Oct 232014
 
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By Mistress Lorelei Powers

In no genre does the admonition Write what you know apply more powerfully than in writing about sex. The average reader of a police procedural will never be involved in a murder investigation, and thus their image of the process is likely to be formed by their books, as well as other media: movies, TV shows, newspaper and internet accounts of investigations. With the help of Google, a fluent writer may be able to fake a way through and produce a story this average reader finds plausible, but the work is likely to echo every cliché of the genre.

By contrast, almost everyone has some kind of sex, and people who practice specific kinks know the difference between fantasy and reality. When Anne Rice admitted she had written the Beauty series (originally published under the name A. N. Roquelaure), she claimed she didn’t actually practice BDSM herself. Every kinkster I knew believed her. There were too many problems with the books, and not just because she portrayed some unsafe practices.

You may have been fantasizing about a particular act or orientation for years, but fantasies are an unreliable guide. So are many stories. To hear some people talk about sex between women, scissoring is the be-all and end-all. In 35 years of sex with women, I have yet to scissor. I can’t even figure out the instructions.

Trying to write about an unfamiliar sexual subculture or practice has serious pitfalls. My personal favorite is a slash fan-fiction story in which one gay man “fisted” another’s cock. I had outrageous visions of one man plunging his whole hand into the other’s urethra. The author didn’t know about anal or vaginal fisting (the practice of slowly, gently inserting the whole well-lubricated hand inside your partner); she just wanted to say that her character grabbed a cock in his fist. Oops.

So does this mean you can never use your imagination, or that you have to limit yourself to writing your own experiences? Not at all. There is a place for research in erotica, as with any other fiction.

1. Read all about it. First, check out the how-to manuals and memoirs. In the past 20 years, there has been an explosion of useful and informative books about all kinds of sex. There are superb books on the theory and practice of same-sex love, just about every form of BDSM, erotic hypnotism, enema play, fisting (both vaginal and anal), and more forms of sensation play than I can name. Now that ebooks are so common, you can download anything in peace and privacy.

Check out reviews in places like Goodreads or specialty forums before you buy; not all books are created equal. Steer toward nonfiction; many fictional depictions are inaccurate or actively unsafe. Movies can show how things work physically, but most are insanely unrealistic about the culture and feelings of participants.

Then you may want to go to the library, preferably a university library. Your local library may allow interlibrary loan from nearby academic libraries. You would be amazed what you can find in scholarly books. There are serious psychological and philosophical studies of homosexuality, transgender, transvestism, sadomasochism, and other sexual variations. Books on queer studies and gender studies may be densely written, but they can also offer insights.

Learn about safety, culture, history, and terminology. Read enough to understand how various members of the subculture relate to their sexual practices and to others who share their orientation. You’ll discover that every subculture is a cluster of micro-cultures, some of them deadly foes and others allies. Practices that seem the same to the outsider may have entirely different meanings. A drag queen and a sissy maid both dress in feminine garb, but their aims and clothing are profoundly dissimilar. And both are different from a transgender woman. Know the distinctions, or you’ll piss everybody off—including your intended audience.

2. Make friends in the community. The Internet makes this a thousand times easier than it was twenty years ago. If you’re writing about people who take on animal personas, find an online forum for furries. (And learn the difference between furries and yiffing.) Lurk first. Reading forum threads and participating in group chats are excellent ways to understand a subculture. Approach individuals with respect. Remember, they are not here as zoo displays, nor are they obliged to answer intrusive questions.

You may also find in-person meet-ups where people gather to meet others who share their tastes. Some are informal, public events (sometimes called munches) where people dress in ordinary clothes and don’t do anything more surprising than drink diet soda. Others are parties or clubs where people go to play—a word that has a much broader meaning than you may be aware of. Look for events for newbies. Not everyone is lucky enough to live in an urban area where there are plenty of venues, but even rural areas have their gatherings. I used to drive 110 miles to go to BDSM parties in a neighboring state.

3. Practice, practice, practice. When you learn specific techniques from a book—for example, how to peg your partner with a strap-on—test it out in person with a willing volunteer. When I first started pegging, I was startled and impressed at the sense of power it gave me. I was also surprised that relatively small motions could create such an intense reaction. That’s something I wouldn’t have known without doing it myself.

Now excuse me. I have a naked woman in my bed, and we’re going to try to see if we can manage to scissor without falling off or breaking an ankle.

***

Lorelei Powers, also known as Mistress Lorelei (pronounced LOR-eh-lye, and named for Germany’s famous siren of the Rhine River whose seductive music lured sailors to their doom), is the author of the BDSM how-to classics The Mistress Manual and A Charm School for Sissy Maids, as well as the short story collection On Display. She is a bisexual, polyamorous sadist and lifestyle Domme. She has started using her surname to avoid confusion with her respected colleagues, Lorelei Lee or Lorelei of BedroomBondage.com.

By profession, Lorelei Powers is a writer and editor. Under various other names she has published a number of books, articles, and stories. She also teaches writing classes, gives workshops and presentations on BDSM technique, and offers private coaching sessions by phone or in person for Dom/mes and submissives.

She blogs about BDSM at The Mistress Manual and about sex, feminism, politics, and naked men in bondage at Gallery of Dangerous Women. Follow her Twitter feed at @MsLorelei

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Sep 232014
 
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By billierosie

My friend Jonathan is in a heterosexual relationship; but it’s a heterosexual relationship with kinks—massive kinks. Jonathan is a dominant; his partner, Susie, is his submissive. I asked Jonathan to tell me about his and Susie’s life together. How do they organise things and deal with household pragmatics? Is their relationship typical of the lifestyle of dominant and submissive? Is there such a thing as a typical dominant/submissive lifestyle? Here’s what Jonathan told me…

“I should start by saying that it’s one of those questions where different people will undoubtedly have different answers. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ type of dominant, and I’m not even going to try to create a typology. Even the terminology is flexible: dominant/submissive isn’t quite the same relationship as top/bottom, with the conventional understanding being that the former is more about power exchange and the latter about the administration and receiving of pain and pleasure.

“I would say, though, that the essence of domination and submission is about having a sexual relationship—or indeed several sexual relationships—that include a particular dynamic. The nature of that dynamic is that my play partner is seeking excitement and gratification through being controlled, and I’m seeking those things through exercising that control.

“What that means for me is that I need to think in a very precise way about what my submissive is seeking. Do they want the experience of being taken back to some point in their life, perhaps a point in childhood, where they were controlled and perhaps punished by a father figure? Do they want to experience a type of control (and reward) that one might use with a family pet such as a dog? Do they want an experience they can fight against and yet be forced against their will, as in an interrogation scene? Do they seek a more spiritual and meditative experience, the kind that’s common with rope bondage?

“There’s a sense in which being a dominant isn’t about being bossy and bullying—or if it is, that’s because the submissive feels the need to experience those things. It’s about recognising what your submissive needs and being, as I’ve sometimes put it, the vehicle through which the submissive can express and explore their desires. My gratification as a dominant is about being successful at doing that. That’s not to deny the gratifications of hearing the thwap of a flogger hitting flesh and the soft shriek of shock and pain, seeing the way skin colours up when it’s been tortured, and smelling the sex in the air. Those are all great turn-ons. But the key thing for me is taking the trust of the submissive and proving to them they were right to trust that I can deliver the fantasy-into-reality they were seeking. That’s the thing that gives me a crazy smile on my face for days after an intensive play session.

“Being dominant can be demanding. It requires me to think about what I’m doing at every point: planning what I’m going to do, doing it, being alert to issues that arise during play, and following up afterwards. For example: will it be feasible to tie someone up in a certain way given their known health condition and the way rope constriction can affect muscles? If the sub has, for example, asthma that means they need their inhaler available at all times, is it to hand? Does a particular fantasy—for example being treated as a non-person through the use of a hood—trigger something bad in the sub when it happens for real, so the scene needs to stop? And how do they feel after the whole experience when they’ve had time to reflect on it?

“I’ve sometimes wondered, incidentally, how dominants manage in dom/sub relationships that are 24/7 because frankly, I don’t think I could keep up that level of attention all the time. I’d assume those relationships are more like master or mistress and slave, because they surely can’t exist on the basis of being permanent domination sessions.

“How, then, did I get into domination? It started fairly early with pre-pubescent fantasies that involved the kinds of things we now term ‘power exchange’. As a teenager I found pulp magazines that told me, if nothing else, that I wasn’t the only person to have such fantasies. Shortly thereafter I found sexual partners who were similarly exploring their sexuality and not averse to being tied up. And on it went from there.

“In real life I’m a pretty laid-back person. I don’t impose myself on others, have a particularly dominant bearing, or other obvious trappings of being a ‘dominant person’. But I’m generally a good listener and try to understand what my submissive wants. I have a wicked turn to my sense of humour. I’ve taken time out to understand the range of ‘tools’ I use in bdsm—from rope and bullwhips to gags and candles. I know what they do, and wide range of ways they can be used.

“And I was lucky enough, a decade ago now, to meet the submissive who is now my partner. We met in a fetish club; I was doing an impromptu bondage demonstration and she was a volunteer…

“By way of a conclusion, I’ll offer these thoughts.

“A dominant isn’t someone who ‘feels dominant to their core’, was ‘born to rule others’ or feels they should always be privileged over others. People who persistently act that way can usually be described using other, less savoury terms such ‘pain in the ass’—or perhaps ‘bully’.

“It is, of course, important sometimes to act in such ways, because that’s part of the play of domination and submission. But if someone starts taking that kind of role as the key part of their personality they’ll quickly find themselves being laughed at.

“A dominant is someone who takes the gift of submission and works with the submissive to make it something more beautiful and more meaningful to both parties. This is why domination is a craft. It requires dedication, self-reflection and an open and enquiring mind—as well as a balanced personality, a sadistic imagination and a rigorous approach to what is safe, sane and consensual.”

***

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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Nov 152012
 
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A FemDomme Erotic Romance

A friend of mine is struggling to find the motivation to write her next novel, amidst the trials of being in her early 20s.  We’ve been discussing writing careers and the fact that I’ve known she had been in this industry a good five years and it made me think back on what if I had to do it all over again.

What if at 21 (legally) I had to start my writing career all over again, in the changing face of publishing, what would I do?

With the fake promise of success in self publishing, I’d avoid that route altogether.  Starting out, I know nothing of the business and trying to reinvent the wheel to cheat people out of what seems like it should be my cut sounds ridiculous.

Obviously, I’d write.  Richard Castle’s screensaver is NOT off the mark as it taunts him (and me) to write.

I’d continue to read, first and foremost.  More e-books, more print books, not so much to see trends but to gain a sense of style that sells.  Hopefully i have at 21 years of age enough brains to realize this is a business and printing artsy shit writing won’t make me money though it might help the struggling (read, dying) artist in me.  I would read a wider spectrum of romance and erotica than I currently do now so I had a huge pool of words to draw from, phrases that catch my eye, words that whisper temptation and guarantee marketing potential.  Hell, I’d probably read outside my genre even.

I’d watch more movies.  I’d watch a TON of movies to stuff my mind full of imagery and realize that a book, like a movie only shows the good, important parts if it’s done well.  I’d watch a LOT more adult films too, to jog the erotic writer’s imagination.

I’d write more.

The jury is still out for me, on whether I’d join an organization like RWA or not but having taught to numerous chapters I’d have to say I’d lean towards finding the money to join the national chapter AND a local club because the support there would be great but the education they give to writers is unparallelled.

I’d continue to educate myself on topics of interest.  BDSM was a fix for my personal issues, who knew it would turn out to be a hot selling genre.

Whenever I got the chance, I’d submit something.  I’d wait impatiently for feedback and hope and pray, but I’d write the next big thing in my mind while I’m waiting (I do this now thankfully) because what sells books is still the first well written story, followed by another one. Oh and the caveat to that is I’d LISTEN to the feedback and not treat my manuscript like a baby, but like a product.

I’d make a LOT of friends in the publishing industry and make DAMN SURE I made a good impression on them.  I’d control my self destructive urges (if I had them) and come off as someone who is dedicated to the passion of writing, but I wouldn’t appear too eager.  I lost a job once that way, I wouldn’t want to lose an opportunity with an agent or publisher the same way.

I’d write more and submit more.  I’d set up a flexible schedule that allowed for me to stop and eat, do daily chores and have a life.  As of now, I tend to not have much of a life and if I didn’t smoke cigars I’d never leave the house.  Yup, it’s ALL because of the publishing business.

I’d probably date a little but remain single.  This is important for some of us because the stress of being a writer means there are probably not a lot of dollars coming in at first, and that stress on a long term relationship can take a toll.  I was lucky.  Really, really lucky.

While I’m writing more, I’d start developing an audience for my voice.  With my determination I’d have the drive to write, but just because you write a great erotic masterpiece doesn’t mean it will sell if no one is aware of it.  I’d also develop the audience for me.

I’d definitely help those I can but I’d focus mostly on my career at such an early stage in the game, because that commitment and dedication are paramount to a successful career when you’re older and have been in publishing long enough to actually know who the first e-publishers were.

We’re near the end of this so I’ll break it into two parts, the other part appearing on Authors Promoting Authors, then back here when it’s my turn.

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Jul 012010
 
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By Joey W. Hill

When Sascha asked if I’d do a blog on genre blending, it gave me a grin. Ten years ago, the term was “cross-genre”, and it was a publishing dead zone. I didn’t know that then. Everything I’ve written pretty much falls in the category of “genre blending”, since erotic romance began initially as a meeting of erotica with romance, and then took on additional components from there – contemporary, paranormal, historical, etc. However, a decade ago, when I was starting my writing career, I didn’t consciously say: “Hey, I’m going to blend genres in my writing, because I deeply crave rejection from mainstream publishing.” (lol)

I started with one thing – a desire to write the story that was in my head. I wrote the story my muse wanted me to tell. Starting out as a writer is a lot like getting married when you’re young – you have optimism and you’re not entirely set in your ways. You’re not looking at the mortgage – you’re focused on your dreams. I loved romance, but I wanted much stronger sex in it. So the result was an erotic romance with light bondage, set in a mall over the course of one day (Make Her Dreams Come True). I had no idea I’d blended genres until I took it out into the world to be slapped around relentlessly by cross-genre rejection (good thing I had a masochistic streak).

Fortunately, at that time a whole collective-unconscious craft thing was happening, where a lot of aspiring authors had the bug to write cross-genre work. The universe aligned us with the burgeoning field of e-publishing, which was keenly interested in this overlooked niche and reader demand. Now, ten years down the road, blended genre stories and e-publishing are both notable parts of the book world. In fact, much of that cross-genre work has become genres in their own right: paranormal romance, urban fantasy, erotic romance, etc. So now here’s this blog, discussing how best to blend eroticism with your romance genre—whether paranormal, contemporary or otherwise—as a positive, marketable thing. There goes that grin again…

So here we go. I tend to get wordy and ramble when I think about craft process, but I’ve managed to keep it under 2500 words, a miracle for me (grin). You’re welcome to ask questions about anything I missed, however, or give a different viewpoint in the comments – the wonderful thing about this business is there are a million ways to do it well, many of them yet to be discovered. This is just my approach.

Integration of erotica with romance – erotic romance

Any story, cross-genre or otherwise, has to pull us into it, make us feel that this could happen to us, answering some yearning in our hearts for that ultimate connection. That’s one of the big reasons people read love stories, and just because they want a sexual kick from them, doesn’t mean that can be overlooked. For so many years, all women were given was “erotica”, much of it dark, depressing, adulterous or flat out disturbing. Bringing together erotica with romance means that all the elements of a great romance have to be represented – great character development, pacing, intriguing setting, full sensory involvement, etc.

Make it character-driven – I write character-driven stories, which I think is very critical for an erotic romance of any type. No matter whether it’s contemporary, vampires, mermaids, historical, etc. the erotic love story between the main characters—how it starts, grows, matures, stumbles, etc—is my central story.

Plot cannot exist without the erotic and vice-versa – Making it character-driven does not mean everything else is window dressing. This is VERY important. Let me give you a concrete example of when that no-no happens. I’m sure we’ve all read an erotic romance with one of these two scenarios:

1. Every scene with the main characters is absorbing, hot, emotional…and each time the scene changes to the “plot”, it’s like someone slammed that door, and you actively think, “Oh crap, how long do I have to put up with this boring part before I get back to them again?”

2. The plot is worthy of a suspense master, but then someone flips a switch and suddenly you’re on the set of a bad porn movie. The main characters come to a screeching halt and say, “Hey, it’s three and a half pages into Chapter Three. We’re supposed to fuck like rabbits now. Let’s get that out of the way and then we’ll get back to the real story.”

Yep, excuse my language, but it’s that blatant. In both examples, the story is not well blended. You’re baking a cake without stirring all the ingredients together into a smooth, tasty batter that tempts you to eat it all even before you stick it in the oven. It looks like a gooey autopsy. It’s extremely clear which part of the story interested the author the least. That’s my own personal sanity check when I’m writing. I love the erotic romance/deep character-driven scenes, so if I find myself getting bored or rushing plot points, I know I’m not integrating enough of that into whatever portion of the story I’m writing. The erotic romance must be integrated with the rest of the story line so that one doesn’t really exist without the other.

Plot provides ample opportunity for sexual interaction AND emotional growth in the relationship.
You’re not blending the erotica with the romance if you’re overlooking that. How often do you read the book where the heroine ends up in a sex club, goes through a lot of physical gymnastics with the hero that yes, help her deal with her sexual inhibitions, but other than that there’s really no emotional growth? Still, somehow they end up in a happily-ever-after with the 2.5 kids, golden retriever, picket fence house and a love that never ends? Many of our romance readers are women who’ve experienced committed relationships, and all of us know that they need more than sex to end up as happily-ever-after. As Sascha said so well in his June 24 blog on creating plot: “in erotica, sex is the plot…in erotic romance, sex forwards the plot.” Erotic romance uses erotic interaction to further the relationship.

Integration of erotic romance with other genres
Not because I have this huge desire to pimp my own work, but I can more comfortably dissect it without offending anyone, so let me use some of my storylines as examples of integration of plot/relationship with eroticism in various genres. It will also confirm if I’m qualified to be writing this blog (laughter):

Contemporary erotic romance – For a lot of erotic romance writers, starting in the arena of contemporary is probably your easiest blend, because you can use a BDSM club setting, or the set up of a heroine’s cherished fantasy on the Internet, etc. It gets you comfortable before you move onto trickier blends. Hence, my original Nature of Desire series has a lot of heroes/heroines already Dominant or submissive-oriented, and start inside BDSM clubs. However, it doesn’t have to be clichéd. My muse gave me twists that intrigued me – an alpha cop who is a sexual submissive, or two Doms who fall for each other, etc. Now, if you’ve got it set inside a BDSM club, or are doing the heroine’s cherished fantasy thing, you still mostly have your feet in the erotica room. If you want to blend it, take it into the field of contemporary romance, you’re going to have to get it out of the club or the fantasy and test the relationship (sexually and emotionally) in the real world. That increases the emotional component and even better, brings your characters into your readers’ contemporary world, so they can empathize with the characters.

Paranormal erotic romance – My Vampire Queen series was motivated by my interest in the vampire-servant relationship. To my way of thinking, it practically begged to be explored as a hardcore Dominant/submissive sexual relationship. In my series, vampires form their closest relationships with their servants, even as they consider them their property to use sexually and are expected to share them with other vampires as part of political maneuverings in the vampire world. So there are the emotional, sexual and paranormal conflicts, all rolled into one.

My Daughters of Arianne series was billed as a sensual, borderline erotic paranormal romance series. In the first book, Mermaid’s Kiss, Jonah, a powerful angel, is severely wounded but is hiding not only from his enemies, the Dark Ones, but also his own kind. To heal, he therefore can’t use a magic that would attract a lot of notice. So, with the help of the mermaid who rescues him, he uses earth-based sex magic (which he calls Joining Magic), that must be applied at regular intervals during the healing process. It draws the two of them together intimately, makes more sense in the storyline, and is tied up in the magical plot line as they journey to heal his heart as well as his body.

That all sounds good, and though I loved this book, I was never entirely comfortable with the initial introduction of this erotic element. It felt somewhat contrived, not as well-integrated, enough that I had the irascible seawitch Mina make a joke about it to my heroine: “He had to use Joining Magic. It was the only thing that would work,” she mimicked. “Oh, that’s rich. If I had an anemone for every time I’d heard that one…”

In the subsequent books of the series, I wasn’t so uptight about it and didn’t try so hard. As such, the eroticism evolved in the paranormal setting far more naturally, to my way of thinking. In Witch’s Beauty, to balance the light and dark inside of her, the seawitch Mina discovers a mix of pain and pleasure eases that struggle. The angel David can help her out with that, because the angels of the Dark Legion are pretty virile and often use sex to ground themselves after battle.

Contemporary/paranormal/erotic romance – In If Wishes Were Horses, my hero runs an erotic paraphernalia shop, teaches Tantric classes, and is a Wiccan priest who regularly uses the Sacred Rite (sex magic) to channel the Great Lord. He is therefore uniquely set up to initiate our heroine, the new town sheriff, into an exploration of her own sensuality as they try to get to the bottom of a killing. However, that killing also has a magical/sexual component that further adds to the erotic quotient of the story.

That’s more than enough examples to give you the gist, but I wanted to show you a variety of possibilities.

Pacing - Final note for your blending is to watch your pacing. It’s like inching a tight lid off a box, where you have to take it up a little at a time on each side, until it all comes off at the same time. As a concluding example – in my book, Beloved Vampire – the hero is a vampire who’s grieved for 300 years. He rescues a sick human woman from a tomb by making her his full servant. He already has the sexual dominance, and she’s a natural submissive, so there’s going to be that issue gnawing at them, but she’s been tortured for five years by another vampire, and he’s spent 300 years mourning the Bedouin girl he handfasted. So the trust/relaxing of shields is going to happen proportionately at the same rate as the sexual interaction increases, and the vampire plot thickens, etc.

So recap of the mechanics – keep the character/relationship central to the story, make sure the plot and the erotic romance can’t exist without each other, test the relationship in real world settings (even if it’s a paranormal world), and watch your pacing for the emotional growth/development of your characters as you integrate erotica, romance and other genre elements.

Most importantly however—and this goes back to the original point—If you want to write a blended genre story, make sure your muse has given you one. It can’t be forced – it’s not like a game of chance where you draw two slips of paper out of a hat. “Today, I’ll write an…erotic romance, that’s also a….western! I’ll mash those two things together and see what happens.” The integration has to start in your head and heart—in your creative muse—first.

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