan gave a wry smile, and I thought for a moment he was going to continue the discussion, but he appeared to check himself. He remained silent, and I felt the evening was at an end. I rose from the chair and said goodnight, and was almost at the door before he called me back.

“Would you like to come back again next Friday?”

Maybe I should have paused and thought more before answering, but of course I didn’t.

“Yes—yes, I would. Thank you.”

It became a regular date. Every Friday I would turn up at his room and we would sit by the fire and talk. For all his cool, calm, sex appeal, I had a feeling that Dan was a little lonely. Or was he using a technique to reel me in? Some might have said so, but I didn’t believe he was.

It was on the following Friday that I plucked up the nerve and told him about my copy of The Story of O. He didn’t respond with anything other than interest.

“What did you think of it?”

“I suppose it shocked me at first. I’d never read anything like that—about a woman submitting herself to a man in such a way.” I paused for a breath, before I continued. “But it excited me.” There, I had said it. I had told him, and he didn’t look shocked or amused or titillated.

“I would say that’s a not uncommon reaction. It excites some people; disgusts others. I, too, found it exciting when I read it. There’s nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of, in your reaction.”

Having revealed my secret I became more relaxed, more open: happy to open up more. He didn’t make me feel ashamed about it. I thought he might have said more about The Story of O, but he didn’t. Instead he went over to the table and picked up two books sitting there.

“I thought you might like to read these. I think you’d enjoy them.”

“Oh, I…yes, thank you.” I was thanking him for a present yet unseen.

“I wouldn’t share them around, though?”

I suspected he was leading me down a path from where I may find it hard to return. A voice in my head urged me on, however. He excited me in ways I had never been excited before. I also knew we would both get into trouble if our friendship was discovered. We had done nothing wrong, yet. It was the word ‘yet’, however, that told me it was only a matter of time. I tingled over every inch of my body.

Excerpt 3
Dan
I knew as soon as I met Eleanor, she was a woman I would find hard to leave alone. I was completely aware of the dangers lurking for a reasonably young professor, amid large numbers of young, attractive and impressionable female students. I had seen a couple of colleagues in the past, fall victim to temptation, and it rarely ended well. Until now I had managed to avoid such attachments, even though the opportunity had presented itself more than once. But I knew the risk to my reputation and career, as well as the damage such infatuation could cause to the young women involved. But meeting Eleanor had knocked me for six. It was more than her physical appearance, attractive as it was. There was something in her eyes, her demeanour, her expressiveness, that shrieked of sensuality. Something I had not seen in a woman of her age before. It drew me in like a magnet.

Despite meeting and becoming attracted to Eleanor, I wasn’t a man who only had eyes for younger women. I’d dated plenty of women of my own age. It was inevitable, however, when surrounded by nubile young women with perky breasts, long, bare legs and flirtatious manner, that the temptations to stray were strong. I had managed to ignore the obvious come-on signals from my current students. And had succeeded admirably until Eleanor. She wasn’t even one who made come-on signals. I can’t explain why I had such a strong reaction to her as soon as I saw her. She had an aura of sensual sexuality that went straight to the thinking part of my anatomy—my cock. I’m being facetious here, of course. I did try to use my brain in matters of sex, but I was simply bowled over by this girl—or young woman, should I say? At twenty-one she wasn’t a child. And at thirty-nine, I couldn’t be described as a dirty old man, could I? The fact remained, however, that there were strict rules back then regarding fraternisation between staff and students. In the years since, there seems to have been a relaxation in these rules—too late for me however.

I had a liking for certain elements of kink in my sex life, although I could hardly be compared with the Marquis de Sade. I found bondage and discipline, with willing partners, a turn on, yet didn’t demand it if it wasn’t freely given. It had been a while since I’d had such a relationship, and certainly not with the previous one that had ended so disastrously. As soon as I met Eleanor, however, the feeling she might share my interests hit me squarely between the eyes. I had no doubt she would be responsive to such an approach. Yes, I should have simply left it to my imagination, but all sense and reason left my brain when I first met her alone in my room that day. When I decided to give her the two books to read, I wanted to gauge her reaction to it, and my hunch was proved right.

The first few evenings, when we simply talked and drank beer, reinforced my opinion that Eleanor exuded sensuality, and would probably enjoy reading the books. I honestly didn’t know what her thoughts were towards me, but I was already smitten by then. I looked forward to her return visit with nervous trepidation. If she returned, bringing with her the college hierarchy, then I was done for, finished; my career would be over. While I awaited her arrival, I cursed my stupid whim to give her the books to read.

Excerpt 4
I felt secure within his arms, and I knew I didn’t want to leave. Perhaps the next move would have to come from me. I reached up and kissed him on his lips. He responded and kissed me back for a few seconds, before turning his head a little and whispering hoarsely in my ear.

“I want to make love to you, Eleanor. Would you like that too?”

I nodded.

He kissed me again—this time more forcefully. Our lips and tongues became engaged, and I felt a deep longing in my sex. I wanted him very much.

Dan broke away, before taking my hand and leading me into his bedroom and closing the door. The room was cosy, rather than fashionable, with soft lighting and dark, rich colours, making it seductive.

“Are you on the Pill?”

I said yes.

He began to undress me, taking his time with each garment. First, he unlaced the Doc Martens, before pulling them off and placing them on the floor. Then, seating me on the bed, he rolled down the over-the-knee socks, before pulling them off.

He looked up at me, directly into my eyes, silently challenging me not to look away, before sliding the palms of his hands up my thighs until he reached my knickers. He didn’t immediately pull them off; instead he roamed around with his fingers, feeling the undulations of my body, squeezing my bottom cheeks for a moment, before hooking his fingers inside the elastic and drawing them slowly down my legs. By now my breathing was becoming a little laboured, as the familiar feeling of sexual excitement began to rise within me.

My knickers ended up on the floor, with the socks. His fingers returned and began to explore without the hinderance of undergarments. I could see his breathing rate increasing before I closed my eyes and surrendered to the feelings as his hands explored my body.

Dan pulled me to the edge of the bed, and knelt down in front of me. He pushed up my skirt, exposing me completely. I’d only had one boy go down on me—the second of my two lovers—and the experience hadn’t been very enjoyable, but Dan was clearly experienced. His fingers gave way to his tongue as he roamed my inner recesses and folds. I gasped as his tongue located my pleasure zone, and he stopped for a moment.

“Ah, so I have hit the spot, have I?”

I nodded; unable to speak, as his tongue resumed its work. He pulled back slightly as he pushed two fingers inside me, and I gasped. He began to talk softly to me.

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