Monday, December 13, 2010

Demagoguery and Erotica

According to a few angry authors, Amazon is "purging" self-published erotica e-books. That's not quite true. Erotica titles are not being purged. Amazon is deleting incest stories--most of them involving an underage character.

To my mind, incest and pedophilia are inseparable. Both pathologies involve exploitation of the weaker. There is no consent. Unfortunately, discussion and refinement of these concepts on the Amazon forums is pretty well futile. Anything less than blanket sympathy arouses indignation by the "victimized" writers. One of the banned authors tells the forum that incest fiction must be published by amazon because mainstream erotica publishers won't touch it. Entitlement, much? Disagreement is met with contempt. One of these authors writes: “Why are you posting on an erotica forum if you don’t like erotica?”

The subtext of this self-serving statement is this: if you don’t embrace pedo-incest erotica, you don’t embrace any erotica. This antilogic pisses me off. Some random author doesn't get to tell me what erotica is, or isn't. He doesn't get to decide what society will or will not accept, either. Related sentiments are trotted out on the kink boards. "You have to accept all perversion--even pedophilia--because you people are perverted." Nope. The kink boards, like collarme, have very strict rules about pedo pics or pedo fiction. Such material is quickly reported and removed.

Morality and erotica are not mutually exclusive. Decency in BDSM is not an oxymoron. Even if you live on the edge, you can still have standards.

Near as I can figure, amazon does.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Romance E-Book Sales

Yesterday, The New York Times published an article describing the hot sales of e-book romance titles. The NYT attributes high romance sales partly due to e-readers (like the Kindle) functioning as a sort of "brown-paper bag." This allows the romance-lover to read discreetly, without strangers on the bus commenting. The paper bag theory might also explain the popularity of the racier strains of erotica.

I think the NYT's conclusion is pretty interesting, considering that romance book sales are driven (or thwarted) by the quality and excitement of the cover.

Evidently in the e-book market, the cover might seduce, but once a title is purchased, the cover is kept hidden.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

BDSM Fiction: The Hair of the Dog that Bit You

The “sexual healing” story is a common romance trope. A mistreated heroine leaves her rotten man to find a better one. The new man’s love transforms her. BDSM romances can also follow this plotline. My One sort of does. This story is a kinky twist on Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Briony leaves a cheating man and ends up exploring three new relationships: too hard, too soft and just right. The theme of the novella is the wide range of BDSM interactions. The idea is underscored by sprinkling the tale with introduction letters from suitors.

One of Briony's bears is her old friend Sterling, a glamorous sadist. Many readers are bothered by this relationship. I evidently did not do a good job illustrating that the dalliance between Briony and Sterling was consensual. I also failed to make clear the fulfillment she got from the interaction: subspace, pride in serving, and excitement. Ultimately Sterling wasn’t the right mate for Briony, but she was never a victim. The DM hero’s response to her relationship with Sterling may have prejudiced some folks. But the good DM’s protective reaction was not reliable: he was in love with her.

But what about BDSM stories in which the heroine is truly a victim? Here the “sexual healing” plot has the heroine leaving a bad Master because of BDSM-style abuse. Ultimately she is saved by a “good” Master, who teaches her the true meaning of BDSM. I hate these stories. The line between BDSM and abuse is already tissue thin. Why utterly shred that barrier by bad fiction?

Writers of BDSM sexual healing stories don't care about the subculture they misrepresent. Because, hey, that plot provides plenty of drama, and generates sympathy for the poor victim. Which translates into book sales. But this melodramatic story device is a cheap emotional trick. The plot requires the bad Master’s abuse to be so outrageous that it’s just plain insane. Not only does it portray Masters as crazy and evil, it makes slaves look helpless, without common sense or desire for self-preservation. The underlying message is BDSM is crazy and evil.

Ultimately the new Master and abused slave have to fall in love in these tales. But how? BDSM is bad! Resolution of this paradox involves a magical switcheroo. BDSM must suddenly morph from abusive to romantic. The new Master must be cut from more noble cloth. The damaged slave must trust the new man and give consent. Consent by an abused person is supposed to be possible--and ethical. Finally the reader must not view the Master as a predator--but as a savior. In order to provide the maximum contrast between bad Master and good Master, the new relationship often ends up being sweet, a watered-down, fakey sort of BDSM, with lots of cute protocol and symbolic accoutrements of BDSM, but no true emotion.

These stories do not do real-life BDSM much good.

For a lively and interesting discussion of two BDSM sexual healing stories, see Dear Author.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Future of erotica?

Delilah Devlin has recently self-published a BDSM novella entitled Pleasing Sir. Delilah is a well-known author with a huge backlist--from erotica publishers like Samhain and Ellora's Cave.

I wonder if one day she looked at her big fan base and decided to eliminate the middleman. Is she a forerunner of the future? Will other erotica authors use the "traditional" publishers as a stepping stone to independence? (Not that Ellora's Cave or Samhain are considered least not yet.)

As of the writing of this post, Delilah's e-book is ranked number one in Kindle erotica. Good for her!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Amazon Selling Pedophile's Guide

A self-published book entitled The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover's Code of Conduct was released on Kindle about a week ago. Justifiably, this book has created a firestorm of opposition. The amazon forums are burning up, and the book has collected hundreds of one star reviews. Amazon is evidently removing the one star reviews as fast as they appear. I have no doubt that the book will soon be removed, despite the fact that it's selling briskly.

Here's the author's description:
This is my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certian rules for these adults to follow. I hope to achieve this by appealing to the better nature of pedosexuals, with hope that their doing so will result in less hatred and perhaps liter sentences should they ever be caught.
Sic in more ways than one. Juveniles "that find themselves involved in" such abuse should get help from the authorities, not read this book.

Edit: The book is gone from

Monday, November 8, 2010

Kink Flick Review: Y Tu Mama Tambien

A friend recommended this 2002 movie as one of the best menage films. It is, in reality, a superior coming-of-age tale.

The film introduces us to two callow, randy young Mexican men. The movie stumbles when it dwells on demonstrating just how callow and randy. When the boys finally take the beautiful "older" woman Louisa on a road trip to find a mythical beach, the movie finds its groove.

As they travel, Louisa becomes a mentor to the boys, helping them to become men--primarily in the sexual arena. If you're familiar with the archetypes in the Hero's Journey, the film's ending will not surprise you.

There are many sex scenes in the movie, and one of them is menage. In the unrated version, this three-way union is discrete. The sex isn't especially arousing, as sex is merely another form of communication.

The cinematography is spectacular. At first, the filming is voyeur-like and distancing. As the characters become more real to each other, the camera-work gets more intimate. The movie is subtitled. The dialog is truly wonderful, though embellished with a whole lot of "fucks". A narrator mainly functions to provide the socio-politico-economic background. I could have done without the interruption.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Here's an example of criticism that doesn't involve a crowbar. Kudos to KinkyKolumn. This youtube video is wrongheaded, but entirely civilized.

The rambling, 7 minute vlog disses a popular kink site. According to KinkyKolumn, Collarme "offers nothing of substance". And what's more, Collarme "alerts everyone to your presence" the very second you sign on. Which is truly awful, apparently.

I don't understand why it's bad to let folks know you're online. Isn't that the point of a kink meet-up site? Meeting people? If you're looking for a partner, don't you want to alert folks to your presence? That might encourage them to read your full profile. Yanno, so you can find a happily ever after?

KinkyKolumn, if you don't want to be contacted by random strangers on Collarme because you're already collared, I have some suggestions. Don't advertise your true age (FYI: I'm 99). And don't post nude pics (FYI: I'm a pretty blue iris).

There is also the option of hiding your profile. That way you'll still be free to post on those forums without substance.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Censorship in Action

Loveland is a town of about 50,000 in Northern Colorado. The city's national claim to fame is a service to postmark love letters on Valentines Day. Loveland is known locally as having a strong focus on publicly owned art--especially sculpture.

Now the city is in the national news due to the disposition of a controversial piece of art called "The Misadventures of Romantic Cannibals". (This piece was exhibited in the museum, not in the parks.) This is art as social commentary. The series of lithographs criticizes priest pedophilia. Detractors say it's obscene and blasphemous. They believe the lithograph depicts Jesus in a sexual act, with a tiny Pope looking on.

There have been protests, and meetings between the public and local city officials concerning the art. Local priests have testified that they treasure children. Other citizens have decried the piece as pornographic. Supporters reply that pornography requires genitalia and since there are no organs in the lithograph it is not pornographic.

The discussion is important. That's what civilized people do.

Loveland people do, anyway. A fifty-something grandmother took her objection too far. She drove from her home in Montana down to CO--with a crow bar. She destroyed the piece, reportedly shouting "How can you desecrate my Lord?". This "deeply religious" trucker-lady was arrested. An anonymous fan soon posted bail.

The response to the Montana lady's act is very interesting. The artist, a rather self-important Stanford Prof, demanded the city of Loveland "restrain their mob immediately." That would be a mob of one. From Montana.

The woman's lawyer has come up with a unique defense. Here it is: The city of Loveland asked for it. Why? The town was "insensitive" to this woman's religious beliefs.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How Do I Convert My Vanilla Mate?

This question is frequently posted on collarme, a BDSM site I belong to. Asking some strangers on the Internet to provide a road map to kinkify a conventional partner implies there’s a magic bullet. There isn't. It's way hard. Every relationship, be it vanilla or kink, is specific and unique to those particular partners. The answer to the conversion question is as complex as the people involved.

Sometimes I’ll reply to these posts with general suggestions on how to "turn" a partner, because I’ve done it. Here's the difficulty: Success in kinkification takes character attributes nearly as scarce as that mythical magic bullet: patience and empathy and flexibility. And even with those traits, turning may never work. When I offer this advice on collarme, the response is often hostile. Conversion is supposed to be easy.

I also know what not to do. Here are the most common mistakes:

1. Entitlement. (“I want what I want. I’m more important than you.”) Good luck with that approach.

2. Bullying. (“This is what I want. Give it to me”). That’s a sure way to force the end of the relationship, or maybe even get a surprise visit by the cops.

3. Martyrdom. (“If you loved me, you would…”) Manipulation doesn’t work in the long run.

4. Childish tantrums and ultimatums. (“I refuse to live the rest my life as a vanilla.”) Be careful what you wish for.

Initiating "turning" requires small, slow steps. Perhaps your mate is curious about a particular action? Maybe your partner is motivated by your excitement, or the naughty danger? Your mate must be the leader in the first explorations. Offer a multitude of options, be a gentle guide. What fantasies does your partner have? Role-play? Bondage? Indulge them. Make it fun and sexy. And most of all, appreciate his or her efforts.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

News: Management Skills

Publishing My One, my very first BDSM story, was a fabulous experience. The Samhain folk are wonderful. The production was smooth and top-flight. The cover was way cool, and I got to help design it. People even buy my book! I adored my Samhain editor Deb Nemeth. She had a rare combination of courage, open-mindedness, trust and tact.

So when Deb left for another publishing house, right before My One was released, I was scared and insecure. Would I ever be able to publish BDSM again? What if my new editor didn't like my stuff? Many of Deb's authors felt orphaned. We even discussed our worries on the Samhain blog.

I'm happy to say I will be working with Deb Nemeth again at Carina Press (the new e-pub arm of Harlequin) on a "boss" BDSM story. The title of the novella is Management Skills.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Kink Flick Review: Secretary

Secretary is a film about a quirky, somewhat disturbing romance. A young woman lands a job as a typist for a lawyer. He gives her some unusual assignments—and punishes her if she fails. She relishes the kinky interactions. After a bump or two in the relationship road, they fall in love, get married and keep the kink alive.

Many, many BDSM stories use this movie as a template. That's not always a good thing.

The office worker who enjoys a Secretary-style BDSM fling with her superior is now a fictional staple. A few recent examples of “boss” BDSM stories include: Punishing Pansy by P. Friday, Heidi and the Kaiser by Selena Kitt, Beck and Call by Abby Gordon, Confessions of a Submissive by Claire Thompson, and Office Slave by J.W. McKenna. (I have written one of these tales too, but I’ll save that discussion for another post.)

Lee, the typist in Secretary, is an insecure, unhappy young woman. She’s a cutter. She goes from the nut-house to typing school, and then to submissive-land. That bugs me. The subtext is: a girl has to be crazy to get involved in BDSM.

Tymber Dalton’s popular book, The Reluctant Dom, also has a cutter character. She “heals” through BDSM. I think that’s crazy. A Dominant can't fix a person who self-mutilates. I recently read a blog defending Tymber’s book. The blogger explained she’d much rather see a cutter being cured by a flogging than fixed by drugs or psychotherapy. Um-kay. The problem is this: beat-down therapy happens only in fiction.

The lawyer in Secretary is a creative Top/Dom. That's fun to watch. Unfortunately, he believes his perverse activities are despicable. Crazy Lee is far more comfortable with her kink than he is. Of course, she has to use some BDSM self-talk tapes to get that way.

Secretary gives us a mish-mash of nearly every sort of kink interaction. A little D/s, a bit of S & M, some bondage, a lot of spanking, a smattering of uber control, a scene of pony play, and quite a lot of SAM (smart ass masochist) behavior.

There's only one thing in the Secretary kink smorgasbord I find authentic: BDSM is portrayed as a game. Too bad this message gets obscured by all that self-loathing and healing.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Thick Skin and Bad Reviews

Bad Reviews

Authors are supposed to have a thick skin in order to survive. First, there's the loneliness and tedium of writing draft after draft, figuring out what to write. That's followed by years of rejections. Finally, if a writer is lucky, comes the thrill of publication. And after that, the horror of bad reviews.

I don't have thick skin. When somebody hates what I write, it hurts.

My One has gotten plenty of unfavorable reviews (good ones, too). Some readers are revolted by Briony's exploration of S & M. A handful of reviewers are even indignant, as if I've tricked them, promising one thing and delivering another. I'm not sympathetic. My One is pretty clearly labeled as BDSM fiction. What do readers think the SM in BDSM stands for? Soft and Mild?

On a happy note, there's a "Books with the Hottest Sex!" list on goodreads (a social book cataloging site). My One is on the list!

My book may be revolting, but it's also sexy. So neener, neener, mean reviewers.


Redbook, the venerable women's magazine, has gone kink. The July 2010 print issue offers articles titled "28 Hot Little Sex Life Ideas" and "Sexy Movie Night". Among the suggestions to heat things up in the bedroom: read literotica (a free erotic fiction website) as a couple, and watch the "S & M" movie Secretary.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Kink Community Sites

One way for the BDSM-curious to get a better feel for the practices is to hang out online with practioners. There are several popular, free BDSM community sites which offer opportunities for lurking and learning. These sites all have moderated forums and groups. Like any online community, there are the crazies, the sillies, and the utter geniuses.

A sampling of topics you might see: Did you have to "earn" your collar? The anti-feminism bias. Passing out from orgasm. Anal: How do i change a turn-off to a turn-on?? "Do me" slaves.

Here I describe three BDSM sites.

This site requires registration. But there's nothing wrong with creating an anonymous profile to explore. The discussion forums are arranged into private groups, making them more like blogs. You must be a member of the particular group to post, but not to read. (Becoming a member requires a separate operation after you've registered.) The group posts are white on a black background, making it difficult for some folks to read. Color advertisements abound, even on the groups pages. The adverts can be vulgar, so it might be hard to do a discrete examination of this site. The best thing about Fetlife is the ability to search for "events" according to geography. These events can be munches (non-playing kink get-togethers at a restaurant), demonstrations, fetish parties and the like.

Collarme doesn't require registration in order to read the forums. So unless you intend on posting, or are looking for a partner, being a guest is superb. Many newbies do post questions, and there are lively and heated discussions. The text is black writing on white, and especially easy to read. There are also no adverts on the forum pages, so discrete investigation of the collarme site is possible.
This site is one of the oldest of the kink sites. It always seems to be in transition in an effort to survive. Like Fetlife, you have to register before you can read anything. also offers paid memberships, but I don't know what the benefits are. The site provides both forums and groups. The forums are public; some groups are private, requiring jumping over more hurdles. The text is white on purple, which I find utterly painful. Like with Fetlife, has some lewd adverts on the forum pages, making examination of the site tough in the presence of shoulder surfers.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Yay! I just finished off a manuscript today. I'm one of the slowest writers on earth. But I'm a super fast dandelion puller, which is the other thing I did today. This latest story is a contemporary M/f BDSM erotic novella, like My One. The working title is Management Skill.

In a somewhat related note, Tymber Dalton has released a non-fiction book called "Whip Me, Beat Me, Make Me Write Hot Sex: A writer's guide to BDSM basics". It's available on the Amazon Kindle. Though I don't always like the themes Tymber embraces in her BDSM fiction, she is a pioneer in the genre.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Dominant Trainer

One of the stock heroes in BDSM fiction is the male Dominant who has "trained lots of subs." His background is usually a throwaway one, like describing a fictional hero as rich, without actually presenting a tabulation of his true net worth. Training experience is supposed to give the hero kink cred: such a Dom has to be really good at what he does. His Domliness is so overwhelming that he'll show the BDSM virginal heroine (and presumably the BDSM virginal reader) a great time.

Okay. In real life, a Dominant's creativity is usually valued more than his experience, so what does having "trained a lot of subs" really mean?

If a Dominant has had a lot of subs, that's different than having trained a lot of subs. Ethical "training" means private teaching, like conducting workshops on some aspect of BDSM. Here the Dom teacher is a friend of the sub. Being principled, this trainer Dom does not have authority over the sub--or else it is a D/s relationship, not a trainer-trainee relationship. It goes without saying that this interaction cannot involve sex--or even real emotional involvement. The Dom is charged with training a sub, not his sub. Altruism is the ethical trainer's only reward.

But can you really train people? I think not. You train animals. The processes, mechanics, protocols and emotions involved in kink are normally far more complex than commands to sit or roll over. And they are highly specific to the couple. Subs and Doms cannot be interchanged: mixing and matching of people is a crazy concept. What might please the ethical trainer has no bearing on what will float the boat of another Dom.

The idea of a special school where Dominants train submissives or slaves is alluring. The Story of O, by Pauline Reage, and the Marketplace Series by Laura Antoniou are prominent fictional examples. But the dynamic is fantasy. No one can train somebody to be another person's worthy submissive. There is no universal BDSM rule book that can prepare a sub for a different (and future) BDSM relationship.

Unhappily, the fantasy of "sub training" sneaks into real life, ensnaring the innocent. There are plenty of self-described Dominants in the community who offer to "train subs". These men are not interested in training anyone. All they really want is to "get some". A supposed Dom who brags about having "trained a lot of subs" is the BDSM equivalent of a man claiming he's "fucked a lot of women." Suddenly "training" goes from darkly forbidden and dramatic to just plain slimy.

There are better ways for a curious newbie to get some face-to-face individual help. For example, one good choice is to ask an experienced sub or slave to mentor her. Begging a Dominant for private lessons on how to be a sub is asking for trouble; even an ethical Dom has a potential conflict of interest.

There's a clever April Fool's joke on Etsy (a kind of online artist's colony) now. This Etsy shop, called To be Read, is owned by the prestigious Dear Author review site. The shop offers to "sell" handmade, one-of-a-kind book reviews. An A review is way cheaper than an F review. It's especially funny if you're familiar with Etsy. Dear Author Etsy. Since the shop will probably disappear May 1, I offer this link, too: Cached Dear Author Etsy

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Critique Groups

I was recently interviewed by The Black Raven's Erotic Cafe. Janis' questions really got me thinking about some writerly things, especially critique groups.

Based on the circulation of writer's magazines, like Writer's Digest, there are hundreds of thousands of fiction writers in the United States. A majority of these writers are probably going to a critique group.

I used to be one of those writers. I've been a member of several different critique groups during my writing life. I couldn't have survived without them. Writing is such a solitary pursuit, and critique meetings are like a "welcome home" party after getting out of prison. These get-togethers allow writers a place for gossip and support. I wouldn't be surprised if NaNoWriMo (a national project to write a novel in a month) is a sensation mainly because of the social experience. When critique groups click because there's a grounding in mutual respect, it's tremendously satisfying.

Critique groups are, of course, supposed to provide writing advice, too. Not everyone can stomach that part, though. One of my author friends couldn't. Mild suggestions about her pages were an assault on her soul. After one too many panic attacks, she stopped coming to critique. She said her work was too literary for us. Instead of using our free (and low-brow) advice, she paid a vanity publisher $600 to edit her work. Then she paid the same publisher to have this manuscript published (by purchasing advance copies). I bought and read her book. I'm in the acknowledgments. I'm flattered. And also mystified, since she ignored all of my suggestions.

There are specialty critique groups, some which even claim to be literary. I recently saw this invitation tacked to the bulletin board at the local coffee house:
New Literary Critique Group Forming. We are looking for open-minded writers. Must be willing to read works with GLBT themes. Genre fiction NOT considered.
Not open-minded enough to critique genre, I guess.

Some critique groups are run like exclusive secret societies. The long-lived Slow Sand Writer's Society in Colorado is one of those. The group is highly formal, with a rigorous audition-based application process, limited enrollment and its own website. Other groups are more inclusive, perhaps part of a non-profit writer's organization. I belonged to a critique group run by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers for years. I was also a member of another group, run like an underground cell. I would meet with these secret agent-like creative folks publicly at Barnes and Noble, but I had to know somebody (who knew somebody) to get an invite.

There are lots of online critique groups. They would appeal to writers with inflexible schedules or those living in the middle of nowhere. But I'm afraid to join an online group. Humans are more apt to be flippant and cruel when they think they're anonymous.

Critiquing romance brings up a whole new set of problems. Sex scenes, even when they aren't graphic, are intimate. A romance writer can press a beta-reader's hot buttons (and not always in a good way). I knew I had to leave my secret-agent group when one of the women rewrote my rather tame sex scene using what she considered a more proper feminist perspective. My sex really upset her. In the long run, striking out alone has been a good thing. Writing without a hall monitor allowed me to explore the more intense themes of BDSM erotica.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Review: Erotica Review Blogs

I thought it would be fun to review a few of my favorite e-book erotica review blogs. These blogs are all top-flight, single-person efforts. They each have a distinct character, tone--and charm.

Mrs. Giggles: This reviewer is irreverent and often hysterically funny. Reading her is like getting the low-down on erotic and romance books from your best, very well-read, friend. She reviews from the gut. Occasionally she'll review BDSM stories, and though she claims it's not her thing, her instincts are spot-on. Here's a taste of Mrs. Giggles:
Plot? Story? Character development? All of these seem secondary to the author's agenda here: the objectification, deification, and eroticization of the Alpha Male Asshole.

Book Utopia: I've mentioned Utopia Mom in my blog before. I adore her reviews. She is the most serious and intellectual of the bunch. Her stylish and nearly scientific analyses are a joy to read. She is in no way a snob. She reviews offerings from the obscure indy presses, as well as the high and mighty. She's both fearless and tactful. According to Erecsite (my go-to blog for erotica electronic publishing industry news), Utopia Mom is under-appreciated. Not by me. Not by a long shot.

Dear Author: The iconic Dear Author site is actually a group effort. Joan/SarahF is the only one who reviews BSDM, so I'm going to single her out. I'm not sure why she has a slash name, because I believe she is a single person. Joan/SarahF's reviews of BDSM stories are fascinating: she has a profound understanding of the emotional, physical and technical aspects of the practices. Reading her is like hanging out with a stern SSC Dungeon Mistress--who has a day job as literature professor. She'll call out writers of the BDSM genre when they fail, and swat them with her verbal flogger.

Teddy Pig: Teddy Pig (can I call you Teddy?) rarely reviews books, unfortunately. His focus is on e-book readers and the like. When he does review a book, it's a treat: he offers a highly personal perspective on BDSM and gay fiction. Teddy Pig's reviews are sincere, a little cranky, and sometimes in verse. Happily, he's perfectly willing to review older books. Here's a snippet of his review of the best book on gay trapeze artists ever written, published in 1979:
The Catch Trap in my opinion is more than just the average gay or even straight epic historical romantic codpiece ripper. 
Sure there is sex and heartache and drama and lots of heavy sighs and a couple of very violent moments but they are not the best part. 
There are distinct gay life lessons, real valid messages falling out of these pages even though it is written by an obviously intelligent but none the less straight woman.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My One Release!

My One was released on Tuesday by Samhain Publishing! Isn't the cover spectacular? For an excerpt, look here.

And in other news: I was interviewed over at I Do Not Want to Wait, I Want the Book Now. I had a blast!

Here's the blurb for My One:

Love knows no limits…

Briony considers herself easy to please. All she wants is a Dominant who’s wickedly creative and completely devoted to conquering her—and only her—with joy. She has everything she wants until her Dom takes on another girl. Bri delights in fantasy role play, inventive toys and bondage at Hell Mary’s BDSM club, but she doesn’t do poly.

Now she’s on the hunt for a new play partner who’ll give her exactly what she needs. A little flirtation with Hell Mary’s Dungeon Monitor is just the thing to ease her back into circulation—except the hardass wrapped in khaki treats her like she needs protection.

Behind his imperturbable DM mask, Chris has eyes only for Bri. It’s his job to make sure things don’t get out of control at the club. Despite her bravado, Bri’s broken heart is like a target painted on her back. She needs to learn some things on her own, but when a private scene goes too far, he can’t wait any longer to step in—and show her she doesn’t need fancy trappings.

His body is more than enough.

Warning: this title features kink and imaginative sex in a variety of forms—scalding hot, kinda lukewarm, and juuuust right. Reminders to breathe are clearly marked. Ignore them at your peril.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Duty of BDSM Authors?

Do authors of contemporary BDSM fiction have a duty to promote a rational view of BDSM practices?

I say yes.

BDSM practioners are pretty much misunderstood by society, and as a result, are largely underground. The common view of kinksters as dangerous, crazy perverts isn't harmless bias. Such prejudices can have real-life consequences, like loss of child custody and so on. Authors shouldn't promulgate it.

How is a contemporary erotica author, who has little familiarity with BDSM, supposed to write reasonably about kink? Some folks might say, "Don't. Don't write it if you don't understand it." And that would be a short blog entry. Another option is for the author to earnestly attempt to appreciate the term SSC. SSC stands for Safe, Sane and Consensual. It's an ethical framework, a kind of a moral code used by many people involved in BDSM. I'll describe each part in turn.

Safe. That means safe sex. As in condom use. It's not too hard for an author to write a hot sex scene preceded by the sound of a crinkling condom foil. Contemporary romance writers do it all the time. BDSM authors--not so much.

Sane. That means fictional characters don't do things to each other that will kill or permanently injure. Quite a lot of leniency is allowed in BDSM fiction in the name of titillation. After all, it is fiction. But if the author goes to far, it becomes dangerous fantasy.

Consensual. This is one big hot button for me. Consent means characters agree to treat each other in an agreed-upon way. Contemporary BDSM erotica often falls short in this arena. Instead of actually understanding the idea of consent, authors trot out ritualistic formal BDSM negotiations in their stories: "limit sheets" detailing which interactions are and are not allowed; slave "contracts", and safewords to stop the action.

Yes, rituals and forms are real, though they aren't always used. The problem arises when consent is at odds with sane. "Consent" does NOT blot out sane. And there's the rub: Too many authors think it does.

Let's look at the fictional use of the safeword. A safeword is a kind of rolling consent. Withholding consent by uttering the safe word jives with sanity only if a bottom or sub can actually say it. Refined processes like speech are impossible in subspace, for example. The safeword is also useless in other situations, like in ball gag play. Supposed consent, no matter how formal and ritualistic, cannot trump common sense--even in contemporary kink erotica.

Here's another example of consent failure in BDSM fiction: a plot involving play with a "damaged" sub character. A damaged sub cannot give consent! Why? Because the sub is nuts. A Top or Dominant should know that. Too bad so many authors don't. Exploiting a damaged sub for kicks is unethical in real life. It's wrong in fiction, too. Worst of all, the enormously popular "damaged sub" plot device perpetuates the stereotype of only crazies seeking out and enjoying BDSM.

I believe the author of BDSM erotica has a duty to populate stories with healthy characters that have an intimate (but not necessarily explicit) understanding of SSC.

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