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Agony & Ecstasy, the Anthology. An Introduction and a Giveaway

AgonyMany of the long time readers know that Berkley invited me to put together a collection of short stories conceptualizing the idea that passion is often comprised of both pain and pleasure.  The collection is printed in a flip format.  The first 10 stories are printed one way and the second set of stories (11) are printed upside down.  The idea is that you flip it to read it. Yes, it’s gimmicky, but apparently a very popular concept as it has worked well before for Berkley with its original flip collection called Master/Slave.

When I was first asked, I started emailing authors and asking them to contribute.  I was turned down frequently because of time commitments, the type of story (i.e., too short) or that they didn’t write erotic stories.  I wasn’t going to find 20 stories.  I can’t remember who it was that recommended that I put out a submission call on Dear Author but I remember being skeptical. Really, you think people are going to want to submit for this?  Lo and behold, people did want to submit.  I ended up getting a little over 80 stories to read and 21 of them made it into the collection.

My goal was to create an eclectic and inclusive collection of shorts. These are really vignettes or scenes given that the stories only encompass about 5,000 words a piece.   You can read more about the actual stories and the authors who contributed here.  Some authors have never published before.  I don’t know what their future publishing plans are.  I definitely turned down some decent stories, some because I felt they weren’t sexy enough or that they were too similar to a story I had already included.

EcstasyI haven’t talked much about the anthology on the site because I didn’t want readers to feel like I was abusing the blog in anyway, but one giveaway and one post isn’t going to drive you guys crazy, right?

Today I have invited the contributors to Agony & Ecstasy for a Q&A and I’ll be giving away 10 paper copies of the book to a random commenter.   We’ll try to answer any questions you may have.

The book will be released in trade paperback on December 6, 2011 and ebook on the same date. The ebook should be without geographical limitations.

Update: Winners to the giveaway are as follows:

  • Leni
  • Missy_G
  • angel Graham
  • TaraR
  • Katherine
  • vita
  • Amy Kathryn
  • Ammy Belle
  • Kaetrin
  • Janice
Please use the following form:

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Nadia Lee
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 04:50:24

    Yay to no geo restrictions! :D

  2. Kaetrin
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 04:53:44

    Definitely looking forward to this one!

  3. Janice
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 05:03:56

    The new website for agony & ecstasy is beautiful and draws the reader in. Can’t wait to buy it and read the anthology. Thank you for sharing this important news.

  4. dri
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 06:30:39

    Ooh, I can’t wait to get my hands on this.

  5. Jane Davitt
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 06:40:44

    I would love to read this; look forward to it coming out. It’s such an interesting question: what happens when you push pleasure too far/what happens when pain becomes transmuted to pleasure?

    Darn, I wish I’d seen the submission call post…

  6. Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 07:11:18

    I was thrilled to be included, although the chick with the whip scares me.

  7. JK Coi
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 07:20:44

    Haha, Maggie. You know you love the whip!!

    Hi everyone! I’m very excited for this anthology to be available. Everyone’s stories are So good!!

  8. Anne Calhoun
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 07:24:38

    There’s a chick with a whip on the cover? I got lost in the fine display of pecs and abs. ;)

    I’m also thrilled to be included, and happy to answer any questions!

  9. Shoshanna Evers
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 07:29:39

    I’m also thrilled to be a part of this project! :) My story is about a ride on a wooden pony ;) If any commenters have questions about anything at all I’ll be checking in throughout the day.

    Also, random FYI: my website is in the middle of being overhauled/redone so it may be missing information. Bad timing, I know, LOL

  10. Selene
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 07:30:26

    I think the idea of mixing reviewers with publishers is fascinating! Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist did something similar a while back. But I’m curious, isn’t the main reason publishers want to do this sort of thing that they want to use the platform of the blogger, reaching lots of people? OTOH, as you say, you don’t want to abuse your readers. So, how do you balance this?

    I’m also curious about the process of the whole thing. How did you go about deciding on the cover, e.g.? Did you get to have a say in it? What about the order of the stories? I sometimes wonder what the publisher is thinking in that department–it mostly seems totally random and not thought-out in the least.

    Anyway, looking forward to the release!


    Ps. I’m e-book only, so no need to include me in the random draw.

  11. Darlene Marshall
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 07:45:01

    It’s an interesting concept. I’d like to get a copy to see how the authors work it.

  12. jayhjay
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 07:51:12

    OH, I flipped through the list of books. Sounds great!

  13. DA Janine/Lily Daniels
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 08:12:08

    Just waking up here on the west coast, but I too am pumped to have a story in Agony/Ecstasy, and up for answering questions.

    I’m posting under the pen name I used for my short story as well as under my reviewer name here at Dear Author, in order to avoid confusion. Hope it works…

  14. SandyW
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 08:20:18

    Actually, I want to start with a Jane question. How would you contrast reviewing/blogging vs. editing. Did it change any points of view? Were there any surprises?
    I’m off to peruse the web-site for the collection…

  15. Danielle D
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 08:37:52

    Can’t wait to read this!

  16. Jane
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 08:40:55

    @SandyW My “editing” was mostly just reading the submissions and acquiring the ones I thought fit into the collection so I don’t think it changed my view of reviewing/blogging, although I did only make minor suggestions for some of the stories.

  17. Jane
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 08:46:21

    @Selene I think my relationship with the DA readership is more important than one book, no matter how fun it was to put together and when Berkley came to me they never said, please advertise this on your blog a ton. I got the impression that they asked me to do it because I had been reading quite a bit of ero romance. I’ll definitely talk about it on the day of the release and I’ve talked about it during the submission process. I just didn’t want the readership to feel like all I was doing was talking about it.

    I sent pictures from around the web about what I thought the book cover should look like and then I got the cover back which wasn’t really what I thought it should look like, but it’s grown on me. And frankly I had no real clear picture of what the cover *should* look like but Master Slave was dark and so I thought I would get a dark cover but I think this bright white will really stand out with its hot pink accents. I think it looks more inviting than the Master/Slave cover. (I could be wrong of course!)

    I ordered the stories based on the type of story and how I thought it flowed.

  18. Tabitha C
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 09:02:26

    I am looking forward to reading this collection. I love anthologies!

  19. Sonya
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 09:10:27

    The site is great. I sure hope there aren’t any geographical restrictions – so sick of being discriminated against because I don’t live in the US of A!
    I definitely think this would be a good paper book for the cover(s) if not for any other reason!

  20. LoriD
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 09:15:18

    I love anthologies – perfect when you just want to relax with a short story. This book sounds interesting.

  21. DA Janine/Lily Daniels
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 09:15:58

    Okay, I’ll throw out a few questions for the other Agony/Ecstasy contributors.

    1) Can you describe your story in a sentence or two?

    2) What was the biggest challenge for you in writing your anthology story?

    3) Who are your favorite authors in the romance genre and out of it?

  22. Ammy Belle
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 09:20:07

    OMG – that cover is awesome!

    Thanks for sharing!
    ammy Belle
    apereiraorama @ gmail .com

  23. Anne Calhoun
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 09:27:07

    Great idea, Janine/Lily!

    I have two stories in the antho, featuring the same characters and one emotional arc. In one sentence: two nights, one couple, no more secrets.

    The biggest challenge I faced was making each story work individually, yet link together for a solid emotional resolution. Each one had to stand on its own, so if a reader started with one she wasn’t bewildered, or worse, pissed off. Continuity was the next challenge, because each time I revised one of the stories I found something that would enhance the other story. In the end I hope the reader will enjoy them alone and as a complete tale.

    My favorite authors: Megan Hart, Jill Shalvis, HelenKay Dimon (her story in the antho rocks!), Meljean Brook, Alice Hoffman, Audrey Niffenegger, Lois McMaster Bujold, Connie Willis.

  24. erinf1
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 09:28:56

    That looks like a great anthology! I’m in awe of any one who can write a book, let alone a short story. I almost think that a short story/novella is harder b/c you have a constraint and have to keep it interesting.

    Thanks so much and Congratulations to all the authors!

  25. Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 09:43:18

    @Lily Daniels

    1) Can you describe your story in a sentence or two? Two strangers forced to marry discover they might be meant for each other after all.

    2) What was the biggest challenge for you in writing your anthology story? I admit it–no challenge. It was a delicious piece of cake to write. I loved the characters so much I decided if Jane rejected it, I’d expand it to at least a novella.

    3) Who are your favorite authors in the romance genre and out of it? I’m a huge Loretta Chase fangirl. I read historical romance pretty much exclusively, altho I like historical fiction and mysteries as well (Jennifer Gardner, Deanna Raybourn, Bernard Cornwell).

  26. AL
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 09:56:51

    I am so excited for publication, and really honoured to have been included.

    And I *like* the flip format. It reminds me of the great SF books in the 1960s.

    Now, on to the questions:
    1) Can you describe your story in a sentence or two? A new lover’s enthusiasm forces Priya to confront her kink for causing pleasurable pain.

    2) What was the biggest challenge for you in writing your anthology story? Keeping it below the maximum word count? But, more seriously, balancing the erotic dimension with more mundane details about the characters’ particular lives and subcultures — student, skateboarder, knitter. Infodumps are my nemeses.

    3) Who are your favorite authors in the romance genre and out of it? In the genre, I will always love Heyer, and more recently, I’ve quite enjoyed Meljean Brook’s Iron Duke work. Outside, I’m partial these days to Colson Whitehead (he has a new zombie novel out), Sarah Schulman, and Tayari Jones.

  27. Anne Calhoun
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 09:58:25

    @Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe:

    I can’t wait to read that story, Maggie!

  28. Cameron Belle
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 10:08:34

    I’m so excited about the release this anthology. My first published story is in it. :) I also get a kick out of having the only M/M story to make the cut.

    As for Janine’s questions…

    1. A summary in one or two sentences: In the future, a few of society’s most desperate seek fame and fortune by signing up for a deadly tournament. During a pre-game exam, a young med tech and one of those gladiators make an unexpected connection.

    2. The biggest challenge in writing it: Bringing it in under (or at least in the neighborhood of) the word count. I fell hard for these characters and couldn’t help wanting to keep telling their story. (That’s why I’ve been working on a sequel/continuation of their unlikely romance).

    3. Favorite authors, romance and otherwise: Within romance, I really enjoy Tessa Dare, Sherry Thomas, Loretta Chase and K.A. Mitchell. Beyond romance, Lee Child is one of my favorites.

  29. Amy Kathryn
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 10:14:29

    To any of the authors: Since these are described as vignettes or snippets, did you purposely write for this anthology or did you have a scene in your head/files that you had not been able to place in a fuller length title but was perfect for submission to this anthology?

  30. Anne Calhoun
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 10:18:44

    @Amy Kathryn: My stories were written specifically for the anthology. As Maggie said, if they hadn’t been selected, I would have expanded the characters and arcs into a longer piece.

  31. DA Janine/Lily Daniels
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 10:20:41

    @Anne Calhoun: I can see how that would be a big challenge, but I love that concept and am really looking forward to “Transformed” and “Transfixed.”

    I’ve enjoyed several works by your fave authors and reread Niffnegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife pretty recently. It’s not without flaws, but still an amazing book.

    @Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe: Ooh, I love marriage of convenience stories! And I’m a Loretta Chase fan too.

    @Cameron Belle: So glad to hear there will be a sequel; I really enjoyed “Into the Red” and thought the world was very rich and you could write more that was set there.

  32. Cameron Belle
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 10:25:29

    @Amy Kathryn: My story, Into the Red, was written specifically for submission to the anthology,

  33. Jeannie
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 10:26:20

    I’m going to confess that I don’t like the back cover (well, I guess it could be the front cover, too.) The woman in all leather. But now the naked male torso…yum! I’ve had this on pre-order for months, MONTHS, I tell you. Can’t wait. Since mine will be in Kindle format I won’t get the cover anyway. Please don’t enter me in the drawing, @Jane.

    The reason I love anthologies is because you get a little taste of authors you’ve maybe never tried before without the investment of purchasing a full-length novel. Everyone’s tastes are different.

    Personally, I would buy this for the Anne Calhoun stories alone. She’s like potato chips for me…One just ain’t enough! The other wonderful authors are just a bonus.

  34. Janine
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 10:27:21

    @Cameron Belle: Forgot to add, the wordcount was a challenge for me, too. But a fun one!

    @Amy Kathryn: “Kiss of Life” wasn’t even a glimmer in my head until Jane contacted me about submitting something to the anthology. But once she did, the idea hit me like a brickload.

  35. Sunny Moraine
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 10:28:34

    Hi, everyone! Another contributor here (“Wetwire” is my story). I’m lucky enough to have a day off today, so I should be around all day. Thanks so much to Jane for setting this up (and for collecting such an awesome group of stories, of course).

    So, starting off by answering Janine/Lily’s questions:

    1) Summary: In the near future, a subculture of people lost in a world of technology feel little or no connection to their physical bodies. One of these people gets a message from an old friend of hers, and he offers her an experience where technology has the potential to bring her into a connection with her body that she never would have imagined.

    2) Biggest challenge: I’d say just doing something new. I really wanted to push the envelope a bit in terms of this kind of story, and while I’ll let others tell me if I succeeded, I was genuinely attempting to be a little weird here. It was also a little tough to not get lost in world-building, and to remember that this ultimately had to be about two people and the special connection they forge.

    3) Favorite authors: Salman Rushdie, William Gibson, Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, and Paolo Bacigalupi. Among many others. I also have a deep and abiding love for Dorothy Sayers.

  36. Sunny Moraine
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 10:30:33

    @Amy Kathryn, I wrote specifically for the collection. But I’d been wanting to do some more erotic cyberpunk for a while (having done it a couple of times before), so I saw this as a prime opportunity.

  37. AL
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 10:32:00

    @Amy Kathryn – I wrote specifically for the anthology. Some of the elements had been on my mind for a while, but they never saw the keyboard until I read the call for submissions.

  38. Cameron Belle
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 10:34:31

    @DA Janine/Lily Daniels: I’m so glad you liked it. :) I was surprised by how much I enjoyed doing the worldbuilding, since I tend to focus more on the characters and their tension.

  39. Janine
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 10:34:58

    @Sunny Moraine: A lot of what I tend to enjoy falls into the “a little weird” category so I will look forward to “Wetwire.”

  40. Janine
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 10:37:13

    @Cameron Belle: Yeah, the characters were endearing, but I also loved the whole setup. Bettie Sharpe recommended it to me, so I know she enjoyed it too.

  41. DA Janine/Lily Daniels
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 10:55:30

    @AL: Sorry, I missed your earlier comment somehow. Maybe our spam filter chewed it?

    I love a strong internal conflict so your story sounds right up my alley. I like your mention of balancing the erotic aspect with details from the characters’ lives too.

    I keep hearing good things about Colson Whitehead.

  42. Nadia Lee
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 10:57:03


    What did you see was the biggest problem w/ submissions you rejected?

    And what did you think about the whole editorial / acquisition process? Did you enjoy it?

  43. Anne Calhoun
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 10:59:21

    @Sunny Moraine: Oh, I also love Dorothy Sayers! I’m rereading Gaudy Night right now! How could I forget that?

    @Jeannie: Thank you! :)

  44. Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 11:02:34

    @AmyKatherine I too wrote this specifically for the anthology. One of my critique partners alerted me to the A/E premise, but I didn’t get around to it for a while because I was busy being Maggie.

  45. Sara
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 11:05:55

    Looking forward to this!

    How much time was put into reviewing each story?

  46. Selene
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 11:13:52

    @Jane: I definitely don’t think you’ve talked about it too much. I might have missed some posts, but I only recall one or two from way back. And as I said, I find this whole concept/experiment interesting, so I like reading about it.

    Interesting about the cover! Like someone else said, I like the colors and such. Not too fond of the woman–she feels so over-the-top and, well, a bit like the standard cliche female domme.


  47. Jane
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 11:21:08

    @Selene: That’s good to hear. I actually have received much the same response via email so I am thinking of posting excerpts of each story and a little tidbit about why I choose the story for each day up to the release date.

  48. Selene
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 11:30:31

    @Jane: Ooh, good idea, I’d love to get that “insider-insight”. :-)


  49. Tabs
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 11:31:41

    This looks really fun. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a flip book before but I think I’ll be giving it a try.

  50. Christine M.
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 11:45:41

    I love erotica, I love erotic romance, I love short stories and I love the duality of pain and pleasure. I definitely am interested in getting my hands on this one!

  51. JK Coi
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 11:46:16

    Your story in a sentence: when love becomes painful, can you shove it away, can you kill it? Or will you still be drawn to it? (whoops, I guess that’s technically longer than a sentence?)

    Did you write his specifically for the collection: yes, but I loved the world so much I’m planning to write more in the future

  52. cayenne
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 11:50:30

    This sounds really amazing; I’m looking forward to reading it.

  53. Bettie Sharpe
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 11:54:29

    First off, I’m thrilled to be part of this anthology. It’s a great opportunity, and it’s so awesome to see my story in the company of some authors I’ve long admired and the talented new authors I discovered by reading the final edits.

    In answer @DA Janine/Lily Daniels‘s questions:
    1) Can you describe your story in a sentence or two?
    I would say “Each Step Sublime” is The Little Mermaid re-imagined as a story about the pain and pleasure of love, but that description pretty much sums up the original, too. So instead I’ll say, “It’s The Little Mermaid told as a story of pain, pleasure, and love–this time without the downer ending!”

    2) What was the biggest challenge for you in writing your anthology story?
    The length. The original Hans Christian Andersen story is more than nine thousand words, but stories for A/E had to be around five thousand. I wanted to keep close to the original storyline and include as many original plot elements as possible while also adding an overtly sexual thread to the story. Achieving those goals forced me to weigh every word. It was a real challenge, but also great fun. I learned a lot in the process of writing it.

    3) Who are your favorite authors in the romance genre and out of it?
    This is a tough one. A few perennial favorites are Robin McKinley, Loretta Chase, Judith Ivory, Angela Carter, Meljean Brook, Kage Baker and Neal Stephenson. My latest fave, Megan Whalen Turner, is courtesy of another excellent recommendation from the fabulous Janine Ballard.

    @Amy Kathryn:
    I wrote “Each Step Sublime” specifically for A/E.

  54. Ju Dimello
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 12:03:30

    Hi Jane,

    I heard about DA and about you only after the call for the anthology came :) Since then, I am a silent lurker in your blog – I kind of ensure I check out the posts at least once a day, read the comments..and kind of you know, love the various perspectives offered in a discussion. Umm..before I forget, I have really really read loads of books this year and found so many new-to-me authors after reading your reviews(though not all were positive, I still found the books interesting)!

    Oh and the anthology, I guess you would have had a tough time picking 21 out of 80+ submissions :) But on the positive side, you got to read 80+ stories.. LOL!

    This is the first time I’m hearing of the flip type books as well (see<–proof of how many new things I learn from here).. Have to keep an eye out for it next time….

    And I guess I liked the woman in leather (or in another sense, she looks like a shadow girl to me) much better than the yummy torso ! Simply because, it shows that being covered can be sexy too ;)

    Can't wait to read about each of the story, and your thoughts on them! omg! I'm really feeling like a kid waiting for a christmas present!

    I only hope each of the 5K stories ends in a logical conclusion…I kinda can't read stories which leave me hanging (like a teaser)…

  55. vita
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 12:04:26

    These little insights from the authors are fascinating—the short synopses, the very eclectic mix of genre (sci-fi, historical, contemporary), the intriguing titles (WETwire!!), the genesis of the story idea, and the very different takes on erotic pleasure/pain. Oh boy, a wooden horse, no less. It’s interesting to see these kinds of comments.

    And it is also great to see first time authors getting such a wonderful platform. Could be some careers in the making!

    Great concept for an anthology. This sounds like an amazing project for everyone involved…writers, editor, publisher, and readers!!!

  56. Shoshanna Evers
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 12:04:44

    Yay, questions! Okay, here’s my story The Wooden Pony in a sentence:
    The exquisite pain brought about by Wooden Pony torture might just be everything that Natalie has been looking for – or perhaps it’s Eric who is everything she’s been looking for?

    @Amy Kathryn, I also wrote The Wooden Pony specifically for this anthology. One of the authors in my local RWA chapter saw the call for submissions and since she knew I wrote BDSM erotic romance for Ellora’s cave, she suggested I send Jane something. I’m so glad I did – I’m very excited to be a part of this book! :)

  57. Bettie Sharpe
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 12:06:57

    @Cameron Belle: It’s so cool that you’re continuing “Into the Red”! I am really looking forward to reading it.

  58. DA Janine/Lily Daniels
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 12:07:59

    @JK Coi: Another fascinating premise! And I think I said “a sentence or two” so you are in the clear.

    @Bettie Sharpe: You are my critique partner and we both have stories in this anthology so perhaps I’m biased but for me “Each Step Sublime” is up there with “Ember” — those are my favorites of your works.

    Never heard of Kage Baker. Off to look him up.

  59. Q&A on A/E | Bettie Sharpe
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 12:15:37

    […] intrepid editor, Jane Litte, is hosting a Q&A thread with Agony/Ecstasy authors at Dear Author today. She’s also giving away 10 copies of Agony/Ecstasy to random commenters. […]

  60. cleo
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 12:16:39

    Glad to know about this – I love anthologies and I think ero romance often works best in short story form.

    The flip book thing sounds fun – are they going to try anything “flippy” with the ebook version?

  61. DA Janine/Lily Daniels
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 12:22:26

    @vita: Okay, your post has convinced me to answer my own questions with regard to my A/E story.

    1) Can you describe your story in a sentence or two?

    Lady Theodora must confess to her groom that after escaping death on the Titanic, she committed an indiscretion, but their wedding night takes an unexpected turn when Hugh reveals his own reasons for marrying Thea.

    2) What was the biggest challenge for you in writing your anthology story?

    Definitely the length. I could have easily made it three times as long. But I had fun challenging myself to see if I could fit this story into the short format.

    3) Who are your favorite authors in the romance genre and out of it?

    Laura Kinsale, Patricia Gaffney, Judith Ivory, Loretta Chase, Julie Anne Long, Alison Richardson, Sharon Shinn, Patricia Briggs, Anne Stuart, to name a few.

  62. Sara Thorn
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 12:37:01

    Hello everyone! I’m another contributor. Echoing the others here, but I’m thrilled to be part of this anthology. I’m biased I know, but I loved the concept from the beginning, and it was wonderful to see the different takes (and the awesomeness) of the stories that ended up in the final book.

    @DA Janine/Lily Daniels:
    1) Can you describe your story in a sentence or two?
    A young woman pushes her ex-boyfriend–and herself–to come to terms with what it is they both really desire.

    2) What was the biggest challenge for you in writing your anthology story?
    I’d have to go with time. I happened upon the (reminder) for the call for submissions less than two weeks from the deadline. I thought the concept sounded interesting, and I’d always wanted to try my hand at erotic romance, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. In the end, I think I had a day to spare. :-)

    3) Who are your favorite authors in the romance genre and out of it?
    Ooh, there are so many, but to mention just a few, Laura Kinsale, Judith Ivory, Megan Hart, Meredith Duran, Mary Balogh, Susanne Elizabeth Philips and Cara McKenna.

    @Amy Kathryn:
    I also wrote “Overtaken” specifically for the anthology.

  63. Jason
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 12:43:26

    Sounds amazing. I would love to read! Thank you for the chance to win a copy. :)


  64. Na
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 12:47:07

    It has an interesting concept -flipping it around to read. I don’t read a lot of anthologies but I find them helpful in getting a feel of a new author.

  65. Cameron Belle › Dear Author hosts an Agony/Ecstasy giveaway and Q&A
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 12:48:29

    […] are some great comments, questions and answers going on over at Agony & Ecstasy Anthology Introduction and Giveaway. Ten paper copies of the erotic short story anthology will be given to randomly chosen commenters, […]

  66. Edie Harris
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 13:05:41

    Hey, y’all! I, too, am a contributor to A/E, and I’ve had so much fun growing into my role as a “real” author in the past year since the anthology was announced.

    To answer @Lily Daniels:
    1. “Shameless” (set in 1859) is the story of a disillusioned young woman trapped in an awful relationship, and how one night at the Philadelphia Opera changes her life completely.
    2. I really love the shorter formats of stories and novellas, so the hardest part of writing this, for me, was to make the concept of physical pain pleasurable (it’s not a theme I often utilize).
    3. My favorite authors number almost too many to name, but, in this genre, I love everything Nalini Singh does, as well as Julie James, Cara McKenna, Jill Shalvis, Kresley Cole, Roxanne St. Claire, Eloisa James, Elizabeth Hoyt, and Meredith Duran.

    @Amy Kathryn “Shameless” was written specifically for the anthology, like a majority of the authors here, but now that the setting is in my head, I wish I’d had more time/space to play with it.

    @Jeannie I feel the same way about @Anne Calhoun’s stories! Hadn’t read her before the anthology, then went out and purchased her entire backlist. Her stuff is like crack.

  67. Cameron Belle
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 13:06:22

    Here’s a question for my fellow authors:

    Can you give us a memorable tv or movie scene that addresses the intersection of pain and pleasure. It doesn’t have to be BDSM related or explicitly erotic (although that’s fine). Just something that made you think, opened your eyes, or evoked an emotional reaction from you and has stuck with you.

    One that comes to mind as a scene that made me think about pain was the first fight between Tyler Durden and the protagonist of Fight Club. (“I want you to hit me as hard as you can.”) Once you’ve watched the whole story (which I’d prefer not to spoil here) it becomes an even more complicated scene. But the twisted, playful joy they got out of hurting each other in that scene was something I found compelling and thought provoking, even on my first watch of the film.

  68. DA Janine/Lily Daniels
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 13:08:53

    @Sara Thorn and @Edie Harris: People are probably tired of hearing me say how much I like the story concepts, but yours are great too!

    And wow, Sara, I’ve enjoyed every single author you’ve named as a favorite.

  69. Jane
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 13:36:00

    @Ju Dimello That’s pretty cool. Thanks for letting me know. I hope you enjoy the anthology. I will tell you that not all stories have a conclusion. I included some that didn’t “end” because I liked the power or voice of the story. That said, there are only a couple that have a real open ending.

  70. Janet W
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 13:38:42

    Anne Calhoun has two stories in the antho? Cool — her novella “What She Needs” was a kick and I’d enjoy reading more from her. Fingers crossed :)

  71. Edie Harris
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 13:38:50

    @Cameron Belle The scene I always think of is in the Robert Downey, Jr., version of “Sherlock Holmes.”

    He’s bare-knuckle boxing (okay, there are hand-wraps, but whatever) with this big man and getting his ass handed to him, but then he catches a glimpse of Irene Adler. You can just see the adrenaline hit him as his brain clicks on, and suddenly the blood and bruises are working in his favor, and he quickly wins the fight. It’s not the same sort of visual intersection between pleasure and pain that’s in “Fight Club” or other pain-centric erotic-esque film scenes, but the Sherlock character is a little off to begin with — even when he moves like he’s sore, you can tell the moment the endorphins hit him. It’s not only great acting, it’s a nice representation of the of animalistic side of one’s nature, where pain and pleasure are tightly intertwined.

    Also, RDJ is ten different kinds of hot in that movie. Just sayin’.

  72. Jane
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 13:48:15

    @Nadia Lee

    Biggest problem was that I felt that the sex was too prominent and that there was no emotionality in the story. Granted the stories are 5,000 words and were about sex but a good balance of sex/emotion was important. Another issue was originality. Some of the stories had a chick going to a club and being sucked on by a vamp. I’ve read that a ton before. I wanted something more unique. There were others I rejected because I found the setup and the sex kind of creepy. Others were just too bland.

    As for the editorial / acquisition process, it was okay. It was time consuming and some of the stories were not so great. It’s not something I would have wanted to do without help and by that I mean this volume was further edited by Cindy Hwang and another copyeditor. I did suggest edits to some authors but most we took as is, so to speak. I loved finding really good stories. That is fun and akin to finding a hidden treasure as a reader and then sharing your love for that book with the greater reading world. Mostly I think it is time consuming and not something I would want to do as a living because you do have to read a lot bad to average stuff to find the good stuff.

    I guess my attitude has changed a bit in that I am less interested, as a reader, in paying for rough drafts and unedited works. When I was invited to be part of the acquiring team for the digital line, I was initially super excited and said yes, but as I thought about it more and more over the summer, I realized that I didn’t really want to do it because I don’t really enjoy reading slush. I enjoy reading great edited books.

    I also tried to suppress some of what my preferences were in bringing together a diverse collection such as including stories that didn’t have a conclusion. The romance reader in me balks at that but the stories that didn’t have a conclusion were so interesting I felt like it would be a shame to not include them. I also tried to stretch my boundaries. Wetwire by Sunny Moraine, for example, isn’t a book that I would have picked up had I read the back cover copy because it’s not in my regular reading library, but it is such a cool story and I am glad that I read it and I hoped that by sticking it with other more romance type of stories that others would read it and appreciate it for the fresh and different story that it is.

    I’m so interested in what other readers think of this book, good and bad. I’m almost more interested in hearing where I missed the mark than where I hit the mark in part because obviously I already think all these stories in the collection are interesting and good or they wouldn’t be in the collection so I am avidly looking for real criticism from other readers.

  73. DA Janine/Lily Daniels
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 13:52:11

    @Cameron Belle: What a wonderful and thought-provoking question. With the caveats that these have to do more with emotional pain than with physical pain, that my taste in cinema is quirky and eclectic, and that I don’t shy away from sad endings when it comes to movies, here is a list of films that were powerfully evocative for me, painful and pleasurable to watch at the same time.

    Blue and Red from Kieslowski’s Three Color trilogy. The trilogy should be watched in its entirety and in order (Blue, White, Red) for Red to have its full effect, though.

    The Girl on the Bridge. Incredibly romantic French film about a knife thrower and the girl he throws his knives at.

    In the Mood for Love. Hong Kong film about a man and woman who live in neighboring apartments and who fall in love after their spouses cheat on them with each other.

    Thelma and Louise. Esp. the final scene.

    The film adaptation of The Painted Veil.

    The Sixth Sense

    Waltz with Bashir. An Israeli film about war and PTSS done entirely in animation. Sounds like a terrible idea, but it’s great.

    The Ice Storm

    Monster’s Ball

  74. Katherine
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 13:55:49

    Congratulations on the book, Jane & the gang.

    Sometimes I am in the mood for quick bites of a story, nothing too deep. I find sometimes the vignettes linger in my mind far longer than more involved stories.

    Also – totally superficial – I love the cover(s)!

    I wish I could think of an intelligent question, but I can’t. Brain dead I am.

  75. Bettie Sharpe
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 14:15:19

    @Cameron Belle: Instead of movies or TV, what comes to mind is Billie Holiday’s version of the song “My Man” (originally, “Mon Homme”). The song is a litany of pain and wrongs, of all the suffering the singer has endured at the hands of her man. Though the singer claims to be helpless and despairing in the face of her love for her man, the matter-of-fact tone of the recitation reveals a perverse sort of pride at what she has suffered for love–at what she can and will endure.

    The first time I heard it, I thought, “That is f***ed up.” And the second, time, too. The third time, I thought it was kind of fascinating. When I sat down to write a version of The Little Mermaid and tried to figure out the heroine’s motivations, I heard that song in my head.

    OMG, just read @DA Janine/Lily Daniels‘s list. Girl on a Bridge is pretty great, and In the Mood for Love is one of my melancholy favorites.

    @Jane: re: “Wetwire” – this story is such a good balance of sci-fi and erotic. I read a lot of sci-fi as well as romance, and I was just blown away by the way this story feels so fully a part of both genres. Since I also adore historical romance and fantasy, I really enjoyed the diversity of the stories in the collection–they covered every genre I read regularly, and gave me a taste of what I’ve been missing in other sub-genres, too.

  76. Sunny Moraine
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 14:16:24

    @Cameron Belle: Great question. Yes yes yes to that scene in Fight Club–that’s a great scene on so many levels but especially on that one. Guh.

    Other movies/scenes that spring to mind for me:

    – The kiss scene in Blade Runner. It’s a very strange scene in a lot of ways; it’s a mishmash of fear, lust, loneliness, tenderness, rage… all the things that make for interesting love scenes. There’s an edge of pain/dominance in it that I’ve always found emotionally affecting.

    – The branding scene in Jarhead. Another one where the emotion under the physical action is both immensely powerful and immensely complex.

    – Keeping with the military theme, The Hurt Locker. The entire film is such an interesting meditation on the masochistic nature of war, and on how lethal danger can be addictive. There’s a lot of stuff about pleasure and pain tangled up in it.

    – All of Secretary. I love that movie, and the idea that pain can be healing.

    – And then pretty much all of Quills. Kind of trashy, all awesome, amazing scenes with Kate Winslet, and just when I think “it won’t go there” it totally goes there.

  77. MarieC
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 14:18:10

    Congrats! Thanks for the opportunity!

  78. Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 14:33:06

    @Edie Harris How odd, the first movie I thought of was Sherlock Holmes, too, although I have to confess I held my hands over my eyes a lot when I watched it. But it was obvious he relished the pain, loved playing with fire/Irene and danced on the very edge–literally, on the bridge.

  79. Sara Thorn
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 14:59:37

    @DA Janine/Lily Daniels: I’ve enjoyed nearly all on your list also–all except Alison Richardson, but I’ll definitely be looking her up now! And I’m kicking myself for forgetting Patricia Gaffney. To Have and to Hold is one of my all-time favorite novels.

  80. Bettie Sharpe
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 15:02:09

    @Sara Thorn: Janine introduced me to To Have and to Hold. I keep it on my reference shelf–Gaffney is just that good.

  81. TaraR
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 15:04:52

    Congratulations on the book, it looks great! Can’t wait for it to be out!

  82. Sara Thorn
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 15:05:18

    @Bettie Sharpe: I only wish there was an e-book version so I could carry it around with me! One day…

  83. Sunny Moraine
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 15:18:40

    @Bettie Sharpe: Thanks so much, Bettie! I really appreciate that you feel that the story straddled genres successfully. I also agree that the diversity of this collection is one of the things that makes it especially awesome. I love that Jane didn’t shy away from taking some chances but really focused on quality above all else.

  84. ClaudiaGC
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 15:25:04

    I really like the concept of the book with the flipping around. Looking forward to reading it!

  85. Sara Thorn
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 15:27:54

    @Cameron Belle: Interesting question. The first that comes to mind is A History of Violence… and I can’t really explain why without spoiling the movie horribly, so anyone who hasn’t seen it, beware!

    **** Spoiler space ****

    Cronenberg put two sex scenes in that movie, one near the beginning where we see Viggo Mortensen’s character have sweet, nostalgic sex with his wife, with her dressed up as a cheerleeder (because they didn’t get to be young together). Then, much later, when she learns of his darker side and how he used to be a mob killer, they have sex again after a violent argument. At first, it almost seems like it will end up as rape BUT, there is this one moment where he pulls back, and you can just see him thinking “This is my wife, what the hell am I doing?”. He would have stopped their violent sex… but it’s she who pulls him back.

  86. Julie M
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 15:34:35

    This book has been on my “coming attractions” list for a long time. Glad it’s almost here.

  87. HelenKay Dimon
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 15:50:52

    Hi everyone!

    Meant to join in earlier but life intervened. Wanted to say I am thrilled to be in this anthology and very grateful to Jane for included me. I had so much fun writing my short, Just Say Yes, and wrote it specifically for this anthology. I was dying to write a workplace erotic romance and this gave me the chance. To answer the previous questions:

    1) Can you describe your story in a sentence or two? Jane described it best back when she acquired it: It’s an office romance with a twist. It starts like this:

    She craved this. Day after day, sitting in boring conference rooms and never-ending staff meetings, watching him explain and negotiate, she wanted him.

    2) What was the biggest challenge for you in writing your anthology story? The length. Packing plot and sexiness into such a short space took some tinkering.

    3) Who are your favorite authors in the romance genre and out of it? I still have great loyalty to the first three romance authors I ever read – Jayne Ann Krentz, Julie Garwood and Linda Lael Miller. I also love Jill Shalvis, Alison Kent, Lauren Dane, Anne Calhoun, Monica McCarty and whole bunch of others. Outside of romance I read a little bit of everything. My current favs are Gillian Flynn, Chevy Stevens and Rosamund Lupton.

  88. Michelle Drew
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 16:00:36

    A question for the dear Editor – how did you get the word out to the new authors about the anthology? As a new writer, I’m curious about suggestions of how to find out about publication possibilities.

    Here’s hoping a have the chance to discover new writers.

  89. Jane
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 16:01:07

    @Michelle Drew I blogged about it here at Dear Author and it was reposted on other blogs.

  90. drey
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 16:01:09

    This anthology sounds intriguing, and so does the flip format. I don’t think it’s gimmicky at all, if it’s done well!

  91. Ju Dimello
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 16:50:42

    Thanks for clarifying, Jane! 1-2 stories out of 21 – Yep, can do :)

    I’m excited to read the variety that this anthology would offer… :) Especially since the stories are short.. it would be really quick and easy to read a few at a time…like eating M&M’s :) :dreamy sigh:

    I’ve read Bettie Sharpe’s Cat’s Tale and loved it :) Can’t wait to see how she takes the story this time around!

  92. PatA
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 16:52:55

    I want to read it. Thanks for the chance to get one.

  93. Nonny
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 17:21:01

    I’ve been looking forward to this for awhile and was actually just wondering when it was going to be out. As soon as I saw Bettie Sharpe in the line-up, it was an auto-buy. :)

  94. angel Graham
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 17:35:57

    Oh. Please! Please, pick me!

    Thanks “Dear Author”!

  95. Elaine G
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 17:41:01

    Sounds like a good book.I like the flip idea.

  96. DA Janine/Lily Daniels
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 17:54:08

    @Sara Thorn: To Have and to Hold is my favorite book in the romance genre. An e-book version would be so fab.

    I hope you enjoy Alison Richardson’s Countess Trilogy (I reviewed it here). She has a great voice. These are best read in order, but what a fabulous author of erotic romantic fiction.

    @HelenKay Dimon: Love your opening paragraph.

  97. Jennifer
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 18:00:37

    Just had a quick look at the list of contributors – definitely looking forward to reading it.

  98. Christine d'Abo
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 18:08:19

    I’m late to the game!! I was stuck at the evil day job and didn’t have access to DA.

    I was thrilled and more than a little stunned that my story was selected to be a part of this anthology. To have my name in here with such amazing other authors is a true privilege.

    1) Can you describe your story in a sentence or two?

    Mine is the story of a man who needs to learn the fine line between pleasure and pain, and that the two are not mutually exclusive.

    2) What was the biggest challenge for you in writing your anthology story?

    Well, you see I had no intention on writing one. I’d heard about the call while I was in the middle of edits/writing/life and didn’t think I would have time. I took up the challenge when my good friend and critique partner JK Coi told me we were going to give it a shot…5 days before the deadline. The challenge was coming up with something fast!

    3) Who are your favorite authors in the romance genre and out of it?

    This depends on my mood. I love Mary Balogh for my historicals. Colleen Gleason gives me my vampire fixes. I love Robert Dugoni for my crime fix, and Josh Lanyon for my m/m reads.

    I’m now going to read through the rest of the comments and will try to get caught up. :)

  99. Lindsey
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 18:25:45

    Ah, you have no idea how excited I am for this collection. Its release date is a week before my birthday, so I’m probably going to buy it as a birthday gift for myself. <3

    Oh, I also wanted add that I love the Ecstasy cover with the woman in the PVC bodysuit. It's refreshing, and kind of great that the covers aren't JUST "hot man abs".

  100. Annie Nicholas
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 18:32:04

    The flip idea is interesting. Yummy cover.

  101. Kathy Miller
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 18:44:37

    I love the flip concept. I read Master/Slave. and enjoyed the novelty of it. Looking forward to this release.

  102. AL
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 19:07:59

    @Cameron Belle: This is such a great question. I know that very early on, I fixated on Eartha Kitt’s Catwoman in the reruns of the Batman TV show: her swagger, sensuality, and the grip she keeps on her whip helped me understand the intersections between threatening violence and promising pleasure well before I knew any of those concepts.

    Later, Mapplethorpe’s photographs and the sound of punk music – both of which were used as examples of the Decline of Western Civilization – demonstrated all over again the beauty and tenderness it’s possible to find in harshness and (apparent) brutality. Reading both Genet and Dennis Cooper had the same impression on me.

    There’s also all the frustrated desire and athletic violence and shame on display in early seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, particularly Buffy and Faith’s relationship and Oz the werewolf’s arc. The anime Revolutionary Girl Utena also affected me, especially the contrast between the ritual of duelling and the chaotic emotions and violence around that ritual.

    I have to second the nomination of In the Mood for Love. It’s the most restrained yet brutal depiction of yearning I’ve ever seen.

    (of all days to have internet connection issues, it had to be today?! I’m glad there’s still a conversation going on.)

  103. Carin
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 20:27:20

    Anne Calhoun, Meljean Brook, Bettie Sharp, and Anne Calhoun again? I’m having such a fangirl moment that so many favorite authors are in one place. I’ve enjoyed reading the comments and look forward to this book. I love anthologies for finding new to me authors!

  104. Missy_G
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 21:47:52

    This a great concept for a collection of shorts stories. I enjoyed reading all the authors comments and I’m looking forward to reading this book.

  105. Denise
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 22:00:20

    I love the flip book idea. Very cool.

  106. Leah
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 22:42:36

    I’m so excited about this anthology!

  107. Sabrina
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 23:25:44

    Sounds like an awesome anthology!

  108. Bella@BeguileThySorrow
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 00:05:50

    sounds intriguing and like nothing Ive read before, so count me in. looking forward to checking it out:)

  109. Sophia (FV)
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 00:44:19

    What an interesting project! Congratulations. I’m looking forward to reading it.

  110. Julie
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 01:29:17

    Congratulations on the book! I actually like the “flip book” gimmick, and I think it works well for this one in particular.

  111. Amy
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 03:22:52

    I also enjoy short stories and often use them as a way to check out new authors. I am not familiar with the work of many of the authors here, so I”m looking forward to reading A/E.

  112. Ngaere
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 05:29:53

    I am very excited to read this. I can’t wait until it comes out. I would certainly love to win one here.

  113. Joanna K.
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 07:30:07

    The Agony Ecstasy website was wonderfully designed. I’m slowing making my way through the submissions. Can’t wait until Dec 6th for its release.

  114. Angela
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 08:14:51

    I’m really looking forward to reading this book!

  115. LethalLovely
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 08:54:01

    Agonizing pleasure & exquisite pain? *raises eyebrow* Sign me up! I’m not a fan of novellas but these books sound like their right up my alley.

  116. Rhianna
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 10:50:43

    The flip book idea is gimmicky but I’ll admit to liking it. :) Sometimes those little details catch the attemtoion of someone who wouldn’t otherwise.

    I’ve actually been wondering when you were going to do some promo Jane. lol I might not be the best judge of such things but we’re your readers I can’t be the only one who is thrilled you’ve got this great project to share with us. :D

  117. Sarah Porter
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 11:16:08

    Sounds like an interesting concept! I’ve never seen this style of book before.

  118. Leni
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 16:27:11

    Did you find yourself picking out stories the showed a similar trait in characters or was it your goal to have them not be too similar?

  119. Donna
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 16:27:28

    I’m excited to read the book. Congrats to all involved.

  120. Elizabeth56
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 19:09:09

    I read SF, and am old enough to remember those flip books. I like them because you finish reading one direction, and wait! There’s more.

  121. Jane
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 19:34:50

    @Leni: I tried to get a variety. I turned down a couple strong fem dom stories because I had already had three of them. I probably could have put together a really amazing collection of fem dom stories, but I think the appeal of that would not have been as broad.

  122. Kristi
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 23:33:52

    I would love it! I’m not sure if comments are closed or not :) If not, please count me in!

  123. Kaetrin
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 01:29:30

    I’ve only had time to read about half the comments so far, but @Jane, re your comment no. 47, yes please! I’d love to hear more about these stories and the process of how they came to be in the anthology as release day nears. Like Selene, the process is very interesting to me and I don’t feel you are ‘misuing’ DA at all.

    Also, I’d love to hear about some that missed the cut and why.

  124. Christine M.
    Nov 06, 2011 @ 18:35:14

    Congrats everyone!

  125. Ammy Belle
    Nov 06, 2011 @ 22:06:38

    Yay! Thanks so much! :D

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