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 clich├ęd, 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.