Apr 292014
 
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One of the questions beginning writers ask us most often is: “How do you know if you have captured the love in your characters’ lovemaking, and aren’t just writing a run-of-the-mill sex scene?” 12 writers offer their own thoughts and advice in this unique WriteSex Author’s Roundtable. Each Monday a well-known romance author will discuss the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and show us how to charge an erotic encounter with romance. Look for personal insights and how-to tips from our participants in this first ever WriteSex Authors’ Roundtable. —Ed.

***

by Margie Church

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

That’s the difference I see between sex scenes and erotic romance.

I’ve often started my books out with scorching hot sex between people who just met, but to be successful at romance writing you must create an emotional connection between the lovers. If you don’t, readers—who will have picked up your erotic romance novel in search of both those qualities, but find to their disappointment that it contains only the first—will hate the character who “gives in” to someone who has no apparent love for them, and they’ll hate the character who keeps coming back to take it. It’ll be impossible for readers to respect either character or understand why they care so little about each other.

In the opening chapter of The 18th Floor, Alexa and Sebastian have a blazing hot, chance sexual encounter. She’s been lusting after him for months. Little did she know he had his eyes on her, too.

The tricky part of this scenario was making sure Alexa didn’t appear to continue the relationship solely because she had the hots for Sebastian and he was the most adventurous lover she’d ever had—let alone appear seduced into a liason that would end as soon as Sebastian got tired of her. I had to make it clear after that first scene that Sebastian had a heart, and that he respected Alexa’s intelligence and autonomy.

When Sebastian eventually reveals he’s a Dominant, Alexa has to decide whether she wants to discover what that means or turn around and say goodbye. Sebastian makes it clear that he really wants to keep dating her, but that this part of him isn’t something he can just turn off. As their relationship continues, their honesty and visible care for each other makes it easy for readers to like them together—both in and out of bed.

Here’s an except that challenged me to build their emotional connection. It takes place the evening after their erotic meeting at work. Sebastian has called Alexa to confirm she’s going on a date with him that weekend. One comment leads to another and phone sex ensues.

From The 18th Floor by Margie Church:

He cleared his throat, and drew a long breath. “Strength. I have a sexy body with lots of great muscle tone. When I hold you, you’ll feel my power. You can see my stomach muscles ripple when I’m on top of you, between your legs.”

The comment made Alexa’s pussy throb even more. “Put some lube on your hand. I want you to stroke your beautiful cock.”

While she waited, Alexa went to the armoire to retrieve her favorite dildo. There’s no reason he should have all the fun. She slid the seven-inch toy from its silk case and licked the tip, anticipating the full feeling of it inside her.

His soft moan got her attention. “You’re hard now?”

“Yeah, very.”

“Tell me how it feels to watch yourself stroke your dick. Lift it up, show me your balls.”

“Tension…heat building in my balls…my stomach and thigh muscles are tight, like I’m getting ready to jump. I want some pussy.” He hissed, “I want yours.”

Goose bumps pebbled her flesh. Alexa opened a bottle of lube and spread some over the dildo. The light pink toy glistened in her palm. “I’m holding my favorite dildo. It’s all ready to slide in.”

“Are you standing in front of a mirror, too?”

“Yes. I’m leaning forward, spreading my legs. The tip feels cool. I’m so hot. So wet. I probably don’t even need any lube.”

“I wish I was there. My dick is pounding in my hand while I stroke it.”

“Fast or slow?”

“Slow and easy right now. Work that dildo into your pussy slow and easy, too.”

A sigh left her lips.

“What was that?”

“My dildo…all the way in. Feels so good but I wish it was your cock.” She nibbled her lip while she worked the toy inside her. The eyes staring back at her in the mirror were dark pools. Red stained her cheeks. She’d never played this game before and couldn’t believe how much it aroused her.

Sebi continued their erotic phone conversation. “I can feel my cock sliding deep into your pink slit until my balls rest snugly against your asshole. Baby, do you like your ass fucked? Have you ever?”

Her eyes closed as she envisioned his hard body beneath her, his dick stretching her sphincter. “Yes, I like it. Maybe you can fuck my ass while I use a dildo in my pussy. That would rock.”

“Bring your favorites on Saturday. I’ll make your fantasy come true.” Another low moan left his throat. “Spank your clit.”

Shock waves of pleasure made her walls tense around the toy and more difficult to stroke swiftly. “Makes me so wet. Play with your balls. I want to hear you come. I’m imagining you’re standing behind me. Your hips are slapping against mine as you pump into my wet slit. It hurts, and it feels so good. I’m gripping you so tight with my pussy. You can hardly move. I’m getting close.”

“I’m covered in your juices. You feel fucking amazing. You’re so hot inside. Your little pulses start around my dick. You’re getting ready for a big orgasm. I want you on your back so I can come all over your breasts.”

The reader can clearly see these characters like each other and enjoy pleasuring each other. It’s mutual. If they had no emotional connection, they wouldn’t talk this way. In fact there’s likely to be very little dialog. This is erotic romance.

***

Margie Church writes erotic romance novels with a strong suspense element, in keeping with her motto: Romance with SASS (Suspense, Angst, Seductive Sizzle). Never expect the same thing twice in one of her books. She tackles subjects and conflicts that aren’t typical in romances. Life is complicated. People are, too. Marrying those concepts makes her work fascinating to read. Margie was 2011 GLBT Author of the Year, and her book, Hard as Teak, was named 2011 GLBT Book of the Year at Loves Romances Café. She is well-known for her BDSM erotic romances as well.

Margie lives in Minnesota, is married, and has two children. Some of her passions include music, poetry, walking on moonlit nights, fishing, and making people laugh.

Keep up with Margie:
Margie’s website: Romance with SASS
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Amazon.com: Margie Church: Books, Biography, Blog, Au…

Visit Amazon.com’s Margie Church Page and shop for all Margie Church books.
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Apr 282014
 
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By Jean Marie Stine

It cannot be emphasized enough. Your blog, your tweets, your photo-sharing, your Facebook page, and any and all of your other social media efforts aren’t just something to be reserved for your new book’s debut, or a contest, or an online or in-person appearance.

If you take that course, you will only be preaching to the converted—which is to say, you’ll only be reaching the people you have already reached.

Those readers are crucially important, but even they are not really your #1 target audience for social media. It’s time to re-conceive your presence on the world’s computer screens, phones and tablets from a whole new perspective: as a magnet designed to reach as widely and as frequently as possible beyond your normal circle of fans to bring in new potential readers for your books.

At the same time, you don’t want to take one more minute away from actually writing those books and stories than you have to.

It may not seem like it would be possible to maintain an active blog presence and still have all the time you need to do your core creative work.

But it can be!

Most social media mavens recommend that, at the very least, you put up some kind of blog entry every week, twice if possible. That may seem like a lot of work—and it would be, if you have to write all those blog entries yourself.

But you don’t!

Some writers (perhaps because they are writers) make the mistake of believing that blog posts invariably have to be lengthy, comprehensive, entirely original written pieces.

Instead, there is an easy way to let your own personal interests generate compelling blog entries for you—entries that will bring lots of visitor traffic, most of it new, to your blog. And it involves almost no writing on your own part. Using this technique, your entire contribution to each blog entry you create is a sentence or two to a paragraph at most.

There is no way an author can write a story without putting some of their own personal interests into it. That might be skiing, Europe, the town you live in, collecting stamps, the world of high fashion, the U.S. Civil War, rodeos, motorcycles, etc.—and chances are, if you are interested in something, other people are interested in it, too.

For instance, you might have visited Paris, or wanted to visit it, and thus your newest novel is set there.

Say you see a great picture of Paris on the internet, one that is beautiful, or touching, or shows some specific locale you used in your book. Insert or link to the picture on your blog. Write a sentence or paragraph about why you liked it—something like “I had to share this stunning picture of Paris at night from the top of the Eiffel Tower. I love both so much, I made Paris the scene of the second half of my book, For Love or Money.” Or, perhaps it is a photo of the Champs-Élysées. You could write: “I set the climactic chase scene from my romantic espionage novel, Secrets of the Heart, here.” You will be surprised, over the course of the next year, at how many new visitors have come to your site.

You might be an aficionado of the U.S. Civil War era. You might do research in old magazines and newspapers of the time, or read books reprinting material from them, and come upon an chapter or article that captures your interest. Perhaps an 1864 Harper’s Monthly contains a piece by a woman describing her feelings as she saw the Union Soldiers come running back in terrified, chaotic retreat from the battle of Bull Run. Since anything written in the U. S. before 1923 is out of copyright and in the Public Domain forever, you have every right to reprint that article for free (and there is a great deal of such material in text form free on the internet, at sites like Gutenberg.org and Archive.org). If printed materials are involved, consider purchasing a scanner. They can be very inexpensive, often below $100—and voila, you have a cheap and almost limitless source of blog entries. Again, all you have to write is a sentence or two, such as “I had to share this very moving eyewitness account of the Union rout at the first battle of the Civil War by a young Northern woman whose boyfriend was a soldier in that battle. I found it while researching my next novel, Troubled Allegiance.”

Or you may have written a romantic thriller set at a championship skiing event in the scenic Grandvalira region of Spain. On the web you can surely find photos or video of Grandvalira, as well as present or historic footage of ski meets there. Pick five that catch your eye, and turn them into a little series of posts—put a link to one each week with a few words about the region and your book. You now have five blog entries to draw people in, if they’re interested in the area and/or its skiing, and introduce them to your book—or to get people interested in your book if they’ve heard of you but not Grandvalira.

If your story was set at an oil camp in the 1920s, you can certainly find archival photos of the real thing all over the web.

You get the idea. Here are some more tips to letting your blog draw in new readers and keep existing ones happily following you—without spending valuable writing time and energy on it:

* Don’t overlook your own (digital or physical) filing cabinet! In it you may have all kinds of work you’ve already done but never introduced to a larger audience: articles, school papers, book reviews, interviews and so on. Depending on the subject, they are likely to be of interest to others, too. For example, I recently found an interview I conducted with science fiction great Frank Herbert for a Los Angles publication when the movie Dune came out. I suddenly realized it might be of interest to science fiction enthusiasts, and draw some to our science fiction blog. Not only did I publish it there, it was so lengthy I broke it into three entries. It brought in double the number of my most-read posts till then. I also found a paper I wrote for a university class on Mary Shelley and Frankenstein, arguing that she based much of the monster on herself and her own experiences. I plan to post it on the same blog soon; it should appeal to both aficionados of Shelley’s book and more widely to fans of horror fiction and films as well.

* Link to movie trailers. Somewhere on the web, you can find a trailer to almost any movie ever made. Find trailers for a favorite movie or one related to your latest book (or your writing in general), post a link to the trailer, and write a few words about it.

* You can do the same with full-length movies. There are quite a number of sites were you can watch recent or classic movies for free, like Crackle.com and Archive.org. Browse their stacks. Find a personal favorite or one related to your writings and post the link for it, inviting visitors to watch it too.

* If an article or chapter you want to reprint is lengthy, break it up into two or even three blog posts and serialize it.

* You can also include a scene from your book, its cover image (if one exists at that point), and several others books you have written on the same subject.

* Always attribute the source of any material you reprint:  ”From Harper’s Monthly June 1864, found at the Gutenberg Project.”

Using this easy approach, you can find material for hundreds of blog posts, and draw in new visitors, without going an inch out of your way. All you’re really doing is pursuing of your own interests and passions as you would anyway, and sharing these interests with readers.

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Apr 252014
 
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By Sherry Ziegelmeyer

Last month, we discussed media kits; as you may recall from that post, media kits are important for making that first approach to any writer or editor. When you initially begin a relationship with a new media contact, I don’t suggest that you immediately start giving them product for free. If you want to bribe them (and, in the context of getting people to write about you at all, bribery can be a good thing), then do so with something on which you’ll lose nothing, in case they hand it to some civilian, non-writer friend. And no, I don’t think “word of mouth” is worth enough to be handing over your copyrighted, produced-for-profit, material to just anyone; reserve your copyrighted product for writers who indicate a willingness to write about it (themselves, as opposed to passing it on to someone else) and hold off on sending review kits otherwise.

But once you have established that a writer is interested in giving your book a spin, it’s time to set them up with a “review kit”. Review kits can be very important for an author’s publicity campaign—good publicity is based on getting as many other people talking about you as you can. This is especially important with adult entertainment products, be they sex toys, print books, ebooks or adult videos. The consumer has no way to know exactly what the book, product or movie is about (or what it does)—and they certainly don’t know whether they’ll like it or not—until they can actually get their hands on it.

Since a lot of your books are sold online (and often there is no return or refund option for an e-book, or any book), giving an adult-media reviewer a copy—so they can offer their readers a third-party opinion and synopsis—helps you to make the potential consumer more aware of, and interested in, your product to begin with. In the mind of the consumer, the reviewer is going to have more credibility regarding the book’s worth than you are, so reviewers are an essential publicity force.

Review Kits

While a review kit is similar to a media kit, it will contain less information about you and much more about the book. A review kit must include the following, or you’re wasting your time and that of the reviewer:

A Copy of Your Book

Insert a physical sample of the book you are submitting for review. If you only sell e-books, for goodness sake, include a CD containing the book in an easy-to-open and easy-to-read format, such as a Word document or a PDF file; don’t just send them a link to some download. And I have to say, if at all possible, a printed book is much more impressive to a reviewer than only sending them a digital copy, unless you load it into a brand new Kindle or Nook.

An Art Disc

Include a CD containing all relevant artwork concerning your book. You will want to include the book’s cover art, but also include any images that you are using in your book’s overall marketing effort. Sometimes your publisher has created sales slicks or fliers, ads or other marketing tools, any of which may suit the reviewer’s taste, or fit into the layout of the review, better than the book cover does. (Be aware the media will not run ads without you paying for them, so we’re talking only about art to accompany the review itself.)

As with media kits, make sure the artwork you provide in review kits is capable of being reproduced in a print format. This means that images, logos and photos included in your art disc are all capable of being printed on paper at a minimum size of 8.5 inches by 11 inches when set at an image resolution of 300 dots per inch (DPI) or higher. You will also want to include web-resolution artwork in your art discs, so that an editor can immediately use the image on the publication’s web site. Web resolution is usually 72–78 DPI, and all images should be sized at a minimum of 600 pixels by 800 pixels.

If you have Adobe Photoshop, or your publisher has Photoshop files of your book art, include these in their original .psd format—including all photos, logos and book covers—saved as unlocked and layered. This gives the publication the ability to resize and reformat them in any way they may need to run them in print.

Please be sure to label this disc as “Art Disc for [Title of Book] by [Author name]“. You should also write a list of the disc’s contents on its label, or as an insert into its case—this way, the writer can take one look at it and know they have all the art they need to complete their review.

To be safe, write your name and your phone number and/or email address on that label as well; if it gets separated from the rest of the package, or if there are problems opening any of the files, they can contact you quickly and easily and proceed with the review of your book.

A One-Sheet

For all book review kits, you should put together a one-sheet containing all the information the reviewer needs, outlined in a convenient and easy-to-read format.

The top of the page should contain the full title of your book. If you have a second line, or “kicker”, to the book title, such as Sex Slave: One Chick’s Journey into Submission, please make sure you indicate that so the reviewer won’t mistake it for two different titles. Sometimes a book’s cover design won’t make it clear that the book contains one novel with a kicker and not, say, two novelettes (though it should—but that’s a subject for another column), and it’s never a good idea to end up with a reviewer giving their readers the wrong title of your book!

Right under the title (or left aligned with it and all the following text, if you want to be professional) embed an image of the front of the book cover. Sounds odd, but especially if you are sending digitized books, the reviewer needs to be assured what they have in their hand is definitely the book you sent them to review.

Under the photo, include the date of publication, the author name (yours and those of any co-authors), the publisher’s company name, the ISBN number, retail price and any information on where your book is available for sale.

Don’t add in direct links to the book on Barnes and Noble, Amazon and the other retail outlets unless you know for a fact that the publication has an affiliate account set up with a specific retailer. If they do have an affiliate account, make it as easy as possible for them to find your book listing and link their affiliate account to it. Money makes the entertainment world go around, darling.

Next on the One-Sheet is a synopsis of your book. Please don’t just copy this from the back of the official book jacket! Make an effort to tell your reviewer the plot of your book in easy-to-understand words. You can be dramatic and a bit flowery, but save the “heart pounding adventure on the high plains” crap for the consumer market. Less “hype” is more with the press . . . they get spun each and every day, so they don’t need more spin from you. ;)

In your synopsis, spell out the names of all the principal characters, the location of the story, its period and timeframe (2014? Two hundred years into the future? 410, BC? This matters enough to indicate to a reviewer from the getgo, and will increase your chance of a good review.)

If you have strong supporting characters, or just a lot of them, it’s wise to make a list of their full names and character synopses, so the reviewer can reference this after reading your book. You’d be surprised at how often some minor character in your book ends up getting “star treatment” from a reviewer, when you always thought your leading lady (or man) was the star attraction. So make sure you cover all your bases, and list the cast of characters so the reviewer can easily locate each one’s name and part in the story line.

Digital Copies of Everything

Always include a CD with digital files of your One-Sheet! You may be able to fit this on your Art Disc but if you can’t, include a separate disc that contains them. So many reviewers copy and paste whatever they are writing; you want to give them something to copy from quickly and easily. It won’t hurt to include a digital copy of your book, even if it is available in print. You never know when a reviewer may lose the copy you sent—and it’s better for them to have a backup than skip the review all together.

Your Business Card

A review kit should always have a printed, actual, hold-in-your-hand business card. Most reviewers will end up requesting one at some point, so include one in your review kit (and in your media kit, for that matter). Who says print is dead?

You should also include an Outlook Contact Card on your art disc, or at least a Word .doc containing all of your business contact information.

Goodies!

Seriously, did you think reviewers do this out of the kindness of their hearts? Review kits should come with “swag”! You don’t have to go overboard and include the keys to a brand new Ferrari (that’s reserved for the music industry) or stacks of non-sequential $100 bills (that’s for political lobbyists), but it never hurts to bribe a reviewer to read your book, as long as you’re subtle. Look at retail stores like Dollar Tree or Big Lots with an eye toward items that resonate with your book’s storyline and are easy to pack into a shipping container. Alternately, you can choose useful, everyday items that complement the book you are sending to your reviewer.

In the case of print books, it’s perfectly acceptable to include a beautiful bookmark (if you have some printed with your book title, send along a half dozen of those as well) or a small reading light that can attach to a book, shelf or airline seat. Just make sure that if you include a book light, you also include batteries for it, along with some spares—it’s always good to over-gift and never good to under-gift.

If you want to get more creative, go for it! If you wrote a western romance—how about sending along a bandana or a cowboy-hat-shaped keychain fob. For bondage-themed books, send along a pair of cuffs or some other toy (not a dildo!) featured in the plot. None of this grabbing you? How about a ceramic mug printed with your book title and artwork and a $10 Starbucks card or a box of upscale tea bags? Maybe you gave the reviewer an actual Kindle or Nook containing your ebook . . . think about adding a $5 or $10 dollar Amazon or B&N gift card to the package.

But please beware of sending along goodies that could backfire on you. Nothing ticks off a reviewer who is post-rehab, more than being presented with the object of their former addiction. Cigarettes, booze . . . anything that could possible offend someone should be discounted when choosing swag. That also goes for sending chocolates to someone with diabetes or muffins to someone with celiac disease. Unless, of course, you know a certain reviewer has diabetes or wheat intolerance and you send them something “free” of whatever their personal poison is—in that case, you don’t need my silly columns to be a damn good publicity agent for your books!

Looks Matter

As with the media kits, it cannot be stressed enough that the better your packaging looks, the more interest the reviewer will have in its contents. Be creative, and remember that appearances matter in all aspects of publicity.

This is a physical representation of your professional image—and that of your book—which you are presenting to the reviewer. This is not the time to reuse an Amazon packing box, or use Band-Aids as the shipping tape on a mailing carton. Unless of course your book title is Naughty Nurses, and then maybe the bandages would fit the theme—but really, it’s still better to keep them to the inside of the packaging so your media contact’s first impression of your kit isn’t “…What?!”

Bottom line . . .

Include every possible thing that a reviewer could ever need to go forward with their review of your book. If you aren’t sure what a specific publication needs, ask! And more importantly, write it down for future reference.

Your contact list should contain detailed notes on each and every publication (and each individual writer and reviewer) you are working with. This is part of that all-important relationship that a publicist (you) will build with your media contacts. This level of understanding and cooperation makes a huge difference to a reviewer as they decide whether to work with you or not. If you are willing to give them everything they ask for, and make yourself available for anything else they may request later, it will go a long way toward making them want to work with you as often as possible.

 

Do you have specific questions concerning how to generate publicity for your books? Please email questions and comments to Sherry; answers will appear as future WriteSex blog topics.

Sherry Ziegelmeyer is a professional publicist and public relations representative, who happens to specialize in adult entertainment (in all its various forms). She resides in Chatsworth, California, affectionately known as “ground zero of the adult entertainment industry.” When not working on writing press releases, arranging interviews and putting together review kits for her clients (among dozens of other career related activities), she reads a LOT, loves cooking, appreciates beefcake eye-candy, spending time with friends, family and with her assortment of furred and feathered “kids”.

Get to know Sherry at blackandbluemedia.com or www.facebook.com/sherry.ziegelmeyer.

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Apr 212014
 
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By Dr. Amy Marsh

This is going to be a tough post to write. It’s not a comfortable topic. And I may have to use a bit of academic jargon, which I usually don’t enjoy. However, sexology and erotology’s need for intersectionality awareness has been much on my mind this month, thanks to examples of cultural appropriation like these:

  • An STD alert app for iPhones, given the brand name of “Hula”…even though hundreds of thousands of Native Hawaiian ancestors died from foreign borne diseases, starting with syphilis and gonorrhea. (Hawaiians are actively protesting this brand name, which also appropriates their most sacred and valued cultural tradition.)
  • Nicole Daedone (of One Taste) recently publicizing herself as “the Jimi Hendrix of orgasm…”
  • Oliver Stone’s 1991 movie, The Doors, which I’d never seen and have just watched on Netflix. Stone included many gratuitous scenes of supposedly shamanic hallucinations of Indians who were stuck in the script—I guess—to somehow bless the Jim Morrison character as he behaved so very badly on drugs.

But before tackling this convoluted topic, I’d like to share the “Johari Window” below. It’s a way we can think about the difficulties we encounter as we struggle to understand various intersections of oppression and privilege, particularly our own. The Johari Window was created by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1969, as “a model of different sorts of knowledge that affect self-development” and I found it in Julia Wood’s excellent book, Interpersonal Communication—Everyday Encounters (6th ed., 2010, p. 57). When we’re asked to recognize our own privileges (especially the ones that contribute in some way to other people’s oppression), I think it can be difficult not only because we may feel put on the spot, but also because entrenched privilege resides in the blind area. We may have a tough time seeing these sorts of privileges, because we’re so used to having them, but others can spot them from a mile away.

JOHARI WINDOW

Known to Self

Unknown to Self

Known to Others

Open/Public Area

Information about ourselves that is known to us and to others.

Blind Area

Information others know about us but we don’t know about ourselves.

Unknown to Others

Hidden Area

Information we know about ourselves but don’t reveal to others.

Unknown Area

Information that we don’t know, and others don’t know. Untapped talents & resources, unknown reactions to situations that haven’t occurred.

However, just because privilege resides in the “blind area” (a poor choice of words, actually, and reflective of a certain kind of privilege!), this doesn’t let us off the hook. Once these things are pointed out to us, it’s open information. Still, I bring up this model so we can all be a little kinder to each other (and to ourselves) as we consider the rest of this blog.

According to Wikipedia, “intersectionality” is a feminist theory named as such by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. It is an attempt to chart and analyze the relationships between all the oppressive mechanisms, categories, and identities that can be used to create injustice and inequality: race, sex, class, gender, species, ability, sexual orientation, and so on. The “matrix of domination” (a term credited to Patricia Hill Collins) refers to the various operations and assumptions of privilege and forms of discrimination which may be operating upon us—sexism, racism, transphobia, homophobia, and so on. The matrix, indeed!

Intersectionality is complicated, and this is a superficial introduction. It’s too vast a topic for this simple blog. So, please just read about intersectionality, and think about how these complexities operate in your life and in the lives of those around you. My intention is to swing us back now to a more practical, and more focused, discussion which might actually have some use for erotic writers!

The Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality is one of the few places in the world which offers courses in erotology. When I studied there, Dr. Jerry Zientara offered us the following criteria for formal and content analysis of erotic art (similar to art history analysis):

  • Title/Name
  • Medium/Format
  • Artist(s) (this includes visual artists, writers, directors, etc.)
  • Models(s) (represented in visual art)
  • Source/Provenance
  • Formal description of the work
  • Content description

I’ve also tried to understand erotica in the context of Dr. Loretta Haroian’s concepts of sexually permissive, sexually supportive, sexually repressive, and sexually restrictive societies. In other words, I try to find out if the artist created the erotic work in alignment with or in opposition to the values and assumptions of his/her/hir society and historical period.

However, I also see a need to incorporate awareness of intersectionalities into analysis of existing erotic work. Last year Claire Litton, a sexologist who had attended the 2013 IASHS Summer SAR (an 8-day “sexual attitude reassessment” program), wrote several critical blogs about her experiences. She particularly expressed a desire for more awareness of issues pertaining to intersectionality. Litton was particularly horrified by one of the explicit posters hanging in the IASHS corridor. This poster depicts a cartoon cowboy with a lasso-long penis, twirling it toward a horrified Indian woman who was running away. I know this poster. It’s been on the IASHS walls for a long time, and while the artist might have intended it as an ironic, x-rated commentary on settler colonialism, native genocide, and rape of native women (and then again, maybe not), I agree that this is an image that many people will find offensive beyond its sexual content. Litton was troubled by this poster, and questioned IASHS staff about it. Unfortunately, she did not get the kind of response from IASHS that she was seeking.

So this brings up the stickiest part of this discussion: it’s one thing to include intersectionalities in our critiques of existing erotica, including awareness of the histories of the matrix of domination: oppression, genocide, social injustice, sexual trauma and other forms of violence. It’s another to ask ourselves to refrain from producing erotic work which feeds into and perpetuates that matrix.

In the United States (and many other places), people who create erotic work—art, film, literature—are generally not given much social approbation or recognition. This kind of creativity is considered deviant by many. Erotic artists, writers, and filmmakers become artistic “outlaws.” Part of the allure of creating erotica includes the artistic freedom to deal with taboo content and imagery. Our sexual fantasies are seldom tidy, sometimes problematic (even to other parts of our own minds), and not always actionable in real life without causing harm. What’s more, we might find joy in pushing limits, or even exploding them. However, sometimes the characters or images we create are described in ways which are offensive to people who have suffered from generations of imposed and brutal trauma. So I wonder, how much of this kind of portrayal—like the cowboy and Indian poster—comes from people who are so entrenched in the privileges inherited from settler-colonialism that they can’t understand how these characterizations affect others? (There’s that Johari Box problem again!).

Anti-porn feminists (and, perhaps needless to say, I’m not one of them) have been talking about sexism, violence,  and misogyny in porn for years. And, I’ve gotta say, with regard to certain films or books, they’re often right. However, while this doesn’t mean that making erotica or porn is wrong in and of itself, it does mean that erotica and the people who make it are not exempt from intersectional analysis.

So for those who consider such matters, the question quickly becomes one of personal responsibility, like deciding to NOT dress your latest erotic heroine like a “Pocahottie” or NOT using people of color as plot or movie props.

In the U.S., we are slowly beginning to understand that certain stereotypes and behaviors cause harm and perpetuate various forms of oppression—and are, therefore, simply not acceptable. Sports teams, entrepreneurs, entertainers, and governor’s daughters are now catching hell for actions which range from entrenched racism (parodies of Native Americans as sports mascots) to spoiled entitlement (wearing a lipstick-coordinated “warbonnet” as a fashion statement) to blatant commodification (the “hula” app). As erotica becomes increasingly accessible and even more mainstream, I expect that many artists, writers, and filmmakers will also find that their work has come to the attention of activists and academics, and that some producers of erotica will find that they being held accountable for elements which have nothing to do with the kind of sexual actions they’ve portrayed.

Ideally, this issue should be less about censorship (self or social) and more about raising awareness, including our own. While I realize this post is hardly the last word on a very complex topic, generally I like to think that eros flourishes in the least oppressive circumstances for everyone involved.

 

Blogs and Sources:

Haroian, Loretta. Child Sexual Development. Feb. 1, 2000. Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality. http://www.ejhs.org/volume3/Haroian/body.htm

Harris, Tamara Winfrey. Five of Cultural Appropriation’s Greatest Hits. Sept. 3, 2013. http://www.racialicious.com/tag/cultural-appropriation/

K., Adrienne. Open Letter to the Pocahotties: The Annotated Version. Oct. 9, 2013. http://nativeappropriations.com/2013/10/open-letter-to-the-pocahotties-the-annotated-version.html

K. Adrienne. Dear Christina Fallon. March 7, 2014. http://nativeappropriations.com/2014/03/dear-christina-fallin.html#more-1888

Uwujaren, Jarune. What’s the Difference Between Cultural Exchange and Cultural Appropriation? Oct. 8, 2013. http://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/hesaid-whats-the-difference-between-cultural-exchange-and-cultural-appropriation/

 

Amy Marsh, EdD, DHS, CH, CI, is a clinical sexologist and AASECT certified sex counselor, certified hypnotist and hypnosis instructor, and an associate professor of human sexuality at the world’s most radical sex school. She is a former Carnal Nation columnist and author of the recently published first volume of the Love’s Outer Limits series, Sex Squicks & 100 Other Things You Didn’t Know About Sex. Learn more at dramymarshsexologist.com or follow @AmyMarshSexDr on Twitter.

 

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Apr 172014
 
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By Marissa St. James

We have a bad habit of writing the way we speak—and most of the time our spoken grammar is incorrect. Do we want to write the same way? Not if we can help it. Writing the way you speak can make your text look foolish and clunky, and can turn readers off to your book before they’ve made their way through Chapter One. To avoid this fate, pay particular attention to the following mistakes:

1. AND/THEN

One of the most common errors I find is the use of ‘and then.’ When you think about it, those two little words are a contradiction in terms.

Can you pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time?
Here, two actions are done (or attempted) simultaneously.

John yanked open the door, then ran through the corridor.
Here, however, sequence is important. There is no way John can run through the corridor while yanking open the door. He’d either go through the door, like a ghost, or knock himself out. ‘Then’ is used to show two actions performed in sequence.

2. ALL OF

This is another one of those terms that can appear to be contradicting.

John wanted all of the employees’ names added to the list.
All means every name. When sticking ‘of’ in there, you not only hint at only a portion (which contradicts ‘all’) you also create a useless prepositional phrase.

John wanted all the employees’ names added to the list.
This sentence may sound like it’s missing a word, but it’s actually the correct one.

By making it a habit to correct our everyday speech, we set a pattern to write proper grammar. Writing proper sentences will become automatic. We won’t have to stop and think about what’s right and acceptable, or what an editor will do to our work. Believe me, it’s no fun having a manuscript returned for fixing, and finding it heavily decorated with editor’s marks and comments.

3. WORD ABUSE

There are a few words we tend to overuse, or misuse. The word ‘that’ is one I would personally love to remove from the dictionary —permanently—or at the very least outlaw. I admit, there are times where it should be legitimately used, but other times…

He called the newspaper knowing that he would have to leave his name.
‘That’ is unnecessary in the sentence.

He called the newspaper knowing he would have to leave his name.

If you use the word often, try reading the sentence without it. Most of the time you’ll find it can be deleted.

‘As’ is another word which belongs in this category. For a two-letter word, it runs neck and neck with ‘that’ as being the most abused.

Harry set the table as Sally finished mashing the potatoes, then put them in a bowl.
This can be changed a couple ways:

Harry set the table while Sally finished mashing the potatoes.

or

Harry set the table. Sally finished mashing the potatoes, then put them in a bowl.

If you use ‘as’ too often to connect separate actions in your sentences, consider breaking up those sentences into smaller ones.

4. AND, THEN, BUT

These three words are conjunctions and were never meant to be used to start sentences. They connect parts of sentences, show additions, exceptions. The only time they’re used to start a sentence is when you want to emphasize a point. More often than not, a short sentence will do the trick.

Make copies of the report for the board meeting. Then you can take your break.

Take your break after you make the copies of the report for the board meeting.

Mary heard noises downstairs and picked up the phone to call for help. But it was too late. Someone cut the phone line.

Mary heard noises downstairs and picked up the phone to call for help. It was too late. Someone cut the phone line.
In this second example, you not only eliminate unnecessary conjunctives, but you build a little tension with the shorter sentences.

5. WEASEL WORDS

‘Just,’ ‘only,’ ‘simply,’ ‘barely,’ ‘very,’ are some of the words that can be done without. I know, many folks say, “If the words are in the dictionary, then I should be able to use them.” There’s also an expression that says, “Less is more.” By keeping your sentence structure straightforward, you don’t need a lot of words to get your point across. Weasels are sneaky little critters, little thieves; weasel words steal the gist of your thoughts.

You want your writing to be strong, make an impression. These words, used at the wrong time and in the wrong place, will make you appear noncommittal (and sometimes even whiny) as a writer.

He simply refused to obey orders.

Mary just wanted to be left alone.

If John had only known about the interview…

In each case the sentence loses something. If you think about it, weasel words make each sentence sound more like gossip than a statement of fact.

Fact: He refused to obey orders.

Decisive: Mary wanted to be left alone.

Choices: If John had known about the interview…

Like any other rule, this one also has its exceptions. The smart use for weasel words is when you want to build some tension into the scene. The trick is to know when to use it. Here’s an example.

John had a death grip on the shrub growing out of the cliffside. One foot slipped and he tried desperately to gain a toehold once again. If only he could get a grasp on the cliff edge and pull himself up. He tipped his head a little to see how far he was from the top. Dirt rattled down and struck his face, forcing him to look away. It was now or never. Very carefully he reached up, stretching as much as he dared, without jeopardizing his position. His hands slid lightly upward over the dirt, loosening more of it, until he’d reached his limit. His fingertips just barely touched the top of the cliff, but left him nothing to grab onto. So close, and yet so far. He might as well be back at the bottom of the cliff. John screamed out his frustration.

While you can get a sense of just how tenuous his predicament is, the word ‘just’ shows how close he is to saving himself, yet not being able to. ‘If only’ shows him to believe the situation is nearly impossible.

This is the kind of situation where you want to build the tension and keep your reader following every word. These words bring your characters and readers so close to a solution, but maintain a sufficient distance to keep the story going. Use them sparingly, and see how much your writing can be improved.

***

From Marissa St. James’ Doing it Write: Putting the Final Polish on Your Manuscript, Copyright © 2006 PageTurner Editions, available at Amazon.com for Kindle, Barnes & Noble for Nook and iTunes for Mac-based devices. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

Guest columnist Marissa St James writes sweet romance. Her books include Lady in Black and Other Tales of Paranormal Romance, The Legend and the Laird, Liberty’s Belle, and many others. Find them all and keep up with Marissa’s writings and doings at www.msjbookshelf.blogspot.com and www.marissastjames.blogspot.com.

 

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Apr 142014
 
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By M.Christian

It may come as a surprise, but far too often authors—people who are supposedly very comfortable with words!—have days when they just don’t want to write at all.

It’s a common mistake writers make when they begin to think about social media, marketing, and all that other fun stuff: this idea that words are the be-all and end-all for them. They force themselves far too often to script tweet after tweet, Facebook post after Facebook post…until they just can’t write another line of original content, even if only to say “Look at my book!” Worse, they come to feel that because they’ve burnt out on writing tweets and posts and marketing copy, they have failed. They think about all the potential readers they have lost; markets they haven’t tapped; piles of beguiling words they should have written—because are they not supposed to be endless fonts of text? (Spoiler: no.)

Fortunately for you if you’re one of these writers, there are some great options for social networking that don’t require you to write a word. They are wordless yet powerful, simple yet evocative, easy yet poignant.

In short, Facebook and Twitter are not the only games in town when it comes to keeping yourself and your writing in the public eye.

I’m talking about using pictures rather than words. Using Flicker, Instagram, Pinterest or Tumblr to make your point, catch your Twitter followers’ imaginations, engage them emotionally in a way that leaves a favorable impression of you in their minds. An image-sharing tool like these can help you reach out to others, and save you a thousand words of writing, every day.

There are quite a few image-sharing venues out there—and while your mileage and social media needs may vary, in my experience they’ve basically boiled down to just one. Allow me: Flickr is ridiculously clunky and doesn’t share well with others—just spend a few minutes trying to either find an image or a keyword, or pass along a photo. Pain. In. The…youknowwhatImean. Instagram is fine and dandy for taking snapshots of your dinner, your dog, your kids, your whatever…but when it comes to sharing what you snap, or using images from other sources, it’s not exactly user-friendly.

This basically leaves us with two choices, if you want to save those thousands of words: Pinterest and Tumblr. I’ve tried both and the choice was extremely easy to make—it comes down to one thing: sex.

Let’s face it, when you’re an author of erotica and erotic romance, you are dealing with—in one way or another—characters having sex. Like lots of erotica authors, I’ve learned to (sigh) deal with platforms like Facebook that will wish you into the cornfield for showing—or in some cases even talking about—something as threatening as a nipple. We deal with Facebook because we have to. But an open-minded image-sharing social media venue is a bit like Twitter: the more the merrier.

Pinterest doesn’t like sex…at all. I used to have a Pinterest account but then I began to get messages, here and there to start, but then tons: each one about a posted image of mine that was removed due to the dreaded Terms of Service. A few were obvious, but then the images they were yanking became and more innocent. Bye-bye Pinterest.

Tumblr isn’t perfect—far from it—but even after being purchased by the search engine deity Yahoo, I can count on the fingers of one hand the times it has caused me any kind of headache. Mostly they will reject anything that really pushes a button—think of the deadly erotica sins, but with pictures, and you know what I mean (hate speech, rape, bestiality, incest, underage, pee or poo, etc).

In a nutshell, Tumblr is easy, fun, and—best of all—a rather effective social media tool that also neatly and simply integrates into Twitter and Facebook…and, no, I do not own stock.

The way it works couldn’t be less complicated: you can create any number of Tumblrs—think folders—(even with an “age appropriate” warning if you want), and then design them with any one of a huge number of themes. From your master dashboard you can see—and tweak —all the separate Tumblrs you’ve created. The themes are a blast, and the interface takes very little skill to navigate.

As for what Tumblrs you should create…well, that’s up to you. Like food? Make a nice edibles Tumblr (and they have an app that lets you to take shots of your meals if that’s what you’re into). Like history? Create a vintage photo site. Love sex? Well, it’s pretty obvious about what you can do with that.

Where do you get your pictures? You can certainly take them yourself or upload them from your various devices, but where Tumblr becomes a real social media machine is in reposting. Once you create your account just look for other Tumblrs by interests or keywords and then hit that little follow button. Then, when you look at your dashboard, you’ll see a nice stream of pictures that you can like, share, or repost to your own various Tumblr incarnations. Plus, the more people you follow, the more people will follow you.

Just to give you an idea, I started—rather lazily—my dozen or so Tumblrs four or so years ago and now my main one, Rude Mechanicals, has close to 4,000 followers. You can imagine the reach you could have if you really put some work into it.

And if you want to see how far that reach extends, you can go back and look at your posts to see how many times they’ve been liked or reposted. It’s harder to tell when it’s a reposted picture but it can also be very heartwarming to see that, for instance, when you post about a good review or a new book announcement, dozens of people liked your news or, even better, shared it with their own vast audience.

What’s also fun about Tumblr is the auto-forward feature. It’s not perfect, as there are some periodic glitches, but all in all it works rather well. When you set up your separate Tumblrs you can then select an option where—if you choose—you can also send any image to Twitter or to Facebook.

That increases the number of people your image will potentially reach. It can even go to a Facebook page you’ve created. Neat!

One trick I use is to click the handy “like” button to create an inventory of images and then—once or twice a day—go back into my list of likes to repost them to my appropriate sites…with or without Twitter or Facebook reposting as I see fit. Tumblrs also feature RSS, which means you can subscribe to one of them through an aggregator like Feedly.

What’s also neat about Tumblr is its flexibility: you can post images (duh) but you can also embed video (from YouTube or wherever) and post text, quotations, links, chat streams, and audio.

Let your eyes do the walking and let the images they find do the talking. Image-sharing tools like Tumblr are a super easy way to fulfill your need for social media presence without having to write anything.

 

M.Christian has become an acknowledged master of erotica, with more than 400 stories, 10 novels (including The Very Bloody Marys, Brushes and The Painted Doll). Nearly a dozen collections of his own work (Technorotica, In Control, Lambda nominee Dirty Words, The Bachelor Machine), more than two dozen anthologies (Best S/M Erotica series, My Love for All That is Bizarre: Sherlock Holmes Erotica, The Burning Pen, and with Maxim Jakubowksi The Mammoth Book of Tales from the Road).  His work is regularly selected for Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Bisexual Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica, and others. His extensive knowledge of erotica as writer, editor, anthologist and publisher resulted in the bestselling guide How To Write And Sell Erotica.
He can be found in a number of places online, not least of which is mchristian.com.

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Apr 102014
 
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by Jean Roberta

Erotic writers, including the most talented, sometimes reach burnout. A feeling of exhaustion or boredom with writing sex scenes seems parallel to the sexual burnout that happens in some long-term relationships: the thrill is gone; the body of the Significant Other is no longer an exciting new territory to discover.

Having too much to do can dim the spark, both in a sexual relationship and in a relationship with one’s Muse. Writers at every stage of their careers can feel overwhelmed. Newly-published writers contend with the need to prove themselves over and over again, while those with multi-volume contracts can feel as if they have a series of mountains to climb by a series of looming deadlines.

The antidote to burnout, in my experience, is to relax, breathe, and feel. Physical activity can give the brain a rest. Guided meditation usually begins with instructions to feel the temperature in the room (or outdoors), feel the seat, the grass or the floor under your ass, and feel the position of your limbs. While sitting alone in a favourite writing place, you can wiggle your toes and fingers, tense and relax your muscles, focus on breathing in, holding the breath, and letting it go in a long whoosh.

Living in a human body is sexual. As a writer, you can seduce yourself by doing things that feel good: stretch and bend, reach for the stars, scratch an itch, pet the cat or the dog. Don’t think about sex, and definitely don’t think about chores or obligations. Play hooky, at least for an hour.

If a hot shower or sunlight on skin feels good but you can’t get to your bathroom or go outside, try stroking your own arms or legs. Find out what your skin wants after being neglected for too long. Your scalp might like a massage. After a while, your more sensitive areas would probably like some attention. Nipples are sensitive, and so are testicles. There is no rush. You can tease them gently until they demand more.

You can see where this is going. Bodies are capable of waking up after being on automatic pilot for awhile. They don’t respond well to criticism, so avoid telling yours that it is too fat, too thin, too lacking in muscle tone (besides which, you’re a writer. No one expects you to be built like an Olympic athlete).

When you give yourself pleasure, pay attention to the images that flash through your mind. You may even remember some words: yours or someone else’s. What inspires you? The seeds of story that lurk in your mind may have nothing to do with your current work-in-progress—this just means that your mind contains multiple possibilities. Try to hang on to the feeling, the pictures, the music, the sounds that add to your bliss even after you have (ahem) reached release. Jot down what you remember, whether it makes sense or not. You now have something to work with.

I think it is crucial for writers, especially those who write about sex, to occasionally write about something deeply personal, even something that only makes sense to themselves, or something that seems unpublishable. Writers who spend every moment of writing time trying to follow a formula for success are likely to find that 1) no creative person can turn out fifty versions of a certain popular novel series without going into creative drought, and 2) formulas don’t work well for long anyway. What is trendy this year will be undoubtedly be considered stale in the foreseeable future.

Whoever you are, you only have one body to live in, and it is the home for your brain. If you think your nerve endings, your muscles and the blood in your veins have no new stories to tell, you haven’t been listening.

***

Jean Roberta writes in several genres. Approximately 100 of her erotic stories, including every orientation she can think of, have appeared in print anthologies, plus three single-author collections, including The Princess and the Outlaw: Tales of the Torrid Past (Lethe Press, 2013. ). www.jean-roberta.livejournal.com

 

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Apr 082014
 
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By billierosie

A while back, I wrote a story called “Will You Be my Mommy?” It’s in my Fetish Worship collection. The tale explores the fetish of infantilism. I talked about the despair and isolation that I imagine having such a fetish can entail—the sense of being the only person in the world who could possibly feel like that; of having no one to communicate with. The shame of being found out; of being laughed and sneered at. I think the story struck the right tone, judging by the comments it’s received. So I followed it up with another story called “I’m Sorry, Mommy!” where I continue to explore the deepening sexual and emotional relationship between my two protagonists. In this latter story I introduced a lactation fetish—a desire to suckle and drink milk from a woman’s breast. The two seemed to fit together. And there were more excited comments.

“Paraphilic infantilism,” explains the Wikipedia entry on same, “is also known as autonepiophilia , or adult baby syndrome, and it involves role playing and regressing to an infantlike state. Behaviours may include drinking from a bottle or wearing diapers. Those involved in the role play can engage in gentle, nurturing experiences; an adult who only engages in an infantilistic play is known as an adult baby. Others may be attracted to wearing diapers; the Infantilist may urinate or defecate in them.”

Some may want to be punished and be attracted to masochistic, coercive, punishing or humiliating experiences. While infantilism—like BDSM and role play in general—requires the consent of both partners, it is often said that the one receiving the punishment or humiliation ultimately controls the way the scenario is played.

Little research appears to have been done on the subject of infantilism. It has been linked to masochism and a variety of other paraphilia. It has been confused with paedophilia, but the two conditions are distinct and infantilists do not seek children as sexual partners. Rather, they want to roleplay as the children; the adulthood of the other people involved adds to the relative “littleness” of the infantilist, and the appeal of the scenario as it plays out.

It seems that the motivation is around the need for a parental figure, usually that of a mother, who will look after the adult baby’s life and make the world feel safe—though as we’re talking about adults, it’s usually sexualised as well. This sexualisation can be expressed through scenes that play with the tension between permissiveness and discipline: the adult baby transgresses some kind of rule and is spanked or smacked for it; the adult baby can do absolutely anything in their playpen or cot, including soiling their diapers—at least until “mom” finds out.

When I wrote about Infantilism, I focused on the needs of a high-powered businessman desperately seeking the woman who would play the part of his mommy. When Joel walks into his home at the end of a stressful day, he kicks off his shoes, relinquishes his control and plays the role of a twelve-year-old, relying on Sally to make everything safe and okay.

And then there is the “Daddy” fetish: Daddy is strong and warm, a comfort, a source of strength and power that doesn’t have to come from within. He takes away the responsibility that the sub, or the little girl/boy, has grown weary of having to handle.

Psychologists and psychotherapists sometimes deal with repressed memories; the return of the repressed. Perhaps infantilism is a way of returning to a childhood—either the infantilist’s own or the one they wish they’d had—through an actual physical therapy that allows, through role play, the ability to relax into a world that involves little to no responsibility and a great deal of loving physical intimacy (compare that to the state of far too many lives in our world, love-starved and burdened with stress). Maybe it’s an effort to reboot one’s entire process of socialization; if you were taught all your manners and potty training and other social restrictions at the hand of an impatient, ill-equipped parent, maybe you want to go back and learn it all again with a good one. Or maybe infantilism is a response to an incest fantasy, or even a memory of incest which needs to be processed. Perhaps it’s a basic, human, long-buried desire to have one parent, a mommy or a daddy, all to oneself in the closest possible way.

 

billierosie has been writing erotica for about three years. She has been published by Oysters and Chocolate, in The Wedding Dress. Logical Lust accepted her story “Retribution” for Best S&M 3. She has also been published by Sizzler, in Pirate Booty and in their Sherlock Holmes anthology, My Love of all that is Bizarre, as well as Hunger: A Feast of Sensual Tales of Sex and Gastronomy and Sex in London: Tales of Pleasure and Perversity in the English Capital. She also has a collection of short, erotic stories, Fetish Worship, as well as novellas Memoirs of a Sex Slave and Enslaving Eli, both published by Sizzler Editions in 2012 and available for purchase at Amazon.
billierosie can be found at Twitter, @jojojojude and at her blog.

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