Friday, November 22, 2013

One Flesh

The publisher described this book as "sweet lesbian fiction with fisting," and I can't tell you how much I love seeing all those words together in one description. Enjoy!

Leticia and Rosalie are planning their wedding, wanting very much to make their special day one to remember, but Rosalie has something else weighing on her mind, one more thing she wants to make as special and as memorable as the ceremony itself—their wedding night. Rosalie wants to be with Leticia in a way that neither of them had ever been with anyone else. But finding something that would be a first time for both of them turns out to be harder than expected.

As it turns out, there is one thing Leticia has wanted to do but has never trusted anyone enough to allow herself to overcome the fear of it. And it's something that Rosalie has never done either.

The women discuss the idea of fisting as a means of connecting and forming an intimate bond with each other, one that they've never formed with anyone else. They've never loved or trusted anyone else they way the love and trust each other, and they are determined to find a way to make it work.


"I'll call tomorrow to tell the church how many flowers we want to order," Leticia said, sighing and folding her notebook closed. No matter how many neat lists she made with her favorite purple pen, the sheer quantity of wedding-related details was overwhelming. "Can you call the caterer back, Rosalie? I still feel like they sneaked a charge in somewhere, but I can't get a straight answer out of them about it."

Her fiancée smiled indulgently. "Better yet. I'll go in person on my lunch break, and they won't know what hit them."

"Great." Leticia rubbed her temples and closed her eyes. She'd wanted to go to bed early, but another evening of wedding planning had made that completely impossible. She was excited to be marrying her one true love and all, but it was easy to lose track of that when she had fourteen phone calls to make and her mother demanded an e-mailed progress report every single night. "That's got to be enough for now."

Leticia stole a quick glance at Rosalie. She'd changed into a cute pair of pajamas when she got home from work, the childish pattern an odd contrast with her sophisticated coppery makeup. Leticia briefly fantasized about peeling the clothing away, revealing her lover's curves and smooth brown skin. Unfortunately, at that very same moment, she had to stifle a yawn. She was so damn sleepy. They would need to get to bed immediately if she was going to give Rosalie proper attention.

"We can't quit planning yet," Rosalie said. "We haven't discussed the most important thing, and it's coming up soon."

Leticia groaned. She flipped her notebook open again and paged through her color-coded, highlighted lists. "We've talked about everything I had listed for the day, and we even went over things that have deadlines coming up in the next few days. I don't see what we're—"

"The wedding night," Rosalie purred. "We haven't discussed that at all."

There was no mistaking the sparkle in her eyes. Leticia actually blushed, the way she had at Rosalie's makeup counter the first time they met, when the other woman's soft words of praise, roughened by the obvious desire in her voice, had gotten Leticia so hot and flushed it had been impossible to identify the correct shade of foundation for her skin tone. She'd been forced to come back later, not that she'd minded.

Now that she'd figured out what Rosalie was hinting at, Leticia played innocent. For all her lover's passion, her Catholic upbringing had left her with an adorable aversion to using direct language. Leticia loved to watch Rosalie get flustered while trying to explain her naughty desires. She batted her eyelashes and focused on her notes again. "We've reserved our hotel room the night of. We've got our plane tickets to Puerto Rico for the honeymoon a couple days after that. Everything appears to be in order."

"The wedding night," Rosalie said, apparently oblivious to Leticia's teasing. She rolled her hands through the air, one over the other, the gesture an invitation to take the word "night" and run with it. "The whole reason I wanted an afternoon wedding was so we could have plenty of time together. Afterward. In the hotel."

"You mean to take a good, long nap? I'm sure we'll be tired after dealing with all the guests, and coming down from pre-wedding nerves, too." Leticia couldn't resist continuing the act.

"Not a nap. But I am talking about what we might do in bed." Now Rosalie colored, a deep red undertone becoming visible beneath the screen of her makeup.

Leticia composed her face as much as she could manage and shrugged. "Oh, are you talking about sex?" A giggle threatened to slip through at Rosalie's incredulous, exasperated expression. "I don't know. I've read tons of articles about how people get so exhausted from all the things leading up to a wedding that they don't even really want to have sex by the time the day is done. We'll have plenty of time for that later in the honeymoon, won't we?"

"Don't even really want to have sex," Rosalie repeated slowly, as if the phrase was a math problem and she couldn't quite work it out. Her forehead wrinkled in utter puzzlement. A snort burst from Leticia. Realization dawned on Rosalie's face. She grabbed a tissue from the box on the table and tossed it at her. They'd both collapsed in giggles by the time the thin paper floated airily to the floor beside Leticia.

Leticia allowed the force of her laughter to pull her off the chair. She crawled the short space to Rosalie's chair and raised one brown foot to her lips. Leticia did enjoy a little foot worship now and then, but her current mood was far from reverent. Slowly, carefully, she slipped her mouth over Rosalie's polished big toe. She licked until Rosalie's breathing changed, confused between laughter and moaning. Then Leticia lifted off the toe and pressed her mouth to the sole of Rosalie's foot. She inhaled, gripped the ankle tightly, and blew a powerful raspberry.

Rosalie squealed and tried to get away. Leticia smiled but kept up the wet, ticklish vibrations. Rosalie's foot jerked in her hands. Leticia kept hold easily. She had plenty of practice restraining patients, which happened to have fun applications at home.

Rosalie writhed as she laughed. Leticia drew breath for another raspberry, but cut her eyes up as much as she dared. She didn't want to miss the sight of her lover, breasts bouncing under her shirt as her rib cage shook, hips rolling as she struggled to get away, face squeezed tight as if to ward off the unbearable sensation of being tickled. Effectively, this previewed Rosalie's orgasm. Warm arousal spread through Leticia's body as she forced Rosalie to stay in this state, and as she looked forward to seeing the real thing very soon.

Rosalie rained playful blows onto Leticia's head. "Why the hell am I marrying you?" It took forever for her to get the sentence out, as she had to gasp each word between shrieking laughs.

Leticia grinned and tugged at her lower legs. Her lover took the hint and rolled out of the chair to join her on the floor. Leticia wrapped her arms around Rosalie, who felt small and hot and curvy. She slipped one hand down to tickle between her ribs, rewarded by another delicious howl. Rosalie shoved at her chest. "You are evil, I swear."

"I'm sorry," Leticia said softly, managing to sound sincerely regretful. She kissed Rosalie's temples with great tenderness, until her lover relaxed and stopped wriggling. Leticia murmured more soothing words, rubbing Rosalie's back... then licked the side of her face.

Buy links:

All Romance Ebooks

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Barnes and Noble

Storm Moon Press

More to come!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Coming Soon from Storm Moon Press

Wow, I love this cover! And I'm so excited about this story. A wedding, a honeymoon suite, and deep fisting is all I'll say for now. This book will be out very soon, and I'll tell you a lot more when it is.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Review: Bedded Bliss

Bedded Bliss: A Couple's Guide to Lust Ever After is a very ambitious book. Editor Kristina Wright combines memoir (stories of her own long-term marriage), erotic fiction written by herself and others, and self help, and does so over a very broad range of situations. The book is addressed to married couples, and Wright includes chapters aimed at people who are struggling with young children, people dealing with the way sex changes with age, people interested in trying out kink or polyamory, people facing financial stress, and much more.

The ground Bedded Bliss covers makes for an interesting read—and attests to the ground that a married couple can cover over the course of a long sex life. Wright pulls off a difficult balancing act: she brings up many, many possible directions for married couples to go while at the same time affirming the value of too-often-maligned vanilla sex. The book is gentle but exciting, far-reaching and open-minded without making the reader feel as if spicing up the sex life requires a fat bank account and the flexibility of a member of Cirque du Soleil.

It's a very intimate book, and this is the thing I liked best about it. Wright and her contributors all open up about their own sex lives, and that makes the erotic fiction she includes feel all the more intimate in turn. Many contributors have more than one story in the collection, and I liked the effect—it made me feel as if I knew them better to see them presenting couples from several angles. In many cases, the stories seem more autobiographical than fictional. The writers often use first-person POV, along with the names of their actual spouses. In other cases, they use consistent characters over several stories, such as Jeremy Edwards' Mel and Lawrence or Heidi Champa's Duncan and Lena.

I also appreciated the inclusion of male writers in this book—they didn't make up fifty percent, but there were a higher proportion of them than in many collections of erotica that I've read. Considering the goals and subject matter of this book, I think it's important to have that perspective.

Some of the strengths of Bedded Bliss, however, can also become liabilities. Its wide subject matter can seem like a lack of focus at times. The material was all hot and interesting, but I couldn't always keep track of the through line. The book's chapters generally follow a format: a short essay from Wright, some exercises a couple could try, and erotic fiction related to the essay. As I read, however, the chapters ran together, and I wasn't always sure what was being demonstrated. In some cases I couldn't clearly see the distinction between one chapter and another. The last chapter in particular threw me. It contained many more erotic stories than the others and came off as a catch-all, a place to put the miscellany that hadn't fit well elsewhere.

This phenomenon was made more problematic because I read the Kindle edition of this book. The navigation and table of contents in the electronic version left much to be desired, and I often wished for the physical book instead. It would have helped me to be able to flip back and forth easily. This is the sort of book that made me want to make connections—to read stories in a different order than the one they're presented in, to skip around, to scan and explore. It particularly annoyed me that the Kindle Edition's table of contents did not list the erotic fiction titles and authors.

I have mixed feelings about how Bedded Bliss handled the reality of non-heterosexual married couples. There was one story by Evan Mora, a woman in a long-term lesbian relationship. I was glad to see it, but it was included in that random chapter at the end, so I'm not sure most non-heterosexual readers would get far enough to know it's there. The book could be read by a non-heterosexual couple, I suppose, but until I reached Mora's story, it had screamed heterosexual to me. Considering the inclusion of Mora's story, I wished there had been a paragraph or two in the introduction that made a point of welcoming LGBTQ readers to the table, and (in for a penny, in for a pound) a greater commitment to telling the stories of married couples outside the heteronormative spectrum. As it was, Mora's story struck me as too little, too late.

Another interesting but mixed feature of Bedded Bliss is that it's pretty clear it's aimed at couples who are currently happy or at least have a very strong foundation. For a reader who feels generally positive toward his or her spouse, the language of the book will likely feel affirming and encouraging. For a reader who's having deeper problems, this same language may be incredibly off-putting.

For example, Wright says, "If the idea of sharing your deepest, darkest sexual fantasies with your spouse sends you running into the closet, consider this: you got married because, in addition to being the love of your life and sexy as hell, this is the person you trust most in the world. Right?"

I've been married twice, so I read that passage with two sets of eyes. The current me can answer yes to that question (I am happily married this time, so far). In my previous marriage, however, that question would have filled me with helpless frustration.

I think it's good for a book like this to exist, one that tries to help marriages long before they're broken, or to help people build on something that's already good. Bedded Bliss does acknowledge in places, however, that there are limits to this approach and some relationships may not work out.

In the end, I think Bedded Bliss may not have matched the heights of its ambition, but the result is still a book that will be very sexy and valuable to many people. This book fills an important niche that's rarely served (the only similar book I can think of is Alison Tyler's Never Have the Same Sex Twice). Wright and her contributors are wise about marriage, encouraging and realistic, rich with experience to share. They offer some necessary pushback against media-driven images of who gets to have good sex and what good sex is. They demonstrate how each couple must define for themselves what it means to have a sexually satisfying relationship. That's important, and I'm glad to have read this book.

Bedded Bliss is available here, and in many places online and in physical stores.

Disclosures: This post is part of the official blog tour for Bedded Bliss. I write for Cleis Press, and have been edited by Kristina Wright. However, I purchased my own copy of Bedded Bliss, and the opinions I've expressed are my own.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

New Review Policy: No Numbers

I'm posting a review tomorrow for a blog tour, and this seems like a good time to mention that I've decided to stop rating things by number of stars. There are two main reasons:

1. I am fickle.
I have noticed that star ratings are very inconsistent for me. If I read a fun book over the weekend and I was excited and happy, I'll rate it 5 stars. Then, I might really analyze a book, write an intricate review, and in that context decide it is worth 4 stars only (because I am mentally comparing it to War and Peace/the best books I've ever read, etc). The books I've rated 5 stars are frequently not better than the ones I've rated 4 stars. It's very dependent on my purpose in reading and my mood. Looking back at my reviews on Goodreads a few months ago, I realized this bothered me. Publications such as Rolling Stone offer starred ratings and have a consistent system for doing so (I hope). Writing reviews is something I want to do for fun, with recognition that I'm reading some things for fun and some things more seriously, and I don't think that's compatible with the sort of star system that's on Goodreads or Amazon.

2. I'm not comfortable with the way I'm constantly being invited to rate things online.
I love to think and talk about books, movies, music, etc, and that's never going to change. However, I want to do that as a reader and engaged person, not as a consumer. I am weary of receiving e-mail asking me what I thought of whatever thing I just bought (food, book, movie, whatever). I'm not in that rating mode all the time, and I don't think it would be good for my mental health if I were. I don't want to constantly assess whether I've received my money's worth, and I don't think that's the most valuable discussion I can have about a book. This doesn't mean I won't criticize or praise. It means that I'll do it as a person, not as a wallet. The more invitations I've received by e-mail to rate things, the more I've become aware that they threaten to dehumanize both me and whoever created whatever I'm interacting with. Society is full of encouragements to ever higher levels of consumerism, and I think it's good to resist that as much as possible.

And there's one minor reason:

1. As a writer, I've struggled to be receptive to what amounts to a letter grade.
I'm not in school anymore. While I think reviews can be interesting to read, every writer knows that they're also fraught with minefields of impending insecurity. It is much easier for me to read someone's written thoughts, even if they're harsh, than to see my work reduced to a score. I especially struggle when I see a score with no explanation. In general, I try to avoid reading reviews of my own work, but when I can't help but look, I always deal with it better if I don't pay attention to the score. It takes the interaction into that school realm where I feel as if I need to worry about my GPA or something (and the way Goodreads and Amazon compile and average star ratings contribute to that further). If I could change one thing about reviews as a writer, I would take off the stars and letter grades. Since I don't like it myself, I'm going to do unto others.

I'll leave you with a comic on the subject of rating systems. I've always really enjoyed this one:

Friday, November 15, 2013

For Your Listening Pleasure

When I saw the call for submissions for Rachel Kramer Bussel's The Big Book of Orgasms, I thought immediately of her previous anthology Orgasmic, which I loved, and which was full of the broadest imaginable group of stories about orgasm. My favorite stories in that book were the ones about unusual ways to orgasm—there was a great horseback riding story and another called "Chemistry" about the effect of a favorite scent. I was intrigued by that, and wanted to write something along those lines.

As may be evident from my long history of music posts, I get turned on listening to music all the time. I used to go to bed every night and let The Only Time by Nine Inch Nails soothe me to sleep because there is this one gorgeous moment when Trent Reznor gets a catch in his voice and gives a little moan, and for many years that was the purest expression of sex to me.

I also remember nights of dancing when between the music and my partner my clit was throbbing in time to the beat. I remember the times I stood on stage with a bass guitar slung across my chest and I felt the sexual power flowing from me (no matter how meager the audience might have been). I remember the times I climbed into someone's tricked out pickup truck and the whole damn cab was vibrating, every bone in my body was vibrating, and the music was taking over every part of me and leaving me breathless.

It was the truck thing that made me wonder... I had a friend who had a tiny seat in the back of the cab that sat directly above an enormous subwoofer, and there were rumors about what that did to the girls who rode there.

I'd never tried to use bass notes to come, but most of the time when I'd had the opportunity, I was fighting the urge, not giving in to it. And so I came up with the idea for "All You Do Is Play," which appears in this anthology:

Sharon sighed, sinking onto the corner of her bass amp, stroking its black body and rubber insulated cords — one leading to the wall and the other to the red, pearlescent body of her bass guitar. Long hours of playing had made the habit strong. The bass was in her arms before she made a conscious decision to pick it up, her left hand sliding up its familiar neck and her right hand's stiffened first and middle fingers hovering over the strings.

This felt easier than anything, certainly easier than thinking about loneliness any more. She switched on the amp. It buzzed to life beneath her, humming and gently vibrating.

Sharon tuned the instrument and experimented with a few notes. They filled up the room, lingering in the air like smoke. She normally played standing, but her feet hurt after the hours in the club. Sitting on the amp, the notes came up into her feet through the vibration of the floor, and into her body from the movement of the amp beneath her ass. She grinned and played faster, lower notes.

The music settled between her legs and trembled there. Sharon's fingers sped over the instrument's thick strings, plucking them to keep the sensation going. She tilted her hips and squirmed, trying to guide the amp's stimulation more directly to her sex. She slipped, the corner of the amp pressing through her panties, rubbing the opening of her cunt.

Of course, I had to test this because I care about you, readers, and I wouldn't want to torture you with impossible notions. I quickly discovered that I could not give myself an orgasm with nothing but my bass guitar because, frankly, I do not have enough hands. It was way too hard to play the bass, move against the amp, and not fall over, all at the same time. This, however, was a surmountable issue, and simply called for further research. What I needed was someone else to hold the bass and play it.

Perhaps it will not be surprising that my partner eagerly agreed to serve this noble cause. I will not lie. It was tricky to pull this off. It took diligent effort and a bit of practice. In my story, I may have glossed over a bit of the trial and error. However, I can assure you that we were able to make this work.

I have seen some speculative reviews on Amazon, and I'm here to tell you that this approach to orgasm is kink-tested, partner-approved. :) That said, it did require some loud and somewhat unmelodious playing (I don't know, maybe some people enjoy rapid, jangly, bassy notes).

Bonus trivia:
The following line from the story was actually spoken by my partner during research: "You like the notes from this string the most!"

I've been excited to write this post for a while, because I think "All You Do Is Play" has the best behind the scenes info of anything I've written. While I believe in embracing the sexiness of writing erotica, that doesn't always call for such unusual pursuits (but just wait until I tell you about the testing I did for "Objects of Desire," forthcoming in another Cleis anthology—all I will say at the moment is that it involved a rolling pin).

If I've intrigued you and you'd like to read the rest of the story, you will also get 68 other fantastic stories for your money! This baby's got work from many of my favorite authors, including Cecilia Tan, Tenille Brown, Giselle Renarde, Xan West, Sinclair Sexsmith, Donna George Storey, Kay Jaybee, A.M. Hartnett... (Um, I guess I'll stop the list there, but I could keep going...).

Now, as Nelly says, "Somebody give me a bass line":

This is part of the official blog tour for The Big Book of Orgasms.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

It's Not Too Early to Be Filled With Christmas Spirit

You know I mean that in a kinky way, right? Of course you do!

I've got you covered with The House of Erotica Winter Warmers collection, in which I join fellow House of Erotica authors to turn up the heat for the winter.

My story is called "Filled With Christmas Spirit," and I'm sure you'll be surprised to learn that I'm actually talking about going caroling while wearing a butt plug. Because how else would you do it?

Here's a snip:

"Good girl," Marcus said. "Can you guess what the fourth thing I wanted was?" He brought his hand to her side, stroking her with the firm affection he might have used with an expensive racehorse.

She shook her head.

"Give me a guess."

"Uh, sheet music? If we're going caroling, that is."

Marcus burst out laughing. "That wasn't what I had in mind, but you get points for that answer." He released her and went to rummage in the dresser. "I need lube to get your ass ready for this plug."

"Marcus, you can't really mean to take me out of the house with that in me!"

"If it doesn't work, it doesn't work, but I certainly mean to give it a shot."

Caroline whimpered, already imagining herself surrounded by fresh-faced, wholesome-looking carolers, trying to conceal the secret fullness in her ass.

"If I'd known this idea would excite you so much, I would have tried it sooner."

Caroline frowned, then realized her whimper had become a moan before it ended.

The bed creaked as Marcus settled himself behind her. A moment later, he spread her labia. The sudden intimate touch underscored the submission she had chosen to give him. He hadn't needed to kiss her first, or to slowly work his way up to touching her there. Instead, he took it as his right to touch her there.

His finger slipped into her. "You're soaking, Caroline."

Marcus found her favorite inner spots and pressed against them, leaving Caroline unable to answer him with words. She braced herself on her palms as well as she could, resisting the urge to drop flat onto the bed as he slid more fingers inside her. Every time she swallowed, she felt the ribbon against her throat and remembered that she'd given herself over to Marcus's plans for the evening.

"We shouldn't lose our Christmas spirit," Marcus said in the same teasing tone he'd been using since he got home. "I think you should practice your caroling now, Caroline." He lingered on the similarity of the activity and her name, pronouncing the repeated sounds with relish. She might have commented on this if she'd been able to speak. Instead, she shook her head rapidly and continued to moan.

"Oh, come on. I know you like Christmas. Let's give it a shot together, shall we?" He cleared his throat theatrically while suddenly giving his fingers a twist inside her. Caroline cried out in surprise at the same moment that Marcus sang in a rich baritone, "God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay."

You can pick up the anthology at All Romance, Amazon US, Amazon UK, and other good e-book retailers.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Coming Together: In the Trenches

This book is out! Coming Together: In the Trenches benefits Protect Our Defenders, and contains my story, "This Is Me Holding You" (reprinted from Best Bondage Erotica 2013). It's one of my favorite stories, and I'm so pleased to share it with new readers, and to support veterans in the process.

Here's a short bit from my story:

Jun pulled Carin back against him, his arms crushing. "I don't want to lose you. When you came home this time, you were like a stranger."

Carin took a deep breath. She didn't want to cry right now. She'd been fine on her deployment, but started having nightmares when her leave began. For all that she'd missed Jun, she hadn't been able to bear his touch the first couple nights.

The third night, Jun had taken out their rope bag. He barely touched her with his hands, letting the rope connect them instead. Jun hogtied her face-down on the bed, her hands tied to each other behind her back and then attached to her bound ankles. Something had relaxed inside Carin as the rope flowed over her flesh, and the tears that had been bubbling in her chest rose to the surface in a loud sob.

"Do you need your safe word?" Jun had asked, hovering near her but still not touching.

Carin shook her head and wept. He sat beside her, letting the rope embrace her in a way that he could not. When she'd finally been exhausted from crying, Jun eased onto the bed beside her and wrapped her in his familiar-smelling warmth, fresh and salty as the ocean. Carin had thought she would break, but the ropes held her together.

Only after that had she been able to touch him, kiss him, make love with him.

"Jun —" Carin started, but couldn't finish. She turned and buried her face in his chest. She would be a soldier soon, but for now she wanted to be a baby, rocked and comforted and cared for.

"You're safe when I'm holding you," he said. "Always. Wherever you are."

Please check this anthology out—I always enjoy the chance to do good while being bad, as they say at Coming Together.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Strength in Numbers Music Post: "No Turning Back" by Chops x Paul Kim x Dumbfoundead

"Fuck a plan B—real Gs get plan A right." — Dumbfoundead

I've been listening to this song nonstop this week. It's part of a Kickstarter project that's still a way from getting funded. I'm trying to do my part spreading the word—I would really like to see this happen.