Monday, April 30, 2012

Forget About That Happy Ending

I blogged at Eros and Thanatos about getting permission to write without a happy ending:

I felt a sort of moral obligation — in my own mind, I had permission to write about dark things as long as they worked out okay in the end (and another editing story is about how Lon Sarver gave me permission to write about even more dark things than I originally allowed myself). In the ending as it stands now, you could argue that things are okay, at least for certain people, but the characters haven't all been "good." Maybe they weren't even trying to be.

Read the rest here.

Incidentally, the story I'm talking about in the post is "The Three Wives of Bluebeard," which will be out soon from Forbidden Fiction.

Music Mondays: "We Want War" by These New Puritans

"Secret recordings were made in the marsh. I bore a hole in the tree just to see."
--These New Puritans

This song has a demonic sensuality that I can't get over. It's aggressive and threatening, but in a slick, seductive way. In its lush landscape of sound, you will hear classical instruments, the sounds of swords being drawn, urgent lyrics, and frantic drums. It emphasizes to me that there's always been a relationship between sex and violence.

And then look at the video, which just worships the human form. In the way it's shot, I see the kind of sexuality I imagine the Greeks found in athletics.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Disclaimers Matter

Several erotica publishers I have encountered require writers to have characters use condoms whenever it's at all reasonable for them to do so. Others include disclaimers warning that characters may not practice safe sex, but that this is not an endorsement of their behavior. It might seem like it's not a big deal (don't we all know about safe sex?), but I think it is.

One of the big moments of sexual maturity for me came when I learned to draw a line between fantasies I want to enact in real life and fantasies I only want to read about. This sort of disclaimer helps create that distinction.

It's occurred to me recently that such disclaimers are even more necessary when an author is writing about BDSM or various extreme acts. Fantasy BDSM is often quite different from the reality. There are obvious distinctions, like whether or not safe words are being used. But there are deeper ones that may only be clear to people with actual experience with BDSM. For example, I find that many authors don't depict emotional effects in a way I find accurate. I often don't see aftercare (for sub or dom or both). And the list goes on.

Given the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, this has been on my mind a lot. I read an interesting post by avflox on how the book portrays BDSM:

I wasn't far into the story when I realized that Fifty Shades of Grey not only sets people who live a BDSM lifestyle back decades in terms of being understood by society, but that it eroticizes dangerous practices as well, especially for those who are new to this aspect of sexuality and looking to incorporate it into their lives.

The post's author goes on to provide an in-depth analysis that's well worth reading.

But I think such problems aren't only present in Fifty Shades of Grey. I've read plenty of erotica that created similar misconceptions. I think that a disclaimer would be a nice start -- and, ironically, it's often the sort of thing I see from people who have more familiarity with the actual practice of BDSM, and might be inclined to write more realistically in the first place.

Here's some language from the disclaimer before Deliver Us, an m/m BDSM novel by Lynn Kelling:

This story depicts fictional BDSM. The characters are not models for the Safe, Sane, and Consensual forms embraced by most current practitioners of BDSM. The author takes license with the use of BDSM for dramatic effect. It is not recommended as a manual for how to practice BDSM.

I think this kind of thing is necessary -- perhaps even more necessary than having characters use condoms. Many of us were taught to use condoms in school, but many of us have never been taught much about BDSM. What I like about this disclaimer is that it might make someone Google "Safe, Sane, and Consensual" (the capital letters help there).

Kelling's novel is full of hot scenes that I wouldn't actually want to see happening in real life. That's fine -- the book makes clear that they're fantasy, and that they're not to be emulated.

Like it or not, erotica is the main kind of sex education a lot of people are getting -- I know it was for me. It's nice to see a dose of reality.

(For the record, Kelling's book is published by Forbidden Fiction, which has also published several stories of mine.)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Writing and the Wet Test

I blogged a few days back about reading and "the wet test," saying I read plenty of erotica that wouldn't necessarily make me come. I've been thinking about how this idea applies to writing.

There's plenty to say on this subject, but one point I'd make is that it's difficult to write erotica about subjects that really get me off. If just saying the words "nipple clamps" makes me want to come, I can grossly misjudge how hot my scenes are. When I'm blinded by lust, it's easy to go too fast. It's easy to imagine that what's going on in the reader's head is as vivid as what's going on in mine.

Some of my best scenes, on the other hand, have been about things that don't have so much inherent turn-on for me. My head is clear enough to pay attention to craft. I never submit a story until I'm turned on by the sex in it, but I think my writing is sometimes better when I have to work for it. There's a foreplay analogy in there, I think.

That said, hottest of all is when I can closely describe a sex act that really, really turns me on. But these stories are the hardest for me to write.

Rising to the Challenge

Erotica writer Remittance Girl recently issued a challenge:

Have a go at writing the exact same sex act, using nothing but the tone of language and the POV of the narrator to present it as either kinky or vanilla.

The challenge comes from a theory she has about what makes BDSM feel like BDSM:

I came to the conclusion that writing BDSM sex is far less about the external scene than it is about how the person whose POV is represented in the narrative is interpreting it. The M/C in Fifty Shades of Grey has a very vanilla state of mind (and I would extrapolate and venture that E.L. James is probably not much of an avid practicioner of BDSM herself). And so, appropriately, she reads/interprets/experiences all the sex as vanilla, even when, externally, it doesn’t appear to be.

When I read the challenge, I thought immediately of cunnilingus, which has the reputation of being a service given to a recipient, but often makes me feel extremely vulnerable. Below is the same cunnilingus scene, one kinky and one vanilla (though my partner questions whether the vanilla version is fully vanilla). The dialogue and actions in each are exactly the same. Let me know what you think!

Vanilla Version

He smiles as he settles himself between my legs, and I whimper with anticipation. His delicious tongue has learned my ways. He can make me come fast, or extend the pleasure to an achingly slow burn. Tonight, we both want it slow. The half hour we spent kissing on the couch was only the beginning.

He touches down on my clit, tongue delivering the firm, wet, velvet strokes that are a sure thing for me. Little scrapes of his teeth help me hold myself back, slowing my path to orgasm. Even with the nibbling, I'm going to come soon if he doesn't stop. The foreplay has me more than ready.

"Please," I say. One finger in my cunt would make me come, but I don't want to yet. I want to feel his face between my legs. I want to have enough time to long for him.

He knows this is how I work. "What do you want?" I hear the grin in his voice. He grips the cheeks of my ass. I squirm, desire and excitement getting the better of me.

I meet his eyes. "Bite my clit," I whisper.

He knows how I like it. His teeth pinch my clit. It brings tears to my eyes, but it cools me down just enough that he can put his fingers in me without making me come. I groan at the exquisite sensation of his hand pumping in and out of my cunt. I wouldn't really have been able to feel it through an orgasm's spasms. I couldn't have noticed every twitch of his fingertips the way I do now.

The moment stretches. He lifts his head slightly, and I arch to go with him. The synchronization between us overwhelms me.

"I love you," I breathe, and I've relaxed enough now that he can release his teeth and pleasure my throbbing clit with a soft and gentle tongue. Perfectly still except for the twitching of my inner thighs, I can enjoy him. I lie limp on the mattress, cunt open to him, soaking up every bit of pleasure he can offer me. There's no hurry tonight. We can delight in each other as we will.

Kinky Version

He smiles as he settles himself between my legs, and I can't help but whimper. There's no way to tell if he plans to use teeth or tongue until his mouth contacts my clit. He touches down and it's both — pleasure I can't resist delivered by firm, wet, velvet strokes, but restrained by scrapes that shock me out of any climb toward orgasm that I might make.

"Please," I say. I want him to play nice with my cunt, just lick me and maybe stick some fingers in. Let me come. That's what would feel the best. But at the same time... I have to supress the wild urge to ask him to bite down. Hard. I know he likes to hurt me. I like for him to like it.

He knows this is how I work. "What do you want?" I hear the grin in his voice.

This is the decision point. Pleasure or pain. He always leaves the choice in my hands. He grips the cheeks of my ass. My body squirms to match what's happening in my mind.

"Bite my clit," I whisper, both defeated and excited.

His teeth pinch my clit. It brings tears to my eyes. I'm afraid to move at all, for fear of increasing the pain. All I want is to get away from his mouth, as far and as fast as I can. He shoves his fingers into my hole, but it's a tease. No way can I come from that now.

The moment stretches. He lifts his head slightly, making my body arch to keep his bite from becoming more painful. And it hits me — mental surrender that comes in waves, satisfying more than the physical sensation of orgasm ever could.

"I love you," I breathe, and now he releases his teeth and pleasures my throbbing clit with a soft and gentle tongue. Perfectly still except for the twitching of my inner thighs, I can finally relax and serve him. I lie limp on the mattress, cunt open to him. I don't tense my muscles or work at achieving an orgasm. I present my spread lips as an offering, no longer fearing either teeth or tongue. He uses me as he wills.

Friday, April 27, 2012

My Question About the Six Swans

I recently blogged at Forbidden Fiction about how my fairy tale retellings usually start with a question--a point of dissatisfaction in the original story. This is true of The Six Swans, too.

In the classic version of the story, the main character must spend seven years silent, sewing shirts for her brothers, in order to break the curse that has turned them into swans. A king's servant discovers her in a tree one day. For some reason, she throws her clothing down to him one article at a time (in the story, this is presented as an attempt at discouragement, but that really doesn't make sense to me). He is stunned by her beauty and takes her to the king, who promptly marries her. The king's mother is evil, for some reason, and takes away the babies the new queen bears, telling the king that his silent wife is responsible for murdering them. The king refuses to believe this for quite some time. Eventually, his mother convinces him that his wife is killing the children, and he agrees to have her burned at the stake. Luckily, this happens to coincide with the end of the seven years, and the girl is able to restore her brothers and explain herself just before she dies by fire.

Now, that is a weird, weird story. What particularly interested me was the king's trust in the main character. She can't speak to him. Her behavior must appear insane. What could he have known or felt about her that would give him the sort of confidence in her that he displays, in the face of damning evidence that she's a murderer.

Trying to answer that question drove my entire writing of the novella. In my version of The Six Swans, the sexual connection between the king and his bride is so strong that his body trusts her even when his mind does not. Trust is visceral and physical.

As is common for me, that hypothesis then spread through the story, affecting how I portrayed both of the main characters.

If you'd like to see how this worked out, you can pick up the book here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Fantastic Art of Siol na Tine

You may have noticed some lovely cover images gracing my blog recently. Many of them are thanks to Siol na Tine, an artist who has recently begun working with Forbidden Fiction. I've heard a lot about how cover artists rarely get sufficient appreciation -- authors will go on about how great the cover is without bothering to find out who did the work. I've been really struck by Siol na Tine's covers from the start -- for one thing, I could really tell the artist was paying attention to details of the stories. The images also have a distinctive style, and great use of color.

For example, In the Death of Winter, a forthcoming story, is loosely based on Mongolian mythology. I took a lot of liberties and created my own fantasy narrative, but I was careful to make the climate and vegetation plausibly Mongolian, and the main God character in the story is based on a Mongolian figure known as Erglik or Erlik. As soon as I saw Siol na Tine's cover, I knew this background had been preserved. The bound postulant pictured is clearly not a white girl. The figure of Erlik matches traditional distinctive features of the God (such as the twisted black horns). It's incredibly gratifying to see this sort of vision carried through. I've heard horror stories about "whitewashed" covers, where characters of distinctive ethnicities suddenly become blond and white. I make a point of trying to identify my characters as coming from somewhere specific, and it's great to have the publisher and artist respect and preserve that effort.

For The Snake and the Lyre, Eurydice has a Greek appearance, and the artist has captured several key elements of the story.

I'm not the only one to benefit, though. I've inserted pictures of a couple other great covers, including the one Siol na Tine did for Mina Kelly's A Little Night Swimming, and the one for Kailin Morgan's Underneath It All.

I've been pleased that Forbidden Fiction has put the effort in to produce covers even for shorter works, and it's particularly exciting to see them take on an artist so interested in the mythological and folkloric roots of the stories being illustrated.

Siol na Tine has written an introduction here, which gives insight into the process of producing covers and the research that goes into them.

If you want to see more from Siol na Tine, check out this flickr stream related to Forbidden Fiction -- you can also see sketches of staff members. It was really fun for me to put faces to all these people I've been e-mailing.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Coming Out and Coming of Age

Cecilia Tan, author and publisher of Circlet Press, describes Daron's Guitar Chronicles as "a webfiction serial about a young guitarist coming out and coming of age in the 1980s." She's been running the serial since 2010, but is now turning to Kickstarter to fund a print edition. Check it out, and considering giving her a hand! (Her video describing the project follows).

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On Self-Censorship

Author Giselle Renarde interviewed me for her blog, Donuts and Desires, on self-censorship and other issues around being a writer:

I definitely self-censor. I had to dip my toes into erotica bit by bit — I am a deeply kinky person, but it was hard for me to reveal that as a writer. I would be reading extreme blood play lesbian BDSM, and then publish a vanilla story about a straight married couple. I have started to get into more of my true kinks recently, but I have to say that what has been happening with PayPal and censorship on book-selling sites has had a chilling effect on me.

Read the full interview here.

As an added note, I'm really disturbed by what's been happening recently -- books getting pulled from sites without explanation. Read Giselle Renarde's description of her experience with the sudden disappearance of Elementary, My Dear Kathryn, a lesbian anal fetish e-book. You can still pick the book up from the publisher.

Monday, April 23, 2012

How I Write Fairy Tale Retellings

I posted at Forbidden Fiction describing how I come up with ways to retell myths and fairy tales:
I think that most retellings of fairy tales and myths are about answering questions raised by the stories but not resolved — or about adjusting the traditional answers given. This is why I can read literally dozens of versions of Bluebeard or Cinderella without ever getting tired of it. Each author has a different take on the questions that bother them or how they answer them.

You can read the rest here.

Music Mondays: "Midnight City" by M83

"The city is my church. It wraps me in the sparkling twilight."

The last few weeks, I've been taking a trip down memory lane with a bunch of pretty old songs. I thought I should try for something more recent this time. But I'm still taking a cue from the recent posts, which have been a lot about songs that create a sexy atmosphere. M83's "Midnight City" recalls the electronic music of the 80s, as well as that sexy-middle-of-the-night feeling I talked about in reference to DJ Shadow. It's about being out at night--both the excitement of it and the cool mystery of it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Why I Read Erotica That Doesn't Turn Me On

You read erotica because you want to get off, right? Right?

Not necessarily. To me, this is at the heart of the perennial question: Is erotica porn?

I watch porn when I want to get off. I do not think I have ever turned on porn just for fun, without a vibrator in my hand or a horny partner by my side. I do not expect that I ever will.

Erotica, on the other hand, is a more varied experience. I have some favorite stories. Sometimes, I go to them when I'm in the mood to come. When I'm reading a collection, sometimes there's a story that really gets me and I find myself moving my reading from the desk to the bed. But blogger Donna George Storey raises very valid questions about "the wet test" at the ERWA blog:
Over the years, I’ve noticed another aspect of the popular approach to reviewing erotica—the primacy of the “wet test,” or using personal arousal to evaluate the quality of a story. Go to any Amazon page for an erotic anthology, and you’ll see that a good portion of the reviewers makes a point to list their favorite stories. A few will also finger the stories they don’t like (pun intended). It’s almost as if someone passed out a template on “how to review erotica anthologies,” with a final exhortation: “Don’t forget to mention at least three stories that got you tingly/hard!”

She goes on to say:

It would be helpful to other readers and writers if reviewers gave more context for their opinions. Tell us why a story turns you on or intrigues you or disturbs you or lingers on after you put the book down. Treat erotica as a crafted tale as well as a masturbation aid.

This makes a lot of sense to me because if I evaluated erotica based on the wet test, I would have to discard entire anthologies (full of writing by authors I love). A long time ago, when I first discovered erotica, I was so turned on by seeing words like "cock" and "cunt" on a printed page that I was aroused by everything, no matter what it was about. But very quickly, I zeroed in on what really gets me off. I have a few very specific fetishes -- and I mean that in the technical sense of the word, as in there are things that are required if I am going to reach orgasm. To make matters worse, I favor nonconsensual stories if I want them as a masturbation aid -- which are banned by most publishers of erotica. This shunts me over to decidedly less well-crafted but admittedly effective free stuff a lot of the time (though there are some really well-written nonconsensual stories, too, such as Remittance Girl's incredible novella Gaijin).

If I read erotica only to get off, I wouldn't read most professionally published erotica at all.

That said, here's a list of collections I've recently read and enjoyed: D.L. King's Carnal Machines, Rachel Kramer Bussel's Best Bondage Erotica 2011, Debra Hyde's Back Door Lover: Erotic Tales of Anal Sex, Alessia Brio's Coming Together: By Hand, Tabitha Dulla and Cecilia Tan's Like Heaven and Hell. The vast majority of the stories in those collections would never make me come, but I still liked reading them.

I'm going to talk a little about why.

First, sex fascinates me. Sex is characterization in a very pure form. I like to read descriptions of how people fuck. I like to know what they do and what they focus on.

Sex and the feelings around it are a significant part of human experience. Now that I am used to reading erotica, I am profoundly annoyed by how frequently mainstream stories ought to be talking about sex but are instead dancing around it. Erotica pulls off the covers and gives access to the whole person -- parts of the psyche that are all too frequently ignored in other literature.

Erotica gives a window into perspectives that I would never otherwise get. While I always considered myself liberal, and identify as bisexual, it was reading and writing LGBT erotica that really committed me to equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation. It's probably a post in itself to explain that, but I think erotica turned it from a political issue into a human one.

Erotica gives me a sense of camaraderie that's really important to me. The bravery of other writers has set me free. I remember reading a story on Oysters & Chocolate about a pantyhose fetish (Hose in the Cold - From My Skin to His by Tao Mitts). In this story, the narrator is ambivalent about her friend's pantyhose fetish. The writing sometimes takes on a sensual tone, and sometimes a revolted one. I definitely did not come from reading it, but I was fascinated psychologically. The story gave me a lot of insight into how fetishes look from the outside (and, being a person with some heavy fetishes of my own, I found this significant and, despite the disgust, reassuring somehow).

There's also just a lot of damn good writing. I go on and on about Remittance Girl, but I would proclaim her artistry and craft to my last breath. But let's be fair. Let's take a story that would never get me off (since many of Remittance Girl's do): I am left pretty cold by femdom. But when I read Kathleen Bradean's "Lair of the Red Countess," a femdom story in Carnal Machines, I actually jumped up, grabbed a pen, and started writing exclamation points next to my favorite bits. I'm going to string a few together:

"Who are you?" the woman asked. That time, her low voice caressed the nape of Archie's neck like incense smoke wreathing a sinner's prayer.


"So it is torture!"
"Something far worse. Something almost unbearable." She bent close to his ear and spoke as if relishing the word rolling over her tongue. "Pleasure."


"There is a small matter to settle before you leave, Mr. Fraser. You have needlessly wasted my time. I demand..." Her hand made a gesture as if she expected it to snatch the word she sought from the cloying air of the room. "Satisfaction."

Each of these parts stunned me with their beautiful turns of phrase. Bradean's story created a powerful sense of atmosphere that was hot as hell -- even if I didn't want to masturbate.

Here's a comparison: I don't need to actually fall in love with the male lead of a traditional romance in order to appreciate the story. I just need to buy that the female lead is in love with him. Bradean's story totally sold me on the countess being the hottest thing the male lead had ever encountered. I appreciated that.

There's a lot I love about where the genre is going. I like the trend of steampunk erotica, for example. I read non-erotic steampunk stories, too, and sometimes I like to read erotic ones.

I couldn't agree more with Storey's suggestions for alternative ways to evaluate erotic stories. I weep to think of all I would miss if I applied only the wet test.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Touched By Death

Forbidden Fiction will soon release my story, "Less Than A Day," in Touched By Death, an anthology of erotic encounters with death. The editor promises "a collection that balances sexy and horror in a way that makes readers squirm." All of the stories on the roster are available now individually, and the ones I've read so far have been excellent. I'm looking forward to seeing the full book.

Here's the full table of contents:

Raven and Crow by Luna Lawrence
The Band Plays On by Theda Black
Less Than a Day by Annabeth Leong
Atropa Belladonna by Jane Potter
Deep Water Grave by Claryssa Berg
Brush with Death by E.E. Grey
Glad Rags by Konrad Hartmann
Cold Love by Ruth Black
Stone Cold Heart by Kailin Morgan
The Charge of the Soul by Peter Tupper

Keep an eye out for it!

Friday, April 20, 2012

In The Death of Winter

Here's a cover art teaser for "In the Death of Winter," which will be out soon from Forbidden Fiction:

A priestess offers a young postulant as a sacrifice on the night of the winter solstice. The God of winter saves—if she can survive paying his price. (F/F, M/F)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Snake and the Lyre

There's a lot about the Orpheus myth that never made sense to me. Orpheus' music is so powerful and moving that Hades, God of the Underworld, gives him permission to retrieve his dead wife from death and bring her back to the sunlit lands. But he imposes an arbitrary condition: Orpheus isn't allowed to turn back and look at Eurydice. In pondering this weird ruling, I came up with the idea for The Snake and the Lyre, which has just been released by Forbidden Fiction. This is a dark retelling of the myth, so be warned. I hope you'll take a look!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Wedding Without a Bride

My e-book, The Six Swans, was released this weekend by Coming Together. Here's an excerpt from early in the book:

Just that morning, he'd collided with an attendant in a castle hallway outside his mother's chambers. Cream-colored paper scattered on the stone floor. Never too proud, Evan had dropped to his knees to assist, only to discover his own seal on the unfamiliar documents.

Attendants in the castle respected him so little that the servant dared to protest when Evan broke the seal. And what could the young king do? Until he married or attained his 21st birthday, the law afforded the queen dowager as much power as it did him. He could throw the churl in the dungeon, but the gesture would be futile. His mother would laughingly order another disloyal attendant to release him, and the result would be a servant with a grudge and a public example of his political impotence. Face burning, Evan held his mother's creature away with an outstretched arm so that he could read the words attributed to him.

"A wedding?" Evan roared, so loudly that the Lady Anthes herself appeared in the hall. The king advanced on her. "Mother, when would I have found out about my own wedding? Who, pray tell, is the bride?"

His mother didn't have the grace to look frightened. She crossed her arms over her chest and raised an eyebrow. "I've asked you repeatedly to select a bride from among the many suitable ladies I have suggested."

"There can't be a wedding without a bride!"

"My point exactly. As you can see, you have two months' time to choose one."

"Cancel the blasted event! I've not agreed to marry anyone!"

"State weddings can't simply be halted in such a scandalous fashion. Royalty from the world over are already making preparations to attend. They may even be en route to this kingdom. You will have to set aside personal preference and do what is best for the state."

Evan tore the paper in half, then in half again, and threw it at her feet.

"Childish," Lady Anthes murmured, gesturing for a servant to take the torn paper away.

Evan glared at her. "How could my sudden marriage be best for the state? Surely, the woman would need time herself to prepare?"

"Any woman you choose will jump at the chance to be your queen. I've explained to everyone that, for security reasons, you can't allow the woman to be known until she's come to live in the castle."

Evan stepped in close, pitching his voice so only his mother could hear him. "Why are you doing this to me?"

Lady Anthes' face softened. She reached up and stroked a lock of Evan's hair. "You will turn 21 in a few months, my son, and the law will no longer allow me to rule by your side. I worry for you."

Evan gaped. He'd been a fool to hope for the freedom his birthday promised. His mother's machinations would force him to live with a viper in his bed—one groomed, no doubt, to report to Lady Anthes and no other. The law forbade a common bride, who might be grateful enough at the elevation of marrying a king to refrain from betraying him. Among noble ladies, his mother's influence extended even to the farthest kingdoms. Speechless with rage, Evan tore away from her.

He turned the old king's signet ring around and around on his finger. His mother had been distant until his father's death. In five short years, her presence had grown to crush Evan utterly. He called for his hunting party.

The Six Swans is available from Smashwords, 1PlaceForRomance, and Amazon. All proceeds go to Kiva, which offers microloans to entrepreneurs worldwide.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Announcing The Six Swans

My novella, The Six Swans, came out this weekend from Coming Together. Here's a description of the book:

The young King Evan struggles to become a man and ruler amid the choking influence of his mother’s spies and machinations. When he meets a silent, beautiful woman in the woods, he can’t resist the pure, honest sensuality of her touch. Bringing her to the castle as his wife and queen is Evan’s declaration of independence. The king’s hard-won happiness falls apart, however, when his mother accuses his new wife of murdering their first-born child. Evan believes that the private, physical language he shares with his queen tells him everything he needs to know, but as tragedy strikes again and again, his love and faith are tested to the breaking point.

"The Six Swans" retells an old fairy tale of a princess who must take a vow of silence to save her brothers from a curse, the king who falls in love with her despite the seeming insanity of the curse conditions, and the sexual connection that’s strong enough to overcome the isolating power of the princess’ vow.

I've written a lot about this publisher. The tagline is "Doing Good While Being Bad." All proceeds from sales of The Six Swans go to Kiva, an organization that gives microloans. The book is on sale for $1.99 from online retailers including 1PlaceForRomance, Smashwords, and Amazon.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Music Mondays: "Midnight In A Perfect World" by DJ Shadow

"The clock on the wall reads a quarter past midnight..."

No song captures the private sensuality of the middle of the night as well as this masterpiece by DJ Shadow. I challenge you to restrain yourself from the replay button.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Music Mondays: "La Femme D'Argent" by Air

Last week, I mentioned the sexy, smooth vibe that a certain kind of Europop can produce, and so I feel obligated to provide a classic example. Air's "La Femme D'Argent" has no words at all, but it, like the whole Moon Safari album, sets a definite mood.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Music Mondays: "In The Waiting Line" by Zero 7

I always try to include a hot line from the songs I post here, so I can show a little of why I think they're sexy. Well, I've been over and over the lyrics of "In The Waiting Line" and I can attest that there's not a single hot line in this sexy, sexy song. It's actually a song about standing in line for a really long time, being really bored, and feeling like a total outsider.

So why does this song have a reputation as one of the sexiest songs ever?

This one is all sound, baby. The lead singer's voice would sound sexy reading the medical records of a person with severe gastric bleeding. And this is one of the smoothest, slinkiest instrumental arrangements I've ever heard. It has a European electropop vibe that adds a touch of sophistication. It's the ideal sound for a long, languid makeout session.