Daily T.Lo Revamp!

Hi all!

First off, I want to thank all the loyal readers who have been following my work for the past several years. This blog has seen many iterations, and I'm hoping that the new rebranding will be something people enjoy.

I'm working on writing posts, and my goal is to provide content daily. Hopefully, everything will be ready by May. Thanks in advance for your patience and support.

Love always!


Discovering Madonna's Erotica, a reflection 20 years later

Madonna released the new album Rebel Heart this year, and in honor of the Material Girl, I'm reprinting Lizette Clarke's guest column, originally published on this blog in 2012. 

I bought Madonna’s Erotica album (on cassette!) during Memorial Day weekend back in 1997. With less than a month of one of the hardest school years of my life to go—seventh grade—I already knew that I had become a completely different person in the past year. I was attending a suburban school that was predominantly black, and already knew that I was deemed too weird and felt unwelcomed by the majority of my peers. What made that late spring so important in my life was the fact that by that point, I no longer gave a shit what others thought about me. I was weird, I was artistic, and I was becoming a woman. 

We stopped at Coconuts Music on Hempstead Turnpike en route to a family barbecue at my relatives’ new house in Jamaica, Queens. I remember exactly what I wore: a glittery, tan colored t-shirt with a turtleneck collar, and denim overalls from the Gap. I liked this top because it was tight enough to suggest that I had boobs (which I did not have), and there’s also a good chance my shoes that day were Jellies
from Payless Shoe Source. This Memorial Day was also one of the first times a boy hit on me. Some random wannabe thug rode his bike up to mine and asked me what my name was. I immediately deferred to one of my two go-to fake names: “Valleri” or “Maria.” I don’t recall the rest of the conversation, but I do remember it being one of the last of its kind. Shortly hereafter, I went to great pains to go unseen by anyone riding a bike in Queens.

But anyway, the album. The album. The second I got home, I put it in my Philco boom box and read the lyrics to each song as I played them for the first time. Already five years old by 1997, the sound of Erotica ranged from New Jack Swing to house music to jazz, with the occasional pop ballad or reggae track thrown in for good measure. One eye-opening aspect of the tape—in addition to its subject matter—was that Madonna merely spoke the lyrics on some of the tracks. She also said bitch! And ass! That shit was out of this world to 13-year Old Me.

Relatively unbeknownst to me at the time, this album received a lot of backlash when it first came out in October of 1992. Released concurrently with Madonna’s Sex book—which I couldn’t get my hands on back then, even if I’d tried—many critics and pearl-clutchers believed Madonna had gone too far. It was instantly regarded as an album about sex and nothing more, when in actuality it was mainly about all the bullshit that surrounds sex: relationships, betrayals, loss, and acceptance. More than anything, Erotica is an album about the pain that comes with the territory of being a sexual creature.

And it’s so obvious to me now! Madonna tells us at the end of the title track:

“Only the one who hurts you/Can make you feel better/Only the one who inflicts the pain/Can take it away.”

As far as my junior high reading comprehension skills went, shit was literal. Like, if you’re doing S&M stuff, the person pouring hot candle wax on you is the only one who can stop pouring hot candle wax on you. Duh, right? But I’m pretty sure she’s not talking about S&M or even sex there. As a 28-year old now, I read this song as an ode to ourselves, not an ode to BDSM: if we fixate on pain from the past, only we can stop inflicting it on ourselves. Sure, I earned two writing degrees in the last fifteen years, so I could be reading too much into it today, but one of the album’s stand out songs, “Rain,” hammers home a message of renewal and redemption, of overcoming your own personal darkness and letting yourself be loved. Considering sex and all its surrounding emotions, maybe I’m not being (that much of) an English major blowhard when I surmise the album’s overall message: let it go.

With a few exceptions, Madonna isn’t talking about sex at all in Erotica. One of my favorite tracks when I was thirteen is the shortest on the album, dance track “Bye Bye Baby.” With the help of auto tune (or whatever the hell its 1992 equivalent was), Madonna sassily tells an ex-lover that she’s so over it and to get the fuck out. Man, I loved the shit out of that song. It was bratty, it was catchy, and it boasted what I considered to be the ultimate in lyrical depth at the time:

“I don’t want to keep the burning flame/Of your ego going/So I’ll just stop blowing in the wind/To love you is a sin.”

So deep, right? When you’re thirteen.

In “Why’s It So Hard,” Madonna ponders why people can’t just get along. Seriously; that’s the whole song. “Thief of Hearts” is about a man-stealing, two-faced friend who will screw anything, and “Words” is literally about, well, words: their ability to harm, their ability to skewer reality, and everything else you started noticing when you were in junior high and emotions were running high.

Does any of this have anything to do with fucking? Barely.

The darker side of sex is present on my favorite track on the album, “Bad Girl,” which still may be my favorite, nostalgia notwithstanding. Why did a song about a protagonist who drinks whenever she’s alone and sleep around only to hate herself afterward appeal to me so much as a junior high schooler? It certainly wasn't my life at the time. Honestly, I think I just loved the melody and the music (my eventual forays into Boys for Pele and foreign music would later prove that lyrics are rarely a priority to my ears). Listening to “Bad Girl” in the present, however, I can truly relate to the lyrics, and I also realize what a painful fucking song it is. “Bad Girl” could be an anthem for sexual addiction. It’s probably no coincidence that most of my fictional characters could sing its lyrics and mean every word.

The one song on this album that’s explicitly sexual—and the only one that inspired me to take the album’s booklet to school the next day to show around to fellow young pervs—is “Where Life Begins.” This is the type of song for which seventh-graders live. If you can figure out what the metaphors and innuendo are referring to, you feel like a fucking adult. Because you get it. In this song, Madonna invites the listener to partake in cunnilingus. Her arguments are well-reasoned, but not terribly clever, for example:

“You can eat all you want and you don’t get fat.”

“Colonel Sanders says it best: finger licking good.”

Well, shit. The first time I listened to this jazzy number, I was like, “Why the fuck is Madonna singing about some restaurant in a basement?” When it finally did dawn on me, I assure you I was forever changed. I was all, people sing about this stuff? Girls sing about this stuff? I’m not a weirdo for thinking about this stuff? Right on! Right on, Madonna.

Erotica became crucial in my development not only as a woman, but as a writer. My propensity for creating female characters who would also totally listen to stuff like this got its stamp of approval from this track, from this album, from Madonna herself. She was telling me to go for it.

And I’m pretty sure that’s why this album holds such a special place in my heart. Honestly, I don’t know if I could recommend Erotica to any adult to hear for the first time in 2012. I think you have to be a thirteen-year old girl to truly appreciate it. Twenty Eight-year Old Me finds the lyrics silly and infantile now, but maybe that’s the point. Maybe this is a teenager’s album, even if Madonna was well into her thirties when it was made. Instead of reading Sweet Valley High novels or whatever the hell young girls were supposed to learn their earliest life lessons from, I was listening to Madonna. And Alanis. And Tori Amos. Is it any wonder I went through the balance of my teens and most of my twenties as a bawdy, cynical, foul-mouthed, open-minded (for lack of a better word) artist?

That’s not to say that I was a mature thirteen-year old by any means. Far from it. Only that this album taught me what to expect out of sex, relationships, and adulthood: expect the pain, expect the bullshit, and expect the ephemeral beauty of having your eyes opened to something new for the first time.

Happy 20th anniversary to a bold, raw, honest body of work. Without discovering Erotica in my formative, early teen years, I would not have learned the significance of exploring the darker, dirtier parts of our minds. I probably never would have had the courage to do it on my own. I’d probably be a different person, and I probably wouldn’t be much of a writer. 

Lizette Clarke is a writer based in Los Angeles. She has a M.F.A. in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California, and she was a 2009 CBS/NAACP Writing Fellow. 

The Sound and the Furry: Robert Lyle Talks Furry Conventions, Erotica, and Stigma

Back in December, a video of Mika Brzezinski losing her shit went viral. In case you don't remember what happened, the anchor of MSNBC's Morning Joe was presenting news about a gas attack at a furry convention, and when one of her cohosts informed her that a furry was a person who dresses up as an animal and role plays, she giggled hysterically before running off the stage. Many of the aforementioned furries were hospitalized, and although I could see how one would be initially shocked at learning of something so unique, it struck me as rude in the context and unprofessional given she is a journalist.

I tweeted about the story after the video of Mika had gone viral, and through Twitter, I was able to connect with Robert Lyle, the 25-year-old author of the interspecies romance series, Feathers with Benefits. "I can't really blame them for not knowing what furries are," Robert said. "It's largely an internet subculture even with MFF (Midwest Fur Fest) seeing close to 4600 attendees; but laughing hysterically while reporting an attack that sent 19 people to the hospital and caused the early morning evacuation of an entire hotel? Classy."

Robert's life as a furry began approximately eight years ago. He was searching for art online when he found a now defunct gallery of dragons and mythological creatures. He liked what he saw so he registered for the site's forum. "From there, I made friends, found other places to hang out, and the rest is history," Robert said. To connect with other furries, Robert mostly connects online through Skype or forums, but in 2014, he did MFF to connect with his furry friends from the Netherlands and Texas. At Midwest Fur fest, Robert described the activities as being very similar to that of other conventions. "I looked around the artists' tables and spent a little too much money there, watched the fursuit parade, and saw some of the other events happening. I missed the panels on writing due to a long registration line, but there's always next time," he said.

Two furries from 2014's Midwest Fur Fest, courtesy of AoLun08
All of Robert's friends are aware and okay with his lifestyle or are members themselves; but Robert has shielded details of the fandom from his family. "My parents know I went down to MFF to meet friends, and I told them it was like a comic convention. They think it's weird, but didn't ask more. I haven't told them I'm a furry, and I certainly haven't told them I write erotica—inter-species erotica, at that—nor do I ever intend to unless it's unavoidable. They're fairly open-minded, but still pretty conservative and tend to judge things on a moralistic world-view. I honestly don't know how they'd deal with it, nor am I keen to find out. I can't let worrying stop me from the writing, though," Robert said. 

Robert started writing his furry series, Feathers With Benefits, a year ago. It is about a human named Torio who gets paired up professionally with a gryphon named Riane as part of an initiative to forge new interspecies alliances. The story can be found on the furry website, So Furry, and Robert said that he's happy with the reception his work has received.

However, even though Robert has found his place in the furry community, he still has to use the pen name Robert Lyle to shield himself from the mainstream. "Until recently I wouldn't even admit I was a furry, in part because of widespread stereotyping, harassment, and even hatred of the fandom, both online and off," Robert said. "I used to have a dragon avatar for some gaming accounts, and occasionally someone would send me a message asking me if I was "one of those furries" or just calling me a "fucking furfag." I've seen friends harassed for their art, or for the company they keep. I know of people who've had to shut down their accounts and go dark from the cyberbullying. Some people are just misinformed or ignorant of what furry means, and the sheer diversity of interests doesn't help. Others are just following the bandwagon of trolls who banded together years and years ago to target the fandom, and its status as the "internet punching bag" is only just starting to turn around. It doesn't help that early mainstream attention tried to explain furries and fursuiting as 'well, these are young people, therefore it's all about deviant sex.' I've never seen the episode, but apparently CSI had an infamously terrible portrayal of a furry convention."

Still from CSI's Fur and Loathing, courtesy of Huffington Post
That episode, Fur and Loathing, was broadcast in 2003. In the episode, people dressed in fursuits attended  a convention to have fetish sex, a depiction that seems very different from Robert's experience at MFF.

In the end, despite the judgment or amused giggles the community has received from outsiders, Robert is hopeful that people will eventually become more accepting. "The fandom's reputation is normalizing, and mainstream reporting keeps churning out "they're actually normal, albeit nerdy" articles, which is awesome," Robert said. "The hate still exists, and I doubt that's going away anytime soon. After all, we just can't have people who are different than us, no, not one bit."

NSFW: Chelsea Handler wants to show her nipples on social media; Instagram should let her

Chelsea Handler has waged war against Instagram over their discriminatory practice of barring females from showing their nipples but allowing men to do so, according to Buzzfeed. While social media bars female nipples from being shown because they are viewed as "sexual" in nature, she does have a point that it's not fair for men to be shirtless but not women.

Although I would more than likely never be brave enough to bare all, I do think that all people should be allowed to express themselves equally. If women can't show their nipples, then neither should men.

This is not the first time, Instagram's discriminatory guidelines have come under fire. As I wrote about in July, a young woman who posed in her underwear saw her photos removed, and she believed she was being targeted because she did not fit the traditional standards of beauty. Her argument did seem valid considering that the social media site allows raunchy photographs from celebrities such as Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and Jen Selter but felt the need to censor hers. Instagram apologized and reinstated the young woman's account.

Maybe it's time that they review their gender bias as well.
Chelsea Handler points out the hypocrisy of allowing the photo on the right to be shown publicly but censoring her  topless photo on the left. (Photo courtesy of Handler's Instagram account)

Rape: It's Your Fault

When are we going to stop blaming the victim?

Superstar legal author John Grisham backpedals on his child pornography statements

Today John Grisham issued an apology on his Facebook for statements he made in regards to child pornography punishments. In case you missed it, Grisham said the following during an interview to promote his new book Gray Mountain:
"We have prisons now filled with guys my age. Sixty-year-old white men in prison who've never harmed anybody, would never touch a child," Grisham said to The Telegraph. "But they got online one night and started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever, and pushed the wrong buttons, went too far and got into child porn."
Um, I've been drunk numerous times in my life, but I have never "accidentally" just wandered on to a child pornography site. In fact, if someone wants to view that type of illegal material, they have to go on a perverted fishing expedition; one that doesn't just happen by pushing "the wrong buttons." In Grisham's The Telegraph interview, he then shares a story of a friend who was caught in a child porn sting to illustrate how absurdly excessive punishments are for people who watch child pornography:
"His [Grisham's friend's] drinking was out of control, and he went to a website. It was labelled 'sixteen year old wannabee hookers or something like that'. And it said '16-year-old girls'. So he went there. Downloaded some stuff - it was 16 year old girls who looked 30. He shouldn't ’a done it. It was stupid, but it wasn't 10-year-old boys. He didn't touch anything. And God, a week later there was a knock on the door: ‘FBI!’ and it was sting set up by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to catch people - sex offenders - and he went to prison for three years."
Uh…Does Grisham think it's okay that his drunk friend wanted to get with teenage hookers? How can he condone the behavior of this friend, and how can he sympathize with viewers of child pornography? Those viewers are the reasons that the industry that exploits and abuses children exists because if there was no audience, there would be no demand. Therefore, viewing child pornography is not a victimless crime; and Grisham thinking that just because his friend didn't "touch anything" meant he wasn't participating in an exploitive endeavor truly baffles and grosses me out. 

See Grisham's apology below. Although he appears to want to wash away his previous statements, I doubt anyone will ever forget them. I never will. 

Everybody should be allowed to show their butts, stomachs, and boobs on Instagram

On Instagram, Kim Kardashian can post numerous sexy pictures of her ass and of her side boob, and Jen Selter has become a superstar because of  the photographs of her plump and toned derriere. Although Instagram's rules bar any "adult" or "mature content," Instagram deems these photos as well as numerous other soft-core-style photos compliant with their rules and regulations. Yet when a woman who doesn't conform to Hollywood standards of beauty exposes her body, her photos get taken down. WTF?

Like Kardashian, Selter, and numerous other Instagram models, Samm Newman, an Ohio nineteen-year-old, posted photographs of herself in revealing attire. But unlike the other women, Instagram removed Newman's photos, and Newman fought back. She reasoned that if her photos violated Instagram's rules, then so should other women's photographs of themselves in bikinis and lingerie. According to Think Progress, she began to report those photographs and shortly after, she found that her account was deactivated. The other women's pictures remained.

Newman, a plus sized woman, felt discriminated against, and she took it to the media to explain her case. “All my life, I was told to suck it in, and I would see these commercials on TV every day of these Victoria Secret models who weighed just nothing,” Newman said. “As comfortable as I was with myself, I wasn’t comfortable with my body, and that was a really huge drawback.”

Newman's story went viral because of the hypocrisy of the situation, and the body-shaming by the social media platform made many people sick.  As of yesterday, Instagram formally apologized for censoring Newman. They restored all of her photographs.
A sample of Samm Newman's Instagram photo, courtesy of Fox News
I congratulate Newman for baring her body and fighting for the right to show others a body type that is not typically shared on Instagram. Censoring bodies and only showing models distorts impressionable minds to believe that those models are the norm when in fact these women exercise and diet rigorously, have had plastic surgery, are posed at certain angles, or are just photoshopped.  

I still remember when I was a teen and I would see album covers or photographs in magazines, and I always wondered why I couldn't look like that. I still remember thinking how fat my stomach was because when I looked at my body from a profile, my mid section was larger than my arm. NOTE: Having a mid-section larger than your arm is NORMAL. However, I was tricked to thinking I was fat because of images like the one below: 

As an adult, it's obvious to me that Nicole Scherzinger's mid-section is photoshopped and badly photoshopped at that, but when I was a kid and didn't know about smoke and mirrors, I really just felt lesser than seeing these images. To anyone who says that the media doesn't influence young people, I call bullshit, not only from personal experience but from numerous studies such as this one about the media and eating disorders from the Journal of Social Issues

Now that Newman has fought to not have her body censored, I hope that other people join her in her fight for body acceptance of all sizes. We as human beings need role models and images to aspire to, and the diversity of seeing young and old, toned and flabby, different skin shades, scars, whatever is beautiful and necessary to help people realize that whatever they look like is okay. It can be scary to expose one's body to the public, but the more people share, the less taboo the act becomes. However, if you don't personally want to show off your goods on Instagram, then at least don't judge when you see others do it. They may be a part of a movement that many people didn't realize was coming but was long overdue. 

Writing romance, an interview with Clara Grace Walker

I'm excited to speak today with self-published writer, Clara Grace Walker, who is this week's Self-Published Writer of the Week. She's the author of the romantic suspense series Desire Never Dies, and I had a lot of fun chatting with her about writing romance and self-publishing. 

TL: So Clara, tell me a little bit about your background and your writing. 
CGW: My love affair with books began as soon as I could read, and blossomed into a desire to write by the time I was 9. I began writing as a serious pursuit some years ago, and started my first novel, GRATIFICATION  while working in a law office. My “day jobs” consisted of office work, including work as a secretary, legal assistant and a risk manager. I never considered any of those jobs my “career,” however. In my heart, my true calling has always been writing. But, hey, those typing skills come in handy when you need to bring in a paycheck. In between the writing and the “day jobs,” I have also been busy raising a family, and now I find myself in the enviable position of being able to stay home all day and work on my books. I can truly say I am blessed and living out my dream!

TL: What made you want to write romance? 
CGW: I love writing about relationships and human nature. Romance, to me, is the embodiment of human relationships at their strongest. Love is such a compelling force, able to overcome so many obstacles, and yet terrifying, (for some), in the strength of its attraction. Because I also enjoy mystery and a sense of danger, I write mainstream romantic suspense.

TL: What made you self-publish? 
CGW: Back in 2012, my mother passed away, quite unexpectedly. And while I was always aware that life is fleeting and can end at anytime, being smacked with that reality made me realized if there were things I wanted to do with my life, such as writing and publishing my books, then I needed to simply do them and stop waiting around for someone to give me the green light. By that time there had been a huge growth in digital publishing and self-publishing. My overwhelming desire to write met with a lack of excuses, and roughly a year later, I published my first novel, GRATIFICATION.

TL: What’s the hardest part of being a self-published writer? What’s the best parts? 
CGW: I have several friends who are traditionally published, so I’ve had a chance to see, up-close-and-personal, the differences between the two publishing routes. My friends who are traditionally published get a lot of support from their editors and agents. This support comes in many forms, from advice and encouragement, to professional editing and marketing of their work. One friend of mine has her own publicist and marketing person. Her publisher bought ads in publications and provided opportunities for interviews and book reviews. Obviously, this is a huge advantage for a writer, and having to do all of this yourself is, for me, the hardest part of being self-published. In addition to creating my own book covers, I have no professional editing service, unless I find and pay for one. I have no promotional/marketing budget, other than what I can afford to pay for myself, and I don’t have anyone supplying me with my own publicist and marketing person. Although, I do have some very supportive family members, including one who is a skilled photographer who did my book cover photos at a price I could afford and another who has been great with creating promotional pieces for me to tweet and post on Facebook. As for the best parts of being self-published: for me, that’s freedom. While all of the responsibilities associated with publishing and selling my book are mine, so are all of the rights that go along with them. This includes, publishing under the name of my choosing, designing and using the book covers I want, choosing the titles of my books, and even word count. The finished product really is my own vision for my work. As with most things in life, there are pros and cons to each side of the coin.

TL: What makes a scene sexy versus cheesy? Great question! 
CGW: I have this little blog I barely write for, just some writing-related tidbits that occasionally occur to me. I have published exactly 5 posts to-date on this poor, neglected blog, and one of them was on this very subject. (You can find the post at www.claragracewalker.blogspot.com if you are interested). If I were to try and narrow the post down to its most important point, perhaps it would be this: sex scenes are not about sex, they are about emotion. If you stay firmly in your POV character’s head and really allow your reader to experience the intimacy through that character, you should go a long way in avoiding the cheesy.

TL: Who are some writers who’ve inspired you? 
CGW: I read a lot; many different authors from many different genres. My writing has been inspired in different ways by different authors. The most major influences would be: a) Ernest Hemingway – for his incredible prose and storytelling ability; b) Elmore Leonard – for his wonderful dialogue and unforgettable characters; c) James Patterson – for his riveting suspense and fast-paced storytelling; d) Jackie Collins – for her glitz, glamour & the sheer fun of reading her books; e) Sidney Sheldon – for his strong female characters and compelling stories; and f) JRR Tolkein – for his fantasy and adventure, and the way he is able to immerse the reader in another world.

TL: Thanks so much for the interview. Is there anything you’d like to add? CGW: I really, really appreciate my readers! It’s an investment of one’s time to spend reading a book, and I’m very grateful that they’ve honored me by taking the time to read my book(s). Also, I love hearing from my readers, and please feel free to contact me via my website: www.claragracewalker.com. There are links to all of my social media outlets, as well as to my books on my website.

Fox tries to market The Mindy Project using Tinder, comes off as genius douches

As an artist and business woman, I get that marketing is important, but sometimes there's a fine line between being clever and being an annoying asshole. Although I haven't confirmed yet that this was officially done by Fox Marketing, it is a little too on-the-nose to not be someone affiliated with The Mindy Project.

So anyway, tonight I was on Tinder, when this little darling popped up on my screen.
Since the actress who plays Mindy is also named Mindy, could this be a real profile?!?! Uh, no.
I had read earlier on LAIST about Tinder matching people with The Mindy Project characters, so I wasn't completely taken aback. The obviousness of the marketing was glaring, even if I hadn't been previously aware. 
My responses on Tinder are either really boring or hilariously dirty.
I was torn about this marketing concept. Although it was clever and got a lot of people to talk about The Mindy Project, online dating apps still should be somewhat private, right? Injecting their marketing in a manner such as this is really intrusive. I mean, what if I wasn't familiar with the show? If I saw this handsome guy liked me, I would be stoked. Even with the plug for the tv show on the upper right hand corner of the photo, this is Los Angeles. What if he was just some actor, trying to get some??

I'd be stoked, that is, until I saw he was trying to get me to click on a link before he plugged his TV show. Now whoever is behind this ruse thinks they are being cute, but this is the same stuff that pornography bots and scammers do to unsuspecting single people to get them to sign up for merchandise or wire money.
My response only makes sense if you watch the show.
Overall, props to whoever is behind this for getting press, but I think that respectable institutions can come up with something better than what scammers do. That's just my two cents.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Interview with male erotica writer, Efrain Nadal de Choudens

Efrain Nadal de Choudens
Puerto Rico-native Efrain Nadal de Choudens had a fascination for horror and science fiction before he added erotica to his already impressive portfolio. Efrain and I connected through Facebook, and meeting a male erotica writer was very fascinating to me. He was nice enough to stop by the blog and talk about writing.
TL: You attended a Creative Writing program. With student loan rates rising, would you recommend others enroll in similar programs? Why or why not?
EN: I always encourage attending college, but with the loan rates rising, we need to think very well what we are going to do. Liberal Arts, including Creative Writing, is a risk. My recommendation is if you are going for a B.A., takes the chance. You always are going to learn something new, and it is going to be beneficial being around people with the same interest as you. Plus a B.A. is going to help you to have other careers while you are working on your writing endeavors. But if you are thinking of a M.A., don’t do it unless you are planning to have a teaching career. The cost is too high, and you can learn what you need by just taking a seminar or getting a professional diploma. 
"If you are thinking of a M.A., don’t do it unless you are planning to have a teaching career. The cost is too high, and you can learn what you need by just taking a seminar or getting a professional diploma." 
TL: You are a very prolific writer and poet. How do you get your ideas? Do you draw a lot of inspiration from your Spanish culture?
EN: Most of my ideas come from daily situations. I only include a weird twist (or erotic) to the common life. Until now, I just used my Spanish culture background in a very limited way for my English stories and poems. But I found that horror, science fiction and erotica are finally being noticed in the Latin world, especially in Spain, and I already started a science fiction novel in Spanish plus some short stories. Also I have planned to write a biography of one of my French relatives. 
"Horror, science fiction and erotica are finally being noticed in the Latin world, especially in Spain."
TL: Name three things of yours that everyone should read and why. 
EN: First of all, my bio, because in that way the readers can see how twisted I am and they can have an idea of what to expect of my writing. In other words, they are going to have the chance to run away before is too late.

Second, my short story “The Sacred Earth” included in the Grave Robber Anthology is a good example of my grotesque writing. Also, the story will show how diversified the food is in some restaurants.

Third, I recommend my erotic flash fiction “It’s all about friends,” published in the Skive Magazine, because my erotica usually includes  more than two in the relationship. 

For more information about Efrain, please check out his website and social media:


A guide to writing smoking hot sex scenes
Should you pay for a MFA program?

I'm a huge advocate of Do-It-Yourself, and I'm looking for other DIY-ers to share their stories. If you're a self-published writer, blogger, independent filmmaker, Youtube star, whatever, tweet me and I may feature you on my blog!