Monday, May 26, 2014

Music Mondays: "Lose Yourself to Dance" by Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams

"Here, take my shirt and just go 'head and wipe up all the sweat." -- Pharrell Williams

Why, yes, thank you, Pharrell, I will take that shirt off you, and I appreciate that you offered...

What I love most about this video is how he's obviously having so much fun.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mister Sister

I recently went to Mister Sister Erotica in Providence to grab some pictures of Alison Tyler's books in the wild. Today, at her blog, you can see the three I took. The thing is, because they've got a fantastic erotica section there, my pictures also show books from a bunch of other fantastic editors—Shanna Germain, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Kristina Wright, Violet Blue, and more. A bunch of my stories can be found there, too, in anthologies such as Best Bondage Erotica 2013 and 2014. So, it's an excellent place to go and find hot books!

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Mistress Under the Hill

A quick note to let you know about "The Mistress Under the Hill," a short story I've got forthcoming in Circlet Press's What Lies Beneath anthology. When I was asked to write this story, the challenge was to come up with sex-positive erotic horror. I invented a character who's pushed by society to side with the monsters. She's been punished for being sexually attractive her whole life, and as she claims the pleasures of her body, she also finds a way to escape her untenable position.

Frequent readers of my work will recognize my interest in masturbation and voyeurism.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

On Hunger

At the Grip today, I wrote a heavy personal essay on my experiences with hunger in the context of domestic abuse.
After school, I begged some more, and if I was lucky the man I lived with would pick up a sandwich at a fast food place and allow me to eat half of it for dinner. What I didn't get was my own plate. I had to content myself with bites off his, and he salted everything he ate so heavily that his meals seemed covered in frost.

I've been experimenting with writing more personally lately, along with writing more politically. For me, the two seem linked.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wait, What?

I've been reading a book about the history of clothing for women's breasts, and it's a fascinating read but I find myself constantly stopping to ponder the assumptions and implications the book contains. In a section describing Cretan women (who left their breasts bare but wore corsetry that pushed them up and out), there is a sequence of weird and sexist assumptions. The first couple are quotes from male historians from the early twentieth century, so I wasn't terribly surprised. Then the author weighs in with the following:
In fact, Cretan women were far from being sexual objects and played a primary role in society. They participated fully with men in the capture of bulls and the running of nautical expeditions. More significantly, it was they who formed the caste of bare-breasted priestesses who officiated at the rites of the female divinities worshiped by the society as a whole. But more important still, as the Greek historian Nicolas Platon informs us, Minoan civilization was the first to aestheticize adornment and give it the status of an art form, on a par with painting and sculpture.

-- from Support and Seduction: A History of Corsets and Bras, by Béatrice Fontanel

So, to recap:

1) Cretan women played a primary role in society.

2) More significantly than that, they were in charge of worship of divinities.

3) More important still (apparently more significant than political or religious equality for women), the Minoans were the first to aestheticize adornment.

I'm not one to argue against the significance of fashion, but this pulled me up short. One could discuss whether religious or secular power deserves top billing, but I'm pretty sure both trump the "aestheticization of adornment." Maybe the argument is that fashion endures but equality for women does not? A sad thought.

I do like the idea of a society that can handle women going around bare-breasted. I want to read more about the Cretans.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Three of Hearts

News catchup again. Someday I may manage to get all this stuff posted!

That picture above is for Kristina Wright's anthology, Three of Hearts, which is coming in October. My story is "Whose Anniversary Is It Anyway?"

I've had a few three-way relationships in my life (I said it that way to contrast with threesomes, which in my experience are different beasts). I'll be honest—they were a tricky balancing act. I was young, and I didn't know my way around the landscape. I didn't even know the word polyamory, and I'd never read anything like Tristan Taormino's fantastic book Opening Up (a book I would highly recommend for anyone who wants to consider nonmonogamy in its various permutations). So to write an erotic romance about a relationship involving three people and be honest, I didn't want to create a story that was entirely fantasy. I went for something I knew to have been an issue in my own experience—what happens when the love feels unequal and/or someone is feeling left out. The story's about that discomfort of unevenness, and particularly about the question of which significant dates should be celebrated, and how. Because, in my experience, anniversaries can cause a lot of conflict even for couples. They raise tons of expectations about romance and making a day "special." That issue can get even trickier with more than two people involved. Now, the characters in my story probably have read Opening Up and things like it, and they're a lot more mature than I was the last time this sort of thing came up for me, and they come up with a sexy way to work out their issues—so basically, they're well-equipped to have fun with this.

Three of Hearts
Table of Contents

Foreword Alison Tyler
Introduction: Three’s the Charm
Movie Night by Tiffany Reisz
An Extra Pair of Eyes by Rachel Kramer Bussel
Eve’s Apple Red by Angela Capteron
Experience and Expectations by Kathleen Tudor
The Mistress in the Brat by Skylar Kade
What Happens in Denver by Cheyenne Blue
Old Habits by Mina Murray
Medley of Desire by A.J. Lyle
A Thief in the Night by Giselle Renarde
Drinking Games with Cowboys by Axa Lee
The Last Day of Summer by Veronica Wilde
Full Circle by Jade Melisande
Whose Anniversary Is It Anyway? by Annabeth Leong
Limits of Endurance by Ariel Graham
Uncharted Seas by Chris Komodo
Three for the Road by Kristina Wright

Monday, May 19, 2014

Music Mondays: "Icicle" by Tori Amos

And when my hand touches myself
I can finally rest my head
And when they say take of his body
I think I'll take from mine instead
-- Tori Amos

Has there been any better song about masturbation? Loving erotica, how could I not adore her repetition of "feel the word?" Also, how hot and provocative is this performance?

I thought of this song because of Untouched, the book I've got coming out from Sweetmeats Press in August.

For a while, I've been developing a personal understanding of sexuality that places it as first and foremost within oneself. It can be shared with others, but the core is in oneself alone. For me, masturbation is a big part of that belief. And we all have a sex life of some kind regardless of when we last "got laid"—that's not required for proof of sex life. (I also believe in people's write to choose not to be sexual. I would say that this is also a decision rooted first and foremost in oneself—no matter how other people may try to make it about them).

The seed idea of Untouched was that I wanted to write a book about a character whose primary sex life and sexual expression was alone. I wanted her to have an intense and vibrant personal sex life and to like and enjoy that, but to struggle with how or if it should be shared. I also really love to write (and read) masturbation scenes—not enough of that in erotica, in my opinion.

The book grew a lot from there and developed into something far beyond my original idea, but at its heart, this remains: One's sex life is one's own. To me, that idea is kin to Tori Amos's, "I think I'll take from mine instead."

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Writing Erotica Forces Me to Think About Society

Erotic writers have a reason to be social activists too, especially if they are any shade of queer. Freedom to tell the truth about feelings and lifestyles can’t be completely separated from freedom to live honestly. In some ways, however, writing is exactly opposite from social action. Writing is usually done best alone, in a quiet room. Public displays of protest or solidarity require groups that grow into crowds. Filling the streets in support of an idea is a statement in itself.
-- from "Politically Incorrect" by Jean Roberta

I've been mulling over this quote for several days. More and more, my work has made me realize that I can't separate writing from social action. The deeper I delve into erotic questions that interest me, the more I find myself forced to take positions on issues I've spent a lot of my life afraid to speak up about.

For example, I'm genuinely and truly interested in characters who are seeking sexual autonomy—people who are developing a sense of what they like to do in bed and who they want to do it with. Often, this involves a difficult learning process of speaking up about discomfort or becoming aware of how it is that they came to be adults without learning this. Or it involves some sort of radical action (or at least action that feels radical to the characters) to claim their sexuality as their own. But this often leads me to larger societal considerations.

I'll use an example from a very short story of mine, "Too Much to Give," published in Go Deeper Press's Dirty Little Numbers.

Raul bought me a butt plug because he wants to fuck my ass. In that final frontier of male fantasy, he sees a chance to gain indelible proof that I love him.

As far as he knows, I’ve never even dared to remove the toy from its silk drawstring bag. To him, it’s as untouched and virginal as my asshole.

In fact, Raul's impression of the situation couldn't be more wrong. The narrator of this story loves ass play, but she does it on her own, in secret, with the defiant declaration, "My ass is my own."

I felt bold when I wrote this story because I was claiming ass play as something a woman would do for herself. To people immersed in erotica, that might not sound radical because we're surrounded by sex-positive refrains and stories that focus on female pleasure. I can tell you with authority, however, that in my own life, given the way I was raised, among the people I've known, in the relationships I've experienced, that is a radical, radical idea. My first experiences with anal sex were about coercion, trickery, pressure, and various men demanding love be proven to them. The story isn't autobiographical in a direct way, but it's certainly drawn from autobiography. I am incredibly aroused by anal play, but most of it is masturbation because I'm still feeling the echoes of all that coercion. And it's taken a lot of exploration to be able to claim this sort of play for myself, to make that part of my body feel as if it really belongs to me.

But here's where the story starts to widen into social action. Sure, I could tell this in a personal growth frame, talk about getting over difficult memories, or my own journey into expansive sexuality. But as I've explored this subject in this and many other stories, I come up against something bigger than me or individual players. There are fantastic books out there about anal sex and how it can and should be pleasurable for everyone involved (I particularly love The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women by Tristan Taormino). I've read plenty of articles about how commonly couples enjoy anal sex together. On the other hand, that's not the mainstream narrative I hear. I often hear anal sex brought up as the punchline to disturbing jokes, the threatened fate for a criminal sent to prison, the thing a woman has to do to keep her man, and more stuff I can't really bring myself to repeat. Books like Taormino's (or Rachel Kramer Bussel's collection of anal erotica, Baby Got Back) are an important counterpoint to the mainstream narrative, but when I was growing up, the idea that anal sex was something a woman might herself enjoy and do because she wanted to—well, that didn't even exist on my horizon.

The idea of sex as something enjoyed by both parties, the idea of enthusiastic consent, the idea of being able to withdraw consent in the midst of a sexual act—those are all things I've learned by reading "radical" books as an adult. And I don't think this is ultimately just about sex. I think it's about the seemingly radical idea that every person should have dignity and choice. I think it's about the need to get out of tired narratives about how "men only want one thing" and what "nice girls" do and don't do. I think this world desperately needs a broader understanding of gender and sexuality (because if you start reading stuff about gender theory and start to really understand where phrases like "all genders" are coming from, that's going to blow huge holes in gender essentialist ideas absorbed from society like the ones I just listed).

For me, on the tail of those realizations, I started to want to speak up and make change. I listen to the radio or watch television or read a book or play a video game, and I cringe at all the poison being transmitted. I'm sure I'm still believing some of it, or transferring some of it myself, but I want to do better.

So, what's happened to me over time as I write is that I'm feeling Roberta's point more and more. I started out as an erotica writer by playing with my fantasies, claiming personal power, working out my own questions, and thinking about what I might enjoy. Then I came up against all the places I don't let myself look, and I started to notice how fenced in I'd gotten over the course of my life, and I started to think about why that is. As I tried to free myself, I found that it's not just about me. I want a different world. I started to understand and have more compassion for struggles other people are having. I started to realize that I can't stand by.

I've noticed that it's more comfortable to talk about these stories individually, as personal narratives only, as things I need therapy for. But that's part of what I've started objecting to. I don't think it's an accident that most people will recognize the phrase, "Men just only want one thing," and I think we all need to be thinking about why that is and the damage that belief is doing to people of all genders.

This is only one example of the path my writing has taken me down, and perhaps it's a clumsy one. But I've got a bunch of these. Writing erotica and really thinking about it (and also reading erotica and really thinking about it) has forced me to consider race, class, gender expression, sexuality, ideology—a huge list of social issues, basically. I never wanted to be a social activist—I don't like confrontation and I'm often afraid to speak up. I went to a protest in college once and left because I got scared.

The ideas are showing up, though, more and more—my zombie erotic romance, Run for Your Love, turned out to be about pacifism, domestic violence, and class warfare. Untouched, the book I just wrapped, could be described as a story about how one woman claims her sexual desires and needs as important and valid in their own right, even when they go against the desires of her super-hot, approved-by-society boyfriend (and if you'd like to have a very long conversation with me, sit me down and ask me why that was hard to pull off).

Whenever I talk this way, I'm afraid that readers will think I'm abandoning hotness for politics and that my work is going to become a series of treatises. That's not what's happening, though. As I explained in my post about revising for emotional honesty, this stuff is making my work hotter, more honest, more urgent. What's sexier than rebellion, after all? What's sexier than doing the forbidden, transgressing the rules, breaking out of what's always been and forging a path into something new, scary, and exhilarating?

I'm sure I'll be talking about this more, but for now I want to end with the question I've got about Roberta's quote. She contrasts writing and social action, saying writing is done alone and social action is often accomplished by filling the streets. But I find myself seeking community lately, discussing politics with other writers. I find myself wanting to fill the shelves with the sort of resistance I'm describing. I want to see a bunch of us writers making books that demand new and different cover art—people with different body types, people of varying races, people doing all sorts of things with all sorts of different people. Yes, I have to spend time alone to get the words down, but I've been wondering lately if writers ought to be gathering in groups more somehow. Should we be taking a page from social action?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Big Book of Submission

More catching up on news.

It's only a couple months now (July 15!) until Cleis Press drops The Big Book of Submission, a collection of 69 kinky tales edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. My story, "Crunches," will be in it, but may I also draw your attention to Kay Jaybee, Teresa Noelle Roberts, Tilly Hunter, D.L. King, Jade A. Waters, Lucy Felthouse, Kathleen Tudor, Giselle Renarde, Donna George Storey... Um, just go read the table of contents below.).

When I was writing "Crunches," I was interested in subtlety. I wanted to step out of dungeons and spanking scenes and think about other scenarios that can activate the desire to submit. So I wound up envisioning a personal trainer and the sets of detailed instructions she provides. BDSM is a complicated term, and it's not as simple as it can seem. There are rituals that often call that word to mind, but then there are interactions that are much more subtle that can activate similar feelings. I was thinking about situations that turn me on in that submissive way, and sometimes I find myself getting off on following instructions. That's especially true if the person giving the instructions is pushing me in a certain way—careful, loving, but also a little farther than I would push myself. When I'm exercising, I often get turned on—certain positions and machines will create muscular tension that arouses me. And classes can activate my excitement about instructions. So I find myself skimming this subtle, kinky pleasure off my gym experiences sometimes. Of course, in "Crunches," things escalate much more than they ever have for me, though this happens in the middle of a crowded gym...

I'm pushing a bunch of my own buttons, anyway, all in a very short story.

The Big Book of Submission: 69 Kinky Tales
Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Introduction: The Many Meanings of Submission

I Want to Feel You Joy Joy Faolán
Naughty Prof Louisa Bacio
Strip Medea Mor
Training My Dom Tilly Hunter
Dear Sir Kay Jaybee
Put Your Hands Up Sommer Marsden
Crunches Annabeth Leong
Butch Unbound Salome Wilde
The Prodigy Valerie Alexander
Beautiful Teresa Noelle Roberts
Lariat Michelle Augello-Page
Toasted Marshmallows Tilly Hunter
The Shoot D.L. King
Sunday in the Art Gallery with George Elizabeth Coldwell
The Third Plug Nick Mamatas
Others Jade A. Waters
Without Question Lucy Felthouse
In the Darkness Regina Lafayette
The Test Kristina Wright
Patiently Waiting Alyssa Morris
Brunch L.C. Spoering
Love and Salt Erzabet Bishop
Brazen Kathleen Delaney-Adams
Story Time Inara Serene
Princess Amelia June
Contact Shenoa Carroll-Bradd
For Her Art Elise Hepner
Working It Out Roger Markson
Control Cate Ellink
Unanchored Corrine Arundo
Fucktoy Lady Lucretia
Caramel Kathleen Tudor
The Bulldog Breed Lisette Ashton
Mistress Raven Olivia Archer
Following Orders Jade Melisande
Writer’s Block Kitten Boheme
Help! My Wife’s a Former Dominatrix! Angela R. Sargenti
That Moment When Martha Davis
The Dinner Erzabet Bishop
Room with a View Rose de Fer
Fitting Assignment Marie Rebelle
Spider Valerie Alexander
The Chrome Plated Connection Ginger F.
How to Fail Laurel Isaac
Crush Giselle Renarde
Housebroken Laila Blake
Stronger Than Steel Alva Rose
Student Becomes Master Rob Rosen
Where the Sun Don’t Shine Corvidae
Object Regina Kammer
The Control Tower Olivia Summersweet
Long Skirt Gigi Frost
Breathless Obedience Cèsar Sanchez Zapata
Mine Roxanna Cross
Second Date Alice Gauntley
Table Manners M. Marie
Teddy, Bare Jere Haken
The Problem is, I’m a Bitch Corrine Arundo
The Lost Suitcase Tamsin Flowers
The Rhino C. Margery Kempe
Marni’s Working Area Dominic Santi
Lost in the Feeling Nicole Gestalt
Choker Sean Finn
Reverse Psychology Rachel Kramer Bussel
Aftermath Michael in Texas
Take Down Marievie
Hard Things Joy Joy Faolán
Breathless Dorla Moorehouse
Perfect Gentleman Donna George Storey

Friday, May 16, 2014

I Make Videos

I recently made several videos for one of my publishers, Sweetmeats Press. This one (NSFW) will give you a little taste of Untouched, the book I just wrapped last night.

In this one (Also NSFW—I do keep things hot), I read the beginning of "Safekeeping," my story in Made for Hire.

Finally, I made a video talking about Sweetmeats (Maybe also NSFW? Depends where you work...) and why it would be awesome to support their IndieGoGo campaign. Also, I don't say this in the video, but they're offering so many books as perks that I would never be able to resist ($5 will get you an ebook, and $50 will get you the ebook back catalog).

I had so much fun making these videos that I've got plans afoot to do more. I'll update you on those projects when I've got news!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

"Untouched" by The Veronicas

"I can't forget you. Been going crazy from the moment I met you." — The Veronicas

Because, my darlings, I am finishing my edits on this book today.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Revising for Emotional Honesty

I'm in the last phases of revising Untouched (that book you see to your right at the top of the page). While I'm of course paying attention to my language, watching out for inconsistencies, and the like, I'm finding that by far the thing I most want to accomplish with this revision is emotional honesty. It's tempting as a writer to say, "This character needs to say or do this particular thing because I really, really need her to wind up here." But as I've worked on this book over the past months and thought about it lots, I've realized that I don't want to betray my characters that way. I've taken to drawing what I'm calling "bullshit lines" on the page—demarcations of where my characters stop acting like themselves and start saying and doing the things that are convenient for me.

I write from an outline, and perhaps this is a pitfall of being an outline writer. But I think it's more than that. With Untouched, I'm exploring territory that's been hard for me to reach. My main character, Celia, has a sexual identity and expression that can't easily be labeled, and her feelings about it are complicated. Celia fights back against people who want her to become "normal," and sometimes, I must confess, I become one of those people. As the author, I sometimes want her to be more "normal," easier to understand, and I do her, myself, and my readers a disservice when I give in to that.

If I weren't in the thick of this, I might be able to transform this into a more general rule, but right now the best I can manage is the very zoomed-in view from where I sit.

My personality is rather philosophical, and I think that comes through in my writing, but I also want to add something about sexiness. I believe in emotional honesty for its own reasons, but I also think it's hotter than the alternative, and, as an erotica writer, that really matters to me. I've had conversations with other writers about whether our work remains sexy to us. My personal ideal is for my work to always make me squirm. I want to always be genuinely turned on by the concepts and scenes in my stories. I confess, however, that sometimes when I've gone over a draft numerous times, the sexiness sort of disappears under the weight of commas.

Untouched has proven different. This is the wildest, most honest work I've done. It's challenged me heavily. It's hard to hang with Celia because she sometimes scares me. The bar she sets for emotional honesty is so high. On the other hand, even though I've been over and over this manuscript, it's still so hot it makes me sweat. My panties are soaked at the end of every day, and I'm editing.

But that can be a scary thing, too. Because of this honesty thing I'm talking about, I've produced something more honestly hot for me, something closer to what really makes me tick sexually. Writing this book has affected my actual sex life in a number of profound ways, and that's backwards from the way it usually works for me (usually, I transform things I know from my sex life into fiction, and it's a different experience to have my fiction lead me). It's hard to stay true to that, too, because the book feels more personal, much closer to home. If people think it's weird or perverse, it's going to be a little harder for me to shrug and say that's fine. This is a concern whenever writing erotica, but honestly after doing it for five years I thought I'd gotten over that.

I've never pushed myself as hard as I have for Untouched—in every aspect: language, story, psychology, eroticism. There's a responsibility that I feel as I wind down this revision. I want to do justice to all of this. I want the words to burn on the page. So here I am, going through it one last time, making it as real as I can. The humbling thing is that I already know there are ways that I will fail—goes with the territory, I think. I'm just hoping I can fail better. And be as emotionally honest as I can in the process.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Most Dangerous Pet

More catching up on news.

I've got a story, "The Most Dangerous Pet," coming out in First Bite, an anthology from Ravenous of vampire first times. Due to the vagaries of publishing, this is actually one of the first erotic stories I wrote. I remember that I wanted to subvert the common vampire tropes, and so I made the vampire the submissive. He's a dangerous pet for his domme, no lie, but she outclasses him through martial arts and expert application of rope.

Reading over the story again, there's an undercurrent of anger that I really like—it feeds the eroticism, but it's born of resistance to common ideas about who's sexy, who's on top, who's valuable, all of that. I've been thinking lately that I like when that emotion appears in my erotica, and it's nice to see that it was present even at the beginning.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Music Mondays: "Sweater Weather" covered by Postmodern Jukebox

"Je ne suis qu'une femme
Je veux le monde entre mes mains
Je déteste la plage, mais je reste debout
avec mes orteils dans le sable"
-- Awesome French reinterpretation of The Neighbourhood's "Sweater Weather" by Postmodern Jukebox

This is the eerie sort of cover where it feels as if the song's true essence has finally been revealed. I like the original, but this transformation of the song turns it into something deeper and better. I love Cristina Gatti's performance—aggressive and sort of harsh, and so, so sexy. The vintage French pop thing is making a lot more sense to me now.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Evelyn Gets Ready

I'm still catching up on my news. I posted a while back about D.L. King's forthcoming anthology She Who Must Be Obeyed: Femme Dominant Lesbian Erotica, but now I've got this beautiful cover for you, and a July 7 release date. You can preorder it here.

My story, "Evelyn Gets Ready," is about objectification in the literal sense—the main character spends the evening as a table. I find that kind of bondage particularly deep and surprisingly emotional. It would seem to wipe emotion away to take on the role of a table, and yet in my experience it intensifies emotion in the same way that, "Stand in the corner and don't think of polar bears" makes one think of nothing but polar bears.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


"She was his beautiful, impossible creature: a woman, not reared to live in shame." -- from "Sealed" by Laila Blake, published in A Princess Bound: Naughty Fairy Tales for Women (ed. Kristina Wright).

This story is a complex exploration of the myth of the selkie, wound up with the concept of consent, with some breathplay and rope not only creating erotic tension but symbolizing the nature of the relationship between the main characters. Laila Blake is a masterful writer, and it's well worth reading.

I want to talk about the line I quoted, though. This line just breaks my heart and makes my gut twist. Blake's description feels true to me—a woman not reared to live in shame would seem like a beautiful, impossible creature indeed. I just don't want it to be true.

I've thought lately about how, despite so much effort to focus on female desire and female pleasure in much of the erotica that's being published, there are these moments when the curtain slips and one can see how low the societal standard for those things is. That we should take shame for granted—that the idea of being free of it should be an impossible dream... I feel like all of us ought to be up in arms about that.

Jean Roberta engages with this a great deal in her work. Her book The Flight of the Black Swan is an impressive envisioning of sex enjoyed without shame, and I'm sure it wasn't easy to write.

I notice in a lot of my reading the many signals that writers are sending that this particular thing is "nice" erotica, not "shameful" erotica. Especially in erotic romance, there are all these things—the heroine is acting out of character, overcome by the hotness of the hero. She'd never normally behave this way. It's been a long time since she had sex really. A lot of this amounts to, "She's not a slut." And she needs to not be a slut or else it seems like the sex becomes too illicit to be enjoyed. There's a flip side, of course—the eroticization of shame. That's a powerful tool, and maybe important for resistance.

More and more, though, I'm thinking about the question Roberta's asking in her work. What would this look like without shame?

And here's my question: Why are we taking "reared to live in shame" for granted?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Genuine Chemistry

I'm going to have a story in that lovely book right there. It's called "Genuine Chemistry," and it's about a gender-nonconforming moonshiner who's lying low in a small factory town until an elegant widow waltzes into her life.

I had a whole lot of fun researching it—so many fascinating transitions happened in the twenties. It made me realize that the 60s weren't the only time sexual freedom increased in the world. And there are plenty of nuances, such as the significance of Chanel No. 5 perfume (a scent that was intended to mingle the muskiness of the "scarlet woman" with the floral aroma of the "nice girl"). Check out these gorgeous perfume ads. I also found great resources about historically accurate underwear (thank you, Vintage Dressmaker!), and 1920s slang, and one academic paper I used for information on words used for lesbians in the 1920s.

What I did not find great information about was strap-on sex in the 1920s, so I used some imagination, combined with the knowledge that there are pictures from the 1800s of it occurring, so it was a thing people had done.

I'll post a snip from the story when the anthology is out!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Where I've Been

My posts have been a bit thin here recently, but I've been writing once every two weeks at Oh Get A Grip, a fantastic group blog that has a format I'm really excited about (10 authors write one post each on various prompts).

Our topic for the past two weeks has been "One Moment," and that's as open as it sounds.

I wrote today about first times, denial, sexuality, and the one who got away:
I wasn't a virgin in the technical sense. I'd been with a number of boys by then. But recently, I've been thinking that night was my real first time because it was the first time I wasn't performing a role. Until then, I was always acquiescing to various coercions, making deals, feeling charged with being either the sexual gatekeeper or the automatic dispenser of magical sex favors. With her, we were both doing what we truly wanted to do. We were both excited but awkward but sweet but scared. Sex had never felt so mutual to me before.

If you'd like to read the rest, it's here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

For the Love of a Soldier

I've got a ton of news I should post, but there's no time like the present to get started, eh? Yesterday, I got the word that I'm going to be in the excellent Kristina Wright's forthcoming military erotic romance anthology, For the Love of a Soldier. (And have a look at that cover!)

I really enjoy military erotic romance—it hits on hot themes like honor, duty, loyalty, and muscle—but having grown up the daughter of a Vietnam War veteran and having many friends who went on to serve, what I particularly appreciate are nuanced approaches. I love deep explorations of the difficult questions of war—and I'd be uncomfortable with simple fetishization of people in uniform. I know which one of those we're going to get from Kristina, however—her previous military anthology, Duty and Desire, blew me away in terms of both emotional depth and hotness (see how floored I was by Shanna Germain's story, "Shattered").

That's a preface for explaining why I particularly care about my story in For the Love of a Soldier, called "True North." I wrote it in honor of my father (on the anniversary of his death, in fact). Weird to say for erotica, perhaps, but true nonetheless. My father's identity as a veteran was so complicated for me. I saw that he'd been shattered by the war in Vietnam—injured, both physically and emotionally, he was never quite able to return to society. On the other hand, I saw his pride in what he'd accomplished as a soldier, and I saw that it was the military that cared for him toward the end of his life. He shopped at the PX, went to the VA hospital, and was buried in a National Cemetery because I couldn't afford anything else when he died. The main character of "True North" is slightly autobiographical in that she's dealing with the death of her father and similar mixed feelings, because I really wanted to write about that paradox. At my father's funeral, I was struck by the sincerity of the attending soldiers' ability to honor a man they didn't know—another thing I describe in "True North." The romance that ensues with one of those soldiers is the fictional part of the story, but I hope it conveys the deep respect I have for those struggling with the paradoxes of serving one's country and those facing down the difficulties of war with the strength of character required to do so.

Here's the table of contents for the anthology, which is slated to be out in November:

For the Love of a Solider: Military Erotic Romance
Table of Contents
Introduction: Love in Uniform
Penelope Pending by Axa Lee
Drifting Toward You by Kathleen Tudor
Duty by Cat Johnson
True North by Annabeth Leong
Home for Supper by Geonn Cannon
For the Love of George by Victoria Blisse
Blame it on the Dog by Andrea Dale
Special Love by Sidney Bristol
Stones by Tahira Iqbal
Lexie’s Arrow by Martha Davis
Jersey Boy by Tina Simmons
Failure to Launch by Lucy Felthouse
The Aid Station, 1916 by Victoria Janssen
Fair Game by Lynn Townsend
Lucky Charm by Lea Griffith
Long Time Coming by Kristina Wright

Preorder button should be up on Amazon by the end of the month!