Today Ian Smith is my guest on the blog to present some anthologies he’s been a part of. He’s been on my blog before to present the first three novellas of the Merely Players series. As you can see he’s pretty versatile in his writing, from paranormal erotic romance to cozy romance. Check out those anthologies and choose your pleasure.
So far, I’ve had nine stories published in anthologies, and I’ll carry on submitting to these in the future. I think short stories are a great way to develop ideas and develop my writing, as well as giving me experience of working with different editors. It would also be nice to think that more people will read my work in anthologies.
Unearthly Delights was the first themed anthology from the Erotica Readers and Writers Association, with a broad theme of steamy paranormal encounters. The selected submissions all came from participants in their “storytime” constructive critiquing forum.
My story, The Lesson of History, developed from an idea I first used for a 200-word flash fiction piece, about someone staying in haunted hotel and finding the experience… stimulating!
The gardens were sunny and quiet. Rows of tall, neatly-trimmed hedges divided the grounds into different sections and provided shelter from breezes. Claire found a wooden bench in an area of lawn surrounded by flower beds, swung her legs up, and lay back to enjoy the peace and quiet. Eyes closed, she concentrated on what she could sense, wondering what the system would record. Her feeling the wooden bench beneath? The heat from the sun on her face and arms? Or just the quiet background of doing absolutely nothing?
She let out a long, deep breath and let her mind drift.
The long weekend was a welcome break, even if she wasn’t quite sure why she’d been invited to the wedding. She and her cousin Janine had never got on well as children and hadn’t met for several years. But a couple of days in a delightful country house hotel with outstanding catering would be a welcome change after months of hard work developing the experimental biomonitor system.
Lulled by the warm sunshine and total silence, she fell asleep.
She stood by a window overlooking some gardens. Her clothing felt heavy and restrictive: the long-sleeved dress she wore extended almost to her ankles, over a pair of thick stockings.
“Pray close your eyes,” someone whispered. “Stay silent, lest we be found out.” A firm hand stroked her hair, which felt long.
She felt excited and aroused as hands slid over her breasts, down her body and along her thighs. There seemed to be more than two hands involved, which was simultaneously delicious and disconcerting. Then there came the unmistakable sensation of buttons being undone down the front of her dress. The hands pushed the fabric back and ranged beneath it, over the thin garment covering her breasts. Her nipples hardened instantly and a delicious, expectant warmth developed low down in her body, something she’d not felt for months. A hand pressed against her mound through the thin fabric of her undergarment, making her want more direct contact.
“We must away,” someone whispered.
Another voice, “but we shall steal you from your chamber this night.” Her clothing was quickly rearranged and her dress buttoned up. “Until then, my sweet,” this last said as a soft kiss brushed against each cheek.
Claire woke feeling happy, relaxed, and more than a little aroused. She tried to collect her thoughts. That sounded like a period romance story. But why would I imagine the clothing? Or apparently two men?
Twisted Sheets was the second ERWA anthology, with a general theme of “two’s company but three’s more fun”. Thanks to a promotional launch price and a lot of plugging, it reached the top five in three different Amazon fiction categories, which was a real confidence boost for everyone involved.
I’ve no clear idea what the inspiration was for my story, The Christmas Party, but it was certainly fun to write. A young woman feeling unhappy with her boyfriend goes to his work-related Christmas party from a sense of duty, makes discoveries and new friends, and finds the confidence to move on in her life.
Susie carefully looked at all the images. Again a mix of colour, monochrome and toned pictures, some brightly lit, others far moodier with dark shadows. She was intrigued how Pritti had artfully used the shadows, sometimes to hide breasts and genitals, other times to reveal or even highlight them. There were a couple of men and she guessed five or six different women. “These are great. I see what you mean about them being sculptural.” It’s rather sexy, all these people feeling comfortable about being naked. She tried not to stare too obviously at the women’s bodies, and wondered how her own might look in comparison. She glanced at Emily. “How did it feel, posing for these?”
Emily grinned, and leaned her head on Susie’s shoulder. “Wonderful. I felt free, nothing to hide. It helped that I’ve known Pritti well for years.” She moved her face closer to Susie’s. “Maybe you’d enjoy posing like that?”
Susie felt a flutter of excitement and her heart beat a little faster. She suddenly realised she found the idea very arousing. “Certainly for some portraits, maybe more once I felt really comfortable with the idea.”
“I’ve a few more selections,” Pritti said quietly. “But they’re more, um, intimate.”
“You mean sexy?”
Emily made dismissive gesture with her hand. “We prefer to say they’re sensual rather than erotic or sexy. The idea is to make the viewer think about tenderness and love-making rather than just sex.”
Susie nodded. Pritti slid closer to her, and opened another folder of images.
Susie was fascinated by the pictures as she slowly flicked through them. Close-ups of hips, shoulders, backs, arms, legs, breasts, bottoms, flaccid or semi-erect penises, women with varying styles of pubic hair. She stopped and stared at one image. It was a moody monochrome of Emily, blindfolded, her lips pouted as if for a kiss, and what she guessed from the shape and skin tone was Pritti’s breast, with a very pert nipple just a few millimetres from Emily’s lips.
“Gorgeous, isn’t it?” Emily murmured. She flicked to the next picture, in which she’d gripped Pritti’s nipple with her lips and pulled it out a little. “These always make me feel hot and bothered.” The next image showed Emily, clearly smiling as her tongue lapping the nipple.
Susie’s face warmed as she blushed, which she hoped the dim lighting would hide. She flicked through the three images a few times, aware that her own nipples were every bit as pert as the one in the photo. These are so bloody sexy. And I’m straight.
As Cocky As They Come developed from a facebook post by a writer as an “up yours” gesture when “cockygate” was gathering momentum. The idea was that every story would have the word “cocky” in the title, but not all the stories needed to be erotic.
My story was a development of an idea I’ve been tinkering with for a while, a series of short stories about the same character, eventually to form an episodic novel set in the near future about an RAF pilot who ends up being an astronaut. For this particular submission, I gave him the surname “Cochrane”, which is frequently turned into “cocky” as a nickname.
“Stop whining, man,” Mairead said. “If you’re fecking stupid enough to play rough boy’s games, this’ll happen.”
Our afternoon at the camp had ended in the usual impromptu game of soccer. Twelve of us and about two hundred eager, happy children. I’d fallen onto a sharp piece of metal and cut my arm. Not serious, but here, every wound was treated quickly. The latest generation of anti-infectives were good, but we’d learned not to take them for granted. There were too many drug-resistant bugs around after decades of careless antibiotic use.
I winced as the suture thread tugged my skin. “We gave you a load of anaesthetic last week.”
“That’s only for deserving cases, not just a few stitches.” Mairead inspected her needlework closely. “Bloody wimp. There, just put a dressing on and we’re done. The stitches’ll dissolve in a few days.”
I flexed my arm and we grinned at each other. “Thanks, Doc.”
“Ah, be away wid yer,” she said. Her Irish accent varied from a lovely sing-song to near-impenetrable, depending on her mood at that moment. As soon as we met, I instinctively liked her. Intelligent, open and caring, she had an impressive zest for life and was often making everyone around her laugh. She was also a bloody good doctor. We’d quickly made friends, and I wondered if we could be more than that, in a different environment. If pressed, I’d admit to finding her very attractive.
“Jolly good,” I said, in my best English public school voice.
“Go on, miss, kiss it better,” prompted Senior Aircraftman Jenkins, holding a small video camera. “It’d be a great end to the video clip.”
“Better not,” someone else said. “He’s single, remember. Might get him all excited.”
Mairead laughed, then glanced at me, blushed and smiled shyly. “He’ll behave himself with you lot watching. I’ll risk it.” She leaned forwards and gave me a gentle and chaste kiss on the lips, to applause and laughter.
“Thanks, Mairead,” I said quietly. “For the stitches and the kiss.”
She gave me a playful slap on the backside when I stood up. “Anytime,” she murmured.
Her warm smile and what I thought was meaningful eye contact left me momentarily non-plussed. Having more stitches wasn’t high on my to-do list, but I wouldn’t say no to kisses from Mairead, ideally without an audience.
This was another anthology I heard about thanks to facebook. It’s a collection of “cosy romance” stories, all set during Autumn, with all royalties going to good causes.
It was interesting to “tone down” my normal writing from erotic romance to plain romance, and something I may well do again in the future.
My story, Ditch, is a first development of my idea for the second episode for my RAF pilot. The story opens with him ejecting from an aircraft which is about to crash into the sea, hence the title. I set the incident in a lovely old coastal town in the English county of Cornwall, a town not far from my home, but I decided not to explicitly name it.
I surfaced under my parachute. I struggled to get free of the lines and canopy, close to panic, then was finally able to unclip my face mask and take a deep breath of fresh air. My aircraft had sunk, but my life-raft had inflated itself. I splashed over, but couldn’t climb in. My back was screaming at me to stay still. I could only hope my distress call had been received, and that help would be on its way. Surely someone in the town had guessed I was in trouble.
While everything was still fresh in my mind, I tried my best to remember exactly what I’d done and noticed before the engine failed. For that test flight, there were additional flight data recorders and video cameras in the cockpit, which should be recovered soon. I was confident the inquiry wouldn’t conclude that I’d done anything dumb.
As I bobbed about, I saw the small Cornish coastal town I’d not crashed on, then spotted an orange inshore lifeboat bouncing across the waves towards me at an impressive speed. A small crew of volunteers from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution had dropped everything and run to their boathouse, hoping to rescue me rather than recover my body.
The crew were great. They pulled me aboard, clearly relieved that I wasn’t badly injured. We were back in the port almost before I knew it, but the bumpy ride didn’t help my back pain. They carefully helped me onto the slipway, where I sat, feeling weak and useless.
“Hey, doc, over here,” one of the lifeboat men shouted.
A woman of about my own age hurried towards me, carrying a large medical bag. She was slim, wore black trousers and a white blouse under a waxed cotton jacket, and looked very anxious. She knelt beside me. “Any injuries?”
“My back’s killing me.” I tried to pull my flying helmet off, but she stopped me.
“You might have neck injuries.”
“I don’t care, it’s making me feel trapped.”
She looked annoyed. “Okay, I’ll do it. Lie down.” Two lifeboat men held my shoulders steady while she carefully eased the helmet off.
I immediately felt free, and far less stressed. I relaxed and closed my eyes. “Thank you.”
I heard her ask the lifeboat crew if they had a spinal board, and the sound of someone running.
“I heard you’d ejected, always a risk of spinal injuries.” She had an upper middle-class accent, like a character in an Agatha Christie production.
“I probably pulled over 12 g,” I said. “I blacked out.”
I opened my eyes to see the doctor scanning my face intently. And I noticed she was pretty, had lovely brown eyes, some freckles, and long ginger hair, pulled back in a pony tail. A few wisps had broken free, and I wanted to reach up and smooth them back. Hers was a face I knew I wouldn’t forget, and wanted to see again, when I wasn’t nearly crippled with pain.
She asked me to wriggle my toes and fingers, then to squeeze her fingers with mine, and flashed a small, bright torch in my eyes. “Nothing obvious, but you need to be in a hospital. A rescue helicopter will be here soon. Sorry, but I’d better not give you any pain relief until you’ve been assessed.”
A couple of minutes later, I was strapped to a spinal board with blocks of foam immobilising my head. I felt stupid, but I knew the doctor was right. The pain was now taking over my mind like a grey fog.
She asked the lifeboat crew to cut off my lifejacket and one sleeve from my immersion suit. She checked my pulse and blood pressure. “You’re fit,” she murmured.
My inappropriate sense of humour took over. “Thanks. You’re pretty, too.”
She looked surprised, then blushed. “I meant your blood pressure and resting pulse are healthily low.” Then her professionalism gave way to a lovely smile and she gave me a playful jab in the chest with one finger.
I decided I really liked her. Cheeky, bright and good-looking. I felt touched that she knelt beside me, one hand firmly on my arm in a comforting gesture. I wasn’t so distracted by pain that I didn’t notice she kept looking at me, her eyes meeting mine.
When we heard the unmistakable beating sound of a large helicopter approaching, she grinned at me. “They’re taking you for a ride, won’t that be fun?”
“Yeah, like they’re not going to rib me mercilessly?”
She leaned in close. “Shouldn’t go around crashing planes, should you?” she whispered.
“Said they’d be here dreckly,” the lifeboat crew Cox said. “On a training exercise.”
The doctor looked puzzled. “Dreckly?”
“Directly,” I said. “Cornish version of mañana, but without the same sense of urgency.”
The Cox grinned. “Pegged you for up country,” he said. “Local boy, eh?”
He nodded, turned to his crew and waved a hand at the beach. “Come on, me ansums, clear a landing spot.”
“Local vernacular,” I told the doctor.
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