Thursday, December 29, 2011

The accepting reader

Over the holiday break, I've been doing mostly reading, rather than writing. I've read several excellent novels, all very diverse...none of them kinky, I'm sorry to say.

But I've noticed something about myself as a reader that perhaps relates to those of us who read and write kink:

I am an accepting reader.

When I read out of my usual genre, or perhaps more surprisingly, when I read in my favored genre, I'm very willing to put away what I wanted the author to do and just accept the author where they're coming from. So the level of kink doesn't fall in my sweet spot? I'm okay with that. So the characters didn't make choices I liked? That fascinates rather than annoys me. So the ending was completely not the ending I would have chosen? Cool.

I call this being an accepting reader. On the Dear Author website this week, there was a big, mostly unrelated discussion about The Entitled Reader. It concerned price more than content, but I think as kinky authors, readers, and in many cases, practitioners, entitlement or demanding behavior is not so widespread in our little worldview. Most actual kinky practitioners have learned to be understanding of other's kink, even if it's too hard or too soft for our liking.

I know that's how I read. I would rather observe what the author was trying to do than wish for any particular author's work to fall into parameters of my own desire. I would rather be surprised by the author than soothed. Not just in kink literature...but in everything.

What type of reader are you? Accepting or demanding? Do you get annoyed when books are not what you hoped they would be? Or will you follow a good author just about everywhere?

(Of course I'm not talking about irritatingly clumsy and clueless authors who seem to set out to turn readers on their ears due to...who knows why. I'm talking about good, well written books that just don't go your way.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Erotic adventures in pot scrubbing

Happy holidays everyone! Are you resting after the big blowout, or exhausted by thrashing your way through the Boxing Day sales? Or peacefully above the whole thing?

If you want a playful bit of Christmas kink and haven’t read As She’s Told, there’s a link to an excerpt here that you might enjoy.

I’ve been focusing on family and friends for the past couple of weeks, with no time for writing or even thinking about it. And frankly, I write so little that I worry that this blog is keeping me from getting anything done on Book Three. So, following up to that testing-the-waters fantasy of my last post, let’s see if I can come up with a scene while you watch. I’ll give you commentary on my process (how navel-gazing is that?) If I like it enough, it might even end up in the book in some form or other.

Okay, I’m digging around in my fantasy furniture warehouse… Edging, denial… My mind jumps to a Fetlife group called “Tantalism” and an exchange of posts about the apparently illogical love of teasing and denial. What I threw in was, “What teasing and denial do is prolong the whole experience. Sexual episodes aren't so much episodic as continuous. Orgasm tends to wrap things up and you move on to doing the dishes, you know? But constant arousal sexualizes everything. Even dishwashing.” (One person wanted to make a wall quote out if it.)

Shall I write a dishwashing scene, then? Why not? I’ll go ahead and see where it leads me.

Rachel leaned her belly against the sink and wrestled with a recalcitrant pot, feeling a warm splash soak her shirt and creep its way downward. Grumbling, she shifted her hips. A quick indrawn breath was followed by no movement at all. Hands still in the soapy water, eyes gazing blankly at nothing. All her attention was inward. Transfixed by a fine core of sensation, a stretched cord suddenly plucked.

I’ve been interrupted about ten times by my offspring. So you might as well suffer along with me. Where was I? Isn’t it odd how I keep writing about sensation lately, with almost no visuals?

She wrapped her perceptions around that small nerve bundle. Muscles drew in without volition and squeezed tight, Her eyelids drooped. The touch she wanted was almost palpable.

He liked to tease her. And he could keep it up for hours. It was well into the second day now. Her dreams had been painfully arousing. And chores had never been so erotic.

A step behind her gave a moment’s warning before hands slid past her ribs and over her breasts. She sucked in another fast breath. A couple of deft buttons, and there were fingers tweaking her nipples while a voice whispered in her ear. “Are you washing dishes or giving your hands a bath?”

She sucked in a tiny series of breaths. His own warm breath in her ear made her shudder. Nipples pulsed urgent new messages to Arousal Central. Her head sagged back against the shoulder behind her. She felt teeth at her neck, her earlobe.

“Do the dishes, babe,” he whispered. Slowly her hands took hold again and blindly scrubbed. One of his hands travelled slowly down, slipped inside her jeans and gently circled her public bone. Helplessly her pelvis pressed forward.

“Ah-ah. No you don’t.” The hand slid out from the tight squeeze between her and the sink, and helped the other one do up the shirt buttons.

A protesting whimper escaped from her, and she tried to turn around. His hands held her where she was.

“Be a good girl, now. Or I’ll have to spank you. And you know that just makes you hornier.”

She groaned.

“Finish up here. Just think of all the vacuuming there is to do.”


Less process than I expected, once I got going. What gives me pause is whether I’ve made the language flow, and that’s easier to go over and fix than to write about. It has to sound right to me, or I’ll just keep editing.

Okay, that’s it. Back to the eggnog. Happy New Year, all!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Very Kinky Christmas

Does that seem wrong? To mix kink with Christmas? Before Christianity came along and renamed it, the holiday was originally a celebration of the shortest day of the year, and the fact that from here on out the days get longer and we are getting closer and closer to Spring. So if you think of it that way, what better way to celebrate than by getting kinky with your loved one?  (Yes, I'm quite good at rationalizations... why do you ask?)

I know one of my gifts is coming from someone who makes BDSM toys, because I saw the charge go through our account. I just don't know what it will be. Or even if that charge was for one thing or two things or five things. I know I'm getting a corset, because we had to take measurements for it. Not a fancy schmancy one, but a realistic "wear it under your clothes every day" kind of corset. Not that I'll be wearing it every day, but he wants a way for me to feel bound under my clothes, without actually being bound. I'm pretty sure this will do it.  I bought him tech toys, mostly... nothing kinky at all this year.

Are you getting or giving any kinky toys this year? Do you have any kinky plans? Our girls are spending the night with grandparents tomorrow night, so we'll have a kinky pre-Christmas, though I have no idea what he has planned. I've suggested that maybe I should get my kinky gifts then instead of having to wait, but didn't get a response to that, which means I won't know until tomorrow night.

No matter which holidays you celebrate this time of year, I hope you and your family have a wonderful and safe holiday season.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Old Kinksters Never Die, They Just...

I was feeling a bit depressed this holiday season, and then I went to my husband's work Christmas party.  Now I'm not sure exactly what I'm feeling.

I'll start with the initial depression first.  This is the first time in my life that I've really felt my age.  My toes hurt, my left knee is stiff every time I stand, my right elbow won't straighten all the way, exercise is more and more worthless as a means toward losing weight, and getting a good night's sleep is kind of a hit-or-miss thing.  Oh, and I can't forget to mention that every hormone in my body is part of a vast conspiracy I will never understand.

Now for the Christmas party.  I tried to strike up a conversation with one of the senior managers, who looked over my shoulder the entire time I talked to him.  Another manager flat-out ignored me.  Yet another blurted out by the coffee and dessert table that his ex-wife "was a good wife until she turned into a whore."  The salesmen shook hands with each other too long and too hard, they patted each other on the backs a little too roughly, they exaggerated their southern accents, and threw in as many self-congratulatory atta' boys in their sentences as they could.  The party was so testosterone-filled that I half expected the salesmen to start peeing all over the house to mark their territory.

I really think I could have introduced myself to most of them by saying, "Hi! I'm Saundra.  I write BDSM erotica, and enjoy having my female characters bound and fucked against their will!"  And I think most of the salesmen would have nodded and asked if I'd heard about their 2011 sales record.

Let's just say that the rest of us had plenty of time to just sit back, have a drink and watch the show.

As I looked around at everyone, I realized I'll never again be one of the youngest women at parties.  My clothes will probably never be sleek or form-fitting like they used to be.  My hair will never again be long and thick, since so much of it ends up in the shower drain.  My hormones will probably never be in proper balance again.  I have to now admit that I'm your basic middle-aged, stay-at-home wife, and the mother of eleven dogs and cats.  I read a lot, I work in the garden and I write erotica.  I'm trying to be a better housekeeper.  I could stand to lose a few pounds.  That's my life now; it's the path I'm on.  It doesn't exactly make me the life of the party, nor do I need to be.

And the party made me wonder about a few things down the road.  What happens to our kink as we age?  Do our thinning skin, failing memory and frail bones ever require us to say, "ENOUGH!"?

So I spent some time at the party trying to recall stupid things I've heard over the years like, "Old fishermen never die, their rods just go limp."  And, "Old dentists never die, they just lose their patients."  But I can't for the life of me finish this one:

Old kinksters never die, they just...

Just what?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Romance and BDSM

Something is really, really wrong with me. When I read a book like, say, my novel Club Mephisto, I find romance in really warped things.

A master treating his slave with disdain and distance? OMG, that's hot. Pulling out the whip for the smallest infraction and making her cry? YES, MORE PLEASE. Ruthlessly denying her orgasms for a week or even longer? Just...unbelievably...hot.

I've decided this puts me at a disadvantage in the romance publishing business. When I wrote Comfort Object, the hero, Jeremy, was quite fond of verbally abusing his sub Nell. Calling her names, calling her a slut, etc. I found this just remarkably hot and sexy. Many of my readers, not so much. It's definitely a problem.

My solution has been to let up on the degradation/humiliation/sadism type of romantic interactions in my books, but every so often it still sneaks into my writing. I really wish sometimes I wasn't turned on by those type of things, so I wouldn't freak out my readers by including them. And by insisting they are romantic, but I really think they are.

Not sure what a pervalicious writer is to do... I suppose I'll have to compose some stern disclaimers in the front matter and hope for the best.

If you are a BDSM writer, do you find yourself editing yourself? If you're a reader, do you tend to roll with the kinks you're not into, or do they ruin the romance for you?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Guy and girl porn

I’ve been corresponding with an online friend who is a writer and a dom. As we all know, I’ve been very stuck on my new book, and have been looking around for help. In the course of giving me good advice, my friend also reacted to what he’d read. And as I digested this I was amused by the different reactions of men and women, or perhaps male doms and female subs to the same material.

My heroine’s fantasies are inserted into the story at intervals. Since my own tend to be world-creating with women owned and objectified, several are like that. But to change it up I also inserted a contemporary one that is much rougher and more direct. Here it is, for your amusement: still rough around the edges in more ways than one.

.........................................................................................

“Where the hell have you been?” The voice comes, deep and quiet, out of the shadows in the unlit living room. There’s an undertone I won’t listen to. But it’s raising my heart rate.

“Out,” I say mildly.

“It’s after eight.”

I turn away to hang up my coat. “So?”

“Where were you? Why didn’t you call?”

“Didn’t you get dinner? There are leftovers.”

Suddenly I’m gasping, gripped from behind, one big arm at my throat, the other yanking my wrist up behind my back. The growl in my ear is slow and full of menace.

“Answer me.”

“I was – ow! Marisa and I went out for dinner, that’s all!”

My arm’s pulled even tighter. My back arches and strains.

“Let me go!”

“Why didn’t you call? Or answer your phone?” Another yank.

“Stop! Let go! I forgot, okay?”

“You did what?”

“I forgot! What difference does it make? I don’t have to account to you!”

“Oh, you think not? Just what did we agree to, girl?”

“I’ve changed my mind!”

“Too fucking bad. I haven’t.”

And before the next word can come out of my mouth he’s in a chair with me over his knee. My arm is still cranked behind my back, my dress is up and my panties down. And that heavy hand lands like a two-inch thick paddle. Pain, more pain, on top of pain! I’m screaming and struggling but it’s no use.

Smack! “So you don’t think you –“ Smack! “-- have to account to me?” Smack! “You can do what you like –“ Smack! “-- and come home when you please?” Smack!

“No! Stop it! Not so hard!”

“Not even a call –“ Smack! “-- so I know you’re all right –“ Smack! “ – you bratty, inconsiderate little bitch!“ Smack!

“Please!” I catch my breath and begin to cry. “Stop! I’m sorry!”

He spanks me until I’m sobbing too hard to talk. Then I’m yanked up by the hair and shoved across the room and over a footstool. Thick fingers slide into me from behind, so easily I know I’m soaked. Then he’s got me by the hair at the nape of my neck and his cock shoves so hard into me my whole body shudders. He’s not holding back; he’s pounding so hard I can’t think. Words are uttered in a breathless growl at my ear.

“You’re mine, do you hear me?” He’s grinding my sore ass ruthlessly, panting. “You said it. We both know you meant it. Isn’t that right?” He pulls back and smacks my ass hard.

I let out a scream and then go back to sobbing. “Yes…”

My head’s yanked back by the hair. “Say it!”

“Yes, I meant it! I’m yours!”

“Then –“ he grinds out through his teeth, “-- what the fuck was tonight about?” He’s gone still inside me.

I moan and try to shake my head. My cunt is convulsing desperately around him. His body strains against me and he tightens his grip.

“Did you want to know --“ he growls – “whether I meant it?”

“Maybe….yes...I don’t know….”

“Got your answer?”

A primal groan comes from deep in his chest, and his hips are slamming me, his cock striking deep, striking gold, shattering me to find the ore that’s hiding, the beauty that’s all for him, and I’m sobbing, “Yes! Thank you! Yes!”

....................................................................................

I really don’t know how I feel about this little scene. Something in me is raising an ironic eyebrow as I read it. I was worried that my friend would see it as rather silly. But this was the scene he thought was the hottest; the others he described as more romantic, suitable for women readers!

Now, my books have both tended to go to extremes that many erotic romance readers find hard to take. Women in particularly are far more likely to be upset by what I write, whereas I can think of only one male reviewer who said I went too far. Perhaps not surprisingly, men can take more, or empathize less, or something that allows them to stare down total power exchange (with added humiliation) without blenching, and without having to put the book down and take a walk around the block.

Granted that in this case it’s doms doing the reading, I still wonder if men are better at keeping up their boundaries and not being personally affected by books or movies. My husband can watch movies that I can’t bear, and will blithely point out the cinematography in a torture scene. It’s a movie; it doesn’t hit him where he lives. I don’t have those sorts of boundaries.

So is there any more to this than the men = porn, women = erotica stereotype? Is the scene above best read by women or men or both?

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Kink

I have discovered my kink...well, not so much discovered as confirmed my suspicions.


Last weekend I was away in Charlotte, NC attending a BDSM conference (LeatherFET). It was a wonderful experience for me. Very eye opening and informative. I wish I'd been able to attend the classes... not that I couldn't, I simply didn't. But that tends to be my habit, I go to a conference the first time to get a feel for what it's like, and the second time I actually get learning accomplished.


The people were wonderful and willing to answer questions. The vendors had some awesome items for sale. It was a toss up for me whether it was Dr. Clockworks the violet wand seller or the guys from Mayhem for Men with their cool corsets that interested me most.


As for my kink, I learned just how much I like the whip. Being used on me that is, not me using it. I'm way too much of a spaz to ever wield a whip safely. I missed the class on bullwhips (which I could kick myself for) but it was fascinating to watch the gentlemen who was handling the whips work. I didn't get the courage up to try it until another person I knew did it. But once I did...oh, my, I really didn't want it to stop.


I guess you could say I'm a bit of a masochist, but I now fully understand how my character, Vance, uses the pain to focus his emotions. I've always known I had a high threshold for pain, but it wasn't until I was on the St. Andrews Cross that I realized I could actually enjoy it.


Even better...I have an entire scene floating around in my head. Just have to find the right book to put it in.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

E Readers

Someone loaned me a book to read a few weeks ago. An actual paper book. It was also a hardcover, which made it way heavier than my Kindle. I was so frustrated with it -- I couldn't change the font, I couldn't just flip the cursor down to look up a word, I couldn't switch to my tablet at night to read in the dark, I couldn't put it in a ziplock baggy and read it in the tub, and I had to scrounge for a bookmark when I stopped reading for a while. And it weighed a ton in my purse. Oh, and everyone at my daughter's dance class knew what I was reading and felt the need to ask me about it (or talk to me about it if they'd already read it) while I was trying to read. I've read regular paper books for the vast majority of my life, but to go back to them now is frustrating. And awkward. You have to hold it with one hand and turn the pages with another. I mean, seriously -- how did I survive that for all of those years?

Do you use an e-reader? How do you prefer to read? Paper book... e-book?

Long before e-readers were mainstream, I had a small laptop (that we now call a netbook, but back then I just called it the baby laptop) that ran on Linux. E-book readers cost almost as much as my netbook did, at the time, but I could do everything on my netbook that I could do on a full size computer. Years later I bought a tablet netbook that ran on Windows XP -- it was a netbook with a screen that flipped around flat, and the screen was a touch screen.  When the third generation Kindles came out I got one of them, mainly because when I was traveling for work the battery on the netbook crapped out while I was doing actual work and unless I could find a place to plug back in, I couldn't read once I'd finished working. After a six hour flight where the netbook died thirty minutes into the flight, the idea that I would only need to charge the Kindle once a month (ish), was a huge selling point for me. But then I got it, and it was so light weight, and so easy to turn the page, I was hooked even without taking the battery life into the equation.

I now have one of the new Droid tablets - an Acer Iconia, which I love. I won't be taking it to the bathtub with me, like I do my Kindle (inside of a ziplock baggy, just to be safe), but still, it's another way to read. The best thing about the netbooks and tablets is that I can read in the bedroom after my husband is asleep without  having to turn a light on. Between the Kindle for sunshiny days and the tablet for low light settings, I'm set.

What I'm getting around to saying is that I've got a lot of experience with different ways to read e-books. I'm usually not a fan of dedicated devices that do only one thing, but the Kindle is an exception to that rule for me. It's lightweight, intuitive to use, and it lasts practically forever between charges (when compared to most other devices). From what I understand, the Nook is pretty much the same as the Kindle, whether you choose one or the other would depend on where you prefer to shop, what most of your friends have (so you can lend to each other), and which your local library supports.

For people trying to decide between an e-ink device and an LCD device, you'll need to look at when and where you'll be reading the most.  You literally cannot read an LCD in the sunshine, and you can't read an e-ink device in the dark. You can increase the font so you can read in lower light than you could with a regular book, but that only goes so far, and probably isn't good for your eyes. Speaking of which, if you know someone who is older who loves to read but who has a hard time finding large print books, or who has trouble reading because of arthritis in their hands, an e-ink device would be a great gift for them. I let my MIL borrow mine while my husband was in the hospital (I read my netbook while she read my Kindle) and she fell in love with it for both of those reasons. She doesn't have a computer, or internet access, so we had to get her a 3G version.

What did you first start reading ebooks on? What have you read them on over the years? What do you use now? Are you lusting after one of the new e-readers or tablets?

Friday, December 2, 2011

ACCEPTANCE

I've been thinking about Candace Blevins' blog post of November 23, in which she asked whether we, as a society, are moving toward acceptance.  I hope you will read the post again, as it is well-written and thought-provoking.

Like Candace, my husband and I also live in the bible belt, and I can pretty much attest to the feeling that anything deemed "outside of the ordinary" is looked upon as the devil's work, and I used to be one of the people pointing fingers.

I wasn't only Christian, I was seminary-trained.  I not only studied the bible, but studied it in the original Koine Greek.  I'm not saying this happens to everyone, but I very quickly stopped thinking for myself, and it wasn't exactly going to serve me well to question too much or contradict what I was taught.  I simply accepted that the people teaching me knew much more about the subjects than I did.

I've now become one of the people I used to judge.  I'm divorced, I write BDSM erotica, and I've walked away from the church.  My lifestyle is discussed only on this blog, and I write under a pen name.  As many of you know, it's a tremendously odd feeling to keep so many sides of one's self a secret, but there is much I feel I need to hide.  I've lost so-called friends with whom I shared too much.

Here's some food for thought:  A University of Minnesota study found that atheists were the most reviled and distrusted minority, and "the group most Americans are least willing to let their children marry."  Atheists scored worse than Muslims, homosexuals, recent immigrants, conservative Christians and Jews.  (Why leave out addicts and felons???!)

How do you think your lifestyle would figure into this list as a category?  What if sadists were a category?  Add transsexuals.  The polyamorous.  Cross-dressers.  Dominants.  Masochists.  How would society score you?

I don't know about you, but society pretty much tells me I'd better just keep my new attitudes and lifestyle to myself.  I found more acceptance from society as a self-righteous accuser and judge of others.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Butt...I thought you liked it!

Hmmm...yes. It's true. I'm posting today about that thing we call sodomy. Anal sex. Taking the dirt road. Breaching the puckered hole. Taking the back alley, so to speak.

Okay, I fully admit it. I'm into writing anal sex scenes between people in love. I just personally find it hot, and I personally find it very kinky. Talk about power exchange! A vulnerable, easily damaged little orifice being made to submit to a power much greater than itself. The potential for fear, and anxiety, and disaster. Just...HOT!

Add the pain and suffering angle for the masochists, and the lovely opportunity for tearful whimpers for the dacryphilia pervs. And that perpetual and strange conundrum...do we like anal, or do we just like that we don't like it and are coerced/guilted/seduced into doing it anyway?

A woman in my writer's group hates anal sex scenes in her romance novels. I thought of her as I barreled through my latest work-in-progress, where the hero dom is sodomizing the heroine sub at every turn, and even lending her out to others to be sodomized for her own good. Oh God. Yep, it's hot.

But I know my friend won't enjoy reading this particular book, and that makes me kind of sad. I mean, I understand that some people don't find anal sexy. I have no judgment about that. In fact, I suppose it's pretty normal. But for me, there will always be something about characters doing it "the hard way" and trying to fit that cock where it's not really supposed to fit, at least without a whole lot of effort and discomfort.

Anal sex is pretty accepted, though, generally, in erotica. But mainstream romance... I can't remember very many where anal was involved, unless it was something the bad guys threatened to do to the heroine when she fell into their evil grasp. I think that's a shame, but I doubt it will change anytime soon.

So what's your opinion on anal sex in the erotic or romance stories you read? Like or dislike? Turn on or turn off?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Procrastination

Sometimes I get a little desperate and have to pull a topic for this blog out of thin air, and so I end up asking a bunch of questions instead of providing much in the way of content. But not this week. This week I’m going to talk about a subject I know a great deal about. Something for which, were it an Olympic sport, there would be multiple gold medals hanging from my neck. Having read the title of this blog, gentle reader – you’re no fool – you know that I speak of Procrastination. With a capital “P.”

I am a past, present and future master of this activity (or lack thereof). One that is peculiarly appropriate to writers. No one gives me writing deadlines, despite my eyelash-fluttering hints, so I am helpless to resist the lure of the tangential mouse click. Stuck for a word? Browse the internet. Stuck for a next line? Play Hearts. Puzzled over where the damned story’s going? Dive into Fetlife and don’t come out. Enough diversions and lo and behold, I’m too tired to be creative! So much for that weekend.

I used to read the longest book I could find before I got down to studying for exams. A paper I wrote on The Brothers Karamazov was oddly short of references to the second half of the book. The dust bunnies under my basement stairs are entering into their third decade. My powers of delay and avoidance are truly epic.

I’ll just go and play a game of Spider -- .

Good game. It was one of the ones that piles up impassible cards on every row but lets you sort out the whole mess on the last deal. Yes, I won; thanks for asking. And, by the way, I’m pleased to say I’ve got my Hearts win percentage up to 35%. It pays to persist.

I’m actually quite prompt when someone else is depending on me. Over the years I’ve learned how to plan ahead, how to buckle down and work when something needs to get done. As for my secret hobby, believe me, I’d love to have another book out. But no one’s standing over me with a stopwatch. Or a Blackberry. Or a geological timescale, for that matter. If I wrote faster than a glacier moves, would the book be out before global warming floods my living room?

All this would make you think I haven’t written anything at all this weekend. Not so! I wrote a long email to my Dad (brilliant, if I say so myself), and this blog, and there are in fact a few more paragraphs inserted into my novel. I didn’t write yesterday; I had a headache. I can’t write when I have a headache.

I used to take forever to write a book because I had kids at home and had no TIME! It drove me crazy. I had fantasies of a place outside of time where I could go and get lots done (not to mention catching up on my sleep). I would have been ecstatic to have a tenth the time I have now, with no kids in the house. And now, what do I do with it?

Fetlife break – I’ll be back -- .

Hmm. Total pissing match on Fet Life Rants! What else is new?

The time issue is still there. I need vacations to focus on writing. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself. But really, the big question is motivation. How much do I want to write this book?

Well, I’d want to a whole lot more if some editor had a date they wanted it by. Lizbeth, are you listening?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Reality And Perception

As I sit here and gather my wandering thoughts, I have to say, "I'm Sorry" for missing my posting dates over the last few weeks. It's been kind of hectic, but that shouldn't be an excuse for not living up to my responsibilities.


Which leads to the subject of my blog post today -- Reality and Perception.


What do I mean by this? you ask. Well, I have discovered recently while researching the erotica genre, that my ideals of reality in the BDSM world could be considered skewed by others. Not that this concerns me, to be honest, but I have to wonder how it will effect my readers when I produce stories that don't jive with the established world I've written previously. I respect my readers and their opinions, even if those opinions don't necessarily coincide with my own.


When I write an erotic romance that incorporates the BDSM lifestyle, I try to remain faithful to the philosophies I've given my characters regarding the development of a relationship and trust within that relationship. In the real world, I have discussed the merits of a BDSM lifestyle based on the emotional and psychological elements involved, not the toys and activities that take place, because I feel the emotions and mindset are the most important aspects.


At the same time, I recognize that there are others who do not have the same perspective as me and some who are unwilling to change their perception of the lifestyle due to the fact that they enjoy reading stories couched in that viewpoint. They prefer to see BDSM as a kinky way to be in charge of someone else whether they are willing participants or not -- something often portrayed in erotica.


This was pointed out to me by a friend who recently read through an erotica short story I'm working on. I've been thinking about it for a while now, and I have to say, it both disturbed and intrigued me. The longer I thought about it, the more I realized that in delving into the erotica genre I had separated myself from the belief system I had created for my erotic romances. And the differentiation between the two didn't bother me.


Let me be clear, my definition of erotic romance is a story that builds a lasting, romantic relationship that couches the physical intimacies in frank and graphic language. Erotica is a story written for titillation, sexual arousal, and stimulation of the physical body, and not predisposed to Happily Ever After or even Happily For Now endings. Erotica is all about the sex and not about the heart. 


That said, I have to admit it didn't bug me that in my short story I had my characters playing bondage and spanking games without benefit of safe words. Why wouldn't it bug me? Because, to be blunt, the short story is a fuck book. It is erotica. Plain and simple, it is masturbatory material intended to stimulate and arouse the senses not evoke an emotional response like an erotic romance does.


Should I alter this short story to better align it with my established belief system? Turn erotica into erotic romance? Reality is, the book isn't a dissertation on the lifestyle, it's a fuck-me-now quickie read. But the perception many readers may take away from it is that BDSM is all about controlling another person without allowing them a say-so in what is done to them -- something I would never condone in real life.


Could this draw new readers to me? Possibly. Could it damage the trust my established readership has in me? Maybe. Is this a risk I'm willing to take?


I think so.


If you don't stretch your boundaries you'll never know your limits. In my mind, that along with respect, strength, love, and trust are at the core of a BDSM relationship.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

DWTS and Mainstream Opinions

My ten year old daughter loves Dancing With the Stars. We DVR it every week, and if she's done well in school all week she gets to watch it Saturday morning.

This year she got to learn a few new words and phrases -- transsexual, transgender, sex change operation. To name a few. She also got to learn the difference between gay and transgender. Having Chaz Bono and Carson Kressley both on the show brought up some interesting discussions. I believe in being honest with my children (in an age appropriate way), and I prefer that I be the one to teach them about these sorts of things, instead of them having to learn this stuff from their friends.

I think my biggest surprise was in hearing from her about the conversations she had with her friends. It seems most of her friends were still being taught that these things are wrong, messed up, of the devil, etc. I told my daughter if someone feels strongly that they were born into the wrong kind of body then we should respect that. If they feel it strongly enough to go through what has to be really painful surgery, then it must be really important to them and we shouldn't make fun of them. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be what most of the other parents were telling their children.

My children go to an exceptional school. It's very hard to get children into this school. It has won several national awards. We regularly have people from other school systems around the country visiting, to see how we manage the things we manage. Several times a year we have people from Washington visit, to see if there is something they could learn from us that should be implemented nationwide. One of the things the school prides itself on is diversity -- when you go into the cafeteria you don't see all of the black kids at one table, the Asians at another table, the white kids at another table. They choose friends based on who they are on the inside and not on the color of their skin. The fat kids aren't treated differently than the skinny ones. The smart kids are just as valuable as the athletic kids. They are taught to value the person, to see the person on the inside.

And yet, I learned that we still have parents teaching their children that Chaz Bono is now an "it", and neither a "he" nor a "she".  I guess my point here is that if our school, which I thought had such open and liberal views, is this closed minded, then how must the rest of society be thinking?

Am I more accepting of other people's differences because of my own? If I weren't a warped masochist, would I be more judgmental of others? I hope I'm teaching my children to be true to who they are, and to respect other people who are doing the same.

I thought our society was more accepting now than we were years ago, until I heard what the other ten and eleven year olds were being taught. I live in the south, in what is often called "the buckle of the bible belt". Maybe that has something to do with it. But still, I think our school likely represents the most liberal of us, and that's pretty disappointing.

I guess I'd gotten used to the views the people in my social circle have, and forgotten the rest of society doesn't think the way my immediate friends think.

Do you think that we, as a society, are heading towards acceptance?

Friday, November 18, 2011

DUMB D/s IDEAS I HAVE HAD

I'm reading a lot of posts lately from women who want advice on making their husbands more dominant.
When my husband and I were entirely new to the concept of lifestyle D/s, I adopted the belief that I could be the perfect sub I was meant to be if only my husband would manage me better. In my fantasy he always wore leather while at home---complete with a matching hat---and he'd have a paddle attached to his belt loop, and I'd be punished every single time I didn't follow the rules, or if I had the slightest bit of an attitude problem. In short, I wanted him to do all the work.
I don't wish to give the impression that my husband wasn't fulfilling his role. He was doing plenty, but he wasn't doing it the way I wanted.
I know, I know. Group cringe, everyone.
And so began my topping-from-the-bottom jihad. I printed articles from the internet for him, and over dinner I would tell him about the blogs I'd read that day. I extolled the virtues of Loving Domestic Discipline (and bought the book for him, which he never read), and spent hours researching punishment implements he "should" use on me. I provided my husband with page after page of training instructions written by Doms whose websites I'd discovered.
I would have had more success herding cats.
Fortunately, just before my husband's eyes permanently glazed over, I stumbled upon wisdom on the internet. A lifestyle submissive was asked, "How do I make my husband more dominant?" The answer: "Concentrate on perfecting your own submission. You'll have more than enough to change in your own behavior without worrying about his."
Once I started practicing this, I sure didn't need a book, article or blog to show me what a crappy sub I'd been. Practicing true submission became the hardest job I'd ever had, and it was astonishing how often I threw screws in the works of our developing D/s relationship. But the more I worked on my own behavior, the more pleasing I became to my husband. Before I knew it, things were evolving beautifully, and without my damned "help." It sounds so simple, but I can't tell you how difficult it was to get out of my own way, and his.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Genre comes to fantasy

How do you like your d/s fantasy dished up? Simple and straight to the kinky point? Couched in romance? One element in an action-packed tale? Part of a complete invented world? Under the skirts of historical fiction?

I’ve been writing fantasies for my third book. Or rather, mostly not writing them as I try to think outside my personal box. When it comes to fantasy I’m the world-building type. I’ve often spent far more time developing the socio-historical supports for my invented slave culture than I have imagining flesh on flesh. Could I possibly be more of nerd, you ask? Only if I started writing them down. Oh, wait -- .

But what gets me, you see, is the power differential. Who has it and who doesn’t. How it manifests. What that means to all concerned. Is the power genuine? Can it be challenged? Is it consensual? (Neat trick that, genuine and consensual.) For me, the mere process of inventing a society with consensual absolute slavery is … yummy. And of course my protagonist thinks so, too. But I’m aware of the need for some variety.

There’s always the danger that readers will wish I’d chosen to make some of the fantasies full-length, instead of the book I’m actually writing. (In fact I’m pretty sure of that feedback in advance.) Will little tastes satisfy people? Provide fodder for their fantasies? Or just act as teasing irritants?

I do have pure sensation fantasies. And a perverted historical or two (in which the corsets are laced very tight indeed). But what else? Perhaps a burst into the middle of an ongoing d/s relationship, no explanations or backstory, just action? Mm. Some domestic discipline? Why not?

As I mull this over I keep bumping up against what I won’t write. S/M clubs don’t interest me, for instance. “Lifestyle,” scening, all that. I’ve never understood the attraction to tell you the truth, but that’s a subject for another blog. Non-consensual abductions that become consensual as the victim finds she loves it – no, uh-uh. Alien bodies? I’m afraid I’m a two-legs, two-arms, one set of genitals kind of girl.

You might have noticed that romance isn’t getting a mention so far. I’d have to delve pretty far back into my teens to find a romantic d/s fantasy. Love, yes; romance, no. What the hell am I doing in this blog space? Good question; don’t ask.

Want to help me out? All suggestions considered for purposes of brain fodder.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Vanilla flavored Alpha Males

Most of the male heros in common literature do nothing for me. There are some exceptions -- Curran from the Kate Daniels series, Roarke from the In Death series, several of the Alpha Males in the Psy-Changelings series. There are also a whole lot of vampires out there who can send a bit of a thrill my way, but since most of them feed when they have sex, tying pain into sex, that really doesn't come as a surprise.

Roarke and Eve may not have a power exchange relationship, but they are both very powerful people, and at times one chooses to let the other lead. And at times one of them forces the issue and leads whether the other likes it or not. Not too often, but they've both got a temper, and they are both used to being in control. Best of all, they both seem to enjoy rough sex, where Roarke occasionally comes out with an Irish "You'll take what I give you, then," as he takes her.

As for Kate and Curran... both are powerful as well. I think sometimes Kate scares Curran with what she can do with magic, but that gets balanced out when he has to rescue her and then see that she is put back together again. It's also a bit of a see-saw with them as to who will call which shots and who will take the back seat. Or maybe with this couple it's more tug-of-war than see-saw. It works, though, and I find myself fascinated by Curran in so many ways.

Are there any vanilla Alpha Male characters who especially work for you?

Friday, November 4, 2011

FETLIFE FRIENDS

I have three friends on Fetlife. All three are authors, and they've been really great. When I sent friend requests to them, I was entirely new to the world of erotica-writing, and they've been very helpful and patient, even if they think my books really blow. I thought of sending a friend request to author Annabel Joseph, but her profile said her age was ninety-one, so I figure she's probably pretty tired most days and I should just leave her alone.

I really do experience a lot of rejection on Fet, however. I've sent e-mails to several interesting people in my Groups in hopes of starting a conversation, but no one has ever responded. Maybe I was naive to think that I would have an automatic connection with people on Fetlife like I did with so many on Facebook. It's like if you're one of those people who raises worms for fun and profit, and you meet someone else who raises worms for fun and profit, well, there's a kind of instantaneous bond between the two of you that just can't be easily duplicated.

Maybe one of the reasons I'm not making more connections is my choice of profile pictures, which some people might find intimidating: blonde hair, clear skin, perky breasts, luminous blue eyes, etc. But I don't even know those women! I swear it! Those are just my book covers! You now know from my previous post that I am "a woman of ample bosom," plus I cannot appear naked in front of anyone! So I certainly don't go around pressing my naked breasts up against trees like that one model on the cover of "Her Game, His Rules" is doing. (The things some women will do, I swear!) We do not press our naked breasts against trees in Texas---at least not as a general rule---and I request that you not do that either, no matter where you live. I just ask this because I'm trying to look out for you, because that's what a FRIEND would do. Yes, a friend! Anyway, there's not a single thing to be intimidated about when you view my profile pictures, and I'm glad we cleared that up!

Oh, and get this! I recently e-mailed a woman on Fetlife who does book reviews, and I asked if she would review mine. Her profile says, "If you want to be my friend, just ask!!!" Well, you can imagine what music that was to my almost Fet-friendless ears. So, I sent a friend request along with my inquiry about book reviews. My friend request was not accepted. As for the reviews? She replied, "Since your books are fiction, I just don't feel like it."

She doesn't feel like it? Doesn't feel like it? My fourth-grade teacher once asked me why I wasn't doing such-and-such, and I replied, "Because I don't feel like it." I must say, if more children were raised knowing the meaning of the word rhetorical, the world would be a safer place. I'm just sayin'.

So here's my question: Do you usually find a comfortable, easy acceptance from kinksters on Fet or other sites? That hasn't been my experience so far, but I'll keep trying. I can be as persistent as a rash.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Writing another Mercy

A lot of people ask me, "When are you going to write another book like Mercy?" The more subtle people will say stuff like, "I like all your stuff, but Mercy is my favorite." I think that holds true for a lot of people. I have sold more copies of Mercy than all my other books combined, which is an amazing stat. Two years down the line it's still going strong.

The funny thing is, a lot of people absolutely HATE Mercy. Despise it. Leave nasty reviews for it. It's the only book out there (well, besides Cait and the Devil) that hasn't been professionally edited. Still, it has some magic for people.

And I think I know what it is.

When I wrote Mercy, I was writing for an audience of one. Myself. I was privately giving voice to my own deepest, darkest fantasies. Matthew was my dream dominant, my ideal Master...cold, evil, sadistic, and yet possessing a heart of gold under all that perversion. When I wrote Mercy, there were no filters. No questioning in my mind about what readers would make of it, because I never intended it to see the light of day. I think that gives writers a freedom to take risks and let their characters do "bad things" that might truly offend. I didn't care. I wrote Mercy for me.

Of course, I don't mind others reading Mercy. I don't even mind others condemning it. What really bothers me about Mercy is that I'm not sure I'll ever be able to write another book like it, because when I write now, I do write for readers. I am very aware, as I write, about what will annoy or disgust or anger readers. As a result, there is less to offend readers in my newer works--but perhaps there's also less to send them into that delicious area of fantasy that feels not-so-safe.

I would love to write another not-so-safe book. My current work-in-progress, Cirque du Minuit, is crossing some of those lines and taking some risks. But deep down inside, I know it's not going to be another Mercy. It might come close--and I can force it closer if I wish--but I can't go back now to writing as if no one is going to read it. I've tried, but I can't.

I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Whose reality?

I've mentioned before that I hang out on Fetlife.com a lot. I run a group there on the social psychology of online behaviour. As you might imagine, on that site there’s plenty of curious fodder for discussion.

One phenomenon that’s interested me lately is the multitudinous and contradictory approaches to reality that one can find there, and no doubt in other online forums. Obviously fantasy elements are pretty important in bdsm. Some people dive right in; others observe from a distance like disapproving aunts. There are the “true’ believers (also known as “twue”) and the on-the-fence agnostics. The deeply cynical will seek out extreme examples to share for mockery purposes. The clash of cultures when such groups cross paths can be fun to watch.

Of course the clichéd, unavoidable, perennial clash is the one about whether “no limits” slaves truly have no limits. That gets the cynics riled up big time, while the more extreme believers defend their total lack of choice to the last breath and beyond. There are the folks who identify as animal spirits and present this as fact rather than fantasy. Then there are the gender-based belief systems, which lead to daily fireworks: the “all women are inferior” school (yes, it really exists); the “if a woman calls herself a slut she must sleep with anyone who asks” school; the “women who turn me down are bitches” school…you get the picture. Misogyny as a deeply held version of reality.

There are also what I’ve come to think of as the reality fetishists. When people enter a discussion expressing surprise and disapproval at the lack of protocol-speak (e.g. doms being called “sir,” submissives saying “this slave” instead of “I” and so on), it seems to me that they're expecting their fantasy to be universally upheld throughout the “lifestyle.” Whereas of course there are hundreds of “lifestyles;” no two alike.

Now, I'm completely into the creation of fantasy worlds myself -- privately and in fiction -- so I can more or less understand what they're after. All-encompassing created realities can be seriously hot. And there are online groups that cater to that kind of thing. Most of their members know where their own fantasy world ends and someone else’s reality begins. But some folks seem to have lost sight of that boundary. It’s as if they need the belief system to be fully endorsed by one and all, or they can’t get off.

When groups run into each other the arguments can be epic. Cynics take nasty pins to believers’ balloons. Angry believers defend the realities they’ve created. Earnest people take the fun out of fantasy and run bulldozers through carefully-nurtured belief systems. I’ve never seen anyone else call it a culture clash; mostly people talk as if they other person speaks the same language. But they’re not even on the same planet.

There are also kinksters who are fully aware that their version of reality is a local one, unique to themselves and their partner. These are the people who say, “Yes, it’s possible for most people to leave their master. It’s just not possible for me to do so.” When people live a certain way, with certain beliefs which are reinforced day after day, who are we to say that their sense of their own reality is a delusion? We all collectively create our reality every day, through language and culture, through habit and training. We just don’t notice what we’ve created, because we’re living within it. Go outside of your culture and see whether all your realities hold up that you used to take for granted.

Have you experienced the clash of bdsm cultures? Tell us about it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Toys

Most people know what the basic BDSM tools are - paddles, crops, canes, floggers, plugs.

But when it comes to something like a tawse, sound, jennings gag, loopy johnny... how much extra description is necessary? Should an author just say what it is, and assume if the person doesn't know what it is they'll look it up? Or should there be descriptions given? My philosophy most of the time is to avoid bogging the story down with too many descriptions: if the reader knows what it is then describing it would insult them, and if they don't then it's not hard to look it up -- and as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. There are exceptions to that, but I'd rather have the characters talk about the toy before the scene starts if I decide it needs explanation.

Some description is necessary even for the well known implements, though. The difference between a super thin Lexan paddle and a very thick wooden paddle is huge: one gives ultra sting and the other reaches into muscle and packs a wallop. A multi tailed deer skin flogger gives no pain, only sensation, where a rawhide flogger with only a few tails can cause quite a bit of damage. Even plugs can give a huge range of sensations depending not only on size, but on material: latex, silicon, glass, steel. Luckily, size and material descriptions don't take too many words.

One of my favorites isn't actually a toy, it's one of my husband's work belts. He has others, and I like them okay, but that one work belt can jump start things for me out of the blue. I've been known to ravish him for a goodbye kiss in the mornings on the days he wears it. With that in mind, it makes sense that I like reading stories where belts are used, and that I sometimes use my favorite belt's description instead of the one the author gives.

On the other hand, I've discovered that often the things that terrify me in real life are super hot when written into books. The things that are a hard limit for me often fascinate and capture me the most in books.

Do you have a favorite toy? Something that jump starts your fantasies? Do you enjoy a book more if it incorporates your fantasy implement? Are there toys you don't really want to use in real life, but that you love to read about when it's fiction?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Piercing

When my fiance suggested nipple piercing, I should have said, "Whoa, not so fast, bucko!" What I also should have done (and I highly recommend this) was strike a deal that HE get a nipple pierced first, and then and only then would I get a nipple pierced. At that point, if he wasn't still in tears on the floor and cryin' for his mama, then he would get his remaining nipple pierced, and...you get my drift.

As a side note, I have to sheepishly confess that I have what some would say is a rather over-the-top hang-up about undressing in front of people. Even as a very young girl, I wouldn't let salesladies at department stores watch me try on clothes in the dressing room. Only my mother could be in there with me, and things haven't gotten much better since then, because now I don't even allow my mother in with me.

Given my neurotic modesty, I was quite obsessed about what options I would have in regard to the piercing procedure, and we were at least able to find a woman to do it. Before the actual piercing, she massaged my left nipple between her fingers for about 5 minutes to get the skin warm and pliable. So I'm lying on the table, looking her in the eye while she's chatting on and on to me about various subjects, and all the while she's essentially playing with my nipple. I'm pretty damned far out of my comfort zone at this point.

She placed the needle against the side of my nipple and told me she was ready to begin. She said piercing doesn't hurt some people much at all, and the best thing for me to do was just relax. What followed was a pain so horrific and white-hot that I screamed. Every fiber of my being told me to give her a good upper-cut with my left fist to make her torture cease. After what felt like five minutes of having a nail driven through my nipple, I was in so much pain I could hardly catch my breath. My fiance, who got to just sit off to the side and watch the procedure said, "Wow. It really hurt that much?"

We, or to be perfectly clear, * I * decided not to have the other nipple pierced.

I went from loving to have my nipples touched and played with, to protecting my victimized one from contact with any person, place or thing. The jewelry-type bar was always catching on things and pulling, because I would forget about the damned thing, or accidentally yank it while, say, removing my sports bra. And just when I thought the hole was healing up nicely, I had to remove the post before an MRI. Well, wouldn't you know it, once the post was removed from my nipple, I couldn't get the damned thing back in.

No matter! We were off to the piercing parlor again. How difficult could it be, I reasoned, for her to simply insert the post back into the existing hole? Certainly far less traumatic than the last time! But the woman who did my original piercing had switched shifts with her husband at the last minute. I listened to him take a call from a woman who wanted two clitoral and eight labial piercings. Yes! You heard me! All for herself! And you would have thought by Piercing Guy's phone demeanor that he was taking her order for coffee. So I figured: What's the big deal about my little nipple? I agreed to let him reinsert the post.

"You?" you ask, incredulously. "You? You who cannot show any private body part to a stranger are now allowing not only a stranger, but a MAN-stranger to do this?"

Well, yes. And what I didn't realize until the needle started going in was that he wasn't reinserting; he was piercing a brand-new hole. And there was no nipple preparation, no pre-pierce conversation, no warm-up, no nothing. I kid you not: as I screamed, I grabbed hold of his forearm so hard that he bolted away from me in retreat and sought safety against the far wall. I had actually left marks on the guy's arm.

I was yelled at, scolded, lectured and made to apologize. I was so ashamed of myself that I let him continue with the piercing. Incredible, I know! Just think what others have gotten me to do by making me feel guilty. It's true!

Imagine my fiance's and my surprise when Piercing Guy personally escorted us out of his establishment. As the door swung shut and locked behind us, he said, "No charge!" Now that's what I call good customer service.

Two weeks later, after catching my nipple on one thing or another for about the hundredth time*, I took the post out permanently and fast-pitched it across the room.


*After re-reading this post, I was thinking that most of you are asking questions like, "Just how does this girl's nipple get in the way of everything? I mean, can't she do one damned thing without her nipple banging into something?"

Well, no, I really can't. See, the women in my family were blessed with very large breasts. I honestly can't even sit down to dinner without dragging a nipple or two through the food on my plate.

If you have any other questions about my nipple(s), please let me know. I'll do my best to answer.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The sensory side of writing

I was grateful to be asked to do a phone-in radio show yesterday --it was VERY fun. Not just because I got to share about my work, but because I got to listen to someone else's impressions of my work. I'm always surprised (and mostly pleasantly surprised) at the things people take away from my work. I'm always surprised by what people love and what people hate and what resonates deeply with people. It's not always the same things that resonate with me! That's why I love when readers write to me or chat with me online about my work.

ANYWAY, on the radio show the host was saying how "real" certain sections of my upcoming book Odalisque felt to her, in a sensory sense. In the book, the protagonist, Kai Chandler, visits "Maison Odalisque" in order to pick out a pleasure slave for himself. When I wrote the scenes at the Maison, I definitely had a feeling about what it looked like, how it would feel to an outsider, and even how it would feel to the odalisques--or sex slaves--living there. I was glad to hear that my ideas were communicated on the page.

I suppose as writers--and especially erotic writers--we have a real responsibility to make it easy for our readers to "feel" the best parts of the story. Not just to read the plot, but to really feel the atmosphere, drink in the sensations, to smell the smells, to see the sights. For me though, it's never really an exercise in laboriously entering in those details. No. I just really don't start writing until I feel everything in that particular environment and scene. Then it's just easier to get it down on the page.

In Odalisque, the whole sensory issue became even more acute because my heroine, Constance, is deaf. When I was in her point of view, I had to be careful not to have her hear things she wouldn't have been able to hear. I also had to remember that the world is different to a deaf person. Constance, for instance, was much more focused on lips and faces than your average heroine might have been. Going back to edit, I had to be sure I was putting myself in her shoes to view the world from her vantage point.

Which, of course, is super fun and a great part of what writing is all about.

Right now I'm buckling down on my next story. It's partially written, but only in an outline sense, because I still haven't decided who my characters will be. I know broadly who they'll be, but I need to think about the specifics, like hair color, eye color, height and build. How they talk, how they walk, personal tics or habits they might have. What their laughs sound like, and how they look when they cry. I have to KNOW all this before I write their story. If I don't know, I feel like I'm writing blind, and that's never good.

Do you have a favorite author who is particularly good at setting a mood or scene for you? An author who really seems to bring characters to life? Share with us.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Protagonists, endearing and otherwise

It’s a truism that characters take on a life of their own. When this happens, it’s hard as a writer to watch your characters being attacked or misunderstood. It feels personal, as if you’re having to defend your friends from calumny. It’s also just one of those things we have to get used to. We put our work out there, and what people make of it is out of our hands. So our characters have to take their lumps.

Some of the reactions just make me laugh. Like the readers who don’t like Anders’ left-wing politics or his taste for fiddle music. Both of these characteristics come straight from me with no reworking whatsoever (except for the wish-fulfillment of actually being able to play the fiddle, something I swear I’ll do in another life). I bestowed them on Anders with a full ironic twinkle in my eye, wondering what readers would make of them. So the reactions are there for me to enjoy.

On the other hand, when you build a character one way and readers see them quite differently it’s more of a challenge. Many readers enjoy Maia at the beginning of As She’s Told, but say that by the end think she’s so utterly compliant and objectified that she’s become a zombie. That does bother me, because that was the furthest thing from my intention. Maia’s not thinking in language a whole lot while she’s at the farm, but the person that is Maia is still in there. She’s still considering and processing experiences and feelings; her own inner voice continues amused and ironic as well as submissive. She’s just allowed herself to go all the way down into her animal self, to be that “amphibian in her native swamp,” confident that Anders will pull her back up the evolutionary ladder when he decides it's time. I think those readers mistook the behaviour for the person.

Then there was the discussion on Fetlife that referred to Anders as a “weak dom” because he entertained some doubts, and because he discussed what he was doing with a fellow dom in order to keep some check on himself, since Maia would not. And this made me blink in astonishment. Anders, weak? The brain…does not…compute…

And so of course I wonder what readers will make of my new characters (assuming I ever actually write the third book). My sub will be tougher, my dom in no way larger than life. They’ll be as human and complex as I can make them. Stereotypes beckon always; I back away from one such pit and find I’m falling into another. After I wrote As She’s Told I found some list of stereotyped ways to write about a character’s conflict. And there it was: guilt because you couldn’t save someone from something. Anders’ own backstory. Ack! I wrote that to keep him from being the stereotyped domly dom with no weaknesses. See where it got me?

What do you love about your favourite characters? What makes you think about them, worry about them, want to know what happens to them? What makes them real to you?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Service Tops

I can't remember when I first heard the term Service Top, but when I first heard it I was sure it was an oxymoron.

Once I understood the concept, I started seeing service Tops all over the place in BDSM romance. And why not? A Dom who takes care of his submissive? Feeds her, cherishes her, clothes her. She's his, and he takes care of what belongs to him. I've seen it described in similar ways to the way a man would take care of a Ferrari -- make sure it gets the best gas, the best oil, the best tires, oil changes when needed, other tune ups on schedule. But he also won't hesitate to drive it fast, to corner hard, to make use of it in extreme ways. Well, that doesn't sound so romantic, after all. Maybe I should stick with human analogies.

Fiction is in large part there for the fantasy, and what better fantasy than the man who knows your every need, and finds a way to fill those needs? Had a bad day? Here's a glass of wine and your favorite food.  You need an escape? Sure, let's go downstairs and flog you into subspace, then I'll hold you until you fall asleep.

I think I need an example here, so I'll use Beyond Eden: Danny is the ultimate Service Top. Given the choice, he wouldn't take things as far with Paul as he does, but he knows he's giving Paul what he needs, so he does it. He cooks for both Paul and Eve, he watches out for both of them. He takes care of both of them, but there is no doubt he's the Dom in the relationship, either.

In my own life, my husband does a great deal of the cooking. And yes, if I call him on the way home to let him know I've had a rough day, the odds are there will be comfort food cooking when I walk in the door. But the idea of calling him a service top just seems wrong. I can't go there, even though there is no doubt that he takes care of me as much as I take care of him.

I think I can appreciate all kinds of BDSM relationships - written properly the Master/slave relationship can be just as intriguing as the Dom/cherished sub relationship. And having the Dom cook and care for his submissive in no way means he can't still humiliate and hurt and objectify her when the fancy strikes him to do so. You know, assuming they've agreed he can do that.

Do you have a preference over a Dom who has his slave take care of him versus a Dom who goes out of his way to take care of his submissive?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Is there really room for love in power exchange?

This is a romance blog of course. The title says it all. Kinky Ever After, like Cinderella and her Prince.

But are we all just fooling ourselves? Can there really be love in a pure power exchange relationship?

For the record, I'm not talking about bedroom play or weekend play or casual kink. I'm talking about 24/7 power exchange, where the dynamic is always "on." Sure, most of us don't play that hard, but among those who do, can there ever be "real" love? Or is it something else?

The thing is, when we are being purely dominant or purely submissive, part of ourselves is being restrained. Perhaps, for the dominant, it's his permissive or vulnerable side. For the submissive, perhaps it's her initiative and independence that's willfully subdued.

And if that's the case...if people are putting aspects of themselves away to inhabit a role...can they truly connect as lovers? Or must people interact (at least occasionally) as equals to recognize and develop true love? Do we need to step outside the strictures of power exchange to really know and love another person at their very core?

I know, I'm asking a lot of questions. But I'm curious. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rope ambivalence

Last night was Nuit Blanche here in Toronto. It’s an all-night arts festival that happens all over the city and includes a lot of performance art. During Nuit Blanche there are also unofficial or “renegade" exhibits. This year, Morpheous held a rope bondage rigging-and-suspension fest, the "largest public bondage art event in the world." Fetlife was offering a direct video feed, so I watched for a while.

A few months ago Annabel interviewed Jeffrey W. Olin of Interwoven Images here about his beautiful Shibari work and photography. Those photos are gorgeous. But I have to admit, the rigging last night didn’t do much for me. There was one moment when a rigger leaned over his sub’s shoulders from behind, rope in his hands, whispering and stroking, and you could see the sensual intimacy, the relationship there. But the rest of the time what was going on seemed about as sensual as macramé to me – macramé on bodies instead of flower pots.

Given my objectification fetish, macramé on female flower pots really ought to work for me. Women rigged and hung up like ceramics; what could be more objectifying? If it was in a story, and the women were genuinely helpless (and turned on), I might have felt something. But here it was clear that all a sub would have to say would be “get me down” and it would be over. Without the power dynamic, or at least some kind of emotional connection, I don’t see the point. Of course there might have been some power dynamics going on beneath the surface, but apart from that one moment there was no hint of that. The event was totally about the decorative art of rigging. It seems that without a story, or even the hint of a back story on which to base my fantasies, watching rope rigging leaves me cold.

Leather harness on the other hand…. Okay, if they’d been using leather I would have watched MUCH longer. Leather is smoother; it buckles and gets tucked away. No big knots or messy rope ends. Fuzz and tail-ends mess up the sub’s pretty lines. And when leather is dark against pale skin, it looks not only gorgeously perverted but uncompromising. Like it really means it. To me, there’s a powerful statement there. Pale brown rope to me is….beige.

There’s also the fiddly factor. Yes, harness would have to be bought or made in advance (not that hard, actually). But it goes on quickly and smoothly, with a minimum of confusion. Nothing, but nothing ruins a submissive mood more effectively than standing there watching a dom fumble over the bondage.

Graydancer, a well-known rigger, once interviewed me about one of my books on his Graydancer’s Ropecast. We argued a bit over rope vs. leather, but really, it comes down to the fact that we like what we like. A recent blog of his about suspension touches on some of the coldness I perceived in those scenes last night. His comments, and the discussion that follows suggest that suspension can be used by showy tops instead of doing the work to create something that goes deeper. And I have to agree.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Is BDSM Scary?

I find it fascinating how people respond to writers of BDSM. For me, I don't find D/s relationships frightening, I think they are intriguing excursions into trust and understanding. You can't have the understanding without the trust and vice versa.

How vanillas find this scary, I don't know. I guess it's the wonderful toys -- kinda like the obsession with 007's cool gadgets. It's no different than establishing a relationship with a boyfriend or husband/wife, but trying to get past the fear of the "label' seems to be the  most difficult part.

I don't have much time today(I'm at a conference and short on time and brain power), and I do apologize for such a short post, but I'd love to hear how you feel about societies perception of the BDSM world and the people and practices within it.

If you're vanilla, I'd love to hear what both fascinates and scares you about the lifestyle.

Have a great day!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Kink Monday: Speech Restriction

Our voice is a huge part of what makes us human. Our voices, our thumbs, the ability to walk upright -- these are the primary physical attributes that separate us from most of the animals around us.

Not being allowed to speak in a power exchange situation can be very dehumanizing. And frustrating. In a D/s sense, it's huge.

My husband and I don't play around with Speech Restriction very often, but when we do I'm usually allowed to make sounds as long as there are no intelligible words. Occasionally the restrictions include no sounds at all, though I'm rarely able to pull that off.

I know a couple who have speech restrictions within scene as the general rule, not as the exception. I believe she goes into subspace faster, and I believe she reaches that super-deep subspace a lot more often than I do.

My husband likes to hear me talk, beg, plead, tell him when it hurts, ask permission, etc. And to be honest, I much prefer being able to talk.

There is something to be said for restricting speech for a period of time, though. The mindset of not being allowed to communicate anything verbally -- it is objectifying and dehumanizing in a way that I wasn't really prepared for the first time. Even now, sometimes the intensity of it hits me like a brick.

When you're gagged you can usually still get your point across, get enough of the syllables out to be understood. But when you've specifically been told you can't speak, can't communicate in any way, even when not physically gagged...

How do you feel when a Top takes speech off the table for the submissive? Is it too much? Or is it a big turn on for you?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Icky Things

One of the things that's always fascinated me--and often troubled me--is the vast difference in intensity of the way people play. Kink and BDSM can be about the most mild and innocuous activities, or, for others, it can be about toeing that line between life and death.

I try to tell myself that all that really matters is what my preferences and limits are. But part of me still watches and judges others by my own views and beliefs about what is safe and sane, even though it's none of my business. My book Deep in the Woods was written at a time when I was struggling to understand people who pushed the envelope, and downplayed the importance of things like safety and consent.

But now, two or three years later, I'm learning to relax and just let people follow their impulses. I'm learning to accept the diversity of what turns people on, and to let them seek what they crave in the privacy of their own relationships without tacking on my own judgments and warnings. What about you? Do you ever get judgmental or stressed out about some of the edgier things people do within the "lifestyle?" Does it trouble you? Turn you off of BDSM? Make you more excited about BDSM?

I knew a D-type once...I wouldn't call him a Dominant because he did a kind of BDSM all his own, with his own labels. He was his OWN lifestyle, self contained. He was a very charismatic guy, intelligent to the point of scariness, and very manipulative. I would see journal posts from his various victi--er--submissives, and they would all speak with excited horror of this "icky thing" he made them do, or subjected them to. Of course, they were all over the moon about the experience (he only played with serious masochists.) I was fascinated to know this secret thing he was doing to all these women that was so awful.

What I came to understand is that the "icky thing" was actually different for each partner he played with. What he got off on, more than anything, was causing his partners deep emotional pain as a cathartic activity. Mindfucks, in a sense, but something more involved than the typical mental gags and tricks.

No, this D-type would take the time to really get to know his partner, learn everything he could about them until he pinpointed the thing he could do to them that would cause them maximum distress. He called this thing "the icky thing."

I have my own icky thing. A few of them really. The icky thing, for me, would depend on who I was with and the situation. But honestly, I have no desire to face my icky thing, no matter with whom or when or where. I just don't.

But I'm coming to accept that there are a lot of people out there searching for someone to do their ickiest icky nightmares to them. For them, that is the pinnacle of the BDSM experience. And I just have to accept that that's okay.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

BDSM in Mainstream Books

I recently read Frost Moon and Blood Rock by Anthony Francis -- books one and two of the Skindancer series. Dakota Frost is your typical kick ass Urban Fantasy heroine, and while she appears to be pretty vanilla sexually, there are people around her who are not. Add in that the author mentions a few spots in Atlanta that cater to the BDSM crowd, and I'm wondering just how into the scene Mr. Francis might be. Not that it is any of my business, of course.  Back to the story -- Dakota's ex-girlfriend is an ex because she and Dakota broke up when the girlfriend decided to be turned into a vampire. The ex-girlfriend is now the (sort of) head vampire of Atlanta. I say sort of because with vampire politics things are never that simple. But the point here is that this uber-powerful vampire is submissive to her new not-powerful girlfriend -- but only in private, of course. Or when Dakota comes on official business and really doesn't care to see it. Still, it shows the new couple as a loving couple who trust and understand each other. Their D/s play adds to their relationship - it's shown as a positive. Dakota is happy for them, I was happy for them.

This got me to thinking about other mainstream books with BDSM in them in a mostly positive way. The Anita Blake series comes immediately to mind, though I'm not sure we can call anything after Obsidian Butterfly a truly mainstream book. The BDSM is mostly negative (and non-consensual) in the first dozen or so books, but eventually comes around to something that can bring people closer to each other and form bonds of trust.

In her Night Huntress series Jeanine Frost hints around that Bones has enjoyed such things in his past, but there are no fun and games in the present tense with Cat. Though there was one scene that came dangerously close to S&M, where Bones used the pain of his vampire venom on her delicate bits to give her a pleasure/pain experience. Mmmmm.  He also has to chain Cat up a few times (for non-sexual reasons), and he seems to enjoy it a touch more than he should. It's not BDSM though, just a hint that Bones has enjoyed it, and we get to know Bones well enough to understand he would have made sure his partner enjoyed it, too.

I've been told the Stieg Larsson trilogy has elements of BDSM, but I haven't read it yet.

And that's all I can come up with. I know there are plenty of books about BDSM that are sort of in the mainstream -- Nine and a Half Weeks, Story of O, Exit to Eden. And there are plenty of books that deal with it negatively, as LKH does with her Meredith Gentry series, where the BDSM is beyond brutal and not at all consensual. But I'm having trouble coming up with mainstream books that do not focus on BDSM, but have it included, and that show it in a positive light.

There are some books and series that have elements of D/s strictly because of the hierarchy involved. Werewolf Kitty Norville has to be submissive to her Alpha couple at the beginning of the series, for instance. And Nalinia Singh's Psy-Changelings have layers of Dominants and "those who must be protected" in both the leopard and wolf structures. It's not a good kind of sexual in the Kitty Norville series, but it works out nicely with the wolves and leopards in the Psy-Changelings series. But those are not BDSM, not even close.

Have you read a mainstream book that handled BDSM in a positive way?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tongues belong in cheeks, too

No, the other cheeks. Turn your head. That one.

I love books that make me laugh. Kinky books are no different. You might imagine, given my Delusions of Literature, that I would be in favour of deeply serious, meaningful works of erotica – kink as if written by Jean-Paul Sartre. But no.

Okay, I was being ironic there, but I just had a look at the BDSM Theory group in Fetlife (which is NOT a group I frequent). Lo and behold, top of the page, there’s a post about Sartre! His idea that we are “condemned to freedom” is being used to argue against those engaging in consensual nonconsent relationships. Obviously I’m incapable of being nearly as funny as a philosophy major.

I love serious themes mixed with humour. Lightness. Irony. Self-deprecating wit. I won’t say I can’t enjoy totally serious books, but they’re not the ones I return to.

Oddly, as a child I took myself far too seriously, a predilection only intensified by teenaged angst. My sense of humour – at least of the self-deprecating sort – required maturity to develop. But it seems to be pretty intrinsic to me now. At least, I find all sorts of situations funny that don't seem to raise a smile for anyone else.

Humour comes up here and there in bdsm erotica. Jay Lygon’s Chaos Magic is hilarious when the quirky gods get into the action (the God of Traffic is my favourite). Incidentally, the book is also hard m/m bdsm and very hot. Molly Weatherfield’s Carrie doesn’t fail to capture the intensity of the moment, but she also provides the perspective of an ironic, amused and analytical mind. Morgan Hawke’s characters banter more or less constantly as they bite and fuck; not exactly high or subtle humour but at least they have some.

How can a character be human and engaging without laughter, without some perspective on themselves and their world? One-track doms, unreflecting subs – god, how dull can you get?

A couple of reviewers describes As She’s Told as being “a serious book about bdsm.” Which is true. It does, however, have its moments. I amused myself with this bit, when Anders and his brother Svend both play with Maia:

“The two brothers had unquestionably a long shared history with construction toys. They fell instantly into a lively collaboration, and I was posed, arranged and manipulated into one weird position after another. Although Anders naturally did a lot of directing, Svend soon had his own ideas. I began to feel like a kids’ action figure after the make-believe runs out and the imagination turns to how wide those plastic legs will go.”

There are playful, albeit deeply kinky interactions involving hide-and-seek, Halloween, and slave-as-Christmas-decoration (the excerpt is here if you’re curious). Those are actually the parts I had the most fun writing.

On the other hand, I’ve seen fatally jokey bdsm novels in which the action is described with a comic air by characters that are no more than paper-thin (G.C. Scott comes to mind). Lightness with no substance is nothing but candy floss. There has to be something serious going on to be light about.

Now, our beloved Annabel Joseph is irresistibly funny in online conversation. I’ve been pleading with her to bring more of this humour into her work. Romantic bdsm comedy could work, I just know it! Help me persuade her.

What do you think? Does humour belong in your bdsm world? Have you got some favourite bits to share?

Friday, September 16, 2011

It's Just Not The Same

For the last four years I've been writing erotic romances with BDSM elements in them. I enjoy those stories, the characters, and the relationships that grow between them. It's all about trust and caring, and confidence in pleasing your partner by providing the stimuli they want.

More recently I've tried my hand at erotica. And I have to say, I'm not sure I like it. I mean, yeah, I can write the sex and the physical reactions to the foreplay and all. I can even incorporate spanking, bondage, and other bits of kink, but I'm not feeling it. I don't get the same rush from the situation, from the characters' response to what's happening. It's just sex. Scratching an itch -- so to speak.

In my mind, the key to BDSM, to a D/s relationship is the emotional connection between the participants. It's more about the mind than the body. Creating that bond between the two (or more) people involved in the relationship.

It wasn't until I intentionally tried to write erotica that I truly realized the difference between erotica and erotic romance. When dealing with the characters in an erotica novel, there isn't any real deep emotional connection between them and there isn't any intention for a relationship, and I think that's where I falter. I want that connection. I want that bond. And as the author, I don't enjoy my work if I don't get what I want out of it.

Let me know what you think. I like hearing others' opinions.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kink Monday: Clothespins

Most BDSM tools can be used for both light play and heavy play, depending on how the tool is used. Even a cane, one of the scariest implements, can be used lightly or with power.

Clothespins, in my opinion, are not so versatile. I suppose someone could make them weak by loosening the spring mechanism, but under normal circumstances clothespins are pretty intense. I've even used the word brutal to describe them a few times.

In the right headspace I can enjoy them. In the wrong headspace I'll safeword fairly quickly. I always have a safeword in place for clothespins. I've said before that my husband and I have been together for 15 years and we rarely have a safeword in place, the exceptions being certain kinds of edge play and new things. Add clothespins to that exception list. When I give the safeword for clothespins it's usually followed by expletives and then the safeword again and then more expletives... and repeated over and over until the offending bits are removed. If there are fifty on me and they aren't zippered then it may take thirty seconds or so to get them all off. If they are zippered then he'll ask "One at a time or should I pull the chord?" If one gets put onto a nerve in just the wrong way it hurts like you wouldn't believe - sometimes I safeword for that one clothespin and the rest are okay.

But in the right headspace, they are like nothing else.
Restrained, lying comfortably on your back with your arms tied out to the side, loose enough to be comfortable and to give a few inches of movement. Ankles also restrained in some way, opening you up. Clothespins start at the outside of your breasts, and are slowly added, spiraling in, closer and closer to your nipples. One is placed on your right breast. Then the matching one is placed on your left breast. Another on your left breast. The matching one on your right breast. Every once in a while one is added to your pussy lips. The pain grows. Each clothespin building the spiral, layering the pain.

 There is some kind of epic music playing in the background -- parts of the soundtrack to LOTR perhaps. Or the soundtrack to Blade Runner. Everything grows and shifts and weaves. You fall into the pain, you welcome the next clothespin. And the next. There is heat. You can feel your pulse around the pinched skin. The spiral continues marching closer and closer to your nipples. Near the end, before clips are placed on your nipples, fingers are used inside of you, edging you closer to orgasm, without getting you too close to the edge. It's all surreal. The pain, the pleasure, the music, his voice. You can't tell where one stops and the other ends.

And then clips go on both nipples and you are gasping from the sensations just as a clip is put on your clit and you are ordered to come. And you do. Explosively so.

If your Dom happens to be especially sadistic he will have zippered the clothespins and he'll wait until you are mid orgasm and rip them all off at once. One level even more sadistic? You've been blindfolded and don't see it coming.

Zippering them just means a piece of string or twine is run through the ends of them, so that once they are on you can pull on them and they will rapidly come off.

I do not recommend cheap clothespins for this - they slip sideways and grab the skin all wrong. I personally like the good wooden ones, but my husband prefers the good plastic ones. The plastic ones have little teeth. Unfortunately, it's the plastic ones that come with little holes in them, making them ideal for a zipper. So it's usually the plastic ones. (I have no idea why the holes are really there. I doubt if the manufacturers put them there just for the zipper effect.)  We also have some wire clothespins that are especially evil.

Do you have a favorite way to play with clothespins? A favorite scene from a book that involves clothespins?

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