If you don’t know about the Smut Marathon, please click HERE to head to the website and learn more. It’s a yearly writing competition. Last year, I was a contestant (made it through round 7) and this year I am a jury member (which I am thoroughly enjoying).


I’m always intrigued to see the final results of a voting round. What I’ve found, especially as a jury member, is that I vote very differently than most. So, I suppose my feedback is valuable in the sense that it at least lets those interested know why I vote the way I do.

I could look at the numbers and feel as if I’m somehow missing the boat. For example, this round, ALL of the jury members loved “Elephant in the Room” by Marsha Adams. This story didn’t even make it into my top ten. My favorite story “Under a Violescent Sky” was ranked low (or not at all) by the other jury members. And I also ranked “The Experience” high, while the other jury members left that one behind.

So, here’s a brief run-down of my choices this round, from top to bottom.

My Top 10 –

#1: “Under a Violescent Sky by Drew Stone

I have had a bit of a love affair with Drew since this whole marathon began. I am consistently drawn to his writing, mainly because it is simply beautiful. His vocabulary is extensive and he uses it to create lush, poetic sentences. I’m a sucker for that, and find that kind of writing to be erotic all on it’s own.

I was caught from the first line. And I did so love the premise/situation…instant conflict: man against man, man against society, and man against nature. And the quick build to the erotic…”angry sex roused by the tempest.” I could feel it in my stomach, the need.  All the little details pulling me into the scene…”y-fronts down to your ankles, knotted wet fabric in my fist…”

There isn’t much dialogue in this story, unless you count the inner monologue of the main character, but the dialogue that is there is important and adds to the plot.

And at the point where the story says, “I didn’t look back,” my stomach dropped. I just knew what was coming, and I teared up just a little. “How do I tell them, Chiron?” You don’t…and that internal conflict is what left me with a feeling of wanting to hug this character.

Maybe it’s a little melodramatic…and maybe that’s why it didn’t do as well as I had hoped. But, I loved it.

#2: “The Bookshop” by Exhibit A

I have also been a fan of Exhibit A’s writing for a similar reason. He has a lot of voice…a way with language that just aroused butterflies in my stomach.

The opening of this story is perfect. So specific…and that floorboard – you just know it will play into the action later, so it creates expectation…foreshadowing. There is also conflict (the desire, the marriage).

My only dissatisfaction with this story was the end…because, while I loved that they really talked, and I hoped that the decided to be together, I wasn’t sure with that final line. What does “never went back” mean? Did they run off together? Did they break it off?

Or maybe the power in this ending is that I can decide as the reader what happen?

#3: “The Red Palace” by Zebra Rose

Another unique setting, which took a bit for me to wrap my head around. The description is excellent…a lot of voice here. I do have some questions about how one can taste in VR, but I looked past it. I wish this went further, because I feel like it stops rather abruptly. I had a hard time deciding whether this should be my #3 or #4, because I really liked Luna’s story, too. I ultimately went with Rose’s story for #3 because of the unique factor. The setting and situation made it so different from other stories I’ve read.

#4: “A Promise to Keep” by Carolyna Luna

A solid story! Well-written, good characterization (I cared about these two), conflict (the loss of comfort, the fear of standing on one’s own), and a satisfying end (what a unique gift)! The story was original and flowed naturally. Nothing about this felt rushed to fit a word quota. And it didn’t trail off in the end as if the writer didn’t know what to do with it now or as if it should “be continued”.

#5: “Retail Therapy” by Andra Ashe

I don’t find this one believable at all, but it’s a well-written story. I especially was drawn to the character’s internal conflict. The interaction between the saleswoman and the main character works until the sex begins. That part I found rushed and unrealistic. But I did love the last line ever-so-much. It really gets at the conflict of the story, and it made me smile. It pairs perfectly with the opening line, too!

#6: “Hot Enough to Touch” by Lord Byron’s Ghost

I have a hard time with paranormal and supernatural stories. They’re just not something I personally enjoy, so I am not as likely to connect with stories of this nature. This one pulled me in slowly, though…an odd mix of detective drama, dystopian sci-fi, and superhero fiction. I have a lot of questions about this one, but I felt a deep sense of conflict here. What I liked most about this story was the connection between the two characters. And I could really grasp the pain of not being able to feel or being unable to physically connect with other. How drawn one would be to another if they could finally understand that. I just wish there were more. The end felt sort of disappointing, but maybe that’s what makes this a more successful piece. I care enough about the characters and their situation enough to want to know more. And the backstory and setting is unique and intriguing.

#7: “Chocolate Spread” by The Other Livvy

This was the first story in the line-up that caught my attention. It felt like a real story because there was a bit of tension. There was a hint of backstory to create that right at the beginning. I felt it became a bit ridiculous toward the end (at “What do you call your junk?”), but after reading three stories I didn’t really like and wasn’t likely to vote for, this one felt like a breath of fresh air. In the end, it ranked lower in my line-up. But, overall, it was a decent story.

#8: “Crime and Punishment” by Sienna Walker

I liked the premise of this story. It started well, built naturally through dialogue and narration, included a substantial amount of smut, and the ending satisfied. It ticks all the boxes of a good story. I didn’t rank it higher, however, because it just didn’t stand out as unique in light of the competition. That is really nothing the writer has control over, and it is not something one can prepare for. The cards simply fall where they fall.

#9: “A Useful Girl” by Jack Stratton

This one’s strength is dialogue, but ultimately, it still feels more like a scene than a story. The only conflict I feel is that Becca is a bit reserved in her answers because she is embarrassed. And there is, of course, the power-dynamic. But, really, there is no build to a turning point. There is just a conversation between two people. I like how it ends with the promise of more to come, and I do like the juxtaposition of the two character’s personalities.

#10: “A Slow Show” by Patricia Ray

I liked the opening of this story…the fact that the character is on her knees gives it an instant erotic bent, even though she is simply gardening. Looking up at Leyla also sets up the dynamic between the characters. Little things like this make the story successful enough to be in my top 10. But, it ranks lower because I didn’t really like the end. That last three sentences feels rushed…tacked on to the end.

The Rest-

“The Project” by Cousin Pons

It’s important to note that I am a fan of Cousin Pons’s writing. He has a beautiful way with words and has a tendency to write wistfully and nostalgically, drawing me into his characters with ease. His writing is often heartbreaking for me – which is a good thing. This piece shows his gift with characterization, but it just didn’t feel like a story to me. It begins as a character sketch (something Pons is great with) and then tries to be a story, it seems (with the letter and the money); however, the climax is so haphazard and sudden that the “story” underneath the characters seems like an afterthought.

“Elephant in the Room” by Marsha Adams

It doesn’t feel like this story actually went anywhere. To me, it was just a troubled couple fucking. I find it fascinating that it was THE top choice among the other jury members. Hmm…I don’t know what I’m missing, but against the competition, this one just did not swim to the surface for me. Maybe they liked the instant smuttiness of it? With that opening line? I, however, had too many questions out of the gate: Why did they barely touch these last 6 weeks? How did he fray the edges? And then later, it says “we’ve never fucked”? But he could recognize his dick blindfolded? And the weekend is about building trust, but he doesn’t know if this will ever happen again? I don’t know. I just didn’t get it.

“Wednesday Night Date” by Annie Savoy

This was a more a scene than a story. Where’s the conflict? The tension? I sort of felt it in the beginning, because this one did at least draw me in and make me wonder what was going to happen next. But, ultimately, I was left disappointed. The character just goes to room 212 for a sexual encounter and then leaves.

“An Ordinary Love Story” by bluesubmission

Just a scene. I am left just simply not caring enough about the characters or what happens to them. There is nothing to draw me to them or connect me to them or make me wonder.

“In the Forest” by Jennie Talia

I’m confused how this one scored so high with the public. My initial reaction to this one was: WTF? I’m not even sure what is going on here…she find’s a bunny, meets a naked forest lady, has a sex dream, gets chased by a wold, has sex with the forest lady, uncovers her powers, and then stays in the woods? I don’t even know what to say. This seems more like an acid trip than a story. It was too fragmented and gave me no in with the characters.

“The Dressage Master” by Jordan Monroe

There isn’t enough backstory or explanation for me to even get a foothold on the premise, the setting, or the characters. All I have is the title to situate me. Not having any experience with horses or riding, had I not looked it up, I wouldn’t have even had a clue what was happening.

“The Experience” by Hyacinth Jones

Good opening line…sets the stage for a flashback. But this was much like a couple of other stories in this set…character meets with other character for sex and then leaves. There just isn’t a real story here…no build to a turning point…no tension…

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