Joyce Berryhill Versus the Censors

April 1st Update (not an April Fool’s joke): Today WE, dear follower, all of us, are winning the battle. Thanks to all of you who, after reading my last update below, wrote to Smashwords to beleaguer them about their heavy-handed censorship, My Erotica book Hot Times in a Cool Climate has passed vetting by their censors. There were no flags on content this time. I will be putting the book on Amazon very soon now. There was one modification they want but it was nothing to do with content and was easily fixed. It had to do with the cover image. It seems Adrian was right, the censors were not fond of Ellen’s sexy bra. The problem was, her nipples were almost visible. OMG! I put a pretty blue top on her and immediately submitted the new cover. You can see the new version now if you visit the book link above. And if you already bought a copy, you can download the new version too if you want at no additional cost. Although if I were you, I would prefer the one where she’s swearing a pink bra with no blouse. Again ty ty ty all soooooooo much for helping. Love you all!

I read her first short story and found it very hot (fanning myself, phew!). I don’t usually read Erotica. I normally prefer stories with a strong plot line. There was something very refreshing about this one though. It’s currently only available on Smashwords. Click on the book cover pic here to go to the book page. I hope she will publish it on Amazon soon too. Her story came out just four days ago so I suppose Smashwords is still vetting it before it can be distributed to other retailers. You should check it out now because books are usually more expensive on Amazon then they are on Smashwords.

Update: Okay I admit Joyce Berryhill is me (it’s my pen name for writing Erotica). This was an experiment and I want to share the results with as many as possible, particularly other indie authors, especially those who write adult stories or novels. I want to break some news about new frontiers in censorship on eBook publishing sites. Once upon a time you could publish any filth you wanted as long as it was labeled “adult” and as long as there was no nudity on the cover. This has changed a lot in the five years I have been publishing eBooks.

Joyce Berryhill’s new Erotica Ebook, Hot Times in a Cool Climate, has been banned on Smashwords for having inappropriate sexual content. You might ask, “What is inappropriate content?” Good question. I wish there was an answer. I’ve been asking this question of both Smashwords support staff and Amazon Author Support and the current answer (as summarized by me) from both is: “Anything we deem inappropriate in our arbitrary and capricious opinion.”

Rumors are flying around the Ebook author community. Some say it’s bestiality they’re after. Okay, in one of my novels (not Erotica), a female Aquatic Elf has sex with a Dolphin. She has gills and can breath underwater so she’s clearly not any more human than the Dolphin. Is this bestiality? If so why? Other pundits say the censors are after incest. Okay, in one of my epic fantasy novels the King Arthur legends are interwoven with a Tolkien-like story about Elves. In this book Arthur is portrayed as having sex with his sister. This subplot (Mordred is born out of their union) is straight out of existing literature telling of the King Arthur legends and is an important element of the legends. Is all this classic literature porn then?

Others say it’s underage sex the censors are coming down on. This was certainly the case with Joyce Berryhill’s new Erotica book. Smashwords told me the book had to be unpublished (their euphemism for banned) because it contained underage sex. However I made it clear that all the characters in the book were at least 18 years old or older. Smashwords then went on to say that they are also “heavily discouraging stories about barely legal sex.” Okay, in one of my full length literary novels, the protagonist is a “young” girl from another planet. Life spans of her race average 500 years. She is 100 years old at the beginning of the book. Tell me, is she underage? She better not be because she has her first sexual experiences at that age. Shhh don’t tell the censors. I don’t think they’re very good at math.

Time was when being banned was a boon for authors. The two erotic books shown below, today considered literary classics were banned for many years in many places by many organizations, including the infamous Catholic League of Decency. The Fanny Hill cover would still be banned by Amazon and Apple today, perhaps other retailers as well. Amazon is all that really counts however since they have 65% of the Ebook market. All other retailers are small peanuts. In the good old days of these two books, all you needed was one print publisher and none had a corner on the market. Being banned would rocket your erotic book to the bestseller list overnight when the banning hit the press. Often the bans were advertised on the book’s back cover. Today being banned by Amazon is death to an indie publisher. Two steps forward, ten steps back for literature!

Here’s what I’ve done about this in the case of the Joyce Berryhill book shown below. I caved to Smashword’s edict that I must unpublish it or they would delete my account. I first looked to see if there were any other alternatives with more lax censorship standards. There weren’t. I also learned that Amazon’s new barriers to Erotica are even worse than Smashwords. So I unpublished Hot Times in a Cool Climate. If you bought this book you are in possession of a rare book. Hang on to it. It might be worth a lot some day.

Ellen cover 4 small

Next I wrote a new version of the book and gave it a brand new title and ISBN. The new book (cover shown below) is titled Hot Times in the North Country  and can be found on the same Smashwords book page where the banned edition was found. Except it’s NOT a new edition. From Smashword’s point of view, it’s a whole new book. In this book, the protagonist and all her other character friends are at least nineteen years of age (more than barely legal) and I made sure that none of their language or actions suggest that they are younger than stated. That last thing is a new thing the censors are looking for in submitted work — suggestions of illegal porn, rather than actual illegal porn. Do you understand this? I don’t. It seems I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole and the Red Queen has sent her men to get me.

Anyhow I’m not giving up. Support my fight. Buy a copy of Hot Times in the North Country now at the introductory price of 67% off ($0.99) for the first 20 copies. Get it before it’s banned again and write a review begging Smashwords not to ban it. Click the new cover picture below to get to the book page. Click the question mark at the top of the Smashwords page and send a message to them not to ban my book. Tell them what you think of their new censorship standards. If you can’t afford the $0.99 for a good cause, comment on this story including your email or send me email to and I will give you a coupon code to get a free copy. HELP ME FIGHT CENSORSHIP!

Ellen cover 4


7 thoughts on “Joyce Berryhill Versus the Censors

  1. Hello J,

    I have not read your book yet. I’ll be happy to buy it, if I can.

    Smash won’t tell you specifically what they’re calling “inappropriate content”?

    Is it possible it is the cover? I know the woman is not topless, but her bra is see-through.

    The sea elf having sex with the dolphin is bestially. Sorry. Have your elf turn into a dolphin herself.

    King Arthur legend should be fine, as is your 100 year old elf, unless you called her a “child.” I hope not.



    1. Ty for the comment and advice. Smashwords is a tiny bit better than Amazon. Amazon actually (no kidding) defines “inappropriate content” as “pretty much what you would expect” without further elaboration. I sent them a query about that and they replied that they had the right to reject submissions of books for their own reasons regarding content without needing to explain or justify or elaborate on their reasons. We have to guess what Amazon thinks is inappropriate today and it’s a moving target, always getting more strict. Smashwords states in their TOS that certain topics are inappropriate, discouraged, and may be rejected using moderator’s discretion. I’ve named three topics in this post but there are more and the list keeps getting longer. I’ve had books flagged in the past. Maahilund was flagged for the cover because there is a naked female on the cover. I wrote them saying the cover art was a copy of a public domain classical painting illustrating a scene from the Finnish legends upon which that book is based. They backed off and published it complete with the naked female on the cover. I guess they didn’t want to seem like they were banning classical art. At that time Amazon would publish anything Smashwords published if it passed their vetting for the Premium Catalog so they also published Maahilund with the naked female on the cover. Up until now I’ve never had a book flagged for inappropriate content. Smashwords will answer queries from authors and when I asked they said the inappropriate content violated their terms of of service (TOS) with regard to underage sex. It didn’t and when I queried again, pointing that out, they said they were furthermore “heavily discouraging” content that hinted, by characters’ words and actions in the story, that the character was actually underage even though a disclaimer says she’s not. This makes it very arbitrary. I’ve made some changes and resubmitted the story as a new book so we shall see what happens. There’s no problem with the cover. If there was they would say so as they have in the past. Regarding your comment about bestiality. I think you are stating a censor’s point of view rather than a fact. Look it up in the dictionary if you don’t believe me. defines bestiality as “Sexual relations between a human and an animal.” An Elf is not human. I hope the dolphin sex won’t offend too many readers but it’s not bestiality by definition. The rules for fantasy are very murky and it doesn’t really matter because the censor’s opinion is all that counts and it’s not usually based on fact. They will ban what they feel like banning. Regarding the 100 year old Elf, Sashegh, yes I made it clear she is a young Magin, just now coming of age. That’s not specific is it? If it gets flagged at this point they won’t make me take it off. They will just stop distributing it until I fix identified issues. I was simply using it as an example to worry about in future writing — mine and everyone else’s too. The Joyce Ellenberry story is a whole different experience for me and it should frighten all authors. I was told to unpublish the story or my account would be deleted. That’s not the friendly manner in which Smashwords normally deals with me. Other authors of Erotica are telling me it’s because all Ebook retailers are cracking down on Erotica of all kinds. So watch out for the censors regarding your book!


  2. This censorship is, of course, total nonsense. Neither Smashwords nor Amazon will give you any idea why this really happened, because their staff have no idea what their programs are doing to scan text. You must have triggered a key word or two and their software kicked you out. I’ve read this, and there’s nothing in there to cause. Compared to most erotica, on a scale of 1 – 10 where 10 is the most awful stuff you’ve ever read, this is a 2. It’s a lovely, coming-of-age story that deserves to be read. I can’t believe this happened.

    What to do next? Check out this free Kindle book:

    Then look for key words in your book.

    BTW, if you were an author who sold tens of thousands of books, they wouldn’t care. “Game of Thrones” is full of forbidden topics, but they look the other way.

    This all started with British censorship, and has spread globally on Amazon. That’s why sites that sell erotica, like A1 Adult Books exist.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read your story on I was very impressed. I will be purchasing your rewrite soon. When my wife was writing historical romance, ie. respectable erotica, I was the editor from hell. A wall crafted story is a joy and I enjoy your work. Please keep fighting for your artistic freedom.


    1. Thank you Michael. You might enjoy my full length novels too. My fifth and I think best one is on a giveaway right now on Just go to my author page there and follow the instructions to download your free copy of “Two Worlds Changed.” Hurry because tomorrow is the last day of the giveaway. So far I’ve always been able to maintain artistic integrity while battling the censors and not had any books permanently banned, Crossing my fingers and knocking on wood.


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