[Story Snippet] Shapeshifters

This is an excerpt from a short shapeshifter story that’s currently out in the submission ether, trying to find a home. I wrote it at the end of last year and hope to be able to share it with readers some day soon! It’s called Bearskin, and you can see the cover I designed for it here.

He knelt naked on the porch in a pool of splintered bone and coarse blood-soaked fur. Chunky snowflakes landed on him and melted, streaking the blood that marbled his skin. His ribs heaved from exertion. Shadows cut along the ridges of his muscles, his broad shoulders, his thick arms, the jut of a hipbone.

Rae could not see his face yet, his wet black hair hanging low where he bent his head forward.

“Hey,” she said, dropping to one knee and touching the top of his head. “You’ll freeze out here.” She pushed his damp hair out of the way.

He raised his face and stared at her, his dark eyes bleary but curious. His angular chin and high cheekbones were familiar to her now, though he had no name.

I will keep this blog updated on submission progress. In other news, I just submitted my tentacle erotica story to a publisher. Fingers crossed!


A Quicker Creative Output Than Expected

A few weeks ago I blogged about having a slower writing output in recent years, due to a number of life changes. Awesome life changes, don’t get me wrong, but time-consuming ones. Sometimes in idly talking about something you figure out ways to shift and shuffle, and look at problems from a new angle.

Writing that post got me thinking about ways that I could seize more hours to work on creative projects – namely writing projects. This led to me rearranging a few of my hobbies and interests, and adjusting a few priority levels. It’s a bit like fiddling with one of those old stackable stereo equalizers, with all the toggles you just can’t help but constantly tweak.

I basically did that with my life.

Now, suddenly, my output has easily quadrupled. I’m writing almost every day for at least half an hour, sometimes more. I’m finishing short fiction, and even working on a couple of novella-length pieces. Writing is a joy again because I don’t have to keep putting it off or convincing myself that I will get around to it (when I clearly won’t).

The thing is, I haven’t actually changed anything fundamental. I still do all the things I did before; it’s just that some of them, I do a tiny bit less. Five minutes less of this, and five minutes less of that, equals ten minutes to write. Chipping nuggets of time out of a day and using it wisely and for something that makes me happy.

If you’ve been struggling to find time to write, maybe give this a try. You’d be amazed how many tokens of time you can find buried under the couch cushions.


Refrain Playlist

Another thing I do when writing a story is create a playlist to listen to while I work. Usually the songs run along a similar style, sound or lyrical theme. Sometimes it’s not even about the lyrics, but about the music and the type of vibe it evokes.

The following list comprises the songs I mainly listened to while writing Refrain (full of magic and witchy bittersweetness).

Inertia Creeps,” by Massive Attack.

Glorybox,” by Portishead.

Hunter,” by Björk.

How Do,” by Sneaker Pimps.

Paradise Circus,” by Massive Attack.

Born to Die,” by Lana Del Rey.

I imagined Marlene’s music tastes to be fairly eclectic, given her history, though I think she would often come back to the more ambient, bassy, trip-hoppy sounds (relaxing yet galvanising; perfect for long hours brewing potions). Enjoy, and please let me know what you think of the anthology if you’ve read it.

[Publication] Erotic Anthology: Like A Spell Vol.3: Air

I’m ridiculously excited to announce that the third instalment of the erotic fantasy anthology series Like A Spell is now out, and it contains my short story Refrain! I have a huge amount of respect for the publisher Circlet Press and everything they do, so to be part of one of their collections is just wonderful (especially as it was my first erotica sale!).

The call for submissions asked for magical stories featuring new spins on witches and wizards. The idea of a modern day witch who made a small living brewing potions immediately sprang to mind. I imagined the most sought after potion would be for love, although the very concept of duping / forcing somebody to love you is troubling and problematic (and adds oodles of tension). A close runner up to the love potion would be the potion of forgetting. In fact, I imagine that more times than not the two would go hand-in-hand. Before I knew it Refrain was drafted and sent to my beta reader.

Of course I really hope you enjoy my story, but there are seven other terrific erotic stories in the anthology. I am lucky to sit alongside September Sui, A. D. R. Forte, Dee Maselle, Donovan Blake, Morrigan Cox, Mary Andrews and Kassandra Lea.

You can pick up the anthology from Circlet Press here. As soon as the book becomes available at other venues like Amazon I will post links.


Short Story Snippet: Tentacles

Sharing a snippet from a short erotic fantasy story I am currently writing. This features a warrior called Taran, a group of goons sent to capture her, and an unexpected creature who wakes up to fight by her side. I’m currently in the editing stage which is fun, though a part of me just wants this out the door now so I can move on to the next idea!

Title: (Currently untitled)
Author: V. A. Cates
Genre: Fantasy erotica

Taran remembered stories her father told her and her brothers about a powerful army that marched on the land six-hundred years ago. At the time Volfost was ruled by Magi Lords, all of whom were knowledgeable in long-forgotten arts. They crafted incantations to turn the army into strange beasts of all shapes and sizes, doomed forever to inhabit the forests and swamps of the world. The creatures had once been strong, virile men—warriors like her.

The creature blinked, the very tip of its tentacle drawing circles in the mud covering her shoulder. Far back in his gaze she saw intellect, suffering, an expanse of memory stretching back father than she could fathom.

A second tentacle slipped smoothly around her right leg below the knee and she swallowed.

“You weren’t always this way, were you?” she said, not really expecting him to be able to reply.

Instead, he slid the tentacle up over her knee, curling it around her thigh.

Fingers crossed my little story will sell and I can eventually share the entire thing!

Some High Class Eye-Candy For The Discerning Lady (or Man)

The following websites contain the height of tasteful eye-candy, for all the discerning ladies and gentlemen out there.

My Daguerreotype Boyfriend“Where early photography meets extreme hotness.” This site posted many images of handsome vintage men. This would be a great resource for anyone writing historical erotic fiction (or any kind of historical fiction, for that matter). Sadly it hasn’t been updated since 2016, although there is a huge backlog of posts to enjoy so have at!

Bangable Dudes in History – Similar to My Daguerreotype Boyfriend, this website posted vintage photographs of particularly tasty people, both male and female. It is also now defunct but retains a hearty backlog of eye-candy.

Vintage Hot Men – This is a Pinterest board chock full of old photographs of top-quality totty. Not to be missed.

Disclaimer: of course this post is written tongue-in-cheek and is intended for lighthearted entertainment purposes. Beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder.

Online Adult Toy and Clothing Shops

During my time on Twitter I’ve been followed by or found a handful of online stores where you can purchase adult toys, clothing and other NSFW paraphernalia. I haven’t bought things from all of these venues so I cannot vouch for the quality of their products, but here are a few sites of interest.

Lovehoney – Contrary to my last sentence above, I have bought items from this website and I can attest that their service is excellent, despatch fast, and the products are top-quality. This is a UK store and I’m not sure they ship worldwide but it’s worth checking.

Boxes of Fun – A UK-based adult toy shop selling a wide range of products. Similar items to Lovehoney. They offer “Quality erotic adult toys at affordable prices.”

Passion Discreet – Another UK-based lingerie and sex toy shop which ships worldwide (hurray!). Prices vary but they seem to have a nice selection on offer. And did I mention they ship worldwide?

Twilight Secrets – UK-based site selling sex toys. What I found interesting was their pinned tweet: Did you know that we price match? Send us a link to an item and we will beat the price!”

Thrills Fulfilled – An adult toy store owned and run by women, where their focus is on pleasure. This is a USA-based company.

I remember buying my first adult toy in my early 20s and going to collect it from the post depot. It was from Lovehoney and sealed in a discreet brown padded bag. Even so, I felt so deliciously naughty when the post worker handed it to me. I don’t get the same forbidden excitement from ordering lingerie and toys online these days, but I always recall that specific memory when I do.

Erotic Stories in the Pipeline

After my short magical fantasy story Refrain sold to the incredible Circlet Press a couple of years ago (set for release soon in their Like A Spell Vol.3: Air anthology), I fell away from writing somewhat due to many positive life changes that required my attention. When life eventually calmed down I got back into the swing of things, finishing a new short story late last year and working on another one currently.

Bearskin is a shapeshifter short story I wrote in December 2017. I really enjoyed my first shifter piece. Exploring both the humanistic side of animals and the animalistic side of humans was an interesting exercise, and lead me to an unexpected ending that I hope readers will find curiously satisfying! It’s currently out on submission and I hope it’s picked up as I would love to share it. In fact, I got so into the writing that I even made a promo poster / cover for the story:


Cover design for a short shapeshifter story that I hope to share soon.

Right now I’m bashing out the first draft on a story that could almost be considered shifter, although it’s not the focus of the piece. This one also features a strange creature getting tangled–quite literally–with my heroine. It’s a big trip out of my normal sub-genres but the more I let go the more fun it is watching the story and characters unfold. The sex element is… complicated. I mean, how could it not be complicated when one of the participants has eight appendages to keep track of?

There are various anthology submission calls further down the line that I have my eye on too, and today while out driving a setting and plot idea hit me for one of them. I imagine I’ll start working on that immediately once the tentacle story is finished and out the door.

Some day soon I will talk about my bigger projects (there are novelettes and novellas!) but for now they are still rough and raw, and I’m still unpicking the plot and sub-plots and reshaping them.

What it all boils down to is: I am so happy to be writing again.

Erotic Stories I’ve Enjoyed Lately – #1

I’ve been ploughing my way through the sexy and disturbing Libidinous Zombie: An Erotic Horror Collection, edited by Rose Caraway and featuring Jade A. Waters, Tamsin Flowers, Remittance Girl, Allen Dusk, Malin James, Raziel Moore and Janine Ashbless. The summary reads:

This book is erotic. This book is horrifying. This book is cunning. This book is edgy, seductive, violent, fiendish, indecent, and unfair. This collection is a work of fiction. Consider yourself trigger warned.

Overall this erotic horror anthology is well-crafted and the stories and author voices are varied. Admittedly, a couple of the pieces didn’t do it for me, but that’s down to my personal tastes than the ideas themselves (all ideas are worthy of time and energy). The length of each piece provides bite-sized chunks of erotica that can be read during free moments. Stories that particularly stood out:

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, by Janine Ashbless, which has a terrific male POV voice and tight, active prose. The sex is intense, relentless and hot, much like the subject of the main character’s interest.

Devil Winds, by Rose Caraway was also strong, a delicious tale of vengeance with some evocative sensory descriptions. I love personification done well, and in this story the wind is very much a supporting character.

Alice in the Attic, by Malin James, a well-written story that explores mental illness, manipulation and inappropriate lust, with a nice twist at the end that I didn’t expect. I enjoy erotica that tantalises and makes me wait a little while for payoff.

I also stumbled upon Tasting the Doctors – A Thorough Public Exam, by Anna Cromwell. This story is extremely tongue-in-cheek and had me chuckling a number of times, and providing you go into it with that in mind the characters are an absolute riot. It’s fast-paced and not to be taken too seriously.

Young, sexy, and inexperienced Olivia finds herself reunited with the handsome, well-endowed Dr. Droll in yet another lusty encounter.

More reviews and recommendations to come soon.

[Free Fiction] The Core | Erotica Sci-Fi, 178 Words

The distant stars seemed still through the half-steamed bubble window. Their hot, heaving breaths filled the pod. The ship pulsed around them, its core thudding deep within the hull like a heartbeat. They did not notice that the pod was unusually warm, even as they thrust and gasped and moaned together.

She arched into his arms and struck the zero-gravity button. Moans lifted into the air along with their slick bodies. Only his thick, hard shaft kept her centred, kept her locked to him. He pumped his hips. She squeezed her thighs around his body, ankles crossed at his back. The ship groaned as it collapsed around the core, spinning, jerking. Their orgasms ripped through them, wet juices slicking thighs, muscles clenching, releasing, clenching, releasing.

The core flexed and suddenly everything was nothing.

Then it spat them back out—fully clothed, wine glasses in hand, unaware of the fundamental problems happening one-hundred-and-sixty-eight decks beneath them.

There they remained, doomed forever to dance, to fuck, to be sent back to the start and do it over and over again.

A Slower Output

Years ago I was working part-time, which meant I had chance to write part-time, too. I’d spend hours every day on multiple stories and had a fairly high output. But over the years I’ve changed jobs and now work full-time, and this means that writing has become more of a hobby than a career path–I still do it for the love, but only when I have chance.

I’ve just finished editing a new short story, which has now been submitted to a publisher. Finally, it’s out the door! Sending stories into the submission ether is a big accomplishment nowadays. Where I could once draft a story out at lightning speed and then spend hours and hours editing, tweaking and bouncing it back and forth with writer friends, I now carefully wrangle a few evenings to write a first draft, before wrangling another couple of evenings to edit that draft. I must also give my beta reader(s) time to look over the story between their own personal lives and busy schedules. Then I lock down another evening (or two) to work through their edits and suggestions. The process takes time. The story tonight has been in the works for what seems like an age.

This slower output sometimes makes it hard to come back to a work-in-progress and get back into the right headspace. I lose the vibe and it takes a while to find the intensity of the sex and character interaction. It’s hard not to grow mentally and emotionally distant when you haven’t touched something in weeks, or months, or years. Life gets in the way.

This doesn’t mean anyone should be deterred. Even if I submit one story per year, I’m still submitting. That shouldn’t change, not for as long as I enjoy my own ideas and the writing process. I like to think of my stories as wines that I must leave to mature a little before they’re ready to be tasted. It stops me from worrying about my output.

Circlet Press Anthology Release; Like A Spell Vol.2: Fire

The second volume of the long-awaited Circlet Press anthology quadrilogy Like A Spell has landed! This time the book is titled Fire and features a wonderful selection of gay fantasy erotica.

Fire focuses on the love between men, with stories by Avery Vanderlyle, J. C. Williams, Ellis Sandry, Rhidian Brenig, Lucien Grey and Welton B. Marsland.

“When we thought fire, we thought of the passion and heat of men, the all-encompassing flames of their desires. We thought of the fire gods Ra and Vulcan, Agni and Xiuhtecuhtli. We thought about strength, ferocity, and power.”

The book is available on Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play and Kobo. You can pick up a copy of the first volume by following the various links on the book’s blog page. Authors also love hearing what their readers think so if you have the time leave the book a review.

Like A Spell: Fire, edited by Jennifer Levine.

Note: watch this space for some teasers for my own story, a heterosexual erotica featuring a witch and a man who thinks he knows what he wants. Set to land early 2018, it will be in the third instalment of the anthology series.

On Watching More Smut Than Your Partner

Some men are just not that into porn. My partner isn’t and I don’t think he ever has been, whereas I do watch it from time to time. I don’t spend an awful lot of time seeking it out; it’s more of a backdrop to my fantasies while soloing. And even when I’m watching porn, I imagine it’s me and my boyfriend doing what’s happening on screen. Ultimately, we fill my fantasies together, even if the faces and bodies of the actors don’t match up.

My partner, on the other hand, isn’t that fussed. I would not suggest us watch porn together because I know it’s not something that would turn him on, not when we are physically in the room together. His approach is “Why watch other people having sex when we could do it?”

Regardless of my occasional porn watching, I do see his point. For many people, watching porn is tied tightly to masturbation – it’s a visual prompt, and as an added bonus it can inspire new ideas for real life sexual exploration.

Porn can be a touchy subject (oh, har-har) when one half of a couple partakes and the other does not. But it’s perfectly OK, either way. The whole point of having someone to explore physical pleasures with is that you discover what works for you and what doesn’t, and you understand that your other half probably won’t like everything you like and vice versa. Watching porn is not unhealthy for most people.

There is a time and a place for constructive discussion about the exploitation of porn actors and the over-sexualisation of women, and those venues are important. But before you dive in do take a moment to research, particularly for articles or videos from the porn actors’ point of view. Not all porn springs from something shady and unhealthy, and watching it is entirely down to personal taste. It’s best to simply respect that not everyone is into the same things.

Circlet Press Anthology Release: Like A Spell Vol.1: Earth

The Like A Spell anthology quadrilogy has already begun its venture into the erotica world, with the first instalment – themed Earth – having made its debut a couple of months ago. The Like A Spell series is a collection of magical erotica but with a fresh spin on magical folk, and they come in bite-sized portions making them perfect for reading at home or on the go (never be afraid to blush on public transport).

Earth focuses on the love between women, with stories by TS Porter, Janelle Reston, Michael M. Jones and Rae MacGregor. From the Circlet Press blog:

For the earth anthology, we’ve focused on stories portraying the love between women. When we thought earth, we thought of the Greek goddess Gaia and the Indian goddess Prithvi; we thought of the ubiquitous “Mother Earth” or “Mother Nature”; above all, we thought of fertility and life.

The book is available on Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play and Kobo. You can pick up a copy of the first volume by following the various links on the book’s blog page. Authors also love hearing what their readers think so if you have the time leave the book a review.

Like A Spell: Earth, edited by Jennifer Levine.

I have a short story coming up in the third volume, which should be released in the first quarter of 2018. Until then, the second volume is right around the corner. Watch the Circlet blog or the Circlet Twitter for updates.